condescending twatbags, religion, stupid people, TV

Jim Bakker NEEDS your money or they’ll cancel his show!

I remember back in the 1980s, when televangelists were all over the news for various scandals involving sex and fleecing their flocks. Jim Bakker was, in those days, a charismatic leader of the PTL network. He, along with his ex wife, the late Tammy Faye Bakker, had a vision to create a Christian utopia in Heritage USA, a Christian theme park and housing development that never quite came to fruition.

Bakker was later busted by the feds for defrauding his followers. I clearly recall how he went into a fetal position and had to be committed for a psych evaluation while he was on trial for fraud. He was originally sentenced to 45 years in prison, but the sentence was later reduced to eight years. He was paroled on December 1, 1994, after serving almost five years in a minimum security prison in Georgia. A few years later, he met his second wife, Lori. By 2003, he and Lori were back in the televangelism game, having launched a new program, which still runs today.

You’d think people would be wise to Jim Bakker, after his very public sex scandal and fraud case in the late 1980s. But no, he’s still got a platform, and he’s still peddling shit to the gullible. I don’t make a point of keeping up with what he’s doing, although I have to admit, he’s kind of a fascinating character. Below is a very disturbing video, complete with hilarious music, that shows Jim Bakker combining talk of the apocalypse, championing Donald Trump, and selling buckets of slop that can double as toilets or furniture.

You have to see it to believe it. What a fucking charlatan!

In the 1980s, I was kind of dimly aware of what was going on, since I was a teenager at the time. I avoided religion like the plague. But I do remember that Jim Bakker wasn’t the only daring televangelist in those days. In 1987, televangelist Oral Roberts told his followers that he was going to begin an intense prayer and fasting vigil that would last until he raised $8 million for a medical scholarship program. In a letter he sent to his flock, Roberts wrote that God had ordered him to raise the money by the end of March 1987, or he would die. According to an article from the Washington Post dated February 28, 1987:

The evangelist wrote that he will ascend the Prayer Tower at Oral Roberts University to begin praying and fasting.

“If I go from there to Jesus, I will see you in heaven. But I believe that won’t happen, because I believe our God will do this mighty thing and at the end of March, you and I will know the miracle has happened and the Gospel will go to the nations,” he said.

In the end, Roberts managed to raise $9.1 million. He died on December 15, 2009. At least Oral Roberts was raising money for a decent cause, even if the way he did it was highly manipulative and controversial.

Jim Bakker, like Oral Roberts before him, is also looking to raise a lot of money. This week, he told his followers in a panicky tone of voice that his show would be canceled if he didn’t pay what he owes his network. He says that he owes about a million dollars. According to DEADState, Bakker said:

“We’ve lost millions in finances due to the legal battles we’ve fought, losing our ability to receive donations by credit cards for over a year — has left us in a desperate state… But what the Devil has tried to do is silence our voice.”

Bakker continued,

“I’m asking you as a friend and longtime supporter of this ministry, valued partners, will you help us? Turn this wolf away from our door.”

Oh dear! What will we do without Jim Bakker’s show?

Regardless of what I think of Jim Bakker and his sleazy fundraising tactics, I’ve got to admit the man has a lot of moxie. And even though I think he’s a swindler, he does have charisma and a knack for appealing to a certain segment of the population. He’s even entertaining as he pulls the wool over people’s eyes. One of the funniest parts of Vic Berger’s Best of Jim Bakker YouTube video, posted above, is when Bakker tries to convince people that the slop in the bucket is delicious. He’s definitely game for peddling bullshit, and there’s something to be said for that. A lot of fortunes have been made by people who can sell ice to Eskimos.

I think televangelists are a fascinating lot. So many of them push the prosperity gospel, selling the idea that personal wealth is a sign of God’s favor. The whole lot of these evangelists wear expensive clothes, have coiffed hair (or in the case of the late Ernest Angley, outrageous wigs), and wear jewelry. They live in fancy homes, drive pricey cars, and never flinch as they demand “love gifts” for their bogus ministries. So many people buy into the fantasy that all they have to do is pray and send money and they will somehow be “blessed”. Mark Knopfler even wrote a fabulous song about this phenomenon, which his band Dire Straits recorded in 1991…

A beautiful song by Dire Straits… but people often miss the real meaning of this song and take the lyrics seriously. This song is sarcastic, and it’s about evangelists who rip off the gullible. People think that by sending money, they’re buying a “Ticket to Heaven”.

Here are the lyrics to “Ticket to Heaven”

I can see what you’re looking to find
In the smile on my face
In my peace of mind
In my state of grace

I send what I can
To the man from the ministry
He’s a part of heaven’s plan
And he talks to me

Now I send what I can to the man
With the diamond ring
He’s a part of heaven’s plan
And he sure can sing

Now it’s all I can afford
But the Lord has sent me eternity
It’s to save the little children
In a poor country

I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
I got a ride all the way to paradise
I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
All the way to paradise

Now there’s nothing left for luxuries
Nothing left to pay my heating bill
But the good Lord will provide
I know he will

So send what you can
To the man with the diamond ring
They’re tuning in across the land
To hear him sing

I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
Got a ride all the way to paradise
I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
All the way to paradise

As far as I’m concerned, Mark Knopfler is a god. I would much sooner follow him than Jim Bakker. What’s especially funny, though, is that a lot of people think “Ticket to Heaven” is a beautiful song that is literally about going to Heaven. It’s not. It’s an indictment against people like Jim Bakker and his ilk, cheating poor, ignorant, lonely, God fearing, people out of their money. When you think about it, Jim Bakker has a lot in common with Donald Trump. In fact, he is one of Trump’s admirers.

Eeew.

I only watch televangelists to ridicule them and be mildly entertained by their antics. Sadly, a lot of people think these so-called religion peddlers can help them. It’ll be interesting to see if Jim Bakker manages to save his show from oblivion. It’s kind of inspired that Jim Bakker peddles buckets of food and shovels to prepare for the apocalypse… they make handy receptacles for all the bullshit he shovels. We really should start taxing these fake religious motherfuckers.

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nostalgia

Bruce Springsteen always reminds me of high school…

Last night, I decided to download a comprehensive album of Bruce Springsteen’s music. I had just listened to his latest album, Western Stars, and then one from the pinnacle of my youth, Born in the USA. I had a sudden urge to hear “Hungry Heart”, and rather than fetch my iPod or move up to my office, where my whole, vast musical collection is stored, I decided to just order another Springsteen compilation. Bill and I sat there and listened in our German Eckbank Gruppe (corner booth) and I was suddenly transported to my 14th year.

This NEVER gets old… even as I do. “Hungry Heart” was released when I was about 8 years old.

When I was fourteen, Springsteen was at the top of his game. I got my dad to buy me his Live 1975-1985 box set for Christmas. I had it on cassette tape and, along with Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms album, I used to wear out those cassettes, riding my bike to and from the barn where I boarded my horse, Rusty. It got to the point at which I had the whole box set memorized, right down to the stories Springsteen told about facing the Vietnam draft, and fights he had with his father over his rock n’ roll lifestyle. I was definitely a true fan.

As the years passed, I stopped listening to Springsteen so much, especially when his sound changed. I think it happened in the early 1990s. I was in college and had started discovering new music, thanks to my stint as a radio DJ and unofficial music studies. The faculty members of Longwood University’s music department kindly gave me the opportunity to study voice privately and join their auditioned choir, The Camerata Singers, even though I wasn’t a singer until I came to college. Being in a choir and studying voice introduced me to music I had never heard. I had limited time and even more limited funds, so old interests went by the wayside. Prince, another one of my obsessions during adolescence, suffered a similar fate. I stopped listening to him at around the same time I quit listening to Springsteen.

When I was a high school senior, this was probably my favorite song.

When I got older, I had more time and more money… and I started listening to and buying those old albums I missed. Last night, as I heard Springsteen’s familiar, evocative lyrics, and the familiar cadences of his best known songs. I was suddenly reminded of being fourteen, in the traumatic tempest of adolescence. I remember fourteen was a particularly stormy year for me. I was a bucket of emotions. One minute, I was cracking off-color jokes. The next minute, I was in tears for some reason. People literally thought I was crazy. The evidence is in the inscriptions left in my yearbooks.

As a teenager, I really related to Springsteen’s stories about his parents. He had a contentious relationship with his dad, just like I did. Bruce’s dad harassed him about his hair and his life choices. Mine harassed me about my weight and my outspoken personality. He would have preferred me to be more demure. It’s not me. But there was still a lot of love beneath those fights.

In those days, I remember people asking me if I was bipolar. In the 80s, they didn’t refer to bipolar disorder as such; it was called “manic depression”. No, I am not bipolar, but I was very moody in those days. In the midst of crying jags, temper tantrums, and hysterical laughing fits, I was riding my horse and my bike, struggling with school, writing short stories, and loving music. I loved more music than I could possibly purchase. It surprises and, frankly, kind of depresses me I never made an effort to study it seriously when I was growing up, although I’m pretty sure I was like that because my parents were/are musicians. I wanted to do my own thing, without pressure from my parents to do what they were doing. I’d rather ride my horse, who was the best company and never judged me for being who I am.

I have always had really eclectic musical tastes. I think it comes from having three much older sisters who introduced me to the stuff they liked. My oldest sister was mostly gone from our house by the time I was old enough to know what was going on, but I seem to remember she was a fan of Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, and… actually, I don’t know. I’ve never really gotten to know Betsy that well. She’s thirteen years older than I am and an extremely high achiever. When I was growing up, she lived in other countries: France, Morocco, Egypt, India, and she visited so many others because of her work.

My sister, Becky, was more of a hard rock/alternative fan. She introduced me to groups like The Who, Roxy Music, Dead Can Dance, and The Police, and singers like Eric Clapton, Dan Fogelberg, and Kate Bush. She also introduced me to James Taylor, who is probably my favorite of all of them, besides Kate Bush. I used to raid her record collection the most. We shared a room for awhile, even though she’s eleven years older than I am. I’m probably closest to her.

Sarah, who is eight years older, liked “urban” music. She liked funk, R&B, and white soul, like Hall & Oates. She introduced me to Earth, Wind, & Fire, The Commodores, and Rose Royce. I remember she also introduced me to Pat Benatar. The very first album I ever purchased was Benatar’s Crimes of Passion, which came out in 1982. I even remember how much it cost… $7.86. For a kid who got $2.50 a week as an allowance, that was a lot of money to save up. I remember walking from my house to Murphy’s Mart, which was a shitty discount store in a strip mall near my home in Gloucester, Virginia, and plunking that money down at the cash register. I wore that album out.

I used to buy a lot of 45s in those days, since they were much cheaper and I usually just wanted to hear one or two songs. I also used to tape music from the radio. Now I routinely download entire albums, sometimes without even having heard any songs on it. I often do that when I’ve been drinking. I have surprisingly good taste when I’m drunk, too. Bill and I often refer jokingly to my “drunken downloads”. They’re usually a pleasant surprise.

I switched to cassettes when I got a Walkman, because I liked listening to music while riding my bike. Also, cassettes never skipped, although they could be damaged in other ways. I remember one time, I left a copy of Zenyatta Mondata on the dashboard of my car, in direct sunlight. It was warped when I came back. Anyone who has ever listened to cassettes knows that sometimes the tape jams and makes a squiggly mess that requires a pen or pencil to correct. I had a few tapes break, too. I was glad when CDs were a thing… and even gladder when MP3s were a thing, even if I do miss the magic of opening a new album and looking at the artwork. Sometimes there would even be special gifts in those LP records. I got a Prince and the Revolution poster in my copy of the Purple Rain soundtrack. That doesn’t happen with downloads.

So anyway… there I was last night, listening to Springsteen and remembering being a teenager. My home economics teacher actually went to high school with Springsteen. She was from New Jersey and a few years younger than he is. She was a freshman in high school when he was a senior. I took her class when I was a freshman. I remember being kind of an anomaly in her class. Most of the people who took it with me weren’t bound for college. I took the class because I like to cook and it hadn’t occurred to me that I should have explored music. Ms. Kulnis, who had married a Gloucester local, told us that back during his high school days, Springsteen was kind of “gross”. In 1986, he was definitely not gross. He was a huge star in his prime. But as a teen, he was unkempt, greasy, had super long hair, and, she said, kind of skinny because he didn’t work out. She said he wasn’t appealing back then, musical talent notwithstanding. She had no idea he would someday be a megastar.

I’ve always loved the slower, live version of “Thunder Road” than the album version, which is more upbeat. I heard it for the first time when I was 14.
Above is a link to my favorite version of “Thunder Road”, which doesn’t have video footage.

It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was fourteen. I have some good memories of that time of my life, though I sure as hell wouldn’t want to repeat it. I would not want to be an adolescent again for anything, although I might have made some different choices knowing what I know now. The nice thing about the passage of time is that it tends to smooth out the worst memories. I remember being chronically upset during my teen years. Mostly, I got yelled at by people. I had a short temper and a foul mouth. Sometimes, I was kind of impulsive, but never to the point at which I did anything that got me into serious trouble. Most people seemed to think of me as a “good kid”, although I probably wasn’t as good as some of my friends were… or appeared to be. On the other hand, some of my friends were being naughty behind closed doors. I never had a need to sneak around, because my parents mostly didn’t care what I did, as long as it didn’t embarrass or involve them.

Original version of The E Street Shuffle. He’s changed it significantly since then.

Springsteen’s older music is like a soundtrack to that time of my life. It takes me back every time. The 80s seemed so modern at the time, but now it seems like such a quaint time. One thing that remains constant is the staying power of certain artists. I can tell a truly gifted musician if their music stands the test of time. Springsteen’s definitely does, for the most part. Most artists have an off album or two. Springsteen is no different. I don’t think I cared much for his Human Touch or Lucky Town albums, for instance. Some people don’t like his 2009 album, Working on a Dream. I have only heard one song from that album… a freebie I got from Amazon. No one can bat 1ooo every time. But here I sit in 2019, listening to Springsteen’s 1973 album, The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle, released the year after I was born. It’s still very solid.

A more recent version of The E Street Shuffle.

By contrast, Western Stars, which is a brand new album, is very different than Springsteen’s early stuff is. I like it, but listening to Born in the USA (which I only JUST added to my collection) took me back to the 80s. I had to hear “Hungry Heart”. I ended up listening to a panoply of Springsteen’s hits from over the years. It was fascinating. I suddenly realized how far we’ve come. Springsteen doesn’t have Clarence Clemons anymore. He’s entered a new phase, just like all great musicians do at some point. I haven’t seen him in concert, nor have I seen Billy Joel… both are acts I’d brave the crowds and pay big bucks to see, just because I didn’t have the money or wisdom to see them when I was younger. I hope I can catch them before one of us dies.

I dare you not to dance to this one.

Thank God we still have the ability to take a carpet ride back to our youths through nostalgia. Maybe not everyone is whisked away by an old Springsteen song. I’m sure today’s young people have other artists that take them back.

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