I recently read an article about a Yale Professor who has been studying the Holocaust and the history of Central and Eastern Europe for his adult life. The man, Dr. Timothy Snyder, had release a book last year entitled On Tyranny. Since I have always been interested in history, political science and economics, I found the article interesting. Even though I was a microbiology and biochemistry major in college, I did take history classes for fun and what I considered an easy good grade. Anyway, Dr. Snyder had found that four things occurred when a tyrant begins to take root in a country. First of all, generally speaking, the people will NEVER see it coming. It’s like putting a frog in a pan of water and slowly turning the heat up, because the frog will remain in the water and eventually boil to death because the slow temperature changes will not be sensed by the frog. The same thing happens with tyranny. Perhaps the biggest thing that a tyrant attempts to undermine is the world’s basic TRUTHS. Tyrants attack everything that was once considered to be a truth so they can set themselves up as the purveyor of truth.
How does this occur? Our European friends know this for the mistakes of their not so distant elders. First, the budding tyrant will have an open hostility to all thing in which are verifiable, whether its an ethics office in the executive office or telling scientist and researchers in the CDC or within the governmental agencies to never discuss global warming, vaccines being safe and the like. Next, the tyrant-wannabe will lead the people within his power base certain chants that unify that crowd attending a rally or gathering. Generally speaking, a crowd will react to a few “dog whistle” words and begin chanting in unison, seemingly spontaneous, phrases such as “Build the wall!” or “Lock her up!”
The third way in which a budding tyrant begins to destroy TRUTH is convincing the general public of almost magical thinking. Examples would include that a tax cut for the middle and lower classes will be coming from Congress in the next couple of weeks, even though Congress is not even in session, nor will not be in session until their break is over. Or, perhaps, the budding tyrant can blame your unemployment on immigrants who are coming to our country in an effort to escape violence in their country or just to experience the greatness of our country, even though most of those people would never qualify for your job. Finally, the tyrant will put him- or herself in the place of God. You will be expected to thank the tyrant for all things you have and your place in the world. Additionally, the tyrant will be the sole purveyor of truth. And, that, my friends, becomes the final nail in the coffin for a country.
Now, do I believe that our current president is a tyrant? Not yet. But, there seems to be many signs that Mr. Trump seems to want to move in that direction. He loves all the strong men of the world, such as Putin, and often expresses admiration for the regimes running China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, among others. And, as long as he continues this method of dividing the country and appointing people of the lowest common denominator to run his departments, he slowly consolidates his power. You cannot waste time pointing out his lies and flaws, though there are many of each, you have to counteract the budding tyrants with solid programs that will actually benefit the very same people who believe they are benefiting from the tyrant’s policies, even though they continue to fall further behind economically speaking. It’s going to take a group of individuals to come together to develop and campaign behind these ideas. It is not easy beating back a potential tyrant, but it can be done. You just have to execute this long term gameplan BEFORE the tyrant attempts to subvert democracy by declaring a state of emergency in order to take full control of our government. This was Hitler’s playbook, known as Reichstag’s fire. Unfortunately, Dr. Snyder predicts that Trump will attempt this scenario very soon.
That’s why it is important to vote and to educate yourself about the full ramifications of the policies that each candidate espouses. Go back and learn from history’s patterns, so you will not fall prey to such leaders.
Sorry about that! Let me quickly step down from my soapbox before I fall off of it and break my neck. Let’s delve into the good stuff, like my current artist countdown!
40. Graham Parker – Of the critic’s five favorite songwriters from the mid-Seventies (Costello, Petty, Seger & Springsteen being the others), Graham Parker had the least amount of success. No matter! This guy is the real deal, as he has stuck with his R&B roots throughout his rich career. Plus, you can see the man himself in the movie This Is 40. Favorite Album: Squeezing Out Sparks. Favorite Song: “Wake Up Next to You”.
39. Devo – Everybody’s favorite nerd robotic de-evolutionists have given us some of the best electronic music over their 30+ year career. Could there be a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in the near future? Time will tell. Favorite Album: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo. Favorite Song: “Uncontrollable Urge”.
38. Rush – Yet another artist from a Paul Rudd movie (I Love You, Man), Rush quietly built one of the most loyal bases this side of Kiss. They are perhaps the heaviest jazz band ever. Favorite Album: Moving Pictures. Favorite Song: “The Spirit of the Radio”.
37. Chic – Easily the greatest disco band, although that label unfairly limits the band’s true vision and scope. Simply put, Chic were the Steely Dan of the R&B Charts. Favorite Album: The Chic Organization: Up All Night – The Greatest Hits. Favorite Song: “Le Freak”.
36. The Bangles – The best band from L.A.’s Paisley Underground scene, these power popsters did not get a hit until Prince gave them “Manic Monday.” What I loved about this band was their powerful playing coupled with their intricate vocal harmonies. Favorite Album: Different Light. Favorite Song: “Manic Monday”.
35. Kiss – After Alice Cooper, Kiss was my next big rock obsession. And, yes, at one time I was a member of the Kiss Army, without question the coolest name for a fan club ever. The band’s first six studio albums are all classics, along with their first live album. After that, they became cliches. But, fun cliches at that! Favorite Album: Destroyer. Favorite Album: “Rock and Roll All Nite”.
34. Styx – Named for the mythical river surrounding Hell, Styx music is nothing but heavenly. Their recipe was taking some Beatlesque vocals and adding it to a hard rock sound with a pinch of prog rock thrown in to spice things up. One of the biggest selling bands of my high school years. Favorite Album: Pieces of Eight. Favorite Song: “Renegade”.
33. Weezer – From the moment I first heard “The Sweater Song (Undone)”, I labeled them as the “Cheap Trick of the Nineties.” And I continue to stand by it! Like Cheap Trick, they are transcendent live and their first couple albums are classics by anyone’s standards. But, like Cheap Trick, they can be exasperating to follow as they can release some real clunkers for albums, then follow it up with a near-classic, just to whet your appetite, only to go back to clunkers again. But, I do love those power pop bands that push the genre forward, as Weezer has been doing for 20+ years now. Favorite Album: Weezer (“The Blue Album”). Favorite Song: “Buddy Holly”.
32. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – From the ashes of The Runaways, Joan Jett arose like the phoenix, leading rockers in a back-to-the-basics style of the Ramones and AC/DC. She has outlasted most of her peers through sheer tenacity and an obvious love ’70s Glam Rock and Bubblegum music, combining them through a punk filter. Favorite Album: Album. Favorite Song: “Do You Wanna Touch Me?”
31. George Michael – I have loved George Michael ever since his Wham! days. The man had a Daryl Hall way of writing smart pop songs that conveyed adult themes. And, he had one of rock’s greatest voices. Plus, the man stole my heart when he stood in for the great Freddie Mercury to lead Queen through a rousing version of “Somebody to Love.” Michael should have toured with Queen and not Adam Lambert. Favorite Album: Faith. Favorite Song: “Father Figure”.
Another day is down in the countdown! And, the artists’ presence in my collection are getting larger! See you tomorrow!