Sunday, December 21, 2008

Everybody is a Star

I’ve had a complex semester—tough for me on a very personal level. I’ve been working as an administrator, a program director for the school’s diversity initiative. And while I believe in the cause—to make our campus a more open, inclusive environment that fights for equal rights—I know all too well that if I do my job right, I’m going to hit a wall that gets me thrown out of it. At the same time, I never appreciated how effective I was as a teacher until I spent a semester feeling wildly ineffective as an administrator. This could all change. There are moments that make me want to hang in there, or at least appreciative of this moment while I’ve got it.

One was a recent show put on by our students.

Yes, my school’s “Multicultural Night for Invisible Children” was a fundraiser for a worthy cause, Invisible Children’s Schools for Schools program, which raises money for education in war torn Uganda (

But I thought the name of the event had its own resonance. It spoke to the best part of the vision of Invisible Children, as a movement, as well as the vision of my students. It speaks to something beyond charity—solidarity, recognizing the ties that bind a group of “kids” in Kansas to their brothers and sisters in Uganda.

Of course, these kids from Kansas were an international group, at its core lay the work of the International Club, Student Services and the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) in bringing together students from all over the globe. It was that network in the International Club and those that take part in the CSI’s Interclub Council that made this happen. In fact, my involvement came out of attending an Interclub Council meeting. The students told me about a multicultural event that one of our students from Northern Sudan put on in Lawrence, and that jibed with what I knew other students, particulary a Colombian and a Kansas (with parents from Kenya) had called for at our very first Multicultural event this semester. They had both said we needed to have more events where students from diverse backgrounds came together, simply to celebrate that diversity and the community possible in that diversity.

The performance in our Little Theater opened with a simple, natural expression of JCCC’s diverse talents. Many students and faculty had heard one of my former students named Natsuki play the piano that sits in the third floor lounge, and she’d even had her picture in the school paper for it. So, it was unanimously agreed that it would be right to start the evening with Natsuki playing piano. In semi-darkness, she played a beautiful, reflective piece by a Russian composer before taking centerstage and welcoming the crowd. This was followed by students from Costa Rica, Mongolia, Kenya, South Sudan, Gabon, Paraguay, India, and the Middle East (actually Palestine, I believe, but she chose to stand for the region) taking the stage and welcoming the audience in their first languages. Invisible Children leaders Ithar and Calvin then took the stage to emphasize that this was not about the particular regions represented so much as the people from all over the world coming together.

This was followed by a film clip about Invisible Children, explaining its origins and history, as a group of young men’s trip to Uganda has turned into an international network of microeconomic support for Ugandan youth. After this clip, a capoiera group of ten men and women took the stage. This form of martial arts dancing, said to have been passed down by slaves transplanted to Brazil from Angola, illustrated both the struggle and the celebration of the evening. And when the dancers went beyond the sparring to call and response clapping with the crowd and building fever in terms of drumming and individual dances, a high bar was set for the emotional intensity of the evening.

Local singer-songwriter Nicolette Paige then took the stage, not letting up on that intensity at all, but counterbalancing the spectacle with the power of one person, one guitar and (because her guitar cable didn’t work) an entirely acoustic performance. Her first song, “Hinun,” was this unlikely and utterly natural blend of a reggae rhythm, a Native American cadence and her powerful, yet lilting vocals. The second song, “Invisible Children,” was an eloquent reminder of the objective reason why we were all gathered together.

That simple, individual intensity was maintained by the poetry of Costa Rican by way of Lawrence, Kansas student Ignacio Carvajal. Aside from the power of a lone person standing alone at a mic, baring his soul, Carvajal also heightened the multicultural focus of the evening. His poem, about the complex and contradictory nature of his identity, was about something more than the fact that we were bringing together an international group of students but that all of our students carries a diversity that makes them who they are. In that sense, his poem built a bridge between Paige’s synthesis of cultural influences and the next film clip, which used rapper M.I.A. sampling the Clash to detail the successes of the “Schools for Schools” program.

This was followed by four Indian men and four Indian women (from our new Sikh organization, KSEWA) in colorful traditional costumes doing the Punjabi form of dancing, Bhangra. The free flowing choreography was beautiful in and of itself, and the rhythms were very upbeat and exciting. But like the capoeira troupe, the Bhangra dancers didn’t let up until a certain fever pitch was reached, an additional young girl taking centerstage, two of the female dancers spinning each other in circles on one side of the stage and another male dancer breakdancing stage-right. For me, that breakdancing was key—it took things up a notch, and it went beyond traditional differences to the wonder of cultures mixing.

At that moment, Purevsuren, from Mongolia, read two poems, one about identity and one about Invisible Children. Her identity poem transcended identity politics by embracing all identities—focusing on the idea of a greater whole that ties us all together. Her poem about Invisible Children boldly took on the persona of one of the Ugandan children and expressed her yearning for peace.

This was followed by a fashion show that became one of the great unifying moments of the evening. Northern Sudan followed by Southern Sudan (peacemaking central to the whole event), Brazil, Iran, Palestine, India (one man and one woman model), Colombia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Dubai, Mongolia, Nigeria (3 models, one man, two women, one in a floor length evening gown, just about stealing the show), and one from Moldova. Again, the cultural contexts varied—some wore traditional, somewhat conservative dress, while others wore everything from a carnivale costume to daily casual wear to rural chic.

As the final two bands set up, Ignacio and Calvin ascended the aisle stairs on both sides of the auditorium, reciting the tale of the abducted children forced to fight for the rebel armies in northern Uganda. This was punctuated by barked orders from a military leader in the darkness above, actually the student doing the lighting for the performance. When the tale, a tandem poem really, was finished, Ithar descended the stairs Ignacio had just ascended, reciting a poem of (a universal call for) peace.

This was followed by an Ethiopian trio, featuring two former JCCC students. They played two beautiful spirituals, one with a traditional bowed instrument, and the second accompanied by keyboard and guitar. This performance worked its way from quiet reflection to an infectious sing-a-long.

The show closed with the four person group, Tambo, led by Colombian singer Carolina Deardorff, appropriately one of the people who first suggested such an event. The band was playing against a few obstacles, including a hurt hand that kept one guitarist from being able to play, as well as sound problems that kept the drummer playing softly so as not to overwhelm the band.
But none of that mattered. The music was beautiful, starting with a gentle ballad, “Invierno,” by a musician from Baja, California. Before the end of the second song, a Gloria Estefan cover, everyone who performed took the stage clapping and singing along.

Although I recently made a point (in a campus e-mail) of naming the names of most of the people who took the stage at this moment, particularly the students who met with me from 3-4 every Monday to make this thing happen, I feel hesitant to do it here. It feels like a violation of privacy, so I've only used first names on those who don't have some reputation as a performer around here. But all of them have inspired me more than I can say, and I think what’s more important is that they have inspired each other many times over.

I don’t see an event as an end in itself, although I know there’s some value there. I will be happy when I see us build from here. But I did recognize this moment of celebration, even in some of the chaos before everything came together, as one of those moments that I should soak up and appreciate because it would stay with me forever, if I’m lucky. I think many of the students feel the same way, and that’s the deep significance of the event. Everybody showed and proved they were stars on this night, and I can’t wait to see where they next turn all that bright, revealing light.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Little Help From Our Friends

We live in a world of corrupt radio, concert ticket price-gouging, product placement in songs, Wal-Mart censorship—not to mention war, poverty, corporate bailouts, and the collapse of our health care system.

Music keeps us going through it all. Music makes us feel good. Music carries us past the stress. Music inspires us. Music makes the connections between people that give us hope for the future. Music insists that a better world is possible and music makes us believe that this can be true.

Rock & Rap Confidential is in the middle of all this, not just reporting but making those connections. We can do this because our musical taste has no boundaries and because we have a foot in every camp. We—RRC’s staff and its readers—are on this journey together. Our love for music and our desire for a better world bind us together.

RRC has never accepted advertising. Now we don’t even charge for the publication, which has enabled us to reach a broader and steadily growing audience. Every once in a while, we could use a little help.

Won’t you please contribute what you can to RRC? $25, $50, $100, $250, $1000 (or any amount). You can make your contribution via (send to or send by regular mail to RRC, P.O. Box 341305, Los Angeles CA 90034.

Thanks for your support. Thanks for our past, our present, our future. We really appreciate it.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Wonderful World

I've never been more proud of my Kansas City community; I've never felt more like a patriot.

The names in these stories, including the by-lines, are on the short list of my heroes right now.

If you live around here and you can make it down to Davey's Saturday night, I'd love to see you there.

Tonight, maybe you could check out my wife's art show at Ottawa University. It's a thing of beauty, and she's on that list as well, for many reasons I'd love to give you in detail some time.

More about her show:

I feel so lucky to be in this place, at this time, among these people.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Where's the HBO Series?

One of the benefits of my new job as diversity program director is that I get to do things like hold book discussions about books as remarkable as Sam Quinones’ Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream. Quinones is a Los Angeles Times reporter now, but he spent over a decade in Mexico covering immigrant issues. This book is a rich series of profiles of immigrants north and south of the border set to belie most of the simplistic notions Americans have about border issues and the people involved.

We talked for over an hour Friday, a little about every major aspect of the book, starting with the two ideas in the title. Antonio is a character who crosses the border to get a tool he needs to solve a dispute back home; once he has it, he comes home. Delfino is a character who continuously inspires the people in his hometown of Xocotla with his punk stylings, his break dancing and, eventually, his ability to fund and build housing.

But he can’t find the place for his talents in Mexico, so he keeps returning to the States despite his desire to return home. In both Antonio's and Delfino's cases, Quinones shows how the migration of Latin Americans to North America has little to do with wanting to be “Americans” and a great deal to do with the limits of the economy back home. If anything, the country that is losing out is Mexico because the best and brightest of its poor and working classes flee the lack of opportunity at home.

One of our discussion participants, from Puebla, Mexico, talked about the other side of the story that is hinted at by the book. How people like Mitt Romney came down to Mexico and made their fortunes before returning to the states, or how the maquiladoras have been undermined by trade with China, so what economic opportunity there once was for the lower classes has been lost to the globalized economy.

One participant talked about how she was impressed by the industry that went into the black velvet painting business described in “Doyle and Chuy Wrap Juarez in Velvet,” and many of us testified to how the black velvet craze of the 1970s affected our hometowns and we never guessed at the rich, complex story (involving Palestinians from Canada trucking in such contraband) behind it all. That chapter, like the chapter about an opera house that sprung up in Tijuana, of all places, underscored the way people will create the culture they really need out of what’s available to them. Tijuana developed a relatively serious classical music scene, and Juarez managed to raise up a number of very talented artists who gained their initial training in the art of black velvet painting.

Another chapter that was a favorite for discussion was “The Saga of South Gate” which showed just how dirty politics could get when a Mexican-American politician exploited PRI tactics, but we also noticed the similarities to our own current electoral system. The inspiring part of that story, as with each of these stories on some level, was the way people found their way to overturn the corrupt political system that ruled their lives. How did they do it? House by house discussions, taking the time and offering people the respect of deeply-involved political discussions, something all but missing in our dominant culture.

The book was initially picked by our diversity group because of “A Soccer Season in Kansas,” which described how Garden City, Kansas came to rally around its almost all Latino team, made up of workers from the IBP plant (owned by Tyson foods). In what we think of as the most reactionary section of the state, white and brown had some rough transition, but found a way to come together for the sake of their team and their community. Also, out of the team success, several players wound up being the first in their family to go to college, and even some of the soccer players’ mothers went back to college to encourage their children. Also, a women’s soccer league formed after the inspiration of the male team, and they would come to be the champions of future seasons.

What we all agreed was that these warts-and-all stories of an America in transition offered a vision of a new America being born. And it’s a hopeful vision. It asks us to reckon with some tough questions regarding the new globalized economy, but it suggests people can rise to the occasion, time and time again, if we have a little faith in our potential.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Watching the Wheels Go Round

It will be interesting to see how long Democrats fight to stop “golden parachutes” and to help out homeowners... because they’re preparing to fall in line, as anyone who’s been expecting this bailout knows they have to. I’d say we have an almost unanimous approval of the buyout plan, give or take some token concessions, by midweek.

I hope that the American people start thinking about when and why Congress comes together, almost unquestioningly—after 9/11 with the Patriot Act, two calls to war and the S&L bailout, before the largest bailout and market restructuring since the Great Depression--not to save the rich individually (they may well cut those golden parachute strings), but to save the power structure. That’s their job.

But I think we could redefine the job. I think we could demand that our pooled taxes guaranteed healthcare for all and an equal quality of education, including higher education, for all.
Senator Bernie Sanders called the current situation “socialism for the rich and free market capitalism for the poor.” That’s really been the way for over a century, and despite a few decades of growth, the net result is that the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer. When are we going to re-evaluate our priorities as a country?

At the beginning of the decade, the Labor Party proposed a $168 billion dollar transition plan to provide health care to all Americans. It's still the best plan anyone's come up with, and it costs about a fourth of what we're about to fork over to save the stock market.

A friend of mine recently pointed out that the government could have paid for all of the foreclosed houses in 2007 and 2008, and the cost wouldn’t match what the loan guarantees of the past few months.

That was before the $700 billion dollar measure that will pass in no time at all.

If we can't immediately begin to rethink health care and higher ed for all, just in the name of need and fairness, could we at least begin to recognize faith in the free markets for the mysticism that it is?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Holly Gleason's one of those folks who helps me believe in the promised land. Be sure to check out her webpage below. DA

Holly Gleason writes:

The Highways Jammed With Broken Heroes--Springsteen Tears A Hole In Music City

It's not much of a stage, no production, basic lights. As stripped down as a hockey rink stage can be. Lean, stark, unadorned. When you are Bruce Springsteen, though, what do you really need? Armed with the mighty, mighty E Street Band and a catalogue of songs that sweep the vistas of the flatlands, the flyovers, the blue collar, middle west and heartland, the bravura glory of a man in his element is its own juicy reward.

For it might be hard to be a saint in the city, but not on that stage or the backstreets, in the shadows and the cracks… those places you won't ever be found, not because they're for hiding, but because no one cares to even bother looking there.

And Springsteen's audience? They are people who deserve a superstar who is faithful... who knows about being a skew, a bar code, a number… who understands the notion a pair of hands without a face - at a time even those hands don't seem to matter because the works been sent to cheaper places. They need someone who is really, truly in touch with the struggle to get by.

At the core, it's not so much about junglelands or magic rats, tramps and gypsies, but those poor stiffs punching a clock, punching the empty handed destiny dealt'em. Because, ironically or not, what little bit that is, it's all they got. Period. End of story. If there's enough story to go around.

That's the beauty of Bruce Springsteen: he is the commonest man with the biggest heart, the broadest shoulders, the deepest sense of grace in the degradation of realizing the American Dream isn't one size fits all… and it's shrunk to where most people can't hope they'll ever wiggle their way into it.

But Springsteen's hold goes much farther back then that.

Growing up when desire was a band-aid you wanted to tear off clean, rip it away to feel the glorious relief of gone, there he was. Moaning. Witnessing. Creating a void you crawl into gasping, hoping to rub against whatever that was enough to be released.

“She's the One,” with its lyrics about “her secret places that no boy could fill… with her hands on her hips and that smile on her lips, because she knows that it kills me…,” tells you everything you need to know about the tension and the need for culmination. Not necessarily carnal, but recognition, because after all, “French kisses will not break that heart of stone…”

Onstage at Nashville's Sommet Center, “She's the One” crawls out of the very Bo Diddley beating/”Not Fade Away” expansion “Mona” where he gives it up for the love he's after. As sweat-stained as that hunger is, “She's The One” doesn't come merely from the urgency of hormonal centrifugal force, but more the recognizing the potency the promise of erotic potential delivers. It can be is so much more, that suspension of the unfilled on the brink. This is a revelation from someone who's been there, understands, surrenders, even admires that which overwhelms him.

That wisdom transforms much of the Springsteen cannon. The bolt'n'tumble breakneck nature of what was is now a slightly slower habitation of lives lived to their edges. In the brazen jauntiness of “Spirit In The Night,” Clarence Clemmons' sax honking and Roy Bittan's striphouse piano taunting the listener, it becomes the recollection of lost nights with vivid detail in the crossed headlights, the lake parties and exploration of limits sexual and otherwise. It is a survivors' tale savored, and it fits him like the jeans that hang off those well-oiled hips.

Make no mistake: Bruce Springsteen is a sex symbol. As Muddy Waters howled, “I'm A Man.” And Springsteen is. In full. Indeed. He doesn't pander, doesn't do anything except luxuriate in the screams, the signs - including a “Boys In Their Summer Clothes” emblazoned with a shirtless, quite cut-offs-sporting early 70s Bruce mid-baseball swing - and the idea that he's strong enough to be there, to stand tall, especially to like everything about the other sex without losing anything about musky virility.

That strength is an underlying, unspoken truth of Springsteen's longevity. Yes, his shows come on like a locomotive: ever-pumping, never slowing, never pausing. The momentum builds, builds - and you hang on, maybe exhale when he slows it down, but even then, the blaze is white hot and slow burning, so throw too much oxygen at the flames at your own risk.

Talking about a man who's “from here,” who'd cut a “few of my songs,” he offered they might not quite “get it,” but promised they'd head straight into something the always rapt, wholly powerful E Streeters knew. Then with an attenuated torch groove, Bruce Springsteen then moaned, “I keep my eyes wide open all the time…”

Embracing Johnny Cash's signature song of fidelity in the face of temptation with an almost Billie Holiday-esque ardor, it was bewitching. Suddenly, a song known to all turned into something even more aching, more taut, more consumed by its own intensity.

Without missing a beat, merely turning on a few chords, Springsteen neatly folded into his own consumed-by-want “I'm On Fire.” Oddly quiet, almost naked as a performance, it was a confession, but it was also a cage… a cage surrendered to if only for the hope of quenching that which was raging in his veins, his brain, his reason for being.

To own that possession beyond self so openly is to understand the truth so many deny. In a world where people strut and posture, Springsteen does neither. He shows up, shows you where these people are, where he is and judges nothing more than unburnished honesty. Instead, he honors that truth by giving the fallible their clay feet, demonstrating what frailties and dam breaks are made of.

So when “The Rising” rises, almost shining, it is a reminder of our better self. Yes, we are base, slaves to the lower instincts, but also made of a greater goodness. It is just a matter of not losing site of that fact, embracing it, turning it up so that becomes what defines us.

What defines us is the decision. It is a theme that goes unspoken, yet permeates much of Springsteen's career. To hear “Radio Nowhere,” it is not the venom of a man railing against a delivery system that is failing him, but rather a protesting cry of the squandering of something that once - blue light shining - gave definition to his prowls, his routines, most likely his breathing.

It is the same stand down that gave “No Surrender” its buoyant sense of “we're all in this together.” It isn't that the state of the nation isn't oppressive, it's that we all know - and in knowing we can come together to rally each other to higher ground.

That common field of lost souls and down trodden, too, is not some sad sack altar call. With the zeal of a carny preacher, Springsteen canvassed that stage, inquiring if everyone was ready to go, “cause if you aren't ready to go, you can't get there…” From such a no-nonsense split rail exhortation, it was about jettisoning the worry for the revelry at “Mary's Place.”

For all its feel good good feeling, “Mary's Place” isn't just about blowing it up on Saturday night. Yes, his audience needs -- perhaps more even than the have plentys -- a let-off-steam moment, but they need the permission to believe they're not suckers for thinking good honest work and telling the truth still matters. That is where the true pivot of letting go turns: knowing the values you hold are an anchor to ground the spin-out.

See that's the deal about the music that's built to last: there's more to it than the euphoria. Ahhh, euphoria, you could see it on his face when the band undulated through a raucous “Good Rockin' Tonight,” remembering every high time they had as kids. But memories are things that are gone, the endorphins released are gonna pass out of your bloodstream; in the end, only what you believe remains.

It's what made the accordion-draped haunt of “Youngstown” such a jaw dropper early in. The pain was raw, torn, palpable. This is not a new song, but it is more current right now. It's a chronic crisis spreading because no one paid attention… no one wanted to know… they shipped the jobs away, assuring there'd be plenty… until suddenly there weren't.

In the tangle of titles that further embroidered that notion - “Loose Ends,” Last To Die” - the devastation gets demonstrated. If it stopped there, this would be “the drowning,” but it doesn't. It never had, it never will, which is why the faithful still show up. The upper risers that weren't full a testimony to the impact on the disparity of tax breaks for the wealthiest and the lack of trickle down and rising prices for those below the comfort line.

For them, it's not even a raft, but a life jacket, the straw to float them til they can get to higher ground. It is a rallying cry to fire the beaten up for survival, and it works.

All these years later “The Promised Land” is a fist in the face of those who would take that last bit of respect away, the ones who'd strip what this country stands for bare - because you can raid the economy, sell of the debt, buy a Hummer and pretend that we're prosperous 'til bankrupt, but you can't wholesale the people. What they believe can never be taken from them, which is what makes the once youthful defiance of the declaration “I'm no boy, no, I'm a man… and I believe in the Promised Land…” into a refusal to let them trade away your faith in what you stand for as an American.

It was an equally impassioned “Badlands,” an outlaw song of sheer rebellion, the kind that brews where there's too much room and not enough opportunity. If the fervor that ignites it - “Gonna be a twister… to blow everything down… ain't got the faith… to stands its own ground…” can translate for a demoralized less-than-land-of-expectations to a place where we can perhaps create changes that give people back their more meaningful humanity.

For a man who truly doesn't stop, the amount of meaning he packs is deceptive. It is concentrated, but it is close to three hours of full-tilt witness to who we can be - if we will think beyond ourselves. The deeply sad “Long Walk Home” - a song that tinges with the saddest kind of beauty in the wake of the recent passing of core E Streeter Danny Federici - is tempered by that same power of owning where you are and what you're feeling.

As Little Steven, pirate scarf tied across his head, eyes sparkling with the vigor of the truly alive, takes his verse, there's a slight roughness to the voice that cuts through one of Springsteen's prettiest melodies the way a lone street light dissolves the abyss of the night where it falls. What could be an elegy becomes a song of consideration - of what we lost, what we can maintain, how we came be more right here where we are.

If “Long Walk Home” suggests one thing… it's that right here, right now is all we have. For the man who proclaimed in the set culminating “Badlands” that “it ain't no sin to be glad your alive,” this is the aware person's ownership of knowing that truth in a far fuller way.

Not that this was one long sermon on the bandstand. No, Bruce Springsteen is above all a rocker. He comes to swerve and thrust and bring his fast ball.

With an encore that opened with Magic's seasonally appropriate “Girls In Their Summer Clothes,” a song where innocence and invisibility give you a whole other set of reasons to believe, it was a slalom of the fan's perfect merge of everything they would ever want: “Thunder Road” straight into “Born To Run” with an - in honor of Joe Strummer's birthday - Clash-fueled revved up “I Fought The Law” and a free-for-all “Rosalita.”

What was once a song for young adults realizing their life as youth is fading, “Thunder Road” played to a very basic set of insecurities once upon a time. What's amazing is how much the quest for connection, the brittleness of being alone and the mocking way unattainable standards steal that right now from you resonates even louder, echoes even further inside your core as you grow up.

When Springsteen intones, “Don't run back inside, darlin' you know just what I'm here for…” and “You can hide neath your covers, study your pain… waste your summer praying in vain for a saviour to rise from these streets…,” it's a gentle enjoinder to not lose your life, not merely the quest for a flesh connection. Yeah, sex is part of it, but it's also to not have your moments washed away.

With the lights ablaze, it was urging a friend as much as a paramour, someone who sees the future and knows these moments may be the best there is. It's what gives the press-down and gun-the-motor rumble of “Born To Run” such gusto. Many of the people there - graying hair, pleated pants, 30 pounds or more past their prime weight and not in shape - came to believe, even for a moment.

What they walked away with was a new energy. Not just the momentary rush of being in that moment, but the idea that it is worth the fight, it is about digging in. If “Thunder Road” is the ghosts of the ghosts of who we were, a well-worn naugahyde lounger that is cracked and peeling from the years of sweat, smoke and sagging flesh, “Born To Run” is the super-hero self, the one that declares “We can.”

And in empowering people, Springsteen reminds us that people do have the power, that making a difference doesn't mean sour and overly serious. You need to pay attention, to be conscionable, to speak up and honor what you know is right… It's what gave the kerosene to “I Fought The Law”: the beat may've been the matches, but it's the righteousness that burns.
Still, there has to be fun, a reason to live, a bit of cotton candy dissolving on your tongue as the ferris wheel ascends. It is momentary, but it is saturated and adrenalin-fueled. Like that first thrashing make-out session with the one you could never have or the big deal that you close when everyone said you couldn't.

That is what “Rosalita” was, is and shall ever be. The defiance of “make you mine,” the Romeo and Juliet teeter totter of the parents who don't like the rocker - and the rocker who just doesn't care. We've all been there, blown through it, savored the fruit right off the vine.

Three chords and a cloud of dust, Dan Baird from the Georgia Satellites - the Replacements Southern cousins - would say with that tilted ally cat grin. Indeed. That's what else Bruce Springsteen knows: leave'em gasping. Not in shock, but in joy - because in the end, all we have is that moment. Think, yes. Feel more. But especially rock.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

NOAH Scandal in New Orleans=Good News

Daniel Wolff writes:

You'd think it was depressing news. Today's New York Times reports that the FBI has raided the offices of NOAH: New Orleans Affordable Housing.

Seems like the $3 million in block grants the agency has paid to contractors to gut and remediate houses was eaten up by corruption. Of the 20 contractors the city approved for the work, only 7 passed the requirement of being "in good standing." One who got paid well was Mayor Nagin's brother-in-law.

And a local TV station's investigation showed that much of the work listed in NOAH's records was never done. Either the houses were untouched or, in some cases, there were no houses at those addresses at all; the work had been bogus.

What's the good news? What prompted the TV investigative work and the uncovering of the scandal was a community activist, Karen Gadbois. Gadbois did the basic footwork that the Times-Picayune and the other media had neglected: she got the lists of houses that contractors had been paid to fix up, and she went and looked. And took pictures.

Gadbois' point is that the NOAH program betrayed people's trust and indicates a city government (and media?) that isn't actually interested in recovery. Here's the original TV reporting that broke the story.

To me, the story's about the power of activism, the possibility of making a difference despite the system. Some heads are gonna roll because of this, and Gadbois gets a bunch of the credit.
The other good news is that this scandal is helping to reveal exactly how negligent city officials have been and are. Mayor Nagin's response to the TV show linked above? “How is that report helping this recovery?” Nagin asked at a July 22 press conference. “It is not, and it's hurting this city, and you need to stop it.”
Far from stopping, Gadbois and the (reluctant?) media have pushed it into national news.
Here's the story that describes Nagin's response and attempt at evasion:
Finally, in the last week, Nagin appeared before the city council and admitted there were some "discrepancies" in what the agency paid for and what actually happened. Nagin's repeated use of the attack mode -- blame the victim -- is revealed for what it is. And maybe his threats won't be as effective the next time he tries to bluff and bully his way out of real charges.
Corruption in New Orleans government doesn't strike me as big news. Hell, it's kinda assumed. But one of the themes Gadbois keeps striking is that the city has recovered because residents damn well decided it had to. And returned, rebuilt, recovered with little to no governmental help and considerable governmental interference. A bunch of the houses on NOAH's list did get gutted -- by the owners, not the agency.

It's a story about power. And the possibility that it might just be in our hands.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

As If I Could Forget....

Went out to see Howard Iceberg and one Titanic (the wonderful guitarist Gary Paredes) playing an acoustic set at Prospero's Books tonight. It was about as intimate a setting as you can imagine--maybe 30 feet from door to mics (maybe) and only room for a couple of dozen people, who were all there.

I never forget how great Howard is, but there's no way to fully remember that magical place his music can take you until you are actually experiencing it again. Every old song reminded me why it was my favorite of his songs, until the next one came along, but I fell hard and fast for his new ones. Check out "Disconnected" here--www.myspace.howardiceberg

Also, I did some reckoning with my own long history writing about KC music in a story for the Pitch this week. You can check that out here--

(And I'll try to remember most people who check out this page are looking for the music; that is the one that brung me.)


Friday, August 08, 2008

Operation March for our lives:

Minnesota Statewide Caravan

On August 1st at 3:30 PM at St. Paul City Hall (15 W. Kellogg Blvd.), the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign will launch "Operation March For Our Lives." Operation March for Our Lives will be a statewide caravan through Minnesota to collect economic human rights violations documentation. The portrait of poverty that this documentation paints will be presented at the Minnesota Truth Commission at 2PM on August 30th at Sabathani Community Center on August 30th at 2:00pm.

We are recruiting and training Human Rights Monitors to collect economic human rights documentation. Human Rights Monitors will be hosted by local communities and will march and sleep along the roadside. We're encouraging Minnesotans to watch our website and to visit us along our caravan and to bring us your stories of trying to pay for healthcare, losing your home to foreclosure, high unemployment on your reservation or how you didn't have enough food to feed your children this month.

Operation March For our Lives will also serve as a vehicle to place representatives of Minnesota's various branches of government & opinion shapers on notice about their obligations under human rights treaties.

If your interested in helping to host the marchers or if you would like to join us on the march, please email us at or call our office today at 612-821-2364.

Here is the tentative route for the Minnasota Statewide:

Aug. 1-2: St Paul to Duluth

Aug. 3: Taconite

Aug. 4: Hibbing

Aug. 5: Grand Rapids

Aug 6: Cass Lake

Aug 7: Leech Lake

Aug 8: Bemidji

Aug 9: Red Lake

Aug 10: Red Lake Falls

Aug 11: Crookston

Aug 12-13: White Earth

Aug 14: Detroit Lakes

Aug 15-16: Moorhead

Aug 17: St. Cloud

Aug 18: Waconia

Aug 19: Owatonna

Aug 20: Austin

Aug 21: Rochester

Aug 22: Minneapolis/St. Paul

Sunday, August 03, 2008

This Magic Moment


I want to thank all of you who are here today, and those listening and viewing around the nation and the world, for your prayers and expressions of support, and even your criticism. It is challenging but also often helpful. We must see the value of healthy critiques. We are accountable to each other.

But through all of this, while I went on my sojurn to the desert, I thank you. I fasted and prayed and reflected. I went to the valley in a real search for for my assignment and to renew the health and strength of my soul. I want to be morally and physically fit for this battle. I want my preaching and my living to be closely connected. Too often the preaching is higher than the living. The Gospel must not be compromised.

This is a magic moment in American history. I've been blessed to be a part of a great era. I was jailed in 1960 for trying to use a public library. I was jailed in 1963 going to the March on Washington for trying to use a public facility. I think about our journey from slave ships to championships, from 1948 to 2008---what a journey.

Jackie Robinson broke into the ranks of the white major leagues in 1947, before there was a NBA or NFL as we know them today. He, along with Jesse Owens and his victory in Berlin, and Joe Louis in his defeat of Max Schmeling, carried so much of our weight on their shoulders. They changed the cultural expectations. Our Sampsons beat their Goliaths. We rejoiced and named our children after them.

Then the 1954 court triumph that ended legal apartheid, followed by 10 years of test cases in Montgomery, Little Rock, and all across the South, culminating in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Then the shift from seking equal protection under the law to seeking empowerment. A blow was landed by Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964. Then the battle for the right to vote and the Voting Rights Act. White women couldn't serve on juries. Farmers who couldn't pay poll taxes couldn't vote—Selma. Eighteen year olds got the right to vote in 1970---Selma. In 1974, student residency, you can vote where you go to school---Selma. 1975, bilingual voting---Selma. 1990, the Disabilities Act---Selma. All of these victories were rooted in that defining moment in Selma, Alabama.

The 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns which sought to break down barriers
and democratized the primary system by changing the rules so delegates were
elected on a proportional basis, not winner take all. The campaigns generated a multitude of newly registered rainbow voters.
Now, with the barriers down, we are running the last lap of this race with a brilliant
anchorman, Barack Obama---so able, intellectually, morally, and spiritually, to bring the baton home. This is a magic moment.

August 28, 1955: Emmit Till was lynched.

August 28, 1963: Dr. King addressed the March on Washington.

August 28, 2008: Barack receives the nomination.

This is a magic moment, one of those high peak moments for America and the world.

July 4, 1776: Independence from Britain.

1865: The 13th Amendment ending slavery.

1954: The Supreme Court Decision that ended legal apartheid.
August 28, 1963: Dr. King addressed the March on Washington.

August 28, 2008: We reach the political promised land Dr. King saw from the mountaintop.

On this journey we have faced trauma, and sometimes experienced errors of judgment, taste, and tone along the way. Yet, we play with our scars. I've had to reflect upon my traumatizing ordeal with sincerity and contrition. My private speech became public controversy. I addressed the hurt and the affected. I was not satisfied with my apology and response, so I went to the desert to see if there was any gap between my heart and my lips. It was a soul-searching journey. I wanted to examine my painful and errant language---whether private or public. I speak to you this way because I love you with a passion and pain, and with a pleasure and commitment that is immeasurable, to the death and beyond.

I find my deepest joy in lifting people up, whether in stress or distress. In a moment away from the high mark, I let you down. It hurts. The pain sticks to my bones. My soul cries out for understanding. There is an ongoing struggle to make a more perfect union and a more peaceful world. I want to address the wound in my soul, not just my words.
My investment in this struggle is not seasonal; it is a life's work.

As I enter this phase of our struggle and reflect upon my contributions and involvement, I want to be a productive finisher. I want it to be said that I kept the faith. I fought a good fight. I finished my course.

I have operated in two traditions. They merge, but sometimes there is tension between them---the political and the prophetic. The allegiances are sometimes different. Where is accountability? One to God, one to voters. They co-exist, often with great inner tension.

It is not my conflict with traditions that sent me to the desert. I have given much to our community and our nation, but a healed soul is required to serve.

David, a popular and talented politician with great favor from God and among the masses, was the chief politician of his day. Nathan, a supporter of David, had access to him. He loved David; but his allegiance was to his higher calling. He therefore found himself raising uncomfortable questions and concerns, not because of competition or jealousy, but out of love for his mission.

Dr. King would often say, vanity asks the question: Is it popular? Politics asks the question: Will it win? Conscience asks the question: Is it right? Ultimately, a matter may be neither politic nor popular. " Is it right ?" is the haunting question.

Conscience often swims upstream. It is deep in your bosom, covered up by your clothes and appearance. It is a tough negotiator. It will wake you up when all of your allies and enemies are asleep.

I went to the desert to talk to God, Dr. King, and myself. I tried to hear God's still and small voice. I felt I had fallen short of what would make heaven happy. I often asked God in prayer to search my heart because he knows my ways, my weaknesses, my strengths, and my struggle. I said to him, allow me to do your assignment, your will, and gain favor with you. If you find anything within me that should not be, any hatred, jealousy, malice, evil, or ungodly intent, remove it and make me better and more fit for the Kingdom. Keep me humble and sincere and grounded. Give me a tough mind and a tender heart. You alone know the thorns in my flesh and the wounds of my heart. Only pure hearts can see you.

In the presence of God you want 20-20 vision, and you will only see if your heart is pure. You want bold action, a pure heart, and vision. For my heart to be pure, I must deal with the sins that stand between me and God. If a snake bites you, you put on a tourniquet to stop the poison from spreading to the heart. Issues of life flow from the heart. Consistent with that, perfect love casts out fear. Fear of stature. Fear of sickness.
Fear of death. Fear of jobs. Fear of foes. Fear of money. Or the loss of those things.

I want to be fearless. Dr. Tillich would suggest that where love and power and justice meet, the new world we seek must begin in us. And we must start talking with God.

I talked with Dr. King. A certain sense of joy filled my soul when I was reminded of a scripture, Revelation 2:5, that says, "remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, repent and do the first works." I kept turning that thought over and over in my mind-- "remember your first works." The reason I packed my wife and young child up in 1964 and moved to Chicago was to be a voice for the voiceless, to fend for the poor, and somehow help the locked out get in.

He said remember the moral mandate to defend the poor, deliver the needy, and assist the fatherless and motherless. He said I told you at our last staff meeting it would be tough. You wanted this leadership challenge, and now you are into it. I observed closely our last staff meeting when he was in agony–-before we went to Memphis. I wondered why God would allow me to be a witness in that meeting. I was the agony, but I could not appreciate it fully at that time.

He said, I thought of quitting because I was under so much pressure. Nonviolence is under attack. There was such division in our ranks. And then I started to fast and pray to the point of death, just to convene our family. And then I decided to get up and go on to Memphis.

I saw him, in agony, turn a minus into a plus as we had done before. It was so much like the three steps of Jesus in Gethesemane. One, let this cup pass from me. Two, as he prayed the others slept. Three, not my will but thy will be done. I'm going to a higher calling.

As I talked with Dr. King and asked him what to do, he said: What is left to be done? Where did I leave you? I left you in and island of poverty, in and ocean of plenty. I left you in a valley of dried bones. We won our rights but we had to redeem the soul of America. That meant a real focus on the least of these. I left you in a valley to observe the impact of povertiy; to observe intergenerational poverty and joblessness, where there are middle class workers–-police and teachers and firemen and social workers and lawyers and judges, monitoring the poor. Where they have payday lenders rather than banks. Predators rather than protection. Where workers live without insurance.

Where airport security workers, who can't strike in the name of homeland security, have to go 40-50 miles a day round trip to work and can't afford to pay for the gas to get there.

Neighborhoods of fast food restaurants, jobs without benefits, $4.00 for a gallon gas and for a gallon milk. Houses with lead paint. Children brain damaged.

First class jails that employ the middle class, and second class schools. Second class schools are the feeder system to the jails. They need each other.

In chicago's school system, there are 500,000 students. 7 of 10 boys, and only 6,000 of 500,000, finish four years of college. A multi-billion dollar system, 46,000 employees, 26,000 teachrers, where janitors often makes more thatn teachers. There are police officers rather than truant officers in the schools. Secure teachers but insecure students. And teachers who are often forced to teach outside of their subject area.

In this valley, plants are closing and jobs are leaving. Education is funded upon a diminishing tax base. Government and the private sector are let off the hook.

I've been anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, Dr. King reminded me, and the broken hearted, and to set the captives free. In this valley, drugs are an industry, poor pushers or mules got to jail, while the rich go to college. Funeral homes are a growth industry.

Where Walmarts and big box stores are given free land and cheap labor, and the poor are forced to argue that something is better than nothing.

We addressed the Middle East peace process, European security, but we must also address the poverty in Haiti or Ickes housing project or the Delta. Haiti, where 70% of the population makes a dollar a day or less. Kids often walk five miles one way just to get one meal. Many eat mud pies.

Dr. King said, what's left to be done is largely unpopular, and its risky. To fight for the poor, you must first fight their monitors, their overseers, their predators, their sub prime lenders, and their drug and gun suppliers. If the poor got a return on their vote, their dollars, their work, they would end poverty.

They make governors and presidents, and mayors and officials. But they give their power away.

While in the desert, I recalled going to South Africa in 1979 for the first tme. While I walked the streets of Soweto, the overseers, with their whips and guns, were from the community.

In the valley there are broken educational systems with buildings in need of repair, and a need for equal, high quality, public funding. People are surrendering -- some drop out, some never show up. Ezekiel raised the question: Can these bones live?

Preaching alone is not enough. Ezekiel tried preaching and praying and singing. He finally surrendered. This issue of the poverty zone was bigger than the scope of his preaching. He was dealing with individuals not with the structure of the valley,

That's why Paul said the issue is not merely about the soul of individuals and personalities, but powers and principalities. Wickedness in high places.

Ezekiel stepped outside of the valley and went round about. He observed and studied the cause and effect of why the bones were dry. If at the top of the hill the water is cut off, the jobs are cut off, the airport is cut off, industry is cut off, first class school funding is cut off, decent housing is cut off, tourism is cut off, trade skills are cut off, and parks and recreation are cut off. Help is cut, promises are made, and hope is dashed. That's why the bones are dry.

You find yourself forever trying to put a size 10 foot in a size 8 shoe and think you can pray past the corns.

Often the rich are rich because the poor are poor. It is not that they are smarter and work harder, but they are protected by inheritance---intergenerational inheritance laws.

In that valley they trade life for life, eye for an eye, and conclude that a bullet is just a hot sensation, but then I sleep. Oh, a few get out---Tiger woods, the Williams sisters, Oprah Winfrey, Lebron James, Kobe Bryantt---very talented ones. But what about the rest of them, like 'Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendigo.'

Dr. King said to me: We must challenge the structure to work. We must demonstrate. Ghetto monitors resist mass action. Why demonstrate? Demonstrate to get attention, he argued, you can only ride a man's back if he is still lying down.

The biggest sins of the poor are feeling that nothing better is worth working for, and to adjust. We used to sing a song, "one thing i did wrong, let segregation stay too long. Hold on."

The poor are oppressed and trade off temporary convenience for long-term solutions. They have been taught that sacrifice is too risky. They adjust. Dr. King contended that we must be permanently maladjusted. This principle was the essence of the struggle in Birmingham; a massive few days of sacrifice tht changed the entire southern culture.

Even when we are on the isle of poverty, like John, we still have the right to see beyond our pain and predicament, a new heaven and a new earth, the old one passing away. The oppressor adjusts to privilege. The oppressed adjust to pain. And both get mad when you force them to change.

Dr. King, like Jesus, died unpopular. He became popular when they resurrected him---the power that bullets could not stop, jail cells could not contain.

The rich say I lose money if there is change. The poor say it's risky; I may lose what I have. It's hard to convince the poor they are giants with grasshopper complexes. That is the burden of preaching.

And they are locked in this perverse marriage. There is a tension between satisfying the lust of the rich and privileged, and the pain of the poor. But ultimately, lion and lamb; black and white; rich and poor must lie together to reach peace in the valley.

As I come through this valley, I urge you to join me in this reassessment, and in our actions. This is a high moment for our politics. We must vote like never before. We've been blessed to have a "who" in Barack Obama. But there is the "what", the unfinished business of eliminating structural inequality: a criminal justice system for profit, with 2.2 million Americans, 1 million of whom are black, incarcerated. Blacks are number 1 in infant mortality, unemployment, and have shorter life expectancy.

As we seek the Olympic Games, the budget for an Olympic education system is not on the agenda. I challenge you today: We must reclaim our children. Join with us in embracing our seven point educational plan for parents and students:

1. Take my child to school
2. Meet my child's teacher
3. Exchange phone numbers with my child's teacher
4. Turn off the TV three hours a night so my child may study
5. Pick up my child's report card each grading period
6. Take my child to church, temple or synagogue
7. Fight for equal and adequate education funding

We've lost $90 billion in home equity for blacks and $70 billion for Latinos. We must restructure loans and not repossess homes. And our banks are collapsing.

In this journey, I want to be more fit for the fight. So I fast and I pray. I don't want to let you down.

We must at once fight for political change and honor our prophetic moral tradition, which is often un-political. Jail visits will give you bad press. Addressing the criminal justice collapse is swimming upstream. Equal, adequate education for all children is swimming upstream. Building an airport rather than a gambling boat in the south suburbs is swimming upstream.

And yet, I urge bold action to see the big picture relating to the entrenched struggle against structural injustice. My soul cries out for relief and remedy for the poor, the downtrodden, and the disinherited. I've been anointed to preach the Gospel. We must drive out predators, the guns, liquor, and the drugs. The government must reinvest in America along with private sector incentives. We must develop new forms of energy.

I've seen a lot. I've heard a lot. But there is more to be seen; there is more pain to be felt. But the Bible suggests that we heal by his stripes. Our appetites may change but the formula for healing does not. Your stars come from his scars.

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then God will forgive their sins, and they will hear from heaven, and there will be healing in the land.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Let Em Know!

I hope everyone who reads this will consider taking part; that's what it's all about!


What Can Be

is a film currently in pre-production which explores new possibilities for humanity through the lens of spoken word.

What Can Be

asks why can’t we have a world without borders, without war, without hunger or homelessness?

What Can Be

is centered on the words and performances of a multi-racial crew of Los Angeles poets. But this isn’t a “poetry film” which features the reading of spoken word pieces. What Can Be drips poetry but it’s also filled with live action, animation, computer graphics, conversation, and the re-enactment of a drive-by shooting. Locations range from Compton to Beverly Hills to the U.S./Mexico border.

What Can Be

moves beyond a culture of protest to promote a culture of vision.


As soon as the film is done, we will share it with you and the world by giving it away via every type of distribution, every type of media platform imaginable. Meanwhile, please contact us to share with us your vision of what you think the future for humanity can be like. Just a note, a poem, a blog post, an MP3, whatever. It’s all good. We will post a selection of these responses (with full credit of course) on our MySpace page and/or on our web site. Hit us up at

If you would like to be on our email list so that we can keep you up to date on the progress of What Can Be, just send an email with “Subscribe” in the subject line to

“Don’t by what is, go by what can be”

Please forward this email widely. Thanks!

What Can Be Productions
Los Angeles


What Can Be is…

Directed by Drew Amavisca… Actor in several indie films and the in house voiceover artist for the Honda Center in Anaheim…standup comedian with several improv projects…guitarist in Yayojones for ten years, a band which was an opening act for George Lopez and whose last performance was before a sellout arena crowd at the Arrowhead Pond…roadie for Helmet, Diane Schurr, and Ministry…director of three upcoming feature films.

Written by Lee Ballinger…. Author of Lynyrd Skynyrd: An Oral History…freelance writer whose work has appeared everywhere from the New York Times to Inside Sports…associate editor of Rock & Rap Confidential (…Vietnam veteran.

Featured poets in the film are:

Besskepp (Cory Cofer): Appeared on HBO Def Poetry Jam, BET’s The Way You Do It, and Fox TV (Hip Hop Theater Festival)…hosts the weekly poetry/music extravaganza, A Mic and Dim Lights, in Pomona CA. Dim Lights, now in its eighth year, is the premier open mic in California…Besskepp’s play, Homeless Beatboxer, has twice been featured at REDCAT Theater at Disney Hall in Los Angeles…father of three, Besskepp has twice been named Teacher of the Year and been featured in the Los Angeles Times for bringing hip-hop and poetry into the classroom…Besskepp’s first book, a collection of short stories entitled Up the Street Around the Corner, will be published in August…follow-up CD to 2003’s Bluz Langwij drops this fall (

Mike the Poet (Mike Sonksen): Co-founder of the legendary Poets of the Round Table…author of I Am Alive In Los Angeles (his CD of the same name is a great mix of spoken word and music)…performs in art galleries, schools, and jails and teaches poetry at View Park Prep Charter High School…also works as a tour guide and knows more about LA than anyone you’ve ever met…currently at work on
Underground Heroes, a book of profiles and essays, and on a second CD (

Metaphysicz (Reuben Chavaris): 21-year-old native of La Puente is one of California’s most intriguing new poetic voices….has featured at Whittier College, Urbane Culture Lounge, Lionlike Mind State, Rock A Mole Festival…host of We The People open mic…currently working on a book and a CD.

Luis Rodriguez: The best-selling Latino author in the U.S….award-winning poet… creator of Tia Chucha Press, which has published over 40 books in the past 20 years…owner of Tia Chucha’s CafĂ© Cultural in Los Angeles…travels the world speaking and performing…co-founder of Youth Struggling for Survival, which works to uplift both gang and non-gang youth (

“I met a fella named Luis Rodriguez, a writer and a poet, who had a cultural center in Los Angeles. These are the people trying to fill the holes that should long ago have been filled by government. Those are the people who give me optimism. They are relentlessly hopeful, and they face it all on the front lines on a daily basis.”—Bruce Springsteen in Rolling Stone, November 15, 2007
Present tense / Future perfect

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Writers Helping Writers

I'm very lucky to be a writer who teaches writing. I always tell my students that they help me learn to write, give me material for writing, too, and in return, I try to give them everything I've got. It's not a bargain; it's a statement of the value I get out of my job. But there's always so much more to do, so much more that could be done.

Last spring, I had a stack of essays in my introduction to fiction class that I wanted to publish together and distribute in some way. It was a fairly simple assignment--relate a story in our book to your life and talk about what insights it gives you into your experience and what insights your experience gives you into the story. Anyway, I was blown away by the variety and the power of that group of essays, and I unfortunately was turning them back in the very last period and all I could really do was write many encouraging notes telling them to get these things out to other people. It made me think of the many missed opportunities I have had over the years to do more with my students' work.

The following post by one of the writers who's most helped this writer suggests new directions and demands that people like myself (and yourself?) answer its call--

Have You Helped A Writer Today?

Everyday we are given the message. Directly or indirectly. Writing is for the few, the special anointed ones.


Millions of us are writing and writing well. Millions more will start writing if just offered encouragement and maybe a little guidance.

This is where Mike the Poet entered the picture.

For the past year Mike, one of LA's best-known poets and a co-founder of the Council of Venues, has been teaching poetry classes at View Park Prep Charter High School in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. His students have just published Views from View Park, a collection of the work of 25 student poets.

Views from View Park breathes fire and oozes sadness. The poets deal with everything from coming of age to war in the streets, everything from love and hate to war in the Middle East. They search for meaning as they define right and wrong. The poets write with the command and confidence which Mike has brought out of them. They all have something important to say.

What is the significance of what Mike the Poet has done? Is it to be a mentor, a facilitator, a comrade in rhyme? Yes, of course. But much more. America is changing. The vast majority now see through the 24-7 haze of lies and oppose the war in Iraq. 70 per cent say they want universal health care. Immigrants get support from across all lines of race and geography. Everyone except the cops wants peace in the streets.

Within this growing consensus for a new world is an army of writers picking up the pen. They must be heard or all is lost. The efforts of Mike the Poet and everyone else reading this email in making that happen are as important as anything on the planet.

What kind of world do we want? View Park student Alaina Scott describes it well in "Community Poem":

Rule the world through flavor...

If you have a venue where one or more of these students can read, contact Mike the Poet at Ditto if you would like to get a copy of Views from View Park.

Back in the day when I stumbled into my fifteen minutes of fame, I was in New York on a book tour and I called a well-known writer at New Yorker magazine to ask for advice on a few things. "Writers don't help other writers," he snapped before he hung up on me.

Is he right?


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Most Complicated and Difficult Part Is Just Beginning

If and when Barack Obama wins in November, and I do hope that’s the case, the movements Obama has talked about building will have to keep their eyes on the prize--not the Presidential seat but real change, substantial change. And that won’t come simply because we have a more likeable man in the White House. In fact, there will be an enormous threat that our rights will be compromised further by a moderate, popular leader. I remember Clinton, and I remember how he paved the way for George W, and if we don’t recognize that now, we’re going to make the same mistakes next time around, only the stakes will be higher.

Consider the following fine editorial, which speaks for itself. Then catch the video after….

Why does Barack Obama hate my family?

By Kevin Alexander Gray -

Addressing a congregation at the Apostolic Church of God, one of Chicago's largest black churches, on Father's Day, Barack Obama said:

"Too many fathers are M.I.A., too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men."

This was his "Sister Souljah" moment. Just as Bill Clinton during his 1992 campaign tried to reassure whites that he wasn't too cozy with blacks by denouncing a rapper, Obama was appealing to whites by condemning his own.

Even so, I wasn’t surprised to hear him referred to black men as “boys.”
Obama has often taken to “playin’ blacks.” Playin’ in blackspeak means to fool or use a person or persons. (George Bush’s selling of a war on the Iraqi people to America is an example that readily comes to mind or - “Bush played us cheap or, “he played us for fools.” )

Early in the campaign year, Obama used one of the oldest racial stereotypes in a speech to black South Carolina state legislators: "In Chicago, sometimes when I talk to the black chambers of commerce, I say, 'You know what would be a good economic development plan for our community would be if we make sure folks weren't throwing their garbage out of their cars.” Translation; black people are dirty and lazy.

One would think getting money is a better plan.

Then, the day before the Texas primary, he let loose again, in a predominantly black venue: "Y'all have Popeyes out in Beaumont? I know some of y'all, you got that cold Popeyes out for breakfast. I know. That's why y'all laughing. ... You can't do that. Children have to have proper nutrition. That affects also how they study, how they learn in school." Translation; black people are fat, stupid and lazy.

How would people respond if John McCain (or any person of a different race, nationality or ethnicity) threw out stereotypes like these? What would we say if white person had stood in the pulpit of a black church, or anywhere else for that matter, and referred to black men as “boys,” in any context?

But since it’s Obama, sounding like Bill Clinton before his fall from black grace, or Bill Cosby speaking out of his own personal pain, the change candidate’s remarks were met with hosannas mostly by a vapid, racist, white-dominated corporate media, the black people who say what their white bosses want to hear, and blacks and whites alike who shout amen even when Obama’s saying something plainly contradicted by their own life experiences.

It was no big surprise that after the speech those critical of Obama were dismissed “as out touch” with the new “post-racial” illusion. Bob Herbert of The New York Times appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball went so far as to say that anyone who disagreed with Obama’s Father’s Day admonition to black men was living in a racial “fog” of the past. Newspapers across the county affirmed the smear with headlines like “Obama tells black men to shape up” or, “Obama speaks ‘inconvenient truth’ to black men” or, “Obama calls black men irresponsible” or “he saying things people don’t want to hear” - with the inference that truth was flowing from his tongue.

Playin’ folk on any day is bad enough. But, as a father, grandfather and a black person, I see playin’ black men on Father's Day as even more repulsive. The day is for honoring fathers. We don’t honor the vets on Veteran’s Day by pointing out those who choose not to fight, or the cowards, or even the enemy.

The Obamalife narrative highlights that his dad abandoned him as a kid. So, maybe it’s his abandonment issues that he’s laying on the rest of us. That would explain why he kicked his father “under the bus” implying he had acted like a “boy” when he and his wife divorced each other. Was she acting like a “girl” at the time? It is as simple as one parent being good or a victim and the other a bad victimizer? And, what of the fact that both his mother and father remarried? Is it his wish that his mom and biological dad had remained unhappily married? Does he wish his half-sister had never been born? Is he against divorce? How does he feel about forced or even loveless marriages? Maybe he believes there should be a required economic declaration before a woman gives birth and that two signatures on paper are required before conception?

No doubt, there’s a difference in being a sperm donor as opposed to a nurturing, involved parent. But you don’t have to share a living space with a child to have an influence on him or her. And you can share a living space and be a lousy father or mother. That’s life. I was very young when I first heard the phrase “staying together for the good of the kids.” As I grew I learned that oftentimes living arrangements between ex-lovers have to change for the good of the kids.

I’m not claiming to know the story behind the picture of Obama and his father at the airport, but I suspect that joint custody between Hawaii, Massachusetts, Kansas and Africa would have been tough.

Writing about Obama’s speech gave me a headache. I found myself getting testy just thinking it through and what it means to me and those around me. A lot of people have approached me to talk about Obama’s speech. People walk up to me at the gas check-out line and strike up a conversation about Obama. Just the other day, a black woman behind me in line pipes up and says, “Things sho’ gonna be better when Obama gets elected.” She was not pleased with my response to her uninvited optimism. But I don’t think what she said was or is helpful in real terms.

I was speaking to a single, black woman lawyer about my unease with the speech and she immediately went off on black men in general. Now, my lawyer friend is a smart, progressive person. She’s a former New York State prosecutor but I’ve never consciously deducted points from her humanity for her past employment choice. But in our conversation she threw out all the standard lines, “black men aren’t taking care of their kids,” and “they are sorry.” I countered by saying most social scientists believe that an adolescent girl is more mature than an adolescent boy, so, who do we pin being the most irresponsible on? I asked her: if we believe that it is a woman’s right to chose whether or not to be a mother, then why should irresponsible black fathers be the sole point of Obama’s attack? And why should any aspect of black male-females relations be grist for the campaign mill?

What Obama’s bash black man game leads to is an environment where black people – separate and not equal – is the issue.

Moreover, it passes on one of the lowest of all the smears and stereotypes: the lie that black men have no morals. It reinforces the white supremacists’ notion of blacks as irresponsible, overly sexual beasts: a notion that far too many black folk as well as white unwittingly buy into.

I happened to have what turned out to be a very short breakfast meeting with a white female friend who was also a former Hillary Clinton supporter. She’s now onboard with Obama. As we spoke, after not seeing each other for more than a month or so, the topic quickly went to Obama with me telling her I didn’t plan to vote for him, his speech being just one of the reasons. She responded by threatening to never speak to me again if I supported Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney. I don’t know if she was serious or not.

On the subject of the Father’s Day speech she followed up by asking in a somewhat careful way, “Aren’t black women more responsible than black men? That’s what I’ve always heard?”

She’s been married 3 times and has kids by her first husband.

But I didn’t mention that. Instead, what I think might have ended our breakfast prematurely was my black man race card response to the ‘irresponsibility’ question. It’s the answer I give to anyone – black or white - who raises the question: a black man would have to be full of self or group hate to believe that black men are more irresponsible then white men or men of other races or ethnic backgrounds. George Bush, Dick Chaney, and a host of other white guys, that lied America into the Iraqi war, which has resulted in countless deaths, proves the point. And that’s just the most recent example of white, male irresponsibility. The history of the United States is drenched in blood due to the decisions of immoral, irresponsible white men.

A couple of weeks after the Father’s Day speech while waiting for a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare airport I found myself in a conversation with a white, female airport worker. The woman, also a mother of mixed-race children, worked out on the pad most likely unloading baggage and other such laborious tasks. She was sitting down resting between flights in the employee section, just a couple of seats away from me. She overheard me talking to a friend about the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death. This prompted her to tell me about her taking her two kids on a trip to the historic site. I felt her pride as she told her story of her trip. She remembered how she welted up with tears looking up at the balcony and her kids asking why she was crying. She recalled how her kids responded when they got on the old ‘50s city bus and the recording yelled out, “Niggers move to the back of the bus!” She said it was then her kids understood why she had cried earlier. It presented her the opportunity to tell them how far things have come and what it took to get here. It was one of those moments when a parent feels like they’re teaching their kids something important.

At some point we started talking about Obama’s black man speech. She supports Obama. She told me of the pride her mixed-race kids felt thru Obama’s success, him being a mixed race like them. But at the end of our conversation she too concluded that Obama’s speech was aimed at white people.

When I first heard Obama’s Father’s Day speech, my immediate thoughts were of Camille, my recently married 30 year old daughter. Around the time she turned 25, she informed me and her mother that she planned to have a baby. I simply told her it was her choice since she had to bear the primary burden of raising a child. Or, as the song goes, “if you dance to the music, ya gotta pay to the piper..,”

When my daughter came to us, as parents, what we consciously didn’t do was lay a single-parent stigma on her since nobody really raises a child alone. At least where I come from. So, we got a granddaughter to help raise and nurture along with our two other grandkids by my son and his wife, who, coincidently was a teen-age mother before she and my son began dating in high school.

One of the jobs of a parent or grandparent is to prevent a child in their care from being saddled with guilt, self-hate or any other baggage society would strap on their backs. Regardless of the circumstance of their birth – which a child has no say in. I see our job as rejecting the stigma, which paints a child as “a mistake.” Or, in political terms, it’s as simple as reinforcing Jesse Jackson’s “I am somebody” in a kid.

You don’t need to be Alvin Poussaint to know that a child – any child, regardless of color or economic status- who doesn’t value their life or feel their worth as a human or feels unloved grows up to be an adult who doesn’t value life – theirs or anyone else’s.

When Camille and her child’s father were going through their break up, I had one of those heartfelt talks with the both of them. She and the young man had dated since middle school. And, although they had a child together, they were at a fork in the road with one another. It was one of those moments when young people learn adult things: such as, a child does not always make a relationship better nor can it keep an unhealthy or loveless relationship together. And, when a couple splits, in the heat of it all, it’s important not to do or say something stupid that would scar not only their individual lives, but their child’s future as well. We told the young man that he was the father of our grandchild and nothing could alter that fact. We assured him that we didn’t expect anything less than him having a full relationship with his child. He has done just that over the years. But we didn’t call him an irresponsible boy. That seemed not only counter-productive but holier than thou. Of course, we weren’t running for president; we were just trying to give a kid a chance.

Camille married 5 years after NyAshia’s birth, but it wasn’t to her child’s biological dad. It was to a fellow who has three children of his own. He also shares joint parental custody with his ex-lovers. In the three or four years of his courtship of my daughter, his kids called my wife and I grandmama and granddaddy. While a marriage license and church service made it official it didn’t take all that for us to be family. Everyone in this blended situation, the biological father of my granddaughter, the biological mother of our blended grandkids, and the rest of us, have always shared parental responsibilities.

Now, I’m not trying to universalize my family’s experience. But I sure wouldn’t lay Obama’s take on responsibility on the people around me. Nor would I suggest that they adopt his worldview of what a family is or should be. Because by his two-biological, heterosexual parents residing in same household definition of a family, every other type of family set up is inherently deficient in every sense of the word: economic, social, moral.

In the days after Obama’s speech, Ishmael Reed, Dr. Ron Walters and others rebutted the candidate’s targeting of black men with the Brown University study which revealed – surprisingly to some – that black fathers not living in the same domicile as their children are more likely to have a relationship with their kids than white fathers in similar circumstances. Walters, an Obama supported, warned his candidate, “Black people are not voting for a moralist-in-chief.”

So, in light of the Brown study should we conclude that white men are more irresponsible than black men when it comes to spending time with their kids? Maybe Obama should find a white church and offer white men advice on Father’s Day? Can we expect to hear him call them “boys?”

Or maybe he should take a trip to the hollows of Appalachia and tell the “trailer park crowd” that if they would just “pick up the garbage” from around their trailers and “stop engaging in incest” (or whatever other stereotype that comes to mind) they would not have it so bad.

And shouldn’t he be advising the polygamist families out west? Or, hopping on a plane to Massachusetts to lecture the fathers and parents of the pregnant teens in Gloucester?

According to Health and Human Services, throughout the 1990s, black teens have had the largest declines in teen childbearing rates of any group. While "Latinas have had the highest teen birth rate of any major ethnic/racial minority in the country since 1995." Why doesn’t Obama take his message to the barrios? Maybe he could go to a Catholic Cathedral in the heart of an East L. A. Latino community and challenge Latino men’s machismo. He should use “boys” in his speech and admonish the parishioners not to eat so many burritos.

Truth be told, I don’t wish to see a particular racial, sexual, religious or ethnic group singled out for derision or used as a campaign prop. Stereotypical remarks about blacks, Latinos and whites in Appalachia are just as inappropriate as remarks about Jewish materialism or Irish drunkenness.

I’m old fashion about some things. My mother is prone to say, “Keep your business out the streets.” I’m only putting out my family’s personal stories to illustrate why I’m leery about Obama.

Many of those around me plan to vote for him. For the most part, my response is to ask folks to look at their lives and check whether or not what Obama is saying squares with their reality. Never mind how they “should” be living – never mind how Obama’s “current” family looks. I just ask if, with all the troubles of getting along day to day, is it helpful to have his polish on how they should be living piled on top?

My new son-in-law has two young boys and a daughter. Like so many other black teens who weren’t as lucky as Obama, he got busted in his teen years and did a little time on a drug arrest. Obviously his life has turned around. Luckily, he’s a brick mason. If he didn’t work for himself in a skilled trade, it would be hard for him to find work. He knows that because he went to jail his sons have 60 percent likelihood of going to jail. He has to fight extra hard to make sure his kids are not that statistic. And it’s a tricky thing. You want your kids to understand the many race traps but not be defined by them.

After Obama won the South Carolina primary, whenever I was asked, I’d say that in the general election my vote was his to lose. Prior to and after their wedding, my ex-offender son-in-law, somewhat of a race man (he planned to vote for Obama ‘because he is black), who just recently found out he could vote despite his conviction, constantly reminded me of what I had said, “Remember, you said your vote was his to lose.”

Shortly after he and my daughter’s wedding, a couple of day after Obama’s Father’s Day speech, we were sitting together with a friend of his, a young, married father of one, who was in their wedding party. Once again he reminded me of what I had said about ‘my vote to lose.’ I let loose with just about everything I’ve said in this article. I told him to look at his own life and then tell me what he thinks about Obama.

I asked my son-in-law to think about his wedding and the people who were there. There were lots of young mothers and fathers and children, divorcees, second marriages, common law arrangements, ex-lovers, step-parents and grandparents, etc. Many of those people, if they believed Obama, could be passed off as being “irresponsible” and their kids “mistakes.” I asked him: did he truly believe that many of the people in that church, whose lives he knew, were less moral or responsible than others, as Obama inferred? Ex-offender, former unmarried father of three, rap music producer, isn’t he who Obama is condemning? On paper, anyway. Yet, he has raised three good kids.

Whenever I suggest to Obama insiders that he’s a lot like Bill Clinton, they go apoplectic. Yet, as race-baiting and race politics goes, Obama has proven himself to be as good, if not better than Clinton: long considered the modern master of race politics. If you believe, as I do, that he “played black men to court white voters,” then all Obama’s protestations about Bill Clinton’s race-baiting were just a ruse. And, in that light he is no better than Clinton when it comes to using race fears. He may even be worse than Clinton because he plays it both ways – assaulted and assailant. I’ll be willing to bet that if Clinton were honest in revealing how he really felt about Obama, that would be at the heart of his grievance.

No doubt, people are excited about the prospect of a young, vibrant, black person as president. They see their choices as between John McCain and Obama, who is “the only option,” or, “he will never be as bad as Bush. He will never be bad as Reagan.” Or they say, their man Obama “has a chance to win. We need to give him some latitude.” “We need to let the man do what he needs to do to win.” “We should trust him.” “Barack is one of us, no matter what he sounds like right now.”

As critical as I am, I actually want to believe he’s “one of us.” But I don’t see it.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Obama. If people like me don’t see Obama as “one of us,” that strengthens the powerful’s belief that he is “one of them.”

For sure, Obama has most black voters in the bag. I’m pretty sure that my vote falls in 'the doesn’t matter so much' column. And from listening to Obama, a whole lot of my family members’ lives don’t matter much either.

I’m not really looking for change from Obama should he win. I’m looking for the fight to come.

From Killer Mike and Ice Cube—

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Southern Strategy

For Immediate Release
Please post and include in your blasts!

Hip Hop Congress Announces its 7th Annual Conference to be hosted by the Mississippi Artists and Producers Coalition
Energize, Organize, Revolutionize: Taking it back to the Roots

The 7TH Annual National Hip Hop Congress Conference will take place in Biloxi, MS from July 24th through the 27th at the Treasure Bay Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.

This year the conference will focus on building internal capacity and direction of the organization with a goal of improved service, clarified action and plans to further influence local communities where we have a presence as well as national. Special addresses will be also be given by Bakari Kitwana of Rapsessions and Cheri Honkala, National Coordinator of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.

This conference will include a variety of activities and workshops in the elements of hip hop, use and development of media coalitions, direct action, digital distribution, music industry knowledge and detailed plans for HHC in the next two years. Hip Hop Congress will also be announcing the roll out of several new initiatives including increased resources for artists through the website and cultural services for schools, after school programs, and communities. Individuals and organizations interested in learning more about HHC are welcome to attend, enjoy the activities and learn more about HHC without any obligation to join. As always, there will be shows every night featuring artists on the cutting edge of Independent music as well as a headliner yet to be named.Previous artists who have performed at the National Conference are Blueprint, OneBeLo, Zion I, Jurassic 5, and Brother Ali.

Shamako Noble, HHC President, stated, "Last year we gave an open invitation to Hip Hop organizations, partners and interested folks to attend in an effort to expand our bases. This year, we want to focus on refining our strengths while addressing our weaknesses. We've been able to survive conditions as an organization that many said shouldn't have allowed us to exist. Our hope is that at this conference we can return to the formula that has allowed is to survive for so long, while troubleshooting issues that could hinder our development . This means refocusing on the mission, streamlining our communication, and redefining our programs. We are also very excited to be in the South, where a lot of Hip Hop Organizations either don't go, are afraid to go, or only go when it's convenient. We're looking to build something lasting here, and connect it to the rest of the practical Hip Hop movement."

Cheri Honkala commented, "I'm honored to be a part of this event. I attended my first HHC conference in 2004 and we've been developing a relationship ever since. This year, our collaborative focus is in Minneapolis at the March for Our Lives where HHC is taking a clear stand on Housing, Health Care, money and programs for the poor and not for this ridiculous war in Iraq. I think that anybody that is serious about utilizing the potential of Hip Hop at a grassroots level should be looking at HHC."

When President of the Southern Progressives, Southern Regional Director, and top flight artist Kamikaze was asked to comment, he replied, "The Mississippi Artists and Producers coalition is proud to be hosting this year's annual conference. I personally lobbied for Hip Hop Congress to be here and connect with the South in an organic way that we hadn't really seen in Mississippi. As the defender and protector of all things Mississippi, I expect nothing but the best results from this conference."

For more information on the conference including performing, presentations, schedule and travel please visit Link-- Aaron Berkowitz
The Problem No Politician Will Tackle--


Today, June 19th, PPEHRC members across the US will participate in the National Day of Protest Against Health Insurance Companies.

We encourage other members, friends and supporters of the PPEHRC across the US to join in your local event and to call your congressperson in support of HR 676, the Single Payer Health Care Legislation by Rep. John Conyers. Join us in the fight to make Health Care a Human Right in the United States!

National Day of Protest Against Health Insurance Corporations

38,000 Health Insurance Executives will be in San Francisco. Health care activists around the country are organizing demonstrations at insurance companies with patients, nurses, doctors, social workers, and Americans of every stripe to protest the National Health Insurance industry to say:

Health Care YES! Health Insurance NO!

See for a listing of local events across the US today.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Humanity As A Commodity

As some of you may have noticed, I started another blog simply focused on paraphrasing and reflecting on Karl Marx's Capital. The value of that analysis has only grown more clear to me over the past 15 years since I first grappled with it, but I've also become very concerned with how to reconcile the clarity of Marx's analysis with the rapidly changing world we live in today. In more than one place, both he and Engels described today's world (at the end of Wage, Labor & Capital and Utopian and Scientific Socialism, for instance), and the big picture remains remarkably accurate. But the advances of technology have upped the stakes so high that we need to analyze the specifics that couldn't have been foreseen 150 years ago. Laborless production is foreseen in Marx, but the ability of the market to function with as much as we have was all but unimaginable. Anyway, I found the following article from the People's Tribune to be particularly thought-provoking in terms of this work. --Danny

We’re NOT For Sale!

Protesting plans for water privatization in Detroit.PHOTO/MICHIGAN WELFARE RIGHTS

By Steven Miller

Every time Humanity reaches a critical juncture, the nature of property starts to destabilize and transform. All forms of property are transforming today, including personal, public and private property (1). One form of property—corporate property, the most toxic form of private property—is beginning to devour all the others. Global corporations now dwarf the economies of virtually every country.

Personal property, in the form of homes, for example, is disintegrating in the Mortgage crisis. National wealth, in the form of the vast infrastructures, from ports to public universities to telecommunications that were built in the last 50 years, is being turned over to corporations worldwide. Even the US government has been mostly privatized since 2001. Public space and therefore public access is vanishing, even as income is polarizing faster than ever before in human history.

Up through the 20th Century, most human relationships flowed from our sense of community and culture, our recognition of our common humanity. Now the process of Globalization, under corporate domination, is systematically dissolving all previous social relations and commodifying every aspect of everyday life and what it means to be human.

All the traditional ways that people have used to define themselves are being altered by corporations. These concepts include the ideas of nationality, citizenship, race, class, language, health, human rights, gender, career, family and virtually every relationship between human beings. Every human need is being driven into the marketplace to be bought and sold. Then our humanity is sold back to us at a profit.

Jeremy Rifkin describes the process this way: “Imagine a world where virtually every activity outside the confines of family relations is a paid-for experience, a world where traditional reciprocal obligations and expectations mediated by feelings of faith, empathy, and solidarity are replaced by contractual relations in the form of paid memberships, subscriptions, admission charges, retainers and fees.” (2)The future of global capitalism is that each individual is a lone production unit in a pay-as-you-go global marketplace where everyone is an atomized consumer. Then you get to pay to experience life; the more you pay, the better it is! No more human or inalienable rights here.

However there is a fly in this ointment. When the vast majority is bankrupted and dispossessed, who is left to be a consumer?Corporate power over human affairs flows from the simple fact that they claim technology as their private property. Then they proclaim that no one can have access unless they can pay for it. Demanding the right to exploit and profit from human misery, corporations are now creating billions of sick and miserable humans just as they are creating a planet riddled with escalating environmental disasters.

The technology to produce true human abundance now exists, but it is owned by the wrong class of people. In fact the only guarantee today of personal property is to guarantee public property and abolish corporate private property.The US is putting $2.5 billion a week into privatizing Iraq. Imagine what would happen if we spent $2.5 billion a week on ending hunger and homelessness, creating free health care, providing education so that every single human on earth could realize their true creative potential? This is what a cooperative society means.

The profound world-historic step that confronts humanity today demands, among other things, that human beings once again alter our self-concept beyond all measure! Corporations are certainly working to change it their way. Let’s just finish the job and do it right. Just as people fought for centuries not to be slaves, we can fight not to be commodities. Humans can be so much better than this.

(1)Many observers discuss the current transformations of property as well as the implications for human access and for society:

Mike Davis. Planet of Slums

Naomi Klein. The Shock Doctrine

Jeremy Rifkin. The Age of Access

William I. Robinson, A Theory of Global Capitalism

Dan Schiller. How To Think About Information

Gary Teeple. Globalization and the Decline of Social Reform

(2) Rfikin, p 9