The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 30, 1997 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Salina, Kansas
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Wednesday, April 30, 1997
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B2 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30. 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle 1 editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the ; • identified writers. To join the . conversation, write a letter to the Journal at; P.O. Box 740 Sallna, KS 67402 Fax: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: :" SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day .'We don't want to engage in a fair fight, a ' • contemporary "•' war of attrition. We want to dominate across the full spectrum j of conflict so that if we ever do have to fight, we win on our terms." yVilllam Cohen Secretary of Defense, urging .,, .'modernization of , "the U.S. defense structure. By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Enough is enough TKII8UE TJie Supreme Court and the War on Drugs THEARGUMBVT Ttiere are some tactics that go too far F rom its special perch on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Supreme Court is beginning to see through the haze of the benighted War on Drugs and drag the rest of us back to our senses. Twice in recent weeks, the court shook off years of Reaganistic blind loyalty to law and order and discovered there were actually some anti-drug measures that went too far. The justices recently threw out a ridiculous Georgia law that made candidates for office take drug tests before being allowed on the ballot. Such testing was ineffective and uncalled for, the court wisely ruled, as members of the Georgia Legislature are not called upon to carry firearms or operate heavy equipment in the course of their duties. And this week, a unanimous court ruled that the urge to arrest drug dealers was no justification for a blanket exemption to the general rule that police officers serving a search warrant must knock and announce their identity before entering. Judges have always had the power, when issuing search warrants, to approve the so-called no-knock approach. That allows police to burst into a home or other building in hopes of grabbing evidence before it can be destroyed or disposed of, and grabbing people before they can flee, or open fire. But, just as the Bill of Rights requires police to have a specific reason for the search warrant in the first place, courts have ruled that officers must also present the judge issuing the warrant a special reason for the no-knock variety. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, high on the anti-drug drug, said every single drug case was an exception to the norm and so justified no-knock searches. The U.S. Supreme Court, with a clearer head, ruled otherwise. Drug cases cannot be treated as a separate class of crimes, with a separate set of rules. If they are, the War on Drugs becomes a law unto itself, with legal protections murderers, rapists and thieves take for granted denied to those even suspected of drug crimes. The drug war is already the tail that wags the dog of justice. Blanket use of no-knock warrants was one example. Another example is the blatantly unconstitutional practice of seizing property from accused drug dealers before they are convinced, even after they have been acquitted. The court has not yet set aside that obscene practice. But Monday's decision may, dare we hope, be a step on that path. T BY GEORGE An apology Wrong name on letter 'to the Journal made for an ugly Monday A long-time newspaperman who used to sign my paychecks would counsel us by saying that every word — every letter — in every day's newspaper is a potential error. •By that measure, the number of .mistakes in most .daily newspapers * is pretty darn small. I remembered that advice Monday morning. But it didn't help. I still felt awful. There was a big goof in this space Monday. Only two words. But two very important words. A letter to the Journal was published, in full and correctly, except for the signature. At the close of the letter we simply typed the wrong name. Even that might not be so bad. Just reprint the letter the next day, with the right name — which is what I did. But that wasn't much help Monday to the owner of the name that had been wrongly attached to the letter. He was feeling a lot of heat for something he didn't do. The letter harshly criticized the administrators of Salina Central High School for telling their drama students they could not use the Star of David on the promotional material for their production of "The Diary of Anne Frank." The letter was written by Salina resident Robin Nachbar and, in my opinion, was a fine letter. I would think that even if I didn't agree with her. It was brief, to the GEORGE B. PYLE The Salina Journal point and made strong points without getting overly personal. But the name that we printed at the bottom of the letter was that of one Brad McDonald. Now McDonald just happens to be the drama teacher at Salina Central. It was his students who were, shall we say, overruled by school administrators on the matter of the Star of David. That ancient symbol, we are told, has been hijacked by some Califorina street gang, and so is out of bounds in Kansas. When we received Nachbar's letter, it was the first we had heard of the controversy. So it was referred to a reporter to track down the whole story. At the bottom of the letter, the reporter wrote the name "Brad McDonald" as someone who should be asked about the matter. A story on the matter was published April 22. When I got the letter back, and sent it to be typeset, it looked like McDonald's name was the signature, not a note. So.it was typed that way. It is my responsibility to edit the letters. It was my responsibility to catch production errors such as this. I didn't. It was totally my fault. I apologize to McDonald for wrongly giving the impression that he not only held such a low view of his superiors, but that he would criticize them publicly. And I apologize to Nachbar for depriving her of the credit she deserved for a fine commentary on an important issue. Oh, and to the person who wrote another letter, the one claiming "The Diary of Anne Frank" is Zionist propaganda for a Holocaust that never existed, and so Central should not have produced the play at all: I threw that letter in the trash. And I don't apologize for that. T CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Rock 'n' roll music is now officially dead Maybe there was only so much we could do with three-chord progressions T he day has come. The end is here. Rock 'n' roll music as a viable, progressive music medium is dead. There are no new artists practicing the craft. The cult members have left the vehicle. And the 4 mother ship has been re-programmed and cannibalized by hundreds of new computerized note forms, none of which have at their center the heart of rock 'n' roll. While many types of music owe their soul to rock 'n' roll, there are no longer any new expressions of the art. And while we occasionally hear attempts to give it CPR, rock 'n' roll has become a distant memory, for aging boomers — mellow elevator music for our shopping " pleasure at the grocery store. Contemporary country music may be as . close as we get to our home planet. Dance music is just disco, re-named and re-marketed. The Weekly Top 40 is full of motion picture soundtracks, theme songs, anthems and over mixed blahrmonies (58 part harmonies a la Maniiow). Rap is an interesting medium and, while it's expressive, it would be hard for me to define it as music. The Big Band sound is making a little rally, while everyone struggles with just what to do with their hands and feet in rock's absence. T SPEAKING ENGLISH TOM WILBUR for the Salina Journal Lawrence Welk just missed its second coming. Thank ya, boys. Even college bands sound like Pearl Jam wanna-be's or Nirvana knock-offs. I suppose rock was destined to die sometime. It's a little embarrassing going to see your favorite band at age 42, and trying to hoot or holler like you did when you were a teen-ager, particularly when the guys in your favorite band are 63. Besides, where's live music hiding, anyway? The Generation Next, if it gets together for a dance, either doesn't dance or has a D.J. spinning compact discs. Where's the fun and energy in that? It's lifeless. Not a single microphone or amp to feedback. No drumsticks to break. No wailing vocals or screaming guitars. The kids want some Spice. "Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want. So tell me what you want, what you really really want/ I wanna really really really wanna zigazig-ha." Great for my 8-year-old daughter, but it makes me really really really wanna change the digital zigazag-ho dial. Arguably, there could only be so many variations and options with songs based upon three-chord progressions. And blues guitar riffs. Surely it's got to be a finite number. Maybe, along the way, we just used them all up. And learning to play the guitar or the drums or a keyboard requires some effort. It's a lot harder to practice an instrument than to scratch an album back and forth on a turntable, or sample old sound bites into a computer. It takes time. Maybe today's music makers are just trying to economize on time. When I think of rock 'n' roll, these are the names that come to mind: Elvis. Jerry Lee Lewis. Little Richard. Chuck Berry. The Beat- les. The Rolling Stones. Jimi Hendrix. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Aerosmith. The Moody Blues. Led Zeppelin. Phil Spector and the girl groups. Buddy Holly. Fleetwood Mac. ZZ Top. David Bowie, The Byrds. The Animals. Creedence Clearwater Revival. The Doors. Janis Joplin. Cream. The Band. The Allman Brothers. Foghat. The Who. Kansas. Pink Floyd. The Beach Boys. Styx. The Grateful Dead. Van Halen. AC/DC. Traffic. The Police. Grand Funk Railroad. Who is going to add their name to these legends of rock 'n' roll? Who could live up to the bill? Which artist now even qualifies to carry their guitar cases? No one. The rebellion is over. The rebels have been exterminated, committed or confined to their quarters. Rock 'n' roll is done. You can stick a fork in it. You'll find remnants of rock 'n' roll safely and conveniently buried on your oldies radio dial or desecrated under an upbeat, pop reminder as background to a paper towel commercial. Once in a while, it even shows up on VH-1. Maybe generations from now, a spirited young scientist will find traces of the Big Bop- per's blood in a mosquito embedded deep within a piece of amber tree sap, and start the genetically mutated cycle all over again. "Hello, Ba by! You've got the Big Bopper here! You want what?" But that's cloning and a probably whole different column. Wooly Bully! • Tom Wilbur is a Salina banker, musician and member of the Salina Journal Board of Contributing Editors. Rock falls under the mainstream spell Rock 'n' roll will always be there for those who really believe in it I t's hard to find the spirit of wild rebellion in something as lifeless and cold-blooded as a computer. So when the naysayers want an excuse to throw the first handful of dirt on rock 'n' roll's grave, they point to elec- A tronic music, the latest fad in rock music, as the sign of the apocalypse. But rock isn't dead. Grunge, that whiny, grainy, guitar-driven music made popular by groups such as Pearl Jam, with pouty Eddie Vedder as its frontman, is dead, Heavy Metal is passe. Punk has turned into a corporate cliche: The Sex Pistols reunited just for the sake of money. So record executives, worried that their million-dollar stock bonuses might fall to the point where they could only afford a dozen ski trips to Vail a year, are searching for the next big thing to boost sagging sales. They think they have found it in electronic rock. They have fallen over themselves to sign groups such as Prodigy and Blur who rely on computerized beats and keyboard driven, pumping rythyms to make something called "rave" or "techno" music. Techno is dance music, and many of the songs have incorporated old disco tunes and remixed them into hyper, bass-booming thumpers ready to blow a hole in your back car speaker. DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal * U2, the band whose biggest album had a black and white cover and sold millions of records using nothing more than a good voice and a distinct guitar, has changed its sound dramatically, scrapping the guitar, whispering the voice and using electronic beats to make pulsating pop. So now the naysayers believe rock is dead because the guitars are fading. There is nothing new, they say. Even Tom Wilbur, one of the hippest over-40 fathers I know, has written a column above me about the death of rock 'n' and roll. It wouldn't be hard to make a case for that. Salina has no rock station, Rock acts make about as many stops as Hale-Bopp in this town. Soundgarden, one of the godfathers of grunge, recently broke up. The naysayers could also point to the Spice Girls, a candy-coated group of girls that spend more time on their hair than they do their music, and the fact that they are selling tons of records. But rock isn't dead. The problem with pointing to the Spice Girls is there are overtly commercial acts in every kind of music. Adxilt contemporary has Michael Bolton and Celine Dion. Jazz has Kenny G and Natalie Cole. Soul has Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. The big problem here is that rock 'n' roll has fallen under the mainstream spell. The mainstream spell has infected just about every entertainment medium in America. Only the best aren't hypnotized. The brilliance of "Star Wars" brings us "Volcano," a movie where only the special effects seem to matter. Now we have to rely on the independent studios for great movies. The majesty of the neighborhood burger joint brings us McDonald's, where only the special toy inside something called a Happy Meal seems to matter. Now we have to rely on restaurant chains for a good meal, and even then they don't always deliver. And the brilliance of Bill Haley and the Comets (not a cult) brings us a thousand one- hit wonders. But just as there are movies and hamburgers that still matter, there are several rock and roll bands that keep rock alive. When I look at the latest in creative rock 'n' roll, I think of No Doubt, Sublime, Ben Folds Five, Bjork, Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, Base is Base, Jamiroquai, Dream Theater, Sting, the "Trainspotting" and "Romeo and Juliet" soundtracks, Seal, Oasis, Sarah MacLachlan, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Nine Inch Nails and other bands and albums I've left out because I've only got 800 words to write this. And, yes, some of the computerized, techno music actually is pretty creative. It's a lot more creative than "Sha na na na, Sha na na na na" or "Louie, Louie, whoa, we gotta go, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" or even "A whop ba ba lo bop, ba lop bam boom". Even the old mainstays are churning out classics. R.E.M., Pearl Jam and Metallica all put out great rock albums last year. And, as was proved a couple of years ago, if you put out some good ol', bar-stomping rock 'n' roll, you can still hit it big. And you probably don't even have to have a weird name like Hootie and the Blowfish. So, yes, rock 'n' roll is in a slump. But it's certainly not dead. And the spirit of rock 'n' roll doesn't lie in its power chords. Not really. It lies in its wild, screaming, crazy fans. As long as there are people who love rock 'n' roll, it will survive. And as long as I know how to love, I know it'll stay alive. IESBURY By G.B. TRUDEAU

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