A Christian on the sidelines is a Christian not going forth.

As Erick Erickson splutters about Moloch like Allen Ginsburg and Canada like Stan’s mother in “South Park,” let me remind him that Canada has no Bill of Rights and no jurisprudence that for more than a hundred fifty years limited conflicts between businesses and people as inadmissible unless the federal government was involved because the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to the states. In his United States, Christians have no right to the prejudices that they want their businesses to enforce. I won’t link to it because malaria is contagious:

Already Christians are being harassed by fellow American citizens for not wanting to participate in a gay marriage.

The time will come, more quickly than you can imagine, when you will be made to care.

We are not using the state to enforce the commands of Scripture. We are using the state to protect our ability to preach the scripture under the first amendment. If the state has the power to change the definition of an institution that it did not create, but that God himself created, the state can compel and coerce the church to honor that definition or sit on the sidelines and shut up.

A Christian on the sidelines is a Christian not going forth. You can be a sincere Christian and support the idea of gay marriage. But you would also be foolish to ignore what is going to happen to the church once the state decides something is a matter of equal protection. You can dismiss me now, but you are ignoring what’s already happening.

Keep in mind as well that many of those who you may look to for reassurance that I’m wrong are hostile to the church already and will not be on the side of the church as the equal protection arguments against it grow.

Hear that, Baal worshipers? Because God created marriage, the state can’t regulate it. Note the weasel words “participate in a gay marriage,” which any person with a remedial eduction will interpret to mean, “Gays forcing straight people to get married or marry them.” If coerced sodomy and coerced marriages is happening in cities and towns in America, Erick Erickson has a duty to tell us. Otherwise he is a Christian not going forth.

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Earl Sweatshirt and Meghan Trainor

Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt

Ten songs in less than thirty minutes, the intensest clocking in at an exhausting 1:50. Bitches who tell him what to do in “DNA” and “Faucet” get their comeuppance – verbally, as I’d expect from the son of a law professor and poet. Where Doris boasted a phalanx of not inexpensive taste makers like the Neptunes and The Alchemist, this album has a ghostly late ’90s spareness, often content to let piano and percussion repeat motifs after Earl’s had his say (even Odd Future mate Tyler is absent). But spareness too often gets praised as an end in itself; I Don’t Like Shit is the kind of album that hangs around the low teens or twenties of year end charts, liked but unloved, waiting for acclaim in 2017 as a minor classic. Each song has at least one vivid metaphor; I’m taken with the one in “Wool” that goes “Fifties in my pocket falling out like fucking baby teeth.” In toto though he doesn’t have much that’s new to say about being young and when he’s low and peakin’ and it’s low in the deep end, but his timbre impresses me: think belligerent Masta Killah without the polysyllables. And his sullenness is his own, which is why the title is a banger.

Meghan Trainor – “Dear Future Husband”

Few things are more horrifying than forced cheer; here’s some music for proles. Pop rewritten as post-Reaganite future shock. Meghan Trainor’s “True Blue” as if “Like a Virgin” and — better — “Hanky Panky” didn’t exist. “Runaround Sue” interpolated as if she meant its anguish and its delight in revenge as recognition that a ring on her finger and the left side of the bed are all she wants.

Male critics tend to equate sexual forthrightness in songs with feminism, so when a female artist (Chrissie Hynde, Liz Phair) writes other kinds of material the artists are said to have forsaken the promise of their early work. It’s an unfair and shortsighted conclusion borne of fealty to the liberalism of good intentions: the guys want to not only show they get the idea of a woman who enjoys giving and receiving sexual pleasure but that there’s validation to their pinup dreams (e.g. Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” held up as a triumph but Tammy Wynette as puppet). I think country’s handling this phenomenon in more interesting and fraught ways than Meghan Trainor. I can accept “Dear Future Husband” if the song and arrangement had created tension between them and the performer like I hear in Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic” or in a few Katy Perry tunes. What I hear is a winsome muddle.

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‘Some coquetry cycles this blue edge’

The much underappreciated poem Jay Wright is responsible for March’s poem “The Lake in Central Park.” Happy March.

It should have a woman’s name,
something to tell us how the green skirt of land
has bound its hips.
When the day lowers its vermilion tapestry over the west ridge,
the water has the sound of leaves shaken in a sack,
and the child’s voice that you have heard below
sings of the sea.

By slow movements of the earth’s crust,
or is it that her hip bones have been shaped
by a fault of engineering?
Some coquetry cycles this blue edge,
a spring ready to come forth to correct
love’s mathematics.

Saturday rises immaculately.
The water’s jade edge plays against corn-colored
picnic baskets, rose and lemon bottles, red balloons,
dancers in purple tights, a roan mare out of its field.
It is not the moment to think of Bahia
and the gray mother with her water explanation.
Not far from here, the city, a mass of swift water
in its own depression, licks its sores.

Still, I would be eased by reasons.
Sand dunes in drifts.
Lava cuts its own bed at a mountain base.
Blindness enters where the light refuses to go.
In Loch Lomond, the water flowers with algae
and a small life has taken the name of a star.

You will hear my star-slow heart
empty itself with a light-swift pitch
where the water thins to a silence.
And the woman who will not be named
screams in the birth of her fading away.

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Here we go again, Florida.

My state made the news again: a Senate panel approved a bill ordering that women wait twenty-four hours before having an abortion. Innocuous enough, I suppose, but we don’t need yet another law requiring yet more enforcement:

Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said she sponsored the proposal because an abortion is a “major medical procedure.”

“You don’t go into a knee surgeon one day and say tomorrow I want to get a full knee [replacement],” Flores said. “I don’t think this should be treated any differently.”

Flores added that she had heard “horror stories from women who regret their decision.”

“We want to ensure not just that women are aware of the psychological effects, but that they are aware of the medical and physical effects, as well,” she said.

The obvious riposte is, “Yes, people do get knee surgery. Or plastic surgery — at a moment’s notice. Some regret their decisions. So what?” Unsaid: unless it’s an emergency, to schedule knee surgery requires several administrative sign-offs and is seldom life threatening. The courts haven’t yet ruled that the due process clause of the Constitution extends to protecting elective knee surgery.

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The bleating of a besieged minority

The loco weed that Governor Mike Pence and the GOP-controlled state legislature of Indiana is the latest and perhaps last gasp of the anti-homo movement. It knows it has lost and probably will lose when SCOTUS hears Obergefell v. Hodges in April. These state legislature are all the religious right has got. Which is why Dems consistently suck at playing the long game. They don’t give a shit about local politics until their paymasters at Apple et al. get miffed.

Having finished Zelizer’s onion-skin-deep but well-reported and forcefully argued account of the passage of lib legislation during the Eighty-Ninth Congress of 1965-1966 The Fierce Urgency of Now, and noted how quickly support for voting and civil rights for black Americans from clergy to chambers of commerce turned — so quickly that necks snapped — to Northern odium stoked by fears that blacks would move next door and hence start a riot, I fear a backlash, or, better, a whiplash. All it will take is a child accusing a gay parent of molesting him. Or litigants who actually do want the state to legitimate a triad. Silly, but events have moved at such blinding speed that to think of gay life before Lawrence v. Texas is for me to imagine Lucy Hayes so afraid of electric light in the White House that she refused to switch on light bulbs herself.

In the meantime — for a long time yet — we endure the bleating of a besieged minority, empowered by a self-pity as chronic as leukemia. David French, who compensates for his last name by writing the most overwrought shit for a warmongering rag, laments:

It serves to demonize the last significant constituency standing in the way of sexual revolution radicalism. After all, unless you demonize your opposition, the general public will have little appetite for forcing Christians to pay for abortion pills, forcing Christian groups to open up to atheist leadership, or forcing Christian bakers or photographers to help celebrate events they find morally offensive

I won’t link because I don’t give NRO the unique view. But I recognize the posture. After years of media tolerance, these Christianists and their lobbyists are alone for the first time in modern history.

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Eminem as ‘pop fixture’

Internet-based criticism was in its Pre-Cambrian phase, but I still read a formidable number of essays, rebuttals, columns, and dismissals of every kind on The Real Slim Shady in 2000. “My Name Is” having passed me by in 1999 (don’t ask), I was prepared to love “The Real Slim Shady” the rest of my life. I objected to the dumb boy band references. Em was pretty, was played alongside “It’s Gonna Be Me,” wanted to be pop. But “The Real Slim Shady” was every bit the landmark on Clear Channel radio he wanted it to be; not since mid nineties Mariah Carey had a performer so reveled in the vocal dexterity at his command (he had a few things to say about her too). The Marshall Mathers LP remains a slog: what’s awesome and novel at 4:44 is exhausting at an hour, like listening to a decent Rush Limbaugh skit in loop (I listened to “Under the Influence” again to be sure). As usual Tom wonders what revolution “The Real Slim Shady” was talkin’ about:Tom

In “The Real Slim Shady” his enemies now stop being the world and himself and start being more specific parts of pop culture. Which is where the “soft targets” problem comes in. Eminem is announcing his arrival as a pop fixture – and the success of his first album had made that inevitable – by taking on the weakest of imaginable enemies. He knows his tribe, and their prejudices well, but this stuff is the opposite of shocking. He’s consciously consolidating the audience he’s found. But the arrival of Slim Shady in the real world loses something. In the twisted universe of “My Name Is” he’s a force of chaos, a self-destructive trickster. Here he presents himself as just another cultural commentator, needling away at the entertainment biz’ foibles and hypocrisies. What’s his actual critique of those “little girl and boy groups”? They annoy him, and maybe Christina Aguilera slept her way to the top. It’s less Loki, more Perez Hilton.

The loud majority, as it were, symbolized by the MTV Video Music Awards appearance of Eminem leading the Slim Shady Army onstage, sticking with him as he braved every trend in the next decade, keeping his sales largely intact.

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The long obituary for the compact disc

For as long as CDs have been around I’ve read these stories. Before CDs it was vinyl (no one much liked cassettes). Starbucks has joined the planned obsolescence of the CD:

The CD, never a much-loved object, is inching toward critical endangerment. At the end of this month, Starbucks plans to stop selling CDs from those comforting cardboard counter-display cases, where they were as convenient an impulse buy as mints and biscotti. The company’s decision does not come as a shock; what’s most surprising is that Starbucks continued to hawk CDs for this long

This may surprise readers, but I own one external hard drive. I still prefer physical copies. When I accumulate a certain number of songs on my desktops, I burn them — the same way I used to compile mix tapes in the nineties. Because I love wine and books, I simply buy or create fewer physical copies. My memory’s gotten good. What I don’t keep or remember I can conjure through YouTube. I must own the music or delete it.

I can’t be the only one who concludes the opposite from the following: “Now, when record labels send physical copies of CDs rather than email digital files, it seems like an imposition.” For those of us who fetishize deleting, digital files are cheese on a trap: if I don’t want the file, I erase it. I hate keeping songs I don’t listen to on my phone or laptop. I’ve got several digital albums waiting in my inbox for me to stream them, a procedure less onerous than finding space, digital or physical.

An adviser for a college station whose students looked at me funny when, after volunteering for a special alumni slot last August, I brought a small case of CDs, I still signs of the medium’s dominance. Every day the kids reeive two dozen albums. They get assigned for review and ripped for MegaSeg but the physical copy remains in the station’s archives. My office is insulated with thousands of CDs (and a forlorn copy of Olivia Newton John’s Soul Kiss). These kids know land lines when they visit their grandparents and have never seen a fax but conduct their business with compact disks. The paradoxes of modern life.

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