Posts Tagged ‘Kansas’

One of the things you might not know about ER Salo Deguierre is that he’s not just interested in ripping off Sonic Youth and the Velvet Underground all the time. No, ol’ Salo has a soft side, too. In fact, he quite loves folk music.

It was 1992 when I first saw a brilliant movie I highly recommend called Dogfight (starring the late, great River Phoenix in one of his best performances, working alongside the equally phenomenal Lili Taylor). As the credits rolled at the end for this devastating tale of lost innocence in the 1960s, I heard for the first time the dulcet tones of a maestro guitarist named John Fahey and my life has never been the same. I spent the next 17 years not only trying (and failing) to play the way he does but also to reconcile how an instrumental guitarist with nobody backing him could sound like a symphony. I wondered for a long time, after listening closely, if his symphonic sound had any relation to the type dreamed up by Sonic Youth troubadours Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. I was pleasantly surprised later to find that my intuition of a musical connection was not superficial; Sonic Youth acknowledged at some point that they had indeed used a lot of John Fahey’s alternative tuning approaches to create their own totally original sound. Their debt to him turned out to be so great that they even played shows with him in his waning years (one of which I got to see on my 27th birthday, the best present ever).

John Fahey never sang (he didn’t need to), but until I come up with a guitar sound as fulfilling as his, I have to unfortunately do some croaking on my own material, thinking that if I combine some halfway decent picking skills with a halfway decent vocal, I’ll have something better than both. My results in this pursuit have mostly been a mishmash in the past, but in the last few months I’ve come up with something I don’t mind sharing.

I wrote this song about 10 or 11 years ago but left it unrecorded until this year. It’s about pain, poverty, class resentment. American history, basically. Just click to play.

Kansas 1921
By Eric Rasmussen
Copyright 1999

Go inside the house and get our best wooden chair
Before he comes up our porch
And takes off his bowler hat
And sits down and tells us tales of distant Washington
We’ll feed him corn and watch his face

Seems so long
Since dad’s been dead
But how happy he’d be
To have known a president
On a whistle-stop campaign
In this brave new year of 1921
Just to see our land and give us blessing

Oh ho, high wind, high wall
Won’t you take my hand and pull me down
There’ll be warm spring wind comin’ round

Punch another hole inside your old leather belt
You’re as thin as a bean
And your pants are fallin’ down
And you might run into rich folk in town
Don’t you ever stop to think of who you are?

Try to think that you was raised better than
You was raised
Tie that dog up in the wood
Kick him if he ain’t been good
Lick your fingers, push your hair behind your ears
Don’t smile when they look you in the eye

Oh ho, high wind, high wall
Won’t you take my hand and pull me down
There’ll be warm spring wind
Comin’ round

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Topeka, Kansas (API) Karaoke night was almost ruined Friday as two revelers in the local karaoke bar The Rubber Hose chose a song from Broadway musical “Avenue Q” for the night’s 11th number, a choice that sent many of the bar’s patron’s into befuddlement, grousing and ultimately acts of violence.

The two singers, Liz Miller and Melissa Snow, chose the song from the hit Broadway parody of Sesame Street because they had seen it on a recent trip to New York, but the number nearly brought the festivities to a screeching halt when several of the flummoxed patrons stood dead silent.

“I don’t know what those girls were singing,” said Ross McAdams, a middle manager at a nearby natural gas refining plant. “I was just coming off feeling real good about my “Hotel California” vocal and then these two girls come up with this shit.”

What made it worse, said local tax attorney Florence Halberstadt, is that the two girls picked a song called “Schadenfreude,” a word many of the patrons were unfamiliar with.

“I just don’t get what those two girls are singing,” said Halberstadt. “I came here to have fun. If I knew this was going to turn into some German song night I would have stayed home.”

“I don’t get it,” said Ed Chalmers, a plumber. “Are those two making fun of us?”

The crowd became increasingly pouty and dejected as the lyrics scrolled across the screen. Even though the song offers much helpful explication of the word “Schaudenfreude,” mainly through humorous contexts, the wit was largely lost on the crowd, many of whom turned angry and sour.

“It’s my birthday,” said Holly Knoxall, a local gym teacher. “It’s totally ruined now, all because a couple of no-goodniks think they’re better than we are.”

A winner of several Tony Awards, Avenue Q uses parodies of several Sesame Street characters to address mature themes like adult sexuality, racism and intolerance, mostly by having its characters espouse extreme viewpoints at odds with those of the artist’s true feelings.

“Specifically it’s called ‘irony,’” Liz Miller said to the crowd. “Get a clue, jerk-offs!”

But yet again, tackling of subject matter by having a character embrace the very viewpoint being satirized was something poorly understood by the crowd, many of whom were drinking Rolling Rock and smoking Camels and singing mostly songs by the Beach Boys, the Eagles and U2 and many of whom showed they were in absolutely no mood to be made to feel inferior.

“These two little ho bags are pissing me off,” said Harold Osprey, who ended the night yelling at his girlfriend and telling her, “Get in the car, bitch. If I stay, somebody’s going to get hurt.”

Having almost ended one of the song’s signature lines, “Fuck you lady, that’s what stairs are for,” Miller and Snow hoped the song might finally inspire a few belly laughs, but by that point, several of the patrons had started pushing each other at the bar and were no longer in any mood to laugh. Instead, it seemed blood sport would be the night’s game, and as the lone karaoke machine played “Schadenfreude, making the world a better place …” the atmosphere in the bar finally descended into shouts, flying beer bottles and fire.

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(Originally posted Monday, June 23, 2008 )

TERRE HAUTE, IND (AP)–April Wilkerson was visiting her grandmother one night last May when she heard disconcerting sounds coming from Grandma Trudy’s bedroom. At first, she was worried that it might be an intruder or some kind of wild animal. To her utter horror, she discovered that her beloved grandmother was performing the act of sexual intercourse with a man she knew from the soda counter at the five and dime.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says April, who is 18 years old. “I have been in therapy ever since. How could this be happening in America?”

Across the nation, American teens like April are becoming increasingly distressed to find that their grandparents are engaging in sexual intercourse, sometimes more than once a month.

“It’s disgusting and immoral,” says Randall David, 17, of Pacific Palisades, Calif. “These are our grandparents we’re talking about. They’re the ones who remember our birthday and give us cookies. To think of them engaging in sex when they can’t possibly reproduce anymore just sickens and depresses me.”

David and Wilkerson recently corresponded by MySpace and have formed an outreach group called “Let’s Stop Old People From Having Sex.” Here they have met many others like them who say that the spread of “geriatric canoodling” is on the rise and is a cause of growing concern.

“What if they, like, die while they’re doing it?” asks Wilkerson. “I mean, they’re old. Anything could happen. I just don’t understand why they would want to even do something like that. You’re supposed to grow out of sex and start knitting or something.”

Marva Wainwright, a sex therapist in Austin, Texas, says that it is often the case that older people continue to have intercourse if they value it, and a recent New England Journal of Medicine study reports that a quarter of those between 75 and 85 were having regular sex. About one third of those said they had given or received oral sex in the last year.

“Uggghhhh!” screamed Wilkerson. “I’m gonna vomit! I can’t believe my freakin’ ears. I mean, it’s OK for teens to have sex, because we’re good looking and all, and our bodies are like, wanting it all the time. But for Grandma Trudy to do something like that … ugh, I can’t even think about that.”

Maribeth Lundegaard, a 17-year-old from Belleville, Kansas, who was recently named student council president at her high school, agreed with her peers.

“Sex is a serious topic,” says Lundegaard. “It is not only a matter of personal freedom, but a matter of social responsibility and personal morality that every person must give serious thought to before engaging in. That is why, as a teen, I have taken serious precautions and talked about my choices responsibly with a doctor. However, old people having sex is just disgusting.”

Asked about her sexual behavior, Wilkerson’s grandmother Gertrude Stuyvesant said, “MYOB. Mind your own beeswax. … April’s birthday is September 27.”

“Listen,” said David, “I love my Grandpa Dwayne. And he used to tell me lots of stories of being serviced in Mexico in the 1940s. But those were different times. He’s got to stop having sex right now. He doesn’t know what it could do. It’s like they told us in school … it could mess up your future.”

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