A very special battle royal edition: Roe vs. Wade, Son Volt vs. Wilco, fly fishing vs. spin fishing
Editor’s Note: Have a question, any question? Ask Matt Labash (he’s so lonely) at email@example.com
Yeah, abortion right after Roe v. Wade gets overturned. As a pro-lifer with plenty of pro-choice subscribers, I value my health too much, and don’t want to be aborted myself in this, my 156th trimester. We all know where we stand. Some of us think abortion is killing a baby. Some of us think it’s removing a jellybean. I’ve never changed anyone’s mind, and I’m fairly certain, after all the sonograms I’ve seen, that they’re not going to change mine. But at the moment, it’s not our call. The Supreme Court kicked it back to the states, and many of those states are going to ban abortion outright. Plenty of people of good conscience think that’s a blow against freedom. Plenty of others of good conscience think it’s the sound of freedom ringing - for the unborn. I see no reason to rub people’s faces in the decision, and I understand why, if they don’t see it my way, they’re very upset.
In case you can’t tell, I positively hate writing about the subject, due to general intractability and the aggression that even mentioning abortion often arouses on both sides of the issue. Though I suppose I did write about it a bit when I threw it to group back in May, after a draft of the decision first leaked. And the one thing I tried to stress, from a pro-life perspective, is with freedom – a word I don’t typically associate with parenthood, as I have two cost centers of my own – comes responsibility. Lots of it. To that end, I enlisted no less a figure than Randall Terry (one of the nation’s most famous pro-life activists) to drive that point home. He asked some very tough questions of fellow pro-lifers, and here’s hoping the states that do ban abortion also have the humanity to ensure that the children, who would not have been born otherwise, have robust support systems. Which will cost money. Lots of it. Which Republican lawmakers don’t typically like to spend unless it’s on elective wars, more border patrol agents, or AR-15 Christmas card photos. So here’s hoping they remember that being pro-life shouldn’t stop when the baby makes it to the other side of the birth canal.
As an aside, I will say that when I opened this subject up to group last month, I worried it was a suicide run. But the Slack Tide commenters on both sides of the argument not only surprised me, but (mostly) did me proud – holding their ground wherever they landed, but disagreeing respectfully and with something approximating empathy. At the risk of sounding like I’m sucking up or flattering, it is my considered opinion that if the rest of the nation treated each other like my readers do on balance, the country would be in a lot better shape.
As for the disturbing news that Clarence Thomas next wishes to come for contraception, I can only say that he should quit while he’s ahead, he should tend to more important matters like buying his crazy-ass wife a straitjacket, and if he intends to take my love glove, he’ll have to pry it from my warm, moist hand.
There are Stones guys and Beatles guys. And, out of the Uncle Tupelo split, there are Son Volt guys and Wilco guys, and never the two shall meet. Which are you, and how will you weasel out of this question?
I’ll hang up & listen.
Color me a qualified Wilco guy, meaning while I liked Son Volt just fine, I preferred nearly everything Wilco did up until about 2001’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, when Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy started forsaking his old alt-county roots and going into his more experimental Yoko phase.
And in keeping with Beatles parallels, I always thought it was the cheap route for sniffy side-pickers to celebrate moody, sometimes-bullying Jay Farrar (of the Son Volt wing) over Tweedy and Wilco, as rock snobs often choose surly John Lennon over sunnier Paul McCartney, considering the latter too accessible, even if McCartney was clearly the superior musical genius. Plus, it’s easier to romanticize the dead: Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman, and Jay Farrar killed his own career (only kidding, Farrar fans).
I’d be lying if I said I kept up religiously with either wing in the last 15 years or so. One of the only upsides of aging is that my culture-consumption now consists of things I get around to, rather than things I feel the need to keep up with. Though I utterly loved Jeff Tweedy’s charming 2018 memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).
And as a peace offering to Farrar fans, here is one of my all-time favorite songs that either Farrar or Tweedy ever recorded. It’s a gorgeous 1995 duet cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Rex’s Blues” (a song I played last column), featuring Farrar with Kelly Willis:
Finally, I prefer the Stones over the Beatles. And prefer Whiskeytown (RIP) to either Wilco or Son Volt.
Why do fly fishermen look down on bass fishermen? You think you’re better than me?
Travis in TN
Well, first off, Travis, I probably fish for bass as often as you do, if not more. Bass are perfect fly rod quarry. They’re aggressive, they like to hit on topwater, they’re not as fussy as trout, and they make a lot more of them. The largemouth bass, as far as I’m concerned, is America’s fish. So I’ll presume you meant why does a fly fisherman like me think he’s better than a spinning-rod fisherman like you?
To which I’d answer: I don’t think I’m better. I just think you guys smell weird and don’t give me enough casting room when we fish the same spots. (Joking about the former, dead serious about the latter.) We’re both just using different tools, and yours is probably more efficient. But I would submit that I’m having the superior fishing experience. Fly fishing is more challenging, more fun, and since you’re usually retrieving by hand, it puts you in closer touch with the fish. The difference between using fly rods and spinning rods, I like to tell people when lecturing in schools and/or accepting prestigious awards, is the difference between having sex (fly fishing) and having sex with three condoms on (spin fishing). Sex is still sex – how bad can it be? But there are degrees of enjoyment.
Whatever rod you’re using, trolling doesn’t count as sex at all, by the way. If the boat is catching your fish for you, you’re not fishing. You’re boating.
And apologies for all the rubbers-talk in this column. Don’t tell Clarence Thomas.
Slack Tide by Matt Labash is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Preferably paid.