Tag Archives: Obama

Music Review: “Working on a Dream,” Though Apparently Not Too Hard

It’s no coincidence that the release of Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Working on a Dream, comes a week after the joyous inauguration of President Obama. Bruce came out in support of Obama during the primary, and he stumped for his man just as he had for John Kerry.

The venture into politics is paying off huge: besides the obvious benefits of having a competent President, the Obama campaign appearances were clearly the launching pad for a whirlwind of publicity: a Golden Globe win here, an inauguration gig there, a Wal-Mart exclusive compilation for casual fans who should know all those songs already, a performance at the Oscars (that one didn’t pan out), and the pinnacle of American consumer culture, the Super Bowl half-time show.
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Elitist Obama Supporter Bruce Springsteen

Political Musings and an Irish Guy Named Pat

Simultaneously published at One City, the blog of the ID Project NY

A couple of Fridays ago, I was in a bar on West 48th nursing a Hoegaarden and trying to salvage a date that was quickly moving into no-man’s land when an Irish fellow named Pat (it could have been Nat, too – it was loud and I was buzzed) came up to me and said, “You’re an Obama supporter, aren’t you?” I said, “Why, yes I am.” I explained that I liked Obama’s consensus approach to leadership and what I saw as a Buddhist-syle centeredness. Pat, a gentlemanly fellow with brilliant white hair and an easy smile, talked about his daughter, also an Barackite who, much like me, had just graduated from college and was living in Brooklyn. I remember thinking, he seems proud of his daughter, and less altruistically: I wonder if he’ll hook us up. After a few minutes my date got impatient and said we had to go and I said goodbye to Pat and we walked down the street to see Tom Stoppard’s “Rock & Roll,” which was excellent.

I’m only now realizing how odd it was for Pat to open a conversation with such a simple, declarative question. What identified me as an Obama guy? I fit the key demographics: young, educated, urbanite, professional (at least, in a collar shirt and slacks I looked the part), and black (Lie: I’m white). But this is New York, which Hillary carried in the primary by a solid 18 points. Perhaps it is a singular Irish skill, after a long history of occupation and tyranny, to see past the surface of things.

During our exchange, I had struggled to tell Pat and his kind, blue, watery Irish eyes what I believed to be the fundamental difference between Obama and Hillary supporters. I said something like, “The difference, I think, is, ah, that Obama supporters believe in transformation and Hillary supporters don’t.” I didn’t mean transformation as a synonym for “change” – Obama’s flogged the word Change so hard it’s black-and-blue. I was trying to find a reason, rooted in personality, for why Obama was reaching some people so powerfully and causing others to turn away dismissively.

Looking back, this thought was shaped largely by the animosity between HRC and O supporters that blew in like an unexpected storm after Super Tuesday (which is largely a moot point as Obamentum gathers support from HRC’s core demographics). It felt like the Democratic party was at the brink if schism over, improbably, a difference in character between the two frontrunners. Hillary and Barack have very similar policy goals, so it made sense that voters were selecting on the basis of something other than policy. Broadly defined, the narrative in the media was, “people have to choose between experience (realism, cynicism, etc.) and hope (dreamism, change, etc.).” Perhaps, I reasoned, a fundamental right-brain vs. left-brain opposition was dividing Democrats and Independents into two camps – one that experienced Obama’s abstract message as a real, visceral feeling, and those who didn’t (and thought those who did were a bunch of ninnies).

Forgive the tired rhetorical trick: “Transformation,” as defined by Dictionary.com, means “The act or process of transforming.” That doesn’t tell us much. Here, transformation means the appreciable change from a state lacking agency, optimism, or control (the “bad place”) to a state that offers all these things (the “happy place”). For the last 8 years, we’ve been in a very, very bad place, bereft of any inkling of happy place. To some people (actually, rather a lot of people), Obama represents an opportunity for transformation in our country that originates in a shift of the individual from disengaged to active; From frustration to anger to action. At this point, it looks like Obama might very well be the next President of the United States. My fear is that his million(s) of keen supporters will vote him into office, sit back, and wait for a sea change in policy akin to his brilliant rhetoric; They will have forgotten that it’s not up to him – it’s up to us.

I wish I had gotten Pat’s info, so I could include him in the email blasts I send to my friends. He had a youthful energy behind his eyes and conversation that I was drawn to, and even though I was a little drunk and a little cocky in front of my date, he was happy to trade thoughts on our favorite candidate. My enthusiasm for Barack Obama was somehow legitimized by his own – a young man and an old man getting revved up by abstractions like Change and Hope. Perhaps experience counts for something after all.

Some Super Tunes for Super Tuesday

Hey, Keesup here. Hope everyone is having a pleasant winter and has decided what they will give up for Lent. (Me? I’m quitting the sex clubs.) I hope everyone is voting tomorrow if they have a primary in their area. Specifically on the Democratic ballot. And even more specifically, for Senator Barack Obama. I’m volunteering, and have donated, and it’s not to late for you to do the same. You could even just engage in vigorous, substantive debate with vindictive Hillary supporters. Here are some tunes to get you pumped up, inspired by Obama’s own playlist for his events.

American Land” by Bruce Springsteen

New Wave” by Against Me!

Beautiful Day” by U2

Waiting On The World To Change” by John Mayer

Allentown” by Billy Joel

We’re All To Blame” by Sum-41: Ok, yes, they are clearly aping the basic songwriting dynamics of System of a Down, but I actually think it’s kind of moving to see these sub-blink-182 retards start to care.

A Rush of Blood to the Head” by Coldplay: Reminds me what we’re fighting against in the first place.

What’s Goin’ On” by Marvin Gaye

Everyday People” by Sly & The Family Stone

Who’ll Stop The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Instant Karma” by U2 (or the original by John Lennon)

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty

Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder: The man’s signature song on the trail.

Move Along” by The All-American Rejects

Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield: I never really paid much attention to this song until I heard this at an Obama appearance. But it strikes me more and more as the perfect embodiment of Obama’s real message: he isn’t appealing us to buy into his potential, he’s telling us to believe in ours.

Long Walk Home” by Bruce Springsteen

A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke: The best song ever?

Futures” by Jimmy Eat World

Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who

Here’s the Senator’s victory speech from South Carolina.

And here’s a strong rebuke to the identity politics the Clinton’s have engaged in by Andrew Sullivan.

Let’s fucking do this.


Obama or Clinton? The Best Writing

If you’re a liberal/Democrat/progressive/angry young person who is still undecided about who to vote for in tomorrow’s primary, I can help you – With the power of words!

These two pieces are the best new writing about a) Obama vs. Clinton and b) why Obama is (let’s face it) the better candidate.

George Packer reveals how character and disposition will mean radically divergent administrations. Are you drawn to the Clinton or Obama style? Read it here.

And the luminous Michael Chabon slaps down the idea that Obama unelectable. In his words, “There are many reasons not to support Barack Obama’s candidacy for president, but every one of them is bad for the same reason.” Read it here.

Heavy-Handed Poltical Allegory by Keesup

Once there was a boy who wanted nothing more than to be President of the United States of America. He was from a very important and rich family, and he imagined that matters of state would just come naturally for him.
But while the boy had much ambition, he lacked wisdom and compassion. He squandered the money his father poured into his education, barely managing to graduate; and despite the shame it would bring to his family’s name, he engaged in behavior that would make Bacchus weep with shame. But his father was nothing if not loyal; and as the boy grew into a man, the father used his influence to find very lucrative jobs for his son. But, again and again, the son made poor decisions and dedicated little effort to his work. For years, the father was amazed at how his son could find new ways of failing. Despite the destruction he left, the son never forgot his dream of becoming president.
After the son managed to bankrupt a particularly large company, the father had had enough. He refused to help his son ever again. The boy (really, in his heart, he was still little and selfish) was despondent – how would he ever become president now? He tried drinking to forget his problems, but it only made things worse.
One night, in his drunken stupor, the man stumbled on to a beach. At his wits’ end and covered in his own vomit, he clenched his fists and pleaded to the heavens, “Please, if there is anyone is up there, help me!” Suddenly visage appeared before him, shining like platinum. A bearded man floated above the sea.
“Yea, do not be afraid, for I am the way, and the truth, and the light. No one comes to the Father, except through me,” said the floating man.
“Superman?” asked the frightened and lost man.
“No, I’m Jesus Christ, dummy.”
“Jesus! I’ve heard about you. Can you help me become President?”
“If you repent of your sin, and trust in me as your Messiah, you will be blessed and I will grant you eternal life in heaven.”
“I’ll do it! Thanks, Jesus.”
“No problem,” said Jesus as he rolled his eyes and glanced at his hands.
“What’s wrong?” asked the man.
“Nothing, don’t worry about it. You’ll find out soon. Oh, one more thing. You have to give up alcohol. You clearly have a problem and it’s holding you back.”
The man agreed. He gave up drink and met a woman who loved him. They had two beautiful daughters, and the man was content. But despite his devotion to Jesus, he still found no success in his career. This was no presidential resume! The desperate man returned to the beach where he had been saved and called for Jesus.
“Hey, George, what’s up?” asked Jesus.
“Jesus, you said I would be successful and happy if I trusted in you.”
“Yea, for in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
“Cut the bullshit, Christ. Am I going to be President or not?”
“Look, I can’t promise you anything. It just means that you get to go to heaven and God will provide for you as best as he sees fit.”
“So I definitely get to go to heaven, but I might not be President?”
“I cannot say such things.”
“Hmm. Is there someone else I can talk to?”
In an instant, Jesus disappeared. A plume of smoke and fire blazed near the praying man. Out of the flames appeared an impish figure with horns and a cunning grin.
“Hey buddy, need some help?”