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Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
From MSN, the Woodward Dream Cruise.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
While I am not primarily a rock fan: I lean toward jazz, folk, traditional, and world music, I did and do enjoy what we called in the long-ago 1970s Progressive Rock.

Definitions of 'progressive rock'
WordNet- (1 definition)

a style of rock music that emerged in the 1970s: associated with attempts to combine rock with jazz and other forms
art rock

Progressive Rock Encyclopedia.

Much Progressive Rock involved "Concept Albums" that worked with a theme or told a story unusual by rock standards. For example, Billy Thorpe's classic cut "Children of the Sun."

Rick Wakeman recorded some of the great concept albums of the 70s: The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974), The Myths & Legends of King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table (1975).

Merlin the Magician

The Last Battle

One of my favorites, Todd Rundgren Utopia, part 1 and part 2.

And Rush, which may have the only rock song ever made that explicitly enters the Free Will v Determinism debate.

Free Will
RUSH - Lyrics by Neil Peart "Permanent Waves" Copyright 1980 Mercury/Polygram

There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance,
A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance.

A planet of playthings,
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
"The stars aren't aligned -
Or the gods are malign"
Blame is better to give than receive.

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear-
I will choose Free Will.

There are those who think that they were dealt a losing hand,
The cards were stacked against them - they weren't born in Lotus-Land.

All preordained-
A prisoner in chains-
A victim of venomous fate.
Kicked in the face,
You can't pray for a place
In Heaven's unearthly estate.

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear-
I will choose Free Will.

Each of us-
A cell of awareness-
Imperfect and incomplete.
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet.

This morning I had to fast before a blood test. What with one thing and another, most of them because it was the first day of classes at Cameron University, I walked into a WHATABURGER at 11:05 finally to get something to eat. What I really wanted was breakfast, but knew I was past time since the sign behind the counter read Breakfast served till 11 am. Angling for some mercy, I said to the young woman who waited on me, "I guess I've missed breakfast, haven't I." She looked to her right at the clock and told me nicely that it was after 11. Then the other young woman at the counter said to wait a minute, she'd check to see if anything was left. Going to the warming trays she pulled one open and hollered over that there was some sausage and bacon left, and a few biscuits. End result, I had a sausage and egg biscuit, and a bacon and egg biscuit. (One of my blood labs was for cholesterol. I observe these regular draws by treating myself to some animal grease afterwards.) I left the WHATABURGER on Cache Road in Lawton, Oklahoma a full and happy customer.

Twice in the past year I have tried to get breakfast at McDonalds and failed in the attempt. Once, in Lawton, it was a few minutes after 11. No dice. Another time, it was about 10:55 by my cell phone, but the drive-through speaker of the McDonalds on I-44 near Chickashee told me breakfast was over. I did not leave either one a full and happy customer. I would bet money that at least one of these stores had some breakfast items left. But, no effort was made to please me, the customer. In both cases the words and attitude of those who waited on me conveyed apathy.

Customer service. I am sure that both businesses in the highly competative fast-food industry tell their employees to treat the customer well, but, to different results. Why? I don't really know.

Some people get it, that it is my money as a customer that pays their wage. Others don't. Last time I was in Sears to buy a pair of pants the young woman behind the sales counter invested no real attention on our transaction. Her actions and words were minimal. Her body language mumbled "I'm bored." Even though I got the pants I needed, the experience dissatisfied me.

How do businesses create good customer service? I really don't know. But many need to figure it out.

12/08: Boomers

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Christianity Today has this article on ministry to/with Boomers, adults born between 1946 and 1964. These paragraphs stood out to me.

The Baby Boomers, referring to those adults that were born sometime between 1946 and 1964, is a generation unlike any other. Defined by the historical, political, economic, and social events of its youth, this cadre of aging adults may be chronologically qualified for the Seniors Ministry, but itís fairly safe to say that they arenít rushing to join.

Many individuals within this generation are still searching for truth, meaning, and a reason for their existence. One need not look far to find books, articles, and websites written by Boomers who are struggling with transitions into a new phase of life. It is clear that opportunities for ministry are abundant and significant.

So how do we minister to Boomers? How do we begin to break through the walls of denial, indifference, arrogance, rebellion, and fear that seem to surround this generation? How do we share Christ with a people group that is known for spiritual exploration and tolerance? How do we meet the needs of Boomers who are facing unprecedented changes? How do we break the code?

Speaking as a boomer (b.1956) it is interesting to watch the generation that sang "hope I die before I get old" getting old. Lot's of denial and redefinition of when "old" begins
When on the Zuni reservation we visited a couple of shops featuring artwork by Zuni and other Native American artists. (Zuni have a tradition of fine jewelry work.) Both shops were run by men with accents perhaps from Lebanon. We purchased a Navajo pot, and a Zuni painting. We also purchased pendants and a fetish from individual artists who approached us while on the reservation.

In Flagstaff the motel owner was European, Polish I think. In Concord the motel manager/or owner may have been Arminian. The night clerk was Afghani. In Albuquerque, Southeast Asian, perhaps Laotian. I don't know how many convenience stores/gas stations on our trip were run by Pakistanis or Indians, including one by turbaned Sikhs.

Legal immigrants bring renewed energy and ambition to America. They are a blessing. If we ever shut our doors we will be the losers.

But, as I've argued before, a nation can accept only a limited number of immigrants per year, and maintain the culture that attracted immigration in the first place.

As usualy in politics, people shout slogans designed to cloud the issue. Those of us who want to secure our borders and regulate immigration are called "anti-immigrant." Horsefeathers. I am pro-legal immigrant, and anti-illegal immigrant.

"Give us your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free." But at a rate we can assimilate.

Previous On the Road posts: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Driving from Oklahoma to California we usually could pick up at least one Spanish-language radio station on either AM or FM. Advocates for a bi-lingual America, that we all speak both languages, would seem on first glance to make a strong case. Canada has two official languages and appears to get along just fine.

But once we were into California, well, at least out of the Mojave Desert, then the airwaves grew more complicated. For a while north of Fresno I listened to a Hmong-language station. When the carload grew tired of that, I found a Chinese-language station. Close to the Bay area I came across two more stations in languages I did not recognize with certainty, though I think one was Vietnamese. Oh, and I forgot to mention that between Gallup and Flagstaff we listened for a time to a Navajo-language station.

America has too many languages spoken for us to become a bi-lingual nation. Why should Spanish be privilaged above Hmong, or Navajo? Because there are more Spanish speakers than Chinese? By that logic we would stick with English.

The United States needs one language we all can speak and read for our common life. In the homes, and on radio, we can have our other tongues. But to be a nation, a people, we must be able to communicate; we must have a common culture in which we can meet outside our own neighborhoods. English it is.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Get Your Kicks, On Route 66

For most of our California Trip we were on Interstate 40, which replaced Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Barstow, California. But, I did not want to bypass totally the famous highway. We got off I-40 a couple of exits before Flagstaff and drove into town on Route 66, and against my wife's better judgment, we stayed at an older motel that predated the interstate, dating back to when Route 66 was the highway to California for much of the country. On the way home we ate supper one night in a diner along old 66 in Barstow, and again the next night ate at the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup. The El Rancho was the hotel for movie stars when filming in northwestern New Mexico, including Ronald Reagan in The Bad Man.

Planned in the 1920s and paved from start to finish during the New Deal, Route 66 linked the rural Midwest and Southwest with Chicago and Los Angeles. History. During the Depression it became the road out of the Dust Bowl for over 200,000 "Okies", refugees from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas hoping for work in California. Steinbeck, in The Grapes of Wrath, termed it the Mother Road.

Those Okies had not really wanted to uproot themselves, but necessity forced them on the road. In their westward journey they recapitulated the earlier movement of their ancestors. Most immigrants to the New World came because they saw no real alternative. From starving Irish to persecuted Jews to farmers and agricultural workers displaced by changing technology and economics.

My own people lived in the hills of East Tennessee, some moving to Missouri before the Civil War, some after. Small hill farms up in the hollows can support only a limited population; the reality is move or go hungry.

Route 66 itself is now a metaphor for forced relocation. Interstate 40, and Interstate 44 from St. Louis to Oklahoma City, have left only segments of the older highway in place. The motels, diners, tourist attractions on the old road have been bypassed. Many, many have closed, unable to compete with the Motel 6s, 8s, and others along the interstate exits. Those that remain seem on their last legs, often needing some repair, probably to close when something major fails. The economic life of the nation now flows along another artery.

In my first post in this series, I celebrated rootedness and commitment. But, while we can commit to one another in marriage, and keep our family commitments, we sometimes must uproot from our communities and seek opportunity elsewhere.

I thought about these things during the time we spent on the Zuni Reservation in New Mexico (overnight our first night and part of the next day). Reservations mean continuing attachment to people, place, and some of the traditions for those who live on them. But, opportunities are limited, very limited. If reservations were happy places, then a person could accept being poor in order to live among The People. But, the high rates of suicide, drug use, and alcoholism, especially for young men, tell of despair rather than happiness. Perhaps the road out is necessity.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
According to the Princeton Review's 2009 survey, these 10 colleges are the most socially conservative.

The single public university (excluding service academies): Texas A&M

The 10 most socially liberal colleges are these.

The one red-state school Warren Wilson in North Carolina.
Just returned from a trip to California to the wedding of my older son.

Twice on the trip heard On the Road Again.

Ironically, it became the traveling song playing in my head.

I say ironically, because it is a typical blues theme: I'm headed out again on the road, baby, and you can't come along. The rootless man, always moving on, baby may be gentle on his mind, but he's just gotta keep moving because he was born a rambling man. A free bird, yeah.

Once upon a time in America, the rambling man was an outsider to mainstream culture. Almost all men settled down, married, had children, joined a bowling league, maybe a church, and only occasionally dreamed of the road.

But now, the rambling man is the norm. Not in the stick-out-my-thumb, hop-a-freight, town-to-town fashion. But in the more comfortable form: no ties that bind, one-night-stands, perhaps marry but probably will divorce if married. Everyman's life a blues song, but the sorrow is now supressed far below the surface.

My wife of almost 30 years and I, and our daughter and her husband, were on the road to a wedding. Where my older son pledged as-long-as-we-both-shall-live to a young women. He chose to be a rooted man, keeping his baby in his arms as well as on his mind, to move together if moving on is necessary.

Perhaps my greatest achievement is that I seem to have raised counter-culture children. Praise be to God.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
LGF has links to photos (from Zombie) taken on the public streets of San Francisco during the Up Your Alley Fair this summer. Warning: not for the faint of heart or stomach. Public male nudity including masturbation and fellatio.

San Francisco provides us with a view of what the fully-developed, public gay culture is. Not the sanitized version seen on television. Middle America is not homophobic in the sense of fearing homosexual men as such; Middle America is homophobic in not wanting our streets ever to look like San Francisco.