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Driver, Take This Cab to the Depths of the SoulMy 13th album, “Driver Take This Cab to the Depths of the Soul,” by my musical act “Salon de la Guerre,” is now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CD Baby and other sites were music is sold or streamed.

I began this year, like all decent people, in a funk over the direction our country had taken, the amorality of Donald Trump’s election and the violent rhetoric that had become the mainstay of Republicanism only some 30 years after Ronald Reagan’s sunny optimism. I wondered how a person who lied so easily to stupid people, in a populist idiom familiar to failed states, had somehow managed to become the leader of a country whose institutions are often reliably immune to such behavior. I wondered how to tell my child that a person who had spent his campaign bullying, blustering, threatening vulnerable minorities and flirting with treason had somehow succeeded with those very traits to wangle his way into the Oval Office. I wondered if telling my child to be a good human being was still possible, desirable in the world Republicans had bequeathed us.

The only way I could think to deal with our new anomie was to become a better guitar player.

After all, telling people the truth and demonstrating to them exactly how they are wrong–these are somehow no longer satisfactory ways to make change. As I’ve stated elsewhere, any person appealing to a Trump voter is effectively arguing with the person’s Dad. A Bad Dad who has kept this person a child-hostage of abstractions and made him repeat them well into the adulthood, often long after said Bad Dad is in the grave. Hiding Americans’ sins and Dad’s racism are two such abstractions and the pain of disloyalty for the hapless Trump supporter is as close to him as his skin.

Since the violence of the Antifa school doesn’t work to advance decency, and since the current Republican-controlled Congress will ensure that Trump, who is already manifestly guilty of obstruction of justice, flies above the law as easily as whistling, I have no hope for his quick removal, deserved as it is.

I wrought my despair into art. Some of the first few things I wrote for this album were so bad and so angry and shrill that I left them off. But then I found a groove with a song called “Cain and Abel,” a morality tale about the rationalizing of murder and the cost of getting away with it–if there is any. A couple of nasty anti-Trump lyrics remained in other songs, but I noticed as I worked that the album’s tone became sunnier. It seems that I had redeemed myself by making art, if I couldn’t redeem the world.

Why should you care? The good news is, you don’t have to! I’ve achieved things I’m greatly proud of on this album, recorded the best guitar instrumental I might ever play in my life, wrote some probing lyrics that went beyond despair and shrill polemics. The victory is personal and belongs to me. If other people want to hear it, bless them, but I don’t force my music down anyone’s throat. If you, dear reader, are a fan of my stuff, I hope I can still make you happy even as I go off in different directions.

As I describe it on my CD Baby page, “the new album is a collection of pop songs, piano pieces, free form electric guitar jams and weird electronica made in order to navigate our tough political and spiritual times.” I made a switch to electronic music last year and recorded most of my last four albums in Garage Band, using computer instruments. Here, I reintroduce my guitar (which, I learned after a long period of being scared of the idea, can actually be plugged into an iPhone thanks to some clever electronics makers). It was about the same time that I discovered my ability and desire to do fast-finger runs on a guitar, which I think gives the electronic stuff more excitement and dimension.

I don’t think Donald Trump fans will object to these songs, since there are few outright insults. (You can read those on this post!) My greatest desire with my music, if I have any, is to encourage other people to make art–which anybody can do–or if not that, find new things they were capable of that they didn’t know about. Why is it important to me? Because it makes them better people. It reminds them of the constructive acts they are capable of, the creativity and imagination and empathy they’ve always had as gifted mammals crawling out of the caves. The pride a Donald Trump offers them is as ephemeral and cheap as the kiss of a prostitute. While some 63 million Trump voters painfully learn that lesson, it’s important for all of us to remember we can continue to work on things that make us feel good about ourselves. Giving to charity. Helping out our brothers and sisters in distress in Houston and Puerto Rico and Florida. Telling our children to do the right things and not hate–because that still matters. And becoming excited about the next thing around the corner. I found that ability very, very late in life. A cure for bitterness. And I won’t let the current political environment ruin that.

If you’re into it … my first single off the new album.

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In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be releasing my 12th album.

Salon de la Guerre presents “In the Lake of Feral Mermaids,” a pop album about drifters, murder, mayhem, the end of idealism and the quest for responsible retirement planning–mostly set in sumptuous Caribbean locales. A set of radio friendly tunes here, though I threw in a couple of loud rockers for old times’ sake. Cover art by my buddy Corey Sanders.

Click here for the first single:

From the adit holes come breathing

Gold dust from the mountain seething

And Indians laboring with summary pants

Hoist the gold into totemic mill stamps

And with 70 beats per minute, the cams blast.

It’s ancient Mercury whose water kisses

The narrow isthmus on its way to sea;

 

There the natives seldom see a sun

That hasn’t drunk from river San Juan

A vision eating ancient manioc

Upon the Pacific Zion where their kings

Once flocked, decked with cotton and straw

Root crops were the staple foods

Mandioca, tapioca and Mazamorra

And as this dream unfurled in dust

Like palpitant coffee in a sunlight colored rust

Mercury with shoes on backward

Buried his seed in woman-pregnant meanders

Illuminated the fish like Maundy Thursday candles

And spread the dream like straw in a totem’s ears

 

Gold and mercury marry and divorce

To be caught in black nets perforce

Spills to the ground its silver seed for reuse

And makes for Babylon pregnant dreams

Of eating manioc by the Pacific seam once more

Mercury that brings us visions

Of cassava on a fructifying shore

Under dirty gossan caps, meteoric water and large axe handles

The light of the Indian candles finds

A new and smiling seem once more.

“I did not want white nationalists in the White House. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to register members of a religion in contravention of the First Amendment. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to revisit the morality of Japanese internment camps. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want people to make fun of the disabled–to say it was OK for my kid to do it, or for my disabled kid to suffer it. I just wanted change.”
“I did not say it’s OK for entitled, powerful rich men to aggressively try to sleep with my wife. I just wanted change.”
“I did not think it was OK to grab women by the crotch. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want the United States to start torturing prisoners again. I just wanted change.”
“I was not for committing war crimes against the innocent bystander relatives of suspected terrorists. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to let banks start doing the same things they were doing before the financial crisis. I just wanted change.”
“I did not think it was OK to denigrate a guy who was beaten three times a week by the North Vietnamese as some sort of loser. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to free polluters and contribute to a global climate phenomenon that is going to affect the quality of life for my child. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to signal to a president that it was OK for him to basically merge his business interests with his political interests by using his children as a meaningless buffer. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want the KKK to feel emboldened. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want a rude tone set for politics from the top down by a man who made political incivility his trademark. I just wanted the change.”

Congratulations. If all these things became acceptable to you, you’ve changed.

Glenn Beck recently went to CNN to ask the musical question: What are we doing to do about the resurgent racist right?

We’ll drive ourselves crazy trying to ask the question, “Is every Trump supporter racist?” The answer is no. The more important thing is that they are disengaged, unserious, incurious, did not understand the economic forces underlying their problems, and were easily distracted because of their low threshold for boredom. These qualities allowed them to be easily used by Trump, whose tactics are old and familiar to any person who’s taken one history class. And their disengagement will allow them to be used again by a small but dedicated group of ACTUAL racists to rise to levels of power not seen in this country since the 1920s. Trumpites’ unfocused anger was the problem until last week. Their inertia will be the problem now. They’ll say, “This racism talk doesn’t apply to me” without acknowledging that they unleashed and empowered white nationalists and that, if they think of themselves as good people, they are many times more obligated to call out racists in their own ranks than they realize.

A Short Play

My friend: I’m lonely.

Me: I hear you, man.

My friend: So I’m giving $500 a month to a stripper. She says she loves me.

Me: Aw, man! That’s horrible. She’s taking advantage of you, using the oldest trick in the book.

My friend: You look down at me!

The End

This, in its entirety, is my short play, “Listening to a Trump Supporter.”

–*Trump managed to cobble together a unique coalition of voters: the not bright, and the far dumber than not bright.

–*Americans with nothing to lose but low unemployment, a rising stock market and rising wages and health care coverage decided to roll the dice on a tax cut that might get them a new 16 inch television.

–*Middle-class white Americans made it loud and clear that they are tired of nobody listening to them mistakenly blame their problems on immigrants.

–*Americans are tired of the elites looking down at them … so here, elites, this tax cut should teach you a thing or two.

–*Americans in the middle class with stagnant wages are hurting. But rather than a minimum wage increase, they’d really just like permission to use the “N-word” again.

–*Everybody needs somebody to harass and victimize and look down on, and Obama had given middle class whites nobody to do that to.

–*Middle class whites are concerned about the ways skyrocketing debt is going to affect their kids. That’s why they elected a guy mostly known for putting up giant buildings with enormous debt attached to them.

–*The whole, “watch me get drunk and vote for this guy” crowd is bigger than we thought.

–*The Washington and New York government and media establishments are out of touch because they spend too much time reading and analyzing and thinking.

–*Americans don’t like political dynasties. Also they don’t like authoritarian populist regim….never mind. Americans don’t know what they like.

–* … or who they are.

–* … or what they stand for.

–*”Take that, college-educated people!”