Saturday, March 07, 2009

Please Forget The U2 You Saw On David Letterman This Week, But Please Always Remember The U2 I Discovered In Junior High

I admit I only bought the record, unheard, because I thought "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was one of the coolest song titles ever.  It did turn out to be a pretty cool song, but not for the reasons the little 13 year old Beavis who bought the tune was thinking. "Bloody Sunday" for those of you who don't know, is the name for a day when the British military shot 27 Northern Irish protesters. Thirteen died. Seven children. 

I cant believe the news today
Oh, I cant close my eyes and make it go away
How long...
How long must we sing this song?
How long? how long...

cause tonight...we can be as one

Tonight we can be as one. Everyone, on both sides, can agree this never should have happened. Heavy stuff. Exactly the kind of stuff a child redneck needed to hear. 

But it didn't end there. Around the time I would have seen my first black person, I got hit with "Pride (In The Name of Love)" Of course I didn't understand. 

Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

But the obvious power and passion with which those words were delivered made me want to learn. It's a good thing for child rednecks to want to learn. And the more I learned the more I cherished those words. The words that were a rock thrown against the wall of injustice that was built, guarded and made unchangeable by the powerful and privileged. Fine. They can keep it. There are things that are more important, even at the expense of your life. They never took Dr. King's pride. 

But it didn't end there. In college the child redneck caught "Rattle and Hum," the flick, as a Saturday night midnight movie.  If you don't watch any other part of this video, watch the segment that starts at 3:49

"And let me tell you something. I've had enough of Irish-Americans, who haven't been back to their country in 20 or 30 years, come up to me, and talk about the resistance, the revolution back home. And the glory of the revolution, and the glory of dying for the revolution. Fuck the revolution!

They don't talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What's the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and his children? Where's the glory in that? Where's the glory in bombing a remembrance day parade of old-age pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day? Where's the glory in that? To leave them dying, or crippled for life, or dead under the rubble, of a revolution, that the majority of the people of my country, don't want.......No more!!!!"

The child redneck decided not to sell his soul to the ROTC for college money after seeing that flick. No more. Jesus, Mary and Joseph I will never forget the atmosphere in that theater as that movie ended. I would not be in the ROTC, I would be in an army of 20 year olds who were soon to be unleashed on the world who would put up with no more. We were young, we were energy, and God Dammit, things were gonna change. 

I soon thereafter sold my soul to retail pharmacy and started to meekly fill prescriptions. U2 soon thereafter released "Achtung Baby" a fine but noticeably meeker record. 

My next U2 crowd experience came in Los Angeles almost 12 years later. I looked around and saw the army of the young and impassioned had become the sportcoat wearing paunchy and balding, waving to their friends on the other side of the arena while using their cellphone. George W. Bush was president, and he was about to show the nation the glory of invading a country that did not attack us. The music had been neutered. I think that night was the first time I felt old. Maybe the next generation.....

This isn't a sad story though, because I want to show you something else before I go. Two things actually. One is an excerpt from the eulogy of Robert Kennedy:

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Keep those words in mind as you watch this. As you watch those words that would never be any more than a rock thrown against the permanent, entrenched wall of injustice imposed by the privileged and forever guarded. As you watch the occasion on which those words were being sung.


We managed to send out a few ripples, didn't we? We can send out a few more before we're done. 


The Alert Reader said...

I feel like you've quoted that eulogy before.... it seems oddly familiar.

This also somewhat reminds me of a book you mentioned once before. The book that changed your perspective completely... it had a very weird title, and I can't remember what it was.

My steel trap brain is fried.

PS: Army pic :)

The Alert Reader said...


I like it in the city when two worlds collide
You get the people and the government
Everybody taking different sides

Shows that we ain't gonna stand shit
Shows that we are united
Shows that we ain't gonna take it
Shows that we ain't gonna stand shit
Shows that we are united

Adele - Hometown Glory

This is your third installation of Adele. I think you should just buy her CD :)

Anonymous said...

U2's tour for War was one of the most powerful concerts I've attended (up there with the first Clash and Gang of Four shows). Bono has become a parody, and U2 continues on because it can. It's a shame.

Anonymous said...

Somehow I doubt that many pharmacists will be involved in producing any ripples.It's not really a job that attracts that type of male from what I have noticed. The women seem more forceful but of course are protected by a lot of legalities. Pretending you are Bonno is so much easier than pushing back at a manager. "Dr Countier, report to your tray"

Anonymous said...

I would say that pharmacists are actually more likely to create a ripple than those in most other professions. They do it every day with little thanks. I guess once in a while they actually do thank me. Yesterday someone baked me brownies for suggesting to their husband's doctor that a particular drug was responsible for his unpleasant physical and emotional state. Lately he was sleeping a lot, was ataxic, was easily angered and cried often. After he discontinued the drug his life changed. His doctor said he would never have thought of the scopolamine patches, a medicine used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea, as a cause of his symptoms without my help. Also, I occasionally receive thank you cards from patients now and again, and I know I'm making a difference, even if it's a small one. (...and I'm a male pharmacist, too.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think that a pharmacist could do a lot more good than someone working in an office compiling meaningless reports all day, for example. Creating that ripple requires personal interaction, and a retail pharmacist definitely has that.

Lipstick said...

Great post Drug Monkey. I was listening to Rattle and Hum today and I can't believe it's been 22 years.