"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Listen to my song re. Flint MI water crisis

Heaven help us all. Lord, we have sinned. How obscene can our devotion to the private sector become?
A few months after the Michigan governor removed Flint from its standard fresh water, the corporate big shots of GM went to him and complained that the Flint River water was causing their car parts to corrode. The Republican governor was appalled to hear that GM property was being damaged. He went through the rather involved process, with a cost of $440,000, to get GM hooked back up to Lake Huron water. The rest of Flint stayed on the Flint River water. The children of Flint drank lead-filled water. The GM factory was a higher priority.
It's a perfect template for understanding the GOP philosophy about things. At least it's clear to me. If it were clear to everyone, I would expect the Democrats to have a dominating position. They of course do not, and in fact they appear forced on the defensive a lot. Again, heaven help all of us.
I have written a song inspired by the Flint MI water crisis. It's called "Michigan, We Need You to Win Again." I invite you to listen by clicking on this YouTube link:
The song was recorded at the Nashville TN studio of Bob Angello. Brent Gulsvig of Gulsvig Productions, Starbuck MN, got the song online for me. Thanks guys. The song is inspired by tragedy but it seeks to project inspiration. No one likes a song that is all sad.
When I was a kid, Michigan was still in its primacy with car manufacturing. My song suggests the state should seek to occupy a high rung in our national consciousness again. How? I'm not sure. America is a place where there is always a wellspring of hope, or should be.
A fun element of my song is a reference to "cars with fins." Detroit's heyday included a chapter with that quite frivolous element, but we loved it. The final frame in the YouTube presentation shows a grand "car with fins." The word "fins" popped into my head because it rhymes with "Michigan." Both words are in the chorus.
Much of my song pines for a time when car travel wasn't just taken for granted, it was a grand adventure like on "Route 66." The Interstate Highway system, pushed by President Eisenhower (actually a "national defense" measure), makes long-distance travel routine. In the Route 66 days it was an adventure, maybe even like traveling through the galaxy in the Starship Enterprise. Along Route 66 you'd find mom and pop restaurants rather than the predictable franchises of today.
Were the old days better? Arguably not. There is much more pressure on the car industry today to build sturdy, reliable and long-lasting cars. There were rumors of "planned obsolescence" in the old days. Today you can easily buy a car to last the rest of your life, so you don't have to build rapport with some "car salesman" with whom to do business every four years or so.
Why have local car salesmen anyway? Why can't we just order our cars directly from the factory? Tesla has wanted to bypass the dealer system, a system that seems as American as apple pie - stale apple pie. And if cars today can last a lifetime, why is it necessary for local dealers to buy so much advertising in the media, like in our local weekly "Canary?" We do not need to see those constant full-page ads for Gesswein Motors, Milbank SD, with that smiling photo of the owner, a typical WASP-ish looking man who can connect with the maximum number of customers. Clean-cut and presumably with no body odor etc. Surely a regular church-goer (preferably Protestant).
If you have been in Flint MI any time from April 2014 to today, and you've consumed the water, eaten food cooked with it, washed your clothes in it, taken a shower, brushed your teeth or eaten vegetables from someone's garden, you have been exposed to and ingested its toxins.
Someday there will be a funeral for Governor Snyder, and some choice words ought to be the following: "May God have mercy on your soul."
Heaven help all of us if we don't put pressure on all public officials to put human welfare first and corporate profit second. But the signs right now don't appear good. The baby boom generation which exuded such idealism when young has retreated the other way. Today it roots for the stock market, which is fine if we can still have our ideals.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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