Deb-Blog

Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “Joe Hill” #LaborDay

Tomorrow is Labor Day. For most it’s lost its meaning. That’s probably intentional. For many, Labor Day is just another sale day at a retail job. For fewer, it’s a day off before the kids start school or the chance to snag some gadget for cheap on Amazon. Sales, barbeques and back-to-school lists certainly distract from a day meant to honor employees. But distractions serve our 1%-ers and so-called public servants well, don’t they? I’ll bet most of you are reading this on one of the greatest contemporary distractions right now.  Pay no attention as to why we have a day to honor workers – the vast majority – or the power within that number. Because when all the people who serve, create and make things become truly aware of their massive strength in unity, it tends to balance the social and economic playing field far too much for employers.

Joe Hill was an US immigrant, laborer and union organizer in the early 1900s. And he was charged with murder for which many, including his birth country of Sweden, believed he was scapegoated as a way to punish him for his prominent role in the IWW (International Workers of the World) or Wobblies to organize workers. The song, written by  Earl Robinson, speaks to his legacy, which lives on. Many folk singers have performed and recorded “Joe Hill.” I selected the version sung by Joan Baez at Woodstock.

Industry was new when the Wobblies were demanding safer workplaces, better wages and weekends off. And that era did achieve many of the protections we have for workers today. (Note: “Protections” for people are “regulations” on employers.) Society has changed tremendously since 1910. But the dichotomy between what an employer wants and what employees want continues. Only big business has lobbyists representing them with big checks to influence policy and tip the scales just the right way. Wages are set just low enough for those working at or near minimum wage to survive week to week, so long as the government subsidizes those people with housing, food and medical assistance. Meanwhile, unions seldom even get a seat at the table when Congress considers wages or trade. They’ve have lost membership drastically, from about one-third of all workers in the 1950s to about ten percent today. You can make a pretty strong argument that the loss of union membership has hurt the working class and is quickly vanishing the middle class.

Dad often said, “Some day, there will be a revolution in this country.” And when he said it, he was referring to the rebellion of the majority toward their cultural oppression and suppression; the oppression of economic power, public policy, bigotry, division and greed. Should there be a country-wide (world-wide?) workers’ strike? Long overdue. But a vast majority of workers can’t afford to take off a day and risk losing their jobs to fight it! Yet workers of every stripe have that power right now. The 1960s brought many causes for social justice together; minority rights, women’s rights, farm workers’ right, the right for 18-year-olds to vote. This could be another tipping point for we the majority. Never forget, those striving to make life better and fairer have the power. It’s the unity that secretly terrifies the ones who win through exploitation.

R.I.P. Joe Hill.

 

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Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “We All Shine On” (Instant Karma) #SundayMorning

I am no expert on Buddhism and Hinduism so my observation of karma is purely personal and anecdotal. But I have seen instant karma, meaning the Universe’s quick, balanced payback for a good or bad deed. I consider it a good thing when I do a slight but unfair act and get payback the same day. I like to think that means I have good karma. On the other hand, when someone “gets away” with murder or a great wrong of some kind, I believe when their karma is bad (and if you commit murder you already have bad karma) and the Universal payback comes long after but with a vengeance, that’s very bad karma. O.J. Simpson often comes to mind. But that’s just my anecdotal theory.

Naturally, I think of those in power today who are demonstrating acts of injustice and how their karmic balance may come. We’ve got a guy who intends to ban those of Muslim faith from the country, prevent and remove transgender people from the military and who is so xenophobic, wants to literally construct a wall in 2017 to keep people out. Some Nazis are now deemed “good people” by the Commander and Chief who invites Russian spies into the Oval Office and sends bills from a his own private business to the Secret Service for expenses to protect him. And this is perfectly reasonable to the GOP, apparently! Hurry karma! Please don’t let this be the planet’s karmic payback for humanity’s damage to her.

John Lennon’s words in “We All Shine On” speak to instant karma slightly differently, in that it comes without warning. I’m okay with that, too. If we don’t have it written in the Constitution that swift justice must meet a wholly unfit being installed as president by a foreign country, let it be karma. Let karma smite Trump and everyone colluding with him to profit from his office or destroy our institutions.

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Ev’ryone you meet

I needn’t remind you that John Lennon and every member of The Beatles were about love and its power. The song actually has a lot more to say about being rooted in love, in love for oneself and everything else. This song always grounds me and I need that today. It’s a universal truth that love, indeed, Secretary Clinton, trumps hate.

Who in the hell d’you think you are
A super star
Well, right you are

It’s hard to peer out from the pall shrouding us these days. So let Lennon remind you of the greater self, the most superior of super powers: love.

Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “Love Is the Answer”

This song keeps popping in my head lately, thankfully. My friend David put it there following the death of Glen Campbell. Leave it to a musician to find a deep cut of a Glen Campbell recording of a song written and originally performed by Todd Rundgren.

It’s a good reminder that our greatest strength is love. Last week should have reminded everyone of that. Sadly, it did not. But division, hate and violence never win because love always eradicates it. Last week should also remind us that constant vigilance is needed toward those who wish to conquer with hate.

I’m not surprised Joseph McCarthy, Adolf Hitler and today’s Republicans attack artists. Artists speak truth. That is art. Their “identity politics” moniker to dismiss anyone acknowledging systematic and historic inequality, injustice or plain hardship upon fellow citizens is another attempt to divide and hush us. So to all the creatives, stay right where you are. Satirists must mock Nazis. Techies must shine ten-story messages on Trump’s properties. Musicians must sing of love and expose bigotry with music. Writers must broadcast the absurdity of hateful chants from the tacky, khaki tiki brigade. The fight for love gets more important every single day now. No rest. Resist.

“But there’s no easy way around it                   Light of the world, shine on me
Love is the answer
Shine on us all, set us free
Love is the answer”

And in homage to Glen Campbell, I submit his version. (RIP)

“Love will be a means, yeah, yeah
Shine on us all
Know that love can save the day
Just give it one more chance.”

No question we are at another global, moral crossroads. Sitting it out is not an option. Love is the answer. It’s true in any genre or any language. We’ve got to love one another.

Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “Eve of Destruction”

The roots of hate are deep. It’s been passed through generations in families, on right-wing hate radio, social media, Trump, US Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and via Russian marionetting (fueling actions from afar). Daylight helps but it must be eradicated root and branch, and outlawed, as Germany did to its Nazis after WWII. All terrorism in the name of fill in the blank is all the same. It is evil and wrong. I pity those who go through life with such a chip on their shoulder. But they don’t belong in a civil society. Let’s not forget, we all share this place, like it or not. Poisoning any part of it is done to us all.

Day by day, week by week, things are getting worse under the Trump regime. We not only had a savage attack right here in Charlottesville, VA yesterday by people carrying torches and opposing the removal of a statue of a traitor to our nation, but the President of the United States egged on a nuclear war with North Korea and then just replied when asked for detail, “You’ll see,” like the sniveling bully Scut Farcus in “A Christmas Story.” No, I didn’t forget he also threatened Venezuela. But the day’s still young and there are so many other countries to belittle when a wholly unfit narcissist binges on propaganda media, seeks constant adulation, controls the nuclear codes and has a Twitter account.

Just after the election, I shared my fear for our nation to a cashier I know at a local store who replied to me, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I replied immediately with, “Fascism.” She didn’t reply. Not hyperbole folks. This is how it happens. “Leaders” divide, threaten, keep us off balance and always, always tell us we’re in danger and “only [he] can fix it.” That is all authoritarian followers need to react accordingly. Hitler had his Brown Shirts of brainwashed civilians. Trump has his red caps, although don’t you think Orange Shirts is more fitting?

Even before Heather Heyer was murdered and many others severely injured by a kid so filled with rage, he used his car as a missile, this song came to mind: Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction.” It was written by P. F. Sloan about 53 years ago. We don’t need to change a word, really.

“The eastern world, it is explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
And can’t you feel the fears I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away,
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’,
I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration,
When human respect is disintegratin’,
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
But when your return, it’s the same old place,
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

No, no, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

Resist.

Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “Let There Be Peace on Earth”

Philando Castile is the victim of a violent death. His assailant was acquitted of all charges. I’m a Minnesotan, the state where this took place, I know people who knew and loved Philando. I’m white. He’s black. I don’t know what to say. But I can’t let today go by without dedicating this week’s interlude to him.

Dear heaven, the arc of justice is long. Bless all who love Philando and who share my grief.

We will remember you, Mr. Phil, and fight for justice. Some day.

Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “Goodbye Earl”

Now, don’t think too much into the words of this song. I don’t condone violence of any kind. But I have more than had it with Mango Mussolini. And I just needed a song that spoke to my level of frustration.  We’re going through the motions of a civil investigation but anyone with two brain cells knows he’s as dirty as a mobster can be. He and his entire ilk have got to go! I want my country back!

And so, I give you “Goodbye Earl,” by the Dixie Chicks. Again. I’m wishing no harm on anyone but I want, from the depth of my being, for that unfit being to go away from my government. And country. Enjoy!

 

Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “Nikolina”

Humor me. On my way to work in this Groundhog Day kind of schedule this week, I flipped on KFAI, a great local radio station (even open to amateurs, shout to Dale Connelly). To my surprise the intro to “Nikolina” played and I immediately knew it was a song Mom sang. Now, their version was in Swedish, but the one she sang was in English. And it’s a hoot! It says a lot about Swedish humor and, perhaps, where some of mine originates.

I guess Swedes can be a bit dark. Anyway, it brought back a memory for me I had not recalled in some time. It’s a song that made the US play charts, even though there were no play charts, in 1915. I live in an area where Swedes and Norwegians settled. Yes, we were once the new, funny speaking people.

I don’t know who the DJ was that morning, but your playing “Nikolina” sure brought a smile to the face of this Northern European! Yes, I sang along.

Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “My Handy Man”

Crazy mind-numbing hours this week left me unable to conger up the name of an American icon. Now, no one should need a reason to feature Alberta Hunter. But that moment when I was telling a coworker I needed to “mow my lawn,” to which she asked if it was a euphemism, and I immediately sang a couple lines of “My Man,” only to be unable to remember Alberta Hunter’s name compels me to make her my feature this Sunday.

They broke the mold.

 

Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “The No No Song”

I find myself singing absurd songs upon hearing more absurd stuff about “45.” I mean, the acts from the Oval Office and the criminality unfolding about same has become the comedy of the absurd. So while on the road this week, I replied to the news with Ringo’s “The No No Song.”

“No, no, no, no, i can’t take it no more,
I’m tired of waking up on the floor.
No, thank you, please, it only makes me sneeze,
And then it makes it hard to find the door.”

Sure, it’s about giving up reality-enhancing chemicals, but wouldn’t you agree our national politics feels like a step away from reality? Enjoy:

Your Weekly, Sunday Interlude: “I Don’t Wanna Play in Your Yard”

It’s a children’s song from 1894, written by Philip Wingate and H.W. Petrie. I had heard “I Don’t Wanna Play in Your Yard” before it was part of the movie “Reds,” but that was the first time I became aware of its adult delivery. The words are as much about two quarrelling little girls, as it is the fractured love between Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) and John Reed (Warren Beatty). I was humming it this morning in exasperation of the lunacy and danger that is President 45. It works for all cases.

Peggy Lee recorded it like mournful, lovelorn song. Enjoy:

None of the sane among us can rationalize with Trump or even understand him. So let’s boil it down to the most childlike message:

“I don’t want to play in your yard,
I don’t like you anymore,
You’ll be sorry when you see me,
Sliding down our cellar door,
You can’t holler down our rainbarrel,
You can’t climb our apple tree,
I don’t want to play in your yard
If you won’t be good to me.”