One of the first blogs posts that I ever read was written by my friend, Mike Cookman, from Chicago in 2009. For the most part, Chicagoans are filled with pride when a local hero has succeeded in the world of politics(Barack Obama, Ayanna Pressley), movies(John Belushi, Bonnie Hunt, John Cusack), and music(Mavis Staples, Eddie Vedder, Jennifer Hudson). Yet, it was a shock to me when seeing the posted headline of “The Jackass” in reference to local singer Kanye West, a young man whose music doesn’t mean much to me given that his name missing from the twelve-thousand songs on my iPod by various artists. I was directed to a video clip of the American Music Awards in 2009 when Taylor Swift was speaking at the podium after being given the award of Best New Artist; Kanye West interrupted the speech after jumping on the stage like a raving lunatic to express his disapproval for Taylor’s victory. So, where did the reference of being a “jackass” derive in its pejorative usage? It was from none other than the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who had been a resident for many years in Chicago’s Southside neighbourhood of Hyde Park. The president was disparaging a a fellow Chicagoan for unacceptably rude behaviour that could be attributed to someone who is either impaired from drugs/alcohol or a narcissistic personality; the latter is the case with both Kanye and the current president, who started a false rumour in 2011 that his predecessor was born in Kenya. I am feeling a bit like David Letterman at the Oscars of 1995 with the similarity of first names in Oprah(hey, she was a Chicagoan for many years!) and Uma Thurman. Kenya! Kanye!! Jackasses!!! The odd spectacle of Kanye West’s raving in the Oval Office yesterday was related to the fact that the orange, uh, white man behind the desk has a horrible history of racism that existed long before he claimed the the state of Hawaii in 1961 should be considered the third-world nation of Kenya; I am certain that President Obama’s white mother, Dr. Ann Dunham, would have insisted on her firstborn child getting better medical care in Honolulu instead of any impoverished village where his father fled in search of a better life through education(University of Hawaii, Harvard University).
The odd spectacle of yesterday reminded me of when Elvis Presley visited Richard Nixon at the White House in January of 1970 in his delusional and entitled search for a license as a federal agent for the DEA; the irony is that Elvis was visibly impaired from barbiturates while meeting with Nixon and wasn’t in a position to extoll the virtues of sobriety from any personal experience. Perhaps the strange meeting of West and Trump yesterday reminded more of the sad sight when James Brown had misguidedly endorsed Richard Nixon for re-election in 1972 with the claim that Tricky Dick was a “good man.” Obviously, James was on the wrong side of history with his political opinions despite the greatness of his stage presence and music; he could have also been either using the same drugs as Elvis or engaging in the lapse in judgment associated with Kanye’s obvious narcissism(insanity?). I am obliged to comment on the recent political courage demonstrated by Taylor Swift with her endorsement of Democrats to win their election in November for her home state of Tennessee. Once again, Taylor’s music isn’t to be found on any of the twelve-thousand songs on my iPod; the same can’t be said for either Elvis Presley or James Brown. However, I know that Taylor has a strong influence on her female fans who love her songs about adolescent pain from relationships that end in heartbreak. On the topic of these songs, I must admit that I prefer the words and music of Jackson Browne(more so than James Brown!), but I know that Taylor deserves plenty of credit for her creation of original music by a songwriter who can only improve with age. It was recently revealed that the burning of Taylor’s memorabilia has begun by angry Republicans(men only) who feel betrayed by an artistic woman rejecting a political party of sexists and misogynists who seek to control the reproductive rights of another gender….because God is opposed to abortion? God is merely a concept by which we measure our pain and a way for humans to alleviate their anxiety related to death and nonexistence in the future. The burning of Taylor’s memorabilia reminded me of when the Beatles faced a backlash in 1966 after John Lennon said that his band was more popular than Jesus Christ in England. As an American expatriate who resides in England, I can write as a devout atheist that the Beatles are exponentially more popular in my home than Jesus Christ. In fact, four of the multiple male authors(Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) who created the fictional character of Jesus Christ, based on rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef, will never be able to compete with John, Paul, George, and Ringo for both credibility and creativity. Regarding the midterm elections in the “Christian” state of Tennessee with its hypocrisy and suppression of women’s rights, all that I can think of writing as a secular humanist is: “Taylor saves!” Kanye West is not a musical genius, and Donald Trump isn’t a “stable genius” either. However, the Beatles were geniuses for their simple message of “all you need is love.” It is also true that love is stronger than justice, especially in the “Christian” nation where injustice occurs on a daily basis as democracy dies a slow death.