Archive for the ‘Debunk an American Myth’ category

This is Not the Story of a Shining City on a Hill

2011/12/01

Some think the Occupy movement is full of a bunch of no-good-lazy-bums that have decided they don’t want to work. Or shower. Or do anything. Quite fairly, these critics argue that if the protesters only had the same networks of support, opportunities to succeed, and luck that they had, there wouldn’t need to be a movement.

Oh wait, they don’t argue that at all! Disregarding their lucky breaks, these critics still reckon they got where they are solely because of hard work, and if the protesters just got out of their tent and rolled up their sleeves, they could have the same. Well, unfortunately, that’s not the case, and that’s why people are upset. There are some protesters that aren’t employed, but a lot of the Occupy protesters do have jobs. Either way, they’ve seen what can happen, and they aren’t happy about it. They are raising issues that people ignore until it suddenly becomes their problem.

As George Carlin said: “it’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

And these aren’t issues that have just popped out of the blue. There are some pretty deep historical roots to the movement, from their non-violent tactics, to grievances that have been building – not just since 2008, but for decades.

Let’s go back to a world called the 1980s, and see what was happening then…

Yup, this was happening

(more…)

History doesn’t have the best memory

2011/05/28

The Second World War: While often remembered as “the Good War” in Western historical memory, it sure had a lot of not so good things happen in it. Contentious debate has arisen over the memory of the war (what we learn in school, and what we see in Steven Spielberg productions) versus what actually happened. For example:

From the top: An invading Nazi army? Nope, that’s the Red one – heading into Poland in 1939 to help Hitler carve up the country. Stalin was, of course, an ally of Nazi Germany until the Soviet Union was invaded in June of 1941. The next one: A starved civilian in German or Japanese occupied territory? Nope, that’s an image from the famine in British India in 1943. And the next: That’s the German city of Hamburg after the Allies bombed it to bits. The bottom picture is from Berlin in 1945, after Germany’s surrender.

Is World War II Still ‘the Good War’?
By ADAM KIRSCH
May 27, 2011, The New York Times

Spam might not be real food, but it’s a real American hero

2010/12/26

Don’t tell the terrorists, but America’s secret weapon is none other than SPAM. And it has been since World War II.

the real key to a woman's heart

Kevin Connolly from the BBC provides some Spam trivia:

-The US supplied huge amounts of Spam to the USSR in WWII
-Its original name was Hormel Spiced Ham – the name Spam was chosen in a competition
-Production in the UK (in Liverpool) ceased in 1998
-Hormel Foods sued Jim Henson in 1995, after an “evil” boar called Spa’am featured in a Muppets movie
-Spam email is said to have been named after the Monty Python sketch, where the word takes over the dialogue
-A web archive of haiku about spam (or “spam-ku”) contains 19,000 poems

Kevin Connolly from the BBC also provides this article on Spam, American influence abroad, and a little town called Austin, Minnesota:

“How the US cemented its worldwide influence with Spam”

(more…)

Here Comes the Sun, part I

2010/12/19

You know, you’re right to say that Sam Phillips recorded white guys like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and some upstart named Elvis (I can’t remember his last name).

BUT – he had his hand in recording black cats too. B.B. King for one, and here’s another:


(more…)

punk’s passionate heart

2010/12/18

Compare, if you will, the following two songs:

The Ramones, “Judy is a Punk” 1974

Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer” 1975

Boy, each band sure does have sonic uniqueness. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t both punk.

(more…)

WikiLeaks in the 1970s

2010/12/12

Hear all about it: United States President Richard Nixon kept secret recordings of his conversations in the Oval Office. This is, of course, until the Watergate committee found out about them. Recently those tapes have been released by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, and a new batch came out last week. They shed a lot of light onto Nixon’s personality and more candid opinions on American foreign policy, Vietnam  draft dodgers, and the circumstances of Jews in the Soviet Union.

Not to mention blacks, Italians, and the drinking prowess of the Irish.  
(more…)

Recycling in America

2010/11/07

Why do something new when you can just reuse what’s worked before?


he’s so cool he was in the 27 club before it was even a club

2010/08/13

Out of all the musicians in the morbid “27 Club,” the figure perhaps the most mythologized is Robert Johnson.  On 16 August 1938 he died under mysterious circumstances – and this murky haze surrounding his death hasn’t become any clearer with time. The legends about his life and his music, however, grew strong and became immersed in the American blues musical consciousness.

Johnson is the man that supposedly sold his soul to the devil down at the crossroads. In return, the devil taught him how to play the guitar. Real bluesy like. The crossroads Johnson apparently made his Faustian bargain at was located in the Mississippi Delta.

(And as every good fiddle player knows, Faustian legends from the American south don’t always stick to the guitar.)

(more…)

the 27 Club ain’t no picnic

2010/07/27

So like I was saying before, not every musician that died at age 27 went out with a glamorous bang.

Mia Zapata was murdered.

and D. Boon was killed in an automobile accident.

(more…)

And now it’s time for some light reading on the Vietnam War

2010/07/16

As every dorky history student knows, justification for the escalation of American involvement in Vietnam was largely based on the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. As every dorky history student probably also knows, there is a really good chance that the whole incident was made up.  Or at the very least the wrong information was getting filtered to LBJ.

This week, 1175 pages of previously classified transcripts from 1967+1968 were released. The documents show senators from the Foreign Relations Committee questioning if the wool had been pulled over their eyes in the Gulf of Tonkin on 4 August 1964. (more…)