Monday, January 19, 2009

So, What Else Is New?

In which I ramble aimlessly among diverse topics.

The picture is a video capture of Nanci Griffith singing Boots of Spanish Leather from Transatlantic Sessions 2. I find the performance achingly beautiful, as marvel once again how a young Bob Dylan could have imagined this song. I guess screen capture is a bit dodgy, well for that matter an awful lot of the videos up at YouTube are dodgy. It's pretty hard to buy either CDs or DVDs of the Transatlantic Sessions here in the USA. CDs and DVDs in the PAL format are available at MusicScotland. I take the cheap way and am grateful to those who've uploaded songs to YouTube. There are lots of videos up, and a good tip to search "Transatlantic Sessions."

I got around to the Nanci Griffth's performance because I was looking at photographs of Obama's pre-inaugural train ride from Philadelphia to Baltimore. I remembered someone remarking they loved train travel because they got to see people's backyards; where they really live. In one of those shots there are a couple of guys standing on the roof of their back porch waving at the train. The silly thought that wandered in was: "I wonder if those guys are black?" Because I couldn't tell I thought of Julie Gold's song From a Distance:
From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.
I especially love how Griffths sings the verse:
From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.
Cut from The Obama Inaugural Celebration Concert was Bishop Gene Robinson's A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama, but it's worth reading nonetheless. Old commie Pete Seeger singing Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land with a children's choir and Bruce Springsteen. What is so wonderful about the video is how when Seeger shouts out the subversive lyrics:
Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn't say nothing --
the camera moves to Obama who looks not altogether happy. Who could have predicted Pete Seeger would be a little subversive? Oh well, I'm sure he expected and indeed part of the joy of the concert is exactly that there have always been many streams converging in the American experience. And because this song gets sung everywhere, Mavis Staples can sing Freedom Highway and it resonates across all sorts of boundaries.

funknroll makes some great videos especially highlighting the secret history of women in rock and roll. His video of The Staples Singers 1965 Freedom Highway has images that make a person of my age pinch myself. My dad will be 87 in a few days and it's striking to me that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have celebrated his 80th birthday a few days ago had he not been shot down. Time passes quickly.

Seeger's gleeful look as he points out that one side of the Private Property! sign has got nothing on it and that's ourl land couldn't be more timely. The Nation has a video up called The Commons which is quite swell with clever animation and music. The video also introduced me to On The Commons a very cool Web site.

I believe I mentioned in a earlier post about Robert Patterson's writing about the Boyd Conference as being very worthwhile reading. Just in time for Obama's Inauguration Patterson has an important post There is Hope - But maybe not what you think!. Patterson lays out where we stand and what lays ahead. Peak Oil changes our assumptions, and Patterson presents the case for orderly energy descent.
I think that our best chance is to work full on towards establishing local resiliency - where we shift more control back locally in energy, food and money. Where we link our local efforts to be more resilient to those of others who are doing the same. Where we look also to power of relationships to build a more effective approach to health and to education.
Patterson is concerned that Obama will hew too closely to conventional wisdom. That's probably inevitable. But I do find that Obama is encouraging people to leverage the MyObama Web site to make house parties for local activism. There really is much we can do and the Transition Culture movement all over shows people can do it with good spirits and joy. Wherever we live we have much to do, and Patterson is smart to point out that acting locally in correspondence with others all over is a powerful way to proceed.

1 comment:

Ceris said...

Your posts are always full of little gems of perspective! The Patterson quote in this one has particular resonance, it has me musing on the introduction of a new term (it's new to me, although I doubt I'm the first to think of it;)) which is 'economical physics' - quantum economies. I know I'm not the only one who feels an evolutionary change in the making, Obama's a symptom of that - hopefully not just of the awareness but of the change itself. I guess one danger might be that people put too much faith in him and forget to keep on exploring for themselves.