(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mixtape: A well-reasoned discussion of the issues

It's time again for another themed mixtape. Enjoy!

It seems like every time the family gets together, things come to a head and there’s a little drama. This should be a very familiar vignette. The setting: a kitchen or living room within easy reach of a well-stocked bar. The cast: a hodge-podge of values and beliefs, somehow embodied in a single related group and their assorted in-laws

(YouTube playlist)

Ten Years After – “I’d Love to Change the World” (A Space In Time)

Frankly, I’d be happy to just sit in the corner and nurse my beer, but my teabagger uncle is holding forth, sarcastically mocking concerns about economic inequality as mere socialism, “Tax the rich/ Feed the poor/ Til there are no rich no more.” Sucked into the conversation against my better sense, I’m feeling no more charitable than my uncle. But as soon as I start, it sets him off. Why couldn’t I have kept my big mouth shut?

Rush – “Anthem” (Fly By Night)

Uncle Frank immediately gets that know-it-all tone in his voice. He thinks he’s being quite equitable as he condescendingly quotes Ayn Rand. He seems ignorant that, much like mentioning Hitler, no real exchange of ideas can occur once Rand is part of the debate. His bluster winds down as he emphatically hammers his last points home.

The Beatles – “We Can Work It Out” (single)

If my first mistake was setting down my beer and raising my voice, my second error is appealing to reason and trying to make peace. I acknowledge our differences and suggest that he appreciate my perspective as well. I lean back, comfortable with the higher ground I’ve chosen for myself.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “I Won’t Back Down” (Full Moon Fever)

Facepalm! Rather than defusing the situation, I seem to have made things worse. Frank has the nerve to accuse me of talking down to him and the idiot digs in his heels.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “If 6 Was 9” (Axis: Bold As Love)

At this point, I start looking for an exit strategy. I’d rather just be mellow and enjoy the glow from the beers and some of that Rocky Mountain air. This whole debate doesn’t seem nearly as important to me anymore. “Whatever, Uncle Frank, I’m over it.”

The Flaming Lips – “Fight Test” (Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots)

I tried to let the whole thing drop, but Frank is still looking pretty pissed off. On top of attacking my politics, he’s started rambling about my lack of values. It was pointless to have begun this argument, but now he’s painting me as some kind of wishy-washy, liberal coward. I’d like to tune him out – and I probably should – but he’s making me regret my non-confrontational stance.

Todd Snider – “Conservative, Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Males” (East Nashville Skyline)

Okay, I’ve had enough. I finally unload and call him out for what he is. Like a dam bursting, I can’t stop myself from letting the vitriol stream out. Am I really resorting to an ad hominem attack? Sure, but this hominem deserves every word of it. It feels good to have finally gotten this off my chest.

Reel Big Fish – “You Don’t Know” (Why Do They Rock So Hard?)

Frank’s initial response is every bit as erudite as I might have expected. “Fuck off? Is that all you’ve got?” But he steamrolls forward. He is seriously mad, but I’m starting to realize two things. The first is that I think my remarks really hurt his feelings. The second is that some of my other relatives around the table are nodding their heads like I’m the bad guy. Could they be right?

Green Day – “Know Your Enemy” (21st Century Breakdown)

No way! I’ve had to listen to this blowhard every year when the family gets together and I’ve had enough. I know exactly what he is and I’m not wrong to confront him. I don’t care whether he likes it or not, but now it’s my turn to not back down.

Die Ärzte – “Die Hard” (auch)

Now it’s on. I can’t remember who threw the first punch, but I know we each landed a couple before we were pulled apart. Who’s a liberal coward now?

Barenaked Ladies – “Angry People” (Barenaked Ladies Are Men)

Well, this reunion has certainly gone well. Uncle Frank has got an ice pack for his nose and my knuckles hurt more than the throbbing in my cheek. The worst part is listening to Aunt June and my mother cluck their snide remarks about male posturing.

Nick Lowe – “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?” (The New Favourites of...Brinsley Schwarz)

I step out onto the back porch just to get away from the noise and disapproval. After a few minutes, the door opens behind me and Frank comes out with a couple of fresh brews. He may be a political moron, but he’s family…

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