Still pickin'--one of the world's best banjoist.
Pete's solution to any problem is to get his banjo or his guitar out and start singing--about the problem or about the opposite of the problem, attacking counter to the direction of the problem. To sing or not to sing? that is the question with Pete, and to not sing to Pete means he's dead, though one of his son's says in his mid-eighties he says he's losing his voice.
There was a very well-done so of live-and-let-live documentary on Pete running on PBS tonight--about the latest there is on Pete and his wife Toshi and their daughters and sons and the always hanging around Arlo Guthrie. It's hard for me to grasp that Arlo Guthrie has seemingly made a comfortable living off his one hit, "Alice's Restaurant," and following Pete Seeger around. It's pretty damn hard for Arlo, not that talented, to top his old man--I mean his old man's a legend and poor ole Arlo, the best he can say is he's the son of a legend.
I never got into folk music. My brother got tickets to see the Weavers one time and sure enough Pete Seeger quit the Weavers at about that time because the Weavers for money were making a cigarette commercial and Pete didn't smoke or drink or believe in advertising for that sort of thing so he left the group. Who didn't like the Weavers's songs?--everybody really already knew these songs--"Joe Hill"--Jesus "Joe Hill" is one great song, union, Wobbly, or otherwise--"Joe Hill" is a mover and a tearjerking shaker--and us little blues & boogie children we already knew "Goodnight Irene" from Hudie Ledbetter, where Seeger got the song (he worked as an assistant to John Lomax and his son down at the Smithsonian in the District of Corruption). And "On Top of Old Smokey," shit, with my Carolina relatives I'd heard that song all my life. Beautiful god-damn human being that Pete Seeger. A man true to his convictions. A great turner a'rounder of thoughts--Pete can allow negative thoughts to arise and then counter them with the power of song and music and rhythm and swing.
In the 1960s the folk craze hit Dallas, Texas, and all out on Greenville Avenue and Inwood and Lover's Lane folk joints started showing up though I must confess we hipsters looked down on the folkies and their hootnannies--Pete Seeger invented that word back during his Almanac Singers's days--I first heard it used was in Spike Jones's "The Man on the Flying Trapese"--"He floats by his hair...oh no, that would hurt wouldn't it?...He floats through the air/with the birds and the bees...er ah, no, ah, without his trapese...er-ah, no/With the greatest of ease...." And then Doodles Weaver tells a joke, "What happened when the owl married the goat?...ah, they had a little hootnanny!" And that's the first time I heard the word--Spike Jones on the Victor label, 1947 or so--I was a mere child--a bit of a hoot, but I never had a nanny of any kind.
So Viva Pete Seeger--one of those rare kind and thoughtful human beings who found his music in the air he grew up breathing.
And Then the Disgusting
As anyone who knows me knows I find Donald Trump a most disturbing man. He is openly stupid as an unused two by four. He's vulgar. He's ignorant--or is that stupid? He's a pompous motherfucker. He's an ugly motherfucker. He's bankrupt most of the time--he probably makes most of his real money off his very ignorant but of course (coarse) very popular teevee show. So tonight during a break in the Pete Seeger action on PBS, they were begging for viewer contributions, I boogied around the dial, surfing, and I came across Trump's teevee show. Tonight's episode was called "Celebrity Apprentice"--I have no idea who the "celebrities" were on the show, they all look alike to me--one looked like that Brit fop chef that Fox brought over here--you know the crusty guy who cusses all his American cook students out as stupid louts and throws their food in the garbage and then presto-chango this phony asshole creates a perfect dish all presented with sprigs of monkey fluff and raspberry-spit sauces--I remember my aunt going to England one time and she got sicker than a dog with Rocky Raccoon in his stomach eating Brit cooking--boiled beef and mutton, greasy fat dishes like Yorkshire puddin', mate, or greasy fish and chips served in a bloody piece of newspaper--and now the most publicized chefs here in New York City are Brits--but here I go, here I go, here I go....
So just as I tune in the Trumpster's phony show, they are in Trump's fabulous whatever wherever apartment--windows looking out across Central Park just like old Harry "Lamebrain" Helmsley's skyhigh apartment used to look out over Central Park--and this apartment was so totally max-tacky--unbelievable how gaudy that apartment looked--great view, great windows, but his decorations--I mean, gold everywhere--gold designs all over his walls and gold screens--oh how this bastard loves gold--but you know what? I'll bet it's phony gold just like Trump's a phony. Then Trump looks really mean and serious at these celelbrity goofballs all sitting in Trump's living room and he says, "And now, I'm going to introduce you to my family...and you're in my home" and son of a egotistical-bitch here comes Trump's circus family, I mean the new wife--what's this one about his fourth? How can that goofy rug-headed nitwit have any cash left after paying out the nose in all his divorces, child payments, and alimonies--I mean he and all those Euro-trash bitches he married--even the current Mrs. Trump (temporary always) is Euro-trash, some model he picked up at one of the beauty pageants he owns--you know he owns Miss America now, and Miss World, too, I think. Trump is a real man to expressionless airhead models and Bunnies and Penthouse Pets; those are Trump's kind'a women; and following Euro-trash wife number 4 comes out the horse-faced daughter and she's carrying Trump's new little Aryan-looking son who looks like Damion from the devil-breeder movies of a few decades back now--Trump's little son looks like an imp, he's porky faced, you know, jowls like a pig already, and he's wearing a little Armani suit--and then another kid comes tumbling out and it is without a doubt the oddest looking family in this year's "Family of Freaks" yearbook. Trump is the oddballest looking one of the bunch--that hairpiece, it, too, is sprayed with gold--I'm sorry, folks, but I immediately cruised quickly back over to the end of Pete Seeger's tribute on PBS and listened to Pete at 84 still belting out "Guantanamera," still having to sing, still having to carry his banjo and guitar around with him, whipping one of them out at the drop of a hat and going immediately into song--I didn't know that Pete's singing "We Shall Overcome" and the verses he added to that old spiritual in front of Martin Luther King at a Highlands Folk Singing Festival is the reason that song became the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. I remember the Highland songbooks and the Highland song fests and singing schools and I remember "We Shall Overcome" in there, too.
And they showed Pete Seeger's house--and compared to Trump's gaudy penthouse apartment Pete's house is a mansion. Pete and his wife built it themselves of logs and mud cement and handhewn hardwood floors on the acreage he and his wife bought for a couple'a hundred bucks back in 1949--and Pete started off with a wood stove in the kitchen, a big fireplace in the living room and it was shivering cold as hell in the winter but it was so much more aesthetic and real than Trump's trumped-up noveau-riche trash apartment.
Another Weirdo Becomes World's Richest Man
Warren Buffett did it--he used his old pappy's crookedly gained millions to run his own worth up to now $62 billion bucks, a few billion more now than Mexican telephone monopolist Senor Slim and slamming Little Billy Gates down to almost poverty at $58 billion. Isn't that disgusting, too, as disgusting as Trump is trashy, that three goofball ordinary men control $170 billion dollars all tolled. $170 billion dollars--and that's only three MEN! And then there's all the petty billionaires like Okra...er-ah, I mean Oprah. Fuck millionaires. They don't even count as rich people by Fortune mag anymore. Or is this billionaires's list Steve "God I'm One Dumb Bastard" Forbes's mag's list? (Who was your old gay pappy, Stevie boy? Did you ever ask your dad if he really ever banged Liz Taylor?)
It's an unfair world--Jimmy "Peanuthead" Cah-ter said that--and that's very true. "This is a mean old world," Willie Dixon wrote, "When you can't get the woman that you're lovin', don't take it out on someone else."
Here's the latest in the Holy Trump Family. Why she reminds me of my mother--yep, my mom always had those milkmammas hanging half out ready to feed me quick when I started grabbing for them. Mrs. Trump is dedicated to being the "divine" mother the Donald demands she be--or SHE'S FIRED! The little privileged bankrupt baby better take a long look at his mom, she may not be there long. That marriage looks real as all get out, doesn't it?
for The Daily Growler