A few words about Ferguson…

maybe the reason the media covered this as much as they did was in part to condition us even more so into accepting a police state, and even martial law. To show that the National Guard has matured since the days of Kent State and were able to ‘save the day’ in Ferguson. This isn’t about a specific black teenager or a specific cop (not necessarily white) it is about the fact that black people were never re-humanized after slavery and are viewed as less than expendable. You cannot enslave someone without first dehumanizing him, and you cannot kill someone without first dehumanizing him. The problem is that since the 1860’s, there has been no attempt to re-humanize those long dehumanized by society. It doesn’t matter if the victim of this particular shooting had stolen cigarettes, or even a car, or even robbed a bank, it isn’t about him, and it isn’t about an extremely small number of ignorant idiots using tragedy as an excuse for chaos (looting, etc). It’s about why, if the cop Wilson was scared of this black teenager, why he was scared. I have some professors with PHD’s and spotless criminal records who, when wearing anything but an expensive suit, (and even then) illicit that same fear in police, in passersby, and even in some students. One professor (an older black man) wore a hooded sweatshirt for an entire semester to prove a point. He always had his credentials on him, which he needed to produce a number of times even on campus. If you feel at all afraid when you see a young black man, as this cop really might well have, that says far more about you and about your socialization than it does the individual. As a child and teenager, while i wouldn’t call it racist, i was certainly ignorant as fuck. Denying this, revising the history of my youth helps no one. I know I am a good person today, but i was on my way to becoming part of the problem, and i was part of the problem… ignorance certainly shouldn’t be considered bliss. To care more what your peers think than what your heart tells you…that needs to change. I knew better, but i just went with it.

More than once in middle school and high school, i remember returning the “insult” of “you’re a nigger” with, “no, you’re a nigger”. Though the same can be said about about every homophobic term in the book. I’m ashamed of how ignorant and stupid i was, but i was by no means unique. When we had respected couches we looked up to using this language, adults in positions of power and authority, who were we to question it? (though my mother certainly taught me better, and slapped me so hard my face was red the first and only time she heard me say the ‘n’ word. It wasn’t from my parents or family, but peers and couches and bosses are a bit more influential for some pre-teens and teenagers than their parents. My first job, working an a farm in Sunderland, I heard probably every hateful term about every group imaginable. Even a white teenager who stuttered wasn’t safe from the bosses abuse, and he was ridiculed for his stuttering. (for what it’s worth, the boss was a former police officer). I finally got the nerve to quit when he said, upon my 3rd request for ONE DAY off to attend the Warp Tour (music festival) as a music loving 13 year old kid, he said the day before the concert “don’t be a faggot, you’re not going to that gay shit and that’s final, try it and you’re fired” (after i told him off, he called my father to ‘talk some sense into me’ but thankfully my dad talked some sense into my old boss). This was also a man I hid my cartridge ear piercing from under a bandana, for fear of what he would say or do. So, by 9th grade, i had already had a boss (an abusive boss whom i looked up to and respected for too long) a couch, and more than a handful of friends casually dropping racist and homophobic language (usually as some type of insult). At a minimum, non-white people were ‘other’ and nothing was done to reverse that. My mom tried her best with talks about how everyone is the same and we’re all one, but i came to understand that as the language of ‘crazy hippies’. It made sense, but i never gave it a second thought, mainly because i never had to. I didn’t see how in the world my friend, or my couch, or my old boss using a ‘word’ as an insult aimed at me or someone else, was bad ‘but it doesn’t mean anything’ and after all, in those days the high school mascot was the “Redskins”. at 14, 15, 16 years old, we have no idea the weight that words actually have. We have no idea the conditioning that is taking place when we’re 8, 9, 10 years old watching COPS, since after all, it is just ‘TV’. As a child, and probably until i bought my first bag of weed in 8th grade, i was pretty certain that DRUG DEALERS were all black, maybe a Latino or two now and then. But every drug I ever bought in high school was from a white person, all of my friends who had serious problems with hard drugs, well, their dealers were almost without exception white. Hell, the DARE officer of a loved one of mine from when he was in 6th grade, that DARE officer’s son (a white kid) was among the worst offenders. Lets not kid ourselves. We are all the fucking same, we are all products of our environment, and REAL STRUCTURAL FAILURES have created the environment in which a lot of black and brown people live. There is such a thing as white privilege, and no it doesn’t mean that you haven’t struggled and haven’t worked hard for everything you have. Look beneath the surface. Need an example? walk into MACY’S. Walk around for twenty minutes, try on a shirt, maybe some pants. when you’re not followed, what do you call that if not privilege? My team leader from Iraq spent a long time in the military, and now works in law enforcement (one of the good ones, i swear). He’s never been arrested, never committed a crime, never taken a drug and doesn’t drink. Clean cut, clean shaven, dresses better than I do. To have witnessed the shit that he, and countless others i worked with through the years, has to deal with, and never having dealt with any of this myself, that alone is privilege (though that’s barely scratching the surface of the problems). If i am not mistaken, there was a fad years ago when i was in maybe 6th or 7th grade, and my sister was in 8th or 9th grade. White kids from our school, from her class, used to fucking steal everything they possibly could from Abercrombie & Fitch, and from a music store called Media Play. A shit load of clothes and a shit load of CD’s. I know a lot of people who have done and still regularly do coke, and some who smoke crack. the majority of them are white. not just white, but from “good families, good neighborhoods”. At 18, serving in the military with Black teenagers and men who, and getting to know non-white people for the first time, i couldn’t help but think about everything i had heard from friends, mentors, the media,…about how “they” were criminals: they stole shit and did and sold drugs. well, well, well…here were a bunch of black people in the military, honorably serving their country, NOT stealing shit or doing drugs,…and i had friends back home from high school stealing shit and doing and selling drugs. How strange. Then, even outside of the military, getting to know some of my sisters friends from Smith College, then no longer being afraid to befriend, and god-forbid date, people who didn’t look like me. I never hated or disliked non-straight-white, (etc) people,…but for the most part I was indifferent. A fear, not of interacting with people who didn’t look like me, but a fear of what people who did look like me would think if i did… they remained “Other” and likely would have had I never left my home town. Maybe, maybe not. Not a dislike, hate, or fear, but an indifference and misunderstanding. Only as i began to leave my teenage years were non-white people RE-HUMANIZED, and i credit a number of friends and loved ones and lovers and teachers and BOOKS for this, but certainly not society. Had I not gone against the grain, these other groups would still be the “other”, something unfamiliar.

When we aren’t familiar with something, we often use our imaginations to fill in the blanks. Well, for generations, even ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ Americans were free of the burden of imagination or curiosity, and the media filled in the blanks for us. The TV show COPS worked wonders. COPS represents all black people about as accurately as the TV show Breaking Bad represents all white people. or for that matter, about as accurately as COPS represents all white people. In and of itself, it’s not a problem, but when COPS becomes the only exposure that white people have to black people, and white people can look anywhere and see positive representations of white people, they start to believe that black= bad, and white of course (like them and their neighbors) =good. This idea gets reinforced on nightly news, in movies, and other tv shows. Never once in all my years of education through 12th grade did I hear anything about any structural issues than have grown out of the ashes of slavery. Not until i went in the military and became friends with people who didn’t look like me for the first time, did i realize that things are pretty fucked up, and that aside from that, on a human level, WE ARE THE FUCKING SAME. As long as we only talk about current social problems, and never address the enormous structural shitstorm that incubates social problems, as long as the death of a young black teenager leads us to seek excuses, while the death of a young white teenager leads us to seek answers, seek the truth, seek justice, we have work to do. I don’t think it matters whether or not this kid stole cigarettes, because the last time i checked the punishment for petty theft isn’t the death penalty. It’s sad if this is what it takes to get any sort of a conversation going in america, but it is a conversation that needs to happen and has never happened. Malcolm tried getting the conversation going, and we see what happened to him. Dr. tried to get the conversation going and we see what happened to him. and i know ‘slavery ended a long time ago’ ‘Jim Crow is over’… well, that’s not good enough. Rather than yell at me if you have a problem with what i wrote, for starters, read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. There are more black people in prison today than were enslaved at the height of slavery. black men are more likely to wind up in prison than college… As i mentioned, it’s certainly not because they are more “prone” to “crime” than their white peers… so, what is it?
Remember, it’s not about one teenager or one cop or one city…it is about truth and justice, freedom and equality…human rights…

http://newjimcrow.com/

Malcolm X

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

May justice rest in peace.

So it goes…

All Lives Matter

On September 11th, 2001 most, if not all of us here in America, even if not directly impacted by the terrorist attack, were able to empathize. We collectively shared in their pain and suffering. We wept at candle light vigils. We held hands with and hugged strangers, because for a moment strangers we no longer strangers, they became family, and we were mourning the deaths of family members. When I looked at the TV and saw video of human beings jumping out of a building to escape burning alive, I saw my parents. I saw my family. I genuinely ached. Those were real, very human emotions and feelings. The way we felt is, I believe, human nature. By human nature, we would all empathetically care for ALL victims of war/terror, and we would rather die ourselves than have anyone else die, regardless of ‘race, color, or creed’. But our tears were hijacked and used as a justification for war. Violence begets violence. Terrorism begets terrorism. War begets war. Retired military generals beat war drums on all the news networks, but failed to disclose their military industry-filled stock portfolios. Our mourning was manipulated and turned into rabid cries for revenge. As if watching “other” people die and suffer would somehow make our psychological wounds heal, and that thinking leads to a never ending cycle of death and more death. The higher-ups in the ‘news’ business understand the human mind extremely well, they have studied it and mastered what it takes to get us to think a certain way, to feel a certain way, to buy a certain product,…to love and respect the lives of a certain group over another certain group. If you were able to see family when you looked at the violent, horrific images from September 11, 2001 why can’t you see the same when you read about or see pictures of what has come to be known as ‘collateral damage’… non-American innocent civilians killed. Are we really that nationalistic? Is that really what ‘patriotism’ looks like? (other than the fact there are few cameras pointing at innocent civilians in other countries)

I challenge you to think of your family the next time you hear about the wrong house being blown up “killing 10 civilians, including 6 children”. Think of your mother. Think of your siblings. Think of your own children. Think of how you felt, as singer Alan Jackson put it in a country music song, “on that September day”. Terrorism in any incarnation is inhumane and despicable, but what is indiscriminately killing innocent civilians, blowing up sewage treatment plants, crippling power grids,…if not ‘terrorism’? The death of ONE innocent civilian offsets the value of any justice that potentially comes from killing the people responsible. Borders are imaginary lines, we have been socialized to see differences in people from one geographical location on planet earth, and another. Beyond this, many of us have also been socialized (trained/programmed) ascribe different values to the lives of those within our own communities. We react differently when we hear about a white teenager in Longmeadow being killed by a peer, than to a black teenager from Springfield. We don’t try to come up with excuses and explanations as to how and why the white teenager could have been killed. It is a tragedy, and it is understood as such. Even if the white kid was killed in a dispute over drugs, it is viewed as a tragedy, he is portrayed in the best light possible, and the mayor probably says a few words at his funeral about how ‘we are failing our children, we have to do better’. The deaths of black men have been so normalized in our society, and black people never re-humanized after slavery, society simply shrugs at the news of a black teenager being killed, if we do anything at all. When people a few miles away, or even a few blocks away, are still so dehumanized that their deaths are written off as ‘sad, but inevitable’…if we can’t even see a black family living next door as family, see our own mother when we look into the eyes of their mother… what does that say for mothers in Pakistan being ‘accidentally’ killed by drones. Mothers in Afghanistan? Iraq? Yemen? Somalia? When the black kid next door is expendable, that does not bode well for the teenager in Pakistan who not only doesn’t look like someone we’re supposed to care about, but strike two against him is he prays to the wrong version of a monotheistic god, and strike 3 is that he did nothing to stop the attacks of September 11, 2001. When in reality, the people we have been basically indiscriminately killing for the past 13 years (far longer, but lets just discuss recent history)…these people are NO FUCKING DIFFERENT THAN THE PEOPLE KILLED ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001. They are HUMAN BEINGS. Selfishly, you should care about them because if we all care about one another the same as we do our friends and family…maybe one day when America is no longer a powerful empire, and ‘we’ have been dehumanized into ‘them’…maybe, there will be enough folks who care about us, enough folks who see us as family, to prevent our slaughter at the hands of a new empire. Let’s reassess why we view the death of one innocent civilian by beheading as violent, aggressive, barbaric, inhumane… and the deaths of a dozen innocent civilians by a drone as acceptable. I would rather have my head cut off than be killed by a remote-controlled robot. However misguided, inhumane, and evil, the man killing you with the knife can see the blood on his own hands afterward. He hears you plead for your life, sees your chest rise and fall for the last time before he kills you, and hears you gurgling as you choke on your own blood before your the beheading is complete. There is literally visible blood on his hands. The result is exactly the same, though you can kill more than one at a time with a drone. The difference is that it’s far less personal, it is disturbingly sanitized, it is accepted. Saying ‘we didn’t mean it’ makes it better. Though we certainly do mean it. During World War One, the ratio of civilian to soldier deaths was 1 out of every 10. For every one civilian killed, there were 9 soldiers killed. Over the next century the numbers reversed. Today, it’s 9 civilians for every one soldier. Over 90% of those killed in war are innocent civilians. 10 % during World War One was too much, never mind 90 %. We don’t care about the deaths of the civilians, we barely pretend to care anymore about the deaths of the soldiers, and as a nation we have proved that we don’t give a fuck about the returning veterans, because if we did the veteran suicide epidemic would be the biggest news story in the country every day until things improved. There are nearly two-dozen veterans killing themselves every single day. That is a low estimate, but even using that estimate the equivalent of a new 9/11 happens EVERY 135 days. That means that there are the equivalent of 2.7 9/11′s every year just counting veteran suicides. The equivalent of nearly 30 new 9/11′s since we invaded Afghanistan, just counting veteran suicides. Within a few years of the attack, the death toll of firefighters dying from diseases related to their work in the weeks and months following the attack, surpassed the deaths of firefighters on 9/11. Let’s morn the loss of all innocent life, not only the lives of those we are told to mourn because it is politically convenient, American or otherwise. But since those we deem heroes (veterans and first responders) have been proven to be expendable by the government, and as a society we are socialized not to care, what chance does that mother in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else, have of us seeing our mother when we look into her eyes or hear her story? I challenge you all to care. Gandhi once said “If you cannot see God in the next person you walk by, you need look no further”. He didn’t mean that you have to actually walk past them…he was talking about everyone, including the expendable ‘collateral damage’ we so easily ignore.

As Dr. Paul Farmer said, “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong with the world.”

We all matter.

Thoughts on Armistice (Veterans) Day

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month… Armistice Day, the end of “the war to end all wars”…peace between nations…
it went on to become, not a day to commemorate the armistice, but to ‘honor veterans of all wars…”Veterans Day”

My thoughts on Veterans Day

My brothers and sisters and I did nothing to deserve your thanks and respect and admiration. Did nothing that had anything to do with your ‘freedom’ or with ‘democracy’. We were certainly willing to, that is why we all enlisted…but the truth is that we didn’t protect anything but the people next to us,… and the bottom line of a handful of billion dollar corporations. That’s a tough pill to swallow…we thought that’s what we were signing up for, we were ready to sacrifice our lives for it, but it was all bullshit. Beyond trauma, there is recognizing and accepting that your nation lied to your face and used you as cannon fodder, and in the ensuing decade the country you love more than words can describe, has LOST freedom and liberty earned with blood, sweat and tears throughout our history, in the guise of security. Google the name Smedley Butler. He was a Marine Corps Major General, twice awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He wrote a book in the 1930’s called “War is a Racket”. He spells it all out for you, and if things have changed, it’s only been for the worse. He was the only (retired) officer to stand with the WW1 veterans in DC as they camped out for the summer of 1932 in tents along the Anacostia River, seeking bonuses they were promised for their service in the ‘war to end all wars’. Their tents were burned to the ground by active duty soldiers, led by Generals MacArthur and Patton, who also had their men fire on the decorated veterans, who were in desperate need of the money they were owed because of the great depression. Veterans, and members of their families were killed, many others wounded. The bonus was denied.

Today, the fact that a bunch of corporate sponsors teamed up for a ‘concert for valor’ in DC, and we can get a free burger at Applebees, doesn’t negate the fact that Uncle Sam lied to us, used us, and has discarded us. A low-ball VA estimate says that 22 veterans KILL THEMSELVES EVERY SINGLE DAY. It should disgust all of you, but certainly not surprise any of you. The answer to traumatized veterans who realize they have been lied to, realize America is LESS FREE today than a 13 years ago, realize that their sacrifice and patriotism was hijacked by soulless politicians representing soulless CEO’s, the answer the VA has is pills. Lots of em. They all have suicidal side effects. Not smart to give an already suicidal person. I’m not saying that is by design, but they do little to make me think otherwise. There is likely a government numbers cruncher somewhere wondering how to get that number up from 22,…to save $$. Because that’s all it’s about. That’s all war is about. So long as there is profit in war, there will be war. So long as there are 22 veterans committing suicide each day, (not to mention the uncounted Gold Star and other military family members) they can hold off on the concerts, hold off on the free dinner, hold off on the pomp and circumstance, the parades and accolades that they feel obligated to put on annually, and the fucking mattress sales. So long as there are TWENTY-TWO of our nations best and bravest, and most selfless men and women coming home and seeing no other way out of pain and suffering than suicide, so long as we make up at least 1/3 of the homeless population, so long as we are cast aside as soon as we take the uniform off and stop waving a flag, men and women like the soulless politicians and corporate CEO’s sponsoring ‘thank a veteran’ day at ballgames, the organizers of the concert, the head of Applebees, and everyone else paying lip service and crying alligator tears, can all stop pretending that they give a fuck about veterans. That said, while I am not proud of how we were used, I am proud that my brothers and sisters and I were willing to put our loved ones and neighbors first and, however naively, risk our lives in the “name of freedom and democracy”. Service to others is important, it’s just sickening that we were all taken advantage of. And no, 18 year olds don’t understand international relations, understand politics, understand corruption, understand greed…we understood helping our fellow man. We were lied to. We were betrayed, and because of that betrayal we did nothing to protect freedom and democracy. Don’t thank a veteran, read a fucking book and learn our goddamn history so we stop repeating it again and again and again… that is the best thanks you could possibly offer. Pay attention to what is actually going on in the country and world, and look at how less free we really are since “that September day”…

And as for the numbers, don’t believe me…google it. Twenty-Two a day. That is absolutely insane. Try to reconcile that with what politicians say about how much they love and respect veterans.

RIP Thomas M. Menino, former mayor of Boston

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He was a politician. I won’t say that he was any better or any worse than any other politician, but the fact is that he was a politician. Let’s not make any human being into something they’re not after they die. Let’s mourn the loss of a fellow human being to an awful disease, but let’s not put on rose colored glasses and pretend in death that the mayor was radically different than any other politician in life. Sure, he accomplished some positive things, but when you wear Cesar’s clothes, you have to behave like Cesar. My most vivid memory of him was when he imposed a curfew and said he would “not tolerate civil disobedience in the City of Boston”, which ironically, is the birthplace of civil disobedience. When you act to curtail freedom of speech, when you act to silence peaceful, truth and justice seeking, law abiding citizens of your City, and instead stand up to protect banks and corporations, when you oversee a generation of rapidly expanding gentrification, when you oversee the militarization of your civilian police department…your death deserves to be mourned the same as that of any other human being, but certainly not more so. Why should we mourn your death any more than we would a homeless, drug-addicted Vietnam veteran? Or the death of any Bostonian, cold, alone and forsaken, forgotten by City Hall, forgotten by their neighbors? The Pru should keep its lights on, or leave them off to draw attention to the heroin epidemic that flourished under your reign, the children you failed, the teenagers you failed, the adults you failed, the elderly you failed, the city that ultimately, you failed. You can’t be successful when you run a community of human beings the same way you would run a business, at least not successful where it counts. You were good for banks and businesses, but you failed the least of your people.

All that said, he certainly could have been worse, and that sadly seems to be the best way to gauge politicians. “At least he wasn’t as bad as he could have been.” The city deserved better, and deserves better, “but at least he wasn’t as bad as he could have been.”

Rest in Peace, Mayor Thomas Michael Menino

“I sympathize with their issues, some of those issues we really have to look at in America, but when it comes to civil disobedience, I will not tolerate civil disobedience in the city of Boston.” October 11, 2011

Music is the revolution. (Can you skip one cup of coffee?)

I’m taking part once again in the amazing annual Halloween 5k/benefit, this coming weekend in Northampton. If you can drink one less cup of coffee tomorrow, i ask that you consider donating the cost of that cup to Calling All Crows. Whether a $2 large regular coffee, or $5 iced mocha latte, I promise you that helping Calling All Crows, regardless of the amount, is money well spent. Whatever you can donate, I PROMISE TO MATCH IT! And if you can skip that Latte tomorrow and donate $5, I will buy you a drink of equal or greater value the next time we see each other. Even if you’re broke and can’t make a donation, what’s more important to me is if you go to CallingAllCrows.org and check out their amazing work, listen to some of the talented and inspirational musicians involved with the organization, and if you agree with me that music can help change the world, please share the link, or tell your music-loving friends to check out CallingAllCrows.org.

In the past, I’ve helped raise $1,319 in support of Calling All Crows mission aiding and empowering women, and other oppressed groups around the globe. From providing energy efficient cooking stoves to women in Sudan, (it’s more important than you think) to shelter and services for Afghan women, (the 2011 benefit raised enough to provide shelter and vital services to 100 women in Afghanistan…which is huge) to fighting for marriage equality, to fighting to abolish the death penalty, to organizing community service projects before concerts, and getting todays youth engaged in social justice issues of all sorts, Calling All Crows is helping people BE THE CHANGE they wish to see in the world. The music, but most importantly the mission, is so inspirational. We all have to step up to the plate, in our communities, and around the world…we might as well have a great soundtrack.

Calling All Crows is a 501c3 non-profit started by Boston- area human rights activists/advocates in the independent music business, who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place, and are using the platform music provides to do just that.They are helping bring fans around the country, and world, into the fight for equality and justice around the globe. There are a lot of great organizations in the world, but I know the folks who started Calling All Crows, and know that they live and breathe this work, they believe in it 100%, and have dedicated their lives to changing the world. This cause is extremely important to me, I put my money where my mouth is and donate as much as I can, when I can. The folks associated with Calling All Crows continue to inspire me and countless others, through their words, music, and above all ACTIONS.

No matter where you live on planet earth, what language you speak, how wealthy or poor you are, music has more than likely touched your life in some way, shape or form. Some kids get a brand new guitar and years of lessons, some get one made from an old oil can and learn from trial and error and from watching others play. Some kids get a brand new set of drums, while some bang on pots, pans, jugs, trash cans, and anything else they can find. Some sing in fancy choirs in front of people in suits and dresses at Carnegie Hall, some harmonize with family and friends around a campfire, and dance by the light of the moon. Some play their songs for sold out stadiums, some for crowded pubs, some for folks waiting to board the 6-train at 3am. Some of us just listen and enjoy…Some of us can’t carry a tune in a bucket, and others can carry their band-mates to amazing places. Some play for money, some play for love, some play for their ancestors, some play for themselves, some play because it’s the only way they know how to communicate. Some people sing songs of joy, some sing songs of mourning and loss and longing, of freedom and justice, of love and life, of family and community, some sing songs to heal themselves, some to heal their loved ones, some to heal the world. The best experiences I’ve had in life have involved music, and I have come to see that it is the only truly universal language, regardless of what tongue you sing in. A happy song in Boston is a happy song in Belfast, is a happy song in Baghdad, is a happy song in Bethlehem, is a happy song in Beijing, is a happy song in Baton Rouge, is a happy song in Bogota, is a happy song in Belgrade, is a happy on in Beirut…music connects us. I think back to the accordion player on the boardwalk in Tiberius, on the Sea of Galilee, a fat old mustachioed man singing and dancing and brightening up the night with his music. We stopped and listened, and couldn’t help but dance, and laugh, and smile. Or the tall Rabbi in the woods of Montana, strumming on his ukelele, singing songs of peace and love. On one of the last nights of the 2013 Rainbow Gathering, he played until the sun came up and only a couple of us remained and the fire slowly burned itself out. Or other nights there, around a much larger fire, without inhibitions, hundreds of people dancing around the huge bonfire as dozens of men and women pounded on drums from dusk until dawn, relentlessly enticing us to dance the way our ancestors danced before they forgot how to. From the mountains of Afghanistan, to the valleys of Hawaii, music has played a crucial roll in helping create, and maintain communities around the world…in the truest sense of the word “community”. It’s how stories are told, memories are kept alive, and loved ones are honored. There are countless ‘difference’ that society is quick to point out between folks in one geographical location on this small planet in this small galaxy, in this infinite universe…but when you see folks dancing at a wedding in Iraq, or in Hawaii, or in the USA, or in Cameroon, or in Cambodia, or in Iran, or in Cuba, or Poland, or Egypt, or anywhere else…you understand that we are all the same. We all experience joy, all experience pain, all are capable of loving humanity. Music and dance is the language our ancestors carried out of the garden back in the day, and spread to every corner of the planet. I truly feel that MUSIC may be humanity’s best chance of survival… the best chance to recreate the communities of old, to show the world that we are all one, all the same. I see Calling All Crows as a huge step in that direction. Using music a vehicle of inspiration and change, bringing fans and musicians together to help improve the world. None of us choose when we are born, where we are born, to whom we are born, or even to be born…it just happens. The only thing separating you and someone just like you in Afghanistan is the butterfly effect of history. We had no control over being born in the worlds largest empire, just as much as people have no control over being born into the worlds most impoverished, exploited, and war-torn countries. Music can connect the world, and make it a more humane place…Calling All Crows is helping make that happen!
Peace, Love & Justice,

-J

https://www.classy.org/fundraise?fcid=362121

Silence the Drums

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(With a few lines from the patriotic WW1 song “Over There” written by George M. Cohan in April 1917. Americans believed at that time that the war would be short and the song reflected that expectation)

Johnny’s out of luck
stuck
next to his
broken down
made-in-America
truck
that’s been running on fumes
for too long,
and there he is
stranded
on the side of the road
and the midnight train
ain’t coming
and he’s left humming
that patriotic tune
trapped inside his head
that no snake-oil
can erase…
“Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun…”
and he doesn’t want it anymore
but can never give it back
“Hurry right away, no delay, go today…”
But after it’s over
the lines at the VA
are a mile long
and all end with
benumbing psychotropics
“Make your daddy glad to have had such a lad…”
and he can’t stand his family,
and he can’t face his own reflection
“Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy’s in line…”
and when you no longer love yourself
it gets harder to say
‘I love you’ to someone else
and mean it.
“Hoist the flag and let her fly
Yankee Doodle do or die…”
and he gets sick to his stomach
whenever he sees the flag
because he knows it’s blood-soaked
and used to hide the bodies
“Make your mother proud of you
and the old red white and blue…”
and his mother prays for him
because he lost god
by the rivers of Babylon
“Send the word, send the word over there…”
and he realizes
that everything he learned in life
is bullshit
“That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
the drums rum-tumming everywhere…”
and he can’t forget
that fucking song
“So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware…”
He tries to start running
but he’s ragged,
can’t sleep
with all those war drums
rum-tumming
jagged
tunes
of more war
after war
And it doesn’t matter
Who’s to blame
he’s madder than the hatter
pickled from too many
government pills
a deer in headlights
shoot to kill
and Johnny’s too tired
to fight
and with his last bit of strength
scratch’s his swansong exit
stage left
into the pavement
“We’ll be over, we’re coming over…”
Because someone called the cops
about the crazy guy
on the side of the road
smoke billowing out
of his American-made
truck
and it looks like Johnny got a gun
and he won’t run
and hide,
he’d rather get high
on adrenaline
this one last time
“And we won’t come back
till it’s over,
over there!”
and he wishes
that he never
made it back
to accolades,
handshakes
and free beer
at the VFW
then years of bitter pills
but here he is now
bleeding out by the side of the road
suicide by cop.
Some will call him a coward
but he found no other way
to silence that deafening sound
of new war drums rum-tumming
everywhere…
but it’s fine
in Uncle Sam’s eyes
because new Johnny’s and Jane’s
are born all the time
and grow up learning to sing
age-old patriotic tunes,
going on to make daddy’s glad
and momma’s proud
but if they’re among the lucky
and make it home
according to the VA
Twenty-Two will join Johnny
EVERY SINGLE DAY
To permanently silence
Those fucking rum-tumming
Goddamn drums of war.

flag drapped boxeszz1DSC_2102vets

Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone. -Kurt Vonnegut

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