Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Musical Migrations: The Geography of the American Blues

Juke joint on a Saturday evening, outside Clarksdale, Mississippi, 1939.

Hey Moose!  Just dropping by to say ‘hello’. I’ve been lurking about as much as I can, but far too busy for blogging lately with the whole school, work, and kids thing going on. Still, I miss the Purple Palace something fierce* so I wanted to drop this little thing I’ve been working on. If you like music, history, cultural geography, or even if you just want to spend a few minutes not thinking about Syria, well this is the post for you.

*see what I did there?

Obviously, I wrote this for a different format, so I didn’t bother with html links for the individual citations and whatnot. If anyone wants the full list of references, or more information about any of them, just make a request in the comments. I’m happy to kick down the goods.


The uniquely American musical form known as ‘the Blues’ represents perhaps the most powerful reflection of the trials and travails that were critical in shaping the African American experience in America. Originating from the cultural influences of both Africa and Europe, this surprisingly simple musical form mixes the sorrow and pain of slavery, as well as the joys of emancipation and freedom, and recollects the long struggle for equality in the face of discrimination and prejudice.

Tracing the geography of the Blues from its seminal roots in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, and along its subsequent spread north and west across the of United States with the Great Migration, this musical tradition has unquestionably spawned or influenced almost all genres of modern American music, which have in turn influenced people and cultures all around the globe.

Thought by musicologists, historians, and relevant scholars of virtually every stripe to be America’s only uniquely original musical form, the Blues chart the movement of a people, the development of their culture, and record the genuine experience of African Americans while continuing to serve as the foundation for nearly all genres of American music–from rock and roll to hip-hop, and from to jazz to country, western swing, and bluegrass.

It’s About Damn Time.

As you know, the Defense of Marriage Act finally fell, having been struck down by the Supreme Court and relegated to the heap of shitty things that never should have existed in the first place.

 photo OBIWAN_zps6993f6c9.jpg

For bigots, this means that an army of hairy men in assless leather chaps are coming to devour their succulent mullet-spawn.  For all else, it means that the United States is one step closer to living up it’s self-evident but expressly stated ideal: all Americans are created equal, and that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights — Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  For LGBT Federal employees, it also provides for deserved–but long denied–benefits.  

Glory in Doom: Steve Earle, Ben McCulloch, and the Battle of Pea Ridge

The Battle of Pea Ridge was among the largest and most decisive U.S. Civil War battles fought west of the Mississippi River. For two days, over 26,000 soldiers clashed in northwestern Arkansas in a battle that would decide the fate of Missouri. Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch, a prominent figure in Texas history, perished in the fighting at Leetown, sparking a series of disasters that ensured Union control of a vital strategic hub for the remainder of the war.

McCulloch Falls

Andy Thomas, Two Generals Die, oil on canvas, Pea Ridge National Military Park, Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

Immortalized in a song by Steve Earle, McCulloch’s story and many connections to some of the most significant events in American history well illuminate the trials of young and growing nation who came to be at war with itself.  

Just Sayin’

Didja know that when Honest Abe ran for U.S. Congress in 1846 the whole shebang only ran him 75 cents? Trufax are fun.

Lincoln Roolz!

I did not need the money. I made the canvass on my own horse; my entertainment, being at the houses of friends, cost me nothing; and my only outlay was 75 cents for a barrel of cider, which some farm-hands insisted I should treat to.

Yeah, yeah.  But inflation.  In today’s dollars 75 cents is about $18.90. Whoa.

So, here are some more words:

Money! It is money! Money! Money! Not ideas, nor principles, but money that reigns supreme in American politics.  –Sen. Robert C. Byrd

I’ve been a part of the system for more than two decades, and personally raised millions in hard and soft dollars. I know that the endless pressures of raising money threaten the integrity of the legislative process and drain more and more time from my colleagues.  –Rep. Henry Waxman

People who contribute get the ear of the member and the ear of the staff. They have the access and access is it. Access is power. Access is clout. That’s how this thing works.  –Rep. Romano Mazzoli

I don’t think mistakes are just made at the edges. The entire process, even when conducted strictly within the law, invites corruption and erodes the confidence that the decisions made in our democracy are based on our representative honest judgment and deliberation about the best policies and the interests and opinions of all their constituents.  –Sen. Bill Bradley

Democracy as we know it will be lost if we continue to allow government to become one bought by the highest bidder, for the highest bidder. Candidates will simply become bit players and pawns in a campaign managed and manipulated by paid consultants and hired guns.  –Sen. Wendell Ford.

That’s all I got. If ya’ll see Joltin’ Joe running around anywhere, ping me, mmmkay? Danke.

BREAKING: Romney Says Republicans Are NOT ‘Americans’.

Pants On FireNo really, that’s what he said:

Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections. We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than what divides us.

Of course, on the day of Obama inauguration, the Congressional Republican leadership held a secret meeting where they agreed to oppose President Obama on everything (whether it was their idea or not), including every single economic proposal — all while the U.S. economy was crashing.

As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.

The event — which provides a telling revelation for how quickly the post-election climate soured — serves as the prologue of Robert Draper’s much-discussed and heavily-reported new book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”

According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.

For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.

The logic is inescapable.  The Republican nominee for President of the United States thinks the leadership of his party are neither good, nor generous people.  Since Americans always come together after elections and Republicans plotted to do the opposite, and have in fact executed those plans, Republicans are not Americans.




Per a friend of mine:

In Iran, if two boys get a girl drunk, rape her, take pics and then circulate them to everyone they know, the two boys can enter a unilateral plea deal with the prosecutor which makes it a crime for the victim to name her attackers.

Oh… did I say Iran?

I meant Kentucky.


SRSLY?  WTF?  Make the jump to see what this is all about.

What’s Wrong with America

There’s plenty wrong, but this is in my craw today: People who think that the poor and middle class are too ignorant to think for themselves.

filthy rich

Exhibit P:

The line of Range Rovers, BMWs, Porsche roadsters and one gleaming cherry red Ferrari began queuing outside of Revlon Chairman Ronald Perelman’s estate off Montauk Highway long before Romney arrived, as campaign aides and staffers in white polo shirts emblazoned with the logo of Perelman’s property — the Creeks — checked off names under tight security.

A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”

Exhibit Q:

A woman in a blue chiffon dress poked her head out of a black Range Rover here on Sunday afternoon and yelled to an aide to Mitt Romney. “Is there a V.I.P. entrance? We are V.I.P.” ….

A few cars back, Ted Conklin, the owner of the American Hotel in Sag Harbor, long a favorite of the Hamptons’ well-off and well-known, could barely contain his displeasure with Mr. Obama. “He is a socialist. His idea is find a problem that doesn’t exist and get government to intervene,” Mr. Conklin said from inside a gold Mercedes, as his wife, Carol Simmons, nodded in agreement.

These people spent more on dinner than I make in a year. Look, I’m a capatalist (mostly), but SRSLY? Since Romney’s money has more foreign policy experience than he does, shouldn’t he be Running for President of the Caymans?  

Is this thing on? OPEN THREAD

Just the other night, I found myself having to shuffle some stuff around in my garage. You know, making a path to make room for other stuff. Anyway, after I accidentally broke some pottery, I happened across this poem I wrote a long time ago. It was written all at once, in a flood of words, and remains as-was, that is to say unedited, and unrevised.

I remember liking it at the time, but I was traveling when the poem happened, and I lost the scrap it was scrawled on within a few days. As they years marched by, I forgot all of it — save the title and the last two lines. I’m not sure how I feel about it now. I can’t interpret it. Nor do I know what inspired it, so it’s a lot like the writing of a stranger to me. Odd that. If you feel like reading it, come on over the fold.