The music of New Glarus WI grows healthy people
Five motorcyclists in our Meet Up group led by former Dane County circuit judge Mark Frankel took a day trip Sunday to the village of New Glarus, “America’s Little Switzerland.” First stop was Puempel’s tavern, little changed since 1893, for a cold and fresh New Glarus beer (brewed just up the road) and a limburger & onion sandwich (on rye bread, of course). Duly fortified, we rode County Hwy O northwest of the village to the grounds of [Wilhelm] Tell Shooting Barn, where the massive limbs of an ancient oak tree shaded us from the August heat.
Four Green County alphorns — those impossibly long horns one hears in the Ricola commercials — announced the start of Volksfest 2019, a celebration of Swiss music and customs. (Missed seeing one of those customs, something called “musical coin rolling,” performed by the Jodlerklub.)
We did enjoy the New Glarus Kinderchor, or “children’s choir.” Holly Lague directed about two dozen little ones dressed in their canton Glarus best— none older than 15 years, it appeared — with husband Kevin on accordion. This aging easy rider was especially taken by a little fellow, front row on the right end, who could not have been much older than three. Held on tight to his sippy cup, never sang a German word, seemed focused solely on mom in the audience. Only toward the end of the performance did the little Schweizer perform a dip as called for by the stage directions — well out of step with the other children but he’s in there.
As Mr. Lague explained later at the beer & brat stand, the little fellow is absorbing the music of his community — that music being not only the notational. What Lincoln called the mystic chords of memory.
A deadly emptiness at the center
Now, gentle reader, pardon an abrupt pivot on our Moto Guzzi V7 but we’re getting closer to the destination. Inasmuch as the proprietors of the Policy Werkes attempt to remain current, we feel compelled to address the carnage of the weekend. The peculiar things about these mass shootings is that there were two of them within 24 hours in widely disparate parts of the nation. El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, would not seem more “diverse” (to unholy a currently holy term).
Being that Presidential Election Season is so soon upon us dictates that the airwaves screech with opportunism, if not the cheap shot. So some of the would-be’s are using the deaths of 29 and another 53 injured to accost the President. Perhaps Marianne Williamson can legislate love.
What we say and how we say it
Blaska Policy Werkes believes the public discourse either coarsens or ennobles a society. Lincoln’s “better angels of our nature” helped salve the terrible wounds of a fratricidal war. JFK’s soaring rhetoric inspired a nation to go to the moon and to alleviate hunger in Zimbabwe. Trump, his adversaries (think the Kavanaugh hearings), and our entertainment media are main-streaming trash (and trashy) talk.
Of course, the great gun control debate resumes. We are listening for what actually is workable. Would the weekend’s shooters voluntarily relinquish their weapons? Or how you would, dear commissar, decide from whose cold, dead hands they would be taken? And how?
On those scores, the Werkes’ creaking mainframe computer comes up blank. Instead, we turn to the wise heads of Monday morning’s Wall Street Journal for some deep thinking on deadline (quite a feat in its own right).
From ‘The Killers in Our Midst‘:
Which brings us back to the angry young men … All were deeply troubled and alienated from society in our increasingly atomistic culture. This is one price we are paying for the decline in what the late sociologist Peter Berger called the “mediating institutions” that help individuals form cultural and social attachments. These are churches, business and social clubs like the Rotary, charitable groups, even bowling leagues, and especially the family. Government programs can never replace these as protectors of troubled young people.
Recognizing this reality is not a counsel of despair to do nothing about mass shootings. But revitalizing these private institutions of social capital is crucial to reversing the cultural decline at the root of so many of America’s ills.
One could add a third adjective to the description of mass shooters — they are the angry, young white men. And many of our … acquaintances do so with unfathomable glee. But one could argue (that one being Blaska) that the same anomie — that same dead, heartless core — afflicts Chicago drive-by shooters, Milwaukee road-rage gunners, Madison car jackers, and Baltimore rat breeders. An honest discussion of gun deaths should note that mass shootings made up 0.7 percent off all homicides. (Source here.)
Blaska’s Bottom Line: To whom or what do the last-named belong but to the Great Nothing. Those who might erect guard rails are beaten back lest they be found guilty of the great liberal sin of Judgmentalism!
But not in New Glarus, where the traditions and heritage of community Folksfest are building strong social capital. It starts with the Kinders.
For Extra Credit:
• “Chicago hospital stops accepting patients after trauma center is overwhelmed with shooting victims” over the weekend. 12 in one neighborhood!
• “59 shot, 7 fatally in Chicago weekend shootings.”