RW26 - A Glorious Revolution

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to people calling for a glorious revolution, but John arguing that this is not possible in America because revolutions in the 20th century have always resulted in dictatorship.

John’s system is a little bit louder than normal because yesterday he was recording some music on the same system he must have jiggled the knob.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

The death of Prince (RW26)

Dan is bummed out because Prince (who died one day before they recorded this episode) and one of the reasons John was late was that it is 90 degrees (32 °C) in Seattle and John was walking out of the house in an orange linen shirt and found out about Prince and he went back and got on a purple shirt, which took him an extra little while and then of course he had to look at some of the initial… This is the crazy thing about Twitter now. You scroll back to the first mention because Twitter is becoming both a news source and also a historical timeline in a strange way. Who was the first person to mentioned something, the first person to say: "Oh no!” and it was @keppli (?) in John’s timeline.

When Kurt Cobain died they heard about it on the radio and it was similar to the way this unfolded: There is a body found at the Kurt Cobain estate. What does that mean? But it was several hours of listening to updates on the alternative rock station: ”The coroner has pulled up out in front of the Cobain estate. No word yet on whether or not it is a plumber or not!” and you are just: ”Oh, please. Oh, please. Oh, please don't let it be Kurt Cobain!”, but this happened pretty fast. It was pretty clear it was Prince right away. As of the time of this recording, they still didn’t know exactly why he died yet or what was wrong. The last thing anyone heard was that he was dealing with the flu and then went on to perform a show and then that's it. John really a bad flu.

Prince is the exact same age as Madonna and both Prince and Madonna were 10 years older than John. He was a very impressionable 14 year old when they were 24 year olds and he followed both of them, as we all have. John always felt a closeness and a kinship with them, which is not special either. We think of Prince as a fun, funky, sexy prankster or funster, gender-fluid original gangster, but his music was incredibly sad often, and that is a thing we neglect when we eulogize him and say: ”What a funky funk-meister!” The thing that connected his music to us all was that he was profoundly emotional and hurt, sad and mournful, and that is in almost everything he does that isn't purely a humping song, and even the humping songs, a lot of them have a thread of: Oh god! It is so hard!”

He is the rare individual who, when he first came out it was so apparent that he was borrowing so heavily from Hendrix, at least his first appearance in John’s life he was playing the guitar like Hendrix, he was dressing like him, he was respecting him and emulating him, and that seemed appropriate. There were a lot of white people at that point, appropriating Hendrix all day, and black music and culture had moved on from Hendrix and blues guitar for the most part. Prince was revitalizing that image and that vibe, but John never could have imagined that he would have said that Prince would in the end be way more influential than Hendrix.

The only reason John even doubts it is that Hendrix has been so influential and lionized in John’s generation as the ultimate pioneer, but when you think about the impact that Prince has had across such a wide spectrum of culture, he was way more influential in the long term. Stevie Ray Vaughan took so much from Hendrix and was so influenced by him, and he died young but didn't surpass his mentor in any way. He was a little faster, he put his Texas swing on it, but it is hard to know what Stevie Ray Vaughan would be doing now, whether he would be on that chicken pickin circuit of Kenny Wayne (Shepherd) or Steve Vai, who are out playing big halls, but it is just guitar-wankery, or whether Stevie Ray would have continued to push the envelope. And Stevie Ray is the connection to Bowie, bringing it all back around.

Why do we always loose people in little groups of threes? John Siracusa would have a good answer for this because it is evolution. No, it is just coincidence. It does seem like 58 years old is too young to die except that John just went through a whole spate of people in their mid 40s who were part of John’s musical community just all dying all at once. When he was in his 20s and a bunch of people died it was all because they died of drugs. Now he crossed that threshold where he lost a handful of friends and they all died because of nature or because people die. Not of old age, but just died because it comes in waves. This is one of the crazy things about watching his dad get older. Everybody he knew had died, except for a small handful of people, by the time that he died. John can only imagine and he will hopefully live that long. But 58, what is that? Presumably incredibly fit and incredibly full of life. It is not like Prince sat down on a chair and was like: ”I have nothing left to live for!”

It is hard for John to mourn people with a lot of reverence publicly. So many people right now are publicly bawling about Prince, still bawling about Bowie. John welled up with emotion this morning, but when we are talking about Prince or Bowie out in the world, all you can do is remember how hilarious and wonderful they were. How do you be sad? We will never know what Prince would have done. His next record might have been shit reggae and he might have just started calling himself Snoop Lion, it could have all gone south, we can never know what Prince had in store. So you can't really cry for it.

Who is the smartest Beatle? George Harrison tribute concert with Prince (RW26)

John recommends that everybody watches the Prince performance at the celebration for George Harrison. Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne, and others: While My Guitar Gently Weeps. It is truly a thing of of joy! Tom Petty is a wonderful musician and a hero of John, but he falls somewhat into that category of self-seriousness. You don't think of Tom Petty as having an incredible sense of humor about himself. He doesn't ever come out in the world and is clearly mocking the image of Tom Petty. He is a pretty self-aware, self serious guy, and that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a sense of humor or that he doesn't seem fun, but he is Tom Petty. He is a big deal and he knows he is a big deal. He is wearing a top hat and if you are wearing a top hat, even one covered with dust, you are going to rep that.

George Harrison was one of those unusual people who did not strike John as necessarily the smartest Beatle. It is always wonderful to rank The Beatles: Which one do you think got more tail? Which bewitch Beatle put more pepper on his spaghetti sauce? You do it all the time. They did it on the JoCo Cruise this year: Which Beatle is the best singer? And at a certain level you can say John is the worst singer, but then John Flansburgh jumped up and said: ”I protest! John Lennon is maybe one of the greatest singers of all time!” and both things are true. John Lennon maybe was the worst singer in the Beatles and also one of, if not the greatest pop singer of all time, just in terms of his passion and what he contributed to the world.

When you rank the Beatles according to your perception of their intelligence you got to put John first, if only because John always identifies cynicism as a sign of intelligence and he may be wrong about that. There is just no way that Paul is smarter than John. Paul is brilliant! Maybe Paul is even more brilliant than John in terms of the lightning of inspiration. Paul is a dingaling by comparison to John. John is not saying John is the smartest pop star, but he is the smartest Beatle and then Paul and Ringo is probably last. Ringo lived a charmed life, his life story is truly inspiring. You have to put George in that category where he just… the Hari Krishna thing really puts you… It is really tough to be a Hari Krishna and also be considered one of the smarter Beatles. Those Venn diagrams hardly overlap at all.

George had a sense of himself where there where he allowed a little bit of… There was some humor in George that was subtle, he could laugh, he could appreciate that he was ridiculous a little bit in a way that Paul can not. Paul has never recognized that he is ridiculous, he fights it all the time, he wants us all to turn our heads a little bit and not acknowledge how ridiculous he is. He is looking at the encyclopedia and wondering what the final entry is going to be. He doesn't care about anything else. At George's funeral… Jeff Lynne probably got a great sense of humor, he is probably really smart, but he is wearing those sunglasses and you can't tell what is going on.

They are up there eulogizing George and While My Guitar Gently Weeps has to be one of the most morose songs to play at a funeral, but they are doing a very beautiful job. George’s son is up there, happy to be there, happy to be alive, they are strumming it, it is beautiful, it is a wonderful tribute, and then from the wings here comes Prince. It is a valid question at that moment: ”What is Prince doing here? Why isn't Clapton here, first of all? What the fuck did Clapton have to do that day?” Not that John is looking forward to seeing Clapton come out of the wings. If Clapton had come out of the wings it would have been like the toilets overflowed and some brown water came out on the stage. John hates to say that, he doesn’t mean Clapton is toilet water, but it would have just been like: ”Here he is, here is Clapton!”

Here comes Prince and you go: ”Prince, huh? I am glad to see Prince now!” and then you think about it for a second: The Beatles have been a huge influence on Prince and you can absolutely draw a through line from George Harrison to Prince without any trouble at all, understand why he is there, be grateful that he is there, but he is not part of that community of people that are wearing dusty top hats or playing music that is too reverent. Prince has a sense of humor about himself, about everything, and he is also the most self-serious person you ever saw in the world. That is what is so crazy about him. How can he take himself so seriously such that he will walk into a club after a show that he played for five hours and say to the club owner: ”You have to turn all the water faucets off!” or ”I want you to take all the light bulbs out of the bathrooms!” Who knows whether he is doing it just as a constant Andy Kaufman routine, but you don't think so. You think that he is just really bananas.

Prince got this other-worldly vibe, but he walks out and he is already smirking. What is Prince smirking about? What does he know? Here he is at George Harrison's funeral and John was very glad to see him walk on stage. Why the fuck is he smirking? He got his guitar on and it is his famous guitar. He has honored George Harrison by bringing his Telecaster with the leopard print pick-guard. When he brings that guitar out, that means something to him. He will play that glyph guitar, he will play the white one that looks like a drop of semen, he will play a lot of guitars, but when the Telecaster comes out it is an exclamation point. He is joining in the song already in progress and takes over.

Dan was watching the video right now in mute while John was describing it like the Pink Floyd and The Wizard of Oz thing you can do.

Not only does he take it over, but all of a sudden it is more reverent, the song is renewed. If you look at Dhany Harrison, George’s his son, his face is so lit up, he is so thrilled by what is happening because all of a sudden the song is alive again. This is not a funeral march, this music has become as relevant as any music ever, and Prince is just like. ”Fuck you guys!” at the same time, He is prowling up and down the stage, he is just throwing it both at the crowd and at the other musicians, like: ”Come on, you guys!” and he plays an inspired guitar.

At a certain point he turns around, he is soloing in full flight, you can't see his face, only the back of his head, but he makes eye contact with Tom Petty, he has gone across the front of the stage, standing in front of Tom Petty, and he makes eye contact with him and you see a look go across Tom Petty space so briefly, and when people are trying to make everything fine, which is a big impulse now it has been described as Tom Petty's jaw dropped at Prince's amazing guitar part, or Tom Petty and Prince shared a moment where they made eye contact on the stage, but in fact Tom Petty's face registers: ”Fuck you! Fuck you!” and if you can't see that, maybe you don't know musicians very well, maybe you just don't know about people or maybe you are trying to pretend that that is not what Tom Petty was saying.

Tom Petty up until that moment had been leading this wonderful tribute concert to his close friend and mentor George Harrison. Prince came out on stage and just burned the house down and also was doing a better job of eulogizing George. Watching Dhany Harrison be so thrilled you get a sense that if George were there he would also be thrilled because it was just musically thrilling. All of the swagger that Prince brought, all of the ”Fuck you”-itude was not what George Harrison stood for, he never walked out on stage with that kind of ”Fuck you!”, he would come out on stage covered in a self-effacing shyness, that was his signature.

Wilbury’s Crew was all about a collective notion of: ”We are just musicians!” The whole sense of the Wilburys was: ”This band has Dylan in it, but he is just one of the guys!” It has got a Beatle. it has got Dylan. it has got Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty, one of the biggest Rock stars in the world is the junior member of this. We are just some good old boys, picking some guitars. There is no showboating! Think about the supergroup of any era that would contain Prince. Prince on guitar and what? Maybe Bowie, frankly? Maybe Bowie and Prince and who else is in that band? There is no sense of Prince being a collaborator like that. He is a collaborator in the sense that he wrote songs for a lot of artists, he mentored a lot of artists.

John has watched that video 1000 times and every time he laughs, every time he is moved, and there are hundreds of Prince performances like that where you watch it and you think he is such a singular person. No one could be that confident. That expression of confidence is an expression of something else, of having converted insecurity into a light saber. You can’t be that good of a musician and also be that confident at the same time. In order to learn music that well and to feel it that passionately, you have to also be scared and sad at a certain level. If you are that confident you just go and be a water skier. If you think you are that hot shit, you just go and be an investment banker. That is where those people end up. Those people are monsters! But by the time Prince was 18, he could play every instrument, and you see it in Purple Rain. His origin story is pretty harsh.

Prince playing in Seattle (RW26)

Prince played in Seattle several years ago, not as long ago as 2004, but sometime in 2011. He played two clubs shows in a 1200 person venue. It was one of those things that was barely announced. He does do a thing where after his big stadium concert he goes and plays a show at a club, that is not uncommon for him and that is part of his generosity and part of his feeling in the same way that Bowie’s life was a gift to people. He recognized his role as Shaman (John hates to say that word because he reserves it only to disparage Jim Morrison). Bowie was a part of a priestly class and so was Prince and so is Madonna. They get a lot out of it, but they are also giving, giving, giving. Prince was playing the show and it was the hottest ticket in town. Everybody wants to be there.

He comes out on stage, and you are like: ”Holy shit, it is Prince!” He brought his stadium show to this 1200 person club, he got a big light show, but more importantly, he got a lot of amplifiers. He got an all-female band. Prince was truly a pioneer in that sense of having women in his band that were not there as eye-candy. That is not to say that they weren't sexy, but they were not there to play a token instrument and dance around, but they were hot shit musicians and they were his band and there was not a reference to them in the sense of: ”Check out my girl band!” These musicians are killer and you better hold on. He had been doing that all the way in the 1980s and even through the 1990s, even through now. It is unusual to see a band of dudes who have a female musician in a spotlighted position. A lot of female musicians make that space for themselves, but you don't see a metal band with a girl lead guitarist. Prince absolutely scoured the world for the best musicians.

He comes to this Seattle show, his band is all women, they are extraordinary players, but the show is too loud and John hates to reduce it to that simple thing, but it was a 1200 person club. John was talking to the staff of the bar and he mixed the show himself. He came out with an iPad and mixed the band himself during soundcheck. This is exactly how he wants it. But it was too loud. If you go to a My Bloody Valentine show, part of their music, their sound, their whole show is that it is just too loud and that is what it is going to be. It is going to rip your face off, whether that is a good creative choice or a bad creative choice, it is the one they have made their whole career.

But Prince is making Pop music, Blues music, and Soul music and the loudness was incongruous. It didn't serve the music, it certainly didn't serve anyone in the club, and he blisters through the set taking the moisture off of your eyeballs. He just approached this wrong, this was not a stadium show nor a rehearsal for a stadium show, but this was a club show. If Prince had come out in his bathrobe and just played music with this incredible band, that is all any of us wanted. They didn't want any light show. It is Prince, he can do what he wants. It is not like he owes us anything, but the show was too loud and it was too flashy.

John was writing for The Seattle Weekly at the time and Prince was playing again the next night and John was going to reserve comment on this, he was going to go to the show the next night and see what the hell, maybe he was missing something. He went to the show the next night, got there early, walked around the room, looked at his pedal board and his gear, and got a sense before doors of the room. John knows this club, he knows every nail in the floor of this club. Right. He was walking around, having played it a 100 times, knowing every nook and cranny, like: Prince was basically in John’s space here and yet if Prince is in the space it is Prince’s space, so let me just get my head around this. The sound staff of this bar was also having this experience, like: This is my mixing board, but now it is Prince’s mixing board and I am just going to stand here and see what happens.

He came out and it was the same thing: Just too loud, excruciatingly loud, too loud to enjoy, frankly. John had the unique experience of writing a bad review of a Prince show. He wrote this article for The Seattle Weekly where he said: ”All I wanted to do was see Prince from 10 feet away. I did see that, but he made this unusual choice. He knows the difference, he knows a 500 person club, he knows a 1200 person club. The 1st Avenue Theater in Minneapolis where he made his bones and this club in Seattle are the same type of place. He knows what he is doing. Why did he do this? How could he have misjudged this space and this event. But there it is, he did!

When John saw his stadium show he closed with a medley of his greatest hits from the 1980s. Everybody came here to hear Purple Rain and you played a minute and a half of it as part of a medley? That seems like a weird choice, too! Although John gets it, like when R.E.M. plays two songs from the seven records that they made that are amazing and then they play eight songs from their new record, which is like a pot of cold macaroni. John gets it, they want you to hear their new stuff and they don't want to be Southcentral Rain for the rest of their careers, but Southcentral Rain is better than anything on the new record, just from a musical standpoint.

Prince was making choices, he was always making choices, he wanted all the light bulbs taken out of the bathroom for some reason. John has seen Paul Simon play in that same space after having seen his stadium concert the night before, and the stadium concert was a total limp noodle. It was just: Here is Paul Simon with a band of 14 guys, a lot of them have played with him since Graceland. They are playing in an enormous cavern full of people in late middle age, who want to hear Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes and he was spectacular, he is a hero of John, his band was amazing, but this was like watching a television show. Then the following night he came into this same room, The Showbox in Seattle, one of the great clubs of anywhere.

Paul Simon came in and played the exact same set that he had played the night before in the stadium, but in that small space, it was radically transformed, a life changing musical experience. Paul Simon went to the very front of the stage, his toes hanging off the edge of the stage, and the band could hear each other in the room, they weren't listening to each other through earphones, they could feel each other, and they played together and the music lifted the roof off the place. John happened that show to be standing next to Paul Simon's manager and asked when the last time was that Paul played in a space this size. And the guy thought about it for a second and said: 1966 maybe? This was a historic show!

Prince was complicated and John had a complicated relationship with him, he wrote this bad review of the show and he got so many angry letters, but he is used to getting angry letters. People just couldn't believe that John would say a bad word about Prince. This was a bad show. He played amazing, but John almost couldn't tell because he was burning the hair off of his ears for no good reason. That is the thing about too much volume in a show: It is for no good reason! Past a certain point it is not pleasurable anymore, but it is for punishment and John doesn’t know why any musician makes that choice because we all know what the volume knobs do and we all had the experience of: ”That was quieter, but better!” If you are My Bloody Valentine or you are playing super heavy metal, if you are in Earth or Sunn O))) or whatever, then: "Yeah, turn it all the way up and just make me poo!” because that goes along with your music, but that is not what Prince's music is. John will never know and Prince didn't care.

John had seen him a few times and every one of them you feel lucky to be there. Maybe John went in with so many expectations that Prince was going to come out in a pair of ripped blue jeans, sit on a stool and play the electric blues for two hours because John knows he can. Maybe that is a thing John is bringing to his interaction with all musicians: What is the simplest version of this? Can you show me your influences and yourself in the simplest iteration of what you know? John knows that Prince on a stool with an acoustic guitar could rip us all apart and everything that he adds on top of that, every bit of show, not at a stadium show, but a scene like this, feels like an unnecessary addition, particularly past a certain point.

A four-piece band that is really killer? Absolutely! But a light show or any sort of outboard effect beyond that just starts to feel superfluous into shading into an insult almost. This was the type of show where the only people that were there were people that could get into this thing. These tickets were not available to punters. Everybody in there was a music business person, Seattle style, not a bunch of managers, but everybody from every band in the Northwest was there. They don't need to be fooled. You don't need to blind them with like a light, they have all seen a light show. That is what Marilyn Manson shows are. They were all here to worshipped his altar, basically, which John continued to do.

Somewhere floating out there and easily found is this article John wrote about this show: Prince, The Emperor's New Jams. Everyone loves Prince, but we deserve better at the Shoebox by John Roderick, Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 at 5:07pm (see new URL here)

Everyone realizes that when you write an article for a local alternative paper, you do not title it yourself. Editors consider the title of the article to be their purview and sometimes they get it right, other times they get close. Sometimes they say The Emperor's New Jams. Every writer, if it were up to them, would title the article with a line from the article, but that is not how editors think. Dan is enjoying just skimming this article because hearing John speak and listening to him with Merlin and then reading him a few times he can hear this very much in John’s voice.

”The effect was like that of a giant celebrity cruise ship pulling into a small Caribbean port town and unloading 2000 tourists for a half-day excursion. From the perspective of those aboard the ship, which is to say from within Prince's mind, gaudy volume and epileptic light seem like normal party fun, but to the people on shore it reads as an invasion of vulgarity. Put another way, we climbed into bed with a very attractive and sexy person, and all of a sudden he started making all these sex faces and wolf-noises, humping us and shit.” John is really a bad person! That is not a good part of the article even, but it gets better!

One of the ways in which he knew that he had developed as a writer was when he wrote basically how he talks. He is a writer only in the sense that he is also a talker. The two personalities are not distinct from one another. He is never probably going to write a biography of Otto von Bismarck because if I did he would say things in his own voice, which is not… or maybe he should write a autobiography of Otto von Bismarck where he discusses him in context of being a gaudy cruise ship. Don't just sit there and read the article!

John enjoys doing Rock criticism from the perspective of a Rock musician, but because he is a small potatoes Rock musician it is a little bit above his pay grade to be commenting on on Prince, but he is not 22 and with age comes a certain amount of broader perspective where we can say: ”Yeah, it is Prince, but kill your idols!” Test in peace, Prince! John is sorry that his editor said the Emperor's New Jams!

Dan’s son imagining what if John was president (RW26)

Dan’s son is trying to visualize a world where John Roderick is president. They have been talking a lot about that and Dan tweeted about it after he said that: ”What if John Roderick were to become president?” He is very interested in the current election. John tweeted about Bernie Sanders speaking in Seattle and John introed him and MCed him. Dan was watching this video and anytime he plays anything on his phone, both of his kids will swarm over to him: ”Let me see! Let me see!” Most of the time it is a news video or tech video and they are not very interested in that, but his son is 8 and he says: ”Is that John Roderick?” - ”Yes, it is!” - ”Wow! He is standing up there with that other guy!” - ”The other guy is Bernie Sanders!” - ”He is running for president, right?” - ”Yeah!” - ”What if John Roderick were to become president?” - ”What if, yeah!”

Presenting Bernie Sanders, regulation of government, people calling for a revolution (RW26)

John made some very interesting comments about Bernie Sanders. One of the foundational arguments for this show is that despite having a show where John often talks to Merlin Mann for an hour and a half every week, there were so many things that Merlin didn't want to talk about, namely sex, politics and religion, and those have become the foundations of this show because Dan wants to talk about sex, politics and religion almost exclusively and John understands completely why Merlin doesn't want to talk about this. They have managed to have almost 200 episodes where they very seldom talk about any one of those three things.

John introduced Bernie at that rally in August of last year, pretty early on in his surge. He seemed like a candidate that was like: ”Really? This kook from the northeast is running for president? Sure!” and then he started to connect with people and started to surge and it was evident that this is a real candidacy. He is a real progressive in a way that he is saying all these things that there has not been a national figure with the exception of Elizabeth Warren, who is truly one of the great American politicians. Here is somebody saying these things… when Ralph Nader said them in 1988 or 2000… Ralph Nader is so down-tempo, he is almost undead. There is no light in his eyes.

But here was this guy who was wagging his finger in the air and saying these wonderful things that we all understood to be true. The banks have created a degree of wealth-inequality that is historically criminal and untenable over the long term, maybe untenable even over the short term. But as a product of the deregulation of America that began during the Reagan era and continued at a great pace both through the Clinton and Bush administrations: ”Business doesn't need oversight, that is government overreach! God damn liberals, trying to pass their nanny state laws! Business takes care of itself! Capitalism is a natural system and it absolutely flushes out the bad because the market decides…” All this religion of capitalism we have created!

You know what happens when unregulated banks can also get into speculation on their own? Banks can can also try to play the market, game of the market? What you get is unbridled greed, total concentration of wealth, complete lack of morality. The market is not a pure animal. The market is not a natural system. It is not a thing that needs to be deregulated, it is a thing that needs to be passionately regulated, just as the airlines need to be regulated, just as all of these monsters need to be regulated. Honestly: Yes, the government is bad. It is bad at regulating things and when you let the government regulate it always turns bad because some bureaucrat is standing in the way of progress. Oh, terrible government! It is so inefficient!

Yes, all of those things are true, and yet: Thank God for it! There is a balance to strike. We don't want too much regulation. You want the right amount. But deciding where that line is and where the right amount of regulation is, is key. If we take as an article of faith that regulation is bad, we are making a tremendous mistake. Regulation is not bad! It is awesome! It is excellent! We just need to find the right line and we absolutely need to try and streamline the processes, but at whatever point Reagan promoted and Clinton signed on to the idea that government regulation in and of itself is a bad thing, they were doing a criminal disservice to us!

Dan argues it is a very popular perspective, but that is because people are fucking idiots! It is a popular perspective because somebody said it loudly enough that all the people in the world are: ”Well, yeah, that's right! Government is bad. I went to the DMV one time and the woman was rude to me. So therefore, government regulation is bad!” People are fucking morons! Government regulation is what government is for and government regulation and organized labor are what keeps us from having 8 year olds working in coal mines, for the love of God!

If you look through just the last 100 years, every single innovation in terms of more rights for workers, less exploitation for workers, business each time said that this was the death of business. If we don't have children working in the garment district, then the garment district is going to fail and that is going to undermine the U.S. economy. If we have a 40 hour workweek, that is going to be the death of business. If we have a $15 an hour minimum wage, that is going to be the death of business. It is always the death of business.

Business clutches its hankered chief and cries crocodile tears. Business is worse than European soccer players. Business is constantly falling on the ground and pretending that its shin is hurt because it is the most theatrical and hysterical part of public life. Poor business! It got some regulation, oh no! The economy! It is part of this game and if you buy that business unregulated is healthy, you are buying this self-serving drama from a sector of the economy that has collected an overwhelming percentage of our shared wealth. It has collected unto itself and it has done that exactly because we don't regulate them strongly enough now.

Here comes Bernie Sanders and he is saying versions of that. He is certainly recognizing that business has taken an outsized role and that there is this possibly silent majority, but certainly silent large minority of people that also recognize that. For all the years that we were in our teens and twenties, post-Reagan, where the word liberal became a swear word, all a politician had to say was the word liberal and you understood immediately that it was some kind of Robert Mapplethorpe who was sticking the American flag up his butt. That is what liberals were. Liberals were awful. Liberals wanted to give free money to people who are living in public housing so they didn't have to work and they all got big-screen TVs. Liberals wanted to choke business with their big greedy talin (?) liberal hands. For the last 25 years in our national conversation, the word liberal was all you needed to say.

The Democrats abandoned the word liberal. They were not liberal, but moderates or neo-liberals, all these codewords, ways to get around this terrible L-word. But Bernie Sanders is connecting with this mass of people in America: ”No, I am a liberal. I always was! This is awful! It is awful to deregulate all of these industries and let them just tear through national life like the raw meat that we are!” He is saying these things, thank God. John introduced him at that event, he meant every word he said, and he was thrilled by his candidacy.

As time went on, Bernie’s rhetoric didn’t necessarily turn a corner, he always believed what he became more and more empowered to say, which was not that he wants to regulate the banks, but then he wants to break up the banks. At that point you are talking about something different than liberalism or changing the civil society that we have built over 200 years, but you are talking about the familiar refrain of revolution. We use the word revolution in a lot of different ways. There are a lot of people in Silicon Valley who say that every new app that counts the number of fucking Snapchat likes you got last week is a revolution in apps, but whatever revolution it would require to break up the banks is a heavy call.

John would not scoff at the idea of breaking up the banks, but we do not have the mandate right now. Bernie is activating a lot of students… there are a lot of people right now in our popular culture that want to talk about ageism as if it is a real thing, as if it matters, like: We should have 25 year olds on the board of directors of companies and the fact that we don't is because of ageism, but young people are idiots and we have always known it. If you are 25 you don't know anything and if you think you do know something that is only because you don't know enough to know how little you know.

That is the absolute condition, the precondition of being 25. Yes, of course you think you are an equal partner in like adult life. Of course you think that, but you are not! You don't know anything yet. You don't have the emotional maturity. You are young. That is wonderful! Go learn, read and have sex with one another and have fun, be poor, live in a small apartment. That is what you are meant to do right now. It is not to join public life as an equal partner with adults who have been alive for a long time and have seen that compromises are necessary.

If anyone ever says: ”All we need to do is…”, immediately John sits back in the chair and goes: ”Okay, tell us what all we need to do!” because there is never a problem that can be solved by somebody saying: ”All we need to do is…!” It is tantalizing to think that that is it: ”All we need to do is break up the banks. All we need to do is make everybody equal. All we need to do is… this or that!” That is a character of both radical liberals and reactionary conservatives, to believe that the solution is simple. That is why those popular movements are popular, the Conservatives say: ”All we need to do is build a wall across the southern border!” and the Liberals say: ”All we need to do is break up the banks!” And when John says conservatives and liberals, he means reactionaries and radicals.

John has come through his long years to the conclusion that radicals are as untrustworthy as reactionaries, they are as unreflective and as dangerous to go to public life as reactionaries because they are uncompromising because they believe in ideological purity and they believe that the way to create a perfect society or a better society is to just force reform on people that do not want those reforms. It is not a situation where we are trying to compromise with people that believe that God made the Earth in seven days. We are not trying to compromise with people who genuinely believe in free market economics, we genuinely and intellectually conclude that the market should be free. You can differ with those people, but you can't say that they are dumb or that they haven't thought about it, but reactionaries want Bernie Sanders into the presidency so that we can just make this sweeping change, this revolution where all of a sudden the 50% of the population that doesn't agree just gets their noses pushed down into the mud and we put our liberalism into their butts and then they just have to suck it.

That is what the Conservatives have been doing for the last however long we, since they controlled the Congress and since the Libertarians came in with their Tea Party lunacy and the Conservatives have said: ”We are shutting down Congress!” We have made Congress a completely ineffectual body that is causing tremendous destruction, both to the United States and also our confidence in ourselves, our confidence in democracy right now. The response to that is not to flip the tables and have progressivism be the scimitar that counteracts reactionaryism.

If you think of political orientation as a circle where at the North Pole you have complete bipartisan moderation as an unachievable goal and you go around to the left side and have moderate liberalism, passionate liberalism, extreme liberalism, all the way to radicalism. Where does radicalism connect at its most extreme? It absolutely shoulders right up to reactionaryism! John has heard the exact same conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton that he hears from Donald Trump lunatic Tea Party people.

They are saying the exact same thing, they are oscillating between these two poles and the differences between those two sides are all in the social sphere: On one side there are intersectional gender-fluid leftists and on the other side there are people who believe that all but the white race should be eliminated from the United States, but the way that they are proposing to accomplish their two goals are almost identical: Silence and dismiss any argument and basically rule the other side. They only people who ever really get into power who say: ”All we need to do is…” are dictators. That is what a dictator says, it is fundamentally a dictatorship.

For Bernie Sanders to achieve his goals would require that he would be in some ways a dictator, which can't happen in America, so therefore Bernie Sanders can not achieve his goals. John was thrilled about him at the beginning because if he can lay out a plan to accomplish these things that he is saying, my God, that would be transformative. John would support that, he would march in the streets, he would go to work for his administration. Let's hear the plan! As time went on, the plan was just: ”Let's mobilize an army of college students and fill their heads with the idea that politics is simple and all we need to do is…” It is an ouroboros of all we need to do is organize and once we are organized all we need to do is organize.

Either everyone will get onboard, and if they don't, then the people that don't are on the wrong side of history and we are going to ultimately force them somehow by achieving a majority and then forcing, rather than achieving a majority and then negotiating. That is ideological purity and John understands its appeal, but there is not a lot of reflection on what that actually would practically mean. And if you can't talk about what it practically means, if you don't have a plan for the practicality of implementing even your small policy, you are going to show up one day, you got it all written down and there is going to be somebody sitting on the other side of the aisle or sitting at a desk and you walk up to him and say: ”Here is the plan!” and they are going to say: ”No, thanks!” and then what? Then what do you do? Get in their face? You can't! You got to have a plan!

His plan is based on numbers that aren't real. His plan is based on a fantasy. If you say: ”All we need to do is get 60% of America to agree… This is the same thing with the school boards in Pennsylvania: ”All we need to do is galvanize the 60% of America that believe that the Bible is the unerring word of God. ”There aren't 60% of the people that believe that!” - ”I think you are wrong!” - ”No, demonstrably there aren't 60% of the people that think that!” - ”Well, we are going to pass the laws as though there were!” It is the same with Bernie Sanders: The plan requires that what is true not be true. If that were so, if what is true were not true, then that would be an amazing plan. If people that believed in the free market and believed that the Bible is the unerring word of God and believed that government regulation is the worst of all evils, if all those people just weren't who they are, or if they were 30% instead of 50%, then Bernie Sanders has an amazing plan. But the plan as stated does not account for reality.

Everybody says Hillary Clinton is a compromiser and enslaved to business and all that stuff is hyperbole. Hillary Clinton is absolutely a creature of the Institutional Democratic Party, she is a mainstream politician, but politician is not a bad word anymore than liberal is a bad word. Mainstream isn't a bad word when you are talking about politics. Mainstream is how you actually get a majority and you actually get a plan that is plausible. Obama's health care plan is not what any liberal would actually have chosen. It is not anywhere close to what would actually be great for this country. You watch him push that thing through and it is just a compromise position. Have you seen what they do in Finland? Come on, America! But that is not what he could get past.

The choice is ideological purity where you get nothing, or figure out a compromise and you get Obamacare, which is better than what we had before. That is tough for people to swallow, particularly for people who read Chomsky and loved it or read Howard Zinn and were like: ”That explains everything!” It is very hard to to accept that in America you are never going to have a leftist revolution. Does anybody seriously believe that there should be an armed revolution in America? John lays in bed at night and thinks about if the Conservatives rose up and tried to have an armed revolution in America, which they think about all the time, too.

John thinks about the army of country-ass Tea Partiers that is coming over the Cascade Mountains, flying their Confederate flags with Ted Nugent at the head of their army, and John thinks about the tremendous glee he would have, manning a 50 caliber machine gun at Snoqualmie Pass. That is a male fantasy and it is one of the things that makes being a man fun. You sit and imagine your enemies coming over the pass and you engage them in battle. John thinks about it when he goes to bed at night, he thinks about putting Donald Rumsfeld in a shipping container in the desert. He can't help himself. But he doesn't actually believes that defeating that army in the past is going to solve America's problems, and he certainly doesn't believe in mounting a army of liberals and going over that path, trying to destroy the conservatives in their homes.

Minus an armed revolution, what kind of revolution are we talking about exactly? It is the classic error of believing that if you educate people, go into Jim Baker's church, and stand up there and explain why all bathroom should be gender-neutral, the Jim Baker church members are going to change their minds. All bathrooms should be gender-neutral and eventually that law will pass when a majority of people, which is to say 52%, are convinced. But you are not going to take that battle to the school board of Pennsylvania and make it so eloquently that they change their minds. You don't need a majority of 75%, you need 52%, but you need a majority, and the way to get it is not ideological purity. It never is!

John learned this by [[[run for office |running for office] here in Seattle. The primary election was down to what the newspaper The Stranger the person that they endorsed. And they did not endorse John, but his opponent, and they endorsed his opponent because he ticked all the boxes of ideological purity. You could tell he would not waver in defense of the principles that he believed in. The suspicion was that John’s principles were not as dependable, that he would consider things and make decisions based on the evidence in front of him. John did not believe that all real estate developers were in service to General Dynamics or in service to the big money banks.

John didn't believe it and so therefore he wasn't trustworthy and therefore he didn't earn their endorsement and therefore he lost in the primary. That guy, the ideological purity guy, of course lost to the incumbent, who is a vaguely conservative moderate compromiser. You look at politics in Seattle and everybody is a liberal. There are two sides to that: There are radicals who believe that all that matters are their principles and they will plant a flag in the ground and defend that flag like Custer at Little Big Horn until the last man is dead, rather than move the flag. Those principled flags are innumerable flags that they will plant and say: ”This is the truth, this is the light, this is the glory, and we will not compromise in defense of Mother Earth.”

Then you got the compromisers who are also liberal and who want to talk to people to get some consensus, but they make the classic error, too, of thinking that consensus is all that matters. They spend all this time trying to get consensus, consensus and everything gets watered down, no progress is made because by the time you get complete consensus you have a thing so defanged, it can make no change. These are your two poles: You get consensus and radicalism and there are flaws in both camps. You try to get somebody into office in Seattle and they are going to be from one of those camps. You are never going to find somebody that will say: ”Sometimes you need to be a little bit radical. Sometimes you need to force force a piece of legislation through and you need to do it by any means necessary!”, but a lot of the time you got to horse trade, you got to buy and sell. Maybe you forced your thing through and then you need to give the other guy one. It is politics.

John lost that election and what he also did was loose a lot of respect for people who actually share his convictions. He lost respect for organized radicalism, progressivism as a ideology, because although he agrees, the methods that are practiced and espoused by that segment, that share his values, he does not share their methods nor their ideological conviction. It is part of the reason why John doesn’t go: ”Boo hoo hoo!” in public about Prince. ”Give me a break. Are you seriously that distraught about it or are you making a performance? Do you seriously believe that people that believe in free market, capitalism should be putting camps? You should march into their their offices like the revolutionaries and Doctors Zhivago and put everybody out on the street? Walk into the really nice apartments and throw up wallboard and suddenly there are 11 families living in there instead of one?”

That may be appealing to you, but you are talking about a dictatorial revolution, not a golden one, not a glorious one. The American Revolution, if that is your model, show me another American Revolution! We got so fucking lucky because we had really unique circumstances. Show me another American Revolution! You know what happened in the French Revolution that modeled absolutely on the American Revolution? John can point to a lot of revolutions in the last 200 years. Show me another one that had the result of the American Revolution.

All these people that quote Thomas Jefferson and say that the tree of liberty has to be fertilized with the blood of patriots, who believe that their revolution is equivalent to the American Revolution, are just wrong. Their revolution is going to be closer to Pol Pot’s revolution. Did John just elicit a grunt? He might be going a little too far with that, but he is a radical! Show me a revolution in the 20th century that didn't produce a dictatorship!

People say: The velvet revolution in the Czech Republic. That was not a revolution. The Soviet Union collapsed and they managed to get Vaclav Havel into the presidency instead of some member of the party, because Vaclav Havel had spent 40 years making himself a hero to the Czechs. Also, they are a very poetic nation. They are full of people who read poetry for fun, who write plays for fun. But that was not a revolution. Neither was what happened in Romania. They killed Ceausescu and the people that took over the government were basically the guys that were in the back office, the exact same people. None of those were revolutions. But armed overthrow of a government? Show me one!

In history that measures up to the American Revolution. The American Revolution is not the model, because those circumstances were absolutely unique and you can't say that you can ever duplicate it. John believes it is still ongoing and that is why he supports the current American democracy with all of its flaws and warts and ugliness. This is the system that we should reform, but in reforming we should support. Anybody that says that democracy is irrevocably broken endangers us, frankly. It is still the grand experiment. The system of government in the Netherlands or the system of government in Germany right now, they work very efficiently, they are very plausible, but they are not going to work in America. We are still the experiment, were are the one that everybody is watching, and we are doing a shit-poor job of it right now, but we should redouble our efforts to ensure that this pluralistic and ungainly version of democracy, not just survive, but evolve and thrive. John doesn't want a revolution. He wants to support this. He wants America.

silly ending

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