Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week of Contrasts


Last week had to go down as one of the most striking weeks I've seen. It started off with an acknowledgement of MLK Jr.'s legacy and bringing the country together. The next day we saw another country ripped apart before our disbelieving eyes.

The relationship is not that far apart. Haiti's human rights victory in 1804 had a direct affect on the anti-slavery movement in the United States and around the world. One silver lining in that rubble-constructed cloud is that some information about the pivotal role that Haiti has played in world history (and the way it's been punished for it's freedom ever since) is being uttered frankly in American main stream circles. Unless you were well educated in the history of people who have been historically marginalized, you may not have been aware of how important Haiti has been to the world. The Haitian Ambassador to the US, Raymond Joseph, and writer Edwidge Dandicat have spoken movingly and clearly about this topic as well as the disaster. It is terrible that it took such a catastrophe for many of us to know more about our neighbor. I hope these important historical points don't get swept away by, what is oftentimes the deluge of catastrophic images that replace actual news and context.

Another unexpected event, that isn't a disaster but could affect many, many lives here and around the world, is the declaration of Scott Brown as Senator-elect in Massachusetts. His place in the Senate might very well determine whether or not healthcare gets passed. As Alan Grayson, the rabble-rousing congressman from Florida has explained, over 45,000 people die every year for lack of healthcare in the US. Since Brown's in a blue state, we'll have to see how he works with his colleagues but this is really going to be a challenge to move the agenda for the progressives among us -- or anyone who wants better healthcare irrespective of political opinion on how it gets done. Brown's vote may determine if anything gets done at all.


As the week progressed it continued to get weird: the Supreme Court ruling that legal constructs are people too (and can talk!) was bizarre and distressing for democracy. I hope the legislative bodies move swiftly and quickly to ameliorate the court's decision.

(h/t choices campus blog)

Then Air America went down the tubes. I'm not surprised by this -- at all -- having listened to the network at its inception. They had great programming and the management just kept messing it up until they ruined the franchise. The one good thing that emerged from that self-sabotaging scenario was some of the talent it brought to the fore (who had enough sense to jump ship and/or supplement their distribution outside of Air America). Some of the notables I became familiar with because of the network (not the ones I knew of before its inception) include: the super smart Sam Seder, Marc Maron and the exemplary Morning Sedition show, Rachel Maddow, the Ring of Fire broadcasters. In fact, the attention that Air America drew to progressive affiliates gave me exposure to: Nancy Skinner, the Young Turks, and the very funny Stephanie Miller show. Needless to say, I don't agree w/ everyone 200% and they would certainly say the same thing about my musings but it's so great to have a few determined voices out there in commercial radio to counter the bombardment of intolerant, extreme right wing voices that are all over the AM dial. The cool thing is, I find most of the broadcasters that I hear to be pretty good comedians too and a little levity helps during tumultuous change.


As a side note, the Coco/Leno debacle did grab a moment of my interest too, truth be told. Not that I'm crying for any of those multimillionaires but I do recall Conan O'Brien's show when it first started and found him funny -- and very tall. The controversy between he, Leno and Letterman, from the little I know, was intense and ascerbic and funny at times. I guess I paid a bit of attention to it because *relatively speaking* the little guy (a.k.a. O'Brien) seemed to be cheated out of his chance. He's also closer to my age-peer so that probably has something to do with it, too. Having been at the very, very edge of the margin of entertainment culture, I have a sense of that world (just a bit) so I have a little corner of empathy. Not that he needs *my* support, for goodness sake.

(h/t Us

I certainly *got* my share of support this week though. I finally dragged myself out of the house to have dinner w/ some friends (despite my hermit tendencies) and also saw one of those once in a lifetime events: a collaboration between the late, extraordinary Max Roach's percussion group and the World Saxophone Quartet. They haven't played together in a few decades. I ran into folks I haven't seen in dogs' years! I'll say more about that in my next post, I think. It's been quite a week to process and I need some room in my head first to give that performance some space on my little blog.


Hang in there peeps,

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