Archive for April, 2009

Youngess

April 29, 2009

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In 1963, the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee awarded Bob Dylan with it’s Tom Paine Award “in recognition of distinguished service in the fight for civil liberty.”  At the awards dinner Dylan caused quite a stir with an usual, and by some accounts, unintelligable acceptance speech.  Reading the transcript, Dylan definitely seems to ramble in parts, however, for the most part the gist of what he was getting at is still cogent today.  What follows is a cut-and-paste complilation of  what I think really should become the platform of a new movement–one independent of parties and candidates and slogans and all the things that reduce individuals to parts of the whole, that make people labels and affliations.  Considering the mess we’re in due, in large part, to the greed and ineptitude of those govern in Washington as well as those who pull the strings of our casion-style economy, this speech is as timely now as it was then:

I haven’t got any guitar, I can talk though. I want to thank you for the Tom Paine award in behalf everybody that went down to Cuba. First of all because they’re all young and it’s took me a long time to get young and now I consider myself young. And I’m proud of it. I’m proud that I’m young. And I only wish that all you people who are sitting out here today or tonight weren’t here and I could see all kinds of faces with hair on their head – and everything like that, everything leading to youngness, celebrating the anniversary when we overthrew the House Un-American Activities just yesterday, – Because you people should be at the beach. You should be out there and you should be swimming and you should be just relaxing in the time you have to relax. (Laughter) It is not an old peoples’ world. It is not an old peoples’ world. It has nothing to do with old people. Old people when their hair grows out, they should go out. (Laughter) And I look down to see the people that are governing me and making my rules – and they haven’t got any hair on their head – I get very uptight about it. (Laughter).

There’s no black and white, left and right to me anymore; there’s only up and down and down is very close to the ground. And I’m trying to go up without thinking about anything trivial such as politics. They has got nothing to do with it. I’m thinking about the general people and when they get hurt.


Step Into The Light, The Light

April 29, 2009

For those who have seen “The Devil and Daniel Johnston,” you know that beneath Johnston’s seemingly simple and catchy songs there lurks a darkness.  His body of work is made all the more impressive that it was produced while battling severe depression as well as a number of other psychological disorders.

This song got stuck in my head the other day while listening to Pandora radio.  I can’t stop listening to it.  It’s strange.  On the surface it comes off as an optimistic appeal to all the lonely people, but upon repeated listens there’s a unmistakable despear that belies that message, like he doesn’t totally believe what he’s singing, but hoping like hell it’s true.  I don’t know, take a listen, see if doesn’t get stuck in your head too.

Senator Arlen Specter To Switch Parties

April 29, 2009

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Five-term GOP Sen. Arlen Specter said Tuesday that his party had “gone too far to the right” and he would defect to the Democrats. But he promised to maintain his independence and not be an “automatic” vote for his new party. Specter, 79, said in a statement that he had surveyed his supporters and officeholders in Pennsylvania and it had “become clear” that his support of the White House stimulus package had “caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable.” Later, appearing for a news conference in Washington, he said in a reference to a likely 2010 Republican primary challenge that he was “not prepared to have my fate decided by that jury.” “I know I disappoint my friends and colleagues,” he said. “But, frankly, I have been disappointed by some of the response. So, the disappointment runs in both directions.”

Specter was one of only three GOP senators to vote for President Obama’s stimulus bill. Widely viewed as among the most moderate GOP lawmakers, Specter had found himself at odds with the party line on several times over the years, particularly over his support of abortion and gay rights. With Specter, Democrats would have 59 Senate seats. Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, whose election is still in question months after voters went to the polls, could become a 60th vote, giving the party the number it needs to block filibusters by GOP senators. Specter, however, took pains to say he would maintain his hallmark independence. “I will not be an automatic 60th vote,” he emphasized. “I have always agreed with John Kennedy that sometimes a party asks too much. And if the Democratic Party asks too much, I will not hesitate to disagree.”

President Obama telephoned Specter to offer his “full support,” saying the Democratic Party was “thrilled” to have him, The Associated Press reported. The senator said Vice President Biden had recently urged him to become a Democrat. Specter, whose likely opponent in the 2010 GOP primary would have been former conservative Rep. Pat Toomey, had publicly acknowledged that to win, he would need thousands of Pennsylvania voters who had switched from Republican to Democrat in last year’s presidential election to vote for him. Senate colleagues in the Republican Party reacted with either disappointment or resignation, while Democrats welcomed a new member to their caucus.

Arizona Sen. John McCain expressed his regret. “I think it’s pretty obvious the polls showed him well behind his primary opponent,” the former GOP presidential candidate said. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said he was “disappointed” at the decision. “Arlen’s a good friend, a great guy.” he said. Asked if he was surprised by the move, Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said: “I’m surprised it happened this quickly. I thought it might have to germinate a little bit longer,” before adding, “But, this is fine.”

The move, however, left others wondering about the future of a party that has increasingly edged out moderate voices. Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe said she has also been wooed by Democrats but has “no plans” to do the same as Specter. She nonetheless expressed concern over the direction of her party. “The statements that are coming nationally from the Republican Party … nurture a culture of exclusion and alienation,” she said. “I really think this is a time for the Republican Party to … re-evaluate and redefine.” As one of the most senior Republicans in the Senate, Specter enjoyed powerful posts on the Judiciary and Appropriations panels. Democrats must now decide how much seniority he gets credit for in their committee assignments.

From NPR and wire service reports

cable access-austin-tehaus.

April 28, 2009

Leadbelly

April 23, 2009

(bio from this site)

Huddie William Ledbetter was born on January 29, 1885 on the Jeter Plantation near Mooringsport, Louisiana. He was the only child of his parents Wesley and Sally. Huddie and his parents moved to Leigh, Texas when he was five and it was there that he became interested in music, encouraged by his uncle Terrell who bought Huddie his first musical instrument, an accordion.

leadbelly
It was some years later when Huddie picked up the guitar but by the age of 21 he had left home to wander around Texas and Louisiana trying to make his living as a musician. Over the next ten years Huddie wandered throughout the southwest eking out an existence by playing guitar when he could and working as a laborer when he had to.

Huddie Ledbetter was the world’s greatest cotton picker, railroad track liner, lover, and drinker as well as guitar player. This assertion came from no less an authority on the matter than Huddie himself. Since not everyone agreed with his opinion Huddie frequently found himself obliged to convince them. His convincing frequently landed him in jail.

In 1916 Huddie was in jail in Texas on assault charges when he escaped. He spent the next two years under the alias of Walter Boyd. But then after he killed a man in a fight he was convicted of murder and sentenced to thirty years of hard labor at Huntsville, Texas’ Shaw State Prison Farm. After seven years he was released after begging pardon from the governor with a song:

Please, Governor Neff, Be good ‘n’ kind
Have mercy on my great long time…
I don’t see to save my soul
If I don’t get a pardon, try me on a parole…
If I had you, Governor Neff, like you got me
I’d wake up in the mornin’ and I’d set you free

Pat Neff was convinced by the song and by Huddie’s assurances that he’d seen the error of his ways. Huddie left Huntsville a free man. But in 1930 he was arrested, tried, and convicted of attempted homicide.

It was in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in July 1933 that Huddie met folklorist John Lomax and his son Alan who were touring the south for the Library of Congress collecting unwritten ballads and folk songs using newly available recording technology. The Lomaxes had discovered that Southern prisons were among the best places to collect work songs, ballads, and spirituals but Leadbelly, as he now called himself, was a particular find.

Over the next few days the Lomaxes recorded hundreds of songs. When they returned in the summer of 1934 for more recordings Leadbelly told them of his pardon in Texas. As Allen Lomax tells it, “We agreed to make a record of his petition on the other side of one of his favorite ballads, ‘Goodnight Irene’. I took the record to Governor Allen on July 1. On August 1 Leadbelly got his pardon. On September 1 I was sitting in a hotel in Texas when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up and there was Leadbelly with his guitar, his knife, and a sugar bag packed with all his earthly belongings. He said, ‘Boss, you got me out of jail and now I’ve come to be your man'”

In 1935 Lomax took Leadbelly North where he became a sensation. Leadbelly remained Leadbelly. After hearing Cab Calloway sing in Harlem he announced that he could “beat that man singin’ every time”. His inclination toward violent resolution of conflicts, though mellowed, lead to threatening Lomax with a knife which effectively ended their friendship. Nevertheless by 1940 Leadbelly had become well known in the recording industry. Over the next 9 years Leadbelly’s fame and success continued to increase until he fell ill while on a European Tour. Tests revealed that he suffered from lateral sclerosis and he died on December 6, 1949.

leadbelly-21

the rubber room

April 22, 2009

the rubber room movie is a documentary discussing the numerous issues that exist in the new york public school system.  i first caught wind of this situation when marklscott played the podcast for me.

more information on the film can be found here.

who stylin?

April 21, 2009

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caught this dude in the “do” section of viceland.  in any case lil man is styled out with that gameboy belt buckle and rockies hat. don’t sleep on dem jeans or the shark tee either.  might be dc reem in the making.

Revolutionary Branding

April 21, 2009

checola

I remember the first time I saw that famous photograph of Che Guevara.  It was in the liner of notes of a Rage Against the Machine album.  I was 15 or so and had no idea who he was, what he had done, why he was famous, but I immediately liked him.  There’s just something about that photo that makes you idolize–and idealize–him without knowing anything about what he stood for, what he meant.   I’m older now and I know better, but sometimes when I see that image there’s a part of me that still feels a little bit of that old romantic revolutionary spirit, that tingle –especially when it’s giggly down a runway on Giselle’s rear end.

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In Che’s Afterlife, Micheal Casey “traces how Korda’s photograph became one of the most widely disseminated images in the world, how Che went from being a symbol of resistance to the capitalist system to one of the most marketable and marketed brands around the globe, how the guerrilla fighter became a logo as recognizable as the Nike swoosh or McDonald’s golden arches.”

(from NYT)

furious styles

April 20, 2009

boyz in da hood.

furious drops mad knowledge on the young boy.

Obama

April 20, 2009

americanpiobama

by Mr. Fish: Harper’s