DMN Employee’s Video an ‘Up in the Air’ Moment of Just Music?

jellyhonkWould you freak out if one of your co-workers posted a You Tube video referencing the brutal massacre of Amish school girls in a down economy, after a round of layoffs when morale is only creeping up to just tolerable? I’m not sure if freak out is the right word. Disturbed maybe. But when you’re working in an industry where employees have to establish an anonymous blog to keep each other updated about pending layoffs (last year and the year before that but nothing so far this year) anything is cause for concern. But I’m not sure if a recent video posted by a Dallas Morning News employee (it’s not clear if he is a current or former employee) is cause for scandal. It’s not quite the ‘Up in the Air’ freak out moment rumors have made it out to be in my biased blogger opinion. Hell, I’d be scared if what was posted anonymously on the DMN cuts blog, said in bars or whispered in cubicles last year made its way to You Tube. A lot of us would have been facing restraining orders!

But when when this video surfaced last week it caught the attention of some folks at 508 Young Street and myself. The video makes repeated references the 2006 Amish school shooting the subject of which will be featured in the Lifetime movie “Amish Grace” this weekend. In the video, pop ups detail the scene in 2006 including the way the girls were shot “execution style”. Jelly Honk’s lyrics include a ranting melody of ‘no more, no more, no more’ and  ‘drop your guns, drop your guns, drop your guns’. The lyrics reference both violence and forgiveness and the video is dedicated to, “the children of Nickel Mines whose bravery in their final hour changed my life forever, inspiring faith against fear.” So do you freak out watching a video like this if it’s your co-worker or cubicle mate or call artistic freedom and file it away in ‘things I never knew about that guy’ and move on? Are we being over dramatic? HOH: the House of Honk has several videos that feature his talents with a guitar and harmonica. I actually like his style, but nowadays every body has that little niggling doubt in their mind: is this the mentally disturbed student who’ll freak out and blast us all to heaven? or is she the wacknut professor who’ll kill us if she doesn’t make tenure? or the condiment client who’ll shoot me and my son over money?

Normally, we all might laugh off a video like this but these aren’t normal times. And scenes from Up in the Air, where employees swiped all the items off desks, cried, got angry and threatened to commit suicide after being laid off by George Clooney and Anna Kendrick’s characters, only highlighted the problem. Lots of people were angry, frustrated, depressed, drunk and possibly thinking maniacal thoughts about their bosses when the layoff went down April 7 on Young Street last year. And not just the people who were laid off. But no one acted out any violent fantasies. And I’m not going to go into the security at the building but I understand why employees might be concerned. Why anyone might be concerned really. But before go casting aspersions, give a You Tube artist his due. Sometimes a music video is just that: music. Feelings, emotions that are especially poignant now. Rock on House of Honk! But be careful what you post.

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About admin

Chick Talk Dallas is the hatchling of Joanna Cattanach, a former Dallas Morning News staff writer/news assistant. A graduate of Baylor University, she currently works as a freelance writer and writing instructor in the Dallas area where she, her husband and baby son call home. Follow her on
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16 Responses to DMN Employee’s Video an ‘Up in the Air’ Moment of Just Music?

  1. More TK before –30– as we say in newspapering.

    But I’ll first just say what I wrote on a Dallas blog to a very talented musician (She has a wonderful CD Baby country-folk offering) who was laid off at the News during the last RIP: Most music and artistic expression has to be fearless to be valid. Give power pop a whirl, I guess, if you want to play it safe as an artist.
    All apologies? I make none for “Lancaster (Angel Child)”, except that it may have fallen on deaf ears with an agenda in hand.
    Too many people have thanked me so far for writing it. My family in Pa. was very close to the events of that day. And if you think it was easy intellectually and emotionally to pen and perform, you try laying your soul out on the line like that to “heighten awareness to the point of love.” See how it feels. It’s not the glam that you may think. If I wanted just the fun of it all, I’d play honky tonks and drink longnecks. But I’m a songwriter along the lines of Springsteen, Simon, Browne and, if I’m really lucky despite myself, the best ever: The Beatles.
    That “security” fear you feel is merely the legacy of Cheney-Bush still rattling inside your cranium. Some wish to perpetuate that fear for their own agendas and weird control needs. All you have to fear with a tie-dye-raised rocker is gaining some awareness, melody and, hopefully, a different take on an aspect of life. No fear; just faith — in your God and in yourselves.
    I wrote in a bio that when a singer-songwriter is creatively blocked, all he or she really needs was tucked mindlessly like a ticket stub inside their Dreamcoat’s breast pocket: Everything! That’s what I’m open to: all of life. An artist has to be. I used that same approach in my award-winning headlines as well as other writings for newspapers. Keep an open mind, and ideas come. Of course, once I heard somebody say that if the mind is too open, the brain falls out. Your choice there.
    Naive at times? Yep. Most highly creative types are. Dangerous? Only if you’re afraid of truth, at least how we see it. But we’ll defend our art with every note in a diatonic scale (or pentatonic in the case of my “Let Me Hurt” slide blues number.) As any decent songwriter will tell you: We’re not really driving the bus in most of this. Tis true.

    More TK — if you want. If not, just listen to Lancaster with open mind and heart, remember those girls, remember their bravery (Marian asked to die so the others could live), pray however you choose to and LIVE your life with the dignity they showed. Faith against fear, now more than ever. And like I say at the end of the video: “Just peace!”

    John Kelly Jr. a.k.a. Jelly Honk

    P.S. Since this is a “chick” site, thought you might find it interesting that I was raised the only boy out of eight kids. Me and girls just get along, gotta say! My sisters will be sad to hear my song to young girls being trampled under foot!

  2. So Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, penned these chilling but awesome lyrics: “So I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” Did he actually do that? Storytelling, my friends.

    Here’s another lyrical hero: Lou Reed. Check out his “New York” for edge, grit and some of the best social consciousness ever. How about Dylan’s “put my guns in the ground.” Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Was he really going to off himself? Metaphor, people. Metaphor.

    In “Boy in the Bubble,” Paul Simon writes: “The bomb in the baby carriage was wired to the radio.” And Springsteen, an early home recording artist, recorded his stark, brooding, gun-infested “Nebraska” genius in his own House of Honk before mastering in the studio.

    So today, we indie artists are recording from home because the digital age has made it all so accessible. We possess talent, and we can sound just as good from home and get it online in short order. Scott Weiland offered a MySpace free listen of his latest solo project.
    You don’t have to be a megastar anymore to perform and record well, get noticed, heard and even liked. But unfortunately, the saturation of talented offerings means we often still need our day/night jobs to pay bills. Because a co-worker or boss doesn’t know of or understand your artistry might make you interesting, but it doesn’t automatically make you scary or strange. I’ve known very good headline writers who had more of the “artistic temperament” at work than I. After all, according to the News’ editor, headline writers are the “poets of the newsroom.”

    My music was known throughout the newsroom for more than two years. As a conscientious professional journalist, I made sure it was known so that people were more comfortable with my doing it. And my friends didn’t cower and say, “Oh dear, I don’t understand Honk.” They usually said: “Don’t flatter yourself, working stiff.” And we all laughed at my fate. :-)

    Lastly, newspaper workers have been writing fiction, and often dark and gritty works, probably since the printing press and mead were invented. Were they viewed as threats for their fiction or nonfiction accounts? Nope. Except perhaps by rivalrous co-workers. They were worshipped. Carl Hiaasen comes to mind at The Miami Herald.

    So was all the artistry in newspapers shown the door along with Pulitzer Prize winners? And did that diaspora make some of us simply stand out more as eccentrics? Probably. By the way, “Prozac Nation” was written by a former DMN staffer. Read it and you’ll understand the nature of high-pressure, highly creative newsroom work. It’s fast, furious and, yes, sometimes seemingly nutty. It was always an above-ground underground for most of us!

    Jelly Honk

  3. freespeecher says:

    This is an outrage — and sadly ironic: A newspaper firing a journalist for a (hauntingly beautiful and poignant) anti-violence song he wrote, performed and posted on YouTube?!
    Looks like the Belo Death Star has claimed another victim.
    First Amendment? Bah.
    “Rock of Truth?” Pffft.
    A sad day.

  4. Darren Nielsen says:

    blog = epic fail. you’re like the people who sing the wrong lyrics to popular songs who everyone laughs at. it couldn’t be more clear that the lyrics are a tribute to children who stood bravely in a horrifying situation they never should have faced. how can you misinterpret “drop your guns”? to somehow get it so wrong and malign a songwriter is despicable. I’m not saying your insane and might go on a killing rampage, blogger, I’m just asking the question.

  5. babynator says:

    For those of us living close to the scene that day (and still thinking of that young school everytime we pass an Amish buggy on the street!), “Lancaster” puts into words what many of us are still feeling.

    Its a sad day when our First Amendment rights aren’t upheld .. seems that artistic freedoms only apply when the publisher agrees with them!

  6. Monica says:

    Am I missing something? This was a great tribute to the lives that we’re lost that day. Nicely done but such a sad sad story. God Bless their families and God Bless our nation.

  7. Bibyrose says:

    I do not understand the controversy surrounding this song, I think it is a beautiful reminder of the children that were lost…And of the strength and resolve of my Amish neighbors…

    I agree with Babynator whatever happened to our freedom of speech?

  8. ChickTalkDallas says:

    The song itself isn’t what caused concern. It’s the lyrics of a co-worker that put some people on edge–rightly or wrongly–at a company that has experienced a recent brutal layoff period. You kind of have to know the back story to understand why some people who see the video might be concerned. But as Jelly Honk pointed out in his comments, “Because a co-worker or boss doesn’t know of or understand your artistry might make you interesting, but it doesn’t automatically make you scary or strange.” I think it was important to address the issue, and I’m glad Jelly Honk responded and explained his side of things. His song is a tribute to the Amish families and shouldn’t be considered as anything other than that. But these days even artistry makes people get nervous.

  9. KG says:

    One thing’s for sure: The chick on the logo for this blog with the 1930s microphone is smoking hot.

  10. Raisa Marie says:

    Anyone who sings about forgiveness, peace and love can sit next to me any time.

  11. Kk says:

    “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.”
    Be at peace then, Jelly Honk, for your art is understood and appreciated by those who live in Faith, not fear.
    Rock on.

  12. I remember that brutal massacre rocking my insides. Afterward, that community exercised grace and forgiveness that was otherworldly. I was floored. It’s the depth of grace most Christians ascribe to in theory, but few of us ever practice. That event was bleak and nauseating and inspiring, all at once. It happened to people who live their life on purpose, in peace and simplicity. This artistic tribute to the victims is appropriately intense.

  13. Darren Nielsen says:

    one more thing: “rock on house of honk, but be careful what you post.” um … no he shouldn’t. he should be as insightful, creative and provocative as he chooses. no intelligent person would have ever said: “rock on, jimi hendrix, but be careful what you say.” (oh, and since you have so much trouble with lyrics, it’s “scuse me, while I kiss the sky” NOT “excuse me while I kiss this guy.” hope this helps.

  14. I think the blogger is confusing the annotated description of events, gathered from Google searches, in the video with the song’s “lyrics.” Otherwise, I still can’t fathom how somebody would be overly disturbed by the lyrics on their face. Somebody was truly reaching, I think, in claiming an “on edge” reaction to Lancaster’s lyrics.


    By John Kelly Jr. (2010)

    Marian, good daughter, rise and shine
    wake the brothers, have them ready on time
    take some brown eggs for the scrapple and toast
    God is good, trust in him the most …
    Angel Child

    Marian, good daughter, hold their hands
    sing his praises down the dirt road and
    there’s a killer in the cornfield, there’s
    a milkman with a killer stare
    Good child, Angel Child
    Good child, Angel Child….

    The cows are lying down
    we believe it’s going to rain
    The horses face the ground
    for they know the wagon waits
    you say our minds are bound
    we found freedom in the plain
    The sun is shining down
    but we know it still can rain

    Marian, good daughter, rise and shine
    save the others, get them back there behind
    love the madman, it is God’s design
    forgive him here in Nickel Mines

    Good Child, Angel Child
    Good Child, Angel Child…

    No more, no more, no more, no more ….
    Drop your guns, drop you guns, drop the guns…

    “Just Peace!”

  15. Aural says:

    “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent” Victor Hugo

    What I loved about this video, and the song from the first moment I heard it, was its passion, intensity, and emotion. It is haunting, devastatingly sad, poignant, and brilliant; a moving tribute to the brave souls lost in this unspeakable tragedy. Did those with “niggling doubts” completely miss the artist’s message of “Just peace”? At the end of the day, Jelly Honk seems to be “a bit like you and me”, just perhaps more honest and better able to express emotions felt across the universe. Creativity is often misunderstood but this one still mystifies me. Peace, love, forgiveness, courage, faith…scary?
    Um, no. First amendment rights…anyone??

    Rock in peace, JK.

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