Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day part 5

More protest music leading up to the Memorial Day post, which I will do as my own video!  I don't know if anyone's following or not, but I have decided to do a video for Memorial Day where I will talk about the things that are important to me.

Today's music is a mixed bunch.  We start off with an independent artist, Catie Curtis, who wrote "People Look Around" in response to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  With the gulf oil spill, it's sadly appropriate again.

Catie Curtis - "People Look Around"

Next up is a humorous video by Tom Lehrer.  If you're not familiar with him, check out his other videos on YouTube as he blends humor with relevence.

Tom Lehrer  - "Send the Marines"

And last up for today is the best folk singer to ever put word to paper.  Pete Seeger is recognized as the person singularly responsible for the folk music revival in the late 50s and he wrote many songs that are staples today.  "Bring 'Em Home" is about the soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Pete Seeger - "Bring 'Em Home"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Day Part 4

Okay, today is back to the trenches, so to speak, with war protest songs.  

For our first number, here's Peter, Paul and Mary (and Mary Travers is sorely missed), with a song written by Bob Dylan, which I'm sure you know.

Peter, Paul and Mary - "Blowing In the Wind"

Next, we return to the wonderful Suzanne Vega.

Suzanne Vega - "The Queen and the Soldier"

And finally, my favorite protest singer of all time, Phil Ochs, who is also sorely missed these days.

Phil Ochs - "I Ain't Marching Anymore"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memorial Day Part 3

Today, I'm going to post about a subject that is very important to me with some wonderful songs that touch on the topic of child abuse.  With all the press recently about the Catholic Church and the apparent systemic perpetuation of abuses of children, I felt it was incredibly appropriate.

Children come into this world with no choice of their own.  Even if one follows the christian tradition of "the sins of the father are visited on the children," a child is defenseless and must depend on the adults in their lives to grow and prosper, becoming adults themselves.  Sadly, there are adults who literally hold the power of live and death over these children and prey on their weakness.

Abuse can take many forms; the physical and sexual garners the most attention.  The mental torture can leave scars that, while not visible, are as long lasting and dangerous.  This first song, by Genesis, touches on the power that words can have in shaping a child's life.

Genesis - "No Son of Mine"

Being helpless to stop abuse sometimes isn't just a child's problem.  Natalie Merchant describes an adult who is witnessing abuse, but feels powerless to do anything about it.

Natalie Merchant - "What's the Matter Here?"

Children often lie about their various bruises and the torture they are going through, both because of a sense of shame and fear of further abuse.  One of my favorite artists, Suzanne Vega, describes such an encounter with a neighbor child.

Suzanne Vega - "Luka"

Though my dear friend Free posted this video last month on his wonderful blog, I feel that it's more current than ever and I have a strong desire that Sinead O'Connor needs vindication for her courageous actions more than 20 years ago.  On her infamous Saturday Night Live performance, which fairly ruined her career in the US, she attempted to bring attention to the horrors that are now too large to cover up, the abuse going on in the Catholic church.

Sinead O'Connor - "War"

Sinéad O'Connor - WAR - SNL - For more amazing video clips, click here

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day Part 2

Continuing on with the Memorial Day protest music, I decided, given the current climate through what seems like the entire world these days, to go with straight out anti-war music.  The first one is from one of my favorite singer/songwriters ever, Phil Ochs and the second is from Freda Payne, best known for her 60s hit "Band of Gold."


Phil Ochs - I Ain't A'Marching Anymore

Freda Payne - Bring The Boys Home

Monday, May 24, 2010

Memorial Day

I have a friend who does an internet radio show, playing mostly acoustic, singer/songwriter type music, though he does other genres as well.  Since I am a big acoustic music fan, I started listening to his radio shows and became friends with him and introduced him to new artists and music, which he would feature on his shows.

One year, as Memorial Day was approaching, he wanted to do something a little different for the holiday weekend, so I suggested, as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq were in full motion and Bush had not yet declared "Victory," that he do a weekend of protest music.  Not necessarily war protest, though those types of songs are much easier to find, but all kinds of protest.  To my mind, what better way to honor those who have died fighting for America than to use our First Amendment rights.

I know most people won't agree with me on this; that Memorial Day would be a time of patriotic propaganda meant to glorify fallen soldiers and extoll America's willingness to fight and die for what we hold dear.  That's fine.  Just as I don't agree with most things the Republicans believe (and almost NOTHING the Tea Party believes), diversity is a good thing. 

So in the spirit of how I remember Memorial Day, and in homage to my good friend Larzdapunk, I'll be giving you some of my favorite protest music from now until Memorial Day.  I hope you enjoy it.


Tom Paxton and Friends - She Sits on the Table

Nina Simone - I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free (Live)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Truth Revealed?

Okay, so if you've read this blog before, you know I have a problem with the Tea Party Movement.  What I hadn't vocalized, though, were my suspicions about the entire motivations ultimately responsible for the beginning of this so-called "Grass Roots Movement."

Now, I don't have to.  Rand Paul does it for me.

As I told a friend at work, the one who claims he was a "Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party," my suspicion was that the entire movement was based on the discontent about a black man being our president.  No one will come out and say that; after all it's the 21st century and race relations are "so much better" these days.  And admitting that one is racist is political suicide, even in the deep south.

However, I am nothing if not pragmatic.  I am of the post-segregation generation.  I have seen racism, on scales both large and small.  My father was a racist.  Most of his family were racists.  I have worked, and still do work, with racists.  The customers who patronize my business are racists.  And I have known racist politicians.

So, when I hear about people questioning the fact that Obama isn't legally president because he won't/can't produce a birth certificate, in my mind, they're using that as a cover story because they can't say what they really mean:  Obama can't be president because he's black.  When I hear someone talking about Obama's "socialist agenda", I translate it as "black agenda."  And when the Republicans, en masse, stall every piece of legislation or nomination that comes through the Senate, I think they're doing it because of race.

I'm not saying that everyone is a racist, far from it.  But it would be incredibly naive of me to think that race has nothing to do with the current political climate in this country.  I got into an argument with two friends of mine who are professors at a private college here.  They claimed that race relations are better currently than they ever have been.  I told them they were wrong; that the only reason they seem so is because it's illegal to do the kinds of things that were done before the Civil Rights Act was passed.

And if Rand Paul does have a "Tea Party Mandate," will that include trying to take us back to a time when the Civil Rights Act doesn't exist?  Is this the whole aim of those in power with the Tea Party?

I think so, but I'm a pragmatist.  I hope and pray that I'm wrong.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Emotion can be a powerful motivator

So I was working on a post last night dissecting the Manhattan Declaration, but I found out that I'm really, really rusty on writing those kind of analytical papers.  I'll struggle on with it, though and share it with you when I feel it's worthy of reading.

But the emotions that I felt, not only from reading that piece of vileness disguised as morality, but from other things going on these days in both my own life and the world, refused to be bottled up.  Something else I'm rather rusty on is writing poetry.  I haven't set down pencil to paper to write verse in, well, longer than I'd care to admit.  Early this morning though, the words just seemed to come, so I thought I'd share them with you.

That statue up there --
The one with the scales,
You know her.
That's my love - eyes plucked out
By those who tell me
I've no right
To see his face as he
Puts a ring on my finger.

There's all kinds of allies.
Daniel had a Strong Ally
When God made those lions
Lie down before him.
Timmy had a Faithful Ally;
Lassie was always there
After all.
Even Ol' Bush had a Determined Ally
Who'd say "Fuck You"
When needed.
Mr. Obama, I think you need
To look up the words
"Fierce" and "Ally"
In Webster's.

I'd like to say the only
Oil I use is to cook --
But then I remember plastic.

I know Wiis
But I remember Ataris.
I know Ipods
But I remember 8-tracks.
I know the Internet
But I remember BBS.
I know cell phones
But I remember party lines.
I know inner peace
But I remember god.

Monday, May 10, 2010

RIP Lena Horne

This seems to be swiftly becoming the year for losing people that I've long admired.  I just received the news that Lena Horne, one of my favorite artists ever, has passed away at the age of 92.

Starting in New York at the famous Cotton Club, Ms. Horne went on to performances in movies such as Cabin In the Sky and performed the title song for the movie Stormy Weather.  Unfortunately due to the times, Ms. Horne's performance in Stormy Weather was a stand-alone part, designed to be cut out of the movie in the South, where scenes by black performers couldn't be shown.

Ms. Horne was blacklisted during the 50's McCarthy era for her progressive political views.  She went on recording and performing in nightclubs and then participated in the March on Washington in 1963.  She was also a staple on the late 50's and 60's variety shows.

I'm sure there are more comprehensive biographies of Ms. Horne out there, so I'll let you search for them if you wish, but I'd like to share some of my favorite clips of Lena Horne, via YouTube with you.   I love her voice; it was distinctly unique in the world, much like Ella Fitzgerald's.  But where Fitzgerald was an earthly presence on the screen, Ms. Horne radiated royalty.  When she was performing, everyone took notice.  Her bearing was regal, her voice sharp and majestic and her movements deliberate.  She was a true artist, the likes of which we are sorely lacking today.  She will be deeply missed.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

So, since today is the day we honor Mothers for their sacrifices and devotion, I thought I'd share some examples from nature of what motherhood is all about.  Enjoy.  :)

And Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all other mothers who might be reading.

And the hits just keep on coming.....

It’s been a rough year for the Catholic church.  As more and more scandals concerning the covering up of sexual molestation of children pour into the media, we get this story from Charlotte, NC.

Perhaps the Church should stay silent, like they have on the proposed Ugandan legislation, even though other religions have thrown in their opposition to such a measure?

I think I’ve made my disdain for the Catholic Church well known; if not, then the following video should make them very clear.

(Warning: Extremely Not-Safe-For-Work, or a Catholic Mass)

Anyone who knowingly shields a pedophile from prosecution is a monster.  Even if it’s done for “humanitarian” reasons, such as the perpetrator’s advanced age, or promises to remove themselves from working with children.  The damage that the pedophile has done is permanent; a small measure of healing may be possible from seeing their molester face punishment.

Hint to Ratzinger:  Throwing money at a problem rarely makes it go away.  And it tends to make you look like a buffoon when everything’s said and done.  Check out Mark 11:15.  Perhaps Jesus himself should pay a visit to the Vatican and throw out those people who would give money to pay for the crimes done to these children?

My Take on George Rekers et al.

I’ve been wanting to do a post for a while about the whole “Gays can be cured” movement in this country and the recent news about George Rekers gives me the perfect opportunity to make one.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, here’s a link to the Miami News Times, who broke the story and there’s a video below by my favorite newsperson, Rachel Maddow.  They can explain what happened better than I.

I first became interested in doing a post about this by coming across this article by Ted Cox, in which he, a straight reporter posing as a closeted gay man, describes his experience in a gay-to-straight conversion weekend.  It’s compelling reading, if a little frightening.

There’s also this story about the proposed bill going through the Uganadan parliament right now.  Apparently, one of the sources they used as “research” into the proposal to further criminalize homosexuality with, in some cases, the death penalty, was Richard Cohen’s book, “Coming Out Straight.”  I have a particular venomous attitude toward Richard Cohen, as he continues to espouse his views even after being expelled from every legitimate Psychiatric/Psychological  association there is.  Cohen is a very outspoken proponent of “ex-gay” therapy, claiming that he, himself, is “ex-gay” and now a married father of three and is the founder of the International Healing Foundation, a conversion program with an innocuous sounding name.  Caleb Lee Brundidge, a “sexual reorientation coach” for IHF, was recorded speaking before a Ugandan conference on homosexuality, video below.  Apparently, Brundidge isn't aware of Lawrence v. Texas.

In my good friend Free’s post about this issue, I said “Schadenfreude, indeed. As Rekers' religion teaches, he is now reaping what he sowed. James Dobson was incredibly quick to drop all ties with Rekers as soon as the story broke, removing any links from Focus on the Family's website to Rekers' site.
“Although it seems petty and cruel of me, I WANT Rekers to see what life is like on my side of the fence. I want him to be ostracized and degraded because of what he is. And I want it to be incredibly public, just as Ted Haggard's was. Perhaps it will help to show those of a moderate bent that their "gays can be cured/are less than human" views are simply pure hypocrisy.”

I mean every word of that quote.

The psychological damage that these people do, especially to young gay men, is horrific, often irreparable.  For someone who is struggling to come to terms with the fact that their orientation is different from others' and to be told that, through therapy, they can be made “normal” should be a crime.  It is hate, pure and simple.

And, at least in Rekers’ case, it’s a simple matter of self-loathing.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Joe of Joe.My.God, I found this response to the Rekers story by  (Be careful; while this post is SFW, the site certainly isn't.)