The Blarg No. 51: Kids Need to Read

Let’s be perfectly frank here, folks, if you’re a rational, thoughtful, compassionate, pragmatic person, then these are enormously stressful times. We’re currently dealing with fascism, climate change denial, racism, bigotry, random social media tantrums, narcissism—all of which only scratches the surface, and that’s just one douchebag. We’re dealing with a whole hotbed of scary, scary shit right now. Every hateful worm in the United States feels emboldened by the current sociopolitical climate to slither their way out of whatever muck they’ve been hiding in to spew their vitriolic bile in the path of any progressive ideology and—

Where was I? Ah, yes, stress. There is no end of it, and this week’s blarg is about that. It’s really not healthy to be in such a constant state of agitation, but there seems no other state to be in when, as soon as you read a newspaper, turn on NPR, or even scroll through your Facebook and Twitter feeds, you get sucked right back into how awful everything is right now. And it’s not just awful, it’s unbelievably awful. How did we get to this point? Dark forces seem hellbent on driving us back into the dark ages as quickly as policy reversals, pardons, and executive orders will allow.

There are certain go-to things for me in times of stress. The healthiest and longest-lasting of these coping mechanisms is music. Playing guitar is a great way to take your mind off of a horrific future and ground you in the present, ground you in melody. It is for me anyway. Listening to music, though, is the primary de-stresser. It can’t be just anything, however, it’s got to be something I know, something I can sing along to, or connect with a time of peace, joy, familiar melancholy. This is typically not a time to listen to or discover anything new, because that process of discovery will be tainted by the climate in which it is discovered. Which is a shame, because there are albums I’ve been looking forward to. We were in Zia the other day, and I picked up the new offerings from Randy Newman, Nicole Atkins, Paul Kelly, Queens of the Stone Age, and I decided this is as good a time as any to try and wrap my head around Captain Beefheart, so I picked up Safe as Milk, but when we got back in the car, all I wanted to do was listen to Neil Finn. Last week, all I listened to was Squeeze. Also, I find I’ve been listening to a ton of Wilco, Springsteen, and Elvis Costello lately. These are like comfort foods for my ears. I’ll come at the new albums eventually, when I’m able to isolate them from their surroundings. Maybe that sounds like a bunch of mystical bullshit, but you can deal with things how you want, and I’ll do my thing.

This week’s show is the second in an ongoing series of conversations with non-profit arts and culture organizations based here in the valley. Kids Need to Read “works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children.” Representing the organization in this conversation are Founder and Executive Director, Denise Gary and Operations Director, Lori Cothrun. Visit the Kids Need to Read website to learn even more about the organization and how you can support their mission.

Best,
Jared
Listen to LE 51 – Kids Need to Read

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