October 29, 2008
October 28, 2008
I'm about to head up to Lake Tahoe for my young brother's nuptials. During my free time, I'll be able to scan my two new Western Harmony anthems, exciting stuff, one of which is a celebration of the dancing in the streets I anticipate on November Fourth. "Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field." So come back to the website in due time for fresh recordings & shape-note scores.
If you're not familiar with Steve Reich's use of speech-melody, a compositional technique he's developed & returned to thru-out the decades, especially in the pieces Different Trains, City Life, & his two multimedia operas The Cave & Three Tales. If you have a few minutes before watching the third video posted here, spend some time with the clips below from City Life (1995).
The following is pianist Henry Hey's speech-melody derivation of Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric:
October 27, 2008
Diane Benson is running for Alaska's "at-large" congressional ottoman (the street term for a state with two senators but only one congressman.) Her values are your values, the lives written large in Imaginary America.
From the Wikipedia:
Benson began performance work in 1980 and has worked with most major Alaskan theatre companies in such productions as Crimes of the Heart, Wonderland, and Keet Shagoon. She taught stage-craft to inmates in Alaska prisons; led at-risk kids in summer theatre and video programs with Out North Contemporary Art House, created the first contemporary Alaska Native theatre in the state of Alaska in 1985; The Alaska Native Dance & Story Theatre; toured nationally with Naa Kahidi Theatre; directed in Canada for the Nakai Theatre Ensemble, was project coordinator for the Silamiut Greenlandic Theatre Project, several time Artist-in-Residence in rural Alaska, and wrote a number of plays including Sister Warrior and When My Spirit Raised Its Hands.
Diane Benson's son Latseen (pictured in the truck at the top) was severely wounded in Iraq in 2005.
The Anchorage Daily News's top three headlines on the front page on December 12, 2000, read "High Court Ruling Awaited" (regarding the Florida recount in Bush vs. Gore), followed by "Top School Post Goes to Comeau," and, finally, centered lower on the page, in equally large font, "Student Attacks Professor's Poem." The subtitle read, "'Indian Girls' described as racist, insulting." Two primary photos on the front page garnered attention, the larger being that of Elvis impersonators shoveling snow for a hockey game promotion. The other photo was the beleaguered look of a challenged local university professor postured amongst her books. Somehow, what seemed like a rather normal school semester and typical enough poetry class ended with a tidal wave of divisive controversy and inflamed a community already teetering from volatile race relations. I was central to the controversy. I was the student. We Tlingits have a story about the Cannibal Giant who at one time preyed on the people when they were weakened. The Cannibal Giant was once a woman but through evil became a monster. Even when she was seemingly destroyed by fire, the flame transformed her carnivorous essence from cannibal to mosquito, and thus she continues to plague the people to this day. Some say it is a metaphor...
-From Project Muse, about The American Indian Quarterly
Change may take more time than we would like, but it will come. You are someone who believes in humanity. You are someone who knows that it takes caring about our neighbor next door to improve the state of the world. We know that all those who came before us; that loosened their own shackles of poverty, of prejudice, of injustice, made it possible for someone like me to even run for office. We loosened those chains a little more, and maybe the next time someone like us will win. We can change the world, but first, we must be the change we wish to see in the world. I thank you for being that change.
-Diane Benson, from http://bensonforcongress.com/
Wisdom of all types,
Bespectacled Northern girls
Chase tomorrow's dogs.
October 25, 2008
So, in Brasil, one can register as a candidate of a local election under any name. As a result, three folks chose Barack Obama. Other candidates included Bill Clinton, Chico Bin Laden, and Jorge Bush. Over 200 candidates registered as Luiz Inacio Lula DeSilva, the current president of Brasil.
Why can't we do that? Or: One more reason to move to Brasil.
Atlanta Pentecostal Preacher Thomas Weeks is "in talks" towards the possibility of a new reality show entitled, "Holy Hook Up: Who Will Be The Next Mrs. Weeks?" He expects the program to be a "very tasteful, five star presentation."
Who invented this star system of quality scale bullshit?
All three Obamas lost. This means nothing.
Coming soon to our popular Correspondences Section: Peace Negotiations, Revisions, Squabbles & Outtakes from our Special Political Editorial: Endorsement for President of the United States of Frontier Village, Nebraska.
Meantime, here is a lively chat amongst some of our contributors:
October 24, 2008
Good Morning, It Was Lost Nation. Many of you, our loyal readers, will know that in previous years, we have stayed quiet thru elections, perhaps subtly hinting at things to undermine candidates like Richard Pombo, but never wishing to alienate a portion of our diverse demographic by going all hippy-lefty & outright suggesting to vote for the Democrats. In breaking with tradition, the Editors at Itwaslost.org, after not sleeping for most of October & chain-smoking cigarettes on black & white 35mm film, have collaborated on this short argument for the difficult choice you must make on November 4th. It is a close election, with the Democratic Challenger running a mere 14-points ahead in the opinion polls, & conservative pundits acting like albino wallaroos, dabbing their bleached rhinariums with their handkerchiefs & wishing they were kangaroos.
We like Barack Obama’s compelling candidacy because we believe that he reads books. He has shown himself to be a human being of exemplary intelligence in a nation & an era where intelligence is considered suspect. Is it some mistake that Senator Obama reads? That he urges us to read? That he reads to his children & urges us to read to our children? What does reading have to do with future generations (beyond ensuring that they will know which bus they are riding on)? Senator Obama has repeatedly, in his writings & in interviews, emphasized the importance of empathy. Didn’t Charles Dickens spread empathy to the British people by writing intimately of the lives of London’s poor & then selling his writings to the middle & upper classes. Literacy is a gateway to the empathetic capacity. Thus, true intelligence, & the preservation of our nation’s promise, depend upon the literacy of the people. In one of Norman Mailer’s old letters published in The New Yorker a few weeks ago, he mourned the loss of JFK because “Kennedy was giving a great boost to the arts, not because Jackie Kennedy was inviting Richard Wilbur to the White House, but somehow the lid was off, & now I fear it’s going to be clamped on tight again.” Has it really now been on for forty-five years?
We're picking our own president in our own election. We need to listen to ourselves. Maybe if we met ourselves today, we wouldn't like ourselves. Weigh up the presidential tasks, calculate their impact, throw in Abu Ghraib photographs, affix an occupation of Iraq, add Gitmo, append oratory skills or complete lack thereof, & you'll see the sum of presidential decision-making is a part of our own self-image in that old modernist way, the imagined community called nation, or Nation. Two-hundred thousand people turned up in Berlin to tell us they know we used to be better, nicer, & smarter. They want to friend us on Facebook. They'd like to share a pitcher at pub quiz sometime. They want to cat-sit when we're out-of-town. So they held an intervention.
It is true that we fly several large American flags outside of the itwaslost.org hq in Imaginary America, & that our pet interventionist eagle is named Woodrow, but these are mere superficial displays of our love of American iconography. We are patriots but not nationalists. Nationalism & the Fascism it spawns shadow the horizons of America today. The line between Patriotism & Nationalism is drawn by intelligence, which acts as safeguard against Fascism in it’s many manifestations. We are almost certainly elitists of course, but abundant, generous elitists with ties to our community, both our Hood & our Imaginary Community.
Community is Not a Word. Community is a life force, like a plant or an ant or a little boy, or yogurt. I know that recently words & communities have been reduced to punch lines of the scornful & lonely, the desperate & angry, those in the shadow of the current sunshine we will call Barack Obama. Well we am here to tell you that what Barack "Sunshine" O'bama cares about are communities, not words. If he had a choice, he would certainly leave words where they belong: pinned up under Karl Rove's dark cloak of infinite meaning, not within the public sphere or even in casual conversation.
Obama is not a wordologist, as some may have us believe. He is a community man & as I have pointed out "Community" isn't even a word, it simply is. Words do not even exist until some foolish wordy wordsmith forces them into our comfortable word-free living rooms, & we am talking about things that exist, like Barack Obama & America's Democracy &c. Community is a natural phenomenon, a constant. Barack does not actually speak or write, he believes in communities & the operating functionaries of these systems - me! you! your mother! your plants & your goddamned brother & all those people who live very close to you but who you would never dare speaking to. Senator Obama just believes & suddenly so do other people. Nobody talks, Nobody recites, Nobody tells jokes, Nobody mistakes Muslims for terrorists, or Christians for Muslims, or critical thinking for anti-americanism, or being sexy for irresponsibility and naïveté. No! Nobody uses words. Words use us.
So, what creates a robust new economy? Communities! What is ever more important in this rapidly expanding network of lives? The smallest of those networks: Communities! (& fungus) What will make us happy & teach us what to remind ourselves of? Communities! What will it take to understand that we are not our own terribly misunderstood joke? Barack Obama! Senator Obama is a flower on the dubious fruit that’s come from centuries of Western thought. He is the marvelous crystal left in the track of colonial & imperial histories (his Kenyan grandfather, a cook to the British nobleman)- these histories which proved to be mighty perversions of the bejeweled & transformative potential of Western thought.
We want to tell you why you should vote Obama-Biden using the only physical word in the English language: because. Because Barack, like you, has moved around a lot & doesn't like the sound of his own name. Because Barack has what all Americans increasingly have: multiple origins, fluid identities, the arduous state of being many things while never wholly one thing. Because Barack Obama reads books.
Vote for Barack because of the Obama-Biden ticket. Because Joe Biden commutes to work on the train, which means Joe is clever & reads a lot, because when you commute in a car or bus, you can't read without crashing or getting motion sickness. Because Joe reads. Because Joe's son is on the board at Amtrak. Because Joe doesn't just appreciate public transit, he depends on it to get to work & back. Sure, trains are rarely profitable, but highways have never been profitable & they waste a lot more money than trains & they ugly up our cities. The average interstate junction costs thirty million dollars per year to maintain, which is far more than it costs to run those tiny platforms that Amtrak calls a station. Have you ever communicated with your neighbor driving next to you on the freeway? No! You can’t! So when you walk to your polling center on Tuesday, November 4th, think of your children’s futures, think of the Imaginary America, & most of all, think the words you have memorized in this essay & this inexorable argument.
October 23, 2008
But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you what to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.
Since you're already contributing to Tinklenberg, folks, while you're at it go to www.larrykissell.com and make a contribution to unseat this jerk (Rep. Robin Hayes, Republican Incumbent), as well:
I just gave him 10 bucks, and it felt awesome, let me tell you. Don't forget to read about Larry. He's a neat guy, too- social studies teacher, was a textile worker for years- like John Edwards' dad!- and he also has a clearly articulated message of bipartisan cooperation and mature collaboration for positive change.
October 22, 2008
Brooklyn's Miss Grainne Proinseas points us towards the now tightening race in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. It is a largely conservative district north of Minneapolis. Their zany diarrhea-mouth representative Michele Bachmann went on Meet the Press this last weekend & suggested that "anti-American" members of congress, such as Barack Obama, should be investigated to see if they were truly patriotic. (The original clip is here, & Jon Stewart's reaction is here.) In the five days since, the Republican National Committee has pulled all of its funds from her race, & contributers from all over the country have poured more than a million dollars into her Democratic Challenger's previously ignored challenge. Miss Proinseas has sent an e-mail to be circulated:
I channelled my hurt and disgusted feelings upon hearing her comments into a donation (a small donation, but a donation nonetheless) to the democrat who is vying for her seat in the house. Elwyn Tinklenberg is actually a pretty cool guy in and of himself...former secretary of transportation under Jesse Ventura who has been a pioneer advocate of lightrail and public transportation in Minnesota. Rep. Bachmann deserves to lose her seat because of her divisive careless partisan mudslinging, which can not be helpful in building bipartisan consensus on important issues, and Elwyn Tinklenberg would be a welcome addition to a congress that must act to improve public transportation and hopefully lay lightrail nationwide.
I urge you all to go make a donation to Tinklenberg- 5, 10, 20 dollars, whatever you can.
Now that he can afford it, here is El Tinklenberg's new positive political ad--: (Listen carefully! there's a toy-piano in the soundtrack!)
what is the difference between Sarah Palin's mouth and her Vagina?
I will allow a period of 1 day for you smartasses to try and guess the punchline in the comments section.
and yeah, it's pretty bad.
and no, I'm not sorry at all.
October 20, 2008
The second trial & tribulation with my new USB microphone (the Samson CO3U), I continue with these "solo-quartet" demos of my new shape-note songs for the Western Harmony. Thank you to my flat-mate Shaun Wintah-Beef's job hunt & clickity type-writer which was ambient in my apartment during the recording session.
The shape-note score was originally published here in June, with the lyrics, but I will re-post both of them right here for your convenience. A downloadable pdf file of the score can be found here, & an mp3 can be downloaded here.
I got a letter this morning, Lord, Hallelujah!
I broke the seal & I read the word, Hallelujah!
And from the pages, your choir I heard,
See you when the sun goes down!
My wife is gone & my sons away, Hallelujah!
I think of them every single day, Hallelujah!
If only night was an hour away,
See you when the sun goes down!
I am a traveler on this train, Hallelujah!
And every bump jostles me with pain, Hallelujah!
But tho I'm orn'ry, I don't complain,
See you when the sun goes down!
My parents dear may be safe at home, Hallelujah!
While down on this lonely globe I roam, Hallelujah!
I count the hours till we sing shalom,
See you when the sun goes down!
The road's congested, but I'm alone, Hallelujah!
My neighbor's neighbors are all unknown, Hallelujah!
Will I belong when I near your throne?
See you when the sun goes down!
Where is the true friend of Israel? Hallelujah!
In throes of anguish, I'll wait awhile, Hallelujah!
I'm patient, Lord, but I'm bored, and I'll
See you when the sun goes down!