Playlist for Graham (the Mad Indie Media Liberation Front)
I'm currently making a playlist for Graham Elwood.
If you don't know who Graham Elwood is, he has a show called The Political Vigilante. He's also a stand-up comic. He was screwed out of his house by Steve Mnuchin (whom we're supposed to hate because he's Trump's treasury secretary, while forgetting that he also stole several thousand Californians' houses out from under them during the 2008 crash).
Here's a bit of Graham's work. Here's his show:
Here he is on Jimmy Dore's live show. The last few minutes of the video are hilarious.
Now, I've met Graham, at a live show, and we even talked for a bit, but I don't know him personally. So why am I making a playlist for a man I don't know? Partly, I think, it's my way of working through my thoughts and feelings about the politics we inhabit. I often do my thinking better if I'm talking *to* someone. Back when I was an academic, the interlocutors were sometimes just words on a page, the produce of minds long dead, but it always helped to have them. Talking *to* someone helps. Even if you're not personally connected.
Secondly, I feel for him, as I do for all the truth-tellers. We're inhabiting an ugly and toxic lie, which is getting more and more out of control. Its centrifugal spin can inspire nausea. It's good to find things that bring you back to yourself and the deep wellspring of your life. I find that a lot in music. In particular, I stumbled on some videos of an amazing concert from the late 80s, with Etta James, Carlos Santana, John Lee Hooker, and many other greats. There's something about that concert that's like magic soup for my soul. It's like I'm sitting at my aunt's kitchen table eating chicken soup, at the same time that I'm at the best old-fashioned bar in the world, at the same time that I'm in church. Watching that performance sets me right.
I wanted for Graham--and others too, actually--to experience the renewal I had gotten from that concert. At least, I thought it might provide some temporary good cheer. At first, I thought I'd just send a link to him. Then I thought about other songs that had had a similar healing effect on me, and thought I'd send them all.
After a bit, I became aware that I was telling a story; a story about leaving behind a lie and rediscovering one's own deep sources of meaning. I started working on the playlist every day. And after a few days of that, I realized I was doing my political thinking through the music.
So I'm going to share with you some of my Playlist for Graham, which I'm also tentatively calling The Mad Indie Media Liberation Front (h/t Wendell Berry). In the complete playlist, the first fourteen songs state the problem, or the injury; the last twelve are the athelas,* the return to the soul's wellspring, the alternative to the lie. Here, I'm just going to give you the good bit. I hope it provides you all with some cheer, in this season of good cheer.
And we start the journey...
And we find ourselves in a different place, where we can breathe...