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It's two am and I am sat with Mrs Twigg watching Paul Simon through my highly dubious, but very effective, connection to the BBC.

The concert is great, the music is evocative and excellent in the way Paul Simon never fails to deliver. Even when he bust the sanctions, and pissed of the African National Congress by going to South Africa during the apartheid regime ... he still managed to come up smelling of roses. He worked with some talented black musicians, so I think he pissed everyone off at the same time.

Anyway, I was just sitting here with the urge to write something. No idea what I am just indulging myself on the sole pretext that I enjoy writing and, from time to time, others enjoy reading it.

So, with my apologies to the orange mermaid, let us descend below the waves and see what I decided to write about.

Even here in Oklahoma, a State I disparage at will, because it deserves it, I find moments of pure tranquility. To be fair to Oklahoma, there is beauty here. From the Glass Mountains near Kansas to the rolling hills of the South East, the deep red earth shaped by man after his own fashion for eons, and the lakes of the area I inhabit; the state is a surprising mixture of contrasts.

It might be surprising because there is also an ugliness that is hard to quantify. An ugliness that is a sharp counterpoint to Still Crazy After All These Years currently emanating from the teevee machine. Listening to that song, and the Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes that follows it reminds me of other "perfect moments". Riding my motorcycle across this land is a pleasure I never imagined I would find when I arrived here, but it is something that I treasure.

The ugliness is not that, anymore than it is the lakes or hills. They simply serve as an ironic frame for the social structures built by man. The Oklahoma Legislature produces laws and policies not befitting a modern democracy. A land that gave us Woody Guthrie and Will Rogers ... They give us Tom Coburn and James Inhofe.

They gave us Dan Boren and called him a Democrat. That is not what I called him.

They give us, and about forty other states, Hobby Lobby, and its subsidiary, Oral Roberts University. It wasn't always thus, ORU used to be the empire of the eponymous Oral Roberts. His failed institution finally brought to its knees by a vapid son who preferred the finer things in life to running an educational establishment with any pretense at academic integrity.

I dunno. I ride across this land, have my home and family here, feel the earth between my fingers and it is filled with history. It is real, tangible, it was here before the dust bowl and it is still here. It was here when the most populous inhabitants were buffalo, and they provided a whole way of life for a people who are still here. People fighting desperately to retain a sense of their own belonging. Yet all the while becoming better known among the "new" population for the casinos they own, rather than the traditions of a proud nation(s). Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, Choctaw ... The five civilized tribes. I don't know what their ancestors would think of the Oklahoma of today, but I can't imagine that pride would figure largely.

That term, civilized tribes, is an insult to the Native American Nations. They were the five tribes considered civilized by the conquering settlers. It's not for me to judge the arrangements made by the locals, when the boat people arrived. If my own land were invaded, who knows how I might behave. I have never had to face that terrible event, so I cannot judge, but I think I would prefer that my descendents considered me to be decidedly uncivilized, maybe Cheyenne, Apache or Arapaho.

Most of the peoples the settlers considered to be civilized were themselves refugees from their own lands, to the east and south.

Maybe one of the things Paul Simon brought with him from South Africa is simply the impetus for this Englishman (my daughter calls me "British dude") to sit in his home in Oklahoma, and think a little of the folk who lived here before any Europeans arrived. Even the ones who now call themselves Americans.

"I am just a poor boy though my story's seldom told" ... perfect.

"Promises, lies and jests" .. It sounds so familiar. I recognise those words as I feel confident they would be understood by those who lived here for thousands of years, and long before the Mayflower ever set sail.

Now we are busy building a new class of poor, and Oklahoma is right up there leading the fight for this latest underclass, the working man.

--

As a curious little footnote. Paul Simon gave me the urge, and impetus to write. The Glen Campbell profile we watched immediately before was interesting, but it didn't move me like this.

--

Update:

The comment below by commonmass had me thinking:

This land, in its current form, was built by hard-working Americans. In the late 1800s it was settled with the Land Rush, aided by the Homesteading Act which granted 160 acres to those staking a claim.

But even with the gift of the land it was a hard life. Poor farmers, in the main, who scraped a living, some doing better than others. They survived that and then faced the Great Depression, which again they coped with.

Following the economic collapse they battled with the Dust Bowl years, and no sooner than that was done they fought a World War, sending their young men, and losing quite a few.

Even that didn't stop them, and Oklahoma today is a modern, mixed economy yet something has changed because today they blame all their ills on others. Specifically, they blame it all on Barack Obama.

That is one powerful President when one considers the adversity that has been overcome in the past.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Title Track: (18+ / 0-)

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 01:00:57 AM PST

  •  Song For the Asking (10+ / 0-)

    Here is my song for the asking
    Ask me and I will play
    So sweetly, I'll make you smile

    This is my tune for the taking
    Take it, don't turn away
    I've been waiting all my life

    Thinking it over, I've been sad
    Thinking it over, I'd be more than glad
    To change my ways for the asking

    Ask me and I will play
    All the love that I hold inside

    Love me some Paul Simon.   There are moments where he has absolutely picked me up; and between "Song for the Asking and "American Tune" there are times I have felt he read my mind.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:46:40 AM PST

  •  How funny you should post this diary, (10+ / 0-)

    as GMB02 and I revisited "The Graduate" yesterday as part of our orgy of classic movies (the other day, it was "Breakfast at Tiffany's", which I watch solely for the orange pootie named "Cat") inspired by his lingering flu, fever, and general lethargy and my overwhelming need to share in it.

    Ah, the Working Man. My family climbed its way up from the soot-choked lanes of Birmingham and Wolverhampton to the "middle class" in the United States with good, honest work. Good, honest union work. ;)

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:57:50 AM PST

    •  What is GMB02? (4+ / 0-)

      I fear that Oklahoma would like to see the end of all the advantages gained over the last 100 years.

      They will, of course, blame everyone except themselves.

      Oklahoma is a proud state. Carved out by working people who survived all sorts of adversity. Now they are given to God, well the Southern Baptist Churches, and they have forgotten what they accomplished, and they blame everyone else.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:02:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A GMB02 is GreenMountainBoy02 (6+ / 0-)

        my partner and fellow Kossack. You know, that one I'm marrying. ;)

        What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

        by commonmass on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:07:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  April 22, 1889 (4+ / 0-)

        Oklahoma sees things differently because of that date. The Run was open to people of every color. You could get some land in exchange for some effort. Whether you were a child of former slaves or the child of a plantation owner. So the academic argument that the institution of slavery 'baked-in' a permanent disadvantage to the descendants of slaves doesn't resonate quite as strongly in the Sooner State as it might elsewhere. That's not to say that Sooners can't be convinced that some groups have it tougher than other groups, but the argument has to get past the question, "Why wasn't your great-great-grandad in the Run like mine was?"

        The reason I think people there can be convinced is because, notwithstanding the accent, central Oklahoma (not Tulsa, to be more specific) is not as racist in its history as were many other areas of the US sharing the same latitude. Consider Number 38 who played for OU starting in 1956. (When did the biggest sport in your particular state have its first integrated team?) Putting Prentice Gautt (later, Dr Prentice Gautt) on the massive juggernaut that was the University of Oklahoma football team of the early Bud Wilkinson era was a big deal in that part of the country and in the world of college football. Brooklyn (the 'city'/borough) gets liberal credit for (mostly) cheering Jackie Robinson when he was put on the roster of the Dodgers. Why not at least a little credit for the fans (i.e. most of the state outside of Tulsa and Stillwater) of the Oklahoma Sooners in the 1950's?

        best,

        john

        Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

        by jabney on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:37:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I so enjoyed this diary, Twigg. Much of what you (5+ / 0-)

    said also applies to Texas, my home for more than 35 years, and for which I still have great affection.  I've commented in other places that I wasn't paying enough attention to politics to notice when the state began it's slide into stupidity.  Does it have to do with the fact that most of its 254 counties are rural and thus conservative?  No certainty, but I'd bet that is at least partly responsible for the current idiocy.  Perhaps when Bush the Lesser defeated the wonderful Ann Richards for the governorship, perhaps a combination of things.  Just sad.

    Like Oklahoma, Texas assuredly has its beauty spots.  One of things I miss most is the glory of bluebonnet seasons, the carpet of flowers in the fields and along the roadside.  Dammit, I want to go "home."

    ""How long does getting thin take?" Pooh asked anxiously." -- A. A. Milne

    by pittie70 on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:57:15 AM PST

    •  I blame most of it (6+ / 0-)

      on the pervasive spread of Evangelical Christianity.

      It breeds stupid, and actively discourages critical thinking.

      Those people are deeply embedded in Oklahoma ... and Texas, although there is more hope for Texas.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:08:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A good case in point in Joel Osteen (creepy, (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, Spirit of Life, DRo, hnichols

        creepy guy).  He took over his late father's ministry and has succeeded in making a mockery of his dad's work.  I was never interested in Olsteen pere's brand of religion but he also seemed to be sort of a modest kind of guy.  Several years ago Joel's "church" took over the Houston Summit, former home of the Rockets.  A large enough venue for the folks who pack in believing their presence will inspire God to make them rich.  Makes me sick.

        ""How long does getting thin take?" Pooh asked anxiously." -- A. A. Milne

        by pittie70 on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:20:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Specifically, they blame it all on Barack Obama. (5+ / 0-)
    "Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand."  ~ Atticus Finch

    Hobbs: "How come we play war and not peace?" Calvin: "Too few role models."

    by BOHICA on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:04:49 AM PST

  •  OK Has Oil in the Ground and in the Air (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, hnichols

    We are learning more and more about the negative impact of lead in the environment. (Oklahoma has some of that too.)

    I'd like to see a study of what living in the oil-patch does to the brain. Offset press operators work very close to petroleum solvents, and my observation is they tend to be very grouchy at the end of the shift. Smelling press-wash all day perhaps? If that's the case, imagine living 24 hours a day with similar stuff.

    best,

    john

    Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

    by jabney on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:36:26 AM PST

  •  Twigg, I don't know how we got from Woody Guthrie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg

    to Tom Coburn and Jim effing Inhofe but you have nailed it again. This state is in a death spiral and I don't see anyone that can come to the rescue.

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