That Jamais Vu Thang, Man, Ain’t Nothin’ to Fuck With

I still remember, twenty-five years later, when the first Wu Tang Clan album dropped. I was twenty-one years old, in college, an avid fan of hip hop, which was entering a golden age after a shaky start in the 1980s. The record took our little campus by storm; I swear you couldn’t walk through the dorms or go to a party that whole year without hearing at least one track. Even now, decades and more later, I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite song on the album.

But of course I lived in Florida, the black hole of live music tours, so I never got to see them live. So you can imagine how happy I was to score tickets to the Wu Tang show this past weekend in Seattle. I didn’t even know when I bought them that the tour was specifically to celebrate Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers), which I still have a CD copy of that I bought in college, and that I still listen to.

So you can imagine how thrilled beyond thrilled I was when I found out that not only was I going to see a band I’d loved more than half my life, but that they were specifically going to perform the album of theirs that I knew and loved best. I hardly even minded having to walk into a giant venue with tens of thousands of other people in it, a thing this cranky introvert is not typically to be found doing, because if there’s one thing I hate worse than people it’s crowds of them.

We got there early, had a couple drinks, and watched the opening band (The Soul Rebels, I think they were called, a New Orleans brass band that does hip hop covers: they were good). Then, with much hullaballoo, the main event began. Continue reading “That Jamais Vu Thang, Man, Ain’t Nothin’ to Fuck With”

Make America What Again?

What with the shit-show we’ve got going on right now as a nation — concentration camps on the border, a wag-the-dog escalation to a war of choice with Iran, a serious bump in hate crimes and people identifying as Nazis and white supremacists, a climate crisis that will destroy life as we know it starting to kick in for real, a nationwide election coming up that will undoubtedly be fucked with by hostile foreign actors while the beneficiaries insist nothing’s wrong, and a legislature unable, thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to do anything but confirm hardcore conservative federal judges to lifetime sinecures, just to skim the surface — it’s easy to understand the widespread longing to go back to the way things were under the Obama Administration. To get things back to normal so we can all go back to living our lives without having to worry that the demented narcissist with the nuclear football will bring about Armageddon in a fit of pique or even just to avoid jail time.

I get it. I really do. I also would like not to live my life in a fog of existential dread, in which every action is pointless because, Rapture or not, the end is probably nigh for the American experiment and possibly human civilization and what can possibly matter anymore?

But even were it possible to return to whatever passed for normal before — and it isn’t — such a return is not even desirable, both on its own merits and especially in light of the challenges we face as Americans and human beings who live on the rapidly-warming, ecologically-imbalanced, and soon-to-be-downwardly-spiraling Earth.

I’ll explain.

Continue reading “Make America What Again?”