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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, September 2, 2016

Don't Road Rage on P.O.W.s: A Public Service Message

I had a real Patton Oswalt "Christmas Shoes" moment a few weeks ago.  Pop music has a very...complicated relationship with the military.  AC/DC, for instance, is the unofficial band of the army.  But by and large I heard a lot more country when I was in the army than I necessarily preferred.  Every morning the commanding general of Ft. Sill greeted us with "Brought to you Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," which is just an unbearable song at the best of times, but to have to hear it every morning just compounds its grating awfulness.

Well, anyway, this blogpost isn't about that.  This blogpost is about a picnic I was at a few weeks ago.  Every year the commander of the Navy base I now work at throws a picnic for the employees.  Of course, this being the military, you can't just call it a picnic or even field day.  No.  We need an unnecessary acronym for it, just as we need an unnecessary acronym for literally everything.  So this picnic is known as ERAC, Employee Recognition and Awards Ceremony.

So I'm sitting there at the ERAC, and as is often the case at such picnics, there was music blaring over the speaker system, and as is usual in the military, it was some country music.  For some reason I started listening to the lyrics of the song and I nearly shit myself.  To be fair to the artist, let's just reproduce them here and I'll go over my thoughts on the matter.

I was flying down the highway
Weaving in and out of traffic
I was racing time

Okay, so the narrator's being an aggressive driver.  The good news is, in retrospect, he realizes he was being an aggressive driver.  Okay.  Everybody gets that way on the road sometimes, but it's important to recognize it.

An old man pulled out in front of me

Oh, yeah.  Old people.  Old people driving slow can really fuck you up on the road.  Especially if you're already in that ragey place. 

And I went crazy as can be
I lost my mind

Wow, okay, so at this point I think I know where this story is going.  The narrator starts out in a rage, he even recognizes he was being an asshole, some old guy pulls out in front of him, probably not meaning to do anyone any harm, but the narrator loses his shit anyway.  Which we've all done.  So probably he realizes that you shouldn't road rage on people, and shows some contrition, and, yay, song!

But wait!

I blew my horn till I got close enough to see
And what was on his car-tag sure convicted me

So this is getting a little strange.  Is this like a sitcom where the character is yelling about his boss and then it turns out his boss is standing right behind him? So this guy raged out on a guy on the highway and it turned out he was somebody important?

P.O.W. 369

Wow.  Damn.  Dude rolled out the hellcome wagon and the little old guy was a vet, and not just a vet, but a prisoner of war.  So, now, here's the chorus:

I should salute you from this heart of mine
And thank you for placing your life on the line
For me, I'm free
I pray that the rest of your journey is a peaceful one
And may you take your own sweet time
Mr. P.O.W. 369

So, the song continues, but that's basically the whole gist of it.  There are no other lessons learned.  Just, dude was raging, little old man pulls out in front of him, dude rages even more until he realizes the little old guy was a vet...then suddenly he feels like he has egg on his face.

It's like there's zero self-reflection here.  It's not like, "Oh, you know, you probably shouldn't road rage on anybody, and I learned that lesson when I road raged on a vet this one time."  No.  It's not that at all.  It's like he's saying, "Road rage is okay...unless it's on a vet, you bastards, so keep an eye out on those bumper stickers.  P.O.W.s can take their own sweet time and shit, but everybody else GTFO of the way!"

I mean, in doing my research (read: Wikipedia) for this blogpost, I learned that the guy who sings this song, Darryl Worley, is most famous for that godawful "Have You Forgotten" song, so I'm not surprised that he's not big on self-reflection and taking life lessons away from his experiences.  He's more about being maudlin and oversimplifying shit.  In which case, I guess "Fuck with everybody but P.O.W.s" tends to err on the more introspective side of the spectrum of messages.

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