Fascination Street: War of Words

Categories: Columns

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What we have here in our country is a clash of some old political ideologies. Some people are all up on the “Hope for Change” tip, while others are all like, “Change, sure, but not on my dime.” On one hand you have a hint of classique socialist reform. It makes sense. It’s seems to be the only way out of our Bush admin-induced economical plight -- well, aside from Marx-style revolt. On the other hand, it isn’t fair to have to share and it isn’t the old American Dream -- although that dream has always included lots of war-mongering and oppression.

The first two Presidential candidate debates have been on foreign policy. Foreign policy? Read:war. Armed conflict is McCain’s bread and butter. Did Obama really need to start talking so tough to keep up with McCain’s strategy/tactics/strategy blather? Is war all we’re going to get out of either administration? I think most people aren’t interested in the finer points of massive bloodshed and devastation. We have polarized opinions and expect our representatives to reflect these opinions.

But on the issue that apparently was so important that it dominated two of only three planned debates -- the slogan of “Change” that both parties claim to be able to deliver -- that one word cap phrase got splattered with the gore and gristle of army talk. Even at the town hall debate, the questions that regular people asked kept coming back to Iraq and Pakistan. One fellow asked how they would presume to become peace-makers and McCain took that as special opportunity to praise our soldiers and our American values. Our military “presence” and our military agenda and our military gosh-darned American glory kept hogging the mike.

The way I see it, a representative democracy seems to have turned deaf ears to the little people. And we can’t have that.

So I highly recommend “Play For Today.” A dillion years ago, in 1980, the Cure released a song called “Play For Today” on its second album, Seventeen Seconds. Robert Smith’s jangly guitar, and Simon Gallup’s jaunty bass lent their sound a definite post-punk edge. Drummer Lol Tolhurst, actually pantomimed in the video, because the recording used a novelty at the time: a drum machine.

In the first verse Smith petulantly crooned, “It’s not a case of doing what’s right/ It’s just the way I feel that matters.” If anything is more punk rock in your face than that, let me know. Thing is, these lyrics are also supposed to be sarcastic. Taken in the context of a political race, doing what one feels cannot possibly please all of the people all of the time. In fact, it may even piss a lot of people off. If you are supposed to be representing the big blob of people that all think similar things on specific issues (like a major political party, say) then there is no room for doing what you feel at all.

The perfect thing about the video for “Play For Today” is that it was filmed before Robert Smith got his hair and face all made up like some kind of sad, dead clown. Hence, it is considered, by me at least, to be from the pre-Maybelline era. Around that same time, Smith toured with Siouxsie and the Banshees and filled in on guitar for them a bit in the early ‘80s. Siouxsie Sioux, in whose music video for the French Christmas carol “Il Est Ne le Divin Enfant” Smith appeared, clearly rubbed off on him, as evidenced by his swift blossoming into the lip-sticked laden frontman we all know and love. Is this song insight into Smith’s relationship with Siouxsie? Was she like always harping on Bobby to do the right thing?

In the last verse Smith sang, “It’s not a case of wanting to please/You know you’re always crying/It’s just your part/ In the play for today.”

Begrudging and sour – doesn’t that just ring of McCain? Let us chastise everybody who does not agree. Let us call them crybabies and whiners and big fat sore losers. Then let us say it like we live it -- that we don’t really believe any of this is real. For, when people are in the runnings for the presidency, it is all a little surreal. War and change and life and death and bi-partisanship and partisanship are just words to these folks. It is unreasonable to stray from your party position when so much hangs on your whim. It is unreasonable for the peace-bringer to start talking death and for the war-monger to start claiming change.

I say, if you cannot listen to reason, at least listen to the Cure.

-- Rachael Pollard

THE CURE- PLAY FOR TODAY


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