Sirwin
Sirwin

Searching For The Sugar, Man

By Nathan Payne | pablosmoglives | 13 Aug 2023


"While the rain drank champagne,
my Estonian Archangel came and got me wasted"
Rodriguez

 

"The Weight" is a great song.  In fact it makes me kinda sad.  It reminds me what has been lost, and what has been thrown away.  I don't really want to talk about it.  It's too sad.

A major loss, losing the guy who wrote that.  The Boomers were the rich kids of history.  The richest generation of serfs that the world will ever know.  I'm not knocking it, or them.  And we could have had it worse.  Gen X was probably the 2nd-richest generation of peasants in history.  We were the first on the tornado slide to perdition.  The Boomers built it, and kicked us down it while pouring vodka into their soda cans to fool the cops, at the family get-together in the park.  We ran around in the grass in our vintage clothes.  We rode the tornado slide and deadly spinning carnival machine, flying like disembodied elves from the centrifugal force, into the gravel or grass or used razor blades, or whatever they used to use to line the surfaces of playgrounds in the 70s, while somebody's uncle kept the thing spinning at an insanely amusing, dangerous rate of speed.  It could have been worse.  But the ride is almost over.

Of course, the idea of having to become the character in an Arlo Guthrie song to avoid getting shipped off to Vietnam strikes me as horrific beyond belief.  Almost as bad as being drafted to stand alongside the Azov Battalion so your senile president can open a chocolate chip ice cream mine in the Dumbass region of Ukraine.  But Vietnam would have been rough.  Regardless, imagine living in a culture that produced songs like this:

Or this:

A culture in which you get "a beer" when you order "a beer," some Folgers if you order a cup of coffee, and in which foodies, Karens, and elaborate menu options aren't available.  If you ordered a "mocha latte," the waitress would probably call the police to check out a suspicious character that might be trafficking psychedelic drugs.  "Moka," what is that?  Can you smoke it?"  A culture in which everyone defends their right to shout "theater" in a crowded fire, and in which you see people like this when you walk into the diner:

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Can you imagine that guy serving in today's military?  The girl is even too tough for it.  Today, she'd be a colonel, and the guy would actually be smiling in a military photograph (always a red flag), happy from having finished his beanbag chair full of potato chips and video games.  Then he'd pass out after doing one pull-up, and teach his subordinates to bark like a dog while wearing a red dress from Logan's Run.

Compare, and mourn, and weep:

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They say that if you're on the wrong path, the fastest way forward is to go back to the crossroads, and make a different turn.  It doesn't make any sense to go forward down a dead-end road to hell.  It doesn't even make any sense to try to get to the 7-11 on a road where there are no 7-11s, much less trying to find a healthy, reasonable society on a road full of kleptocratic dog people who aren't even self-aware enough to notice the oxymoron in their own taglines.  The phrase "Saving Young LGBTQ Lives" is the rhetorical equivalent of putting a loaded gun in a suicide-assistance center, next to the economy-sized bottle of fake Mexican Percocet, or placing an ad for heroin in a children's coloring book, next to the picture of some naked kids fellating a guy flashing Baphomet gangsigns while wearing a Hillary Clinton mask.

I think they invented a highway sign for this exact purpose.  Let me see if I can find it.  Here it is.

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Wrong way.  Turn around.  Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.  It isn't even necessary to abandon hope anymore; hope will soon be rationed, and only available to people with even-numbered addresses, until further notice.  After the government stockpiles of hope have been depleted, it will become entirely illegal, and if you're caught with it, you'll be given the same looks you'd have gotten from the normal people in the 60s, asking for a "moka."

Turn around then, fine.  Tonight, I'm going back to this place, where they used to write real music, about things that were real.  Freedom's just another word for white hate, I mean nothin' left to lose.  Whatever.

Amazing songwriters, the Boomers.  The best, really.  But while I'm on the topic, I'm going to say that it's a visceral relief seeing music headlines go to someone who deserves it for a change.  "Me & Bobby McGee" it ain't, but "Rich Men North Of Richmond" is a good song.  It's a real song.  As in, built by hand by an actual craftsman in the garage of his heart, soul, and mind, as opposed to in a sterilized laboratory full of emaciated fat people, red latex, and fake blood.  It's great to see a deserving underdog get some attention.  Good for this guy:

But it's been a rough week or 2 for music anyway.  Sinéad O'Connor, Robbie Robertson, and worst of all, Rodriguez.  Sixto Rodriguez died this week.  Bummer, man.

I never got into him (to me, being a fan of somebody is a special thing, way beyond merely appreciating them), but a friend gave me a CDR of his music in 2005, and I definitely liked it.  Great songs, great singer, great voice, and amazing story.

Maybe I am a fan.

His story is what resonates with me the most.  He kinda fell off the map.  According to InfoGalactic, "Rodriguez quit his music career and in 1976 he purchased a derelict Detroit house in a government auction for $50 (US$208 in 2021 dollars) in which he still lived as of 2013.  He worked in demolition and production line work, always earning a low income."

Then, out of nowhere, in his mid 50s, he discovered that he was huge in South Africa.  He wasn't even aware of it.  A rumor had circulated among his S. African fans that he'd killed himself either at a show or onstage, sometime in the 70s.  Nobody knew.  Then they discovered he was alive, and living in a $50 house in Detroit.  He went to S. Africa and played a huge show to a warm, enthusiastic reception.

He was obviously a great artist, but the story just rips your heart out and juggles it with joy before your incredulous, unbelieving gaze.

Amazing.

"The Weight" is a great song, but The Band never resonated with me.  There's something about the all-star lineup of celebrated music gods all standing 400 feet apart on a stage the size of a football field, taking turns singing the great, important work into golden microphones, all glittering and holding court with the power produced by the world's adoration of their repertoire, that never did anything for me.  Great song, undoubtedly.  But I imagine Robbie Robertson and the Boomer All-Stars going into the diner and sitting at the counter, 20 feet apart, and having everything brought to them on fine china, drinking their orange juice from crystal goblets, nymphs combing their hair in between bites, and perhaps having a small fan blowing on them as they eat, adding a flowing, vagabond effect to the meal.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez is in the back, washing dishes for minimum wage in clothes he hates, going back to his $50 house to chop petrified Twinkies to use as fuel for the Twinkiestove he bought at the thrift store 40 years ago, so he doesn't freeze to death in the brutal Detroit winters.  And he comes to work smelling heavily of Twinkiesmoke and oblivion, and slogs through it anyway.

To me, that's heroic.  While "The Band" is holding court with their widespread adulation, while South Africa is spreading rumors of suicide and "searching for Sugar Man," Rodriguez is searching for the sugar, man, sitting next to the biker couple in the diner, looking like a homeless person.

Hey man, yagot any sugar?  I need to make myself a moka.

And the bikers look at him like, 

What?!?

The rain is drinking champagne tonight in your honor, Rodriguez.

Rest in peace if you can.

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Nathan Payne
Nathan Payne

I am a songwriter and bandleader who travels the world in search of the golden ticket. http://www.pablosmoglives.com


pablosmoglives
pablosmoglives

Replacing my blog at http://pablosmoglives.wordpress.com

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