Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Unhappy Anniversary

I know I’m a few weeks late, but I couldn’t let this monumental anniversary pass without being noticed and discussed.  I spent all morning at Firestone tires (I got a flat, it’s actually miraculous that this doesn’t happen more often seeing as many roads in Los Angeles have pot holes big enough to be portals to the Land of Narnia) listening to Democracy Now!  I know, it’s majorly leftist and biased, but guess what?  So am I.  And I know, Amy Goodman has NPR voice that reminds me of the Schwetty Balls skit from SNL with Molly Shannon and Alec Baldwin, but it’s putting out news that no one else is so I’m going to listen to it.  So I’m sitting in Firestone Tires on Highland and Sunset in the little makeshift lounge, surrounded by fake plants and tires.  I’m drinking my folgers coffee out of a small styrafoam cup, almost as if I’m waiting for my car to get out of the hospital.  The small T.V. in the corner is playing Regis and Kelly, who are fighting a yeti (that is not a joke, quality television right there), and I’m on the red vinyl couch tearing up as I listen to soldiers talking about the atrocities they have committed.

Yes, if you haven’t picked up on it I’m talking about the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq.  Coincidentally, it comes about a week before the 40th Anniversary of the My-Lai Massacre.  I’ve spent the whole weekend listening to American Idiot, the Green Day Album, and have been planning out a piece on how Green Day is actually the most important band of the last 15 years.  And I’ve been thinking about one of my roommates in college and how she wrote a paper on protest music that came out around two years after the war started and how that compared to Vietnam War protest music (if said friend reads this and still has that paper, I want to read it please).  So I’ve got all these conflicting and converging ideas and I’m going to try to reconcile them here because apparently that’s what I do.  
Five years in Iraq.  I know the comparison to Vietnam has been done, but it’s true.  Sure Vietnam went on for 16 years, but we’re degenerating into never ending war, into war where the occupied country that we’re supposedly liberating hates us for destroying any semblance of peace that they had under a military dictatorship.  It’s almost as if we’ve forgotten the fact that history has tended to win out on the side of democratic republic and constitutional societies.  It might seem kind of harsh, and I am by no means advocating the fact that we should just let violence go unchecked in any country, but to a certain extent independent countries need to find their own brand of government, the kind that works for them.  Like I said, it sounds harsh, but if you think about it, most ‘developed’ nations went through some sort of revolution or civil war in order to become what they are now (whether or not this is a path that all countries should follow is a completely different argument).  
These last three years of Bush’s Presidency have marked ever growing dissatisfaction with the job that the present administration has done but he was reelected in 2004.  I think that it’s important to remember that even though most of the people who receive this email did not approve of Bush, even then, approximately 50% of the country did (let’s not get into an unfairly won election debate, I’m saving it for the Associated Press).  However, directly before the 2004 election, a handful of bands came out with war/Bush protest music.  The most important of which was Green Day and their American Idiot album.  They were really the only band that came out with an album that was almost entirely about the sad state of our nation.  I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop all weekend and I came to the conclusion that between Dookie in 1994 and American Idiot in 2004, Green Day was really the band that defined the era (Kurt Cobain died about three weeks after Dookie came out, so Nirvana doesn’t really count in this).  Green Day went from this fun and funny punk band with three-chord songs about going crazy and masturbating to a musically complicated band determined to make the world a better place.  
I guess what I really reacted to when I was listening to Amy Goodman, and what I’ve been reacting to with Green Day is remembering a time when I was young and naive and still held some sort of hopeful romantic notions about the world, namely this country.  I remember being in college class after college class and arguing that we need to find a new way to protest.  I went to all those Iraq war protests in San Francisco and it didn’t help anything; it’s actually not a well publicized fact, but that’s the reason I wanted to get into film.  I saw what Michael Moore was doing in bringing awareness to ‘the masses’ and realized that this might be the most effective way to protest.  Since then I’ve broadened what I think about protest to art and activism, those seem to be what works, and I’ve actually grew to hope a little more, thanks to a certain presidential candidate, but I must say, sometimes our situation seems futile, sometimes it seems that we are doomed to inherit the pain and suffering of my parents generation.  
My mom said something to me in response to my ’70s inquiry that has stuck with me.  She talked about the veterans coming back from Vietnam and pointing out that those college kids protesting had no idea the evils of war and what it was like, they were spoiled pampered kids who shouldn’t talk about things they didn’t know about.  Now, I have no illusions of which side I am on in this discussion, nor do I try to speak about the atrocities that are most certainly happening in Iraq, but what I will say is that it is scary to be in the crux of history repeating itself.  It’s scary to be aware of it and to not know what you can do to stop it, if anything can be done.  It’s scary to think that democrats might bicker their way to a McCain victory and we could be stuck in Iraq for ‘10000 years.’  But I guess that’s what I’ve come to as a young adult; through my period of despair directly succeeding the 2004 election to where I am now, still skeptical with a little hope, it seems like I’ve finally found some middle ground.  It’s far left middle ground, but middle nonetheless.
Peace, Love, and Peace,
Julia

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March 25, 2008 - Posted by | Culture, Environment, Politics

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