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American Culture Potpurri

Before Senator Jim DeMint decided to leave the Senate for the think tanks, it was quite a week, culturally speaking, for a lot of us.

By now we all know that last weekend a clearly angry and agitated member of the Kansas City Chiefs killed his girlfriend and then himself leaving behind a three month old daughter. That Jovan Belcher committed suicide in front of witnesses – men who so far have not discussed the episode in public – speaks to a disturbed state of mind that most likely had nothing to do with football, but probably more on not knowing how to deal with disagreements with a significant other. I may be just a single gal, but even I know that learning to deal with adversity in a relationship sometimes requires help and advice from parents, friends or pastors. Why that option was never considered is a mystery, and somewhat of an indictment of the current state of the family in the United States – only the nuclear is ever considered, not the extended family and the support it provides, especially when couples are not on the same page and getting back to it is a quagmire.

No, in the first 24 hours blame was pinned on the professional athlete celebrity culture as if murder-suicides were a far more regular occurrence, particularly in the NFL, with all the crime forgiveness and women throwing themselves at the players (that the sex culture is far more pervasive in the NBA and Major League Baseball didn’t seem to be part of the argument. Illicit drugs are another story). Then we got the anti-gun rant from Bob Costas, the little pip-squeak who’s first wife divorced him because he was cheating on her (out here where we all live, Costas is NOT thought of favorably). Many of us have routinely muted the television when he’s commenting for decades, more or less because the same kind of crap has been coming out of his mouth since he left the wing of Jack Buck, one of the greatest sports broadcasters of the twentieth century, in the early ‘80’s. That Bill O’Reilly gave Costas the smack-down he deserved is poetic justice. Somebody had to do it and let the little squirt know that he needs to stick to what he knows: sports. (Since Bob Costas is no much taller than me, he didn’t get his knowledge from playing, that’s for sure.)

Placing the blame and the superficial analysis on “football” right away was all the rage, but probably the wrong place to put it. Robert Altman, forty some years ago, was the one to push the notion that “suicide is painless”. Anyone who has survived a loved one taking their own life or watched others survive it knows that this is so far from the truth. It’s incredibly painful to think, “Why didn’t I see it?” “What could I have done differently?” “Why didn’t I when I had the chance?” And then there were the recriminations that it was decided to actually have the Chiefs play their game on Sunday. The team chairman and the football commissioner didn’t consult the players, and that decision was raked over the coals. They haven’t had a chance to mourn was the complaint (it probably hadn’t sunk in yet, actually). While that might be true, at this point in the NFL season, the schedule is a little tight, was the reasoning for continuing with the game. Mourning takes time. Anyone who has ever gone through the grieving process knows that, and it’s done at different paces. Some guys on that team will be okay this week, some next season. It’s not an automatic healing, especially with suicide. The Chiefs won the game. Give it a rest. We Americans are not all that good at dealing with death, but even when Darryl Kyle died, the Cardinals played the next day.

(Yes, still boycotting the NFL, but it was hard to miss this one.)

A few days later, a rant from a high school classmate appeared on Facebook. She got in the car after work and the radio station she had tuned on her car radio played three songs in a row discussing girl parts in derogatory and ghetto terms. To say that my friend objected is an understatement. She said, “I am more then my [girl parts]” pretty emphatically. Considering the number of “likes” for her rant, this sentiment crosses racial and socio-economic lines and a definite backlash might well be building among us ladies who have a problem with being thought of as [girl parts]. The idea is not just in ghetto music anymore (or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders), but is being immortalized using the Sandra Flukes of this world as the pin-up girls. What does Sandra Fluke claim to need more than anything else? Contraception. Why do women want this more than anything else? Sex without consequences. No conversation, friendships, collaboration, appreciation, building a relationship…just sex. It’s called participating in the effort to think of all women in terms of their girl parts. One would hope a feminist would object to this. I am more than my girl parts…. Thanks to my friend from high school, this should be the anti-feminist mantra. (I think I see a t-shirt in this.)

Finally, to round out unmatched, but oddly related cultural incidents of the week, one of the great legends of twentieth century American music left us to go to his Eternal Reward. Dave Brubeck, definer of west coast jazz, died on Wednesday, one day short of his 92nd birthday. Mr. Brubeck was everything that pop culture seeks to destroy: committed husband to one woman for 70 years; committed and dedicated father to six children, four of whom followed him into music as a profession; committed friend to his band members; committed to civil rights in not performing in places where his bassist, a black man, was not welcome; and a connoisseur of great music who knew to put the best music possible out for public consumption, and let Paul Desmond, the alto saxophonist and composer of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s greatest hit, take the credit where it was due and change not just jazz, but all of music forever.* That his death is mourned by people who come from all walks of life in the United States gives me hope that all is not lost. Requiescat in pace, Mr. Brubeck. You will not be forgotten.

* Before Take Five hardly anything was written in five. Now, all sorts of things are including a really annoying church song and the Orc theme from the Lord of the Rings movies.

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Categories: Culture, Feminists, Music

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Excellent as usual. Surely they were seeking counseling with a profession. Doesn’t that always work? Thanks for recognizing Dave. I was wondering what I would next and now I know. I’ll find my vinyl from his day and listen to Take Five on my stero system so I can hear the highs and lows and all the vibrations digital cuts out.

    • Amazing, isn’t it, that music created by actual reeds, strings, pianos and percussion rather than manufactured and electronic sounds are so much more profound on vinyl? Classical music is the same way. Digital just doesn’t get the nuance.

  2. Men die daily; the world revolves; a ‘celebrity’ dies and we’re supposed to see significance and be affected…all which for me, simply cheapens the deaths of the rest of us. Few will be affected by my death, but that little effect will be genuine. (And in some quarters, likely celebratory)

    . We’re ALL more than the sum of our parts. Keeping folk aware of that is likely a penalty paid by women for being attractive, seems to me. Whether it’s a fair trade, I’ll leave to the women involved…

    Dave Brubeck was an artist. That he was also a good man enhances him and doubly rewards those he affected. We need many more of his model…

  3. I’m glad DeMint left. He will develop a viable alternative to the GOP polling structure, which is pathetic. Heritage has the vision and the message to inspire people, unlike the spineless lackeys currently running the Republican Party today. The football player was sick, and of course the anti-gun-nuts were going to make hay out of this. Par for the course. The tragedy of this was Brubeck. He was one of the most innovated artists of his day, never really stopped performing, and was a pretty likable guy on top of that. May be swing in peace.

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