Bikes Not Bombs is one of my favorite charitable social justice organization because it uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change. This includes shipping restored bikes to International Programs in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean where sustainable transportation is vital for economic development. Closer to home, Youth Programs in the Boston area teach bicycle safety and mechanical skills to local teens building self-confidence and personal responsibility. Please make a donation to help the world-changing activities of Bikes Not Bombs. Better yet, come join us for the ride and/or for the post-ride festival at Stony Brook.
Spring descended on Jamaica Plain this past weekend with the annual Wake Up the Earth Festival presented by Spontaneous Celebrations. This was the 35th annual festival, an event that grew out of the “highway revolt” of the 1960s & 70s when local activists opposed the construction of highway infrastructure in Jamaica Plain & Roxbury, leading to the creation of the Southwest Corridor as a system of train lines, bike paths, and parks that we enjoy today. Ironically, some people who want to create new prioritized highway infrastructure for cars marched in this year’s parade which I guess shows that this festival takes all kinds. The festival itself was home to many tents of activists of many causes, food, games, and musical performances. My family and I sang a few songs with the intergenerational chorus SingPositive, JP in preparation for our concert on May 19th. We also danced to Maaak Pelletier’s jam band the Mystical Misfits as they played Grateful Dead classics. Finally, the potato sack slide down the hillside was great fun for everyone.
“A Tattered Line of String” is the new track on the rerelease of The Postal Service 2003 album Give Up, although you can be forgiven for thinking the song is from 1983 instead. I can imagine hearing this song between tracks by the Human League and The Pet Shop Boys. Lead singer Ben Gibbard is also known for his work with Death Cab for Cutie. Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley provides backup vocals.
What new songs are you listening to this week? Let me know in the comments!
I read these books out of order, but I previously enjoyed Rob Sheffield’s Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, his memoir of life growing up in the 1980s and 1990s told through the music of that era. This book is similar with several mix tapes providing the frame from which each chapter is built and is filled with observations about music not from a dispassionate critic, but from a fan who sees music intersecting with every aspect of human life. I particularly like his insight into the last recordings of Kurt Cobain displaying the worries of being a husband and father. But the central point of this book is Sheffield’s relationship with Renee, his first wife who died of an embolism in 1997. The book marinates in honesty as Sheffield details the sometimes tempestuous nature of their relationship and later the overwhelming grief at finding himself a young widower. Sheffield is a talented writer and the fact that this book actually made me laugh more than I cried is a testament to his skill.
“I have built my entire life around loving music, and I surround myself with it. I’m always racing to catch up on my new favorite song. But I never stop playing my mixes. Every fan makes them. The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with — nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.”
“It’s the same with people who say, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying.”
Recommended books: Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby Rating: ****
I didn’t want to like this song. Kimya Dawson can be excessively twee and the whole rap-twined-with-soft-music dichotomy is played out. But ultimately The Uncluded’s “Delicate Cycle” won me over with it’s play on words, interweaving stories of lunch ladies, launderers, and apparently vivisection, as well as a catchy melody won me over.