Saturday, July 2, 2011

"All Of Us.....Do Solemnly Swear...."

Michelle Bachman has declared as a candidate.

Bet the farm (literal or Facebook virtual) that Sarah Palin will announce shortly.

I have a problem with either of them as viable candidates.

And I'm willing to bet the farm (literal or Facebook virtual) that my problem with them isn't even close to what you might suspect.

Take a shot.

They're Republicans.

Nope. Lots of talent in the club as is true with any large group of homo-sapiens.

They're Tea Party extremists.

Don't care. Can't speak for anyone else, but I've lived long enough to have learned that party labels and politically themed adjectives ultimately don't offer any real substantive clue as to whether or not a person has what it takes to be a real leader.

They're women.

Nope. I've worked with and for women at a number of times so far in the life and its never once crossed my mind to respect them, or not, solely on the basis of their gender.

Give up?

Both Bachman and Palin pride themselves, promote themselves and proudly promote themselves as being "different".

As in, "vote for me because unlike the beltway political party hacks who shovel out the same, lame, tired cliche' shit election year after election year,I'm just a hard working, wage earning parent, wife, sister, co-worker, neighbor, yada, yada, just like you...."

In other words, they want passionately to convince us that they are "one of us".

And there lies my problem.

I believe them.

They are "one of us."

And I'm not ordinarily comfortable with choosing a mayor who's "one of us", let alone someone who will be charged with the task of leading a nation through the next four to eight years.

I don't want one of us to get that gig.

I want someone extraordinary.

Someone who understands that leadership isn't about figuring out the most efficient way to be all things to the most people but is, rather, about being courageous enough to take the stand that no one else has the stones to take.

Someone who sees three to five moves, as opposed to solely the next move, on the chess board.

Someone who will motivate and inspire me to not merely see things as they are and say why, but dream things that never were and say why not.

Someone who speaks to the heart of what's good in all of us and not just play to the fears and insecurities of some of us merely to win an election.

Someone who knows, in a place in their heart and soul we mere mortals could never access, that being President of the United States in the 21st Century isn't a brass ring to be grabbed by pandering to paranoia but a priceless jewel with potentially stunning powers to be acquired only by those who understand we are entrusting our hopes, dreams and lives with them.

At the very least, someone that will inspire our kids to want to be better, smarter and more aware than we are and not someone who asks for the privilege of being that role model while laughingly shrugging off or angrily defending their own inability to know where, when and how Paul Revere took his ride or the difference between an actor named John Wayne and a horrific serial killer named John Wayne Gacy.

Sarah Palin bobbled the Paul ball.

Michelle Bachman didn't know one John from the other.

And that's okay.

We've all said dumb things because we're normal, average people.

And that makes Palin and Bachman one of us.

That's my problem with them.

"Now, If It's Pronounced 'Ar-TEEST', That Might Be A Different Story...."

Here's a bone I'm fond of picking.

The use of the term "recording artist".

Admittedly, on that subject, any can of debate worms opened on the subject is immediately subject to a possible fair point being made that "artist" is a subjective term.

Subject to argument, as it were.

That said, I suspect I would have a grand time preparing, and presenting, the case that there are, lurking amidst the mist, haze, smoke and/or mirrors that cloak any garden variety singer in the glow of "artistry", some pretty obvious criteria required to entitle one of those said singers to be referred to as an "artist".

One of those, if the court please, being in possession of a depth and/or breadth of not only talent, but an ability to offer diversity in the expression of that talent.

Dumbed down for the mass culture translation:

Britney Spears, for example, is a gifted singer, but one twenty minute session of back to back to back hearings of any five of her last fifty or so songs and the term "one trick pony" inevitably crowds its way to the front of any average frontal lobe.

Put another way.

Anyone can pick up a brush and smear some paint around on a canvas.

It don't automatically make you Picasso.

Now, on this day that celebrates our independence and freedom, I'm ready to concede that anyone has the freedom to call themselves anything they want anytime they want.

Not to mention sticking a feather in a cap and calling it macaroni if that floats your Bill of Rights boat.

As for my own freedom of speech, let me just offer this.

"Artist" should be a term only bestowed upon someone meeting the same level of criteria that we expect when calling someone a "hero"....or a "leader"...or a "pioneer".

A criteria of the aforementioned depth and/or breadth of talent combined with an ability to offer diversity in the expression of that talent.

For example...

Almost fifty years ago, this song, and the lady singing it, spent a very healthy number of weeks in the number one slot on the pop music top ten of the day.

Some forty years later, this same lady applied her breadth and/depth of talent to a project far removed from the pop song recording process.

Now, I'm not a devotee' of Petula Clark, per se.

But I'd offer that these two performances, nearly half a century apart, could be offered as proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Clark deserves to be called an "artist".

At this writing, Katy Perry? Gaga? Justin Bieber?

Not so much, no.

That said, fair is fair.

The day that Steven Tyler bags the Tony Award for his standing room only performance as The Phantom of the Opera is the day I shut the hell up.

"It's Tragic That We Don't Seem To Realize What A Tragedy This Is..."

Enough already.

Two weeks after the horrific car crash that killed not only him but the passenger whose life was in his steering hands, Ryan Dunn and his absolutely senseless death are still "home page" news on a number of mainstream websites and/or TV and radio outlets.

In the last day or so, yet another gathering of tribute.

As in most of these stories, the word "tragic" makes an inevitable appearance.

I don't think anyone can argue against these deaths being tragic.

The fault, dear Brutus, isn't the use of the word.

But it's implied meaning. in two beautiful young lives snuffed out so far ahead of their time...a talented, vibrant pair of young men snatched away before their lives had actually begun....someone's sons, brothers,cousins,nephews, lovers, friends, buddies, pals coming to a brutal and fiery end so....wait for it...tragically.

Personally, I couldn't agree more passionately that the whole thing is a tragedy.

And there is a valid case to be made that the way people feel about this senseless loss is their own business and none of mine.

Since this loss, though, is still finding its way into my daily reading of headlines, national and world news events and overall happenings in the life, I feel justified in chiming in.

I take no exception to the use of the word tragic.

I do have an issue with the attempt to coat the tragedy in a dark chocolate shell of romance.

As if these two deaths were tragic on a par with the loss of young soldiers protecting our freedoms on foreign soil...or the loss of young people losing a valiant fight against terminal illness...or the loss of any young person sacrificing their life to save another under any circumstances....

Ryan Dunn got staggeringly drunk.

And crashed the car he made the choice to drive away, with himself and another human being aboard, into a tree at one hundred and thirty miles an hour.

There's not a soul on the planet that can deny it's a tragedy.

But there is absolutely nothing romantic about it.

Enough already.