Monday, November 24, 2008

Merle Haggard and the Depression of 2008

Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?
I am exactly as old as Merle Haggard, that old "Okie" who tried, at about my age, to take a sleigh ride right back to the good old days "When a buck was still silver/Back when the country was strong/When a man would still work and still could", but:

"Are the good times really over for good?"

Geez, he was singing this back in l985! Thirty- three years ago.

Some prophet, that Okie.

Haggard can be quite a social critic besides a constantly producing songwriter and singer.

"Wish a Ford or a Chevy could still last ten years as it should

Are the good times really over for good?"

For forty years, the country music legend has been kicking ass and making God laugh, and like me in an old codger mood, he don't need no stinkin’ sound check. I am hardly Merle Haggard, but I play music and write by the seat of my pants. After ten years on the road and three million words in print, I'm a lot like my sometime hero who once and again tries to be Babe Ruth, trying to repeat a great moment at the plate.

So I am a litle like blogger Walking Man, who really longs for the days in his thirties, when a man worked in grease, was proud of it, and had never felt better or more the rebel, even after thirty.

And me? Again and again, I am trying, after a bankruptcy (like Merle Haggard’s), to relive that great moment when I got my first column, my own kind of greasy job, which went something like this:

"For the past ten years ,I have been clocking my fellow humans' sprint back to the dark ages..."

Well. It's been thirty-three years now and the dark ages have deepened.

"The captain is out to lunch and the crew has taken over," laments the great alternative comic book man, Robert Crumb, and it's certainly the case with Canada and more specifically Toronto, where last year seven people were gunned down in broad daylight during, of all things a Boxing Day sale, right in front of the Eaton Centre, the very heart of commercialdom. The crew is indeed taking over. The motley crew, and I'm not talking about rock.

The phenomenon goes right back to 1974, where Professor Irwin Thompson, of York University, first noticed, in an Atlantic magazine article, that in North American society, someone had shot the captain and the crew had taken over. One entire generation to see things go completely to hell not only in political Canada, but in a city once known as the world's first truly urban civilization. Marshall McLuhan's pal, Edmund Carpenter said that Toronto was the city of the future, and, sadly, we have gone the way of a Baltimore Ohio on the gangster twenties, and much later, the decaying Sixties. Small wonder that Merle Haggards "Okie from Muskogee" was such a hit.

Those of us just slightly ahead of the Baby Boomers are shaking our heads and seriously longing for the good old days of the Fifties.

But back in l985, Merle Haggard was already wondering, "Are the good timer really over for good?"

They are not really over for good in Edmonton and in Calgary, and even Saskatchewan, but they appear to be numbered here in Toronto, numbered unless we smarten up and get to the root causes of gang warfare with the same zeal we applied in the stupid war against cigarettes. Oh, that they could do, and how thoroughly they did it.

And now the depression, right on time, is upon us.

And a new report in Toronto, now out about the need for doing more for the kids in the Jane Street and Regent Park ghettoes, more outlets for sports, recreation, culture. Otherwise, it' drugs and gangs.

When he was chief of Police, Julian Fantino was thoroughly hamstrung by what is surely stupidity in not realizing that Jamaica, say, has been exporting criminal gangs to Toronto for years. Former Chief Fantino nearly got a handle on it when he visited Kingston to get the lowdown on the gang situation in Toronto from another perspective, but he was the last smart copper. He is now head of the OPP.

So here we are, in dangerous Toronto, listening to old country songs on CHUM 1050, wondering, along with Merle Haggard, "Are the good times really over for good" as we try to shop, try to recover our youth, try for reentry through the wall of time, while "rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell" and wishing, along with the Ford Motor Company, "that a Ford could still last ten years as it should."

There is doubt the Ford itself can last ten years.

Yes, prophets of coutry music and academe have known it for years. There was no need for the latest multi-million dollar study, soon to be shelved, compiled by fatcat sociologists and lawyers, largely white.. The captain is out to lunch and the crew has taken over. It really took guys like Merly Haggard to early tell the news, a generation before the bureaucrats and economists..

And still we cannot break through the wall.

Cassandras have a way of dying.

You stil alive, Merle?

Somebody already wrote an obituary on you. But I saw you on TV just last night.

Was it on Stephen Colbert's Christmas?

Willie Nelson was certainly there. And even Elvis Costello.

I swear it is the artist and not the sociologist who really knows anything.



Charles Gramlich said...

I'm not sure anyone knows anything when it comes to the complexities of the modern world. and if they do they're probably manipulating it for profit behind the scenes. said...

I think I'll have to mark "true" on the margin of your note, Charles.

And yes, they are still manipulating.

Said old Play-dough somewhere, "It is the songs of a country that determine what is really going on."

That and the myth of the cave; we are shown one thing on the wall-screen and the sun is shining outside. And we chained inside.

Damn that Greek!

JR's Thumbprints said...

I think AC & the Kentucky Fox Band warmed up for Merle Haggard back in the day.

As for Ford Motor Co., they're probably the only U.S. Auto company that doesn't need the bailout money. In fact, I may purchase a few shares and cross my fingers that there isn't a stock split. said...


Sorry to hear about the late A.C Combs.
Merle still a pearl.

Ford will probably get it's quarter-billion from Obama. said...

...Oh, I just thought of that l980 hit by AC Combs:

It starts out with the line, "I got the funny feeling I don't live here anymore, When I saw my clothes sittin outside the front door." AC goes on to explain that he's not upset about the wife leaving, but "Damn. The TV's Gone."

Well, I'm sure he's got HD up there.

eric1313 said...

It's done. They won't even let us know how bad it is on the news.

What is the definition of a recession in economic bla bla terms? 2 cycles or negative growth?

And they have been saying we are in a recession for how many years? the last 6 or so by my count.

But I'm a writer (so I say...), not a freakin' counter, I know doodly squat, as KVjr would have put it.

Were there, and it will probably only get worse.

See ya latter, country bumpkin! said...

Okay, Natty Bumppo. said...


This site is suddenly popular with contractors, actually plumbers from all over.

The hits are all on my back-there blog entry, "Plumbing, Heating and Drains. PhD's passing through the rye."

I guess they like the the sound of that.

Writes Utah Plumbing Rules!:" Good post."

And Sydney Plumber, the contractor from Australia:

"Work for job satisfaction not just money." (I had been writing about highly-paid work I didn't really want to do)

Free plugs for plumbers today.

Blogger (and retired master mechanic) Mark: Next thing I know I'm going to get the Goodwrench Seal of Approval, or something.

Fact is, A PhD would be stymied if he had to know what a conractor or top-rate mechanic has to know. .

I was once a contractor out of necessity.. And I had very nearly a PhD.

Brought memories of my father chasing me around with a two-by-four after I'd fouled up a roofing.

"Stupid bastard."

I rest my case.

And I'm so far away..

david mcmahon said...

Really enjoyed this post, Ivan. said...

Why thanks, David McMahon.

I guess you're over from Jo's blog.

Best-selling novelists welcome here!

ea monroe said...

Ivan, this would make a great editorial piece for your local newspaper. I enjoyed it! Of course, I would being on Okie. ;0 After all, Oklahoma is the cultural center of the universe! ~Liz said...


Oklahoma is the cultural centre of the universe. That's why I joined. Heh.

Funny you should say Local Newspaper. I have been in touch with them both in the past and now.
...Gotta keep mum. It might well fall right through.
Comebacks are tricky.

eric1313 said...

Our very best wishes are with ya there...

we'll keep the noise down!

shhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! said...

There is a vintage Canadian story of the "still-hunter".he would sit still with his Brown Bess until a deer ambled by.

Heaven forbid he should have a dump in the bushes...For that was the time the unsuspecting deer usually arrives.

Hike up pants, drop pants, shoot deer.
Hard to do in one motion.

"Oh Dick,said Jane."
"You would shoot an old lawyer, mistaking him for a deer?
"I'd shoot a chicken, said dead-eye Dick."

eric1313 said...


Gotta love modern Canadian folk stories.

We have similar ones in Michigan, like the hunter who went into the bushes to relieve some weight, but left a bit of paper dangling out the back of his pants. He comes to find out that having a white tail in the woods is actually the best reason one could possibly have for being shot in the ass. said...


the walking man said...

Sure...Ivan you can get the GoodWrench seal of approval...bankrupt though it is.Better to have the mechanics tools and know what to do with them, until the little thugs in the neighborhood come around with their rag ass hoopdies wanting free repair but are unwilling to get their hands dirty.

Now that TO is more akin to DTW I would probably feel right at home if I was able to wake to the sounds of...gunfire. But then the only way I could afford a place in the proximity of Eaton Centre would be if I was the proud resident of a double wide refrigerator box.

*shrug* I only wonder if Fantino went to Jamaica to study Jamaican gangs or was it winter in TO? Here the latter would be the more likely answer because studying a problem only goes so far in understanding it eh? said...

Got the wrenches out and and have fixed the Ford Escort. Battery in.
Almost like the zoom-zoom kid with the success.

Now no insurance. So it sits rusting in the snow.

I sit rusting in the snow.

Sticker or liquor.
Is there any doubt?
Ah well. Try for the insurance when I get the advanced Christmas cheque.
Fantino no fool.... Thought his first name was Rudy, but it's Julian.
Only Rudolph the Red knows rain. (dear).

eric1313 said...

Hey Ivan!

What are you doing up a this hour?

eric1313 said...

And I took your advice about the last lines of the Pele poem. Axed em right off. They were a bit too much.

the walking man said...

Escorts...better one you hire than one you drive. The apex of Detroit's planned obsolescence. At least in the Netherlands the escorts have a retirement plan. said...

Hi Eric.

Stoned agin'.

I'm not proud of it.

eric1313 said...

Well, if you are stoned, take advantage of the airy thoughts and write the "Ivan's BIG Creative Extravaganza".

The Hippies say it expanded the mind... And I admit that was stoned for a good many of my old posts. Some might knock it, but if I can bump out 4 or 5 poems in a night and have at least a couple of them be keepers, that's good enough for me.

Better than rotgut! said...


email me at

I have been trying though your g-mail, but mail adminstrator says no dice.
----- Original Message ----- said...


Like any self-respecting journalist,I was on a story and rented a real escort, just to write an "I was there piece". Hey.
Pleasant. Damn pleasant.
But $300?

Saw me coming.
Clear the track!

Hard on the old expens account.

TMI, I gueess.

But what the hell. Drunk again.
Better avec than nada, I guess.
Take care.

Anonymous said...

November 26th, 2008

University students display pictures of aborted babies, the product of Henry Morgentaler’s lifetime work.

They are ostracized and threatened with fines for showing what he does.

He is awarded the Order of Canada for doing what they show.

The inconsistency of a lie.

The disregard of Truth.

The elimination of Freedom.

The fall of higher education.

The indoctrination of the masses.

The collapse of Canadian honour.

All, the result of our assent to leftist ideology.

Giuseppe Gori
Leader, Family Coalition Party of Ontario


Go to TWITTER.COM and subscribe, to keep in touch!




I agree with you that freedom of speech is gone on Canadian campuses.

Especially when there are snitch suads among the student to report any un-politicallly correct private onversation.

Here is hoping that Goebbels has no balls at all.
But he's back!
Fully loaded. Largely full of B.S.

Macht is recht!

Oh generation of weasels!

eric1313 said...

Hey, Ivan, sent that email. said...


Soggy and hard to light over here.
Should never have bought that case of 24.

Sent a reply.

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