Jeff Lynne’s ELO Signs with Columbia, Announces Album
ELO fans, rejoice! Jeff Lynne has announced that the iconic rock band has inked a global deal with Columbia Records and will release their first studio album in 15 years. Click here for more info.
Never Forget. It’s September again. You’re going to hear and see the lingering vestiges of American militarism-patriotism as people post memes and honour the US military veterans and dead. I want you to remember again, because you may not have realised how the wars came home to you. How we inherited the vicious energetic legacy of militarism that unleashed a storm of mass shootings and police violence on our country. We’ve passed the ten year mark, and in these days of rapid news cycles and a constant torrent of games, celebrity lists, body hacks, GIFs and other porn, it gets harder and harder to really engage people in truly taking a moment for remembrance. Take a deep breath, remember not to self-recriminate. Don’t get overwhelmed by guilt or pain. Read on. You can use this idea to reshape our reality.
Today, I’ve seen the usual posts about heroes and their sacrifices to our freedom, about bravery and courage. There have been remembrance ceremonies all over the country today - one was the objective of a failed bombing plot. But finally, at long last, there isn’t an overwhelming atmosphere of flag-waving or patriotic sentiment. But while the patriotic fervour - sometimes blinding, sometimes wistful, often mindless - slips away fourteen years later, I’m increasingly struck by the sort of karmic legacy of the two big wars started by Bush and inherited by Obama.
However murky and irrelevant the presence of weapons of mass destruction (half of the Bush regime’s stated motivation for invasion), the desire to go to war to avenge the 9/11 attacks never goes away. Never forget. The country music anthems by Charlie Daniels and Darryl Worley… A stunned nation responded desperately to the collective trauma. Never forget how hopping mad Americans were - how teeth were bared, eyes wild, fists clenched, murderous fantasies entertained. Never forget there were no weapons of mass destruction. Never mind that there was no connection to the 9/11 attacks. There barely was one in Afghanistan. Never forget.
When you demonise a person from another country, you find things to feel revulsion toward - their religion, their language, their dress, the way they look. You turn a human who could quite easily be your neighbour, depending on the ‘hood, into a monster. But could it also be that you, yourself, have become the monster? As millions of Americans lay in their beds, terrified about their brother, their father, their sister, daughter, over there, fighting, getting shot, thinking of themselves being victimised, endless daytime nightmares trapped in burning towers, fearing zombies, you name it - we were envisioning the world we’d be inhabiting in the 2010′s. We were bringing it all home, slowly but surely. We became the most heinous aggressor collectively.
1.5 milion total deployment of US troops to Iraq and Afghanistan - Each time someone joins the military, another “military family” is born. People begin to identify with militarist ideas, to see the country in the light of a binary military-civilian divide and generally resent criticism of the government, police and military. That’s 1.5 million new military families to help shape the future of American values.
The Iraq war killed around 4,500 US service members, untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s, including around 120,000 Iraqi civilians. Just take a second and digest that feast of destruction.
Hundreds of thousands of US troops injured, around 260,000 of those traumatic brain injuries. Destruction. Zombies. The dead mind. The broken brain. Mindlessness. This is what the War Machine does to real people.
Afghanistan: 360,000 total Afghani casualties, 2,156 US. Think of the drones combing the mountains. Think of the airstrike, the bus, the children…
10,500 cases of PTSD for every 100,000 US soldiers serving in Iraq. Our mad rush to avenge 9/11 and get “bad guys” (remember? that’s what Bush called them) shattered the emotional stability of a generation. Have you ever sat with a veteran experiencing a PTSD meltdown? I have. And I have a suggestion for you - will these people be our police force?
Some of those vets are becoming police. We brought it all home - tanks, guns, tactical gear, even the soldiers - to keep order in our once democratic nation as we shed the façade of freedom and equality. While that may be an abstraction, the industries that always lobby for war - chemical manufacturers, aerospace contractors, gun makers, oil companies, weapon builders, tech and communications business - were very concretely in on the deal. Those same gun makers arm the police, armed guards, rogue shooters and paramilitaries that increasingly threaten the security, safety and freedom of American citizens.
We’ll be fighting those two wars in our cities and our homes for the next two decades at least. Yes, we will. The business of America is Business - the gun business, the oil business, the policing and prison business. When people talk to you about freedom and the wars we fought to ensure ours, you’ll feel an odd emotion - part doubt, part fear, part guilt, part sorrow - take a deep breath and remind yourself they’re wrong. Those two wars were about resource grabs, about post-colonial imperialism masquerading as “globalism”. About war profiteering. It never goes away. Business. Nobody went over there to preserve American freedom - never forget.
What we have achieved through our patriotism and our revenge compulsion is the bitterest of ironies: we took our hearts to war and found nothing but hatred and destruction. From Sandy Hook, where a military style assault rifle was used on children, to Ferguson, where the militarised police force made itself known, to, Baltimore and on - you will see what it means to reap what you sow. We planted a grisly, revolting harvest. Never forget.
Meteor Shower, 1833 From Seventh-Day Adventist Book, Bible Readings For the Home Circle
Étienne Léopold Truvelot, 1868
Why did this young white man do this? Believing the lies he’d been told about black people working for social justice, he picked this murderous mission. Too many lies. People of the social justice community of all colors need to be safe to do our work. Stand up and speak truth, y’all. When the reactionaries get really upset, we are doing our work right, but we can’t let them silence our most powerful voices.
It was almost two a.m. For the last couple of hours, a thunderstorm had been building up beyond the mountains rising close by our house. Blue flashes illuminated the sky, silhouetting the undulating ridge. The rain was falling hard and the contractions were intense. Bri was in such pain, having foregone drugs, that the only relief came in taking hot showers. But with the storm closing in, that would have to stop. We determined that after this last shower, she’d go upstairs. Then as soon as the next contraction had passed, I’d ask our doctor Julio to come check her dilation. Thunder crashed. He noted nine centimeters, then donned a gown and began arranging all of his gear, cleaned his hands again and put on gloves. Any minute now.
In the last few days leading up to Lucky’s birth, we were a little nervous because, after weeks of counting on it, our midwife Vivian Camacho couldn’t be with us for the birth. She is working on a Master’s in social entrepreneurship and as summer wore one she’d gotten busier and busier. However, she put us in touch with Dr. Mireya Zapata, whose clinic in Quillacollo serves poor women who might otherwise have unsupervised home births, or, if attended by anyone, then perhaps an aunt, a neighbor woman with some experience birthin’ babies, or some kind of traditional healer – a k’allawaya or curandera/o who may specialize more in magic and faith healing than in delivering a healthy baby. Thus is the reality of far too many pregnant women in Bolivia: poverty conspires with superstitions and fear of doctors, leaving her to face birth in dirty conditions, with inadequate help, the umbilical cord cut with a piece of broken glass…
We had done everything a college-educated couple (unimaginably privileged by comparison to the average Bolivian) could do to prepare for a natural homebirth. We had started in the US – in Portland – where our midwife had given us the kindest and gentlest, non-invasive attention we could have asked for. As the pregnancy seemed to be totally without complication, we did our best to envision finding a midwife in Bolivia and having our baby as we’d planned. Vivi encouraged us with her kindness and solidarity, helping us through the last two months of our pregnancy and introducing us to María René, a natural birth enthusiast and now good friend who helped us throughout the day Bri after began labor. Three days before labor started, we went for an ecografía (sonogram). A 3D ultrasound only cost about $35, but at Bs/240, would have been perhaps a weeks’ wages for the roughly %60 of people living in poverty here. The ecografía showed Lucky was in good shape, decently heavy and in position to begin labor at any moment. We knew we could count on Mireya and her team to help us deliver him safely.
Earlier in the afternoon, we tried some oral nipple stimulation and other touching techniques we’d practiced as we explored tantra, but they helped only a little. Eventually, intense, painful contractions led us to believe the labor was moving along more quickly than, in fact, it was. Bri’s reaction was to engage with the pain. She let her breathing get away from her, and the uterus responded with less productive contractions. We were doing our best, but overlooked this dynamic. Luckily, once Mireya was able to determine her dilation had slowed dramatically, she assessed the breathing pattern needed to change and I translated her instructions. Bri was disappointed the labor didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Mireya and her team left, promising to come back in the evening, allowing time for Bri to move along. There wasn’t anything else we could do but try to change the mood. María René soothed her and the two of them went for a walk. With some years of experience, María René had attended a lot of births and had her two kids at home. She began concocting a mate – an herbal infusion – to mildly stimulate the labor physiology. Around the world folk medicine for labor and birth varies from dangerous to very effective. Just as the medical approach discourages using oxytocin to induce dilation until the cervix is already open 5-6 centimeters, we waited to administer strong teas of oregano (which may stimulate oxytocin production) until later in the evening. Walking helped a lot, so Bri took space from me and paced upstairs, occasionally coming downstairs to take a hot shower. She breathed calmly and as deeply as possible, showing the utmost self-control and deepest inner strength.
Mireya came back at about nine, with her two male doctor comrades - and in true Bolivian fashion, her husband and two sons. Dilation was proceeding, so she left Julio and Gherry behind to supervise the process. As Bri wisely asked, we only let one other person into the bedroom at a time. We had a thin twin mattress on the floor, and a strap hung from the door, so she could labor any number of ways, squatting, standing, hanging. María René had left late at night to get home and take care of her own children. Aurora, our six year old who was also born at home, had come back from the neighbors’ house and did her best to stay out of the way, perhaps to sleep. The guys sat downstairs and talked quietly while I attended Bri as best I could. When her cervix had reached 6 centimeters, I brewed stiff cups of mate de oregano, which Bri sipped between contractions. We kissed and she held onto me tightly, standing as the contractions came, leaning her head on my chest. We exchanged caresses and “I love you’s” and I kept encouraging her, telling her how beautiful she looked and how well she was doing.
Eventually, there came that last moment when we knew birth was imminent. In Spanish, the colloquial expression for giving birth is dar a luz – literally to give to light. I love this expression, as it really maintains the spiritual dimensions of what’s happening. In labor, both mama and baby are in a liminal space. The ability of a woman to push an eight or nine pound baby through her pelvic bones and her pussy is a thing inconceivable to most men or even most women. You’re doing something that is ordinarily impossible. The baby is between worlds: the dark, safe, nurturing haven of the womb, and crossing the difficult, rather dangerous threshold into a world of light, of air, contact with germs and bacteria and the violence of everyday life. But it’s also a glorious, unimaginable awakening – a breakthrough, a passage, the inverse of death. That last hot shower, then back upstairs… Julio came in and checked – nine centimeters plus – and readied himself hurriedly. The thunder was loud. Aurora awoke, sniveling audibly in the hall. I put her back to bed.
Bri was now squatting on the pallet, knees wide, leaning against me – I can’t really remember just how we were holding each other. Julio was in front of her, kneeling, waiting encouraging: “Ahora ¡empuja!” I could tell she was ready to deliver. The candle on our dresser-top altar flickered. Everything about her breath and her actions had shifted. Thunder, lightning. Aurora awoke and stood at the door. “Come on in here – Lucky’s about to come out!” I said. She stood next to me, surprisingly calm, watching with eyes wide, waiting. Bri made animal grunts and gasped quick breaths, pushing, trying, feeling. After maybe three minutes of pushing, out popped a head. Julio held it and pulled gently as Bri pushed, and Lucien Henri sprang into the world, the blue lightning flickering on his wet body in the dark room. Julio deftly cleared his airway. “What’s that?” asked Aurora, staring at the umbilical cord. An adorable smile spread across her face. Bri tilted her head up to kiss me. Julio smiled as he handed the little creature to us. “Felicidades,” he said.
Wied’s Marmoset. Lives in Brazil. An actual chimera. Fucking insane. I love “the nimble marmozet.”
“Tierra polvorienta con sed de sangre. Finamente espolvorea la espalda del obrero (…). Las rocas, desfloradas con besos sádicos por los barrenos, semejan carnes palpitantes de mujeres lascivas, en amores voluptuosos con el Supay de las entrañas de la tierra”.
acaba de cagarlo todo, acostado en su frazada psicodelica sobre la yesca piel de oveja en el piso, junto a mi querida antigua guitarra. parece que le alegra tanto, con sus puños alzados a las orejas. he’s just shit all over the place, lying on this trippy blanket on a grubby sheepskin on the floor next to my awesome old guitar. looks thoroughly stoked, fists raised to his ears.
roar of the marmoset
“…the nimble marmozet… “
soñando con pianos, cochabamba
This is such a fantastic song. It has been with me forever and ever.
i’m daydreaming of weird sounds to make rhythm loops with
Join us in: https://www.facebook.com/wilcoclub Wilco - JBTV November 27, 1996 1. I Must Be High 2. Passenger Side (Country) 3. Passenger Side (Rock) 4. Outtas…
This really is fucking good. The interviews are hilarious. They do “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”.
Guitar Center has named Memphis-native Lanita Smith the winner of their fourth annual singer-songwriter contest. On March 6, five finalists were handpicked
Stoked to see a talented young black woman getting some free access to rock just by being a good musician and trying really hard. Gaining these ‘grassroots’ tools, like a slot on Kimmel, some cash, a quality demo with fucking Don Was…these are the things you can really use to get ahead. I don’t pay a lot of attention to contests like these. What is it about contests for music that makes me just wanna stay home and stare out at a mountain till i hear that distant harmony I’m lookin’ for? Is it ‘cause I’m a lazy rock-n-roller who’s a little too into yoga to get competitive? Does it have something to do with the Guitar Center-ism of it - the, er…music-industrial complex-ness of that? Watching a video from almost 20 years ago of Wilco just breaking out “Being There” - six years later, they’d crack the relative stratosphere with “YHF”. Times change and access to musical success, in the age of social media, increasingly disposable commercial music, has been thoroughly commodified experience brought to you by big business interests and a packed spectacle of stardom. But anyway, fuck yeah! Go ahead and take that prize, Lanita!
i don’t care what you call it. i’m stuck with you, rocknroll. sometimes i’ll remember that night you knocked my drunk ass on that bar carpet.
others, i’ll blame you for that third beer, and the fourth, and on… without which, i’m sure i’d never know tired laughter of guitar, midnight, kitchen, floor.
your hair caught in the corner of my mouth, raping each other in a front seat
me, smashing a cabernet magnum at three a.m. in humorless desperation, hiding from you in the rafters, junk of Estoria, of Manny’s, of al-Meer.
crying in vans in Oregon, raging through D.C. and New York, playing strip-poker with the dominatrices of Chapel Hill, kissing all the boys in Madison
finally ate my own heart, snowed into your place in - where was it? Bushwick? for a year, one night
taught me how to write a song, shee-yit. how to wreck a pair of black florsheims with fancy zips. a lost silver chevy. which way the clock goes. what a slide-rule is fuh’. which alley, which box car, where - on the bluffs, in the moonlight. how to dance as that last hope is leaving you.
The Life and Times of Utah Phillips
- Get you some Utah on! These radio show archives are a really good listen - humor, great stories, social justice, political polemic - from one of America’s greatest radical voices in folk music.