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tribal wanderers


“Oh my God. Shut the fuck up.”

Welcome, children, I know you are all eager to take this, your final exam after twelve long years of state-enforced, parent-required, union-run, 20th century-modelled education. Please, still still, quietly, disconnect from all devices, you may not access any videos or data sources, no search engines or spreadsheets, no archived information or virtual reality training enhancements. That is not how we do things at school!

Brian! I am talking. Stop your fidgeting!


Now, to ensure you are ready for adulthood, I will call on each of you to answer a series of questions. Please, answer each to the fullest of your abilities.

Deena, you first!

The following is a list of 1,000 great books representing the very best of our culture. Name all those you have read.

None? Really? Ok.

Describe the structure of America’s government?

You can’t?

Recite the first amendment.

Yes, let’s skip that one.

Can you explain compound interest?

Agreed, that is too hard.

Have you ever balanced a checkbook?

No, I suppose you haven’t.

Here is a basic geometry question, a trigonometry problem, and an algebraic riddle. Solve.

Yes, you did get them all wrong, dear.

Recite a line from Shakespeare.

To be or not — close enough!

Give me an example of a depreciating asset.

Depreciating asset.



Name 3 presidents.

Yes, we’ll accept two.

Here is an internal combustion engine with two basic problems. Fix them.

Fine, that was too hard.

Connect this common API with this popular app.

Yes, that was also too hard, I’ll give you that.

Spell “debilitate.”

No, just one ‘a’ I’m afraid.

No, not there.

No, not there, either.


Agreed, spelling isn’t terribly important. We should probably remove that question from the test.

Why did America enter World War 1?

Agreed, that was over 100 years ago, let me change the question.

Why did America enter World War 2?

Nazis? Yes, we’ll accept that.

Here is a number set. Calculate for us the mean, median and mode.

No, wait. That’s obviously too difficult. Question withdrawn.

That’s everything we have for you, Deena. Congratulations, you passed! The future welcomes you.


The bouncy, banging Hey Ya! by Outkast may be the most fun song with the most happy music paired with the most disheartening words.

I think it a reflection of our present age — despite having been released nearly 15 years ago.

Turn it up.

Feet tappin, finger snappin, lyrical rappin, fist pumpin bass, beat and keys, now rush onto the dance floor, flesh pressed against flesh, everyone happy, free, boundless.

Listen to what is being said.

“Thank God for Mom and Dad for sticking through together cause we don’t know how.”


A one line lyrical bomb dropped on the prevailing, prevaricating culture, the culture of now.

Mom and dad stuck it out, through good times and bad, but you know, even at this tender age, that you are too weak, too undisciplined, too fearful of the slightest emotional pain to stay together — as one.

“Oh, we’ve been together, but separate’s always better when there’s feelings involved.”

Feelings, true, honest, lasting, as soon as these arise — run! That’s what this playful, high energy song — doesn’t recommend, but reveals is what’s taking place.

As soon as it gets real, you run.

And the culture, today’s culture, sanctions this, enables this, promotes this.

Are you strong enough to defy?

Make yourself strong enough to defy.

Jesus remarked, in Luke, that: “just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.” 

Don’t get drowned in the flood.

The world doesn’t need your now but your future, not your joy but your strength, not your body but your spirit, not your alone but your togetherness.

You can make the world much better, just as you can make yourself much greater, even as everything the past has constructed demands you focus instead on this now, these desires, it’s appetite.

“Y’all don’t want to hear me, you just want to dance.”


“I really do believe there’s a heaven somewhere. There’s a heaven somewhere”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its inductees for 2018. The new members include Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, the Cars and Nina Simone. Sister Rosetta Tharpe will be (posthumously) given the Early Influence award.

I did not get a vote.

Had, I would not have included Bon Jovi. I would likewise not have voted for the Cars and probably not Dire Straits. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, I absolutely would have inducted as a full member. I would also have added Yes, the Doobie Brothers Joy Division (plus, New Order), ELO, Jim Croce, Hall and Oates Dick Dale, Beck, Talking Heads, INXS, and probably PJ Harvey.

You likely know all of them except for Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Know her.

A supremely gifted guitarist who died before most Americans were yet born, she inspired churchgoers, backsliders, black, white, Elvis, Brits, Jerry Lee Lewis, and countless others.

(Tharpe) attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences, later being referred to as “the original soul sister” and “the Godmother of rock and roll”. She influenced early rock-and-roll musicians, including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. 

Tharpe was a pioneer in her guitar technique; she was among the first popular recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, presaging the rise of electric blues. Her guitar playing technique had a profound influence on the development of British blues in the 1960s.

“There’s a heaven somewhere, up above my head. Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

We undervalue pioneers, still, excepting those few that become fabulously wealthy.

I wonder if this will cease? This is the age of the destruction of everything, with the world changing so fully, so fastly, that soon the past will be as unknowable as the future.

And there will become a permanent global wandering class.

Unable to thrive within existing cultural, political and economic structures, they take to their driverless cars, using social media to interact, their hands and talents to craft, bitcoin to buy and sell, algorithms to barter.

Let’s talk now about government.

This post is not political.

Government is a consuming beast, benevolent when required or whenever mutually beneficial, but always demanding, always growing, like a shark that must keep swimming, but always always always it is seeking to devour independence, suspicious of all and whatever that might challenge its supremacy.

America presents a complication.

If the Bible is the inspired word of God, the Constitution is the inspired word of freedom.

The structure of our government — and when combined with the sanctioned bill of rights — places hard, repeated limits on the unquenchable fire of government rapaciousness.

They found a workaround.

Importing people and marginalizing others, creating a dependent class, ensures at least a high floor to government power. The dependent simply aren’t going to challenge the government’s efforts to grow and take.

They found another workaround.

Government becomes intertwined with the culture, such that no day, no moment can pass without our eyes and ears, at minimum, repeatedly and aggressively assaulted (or informed) of the government’s actions, demands and desires, and…by working very closely with those who control the culture’s entertainment, government can also sanction thought, behavior, norms while marginalizing and disempowering those who — witch-like — operate beyond its scope. This presently includes some evangelical Christians, the last remaining hippies, and a few others. 

Should such groups ever in any way threaten the  government’s glorification, the government simply goes after those groups, stripping them of freedoms, and forcing them to take on government in its realm — almost always a losing proposition for the non-government side.

But we do have examples of those very few who fight in this arena — and win.

They do so almost always through the force of their talent, so great is it that it can’t be hidden away nor destroyed nor mocked nor denied, and so great is its power that it changes people, changes their hearts, minds, and alters reality, like sound ripples which loosen the rungs, maybe even destroy a column, possibly even damaging the foundation of all existing structures.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was one such talent.

Yes, she rendered unto Caesar, as is still required, but her playing of the electric guitar revealed to us all of a new way, a better way, of a kingdom beyond.

“Up above my head, I hear music in the air.”

Another pioneering entertainer, Miss Roise Mae Moore, who recorded in the 1920s.

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