Archive for October, 2022

Quote of the day: UGLY TRUTHS

October 20, 2022


Why has the big lie stuck? Maybe it’s because Donald Trump made it appear more plausible by attaching it to a truth. And that truth, for the blue-collar white men among his base, is a powerful sense of loss, suggested by the last word in the slogan Make America Great Again. Red and blue states increasingly represent two economies, with Republicans turning more toward agriculture, extraction and manufacturing, and Democrats toward high-tech and professional services. The gap between them is widening: Between 2008 and 2018, the nation’s Democratic congressional districts saw median household income rise to $61,000 from $54,000, while incomes in Republican districts fell to $53,000 from $55,000. They have suffered other losses too; white men living in Republican counties have higher death rates than white men living in Democratic counties, and the gap between those rates increased more than sixfold from 2001 to 2019. Poor rural white Americans also report less optimism about the future than do equally poor Black or Hispanic ones.

From “loss” Trump has moved the emotional needle to “stolen.” The right to work and remain maskless during a pandemic, stolen. Story of heroic America, stolen. Statues, stolen. Culture, stolen. White power, stolen. Old-time manhood, stolen. Election, stolen. With “stolen,” as opposed to the more circumstantial “loss,” it’s much easier to assign blame. For the stolen election: the deep state, RINOs, Democrats. For stolen white livelihoods: China, immigrants, minorities. And one thing more, many MAGA enthusiasts say to themselves: Donald Trump will save us. The Democrats are preventing Trump from saving us. He is being stolen from us. And Trump has moved the needle from “stolen” to “steal me back”….

Whether a grievance, or a promise, is based on fact can come to feel beside the point. A former coal miner in an Appalachian county where 80 percent voted for Trump in 2020 told me he had recently gotten back on his feet after losing his job and falling into drugs. “When Donald Trump came to town in 2016, he told us he was going to bring back coal,” he said. “I knew Trump was telling me a lie. But I felt like he saw who I was.” The storm is here, Mogelson’s important book warns us, in the threat of public violence and at the ballot box. It’s here because a loss has for too long gone unrecognized, and because a lie that ties itself to this loss can feel more compelling to some than a truth that ignores it.

–Arlie Russell Hochschild, reviewing Luke Mogelson’s The Storm Is Here in the New York Times Book Review

Quote of the day: Bob Dylan on Frank Sinatra

October 18, 2022


By the time Frank Sinatra stepped into the studio to record “Strangers in the Night” on April 11, 1966, he had already been singing professionally for thirty-one years and recording since 1939. He had seen trends come and go in popular music and had, in fact, set trends himself and spawned scores of imitators for decades.

Still, it was amazing that the soundtrack of the summer of 1966, according to the July 2 edition of the Billboard Hot 100, was topped by that little pop song. Amazingly, in the middle of the British Invasion, “Strangers in the Night” by Hoboken’s own beat out the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” Today, the charts are so stratified and niche marketed, you would never see something like this happen. Nowadays, everyone stays in their own lane, guaranteeing themselves top honors in their own category even if that category is something like Top Klezmer Vocal Performance on a Heavy Metal Soundtrack Including Americana Samples.

But Frank had to slug it out with everybody, even though “Strangers” was a song he hated, one that he regularly dismissed as “a piece of shit”…[He] may have hated the song, but the fact of the matter is, he chose it. And therein lies a tale. By the time we had heard “Strangers in the Night,” it had gone through at least two sets of lyrics and a few people had already laid claim to its authorship. It’s a confusing tale that spans a couple of continents…

And as far as I know, no one has ever contested the writing of Frank’s hit from the following year, “Somethin’ Stupid,” though it is worth mentioning that it was written by Van Dyke Parks’s older brother Carson.

–Bob Dylan, The Philosophy of Modern Song

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