Friday, November 28, 2008

But they were all wrong. It was called the Great Depression, and the hoboes saw it coming.

If you'll gather 'round me, children,
A story I will tell

'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,
Oklahoma knew him well.

It was in the town of Shawnee,

A Saturday afternoon,
His wife beside him in his w
As into town they rode.

There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude,
Vulgar words of anger,

An' his wife she overheard.

Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,
And the deputy grabbed his gun;
In the fight that followed

He laid that deputy down.

Then he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.

But a many a starving farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid the
ir mortgage
And saved their little homes.

Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill.

It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries

Come with a note to say:

Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

Oh, to live in an era with folk heroes! Who do we have now? Is Springsteen going to record a subversive tribute to Hank Paulson or Harry Reid or, gasp, John Boehner?

But there are signs of new times everywhere. I'm still trying to interpret Black Friday, the nasty thing I saw last night. Having slept a gluttonous amount on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and having drank four cans of coke Thanksgiving evening, I decided to drive back to Iowa for the quickest trip ever. Seeing as it was a holiday night, I made sure to stay on main roads that would have more open gas stations, so I took 94 to 88 to get back to Iowa City from Antioch, IL. (I normally take a country road, IL-173, to Rockford, 39 N to 88 E to 80, and it's faster and much prettier, albeit creepy at night!)

My main road drive, however, hit a hitch. It was 12:15 AM and, just west of Naperville, traffic stopped. Now, I'm going to be oh-so-bloggy and use a screenshot of my twitter feed to tell the story. You know, multimedia content! Keep in mind, safety hounds, I didn't tweet until I was sure that I was stuck in a completely unmoving mass of cars, so the backup actually began about ten minutes before my first tweet about it. My first tweet ("Back...") comes from the Lake Forest Oasis, and my last tweet comes from the Dekalb Oasis (I wasn't driving and tweeting!), so if you'd like, you can triangulate my position:

Dave Douglas's November was indeed a great track to hear, very calming and apropos. But anyway, the outlet mall had a backup--a BIG backup--for midnight sales! It appeared the parking lot may have been full! But what really struck me was the Best Buy parking lot, ten minutes west of the Outlet mall. It seemed to be a civic event, with a fire pit, coleman heaters galore, tents, torches--what does it all mean? That consumer confidence is back? Or that, now, we are afraid, and shopping is our way to combat that fear, ala 9-11? Who knows. It was just interesting to watch--not absurd, just interesting--a civic ritual like this. Add to that the increased political rally participation, inroads in church attendance, the like... Maybe the 1930s are the new 1980s, and we are finding ways of coming together because of and inspite of fears? That's right, I made inspite of one word. Can I do that?

Maybe it's time I revived my research about the influence of junk metal in the great depression on percussion music? More on that later, maybe I'll share some actual research soon--probably after my horrific semester is over! But in the course of researching that, I stared at hundreds of Library of Congress junkyard photos. This one was, without a doubt, my favorite:

The LOC caption reads:

Sheppard and his father, part-time agricultural workers in Bridgetown, New Jersey, rake a junk pile for old metal and bottles to sell. During the off-seasons these people must find all manner of strange occupations to round out an inadequate relief diet. 1938.

Make sure to read the signs on the tree.

Of course, my Great Depression research is hardly the greatest. And what is a collection of people vying for Best Buy deals but a refiguration of Joey Stinkeye Smiles and his whole nasty crew? Maybe they were accepting hobo nickels...

Yes, my friends, we shall gnaw on their bones.

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