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Art of the Collapse

by John Rubino on March 22, 2010 · 7 comments

Extreme times spawn interesting art. From the Great Depression, Brother Can You Spare a Dime, Grapes of Wrath, We’re in the Money, and about a thousand other works live on as classics. And the chaos of the 1960s gave us the Beatles, the Stones and the rest of classic rock’s pantheon. So it’s not surprising that today’s Great Recession is inspiring artists to reflect on the mess we’ve made of the world.

Mike Dobbins, whose band, Patience Gloria, has done a couple of hard-timey songs, recently suggested: “As an artist, I think it would be cool if your site offered more info about songs, films, poetry, etc. inspired by the collapse. You added the ‘Clean Tech’ section not too far back. Why not an ‘Art of The Collapse’ section?”

Great idea Mike. Today DollarCollapse gets an “Art of the Collapse” breaking news section. To kick it off, here’s a look at some of the more interesting songs, cartoons and videos produced lately, starting with a few songs from Patience Gloria’s new album. Tent City Nation and No More Fear are tales of foreclosure and loss, says Mike, while From Chicago to Dubai “was inspired by Erin Burnett’s profile of Dubai on CNBC about two years ago.  I think I’d consider that point in time ‘Peak Hype’”.

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Next up, The Onion’s classic Money Hole


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NaturalNews.com editor Michael Adams, besides being able to rap, seems to understand economics. He wants his bailout:

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Foreclosure: A Song for the Recession, by Chris Kiley

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Foreclosure Song – by Bruce Ling

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Auto Bailout poem by Fayrouz Saad

Twas the month of lameduck, and all through the House,
Congress was stirring with talk of bailouts.
The legislation created and discussed in committee,
In hopes there would be a future for The Motor City.

The Big Three were all nestled not so snug in their beds,
While visions of unsold SUV’s all danced in their heads.
Ford and the pickup, GM with the Hummer,
Chrysler’s Pacifica, all such a bummer.

While out in DC there arose a big fight,
Dingell lost his chairmanship, this couldn’t be right!
The Chair of Energy and Dean of the Congress,
Ousted by Waxman, this is all a big mess!

The bailout of Wall Street still fresh in our mind,
Gives fear to a public not experiencing good times.
With what to our wonder and thoughts should appear,
But a too powerful government, could socialism be near?

25 Billion is what they propose,
To save all those jobs and the big CEO’s.
But will that money last and how will it be spent,
Next year will we be back wondering where it all went?

With a little more power to the wealthy and rich,
Is a bailout the right way or do we need a better fix?
More rapid and efficient if bankruptcy they claim,
To eliminate debts, create better standards and get back in the game!

Move over Honda Civic and Toyota Prius,
Our cars can be small and more energy efficient!
From the bottom of the market to once again lead,
We can have better models that still pick up speed!

We must spring to our feet and back into action,
This industry must survive and we need Congress’ reaction.
Whether a bailout or bankruptcy, just hear us exclaim,
“Whatever your vote, in the next election we’ll remember your name”!

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Bailout 2008 by Sasha Hart

Like a bloodied warrior,
laying broken and torn.

Like a dying soldier, hopeless and forlorn.

But the blood, it be green,
the color of money.

And the soldier is an economy,
and it is anything but funny.

Broken are it’s people and shattered are their dreams.

Thanks to the ultra rich and their full proof schemes.

It is a tragedy with more pain to come.

Finance will be Hell, and their wills will be done.

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Charge of the TARP Brigade, by WilliamBanzai7

(inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade)

Half a trillion, half a trillion,
Give or take 200 billion, onward!
All in the valley of Balance Sheet Death
Rode the seven hundred billion tax dollars.
“Forward, the TARP Brigade!
“Charge for the ABS Credit Default Swaps!” he said:
Into the valley of Balance Sheet Death
Rode the seven hundred billion tax dollars.

“Forward, the TARP Brigade!”
Was there a politician dismay’d?
Not tho’ the Congress knew
Some guy named Hank had blunder’d:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die:
Into the valley of Balance Sheet Death
Rode the seven hundred billion tax dollars.
CDOs to right of them,
CDSs to left of them,
AIG and the GSEs in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with Wall Street shot and shell,
Boldly that load of Federal largesse rode and well,
Into the jaws of Balance Sheet Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the seven hundred billion.

Flash’d all the workout sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the losses there,
Charging an army of tawdry bankers, accountants, and shysters, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the seedy subprime-smoke
Right into the red numbers they broke;
Lehman and Bear Stearns
Spared from the sabre stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the seven hundred billion.

CDOs to right of them,
CDSs to left of them,
Fat Wall Street workout advisory fees behind them,
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with derivative losses, asset backed shot and shell,
While level 3 zeros fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Balance Sheet Death
Back from the mouth of insolvency Hell,
All that was left of it?
Nothing left of seven hundred billion!

When can its glory fade?
O the wild loss charges!
All the world wondered.
Honor the huge expenditures they made,
Honor the TARP Brigade,
Noble seven hundred billion taxpayer dollars.

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Foreclosure,by Kathleen Delicato

What is a house?
Walls, ceilings and floors,
Windows, roof and doors.

A house doesn’t define me,
Who I am in essence.
It is only a residence.

Times are hard, money is tight.
Banks are repossessing.
Am I next? Bills are pressing.

Working two jobs, trying to make it.
Living under a burden of stress.
Every day I’m determined to do my best.

Yet the paychecks are not quite enough

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Saturday Night Live has been revitalized by all the great material the world’s leaders are providing as they lurch from one screw-up to the next. This skit, China Would Like its Money Back, is rude, but probably pretty close to how U.S./China meetings go these days:

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For more art of the collapse, see BusinessWeek’s Our National Bailout Slam

  • Bruce C.

    The “Money Hole” was funny as hell but almost too real, and “A Song for the Recession” was truly sad. That pretty much sums it up: Really Sad as Hell.

  • Gary

    Thanks John for adding the Art of Collapse into your highly informative website. Putting the artist’s face on the unfolding tragedy of greed and political corruption lets us read the words, listen to the music and even laugh at the dire humor that will be impacting all of us.

  • marc

    Here is another one to add to your collection, Sheryl Crow singing No Depression in Heaven. (carter family remake):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cFjyHGXhU0

    This one is also worthy, Obama’s next State of the Union:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i93BJiYLaj8

  • http://GreatRedDragon.com Edward Ulysses Cate

    Sometimes, oldies are not only appropriate for today, but show that folks have had trouble learning anything over the years. That’s not because they’re dumb or ignorance, but simply the result of being lied-to for so long. On 6/21/2008, I posted the commentary “The Quiet Revolution’s Anthem” at http://GreatRedDragon.com . It suggests “Creepin’” by Grand Funk Railroad [1973], in which the line “I don’t want to be THEIR fool, no more!” occurs quite often. Unfortunately, GFR also added that:

    “Feel that our lives are in the hands of fools,
    Loosin’ their cool, it’s us that they rule.
    Too many people sittin’ dead on their ass,
    They ain’t got no class. People, this time must pass.”

    Obviously, folks reading this site are NOT the ones being addressed.
    You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care about the future.

    1973 was also the year “The Dollar Barons” by Christopher Elias was published. It’s eerie that almost 40 years later, all that was written happened. They’re not “doin’ God’s work.” They’re playin’ God, by determining who gets funded, who doesn’t; who works, who doesn’t; who lives, who doesn’t.

    Perhaps folks will listen to this generation’s words and music.
    I hope they do.

  • Rob Panico

    Don’t forget this one… Fear the Boom and Bust
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk

  • http://www.rothbard.be Tuur Demeester
  • LVM

    Check out Greed and Fear by Harry Shearer (of Spinal Tap, the Simpsons, etc.). I particularly like track 6 – “Mr. Goldman and Mr. Sachs”

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0038TV9U0/ref=dm_sp_alb?ie=UTF8&qid=1267633517&sr=8-3


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