Posted in Uncategorized

Four Dead in Oh-Hi-Oh.

I miss the days when I could just relax and write about walks through gardens, snow monuments and dinner plans. So much has changed, so fast, that I can barely keep up with it. Russian election interference, unbelievable corruption in DC, the exposure of sexism and violence against women and – now – the deaths of even more children carried out by unstable people with no apparent protections against their purchase of weapons more suitable for a battlefield than for a city street or building. I’m glad to see that the victims of this violence, the children themselves, are leading a renewed charge against gun violence. At the same time, I’m horrified to realize that the victims themselves are the only ones willing to take a stand against the prospect of their own eventual murder.

Die in by teens at White House
Sale on bump stocks this President’s Day!

I welcome this new demographic to the Resistance, but am appalled that teenagers and not adults are the ones having to carry this torch. I live in a state with very strict gun laws – Massachusetts. After this, our legislators are debating making them even more strict. There have been no mass shootings in my state. There are gun deaths, but nothing on the scale of what’s been happening in places like Florida or Texas.

Until now we’d all become used to the regular reports of shootings in this place or that place. Like many, I sighed and shook my head. I hoped things would start to change in November, at the commencement of mid-term elections. Then these teenagers stepped onto the scene, crying enough! even as tears ran down their cheeks.  I watched Emma Gonzales, one of the survivors of the recent Florida high school shooting, giving a speech at an anti-gun rally. I suddenly realized that this time was different. This time people were standing up to the NRA and to the politicians who placed their lives in danger every single school day. She called out Trump especially, as a major recipient of NRA funding and as someone who’s doing nothing to address the overwhelming prevalence of guns in this country. Nobody wrote that speech for her. It came from her gut and she had to step several times during its presentation to wipe tears from her eyes.

Emma Gonzalez

Kids shouldn’t have to do this. They shouldn’t be facing possible execution every time they enter a classroom at school. The gun industry and their supporters, the NRA and gun-friendly legislators in DC and in the states where these things happen are responsible for this.

Boston will have a rally on Saturday, March 24 to stand against gun violence. I plan to go. I feel it’s necessary, in the same way I felt that attending the Women’s March last January was necessary.

Baby boomers may remember the demonstrations and sit-ins of the 1960s and early 1970s. This moment in time reminds me of those days, only these days are deadlier. A few days ago I assembled a playlist of songs from that time. I was a teenager in those days and a very different person. One of the songs, “Ohio,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young resonates on a number of levels. Look up the Kent State shootings on Google. The Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of unarmed anti-war protesters, killing four and wounding others. On the one hand, its a catchy song by a band whose music I still really like. On the other hand, my first reaction to hearing it for the first time after all these decades was, “only four? Wow. That wouldn’t headline the news these days.”

Listen to this song and substitute teenage bodies on the ground. Or elementary school students. Or college kids. Replace the soldiers with alienated and angry shooters, armed to the teeth with legally-obtained weapons. Then, with the protesters, raise your fist and say, “No!”

And march. Students are organizing marches throughout the country. Do your goddamned duty, grown-up America, and stand with them.

Four dead in Ohio. 17 dead in South Florida. 20 dead at Sandy Hook. 58 dead in Las Vegas. 27 dead in Sutherland Springs. Do I need to list them all?

Trump and NRA Banner
Accessories to Murder
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 Gun Control

Demand It

Mayor, Councilmember Mills, Rep. Heard Call fo...
Mayor, Councilmember Mills, Rep. Heard Call for an End to Illegal Gun Sales (Photo credit: ProgressOhio)

I’m so glad people are finally starting to stand up to the gun lobby in the US. They’ve enjoyed their reign of terror long enough and I’m heartened to see some progress, starting with the president. I’m only sorry that it took the horrible deaths of little children to finally breach that wall.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns has taken a leading role in this effort, beginning with a petition to support the meaningful regulation of dangerous weapons. No one needs a semi-automatic rifle to go duck hunting, and the massive bullets from one can tear a person to shreds. No one’s “coming for your guns.” The exact opposite seems to have been true – the guns have been coming for us.

Great video below. If you’re in the US, please consider getting involved in this. I don’t think I could take another Sandy Hook. And, do you know there have been 900 or more gun-related deaths in the month since?

Posted in Uncategorized

Common Tragedies

Aram and I listened to an interfaith memorial service broadcast from Newtown, CT a few hours ago. I am horrified by what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School and agree with the president that we cannot let this wanton slaughter continue. I first heard the news in the car as I was driving to an office supply store to get prices for a new office chair. I came in about halfway through the news broadcast and it wasn’t until later that I found out most of the victims were children.

It got worse from there. The gunman was using three legally-obtained guns, one of which was an assault weapon designed to fire hundreds of bullets every second. Then I learned that the children who were murdered were either six or seven years old. They all had multiple wounds and, in one case, a child had been shot 11 times.

I wanted to crawl away and die when I heard this. Children? Six or seven years old, along with their teachers and other responsible adults simply doing their job? A heavily-armed man – with weapons that are legal in this country – breaking into a first-grade classroom and mowing down its tiny occupants. 20 kids. That’s hideous.

We can do better. We must. I don’t think I can take any more deaths like this.

Memorial