Spies Are Reading My Blog

by David Rovics

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1.
Time to leave now, head from Hobart to Antarctica So close but so far from Australia Where watchful eyes are always peeled, because you never know When there's a growler below Watchful eyes peeled for predators and prey Where all one can do is do whatever can to keep the hunt at bay The time is coming and it's coming soon When we'll stand between you and that harpoon The tide is unforgiving, the sea floor is a grave For those capsized souls before us who fell beneath the waves And perhaps we'll join them by accident or not Perhaps a gale or a storm or a well-aimed shot But we'll steer around the ice and right into their sights Everyone must pick their battles, this is our fight So here beneath the Southern Cross and the crescent moon We'll stand between you and that harpoon Between you and the harpoon, there's just a little space But that's where we can see your face Look into your eyes and hear you sing One comes to realize, you have to do something Sometimes all you can do is do your best And hope that someone else will do the rest So once again we'll spend this afternoon Standing between you and that harpoon
2.
Syria, 2013 02:17
There's an uncivil war in Syria, one hundred thousand dead Millions of refugees without a roof over their heads Proxy armies flowing in to a country open wide You got Al-Qaeda and America fighting side by side You got Saudi monarchs and French socialists on one team You got Russia and Iran backing the regime You got the Arab League having another meaningless debate Saying let's just see what happens if we wait But now the west says gloves are off, it's all become too real Now Cameron and Obama are dictating the deal Now red lines have been crossed, now it's time to act Now it's time to have a few million tons of impact Now it's time to do the thing that the west does best Time to step in the hornet's nest We don't know who did it, but there has been a war crime So we'll bomb an Arab country one more time What we know is this: there was a chemical attack Kinda like the ones that happened in Iraq Like the white phosphorous we used on the people of Falluja Or the chemicals we sold to Saddam for Halabja But this time it's a different story, this poison gas in Gouta Our allies would never do this, those foreign fighters in Al-Qaeda We don't know who did it, but we know who to blame The Baathists are the party, Bashar Asad is the name We don't know who did it, we can figure that out later Meanwhile we'll turn Damascus into a smart bomb crater We'll fix them with Cruise missiles, like in Baghdad and Mosul Where they now have peace, prosperity and democratic rule
3.
My father's mother's parents came here on a boat They came from a land of kings and queens, but on the wrong side of the moat My father's father's parents came here on one, too They didn't want to leave Austria, but it was the thing for Jews to do I don't know your story but I bet it's more or less the same What kind of war or famine was on when your family came Before their ship arrived Did your folks come here to discover and explore Or were they refugees running from the war Did they cross the freezing mountains to make it to the sea All the while wishing that they never had to flee Were they marched across the jungles with chains around their feet Nearly dying of exhaustion in the desert heat Before their ship arrived Did they make a life here or were they kidnapped and detained Held for years in limbo as their optimism waned Were they turned down for asylum and told they shouldn't lie Then sent off to be tortured, sent back home to die Did they get to move here, create their lives anew Or are they held on Christmas Island asking what on Earth they can do Before their ship arrived
4.
Anthony Weiner takes picture of his wiener And sends them off to lots of women that he's never met Normally I wouldn't care about some guy's pubic hair Except in this case it's a politician we can hopefully soon forget He wants to make New Yorkers proud and show he's very well-endowed To be the mayor of the city from which he sends his Tweets He's a good Democrat, he'll go up to bat For the people of New York, and the random women that he greets Anthony Weiner's wiener These days it's all the rage To find out more about Anthony's wiener Just take a peek at the front page I probably wouldn't give a shit about his adolescent wit Whether he was sexting after he resigned from Congress or before I may not like his style as he issues his denial But what really bugs me is he voted for the war Now that it's the second scandal, maybe we can pull the handle And send Anthony and his wiener down some Flushing drain And await the politician next who will send a penile text One vile politician down, but far too many still remain
5.
I watched it on the TV, machine guns Fire towards the ground, I watched the people run Helicopter gunship strafing the street I watched them lining up the bodies in the Baghdad heat They say these leaks had consequences, and I must agree When I saw them fire on the children, it affected me I thought what if I were wearing the other shoe If I had a hammer, what would I do I am just a person like anyone I am just another mother's son I have no special powers, I cannot fly Not like that helicopter gunship up in the sky Sending all those bullets all around To the journalists and children on the ground I am just one man, that's very true But if I had a hammer, what would I do Sometimes I try to wonder, why should I care But then the answer seems so obvious – there are people down there And right here in Queensland there's an Army base And there's a helicopter gunship just sitting in place There's a time for watching, there's a time to act It's just gonna kill more children if it remains intact I am just one person, but you are, too If you had a hammer, what would you do
6.
Trade War 02:50
Let me tell you a tale, stir a hornet's nest Well remembered in the east, most forgotten in the west It was the 1830's and the industrial revolution Was turning Europe into a land of wage slaves and air pollution The history books tell us it was the era of free trade And the entire world hungered for the products Europe made Merchants plied their wares across the seven seas And they brought back things like porcelain, silk and tea Soon all the tea in China could barely keep the west awake Such a thirst for Chinese products as could barely be slaked They liked to drink their tea in cups of Chinese porcelain And those who could afford it loved the silk upon their skin But what made the merchants and the monarchs scream and cry and shout They seemed to have little to offer that China couldn't live without They didn't want their muskets and they didn't want their wool Which left the British coffers empty and the Chinese coffers full And they called it a “trade war” They called it a trade war and I guess that could be so They say it's not free trade if it's just a one-way flow Because apparently free trade is when the west comes out ahead That's how it is in practice though that's never what is said The fact of history they'd have us sweep under the rug The one thing they could sell in China was an addictive drug It had long been banned by Chinese law but the British didn't care They packed the opium up in crates and they shipped it there It all came to a head in 1838 When the soldiers of the emperor torched twenty thousand crates It took three days to burn it, and when the fires had gone out The Chinese people would soon learn what free trade was all about Navies came from Britain, France and the USA In blood, land and silver they would make the Chinese pay Cities levelled, thousands killed, the war was three years long That's how they “opened” China, that's how they got Hong Kong
7.
Iceland is an island with half a million or so Vikings Mostly known for volcanoes, hot springs and fishing Known for its welfare state, for being good and socialistic Certainly not known for being corrupt or nepotistic But in the USA and Europe when they were deregulating banks Iceland's politicians took bribes and joined their ranks Soon you had a situation, one would think just couldn't be A bank whose debt was worth ten times the country's GDP When Wall Street imploded, sure enough it spread Banks all over the world were floating in the red All over the world, governments made the plan To cut spending and raise taxes on the working woman and working man The banks were bailed out while the people had to pay But in Iceland people thought there must be a better way And the Earth stood still a moment, fear was struck in every toff When Iceland told the bankers to fuck off Folks were in the streets in Reykjavik and just couldn't be ignored They said this is a debt we Icelanders can't afford Let's guarantee deposits of all our people, yes indeed But as for all the speculators motivated by their greed To make really dumb investments, to them Iceland said good luck Sorry for your losses but we don't really give a fuck The 1% all trembled when they took away the trough When Iceland told the bankers to fuck off The UK called them terrorists, said we cannot let this stand Who do these peacenik blonds think they are in Iceland They threatened isolation, an economy in flames But the Icelanders said sorry, but the banks can settle their own claims Though that might be harder for them now that they're under house arrest Or else they fled the country, as they were most unwelcome guests And now Reykjavik's recovery just makes the fatcats sputter and cough Since Iceland told the bankers to fuck off If you haven't heard of this example, perhaps there's a reason why The owners of the world don't want this kind of shit to fly They say we all must pay up in this shakedown by the mob If we can't afford to pay the rent 'cause we don't have a job They say it's not their problem if we're forever shackled by their debt We must save the 1% from the fate they should have met But there is an alternative, though it makes the fatcats scoff That Iceland told the bankers to fuck off
8.
Some people have a lot in common Such as the thousands and thousands of captive men Held in windowless cells 23 hours a day In the SHU's of Pelican Bay Some of the smartest people you'll never meet Each and every day, a life on repeat Indefinite detention is the weight they carry Never told when they get out of solitary Decades alone until they snitch Those are the rules, that's the pitch Decades divided into different groups A guaranteed life of repeated loops Decades divided on different teams With Latin, Black and Aryan themes But those days are over and it's been five weeks Refusing food until the Reaper speaks Now they're not eating anymore Some of them are in there for reading the wrong news Some of them are in there for having the wrong tattoos In the outside world they might not care But there's no “free speech” in there A life lived under arbitrary authority No human contact, no dignity It's no kind of life at all So 20,000 prisoners answered the call And said we're not eating anymore They say California's a progressive state Governor Brown, ain't he great You got Silicon Valley and Hollywood stars And 120,000 men behind bars Hunger pangs stab like a knife But sometimes so does life Something's gotta change, maybe this is the start If the people on the outside play our part Because they're not eating anymore
9.
Trayvon 03:41
A boy went to visit his father out of town Where he had moved, to an upscale neighborhood It rains a lot in Florida, and it was raining on that night But everybody says exercise is good He went out for a walk to the convenience store To go out and bring some candy back But some people leave and they never come home And that night it was all a one-way track For the Neighborhood Watchman was driving his car On a rainy night looking for A young man who might have a part to play In his personal race war And what if this trolling vigilante Sowing terror on racist whim What if when he found this teenage boy He instead had found a man more like him What if things were different Where would he be bound What if Trayvon had stood his ground When Zimmerman approached in an unmarked vehicle When the high school student ran What if instead he had stood there in the rain With his Skittles and his Arizona can What if trying to avoid a conflict with this cracker Who was evidently messed up in the head Trayvon had said I feel like my life's in danger And he had shot this vigilante dead Would this hooded youth be gingerly arrested Treated for his wounds and then let free Would he be hailed as a hero by the NRA By Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity Would he be found not guilty by any jury in this country Would he be allowed to keep his gun Or would he be sitting in a prison cell, watching pundits on the TV saying That kid really should've run
10.
Oil Train 02:23
There's an oil boom, the prairies are on fire Shale gas, all the fuel you might desire Coming out so fast, no time to lay pipeline Eureka-ville, it's like the Days of '49 Except this time we're using massive rigs That poison everything more thoroughly the deeper that it digs Trains a mile long, load it up in rail cars Send them west, sent them east, past cafes, schools and late-night bars There's an oil train coming through your town There were dangers, they knew this from the start But they were minimal, they said, and everyone must play their part And risk the destruction of their cities each time a train rolls by Hope it won't derail, and detonate sky high There's an accident each day somewhere but we're not supposed to fear That it could happen here Listen closely, do you hear that whistle blow Look out the window, do you see the fire glow There's an oil train coming through your town It was after midnight on a Saturday night A resident called in that a rail car was alight With that much gas, sitting by the lake It was no one's job to watch the car that maintained the brake On seventy-three massive tanks of fracking gas Down the hill, gaining speed as they rolled past Now at the Musi-Cafe that once was on rue Frontenac There are fifty customers and employees who won't be coming back There's an oil train coming through your town
11.
I should be gigging in New Zealand now but I am not I'm stuck at Narita instead I should be singing in Dunedin, smoking kiwi pot And chilling with the kiwi reds But when I showed up at the airport to board my flight I was handed somebody's cell phone Suddenly the future didn't look so bright And I entered the Twilight Zone The woman on the line said hello I'm from Immigration You may have a ticket but you can't go To our great island nation I felt like I'd been hit in the face With a big old kiwi log But then I felt the Stasi's cold embrace When she said I've been reading your blog The spies are reading my blog The introduction and the prologue And if that's so, it just might be true That they're watching this video, too Well I normally don't get many views A few hundred friends and kooks So it comes as surprising news That some of the are kiwi spooks I try to get my missives out And cause some small commotion Someone's listening, now there's no doubt Across the South Pacific ocean Were you strip-searched in Trondheim, she asked What kinds of things do you smoke Have you ever been charged with a crime Are you rich or are you broke Have you ever been turned away From any borders you tried to cross What kind of venues did you plan to play Do you use dental floss I said it seems a bit unusual For you to do things quite this way I asked her is this normal But she wouldn't say She'd just repeat her message At Narita you shall remain I've read your blog, each vile passage And you may not board that plane
12.
Pebble Mine 02:54
They've been trying now for thirty years or more To build the world's biggest copper mine by the southwest Alaskan shore To build the world's biggest copper mine in the world's last great wildlands To store a billion gallons of poison, turn it into wastelands A billion gallons of poison in massive reservoirs And to keep it all there forevermore The toxic sludge will never leak, they're saying it again Oh to hear such stupid words from the mouths of stupid men We know what's gonna happen if the corporation gets its way And they build the world's biggest copper mine on Bristol Bay The world's biggest copper mine or the world's biggest run of fish You cannot have both no matter how hard you might wish No matter how hard you might pray or how careful you might be Massive sludge pits on a fault line will soon find its way into the sea The Pebble Company, it sounds almost benign But there's not a shred of innocence about the Pebble Mine Because among the pebbles and the ore are the tanks of cyanide The toxic sludge pits a mile deep and miles wide If we cannot stop them, if we don't manage to say no We can say goodbye to the salmon and the salmon roe Goodbye to the mountains when they flatten them for ore Goodbye to all the things we once loved Alaska for
13.
The president's speaking, fifty years to the day If the great man were here now, what would he say With all the people in prison, and all the kids in the street With the Navy sending in the Fifth Fleet The president's speaking, oh how things change Now it's Syria, not Vietnam, in the firing range Every hour or so I look at my phone To see if we've sent in the cruise missiles and drones Has the bombing begun, have we failed again To stop the war machine from killing more innocent children The president's speaking, in the August sunshine Turn on the TV you won't find a sign That there's something slightly ironic that it should be now That we're waiting to find out precisely how The buildings will fall and the people will die The fathers will hold their lifeless children and cry How could they do this, did they accomplish their task So, at the top of each hour I ask See the refugees streaming, even more than last week Kids too traumatized even to speak Hoping to find somewhere, maybe a tent Wondering where their hopes and dreams all went There's a demo this evening, as the missiles rain down I and some others will head into the center of town Bear witness again to unspeakable crime And ask the terrible question one more time
14.
Church bells are ringing, families are wearing their Sunday best Choirs are singing, red sun is setting in the west A soldier is yelling, standing tall Checkpoint is closing, outside a giant wall It's Christmas Eve in Bethlehem Tourists are coming – birthplace of Jesus, a call to port Now they are leaving, they say you should keep it short Shop floors are empty, there's no one there Checkpoint is closing to Manger Square It's Christmas Eve in Bethlehem Those Christians who stay here dream of sprouting wings But they stubbornly stay near their long-lost kings Relatives stranded far away They have been branded terrorists, that's what the colonists say It's Christmas Eve in Bethlehem

about

I spent a fine, long, wet day in November, 2013 with Billy Oskay at Big Red Studio in Corbett, Oregon, and this is the result. These are all songs I wrote in the past three months or so. This is a web-only album, only available right here on Bandcamp.

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released November 4, 2013

All songs written and performed by David Rovics on guitar and vocals.
Engineer: Billy Oskay
Co-produced by David Rovics and Billy Oskay at Big Red Studio
All songs are registered Creative Commons

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David Rovics Portland, Oregon

I'm a frequently touring singer/songwriter based in Portland, Oregon, a regular contributor to Counterpunch, and host of the podcast, This Week with David Rovics, among other things.

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