12/5/2016: Luke Wiget

Today we have a tune and a sketch from Luke, paired with a side of Childish Gambino. Enjoy!

SKETCH 2: The People Have the Power

Backward and downward.

    That’s what it’s felt like lately.

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My mind doesn’t move fast enough to metabolize the news. I normally don’t talk or write about current events or politics. I just don’t even try.

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I think I understand politics like I understand how cars work. When one isn’t running very well I might encourage it as we mount a hill. If this van or truck or whatever takes me over that hill I pat the dashboard and say thank you, and here we go.

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From the get-go, this isn’t political in the same sense it isn’t political to wear a Black Lives Matters button on your shirt pocket, an action that recently resulted in a 75-year-old substitute teacher being shit-canned from his teaching posts in Fresno, California.

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David Roberts wore the 1.5 inch job-ending button pinned onto his button-up and they let him go, adding that Mr. Roberts was not following the lesson plan.      

    Never mind he’s 75 and still having to work.

    Never mind the lesson plans you’re left with when you sub generally consist of a roster, a DVD to show the class, and, if you’re lucky, a heads-up on who the troublemakers are.

     See this, here, for the whole story of Mr. Roberts, sub for the past ten years, a dude who had once been “banned from working at Buchanan High after a student in an Advanced Placement world history class complained that Roberts’ lesson was against capitalism.”

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Yesterday the Army Corp of Engineers denied the Dakota Access Pipeline route.

    When I told my wife about it she cried.

    She was with a client at the salon, but it was worth it. I walked into her room in the East Nashville hair salon wearing our daughter in an ergobaby carrier, holding a beer for balance, and told T that the secretary of the Army Corps of Engineers had turned down the permit. I knew she’d be happy and I wanted to feel like this was a win, this thing that even E, our kid, had been implicated in – us dragging her to a pleasant, easy rally in this strange red red red state of ours, where a rent-a-cop, who was the perfect look-alike of comedian Patton Oswalt, trolled around telling even us, this overly-thoughtful, thought-out family unit to stand within the barriers. Even T, my wife, who never agrees with any of my celebrity comparisons agreed that this little dude, this 5.5 ft. of angryman did look a lot like Patton Oswalt standing guard while we chanted or, really, while we sang together to the traffic stopped at a light along Broadway.

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As a sub myself I showed Elf  in and out of season.

    As a sub I was angry, bored, hungover, checking FB constantly, scheduling tour dates for my dumb indie rock band.

    I tucked in my shirt only if I’d never been to your school before. I brought my own clipboard so people would leave me alone.

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“A pin that reads ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not a political button. It is a peaceful request to end this violence. It is not a protest,” the substitute told to the Fresno Bee. “It is not intended to be anti-police and does not imply that black lives matter more than other lives. It simply says they matter, too,” Roberts said. “Clovis Unified claims you have to be neutral, but they’re not neutral. There’s a set of beliefs you’re expected to have there.”

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It’s odd when you lose a feel for your voice.

    We don’t go to church anymore and I don’t sing in an indie rock band these days, so I’ve more or less forgotten what I sound like with anything louder than a phone call I make downtown, if say, an ambulance is sirening by.

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I don’t teach much anymore either, but I think about my teacher friends all the time. They’re heroes. I wasn’t cut out for that kind of roughing up.

    I told a kid once, The way you’re acting makes me want to stab you with your pencil.

    He said, You can’t say that.

    I said, I just did.

    He was mostly quiet the rest of the class after having disrupted an entire semester of others’ study. He wasn’t a bad kid, he just didn’t like classrooms. I don’t blame him, the lighting was awful in there. Those neon lights will make a person go crazy.

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On November 13th 2015, with T 14 weeks pregnant, we saw Patti Smith here in Nashville. She read and told stories from her book, M Train, it was amazing. She’s a kind of spirit mother for us. We saw her in New York too one year. I guess she always plays on her birthday, December 30, when she can. I think a year always bottlenecks about right now. By December 30 and usually well before I’m ready for something to break, sometimes it does.

    She finished the Nashville show and maybe the NYC one as well with “People Have the Power.” We must have sang seven rounds of that final chorus.   

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Orwell, in his essay, “Politics and the English Language” writes, “A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”

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Maybe I start with aesthetics or words or a thought/feeling but I always want to end with people, with how anything affects people.

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Maybe everything is political. (an easy one, but worth saying)

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Even the line of people waiting for the valets to return our cars was electric. Patti Smith had helped us sing each other together. I got a beer for the long wait and to talk over the show with T and when I get to the doorway, about to break into a courtyard where earlier we’d all been drinking and eating and waiting to get in, a security guard held up his big useless hand and says no alcohol out here. You can see where this is going and imagine how quickly I move on the fact that not twenty minutes before a bar itself had been serving up these same beers. I’m not even driving and the bar inside will be open for hours.

    No drinks outside, he said and adjusted himself on his stool.  

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I had every intention of writing a Buzzfeed-like list of what I do on the daily. You know, coffee, write, drive to work to NPR’s On Point, finish that to Greek yogurt and fruit and granola and what was left of the French press. But come on. I can’t. I think something good and important happened yesterday, even if it’s later overturned or reconstructed.  My list about unpacking my backpack while asking T how work was and goofing around with the kid and then, round 7, after cleaning and starting dinner, start drinking beer and writing until bedtime, that can wait.  

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Last September I assigned this NYT’s Black Lives Matter article to three freshman composition classes at a very conservative Christian university in Nashville. A week later I received an email from my supervisor stating that a parent (of a college student) complained to the administration that I had used curse words in class. And I may have, but never directed at anything other than content and in context.

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Like I said, we don’t go to church anymore so I was thinking the whole time we were at the rally on Broadway how strange it was to hear my voice sing that way with strangers, with other people who I didn’t know but sort of believe in. You can say it’s all a matter of breathing together, convince a group to do anything at once and you’ll feel/believe something. But E, our daughter is hilarious and awake, she loves all the signs and faces and the cool setting sun, she’s even smiling at the traffic and rent-a-cop. If she’s in, I’m in.

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It’s true as the song up top is titled, I can’t win, but we can.