Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #87

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #87

… James is seated quite near his sister, just now beginning to notice how fetching this woman is at this moment…

fetch·ing

ˈfeCHiNG/
adjective
1.  attractive.

2. etc…

attractive, appealing, sweet, pretty, good-looking, lovely, delightful, charming, prepossessing, captivating, enchanting, irresistible;

bonny

“Give me fifteen minutes to get ready.”

He nods his approval.

Agnes allows herself to melt in the warmth of the moment. She is so taken, that she can feel the perspiration trickle between her amply bestowed breasts. Her sweaty palms are more easily dealt with, a lace hanky doing the job.

San Luis Lake-001

James could not be more oblivious to any of the signals his sister secretes, now or in the past. He merrily steers the one horse wagon down the well-worn path to the north side of San Luis Lake. About half way around the two-parcel oval body of water is a short bridge spanning an equally small stream of tributary water. A large cypress tree provides ample shade, natural cooling in a subtropical climate. It is here that Agnes and James stop. She produces a blanket to sit on and a container of fresh squeezed lemonade, summoning James to her favorite spot.

San luis lake4“Come and sit with me,” she urges after spreading the blanket. She seats herself in the middle, dispersing the skirt of her dress symmetrically and looking every bit the part of a classic Southern belle.

“It is so comfortable here, like God’s gift to please and soothe.” She fans herself coquettishly.

   James is seated quite near her, just now beginning to notice how fetching this woman is at this moment. They do not come prettier than his Abbey, whose looks match her age. Agnes Ferrell, on the other hand, is a classic, in the mold of Venus de Milo; beauty that defies biological age. He never thought of her as beautiful until this moment. He is battling his hormones, in the face of a frontal assault on his emotional equilibrium and previously unthought-of of taboo.

Agnes wastes no time. It is apparent that she has been fantasizing about this moment-opportune for quite some time, now at the point of zero inhibition. She embraces her brother with un-sisterly talent, drawing him over the top of her, helping him gain access to her virginal womanhood without petticoat or panty. She consumes his tongue with a kiss for the ages, removing the final psychological obstacle to her end.

James has forgotten the reasons for their country dally and before he can say a word, his pants have traveled past his ankles and Agnes is moaning in intense pleasure. Never mind that he has exactly the same sexual experience as his familial partner, nature has taken its crooked course. James Ferrell loves his sister, though not the way God intended or society would understand.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Agnes & James-001

Episode #87


page 80

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #86

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #86

… Martha Ferrell, finds great humor in their exchange, breaking into joyful laughter, a sound not heard here for quite some time..,

“I wish you luck, son.” John Ferrell knows that Agnes will not take the news about James’ plans with Abigail very well. He does not quite why, he just knows. He fears for his daughter, who has the deportment of a woman in her fortieth year, fully twenty-two years down the line.

James tarries little about that comment, instead fresh with euphoric feelings of love and the grand plans of a promising life. He seeks out Abbey, who he has taken responsibility for the care and well-being of, hence lessening the duration of her own minor episodes of catatonia.

He interrupts a lesson on the art of being a top notch research assistant; more valuable nuggets that will serve the soon to be Abigail Smythwick-Ferrell Ferrell well, very well..

   “Pack your bags Abbey, New Orleans here we come!” picking her up, spinning her around gleefully. He speaks of the colorful city in Louisiana, known for flights of fancy. In this case, it will be a honeymoon destination.

“We have three weeks to wait and we have to be at Harvard the day after we are to return, so don’t you think we should concentrate on packing for that?” she reasons.

      “You are such an organizer!”

Abigail Smythwick

Abbey

Sweetheart Tree-001

Sweethearts

          “And you are the dreamer. I must make sure that those dreams come true.” In the case of both Abbey and Agnes, it is a shame that they have grown to womanhood in an almost pioneer way; spawned by necessity of the times and fueled by the determination of survival.

          “Well, I’ve been dreaming of a life with you since our days at Maclay Park, back when you were a flat-chested freckle-faced skinny girl.”

  “Why James Ferrell, I should wash your mouth out with soap!” threatens the victim of his recollection.

Martha Ferrell, who is on the perimeter of the room, finds great humor in their exchange; breaking into joyful laughter, a sound not heard here for quite some time. Welcome clatter emanates from the Hillside home, serving to greet Agnes, who is now returning from her store duties.

“To what do we credit such a happy sound?” she inquires of the three.

“James and Ab…” Mother catches herself.

“James would like Agnes to join him for a ride over to the Endlichoffers. Joseph should have the carriage hitched and ready to go.” He wants to scurry off to the surrey that fringe on the top.

“What is the occasion?” she slows him down, asking, though none is needed when she is alone with James, with Abbey joined at the hip.

“I have a surprise I want to share and we have not spent much time together. I thought a nice ride on this beautiful summers’ evening.”

“Give me fifteen minutes to get ready.”

He nods his approval.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #86


page 79

Telling Us How to Think – WIF Mind Games

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20th Century

Philosophers

(And What They Believed)

There’s a joke about a degree in philosophy where the people majoring in it get asked, “would you like fries with that?” Getting a degree in philosophy is supposed to be such a waste of time and money because philosophy ostensibly does not provide a utilitarian skill set. This claim was compellingly countered by Atlantic magazine in 2015, which found they had an average mid-career income of $82,000. It indicates that while philosophers can seem like marginal people — if not frivolous — they can make their contributions felt even while we mock them.

This list will be focusing on philosophers from the previous century. Philosophers from two or three centuries seem to get all the attention, not to mention all the philosophers from about two millennia ago. Some of these names will be familiar.

10. Ludwig Wittgenstein

Born in Vienna, Austria in 1889 to a wealthy family of musicians, in his youth the strongest desire of Wittgenstein’s heart was to work in engineering; specifically as it related to the infant technology of motorized flight. Wittgenstein happened to get hung up on pure mathematics and went to Cambridge to be taught by Bertrand Russell himself. It would be during a 1908 retreat in Norway, in a cabin he built, that Wittgenstein would have the inspiration for the “Picture Theory of Meaning” that would make him famous after he fought in World War I and got a job as an elementary school teacher for six years in 1920 because he’d divested himself of his inheritance in 1919.

Wittgenstein laid out the Picture Theory of Meaning in his 1921 book Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which in brief said that unless a statement could be translated from an abstraction into an “arrangement of objects” then it had no meaning. It was a literalism that could be expected of a philosophically-minded engineer and which he also applied to the classroom, having students perform such hands-on learning as constructing models and dissecting animals (and applying corporal punishment to a degree that compelled him to lie about it and quit his job).

Wittgenstein reinforced the point of applied philosophy with his other book of philosophy that’s held up as a classic, Philosophical Investigations from 1953. Wittgenstein claimed that ethics and logic are inextricably linked, and that actions were the only way that a person could follow their ethics was to act on them. In his own words, “It is not possible to obey a rule ‘privately’: otherwise thinking one was obeying a rule would be the same thing as obeying it.” It’s a harsh rebuke for people who claim to be above others by not participating in the world around them, or who convince themselves that what matters is who they are “on the inside.”

9. Hiratsuka Raicho

For this philosopher born in 1886, her feminist beliefs that would one day change the face of Japan were initially born more of religion than pure humanism. She had been taught that the Buddha claimed all people were equal, and naturally that meant all the women must be equal to men despite lacking key civil rights. It wasn’t until she read the work of Ellen Key that she began to think of women as deserving equal rights for purposes of autonomy and individualism. As she wrote in her autobiography, women had been “the sun” but society had reduced them to “ …a wan and sickly moon, dependent on another, reflecting another’s brilliance.”

The single most significant action Raicho undertook was founding and editing Seito, a literary magazine, that ran from 1911 to 1916. She continued campaigning after seeing the appalling conditions of textile factories, which tended to employ primarily female crews. In 1920 she founded the New Woman’s Association. They were able to almost pass women’s suffrage in 1921, and in 1922 successfully pressured the government to amend the Public Order and Police Law. Although her goal of suffrage wasn’t achieved until 1945, her efforts still got her elected president of the Women’s Federation in 1953. In 1908, she scandalously accompanied her (platonic) best friend to a mountain for a ritual suicide with an attitude of curiosity about what it was like to die, and because she suspected her partner would lose his willingness to kill himself when push came to shove. It was the sort of combination of deep conviction and apathy to social pressure that is often significant to bringing about change.

8. Noam Chomsky

There are two movies about long-term Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist Noam Chomsky that, between them, encapsulate his two main areas of interest: Manufacturing Consent from 1992, an analysis of the profit-driven and narrative-driven media and US foreign policy, and Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?from 2013, a collection of interviews Michel Gondry wherein Chomsky’s answers or asks philosophical questions about how language shapes thoughts and memories practically since his birth in 1929, all of which are illustrated/animated in Gondry’s intentionally rough and child-like style.

Chomsky’s core beliefs relate to how controlling media (news coverage, commonly employed phrases and the words that back them, etc.) can be used to create public approval of what by basic human nature would not be acceptable. Back in 1968 in a televised debate with William Buckley (who threatened Gore Vidal on air), he argued how the US government arguing the military was occupying South Vietnam for the good of the Vietnamese was an excuse used since Ancient Roman conquests. Manufacturing Consent also devoted much of its run time to how the media would withhold coverage of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor because it served elite interests to ignore it. One of the core values of Chomsky’s political commentary and his stated views on language is to always question the narrative being provided. He goes so far as to say that in his childhood during the 1930s he went to a school that was well-suited for him before he went to high school because he was given freedom in classes to question instead of going through a highly regimented curriculum.

7. Jacques Derrida

Lately you hear the word “deconstruction” thrown around a lot in regards to media with some form of meta-commentary (e.g., a superhero movie where the filmmakers have the characters comment on the supposedly fascistic power fantasy nature of superhero narratives within the movie’s dialogue). We can attribute the popularity of that phrase to a man born in French-Algeria in 1930; a man who flunked his own exams to become a licensed Parisian philosopher in 1952. Badly flunked, too: A score of five out of twenty, and he choked disastrously on the written portion. He would need three attempts to pass in 1956, and after some time in the military he spent decades teaching. It was while working in education that he would write the essays that made him famous with the English-speaking world.

If Derrida’s philosophical insight that made him so influential were to be reduced to a logline (and bear in mind that this is someone who wrote 70 books and countless essays), it would be to critique other writers who claimed they were being objective. Derrida said that was functionally impossible, as the education any analyst had received would introduce biases that would impact their views one way or another. That claim is a rebuke to every school of thought, even Chomsky’s “question everything” philosophy. It argues there are limited a very limited number of questions a person will ask and narrow-minded ways they will be asked, the limitations being set by the person’s upbringing. Derrida’s seemingly detached central tenet didn’t mean he avoided controversial opinions, since he was an admirer of Karl Marx and Nazi Party member Martin Heidegger.

6. Judith Jarvis Thomson

Whatever your views on the abortion debate, there’s no denying Thomson’s influence over the issue in the United States of America. Born in 1929, by 1969 she was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. In 1971 she wrote “A Defense of Abortion” and went a long way to reframing the debate in a manner which put the feminist movement behind the landmark 1973 Roe V. Wade ruling. Its influence and controversy has led to her essay being dubbed “the most widely reprinted essay in all of contemporary philosophy.”

The most momentous passage of Thomson’s essay is a metaphor. Thomson asks the reader to imagine they woke up on life support (the reader’s kidneys being used to support the life of a violinist in a coma), and the reader is being used for this process because they’re the only matching blood type. While the violinist certainly has the right to life, Thomson asserts that the reader would also have a right to their own body and potentially their own life. In so doing she reframed the debate from focusing on the rights of the fetus to those of the parent. This is hardly her sole contribution to the philosophical landscape, such as her redesign of the famous Trolley Problem (i.e. the moral quandary about whether it’s inherently better to take action to kill one person and save five) but the 1971 essay remains her most momentous piece of writing.

5. Jean-Paul Sartre

Born in Paris in 1905, his body of work would, by the time of his death in 1980, includes books and plays such as Being and Nothingness and The Flies, which were key to spreading existential philosophy around the world. His most famous play, No Exit, coined the popular expression “hell is other people.” Sartre rejected the label of existentialist for a time, and in 1964 he rejected the Nobel Prize in literature, criticizing its Eurocentrism (he came to regret this latter rejection in particular, saying he could have donated the prize money to an anti-Apartheid committee in London). Also in 1964, he renounced all literature as a substitute for taking meaningful action in the world.

Sartre was a nihilist when it came to human nature, as he outlined in Existentialism is Humanism. He argued that human beings, as autonomous and sentient entities, have to define themselves as they live, and they do so through their actions (as Wittgenstein did). Sartre was not positive about this state being, calling it “anguish.” Little wonder he felt Hell is other people.

4. Giovanni Gentile

The inclusion of any figure on this list is not an endorsement of their views. we want to be made especially clear in this case, as in 1932 this Italian philosopher born in 1886 was literally a co-author for The Doctrine of Fascism with Benito Mussolini. Meaning, of course, that he indirectly helped write the blueprints for much more destructive German fascism. He created a philosophical movement of his own known initially as “actual idealism,” which was shortened to “actualism.” It was largely an extension of the work of nineteenth century philosopher Georg Hegel.

Gentile argued that objective reality was unknowable and that individual identities were an illusion, which in turn he argued meant that the only way to find value was to bind oneself into a larger group. In a sense it’s a form of nihilism since everything outside the group is unquantifiable and thus can’t have a value, giving people within the group tacit approval to subjugate any outsiders however they please.

3. Ayn Rand

Few people are as well known for their contradictions as this bestselling author born in Russia in 1905 who created the Objectivist movement. She is highly lauded in right wing circles despite being aggressively pro-choice. She believed only in wealth redistribution through private charity but is very often mocked for accepting social security near the time of her passing in 1982. Her books The Fountainhead, We the Living, Anthem, and Atlas Shrugged are all endlessly derided and bought. Despite how far out of fashion her writing style and subject matter have fallen she remains popular enough that blockbuster director Zack Snyder plans to make a film adaptation of The Fountainhead.

It is often asserted that the Soviet government’s seizure of her father’s pharmacywhile she was a child inspired her to design a philosophical framework of her own which is often referred to as Randianism but which she called Objectivism. Objectivism argues that the best way for humanity to proceed is for everyone to act in their rational self-interest. People will act ethically because it is in the best interest of capitalism for them to treat everyone ethically, so that others will treat them ethically. Morality cannot be forced on anyone, and to use the threat of physical violence to compel people to act morally (e.g. to use the threat of arrest to coerce citizens to give tax money that would be used to help the needy) is itself amoral.

2. Leo Strauss

Leo Strauss has not become a household name since his death in 1973. Even among the circle that knew him at the time he was more polarizing than most. Strauss is more influential because he was read by a few at the top than by many at the bottom or in the middle. From Gerald Ford to the Bushes, his work was taught and discussed in the White House itself every time there was a Republican in office. Even William Gaston, a domestic policy adviser to Bill Clinton for two years, was a student of him.

Strauss believed that human beings do not have natural rights, and are inherently unequal and thus shouldn’t be treated as if they are. He argued that society needed to have its “noble lies,” which was what Strauss considered religion, so that the lower classes would remain productive. He said science and philosophy must be the “preserve of a small minority” because science and philosophy are attempts to replace opinion, and opinion is “the element in which society breathes.”

1.  Albert Camus

Like Derrida he was born in Algeria, though in Camus’s case in 1913. He also shared with Derrida a soft spot for communism, though that was out of his system by the time he was in France and made his name. Derrida is said to be the father of deconstruction, Camus is credited with being one of the fathers of absurdism as a philosophical movement, even if he rejected “armchair philosophy” in favor of going out and living life to the fullest.

Camus’s first published book is 1942’s The Stranger, a novel about a sociopathic man who neither cares at his mother’s death nor understands why everyone else does. Accused of premeditated murder, what actually gets him sentenced to death is his apathy and atheism. Before his execution he tears into the priest sent to receive his confession, and manages to find peace in accepting the meaninglessness of life.

His most famous book, and his winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, is 1947’s The Plague. A story of a bubonic plague epidemic in Oran, Algeria (based on a cholera epidemic that hit the town in 1849 and metaphorical for the presence of the Third Reich in France) it’s the story of how society is broken down so that people isolate themselves in the hopes of riding the plague out and others fight against it. Even though Camus treats the struggle against the plague as absurd, it’s clear that the resisting characters have his sympathies.

Camus’s other work of nonfiction is The Myth of Sisyphus, a 130 page essay published in 1942 about the character from Greek mythology who is condemned to forever push a boulder up a mountain, a task impossible because in some versions it will always roll back down or just can’t be moved in the first place. Camus argued that this was a perfect symbol for the human condition: Forever pointlessly struggling since the inevitability of oblivion hangs over everyone and everything at all times. So why not commit suicide instead? Rather than reaching a dour, nihilistic conclusion from that, Camus said “one must imagine Sisyphus happy.” After all, he does have an eternal sense of purpose. In its way, Camus’s absurdist philosophy is a optimistic and accepting form of nihilism.


Telling Us How to Think –

WIF Mind Games

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #51

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #51

…Fort Sumter South looks like the countryside of Gettysburg, the day after the battle…

Fort Sumter3-001

The Fall of Fort Sumter South

The road back to Tallahassee runs right past Sumter South, at least close enough to Delivery Truck-001see the Mansion far in the distance. Herbert Love precedes the Ferrell Grocery “Freedom Express” in a Love Dairy & Ice wagon, loaded with supplies. He needs to reach the plantation ahead of the truck, if the smoke screen is to work, that is. Just what kind of reception he will get, when he gets there, is up in the air.

As he approaches the area, a thick black haze hangs thirty feet above the ground. Upon closer view, every structure is flattened. Even the grand three story main house stands amid the smoke. It is a sad scene for foes and friends alike. An evil empire has been reduced to ash and rubble; never in anyone’s wildest dreams.

Oddly, there is no person, white or black, to be seen. Farm animals wander unattended, cattle or horse not knowing what to do in area unfamiliar. It looks like the countryside of Gettysburg, the day after the battle, without the military corpsmen on both sides searching for anyone who may still be alive.

That was the view from the road. Love steers his ice wagon down the lane leading to the main house. Magnolia trees line the way, paired every twenty feet. How fragrant this path must be in spring. The team of horses is reined down to a slow pace, no urgency is indicated. Every appearance points to complete vacancy.

About mid-drive he hears the whimpering of a female cry. Where she is is not as obvious. He applies the wagon’s brake and dismounts to investigate, having seen nothing from his higher perch. After a minute of silence, sobs reemerge but not from the ground, rather from among the large leaves of one of the magnolias he was passing under. Peering up the trunk, he discovers a girl, adolescent he guesses, huddled in the crotch of the tree’s largest limb. She is wearing only a yellow nightie, a sure sign that she fled the mansion in a rush.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #51


page 48

Only the Songwriter Knows For Sure – WIF Music

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Famous Songs

(That Are Widely

Misunderstood)

It’s often been said that songs are largely driven by emotion rather than meaning or complexity of the music. This certainly would explain why a scant three chords and a groovy haircut goes a long way and can help to sell a ton of records. Conversely, sometimes the lyrics can evoke equally powerful feelings — even when a song’s meaning is completely misunderstood.

From The Clash to The Kingsmen, here’s just a fraction of classic tunes that people continue to love, despite completely missing the point of what the songwriters were trying to say.

10. “Train In Vain” (The Clash)

Ever since its release from the seminal London Calling double album, “Train In Vain” arrived at the station shrouded in mystery — largely in part to the track not being listed on the sleeve or back cover. The song name would also become muddled after fans began calling it by its chorus, “Stand By Me,” as well as the actual title never being mentioned in the lyrics; furthermore, the toe-tapping tune has absolutely nothing to do with transportation or working out. Now 40 years later, the heart of the controversy lies in a simple printing snafu and a stubborn girlfriend.

Written by Mick Jones, “Train In Vain” was originally intended to be used as a flexi-disk promotion for the British music magazine, NME. But when the deal fell through at the last minute, the band decided to tack it onto the master of their recently completed album. This, however, resulted in one small problem: the artwork, lyrics, liner notes, etc. had already gone to the printer. As a result, it landed on Side Four as Track 5 with the title crudely scratched on the original vinyl in the needle run-off area. Subsequent pressings would later include the proper title on the album — although in the U.S., it contained the variation, “Train In Vain (Stand By Me).”

The story behind the meaning is rooted in Jones’ ex-girlfriend, Slits guitarist Viv Albertine. Although Jones has remained somewhat tight-lipped about the doomed relationship, the feminist rock icon has been more candid: “I’m really proud to have inspired that but often he won’t admit to it. He used to get the train to my place in Shepherds Bush and I would not let him in. He was bleating on the doorstep. That was cruel.”

The all-female Slits supported The Clash on their White Riot tour — and the alluring Albertine enjoyed a well-earned reputation of breaking many punk hearts, including Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders, and Joe Strummer.

9. “There She Goes” (The La’s)

An undeniably catchy, jangly ballad, “There She Goes” appears to be a simple tale of unrequited love. However, the lyrics ”Racing through my brain… pulsing through my vein” reveal a not-so-innocent side. Additionally, frontman Lee Mavers’ eccentric and reclusive behavior only furthered drug-fueled speculation that the popular track drew inspiration from poppies. Yep, it’s about heroin.

Released as a single in 1988, the track earned the proto Britpop band from Liverpool earned critical praise before typical band infighting and chaos ensued. Although the song would be re-released two years later on their debut album under the Go! Disc label, The La’s had already been relegated to one-hit wonder status.

Later, the alt Christian-rock outfit Sixpence None The Richer covered the tune and enjoyed a major hit stateside — proving Jesus has a place in his heart for all saints and sinners.

8. “Fire and Rain” (James Taylor)

This one’s also about smack. Sorry. Taylor wrote “Fire and Rain” as a deeply personal reflection of life’s bumpy road, capturing all of its twists and turns and pains and joys. A remarkable feat considering he was only 20 years old at the time. From his second album, Sweet Baby James, the song’s structure unfolds like a three-act play with a beginning, middle, and end. Taylor explains in a 1972 interview with Rolling Stone:

“‘Fire and Rain’ has three verses. The first verse is about my reactions to the death of a friend. The second verse is about my arrival in this country with a monkey on my back, and there Jesus is an expression of my desperation in trying to get through the time when my body was aching and the time was at hand when I had to do it… And the third verse of that song refers to my recuperation in Austin Riggs (psychiatric facility) which lasted about five months.”

The end result earned the young singer/songwriter a multi-platinum record and a career that remains strong today over five decades later. But the “monkey on his back” would become a recurring affliction. Taylor first began using heroin after arriving in New York City in 1966 — a habit that escalated in London while briefly signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records label. Despite his personal and professional setbacks, Taylor has sold over 100 million records, and in 2000 became enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

7. “Dancing With Myself” (Billy Idol)

In his tell-all memoir, Dancing With Myself, the title is both metaphor and the name of one of his biggest hits. It’s also a cheeky double entendre for spanking the monkey. You know, the five knuckle shuffle. Jackin’ the beanstalk. Badgering the witness. Jerkin’ the gherkin. Okay, enough already — it’s about masturbation.

The song was first recorded in 1979 by Idol’s previous band, Gen X, and then re-released as a single in 1981 for the singer’s solo launch. Written by Idol and Gen X bassist, Tony James, the song was inspired in part during a Gen X tour of Japan in 1979. According to Idol, he and James visited a Tokyo disco, where they were surprised to find most of the crowd there dancing alone in front of a wall of mirrors instead of with each other.

However, when pressed on the subject, Idol later conceded there’s more than one layer: “There’s a masturbatory element to it, too. There’s a masturbatory element in those kids dancing with their own reflections. It’s not too much further to sexual masturbation. The song really is about these people being in a disenfranchised world where they’re left bereft dancing with their own reflections.”

Umm, sure, Billy, whatever you say. The song’s music video (which saw heavy rotation in MTV’s halcyon days) features a half-naked Idol thrusting and grinding with post-apocalyptic zombies. Oddly, there’s no mention of social anxiety, disillusionment or the despair of ennui. But then what do you expect from someone who kicks off his autobiography prologue with sordid tales of “never-ending booze, broads, and bikes, plus a steady diet of pot, cocaine, ecstasy, smack, opium, Quaalude, and reds.”

Long live rock & roll!

6. “Imagine” (John Lennon)

On the surface, this simple piano-driven ballad is a dreamy elixir for the soul, calling for an end to war, borders, religion, greed and hunger. The song would not only become a modern hymn of sorts for world peace and unity, but also helped solidify Lennon’s enduring legacy as a stand-alone rock and roll deity. But the ex-Beatle, who clearly understood the power of celebrity, was also a bit cryptic with the hidden message — one which he later characterized as his way of delivering a “sugarcoated” communist manifesto.

Masterfully arranged and co-produced by pre-felon, Phil Spector, in 1971, “Imagine” remains as relevant today as ever and ranks #3 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All-Time. But the main takeaway that’s often overlooked isn’t just some hippie ode to all love one another — but rather encourages people to use revolutionary methods and ideas to make the world a better place. Does this mean John Lennon spent his free time puffing on cigars with Fidel Castro in Havana or riding on the back of Che Guevara’s motorcycle through Bolivian jungles? Hardly.

Lennon much preferred the company of his wife and co-collaborator, Yoko Ono, at their spectacular estate in Ascot (and location for the song’s music video). Furthermore, Lennon set the record straight regarding party affiliations, stating “I am not particularly a communist and I do not belong to any movement.”

5. “Poker Face” (Lady Gaga)

Anyone who saw Gaga on Season 5 of American Horror Story knows this lady can get down. In fact, her convincing performance even won her a Golden Globe — which shouldn’t have been terribly surprising given her impressive real-life talent for switch-hitting. And no, we’re not talking baseball. As for that little ditty that launched Gaga’s career into another galaxy, “Poker Face” has little to do with playing cards. It’s all about bi-sexuality.

Co-written by Gaga with her longtime collaborator, Red One, the track is said to be a tribute to past conquests in Gaga’s wild ride to fame and fortune. It was first released in 2008 off her debut album (and prophetically named), Fame, and went on to become one of the best selling singles of all time. Featuring more hooks than a Bass Pro Shop, the song also benefits from that over-the-top accompanying music video, a wildly sexy romp that has since been viewed more times than every Kardashian sex tape combined. Well, maybe.

Unlike other songs on this list, the lyrics are fairly transparent and only get lost in the blinding glare cast by the singer’s hyper-radiant star. Nonetheless, it’s doesn’t take much imagination to decipher what she means when she playfully teases, “I’m just bluffin’ with my muffin.” Got it, Gaga. Message received, no distortion.

4. “Every Breath You Take” (The Police)

Ironically, the cops should’ve locked up these guys a long time ago for allowing this unofficial Stalker Anthem to become such a massive hit. Actually, it’s not their fault — but you’d think that someone as smart as Sting (only his name is stupid) would have anticipated that his lyrics would become so widely misinterpreted as both a sappy love song and a license to creep. Unfortunately, the subtext about a possessive lover with an Orwellian zeal for spying never quite registered with fans. Perhaps the band should’ve named the album something other than Synchronicity.

Sting wrote “Every Breath You Take” during a critical juncture in his life — both personally and professionally. Although The Police had enjoyed a mercurial run with sold-out arenas and multiple-platinum records, Sting felt cornered and wanted out. He had also become embroiled in an affair with his future wife,Trudie Styler, while inconveniently still married to her best friend, Frances Tomelty. Awkward. So, like any rock star with lots of money and access to private jets, he took off for the Caribbean, where he found refuge on Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye estate. There, he penned the song that became the band’s biggest hit and won the 1983 Grammy for Song Of The Year.

In a 1993 interview, Sting explains the inspiration: “I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.”

3. “Death Or Glory” (The Clash)

The London-based rockers return with another entry on the list, which shouldn’t be a surprise from the group simply known as “the only band that matters.” Also from their London Callingalbum, “Death or Glory” is a parody about those who talk a big game but fail to back it up or wind up selling out to the man.

An upbeat tempo and satisfying melody accompanies possibly the greatest lyric in rock & roll history: “He who f**** nuns, will later join the church.” The amusing metaphor hammers home the point that those who fight hardest against conformity will eventually become what they vowed to avoid. It was apparently one of the band’s favorite songs on the album, recorded at Wessex Studios in Highbury, London for CBS records. According to legend, their eccentric producer, Guy Stevens, ran around the studio like a madman, throwing chairs and ladders during the session and even dumped a bottle of wine on Joe Strummer’s piano.

Interestingly, the song also reflects the band’s acceptance of change in terms of dealing with their own success while trying to stay loyal to their working class roots. Sadly, Strummer passed away in 2002, but unlike previous generations of rockers who pledged to die before they got old, this frontman actually did it.

2. “Born In The U.S.A.” (Bruce Springsteen)

Although many still believe this 1984 mega-hit reflects America’s ass-kicking greatness, the true meaning tells a much different story. But the confusion is understandable. The easy-to-remember chorus coupled with Springsteen’s trademark gravelly, blue-collar vocals practically screams baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. The Boss, however, wrote it as a scathing indictment of the U.S. military-industrial complex and the debacle of the Vietnam War.

Nonetheless, beginning with Ronald Reagan, politicians continue to misuse the song as a propaganda tool on the campaign trail. Perhaps taking time to actually listen to the lyrics, or better yet, having the words explained to them by the man himself would help to clarify the matter: “when you think about all the young men and women that died in Vietnam, and how many died since they’ve been back — surviving the war and coming back and not surviving — you have to think that, at the time, the country took advantage of their selflessness. There was a moment when they were just really generous with their lives.”

In “Born in the USA,” Springsteen pays a specific homage to the Hell experienced at Khe Sanh, where in 1968, a U.S. Marine garrison bravely withstood 77 days of relentless bombing in one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war.

Fittingly for our purpose, Springsteen once called “Born in the USA” the “most misunderstood song since ‘Louie, Louie.’”

1. “Louie Louie” (The Kingsmen)

No list about misunderstood songs would be complete without including that 1963 golden oldie,“Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen. Featuring mostly indecipherable lyrics, it would eventually become the most recorded song in history with well over 1,000 versions, ranging from Barry White to Motorhead. But the bizarre, serpentine path that led to the rock n roll pantheon is as murky as the garbled vocals laid down in one take by an obscure, teen-aged garage band from Portland, Oregon.

In an equally strange, ironic twist, golden-voiced Harry Belafonte deserves some credit for the song’s wild odyssey. After all, his 1956 chart-topping album “Calypso” would inspire a doo-wop singer in L.A. named Richard Berry to hastily write down the original “Louie Louie” lyrics on a roll of toilet paper (yes, really) in hopes of cashing in on the popular island sound craze. In 1957, Berry and his band, The Pharaohs, recorded the track about a Jamaican sailor yearning for a girl as he laments to a bartender named Louie.

Although the song enjoyed decent regional airplay, Berry sold the rights a few years later for $750 to help pay for his wedding (he would be justly compensated years later). Then in 1961, a singer in the Pacific Northwest named Rockin’ Robin Roberts covered the tune with his band, The Wailers — and that’s when The Kingsmen finally enter the picture.

Childhood school friends and bandmates Lynn Easton and Jack Fry had heard Roberts’ version playing on local jukeboxes around town and decided to try a recording of their own. And so on April 6, 1963, after coughing up 50 bucks to pay for a quickie studio session, the boys walked into Northwest Inc. Recording and a date with infamy.

The small studio had been set up for an instrumental arrangement only, forcing Ely to get up on his toes to be heard on a microphone dangling from the ceiling. Adding to the difficulty, he also wore braces at the time, producing his soon-to-be-legendary mumbled words. By October that year, the single had raced up the charts, fueled largely by the raw sound and its perceived obscene message.

The single was banned by several radio stations and declared indecent by the Governor of Indiana — and later investigated by the FBI. Eventually, the boys from Bridgetown would only be found guilty of poor enunciation (as well as Fry botching the third verse two bars too soon) but no charges were ever filed. It should be noted, however, Easton can be heard yelling “f***” at the fifty-four second mark after dropping his drumstick.


Only the Songwriter Knows For Sure

WIF Music

Cold-War Warning Signs – Doomed to Repeat?

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Reasons for

the Start

of the Cold War

On the April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler committed suicide in the ruins of Berlin. Six days later Germany surrendered, bringing about the final defeat of the Reich he had claimed would last for a thousand years.

The world had been changed forever. Germany had been utterly defeated; France had lost her great power status, and Britain, almost bankrupted by World War Two, barely clung to hers. The United States of America and the Soviet Union had emerged as the world’s dominant powers.

These two new superpowers were still nominally allies, having struggled together to overcome the terrible might of Nazi Germany. However, even as early as 1945, the seeds of future conflict had been sown.

In this list we’ll look at 10 reasons why the Cold War began in 1945.

10. The Death of Franklin Roosevelt

On April 12, 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt complained of a headache; just moments later he collapsed unconscious. He died later that same day.

When the news reached the heart of the imploding Third Reich, Hitler celebrated amidst the ruins of Berlin. The German dictator was desperate enough to clutch at any straws that presented themselves, and he convinced himself that the death of America’s president would mark a turning point in the war in Europe.

Despite Hitler’s initial optimism Roosevelt was replaced by Harry S. Truman, and World War Two continued its inevitable course towards Germany’s total defeat. However, Roosevelt’s death did significantly alter the dynamics of the post-war world.

Roosevelt is remembered as one of America’s great presidents, but he had something of a blind spot when it came to Joseph Stalin. He hadn’t recognized quite how wily and ruthless Stalin could be, and wrongly believed himself to be quite capable of charming the Soviet Union’s brutal dictator.

Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, was altogether more suspicious of the Soviet Union in general and Stalin in particular. While Stalin initially believed Truman to be a nonentity who could be easily manipulated, this proved not to be the case.

9. Operation Unthinkable

Joseph Stalin spent much of World War Two haunted by the fear that Britain and America might betray him, make a separate peace with the Nazis, and leave the Soviet Union to fight on alone. In his worst nightmares his allies went even further and teamed up with Nazi Germany to destroy him.

While Stalin is remembered as one of history’s most murderously paranoid individuals, his concerns were not entirely without foundation. Winston Churchill in particular nursed a deep hatred of the Soviet Union that stretched right back to its creation.

In 1945, just days after the end of the war in Europe, Churchill asked his military planners to investigate the possibility of launching an almost immediate assault on Stalin’s Red Army. Churchill christened it Operation Unthinkable, for obvious reasons.

Quite how serious Churchill was about this extraordinary venture isn’t known for sure. In any event Operation Unthinkable was dead in the water with the report concluding there was no chance of success. The British couldn’t compete with the might of the Red Army. Even if the Americans could be persuaded to team up with the British, and they very much insisted they wouldn’t, the Soviets had more tanks and more men. The likely outcome was a long and bloody struggle.

Operation Unthinkable was shelved. However, Stalin soon learned all about it through his extensive network of spies. The news that at least one of his former allies was making plans to attack fueled his paranoia and contributed to the beginning of the Cold War.

8. Disagreements over the Fate of the Nazis

In November 1943 Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin met face-to-face for the first time. There was still a huge amount of fighting and bloodshed to come; but the end of World War Two was finally in sight, and an Allied victory was all but inevitable.

The Tehran Conference was an opportunity for the “Big Three” leaders of the main Allied powers to discuss not just the war itself, but also how to handle the peace. One of the major questions to be addressed was what to do with any captured Nazis.

Stalin offered a solution that some 100,000 German Army officers should simply be shot.

While Roosevelt assumed Stalin was joking, Churchill took him more seriously and stormed out of the room in a fury. The British Prime Minister had himself suggested that senior Nazis should be hanged without recourse to legal aid, but as a former British Army officer he could not sanction the idea of slaughtering soldiers.

The three men eventually agreed that their enemies’ guilt should be established at trial, but they had very different ideas of what this should entail.

When Stalin held a trial he very much intended for the outcome, and even the script, to be determined well in advance. The British and Americans were determined that the trials be seen to be free and fair. As a result several Nazis walked free or escaped with their lives, including Albert Speer, who was Nazi Armament Minister and one of Hitler’s closest confidants. This was certainly not the outcome Stalin had been hoping for.

7. The Defeat of Japan

Japan had been at war with the United States of America and Great Britain since 1941, and with China since 1937. However, the Japanese Empire and the Soviet Union, despite sharing a land border, had not declared war on each other.

This had been a convenient arrangement for both powers. The Soviet Union had been locked in a life-or-death struggle with Nazi Germany in the west, and the Japanese more than had their hands full at land and sea in the east.

With the defeat of Nazi Germany Stalin turned his gaze east. Stalin had promised he would join the war against Japan once the war in Europe was over, and he was more than happy to grab some territory from the crumbling Japanese Empire.

On August 9, 1945 the Americans dropped a nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki. Earlier that day the Soviet Red Army had launched a huge surprise offensive against the Japanese in Manchuria. Some historians believe it was the Soviet assault, rather than the immense destructive power of America’s new atomic bombs, that persuaded the Japanese to announce their surrender just six days later.

While the Red Army’s war against the Japanese was brief, Stalin insisted that it warranted the Soviet Union a zone of occupation in the Japanese Home Islands. On August 16, 1945 Stalin wrote to Truman asking to be given part of the island of Hokkaido, adding that he hoped his modest wishes would not meet with any objection.

Roosevelt might, perhaps, have been amenable to the suggestion. Truman was far more suspicious of the Soviets and refused the request.

6. The Division of Korea

The Japanese announcement of their intention to surrender did not bring an immediate cease to hostilities. Stalin drove his armies on, determined to seize territory in the east while the going was good.

By August 1945 the Red Army was a devastatingly effective fighting machine, hardened by the titanic struggle against the forces of Nazi Germany. The forces of Imperial Japan, meanwhile, were much diminished. The best of the Japanese ground forces, and almost every serviceable aircraft, had been withdrawn from mainland Asia to the defense of the Japanese Home Islands.

The Red Army smashed aside the Japanese defenses making huge gains in Manchuria and pressing into Korea, which had been occupied by Japan since 1910.

There was no realistic possibility of the Americans mounting an invasion of Korea before the entire Korean Peninsula fell into Soviet hands. However, Stalin, prepared to trade influence in the Far East to strengthen his negotiating hand in Europe, agreed to divide Korea in two.

The Soviet Union would command the northern part of the country, which contained most of the heavy industry and mineral wealth, while the Americans took control of the largely agricultural south.

Both superpowers would install brutal puppet governments to serve their own interests. Korea was not split apart on any cultural, religious, ethnic, or historical basis, and the decision to divide the nation in two was destined to lead to future conflict. This came to pass when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, leading to the hottest conflict of the entire Cold War.

5. Clash of Ideologies

Adolf Hitler spent a good chunk of World War Two waiting for the alliance between the capitalist Western powers and the communist Soviet Union to fall apart. The long-awaited collapse in relations never materialized during his lifetime, but Hitler had not been entirely unreasonable in expecting it.

The alliance between the big three powers was one of the most unlikely in history. It was only made possible by the uniquely aggressive form of fascism that emerged in Germany, and it could not long survive the collapse of the Third Reich.

Communist ideology dictated that the collapse of capitalism was both desirable and inevitable. While communism is now a largely discredited theory, for much of the 20th century it posed a mortal threat to powerful individuals who reaped the main rewards of capitalism.

Stalin might have been paranoid, but it wasn’t without good reason. Shortly after the communist revolution Churchill had advocated “Strangling Bolshevism in its cradle.” The western powers had attempted to do just this, leading to a brutal civil war in Russia that lasted from 1917 to 1923.

Neither side can be absolved of blame for the Cold War. While it was perhaps not immediately apparent following the defeat of Germany in 1945, the incompatible nature of the two competing ideologies of communism and capitalism made future conflict inevitable.

4. Berlin Divided

On May 2, 1945 the German defenders of Berlin surrendered to the Red Army. The battle had cost the lives of around 80,000 Soviet and 100,000 German soldiers.

Dwight Eisenhower, commander of the Allied forces in the west, is sometimes criticized for failing to drive his armies on and beat the Soviets to Germany’s capital city. It was a race that he might just have won, but it would have made no difference to the post-war map of Europe.

The division of Germany had already been decided through politics. Berlin itself lay well within what would be Soviet territory. However, the city would be divided up into four, with the Soviet Union, the United States of America, Great Britain, and France all given a zone of control.

This tiny enclave of Western democracy deep within Soviet controlled Eastern Germany soon came to infuriate Stalin. In 1948 he attempted to heal the open sore as he ordered the city to be blockaded, denying the Western Allies any links to the city by road, rail, or water. The Allies responded by flying in the supplies they needed. Stalin balked at giving the order to shoot down American aircraft, knowing that to do so would very likely result in war.

3. The End of American Isolationism

The United States of America had been traumatized by her involvement in World War One, where more than 100,000 Americans lost their lives. Determined to avoid being dragged into any more foreign wars America pursued a policy of isolationism. The nation maintained only a small army and avoided intervening in the affairs of other countries.

It didn’t work. America was dragged into another World War, this one even more terrible than the first. By 1945 isolationism was well and truly dead. The US had emerged as a global superpower with a vast military arsenal at its disposal.

Rather than retreating from the world, America would attempt to shape and control it. This was done even at the expense of democratic ideals, with the United States of America installing and supporting numerous dictatorships.

This more aggressive approach to international relations would inevitably lead to conflict with the Soviet Union, which was itself emboldened by its newfound superpower status and determined to export communism around the world.

2. The Fate of Eastern Europe

The British went to war with Nazi Germany in 1939 with the express goal of defending the right of Polish self-determination in the wake of Germany’s invasion. This was complicated by the failure of the British to declare war on the Soviet Union when the Red Army invaded eastern Poland having done a deal with Hitler.

The United States of America claimed to be fighting a war for freedom. This position too was complicated by the necessity of fighting alongside Stalin’s Soviet Union, a totalitarian dictatorship with few if any redeeming features.

When the war in the west drew to a close in May 1945, the Soviet Red Army had already occupied Poland and much of Eastern Europe. Short of attempting something quite as extraordinarily reckless as Operation Unthinkable, there was very little the Western Allies could do about this.

The British and Americans demanded that Stalin must hold free and fair elections in the territories he had occupied. Stalin readily agreed but went ahead and fixed the results of the elections regardless.

The Soviet domination of so much of Europe, a continent which had dominated world power far more than it does today, was a source of considerable discomfort and fear for America and the Western powers.

1. Nuclear Weapons

The atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 exploded with as much force as 15,000 tons of TNT. As many as sixty thousand people were killed instantly, many of them simply vaporized, as temperatures briefly exceeded those on the surface of the sun.

Both Roosevelt and Churchill hoped that America’s new atomic capabilities would intimidate Stalin. However, when the Soviet dictator was informed of the weapon’s immense destructive power at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, he had shown barely any interest at all. It’s now known that the news had not come as a surprise. Stalin’s spies had kept him well informed of America’s top-secret new weapon, and his scientists were already racing to deliver Stalin a bomb of his own. This mission was accomplished by 1949, far sooner than the Americans believed possible.

The dawn of the atomic age in 1945 vastly raised the stakes for both the Soviet Union and the United States of America. It was now possible for a single bomber, carrying a single bomb, to incinerate an entire city. The two superpowers would later develop intercontinental ballistic missiles and a stockpile of nuclear warheads capable of wiping out most life on the planet. Both sides were aware that if the Cold War turned hot, it might mean the end of civilization. This went a long way towards focusing minds on finding diplomatic solutions to disagreements that might otherwise have led to war.

As terrible as nuclear weapons are, and despite the threat they continue to pose to the future of humanity, they probably prevented all-out war between the United States of America and the Soviet Union.


Cold-War Warning Signs –

Doomed to Repeat?

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #1

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #1

Chapter One

ALPHA AND OMEGA

… Well, it looks like they finally got him….

  Somewhere in the western United States in 1956

“Have you seen the headlines from back home, Lyn?” asks Robert Ford of his bride Carolyn Hanes. He is reading the stalwart newspaper Tallahassee Democrat.

“No, I’ve had my hands full putting your Pacific Clipper story on paper. I still can’t believe you guys made it back in one piece!” Lyn Hanes is a writer of some repute and she is working on the account of Captain Bob Ford’s historic flight back to New York City at the very beginning of World War II.

A.O. CampbellHe is nudging her into a reminiscing state of mind. “Do you remember that black doctor from Frenchtown, A.O. Campbell?”

“Oh my yes, how could I forget? What a sweet old man! He’s got to be in his mid-sixties. There is no one quite like him, for sure.” Lyn was loosely involved in the death of A.O.’s mother-in-law in 1931, a friend of a witness to be exact.

“Well somehow this nice old man is being indicted for manslaughter and abortion charges. The Democrat reports sources from police saying they have been watching his clinic for months.”

Carolyn Hanes takes exception to this revelation.

“Tallahassee has become a hotbed for bigotry lately. They cannot stomach a successful black man, threatens them somehow.” She knows it’s time for the South to do some “social” catching up.  “Both white and blacks have been jealous of him and his wife for decades.”

“Well, it looks like they finally got him.”

Hanes lets that statement roll around in her head for a while. She is known for supporting causes that are contrary to popular opinion or the administration of justice, i.e. abuse of.

“I can see the gears grinding in that pretty little head of yours.”

“I am putting in a call into one of my contacts inside the police department. Joe Slater is chief of detectives… I wonder what he knows?” She is becoming suspicious. “Joe would not hassle that old man without cause.”

Carolyn is on the phone in a minute, leaving a message with TPD dispatch, “Have him call me at Westwood 54-1954.”

What can she accomplish, here in regressive 1956 Florida, where the difference between black & white, was complete different to that of right & wrong?

Do not underestimate a writer, when on the trail of a worthwhile story…


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #1


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