Why yes, [personal profile] mistersmearcase (still such an excellent LJ name, as good as [profile] oblomova and [profile] wouldprefernot2 and [personal profile] springheel_jack) I am totally copying you, plagiarizing, what you will. Think of it as a) sincere flattery, and b) your entry was kiiiind of like a meme, so it's not outright theft?

Anyway, I was going to write about Christmas anyway. I'm a third generation atheist (and my nieces are fourth generation atheists; I think that's so cool) but I guess -- I mean, duh, I know -- nominally that earlier than three generations back (and in my father's father's case, just two generations back) my forebears were indeed Christians -- and in a few branches, Catholics. But I don't care. They can't have Xmas. Xmas and all its semi pagan holly and mistletoe and yule logs and Christmas trees AND FUCKING COLORED LIGHTS are mine, damn it, and anyone who delights in them.

More embarrassingly though (because I am not embarrassed at all about my love for the shiny, glittery, glaring, neon, and over-the-top colorful brightness of Xmas lights and Xmas ornaments) is the fact that I like Christmas music. Lots and lots of Christmas music, including all the heavily religious classics, and the sentimental syrupy Christian claptrap (like, even "Away in a Manger" and "The Little Drummer Boy").

I have an iPod playlist of 365 Xmas songs, and that's even after pruning it this year of all the versions I'd had on it of 1) Jingle Bells, which I hate; 2) Santa Claus is Coming to Town (ditto); 3) "Frosty the Snowman" (which I LOATHE); and 4) "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" (ditto)... I also pruned some of the weird novelty songs Mark gave me, back in the day, like James Brown's Christmas oeuvre, some Pakistani multi-culti Xmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa song, and that annoying Beach Boys one about toys. But that still leaves me with more than ten versions of "Little Drummer Boy". Also, a vast number of Sufjan Stevens Xmas songs, because he has two albums, with something like SEVENTY SONGS. I buy one new Christmas album each year, the way I used to get new ornaments every year, but now I can't get any more because I am at maximum tree coverage, given how many lights I think a tree needs. This year, though, I ended up with three albums -- Maddy Pryor's "A Tapestry of Carols", a Johnny Cash album my friend [profile] john_b_cannon recommended from his (third) far flung Xmas in Saudi Arabia, and the Mary Chapin Carpenter Xmas album. I think my favorite in the last several years is the Christmas album Annie Lennox put out. So, yeah, I love Xmas music. I have lots of friends who HATE it, very, very much, so I play it at home, and sometimes I inflict it on my students, but they like about any soundtrack, really, so that's okay.

Otherwise in Xmas news, about five minutes before midnight tonight, I finished wrapping my presents for this year. Very few of them were locally purchased. Almost all of them involved me giving money to that evil behemoth, Amazon. Four came from Palestine via Germany -- four kaffiyehs made in a factory on the West Bank, with different patterns (two were the Ur traditional black-and-white, and red-and-white) named after different towns, like Hebron and Ramallah. Here, I'll list presents (I am pretty sure my sister would never dream of reading LJ anymore).

*for my dad: a hardback of the most recent entry in a British mystery series he likes a lot, whose author he has hung out with in Brighton

*for my stepmother (by request): a velour tracksuit -- and my mom got her one, too. She was pining for at least one velour tracksuit. I want photos.

*for my uncle: a trial subscription to The Economist... he's hard to get anything for. A Starbucks and a Panera card would probably have been better, but I like to imagine him reading that magazine before he starts wheeling and dealing in online trading... which is, for him, basically gambling, I think. He's a retired accountant.

*for my cousins and aunt in Milwaukee: See's Candy

All of the above were sent on their way Midwestward by the internet, whether via Amazon or not

*for my brother-in-law: the black-and-white kaffiyeh

*for my sister: the red-and-white kaffiyeh

*for Ruby, my 15 year old niece: a weekly planner (which turned out to be half the size I was expecting, so THAT sucked); a desk calendar that's kitschy and retro; two large sketchbooks; two pairs of earbuds and a travel case; a khaki-and-olive kaffiyeh; smelly candles and candle holders and a lighter

*for Rosie, my twelve year old niece who will turn thirteen on Christmas day, a wall calendar of vintage cats; a denim and chambray blue kaffiyeh; smelly candles and candle holders and a lighter; two large sketchbooks; two pairs of earbuds and a travel case... and as her separate birthday gift... first, a small present wrapped in Bollywood paper (which is a taste I successfully inculcated in her) of a set of five hella cute guitar picks... and then a fucking acoustic guitar. Dunno how good the quality is, but my mom is going to show her some stuff and then we'll look at YouTube videos, and if she likes it enough, my mom and I will split the cost of actual lessons.

*for my mom: a wall calendar of vintage animal posters; no kaffiyeh, but if she wants one (by the way, thanks, [personal profile] springheel_jack, you gave me the idea) I'll manage it... also, an audiobook of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, the first volume of the Baroque Cycle, and a subscription to Entertainment Weekly, which she generally "borrows" from me, though I end up reading about two pages of each issue. I figured I ought to cut out the middleman.

To be honest, I like getting, wrapping, and giving presents much more than I like getting them.

I want to put some photos in here, but it's a pain in the ass; I have to get them off my phone first, and then hosted by Photobucket, before I can put them in the entry. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. Now that I am DONE WRAPPING everything... except Rosie's guitar picks, which are supposed to arrive tomorrow.
maeve66: (black and white tea)
I feel like I just did a topic like this, recently.

I am fond of "Ordinary Man", both the Christy Moore and the Dick Gaughan versions.

I have always loved "The Great Silkie", which my mother sang after the manner of Joan Baez

I like "Louise" by Heaven 17 (or Human League; I never remember which version of that group it's by)

I love "Somebody" by Depeche Mode, though it kind of makes me cry a little.

I adore everything I've ever heard by Latin Quarter, but especially "Modern Times", which is about McCarthy's HUAC trials, and Charlie Chaplin's refusal to cooperate.
I am sure this meme-originator meant a song that's, like, THREE YEARS OLD, but whatever. I like hundreds and hundreds of old songs. I will use the one that is playing right now, however: "The Death of Queen Jane" by the Bothy Band. It's a song about Jane Seymour having a caesarian section birth, of Edward, and dying a few days later. Or else she doesn't have a caesarian section, but after DAYS of labor gives birth, and dies of childbed fever? Not sure. Anyway, it's a gorgeous song.
maeve66: (Devlin kitten)
That's so hard! I have more than 7,500 songs, and I like them all or I wouldn't have them...

I will try, though, and I'll try to do it looking over my whole life thus far and what songs have stayed with me most consistently.

1. "The Bonny Light Horseman" by Planxty

2. "Over the Hills and Far Away" (theme from Sharpe's Rifles featuring a young Sean Bean)

3. "Beeswing" by Richard Thompson, also sung well by Christy Moore

4. "Modern Times" by Latin Quarter (and also "Radio Africa", same 80s Brit alterna pop band)

5. "True Love Knows no Season" (or "Little Musgrave", or "Accidentals/Aragon Mill") all by Planxty

That's ridiculous, to try to limit it to five.
maeve66: (aqua tea icon)
I don't know; this is another stupid topic. I love all of my family members and they help me and I help them, as needed. It's not a daily thing... BECAUSE I AM AN ADULT, and do not live at home, with allowance and chores and such. Just wait, though, there's a hilarious one in this teenage vein coming up.

Meanwhile, I really wanted to write to say that, damn, I should admit my deep love for folk and folk rock more often. I was chatting with T. this evening -- ex No. 1 -- and he was making me listen to ballady Rolling Stones ("Winter", "Moonlight Mile") and then a Counting Crows song I hadn't heard for ages. It led to me spending money this evening at iTunes, as a conversation with T. often does. But then I read the description of Counting Crows' latest album, which is ALL COVERS. Oh, man, it sounded great. And now I am listening to it, all out of order. I listened to "Meet on the Ledge" by Fairport Convention, first. Oh, man, SO GOOD.
maeve66: (aqua tea icon)
1. I'm listening to a CD made from a record I bought from a rare folk collector or something, which I used to own, but my mom lost somehow. It's La Ronde des Voyageurs by a short-lived group called Éritage, from Quebec. I have also just bought their only other album (I didn't even know it existed!) from eBay, and hope to persuade my brother-in-law to help me turn several Quebecois folk albums into CDs... this one, too, actually, because the guy who sent it to me -- record album and CD -- made the CD just two long tracks, face A and face B. The other albums are EARLY (not recent) records by Édith Butler: L'Acadie S'Marie, Avant D'Être Dépaysée, and Asteur Qu'on Est Là.

2. Devlin, the kitten, seems to keep making steps forward. Baby steps, but hey, she's a baby.

3. Livestreaming! Of tiny, tiny baby kittens!

4. My older niece stayed over at my house for two nights in a row; it was fun, and lazy. Very little actual kitten-sighting for her, of course. Lots of Psyche, some Olympics, lots of Sims Medieval, and then accompanying our uncle (my dad's cousin, actually) who is something of an Apple fan boy, to finally implement his decision to buy an iPad. Not the new one, the current one. And dinner at his favorite restaurant, P. F. Chang's.

5. Any minute now I am going to go put on water to make tea, and have tea and cereal for, um, early dinner. Oh -- and Maya's blood work came back good, said the woman from the vet office, though there was something about the pancreas markers being "in the grey zone". But nothing that the vet was afraid of.
maeve66: (me in sixth grade)
I'm a little afraid of this question. I will look at what was on the charts then (though my favorite song might well have been some IRA ditty, or English traditional folk song, too). There was one song that was often sung by John Pottinger at socialist parties, e.g. parties for the anniversary of the Russian Revolution, or for Sandinista victory in Nicaragua, or whatever -- it was a Trotskyist critique of the Soviet secret police, sung to a tune by Gilbert and Sullivan. I wish I remembered the words.

Well, looking at the charts, several of them I hadn't heard of, two were instant rejects -- I certainly did not like "Silly Love Song" by Paul McCartney and the Wings, or "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee. I don't think I was sophisticated enough to like "Anarchy in the UK", though I was just about to hear of the Clash and love them. I guess, chartwise, it was Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".
maeve66: (1969)
I feel like I am posting everything I have even vaguely thought of all summer. This one will be a continuation of family history photos. The next one will be on Hindi and matters subcontinental, cultural and otherwise.

So.

Let's see about the order here. My father's Lake Geneva family again, first. I've said this before (and I realized I retold a story in my last post, too, about my great-aunt and grandmother and their early '30s road trips)... anyway, though, it continues to resonate for me, every time I see a photograph that links today to then. My father bought the house he grew up in. His grandparents bought that house in about 1913 or so -- maybe even earlier. And it was originally built in 1877; it has a historic plaque as of this year, announcing that fact. So there are all these photos from the 1920s, and then there are all these photos around and about that house from ... 2011. That physical connection is still very pleasing to me -- and must be, to my father.

I think he *loves* having retired to the small town he grew up in, even if the politics of that small town are pretty vile. From what he says, the best (and the tiny minority) are the few Democrats, though almost all of those are Catholic, and thus anti-abortion. He blocs with these few, these precious few, at his kaffeeklatsch group at the local Caribou, virtually every morning. He blocs with them against the far more numerous Republicans who support Governor Scott Walker and who view everyone (except themselves) as receivers-of-government-largesse. Some are self-made stocks-and-bond trader millionaires, and they're without a doubt the worst. I don't know how my dad can bear talking and arguing with them.

Speaking of vile politics in Lake Geneva (I know, I'm getting away from photos...) -- I read an article in their shitty local newsrag, The Lake Geneva Regional News or something like that, which gloatingly crowed over the fact that local businesses and homeowners would be getting lowered property taxes, by 2 % or something like that -- BECAUSE OF A CONCESSIONARY CONTRACT signed by Lake Geneva teachers. Jesus motherfucking Christ on a stick, that's... god, it's nausea-inducing. And my uncle keeps asking plaintively if I would consider moving back to Lake Geneva to teach school. Seriously, he asks me this pretty much every time we have a conversation. He'll probably ask me this week when we go have dinner at P. F. Chang's. One thing I would be good at, if I did move back and teach in LG (not that this is really imaginable): there's a huge and growing Mexican population, and I could teach English Language Learners. The racism against them is [unsurprising and] hideous.

ANYWAY. Here are two pictures from about 1919 or so, I think.







Both of those are right next to the very house I just spent a week at. The next one is one of my favorites of all of these old photos. It was taken by my great-aunt Fran when she was about 14 or so, eighth grade, I think. It is of, apparently, four of her favorite teachers from Central School, the building behind the women. I love looking at their clothes -- it's partly how I date photographs, because our family pix never have years written on or under them. And it's just fascinating to see what older girls wore versus younger ones. Did they have sex segregated recesses? Because I don't see any boys, on first glance. That school building is still there, with considerable, and fairly well-matching, additions. I could work there! Ha.




Then there are two from WWII, of Uncle Tom, my father's uncle he grew up with, who I believe was closeted. He was 36 when he was drafted, so they didn't send him to either theater of war. Instead, he was just bounced around from army base to army base. He has lots of photos of him posing with much younger guys, as they mostly would have been. He also sent a whole series of photos of one of his barracks, with him making his bed, him sorting his equipment for inspection, the empty barracks as a still life, etc. He sent these and practically daily postcards home to his mother, my dad's Gram, Lil.









This last one is an interior shot of the kitchen at my dad's in LG -- it is also another image documenting my father's penchant for careful organization.




The next three photos are of my mom playing the recorder, circa 1954, and then the guitar, circa 1955 to 1959. I have a whole series of scanned photos of my mom playing guitar. I feel like there must be even more photos, and I'd like to scan them, too. I wish she would play again. I think she's afraid that she wouldn't sound good at all. I wish I had learned, myself. I still think about it. The one time I tried, I wasn't very good at coordinating my two hands' activities. But I didn't try for very long.










My dad used to say that when he first met my mom, she was kind of a fixture on the Madison folk-singing circuit, singing Child ballads and the like. I would love to have seen her, though of course I heard them as lullabies, anyway. I can sing a few, still. I'd like to learn more. I used to sing them to Ruby, my niece, as lullabies, though several are quite cold-blooded and bloodthirsty, both.

Finally, here is my FIRST arrest photo, taken in 1985 at an anti-apartheid sit-in at Northwestern University, right before the plastic manacles were put on all of us.




And that's my long and miscellaneous photo post. Also... I'm not putting an LJ cut. I doubt you all have so many posts on your feed that this will be too inconvenient. If I'm wrong, tell me.

1971

Apr. 10th, 2009 05:09 pm
maeve66: (AQ bikini 1973)
Last night I benefitted by the offices of friends sending me tracks they had, and also spent a few dollars at iTunes. Though actually, I already had quite a few of these. I made a playlist of songs I remember liking intensely when I was five, from AM radio. They weren't songs my parents had on LPs... My parents didn't have a lot of records and what I remember that they had at that point was: Jim Croce, Jean Redpath, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Kingston Trio, the Weavers, Gordon Lightfoot, Judy Collins, and Woody Guthrie...

Anyway -- the music I heard on the radio, and at friends' houses (well, really, at Wendy's house and at Fawn's house) and liked was the following:

"Rose Garden" by Lynn Anderson
"Black & White" by Three Dog Night
"One Tin Soldier" by Jinx and the Coven
"Top of the World" by the Carpenters
"A. B. C." by the Jackson Five
"Windy" by The Association
"Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night, and
"American Pie" by Don McLean

I can remember learning the words of those songs and singing them to myself walking from kindergarten to my after school program at WilMar. I remember singing along to 45s, with Wendy -- she had "Black & White" and "One Tin Soldier", I know, as we played with her mother's vintage Barbie dolls. I knew lots of political folk songs -- the first song I ever learned how to sing was "Solidarity Forever", and its original, "John Brown's Body" -- but there was something about these sappy mainstays of AM radio that really captivated me. They almost inevitably make me happy now, when I listen to them. I am particularly fond of "Top of the World" and "Black & White" and "American Pie".

Last night, as a nightcap after searching for the songs I didn't have, and listening to my mix, I found myself lost in the endless currents of YouTube, watching pretty much every parody Weird Al Yankovic has done in the past ten years. I was very out of date. His hilarious remake of "American Pie" as a retelling of episode 1 of Star Wars made my night. God, he's talented. There was also a good one called "Trapped in the Drive Through" which was parodying a song I could ALMOST figure out, but not quite. It went on and on tunelessly and hilariously.
Wow. I was reading a friend's blog, which is mostly about Brit socialist politics, but sometimes about music, and he'd just trashed an idiot (no, really, an idiot -- somehow L. had gone until age 47 or so without ever hearing of Kid Rock, lucky him) and posted a video to take the taste out of his mouth, one of the Violent Femmes, which was kind of ... academically interesting to me, as I'd never seen a video of theirs. ANYWAY. That's not my point! My point was that in the comments, there was a little back and forth about iconography in videos (at least, I guess it was about that) specifically, Kid Rock uses confederate flag shit unironically (actually, I don't believe you can use that ironically) and provocatively, because he's an asshole, but someone posted a 1970s clip of a beloved lefty musician whose video had one in the background, because he was playing at a bar. So this discussion of how brilliant and lefty the musician gets started, and leads to exchanges of old clips of him. Man. I had never seen these. I am blown away. I SOOOOOOO would have had a crush on Steve Earle at that age. That was EXACTLY my taste in men. Small, skinny, wiry, long hair, and amazing musician wouldn't have hurt. I mean, I think he's fucking amazing now, and love his music, and think he's a really great actor as well. But. I could never have imagined him as a young guy. And this song is wonderful. Enjoy.



Oh, and the video is "Mercenary Song", from a 70s documentary called something like "Heartworn Highways", with a bunch of alt country singers that included tons of people I've barely heard of, like Rodney Crowell, and Townes Van Zandt. I mean, I've heard of the last guy, but I know nothing about him. I would never have identified him as a country singer, alt or not.
I grew up listening to Child ballads, ultraleft political songs, and left classics from Woody Guthrie through Pete Seeger and Victor Jara to Utah Phillips. Utah Phillips died last night, May 23rd, which I found out from LiveJournal, specifically, [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby's LJ. That is a hell of a shame.

I first saw Utah Phillips live in high school, literally AT Evanston Township High School, where he sang at some assembly and made me think of the Pied Piper because there was a student who was a few years older than me, a guitar geek and -- apparently -- GROUPIE of Phillips', because at least in my jumbled recollection, he up and left school to sort of apprentice and tour with Phillips for a while. Later he came back and worked in a guitar shop in town, or owned it, I wasn't clear. But Phillips always seemed so warm and approachable; it wasn't at all a surprise that someone could just attach himself to the guy.

Like Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie, his voice was not technically stellar. But he could communicate so much feeling and pathos and politics in his songs. It's making me really sad to think that he's gone. Fuck. I don't want to think about Pete Seeger, too.

I think my favorite songs by Utah Phillips are his renditions of classic Wobbly songs, like "The Preacher and the Slave", "The Lumberjack's Prayer" and old union hymns like "There is Power in a Union". But I like his romanticized hobo songs, too. My mother's ex-boyfriend, B., looked (and sounded) just exactly like a hybrid of Utah Phillips and Willie Nelson.

Goodbye, Utah. I'm sorry you had to leave so soon.



If you want to get one album of his, get "We Have Fed You All A Thousand Years".
Man, I forgot how much I liked Cyndi Lauper. How could I forget that? Lavamus is a really cheap download site, infinitely to be preferred to iTunes -- ten songs for the price of one, on iTunes, basically. But I often have trouble thinking of WHAT music I might like to download, unless someone else more aware than I gives me a gentle nudge or a strong shove as the case may be.

M. reminded me this weekend that he used to get free concert tix as one benefit of his otherwise horrible former job, and that he saw a lot of music he might not have chosen, had he been paying for the ticket. One of the shows was Cyndi Lauper. He said she rocked, even twenty years after her heyday.

So I've just downloaded several of her songs -- the major ones: "She Bop," "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," "Time After Time," (which I'd totally forgotten she'd done) and "All Through the Night." The last two are so fucking romantic... I'd totally forgotten about them, or that she did them, with her squeaky high soprano I can't reach. I like them.

I remember arguing with more naive friends in high school about "She Bop", because they absolutely refused to believe that it was an ode to masturbation. Listening to it now, I'm tempted to use it to teach the conjugation of verbs for my English Language Learners. Wouldn't that be more motivating than "I am, you are, he or she is..."? I suppose it's a little misleading because it should be "she BOPS", but whatever.

I also got some Sinead O'Connor, which I only own on tape cassette, and some Jarvis Cocker, which isn't music of my youth at all, but of my present, I guess. I got his "Running the World", which is apparently on the soundtrack for Children of Men. I heard of it from a friend of mine in Britain, not from that movie. I think the real title is what the chorus says, which is "Cunts Are Still Running the World." A very class conscious song. I recommend it.
maeve66: (Hello Mao!)
So. I think that this might be the first in a series of posts based around photos. This scanner is just so fun to play with. I knew I'd like it.

I'm also accompanying this particular memory and image with music.

I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and lived there until I was eight. I was born as the antiwar movement started picking up steam: my first demonstration was at eight days old, being rolled along in a huge old black baby buggy outside the local Dow Chemical plant, which produced napalm for the war. My father tells me that this was also the day that my Red Squad/FBI file was started, as there were obvious agents there, taking photographs of everybody in order to intimidate them. In particular, that this not be seen as a flight of paranoiac fancy, there were men in dark suits with narrow lapels and dark glasses perched in cherry pickers, those weird trucks with extensible ladder-and-bucket arrangements for lopping off tree limbs, or whatever. And the men in the cherry picker maneuvered it directly over my buggy and down so that they could take a picture of me, my parents furiously yelling at them the whole time.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


This picture is from six or so years later. It's our dining room. My father is the man with the overlong hair (I LOVE long hair, don't get me wrong, but... my dad had a hard time keeping it from getting greasy at that length. It wasn't a good look for him. There are other photos of him in this journal various places, and he's a handsome dude, in my biased eyes) smoking a pipe. The other guy is some friend and chess buddy of his. I am the solemn looking child with brown hair, wearing the red Wisconsin Badgers tee-shirt. My sister is the younger blond girl. She reminds me very much of my older niece in this photo. The cat is named Inessa, after Lenin's lover, Inessa Armand.

On the wall behind us -- well, first, there is the ubiquitous presence of endless books, which overflowed bookcases all over our one-bedroom apartment. Then, there are the images. In order, there is an antiwar poster of a woman being napalmed, drawn by a local artist and friend of my dad's, Paul Hass. Then, there are Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebnecht, and Karl Marx in quick succession. Then there's a poster of Bill Monroe, and one of a worker of some kind -- it's an OSHA poster. When I was six, though, I didn't know that. I assumed that all of those people were revolutionary heroes. I thought Bill Monroe was a revolutionary. Maybe a Wobbly. Maybe in the SP, with Debs. I think the display continues on the rest of the wall, after the large poster (which I don't remember) with Trotsky and Debs. Rosa Luxemburg was the only woman. Her image was as iconic for me as Che Guevara (who was probably also up there, along with a Black Panthers poster -- for years, the black panther was my automatic answer for "what's your favorite animal?").


I loved my early childhood. I was a kid who was pretty intensely focused on the adults around me. I recall getting out of my crib (I slept in an iron barred crib until I was four, and my sister was in a wicker bassinet, both of these in the same bedroom as our parents) late at night, when I was four years old and sneaking into the living room where my parents and their comrades would be up late, arguing passionately and drinking and smoking. I'd try to sit inconspicuously behind one of the many hanging india print curtains, picking up what I could and trying to understand what imperialism was, and genocide, and reformism. My niece Ruby does the exact same thing, although the politics she ear hustles often have more to do with teachers' strikes and No Child Left Behind and the war in Iraq and immigrants' rights. This photograph brings back those memories. My parents weren't hippies exactly (despite my dad's short-lived long hair) but socialists and revolutionaries. They've remained that, thirty-three years later. It's funny -- this iTunes set started with "American Pie" by Don McLean, which is a song I loved when I was five years old. And now it's on something from Hair. The other song I loved when I was five was the lushly sentimental "On Top of the World" by the Carpenters.
maeve66: (Louise Michel)
Oh, god, I love my job. I mean, administering an endless stream of CELDT tests is daunting and horrid, but... but the teaching is fucking so FUN. These were the kids I wanted to teach when I moved to Oakland, even though my seven year sojourn in West Oakland, teaching the grandchildren of Panthers was wonderful in lots of ways. Painful and awful in lots of other ways, though not many of those had to do with the students.

But... but... we're looking at and making poetry right now, as I sort out what their reading levels are and all, and journalling. They journal first thing when they come into class, and I learn all sorts of fascinating things from what they write. I've always liked that as an assignment, for that reason. Some students find it a new way of handling their emotions and what's preoccupying them. Some just write to get it over with, and it still has good effects in that case.

This morning and afternoon, though, I had promised them I would bring in some music. I've already sung various songs for them, because I'll basically do anything in a class if I think it relates. Anything. So. I played them the Coup's Wear Clean Draws just because I like it. There's no real poetic lesson in The Coup, or at least in that song. But I wanted them to hear it.

And then I played Leon Gieco's Solo le pido a Dios. The morning class was underwhelmed. They have higher English fluency and many of them were born here. It didn't speak to them, and they weren't aware that it might have, to their parents. In the afternoon class, at least four kids were singing along (with me). Two others asked who sang it* and were clearly affected by it. It's a beautiful song. I wish I could link to it. It also illustrates repetition of both phrases and ideas, so it's good for talking about poetic forms. Here are some of the words:

Solo le pido a Dios
Que el dolor no me sea indiferente
Que la reseca muerte no me encuentre
vacia y solo sin haber hecho lo suficiente

Solo le pido a Dios
Que el injusto no me sea indiferente
Que no me ofrecer la otra mejilla
despues de que una garra me arana esta suerte

Solo le pido a Dios
Que la guerra no me sea indiferente
Es un monstruo grande y pisa fuerte
Toda la pobre inocencia de la gente

Es un monstruo grande y pisa fuerte
Toda la pobre inocencia de la gente


*Leon Gieco is an Argentine pop folk artist who wrote and sang against the dictatorship. He has links to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the mothers' activist organization around the disappeared.
maeve66: (Hammer & Sickle Bollywood)
Labor Day Weekend. It's nice to have all three days off. At 4:20 on a normal Sunday, I would (possibly, anyway) be starting the slow slide down to mild Sunday night anxiety about the work week. Instead, I am playing around on the computer, reading stuff about John Reed (Ten Days that Shook the World, and, of course, Warren Beatty in Reds) and Louise Bryant. My mom is hanging out with me. This is nice. We started Dil Chahta Hai last night, but didn't get far. I did love the leather/satin pants male dance number, with the three stars singing about the right of their generation to be young and irresponsible, in a disco. Three guys, three pairs of shiny, shiny pants, red, white, and dark blue. Where we left off, they're on road trip to the Indian version of Spring Break in Goa, I think, and have been singing the title track, which is something like "Which way for love?". I should look it up, but I'm too lazy. Oh, they say that it's "Do Your Thing", in English. Hm. Here, a hilarious review of it.

My apartment is fairly clean, and laundry is in the dryer. I made good onion-and-mushroom scrambled eggs for my mother and I, for brunch I guess, since we were so slow moving this morning. And I socialized by phone, which I always enjoy. My friend [livejournal.com profile] john_b_cannon is coming up this evening, and we're debating what we want to do -- we can play! Because there's no work tomorrow! We'll probably end up going to the Starry Plough, though I am also arguing on behalf of a certain musical that looks so awesome. This is the last night, and I want to go to it. But it depends on the two friends who are hanging out with me.

What else? Cramps and bleeding and a certain emotionally labile mood. Yeah. Oh well, I don't usually mind that all that much. So far, it's bearable.

As for both my jobs (the normal teaching, and the online teaching): at school, things are a little more complicated by the arrival of a student who speaks almost no English -- definitely does not understand any abstractions in English, though he can name a vast number of nouns, both verbally from pictures, and by reading the words and sounding them out* -- but is fluent in CANTONESE, and also by the fact that the data lists of students who need to be given the CELDT test are in far more than disarray. Online, this particular US history survey has students ranging from 17 to 48 years old. One student is a sort of autodidact who can really write and debate well -- I am hoping that his contributions will raise the level of the discussion rather than alienating the other students. He seems pretty diplomatic, so far.


*This seems especially impressive to me for someone whose native language doesn't use an alphabetic mapping of sounds to symbols, which is, I guess, a redundant way to say that. Ah, well. Viva redundancy!

man.

Jul. 14th, 2006 08:06 pm
maeve66: (Botero reclining woman)
I love Boots Riley and the Coup. His songs are so immediate and local and fucking true about Oakland and about politics and about race. And then, on top of that, he's fucking quite good on gender, often. He has the best song from a daddy to a little girl that I know. I've just been listening to the new album, and this is the song that has brought me to tears. Go download it. Also, Boots is motherfucking HOTT.

Tiffany Hall

Tiffany Hall
It appears we didn't know you at all
Hey hey hey hey hey
With this song I write your name on the wall
Tiffany Hall
It appears we didn't know you at all
Hey hey hey hey hey
With this song I write your name on the wall
Tiffany Hall

[Boots]
You was all smiles and no games
Teeth white as cocaine
Dark skin, knew about the struggle and the dope game
Quick to spark a convo into flames like propane
Filled the air, and I was thrilled you cared
In summer bridge hiding from the tutors
Bumpin gums about the future
You claimed that one day we'd be ruled by computers
I said, "It's like that now cause we all machines"
And you replied, "But I'm a robot with dreams"
Which I thought was clean
And all the fellas used to talk about ya
How you had a joyful aura and a walk about ya
Necessitated by a beautiful backside
We thought you was fine
And we didn't let the facts hide
Nevertheless we would call you "waddle waddle"
Somebody shoulda slapped us with an old hot water bottle
Could called you "talky talky" or nothing at all
I was crushed when I got the call

[Chorus]

[Boots]
You had warmth and sincerity, a heart with no barriers
A laugh that made slightly funny turn hilarious
While everybody else mouthed off about answers
You get up and started workin with some ex-Black Panthers
Leadin campaigns and writin in they newspaper
You always seemed happy, an idea that I would lose later
We would see each other sayin stay in touch
But I was just like you - always busy, in a rush
Told yo' mama I was writin this, she said it was blessin
I'm just chantin your name out loud and confessin
That maybe I was part of your demise
You want and got liposuction on your ass and thighs
Came straight home as you slept that evenin
Bloodclots from the operation stopped you from breathin
Your shape was great if I may say so, way before J-Lo
Whoever told you it wasn't had horns not a halo
Or is it just that your behind was up to discuss?
Cause as a man, mine ain't talked about much
Dear Tiff, I wish the world wasn't missin ya vision
Sincerely, one mo' robot with a dream and a mission

[Chorus]

Hey Tiffany! We love you! {*8X*}

New icon

May. 27th, 2006 05:01 pm
maeve66: (Christine Dargent)
Not that that's amazing or anything, but the historical link below is. It's probably obvious that I tend to prefer political figures -- icons of my own admiration, in fact -- as user icons for this journal. And one of my recent favorites is Louise Michel, partly because she's a heroine of the Paris Commune and partly because she was a single independent woman her whole life, and a public school teacher -- even in exile in Kanaky. Projection and identification, much?

Anyway... when I was growing up, I got Louise Michel confused with THIS woman, the one in my current icon, who was an auxiliary member of the Commune Defense squads, if I'm reading her beret right. She's called a "Pointeuse" in the album that holds her carte de visite, and her name is either Marie-Christine or Christine Dargent.

I've been looking for an image of this cigar-smokin', beret wearin', military-belted female for years. I had it on a huge poster, where it was superimposed on a tricolor flag, in my bedroom, growing up. That poster was the show poster for the premiere exhibit of a whole collection of photo albums from the Paris Commune, held by the Northwestern University Special Collections Library, which has a specialty in women's history. Many of the cartes de visites, or small studio portraits taken to exchange and collect, just like the ones from the American Civil War, are portraits of women. They're labelled variously: femme de, pointeuse, cantinière, and incendière. Often the women are wearing the same costume; I noted about four or five different "looks" that were identical, but worn by different women. Most of the women have a set expression that looks pissed off and stressed out. I know all the arguments about early photography and having to sit still, and how that leads to the common clenching of the jaw. These women... it's more. It's more a kind of deep anger, I think, and resolution, and knowledge that their revolution is going to fail. It only lasted two months, about.

The Commune fell on my birthday (honestly, I have nothing but bummer anniversaries linked to my date of birth), May 21, 1871. And as most folks who read my journal from time to time know, the repression was vicious and extensive. Estimates of the dead, in the immediate term, and executed later, stay in the 80,000 range. Sacré Coeur, that beautiful lacy church in Montmartre, was built to expiate the sins of the Communards. I've never been able to enjoy how gorgeous it is, because of its purpose.

Here's a quote from the Jean Ferrat song about the Commune, written one hundred years later in 1971:

Il y a cent ans commun commune
Comme artisans et ouvriers
Ils se battaient pour la Commune
En écoutant chanter Potier
Il y a cent ans commun commune
Comme ouvriers et artisans
Ils se battaient pour la Commune
En écoutant chanter Clément

Devenus des soldats
Aux consciences civiles
C'étaient des fédérés
Qui plantaient un drapeau
Disputant l'avenir
Aux pavés de la ville
C'étaient des forgerons
Devenus des héros


And here's the English, sort of )

Anyway. Clicky click on the link -- go look at the faces of desperate revolutionary citizens. It's cool.
maeve66: (Louise Michel)
This is a great meme. I saw this on [livejournal.com profile] substitute's journal, and thank him for it.

I nominate everyone who likes music (um, and for sure [livejournal.com profile] annathebean who mentions cool contemporary antiwar somgs to me, but then I never hear them, and [livejournal.com profile] gordonzola, and [livejournal.com profile] jactitation, and [livejournal.com profile] oblomova, and [livejournal.com profile] mistersmearcase and lots of people I'm not thinking of, including [livejournal.com profile] redlibrarian39) to choose an antiwar song and post its lyrics. I already alluded to this Steve Earle song, but still -- it's the most recent antiwar song I've heard:

Rich Man's War

Jimmy joined the army ‘cause he had no place to go
There ain’t nobody hirin’
‘round here since all the jobs went
down to Mexico
Reckoned that he’d learn himself a trade maybe see the world
Move to the city someday and marry a black haired girl
Somebody somewhere had another plan
Now he’s got a rifle in his hand
Rollin’ into Baghdad wonderin’ how he got this far
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war

Bobby had an eagle and a flag tattooed on his arm
Red white and blue to the bone when he landed in Kandahar
Left behind a pretty young wife and a baby girl
A stack of overdue bills and went off to save the world
Been a year now and he’s still there
Chasin’ ghosts in the thin dry air
Meanwhile back at home the finance company took his car
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war

When will we ever learn
When will we ever see
We stand up and take our turn
And keep tellin’ ourselves we’re free

Ali was the second son of a second son
Grew up in Gaza throwing bottles and rocks when the tanks would come
Ain’t nothin’ else to do around here just a game children play
Somethin’ ‘bout livin’ in fear all your life makes you hard that way

He answered when he got the call
Wrapped himself in death and praised Allah

A fat man in a new Mercedes drove him to the door
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war


One of the reasons this particular song resonates so much for me right now is that teaching in this new working class Bay Area suburb, instead of Oakland, I have a lot more contact with both heavy duty Christians and people whose patriotism is unquestioned and sort of knee-jerk. My school has the Pledge of Allegiance read by a student during announcements every morning, and students are mildly exhorted to stand and deliver. I have not (well, duh) myself -- just quietly continued whatever I'm doing to get ready for class that morning. Most seventh and eighth graders omit it, too, or are perhaps following my passive aggressive lead? I'm a bit worried, because next year I will very likely be teaching a sixth grade humanities core class -- the morning one -- and may be expected to inculcate this patriotism. I am not looking forward to making it an issue, but obviously it is one for me. Public school teachers have to sign a loyalty pledge left over from the fifties -- I don't know whether the administration could make an order out of the Pledge. Ughh.

Anyway, also, I thought of this song when I was getting tea on the way to work last week. I usually stop at a place a block from the school, and there are some regulars from the neighborhood who sit outside and bullshit most sunny mornings. In the old days they would have been sitting on the tin-roofed porch of a general store, tipped back on wooden chairs and whittling, or hunched over, playing checkers. Now they sit on molded plastic resin chairs and gossip, their Chevy Blazers with yellow ribbon decals parked within sight.

So, last week, I was getting my tea, and decanting it into a thermos, when I eavesdropped on the woman who was talking to someone else beside me. She was local. She had one young kid and was inquiring about other friends' children. She reported on her older three. All three of them are in the military. All three, including her daughter. The last one just joined the Marines. She sort of laughed nervously and said that it was a job, it was good career training... and then tailed off. She did not ssay a word about where her son would be posted at the end of his training.

It's not that this wouldn't occur in West Oakland -- ROTC is the most popular extra-curricular program at McClymonds' High School, and many of the kids with the most drive and skills and desperation to actually live a broader life throw themselves into ROTC and eventually into the military.

It's that it seems different with these white and largely Christian families. I don't know why. I guess I do, though. In West Oakland, there are more basic politics that include an automatic questioning of any policy of any level of the government, and a basic rejection of America's foreign policies. That coexists with the magnetic economic attraction of the armed forces for a lot of West Oakland teenagers with aspirations.
So... I feel like it is incumbent on me to write something ELSE just to get away from the previous subject, which is (I will be honest and admit) somewhat preoccupying me despite my wishes.

Thus, I am sitting here, with a self-imposed time limit of fifteen minutes left on the meter outside before I risk a fucking horrendous parking ticket, and I need to get my ass out of this lovely free new-to-me swiveling desk chair and go to Curves.

Today was something of a shopping therapy day. That's pathetic, but true. I got paid yesterday (actually, Wednesday), and I feel flush, even if it's not really justified. And I had to go get Miss M's wedding present ANYWAY, so... I got silly things for me: a toaster the slots of which are actually wide enough and which won't burn my toast, and more short-leg sweat pants and a cheap tee shirt. This is good. Now I can get more clothes dirty from Curves without doing laundry. WHY do I hate doing laundry so much? It's probably the easiest chore there is, with washers and dryers. But I hate it anyway.

I love this song. Sometime I'll write the lyrics in here. I HAVE them somewhere, written in an e-mail or an old journal, so it would be annoying to transcribe it all over. But it's about two people in a relationship who aren't understanding each other and who appear to want someone they have (or at least one of them has) CREATED rather than the actual person they're with.

Oh, the heck with it. Here they are: "Let Your Hair Hang Down", by Leon Rosselson (I think... it might be Roy Bailey, too)

Let your hair hang down
Let your hair hang low
Tell me what you want
Because I don't know

Let me see your eyes
Don't turn away
Don't know what to do
Don't know what to say

There are times when you smile as you turn to me
But they pass like the sun
Only shadows that turn into dust when the daylight has gone

I don't see how I can
I can't say what I see
You don't want what I am
What you want I can't be

Let me see your eyes
Don't turn away
Don't know what to do
Don't know what to say

You turn like the sea, change like the wind
I can't break the spell, I can't see an end

When I see in your look only emptiness
And you turn me to stone
I have nothing to give
All that's left is to turn and be gone

I don't see how I can
I can't say what I see
You don't want what I am
What you want I can't be

You turn like the sea, you change like the wind
I can't break the spell, I can't see an end

Let your hair hang down
Let your hair hang low
Tell me what you want
Because I don't know


Ohh, I love that song, depressing as it is. And by now my meter has no doubt run out. Shit. Later, y'all.
So... I'm a little bouncy and okay and a little morose and miserable, also period-ridden and PMSing, and all in all, it's a strange day in the neighborhood. I've got the Beatles playing, which ordinarily has the bouncy effect. But when you're doing Heavy Emotions, pretty much ANY lyrics seem deeply meaningful -- if you're happy, they underline that and seem to be mysteriously perfectly applicable and appropriate (think of falling for someone and how EVERY SONG ON THE RADIO seems to be singing to YOU, about THAT); if you're wretched, they arrow into THAT place in you...

Have y'all ever thought about the LYRICS of the song I'm listening to? Sing along to it; I'll write it here:

Try to see it my way; do I have to keep on talking 'til I can't go on?
While you see it your way; run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone
We can work it out; we can work it out
Think of what you're saying; you can get it wrong and still you think that it's all right;
Think of what I'm saying; we can work it out and get it straight or say good night
We can work it out; we can work it out
Life is very short and there's no time, for fussing and fighting, my friend
I have always thought that it's a crime, so I will ask you once again:
Try to see it my way; only time will tell you I am right or I am wrong
While you see it your way, there's a chance that we might fall apart before too long
We can work it out; we can work it out
Life is very short and there's no time, for fussing and fighting, my friend
I have always thought that it's a crime, so I am asking once again:
Try to see it my way; only time will tell you I am right or I am wrong
While you see it your way, there's a chance that we might fall apart before too long
We can work it out; we can work it out


That seems like a completely intransigent song. Whoever is singing it is him or herself NOT BUDGING, while accusing the other person of not budging. What compromise is possible?

Okay, I've never really sat around and applied great amounts of analytical effort to Beatles' lyrics, and I'm not going to do that now, or any more than I have.

On the other topic of this entry... the wonderful "Fuck You, Ronald Reagan, We're Dancing on Your Grave" party is CANCELLED. Damn. Damn. I understand all the reasons for making it a non-starter, after all. But I'm sad, not only for the demise of my Saturday night plans (and it IS that, an it is also making me sad for that reason) but also because it is missing a historic opportunity for closure with that period, and with the individual who encapsulates the end of the 1960s revolutionary moment for the United States, the way that Maggie Thatcher does, for Britain.

I can imagine how it could have been, that party, so clearly. Damn. Crap 80s music from all over the spectrum playing. People dressing in the truly hideous styles of the day -- well, maybe that would have been hard to combine with the drinking and dancing. Much spewing might have ensued. I really cannot appreciate the 80s silhouette and fashion icons. Just about any other decade, yeah. But shoulder pads and teased hair and upswept peroxided dos, especially when they were sculpted, solid with hairspray, spiky short on the sides and quiff-like at the top? Ripped sweatshirts and bad makeup? Pastels? Anything Madonna took it into her head to wear? (I was as guilty of that as anyone, though I thought I was original as a HS freshman dressed in an army coat, tee shirt and jeans but decked out with six different sets of Mardi Gras beads and buttons on the jacket and huge earrings and a shiny, gaudily patterned scarf tied in my hair.)

Later in my High School career, I decided on the stealth approach, given my politics (which were absolutely already a highly arrogant variety of pretty orthodox marxism and trotskyism at the time). I wore classic wool sweaters in deep colors, often with a lace collar or fake pearls. I had long, straight hair and bangs. I looked as sweetly conservative as possible. Until I opened my mouth. This look didn't often fool anyone my own age, since I opened my mouth ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Adults, however... there the stealth approach was very effective.

Gosh, I'm babbling. I warned y'all that I felt bouncy, alternating with deep gloom. Uggghhhh.

'Kay. Time to make some other plans, depending on how I feel at the moment. Though I hope that J. will come hang with me ANYWAY, pretty please, pretty please? I love how you described the bar-hopping evening and how powerful and unstoppable you felt we all were. Yes. That IS cool. Totally reminds me of some of the new poems in Sandra Cisneros' Loose Woman. She dedicated a lot of those poems to women friends, some of whom are also apparently drinking buddies.

What should I wear to Pride? I don't have any "fabulous" clothes. Especially since my Madonna gear is long thrown away. Erk.

Salut, maeve66

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