Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Perfect Storm

January 20 2009

The Perfect Storm

A Fond Farewell to the 43rd President of the United States

This is truth and reconciliation day
I got up to watch the inauguration at eight
This morning and felt the tension of eight years of anxious
Worry evaporate from my neural matrix storage
Eight years of wasted wars, eight years of official
Statements distorting the truth, and hastily-awarded
Contracts, and secret compacts, and danger-courting
And total incompetence, coupled with amazing sources
Of confidence, such as the conservative base supporting
This is a day for healing and faith-restoring
Obama even commissioned an award-winning scholar
A poet of great worth, to perform that ancient service
Of composing a piece of occasional verse
To celebrate his inauguration with ornate words
Now there’s an honest day’s work
But this? I can’t even say his name – it hurts!
I guess now I know my place on this earth
Not the herald of great heroes who deserve our respect
No, more like the chronicler of regret
The reminder of those we’d prefer to forget
Is there no alcoholic remedy to erase
Recovered alcoholics from your memory banks?
No cure for bitterness in a time for giving thanks?
Guilty tyrant, thy offense is rank!
It stinks to high heaven! And yet this blank
Expression on your face betrays no hint of angst
Placid incomprehension instead of dripping fangs
Or at least contrition for the dead civilian ranks
It takes a big man to admit mistakes
Well, he still stands on midget legs
But at least we saw growth in all fifty states
When they picked his replacement on election day
Obama’s already been embraced by every nation
His inauguration is finished, and the last administration
Has nothing left for it but victim impact statements

And rest assured, there’s plenty of eloquent critics
Ready and willing to give them hell every minute
And never let them settle into a quiet
Respectable retirement; certain individuals
In the legal profession believe there’s sufficient evidence
To see them imprisoned in the federal penal system
For deliberate breeches of the Geneva Convention
Not to even mention the fact that their people listened
In on civilians without judicially seeking permission
But hey, that’s strictly a legal decision
Nothing to do with me; my specialty is lyricism
I would’ve cheered when the impeachment was issued
Sure, but I prefer not to give these people attention
Unless that attention will get them neatly arrested
Or at least convince the electorate to completely reject them
I mean, they certainly don’t need me to accept them
Besides, I’d rather keep it effervescent
The USA has an incredible president
A sensible man, conscientious and intelligent
A person with principles and effortless eloquence
So why am I wasting my intricate syllables
Protesting the criminal offenses of a pathetic
Ex-president, a Crawford, Texas resident
Instead of just adding him to a list of irrelevant
Idiots, and forgetting him, period?

Why? Because my benevolent ex-professor requested it
Better yet, my friend requested it
And when I’m ‘friend requested’ I tend to accept it
Even when it leads to endless unsolicited messages
Such as the ones you’re presently getting peppered with
Not every job is empty of unpleasantness
Someone’s job is to collect effluence
From the sewer system and test it for potential infections
In order to prevent the spread of pestilence
My job is to catalogue the thick-headedness
Of the former Commander-in-Chief of speech impediments
And despite his recent attempts to claim the best intentions
My ambition is to ensure that his name is never mentioned
Again, at least not in the same breath as
Anything inspiring, hopeful, or progressive
Only as a cautionary tale, a haunting presence
For future generations learning important lessons
I can’t imagine a more impressive example
Of how oppression leads directly to rebellion
Or how to weaken a nation’s defenses
And subjugate their safety to political interests
And sell out the public good to private business
I don’t know how he gets 20% in the census
Except to say that some people really are senseless
That’s why I called him a ‘symptom’

But I won’t call him evil; even though
He caused the unnecessary deaths of a lot of people
And his powers of perception were often feeble
(Which isn’t a problem unless you happen to be in control
Of launching rockets and watching the economy grow)
I simply see it as the unchecked growth of the common ego
Bad decisions? We’ve all made them before
Sometimes responsibilities get laid at your door
And there’s even justifications for the waging of war
In certain cases, as a last resort
When your safety is at stake, and for staying the course
And making tough decisions and taking calculated risks
Even if your kids may end up paying for it
What’s the metaphor I’m searching for?
When it comes to personal shortcomings, intelligence
Deficits, hubris, etc, he wasn’t just dirt poor
He was the perfect storm

And now, with the storm clouds lifted
After being pushed to the outer limits by a White House
Filled with cowards and nitwits pretending to represent
The national interest while devouring endless resources
And burning thousands of bridges; after listening
To the countless insipid pronouncements issuing
From beneath those beady eyes and prominent brow ridges
After cringing as they trotted out false witnesses
In support of ever more twisted selfishness
Their military prowess directed at houses and villages
With rushing limbic systems defending their callousness
Driven by apocalyptic visions that sound religious
When really they were just out for riches
Now, with the storm clouds lifted
With the hurricane passed and the base of power shifted
We have to get up off the ground and shake out the splinters
And let go of the anger and the feeling of helplessness
It’s time to finally get down to business
And deal with this world as it is, without bitterness

This isn’t to say that it wasn’t outrageous
We may indeed be at the end of a dark age
In a time of salvation, or just an about-face
But I’m done with foul language, no sour grapes
Let them take him away to pay for his proud ways
Or just leave him alone to live out his days
Either way, he’s nothing without his job title
Except a mascot, a neo-con pop idol
As for the rest of us, let’s just feel the buzz
Like this is Endor after the Death Star self-destructs
Into clouds of dust; give the cowboy his open range
Today my attention is focused on hope and change
On the present path, and on the future instead of the past
Let’s change what we can, and accept what we can’t
And direct our energy into the next president’s tasks

© Baba Brinkman, January 20th 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Week in Rap

January 12 2009

For the past year or so I've been working with a company called Flocabulary based in New York, a very creative group of people who produce educational hip-hop content for schools. I've written songs for their teaching projects, and more recently recorded an episode of their weekly hip-hop newscast: "The Week in Rap". If you want to check out Flocabulary, you can find them online at www.flocabulary.com.

Here's the video for my rap newscast:

The Week in Rap 01-09-09 from Week in Rap on Vimeo.

You can check out more episodes of The Week in Rap at: www.theweekinrap.com

2009: The Illusion of Design

January 8 2009

Friends and Naysayers,

New year's resolutions are the personal equivalent of financial projections and business plans for companies, forever subject to the unpredictable crashes and booms of outrageous fortune. I will not succumb to anything as delusional as a resolution, but I will project my year as clearly as I can see it from here, and perhaps the illusion of design will adapt it to the projection, or at least provide some entertainment value in retrospect.

Why would I burden you with a year in preview? Because I would like to solicit input on new projects I am undertaking, and solicit gigs from those of you who are interested in my projects, be they Chaucerian, Orwellian, or Darwinian.

January I will spend here in Vancouver working on my new show, "The Rap Guide to Evolution", which was commissioned recently by the Bioscience Department of the University of Birmingham. One of the professors there, Dr. Mark Pallen (a bacterial geneticist), asked me if I would be willing to "do for Darwin what I did for Chaucer" and I responded that it would be an honour.

So in February I will travel to England for a ten day tour of Darwin-related events and venues organized by Dr. Pallen and his team. February marks the Charles Darwin Bicentennial and universities and natural history museums around the world will be celebrating the patron saint of biology. The show is currently undergoing the murky embryological process by which compositions are formed, so if any of you have any thoughts on the subject of evolution, I'm all ears (for the next three weeks or so). I'm currently trying to make sense of it from as many angles as possible.

March and April will consist of school touring in the USA, mostly with the Rap Canterbury Tales, but also with the North American debut of the Rap Guide at the Fresno Rogue Festival. If any of you know of a college, high school, or any venue at all where I could spin a yarn or two in the States in March or April, my RCT program information is online, just click here.

Oh yes, and in late April I will travel to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Microfest (a theatre festival), my first trip to the far East!

May and early June will about one thing and one thing only: treeplanting. Nuff said.

Then in June I will return to the UK to reunite with Dizraeli for another season of performing "The Rebel Cell" (think 8-Mile meets 1984). A production company from London, SPL Productions, is taking on the show for 2009, re-working it for a larger audience, and orchestrating a tour of UK
festivals, a return to the Edinburgh Fringe in August, and finally a West End run at a theatre in London in September/October. The details have yet to be worked out, but the tour is confirmed and we are very excited to be working with these guys to resurrect our Orwellian hip-hop parable.

Since nothing is finalized for the post-August portion of 2009 I will stop there for now, and reveal more only as it is revealed to me.

And what else is new? Aaron Nazrul's song "When the Night" will be featured on the new Beverly Hills 90210 airing on CBS network TV on January 13th. He and the band are currently on tour in Central America, and have been creating video blogs along the way, so if you're curious to see what's up with them check the Myspace page.

Looking forward to hopefully seeing many of you during my travels in 2009, and a happy and prosperous new year to you all,