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Sunday Soul – Our Empire Is Falling
Year 11 – Playlist 43/52 – Art, Essay and music for the week of February 8th 2015
As history fades into forgotten faces it is almost tradition for governments to lie to their people, insisting that they were not wrong, and that the people must remain steadfast, and that if we do – if we believe hard enough, if we come together close enough, if we recycle completely enough, if we invest heavily enough, if we spend fast enough – we will prevail. I can not imagine a leader coming forward to admit that they were wrong – war is hideous, our dependency on oil is pathetic, nuclear power and bombs are sheer madness based on the simple fact that we cannot contain or clean up their fallout, the crown, government and generals care absolutely nothing for the people. No. Instead they stand stoically while the national idea is devastated, and then fly off in some helicopter or ocean liner and live off of whatever wealth they’ve squirreled away in what history likes to call “exile.” As if the loss of empire or power is so painful a blow that we don’t even need to discuss the cost of life, resources, hearts and minds the now deposed ruler expended. And the people are left to fend for themselves.
But before these emporers, kings, presidents, and generals go, there is always a mad last gasp of poetry. It reaches the patriots, the idealists, the holdouts, and the idiots who fell for the charade in the first place. I think of Gray Davis when California had been dragged through the mud by the Bush administration’s public grid system for electricity in the 90’s. We were enjoying a boom in California and things were going great. Republican leadership was pressing hard to put all public utilities into the private sector – That means things like clean water, electricity, telephone lines, airwaves, schools, trains, and basic infrastructure which is the ultimate benchmark of a free and great society were being dumped as expensive liabilities by the Republicans who wanted to privatize these things in order to make a shit load of profit (remember charter schools, land lines or television without cable? Yes, that.) So California buckled under the pressure of opinion and money and hooked herself up to the grid. We sent all our power out into the southwestern quadrant, and bought it back at “market rate” as needed. In theory what we generated would inevitably be a surplus, and thus it would be an income stream for California (and that would benefit the people, schools, etc.) The trouble is that when Enron and other grid management companies – private companies run for absurd profits – got ahold of our power, they jacked up the prices through the commodity markets and other back door means of false inflation, and by the time our own power got back to us it was octupled in price. We didn’t notice right away, but soon we were suffering in the grip of rolling blackouts and insufficient power for a severely overheated Southern and Central California. The Governor, Gray Davis, appealed to President George W. Bush for help – the great state of California needed credit, and help to manage the cash draining out of the state just to cover the costs of the energy it was consuming. The president, who’s vice president and many personal friends worked for Enron and other such pirate capitalist outfits, simply said “You shouldn’t have made the bad decision of connecting yourself up to the grid.” And Governor Davis was on his own, and the people of California were shit out of luck.
So the Governor went on television (back when that was a free and popular means of communicating with people) and appealed to Californians. He said that “we” had made a mistake. “We” had connected ourselves to a grid, and had not set aside money to pay for the electricity we needed. He also said that what was happening to us was illegal and wrong, and then asked us to stand beside him and support his fight. He promised to take the fight all the way to the supreme court if need be. I believed him, he was right – we got hosed and it was bullshit.
But the people turned on him like rabid dogs, “we” refused to face the music, pocket our pride and pull together and fight. Nope. We recalled Gray Davis and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger as our Governor. It was amazing comedy – totally absurd. Shortly after settling in as the head of California, Schwarzenegger went on television and said “we” had been screwed by Gray Davis, and “we” didn’t have the money to pay for our electrical needs, so we were all going to have to face the music, and pull our belts tighter, and pay higher prices. We didn’t mind that somehow coming from Arnold, we just didn’t like it when it came from Davis.
Right around the recall elections, Enron went bankrupt – another billion dollar company that just mysteriously went “poof” and none of the billions were ever recovered, or repaid. We continue to give away our airwaves for reasons we don’t completely understand. We give away our water just like we gave away our electricity, and we believe the mantras repeated in the twilight of capitalism that somehow this execution of publicly owned resources will benefit schools, or children, or someone… It’s like the lottery, or the tobacco tax, or the temporary bridge toll to pay for the bridge, or the institution of a federal income tax – a temporary measure to help the country climb out of the depression (which I believe was caused by rich people’s greed and unregulated selfishness.) I actually think California is still on that grid. Awesome.
Empire doesn’t care about you. It want’s everything. You are either a cheerleader, forced labor, or you are dead weight. Money can buy your heart, your mind, your body, and it can even manipulate you so completely that you actually fight against your own best interest (think of being angry about Obama wanting to discuss American National Health and how that turned into something more like mandatory insurance.) Who benefits from National Health? The people – therefore the country and everyone. Who benefits from mandatory insurance? Insurance companies. So why and how did it all turn out like this? Do you know? Are you mad yet? All the labor is shipped overseas, and yet somehow we are opening our borders to permit undocumented labor and more relaxed immigration. Who is doing what work? Where did the manufacturing jobs go? Wait, didn’t they go to Mexico? Aren’t they all in China now? What do we produce in America? I mean, what do we actually make? Who is making that? Why isn’t it possible to build and produce things here? Is it because of the environmental protection laws which make it impossible to make things dirty and toxic (so we don’t have to pay to clean it up. or buy new equipment that can produce things cleanly?) Wait, are we number one? We are right? Now are you angry? I hope so.
Empire doesn’t care about your children. Education is the enemy of empire. Look at the 1960’s. For all the grief I hand to hippies, I’ll say the the baby boomers all got a terrific public education. They were so smart that they called bullshit collectively on the government, the military, and the world. They said “Stop polluting the planet!” and “We demand equal rights and justice for all people!” and they said “We want to get totally fucking stoned and we don’t want it to be a crime!” and they forced the USA to default on a war, practically impeached a president, delayed the end of the cold war for at least a decade, and disrupted business, and the business of empire in such a radical and unprecedented way that there is no fucking way that empire in America will ever allow you or your children to ever receive a lick of worthwhile education again. That’s why teachers – who should be paid like princes – are paid a below poverty wage. That’s why
Every empire falls. the Soviet Union fell under the weight of Nike and Adidas – I hate to think of how many people starved to death and how much of that blame fell on Karl Marx just because people want some bitchin sneakers. Rome fell. The Greeks fell. Arabia became “the middle east” and they’re still really fucking pissed off about it. There was once a period of time when the Pope ruled almost the whole entire world. It’s true. Kings couldn’t do anything without first running it past the Pope. That’s not true anymore. People used to think that “normal” meant trim, hardworking, white, heterosexual, Christian people from middle America. I can assure you that we do not think that anymore. Eligible used to mean rich, healthy used to mean fat, pretty used to be super fucking ugly, and popular names were Agnes, Eunice, Brunhilda, Wilbert, Seymour and Clarence. We used to read, we used to think for ourselves. We used to care very much. We used to believe.
Empire falls. Nothing gold can stay… sometimes we are so glad to see it go that we are beside ourselves with joy and grandmothers are dancing in discotheques until 4am every night of the week (visit Spain in the 80’s and you’ll see I’m not even exaggerating.) But even the joy of liberty and freedom passes. The trouble isn’t that things rise and fall — Everything is temporary, including you and me — The trouble is that we are failing to keep our promise to make this beautiful blue sphere of ours the most noble, brilliant, enriched and fabulous thing in the universe. We forget what we are – unlikely, amazing, beautiful, blessed – and we start grabbing for things like 3 year olds. We forget how to cope, and think that oblivion is the answer. We feel ashamed or guilty and then we start pointing fingers, and throwing rocks. Soon we are so alone in a crowd of other oblivion seekers, completely wrapped up in chanting “so-ma! so-ma! so-ma!” that we don’t stop to ask what soma is, or where we’ve heard that before (read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, he’s a bad ass, and while you’re at it read “May Day” by F. Scott Fitzgerald – he’s a bad ass too.)
Aldous Huxley – Bad ass
I encourage you to participate in this world with your head held high, and your hearts and minds wide open. It’s good we’re trying all this madness out. It’s been fun. But the empire is falling. The lights are flickering out as I write this. The attack ships are on fire off the crest of orion, and the venture capital isn’t coming to save the day. The answer is not to say “fuck it” and move back to Boston. The answer is to turn to your neighbor and see if you can’t lend a hand. The answer is to look up from your phone and see if it’s safe to cross the street. The answer is to open your heart as wide as you can and begin in your fumbling, awkward, and barely adolescent way to love. Rise or fall, win or lose, here or there, then or now, we can’t afford to forget that whatever your selfish little brain is locked onto right now, love is the secret to the universe. It’s the lesson you will either begin to learn right now, or when your dry, foul smelling, hospice lips finally expel their last gasp of air. It’s totally up to you, but love is all you need to know. It will inform everything you need to do, all you need to learn, and all you must undertake. Empire is falling all around us now, and I love you with all of my heart.
Thank you for listening. See you next week.
Here is the track listing for Sunday Soul: Our Empire Is Falling
1. Born To Be Blue – Mr Echo & Jenova 7
2. Standing On The Shore – Lifelike Remix – Empire of the Sun
3. Get Control – Alexey Union
4. Demon – Richard Empire
5. Agua Ardiente – Loko Remix – Christian Malloni
6. Ultramarine – Balls Deep
7. Chet – DeepHope Remix – Kurtz
8. Himalaya – Toomy Disco
9. Everything – Pawel Kobak
10. For So Long – Toomy Disco Remix – Autodeep
11. Side To Side – She Said Disco Remix – Les Loups
12. Nothing Gonna Change – Mr Echo & Mononome
13. Sunday Soul – Program ID
14. Some Of These Days – Kathy Brier
15. Sunday Soul – Program ID
Year 11 – Playlist 43|52
8 February 2015
Total Running Time: 01 Hour 19 Minutes
May the stars above you shimmer and shine, guiding your heart always, all of the time. May they guide you sweetly, all the way home. And may all your sundays have soul.