Alright … fasten your lapstraps kiddies – they took me off the Ritalin
It was a few months after the World Trade Center got taken out that I signed up for an on-line course from Prof. Anna Villegas at San Joaquin Delta College entitled “Rock Lyrics As Literature”, thinking it would be an interesting and marginally entertaining way to earn some cheap credits that could one day be put to good use. Thought it would be cool to see how the tempers of the respective times were reflected by the voices from the Richie Cunningham Era, and Camelot, and the Armies of the Night, and Watergate all the way through 9/11.
It also kind of piqued my interest as to whether or not there would be anything Fred Durst might ever have to say that could possibly have been of any fucking interest to me.
Pretty eclectic group of people in the class, none of whom met face-to-face, relying on a cyber Bulletin Board to exchange any thoughts, feelings, or theories, maybe trade some stories and share some of our individually unique insights into the given subject. Largely college age students listening to Staind or System of a Down, there were still a handful of us fogies harking back to the halcyon days of the Brill Building, Leiber & Stoller and Phil Spector, of Brian Wilson,Lennon and McCartney, Ray Davies, Paul Simon, and, of course, Brother Zimmerman from Hibbing, MN. along with Robbie Robertson, Jim Morrison, Robert Hunter, Stills and Neil among others.
A diversifiedepresentatives from the three stages of life that settle in shortly after the pubescent maelstrom has subsided: Real Young, Feel Young and Neil Young (Sorry ’bout that, brother. Love you deeply).
The course was designed not only to discuss rock lyrics specifically, but to reflect on the observations the chosen artists had to make on Life and the World Around Them. Needless to say, with a veritable plethora of decades and generations being represented to one degree of efficiency or another, it made for some heart-felt dissertations and mutually spirited enlightenment.
Of course, human nature being what it is, it all too often ended up in each contributor truly believing that they were right and everybody else was either a burned-out hippie, a brainless slacker, mindless dweeb, self-absorbed twit or gum-clicking teenie bopper.
My personal highlight of the year was the exchange between me and a fellow named A.J. Something about the trouble we had run into in Viet Nam roughly three decades earlier, before the dude was even born. I had mentioned the fact that the time we overspent in Southeast Asia was never (to the best of my recollection) officially referred to as a war by anyone calling the shots. Those actually taking the shots might have felt differently.
I don’t know: billions of bullets, boxcars of bombs, battalions of body bags… sounds like a war to me, if those phrases were to be included in a textbook definition you could safely quote in a History thesis. I wasn’t basing my contention on the absence of a Congressional (i. e. legal) declaration of war but rather on The Evening News, Time magazine and the stories brought home by the vets.
It just seemed that the military definition of war was based on the predication that it was a battle, or series thereof, history could point to and qualitatively and quantitatively proclaim that our forces had won – which would, of course, rely entirely on the definition of “won”. Probably some sort of correlation between the number of soldiers we lost, the number we killed and the relative cost per body in relation to the amount of natural resources and marketable commodities we took home on the planes and boats along with all the flag-draped coffins, all neatly packaged as a thoroughly impersonal algebraic formula.
My assertion was simply that the USMC (Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children) had their claim to fame resting on their assertion that they “never lost a war”. The stone-faced refusal to accept that we left that corner of the world in much worse shape than we in which found it excluded the Viet Nam conflict / police action / hostilities from attaining the lofty status of War.
Kind of like the following years we spent dealing with Iraq. I can’t recall any declaration of was from Congress. The closest we came was when Dubyah Bush stepped out of a fighter plane onto a flight deck and standing in front of an endearing bunch of sailors boldly proclaimed “Mission accomplished!” shortly after we captured the jack-off who had years before put out a hit on Dubyah’s old man.
(Continue on Page 2)