About The Name Singing About Economics

Singing About Economics is a horrible name, one of the reasons I think it fits for this blog. In the short time I’ve been doing this, I’ve found my blogging to be both needless and self-indulgent. I needed a name to acknowledge that so it was out in the open up front and I could move on.

The first title for this blog that I thought of was Dancing About Architecture, from the famous quote: “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” I need to be honest and say that I first heard a variation on it in a movie I’m embarrassed to have seen, Playing By Heart.

I did not like that movie, but I did like that line. It perfectly captures what I dislike about most music journalism: it shouldn’t exist. I’ve always felt that music writing is the ultimate job for Those Who Can’t Do, perhaps because it’s something I’ve always been interested in doing. Since the whole point of this blog is to get me writing again and I will probably write a lot about music, it made sense. dancingaboutarchitecture.com is owned by a domain reseller that wants over two grand for the name, so I decided to research an alternative with a similar meaning.

I’ve most often heard the original quote attributed to Elvis Costello, but I was always suspicious of its provenance. Then I came across this excellent blog post from Quote Investigator. It’s always a good feeling when you google something and the top result is a well researched article that precisely answers your question instead of an unanswered forum post or a Yahoo! Answers page.

According to the Quote Investigator, the earliest version of something resembling the quote is found in an issue of the New Republic in 1918: “writing about music is as illogical as singing about economics.”  The domain was available and a star was born.

One problem with this name is that you can sing about economics. For proof of concept, I humbly submit the song “Gold Standard” by Albany Legends The Orange. I once saw them perform this song at a show at Valentine’s, prefacing it by saying, “This song is about monetary policy! And girls!” They’re specifically using it as a metaphor to talk about relationships, but it’s an impressive feat nonetheless.

Starting To Write Again

I’ve started and restarted this first post almost a dozen times. What you are reading is the last attempt. The whole point of this blog was just to give myself a place to write again. Just write and not worry what comes out in the hope that the quantity will eventually lead to the quality. I used to enjoy writing and I used to be good at it, or at least I think so. I know for sure that I’m not anymore. There are a lot of reasons for this. When I started working in marketing and doing lots of copywriting, I had to force myself to focus on the parts of writing that I didn’t like. Being persuasive and concise can be important, but it’s no fun when they are of absolute importance in everything. The bigger problem is that I stopped almost all the other writing I was doing. Now I work in a different field and I don’t write at all anymore.

So it’s time to write. It’s not important that it be good or important at first, I just need to get it out there. I have totally been that person who sits on the couch and thinks they have a great novel or a screenplay in them if they when it’s been months since they’ve written anything. I need to actually do the damn thing before I worry if it’s any good. In the 1970’s, Jack Benny bemoaned the death of vaudeville, saying it was a place where talent could be lousy and gradually learn how to be good. In that respect, this blog will be my turn of the century variety show.

In the interest of hitting the ground running with material, I’m creating The Hundred Song Exercise. A group of my friends put together a list of our hundred favorite songs for the first decade of this millennium. I had a good time putting together my list, but not a lot of time reflecting on it. The goal will be to take all 100 of songs from my personal list and write about each one in a different post. I’d like to finish that up in about three to four months, but I’m not going to beat myself up if it takes longer. I plan to write about things besides music, but this will probably occupy most of my blogging time, at least at first.

I know that I could do this anywhere, like a free blogspot or tumblr blog. The other thing I wanted to work on in addition to my writing is my coding ability. Almost all of my coding skill have come from necessity, learning the bare minimum to get by in non-programming/non-development jobs where I have to edit some html and css and maybe little php or javascript as well. Greater practical tech skills could only enrich my life, I think. I think I have the potential to be more successful in life than I have been to this point. At this point, it’s up to me. This blog is most likely not a stepping stone to fame and fortune, but I hope it can give me focus and practice help me with whatever’s next.

The Mets are the worst

[Note: I’ve been working on starting this blog for a little while now. I don’t plan on doing many posts that are about sports or politics or are even topical. I have a few drafts for a number of posts I’m still working on for this blog’s ‘official launch,’ but I just needed to get this out of my system. Consider this my soft launch. This post is dated, overlong, self-righteous, and needlessly autobiographical. It’s about two of the most unpleasant topics to read or write about: racism and The Mets. As I wrote it, I came to realize that I can barely write anymore. I’m trying to get better and I promise they won’t all be like this.]

It is a stupid thing to be a fan of a professional sports team. This is not a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of opportunities for sports to have a positive impact on our lives. This is not true of the way most Americans consume the professional “Big Four” sports. Take me for example. I get outside to play games with friends on average once a week in the warmer months, but most of my interaction with sports involve sitting on a couch watching games we are all paying for no matter what. Sometimes I spend a little extra and see a game in person. Like many overweight Americans, watching sports for me often involves eating fattening foods and drinking soda or beer. Emotionally investing yourself in a uniform owned by fabulously wealthy men over the players that struggle to play at the highest levels is just moronic. That hasn’t stopped me or millions of Americans from doing it for years.

Going a step further, it is a stupid thing for me to be a fan of The New York Mets. My father and his father were Yankees fans. Learning about baseball in the mid 80’s, the Mets players were on TV and in print all the time. The Worst Team Money Could Buy era scared me off following the team during my teens, when a young person’s interest generally wander anyways. I eventually came back, but why I did is a question that I lack the introspection to answer

Whatever the reason, I am a Mets fan. I buy shirts and hats and go down to Citi Field when I can. I enjoy watching games when I have the time, but I catch most of them on the radio. When I was a boy, I used to put my robot-shapped AM/FM radio under my pillow during summer nights and fall asleep listening to the heroics of Daryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, and the rest of the bad guys. I was there in person when when R.A. Dickey won his twentieth game in 2012 and I made some weird noises when Zack Wheeler struck out Brian McCann in his major league debut. I do all this in spite of the people I who profit from my emotional and financial investment.

The Mets are not a well run team.  They embarrass themselves so often, Deadspin has a tag dedicated to their failures. When they started play in 1962, the Mets were known as loveable losers. While the team has enjoyed success from time to time (four trips to the World Series with two wins over fifth years), this is the mold they most often fit into. They do things poorly, but it’s just baseball. You can’t help but laugh. Their most recent PR nightmare goes beyond that.

The New York Times has a story about The Mets’ botched Native American Heritage Day. The team invited American Indian Community House to feature dancing, music, & other cultural events alongside a home game. There was, of course, a group sales component to this, where the AICH reserved a block of seats at a discounted rate that their supporters could purchase to view both the game and the cultural festivities. It’s called cause marketing; a business and a charity leverage each others’ resources for higher visibility and/or revenues. It’s a symbiotic relationship where everyone wins, except when one side screws it up in the most offensive way possible.

Native American Hertitage Day was scheduled for a game against the Atlanta Braves. Worrying that the Braves organization would view the singing and dancing program as a protest against their racist logos and crowd chant, the Mets cancelled almost every part of the programming, causing the AICH to drop out of the day.

By pulling out of the event and sharing their story with the Times, the AICH made the right move and highlighted not just the Mets’ stupidity, but once again brought a focus to the shameful treatment of Native Americans by our national pastime and its fans.

There is no question that the continued use of Native American stereotypes as American sports mascots is racist and painful. I know that there are a lot of Braves fans, Redskins fans, fake Indians, lazy pollsters, and other privileged people who disagree, but I consider the matter settled. As a Braves-hating Mets fan, I may be biased, so here are just two of the many articles explaining some of the problems involved. I picked these two because they were written actual Native Americans, of which there are no longer many left.

It’s so Metsian that not only do they tactily endorse the racism of The Braves every time they play them, but are worried about offending them.

Who should really be offended? I know I’m upset, but that doesn’t really stop me from cheering for Matt Harvey at The All Star Game or David Wright at the Home Run Derby. There is a deep, stupid, emotional investment I have in those guys just because they wear blue and orange. I have no answers about how to change things for the better, but I at least wanted to add my voice to the chorus of people who think that how Americans handle our relationship with the descendants of the natives of our homeland needs to change.