Text by Bruce Gallanther (Downtown Music Gallery, November 4th, 2022)
“Blow your harmonica, son!” says Uncle Frank Z.
Up until the time I was 13, when I bought the first album by the Mothers of Invention, titled Freak-Out!, I never really questioned the fact that the U.S. was called “the land of the free & the home of the brave”. The concept of “Freedom” always appealed to me but I never considered how much we were being manipulated into believing that things that are not really the truth of what is actually going on around us. Protest music/songs by Bob Dylan, PF Sloan’s “The Eve of Destruction” and “Trouble Every Day” by the Mothers often made me reconsider my view of what is just and what is unfair or just not right. I’ve shed many skins and worn many hats over time: being a hippie in the sixties, being a proghead in the seventies, being a hard-core punk in the eighties and then discarding all of those pigeonholes as I got older to become a Wise Old Man (sometimes) in my post millenium Golden Years.
It is true that I am a baby boomer, born just 10 years after WWII and that I grew up in the sixties, when there seemed to be some hope for racial justice & equality, tolerance for those with different views and the feeling that Peace & Love would actually conquer Hate & Division.
More than a half century later I can see that the hopeful dreams that I once had for the future have pretty much faded away. But not completely. I see that the U.S. has been moving further to the Right with the election of every Republican politician and the greedy extremists who now run that Cult/Party. I am getting tired of arguing against the movement towards Fascism which often seems hopeless due to the Great Tide/Echo Chamber of Fake News: Fox News, NewsMax, Q-Non…, Koch Bros., all lies, all the time.
Yes, like many of you/us, I am outraged by many of the things that Right Wing Politicians are saying but I realize that they are just protecting their own interests: the right to exploit and manipulate the MAGA Clan and threaten the rest of us more sensible/sensitive humans. Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Insta-Gram and Tik-Tok are all part of this mess, so turning the tide seems often hopeless. Major tech companies & corporations like Google and Amazon are in the business sell you things you probably don’t need so that they can gather more money and power.
Less for us who really need it. I myself boycott Amazon and Google (try Duckduckgo.com as a search engine & use Fastmail.com rather than Gmail) and hope to start a network which will support small businesses, artists, immigrants, women, people of color and anyone else who has been screwed by the Tidal Wave of Greed and Injustice. We are the New Army of Anti-Fascism, many of us are retired old folks who still have some Hope and are not afraid to fight Ignorance and Intolerance.
This Tuesday is Election Day and this is an important election. I am volunteering to be a poll worker so those who come to vote will feel safe from the evil forces that would try and scare into not voting or voting for someone who doesn’t really care about anyone other than him or themselves. Take some time to think hard, read a book and stop staring at your phone for info. “Blow your harmonica, son!” says Uncle Frank Z.