Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's about freakin' time

Man, I really got behind with the posting and the blogging, eh? I think it was Zappa who once said that "time is the thing"; that's my only excuse.

Music update: we were back in LA two weekends ago, and I managed to get some more tracking done for the new IJG album(s), which are, in any case, still pretty far from completion. Certainly nothing else will be ready for release this year. (If I had my way (read: if I had the cash) we would bang out each record pretty quickly, because I hate feeling like there is a backlog of compositions to be committed to disc. But alas, that's not the world we live in.)

Apropos of nothing: I absolutely love being in the studio. Almost any studio. If I could, I would live there. Okay, that's an overstatement, but I really do get off on the whole context -- the topography, the culture, the lingo, the heightened sense of perception, and, perhaps especially, the uncanny sense of being able to stop time -- which I suppose is one of the byproducts of looping a single performance over and over in order to evaluate, punch in, mix, or whatever. Yeah, time is the thing.

Incidentally (still), that "time-stopping" quality is particularly interesting when you're doing what is essentially a "big band project" -- cuz that's what the IJG has become, at least in terms of its instrumental structure -- via the more rock-oriented technique of overdubbing. With the exception of two moderate sized sessions (one with five and one with seven players), most of the personnel for the current crop of recordings have assembled and done their thing in groupings of three or less.

Anyway: far more important things happened last week, as we all know.

The evening before the election, just before heading up to Simi Valley for the second of the abovementioned sessions, I spent an hour or so with my good friend "Charlie" (of IML fame). We hung out for a while on the porch of the Santa Monica apartment he shares with his wife and two boys. The whiskey was flowing, and believe me, I would have partaken if I hadn't been on my way to the session (alas, I discovered that evening how incredibly great (and windy!) is the distance between Simi Valley and LA). But I had to content myself with the stimulating conversation, which inevitably wound around to the subject of politics. We were both a little anxious about what was going to happen the next day.

And as it turned out, Daphne and Thandie and I spent most of election day itself in the airport, trying to get back to PDX. We were a little desperate, in fact -- our brief reunion with LA had grown old fast, and now that we had finished all of our tasks for this trip, we were more than ready to get home. While making our way through security, I noticed Flavor Flav (of Public Enemy and now VH-1 fame) sending his famous clock through the x-ray machine. It seemed oddly portentous somehow -- about time, indeed.

And then, at some point while we were 30,000 feet above it, the landscape changed -- though none of us would really know about that until much later in the evening.

So what do I think of the Democratic "sweep"? After the initial giddiness and (hell, I'll admit it) the cheap satisfaction of watching petulant pricks like Tony Snow and Ken Mehlman get their various degrees of come-uppance -- there is the recognition that this is only the first step in a much longer process. In some ways, the damage has already been done. The election does not change the impression that Mr. Bush has been the "winner" all along -- having signed the death sentences of (so far) nearly 3000 American soldiers (kids, really) and many many more Iraqi civilians in order to follow through on his personal bloodlust against Saddam Hussein. For those people, and for others, like Malachi Ritscher, this election came too late. (Thanks, Darcy, for the link.)

The narrative that seems to have taken hold is that America was "duped" into going into Iraq, and now the Democrats, the new sheriffs in town, are going to give us a saner foreign policy. All well and good, and the sooner we get out, the better -- but there's a deeper, more accurate way to describe what has happened in the last few years. Many of us who actually paid attention in history class understood from the get-go that the prospect of forcibly establishing a democracy in a foreign society -- a society that hadn't chosen that path of its own accord -- was what the sages would call a really bad idea. I remember literal rioting in the streets in San Francisco when we were playing a gig there on the evening that this fucking war started. None of these folks were duped, I can assure you. They and many others knew this was going to be a fiasco from the beginning.

Now there's a subtle but very definite swoon running through the country as old man Bush -- you know, the one behind the first Iraq war -- seems to be taking over behind the scenes, pushing his son's insane administration back toward a more "palatable conservatism." Maybe that was the game all along -- a weird plan to check a few more items off the Bush family wish list: Bush 43 gets to "kick Hussein's ass," and Bush 41 gets a second term (or at least two years' worth). Let's not forget: Bush the elder may be more pragmatic than his son, but he is still an asshole. Let's not forget that it was his careless parading of American forces through the gulf region during the first war that provided Osama bin Laden with a key pretext. And, though one is tempted to surmise that Bozo the Clown would have been a better Defense Secretary than Rumsfeld (no offense, Bozo), let's not assume that Robert Gates is necessarily the best solution to that particular problem either. Two words: Iran-Contra.

(And by the way, shame on you, Tim Russert, for your pronounced fascination with the father-son story unfolding here. The tale may read like one of the Henry plays, but you sure ain't no Shakespeare.)

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