Tuesday, November 3, 2009

pie in the sky

Alright, I'm gonna spool out on a tangent today.
(what's new, right?)

The other day, while I was shooting the Fantasy Fest garbage (see, "these pictures are some of the worst garbage i've ever shot"), an old John Lennon song - "I found out" - started playing in my head. You know how that happens and only God knows why.

It'd been forever since I heard the tune so I was amazed that I remembered the whole damned thing. . .
"I told you before, stay away from my door, don't give me that brother, brother, brother, brother. . ."
"There ain't no Jesus gonna come from the sky, now that I found out, I know I can cry. . ." ,

"Don't let them fool you with dope and cocaine, no one can harm you if you feel your own pain. . ."
and of course. . .
"Keep you occupied with some pie in the sky, there ain't no guru who can see through your eyes. . .
"I, I found out! I, I found out!. . ."

What was playing in my head was a record. Not a cassette tape, not a CD or an iPod. It was a record.
And I know that because at one point in the playback, the record skipped.
"Keep you occupied with some pie in the sky"/"you occupied with some pie in the sky"/"some pie in the sky"/"pie in the sky"/"pie in the sky"/"pie in the sky". . .
I had to ask myself (I didn't want to, it just happened) "What the hell is pie in the sky?"

I thought about Kermit's Key Lime Pie Shoppe, but that's "pie in the street" and Soupy Sales, but that's "pie in the face" and the dudes at Mr. Z's spinning pizza, but that's "pie in the air" (sort of).
It'd been an all night shoot, I was beat, went to bed and tried to forget all about it but when I woke up a few hours later, I was still preoccu-pie-d with it.

Well so, I looked it up and, what "pie in the sky" means is "a promise of heaven, while continuing to suffer in this life", "a fanciful notion or ludicrous concept" or, in my words, "a carrot dangling in your face while you're running in the hamster wheel."

The phrase was first coined by a guy named Joe Hill in 1911. He was a hobo and member of the "Industrial Workers of the World", an anarchist - syndicalist (there's a mouthful) labour organization, nicknamed the "Wobblies". (I guess even the professional homeless were union-ized back in the day).

Anyway, every member of the "Wobblies" got a little red book when they joined. It was called "To Fan the Flames of Decent" and was filled with parodies of popular songs and hymns.

Joe Hill wrote one of his own that was aimed directly at the Salvation Army who seemed more about drumming for money and saving souls than getting anyone, beside themselves, something to eat. Hill's song, "The Preacher and the Slave" was a red book parody of the Salvation Army's hymn, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye". . .
". . .You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die. . ."

It's not exactly all that subversive, I agree, but it must have gotten somebody's attention. In 1913 the Federal Reserve Bank took control of America's money and, for his creative trouble, Joe Hill got to be one of the many martyrs of the IWW union movement. He was set up, convicted of murder, on "dubious evidence", and the state served him up a big slice of that "pie".
Joe Hill was executed in 1915.

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