Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mastodon -- "Blood and Thunder" (2004)

This ivory leg is what propels me
Harpoons thrust in the sky
Aim directly for his crooked brow
And look him straight in the eye

Opinions differ on which book deserves the title "The Great American Novel."  Many would say that it is an exercise in futility to even attempt to make such a choice.  

But I wouldn't argue with you if you picked Herman Melville's Moby-Dick as the "The Great American Novel."

Moby-Dick tells the story of Captain Ahab's quest to find and take his revenge on Moby-Dick, the ferocious white whale who once destroyed Ahab's ship and bit off his leg.  (Ahab's peg-leg is made from whalebone – not wood – hence the reference to the "ivory leg" in the lyrics quoted above.)

I recently found a copy of The Portable Melville, an anthology that contains a sampling of Melville's major works – including an excerpt from Moby-Dick – in a "Little Free Library" that some neighbors of mine recently erected in their yard.

The Little Free Library movement got its start in a small town in Wisconsin several years ago.  To honor his mother, schoolteacher and book lover Todd Bol mounted a wooden box built to look like an old-fashioned schoolhouse on a post in his front yard, and filled it with books.  Passers-by were encouraged to take any book that was of interest and leave another book in its place.  

Today, there are approximately 5000 registered Little Free Libraries in the world.  Little Free Library, Ltd., sells prefabricated libraries for $175 to $630, or you can build a library yourself by going to and downloading their free plans.  

Here's the Little Free Library in my neighborhood.  I don't know the people who built it, but I plan to introduce myself and thank them someday soon.

Here's the sign attached to its front:

Believe it or not, Little Free Libraries are not always welcome.  Last year, Avi and Dannette Lank, a couple who live in the village of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, wanted to erect a Little Free library in their front yard.  They asked the village building inspector if the library they planned to order was too big, and whether there were any regulations governing how close it could be to the sidewalk.  They were told to their chagrin that village ordinances prohibited any structures in the front yard.

The village government also ordered the local Episcopal church to take down the Little Free Library that they had put on the church's lot.

Despotic village board to church:
teat that "Little Free Library" down!
I don't think it's an overstatement to say that this is exactly the kind of thing that makes the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution necessary.  Actually, that probably is an overstatement -- but I think I do have a valid point.   

I suppose I could live with a regulation requiring the structure to be a certain distance back from the sidewalk, or limiting its size.  But an absolute ban is ridiculous.  There is absolutely no justification for the Whitefish Bay village government telling the Lanks that they are unconditionally prohibited from putting a Little Free Library in their front yard. 

The Milwaukee newspaper ran a story about the Little Free Library contretemps, reporting that some of the busybodies who attended the meeting of the village board called to consider the Lacks' request were worried "about the possibility of people putting pornography or white supremacist literature" in the library.

Others who opposed the Lacks' request argued that Whitefish Bay already had a perfectly good public library.  

You have got to be kidding me.

"Blood and Thunder" is the first track on Mastodon's second album, Leviathan, which was released in 2004.  Leviathan is a concept album based on Moby-Dick.  (The second track is titled "I Am Ahab.")

Three rock/metal magazines picked Leviathan as 2004's best album.  In 2009, a heavy metal website named it best metal album of the 21st century to date.

Here's "Blood and Thunder":

Click here to order the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. Give some people a bit of authority and it goes to their heads. Stories like this remind me of the dad who installed a basketball backboard on his garage so his kids and their friends could shoot some hoops and get some exercise. In just a few days, he received a sternly worded letter from the "Homeowners Association" declaring the basket to be in violation of section XXX paragrph YY of the HOA rules (which probably covered several pages of small print) and to remove it immediately. One wonders what kind of mean spirited killjoys would have this attitude, but apparently the idea of children having fun ("why they might be shouting and hollering!") or a resident doing something that they wouldn't consider ("basketball goals are eyesores and diminish property values!") offended some of the neighborhood grouches and that was that. I thought this story doubly appropriate because of your interest in basketball, the all-American sport.