Like the rest of you, readers, I hung my head low last Tuesday night, and by the next morning it was pretty much touching the floor. Riding Muni to work that morning, I saw the faces of my fellow San Franciscans, looking like Civil War soldiers trudging home from a battle lost. Things seemed dire. When I got to work I considered checking into the cost of a flight to Fiji, where I might live out my life picking bananas and introducing native Fijians to really cool bands ("Dude, Interpol!"). I was planning on writing a screed on why I think we creative types -- musicians, actors, writers, directors, etc. -- should withhold all forms of entertainment from the red states until the people who live there get their act together.
Which, of course, is just a wee bit rash.
But then the day wore on, the sting began to wane, and after reading countless lamentations online, I realized that more vitriol is not what we need right now. What we need is a silver lining, which I decided to try and find. To that end, I sent dozens of e-mails to musicians around town -- from hardcore metal acts to world music makers to hip hoppers -- asking them simply to share their own personal silver linings. The response was overwhelming: far too much material to include in such a small space. Truthfully, not all of it was silver lining-ish, but all of it was inspiring. To those who responded, thank you; one silver lining for me is simply seeing those of us in the scene band together. Here's what some of your local musicians had to say:
Monty Luke, DJ of club night "Riot"
"Right now, just about the only silver lining I can say will come out of this is that people will use this travesty as an impetus to create more art that is anti-establishment. ... Our only resort right now is to continue (in our own way) to fight throughout this very dark time in history to show those who will look back upon us in the future that there was resistance. That we all didn't blindly march into war with Iraq, Iran, North Korea, etc. without a fight; because that is also what it means to be an American. At least it used to be."
Ethan Miller, Comets on Fire
"Here is one great thing: Jon Stewart (Daily Show) will be much funnier with Bush in the White House for the next four years than if Kerry won.
"Art, music, film, literature are much more enthusiastically and honestly produced in times of desperation and horror and confusion than times of success and apathy and comfort. Personally, I feel like in underground music there has been an explosion the last four years as opposed to the Clinton years which politically were much lovelier. So at least we'll be producing.
"Brothers and sisters, In the spirit of Jesus H. Christ, be loving and kind and tolerant, even to your born-again rulers who are too fucking stupid, ignorant, and hateful to be loving and kind and tolerant to thee."
MC Doseone (aka Adam Drucker), Themselves, Subtle, cLOUDDEAD
"The United States is not lacking in abundance of fine human beings; it's just torn between what it means to live in this country and what it takes to be a ruler in this country. There is indeed a lighter side to all this: I watched the Daily Show mock the election process throughout its broadcast. 8 years ago this sort of thing didn't exist; times are changing. One can watch an airbrushed president catching doves with his bare hands for children on one channel, and the same president falling up a flight of steps on the other."
Bing Ji Ling, funk-soul brother, ice cream lover
"I heard George Bush is going to start serving free ice cream whenever he speaks!"
Zach Rogue, Rogue Wave
"It's good that someone who actually threatens the Republican Party (Barack Obama) was elected into office."
Adrian Roberts, DJ, "Bootie" every second Saturday at Cherry Bar; "Guilty" every Friday at the Stud
"If there's any silver lining to the election debacle, all I can think of is this: When the economy is good, and things in the country are all peachy-keen fine, the music almost always SUCKS. Good music only seems to flourish into the mainstream when the economy sucks.
"Think about it: Punk rock and early hip hop arrived during the oil embargos of the Carter administration. A few years later, during the boom-boom Reagan years, we were treated to the likes of Steve Winwood, Poison, Phil Collins, and Cutting Crew. Then, Nirvana and its 'alternative music' ilk rose in popularity at the height of the recession. Then the economy got better, and we got the Backstreet Boys and the shallow posturing of 'bling-bling'-obsessed gangsta-rap -- the hip hop equivalent of hair metal.
"But if Bush continues to decimate our national economy by spending billions on a pointless overseas war in Iraq, expect popular music to get MUCH better. It's already starting to happen. The Britneys and Justins of the world are starting to lose favor. Soon they will be replaced by something much less plastic, less escapist, and much more real."
Ross Sewage, Impaled
"We, the doctors of the deranged, can tell you what is not just good, but great about the election results. The American homeland will be kept safe, once we've got faceless guards armed with assault rifles on the corner of every street, with none of this wussy 'civilian' oversight. Moral values will be firmly upheld once the Department of Justice makes sure to equip every indoor room with a video camera. Joblessness will reach an all-time low as each American is paid to watch another American. We will have oil forever and ever once the entire Middle East is subjugated under our rule. There will be no traitorous or amoral thoughts once the fire departments burn all of our books. It'll be a brave new world under George W. Bush! And think ... we were only off our goal of reaching this Europia 1984 by a scant 20 years!"
John Santos, The Machete Ensemble
"Last night (Nov. 3), I was among the enchanted of all ages in the sold-out house at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco to witness the musical genius of Brazil's gift to the world, the one and only Hermeto Pascoal (much gratitude and props to the SF Jazz Festival). ... He's as childlike as ever in his presence and in his transcendental music. His sense of humor is ever-present. It was the perfect remedy for post-election Blues. It reminded me of the joy that art, creativity, and honesty inspire and how powerful it is to be touched in your deepest self and soul ... how humbling and spiritually uplifting it is to be brought back to the childlike wonder and innocence of discovering or rediscovering artistic excellence ... and how ignorance and dirty politics must never be allowed to soil the sacred ground of people's art and the dignity, respect, and love that it fosters."
Eugene Robinson, Oxbow
"We just got back from touring the States (with the acoustic duo) and in these fly-over states we saw that indeed the Age of the Ape Upon Us is, actually, upon us. Realizing this now, versus when I'm murdering you for a parking space, is much better in the scheme of things."
Eric Shea, Parchman Farm
"Right now the silver lining looks like it's just going to get thinner and thinner. But if there is a silver lining within a silver lining, maybe it's that all this will force people to get up and realize that if we want to make a change that we have to really get out and aggressively fight the machine for our freedom. ... With the possibilities of abortion becoming outlawed and the draft being reinstated, maybe we'll finally get off our asses (and our computers) and follow more closely in the footsteps of a generation that helped bring back our troops from Vietnam. They certainly didn't think you could change the world with something lame like Friendster Bulletin Board posts or self-indulgent weblogs. So maybe for the first time in a long time people will stop raising awareness and start raising hell. Until then a true silver lining only seems like something on the horizon."
Nedelle Torrisi, Nedelle and Thom
"It does make a difference to organize! For example, people are afraid that 3 supreme court justices will be appointed by Bush in the next couple years. But we've seen in the past Republican-appointed, conservative justices unexpectedly vote for progressive issues due to the pressure they've felt from certain social movements. William Brennan helped strengthen free speech and free press rights, and supported rulings in favor of affirmative action and abortion rights, despite being appointed by a republican, Dwight Eisenhower. ... This is just one minuscule example of how movements can affect the seemingly hopeless state of affairs."
Conan Neutron, Replicator
"Here is what I have to say to George Bush, his backers and his ilk:
'You WILL NOT take my country from me, no way, no how.
'You WILL NOT change it into something I do not believe in.
'I will not give up, I will not flee the country, I will stand and fight until my last breath, and on that you can count.
'If I lose I will be remembered as a patriot, who did everything in his power to fight for what he believed in.
'I will tell my future kids that we did not stop fighting until the day was won, and if we do not win, then we can say we fought well and did our best.
'So, Bush, Republicans, haters of gay people, please, enjoy your day, because it is numbered.
'The Republic is dead, the Empire has arisen.
'Know this, though, the fight has only begun.
'What is past is prologue, and we will prevail.
'Count on it.'"