Wednesday, July 04, 2012

National Beer and Fireworks Day

Technically, there’s no irony in celebrating Independence Day, regardless of the day-by-day deterioration of our personal liberties. The United States is still an independent country, save for a Gordian Knot of foreign entanglements and a future of debt slavery to China and Japan. (That’s sarcasm, not irony.) But Independence Day has traditionally been a celebration of freedom, and that’s where the irony lies. 

Tax Freedom Day is officially April 17, but now that The Supremes have declared “Affordable Health Care” a tax, all bets are off. Tax Freedom Day will surely continue its inexorable march forward in the calendar, until we are (ironically) celebrating our tax freedom on July Fourth. Of course, the date no longer matters. Tax Freedom Day does not account for the national debt, so our obligations to the federal government pretty much cover our lifetimes. 

Independence Day still has historical significance. We can still celebrate our independence from Great Britain some 230 years ago, but why? In those intervening years, we’ve created our own King George, only this time he’s not on another continent. He’s electronically connected to our computers, jobs, health care, travel, finances and private lives. This is a power that King George never imagined in his wildest monarchical fantasies. 

Until Americans once again declare their independence from a ruling class that is guilty of a “long train of abuses and usurpations,” Independence Day is nothing but a running joke. And a painful irony.

But anyone can use a day off. So I propose that the day remain a holiday, but that it be renamed to accommodate the variety of meanings and activities that people attribute to July Fourth.  

“Traditional” Americans will celebrate National Beer and Fireworks Day, in which people enjoy their inalienable right to barbecue, drink 12-packs and blow themselves up with illegal explosives. There will be Cultural Independence Day, in which the glories of multiculturalism are proclaimed in a babel of languages, and uninvited WASPS are swatted away from the fruit salad.  

Fox News will hold their annual Patriot (Act) Day, an expanded, holiday version of their usual greased-liberal catching contest and dunk-the-Muslim-in-the-tank waterboarding festivities. 

PBS will run its usual “Independence Day?” programming, in which Thomas Jefferson is pilloried for writing the words “all men are created equal” while being a slave owner. (A fair criticism, and certainly ironic, but about as relevant today as independence from Britain.) 

In the city centers, free spirits and the homeless will celebrate “Occupy in Dependence Day,” in which anti-capitalists converge on “public” property and demand their fair share from the 1%. Drum circles provide the backdrop for calls for “affordable” housing and “free” healthcare, subsidies for medical marijuana, and government jobs for street poets and performance artists. (Ironically, of course, the 1% are far out of earshot in their upstate gated mansions: barbecuing, sipping Balvenie and shooting off derivative trades in Asian markets from their iPhones.)

Of course, there’s no holiday for politicians. They’ll be slaving away at media-saturated events: kissing babies, eating funnel cake, and celebrating independence from reality, just like any other day. 

Me, I’m grateful for the day off. But all this irony is giving me a headache. I think I’ll have a few beers and shoot off some fireworks. 

Friday, February 12, 2010


To my billions of fans, This video was removed from YouTube because of an alleged "copyright violation." You don't get to face your accuser with YouTube, so I have no idea what the nature of the violation was. I suspect I "borrowed" a still image and didn't give due credit. But the song is mine, the goofy video footage is mine, and I never made a dime on any of it. So please enjoy and comment. That's the only reason I do what I do.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 14, 2008

GREAT NEWS!!! You CAN take it with you!

I want it all, I want it now, and I want to keep it. Is that so much to ask?

In the roaring 90s, people didn't seem to think so. You could be a super-mom, a super-dad, a condo-flipper or a day-trading master of the universe in your spare time. Hard work? Thrift? Saving for the future? That was SO twentieth century. In the New Economy, all you had to do was buy a house and invest in the stock market to retire fabulously wealthy at age 50.

But something funny happened on the way to the Great American Empire – it began to crumble before our eyes, and one day we woke up to the possibility of not a new empire, but a new Great Depression. Since then, we've been scaling back our expectations, as befits a population that's been bitch-slapped by reality in the past year or so.

So, providing you have anything left, can you really take it with you? Well, to paraphrase a prevaricating president, it depends on what the meaning of the word "it" is. If "it" means money, cars, houses, and Treasury bonds maturing in 2038, chances are you can NOT take it with you. Of course, because of the tendency of the dead to remain silent, we can't even be sure of that.

But the Bible tells me so, and who am I to doubt the Word of God? In Luke 18:18-30, Jesus states that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. (Besides being the Son of God, Jesus was a master of metaphor.)

On the other hand, if you had told me in 1985 that the entire sum of the world's computing power would one day fit on a 1-inch square sliver of silicon, I would have given the camel better odds. And camels are nasty animals who would just as soon spit in your eye than share their extra water with you. So camels are out. I'm counting on my laptop and my online "short selling" account to "thread the needle" and give me a full trailer to back up to the Pearly Gates.

But you say, "Scott… Scotto, whatever the hell your name is—surely you jest! You can't really believe that a Celeron processor will get you into heaven, do you?" Of course I don't. It would take at least a quad-core CPU with 4GB of memory and perhaps some RAID-striped hard drives. As soon as the market turns around, I am SO going to buy one.

But in all seriousness—and I'm rarely all serious—the expression "you can't take it with you" is only partly true. All religions have some concept of the afterlife (or rebirth). Unless you're an atheist who believes that the afterlife consists of being eaten by worms, you have a certain faith that the things you do in this life will follow you into the next.

If you have this faith, it follows naturally that the sum total of love, kindness, compassion and joy that you share with people in this world will not be simply wiped out upon your earthly demise. The permanence of spiritual treasure is what makes it infinitely superior to any material reward. In fact, seeking material success and recognition is simply a misguided attempt to find this spiritual treasure and keep it for your own. But you can't have love unless you give it away.

As my friends and family are painfully aware, I have been going through a tumultuous time over the past few months. Demons that I thought I had once conquered returned, including alcohol abuse, marital problems and paralyzing self-doubt. When it all came to a head, I did what any mature, adult man would do—I went home to mom.

There, as the sun went down each night, I would sit outside in the warm southern air, gazing at the heavens and wishing on the evening star. My wishes were mostly selfish, pleading to the ancient gods to rearrange situations as I would have them, and return things to me that I thought were rightfully mine, by virtue of destiny. But if destiny is in the stars, the stars weren't listening.

As I was flying home into San Jose, the evening star again came into view. Above the clouds and pollution, it shined brighter than I had ever seen. With my face pressed up against the window, I watched it with an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder. I could have taken that moment to restate my personal wishes with a new energy. Instead, I found myself wishing that the star would shine love over all of the world.

Just then the plane dipped and turned, and the lights of Silicon Valley came into view, stretched out like a carpet of jewels covering the four corners of the earth. My heart overflowed with joy, and I had a sense of finally returning home—not to San Jose, but to the original home that is the source of all life—the abode of unlimited, unconditional love.

I walked off of the plane with the same feeling of fullness and joy, and to this day I feel transformed. Will it last? That's beside the point. Every one of us, at every instant, has the ability to feel love, kindness, compassion—but only if we are willing to give it away. According to the gospel of John, Paul, George and Ringo, "The love you take is equal to the love you make."

For those of us who want it all, this is the best news we could ever hear.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Steppenwolf MONSTER 2008

In 1969, Steppenwolf released “Monster/Suicide/America,” a rock trilogy that told the story of America from its humble beginnings to its descent into corruption, militarism, oppression and apathy.

Musician and songwriter Scott Pettersen brings this classic up to date with a new musical performance and visual imagery that was not widely available in 1969. Nearly 40 years after it’s release, the lyrics to Monster are as relevant today as they were in the tumultuous ’60s.

Once the religious, the hunted and weary
Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of Kingdom and Pope

Like good Christians, some would burn the witches
Later some got slaves to gather riches

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
And she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

And once the ties with the crown had been broken
Westward in saddle and wagon it went
And 'til the railroad linked ocean to ocean
Many the lives which had come to an end

While we bullied, stole and bought our a homeland
We began the slaughter of the red man

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
And she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

The blue and grey they stomped it
They kicked it just like a dog
And when the war over
They stuffed it just like a hog

And though the past has its share of injustice
Kind was the spirit in many a way
But its protectors and friends have been sleeping
Now it's a Monster and will not obey

The spirit was freedom and justice
And its keepers seemed generous and kind
Its leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won’t pay it no mind
'Cause the people grew fat and got lazy
And now their vote is a meaningless joke
They babble about law and order
But it’s all just an echo of what they've been told
Yeah, there’s a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into a noose
And it just sits there. Watching.

Our cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is strangling the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can't understand
We don't know how to mind our own business
'Cause the whole world’s got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who’s the winner
We can't pay the cost
'Cause there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into a noose
And it just sits there. Watching

America where are you now?
Don't you care about your sons and daughters?
And don't you know, we need you now
We can't fight alone against The Monster

Words and music by John Kay, Jerry Edmonton, Nick St. Nicholas and Larry Byrom. © Copyright MCA Music (BMI)

Musical performance and video editing by Scott Pettersen
© 2008 Newspeak Publishing


Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I was on the road with a traveling band,
I saw a revolution in a foreign land,
The animals thought they could run the farm,
They marched through the barnyard singing this song:

Four legs good, two legs bad
The animals know that the people are mad
Four legs good, two legs bad
The animals know that the people are mad
On the Animal Farm

The cows and the horses will plow the fields,
The sheep and the goats will cook the meals,
The ducks and the crows they pick the corn,
The chickens and the geese keep the nest eggs warm

And up on the barn with watchful eyes
The hogs and the pigs will supervise
On the Animal Farm

People are cruel and they just don’t care,
But everyone works and everyone shares
On the Animal Farm

Everyone is equal here,
There is no need for greed or insincerity
Will reality appear?
Could it be true that animals are people too?

I went to a party in the county jail
The animals came and they posted my bail
They took me back to the animal farm
They sobered me up and they kept me warm
I don’t know why they befriended me
But soon I was walking on my hands and knees
On the Animal Farm

I got my job and I earn my pay
When you live in the city it’s the only way
I got my house and I got my car
And a bumper sticker says
I’d rather be down on the Animal Farm

Then one night there arose a sound
Coming from the distance of the manor ground
The animals crept through the moonlit night
What they saw was a terrrible sight.
They peeked through the window at the poker game
The pigs and the people all looked the same…

©1985 Newspeak Publishing

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ron Paul Goes to the Zoo

Ron Paul Goes to the Zoo

Elephant and donkey walking side by side
Fightin’ over who’s gonna take you for a ride
Dark horse gallops up to join the brawl
He’s fightin’ for the people and his name is Ron Paul

He’s the only candidate who speaks his mind
and he knows he works for you
And that’s why all the animals
are trying to kick him outta the zoo

Well you don’t have to drive to the local zoo
You can watch all the monkeys on the TV news
talking in circles hopin’ no one’s seen
The half-ton gorilla in the middle of the screen

Cause when the Ron Paul juggernaut comes to town
Well they’re nowhere to be found.
Cause it’s mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru all around

So all you fat cat zookeepers tryin’ to rig the stage
Don’t taunt the tiger when he’s in his cage
One day that tiger’s going to jump the wall
Walk into a voting booth and vote for Ron Paul

Don’t listen when the polls say he just can’t win
Cause you know the fix is in
And if you want to save your country
then you gotta put your two cents in

Words and music by Scott Pettersen
©2008 Newspeak Publishing

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa Slain in Drive-by Shooting