Archive for September, 2010

Don’t Sleep on Sam


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I’m not really a church going guy, but lately I’ve spent Sunday afternoons taking semi long walks and listening to Unitarian Church sermon podcasts. As I was walking yesterday I listened to a sermon about respect. The minister touched on many different points, but the main message I got out of the sermon was that respect is absolutely essential in allowing people to function both independently and in groups. He used the example of our current political climate to make the point that when people lack respect for others with differing opinions, when they call people Nazi baby killing assholes and greedy dumbshit douche bags the democracy breaks down. We all suffer.

Well I think about politics a lot, and despite its staying power I remain fascinated by the Tea Party. What I’d like to try here is to look at the Tea Party in the context of respect.

In his sermon, the minister told several stories illustrating how when people feel that they are truly being listened to and their views honored and respected, they are more apt to show that same respect to others. And what’s the Tea Party’s unifying belief? The government doesn’t act in our best interests. They don’t listen to our wants and needs. They do not respect us. And what’s the Tea Party’s collective response? “Fuck us? Nah dawg, Fuck You”. They want to limit the role of government in their lives as much as possible. They say “Why would we give you more money and power when you don’t use it to help us? More often than not, you harm us. You don’t respect us, so we won’t respect you”. And as much as I hate to say it, it’s hard to fault people for feeling this way. But being right doesn’t automatically make any response also right.

Without a mutual respect there can be no compromise, and we’re all witness to what happens in a democracy without compromise. It breaks. It took the Dems five months to pass a bill to help small businesses even though both parties agreed on almost all of its elements. Both parties agree on extending 98% of the Bush tax cuts, but they won’t even vote on it until after the elections. Those that have no faith in the worth of those opposing them are hijacking the political process. There’s no trust, no exchange of ideas, no real debate and no minds being changed. Without respect there is no compromise, and without compromise nothing can be accomplished.

In our government, as well as in our lives, we need to listen to each other, especially when we disagree. I’ll quote the minister, “out of our diversity we can discover a truth that is deeper than any truth that we can find alone”. How can I be sure that my point of view is right unless I allow it to be challenged and give my challenger the attention and respect that she needs to change my mind? How can I changer her mind if she doesn’t feel I’m taking her seriously? The power of a democracy is in the clash of opposing points of view. It’s the idea that all of us are smarter than any one of us. All of us deserve to feel like we are being listened to and valued for who we are, because we are seeing what happens when people aren’t.

We are all neighbors and when your neighbor is different it is a blessing. Respecting each other’s difference makes both of you better people. Don’t just tolerate it, celebrate it.   Respect.

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Excuse me, Doctor, but who are you and what is this control that you hold over me?

I’ve always thought, at least in public, that I have pretty good taste in music. I’m not saying I listen to obscure bands just to reference them, but, at the same time, I never miss out on cracking a good Nicklback joke. I read music journalism, have an extensive iTunes library and respect my elders. You get the idea. So, in continuing this same train of thought, why did I spend all of last week listening to Katy Perry’s new single Teenage Dream? I don’t listen to Top 40 radio. I don’t like Katy Perry. And talk about misleading lyrics. Her jeans aren’t that skintight (NSFW). I literally listened to that goddamn song like 14 times in a row one day. WTF you’re thinking. WTF is what I was thinking too (we’re so alike). Gang, it was research time.

Research time lead me to the dude up top. His name is Dr. Luke (not his Christian name), and apparently he has a PhD in making me lose my mind.

Dr Luke is an American songwriter, producer and remixer. Born Lucasz (why the z?) Gottwald to a solid upper-Jewish-middle-class-Rhode Island family, the Lukemeister taught himself guitar, dealt the dope (but just to other dealers), and was the Saturday Night Live house band’s lead axe man for 10 seasons. No shit. The Doc then got all up in NYC’s underground hip hop scene, working with cool artists like Mos Def, Black Star, KRS-One and Rage’s Zach de la Rocha. Respect right? Eventually he became bored with being a bad ass and started producing monster, MONSTER hits. And he’s doing okay.

Doc Lucaz is behind:

•    Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” “Behind These Hazel Eyes”, and “My Life Would Suck Without You”
•    Pink’s “Who Knew” and “U + Ur Hand”
•    Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend”
•    Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”, “Hot n Cold”, “California Gurls”, and “Teenage Dream”
•    Britney Spears’ “Circus”
•    Flo Rida’s “Right Round”
•    Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.”
•    Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok”
•    Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite”
Among others. See where this is going?
Because normally I wouldn’t give two, maybe even three shits about such a dude. But. But but but but. Remember how I found myself stuck on Teenage Dream? Well I can only think of two other songs that I similarly attached myself to. Since U Been Gone and Party in the U.S.A. Didn’t like the artists, didn’t like the genre, and didn’t get these fucking songs out of my head.

Dude scares me, making me love stuff I hate. He’s dangerous all right? I mean, Tea Party schmea party, Luke Luke could hoard like four or five crack addictive tracks, run for office, start dropping them on the public and I’d be humming that shit aall the way to the voting booth. Obama, you reading this? Well if you are, although I’m glad you’re not, I’d recommend getting Docca Docca to help you get your groove back. Have him write the slamming campaign theme that Will.I.Am wanted to write and put that mutha on REPEAT. It’ll stick. Don’t I know. You think I like admitting I love a Miley Cyrus song? If you are over the age of 15 and/or have a Y chromosome you do not like admitting it.

So seriously, Dr. Luke, really, who are you and what is this control that you hold over me?

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