21st Century Blues

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I grew up in the 20th Century when despite awful politics America was enjoying its prosperity thanks to World War II. I am saddened to report it but this era is officially over. Over the course of decades and many election cycles the USA has embraced rule by the rich few a.k.a. Plutocracy.

Plutocrats stand for the dollar, nothing else. The political class is wealthy and connected. We are taught to consume not criticize. I remember being taught in first grade that we were the greatest country. Never mind the genocide of Native American Tribes. Historical sympathy was dictated to us based on slavery. Do you ever hear about the Native American vote? No.

The truth is avoided by every American especially by those in power. We are encouraged to shut up about religion, politics, and anything else of consequence despite our sterling First Amendment right to do otherwise.

I am gay. I am atheist. I am told every day I could never be elected. Americans believe Angels exist. But a deadly virus like Covid? The believers cannot believe it! Yeah, I got the 21st Century blues.

So at the dawn of the 21st Century the American power structure was seized by our far right extremist fringe. With the exception of its first Black president which happened only because blacks finally voted en masse we have had regimes that sowed discord and actual death upon its people.

History is not inevitable. We do not have to accept this new normal as the ruling class dictates it to us. Forget lionizing ‘essential’ people and let’s fight for our Democracy!

I live in New York City. I was born here. Day after day after day we are dictated to by mass media we are the greatest city in the world. We are not. No place in the world has this title. Our rulers decided to base our economy on tourism. Welcome to New York—bring money!

This is why I have the 21st Century blues. One regime allowed a terrorist attack and another allowed a pandemic. In between another generation or two were raised to remain quiet, obedient, and conformist. It’s why we are taught to love sports and competition.

Another reason for my blues is the fact that when A.I.D.S. was spreading the American regime, also Republican, did nothing because at first it only killed homosexuals. What happened to the Opioid crisis? The Vaping crisis? Just focus on Covid citizen, move along.

The late great Gore Vidal said we are the United States of Amnesia because we easily forget all the important information and remember so much meaningless crap.

Social Media has been the worst viral infection of all in my opinion. False stories spread fast around the world. The big lie being used to dismantle American democracy is that only far right trickle down economics will help. Today, the USA begins its second Great Depression!

Over 25 million Americans are unemployed; the regime only cares about holding onto power.

When will Americans fight for Democracy? Your jobs and health were taken away by a would be dictator who wants to bring about America’s first reich. If you think this sounds crazy you have not been reading a newspaper.

Oh, I have got the 21st Century Blues!

If I could do it tomorrow I would move to Denmark.

Thank you to everyone who takes time out to read my blog. Please continue reading my other posts as well. The Gate is always open to you!

I Want My N TV/ Essay

The gate has been reviewing records for several weeks now.

Starting today on this lucky Friday the 13th my blog will comment on the changed media landscape.

A bit of a rant in my opener…

Nobody alive today in America needs cable television. Internet service provides thousands of streams making broadcast/cable networks obsolete.

I strongly believe without a cable bill arriving each month I would still have my media diet satisfied.

This is my opening salvo against a cruel media culture that has consolidated its power. A small group of companies are damaging our ability to be a participatory Democracy.

Labeling people to reduce their voice is what we are doing. Liberal/ Conservative. Most of the citizenry live in the middle.

The recent surge of victories for former V.P. Biden shows how much of the democratic base wants the country to move back towards the middle ground.

Cable outlets are polarizing. Full of editorializing they just keep people apart.

I joined Amazon Prime when it started. They recently added a channel with metal concerts for a small fee. Still less costly than cable.

The media giants are advertising like crazy to convince you to stay.

So what if there is some hip series everyone says you need to watch. No, you don’t need to see it.

Netflix has great comedy specials, series, and films.

Likewise, Amazon Prime has series and films. You can rent first run movies too.

Blu-rays, 4K HD, and dvd are obsolete. If you are a city household you do not have a lot of space. Why clutter your place with movies you won’t watch.

All of the dollars saved can be put towards the move to a better space.

You are paying a monthly fee for their advertising. Cable channels are loaded with drug ads, political ads, and ads in general to make you feel bad about yourself. Who needs them? Nobody.

Think of all the propaganda created by mass media. An ideal version of life no one can live up to in sitcom land. When ratings fall have a wedding or a funeral.

24 hours “news” organizations are by their very design propaganda machines. Every 4 years they decide who is on each party’s ticket.

They even created a climate in which the general population agreed there were too many candidates.

The real conflict for democracy is our news programs are a branch of a corporate takeover of the public commons. Requiring them to turn a profit has placed all of the emphasis on tabloid stories.

If it bleeds it leads. Until the latest crisis arrived our local news was filled with violent crimes happening in far away neighborhoods.

Throughout its history TV was designed to deliver viewers to advertisers.

Streaming upended the business model of media. This is a good thing. We may break free of commercial messages.

Censorship lessens through streamed content. More stories are told. Diversity is not just tokenism. There are no announcements of a ‘special’ episode. You are not told you must see it.

Less regulation of the alleged public airwaves has enabled big pharma to send its message: you must sample the pill for this or for that condition you surely must have to battle each day.

Perhaps TV is why the US is one of the unhappiest countries on Earth.

You are bombarded with moronic personalities on talk shows and game shows which are cheap to produce.

You are told the only way to be happy is to get lots of stuff. Cars are still the most popular prize on game shows. Do they come with a parking space and free gas?

Right now I live in a small studio apartment with my husband.

When we eventually move into a one bedroom apartment I want nothing more than to strip down our material stuff.

I treasure records. No commercials.

Evan’s Gate will be here to comment on the culture at large. For now there are plenty of reviews out there.

When I talk with people they seem to not get why this shift of power in the public square is important.

Should Disney own everything you read, watch, listen to, or think about? They are dominant now. Are we becoming a Mickey Mouse dictatorship?

Trust me, this is not a good thing for a Democracy.

I will never accept conspiracy theories regarding our current affairs.

This blog will cover pop culture at large. This is a broad canvas with lots of interesting angles.

Just take notice how the crises of a virus has pushed away everything else. What happened to mass shootings and the rising level of anti-Semitism in America?

Have a lucky Friday the 13th.

Sneak Peak Of The Future

I love music. My parent’s had records and a victrola when I was a kid. There was a piano in our house. It’s still there. I should have been more vocal about wanting lessons on piano and guitar. I was the youngest of three boys. I wanted to be a rock musician.

In my childhood anything expressed in an artful way or generally non-conformist method was simply called weird. Unfortunately this allowed truly visionary artists like Lou Reed, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Pattie Smith to slip past me. Then there was Devo.

A group who dressed alike to make a point about conformity, consumerism, and politics. I saw them on Saturday Night Live. I was not buying records yet. In matching jumpsuits with the name of the group in bold block letters they seemed so….weird. There is that blanket word of dismissal again!

Following decades where I listened to every major rock group on the planet I re-discovered the aforementioned artists like they were new. I found out why their look and sound seemed so outside the norms.

After decades of dominance by the guitar then electric guitar Devo’s music placed the guitar outside the groove. Replacing it with the new technology of the synthesizer. The synth would be at the core of this music. The recording industry labeled this sound New Wave or Post-Punk. I do not think Devo were ever really pigeonholed by their fans.

Thanks to David Bowie and Iggy Pop, the group from Akron, Ohio who met at Kent State University where they were students got signed by Warner Brothers records.

In early 1970, Bob Lewis and Gerald Casale formed the idea of the “devolution” of the human race after Casale’s friend Jeffrey Miller was killed by Ohio National Guardsmen firing on a student demonstration.[1].

They believed that succumbing to a group think mentality the culture was de-evolving. Hence the name Devo.

Devo consisted of two sets of brothers, the Mothersbaughs (Mark and Bob) and the Casales (Gerald and Bob), along with drummer Alan Myers.”

I began listening to the 6 records the band made with Warners because of Record Store Day 2019. Each year the music industry’s record labels put out a list of titles to feature as exclusives to celebrate independent record stores around the world.

Warner Bros decided to issue a box set of all 6 Devo albums on color vinyl. I have been listening to the digital versions of each release. These are new records to me. I must admit after being such a static listener of guitar oriented music the sounds made by this group were fresh. I literally fell back in love with the pure joy of finding something that excitited my ears, my mind, and my heart.

The first 2 records have been my focus for now. I think it stood out with their approach to their art. Appearing like aliens from The Twilight Zone sent to observe life on earth, the music of Devo satirized our conception of gender, power, and work. I argue they were presenting a sneak peak of the future.

If you missed it like I did you were doomed to just go along with the crowd. Arguably most of us did just that in the 1980s. Punk or Metalhead? Freedom of Choice or conformity of a new tradition? Each record raised these questions of what direction society might take.

The title of their debut had the audacity to be a Q & A. Seen below are the first 4 albums on the Warner Bros label. A fem but masculine male framed in the whiteness of golf, a straight laced image. The answer was a defiant No, We Are DEVO.

Challenging our norms right from the start with songs like “Mongoloid” and “Jocko Homo”. The first of these two songs was about a man with Downs Syndrome who fit into society because he “wore a hat, had a job, and brought home the bacon”. A theoretical critique describing how those who might be perceived as different must find a way to fit into the proscribed norms of the day.

The latter song title refers to de-evolution. Humans are ape men. The call and response track is anthemic. The band’s artful delivery back in the 1970s were often seen as a new form of fascism or clowning or both. But I think Devo was being clever in presenting their satire and opinions as a new form of music that a listener could find on their own terms. The questions are interesting. We may never have all the answers. But we have in our hands this unique artform.

On “Freedom Of Choice”, seen below the third record from left to right included “Whip It” which became their biggest hit, peaking at #14 in America. The song is a sincere cynical laugh at the cockeyed optimism of Americans. All our problems can be solved if we just simply whip them. The whip is a loaded symbol of repression and brutality used here as the over simplification of universal problem solver.

Making fun of all the self-help tropes of the day (still in use today) are the lyrics:

Get straight
Go forward
Move ahead
Try to detect it

Listening to their music for the first time (except “Whip It”) I could understand what they were trying to say. In a lot of ways we were getting the future in preview. A world where a selected group would make the majority feel like the world is beautiful and we just need to conform to be happy.

Confronting the ideals of gender on its debut.
What is tradition?
Freedom. No.
Freedom of Choice.
Duty Now.








The hats were called Energy Domes. It became a trademark of sorts. This was their Freedom Of Choice attire.

Devo made videos at a time before the launch of MTV. Their clip for “Mongoloid” made use of stock footage to create the first video that used the art technique of collage. I would argue that this is part of what makes Devo a worthy candidate for the Museum Of Modern Art as well as the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame. The latter institution failed to induct them again this past year.

To see Devo’s videos go to their Official YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP9nU4BsAXsr8mQ1PIZVScg

Devo in my opinion were a kind of prologue to our new century. Their theory of Devolution is seen in the ‘smart’ screens that have us in their grip daily. Societal behaviors are changing. We have regressed into a culture of looking down, sticking to the tribe, and thinking we just have to be optimistic all the time.

  1. Paul Vermeersch: A brief history of Devo, Part 1, October 21, 2014, retrievedĀ August 4,Ā 2015