"Narrative music follows in the footsteps of epic poetry; showing an ability to pluck deep heartstrings and even to spur people to acts of courage unrelated to the limitations of the performer or the individual performance."
Frank Rolfe and his partner, Dave Reynolds — Frank and Dave, as they’re known in the industry — say the 20 percent return many parks throw off annually is enough to get the genteel set over the idea of owning a community of ramshackle double-wides — extra-wide trailers that have to be transported in halves. Rolfe and Reynolds own 100 parks in 16 states and also run the Mobile Home University, an academy that holds three-day boot camps for aspiring trailer lords for $1,999 a person [pinky rings not included]. An increasing number of his students, Rolfe says, are bankers and engineers.
The beauty of a trailer park — for its owner, anyway — is that once a tenant trucks a home to a site, then lowers it onto a pad, as it’s known in the business, and hooks up to the electricity and septic systems, he’s unlikely to leave. It costs at least $5,000 to move a home, a sum that trailer dwellers rarely accumulate more than once, Rolfe says.
“We’re like a Waffle House where everyone is chained to the booths.”
“So here’s the American Dream, over in America where they live in trailer parks, six percent of the population live in a Waffle House, chained to the booths, consuming waffles all day, and the only way out is giving the booth operator at the door 5000 bucks, and you’re never going to be able to accumulate 5000 dollars, why? Because you’re chained to the booth in the Waffle House. This is what the American Dream has become.”
|Jim Scott and James Dunst at The Farm (Anita Whipple, FNS)|
Ever since the full implications of the climate crisis became engrained in us — in fact even before then — we started wondering about methodologies of change, pedagogies for change agents, timelines and scenarios. We’d been aware of the encroaching limits of peak consumer society and the civilizational reset it implied (including the present malaise shown in the Bloomberg chart above) since at least the early 1970s. It was then we embarked upon a series of experiments prototyping a post-collapse steady-state using an organizational vehicle we named after Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. Two decades later, in the ‘90s, we began to grok the potential for a curve of upward bending, non-linear exponentials — as well as Olduvai overshoots, Seneca cliffs, catabolic collapse and other variants of the Hubbert model — principally engaged through the Butterfly Effect of small perturbations to coupled systems in a universe of quantum entanglement.
We used this space, and the paper space that preceded it, to talk about viral memes and temes, stickiness, mavens and false prophets, the Law of the Few, tipping points and backlash. Long before the 2009 debacle at Copenhagen, where both President Barack Obama and heir apparent Hillary Clinton demonstrated unwavering fealty to corporate hegemony even to the extent of sacrificing human survival on Earth, we knew that neither efficient light bulbs nor a carbon tax would avert unparalleled catastrophe for homo not-so-sapiens.
Back in the 1980s, our standard travelling show began with a drawing — on posterboard — of an automobile trapping heat when parked in bright sun with its windows rolled up. We used the picture to explain how light radiation from the sun makes a transformation to heat and thereby gets trapped by Earth’s atmosphere, creating the greenhouse effect (or the “greenhouse theory” as TV weathermen termed it then). We went on to point out that the car in the image was a late model, but in fact there is about a 30- to 40-year lag time between when CO2 emissions leave the tailpipe and when atmospheric warming results, so, in actuality, the warming we were experiencing then, in say, the summer of ‘88, when the Mississippi River became too shallow to float barge traffic, was exhaust from the muscle cars of the 1950s.
Commensurately, the record drought being experienced by California in 2013-2014, insofar as it can be generally related to anthropogenic climate change (the fuzzy dice being only partially loaded as yet), would have to be attributed to the cars we drove in 1973-84.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.
Waiting for the results of our folly to spur us collectively towards action is no way to avert disaster. We need to exercise that uniquely human capacity to recognize progressions and project them forward to anticipate events. We must, once we recognize the peril, mobilize our creative energies and turn our vast talents towards ecological restoration, to mitigate the worst and/or better adapt to the inevitable. Failing that, we may as well just kiss our grandchildren’s future goodbye. We will leave them, as Edmund Burke said, “a ruin instead of a habitation."
"Society is indeed a contract. . . . It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained except by many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."
As for the future children to be born to the partnership, Burke said:
"the temporary possessors and life rentors... should not think it among their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance. . . [lest they] leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of a habitation."
Even as we probe the means and methods to achieve ecological restoration — to green the deserts and reseed a garden planet — we keep coming up against the bugaboo of globalized consumerist inertia. What can we possibly do to unchain ourselves from these Waffle House booths? Where can we come up with $5000 to move our double wide out of the miserable and dangerous Anthropocene trailer park to which it is currently condemned? Shall we pimp a string of hoes (fracking)? Build a meth lab (geoengineering)? Or maybe we should just blackbox the park’s 500 channel premium package on cable and fugettaboutit (denial).
Last night we were reminded once more about how social inertia has been and might be overcome, and quickly. Here at The Farm, our neighbors, J.R. and Chris Roman, have opened a small cabaret/burlesque theater and last night they hosted James Dunst and Jim Scott, folk singers who have toured with Pete Seeger, the Paul Winters Consort and others. This performance was in many respects a remembrance for Pete but apart from that just an all-around fun-filled evening.
The term “folk” comes from the German expression Volk, in the sense of "the people as a whole" applied to popular or indigenous traditional music. It derives from a pre-literate oral tradition but has an ineffable quality — an ability to stir emotions. Narrative music follows in the footsteps of epic poetry; able to pluck deep heartstrings and even to spur people to acts of courage unrelated to the limitations of the performer or the individual performance.
There is ample evidence of the power of this heart force in historic mass uprisings — the American Civil Rights Movement, the Cuban Revolution, the Anti-Apartheid campaign in South Africa, and the Singing Revolution in Estonia,for instance. A taste of our rebel music tradition was captured by Alan Lomax from 1933 to 1946 and has been made available free online through the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Folk music, James Dunst reminded us at the start of the evening, is actually a “folk process” (could also be called stealing) wherein one artist expands on the work of another. Dunst and Scott's closing encore, a rendition of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone,” is a good example. The original version was taken by Pete Seeger from his reading of And Quiet Flows the Don (1934) by Mikhail Sholokhov. The novel quoted lines from a traditional Cossacks folk song that gave Pete the first three verses — “Where are the flowers, the girls have plucked them. Where are the girls, they've all taken husbands. Where are the men, they're all in the army" that Seeger adapted to the tune of a Russian folksong, "Koloda Duda." The other two verses — “gone to graveyards,” and “gone to flowers,” were suggested to Pete by Joe Hickerson in 1960 and then immortalized by the Kingston Trio’s hit single, Peter, Paul and Mary’s number one album, Marlena Deitrich (who performed it in English, French and German), Bobby Darin, Roy Orbison, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Richie Havens and Dolly Parton, among many others. It would not be surprising to hear the Ukrainian version of it being sung today (Де всі квіти, розкажи), which would take it full circle back to its Cossack roots.
Which takes us back around the circle to our conundrum of finding viral memes that inspire people to get out of their Waffle House blues and actually do something that can reverse our situation. It seems to us unlikely that change will ever come from negotiations between heads of state, or from new taxes and regulations being proposed by legislatures. We won’t get out of the Waffle House or the trailer park with ever more Extend And Pretend. We must permaculture up both places, all the while reforesting the planet. We can commence with hoe-downs in the trailer park.
The way forward is a cultural shift, led by moral example, spread through art, music, theater and dance.
Music must take rank as the highest of the fine arts - as the one which, more than any other, ministers to the human spirit.