Black Sabbath: prophets

It is impossible to understate the prescience of Black Sabbath:

War Pigs: not only the greatest anti-war song of all time, but also a lacerating indictment of the immorality and cowardice of political leadership, and of the exploitation of common people.

Cornucopia: hints at themes explored by Guy Debord. Fundamentally concerned with the human condition in advanced Capitalist western society, and the profound alienation of the individual.

Wicked World: the title speaks a bit for itself; precedes and sketches out themes expanded in War Pigs. Trenchant critique of the hypocrisies of late-Capitalist western society. Describes the healthcare crisis, and portrays the breakdown of the family under income inequality and lack of opportunity. Never so relevant as today.

Iron Man: foretells a post-apocalyptic future, with a dash of sci-fi imagination.

Paranoid: stark portrait of mental illness and the hopelessness experienced by some of the millions of people who suffer from it. Speaks of alienation. Makes perfect sense in an era of rampant opioid abuse.

Supernaut: an ecstatic outlier, imagining a kind of übermensch, and freedom from bourgeois constraint. Bohemian, perhaps. An underrated song in the pantheon. One of my favorites.

Sweet Leaf: accurately predicts the social acceptance and legalization of weed.

Snowblind: another paean to drugs. Fundamentally about escape, the will to transcendence, and the individual’s quest for freedom from judgement. Underlying connections to Supernaut.

Fairies wear Boots: more drugs. The final verse is one of the best twists in any pop song. You think you’re in the land of Led Zeppelin, and hobbits and elves and vikings and shit, and lo, no! The whole thing’s a hallucination. The doctor’s basically saying stop taking drugs or you’ll die. Probably an actual transcription of a conversation between Ozzy and a doctor.

Children of the Grave: huge, HUGE portent. Harrowingly, urgently relevant. Foretells with terrible solemnity the climate crisis and the foreclosure of life for our children, and their children…if they get that far.

Geezer Butler is a genius.

Sequoia National Park photo contest

So this surprised me this morning.

I haven’t been in a contest or competition or vied for an award for pretty much my entire adult life. It’s not my thing. In high school, my teachers entered paintings I did in school district contests without even asking (which is indirectly related to how I got accepted in to college, what with my uninspiring academic performance). I was nominated best artist in my senior year, or something like that. My main art teacher wisely vetoed the win that most people seemed to agree was mine to have, and gave it to the school paper cartoonist instead. To teach me a lesson.

It worked.

Thank you Jerry Citrin for that. Sincerely, I thank this wonderful, inspiring man many days of my life for teaching me that lesson.

On a lark, a few weeks ago, I saw the SEKI announcement about the photo contest, and figured, what the hell, throw a couple photos in the ring, and forget about it.

For a change, that’s what I did.

A friend asked what the prize is. I don’t know. I didn’t look, and I’m not concerned. I’m sure it’s cool, whatever it is.

Mainly, I’m glad to give a little something back to SEKI NPS, a place that holds some of the universe’s most beautiful secrets. Some are easy to find. Others take work and knowledge and skill, and sometimes just a touch of fearlessness. The place that yielded this photo is unseen by probably 95% of all the parks’ visitors. Simply getting there is half the photograph.

But as with all of the secrets of the mountains and forests and deserts, the getting there is its own reward, and as long as the trees will ever stand and the water will ever move, that reward precedes, and then follows, any mere photograph we might ever take.