#28 New Roman Times part 4: Unabomber as Folk Hero. Steve Reich as Pop Star

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06 Might Makes Right

I don’t know how i can top that last story.  That gum you like is back in style.  I’m not even gonna try.

Might makes Right has our young  Texan on patrol with his unit in the Middle East. He is slowly growing disillusioned with his role and his units mission.  In particular he was entered the Army a fairly devout christian.  He actually bought into a lot of the the notion that God was on the side of Texas.  After 9 months in the middle east he has come to doubt many things.  The lyrics tell the story well enough.

[INTRO/BREAK:]
[Bm] [F#7] [Bm]
[Bm] [F#7] [Bm]

CHORUS:
Yeah might makes [G] right
Yeah might makes [D] right
They say that [F#7] god is on our side and made us [Bm] mighty
Yeah might makes [G] right
Yeah might makes [D] right
They say that [F#7] god is on our side I don’t believe them

I’m [Bm] crawling through the under brush, we’re [F#7] teched up to the hilt
Compared to us these poor guys should be [Bm] wearing shorts and kilts
I’ve got a living breathing shadow crossed up in my scope
My partner gives the signal, pull the trigger, then there’s smoke

CHORUS:
Might makes right
Yeah might makes right
They say that god is on our side and makes us mighty
Yeah might makes right
Yeah might makes right
They say that god is on our side I don’t believe them

[REPEAT BREAK]

CHORUS:
Might makes right
Yeah might makes right
I guess that god is on our side and makes us mighty
Yeah might makes right
Yeah might makes right
They say that god is on our side I don’t believe them

They want us from the villages, they want us from the towns
Who could really blame them, shit blows up when we’re around
We fly above their houses with our Huey double-props
We scare the crap out of their kids, their mothers and their flocks

CHORUS:
Might makes right
Yeah might makes right
I guess ’cause god is on our side it makes us mighty
Yeah might makes right
Yeah might makes right
They say that god is on our side I don’t believe them

Also here is a video that John Croxton did for the song.  He interpreted it differently. He did a sort of Fight Club thing to it.

07 Militia Song

This is another of the songs that had been around before we came up with the concept for New Roman Times.  It was originally titled The Unabomber song.  Cause clearly it was written about Ted Kaczynski. And as a basic idea, it had been kicking around in my head since he was caught.  I was kind of fascinated by some of the details of his life.  It didn’t hurt that he was a mathematician.  I mean that always gets me interested.  I also developed a weird fascination with his manifesto cause excerpts  printed in the papers started to make sense to me. I was starting to freak myself out. The guy was a violent terrorist and very nearly succeeded in bringing down a passenger jet.  Not to mention the innocent people he killed and maimed. And i was developing an unhealthy empathy for the guy.

And then there were the just plain weird details.  When his brother turned him in,  a brief profileon CNN mentioned that his brother had “lived in west texas in a hole in the ground”.  As if that was a normal biographical detail.

In the alternate reality of New Roman Times.  The Unabomber song is a favorite underground country song popular  w with the right wing militia set in Deseret, Texas, and Southern California. These groups were very instrumental in supporting the Mormon Uprising in California. Like the infamous Rodeo song many artists have covered it and there are many variations,  some quite vulgar and all politically incorrect.

New Roman Times- Camper Van Beethoven

We discussed this in the first post.  But this is our young protagonist loses a leg while on patrol in the middle east.  He comes home, a bitter broken man.  begins to drink heavily and finally runs away from his young wife and family to occupied California.  Las Vegas California to be exact.

11 The Poppies Of Balmorhea

Balmorhea is a famous spring in the arid country of West Texas.  In our story The Poppies of Balmorhea is a bar in Las Vegas,  frequented by members of the Texan intelligence community. It’s an Oasis -get it- for the hardcore black bag and private intelligence contractors. BTW there are no Deseret Intelligence folks here as they don’t drink, they do however set up shop at the Jamba Juice directly across the street in case their Texan allies deign to speak to them.

It is here in this bar that he is recruited by agents from the quasi private TexIntelSecuiCorp (Doo Dah). They are the sleaziest and most ruthless of the lot. The plan is for him to become a double agent.  All he needs to do is play himself: a bitter and disgruntled wounded former soldier in the Army of Texas.  They want him to either infiltrate the Los Tigres Trafficante organization or the CVB.  Since he has recently developed a taste for the barely illegal “Flower” he accepts. But he also has a vague sense that he can somehow exact revenge.  On who he’s not sure?  But it’s not the Los Tigres or the CVB.  He has no beef with them.

 

12 The Long Plastic Hallway

In the song the protagonist goes to LA with his TexIntelSecuriCorp handlers.  He is wined and dined.  He is partying like a rock star.  He meets aliens and movie stars.  It’s crazy.

But again  this is one of the songs that at least partially was written before the  concept of New Roman Times album came about.  And the true story it’s based on happened in 1984.

First the Long Plastic Hallway is from a quote widely (mis)attributed to Hunter S. Thompson:

  • The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

Second the song is a metaphor for selling out.  For doing the wrong thing for money.  For selling your soul.  And finally doing stupid stuff for your own vanity.

Thirdly there is the true story that goes with this song.  That in real life involves flying saucers and aliens.  And it’s a Doozy.  It deserves it’s own separate post.  Stay tuned.

Finally the video is only evocative of the theme of the song. Not literal. The child represents the innocence that will be lost. Drag queen Manley Lennox represents our protagonist. He of course is “cross dress” his allegiances.

 

I Am Talking To This Flower- Camper Van Beethoven

In this song the protagonist is working with Los Tigres. Trying to get information about the CVB and Mexican informants in Southern California.  But  mostly he’s  thinking out loud.  He is essentially talking himself into joining the CVB.  His bosses of course think this is a good idea He is supposed to be a double agent after all. But he has his own plans.  He intends to join the Rebels for real. I guess that makes him a triple agent.  He is at this point completely disillusioned with his own government. He also is feeling the effects of the Flower. He’s got a plan it’s just not quite clear….

Also while researching odds and ends for this post I’ve discovered there are a lot of people who believe that Marijuana really is a plant that Extraterrestrials brought to Earth.  Here is one such nut.

The song starts with a sample from Steve Reich’s Come out to show them.

(sampled voice:)
I had to like, open the bruise up and let some of the blues blood come out to show them…

[G] I’m working California [D-Em-C]
[G] Tex Securintellicorps [D-Em-C]
[Am] And I’m smoking lots of [C] flower
‘cos I’m really [G] bored [D-Em-C] [G] [C]

I’m talking to my contacts
They’re el tigres traficantes
They always bring me flower, for known intelligence

CHORUS:
And if I [D] weren’t high on the flower
[C] could not work for the power
that [G] stands for nothing decent any-[F]-more
Yeah if I [D] weren’t high on the flower
I would [C] walk into a [A7] tower
Do some-[G]-thing [D-Em-C] nuclear, or worse [C]

I’m talking to this flower
So what ya lookin’ at?
Texas bureau little crew cuts
You need me much more

I’m talking to this flower
Without me he’d be lost
Maybe I should join the rebels
At least the chicks are hot

REPEAT CHORUS

 

14 Come Out

Well going back to the alternate universes and pop star theme: in our New Roman Times reality  Steve Reich is a pop star.  He plays a sort of highly repetitive hypnotic blues rock.  Often singing one phrase over and over again.  In California and Mexico where there is a lot of Flower smokers he is especially popular.  This song he makse  in reference to a martyred mormon separatists famous last words to his followers  “Come out to show them”.  This song is playing on the radio as our protagonist drives back from Fresno CA to LA.

This song was really just a tag on the end of I am Talking to this Flower, we hadn’t developed a proper ending and one take  David Immergluck, Jonathan Segel and i just kept playing.  Some how i got inspired to start singing “Come out to Show them” over the end.  It accidentally developed into a this strange plot point.

Tomorrow part 5.

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8 Responses to “#28 New Roman Times part 4: Unabomber as Folk Hero. Steve Reich as Pop Star”

  1. Chris Rathman Says:

    Might Makes Right is about as close to a Phil Ochs song as we got for the 00’s.

  2. I, too, got sucked in a bit by the Unabomber and his fascinating life story. In a college class, we had to do a research paper on “an infamous person in American history”. I raised my hand and said, “Can I write to the Unabomber?”, and my professor said, “If it was anyone else but you, I’d say no, but you… please do!” Long story short, Dr. Kaczynski wrote back… and I seem to be on a federal watch list.

    Incidentally, check out this Kaczynski-related article from Wired magazine circa April 2000, written by Sun Microsystems’ Bill Joy:

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy.html?pg=1&topic=&topic_set=

  3. Justin Watterson Says:

    Mr. Lowery, I am just taken aback by this blog you’re doing. It’s incredible. Good to know everything I was listening to wasn’t just me. You are a very deep, imaginative person. Since you started this, I haven’t even been able to listen to Van Halen. Ha.

  4. Justin Watterson Says:

    Not to kill the mood, but what the hell, is this de ja vu all over again?

  5. Dr. F Zen Hinkopf Says:

    In my alternate reality, in which hearing is a little fuzzy and NRT exists as MP3s (duly puchased) with no liner notes, I thought he was working for “tech-secure intelli-court” (doodah), a Kafka-like agency run out of a Mexifornian Gitmo. The black-ops judicial system.
    Also: “They get me lots of flower, but no intelligence” He’s out there supposed to be getting intelligence on the enemy, but he’s just getting high and going native. Maybe thinking of nuking those crew-cut bastards.

    • well of course they bring him “known” intelligence. which by this he means worthless intelligence. stuff they already know. but this allows him to keep up his ruse. and yes he is just out there getting high and doing nothing. we come to the same conclusion. he is better with his government and so he specifically has settled on hating the TBI guys he has to deal with from time to time.

  6. Never heard of the Rodeo Song before. From the first Amazon customer review of the album it’s on:

    “My brother showed up with it at a family camping n fishing trip. We wore that tape out and ran every one else off the lake with it! ”

    I hate that part of Texas.

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