The Random Griffith

Corporation warm and fuzzy

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 22/01/2010

It’s still goddamn raining like the dickens here in Sacramento on this late January night. The past few days have been nothing but wind whipping through bare trees and over roofs, flapping anything that’s dangling loose, with rain coming down in bucketfuls, then backing off into the sprinkly stuff before dumping more buckets. Everything’s wetter than a confused old dog. Damn puddles everywhere on the Sacramento midtown grid, which can be hell on dry socks if you don’t watch where you step.

I managed to make it through some meetings at The Urban Hive, where in the first one. I spoke with another guy who’s about as excited as I am on how the iPad — or whatever the rumored tablet device will be called that Apple may or may not announce next Wednesday — will revolutionize the magazine publishing world. Being an out-of-work magazine editor and writer, I’d really like to, or am literally champing at the bit to, get back into that line of work, and the multimedia possibilities, and graphics potentials, have me about as giddy as I get this side of a popcorn-fueled Elvis movie marathon, or the prospect of eating vegetarian baked ziti and watching all the episodes of Jersey Shore in sequence.

After that, I joined a small group, called RAW, I think that’s what it’s called, that met for the first time to work on presentation — the conceptualizing and refining of presenting ideas to people — as a vehicle for transmitting ideas. As a songwriter who likes to sing and play original songs in front of audiences, I’ve become painfully aware of nuances over time, and how important it is to really move a song from its gawky early form to a far-smoother second-nature iteration, where the melody and lyrics and inflection thereof merge with the guitar’s chordal and picked accompaniment; there’s a point where everything just comes together and starts to breathe on its own. It’s a marvelous moment. Presentation can make a huge difference on how your songs are received by the people you play them for. After an architect spoke about the importance of buildings that suit the local environment where they are sited, and then a political blogger outlined the breakdown in our voting system and some possible remedies, I gave a four-minute shpiel. Of course, being as rain-soaked extemporaneous as it was, ’twas nothing to write home about.

Still, it’s important to keep your skillset sharp, and it’s good to bounce ideas off of people. One never knows when that great new job will surface, and I’ll be called to step up and frame some difficult conceptual construct in front of a group of people. Dunno about you, but if I kick back and leave things to bang around in my head, what may come tumbling out will be fuzzy and unintelligible. I need to continually refine my craft, whether that’s speaking in front of people or sitting here like this, typing into a keyboard on a Thursday night.

So now I’m on a counter stool in a coffeehouse, looking out the window on 21st Street, thinking. There’s a whole cafe of activity behind me, but I’d rather look at the way the streetlights play on the rain-slicked street amid the enveloping darkness, because that’s the way I roll. At least sometimes, like tonight. Rain-slicked streets and enveloping darkness make me happy like some people get off on rainbows and butterflies and unicorns.

And while I could be sitting here listening to some Elliott Smith or something suitably Northwestern, somehow that sounds slightly cliched. Don’t get me wrong; Smith’s oeuvre boasts some great stuff, and I’ve whiled away too many hours with that soundtrack. But what seemed like the perfect music for tonight was 16 Biggest Hits by Lefty Frizzell. Kinda weird, but lately Lefty’s name has been coming up a lot when I talk with other singers and music-fan friends. He’s like the perfect singer.

There are times when nothing hits the spot, to me, like good shitkicker music. Truth be told, there are lots of times for me; must be that Stockton Okie vibe I picked up by osmosis while growing up. And I’m a bit of a connoisseur of the nasal baritone, what with Merle and Buck and those cats oozing out of F-150 radios courtesy of KRAK Radio 1140, which you couldn’t get away from in this goddamn valley.

Because, well, this goddamn valley gets under your skin, like they say Texas or Oklahoma does if you ride around those dusty roads, and pinched voices like Lefty’s are a big part of the area’s agrarian charm and romantic appeal. At least I have that twisted redneck script bouncing around between my ears — ears that are currently wrapped around quality tunes such as, well, “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time,” “I Love You a Thousand Ways,” “Look What Thoughts Will Do,” “I Want to Be With You Always,” “Always Late (With Your Kisses),” “Mom and Dad’s Waltz,” “Travelin’ Blues,” “I’m an Old, Old Man (Tryin’ to Live While I Can),” “Just Can’t Live That Fast (Any More),” “The Long Black Veil,” “Saginaw, Michigan,” “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone,” “I’m Not the Man I’m Supposed to Be,” “How Far Down Can I Go,” “I Never Go Around Mirrors,” “That’s the Way Love Goes” … pretty damn hard to top a playlist like that, doncha think?

Which is a pretty nice comfort blanket on this dark day in American history. I guess, like a lot of people, I haven’t fully comprehended the ramifications of Thursday’s Supreme Court giveaway to the Republican Party and their corporate overlords, except that we’ve been drop-kicked back to the Dark Ages once again by these evil bastards. I’m in shock. So the best I can do is give you the lyrics to a song I wrote back when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House in the mid-1990s. It’s a song that people still ask me to perform, and I’ve half-assed it until now. But after today, this one’s going back into my repertoire as a priority number:

Corporation warm and fuzzy, corporation is our friend
Corporation will stand by us all until the bitter end
Corporation, corporation

Corporation is like mumsy, corporation just like dad
Corporation loves when we are good and hurts when we’ve been bad
Corporation, corporation

From the cradle to the grave, from the scion to the knave
By its grace are we all saved as we stumble down roads that it paved
To a bleak industrial park where we’ll thank with open hearts
Charles Darwin and free markets

Corporation eats another, corporation grows in size
Corporation bread and circuses spoon-feed the people lies
Corporation, corporation

Corporation is religion, corporation thinks it’s god
Corporation buys the politicians and rewrites the laws
Corporation, corporation

Like a spider snares a fly in its web then sucks it dry
Till there’s nothing left inside then it catches another poor fly
Corporation drops a line to us, we think “I got mine”
Then it robs us fucking blind

See the mighty CEO tell the workers where to go
So the stockholders will know that a tough guy is running the show
Hail the lean and mean machine, hail the championship team
Wall Street’s favorite wet dream

Corporation warm and fuzzy, corporation is our friend
Corporation will stand by us all until the bitter end
Corporation, corporation, corporation, corporation

Well, fuck it. There probably are a few other places I’d rather be than sitting in this cafe on a cold and wet night, but that’s where I am until they kick me out of here, which is soon.

Anyway, Lefty’s music is the perfect salve for a day when, as I stated upthread, I haven’t fully internalized how today’s Supreme Court decision is going to play out, but as the old cliche goes, I got a bad feeling about this. Fucking assholes, wiping their crapped-up sphincters with the Constitution again. Sometimes I really hate these Republican pricks with the heat of a thousand suns. And you? —Jackson Griffith