Music: April 2009 Archives

There's been a lot of discussion about the vote in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on whether to ratify "Do You Realize??" as the official rock song of Oklahoma. The resolution received only 48 votes in favor, three short of the required majority. Gov. Brad Henry signed an executive order making the choice of the Flaming Lips tune official.

An online poll last fall picked "Do You Realize??" over nine other finalists, getting about 51% of 22,000 cast. I can't find a reference, but I seem to recall some suggestion at the time that Flaming Lips fans were stuffing the virtual ballot box. As an active band with a devoted, tech-savvy following, they're more likely to generate that kind of support than a musician prominent in an earlier era, like Hoyt Axton, Leon Russell, Wanda Jackson, or The Ventures. In my opinion, the Lips tune rocks least of the 10 songs. (The full list of finalists is here, along with a player that lets you listen to all of them.)

In March, the Flaming Lips were invited to appear at a legislative session. On that occasion, bassist Michael Ivins (any relation to Molly?) wore a red T-shirt emblazoned with a large yellow hammer and sickle, the symbol of international communism, a source of offense to many of the legislators who voted no on Thursday's resolution. It should have been a source of offense to every legislator.

Lead singer Wayne Coyne seems to think that only "small-minded" people should be offended by a hammer-and-sickle T-shirt:

"Me, I just say look, it's a little minority of some small-minded religious wackos who think they can tell people what kind of T-shirts and what kind of music they can listen to, and the smart, rational, reasonable people of Oklahoma are never going to buy into that," frontman Wayne Coyne told Tulsa World in an interview Friday.

State Rep. Corey Holland, R-Marlow, voted against the resolution. His reply to Coyne:

The great thing about this country is he has the right to make whatever statement he wants to make.... I have the right to be offended by that.

Gabriel Malor, a former Oklahoman who blogs regularly at Ace of Spades HQ, headlined his post on the controversy, "I'm Not Entirely Convinced We Shouldn't Just Lock Them In and Set the Building on Fire," referring to the legislators who voted against the resolution.

Steve Lackmeyer, writer and blogger for the Oklahoman, likens the State House vote to county government corruption. (UPDATE: Steve's comment has prompted me to look again at how I summarized his entry, and I think I oversimplified in my haste. It would be more accurate to say, "For Steve Lackmeyer, the State House vote brought to mind legislative resistance to county government reform after the corruption scandals of the 1980s." But just read his entry for yourself.)

Oklahoman editor Ed Kelley slams the legislature in a catchall video condemnation that is ignorant in multiple dimensions, and I don't say that lightly. He claims that the legislature wants to punish hardworking immigrants, implying the word illegal by his reference to "their children who are American citizens," but not using the word. (The legislature, and an overwhelming majority of Oklahoma citizens, welcome legal immigrants, but support sanctions against employers who use illegal labor and support cooperation between local law enforcement and Federal immigration authorities.) He refers to Ivins's T-shirt as bearing a "symbol of the old Communist Party, which went out of business with the old Soviet Union almost two decades ago." Hey, Ed, tell the oppressed people of China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam that the Communist Party "went out of business." Tell that to Chinese civil rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, still missing after being taken from his home by Chinese security forces on Feb. 4.

For that matter, Ed, does the fact that the Nazi Party has been "out of business" for over 60 years mean that no one should be offended by it any more? Had Ivins shown up in a red T-shirt with a white circle and a foot-wide black swastika, we wouldn't be talking about the legislature's vote. We'd be reading about venues canceling Flaming Lips tour dates, about their record sales plummeting, about denunciations by civil rights groups. It would have been a career-ending move, and rightly so.

Hey, Ed: Timothy McVeigh has been permanently out of business for about eight years now. Would it have been OK by you for Ivins to show up at the State Capitol with a McVeigh T-shirt? God help us if there's ever a day when that would be considered the latest in ironic hipster wear.

Tens of millions have been killed and billions have been enslaved in the name of Communism over the last century. Billions still suffer under its yoke.

The most disturbing aspect of this fuss is the realization of how little Americans realize the inherent inhumanity of Communism. It can be summed up in a single image, from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: "a boot, stamping on a human face -- forever."

With May Day coming up -- the traditional holiday for the international Communist movement -- it's as good a time as any to refresh our memories and educate the younger folks about those who suffered and died as a result of Communist policies -- not torture and imprisonment simply employed in the name of Communism but inherent to the Communist worldview. Look for several posts on the topic here at BatesLine this week. I hope other bloggers will join me in raising awareness of how deeply evil Communism was and still is.

MORE: Brandon Dutcher weighs in:

Now, I know nothing about Mr. Ivins. It appears that at the very least he needs some education on the matter, and indeed I suspect it goes deeper than that. My guess is that (to borrow from another band) he still hasn't found what he's looking for. In any case, for now I think it would be useful simply to juxtapose Mr. Ivins' silliness with the seriousness of the great man himself:

Click through to hear Ronald Reagan calling on the Communists to stop treating their citizens as prisoners.

Brandon also links to The Black Book of Communism, the definitive catalog of the devastation wrought by this evil philosophy:

The authors, all distinguished scholars based in Europe, document Communist crimes against humanity, but also crimes against national and universal culture, from Stalin's destruction of hundreds of churches in Moscow to Ceausescu's leveling of the historic heart of Bucharest to the widescale devastation visited on Chinese culture by Mao's Red Guards.

As the death toll mounts--as many as 25 million in the former Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia, and on and on--the authors systematically show how and why, wherever the millenarian ideology of Communism was established, it quickly led to crime, terror, and repression. An extraordinary accounting, this book amply documents the unparalleled position and significance of Communism in the hierarchy of violence that is the history of the twentieth century.

Chamber Music Tulsa and Barthelmes Conservatory are hosting a residency with the Cypress String Quartet. On Thursday, the quartet did workshops at Edison Preparatory School involving students from nine elementary and middle schools.

On Friday, the quartet did a strings seminar with Barthelmes Conservatory student ensembles. My wife and son were there and my wife writes, "The ensemble workshops focused on creativity, active listening, knowing who was your 'partner' at appropriate times, and much much more. It was fun to watch an ensemble that literally spent less time looking at the music, than they did watching others for cues. "

Tonight, the Cypress String Quartet will present a multimedia production called "Inspired by America," featuring music by Antonin Dvorak, Charles Ives, Samuel Barber, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, and several pieces by living American composers written for the Cypress String Quartet. There's even a string quartet by Benjamin Franklin to be played with bow only (no fingering).

Here are the details:

Inspired by America
The Cypress String Quartet
Sat., April 25, 2009, at 7:30 pm
Booker T. Washington High School Auditorium
1514 E. Zion St. (near Peoria and Apache)

Produced by the Emmy-winning director Michael Schwartz, this 90 minute journey through the history and the conscience of America, as narrated by the author of "The American Soul", Dr. Jacob Needleman, takes the audience on an artistic examination of what America stands for.

This deeply reflective look at the unique greatness of this wonderful country, in spite of those chapters of our history that challenge our ideals, uses great live chamber music, narration, and imagery to have us ponder those things essential to build an enduring and positive future for America in the world.

Following the performance, the Quartet will be available to talk to audience members and to autograph programs.

Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. To purchase tickets, please call Rose McCracken, Chamber Music Tulsa at 587-3802.

The Inspired by America website includes a trailer, an extended preview, and audio clips. The program notes, with a list of pieces and movements that will be performed, are also online.

Beginning tomorrow, April 17, Coffee House on Cherry Street (15th & Rockford in Tulsa) will host an exhibition of the photography of Jason Sales. Sales is best known for his vivid images of rock performances. You can see more of his work on his Flickr photostream.

The opening reception will be held tomorrow night, Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m., at the Coffee House on Cherry Street. Nashville singer Tayla Lynn (she's Loretta Lynn's granddaughter) will be performing starting at 8:30 along with Tulsa songwriter and guitarist Jesse Aycock.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from April 2009.

Music: March 2009 is the previous archive.

Music: May 2009 is the next archive.

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