Monday, November 12, 2012

Six Song Six-Pack: Veterans Day

Every year Veterans Day comes and goes and every year it seems like there's less and less of an attempt made to give some sort of weight to the tradition that, for many people, is just a day off for government workers and school children. I'm not one to shake my finger at people about forgetting the old ways, but it does seem to me that the lessons of November 11th are probably worth remembering.

In an era of instant connectivity and information, it's paradoxical that we're often far less connected to reality than were generations of the past. November 11th was originally known as Armistice Day, celebrating the end of the most calamitous and pointless wars of the modern era, World War I, which ended on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. It was a fittingly pointless ending that cost a final few needless lives, chasing the deaths of needles millions over the preceding five years.

Hailed at the time as "The War To End All Wars," Americans saw their entrance into World War I as a noble enterprise to make the world safe for democracy and ensure that hereafter we would no longer need to send troops across the world into harms way. Most Americans in 1918 would scarcely believe that less than a century later America would become a global hegemon, spending more on its military than the next ten countries in the world combined. Veteran's Day grew out of the Armistice Day celebrations as a way to honor those who had sacrificed their bodies, youth and, potentially, lives in what they saw as service to their countrymen. It was also a reminder of the cost of war and the need to avoid at all cost both conflict and those things which make conflict more likely.

In hopes of escaping the mistaken paradigms both of those who blame the warriors for the wars, as well as those who would equate questioning the mission with demeaning honest service, On Warmer Music hereby presents a series of songs that I hope will help, in some tiny way, illustrate the burdens of war and how they are born by those who fight.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wilco's Summerteeth (or "How I Didn't Learn To Stop Worrying And Love The Electoral Process")

As I write this this we are exactly a half hour away from Election Day 2012 here in the President’s adopted home city of Chicago. I wasn't planning on writing this tonight, indeed, there are many other things that I should be writing, but I can’t seem to think about anything else. I guess what this all comes down is an overly-long justification for a confession that I can’t decide if I’m proud or embarrassed of.

I’m listening to Summerteeth right now and it’s the right album for a number of reasons. I’ll save you my amazing Zaltzman-style pun-run (the electoral tension? “I Can’t Stand It!”) and say that Wilco’s drugged-out neo-Wilsonian masterpiece is fitting because it perfectly balances optimism and despair, the dark night of the soul and the bright shining hope and that’s about as good an analogy for my attitude towards recent politics as any.

So about that confession… yeah. For those who know me this is probably pretty hard to believe but now, as of 11:41 on Monday November 5, 2012, I, John Michael Tryneski am still an undecided voter.