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Monday, March 28, 2005

Schiavo, DeLay, Leon Russell and The Sea Within

What an Easter parade of hysterics, scoundrels, posers and hypocrites...the whole sad Schiavo mess is not profound nor is it new. You can tell the Supreme Court doesn't want to touch it. As Randy Newman sang in his almost unbearably bleak and beautiful song Goodbye Old Man:

"Everybody dies."

It isn't nice and it isn't going to change, much as we want to try with ever more invasive techniques and equipment. The real question is why the religious right, which allegedly believes in an afterlife, wants to prolong this life. There is a serenity in accepting that it's time to go. Closing time, gentlemen! Drink up, head out into the night.

Instead we have grandstanding Tom DeLay exposed as pulling the plug on his own Dad, not allowing for a moment any sort of tube, ventilator, etc, despite there not being a living will. The court documents show him and his family saying, "Dad would never want to go on like this"--in a coma. Which is exactly what Schiavo's husband said she said. DeLay never even tried to extend his father's life. And he sued and won a big judgment even as he was denouncing trial lawyers.

DeLay is the perfect riposte to the writhing prayer-lawn-jockeys we've seen in the news. Happy Easter! Christ and the Dow are both risen, what's your problem? If you believe, death is just a way station on the golden road. Does this frenzy reflect a lack of belief?

So around Friday afternoon--Good Friday--amid this pious nonsense, what should come on my iTunes shuffle but Leon Russell's great religious rocker: Roll Away the Stone. Of course you'd never hear it on the radio, but check it out if you can. First, great song. Great arrangements. And consider a time when it could be a hit--what a great country we were then (1970) that this song could become popular. Some lyrics:

What a strange time we are passing through
I thought you'd tell me when your time was through
I guess you thought I knew

What a strange time that we are living in
I thought she was my woman and you was my friend
But I was wrong again

[Pssst--don't tell Tom DeLay, but the speaker/singer, whom we don't yet know is Jesus, has just said that he has been cuckolded by Mary and one of the disciples. Do you think Dan Brown was listening to Leon?]

Roll away the stone
don't leave me here all alone
don't neglect me/don't forget me
don't leave me laying here

what will they think in two thousand years?

Finally, on Saturday night before Easter, I gave in to the wife's request to see a movie that was about something other than fireballs and fast cars pinballing around. We went to The Sea Within, mostly because of Javier Bardiem, who is great in just about everything he does. And here was a paralyzed Spanish sailor trapped in his Galacian family's farmhouse for 26 years, trying his best to talk somebody, anybody into helping him kill himself. I felt pretty strange watching it given the holiday and the Schiavo background noise, but it's a serious and even beautiful movie, despite some didactic moments, which seem, however, honest. Funny too. The character Ramon has had it: He's always wanted to die because he was wrongly saved from dying the first time around--he'd seen his life run past his eyes, he'd broken his neck and had even drowned, then whoosh! Saved. For what? To lie in bed and learn to write with his tongue?

Somehow the movie is sexy too. Two women vie for his favors--such as they are, as he reminds both. There is a calming effect, despite the terrible subject matter, to seeng someone take their best shot at an impossible subject with honesty and dignity. Too bad we can't say the same for certain of our compatriots.

1 comment:

  1. And a Happy Easter to you, Don. No, I don't think that greeting is weird either. I came across your Easter 2005 blog posts in my search for my traditional Easter fix of Leon singing Roll Away the Stone. I am glad I found your very interesting blog, especially after all the time I wasted trying to save the $1.99 iTunes fee. And thanks, for the Gary Snyder poem. I guess all your writing is published in print now--no more blogging for you? Too bad for us. Anyhow, I am probably around your age--I mean the Procol Harem reference grabbed me. But, today, I fear I officially entered the old ladies club or something. A sweet-cheeked young guy who lives in the apartment downstairs rang my bell. I asked if he had found some of my missing mail. (Did you hear that Chicago has the worst mail service in the USA?) No, he wanted to give me a tray of beautifully decorated Easter cookies. My, my, I guess they moved here from some sweet little farm town. I told him I liked what I could hear of his music, and to not be afraid to crank it up. Oh Gawd, what I'd give if only my neighbors would have said that to me instead of doing crap like trying to beat down my door with a baseball bat. And it was 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, and I was listening to the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma. And they call this a free country. Okay, time for my Leon hymm.