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Friday, March 15, 2013

A naked moon and music

The popular dude is back, sauntering in like Sunday through Thursday never happened. Are we ticked that he disappeared for six days, without a word? Nope, we're always glad to see him. He exudes that sort of confidence, does Friday.

Today's commute soundtrack was equally self assured. It has to be if its going to pit John Denver up against Miles Davis or Nada Surf.

The first track is from John Hassell's 2009 release (and I love this title!) Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.


Sampling and soundscaping are terms frequently used when talking about Hassell's influential work. According to ECM (who released this album), Hassell described this album: “A continuous piece, almost symphonic, with a cinematic construction” and drifting “clouds made out of many motifs.” It is certainly complicated and haunting, and very much worth the listen (headphones recommended). Regardless, that title deserves to be a poem. Then again, that isn't a bad way to consider this album, as musical poetry of the complex rather than sweet easy rhyme variety.
The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

Barking, by Jim Harrison
Good stuff, Maynard!

Today's full commute soundtrack:
- Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny: Cinema Paradiso (Main Theme)
- John Hassell: Time And Place
- Miles Davis: Moon Dreams
- Matt Nathanson: Faster
- John Denver: I'd Rather Be A Cowboy (Lady's Chains)
- Nada Surf: Blond On Blond (acoustic version)


- Posted via Hermes.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rain and Racism

Thursday morning, grey and lightly raining, as befits early March in the Pacific Northwest. This is what we know, what we expect. It tells us the natural order is still preserved. To someone from somewhere else, this might be the final one-too-many wet day in a row that sends them fleeing for somewhere else, but we are (mostly) comfortable with our gray and rain.

Are we as complacently comfortable with the un-acknowledged racism we all live in, I wonder? I wonder this this morning in particular because of a conversation I had with a colleague yesterday which was reinforced by a powerful op-ed piece in the NY Times this morning (thank you Twitter!): The Good, Racist People, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.



Selma, 1965. Photo from a tweet by Michael Beschloss

As a white heterosexual male living in the U.S. I live with a silent privilege that is not equally enjoyed by everyone. So certain is this privilege that I rarely notice it. I have to stare at it intently to recognize it, even though it surrounds me everywhere I go. It would otherwise never cross my mind that nobody surreptitiously follows me around a store because they think I look like a shoplifter. It isn't remarkable to me that the way I speak doesn't cause the person on the other end of the phone to subtly change they way they "see" me and the tone of our interaction. I am generally not described to others first and foremost by the color of my skin or my ethnicity. And while I have certainly had to work hard to get to this point in my life and career, I really was afforded opportunity.

Day to day, minute to minute, none of this is exceptional to me. It would, however, be exceptional to many people of color in our country, to many people of different sexual orientation, to those with visible and invisible disabilities, to people who speak English with an accent, to many women. People who work every bit as hard (harder in many cases) than me but who simply do not have the same access to opportunity that I have had.

It doesn't even strike us as odd that everyone who isn't a white heterosexual male has a term to describe them, to describe the extent to which they are not white, heterosexual, or male. We may argue about these names, occasionally settle on different branding terms as societal awareness shifts from generation to generation, but we still use these terms to catalog difference.
Way out on the rim of the galaxy
The gifts of the Lord lie torn
Into whose charge the gifts were given
Have made it a curse for so many to be born
This is my trouble --
These were my fathers
So how am I supposed to feel?
Way out on the rim of the broken wheel

Water of life is going to flow again
Changed from the blood of heroes and knaves
The word mercy's going to have a new meaning
When we are judged by the children of our slaves
No adult of sound mind
Can be an innocent bystander
Trial comes before truth's revealed
Out here on the rim of the broken wheel

You and me -- we are the break in the broken wheel
Bleeding wound that will not heal
from Broken Wheel, by Bruce Cockburn.

It's one thing to be acquiescent about rain, grey skies, low hanging clouds, but quite another to continue on as complacently naive about our relationship to our fellow human beings. This is the uncomfortable conversation we must continue to have until this fundamental relationship between us all changes for good. Anything less is acquiescence.

Today's commute playlist:
- Buena Vista Social Club: Pueblo Nuevo
- Shirley Horn: Once I Loved
- John Barry: Dances with Wolves
- Sigur Rós: Daudalogn

- Posted via Hermes.