Thursday, February 17, 2022

Ranking (most) of the Beatles Solo Albums

I found that the pandemic really hampered my ability to concentrate on music, but after watching Get Back, I wanted to explore the Beatles solo stuff more. I hadn’t listened to much of them outside of Greatest Hits collections and a couple of the well-known albums. 

 I gave myself some homework: listen to (most) all the albums in chronological order and rank them in order of how much I like them. I fully understand the limitations and flaws of a ranking, but this was fun for me and it gave me some structure to my free time. These are just like, my opinions, man. 

I purposely skipped over the early John/Yoko stuff, George’s instrumentals, Paul’s classical and electronica, as well as Ringo’s Christmas album. (I just didn’t feel like listening to Christmas music in January.) Also, for some reason Ringo 2012 isn’t on Apple Music?

Happy to hear polite suggestions and recommendations for things I may have overlooked! 

62. Bad Boy - Ringo Starr

61. Ringo the Fourth - Ringo Starr

60. Stop and Smell the Roses - Ringo Starr

Just going to write about all three of these at once. The late 70s and early 80s were not kind to Mr. Starkey. These ones just felt awkward and didn’t really fit him well. 

59. Press to Play - Paul McCartney: Nothing really here that’s spectacular. The 80s were a definite hit and miss decade for Paul. Favorite Tracks: However Absurd

58. Postcards from Paradise - Ringo Starr: A lot of schlocky stuff from Ringo in this one. Other albums in this era are much better from him. Favorite Tracks: Rory and The Hurricanes, Let Love Lead. 

57. Old Wave - Ringo Starr: A couple of good tracks to open the album but nothing else. Favorite Tracks: In My Car, Hopeless. 

56. Gone Troppo - George Harrison: George just phoning it in and ready to move on to some other projects. Favorite Tracks: None 

55. Give My Regards to Broad Street - Paul McCartney: I just don’t get the point of redoing the material less than 20 years later. The only good track is the original. Favorite Tracks: No More Lonely Nights. 

54. Extra Texture - George Harrison: Something about the production just feels wonky on this one. Other reviews mentioned “This Guitar Can’t Keep from Crying”, but I wasn’t really feeling it. Favorite Tracks: You

53. Sometime in New York City - John Lennon: This record has not aged well. It might not be fair to judge it with a 2022 lens, but the political statements on the record just feel obtuse coming from John and Yoko. I wonder if this record would have aged better had he chosen a different name for the first track.. However, I like New York City. I feel like it doesn’t give enough credit for being a fun song. And We’re All Water is Yoko’s best contribution to John’s albums. Favorite Tracks: New York City. John Sinclair, We’re All Water

52. Liverpool 8 - Ringo Starr: I wish Ringo had kept his early 2000s streak going, but not a ton of meat on the bone here. The title track is the highlight. Favorite Tracks: Liverpool 8, RU Ready?

51. What’s my name? - Ringo Starr: Overall an ok collection of songs that lean into the peace and love brand. John's Grow Old with Me is a highlight, opening track is kinda eye-rolly.

50. Sentimental Journey - Ringo Starr: A spirited effort, but not really suited for Ringo’s voice. Favorite Tracks: Bye Bye Blackbird, Have I Told You Lately, Night and Day.

49. Y Not - Ringo Starr: Not a masterpiece by any means, but the Walk With You track dueting with Paul is great. That makes the album. Favorite Tracks: Walk With You.

48. Beaucoup of Blues - Ringo Starr: A totally fine country and western record from Ringo. Just gets overshadowed by all the other spectacular releases at the time. Favorite Tracks: $15 draw, I Wouldn’t Have You Any Other Way, Coochy Coochy

47. Off The Ground - Paul McCartney: Paul makes a 90s album. Honestly nothing really sticks out to me as a Paul song. He could have written this for the Wallflowers or a similar band. Favorite Tracks: Off the Ground, Winedark Open Sea, C’mon People.

46. Give More Love - An ok outing from Ringo. He tackles a couple of country and reggae style tracks, with decent results. Favorite Tracks: Standing Still, King of Kings. 

45. Wild Life - Paul McCartney: I think I like this one more than most people, but it feels like Paul is still figuring out how to work in a band again. The Love is Strange cover is definitely the highlight. Favorite Tracks: Love is Strange, Dear Friend 

44. Pipes of Peace - Paul McCartney: Paul makes an 80s album. The duets with Michael Jackson are good, as is the title track, but it just doesn’t feel like Paul. Favorite Tracks: Pipes of Peace, Say Say Say.

43. Ringo’s Retrograve - Ringo Starr: A couple of really good tracks, but it falls off outside of those. The opener is one of my favorite openers to any solo Beatles project. Favorite Tracks: A Dose of Rock N’ Roll, Hey Baby, Pure Gold

42. Somewhere in England - George Harrison: This one just barely sneaks past the Mendoza line of albums I’d like to revisit. All Those Years Ago carries this album. A few other interesting tracks, but you can kind of feel he’s ready to be done with the music game for a while: Favorite Tracks: All Those Years Ago, Blood from a Clone, Teardrops.

41. Rock N’ Roll - John Lennon: All three of the rock n’ roll covers albums kind of ended up by each other. I thought this was better than critics give it credit for. It’s kind of amazing it got recorded at all, given how wild the sessions and aftermath were. Favorite Tracks: Stand By Me, Be-Bop-A-Lula, Peggy Sue  

40. CHOBA B CCCP - Paul McCartney: Good solid covers. Favorite Tracks: Kansas City, Twenty Flight Rock

39. Run Devil Run - Paul McCartney: The rawest of all Beatles cover albums. Favorite Tracks: All Shook Up, Run Devil Run

38. Kisses on the Bottom - Paul McCartney: Paul’s take on the standards. If you like this music, you’ll love it. Sorry, Ringo, Paul does the classic better: Favorite Tracks: My Valentine, Bye Bye Blackbird

37. Red Rose Speedway - Paul McCartney: Better than his previous outing of Wild Life, but I feel like this one doesn’t come together all the way. Am I the only person who doesn’t care for My Love? Favorite Tracks: Big Barn Bed, Hi Hi Hi

36. Memory Almost Full - Paul McCartney: All of Paul’s recent stuff is really good, but this one didn’t resonate as much with me. Favorite Tracks: Mr Bellamy, Ever Present Past.

35. London Town -  Paul McCartney: I can see why Wings bandmates got frustrated with Paul, but his stuff stands out on this one. Favorite Tracks: I’m Carrying, Name and Address

34. Milk & Honey - John Lennon: If they took all the John tracks from this and Double Fantasy, it would probably be my favorite John album. (Sorry Yoko.). I like hearing content and happy John, and I’m said we didn’t get to hear more of that. Favorite Tracks: Nobody Told Me, Grow Old with Me, I’m Stepping Out.

33. Thirty Three & ⅓ - George Harrison: Both this one and the next show the softer side of George. The really good stuff is great, but I don’t think it has the same cohesiveness and some of this other stuff. Favorite Tracks: Crackerbox Palace, This Song, Beautiful Girl

32. George Harrison - George Harrison: You could convince me to switch this one and 33 ⅓. This one has sort of a James Taylor flavor to it. Favorite Tracks: Blow Away, Here Comes the Moon. 

31. Back to the Egg - Paul McCartney: I don’t think Paul gets enough credit for how much he can rock. Old Siam Sir was one of those absolute gems of a deep cut that I discovered doing this. Arrow Through Me is one of his best heartbreak songs. Favorite Songs: Old Siam Sir, Arrow Through Me, Getting Closer

30. Walls & Bridges - John Lennon: In the context of his two previous releases, this one has more gems. He can still put together a great bluesy jam. Favorite tracks: Whatever Gets You Through the Night, What You Got, #9 Dream 

29. Time Takes Time - Ringo Starr: A good comeback album from Ringo after a messy decade for the drummer. Favorite Tracks: Don’t Go Where the Road Don’t Go, Golden Blunders

28. New - Paul McCartney: Paul worked with four different producers on this one, and it sounds great. They do a great job of finding a ‘Paul’ sound without him sounding dated. Favorite Tracks: Queenie Eye, New

27. Dark Horse - George Harrison: This is probably the album I went back and forth on the most on the entire list. It would be much higher if George’s voice would be 100 percent. The grovely style works well on the title track, but you kind of get sick of it midway through. I’d love to see this album covered by some modern bands. Favorite Tracks: Dark horse, Far East Man.

26. Driving Rain - Paul McCartney: All of Paul’s stuff in the 2000s ranges from really good to great. This one is a bit more brooding. Favorite Tracks: Lonely Road, Driving Rain, She’s Given Up Talking 

25. Tug of War - Paul McCartney: One of the better 80s albums, perhaps that’s because of George Martin’s production. I like it when Paul makes a Paul album with influences from the time, rather than trying to do what everyone else is doing. Favorite Tracks: Wanderlust, The Pound is Sinking, Take it Away

24. Vertical Man - Ringo Starr: Producer Mark Hudston gets the best sound out of Ringo. I really enjoyed this series of albumsFavorite Tracks: What in the World, King of Broken Hearts  

23. Venus & Mars - Paul McCartney: A perfectly fun 70s rock album to showcase Paul’s versatility. Rock Show is Paul’s rock n’ roll chops at his best. Magneto and Titanium Man show his songwriting prowess. You Gave Me the Answer reminds me of Honey Pie. Favorite Tracks: Rock Show, Magneto & Titanium Man, You Gave Me the Answer

22. McCartney III - Paul McCartney: It’s great that Paul is still making relevant and popular music nearly 60 years after his career started. This one is more in line with the past McCartney albums- a little more sparse, a little weird, but still a lot of fun. It feels like an album to listen to in January, when all you can see outside is snow. Favorite Tracks: Find My Way, Women and Wives, Pretty Boys

21.Mind Games - John Lennon: At first I didn’t care for this album, but gave it another listen when I was paying more attention. This has got some more interesting stuff. Also, John is great at a lo-fi jam. Favorite Tracks: Bring on the Lucie, Out the Blue, Meat City

20. Wings at the Speed of Sound - Paul McCartney: I really liked the group effort on this album. It feels kind of like a Beatles album. Favorite Tracks: Silly Love Songs, Let ‘em In, She’s my Baby

19.Choose Love - Ringo Starr: Producer Mark Hudson knew how to get the best out of Ringo. It’s fun, but not campy. It rocks, but it doesn’t sound like he’s trying too hard. It’s just a lot of fun to listen to. Favorite Tracks: Give Me Back the Beat, Choose Love, Free Drinks 

18. McCartney - Paul McCartney: This is lower than most people would have it. I like it, but I just like a lot of albums more! It’s hard to not judge this album in context of George and John’s post-Beatles releases. It feels kind of underwhelming compared to the others, however, even Paul just dinking around at home is brilliant. Favorite Tracks: Junk, Man We Was Lonely

17. Flowers in the Dirt - Paul McCartney: The 90s production doesn’t work all the time, but when Paul is on, he is on. This really good stuff on here is stuff you can put on all your post-Beatles playlists. Favorite Tracks: My Brave Face, Put it There, Figure of Eight

16. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard - Paul McCartney: I get the vibe of Paul and his friends just jamming in a small studio out in the middle of nowhere. I like that it doesn’t feel too heavy. Favorite Tracks: Fine Line, Jenny Wren, Friends to Go

15. Goodnight Vienna - Ringo Starr: I can picture Ringo just playing this in a pub somewhere and inviting his friends up to enjoy it. Makes for just a fun listen. Favorite Tracks: Goodnight Vienna, Snookeroo, No-No Song

14. Ringo Rama - Ringo Star: I didn’t know what to expect with Ringo’s music from the 2000s, but there is some really great stuff. This is one the Ringo formula at it’s best: all-star lineup, great rock riffs, and Ringo vibes. Favorite Tracks: I Think Therefore I Rock N’ Roll, Never Without You, Memphis in Your Mind

13. Egypt Station - Paul McCartney: My favorite Paul release since Flaming Pie. It has just got some fantastic tracks to kick it off. It’s inviting and a fun listen. I like it when Paul balances between accessible and weird. The explorers version has some really interesting stuff on it too. If you’re looking for a recent Paul release, start here. Favorite Tracks: Come on to me, Happy with You, Fuh You

12. Living in Material World - George Harrison: I’ll admit, it’s hard to listen to this album in the shadow of ATMP. It’s fantastic in its own right. Though I prefer R&B George with horns than acoustic George. Favorite Tracks: Give Me Love, Living in the Material World, Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long.

11. Double Fantasy - John Lennon: I’ll admit that I don’t care much for the Yoko contributions on here, but John’s stuff is great. It sounds like he’s made some peace in the world. I’m sad we didn’t get to see more of that John. “I can hardly wait to see you come of age” from Beautiful Boy has got to be one of the most heartbreaking lines in music history. Favorite Tracks: Just Like Starting Over, Watching the Wheels

10. Cloud 9 - George Harrison: After about a decade of more misses than hits, this was refreshing. I always like it when the guys are having fun. And Got My Mind Set On You is probably the most fun song released by a solo Beatle. Favorite Tracks: Got My Mind Set on You, Fish on the Sand, When We Was Fab

9. McCartney II - Paul McCartney: This is probably higher than some people would put it, but I love it because Paul just goes for it and makes a delightfully weird album. And after listening to some schlocky 70s Wings stuff, it was fun to just hear him tinkering around. Favorite Tracks: Coming Up, Temporary Secretary, Nobody Knows

8. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - John Lennon: This one gets at something primal, more than any other album. You can feel John is working through some stuff. Your mileage may vary. Though Favorite Tracks: Hold On, Isolation, Remember. 

7. Brainwashed - George Harrison: Ok, there might be some personal bias in this ranking, but I have an emotional connection to this album. I had just started getting into the Beatles a few months before George died, and I spent most of my disposable income on CDs. And in my moody phase, I wanted to be like George. It’s a mixture of fun and serious, and it’s a perfect coda to George’s life.  I still love listening to this whole thing. Favorite Tracks: Any Road, Looking for My Life, Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea. 

6. Flaming Pie - Paul McCartney: This was one in my blind spot. It grabbed me right away with the opening track. It feels fresh, even though it’s now 25 years old. After a meddling mid-80s through mid-90s or so for Paul, it feels like the Anthology project really inspired him. Favorite Tracks: The Song We Were Singing, Calico Skies, Young Boy

5. Ringo - Ringo: I listened to these albums in roughly chronological order. In the midst of the other three’s sniping, it was nice to hear that someone was having fun amidst the bad blood. The singles on this are definitely Ringo at his best, and credit him for getting the other three to play on this. His outro on You and Me makes me smile. Favorite Tracks: Photograph, Oh My My, It Don’t Come Easy. 

4. Imagine - John Lennon: The first two John albums are both excellent. I’ll admit that his work was probably my least favorite as a whole, but his best songs are timeless and carry a lot of his work. You could probably talk me into putting Plastic Ono Band ahead of this, but I think I like the non-single tracks just a little better. Even though it makes me sad to think about the context, “How Do You Sleep?” is a great diss track. Gimme Some Truth is one of my favorite underappreciated John songs. And even though it’s silly, I like hearing John happy on “Oh Yoko!” Favorite Tracks: Jealous Guy, Gimme Some Truth, Oh Yoko!

3. Band on the Run - Paul McCartney: I feel like this is Paul’s best known solo work, and for good reason. It captures the fun and wildness of being back in a band again. Favorite Tracks: Band on the Run, Jet, Mrs. Vanderbilt, Nineteen-Hundred and Eighty-Five. 

2. Ram - Paul McCartney: This is one I didn’t really know before I started listening. I only had heard Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. Every track on this album is a unique experience, filled with so many different textures. It’s simple, it’s goofy, it rocks, it’s just a fantastic listening experience. Favorite Tracks: Too Many People, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Monkberry Moon Delight. 

1. All Things Must Pass - George Harrison: No surprise here. George’s post-Beatle catharsis is a masterpiece. It’s amazing how many songs he had just ready to go after the band broke up. Fifty-plus years later, it holds up, and it’s still just such a joy to listen to. Favorite Tracks: What is Life, Wah Wah, All Things Must Pass

Saturday, January 22, 2022

2022: The Dry Year

Three weeks into 2022, I have not had an alcoholic beverage. I want to see if I can remain dry for the entire year. 

24 year old me would have looked at me funny. Heck, even 30 year old me would have thought I was nuts. I would never consider myself a heavy drinker (save for a few regrettable weekends in college and a bachelor party or two), but I've always liked being the guy who's said, "Let's go get a beer."

I knew I had to make some sort of change a few months into COVID lockdown. I began drinking almost daily. It was a coping mechanism, and I wanted to support the local breweries. I think I gained close to 20 pounds. I wasn't sleeping well. I did the 30 Day Alcohol Free Challenge that summer. (I actually lasted about two months.) I began drinking again, less than I did before, but still 5-7 days out of every month. 

I began tracking my mood in six different categories last year, and I noticed a correlation between when I drank and a worse mood. I didn't sleep as well. My resting heart rate was higher. I just generally didn't feel as good.

With COVID still raging, most of the drinking I did was at home. While Kelley would enjoy an occasional drink with me, she didn't enjoy it as much. So, it was usually me drinking two tall boys at home on a Friday night. And that just didn't appeal to me as much as time went on.

So, I decided to make 2022 a dry year for the following reasons:

- I've come to really value sleep. If I get anything less the a restful 7+ hours, I am a mess the following day. I hate waking up in the middle of the night to having to go to the bathroom. 

-I just feel gross after a few beers. As I get older, I get diminishing marginal returns on the refreshment I get from a beer. 

-We're not going out as much, and drinking by yourself at home is not as fun.

-I'm trying to get some healthier coping mechanisms. 

-The non alcoholic options are much better! Heineken 00 has become my go-to beverage. I feel like I'm having a beer without having a beer. 

Three weeks in, and I've already noticed some changes. I've been sleeping better, and my resting heart rate has fallen down a few notches. Looking forward to the challenges ahead. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Who Gets the Benefit of the Doubt

After the news of today of a trial in Wisconsin, I'm going to be thinking a lot about who gets the benefit of the doubt in our society. 

As a white kid growing up in the outer suburbs, a neighbor friend of ours had a lot of toy guns, rifles and pistols. A half-inch bright orange cap over the barrel was the only thing that stopped people thinking they were real. We played "cops and robbers" and had fake target practice off of the wooden tree house in his back yard. We had the benefit of the doubt that we were just two kids playing around 

Tamir Rice never got that benefit of the doubt. Even as an adult, Philando Castile didn't get that benefit of the doubt. Millions of other Black boys and men don't get the benefit of the doubt and get bestowed with the label "patriot" when they have guns. 

I don't even want to mention that young man's name in Wisconsin. He's gotten far too much attention already. 

Instead, I want to raise up Father Greg Boyle. A true peacemaker who went into basically warzones armed only with the love of Jesus and endless amount of compassion, where he's created real peace and calmness. I hope you are able to fill your heart and head today with his words and love, and not the empty words of men and women behind television cameras and computer keyboards who only want to sew discord and hate. 

I hope we can all find the courage to choose love, and not guns. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

"We gave you strict orders not to teach his name!"

Today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles,  5, 27-33 made me think about who we are listening to and who gets to speak. (Bolding is mine) 

 When they had brought the apostles, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man's blood on us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.

Reflecting on this a little bit, I thought about the council as a representation of white supremacy. Not necessarily the KKK or stereotypical version of that, but the quieter, less obvious white supremacy that I and so many other people who look like me benefit from. The white supremacy that whispers, "He should have just complied with the police" or says they're "just joking" when dabbling in racial stereotypes.

Recently, the Iowa statehouse voted to end "divisive" training on issues like implicit bias or diversity training. Former President Trump signed a similar executive order during his term. I've attended a number of diversity training sessions, seminars, and discussions. Are they all of the same quality? No. But did I regret going to them? Not at all. Even though the Apostles were spreading the good news, the council got so angry that they wanted to kill them! And sadly, this is still happening 2000+ years later: People still literally want to kill the messengers

What will it take for us to let our guard down and repent? How do we listen to the Holy Spirit and not the human council? 

May we allow the flowers of grace and forgiveness to flourish, instead of the bitter fruits of defensiveness and anger.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Vanity Legislation, Baseball, and John 3:16

We're in the middle of the most high-profile trial over a police killing ever, Minnesota just saw another black man killed "mistakenly" by another policeman, all the while COVID-19 is still a thing, and Josh Hawley, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz want to retaliate against baseball? The three of them held a press conference today about removing their anti-trust legislation.

This is all in response to Major League Baseball—a corporation acting in the free market— moving the All-Star game out of Georgia due to voting laws that would disenfranchise minorities.

I'm not going to examine the ins and outs of the law or the baseball trust exemption, but the Gospel readings today, John 3:16-21 (Coincidentally, a sign held up at many baseball games) stood out to me, specifically, verse 19.  

And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.

That third line stuck with me "but people preferred darkness to light." In the midst of so much trauma and turmoil in our country, these three men chose vanity, attention, and retaliation over actually helping people. This trait isn't unique to these three men or their party. And I know at times I have preferred vanity to all these other good qualities of the Holy Spirit. 

These three are wealthy, privileged, well-educated men who have the ability and power to change the world, and yet they made this decision. Our politics, faith, and communal life are worse off because of it. 

George Floyd had no money, no privilege, and not much of an education. He had his struggles and I'm not going to pretend he was an angel, but this anecdote from a special section of the Star Tribune on him stuck out with me. (The whole thing is worth a read.) 

When Smith and other volunteers arranged for homeless people to have their blood pressure checked, get haircuts or go out to eat, Floyd was usually there to help out.

Even though his life was full of darkness, I think Floyd strived to find those glimmers of light.  

But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Doubting Thomas's and Racism


I’ve been thinking a lot about pain this past week, especially after this week’s Gospel reading.

After yet another shooting of a black man in the Twin Cities compounds the trauma already at high levels due to the Derek Chauvin trial, I thought about the Gospel reading this week which described “Doubting” Thomas and how he reacted to rumors that Jesus was actually alive.

Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.  

I’ve seen too many takes - and so many of them from white people - who treated George Floyd’s killing, and now Daunte Wright, and the news so many other deaths of black men, women, and children like Thomas did to a resurrected Jesus. They did not believe. 

They did not believe in the existence of racism. They did not believe that there could have been an alternate situation where a person did not have to end up dead. They did not believe in the secondary trauma affecting people with different colored skin. 

A few years ago during a discussion about something current events related, a former teacher told me, “We have your pain is not valid because it’s not my pain crisis" in this country. When I was growing up, I thought my pain was unique. As I grew older, I learned it wasn’t. We all have issues and pain. Friends who I thought had ‘normal’ childhoods talked to me about the pain and challenges they faced growing up. We are all broken in places.  

I don’t know a ton of Black people, but I feel like I know enough to say that being Black in America comes with a certain number of challenges, painfulness, and trauma just due to skin color. Much of which is invisible to white people. We didn’t grow up with being on guard when we see a cop car. We didn’t grow up being followed in stores for being suspicious. We didn’t grow up with the racism of low expectations. And since so many of us didn’t see it growing up, we “will not believe.” 

This isn’t to say that one person’s pain is more important or others. This isn’t a diatribe against policing. I’m not trying to be ‘woke.’ I am stating what my faith is calling me to do. And for those of you whose first reaction is “What about…” I will preemptively respond with the first words Jesus told Thomas, “Peace be with you.” 

In a recent marriage enrichment class I took with my wife, we learned about three responses to when our spouse brings up something up, turn against, turn away, and turn towards. Turn against is where we become defensive, which leads to conflict. Turn away is when we become apathetic or ignore the problem. And turn towards is when we put in our full selves towards the issue and we approach it with a full heart and willingness to engage. We, white people especially, need to turn towards the problem of racism. 

I believe this needs to be stated clearly: there are systems in place that are causing significant trauma and fatal harm to black and brown citizens of this country. And so many of us need to quit acting like Thomas and believe it.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Nick's Notes: It Can Happen Here

I felt a lot of things after seeing the video of a couple wearing homemade face coverings with swastikas into the Marshall Wal-Mart on Saturday: anger, disgust, sadness to name a few. But my mind drifted to two people I knew well during my year and a half in town.

One young man, who is African-American, came to Southwest Minnesota State University to play football. He worked for the YMCA and volunteered for the Special Olympics. When I wrote a profile of him for the Marshall Independent, his coach told me, “He’s so invested in the community of Marshall. From his teammates to where he works at the Y, he seems to touch everybody’s life he comes across.” After graduating, he stuck around Marshall to get his master’s degree and raise his two kids. In other words, he’s the type of guy you want in your community.

Hitler forcibly sterilized hundreds of black Germans. They were also kicked out of schools, refused jobs, and incarcerated (Unfortunately, much like what happened under the U.S.’s Jim Crow laws.) I ask you, Marshall, which types of people do you want in your town?

I also thought about a colleague at the newspaper. We spent many late nights taking phone calls to get football and basketball scores late into the evening. He works hard and cares about the community. He also was born without the lower half of his left arm. That never stopped him from working hard and building a great life in town.

In 1940, the Nazis implemented “Operation T4” in which 70,000 Germans and Austrians with disabilities were killed. According to the United States Holocaust Museum, over 275,000 people with disabilities were killed by the Nazis throughout the war.

Can you look my former colleague in the eye and say, “I am all right allowing symbolism in this community that is fundamentally at odds with your right to life.”?

In the video, the woman wearing the Swastika said, “If you vote for Biden, you’re going to be in Nazi Germany. That’s what it’s going to be like.” I find that ironic seeing that her partner thought it was all right to accessorize his shirt featuring the current president of the United States with the literal symbol of Nazi Germany. Call me crazy, but I think when someone takes the time to sew a face covering with a swastika on it, the burden of proof is on them to prove they are not a Nazi.

An aside to Trump voters in the Republican party, are you ok with this man wearing a Trump shirt? Would you be ok with him wearing a Regan or an Eisenhower shirt? And if you called out Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her anti-Semitic tweets, I hope to God you are forcibly denouncing the literal representation of the worst anti-Semitic actions history has ever seen.

I know Marshall a little bit and I know there are those of you who will speak up and speak out against stuff like this. Please keep talking, posting, and protesting that this is not OK.

Then there are those of you who might disagree with the method of this couple, but you agree that masks are anti-American and an insult to our freedom, or that this couple should be allowed free speech.

You’d better be the loudest denouncing this. If you think the extermination of 11 million people is equivalent to a request to wear masks to protect the vulnerable in our society, you’d better do some soul searching. I hope you also thought about the cashier-a young man, who is a person of color- and what he was thinking while just trying to do his job.

Future generations will wonder what the hell was going on in 2020, and my hunch is that those wearing Swastikas will not be treated kindly.

Will you be able to tell your grandchildren that you were on the right side of history?
Here’s your chance to prove it.