May 27, 2008

The piano has been drinking
My necktie is asleep
And the combo went back to New York
The jukebox has to take a leak

Terry Winters, Field of View, 1993

* New York Times:

"President Bush opposes a new G.I. Bill of Rights. He worries that if the traditional path to college for service members since World War II is improved and expanded for the post-9/11 generation, too many people will take it.

"He is wrong, but at least he is consistent. Having saddled the military with a botched, unwinnable war, having squandered soldiers’ lives and failed them in so many ways, the commander in chief now resists giving the troops a chance at better futures out of uniform. He does this on the ground that the bill is too generous and may discourage re-enlistment, further weakening the military he has done so much to break.

"So lavish with other people’s sacrifices, so reckless in pouring the national treasure into the sandy pit of Iraq, Mr. Bush remains as cheap as ever when it comes to helping people at home."
"Mr. Bush — and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain — have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons. They would prefer that college benefits for service members remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform are more likely to stay put."
"Their reasoning is flawed since the C.B.O. has also predicted that the bill would offset the re-enlistment decline by increasing new recruits — by 16 percent. The chance of a real shot at a college education turns out to be as strong a lure as ever. This is good news for our punishingly overburdened volunteer army, which needs all the smart, ambitious strivers it can get.

"This page strongly supports a larger, sturdier military. It opposes throwing ever more money at the Pentagon for defense programs that are wasteful and poorly conceived. But as a long-term investment in human capital, in education and job training, there is no good argument against an expanded, generous G.I. Bill.

"By threatening to veto it, Mr. Bush is showing great consistency of misjudgment. Congress should forcefully show how wrong he is by overriding his opposition and spending the money — an estimated $52 billion over 10 years, a tiniest fraction of the ongoing cost of Mr. Bush’s Iraq misadventure.

"As partial repayment for the sacrifice of soldiers in a time of war, a new, improved G.I. Bill is as wise now as it was in 1944."

* Bobybuiding gone wild.

* From a 2002 article on Will Oldham. excerpt:

"With Oldham, it seems, all that matters are the songs. Which is why it often seems that he is the only person who is doing something new, something now, with the idea of the song - including sometimes stretching it to breaking point. A Will Oldham song - any Will Oldham song you care to choose - will sound both familiar and utterly alien. It will sound both old and new, fully formed and a little bit broken, complete and somehow unfinished. It will intrigue you and maybe even baffle you and it may well annoy you. The titles alone give some indication of his singular approach. Here is a random selection: 'You Will Miss Me When I Burn', 'Be Still And Know God (And Don't Be Shy)', 'I Tried To Stay Healthy For You', 'Rich Wife Full Of Happiness' and, last but not least, 'You Have Cum On Your Hair (And Your Dick Is Hanging Out)' - which, as the title suggests, is a love song for our times.

"Perhaps because of his elusiveness, Oldham has become a cult artist constantly on the cusp of crossover. Next week, without fanfare, he has sold out the Barbican as part of their Further Beyond Nashville festival. Last year, he was acknowledged by the ailing Johnny Cash, who recorded one of Oldham's best and darkest songs, 'I See A Darkness'. Oldham's fans include Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, who has recorded with him, and Harmony Korine, the maverick filmmaker who gave him a cameo in his last film, Julien Donkey-Boy.

"For all that, he remains the most mysterious figure in contemporary American music, someone whose increasingly rare interviews often reveal nothing so much as their interrogators' fumbled attempts to get a handle on him. Oldham hates interviews. 'What are they for?' he asks me. 'They have nothing to do with the music. It's usually people asking a bunch of weird questions like, "Why are the songs so slow?" Well, maybe because they are. Because that's how we play them. Because I wrote them at a less rapid pace. It's always why, why why? Why everything? And the answer to 'why' is because it just is. Things just are.'"

* "This is a nation that has lost the ability to be self-critical, and that makes a lie out of the freedoms." -- Joni Mitchell


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