Sep 16, 2020

Who Would Jesus Shoot? (Acoustic)

For the Christians who think Jesus would like your guns. I'm still revising, but here's a mostly-finished song.

Aug 29, 2020

Billy's Books 38: Remain In Love

Chris Frantz is most famous for being the drummer for Talking Heads. He does the classic autobiography thing, where he briefly talks about his parents' backgrounds, then his childhood, then to the juicy stuff. He's a very nice guy, even when criticizing others. 

These are his main points:  
  • He loves Tina Weymouth. 
  • Talking Heads are awesome. Touring is fun. 
  • David Byrne is difficult and weird. 
  • He lives a charmed life.

I stop talking before they even go on tour, their first being Europe with the Ramones. The stories are highly amusing. They later tour with one of my other favorite bands, XTC, then Dire Straits, and so on, as they get more and more famous.

In their early years, the kids were dancing "The Pogo", as demonstrated here, by fellow CBGB's-dweller, Debbie Harry:

Aug 19, 2020

Karen, Sexism, Racism, and Privilege

Hefty title. Have I bit off more than I can chew? Likely.

A few months back, I'd been calling people on using the term "Karen" as an insult, and many of my friends told me how wrong I was to oppose it. Enough of their shaming of my shaming their shaming got me to stop. But a friend just referred me to this piece by Helen Lewis in The AtlanticThe Mythology of Karen, which has set me off again. It's well-written, so read it. 

Regarding "Karen" I see hypocrisy from those who consider themselves progressive. When they do name-calling, it’s ignorant and un-civilized. When we do name-calling, it’s righteous and instructive.

How about no name calling? Recently the infamous "Central Park Karen" was named Amy. Yet my neighbor is named Karen; she's pretty nice. Go figure. 

"Bill, just stop," said Darren. I guess opposing name-calling makes me a jerk? The implication is that I'm taking sides with a racist. But since we're friends, they'll give me the benefit of the doubt, and dismiss me as naive or uninformed.

Another friend, condescendingly: "Tut tut, Bill, it's been around for a while. They used to be called 'Becky'." Oh, it's been around for a while? That's different. As we all know, if a derogatory term has a long history, it must be OK.

The article says, "All of this is why the earnest feminist contribution to the Karen debate — why isn’t there a name for haughty, shouty men who make customer-service complaints, or call the police on Black people, putting them in danger? — is irrelevant." Well, there probably is, or will be. Ken, maybe? Great. Let's defend more derogatory labels in the name of our higher cause.

This article also suggests name-calling may actually be shitty, so it caught my attention as something novel in today's atmosphere. It also touches on the popular issue of which group is more down-trodden, women or Black people. Sexism versus Racism. Bring in sexuality and gender issues, and everyone's on their own?

"As it happens, the casually sexist roots of the meme are as deep as the anti-racist ones," says Ms. Lewis.

When I was a kid, they put me in the dumb class, cuz I was non-adaptively weird. My mom put on what I affectionately called her “white blazer” (what she wore when she meant business; it actually was white), marched down to school, and got me moved up. After that, I thrived. Was she being a “Karen”? Her name was Doris. Yes, she exercised what everyone calls “privilege,” from which I benefitted.

Another unfashionable opinion of mine: It seems to me that she exercised her “rights” as a citizen and parent. That others are denied these rights does not make having her rights merely a “privilege,” it just means others are denied their rights. I don’t like the term “privilege” because it implies that being treated fairly is some sort of extra-normal luxury. No, respect and fairness should be standard, not something special. 

Yes, I get it; that is the point. I still conisder the term unwise. Everyone should agree on fairness for all, but these terms confuse that. The public's memory of a word's history is easily lost, "irregardless" of its original intent. We should be moving everyone up to gain their rights, rather than down from privilege. Rights are essential; privilege is optional. My concern is loss of everyone's rights, rather than a defense of whiteness. White people need not be ashamed that they're treated well, but that others are not. 

Our possible future: "Oh, so you want a fair trial, do you? How privileged!"

Some will say I'm blind or callous nonetheless. Yes, I am a white male, but one who considers himself proudly Liberal. I still prefer to think for myself, avoiding changing and contradicting my views with the latest anger of the week. Sometimes I even listen, and can change my opinions if given a "good reason." Without that reason, I try not to shoot off my mouth about the latest hot word whose meaning and connotation changed overnight, while you were sleeping.

Do I think white ladies should call the cops on black men just for calling them on their bullshit? Nope. It's shitty, and they should be ashamed, and probably shamed publicly.

Do I think service people doing their jobs (or anyone) should be hassled (or atttacked) by people too stupid or spiteful to cooperate? Nope.

If treated poorly, should a white woman be able to ask for a manager? Yes. (That's my momma.) The key phrase is probably "if treated poorly." Of course the article says, "there’s no arbiter to decide which Karens are really acting in egregious or racist ways." 

If treated poorly, should a black woman be able to ask for a manager? Yes.

If treated poorly, should a white man be able to ask for a manager? Yes.

If treated poorly, should a black man be able to ask for a manager? Yes.

It's their right.

Should anyone act like an asshole in public (or private)? In my opinion, no. 

Quaint Billy, and his old fashioned calls for civility. Everyone, even those with the best intentions, bleed in a circular firing squad.

Aug 9, 2020

Two porch songs

Well, I've been writing songs. Many are unfinished, which is always true. I sat down and squoze out a few that seemed done, and here are two.

Words and music by Billy Dechand, 2019
An introspective little song, coping with self-defeat and isolation. For a rainy day.
I should clarify that the opening lyrics are not "If I can just be on person," but rather "If I can just beat one person."

Words and music by Billy Dechand, 2020
Semi-coherent song of epic proportions. Philosophical, natural, mysterious. What do fish wish for? Genius!

Aug 1, 2020

Billy's Books 37: Star Wars: Shadow Fall

Here's yet another Star Wars novel, the second in the Alphabet Squadron series, Shadow Fall. Alphabet Squadron is a New Republic fighter squadron; their boogeyman is the Shadow Wing, the Empire's hot-shot fighter squadron. This book is primarily about the "good guys'" attempt to take down the Shadow Wing. Plus, you know, a lot of politics and personal feelings and stuff.

This book shows both sides' perspectives, demonstrating that in the thick of war, there are no clear "good guys" and "bad guys". One of the pilots, Chass, who just lost her beloved music collection when her ship was destroyed, gets stranded in enemy territory. In an attempt both to lay low and possibly recruit people to fight the Empire, she joins a cult under an assumed name, Maya Hallik:

She got to pick out her meals before the faithless refugees but after the four hundred cultists who'd joined up earlier than Maya; and she was welcome to sleep indoors when the ash-sleet came down.
Chass wasn't sure if the ash-sleet had just been "sleet" before the New Republic's liberation of Catadra. She chose not to ask.
In return for the privilges of being a junior cultist, Maya Hallik was expected to join the prayer songs at dawn. (She found she recognized the melodies from songs in her lost collection, but the lyrics had been changed from paeons of ancient civilizations to pabulum about community and fellowship; each morning, she grew stiff with outrage yet nearly wept at the songs' beauty.)"

She also heard the cult leader's message:

"There's no use in distress over the return of the Empire to Catadra. One oppressor is the same as another... The New Republic differs in its words, not its deeds... Imperial soldiers openly disdained nonhumans, and the ruling class did little to intervene. But how often have we heard the New Republic chancellor talk about ending xenophobia while handing out medals to all-human death squads? We've met the New Republic's troops, and it is still the humans who outnumber the rest."

A bit of circular logic there at the end, but compelling nonetheless.

Jul 29, 2020

Sometimes I'm Sad (rough 4-track)

So I made this sloppy 4-track demo of mostly finished song.
Could use another verse? Is it a good song? Maybe. Without a proper drummer and guitarist, we may enver know. I just write and record many ideas, some of which make it. Maybe the words will change, or just a piece of the song will end up in another one. That how it goes sometimes.
As a mental excercise, it might be interesting to think of this as a conversation, perhaps between a dude and a woman he's hitting on.

Sometimes I'm Sad
Words and music by Billy Dechand, 2020