Notes on Patriotism

First of all, look up Emma Goldman’s screed about patriotism and give it a gander if you never have.

Yesterday morning, WNYC’s “The Take Away” had a whole segment about whether you/we are proud to be Americans… based on something Tim Geithner said last week: that the way to be patriotic is to pay your taxes.

I listened for a half hour to a far right immigrant and a centerish think tank dude talk about how great it is to be an American. I totally agreed with them for the most part but there were barely any caveats. Of course it’s great for a number of reasons I don’t have to get into. I had to turn it off because of what was not being acknowledged in a very direct manner: Of all the [Western] countries that we helped after World War II, the good ol’ U.S.A. ranks LAST in all sorts of categories. My point is that if you’re really patriotic, you need to stop cheerleading for the U.S. and work to make it better. At the very least, point it out so the public is aware this all could be better.

Occupy Wall Street and other forums are sure to raise these issues as soon as Spring starts and/or the movie comes out. If NPR wants to live up to the liberal windbag status that Andrew Breitbart gave it, instead of fawning over his legacy with little criticism, they should be covering Tim Geithner’s ties to Wall Street and the free pass he usually gets from the press. They could also do a story about why Reporters Without Borders ranks the U.S. 47th in its “freedom of the press” index.

These are complex issues and I’m sure 2012 will be great year for the movies.

Eurotrash Cometh

headphone in the dj booth
I had the pleasure of DJing for a lot of Germans and some other Europeans on Thanksgiving night. This is nothing new but I am a bit jealous of the Eurotrash because the ones I talked to have really crappy jobs, yet they have healthcare and can afford to travel through their whole four-week vacation and then some. They see the United States as a failing imperial power ceding by default to China whereas Europe decided a long time ago that building useful things is a lot better than building war. Their taste in music corresponds.

Playing Games at Fat Cat

Musicians prep for a show at Fat Cat
One of my favorite places in New York has to be Fat Cat. It’s a gigantic basement of games (pool, ping pong, scrabble, chess, shuffleboard) plus live jazz music all night long. A large percentage of the clientele is NYU students who don’t give a shit about the music but even so, the atmosphere is usually pretty crazy. The musicians might be jazz students or veterans hanging out late and playing with the kids. If you don’t like the games, have some beer or wine and just dig.

Rocks Off Boat Cruise Photos

On July 20th 2010, I went on a Rocks Off boat cruise that cost only $10! What a deal! I took some pictures of the bands (Miniboone, The Naked Heroes, and the Mess Around) but they were all pretty blurry. I’ve seen all the bands before and they’re all great local acts from New York and Brooklyn. I don’t think you’ll find a cheaper rock’n’roll cruise but I highly recommend catching at least one of the remaining rides if you want to blow off some summer steam in New York fuckin City.

Grey Fox Bluegrass Fest

Last weekend I was at the Grey Fox bluegrass festival and despite most of my friends not showing up until the final day, I had a blast. I picked up a passenger from craigslist and her party was nice enough to let me camp with them in the shady trees that line the festival grounds. It was a lot hotter than last year and while rain was scarce, Saturday night we got hit with a four-hour lightning storm that shut down Sam Bush’s set early. Sometimes people ask me: Hugh, you’re an old punk rock dude. Why do you like bluegrass? Like punk, there is a certain DIY aspect to bluegrass — even moreso because you usually don’t need any amplification for the instruments. The songwriting has a definite dark side that appeals to me along with blunt honesty. As you can tell from the photos, I like what the kids are doing as much as the established artists. Check out Crooked Still, Sarah Jarosz, and Della Mae at their websites! It’s funny that many of these kids are studying bluegrass at places like the Berklee School of Music and the Boston Conservatory. Enjoy the pix and playlist below.