Archive for October 7th, 2010

La Musica: Nocturnal Commissions

So I’m sleeping, and Bob Dylan shows up. And he tells me, there in this dream, that he wants me to help him out with some new songs; he’s looking, he says, for “that Celtic marching thing.”

Frankly flummoxed, I say to him, “you should tell your producer” . . . forgetting, among other things, that he doesn’t hire producers these days.

“I was hoping you’d help me out,” he says.

Great, I’m thinking, and how am I supposed to do that? I’m also thinking—what “Celtic marching thing”? What the hell is he talking about?

Then, as I slip quickly into wakefulness, there rapidly sounds in my mind a series of Celtic tunes, and I realize: goddam that man’s a genius. Not only he is right, that Celtic music indeed has “that marching thing,” but he showed me that in my sleep.

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While Rome Burns

Ain’t it just like Mr. Ha-Ha to wait until I’ve posted a Pollyanna piece, in which I opine that things are more or less moving, if slowly, towards the okay, before he manifests an event that indicates that, to the contrary, the US is busily galloping, Dudley Do-Right style, towards the days of ancient Rome?

Yes, boys and girls, here in the good ol’ US of A last week, a passel of Tennessee firefighters stood around and watched a family’s home burn right down to the ground, because them folks hadn’t paid to the county a $75 annual “pay to spray” fee entitling them to fire protection.

The city of South Fulton, Tennessee assesses the fee on rural residents who live outside the city limits. When a household has not paid the fee, fire-fighters are required “by law” to not respond. “We have to follow the rules and the ordinances set forth to us, and that’s exactly what we do,” recited a robot who has taken the name Jeff Vowell, and assumed the position of South Fulton city manager.

So when Gene Cranick called the South Fulton firepeople to report that his property was aflame, and it was then determined that he had missed his 2010 “pay to spray” payment, firefighters told him to bugger off. Even when Cranick offered to pay whatever it might cost to extinguish the flames, he was told to get stuffed. Nobody showed up during the two hours that it took for the fire to creep from his yard to his house. Only once the flames spread from Cranick’s mobile home to some nearby property owned by somebody who had paid the fee, did firefighters respond. Once having arrived, the South Fulton hose-monkeys doused the moneyed flames, but let Cranick’s home burn.

[F]irefighters continued to let the flames rage at Cranick’s home.

“My neighbor called [the fire department], saying whatever it takes, we want them to put it out, we’ll pay $500,” said Cranick. “They told us, ‘It’s too late.’”

This is actually a regression from the days of ancient Rome, when Marcus Lucinius Crassus made his fortune by tooling around the city with his private 500-man crew of firefighters; while a home went up in smoke, he negotiated with the owners of both the home and the surrounding structures to purchase these properties for a modest fee, in exchange for dousing the flames. From this he went on to become the richest man in Rome.

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When I Worked

October 2010
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