Dean Clough

October 4, 2021

Portico Darwin: Four Freedoms Then and Now

Sorry folks, today's newsletter is of the long - very long - variety.  But you might not hate it.  Plus, there are pictures!  At least the upcoming Travel Guide for The Sea Ranch will be mercifully short.

I bet you're familiar with President Franklin Roosevelt's January 6, 1941 State of The Union speech.  No?   I think you might be, because it's also known as his "Four Freedoms Speech" and in it, he for the first time introduced the concept of spreading America's ideals around the world as basic human rights.  These four fundamental rights later became part of the charter of The United Nations.  

The Four Freedoms, as defined by Roosevelt more than 80 years ago,:

  • Freedom of Speech
  • Freedom of Worship
  • Freedom from Want
  • Freedom from Fear

These four intrinsically human necessities, while verbalized first by FDR, were truly brought to life by the American artist Norman Rockwell.  While perhaps not respected in certain circles to the degree of his modern art contemporaries, by the 1950's, Rockwell was behind only Walt Disney in terms of public awareness of graphic artists.  This fame was due in part for his moving depiction of Roosevelt's Four Freedoms on canvas:

Beautiful paintings, certainly, but here in Wokistan:  #Four Freedoms So White!

But seriously:  how are we meeting up to these treasured ideals?  Do they apply to everyone, equally?  I give you some Portico Darwin takes and some updated photos that better capture today's world.

Freedom of Speech
I am joking when I reference Wokistan, as I feel the moral panic on the left is dangerous (as I've said before, could Philip Roth have a career today?).  So while those paintings are indeed awfully white, many just want Freedom of Speech for their own beliefs, with no others needing to apply.  But in America, as long as violence isn't incited, everybody gets to speak in the public square.  So - again, as long as violence is not a result - these are equal.

Speech Confederate orig.jpg

Speech BLM.jpg

But before moving on - and it seems conservatives often miss this - Freedom of Speech does not equal freedom of reach, and thus Twitter or Facebook or any private company is under no obligation to amplify anything by anybody, be it Trump or AOC or Portico Darwin doing the speechifying.

Freedom of Worship 
I am a proud atheist, but I say that as an equally ardent supporter of our Constitutional guarantee to freedom of religion.  I believe that the ability to freely worship, combined with the separation of church and state - equally enshrined in our Constitution - is all we need.  One can dedicate their lives to Christ, Allah, or Buddha, whilst others can pretend to yet still worship money and nothing else, and flout, maybe even legally, the teachings of each of those Gods.  Or anything in between.  Isn't that freedom?   


Freedom from Want
Wow, have we lost the script here.  The difference in wealth between the top 10% and everyone else has never been greater, while we have a homeless and food insecurity problem that is unprecedented.  In a country as wealthy as ours, this is unacceptable but is sadly the reality today in terms of Want. 

(That's San Francisco's City Hall in the background of this photo.  Nope, there's definitely not enough money [or extremely well-paid City & County employees] here in SF to humanely address this.  No, absolutely not.)

Want Now.jpg

Freedom from Fear
I wish my parents were around and could tuck me in and make me feel safe and secure from the looming perils of . . . fascism?  Then, as now, right-wing extremists are very scary.  I wrote about that before.

But the fear we all have is that our planet will not survive (in its current form, i.e., the one we live in) the damage we've inflicted upon it as humans.  The time has come and gone for feeble half-measures in addressing climate change.

So here's my updated image for the Freedom from Fear.  Maybe it will inspire you to remember what we have to lose.  As of this writing, Lassen Volcanic National Park, once a pristine alpine dreamscape in Northern California, has had more than 70% of its territory burned by the Dixie Fire, itself now nearing a million acres in size, making it the second largest wildfire in California history

Lassen Fear Now.jpg

I think in terms of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship, we're doing just fine overall. 

But what about the last two Freedoms, from Want and from Fear?  It sure feels like we have more work to do.

Hey, this young man looks pretty washed to me!


As I had hoped, my ride in the wahmbulance regarding today's music scene resulted in some great suggestions from some readers, specifically Raymond Michaels and Hunter Deuce. 

But I'm still waiting on Kevin Monza, who promised a definitive list of modern music, although he was kind enough to send this, from "The Simpsons".  Kids today!


Here are the bands/albums recommended by Raymond and Hunter - great stuff, and given these guys' excellent taste, no doubt all are finds.  From Mr. Michaels:

"Kings of Leon - This is a band that already has some staying power, coming up on 20 years from the release of 'Youth and Young Manhood', which is a great album.  Their 2021 release, 'When You See Yourself' has been my favorite album this year.

Kamasi Washington - If you like jazz, give him a listen. I like the album 'Harmony of Difference'. I had privilege to see him live a few years back, it was amazing. I recommend catching his show if you are ever in the same area. (Loved this.)

Griz - 'Chasing the Golden Hour' is a cool album.  Some of his other stuff, not so much.  I think you'll either be violently repulsed or be jammin' hard."  (Loved this.)

And the esteemed Mr. Deuce went further, with both quotes from one of his go-to movies and also his own take.  Great stuff, with not one mention of Wilco or Uncle Tupelo.  I do like his technique for discovering new music by checking out the band lineup at Outside Lands.  

"Your rant about music made me think of this scene from Singles (still one of my favorite films):

Cliff Poncier :  Where are the anthems for our youth?  What happened to music that meant something?  The Who at the Kingdome, or Kiss at the Coliseum?  Where is the 'Misty Mountain Hop,' where is the 'Smoke on the Water'... Where is the 'Iron Man' of today?

Janet Livermore :  We're not going out tonight, are we... ?

Cliff Poncier :  Look at this, most of these bands are like well-designed bottles of bleach.  It's beer and lifestyle music!  I mean it's like the next world war will be sponsored by I don't know what!

Janet Livermore : Let's just take a bath.

Granted, I'm younger than you are so I can see both arguments.  A lot of me agrees with you, but I think there is some decent new music out there - I think that the method of releasing new music is so different today; there are so many channels and sources to discover new music - gone are the days of an album being released and watching the reaction of the public.  I think this has muddied the waters a bit.  It takes a little more effort to search out and find new music that you like.  While I realize I was culturally marginalized years ago (and longer for you) it's incumbent on the listener to keep seeking out new sources.

In just browsing through my recent album downloads I came across Car Seat Headrest, Martha, Japandroids, and The Beths as recent bands that I like.  They're mostly in (the) garage/pop/punk vein, so I don't think there's anything too 'groundbreaking' about them, but I think they're all really, really good and they'll be around for a while.

I haven't had any desire to go to Outside Lands in years (saw Radiohead open the first night in 2008) but when they announce the lineup I will usually spend some time and go through the bands and listen to some of their stuff and see if there's anything that resonates with me.  I do the same for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass as well.

Speaking of, you can stream performances of all the acts for HSB this weekend here:

2021 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass schedule

I'm going to try and catch some of Bob Mould tonight as I won't be going to see him perform tonight at August Hall. Speaking of, he kind of touched on what you're talking about with his video for his 2014 single "I Don't Know You Anymore" with a side-splitting cameo from The Decemberists' Colin Meloy:

Bob Mould / I Don't Know You Anymore"

Culturally marginalized?  Me?  NEVER.  But wow, dynamite stuff from the young-ish Mr. Deuce.  If only he had been so kind to name the actual albums he's enjoying by these future rock legends . . .

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

Week after week of my M-W-F rants may leave some saying:  "Portico Darwin, 'Don't Worry About The Government'". 

Here, with a rousing reminder of that are Talking Heads and a Diamond Certified live album few know about, "The Name of This Band is Talking Heads", although sadly not in high resolution.  Of course, many are familiar with the film soundtrack "Stop Making Sense", which is also live.  But not live like this. 

For years, this album was not released on CD, for whatever reason.  Most fans of this band feel strongly that this record is the superior live document for Talking Heads, and you can include me in that group.

Fun fact:  a frequent star of this newsletter, Cyd Pepfog Darwin, is a peer of Cindy Sherman, also an artist (albeit a bit more renowned in some circles).  When Cyd's eldest son, Ned "Upstate" Darwin, got married in Manhattan a few years back, Cyd of course invited his pal Ms. Sherman.  On her arm at the nuptials?  Talking Heads' singer David Byrne.  I will never forget my other cousin, Cyd's youngest sister, Carrie Darwin Sightwell's reaction upon his appearance:  "David Fucking Byrne!  David Fucking Byrne is here!  David Fucking Byrne!" 

(For the record, I never had the guts to approach Mr. Byrne and critique his work for him.  Although I did chat up Eric Bogosian, also in attendance, so there's that.)

One not-so-fun fact is that prior to the "Remain in Light" tour (captured on the second disc), Byrne decided founding bassist and general bad-ass Tina Weymouth wasn't good enough to carry the rhythm load on stage, and added a second bassist, Busta Jones, to the band for the tour.  That was clearly unnecessary.


P.S.  Yes, I know, this was the obvious choice.  But a lot of people don't really like The King, so I'll stick with Talking Heads.  Plus, the only song on that I album I <really> like is "No More", although I will say it's an all-time fave.

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.