It would have been better for all of us had Belinda Carlisle remained with the Go-Go’s.

But I understand.

Out with the new wave, in with the old money. Also, there was very real acrimony within the group, and a clear disparity in talent.

Plus, The Machine is better at optimizing the one than the many.

“Do you know what that’s worth?”

I sometimes feel bad for Belinda Carlisle. She was a core part of the Go-Go’s, a fun, reasonably talented “all-girl” soft punk hard rock group, which the world needs more of, even if the world regularly forgets this. Also, she was plump. Pretty, but Ohio pretty, which is fine, really, ask any man, but The Machine does not tolerate Ohio pretty, even when it’s a native of California. The Machine forced her to alter her body, her looks, probably to starve, probably to cut herself off from what she was, all just to sell records — not art, never art, art gets in the way.

Instead of fun, rocking numbers from the Go-Go’s, we got the music equivalent of cheap powdered donuts.

“They say in heaven love comes first
We’ll make heaven a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth”

It gets worse.

In the 30 years since this song was released — yes, really — Earth got even less heaven-like. That doesn’t seem like it should be possible, yet it’s true. We can’t put down our phones, can’t turn away from the screens, we are drowning in data, losing ourself in information, regularly outraged, depressed, obsessed, so deeply removed from our center that even sleep is difficult for many.

And The Machine — its packaging, its emphasis on consumption, on the one, not the many, that is now stronger than ever.

“In this world we’re just beginning
To understand the miracle of living
Baby I was afraid before
But I’m not afraid anymore”

I’m not afraid, not really, just disappointed — in all of us.

To be fair, sometimes The Machine gets it right. “Heaven is a place on Earth” is a fine song, really. But we deserve so much better.


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