Monday, August 29, 2011

This Machine Breeds Fascists.

Folk musician Woodie Guthrie, named after Mussolini's hero and New Jersey governor Woodie Wilson, was an icon of the Old Left in America. He palled around with L.A. commies like Hoosier Will Geer and even wrote a column for The Daily Worker.

These were the background influences of the postwar American left, who slogged on their Gramscian march through the institutions, seizing the groves of academy and assaulting up the stairways of ivory towers humming tunes that had originally been strummed on Woodie's guitar, with its famous sticker.

In light of recent events, there is a certain delicious irony in the fact that Woodie played a Gibson.

This land is your land, all right, Woodie; you helped build it with your own two hands. Too bad you didn't live to see it.

26 comments:

Alan said...

Commies: Destroying everything they touch for over 150 years!

Art said...

Ahhh ... history.
The irony isn't as tasty without it.

Stuart the Viking said...

As a funny side note. Woodie's son, Arlo Guthrie (of Alice's Resturant fame) has fairly recently been heard to say "I'm a Republican now!"

s

Anonymous said...

I doubt he would have been upset.

He called the early stages of WWII the Capitalist War because the Soviets and Nazi were linked arm and arm. Only when Hitler attacked Russia did he back the Allies. That shows real moral fexiblity.

As a good socialist/commie he would have still had his Gibson. It's still true to day with the left: Some animals are more equal than others.

Gerry

Rabbit said...

I'm still scratching my head over why Heinlein named his hero Woodrow Wilson Smith, although I know of R.A.H.'s early political inclinations.

Must have been a homage to the populism at the time of his (Lazarus') birth.

Ed Foster said...

Huddy Ledbetter (Leadbelly) wrote "Goodnight Irene" one drunken night with Pete Seeger and "Ramblin' Jack Elliot", then decided to sell it.

They were singing at a CCC camp outside Chicago, so they went into town and peddled it to the first recording studio to give them fifty bucks for a quit claim deed.

They then proceeded to pull the same stunt at all of Chicago's 36 other recording studios, and two weeks later, the song was brought out by all 37 labels.

In the hilariously lame socialist propaganda flick "Bound For Glory", Woody is portrayed by David Carradine as a footloose troubador, discovering, according to IMDB, "...the troubles and strengths of America's working class".

In actuality, he and all his pinko buddies were getting a government paycheck and VIP transportation from camp to camp, where they were wined and dined (O.K., whiskeyed and laid) courtesy of the local Democratic Party bigwigs.

Given the political tone of the time, perhaps I should simply say "by the Party bigwigs". There was only one. Scary when you think of it, how little difference there was in the day-to-day lives of an America and a Russian about 1935.

My father dropped out of highschool at 16 and joined the CCC. He had lots of stories about the organization, none of them complimentary, most sounding quite Orwellian. He told me it took a bunch of streetcorner loafers and gave them a shovel to lean on rather than a lamppost.

His standard joke concerning the CCC. Why does it take four government employees to push one lawnmower? Here's the mower, there's the outhouse. One coming, one going, one "sitting", one mowing.

I gave my new Son-In-Law, educated a very rosy shade of pink, a copy of Amity Shlaes's wonderful book The Forgotten Man, and this very bright fellow is now quoting Churchill's dictum about young conservatives and old liberals. I like that kid.

So, if Goodnight Irene was written on government time by government employees, shouldn't the rights to the song revert to the feds?

And if Woodie and the other poseurs had been on the east coast, would it have been "Roll on, Passamaquoddy, roll on"? Columbia scans so much better, both in pentameter and political correctness.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, how can the Party have a Dictatorship of the Proletariat without some good, old-fashion dictatoring?

Shootin' Buddy

westofthewest said...

The original and most famous fascist killing guitar was a Martin 00018 that Guthrie eventually gave to actor and fellow traveler Eddie Albert.

Guthrie didn't hang onto guitars too long but that slogan proved so popular on the beards and bongos circuit that they had some stickers made.

Bram said...

Anyone named after Woodrow Wilson and not a full-blown Klansman has to have serious "moral fexiblity."

mariner said...

Too bad we're living to see it.

atlharp said...

"The leech has two daughters: Give and Give!"

Proverbs 30:15

Anonymous said...

Michelle Obama gave one of those machines to Carla Skarkozy.

http://hotair.com/archives/2011/08/29/michelle-obamas-gibson-guitar-gift/

Shootin' Buddy

the pawnbroker said...

"...who slogged on their Gramscian march through the institutions, seizing the groves of academy and assaulting up the stairways of ivory towers..."

As evocative and provocative prose as anything Willie Shakespeare ever wrote right there.

@ Ed Foster:

"...educated a very rosy shade of pink..."

Chillingly accurate, and he ain't talking about the 1930's there. More irony...the institutions of academia charged with teaching the lessons of history instead conspire to dupe innocent and impressionable minds into repeating it. Why?

Wade said...

I've always wanted a Garand or a Mosin-Nagant with Guthrie's slogan engraved on it. THOSE machines killed fascists. Singing about trespassing and stealing, not so much.

Justthisguy said...

When it comes to guitars, real men fly a Kaman (Ovation), the only guitar designed rationally, from first principles, by one of the greatest engineers and Christian gentlemen who ever lived.

Beaumont said...

1) @ Ed Foster: excellent history lesson. WWII could justifiably be referred to as the "Fascist War", since most of the major players, including the USA in that era, could be regarded as fascist states.

2) Charles Stross (who actually seems to be a sort of fascist himself) had a great take on Woody's slogan in "The Fuller Memorandum": a violin bearing a sticker reading "This Machine Kills Demons". Now, since one could regard socialism and its fellows as demonically influenced .... hold on, I'm sending the Nuge a suggestion.

Borepatch said...

Wade wins teh Internets!

About the only thing better would be one of those Israeli Mausers with both German and Israeli stampings.

Wolfwood said...

Um, Wade, you need to play Fallout: New Vegas...

http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/This_Machine

Ken said...

To quote a later, better, guitar-playing philosopher:

"Do you love it? Do you hate it?
There it is, the way you made it"

Justthisguy said...

Effing boneheaded NTs, missed my point completely, but what do you expect from people who have been conditioned for their entire lives to think that electric guitars make music?

P.s. I forgive Miss X.

Drang said...

@Rabbit: Woodrow Wilson "Lazarus Long" Smith was named for the President everyone thought was a Great American at the time. Verisimilitude, dude.
Actually, as you suggested, young RAH was a left-ish, albeit anti-socialist "world government" type. No way of knowing what he thought of Wilson. (That I know of, I'm unaware of any opinions he may have expressed.)

Ed Foster said...

Justhisguy, I live a few pastures over from the Kaman factory, and a Jesus-looking doper buddy of mine in the way-back-when named Terry Wishnevsky was foreman of fitup at the old guitar factory out in New Hartford.

Wish was always knocking heads with Charley K about this or that, for which he got fired and rehired about every two or three weeks.

My cousin Brian is a hell of a lot better ax player than I am, and he uses an old Balladier to marvelous effect. But he works in front of a mike, and the Ovations do project a fairly narrow cone. Superb for stage work with amplification, but, in fairness, there is a place for the all wood boxes too.

Gibson and Martin both are really lovely examples of the luthier's trade, and I have an old Stella 12 string (pre AMF) that has bass harmonics like liquid chocolate.

Charley Kaman was amazing (he laid up his rotors around cardboard and newspaper cores, then flushed them out to make a true monocoque), and his worst enemy would have good things to say about him. If he had a worst enemy, which that marvelous man didn't. 100% agreement there.

But I'm glad there are bluebirds, and I'm glad there are robins. Same goes for guitars.

staghounds said...

At least Woody went to sea briefly, have to give him some credit.

Oddly enough, old Bolshie Will Geer ended his life in Connecticut, and I happened on his estate sale. Bought his old folding Remington typewriter, funny to think about all the fan letters to Stalin its keys once tapped out.

Robin said...

Its rather typical of the mindset that this red clown thought that singing songs would defeat a world class military that had already conquered a score of nations and then destroy a democracy to put him and his evil ilk into power.

Ed Foster said...

Staghounds, are you in CT? Or somewhere near? Tammy has my e-mail, and I'm back from vacation several days now. Brews are on me if you can make it.

Larry said...

As I recall, the story on Woodrow Wilson Smith/Lazarus Long was that he was born before Wilson got us into the war, and Lazarus' grandfather had nothing good to say about him because of that. Lots of folks in that generation thought he talked a good game about "avoiding foreign entanglements" and were supremely pissed when he got us into WWI.