Becoming a Swifty All Over Again

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The rabid right wing echo chamber did something remarkable. Because they went ape shit over Taylor Swift getting so many of her followers to register to vote in the 2024 general election I had to listen to what Swift was all about, musically — and now I’m a Swifty all over again.

Back in July of 1972 Frank Zappa released an album called Waka/Jawaka — Hot Rats . There are only four songs on the album: side two consisting of “Your Mouth,” “It Just Might Be a One Shot Deal” and “Waka/Jawaka.” Side one only has the adventurous “Big Swifty,” which features Sal Marquez on many trumpets spewing jazz from the turntable. Seventeen minutes and twenty-five seconds of musical bliss that includes a lengthy guitar solo by Zappa.

One has to mention the superb drumming and percussion by the one and only Aynsley Dunbar. I could go on and on about that album, talking about the musicians assembled for its recording, guys like Sneaky Pete Kleinow of The Flying Burrito Brothers on pedal steel guitar, plus Tony Duran on slide guitar and Jeff Simmons on Hawaiian guitar.

You might say I — and many others — became Swifties in July of 1972. It would be, could be very easy to go on and on about Frank Zappa and his music — and maybe one day I might do that. Until then, the best description of Frank and his music can be found in the book by Ben Watson, Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play. Watson went through the painstaking task of running down every weird reference, every recurring theme, be it oral or instrumental. Basically, every weird or obscure thing you want to know about FZ that he didn’t tell us himself. For Frank’s version there is The Real Frank Zappa Book, which I recommend reading before “The Negative Dialectics.”

For many years I thought I was a Zappa fanatic, but Ben Watson put me in my place. I was in it for the music, but Watson was in it for all the thought and reflex that went into the creation of Frank Zappa’s art. I’m glad he did. I learned a lot reading his book. We don’t need to be Ben Watson to enjoy the music, but his book puts so much of it in perspective.

The early 70s were a great musical period for me, as it was for many others. Along with Zappa there were so many other bands, from progressive rock to the Grateful Dead, to John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra to Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. Glam rock: Bowie (David), Queen, Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople), Motown and Motown rock and so much more.

Here we are, about 400 words into this thing and I have taken a deep dive off the tangent pier and just my luck we’re in a King Tide of wordiness. To think I wanted to write about the climate crisis and its effect on actual King Tides — and other climate phenomena — but instead I’m once again sucked into the Crazy World of Donald Trump. I bet some of you thought I was going to write “The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.”

Oh yeah, the Trump Cult members in the media are going ape shit about Taylor Swift. I love seeing that. Jesse Watters of Fox claimed — falsely — the Pentagon wanted to make Swift a Psy-Op asset, Then there is an even crazier belief that Swift being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year is a big left-wing, woke-ass, deep state conspiracy to activate Swift’s fans into Democratic voters. Swift encouraging thousands of her fans to register to vote has the right wing shivering in fear. Young people, for the most part, tend to be liberal and will vote accordingly.

The anti-Swifties got hyper-agitated when Swift began dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and was (is, the Chiefs are in the AFC title game once again) always given some camera action during every Chiefs game when Kelce makes a great play — and Travis Kelce makes a lot of great plays in every game.

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce
(Claudia Gestro)

Sure, there are the small groups of Charlie Kirk and Joe Rogan fans, some of whom are incels … okay, I don’t know that for sure, but it seems accurate … an incel is a boy/man who in involuntarily celibate and they are very angry the most beautiful women in the world don’t throw themselves at incels.

At any rate, most of the people registering to vote at the behest of Taylor Swift will vote as Swift votes and she has made no secret where she stands politically and on social issue.

So yeah, I’m a Swifty all over again.

Trump’s latest defamation trial came to an end as he was (is) rounding up the GOP nomination to be his party’s presidential candidate. The verdict: Trump has to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million. He will no doubt appeal because he is still claiming his First Amendment right to free speech was violated … because the judge in the case wouldn’t let Trump spew his BS during the trial.

We were waiting for some jurisdiction to drop an indictment on the ex-president and now there are four, with a total of 91 charges.

Now we’re waiting for one of these cases to go to trial and the talking heads tell us we might not see one of these criminal trials get under way until May or June.

This all begs question: Why do so many people support and defend a proven grifter and rapist who has been indicted on 91 charges and has lied through his teeth since he first came down that escalator in 2015? The ex-president leads in national polls by four points, and leads in 25 states. Will the conman win again?

Something I saw on “Real Time with Bill Maher”: Brazil got rid of their wannabe dictator, Jair Bolsonaro and banned him from ever holding office again. Brazil’s ex-president is now in Florida and was seen eating at a Kentucky Fried Chicken joint in Orlando. How can Brazil reject a fascist and his fascist ideas, but we can’t do that here?

Bill Maher explains it better.

We have to continually remind the undecided voters Trump led a failed coup d’etat, stole documents from the National Archives, tried to have the state of Georgia flip its vote totals for the 2020 election and of course he paid hush money to a porn star and committed fraud through his company to get lower rates on his business loans.

Will any of Trump’s legal troubles get in the way of his nomination to be the GOP candidate for president? Will all his co-conspirators in the U.S. Congress continue to get away with their participation in the coup d’état? We still don’t know. Will the hashtags #DementiaDon become a much bigger thing on social media?

This is a messed up country we live in. Why we even have to ask those questions is a commentary on how far the United States has fallen. I haven’t even mentioned the book banning and backlash against teaching the true history of America and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

We turned a page when we elected Barack Obama president, but then we flipped ourselves back several chapters when Donald J. Trump was elected president and then created his cult that took control of a major political party. The worst part is: We seem to be normalizing this anti-democracy sentiment and actions.

We do have a democracy, a republic more accurately, but we don’t know if it will continue in 2025. Elections matter.

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Lately I have been asking a number of our elected representatives these questions:

  • Due to sea level rise, that is the result of global warming, the Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands will be completely under water very soon. The U.S. is responsible for creating this looming nuclear catastrophe, so what is being done about it?
  • Meanwhile we have members of congress, in the House and Senate, either denying the climate crisis exists or arguing it isn’t serious. Radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean sounds like a big deal to me. What are your thoughts on this?
  • One other related topic. the radioactive waste at the San Onofre nuclear power plant is improperly stored and a Fukushima-sized tsunami could spread that waste all over San Diego and Orange Counties. What is being done to prevent a nuclear disaster on our Southern California coast?
  • Finally, how much urgency do you and your colleagues feel regarding the climate crisis?

With the cooperation of our elected servants, their responses will be the subject of my next post.

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One more CODA: If you purchase the Waka/Jawaka — Hot Rats album, I suggest getting the Hot Rats and Grand Wazoo albums as well. They go together.