Tag Archives: country music

Don’t Harsh My Buzz

We all have things we love. We all have things we hate. Where the trouble comes in is when we love something that others hate and they feel compelled to tell us we’re wrong. I’m not talking here about huge social or religious dilemmas or political differences. I mean the stuff that shouldn’t matter, but people get all exercised about.

Like pineapple on pizza. There are those who love it and those who hate it. But for some reason, the haters attack the lovers as though they’ve committed a mortal sin by allowing fruit to touch their Italian dish, which we all love. (Technically, tomato is a fruit too and nobody minds having tomato sauce on pizza. Don’t ask me what that kiwi’s doing there in the photo. I have no strong opinions about kiwi. But I digress.)

Now I admit to liking Hawaiian-style pizza on occasion, the kind that comes with (for some unknown, peculiar, multicultural reason) Canadian bacon and pineapple. It isn’t my very favorite – that’s pepperoni and extra mushrooms. But once in a while, I order pineapple.

This hurts no one. So don’t harsh my buzz. Be like John. I invited John over once and served him pizza. It had pineapple on it. Without making a fuss, John picked the chunks of pineapple off his slices, ate the pizza, then ate the pineapple separately, as a sort of dessert, I suppose. That is what I call a mature, polite approach to pineapple pizza. That’s how I would approach a pizza with kiwi, if I tried it (I would) and didn’t like it. Hell, I even tried anchovies once, just to see.

I find that some people like to harsh other people’s buzzes over a variety of topics. Once, when I posted something about Star Trek, a new Facebook friend replied, “You do know you’re too old for this.” Well, phooey on that. I loved Star Trek when it first came out and I still do.

Yet it seems that loving Star Trek is not enough for some people. I need to love the right kind of Star Trek. These days, Star Trek: The Next Generation gets beat up a lot for its storytelling, plot lines – everything except Patrick Stewart, who everyone admits is pretty great, except when he says, “Engage!” or “Make it so!”

But damnit, I like NextGen (as it’s called, when it’s not called ST:TNG). In some ways, I like it better than the original series (ST:TOS). Don’t ask me to defend why I like it. I shouldn’t have to.

Or take Cats (the movie). Okay, it wasn’t great cinematic art for the ages and it didn’t have much of a plot – which is understandable if you know that the source material is a series of poems. But it had fine singing, incredible dancing, and amazing costumes. It had cats and T.S. Eliot. Why wouldn’t I love it? Even my husband said it was “astonishing.”

Country music is another area that I love that people are determined to knock. It all sounds the same, or it’s the music of racists, or everyone sings through their nose, or some other objection. Or I should spend my time listening to something good (however that’s defined).

This really harshes my buzz. I grew up with country music and, despite it being my parents’ favorite music, I never disowned it, not even when I was in my teens and the Beatles hit it big. I enjoyed both Willie Nelson and Elton John. I even enjoyed John Denver. (There, I said it!)

I don’t know. Maybe it would have been different if I had lived in Texas, but in suburban Ohio at the time, I met with only scorn among my peers. And, I’m sorry to say, that scorn continues to this day. And I can see how easy it is for that scorn to develop. I never listen to modern country music. I’m still stuck at the Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Emmylou Harris stage. (And don’t harsh my buzz about Kris Kristofferson movies, either. I still like them, except the one he made with Sylvester Stallone, whose movies I’ve taken a vow never to see. But if you like him, fine. I won’t hassle you about it.)

I’m hoping that now that Ken Burns has turned his documentary lens on it, country music will regain its status as something that it’s okay to like. In fact, I may listen to Waylon Jennings while eating pineapple pizza, and then relax with a little NextGen.

It’s my choice. Don’t harsh my buzz.

The Noble Armadillo

A new friend asked me the other day if there’s anything I collect. Not many of my collections have been very successful. Back when I was able to travel overseas, I was working on a Beers of the World t-shirt collection. Now I can’t fit into any of them or acquire more. (Yes, you can get anything on the Internet, but I had to be where they actually sold the beer for it to count.)

Another failed collection started when a boyfriend decided that I would start collecting heart-shaped boxes, made from various materials. I know it was just so he would automatically have a go-to present whenever a gift-giving occasion came up. That collection lasted about as long as the boyfriend.

What I collect now are armadillos. I started this back in the 70s and now have armadillos made from a variety of materials: wood, stone, aventurine, concrete. Plush armadillo toys. Crocheted armadillos. Armadillo pins and earrings.

The prize of my collection is an armadillo purse. Her name is Erma. She makes me easy to identify (“My wife is joining me here. She’ll be the one with the armadillo purse.”) and is a great conversation starter (“Is that real?” “Where did you get that?” “Where I come from we call that “possum on the half-shell.'”).

(Brief digression: My mother found her in a catalog. I don’t know which one.)

At this point, you may be asking, “Why armadillos? They aren’t native to Ohio. People don’t keep them as pets. As a cat owner, why don’t you collect cat items?” (I do.)

Armadillos are fascinating creatures. You may not know this, but armadillos are one of the few animals besides humans that can catch leprosy because their body temperature is so low, so they are used in leprosy research. I can thank an armadillo that my childhood leprosy now hardly bothers me at all.

(Bazinga! I made that part up – the part about having had leprosy. The research part is true.)

But I digress. Again.

There are two main reasons that the armadillo is my SA (significant animal). The first is musical.

Back in the 70s, there was a subgenre of country music variously called progressive country, outlaw country, or redneck rock. Artists such as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, David Allen Coe, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Waylon Jennings, and others broke from the Nashville music scene and started making records that featured their own bands instead of studio musicians, rock and folk influences, gritty or provocative lyrics, and so on. I was a big fan of this music and still am. (Now it goes by some other name – Americana, maybe, though I think of it as retro-alt-country.)

So where do the armadillos come in? The place that attracted and supported and freed these musicians was Texas, where armadillos abound. One of the main clubs was the Armadillo World Headquarters. That theme song for Austin City Limits is popularly known as “I Wanna Go Home With the Armadillo,” though its real name is “London Homesick Blues.” Austin and the musicians adopted the armadillo as their symbol.

And so did I.

The other reason I identify so strongly with the armadillo is that it has such unique defense mechanisms. The first is to roll up in its protective armored shell, like a pillbug. The other is to jump straight up in the air about two and a half feet.

The pillbug thing works pretty well and they probably ought to stick to that. But the jumping strategy has one major flaw.

The main menace the armadillo faces is the automobile. Their leap puts them right at car bumper height. Splat. Roadkill.

And I identify with that.

Over the years I have tried or developed various coping and defense mechanism that resembled the armadillos’, and worked about as well. Using the pillbug technique, I would retreat into a shell and let the world pass me by. Which it did, but I never got to see much of it.

When I decided to abandon that strategy, to engage with the world, I encountered lots of scary things. And how I dealt with them always seemed to end with a big, messy splat.

And that’s why I keep Erma and the armadillo collection around – to remind me of the music that still sustains me, and to remind me that what I think are ways to dodge anxiety and fear and danger just might turn out to be counterproductive.