After the gold rush by Trevor Plumbly
‘Helpless, helpless’ (Neil Young)
Neil was scarcely boy-next-door material; he looked like someone had abandoned him in a doorway: overlong hair and a face that charity would describe as ‘lived in’. But the guy could write! He was the high priest of the folk/druggie followers (see ‘The needle and the damage done’). Vocally he wasn’t much, but then neither were the others; the message was more important than the melody. They were heady times with newly discovered drugs, rights, sexual freedom and social wrongs to identify with, from racial discrimination to nuclear disarmament. We had the anthems; Dylan, prior to going off the social boil, gave us a few goodies, but, looking back, was there a more prophetic line than, ‘Look at Mother Nature on the run’ in the 1970s?
‘You only get what you deserve’ (Janis Ian)
Nature’s been on the trot since the 70s and not surprisingly she’s got a bit puffed. Sadly there’s not much we can do ourselves, we leave that stuff to leaders, with the result that you’d have to wonder whether democracy’s really worth it. Years ago, I had the option of voting for Lord Buckethead or The Monster Raving Looney Party; I used to think those guys were clowns, but how about the current mob? What sort of leader declares a ‘let’s get together freedom day’ in the middle of an epidemic? Public school education triumphs again! Way to go Boris! That should shush the peasants at the gate. It’s a lot more subtle than choking the buggers to death with the old school tie.
‘I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain’ (James Taylor)
Wildfires in Canada and the US, floods in Central Europe, China and New Zealand, what’ll it take to convince politicians that something’s seriously wrong? It’s not heaven sent for Christ’s sake, it’s not God lighting matches or turning on taps that’s causing the damage, it’s us. The repercussions from the screwball values we’ve swallowed don’t end with climate change. Accounts of horrific acts against innocents get shelved in a trice; God forbid that social media should be forced to repeat itself.
‘Still crazy after all these years’ (Paul Simon)
The ‘developed’ world shows little sign of returning to mass sanity. America, crippled by social unrest, political chicanery and gun violence, cheered itself up recently when two billionaires shot themselves into space for around eleven minutes, presumably to get a bird’s eye view of a world they’ve added little value to. Excuse my cynicism folks, but on one of the continents they looked down on children are forced to eat insects and leaves to survive, but according to the gold-plated Poo-Bas the little jaunt was a breakthrough. Only in America I guess, but folks are still lining up to get into the place, maybe that offers a more logical meaning to the term ‘asylum seekers’.
‘On a train going nowhere’ (Kenny Rogers)
Happenings in NZ concern me, and when Jacinda Ardern declared war on climate change and heaps of other stuff, hope replaced the old troubadour’s dire warnings. Here at last was a champion; you name it, she could take it on: poverty, homelessness, conservation and anything else that needed a poke in the ribs. But to paraphrase the poet, ‘Lately I see she’s like all the rest, stimulants in one hand and tranquilizers in the other.’
Her government promotes electric vehicles whilst tolerating the import of millions of tons of dirty coal from Indonesia, trumpets the need for clean water at a time when dairy farming continues to pollute our rivers on a grand scale. We produce eight times more food than we actually consume, yet people are still joining the queues outside food banks. It all seems a bit cockeyed even after a medicinal sip or two. I’d ask my MP for enlightenment, but like the man said years ago, ‘Look out kid they keep it all hid’.
Must go, my big yellow taxi’s arrived!