Early this morning, I drove home in the dark from Eau Claire, where I taught last night. After listening to more than an hour of reportage and commentary on the Shady Hook shootings, gun control possibilities, and mental illness connections, I turned to the local Classic Rock station for respite. The familiar thump-thump of my teen years came out in the form of Grand Funk Railroad’s “American Band.” I listened. Though never much of a GFR fan, especially after sitting behind a pillar in the rafter seats at the old Chicago Stadium during their “Locomotive” tour. Still, I listened. For a while.
The boys of this American Band are in town to party it down. Lots of booze. Getting it on with the, ur, “ladies.” Tearing the hotel down. How many times have I heard these words and hummed along with the tune? Listened uncritically? Consumed ignorantly?
Regarding the Shady Hook killings and other massacres, along with the day in and day out murder and violence in America and militarism abroad and at home, I’ve been asserting that one of the root causes is our celebration and worship of violence. We are a violence loving culture — just look at our entertainments and behavior. To lessen the killing requires change in this bloody culture. And here I was listening to a small piece of it, though there was no mention of guns and killing.
In the wake of Sandy Hook, this puerile glorification of debauchery and destruction — violence — was no longer palatable, nostalgic, or entertaining. Maybe I’m finally outgrowing teenage macho pretense.
In any case, I turned off the radio.