When I worked at The Gazette Newspapers my friend Amy Bentley-Smith gave me a Flaming Lips EP for Christmas one year (somewhere around 2003 or ’04) and introduced me to an incredible band lead by an artist named Wayne Coyne, who is now on my list of favorite artists.
I don’t know how I had missed them up until Amy gave me the Fight Test EP, but these things happen. In the grand scheme of things I am forever indebted for to Amy for this introduction…
Any way, today I read the following little article in the Huffington Post, which included this video of the Flaming Lips’ wonderful and strange version of I Am The Walrus:
The Flaming Lips take one of The Beatles’ strangest songs to an even stranger place in a cover video for “I Am the Walrus,” recorded at the Pink Floor Studio in Oklahoma City. This is actually one of the band’s more normal efforts in a year that saw them constantly outdoing themselves in weirdness — the list includes: three new songs housed in gummy fetuses, a six-hour-long song followed by a 24-hour-long song encased in skulls, not to mention the never-ending bizarro Christmas station, Atlas Eets Christmas, we can’t stop listening to — maybe they’re going for mind control here?
Today’s Image – “They Kill Their Own” – 35″ x 25″ – acrylic latex, plastic flag, collage on silkscreen – 1991 [ In the collection of Denis LaRoche ]
This is a painting I did in 1991, around the time of the first Gulf War. I do not like war, neither have I ever participated in war, but this painting was about more than just war itself.
In the news everyday was stories of drive-bys, high school shootings, postal workers on a rampage, road rages and freeway shootings, police shootings and cop killers, capital punishment and the drug war, the war industry and the war machines – missiles, bombs, knives, guns, dynamite – death, death and more death.
It seemed to me that we Americans just like killing each other (and anyone else).
I wish it wasn’t so, but it sure seems that way. It was that way in 1991 when I painted this and it’s still true today.
So, after posting this painting as “Today’s Image” I read the following articles, which put into words what I wanted to say with this painting:
If the Tea Party actually gave a damn about what the Founding Fathers said, they’d be screaming at the top of their lungs about getting rid of the most pernicious threat to our liberty and solvency that ever existed: our military. Forget about the two to six trillion dollar cost of the Iraq war (upwards of $100K per household — how many solar panels could you buy with that?). Read the words of James Madison:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
Debt, taxes… sounds like it’s from a Tea Party manifesto, right?
And again from Madison:
“The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”
It is this tyranny that we now face. Consider this piece from this week’s Businessweek that Gingrich and many of the other Republican candidates have no interest in upholding Supreme Court rulings that they disagree with.
What is going on here? How are Tea Partiers and other “conservatives” able to defend rampant military spending but still decry taxes and debt — when feckless military spending ($700 Billion annually and growing) is what brought us to this overtaxed and indebted state. Why would they rather spend money on the apparatus of killing than on health care for the uninsured or food for the hungry? How are they able to ignore the teachings of their own heroes?
I was recently illuminated in this department by reading an amazing book by Bob Altemeyer titled The Authoritarians. He explains how there is a segment of the population that is willing to believe, and more importantly act, on whatever information their authorities tell them. These proto-fascists operate in a toxic mix of fear and self-righteousness, and have highly compartmentalized brains, so they are able to spurn science (like the belief in evolution or global climate disruption) and cherry pick their beliefs based on the half-baked nonsense their leaders tell them. Circumspection is for ninnies. They are right, and they are afraid, and the solution to everything is more violence and suppression, whether it be prisons, anti-immigrant legislation, more guns, more wars, or curtailing our rights to speech, privacy, or assembly.
What might a rational response be to the horrors of the Iraq war, a war that probably gave me (and everyone else in the world) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder even though I was always at least four thousand miles away? I would like to suggest it might be the draft — no exceptions. No standing armies — they are the seeds of tyranny, just like our Founding Fathers said they were. And no more wars fought by the poor and the dispossessed. Every healthy adult man and woman should be required to fight in any future conflict that some megalomaniac president wants to start… and we’ll see how far she (or he) gets. Unless there’s a better reason than the lies behind the Iraq war (falsified WMDs and al Qaida connections), I won’t be going. But I won’t be quiet about it, either.
By Frank Schaeffer – New York Times best-selling author
Every single one of the sops Newt Gingrich is throwing the far right has been scripted for him by generations of far right so-called Reconstructionist “thinkers” and far right Roman Catholic ideologues that have been pushing the religious community — and America — steadily in the direction of overthrowing democracy and replacing it with some version of an Americanized theocracy.
Newt Gingrich has been making a series of outrageous statements in ascending rhetorical volume as a means to throw the religious right scraps of validation that he is “one of us.” What Gingrich has done is to sign on to the extremist Dominionist/Roman Catholic agenda. Since I used to be a leader and the son of a leader on the Religious Right (in the 1970s and 80s) what Gingrich is saying invokes a bad case of déjà vu for me
What he’s really doing is sending signals to 3 overlapping constituencies that now control the Republican Party: The “Pro-Israel” Lobby; The Reconstructionist/Dominionist Lobby and The Conservative Roman Catholic Lobby. We’ll look at these groups and their influence one at a time.
The Gingrich Context
Wanting to outdo the rest of the Republican field on support for the hardliners in the State of Israel Gingrich told America that the Palestinian people are really a fiction an “invented people,” illegitimate and don’t actually exist.
Not wanting to let the far right down on his purity when it comes to abortion politics, Gingrich corrected himself on when “life begins” and got his “position” in line with the American Roman Catholic bishops and declared that when he said it “begins” with the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterine wall, what he really meant was that it begins with fertilization, thus putting himself squarely in the corner with the extremist bishops who would like to lump the pill in with abortion as a means that “destroys a life.”
So much for the separation of powers let alone the separation of church and state. And now Gingrich wants to further expand protection for religion and its meddling in politics saying that as president he’d roll back, examine and generally bulk up the rights of believers — rather, the rights of far right believers — to flout the law when it comes to gay rights, abortion, stem cell research and so on.
Interpretation (of I Am The Walrus from Wikipedia)
Although it has been reported that Lennon wrote “I am the Walrus” to confuse those who tried to interpret his songs, there have been many attempts to analyse the meaning of the lyrics.
Seen in the Magical Mystery Tour film singing the song, Lennon, apparently, is the walrus; on the track-list of the accompanying soundtrack EP/LP however, underneath “I Am the Walrus” are printed the words ‘ “No you’re not!” said Little Nicola’ (in the film, Nicola is a little girl who keeps contradicting everything the other characters say). Lennon returned to the subject in the lyrics of three of his subsequent songs: in the 1968 Beatles song “Glass Onion” he sings “now here’s another clue for you all — the walrus was Paul”, ; in the third verse of “Come Together” he sings the line “he bag production, he got walrus gumboot”, and in his 1970 solo song “God“, admits “I was the walrus, but now I’m John.”
Eric Burdon, lead singer of The Animals, claims to be the ‘Eggman’ mentioned in the song’s lyric. Burdon was known as ‘Eggs’ to his friends, the nickname originating from his fondness for breaking eggs over naked women’s bodies. Burdon’s biography mentions such an affair taking place in the presence of John Lennon, who shouted “Go on, go get it, Eggman…”
Throughout our country’s history, we have grown as a civilization and a culture because individuals stood up to the status quo as they saw a greater light of justice, a better world than the one they lived in; The Abolitionists, Women’s Suffragettes, The Civil Rights Movement and The Gay Rights Movement, just to name a few.
These are the people who saw clearly they were on the right side of history and justice, and acted upon their convictions. For their efforts they received ridicule and insults from those who believed the status quo would always continue.
But in the great march of human history, it is those who ridiculed the ones who stood up for greater human rights and freedom who always find themselves on the losing side in the end.
Again I would mention the examples of the Abolitionists who ended slavery, the Women’s Suffragettes movement which gave us the woman’s right to vote, and the Civil Rights Movement which ended official racial segregation in our country.
These people were visionaries, warriors, and people just like us, people who have been scapegoated for too long… people who had been put down too long… people who knew they were better than the lies said about them.
This is why I firmly believe that the cause of medical marijuana, the simple desire for safe and legal access to our medicine, will one day prevail – history is on our side.