Day’s End and Night Watch

I can’t say exactly why Gram Parson’s brief and addiction-blighted musical career means so much to me. With the exception of “Sin City,” none of his songs would make my top 100 favorites. He is often regarded as the Father of Country Rock, and I have mixed feelings about that genre. He certainly wasn’t an admirable character in most respects. Yes, he sort of “discovered” Emmylou Harris (though I believe Chris Hillman spotted her first, in a Georgetown bar no less), and certainly influenced that great musician. But he certainly didn’t stick around in this life to work much with her or anyone else.

I guess what enchants me most about ol’ Gram is that he combined all sorts of hippie ways with a truly old-school country sensibility that must have blown a lot of minds in the late 1960s. I mean, here’s a guy virtually nobody had heard of luring people to his LA drug pad and then placing a record on the turntable with the words: “This here is George Jones, and he’s the king of broken hearts.” He was like some sort of strange missionary from the post-war honky-tonks of the Deep South to revolutionary California, and in that sense he was making the same trek so many of his distant relatives probably did from Georgia to Oklahoma to Bakersfield and Fresno (and the same trek I’ve made myself, though I landed a bit further north). I wish he had lived longer, but he was probably too incandescent and definitely too self-destructive for that lengthy a stay among us. RIP, Gram.

Here are some remains of the day:

* Latest NOAA report shows linkage between climate change and 28 extreme weather events. Guess this annual report won’t be issued if Republicans get control of the executive branch next year. What global warming? It’s snowing out there!

* Kareem Abdul-Jabbar argues a President Ben Carson wouldn’t do much good for the reputation of African-Americans.

* Breitbart brings us the latest “War on Christmas” outrage: Starbucks’ simple red holiday cups. Ah, merciful saints, weep for us your fellow martyrs!

* At College Guide, Daniel Luzer discusses the latest suit brought by Abigail Fisher aimed at ending affirmative action in college admissions.

* At The Grade, Alexander Russo evaluates the case for “solutions journalism” in education.

And in non-political news:

* Industry leader Panera announces move towards greater use of plant-based proteins.

That’s it for Thursday. Distant early warning: I’m going to be taking some vacation time next week since I can’t roll it over and I have family visiting. I’ll have the details tomorrow.

Let’s close with a Flying Burrito Brothers classic: “Juanita,” from the immortal album The Gilded Palace of Sin.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.