Gut Rumbles

April 30, 2002

Usually I love what Ann

Usually I love what Ann Coulter writes, the way she writes it and that picture of her lovely, blonde-headed self at the top of her column, but she and I are worlds apart on THIS SUBJECT. Perhaps I'm just a dirty old man, but I have never seen pornography as a horrible menace to civilization and I don't understand why so many conservatives obsess about it. They hate it but can't stop talking about it, which sounds kind of confused and anal-retentive to me. Maybe they don't get laid enough. (Ann... equipment problems and all, I would be more than delighted to help you out in THAT department.)

I believe that kiddie porn is an abomination, as I SAID BEFORE, but the point of the Supreme Court's decision was that the law they voided didn't deal with actual kiddie porn. It dealt with fake kiddie porn, or anything that could be construed as kiddie porn by the most uptight, anal-retentive, obsessed bullies in our society. That's bad place to go. It's a short step from there to prosecuting people for gazing at Lucy in a Peanuts cartoon with an expression that appeared to be lascivious to an ever-vigilant bully.

Ann becomes downright shrill when she writes about gratuitous "simulated sex" in movies today. To her, it is absolute filth. Her examples of those disgusting movies American Beauty and Traffic show exactly how far apart we are. I thought both movies were excellent and the sexual aspects of both were critical to the plot, especially in American Beauty. If Ann doesn't like those kinds of movies, then SHE SHOULD NOT WATCH THEM! But just because SHE doesn't like them is no reason to say that I CAN'T. Besides, she surely seems to know a lot about both to be so offended by the pornographic content. Her screed simply confirms my suspicions that people who protest the most spend an inordinate amount of time viewing and memorizing pornography, just so they never lose their sense of outrage.

They would be dirty-minded porn-Hoovers if they weren't doing it for such a righteous cause.

I like an occasional pornographic movie, and the filthier it is, the better I like it. I see nothing wrong with people making pornography, selling pornography, viewing pornography or even performing pornographic acts before a camera, as long as everybody involved does it as an act of free will. People who are offended by such things should not look at it. Those who say it permeates society and they can't escape its offensive presence should simply get over it. Living in a free country means coping with offensive things sometimes, without demanding acts of Congress to protect your delicate sensibilities.

Hell, I was offended by Bill Clinton for eight years. If I could put up with HIS filth without going ballistic, then Ann can learn to abide American Beauty. Or even Deep Throat.

Some people have e-mailed to

Some people have e-mailed to ask whether or not I fell in a campfire at Merlefest. I am proud to say that I did not. What really saved me was not iron self-control and a firm hold on sobriety. I just never made it over to where the campfires were. There were places all over the festival for pickers to gather, with shady canopies overhead and armless folding chairs to sit on. That's where I played.

The Martin remains unsinged. And for the FILTHY MINDED out there (you know who you are), I didn't get laid, either. I had a fine time just the same.

I suppose I will have

I suppose I will have ample time to use the last of my 34-cent stamps before the next postal rate hike, the third in eighteen months, takes effect. Lord knows the US Post Office needs the extra money, because even with the two previous rate increases, that sleek, well-managed, lean and mean government operation will lose $2 billion this year. When competitors accused Microsoft of being a monopoly, the US Justice Department moved in to bring Bill Gates to his knees.

The US Post office IS a monopoly. But when the US Post Office, unlike Microsoft, provides terrible service, pays its workers ridiculously high wages for what they do, loses money hand over fist and ends up contracting with Fed Ex to perform duties that the Post Office can't, it is rewarded for its ineptitude with more money. The Post Office is a perfect example of why "federalizing" ANYTHING that involves actually getting a job done right is a rotten idea.

Private businesses are held to some pretty strict performance standards by the marketplace. If they can't compete, they perish. When they provide shoddy goods or shitty service, or fail to control costs and innovate as quickly as the competition, consumers take their money elsewhere. Just look at K-Mart, Polaroid, and Apple Computer (yes, Apple, for all you Mac-lovers out there. It's dying on the vine; it just doesn't know it yet.).

The Post Office, on the other hand, is run with all the efficiency and profitability of AMTRAK. Both enjoy avid support from politicians and other such leeches who believe that government can do no wrong, as long they themselves keep making money from government, and who cares whether they do a good job or not? And if "civil servants" do really stupid things, such as issuing visas to a couple of the hijackers months after they flew a plane into the World Trade Center, the bozos are transferred, not fired.

Federalizing airport security was done in a panic after 9/11 (in strict adherence with the LAW OF POLITICAL THERMODYNAMICS: We must do something. This is something; therefore, we must do it), with nobody stopping the think that the VERY LAST THING we need is government running THAT operation the way it does everything else it gets it's incompetent fingers into. But we're stuck with it now. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling to know that the same mentality that prevails at the Post Office and Amtrak will be handling airport security.

That thought could make somebody GO POSTAL!

April 29, 2002

My friend Willie and I

My friend Willie and I were singing along to the car stereo on the way back from North Carolina last night. He has a tape he made of songs he's learned to play over the years and some old Peter, Paul and Mary popped up in there. Their version of "Blowin' in the Wind" is about as mournful and depressing as anything I've heard recently. If you listen to their version of that song, you can feel the sense of immenent doom squeezing their hearts and taste the salt in the bloody tears they cry. Yep, back then we were all gonna die any minute now.

I believe they recorded that song in 1966 or thereabouts and they probably are disappointed that the world didn't blow up during the last 35 years. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," another mournful dirge, just doesn't go over like it did during the Vietnam War, now that we want our military to go out, kick ass and take names from the people who attacked us. Where have all the flowers gone? Gone to daisy-cutters, every one, and dropped right on the heads of those who want to kill us.

I missed out on the height of the folk music craze of the '60s, but those songs influenced a lot of my larval stage of musicianship. Once I started playing as a solo in the bars, however, I realized quickly that I was not there to be an artist, and I DAMNED SURELY wasn't there to depress people. I was there to sell drinks, pack the house and make locals come back again. If a musician can't do that simple task, the bar owner will fire you and buy a jukebox. It's cheaper in the long run.

So I learned a lot of lively stuff, did the requests people wanted to hear, and wrote a lot of cutesy-nasty songs that no one ever will hear on top-forty radio, but are well-received by people consuming alcoholic beverages and hoping to get laid. I've been making music for a long time, and I believe I know the ropes.

But ten year-old boys cut my butt in the picking tents at Merlefest. That's okay. They may be swift and they may be good, but they are small enough for me to strangle their narrow, guitar-burning necks if they really piss me off.

Besides, what does a ten year-old know about selling drinks?

I happen to know the

I happen to know the young lady who writes THIS BLOG and I really believe she will regret the tattoos one of these days. Hell, I regret the damned henna I had painted on my arm in Key West and that was supposed to be TEMPORARY!

If anyone reading this blog

If anyone reading this blog enjoys LOTS of REALLY good music played by REALLY talented people, then I recommend a trip to MERLEFEST next year. The party started sixteen years ago as a memorial to Doc Watson's son and accompanist, Merle Watson, after Merle died in a tractor accident on his farm in North Carolina. The first Merlefest was held, essentially, from a stage on the back of a flatbed truck. The one I attended featured performances on at least nine different stages (There might have been more. I know I saw seven of them, not counting the tents where the smaller acts played.) and on Saturday drew a crowd of at least 100,000 people. I saw many of my musical heros, such as Sam Bush (mandolin), Jerry Douglas (dobro), Doc Watson (guitar), Earl Scruggs (banjo), Allison Krause (fiddle and goosebump vocals), Patty Loveless (singing almost the entire Mountain Soul albumn), plus pickers that not many people know unless they read the liner notes on CDs they really like (which I DO). I saw Allison Brown (damn good lady banjo picker), Darol Anger (damn good fiddle), Tony Rice (DAMN good guitar), and Mike Marshall (DAMN GOOD AT EVERYTHING!), plus too many more to mention.

I watched the amateur banjo contest and still don't know how they chose a winner. ALL TWENTY contestants were as good as anyone I've ever heard play, but the judges finally settled on a fellow from Georgia, which pleased me, but also made me glad that I wasn't judging that stuff. That HAD to be a difficult choice.

I also attended "Mando-mania," which featured seven of the best mandolin players in the world on stage together. I had a revelation watching those guys. Sam Bush, for many years the undisputed King of the Mandolin, sat in the middle of the group and beat the butts off five of the others, who were VERY GOOD, with no problem when the duels and jams came down. But there was this KID on stage that threw licks out there that I had never heard before. Tall and skinny with spiked blonde hair, he answered every challenge from Sam with a comeback that was quicker, cleaner and more unique. I was amazed.

His name is Chris Thile. He is 20 years old, plays with "Nickel Creek," and he is the best mandolin player I've ever seen.

Watching him play (I later saw him with Mike Marshall, just the two of them in a jaw-droppin