Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Animal’s Daily Guitar News

And now, for something completely different; my list of the five best guitar players in rock & roll history.  Here they are, at their finest and in no particular order.  These are all live shows – no studio riffs here.

First up:  The irreplaceable Jerry Garcia, in 1990, playing lead in Eyes of the World.  Mrs. Animal and I saw the Grateful Dead in 1991, and this was one of the best tunes in the almost 5-hour show.

Next, the irrepressible Frank Zappa, from a 1977 concert, with his favored show-closer The Muffin Man.

Next, the irreproachable Stevie Ray Vaughan, with a live rip of his Couldn’t Stand the Weather.


And then there’s the irredeemable Jimi Hendrix, with a 1970 performance of his famous Purple Haze.

And finally, the only member on the list still walking the mortal coil; the irresistible Carlos Santana.  I didn’t pick one of his usuals for this; instead I chose a more intimate performance, where he met the radiant Faith Hill and accompanied her on her song  Breathe. 

So.  Thoughts?  I would have named my top ten, but I was running out of words that began with the ‘irr’ prefix, and besides, after five the choices widen out some.  I suppose I’d put Eddie Van Halen in that list, and Jimmy Page, and maybe George Thorogood.

Rule Five Killing Big Bird Friday

From one of our favorite libertarian scribes, John Stossel, comes this piece on the Trump Administration’s promise to cut a particular piece of fat from the Imperial budget.   Excerpt:

Next week, Donald Trump releases his new budget. It’s expected to cut spending on things like the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Good!

Government has no business funding art. When politicians decide which ideas deserve a boost, art is debased. When they use your money to shape the culture, they shape it in ways that make culture friendlier to government.

As The Federalist’s Elizabeth Harrington points out, the National Endowment for the Arts doesn’t give grants to sculpture honoring the Second Amendment or exhibitions on the benefits of traditional marriage. They fund a play about “lesbian activists who oppose gun ownership” and “art installations about climate change.”

The grant-making establishment is proudly leftist. A Trump administration won’t change that. During the Bush II years, lefty causes got funding, but I can’t find any project with a conservative agenda.

It’s not just the politics that are wrong. Government arts funding doesn’t even go to the needy. Arts grants tend to go to people who got prior arts grants.

But here’s the real money quote:

The New York Times ran the headline: “Why Art Matters.” Of course it matters. But “art” is different from “government-funded art.”

New York Magazine ran a photo of Big Bird, or rather a protester dressed as Big Bird, wearing a sign saying “Keep your mitts off me!” What New York doesn’t say is that the picture is three years old, and Big Bird’s employer, “Sesame Street,” no longer gets government funds.

We confronted the article writer, Eric Levitz. He said, “Big Bird has long functioned as a symbol of public broadcasting … Still, considering ‘Sesame Street’s’ switch to HBO, I concede that some could have been misled.”

You bet.

Big Bird doesn’t need government help. “Sesame Street” is so rich that it paid one of its performers more than $800,000.

I can’t add much to Mr. Stossel’s words, but I will offer some of Robert Heinlein’s words:  “A government-subsidized artist is an incompetent whore.”  I couldn’t agree more.

There are a lot of artists in the Animal family.  The Old Man is a Midwestern artist of note, and has been since the late Sixties.  He still paints today and just recently put out a book of paintings of Iowa wildflowers and birds.  For many years he had a reserved spot in the Iowa Capitol where one of his paintings hung.  One of my daughters is a freelance graphic artist and designer, and another is in a reputable art school studying to be a commercial graphic artist.

None of them have ever taken a public dime for their art, and none ever will.

All of Mr. Stossel’s arguments are great, but I’ll counter with a simpler one;  nowhere in the Constitution is the Imperial government allowed to disperse taxpayer funds to prop up artists who can’t make money by selling their work in the open market.  The Tenth Amendment prohibits the Imperial government from doing anything that the Constitution does not specifically allow.

That, True Believers, should be the end of the discussion.

I’m a Lumberjack…

Over at The Daley Gator, blogger pal Doug Hagin had an article (rightly) criticizing Bill Nye, the engineer who pretends to be a science guy; but the thing that jumped out at me was this photo.

I commented:  Regarding Lumberjack Guy above – look at those soft white hands! This gomer has never been near an axe or chainsaw in his life. The “outdoor” setting is probably at the edge of the parking lot for the photography studio.

We see plenty of these types around now; flannel and neck-beards have suddenly become popular among Millennial townies.  What will it be next – camouflage and Confederate flags?

Hey, everyone has the right to wear what they like.  I tend towards boots and my big gus-crown cowboy hats, even when bumming around town.  Now I grew up in a rural setting, and have run many a chainsaw and axe in my life – still do, from time to time.

But I can’t help looking down my nose a little bit at douchebaggery like that exhibited by the guy illustrated at top.  Wearing flannel and a neckbeard doesn’t make you manly.

Doing manly things, practicing the Manly Arts – that does.

Animal’s Daily Historical Parallels News

Is President Trump the new Andrew Jackson?  RealClearPolitics’ Thomas Chambers makes an interesting argument for it.  Excerpt:

Like the current president, Jackson was unpredictable, even considered wild by some. He drank heavily early in life, but later swore off spirits completely, as has Trump who claims he’s never touched a drop of liquor. Though Jackson lacked a formal education and Trump possesses an Ivy league degree, neither would be considered among the gentry and both might be labeled anti-intellectual, as when Trump claims he learns most of what he knows from “watching the TV shows.” There is a commonality of reckless youth followed by piousness. Trump was sent to military school as a teenager.

In his personal life, Jackson was accused of condoning bigamy because his wife was married to another man when they began living together. As is well-known, President Trump has been married three times, though at distinctly different intervals. These marital scandals plagued both men for years.

Once in the White House, there are also many striking comparisons, even considering the Trump presidency remains in its nascent stages.

Both men have seen themselves as guardians of the Constitution – according to their own personal interpretations – and as protectors of the people. But, they have also shared a craving for power. Jackson was sometimes referred to as King Andrew I, one who, like his 21st century counterpart, thought he could do anything he wanted. Trump sign executive orders in rapid succession.

As with Trump, Jackson fought with his opponents and with members of his own party. He was unpredictable and quick to anger. He even expressed himself publicly, not using Twitter, but via open letters to friends that were reprinted in newspapers. The trusted close advisers in both administrations, chosen for their loyalty, not expertise, have been looked upon unfavorably. Jackson’s “kitchen cabinet,” unofficial consultants who paralleled the presidential cabinet, caused a great deal of consternation. His real cabinet was made up of businessmen and politicians whom he thought he would control.

Out on a limb.

There’s one major difference, and it is one that makes President Trump unlike any of his 44 predecessors in the Imperial Mansion; even unlike Jackson.  Old Hickory commanded troops as a general.  Since his day, there have been several former military men in the Imperial Mansion, Grant and Eisenhower foremost among them.  But Donald Trump is the first man to hold the office without having ever been a military man or a politician.

His campaign broke lots of rules; his Presidency, nascent though it is, is shattering lots of old reliable traditions for politics.  It’s true, Jackson did much the same, but he had much, much less precedent to shatter.

It’s really too early to draw these kinds of comparisons.  We have four interesting years ahead – maybe at the end of the Age of Trump we may have a better idea how  history will view him.

Saturday Evening Culture

I think I like this better than Donna Summer’s original version.  This is the percussion-heavy Blue Man Group with early 2000’s alt-band VenusHum – lead singer Annette Strean has some pretty good pipes.  Enjoy.

Mrs. Animal and I have seen the Blue Man Group twice, once the full show in Las Vegas, once the road show with the aforementioned VenusHum; in fact we saw this very song performed.  They’re worth checking out.

Animal’s Daily Uncommon Sense News

Bill Maher finds an acorn:  Bill Maher: Liberals, We Lost Because We’re Offended All The Time And We Act Like Emasculated Husbands.  Excerpt:

Comedian Bill Maher is no conservative, but a broken clock is right twice a day. Maher has veered off the liberal path on Islamic extremism, admitted that his side doesn’t know anything about firearms regarding Second Amendment issues, and unapologetically points out the false equivalence between Christian and Islamic-inspired terror attacks.

With the 2016 election over and President Donald J. Trump now in the White House, Maher has some advice for how liberals can win: stop being politically correct. Granted, I hope liberals continue with their insufferable ethos of trigger warnings and safe spaces, so we can undo the damage done by the Obama presidency—but I think we can all agree that the authoritarian agenda of political correctness is a cancer on the nation.

 During the election just past, a big part of President Trump’s appeal was his blunt language; he not only is not politically correct, he deliberately eschews political correctness; he seems not to give a damn who he offends, and when people complain, he tells them where to head in.

That is, frankly, a breath of fresh air in our current era of polished, rehearsed politicians.

But Maher, before slipping into his “people would love liberal positions if we just explained them better,” misses one key point.  It wasn’t just the hyper-sensitivity that doomed the political Left in the last few election cycles.  It was precisely the issues that the Left and the Democratic Party went on about at length; when the nation’s regular blue-collar workers and small business owners are worried about making the mortgage and finding the next job on the career path, issues like transgender bathroom rights and “the patriarchy” ring pretty hollow.

That’s what Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I missed in 2016.  That’s one of the reasons she lost.

Animal’s Daily News

A great deal of the hand-wringing over the Electoral College and the results of the recent election is due to the undue influence big states like California have on national politics – or how they would, were it not for the Electoral College.  Here’s an interesting idea how to fix that – re-draw state lines along population and cultural lines.  Excerpt:

The answer lies in limiting state size to a human scale in which human beings can still associate, travel, and trade across jurisdictional boundaries without incurring a great cost. The standard for “great cost” is subjective, of course, and over time has changed substantially. The cost of traveling 50 miles in the 16th century, for example, is significantly different form the cost of traveling the same distance today. 

There are ongoing attempts by geographers, however, to determine the “natural” size of a region that encompasses a population’s economic, political, and social institutions. In a recent study, for example, Garret Dash Nelson and Alasdair Rae attempted to identify regions that “have been substantively tied together by the forces of urban development, telecommunications, the frictionless circulation of capital, and the consolidation of both public and private institutions.” 

Basing their standard of scale on tolerance for commute times, the geographers selected 50-mile commutes as an indicator of how closely tied together is a specific region.

Here’s the commute time map and the resulting new state-line map:

Here’s my concern with this idea; note how the new, proposed state lines are drawn.  Note that they are all centered on major metropolitan areas.  Given the increasing urbanization of our population, that’s not surprising.

But the political divides in our country now are primarily rural v. urban, with some suburbs going either way (as you might expect.)  This proposal places a major urban area at the heart of each of the new States; that alone threatens to aggravate this divide.

It’s more likely that the United States will balkanize altogether.  Alaska and Texas in particular have more than sufficient infrastructure and resources to go it alone, given their current populations.  I’ve written on the subject before, and I think it’s a far more likely outcome than completely re-drawing State lines.

But either would signal the end of the United States as we know it.  I hope I don’t live to see either happen.