And now for something completely different…can I get a fatwah?


by Michael Farrell

On this, what would have been John Lennon’s 72st Birthday–Just for a second, let’s take time out from our political quibbling and ask two critical questions –
Metaphysically, both are equally valid questions and worth considering. The first is probably the more common for us to muse about, but the second probably speaks more to my immediate concerns as well as having more to do with something discussable.
Now, I have argued in the past that various rock lists on Rolling Stone or Gibson.Com or PowerPop or other such sites are doomed to arguement and complaint. Horace is credited with writing, “De gustibus non disputandum est” or”There is no accounting for tastes” or “It’s all good, man” in hipster–hippy. Horace was a skirt wearing twit and anyway,  all they had to listen to was flute, lyre and cymbal music plus those huge horns that the legion trumpeters played. It gets more difficult and more divisive and there are in fact value judgements to be made about this stuff. Gibson has a new comparison set up for argument, and this one is intriguing because it’s totally impossible to resolve thanks to Horace but opens us up to more interesting questions concerning the arbitrary nature of human time and dating. Isn’t the arbitrary division of time into periods of 60-60-24-7-28-29-30-31-10-100-1000 a distortion of space and time?
You see is questioning which decade in the rock and roll chronology (60s-70s-80s) has the best riffs. If you’re like me, you see rock music as driven by riffs, the rhythmic slap-dash-dribble that identifies the song before anything else happens to the synapses. One reason that cover songs can go awry is that the covering artist is tryng to take something that belongs to a set of synapses that belong to Mick and Keith and get them accommodated to Barry and Billy. The authors admit it’s an arbitrary use of time that disregards people like Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon, James Burton and Kurt Kobain. However, my thought is a bit different. Perhaps a silly quibble, , but I think 10 years in rock is too long; if you’re going to use ten years, start in the middle. The 60s get shortchanged because what burst into rock and roll then didn’t really start until 65 and what music that was worth talking about wasn’t really different until Punk hit. My preference is probably the 60s because I am old and that was the decade that got me. But the period from 72-80 was interesting for Southern Rock, American Kosmic and LedZepp…So classic chronology makes no real sense. If we use Elvis as the benchmark, then pre-Elvis (BE)would end in 55. After Elvis (AE) would have been 56- to today.
Now, the first question is the sort of meaty thing that a lot of us prefer. I’m throwing  it out for discussion here because I think it needs discussion during this political period. While I admit to having a very parochial America-centric point of view, when you have the Mexican Navy fighting renegade Army Special Forces over the body of a drug lord, you have to wonder what the hell sense does it make to call Mexico a nation at the moment; at best, it resembles Germany around the time of the Defenestration of Prague. At worst, it’s Hobbes-land and in danger of spreading. Or, consider the whole Putin-Pussy Riot-Emperor Cult of the Order of the KGB going on in Russia? Is it a nation state as we understand the concept or some throwback with Medvedev and Putin trading offices back and forth? 
Consider Israel for example. I do not share the immediate Pavlovian reaction of some to the mention of the place. But, Mosad has always operated as those borders were arbitrary and

didn’t apply to the protection of the Jewish State. Frankly, that’s a British concept that developed in paralell to Rome’s doctrine of “Civis Romanus Sum” which was their way of saying, “You’re not the boss of me, so fuck off!” The British applied it during the great Anglo-Spanish war of Jenkins Earbefore making it real doctrine in Palmerston’s term as Prime Minister in 1850 concerning the blockade of Greece to protect the rights and privileges of British citizens regardless of what meaningless backwaters they chose to cavort in. So, it’s a concept that lies in the territory of arrogance, greed and paranoia.
As for us, are we a nation state anymore? The legislative branch is incapble of legislating, the executive pretty much goes its own ways, and the courts appear to be wholly own subsidiaries of big business and Objectivists set on plunder. One thing about the most honest devotees of that somewhat horrible person beloved by Paul Ryan and Alan Greenspan is that they make no pretense of actually caring about the rest of the polity. THIS IS A PROBLEM FOR THE NATION STATE since it’s about the nation as a whole not individuals or classes within the nation. Feudalism or some atomized form of tribalism is the ideal state to maximize the potential of individual wealth in the anti-empathetic civilization envisioned by these folks. As for the traditional Republican business class, they’ve compromised with the rabble and the ideologues to the point that they resemble somewhat the Democratic party in the 80s, or the Optimates of Cicero and Cato depending on Milo’s gang to stop Caesar and the Populares…capable of vicious bites but unable to chew up the prey. As for the Democrats, they have issues with the exercise of state power. Well, the state exists to protect the polity…
Now, I am not an anarchist nor am I a millenium awaiter, hoping that the end times are upon us. Humankind will either kill itself off or not (So long and thanks for all the fish!) and if it manages not to kill itself off, something different will come along. But, it’s worth wondering about…is it time for a new game? What will that new game be? Splitting up the world between Drug Cartels and Multinationals doesn’t strike me as the greatest solution either.
So, I ask that you respond in the same whimsical but cold-blooded way in which I’ve posed this. Respond to both or either or call this Cat a Bastard and spit on my rug. We’ll see. But, which decade has the best rock riffs and what and why; and, is the nationstate something that has a future, and why or why not?
What the hell? Why not? Ehh…
Oh, while I eagerly await the brilliance on both questions, I think the 60s, although truncated by Teen Idols and Beach Movies had the best hooks. The Beatles initially were a continuation of the Teen Idols, but things rapidly changed — first great rif for me was probably the Animals House of the Rising Sun; however, that was overcome, overtaken and overwhelmed by The Rolling Stones and The Last Time — until I heard Like a Rolling Stone. For me, Dylan is god and  Keith Richards is his prophet.

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