Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Different is Good

I don’t mean that being different is good for the sake of being different. That would be like art for the sake of art; a ridiculous idea, ultimately, that, like lots of things these days, sounds okay on the surface but doesn’t stand up to any kind of analysis. Art for its own sake is emptiness and meaninglessness. It would be the same in regard to daring to be different for the sake of being different. In other words, what would the point be? If we don’t have a reason for doing something, we’re just flailing about.

Take a guy like Claudio Roditi, for example. A jazz trumpeter of Latin American descent (Brazil), he’s different. Dizzy Gillespie was different, too, but Roditi goes one further. Most guys play just regular old Bb trumpets. For Claudio, that’s not quite enough. He plays a German rotary valve trumpet; a design concocted by, you guessed it, zee Germans, and intended for Teutonic stuff written by Richard Wagner (pronounced Ree-khard Vog-ner), the operatic genius. No, Claudio decided to innovate and be different. Why? The rotary valve trumpet possesses a singular tone; it’s rich and powerful when you give it the beans, yet it’s dark and subtle in the hands of a skilled musician who knows how to use space as well as sound. Plus the rotors can contribute, with practice, to faster fingering, having a little shorter throw than comparative valves. In other words, Claudio Roditi dares to be different with a purpose, to bring to Latin combo jazz a little something unique, darker, more colored, more vibrant, more introspective, something that burns a little hotter.

Different is good.

I refuse to get on the hybrid car bandwagon, for instance. I don’t think driving a Prius is green at all. The batteries, the heavy metals, the massive amounts of copper and energy that go into producing a new Prius, considering its useable life span (tied to the battery pack, natch, which costs around $4k to replace), all of it adds up, tipping the balance against. It’s far greener to keep an old banger on the road. Hello, that’s recycling in action. Plus old cars are just cooler. That’s my opinion, but it’s based on my thinking on the subject. The Prius and electric cars have been really oversold in the mainstream areas of our culture. It’s not as if they are grown on the Magic Tree of Communal Love and delivered to your doorstep by friendly polar bears walked on leashes by naked hippies sipping on soy chai tea lattes. They’re manufactured by heavy global industries. I don’t see what all the fuss is about carbon dioxide anyway; I thought trees loved that stuff. I thought they kinda needed it to photosynthesize. Ah, but I ask too many questions.

And I dare to be different, not “just because,” but because of thoughtful consideration. There’s a reason I have my convictions. I’ve earned them. You might assume I am some backward pro-Nazi conservative elitist, reading what I’ve written so far. But no. I’m actually not. Believe me or no, especially given some of the commentary I’ve written about current events the past four years; I am not easily defined as a person. You can slap the label of conservative upon my chest if you wish, but all that will do is prove your own ignorance, your own rashness and eagerness to label people.

Truth be told, the facts are more…nuanced, to use a leftist’s politically expedient catch word. I don’t run with Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity. While I do agree with the conservative outlook mostly, I’m not fool enough to believe those guys are news outlets. They’re biased, just as sure as Chris Matthews and his lot are biased in the other direction. Media lives and dies at some point by sensationalism, and I’m not buying it anymore. I confess I did at one time, but I’ve grown past my Chicken Little stage. I’m all growed up nah. If I had to pick a box from all the political ideologies out there, it’d most likely be the one marked Libertarian. But it doesn’t magically fit every situation; that decision is revocable when things start to get ropy and fail to fit properly. I fall outside of the mainstream by choice. I reserve my final decisions until after most of the lemmings have passed by. Which, by extension, makes me extremely conservative, I suppose. At any rate, I’m different and proud of it.

And now that I’m on the topic of ideology, I might as well hammer it home by asking you a question: Will you be voting in November? Perhaps a few more questions: Are you going to abstain for the sake of total frustration? I’ve considered that myself. How about this: Will you be voting on the basis of some slogan? G.K. Chesterton said it best: “As an ideal, change itself becomes unchangeable.” In other words, slogans are just propaganda; they’re dead as soon as they’re minted. At any rate, I think it’s clear to anyone with a cogent stream of thought inside their head that the kind of change we’ve had to endure for the past four years is not the sort most of us wanted. I think most of us just wanted someone at the switchboard who had half a clue what to do to stop the hurting out here in the real world. Clearly, we’ve not yet found the right men and women for the job. This November, the search continues in America.

I still have faith in America, in us. Ours is the only nation on the face of the earth constituted as we are. We’re filled with individuals who love being different, who have deep conviction of principle, who have mountains of fortitude to draw upon as we go forward into the breach. We come together not under the coercion of some megalomaniacal wannabe dictator, but united by and under the duress a man like that has produced, and we unite so as to extract that poisonous barb from the fabric of our homes. And when that business has been tended to, we return to our many and various different enterprises. We go about our own business. Different, and we’re okay with all of it, because a body made entirely of heads would be really gross. A body needs a good thinking head, a neck to swivel on, a body to hold it, arms to help it, and legs to move it.

I don’t expect you to “celebrate diversity” by trying to fit inside some dictatorial state-mandated mold that looks like me. Neither then, should you try to force me to surrender anything rightfully mine under the auspices of fairness. This is America. We’re not even supposed to be the same. We’re supposed to be different. That’s part of what liberty is. I know what reasons I have for striving for my convictions. I don’t desire to force anyone to be just like me. Why would I want that? Then we wouldn’t be different anymore. 

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