Today marks the 44th anniversary of the National Guard murders of 4 students at Kent State University in Ohio who were protesting Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia. Horrible events spawn new cultural phenomena. In this case, Devo. Jerry Casale was among the protestors that day and explains its impact upon him and his philosophy of the world:
VR: Going back to your early days. You were present at the Kent State shootings in 1970. How did that day affect you?
JC: Whatever I would say, would probably not all touch upon the significance or gravity of the situation at this point of time? It may sound trite or glib. All I can tell you is that it completely and utterly changed my life. I was white hippie boy and than I saw exit wounds from M1 rifles out of the backs of two people I knew. Two of the four people who were killed, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause, were my friends. We were all running our asses off from these motherf&*$#ers. It was total utter bullshit. Live ammunition and gasmasks – none of us knew, none of us could have imagined. They shot into a crowd that was running. I sopped being a hippie and I started to develop the idea of devolution. I got real, real pissed off.
VR: Does Neil young’s “Ohio” strike close to your heart?
JC: Of course. It was strange that the first person that we met, as Devo emerged, was Neil Young. He asked us to be in his movie, Human Highway. It was so strange – San Francisco in 1977. Talk about life being karmic, small and cyclical – it’s absolutely true. In fact I just a got a call from a person organizing a 30th Anniversary thing. Noam Chomsky will be there and I may go talk there if I can get away. I still remember it so crystal clear like a dream you will never forget…….. or a nightmare. I still remember every moment. It kind of went in slow motion like a car accident.
VR: You said that the Kent State shooting sort of served as a catalyst for your theory of Devolution, which spawned Devo.
JC: Absolutely. Until then I was a hippie. I thought that the world is essentially good. If people were evil, there was justice and that the law mattered. All of those silly naïve things. I saw the depths of the horrors and lies and the evil. In the paper that evening, the Akron Beacon Journal, said that students were running around armed and that officers had been hurt. So deputy sheriffs went out and deputized citizens. They drove around with shotguns and there was martial law for ten days. 7 PM curfew. It was open season the students. We lived in fear. Helicopters surrounding the city with hourly rotating runs out to the West Side and back downtown. All first amendment rights are suspended at the instance when the governor gives the order. All of the class action suits by the parents of the slain students were all dismissed out of court because once the governor announced martial law, they had no right to assemble.
John Hodgman, reading a anti-women’s suffrage letter to the editor from 1914.
Why has Farley never written on this statue in Lexington of General John Morgan and his mare Bess? See, Bess has testicles because the sculptor felt it wasn’t manly enough for a general to be riding around a mare. This says a good bit about the late 19th century’s obsession with manliness and war, with the imperialists of the period going through a Greatest Generation-esque fetishization of the military experience of their fathers and comparing their own manhood unfavorably to them. Proper Civil War memory could provide young men examples of bravery, courage, and manhood they could then take with them to Cuba, the Philippines, or whatever Latin America country we decided to invade on a given early 20th century day. And thus, a man’s horse needed to be a male, at least so it seems to have needed to be for this gender-worried sculptor.
Thanks 7-Up. This 1953 book of suggested recipes to incorporate the soda into cooking will change your life,
as will much of American cooking from the Cold War. Mother’s Day is a mere week away and I know Mom will love that tasty drink mixing 7-Up and milk.
I do think that eventually the death penalty will go away in the United States. It’s one of those human rights issues like gay marriage and marijuana that offends more and more people. But I wouldn’t be too confident we are seeing it soon or that the Oklahoma disaster will lead to a big push against it. There’s a lot of Americans, especially of the older and whiter and conservative variety, who think the state executing someone in a manner that maximizes suffering is a great thing. It’s more likely to have an impact in a state like Oregon than Oklahoma.
Of course, any sane interpretation of the 8th Amendment would declare the death penalty, especially under these circumstances of untried drug cocktails, unconstitutional. But then again, the only constitutional principle that really matters to conservative majority is current Republican policy positions.
A few victual related items for your Friday afternoon:
1. The fad of celebrity chefs making “runway food” to promote the conspicuous consumption of rich people that then gets celebrated like the 80s is stupid. Is Anthony Bourdain turning into a sort of modern version of Robin Leach, at least for one form of consumption?
2. The rise of tequila (and
increasingly mezcal). This is a bit more of a celebratory post than I’d like because there are some real legitimate questions about the sustainability of the agave-based booze industry. As my wife is a scholar of Mexico specializing in Oaxaca, I spend a decent amount of time there when she is researching. So I’ve been lucky enough to explore mezcal a bit and the quality can be really outstanding. At this point I generally prefer it to tequila while drinking straight, although I tend to think the smokiness of it overwhelms cocktails. The cost however isn’t really all that cheap, even in Mexico, especially if we compare it to bourbon. The bottle I brought
back last summer of a weird forest-based mezcal runs about $70 here and I got it for around $45 at a mezcal fair (at which you pay a $4 admission fee and then can taste all the mezcal you want). I assume the real difference is that it’s just much more expensive to produce because of the size of the plant, as opposed to the corn that makes up bourbon.
3. Agribusiness is now funding feature documentaries on the greatness and responsibility of the current agricultural system. Very convincing, I’m sure.
4. The bacon of Israel.
There’s a certain set of commenters here who love to hate my energy posts because they say I oppose everything. That’s not true at all. I don’t fall in love with technologies or think they are the answer to most questions, which makes people uncomfortable even though virtually every technology should be critiqued. And when it comes to energy production, I am a huge supporter of wind and solar. I believe we need a massive federal program to expand our production of clean, renewable energy, understanding of course that every form of energy production has some kind of environmental downside and mitigating those downsides should be high priorities.
But of course the dirty energy industry opposes any kind of responsible energy policy and so do the Koch Brothers, who are leading the fight to increase taxes on solar energy production. Some of this is rich people and established industries protecting their preexisting economic interests in coal and
oil. But that’s far from all of it, especially among the politicians who may not directly profit from these companies. This is cultural and in 2014 the politics of resentment rule the day. Solar and wind energy–that’s hippie energy. Producing energy without destroying the climate is something that makes the Commiecrats happy and we can’t have that. If the libtards are crying, then we win.
So in a very real sense, energy policy is about what it means to be an American. Wind and solar can be as profitable as oil and coal. So it’s not really about the potential to make money. It’s about our relationship to other Americans and the world. Are we to be socially and ecologically responsible global citizens leading the way to a more sustainable future? Or can we just kill ‘em all? The Republican Party certainly supports the latter.
A huge step forward in the minimum wage struggle was taken yesterday in Seattle, where a commission of labor and business members came to a general agreement on a $15 minimum wage for the city, making it the nation’s wage leader. This isn’t a total victory–it is really complicated with lots of business-friendly provisions and it needs to pass the City Council and there’s certainly a chance that business will seek to water it down when it gets to that point. Hopefully labor will be fighting to make it stronger at that level (although I doubt it). But these are the compromises one goes through in passing progressive legislation. That it is tied to the Consumer Price Index is also important.
And hopefully, in a few years Seattle’s minimum wage will be widely seen as too low and the fight for $20 will be underway.
It’s been awhile since LGM had a cat mascot. So allow me to nominate my cat Torvald, who turned 11 today (or yesterday if you are on the east coast). A plutocrat with a revolutionary birthday, Torvald was born under my house in Albuquerque in 2003, two blocks down from the house where Jesse’s girlfriend OD’s on heroin in Breaking Bad. Torvald has managed to overcome his own catnip addiction, but still struggles to manage his addiction to eating his way through my pens, as is seen in this image. There are many stories, from the time he faced off a raccoon through a window over my bed at 3 am in Santa Fe to the time he decided
to sneak out in a Denton, Texas monsoon to raise who knows what kind of hell and came back much the worse for wear to the time he decided he liked a gin and tonic when I wasn’t looking (no vodka for this cat). I look forward to many more years of being woken up far too early in the morning by this greedy libertarian pawing me in the face at 7 am demanding canned food and then ignoring me for the next 8 hours.
There may be many reasons not to eat meat, but there are no good reasons not to eat wild boars which are an invasive species tearing up southern and midwestern ecosystems like there’s no tomorrow.