Here is what the sun and the moon looked like from Bussey Hill in Arnold Arboretum this afternoon in Boston, MA.
I’ve been meaning to make this a regular feature, and this is a good time to collect some songs written in opposition to fascists, white supremacists, and right-wing extremists of all stripes. It seems that folk and punk are the favored genres of anti-fascism, but if you know a good ripping tune from some other genre to add to the fight, let me know in the comments.
Woody Guthrie – “All You Fascists Bound to Lose”
Peggy Seeger – “Song of Choice”
Fishbone – “Subliminal Fascism”
Anti Flag – “This Machine Kills Fascists”
MDC – “Born to Die”
Aus-Rotten – “Fuck Nazi Sympathy”
Sonic Youth – “Youth Against Fascism”
Rage Against the Machine – “Killing in the Name”
I’m way behind on posting anything to this blog. Here are some podcasts from the past few weeks that are worth your while:
An interesting history of how Americans made use of their leisure time in the past. Oh and try not to get fumed about the idea that people who worked with their brains needed vacations while manual laborers did not, an idea still well ingrained in labor policy today.
Mercy Otis Warren – writer and revolutionary activist – is a remarkable women of her time and someone you should know more about.
Decode DC – Should Historians Be Pundits?
Doing a better job of comparing our present political situation with the past, and finding what in the past brought about the political climate of the present.
I’m really enjoying this new podcast series, which is basically Reading Rainbow for grownups. In addition to LeVar Burton’s great reading voice, the production values are really strong. This was the story that introduced me to Murakami over 20 years ago, and coincidentally I first heard it read aloud on a radio program.
This podcast introduces a new series exploring the changes in sound between analaog and digital audio. As an added bonus, there’s an appearance by Red Sox announce Joe Castiglione.
I enjoyed learning about Jessica Byrd who helps underrepresented communities engage in the political process.
The first story by Ken Haller is a particularly powerful reminiscence of his personal experience of the first signs of the AIDS epidemic.
Twenty Thousand Hertz – Sound Firsts
Some of the oldest surviving recordings provide a jaw-dropping window into the past. Check out FirstSounds.Org for more.
Artists: Fleet Foxes
Release Date: 16 June 2017
Favorite Tracks: “I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar,” “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” and “Fool’s Errand”
Thoughts: After a six-year absence, Seattle’s Fleet Foxes return with this brilliant collection of new tunes. The gorgeous harmonies expected from Fleet Foxes are still here. There’s also a lot of experimentation in crafting the songs, many of which are suites of songs that shift dramatically in tone, but not only enough to be disarming not to to annoy. The lyrics are dense and full of allusions, so much so that songwriter Robin Pecknold annotated the songs on Genius, but I find myself content letting the music wash over me. Crack-Up may not be everyone, but I find it the lovely end product of pushing folk rock to its limits.
Time to turn on, tune in, and ‘cast out!
James Forman Jr. discusses his new book “Locking Up Our Own: Crime And Punishment In Black America”.
Different approaches to resisting the Trump administration and rebuilding the Democratic Party as a progressive force for good.
Verity is a podcast in which six smart women discuss Doctor Who and the only Doctor Who podcast I listen to so I have to share it this week in which the first woman Doctor is announced.
This weeks track comes from the Olympia, Washington electro-pop duo The Blow. “Get Up” is a spoken word rap over a simple synthesizer beat that brings 80s flashbacks and also reminds me of the dance punk band !!!. The songwriter Khaela Maricich describes the song as being about “the feeling of my whole spirit being crushed by extreme capitalism.” The Blow’s new album Brand New Abyss is due for release in September.
Yesterday I participated in the Charles River Conservancy’s annual City Splash event at the Arthur Fiedler Pier just off the Esplanade. Jumping into Charles River may seem frightening to some, after all this is the river that inspired the song “Dirty Water.” But this event is partly to show that decades of work and investment into cleaning the river making it one of the cleanest urban rivers in America. I can’t tell you how exhilarating is is to drop into the river’s cool waters after a long day of work and float while looking up at the Back Bay skyline. This was my second City Splash, and I hope to do it again, maybe even more than once a year. The Charles River Conservancy is working to make Charles River swimming a permanent summer feature by building a swim park adjacent to North Point Park. This wouldn’t be the first time as the North End Beach allowed residents of local tenements a place to bathe over 100 years ago (although there was probably less concern for water quality back then).
Late, but still worth listening to. There’s a lot of terrific material this week, although to be fair several of my recommendations are repackaging previously released content, so think of this as a greatest hits package of greatest hits!
Several stories debunk the myths of poverty and ask why economists don’t ask the right questions about poverty.
Have You Heard – ‘I Quit’ – Teachers Are Leaving and They Want to Tell You Why
The stress and inequity of teaching in defunded and underesourced public schools is causing teachers to quit teaching, but some of them are prominently telling the world why they’re leaving in hopes of bringing positive change for future teachers, students, and schools.
Stories of Coney Island from people who kept the fun in the sun destination alive during its lowest points in the early 1990s.
Interviews with two amazing progressive leaders, both women of color, and their work fighting for social, racial, and economic justice. I seriously had no idea that Linda Sarsour was so very Brooklyn.
Slavery and segregation not only meant discriminating against black people, but also defining what it means to be white. Three stories detail how the idea of whiteness played out in different periods of American history.
Three stories of the experiences of transgender persons, as well as an exploration of the “feminine” qualities of straight cis men. I was particularly touched by the story of “The Accidental Gay Parents.”
I’ve lived in Boston for nearly 19 years and yesterday I finally made it to Castle Island in South Boston. We joined a group of families of my son’s baseball buddies and picked up lunch at the famous Sullivan’s (no known relation). Along with picnicking in a cool, shady spot, there were games of bocce and pickle, and a stroll along the promenade. Here are some photographs of the stunning views on a glorious day. I shan’t wait 19 years to return.
On Independence Day we went to the members’ party on the roof of the Museum of Science parking garage to watch the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. The fireworks were actually a bit obstructed (damn you Royal Sonesta hotel!) but there were beautiful views of the surrounding cityscape as the sun set on the 4th of July.
Podcast of the Week returns! Here are five podcasts from the past week that I think are worth listening to.
That time when the counterculture Yippies attempted a hostile takeover of the land. Disneyland to be specific. Except only about 200 of them showed and half of them were there for a goof. What a long strange monorail trip it’s been.
Home brewing is a big thing these days, among a stereotypical group of white men, but has a long history in the United States among women, enslaved people, and immigrants.
Libraries are used to tightening the belt financially, but in these days of Federal and state cuts they are facing unprecedented struggles.
The history of Washington, DC, built on an actual swamp, and how the development of the city reflects the views of the ruling parties over time.
Here’s a new podcast based on ESPN’s successful television sports documentaries. This episode covers the history of the notorious Red Sox fan chant and how a bunch of hardcore punks made a profitable business out of selling t-shirts emblazoned “Yankees Suck!” Brings back good memories of late 90s Red Sox games.
Over the past few months I’ve been collecting songs for what I call the Resistance Mixtape.
Music can soothe and inspire. Songs can tell stories and instruct. And most importantly music brings people together.
Here are some songs for the Resistance Mixtape for Independence Day.
Let’s begin with Paul Robeson, singing about “The House I Live In.”
Woody Guthrie’s famous response to “God Bless America” noted that even in a land where people wait in line at the relief office and signs say “No Trespassing” that the reality is that “This Land is Your Land.”
Prince & the Revolution similarly question the premise of “America the Beautiful” and whether or not the grace of God trickles down to our children.
Kim Weston sings a stirring version of the song known as “The Black National Anthem.”
Finally, the love we have for our own nation need does not mean we hate or demean other nations as we learn in the hymn “This is My Song” written by Lloyd Stone.
What other songs would you add to the mixtape?
I’ve posted many photos from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, so for a change of pace here’s a sampling of the art I saw in just a teeny portion of the massive Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ok, this blog has grown moribund and I find it impossible to keep myself organized enough to create a monthly “What I’m Listening To Now” post. So I’m bringing back “Song of the Week.” Especially since I heard this great new song on the radio (yes, the radio!) by Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas. The band is from Detroit, Hernandez sings in English & Spanish, and this track at least reminds a bit of the early B-52s. Enjoy some hot music for this hot Independence Day weekend!
Once again I enjoyed riding the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon with my kids, Kay and Peter. We rode the family-friendly 10 mile route through Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, and Brookline. It felt like the hills were steeper this year, but more likely I’m out of practice, and I borrowed a trailer to carry Kay so that was some extra weight.
Riders, volunteers, and sponsors raised $176,253 for all the good things Bikes Not Bombs does in Boston and international programs in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. You can still contribute by sponsoring us!
Author: Aaron Wallace
Title: The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom
Publication Info: Branford, CT : Intrepid Traveler, 
This will be the last in the trio of books about Disney theme parks I’ve read recently, but it’s also the best of the bunch. The author takes us on a tour of the Magic Kingdom and fills us in on the history, artistry, and hidden features of each attraction. Wallace knows a lot about the thinking that went behind creating the attractions and offers insight into how people respond to them. He also pairs each attraction with a movie to watch, and not always the most obvious one. Some of the films aren’t even by Disney! This is a great book on how Disney theme parks work as cultural artifacts.
Recommended books: The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream by Sam Gennawey, The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World by Susan Veness, Inside the Mouse: Work and Play at Disney World by The Project on Disney
Author: J. D. Vance
Title: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Narrator: J. D. Vance
Publication Info:Harper Audio, 2016
This book is being touted as offering insight into the Trump voter, but I think if you go into the book with that mindset you will be misled. Nevertheless it is an interesting memoir of life for the self-proclaimed “hillbilly” culture of Appalachia. Vance tells the story of his family from rural Kentucky and their migration along the “Hillbilly Highway” to a factory town in Ohio. His community is one of strong family ties, rugged independence, and fierce patriotism. But it is also a place of domestic violence, substance abuse, and extreme poverty. Vance’s beloved grandmother, Mamaw, who primarily raised Vance is a key figure in the book. One of the most interesting political observations in the book is that Mamaw could alternately support right-wing anti-government ideas and social democratic government programs. The contradiction of these seemingly extreme viewpoints is due to the fact the established middle of both Republicans and Democrats have abandoned the ordinary working people. Vance’s story is not typical for an Appalachian person as he joins the Marines, studies at Ohio State, gets a law degree at Yale, and now works at an investment firm in Silicon Valley. A lot of Vance’s book is the story of how he “got out” and doesn’t reflect the perspectives of those unable to “get out” or those for whom “getting out” is not an option to be desired. With those caveats in mind, this is a good slice of life of part of our country and our people who are too often overlooked.
Recommended books: Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, and The Other America: Poverty in the United States by Michael Harrington