Segarini: The Long Run

There was a time when being older was something that was respected, even revered. The logic of that is easy to understand. The longer you live, the more you experience. With experience comes knowledge and if you’re lucky, wisdom. The more information you seek and absorb, the better your chances of being able to make better decisions, and the more cognizant of the past, the better equipped you are to understand the future. So how is it we live in a culture that worships youth, continues to make the same boneheaded mistakes we made in the past, and remains mired in superficiality, gossip, mediocrity, and ennui?  The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. Photo by Michael Dent

When I was a kid we were obsessed with the future. We thought cancer would be cured, there’d be colonies on the moon, people would be healthier, happier, and as a race, wiser. I’ve written about what we expected to greet us in the year 2000 before, and I expressed my disappointment in what we found when we got there. Here we are more than a decade later, and things have gotten worse. As Yogi Berra would have said, “If Gene Rodenberry were alive, he’d be spinning in his grave.”

My generation, the one that grew up as part of Howdy Doody’s Peanut Gallery, were supposed to right the wrongs, cure the ills, and stop the insanity brought to bear by previous generations, but instead, we seem to have made things worse. Somewhere between Woodstock and American Idol we fucking forgot everything we talked about, railed against and promised to change. Apparently, everybody took the brown acid. To quote Eric Cartman, “I HATE Hippies!”

It is at once interesting and perplexing that Asian cultures seem to have done a better job of making the future a bit better place to live, and their older, more experienced denizens still command some respect and attention from the general populace, maybe because they tend to plan more than one fiscal year ahead. Over here in the land of plenty we only seem interested in the NOW, and nowhere is that reflected so profoundly as in what we consider to be entertainment. Even more frightening than the people who inundate us with crap is the sad and inexplicable embracing of that crap by the majority of the people it’s aimed at. When, do tell, did we become a culture of knuckle dragging mouth breathers?

Understand that there is a place for crap in every generation. All of us, myself included, have a fondness for craptacular entertainment even if we know better, but in my experience it has never so dominated our culture as it does today. Mike Judge, he of the razor sharp tongue responsible for “King of the Hill”, “Beavis and Butthead”,  and “Office Space”, offered up a not-implausible scenario in the little known, brilliant film “Idiocracy” that soars as satire but also contains a wealth of truth that gains believability every time I watch it. Never have I laughed so hard at something so inherently terrifying. Mike Judge explains the failure of “Idiocracy”. Find this movie and watch it.

If age does come with more experience and knowledge, then where are those whose expertise we so desperately need? And if they’re out there (which, judging from the law of averages they must be) why aren’t we listening to them? Are the people responsible for leading us down the garden path in every facet of our existence evil…or just short sighted, stupid, and greedy? More to the point, why do we continually buy into what clearly stands as half-baked and manipulative bullshit, when we not only should know better, but have the luxury of precedent to go by. How can Prohibition, proven a failure in the early part of the 20th Century, and responsible for creating more crime and criminals than had existed before its implementation, still be thought of as a solution to anything?

Prostitution and drugs are prohibited by law, yet the only way to curb the criminal elements who thrive within them would be to legalize them. Why does no one talk about this? What is wrong with a public that cannot muster enough common sense to understand the lessons learned from the banning of alcohol that led to organized crime, corruption, and turned otherwise law abiding  citizens into criminals? Say you legalize prostitution. It’s been around since before organized religion and is never going to go away. You put it in a designated area (Lord knows, we have an overflow of empty buildings and foreclosed properties) tax it, and install medical facilities and license the sex workers. Then consider the benefits; no more pimps, no more sex workers at risk on the streets, no more under-age runaways turning tricks, no more used condoms and needles in your front yard, no more STDs spread by unsupervised participants. For the first time arrests could be made to rid the practice of its criminal element, provide safety for all, and earn enough tax money to better the lives of all of us. The same applies to the legalization of drugs. Unfortunately, the public cannot wrap its head around the results of legalization, even though the lesson of Prohibition is fairly common knowledge. The politicians able to educate and inform, and stand for these ideas are cowed into parroting the same old tired Disneyesque Family Values platforms that stopped being pertinent about the same time Norman Rockwell stopped painting covers for the Saturday Evening Post.

And why do we continue to wage war over ideology and religious beliefs? Trillions of dollars spent losing lives and instilling hate in the name of self-righteousness and the tragedy of trying to force our culture on others. Why not spend that money winning our enemies over with assistance instead of weapons. Food, infrastructure, tools, and education, that’s where the money should be spent. Act on the promise of democracy and compassion instead of bombing the shit out of people for the actions of their governments and extremists. I can’t say it better than this.

How do we curb this lousy recession? By giving trillions of dollars to the very people who caused it? What the fuck are we thinking? Why didn’t the government give that money to the people with the codicil that they pay off their mortgages, put the money back in the economy and pay their taxes, and put the criminals that caused this mess behind bars? Where is the wisdom of experience? Where is common sense?

I find it telling that technology continues to lower its prices while education, medication, and the staples we all depend on become increasingly more expensive. An $8000 flat screen in 2001 is now available for under $500. Is this really supposed to keep us all happily oblivious? Why do athletes, movie and television stars, and CEOs make millions every year while firefighters, policemen, and teachers struggle to get by? Where is our moral core, and why was it so easily corrupted?

You need look no further than our popular music to see where we stand on this, the threshold of a new and potentially wondrous year. There is a promising scent of hope in the air. Though not fully realized and still struggling to find its feet and focus its energy in ways that could truly make a difference, the ground-swell of revolution is beginning to take shape. At present it is disjointed, using placards and screeds that do more harm than good, but coupled with some experience and knowledge, could coalesce into a real force for positive change. Let’s face it, a lot of us are just plain fed up.

There has always been, and always will be, great music, great entertainment. If you turn on the radio or television or buy your music in a big box store or follow American Idol or Jersey Shore, a lot of what you will hear and see is the equivalent of the lions VS the Christians that serve as the backdrop for the fall of our empire. However, if you look below the surface you will see and hear the rumblings of that which can save us. That occasionally, the great becomes popular, is a sign of hope, a rail against the machine, and more of us need to search it out and spread the word. It doesn’t have to have an implicit message and it doesn’t have to be couched in anger, it just has to raise the hair on your arms, make you think, or show you that flowers still break through the concrete. The Man HAS taken our music.

It’s time we take it back.

The Long Run

A Reminder:
The First Annual Don’t Believe a Word I Say Reader’s Poll
To everyone who may be having a problem with copying and pasting the Poll from Monday’s column. Try this:1. Highlight the Poll 2. Right click on the Poll and choose ‘copy’. 3. Open a new word doc or email. 4. Right click and choose ‘Paste’, 5. Fill out the form and 6. Email either as a word.doc attachment, or as a straight email. The Poll is also available to copy and paste on my Facebook page Let me know if that works. If that doesn’t work, email me at segarini@rogers.com, and I’ll mail the Poll directly to you to fill out. That might be the easiest way. Sorry for the inconvenience. We really are interested in hearing what you have to say. Also, your answers can include any music, movies, TV, etc, from any year, not just 2011.
Thank you,
bob

We now have an email address where all of us here at Don’t Believe a Word I Say can be contacted: dbawis@rogers.com Please use it to ask questions,  tell us whatyou’d like to read about, send links you’d like to share, and let us hear what you have to say.

Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, The Segarini Band, and Cats and Dogs, and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now sadly gone), and now provides content for radiothatdoesntsuck.com with RadioZombie, The Iceage, and PsychShack. Along with the love of his life, Jade (Pie) Dunlop, (who hosts and writes “I’ve Heard That Song Before” on RTDS), continues to write, make music, and record.

7 Responses to “Segarini: The Long Run”

  1. right fucking on!….now the reality.. All of the above travesties of both justice and morality have been made possible throughout time immemorial due to one human flaw..GREED..and one universal given..CORRUPTION…when we work those out of the DNA…we’ll be just fine… Happy New Year Bob…xo JB

  2. Mark John Vukovich Says:

    I have been thinking about these problems of today for along time and you verbalize it soooo well. Abolish the DEA, ATF, and Homeland Security and put those that want to police…in uniforms and let them walk a beat. Its called “Community Policing” and it works…the police get to KNOW their neighborhoods and those that live there. Get out of foreign countries and destroying crops that these people have been growing for thousands of years. Those that don’t wanna police can and would be welcome in firehouses and schools from coast to coast to coast and all those BILLIONS of dollars spent on this idiotic WAR on DRUGS could be spent on education and said community policing. Raise the incomes of firefighters, teachers and UNIFORMED PEACE OFFICERS. We don’t need LAW ENFORCERS we need PEACE OFFICERS. Robert I am by nature an optimist and as long as people like you and others reach out and speak I have hope that the truth will prevail…I hope so for the future of mankind is at risk. Uncontrolled slavish adoration of the bottom line, regardless of the effects on people and our environment will lead to the end of our world as we know it. Of that I have no doubts…WE must make serious changes NOW or the young people texting their way through life will have no life at all.

  3. I agree with almost everything you say. The exception being age equals experience. Take two guys, same age. One has held 20 jobs over 40 years at 15 different companies in Canada, the United States and Europe. The other did afternoon drive in radio for two years and then mornings ever since on the same radio station. Who has the more experience? We all live our lives differently and we all bring everything forward as we age. Not all old people are wise. At least not simply because they are old nut because they were wise to begin with. At the opposite end of the scale, in many cultures the young are viewed as nothing more than cheap labour. Either on a family farm, in some sweat shop somewhere or on the streets to earn their keep. Throughout history the young have served as cannon fodder for the old in pointless and useless wars, proving stupidity exists at both ends of the scale. The process of aging is simple. It happens to us all. The process of becoming wise is highly complicated and there can only be so many Chiefs in the tent.

    We have become The Failed Generation because we allowed ourselves to be co-opted by leaders we thought we could trust. Instead of becoming involved we dropped out, tuned in and learn how to enjoy Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n roll. In the end the leaders we put our faith in bred an age of cynics who no longer vote, no longer get involved, no longer care. It dawned on us far too late that we never had any power in the first place. Now it’s too late to take it back. All we have to hope for is time to Teach the Children the error of our ways. To involve them not in taking over Wall Street or a small park in downtown Toronto, but in taking over the political machines that run our villages, towns and cities and from there grow through experience to become wise leaders on a provincial and national level sometime in the future.

    I doubt change will come within our lifetime. One of the dangers of aging is leaving too many things too late. But if we start now, we just might be able to shape a better world if not for our children, then for their children or their grandchildren.

  4. Angela Spanos Says:

    I am speachless…this arrticle highlights so many issues that many and I mean many have no clue of or careing to know. Bravo….I need to re-read ot a few more times and want to thank you for your courage to say what NEEDS to be said…posting your blog up so many can visit and become enlighten. What a wise man this Segarini is…my absolute pleasure meeting you tahnbks to my sweethearrt Mark, I enjoy the minds of people who are involved and who contniue to wonder why……as i was sharoing this Holiday with my family…I wish my parents and their generation were still here involving our lives with theirs, their absence is so felt as the roots have not grown as deep. The heritage they brought to my world is who I am…and we forget that so many never knew this immigrant mindset..2nd generation Greek., and the quality of life it offered, taught and promised and somehow has been lost….

  5. joshua hardaker Says:

    Hey, good food for thought. Funny, you have shown an image of LMFAO in at at least two articles adjacent to a mention of the decline in quality of popular music. I think (hope?) they may not be the best example of bad music simply because they are very aware that what they are producing is disposable piffle. Their fans may not, however, be as aware… the acts that puzzle me are those that receive not only commercial success, but also critical acclaim (and industry awards, for that matter). Look at the enormous popularity of Kanye West or Jay-Z… derivative, repetitive, self-referential AND self-reverential nonsense to my way of thinking, but hugely successful and influential.

    I can’t remember the artist from an interview with Jian Ghomeshi who, when asked about being passed over for awards in favour of younger, less proficient and (my words, not theirs) less talented popular acts, responded, “Well you can’t argue with sales…” I just think you can’t teach good aesthetic standards – and I mean outside the scope of personal preference. “Good taste” is not always determined by majority decree. Just look at the aesthetic of the seventies. The music industry is driven by financial motives; it wouldn’t exist without money. But then on the other hand, if the music industry executives had it all wrong, I would expect that the YouTube generation would be elevating their Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan from obscurity by sheer force of cultural will. Instead, we get Rebecca Black.

    I hope you are right. I hope that revolution really is bubbling beneath the surface. I hope it is a real revolution of social consciousness-raising and not just some superficial Occupy Music revolution so that some shallow hipsters can assuage their shapeless general frustration at the hollow zeitgeist of post-modern cultural consumerism by claiming to be the champions of change. Unfortunately, I think to form any sort of effective revolution the groundswell has to come from the critical mass of a self-aware, critical community educated to the extent that they can forge the tools necessary to bring about change. That means they must be willing to learn, work and change. That is a lot to ask from a population that don’t have sufficient knowledge of history, art, literature, politics and pop culture to understand the references in an episode of The Simpsons, Family Guy or South Park.

    Am I a cynic? Yeah, I am. I don’t want to be THAT guy, though. I don’t want to be the guy telling all those young punks to turn down that noise. Pull up those pants. But then, I wouldn’t want to festoon myself with piercings. Eighteen year-olds with a couple grand worth of tattoos feels superficial to me. Like they have purchased the trappings of a lifestyle persona. I just don’t see a lot of the will required to drive change in the larger portion of the current wave of youth culture.

    I ramble, again. Just my sense of things without taking the time to form a structured essay, but your blog entries always give my brain something to chew over.

  6. Jim Chisholm in Campbell River Says:

    Hey Bob, as long as you keep on ranting and exposing issues that need to be brought to light then you are providinging a valuable service to us all. And truly, I know that a lot of wonderful committed souls are working hard to change things in whatever ways possible. Unfortunately we masses are continually exposed to all the wrong options. Will it be Sex In The City or David Suzuki’s hopeful environmental epistles that occupy our days? Who knows but you are right that change is bubbling away for us. Keep active and stay engaged. . . . and happy new year to you, your friends, family and readers.

  7. […] Note: Please read this companion piece. This is not the first time I have tackled the subject of the Public’s compliance in […]

Leave a Reply to johnny brower Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: