“Our lands are intertwined. Our histories are intertwined. Our fates are intertwined. Let us be partners.
Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, 1977. Sadat was assassinated by right-wing extremist Egyptians in 1981.
“There are millions of people of good faith, vision, wisdom, compassion and courage in Palestine and Israel. We will put all of our energy into building peace and prosperity for the children of Israel and Palestine. We will work side by side and the welfare of each will be the greatest desire of the other. The success of each of us will be measured by the success of the other. All of our children will thrive. The entire desert will bloom. We will watch each others’ backs and help and support each other. We will trust. We will be stronger together than we ever were separately. We will live lives of safety, freedom, comfort, work, and spirituality. Continue reading →
The French Revolution began with the liberation of the Bastille prison by the citizens of Paris on July 14 1789.
For Lafayette, George Washington’s friend and compatriot. For Lady Liberty, beacon of freedom to millions. For the respect and refuge from racism you gave to African-American jazz musicians. For your sound advice even when our politicians would not hear it.
Merci mes amis.
Thank you, friends.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité.
Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood.
Nina Simone – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free
African-American composer and vocalist Nina Simone lived the last 10 years of her life in Aix-in-Provence, France. Continue reading →
The hubbub surrounding Caitlyn Jenner is a clear and classic example of how media corporations manipulate the American conversation for their own own profit.
First, contrary to implications, there is nothing new, experimental, risky, or even medically interesting about the process of gender reassignment. That process has been refined for over 60 years, since before Christine Jorgensen went to Sweden in 1952. Today, the whole process is quite well understood and standardized, the psychological and behavioral indications, the drugs and hormones, the social and cosmetic aspects, the surgery. It is a straightforward medical matter for Ms. Jenner and her doctors. Continue reading →
Originally Written October 28, 2013. Lou Reed is to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday April 18. His sponsor is Patti Smith and his music will be performed by Beck.
Lou Reed died yesterday and I cried today. I was thinking of something I wrote for a poetry slam after Bradley Nowell died, “When an artist dies, Satan smiles.” Upon reflection that seems suspiciously close to “I saw Satan laughing with delight / The day the music died.” It’s not that Lou Reed died. I hope he had a good passing. But he was an artist once. He brought something new into the world. In Ursula Le Guin’s book The Word for World is Forest, those who are bringing something new into the world are called gods—while they are bringing something new into the world–so someone might say, “I was a god then.” I have observed over the years that if an artist sees that something is worth doing, and that he can do it, he will do it, regardless of consequences. I think that is the difference between artists and entertainers; an entertainer worries about coming back tomorrow night. Maybe I cried for the price that artists pay. But, no, Vincent van Gogh has already reassured me about that. In his last letter to his brother Theo, Vincent said, “My own work, I am risking my life for it, and my reason has half-foundered because of it….that’s all right.” Maybe I cried for the wonder of a world “that hath such people in it,” or is it that it hath so few such people in it.
Do clothes make the man? For many years I made my living as a college professor. My classes were known for a high degree of activity, interactivity, creativity, and laughter. People brought their friends to see the show because I was not one of the professors who wore a suit and stood behind a podium and recited his lecture, or read it off the PowerPoints. Rather, I took part. I demonstrated the Buffalo Dance, ran the video camera, mixed the paint, moved the furniture, held the fire extinguisher, and whatever else needed to be done. For this kind of performance art, one needs clothes that are designed to facilitate movement, not those that are designed to restrict it. Think about it, suits were originally the mark of the ruling class, for precisely the opposite reason, to demonstrate that they were not required to do any physical work. Ease of movement was for the workers, and they wore clothes appropriate to their need to move unrestrainedly. So did I. Continue reading →
The conversations in a pot store, or recreational cannabis dispensary, are fascinating. People in Colorado pot stores are talking about very subtle variations in their consciousness and experience, associated with different forms and strains of cannabis. They are doing very comfortably what philosophers call phenomenology, examination of the structure and nature of consciousness and experience. It’s usually a pretty hard thing to get across in class but these people are naturals. Allen Ginsberg certainly understood too. In 1966 he wrote that “the marijuana consciousness gently shifts one’s attention…to sensing phenomena.” And then his 1977 his book Mind Breaths Ginsberg explicitly associated the creation of poetry with the observation of consciousness as practiced in Buddhist meditation. Continue reading →
“Listen to rough jazz” is a something Charlie Haden said in his last concert in his home town of Springfield Missouri. The play on words is that rough jazz is the opposite of smooth jazz, the ubiquitous, insipid jazz format of unchallenging, uncreative, and unobjectionable background music. Rough jazz, roughly, means, “hard bop and modern jazz, or music that led to it (or came from it),” or, alternatively, “music that swings, is improvised, uses blue notes and call and response.” It just means “real jazz.” Charlie Haden is the rightmost in this great photograph. Why do I call it great? Because all I see is the love of creative music. Charlie grew up in the Ozarks town of Springfield but somehow all he wanted to do was play jazz. His dad took him to a concert of a jazz dance band that came through town and Charlie got to meet them in their hotel room. He said remembered that it smelled funny. One of them said to Charlie, “Look at us. We got nothing but the music. Do you want to end up like us?” “Yeaaaaaah,” said Charlie. Continue reading →