Sibling Cities in an Invisible Empire

KKK Letter

We’re all familiar with the Charlottesville chant from two years ago: Jews Will Not Replace Us.

It’s a perennial paradox. Torch-bearing worshippers of an almighty God who answers prayers with miracles, and devotion with salvation, at the same time have an inferiority complex as vast as their numbers. In 2014 the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study reported that if the U.S. had a population of only 100 (adults) there would be two Jews, one Muslim, and 71 Christians. Verily: Jews will not replace Christians. But what might rightly rile these folks are two other Pew stats: 1) only 47 of those 71 nominal Christians are white and 2) as many young people identify as “unaffiliated” as they do “Protestant.” (Earlier I discussed how sex surveys of young people show that about 1 in 5 don’t ID as straight—about the same percentage as the unaffiliated total in the Pew poll.)

KKKpleton

When my wife Andrea Carney and I first moved to our Denver neighborhood in 2005, Andrea found it was named for a mayor who had profited politically from the prototype of what we saw in Charlottesville. We were heartened in 2015 when Black Lives Matter began an effort to change the name.

Town Center Sign
A Black Lives Matter 5280 banner is draped over our local town center sign in August 2015. The oblong Stapleton logo below the LED display no longer appears on the sign, an indication of how the name is being removed from public display, little by little.

In July of this year, we and our neighbors (property owners only, no renters) voted whether to retain the neighborhood name Stapleton, which we inherited from the former airport on which our plots are platted. (Our true legacy, of course, is from indigenous people, as explained here.) Continue reading “Sibling Cities in an Invisible Empire”

Little Women

Graduating Class photo image

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 six months later. After a month of internship I looked for a job. Continue reading “Little Women”

Vaneigem and Bubblegum

Zulu Compilation Gatefold image

Last week, when I was uninspired whilst reviewing my running list of blog topics, YouTube operated as a sort of Oblique Strategies, the deck of cards initially developed by musician Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt independently in the late 1960s and early ’70s. (Eno included four of Schmidt’s prints in his 1977 album Before and After Science.) The cards’ suggestions and comments can act as disinterested—oblique—prods for artists when they encounter roadblocks during the creative process. And so YouTube essentially did the same for me, but not obliquely—rather, evidently, based on my past searches and pointing-and-clicking. “Recommended for you” last week was an obscure track from The Zulu Compilation (1984), an album I happen to have in my collection. Zulu Records was formed by Jayne Casey and Ambrose Reynolds (both of whom also worked in the band Pink Industry, which issued lovely minimalist and melancholic music in the ’80s). The compilation is perhaps most collectible for its inclusion of a pre-Trevor Horn version of “Love Has Got a Gun” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

I hadn’t listened to that compilation LP in years and had completely forgotten the track YouTube selected for me: “The Kremlin in Flame [sic]” by S.T.F.O.T.P.A. It sounds like something from the 1976 Art & Language-Red Crayola collaboration, Corrected Slogans (discussed in my post I Found That Essence Rare). After some searching I found the identity of the track’s creators in a 2010 interview by Arthur McDonald of The Royal Family and the Poor fame. Except that I’d never heard of the band. Or, rather, when coming across their LPs, two of which were issued by Factory Records, I’d passed them by. Continue reading “Vaneigem and Bubblegum”

Bad Rap

Age Of Consent photo image

I’m a terrible interviewee for the most part. Recently I was contacted by a radio news editor about homophobia in hip-hop, based on my involvement in the 1980s rap group, Age of Consent. I can’t imagine any sound bites from that conversation will end up in the final piece, but the dialogue got me thinking. In the course of subsequent riffling through AOC archival material and updating our website I came across a profile of our group from 1983 in which I actually was cogent. And I was surprised that I articulated a notion I thought I’d only come to hold more recently. But I also was disappointed by my hubris.

Advocate article image

The article, by Samir Hachem (1956–1992), provides a good introduction to what AOC was about, so I won’t duplicate that here. I knew Samir’s work from radio and his love for the Lebanese singer Fairouz. As KCRW’s Tom Schnabel (the station’s first music director and creator of Morning Becomes Eclectic) recalls in his tribute to Hachem, “Samir told me of how Fairouz could perform for one faction in the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s, then cross over to the other side and perform there, too. Such was her fame and the respect she commanded.” In addition to radio Samir wrote for The Hollywood Reporter and The Advocate, in which the AOC profile appeared.

Continue reading “Bad Rap”

Attica: Coming Together

Coming Together cover image

What follows is the recollection and reflection of a remarkable musical work, and my work experience around it.

Prison Strike 2018 poster imageThe prison strike of late summer 2018 was in part a commemoration of the killing of prison organizer and author George Jackson on August 21, 1971 as well as the uprising his death sparked (in part) at Attica nineteen days later on September 9. Having just turned 16 at the time, although I was involved in antiwar activity in Boulder, Jackson and Attica were two coastlines away and easy enough for me to ignore. Two years later I was reacquainted with those struggles—through music. Continue reading “Attica: Coming Together”