Sunday, February 16, 2014

70 Year Old Bodybuilder

This guy is my hero.

I saw a different iteration of his video on YouTube in which some of the commenters tried to say it was just his good genetics that enabled him to be in this kind of shape at 70 years old.  Some of them even played the race card, saying that only black men could age this well.  But Sonny himself has the right answer, and it has to do with his work ethic and his dogged determination to outrun age for as long as he can.

Well done, sir!

Friday, February 14, 2014

SAVED by the Electric Prunes and Easy Rider!

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that I am a Christian today because of the use of the Electric Prunes' Kyrie Eleison (from their amazing album, Mass in F Minor) in the 1969 film, Easy Rider.

I was in high school when I caught this film (5 years after its debut) on my parents' little black-and-white TV.  It changed my life.  Soon, I borrowed a book of the Easy Rider screenplay from the North Babylon, New York Public Library.  And then, I borrowed the Easy Rider soundtrack from the same library.  I kept renewing both of them as long as they would let me.  Finally, I splurged and bought my own vinyl LP of the soundtrack.

On the Easy Rider soundtrack LP were these musicians: Steppenwolf, the Byrds, the Electric Prunes, the Band, Roger McGuinn, the Holy Modal Rounders, and Jimi Hendrix.  This is the album that led me to discover all the music I've loved since then, with very few exceptions.  It was the trunk of my musical "family tree."

But, I digress.  This blog is supposed to be about the appearance in the soundtrack of Kyrie Eleison, by the Electric Prunes.  Below, I will post the relevant scenes for you youngsters who may not have seen the film, or you oldsters who were tripping too hard when you saw it back in '69.  But first, some background.

Recall:  George Hanson (the Jack Nicholson character) had just been murdered by rednecks.  Our heroes Captain America (Peter Fonda) and Billy the Kid (Dennis Hopper) have not yet met their similar fates.  They are having dinner when the song starts, and Hopper is trying to talk Fonda into visiting the New Orleans whorehouse which Nicholson had recommended to them:  Madam Tinkertoy's House of Blue Lights.

Fonda is protesting, being the spiritual one of the pair, but Hopper (the carnal one) wins him over with the argument that George "would have wanted us to."  So, they zip off to the brothel, and it appears to be housed in an abandoned church, because the place is adorned with high religious art, interspersed with pin-up style nudes.  It is an interesting juxtaposition, given that the Electric Prunes are psychedelically chanting:  "Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy" in Latin.

There has never in the history of the world been an album quite like Mass in F Minor. Everyone with any interest in popular music and/or Christianity should hear it at least once.  When I first saw the above scene, this song affected me very powerfully, along with the images of the film.  After spending some time in the brothel, and hooking up with two prostitutes, Karen (Karen Black) and Mary (Toni Basil), they decide to head out to Mardi Gras. 

They wind up in a cemetery, and decide to drop acid (I've written a bit about my experimention with LSD here and here). The deliver method of the acid is important.  Fonda places it on the tongue of Karen and then of Mary, like a priest giving the consecrated host.

During the cemetery scene, after the acid begins to kick in, the words of the Apostles' Creed are recited in the background.

So, what do we have here?  We have sin:  drunkenness, fornication, and drugs.  We have the cry for mercy (Kyrie Eleison!).  We have high church art juxtaposed with pornography.  We have a mimicry of Holy Communion. We have the historic Christian Creed being recited.  These scenes from Easy Rider happen at the intersection of sin and redemption, of transgression and mercy.  And it is all bound together in one by the psychedelic chanting and mesmerizing guitar and organ of the Electric Prunes.

This scene made me feel powerfully, for the first time, the pull of the beauty of the historic Christian faith.  It was not the Christian tradition cloistered away in safety, but bursting out of every seam of the universe to meet, confront, challenge, and possibly even convert these drug smugglers and prostitutes, even in the very midst of their intoxication.

It gave me hope of the same thing happening to me.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pretty Boy Floyd and the Quintessential Leftist Mistake

I woke up this morning with Woody Guthrie's song Pretty Boy Floyd running through my mind.  Specifically, it was the Byrds' version of the song.  Roger McGuinn once introduced this song as being one that others had called Guthrie's "socialist anthem."  McGuinn then said the song didn't seem socialist to him.  But of course, it is.  Because it makes the same basic mistake that almost all Leftists make in their thinking, which is to assume that being generous with money stolen from law-abiding citizens is a virtue.  It is not.

Hear also what Pretty Boy Floyd saith:
"You say that I'm an outlaw; you say that I'm a thief.  But here's a Christmas dinner for the families on relief."
But Guthrie had no right to bestow honor on the outlaw simply because he had given to one set of people goods he had stolen at gun point from another set of people.  And modern Leftists make this mistake all the time.  They truly feel that they have done a charitable act when they force other people to cough up their money and hand it over.

This explain the statistics  one so often sees on the miniscule level of almsgiving by Liberals, such as the one about Al Gore about a decade ago.  Their method is so often to be generous with what they have forced others to send in to the government.  They are brothers in crime with Pretty Boy Floyd.

But of course, it is hard to call any one of Woody Guthrie's songs a "socialist anthem," because nearly all of them are, to one degree or another.  Consider this gem, from This Land is Your Land:
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;

But on the back side it didn't say nothing;

This land was made for you and me.
In other words:  Feel free to trespass on anyone's private property or even (I suppose) take it.  Because private property was an evil notion for Woody Guthrie, as  I suppose it is for all thieves.
Guthrie did get one thing right, however.  It is this:
As through this world I've wandered,
I've seen lots of funny men.
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
We have a name for the latter set of thieves:  we call them Democrats.