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Sharpen the Senses

We could bitch all day about what sucks. Why not mention some things that don’t? Such as:
Context is everything, and my understanding of world history is short of it. I’m very American in that way. If indeed history tends to repeat itself, a logical question from a worldly novice like myself would be, “What is history?”
Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads offers a helpful guide, training the lens of history on the Middle East – the true center of the world, he argues – where primitive trade routes linked empire with empire and expanded in geography and complexity in the ensuing millennia, deepening social, economic and political ties among them. Whereas silks, spices and pottery were some of the original wares of the silk roads, soon gold, oil and good ol’ fashioned slaves would dominate trade among European nations and, eventually, the Americas.
Amazingly, in 500 pages, Frankopan presents a fresh and readable history of the last 2,000 years, everything from the fall of Rome, to the Black Plague, to the discovery of the “black gold” of the Middle East, all while tracing the trajectories of the world’s empires. Wars, tyrants, collapse, tragedy, and even comedy – it’s all in there. The Silk Roads is a gift in these ridiculous, parodic days, offering perspective and nuance in a cohesive narrative that contextualizes how we all arrived here, behind our respective borders, with these leaders and these shallow and largely profit-driven ideals.
I think what’s driving George Orwell’s sudden re-emergence – with 1984 and, my favorite Animal Farm – is our need for a script. Remind us, George, how deeply our society can fall into total rule and ruin. Paint a horrific portrait so we have some inner, contextual model with which to measure the actions of the present. Sharpen our senses. Help us set some moral thresholds that, once breached, move us to proclaim, “Enough”.
After several dormant years, fast-punkers Belvedere put out a new, finely crafted record last spring. Their reunion has breathed fresh life into their still-incredible back catalog, a go-to choice for us heathens who used to hijack the house party’s stereo back in the day. Nostalgia seems to be all the rage within punk these days – Beach Slang, Menzingers, etc. – and I’m digging it.
Similarly, Strike Anywhere’s 2001 release, “Change is a Sound”, hasn’t lost a bit of its potency, especially now. The political fuckedness that pervades us has given this 16-year-old record a new level of depth. It’s caustic, angry, resolute and everything you’d want to fucking scream if given a microphone and an audience. “Kill the stain inside our heads, apathy until we’re dead, we live in defiance of empty times.” The world needs these guys right now, and they’ve mercifully began touring again, albeit in Europe but they’ll be stateside soon enough.
Got any recommendations? Would love to hear about them. Send them my way @loudipietro or wherever you’re reading this.