Posted in Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, Music, Occupy-Wall-Street, Politics, Songs of the Resistance, Womens March

A Soundtrack for the Resistance – (5) I Can’t Keep Quiet

When you’re ready, we’ll still be here (Occupy Wall Street)

Another weekend, another march. Another recess, another packed auditorium. There are cracks in the wall and I hope they get big enough for reason to squeeze through.

March for Science
March for Science

 

Protesters at Congress Town Hall
Spending Some Quality Time With Your Member of Congress

 

tax march 2017
Let’s See ’em, Donnie.

 

The only silver lining I see in Trump’s election is that it has – finally – woken up the American electorate. Stay woke, folks. And don’t forget, this is the culmination of so much that came before.

Remember Occupy Wall Street? Ever wonder why it was shut down so quickly? No one batted an eyelash when the Tea Party was out in full force. But the Occupy movement, the one that burned around the world? You can blame the protesters for being disorganized all you want. That movement got shut down because it was real – a real movement and a real threat. The tents came down faster than you can say “threat to the government.”

All that energy had to go somewhere and it has – right here and right now. But Occupy Wall Street’s memory is not the only force behind the resistance. Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Tanisha Anderson. Tamir Rice. Just the tip of a monstrous iceberg that’s been gunning down people in communities of color for generations.

military police
Iraq? Afghanistan? Syria? No. Ferguson, Missouri.

Of course, Black Lives Matter was the first thing in Trump’s line of fire.  How insane. How obvious in its racism. Would you see the above picture during a drunken white student-break riot in Florida? No, I don’t think so. Music has followed this struggle, from hymns to rap. It’s been that long.

The more things change the more they stay the same. Death televised and no convictions. What’s wrong with this picture?

This video is from 1989. Actually, I thought about naming this installment of resistance music, “Fight the Power.” I first heard this song when I went to see Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” Good film, but I still felt like a white bystander. Watching videos of black men and women being killed in front of my eyes finally made it real. That and the cops dressed up like soldiers in Iraq. Like all good liberals, I’ve tried to understand and incorporate the notion of white privilege. I think Louis C.K. nailed it for me during one of his comedy routines. “I’m white, right? Yeah, it’s great! Are you kidding? I mean, c’mon!” In other words, no cop is going to arrest and then kill me for driving with a broken tail light. Are you kidding?

And native people. The bad guys in the John Wayne films and the heroic martyrs in more recent films. I’ve been getting a good look at a culture that was here for thousands of years before anyone else bumped into it. I’ve learned a lot in doing the research for this series. I guess the Dakota Access Pipeline was the final straw at the time it was also one of the first public stands against pipelines. Thank you for putting your bodies on the line and taking the beatings and arrests when they inevitably came. You did that for you, but you also did that for me. I didn’t have the courage you did.

“Who protects the people from the police?” Even US military veterans apologized for hundreds of years of repression, but the pipeline had to go in, didn’t it, Donnie? On their fucking land, what little we ceded to them.

Almost time to get off of my soapbox. I’m not crazy about rap or hip hop, but it seems to be a universal protest genre. I’ve heard it sung in cultures everywhere – rappers in Turkey, in Germany, in the Middle East.

But the group Donald-the-pussy-grabber brought out in droves and droves and droves? Women. Ladies, we’re leading this fight and no one’s going anywhere until it’s done.

I can’t keep quiet. No, no, no. I have to do this.

I’ll end on this one, in my own little baby boomer tradition. Who doesn’t love Aretha? Sing, woman!

Posted in Music, Politics, Songs of the Resistance

A Soundtrack for the Resistance – (4) Plowshares and Swords. part 2

It is in the shelter of each other that the people live (Irish Proverb)

Playing for Change is more than a band. It’s a musical movement that includes musicians from all over the world playing together with nothing more to guide them than a set of headphones. We all know the Rolling Stones famous Gimme Shelter – anti-war song and unfortunately movie theme. Their version of it is fantastic – great music, great musicians, just about everywhere on this little globe of ours.

I’ll be featuring more of their music in upcoming blog posts. I like organizations that use music to bring us together. I think things would be a lot easier if we all realize how much we all have in common.

I’ll end with this chestnut from John Lennon, a man of peace (eventually) who was taken from us before his work was done. Peace. Imagine that.

Thank you, John. And thank you, Playing for Change.

#songsoftheresistance

Posted in African Blues, Music, Politics, Songs of the Resistance

A Soundtrack for the Resistance – (3) Ain’t Gonna Study War, part 1

These days, I hardly know where to begin. Every time I pick up the paper we’re either dropping serious tonnage on our despised-country-of-the-moment or threatening to send in the troops, even if the enemy has weapons trained on its neighbor to the south. Bombing the shit out of this or that country does not solve the problem. The Syrian government was using the runways the US neglected to target in its “that’ll show ’em” bombing of its base. I’m not saying using chemical warfare against your own people is appropriate. All I’m suggesting is that escalation of one sort or another is often the result. Putin has no qualms about chemical weapons and neither does Assad. All that to divert attention from the probe into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Yeah, sure, why not. 45 would stoop to that and so would his staff.

What are we going to do to North Korea, while they’ve got their missiles trained on Seoul, by the way? Or Afghanistan, with that bigger-than-your-dick bomb we dropped on their caves? Is that to say we can do the same to North Korea? You really want WWIII? We’re starting to step on some nuclear-armed toes at this point. Is it really government by four-star general or by Goldman Sachs now? Are those the only options on the table?

Oh, wait, excuse me while we shift the conversation once again to the second doomed attempt to wipe out Obamacare, so the Republicans can get around to cutting taxes some more. But, don’t worry. We have plenty of bombs left and that’s not even counting the troops.

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately with themes of war on one level or another. Unlike similar music played in the 1960s, we’re one with the world these days. What happens on one side of the world gets passed around through social media and we end up hearing it – or hearing all about it. For example, the West African country of Mali underwent a coup, followed by a take-over of the northern part of the country by Islamic extremists in 2012. I just saw a film based on that (Timbuktu), in which the lives of the residents of Timbuktu in Mali are overturned by a group of violent religious extremists. No music, no dancing, women covered, Sharia law.

But, you know what? Mike Pence is a fundamentalist, too, just from a different religion. As I watched the film, I could – almost – see the same happening if Christian fundamentalists took over a part of this country. France and the United Nations eventually drove the extremists out (for the most part), but not until a bucketload of misery was poured onto the population there. My point? Trump’s “Islamic extremists” are far more brutal and murderous towards other Muslims than they are towards countries in Europe or the US. Let’s not forget who started this shit parade in the first place – good ol’ boy George W. Bush with his invasion of of Iraq in 2003. Want to find out who created ISIS and its attendant brutality? Just look in the mirror.

This is a gorgeous arrangement, performed in France since Mali was a dangerous place for musicians during those days. This is a lament, for ancient city of Timbuktu and the people forced to live there. This was partially a civil war, which gave the extremists just the foothold they needed. Actions have consequences and it’s often the people who pay the price. The video is accompanied by excerpts of the film. I’ll provide a translation and a trailer, subtitled in English. If you want to see the perfect combination of idiocy and cruelty, watch this film. It’s available on Amazon. Other places too, I’m sure.

Timbuktu Fasso (Fatoumata Diawara & Amine Bouhafa)

Timbuktu Fasso
Timbuktu, my country
Ko o ye ne faso ye

it’s my country
N balimalu Tonbuktu ye ne faso ye
My friends, Timbuktu is my country
Mmm ko o ye ne faso ye
it’s my country
Sinjilu, Tonbuktu ye ne faso ye
My brothers and sisters, Timbuktu is my country
Ko denmisɛnnu bɛ kasi la Ala
The children are crying
Allabadenya, badenya dugu ye Tonbuktu ye
My brothers and sisters, our land is Timbuktu
Sinjiya, Sinjiya dugu ye Maliba ye
My brothers and sisters, our land is the great Mali
Yankalu yan ye ne faso ye
People here, this is my country
Oo booo boo ooooo booo boo ooo
Ko o ye ne faso ye
it’s my country
N balimalu Maliba ye ne faso ye
My brothers and sisters, the great Mali is my country
Aw bɛ kasi la mun na
You are in tears, why
Denmisɛnnu bɛ ka if the mun na
Children are crying, why
Aw bɛ kasi la mun na
You are in tears, why
Kamalennu bɛ kasi la
Young people are crying
Maliba -don dɔ be se –
The great Mali one day vaincrako yan ye ne faso ye
This is my country
NbanbaN Sinjilu Tonbuktu ye ne faso ye
My brothers and sisters, Timbuktu is my country
Ko siniɲɛsigi jɔrɔ from bɛ an na
The worry of the future is in us
N ko denmisɛnnu bɛ kasi la yen
Children are crying out there
Denmisɛnnu bɛ kasi yen mun na
The children are crying over there, why?
Aw ye hami na mun na yen
You’re worried, why out there?
Aw kana kasi la Ala
Do not be crying
AllaMaliba don dɔ – bɛ se –
The great Mali will someday defeat
Aw bɛ – aw bɛ kasi la yen mun na yen
You are – you are crying out there why out there
Al-you are in tears there why Allan ko denmisɛnnu bɛ kasi yen Ala
Children are crying over there AllaMaliba n ko don dɛ bɛ se
The great Mali, I say, will one day defeat.

Here’s the trailer to the actual film (warning – it’s depressing).

And don’t think it couldn’t happen here, with our own Christian Taliban.

I can’t stop listening to this. It’s so haunting and beautiful. An African singer, accompanied by a string section comprised of European musicians, all lamenting in unison. Why do we think guns and bombs will solve anything?

#songsoftheresistance

Posted in Music, Politics, Songs of the Resistance

Soundtrack for the Resistance – (2) Despair is Not an Option

Despair is not an option (Bernie Sanders)

Hope is the one seat they have not already taken (Margy, author of this blog)

Trump is busy de-funding Planned Parenthood and I’m getting ready for a tax protest march on the Cambridge Common  this Saturday. We still don’t know where Trump is getting his money and how much of it he’s paying his taxes. Is Russia his overlord? We have no idea. Everyone else in Trump’s camp seems to be on the Kremlin’s payroll.

We will not crawl into a corner and blow away. We will show up at town halls, make calls, find new progressive candidates to run against the Koch machine and – eventually – we will prevail. Tiny steps, yes. Incremental advances, but the push is on.

And we will sing. In this interconnected world, the voices are coming from around the world, but the message is the same. We will not accept this. Our setbacks are only that. Like some crazy political whack-a-mole, one protest that’s put down leads to several more in other places. The Dakota Access Pipeline may have been rammed through a nation’s sovereign borders, but other nations-within-a-nation are taking up the struggle.

Ever hear of the Pilgrim pipeline in New York and New Jersey? How about the Sabal Pipeline for natural gas in Florida? Nobody’s giving in to this.

The New Dakota Pipeline?

By the way, in my research I found out that indigenous people from throughout the US and the world came to support the protesters at Standing Rock. We all remember the military folks who came to apologize for their part in earlier massacres and land theft, but did you know that the New Zealand Maori and the Australian aborigines also sang and danced in their honor? Did you know other US and Canadian tribes came to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux? This journey has led to my own education and a feeling that Native Americans may just be starting to feel their oats once again. About time we treated native Americans like human beings.

Like the song says, stand up. Be strong and don’t let the current right wing wave wash you out to sea. Stay rested, take breaks from social media, love like there’s no tomorrow. If we don’t, there will NOT be a tomorrow.

I’ll wind this screed up with another trip down memory lane because, yeah, I’m a baby boomer and so are a lot of the women marching at the head of the crowd:

Watch out now, take care
Beware of falling swingers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips
Beware of darkness

Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night

Beware of sadness
It can hit you
It can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more
That is not what you are here for

Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly
Beware of Maya

Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness (beware of darkness)

Song and Lyrics by George Harrison

Stand up. Stay on your feet. Don’t succumb to inertia, fear or cynicism. We have to do this.

#resistancesoundtrack

Posted in Elizabeth Warren, Music, Politics, stress

Time Out for Music

Sometimes it’s  just too much. Every time I open the paper there’s another disaster looming in Washington. We no sooner fend off one attack when another one comes to take its place like a horrific modern version of the Persian Immortals. First it’s health care, then it’s internet privacy, then its the nomination of a right-wing warrior to the still-open seat on the Supreme Court. It’s immigrant policy gone awry by a Twittering imbecile who seems to be taking his marching orders from Wall Street and mainstream Republicans, the very people he pledged to push back. We’re surrounded on all sides and fighting like mad just to stay in the same place.

Like all good revolutionaries, I really do need some serious R&R to stay in the game. We have at least two years until there’s a potential change of guard in Congress. Hopefully, we won’t be a smoking pile of rubble by then, or by 2020.

On the positive side, I’ve come to know my Members of Congress: 2 senators and one congress woman. They’re very progressive. In fact one, Elizabeth Warren, is a rising star and possible someday-president. I meditate every day, try to get out of the house if the weather cooperates (we’ve had a few storms roar past these last few weeks) and my energy level is up to it. Today, I happened to be working on a business page I have on Facebook and came across the part of the feed that digs up something from your past:

I usually ignore it, but this time I didn’t. A year ago one of my cousins shared a video of a group of women singing traditional Polish folk songs. I grew up hearing the Americanized versions of some of these and hated their corny, jerky rhythms with a passion. But this – this was different. It was beautiful and it touched something in me, I think because of the elderly woman who was sitting next to them. She was just listening to the song at first then, tentatively, began to sing along with the lyrics as she remembered them. Towards the end she added a few additional, quavering lyrics of her own.

That woman could have been my grandmother.

It’s a very sad, old love song. A woman is in an apple orchard and sings about a boy who’s become angry at her for unknown reasons. After a while, though, he forgives her and comes back. It’s very rural with themes that run throughout Slavic traditional music. There’s always a girl. Or a boy. Fill in with orchards, fields and animals and you have a Slavic folk song.

My grandmother loved to sing and took every opportunity to do so. It kept us amused as kids and filled lonely hours when we were away at school and my parents at work. Now that I’m older and my grandmother (babcia, in Polish) is long, long gone I wish I’d learned some of those songs and sang them for her, along with my fiddle, like the woman in the video does. I wish I had her back, just to do that and re-connect with something very old and down to the roots.

 

Posted in History, Politics

Couldn’t Have Said it Better Myself

10 Thoughts On America’s Unrecognized Scourge: Joblessness

from WGBH Radio, Boston, MA

” Thanks to a cocktail of factors – deregulation, globalization, deindustrialization, automation – wealth in the 21st century has become uncoupled from work.”

Auto factory worker
Still working…fornow.

Article:

1. A specter is haunting America – the specter of joblessness. Between Bill Clinton’s Washington exit 17 years ago and Donald Trump’s recent inauguration, about 10 million jobs across the nation have disappeared. Poof. Gone.

2. Friday’s report from the Department of Labor that the economy added 235,000 jobs is good news. “Robust,” is how NPR characterized it. But it’s a gloss on reality. It doesn’t reflect that somewhere between 20- and 40-million able-bodied people of working age have been displaced or dropped out of the workforce.

3. There are huge social, economic, and political implications attached to this still under appreciated phenomenon. The two most obvious: Brexit and Trump’s election. It would be gross over simplification to attribute these tectonic shifts to disappeared jobs alone. But it is reckless and irresponsible not to factor it into public thinking.

Read the rest of this article.

Then resist, with all your heart and will.