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WATCH A DOCUMENTARY Cl about Meiburg’s travels at shearwatermusic.com like music is a way to explore the very kinds of things that science is not equipped to explore. Meiburg has channeled these lingering impressions into the songs on The Golden Archipelago. There’s a rolling undercurrent to the album, as if it were composed on a ship. The lyrics convey the wonder and pain of discovery, full of images of islands with “flares that fall like fireflies” and “little bones among the reeds.” The album begins with a recording that sums up the destructive power of humankind’s relationship to science and nature. It’s the national anthem of Bikini Atoll, written by decedents of the tribe that had been moved off the island for the testing of the atomic bomb. Meiburg read a translation of the lyrics. “No longer can I stay here, it’s true. No longer can I live in peace and harmony. No longer can I rest on my sleeping hat and pillow, because of my island and the life I once knew there. The thought is overwhelming, rendering me helpless and in great despair. My spirit leaves, drifting around and far away, where it becomes caught in a current of immense powerand only then do I find tranquility.” Surely there’s not another national anthem like this! But it’s delivered with such energy and life and joy. It’s really paradoxical. But it’s also so emblematic of the victory over exile and death that we can only achieve through art. In the Falklands, I saw a piece of an Argentinean plane on the side of a hill on a remote island. I thought, you could have stood at that spot for 50,000 years and heard nothing but the wind and waves and watched the albatrosses fly overhead. Then one day in 1982, all of a sudden you hear this roar and see a plane smash into the island. Looking at the wreckage, it felt like nowhere in the world is safe, that a war machine could come screaming out of sky and crash into any place in the world, no matter how remote. In the song “Landscape of Speed,” I was thinking of how Bikini Atoll would look for the bomber pilots dropping the first of the atomic bomb tests, and the way the South Pacific islands might look from a great height. Musically, we aimed to conjure up a tranquil, undulating landscape, but we also went after an uneasy undertone. The art I like best works with countervailing currents: If you have something beautiful, you want something ugly along with it. That’s more like the world as we experience it. Experiences are rarely just beautiful or just ugly, happy, or sad. Everything is all bound up. So if you can make music that reflects that, it’s more satisfying. 101 Shearwater is touring Europe. They’ll he back in Texas for a South by Southwest showcase on March 19 in Austin. HIGHTOWERREPORT GREEDHEAD TROPHY UP FOR GRABS AMERICA’S SPORTSwriters had all but ceded the coveted “Corporate Greedhead Trophy” to the Wall Street Barons this year, but here come the Health Care Insurance Giants. To paraphrase my high school coach, “When the going gets ugly, the ugly get going.” The five largest health-insurance corporations are making a run for the trophy. They recently announced record profits for 2009 totaling $12.2 billion. That’s a 56-percent hike over the previous year for United Health, Wellpoint, Aetna, Humana and Cigna. The Giants also booted 2.7 million Americans out of health plans last year, leaving older and sicker custom ers in the corporate dust. In a slick, hidden-ball play, three of the five shifted more customer premiums out of medical care, siphoning money into corporate profits, executive salaries and administrative overhead. These guys can play! Check out the spec tacular “Hail Mary” pass heaved by Anthem Blue Cross, a California subsid iary of Wellpoint. Though Wellpoint is rolling in a 91-percent increase in profits, its Anthem unit streaked toward the goal line with a demand for a 39-percent increase in premiums. That’s 10 times the rise in the cost of health care. It won’t be easy for the upstart Giants to out-ugly the more sophisticated Wall Street Barons. The great thing about the corporate league is that competition to be the No. 1 greedhead is always fierce. Insurance is definitely in the running. JIM HIGHTOWER FIND MORE INFORMATION on Jim Hightower’s work and subscribe to his awardwinning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown at www.jimhightower.com MARCH 5, 2010 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21