Comment by David Hughes: The present pandemic has inspired many performing artists: locked down, they are reinventing old works and coming up with new ones. A century ago in 1914, labor bard Joe Hill did the same from his own lockdown—a Salt Lake City jail—lifting lines from “The Internationale” and composing new ones like these from “Workers of the World, Awaken”:
If the workers take a notion,
They can stop all speeding trains;
Every ship upon the ocean
They can tie with mighty chains;
Every wheel in the creation,
Every mine and every mill,
Fleets and armies of the nation,
Will at their command stand still. Continue reading “For a Clinic Without Supervisors”
Comment by David Hughes: From the time I became aware of the Industrial Workers of the World, decades ago, I’ve called my wife Andrea Carney “the accidental Wobbly.” The Wobblies’ modus operandi is to organize on the job and call for what’s needed—if not take over the means of production entirely. Here’s the story of how Andrea did the former. It’s taken me months to get her to tell this story, and I’m so grateful that she has.
In 1973 my then-husband left his business to become a freelancer. We needed money so I decided to go back to work—at the Bullock’s department store in Sherman Oaks. Meanwhile I enrolled in a medical assistant training program at Los Angeles Valley College and received my certificate in May of 1974. After a month of internship I looked for a job. Continue reading “Little Women”
Comrades in Denver recently attended a performance by the Manitoba band Propagandhi. I knew the group’s name but not their music and poked around a bit. If you like your tunes hard and fast, guitar-driven and polemically positioned, with gorgeously apocalyptic album art, this is up your alley. But I was quite surprised to learn that John K. Samson was the band’s bassist for nearly six years.
According to the cliché about art school, you learn the rules before breaking them. Samson can be seen, superficially, as having worked in reverse, with a minimalist-with-message band before leaving school to fashion, with The Weakerthans, a new song in an old mold: figurative, more muted, embellished with just enough magic in its realism to keep us inquiring. Perhaps the finest example of this craft is the band’s ballad “Pamphleteer.”
Continue reading “The feeble strength of one”