“Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads (1979)

14 11 2016

These “United States” of America have just elected Donald Trump.

I am so, so sorry, sweetheart. Rational people did their best to stop him. But he said what people wanted to hear, and he stoked division and fear.

He has no respect for women, or minorities, or the press, or the courts, or our taxation system, or anything but his own interests as far as anyone can tell.

And with both houses of Congress plus his own conservative appointment to the Supreme Court, this nation is doomed. And we’ll take the rest of the world down with us.

So, we fight. What else can we do?

Here’s one lesson: Young people HAVE to get to the polls and vote. I know you’re too young to vote now, but when you can vote, please do. And talk about it with your friends, encourage them to vote, too.

If young voters–who overwhelmingly favored Democrats–turned out for the election, we wouldn’t have Donald Trump as president. We wouldn’t have had George W. Bush, either. And Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, would probably have been the Democratic nominee, easily beating Trump. There were other factors, of course, but one thing you can do is vote and get involved. Or you end up with our own Il Duce.

This song came out when I was about your age. I remember listening to its ominous words about changing hairstyles “so many times now, I don’t know what I look like.” It’s about fighting in the resistance. Perhaps it was foreshadowing.

And you can dance to it!

“Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there”


“One” by Metallica (1988)

22 03 2009

This song was inspired by the book “Johnny Got His Gun,” a terrifying novel about the horrors of war written by Dalton Trumbo (who would also direct the movie based on the book).  I think this is a very intense track.  A soldier suffers terrible wounds in the war, leaving him limbless, voiceless, barely a life support system for his pain and active mind which can do nothing but endure.

Without ever actually experiencing war, art like this is the best way we can begin to understand the suffering of others.  In America, war is a pretty abstract concept, except for our soldiers who are sent by our leaders on dubious (at best) military actions overseas.

There are some incredible books and movies that show the horrors of war.  In addition to “Johnny Got His Gun,” I’d recommend “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Remarque, “The Naked and the Dead” by Mailer, and “And No Birds Sang” by Mowatt.  For movies I’d recommend “The Thin Red Line” by Malick, “Platoon” by Stone, and “Saving Private Ryan” by Spielberg.  One of the best filmed treatments of World War II, in my opinion, is the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.”

These are just some examples, and they can be very difficult to get through, especially if you really try to put yourself in them.  They are difficult, but they can give you a very real, very human perspective on just what we’re doing to each other in these wars.

War is far from abstract for many people on this planet.  The least we can do is truly understand the consequences of our actions.