Saturday, April 01, 2006

Harry Belafonte's Calypso

So I go the door this morning and there's a stranger there. He asks, "Are you Cedric?" Yes. He hands me a package and says good-bye.

It contains a few books and the CD Harry Belafonte Calypso. He's someone C.I. knows who was coming to my area so C.I. asked him to drop off the items with me. I'd mentioned Harry Belafonte in my post on Thursday (which C.I. was kind enough to note three times at The Common Ills) and I'd called C.I. before posting. While we were on the phone, I'd mentioned two CDs I had of Harry Belafonte's. C.I. had mentioned Calypso and was surprised that I not only didn't have it but I'd also never heard the entire album (one of my albums is a collection and some songs from Calypso appear on it). C.I. recommended it strongly.

I'd forgotten about that until the stranger showed up at my door. I'll note that the last time C.I. passed on a series of books, it never arrived in the mail and that may be why C.I. asked a friend who was traveling to my area to drop off this package.

I haven't even looked at the books. I've just listened to Calypso most of the day. Over and over. It really is a great album. It came out in 1956 and was a million seller back when million sellers were a rare thing. There are eleven tracks and besides "Day-O (Banana Boat Song)," the song most people will probably know, one of my favorites, is "Jamaica Farewell."

While I was listening, I thought about how I wished I had an illustration and, if I did, I'd write a little about the album. Then I remembered that Rebecca enjoyed the album and had been scanning some covers for future posts at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. So I called her cell but didn't get an answer. I tried Mike's home phone number (she, Fly Boy and Elaine are at Mike's this weekend) and he put her on the phone. She wasn't sure if she had it on her laptop because she has most of her jpegs on her home computer. She said she'd check and call back. She ended up networking with her home computer (don't ask me), I think, and when she called back, she said it was up at her site. So thank you to Rebecca for that.

I really enjoy Calypso. Too much so, in fact. I was washing dishes and went into the living room when "Hosanna" came on. I ended up sitting down on the couch and listening. Then, after the last track, I started the CD back up. At some point, I thought we had a light rain and probably ten minutes after that, I realized that I had left the water in the sink on. I had water all over the kitchen floor.

After I cleaned up my mess, I went back to listening to the CD. My cousin stopped by for a few minutes but ended up staying to hear the CD too. This is one of those albums that works as a whole. And you're not grabbing the remote to skip songs.

Another thing I enjoy is the fact that linear notes are reproduced. I wish new CDs would carry those. Sometimes you get a paragraph or two about the album, on a new CD, and maybe a list of thank yous but that's really about all. I have little interest in most of the "bonus" DVDs that CDs are being packaged with these days. I wonder why they don't take the time to provide linear notes but, then again, most of the CDs don't provide much worth writing about.

William Attaway wrote the linear notes, by the way. I didn't know the name but it said he is the "Author of several novels and screenplays. Mr. Attaway is currently writing scripts for television." If you click here you can learn about Attaway who died in 1986 of cancer and co-wrote six of the songs on Calypso. He lived a very interesting life, civil rights advocate, advocate before the civil rights period, even, and a writer of many forms. It notes that:

Attaway was the first black writer to write scripts for TV and films. He wrote Hundred Years of Laughter, an hour long special on black humor that aired in 1964. The hour-long special featured comedians Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, and Flip Wilson in their first appearance on television.

So that was interesting to learn. I think my favorite song on Calypso is "Brown Skin Girl." If you're like me before this morning and have never heard the CD, you're missing out more than you know (more than I knew).

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Afghanistan the forgotten "liberation"

Afghan Christian Convert Granted Political Asylum in Italy
In other news, Abdul Rahman, the Afghan citizen who faced a possible death sentence for converting to Christianity has arrived in Italy, where he's been granted political asylum. Rahman was arrested two weeks ago. Under Afghanistan’s laws no one has the right to contravene Islam.

That's from Democracy Now! today. Now Afghanistan's supposed to be a "win," remember? We're supposed to have "liberated" there. Forget the fact that we've let warlords control the country and that women are no better off than they were before Bully Boy's war (despite Laura Bush delivering a radio address on the need to liberate the women -- can you imagine how Rush and the right wing gang would have tarred and feathered Hillary Clinton for delivering a readio address like that). Just focus on the fact that there's no freedom of religion unless you consider freedom of religion to mean that you are free to practice a Muslim religion as much as you want.

He was put on trial and "safety" for him means escaping to Italy. Now do we still want to pretend that we "liberated" anything or anyone in Afghanistan?

There was an NPR reporter, a woman, who left NPR and decided to try to help in Afghanistan. She was interviewed by David Brancaccio when the program was still NOW with Bill Moyers. (And when it was still an hour long.) Things weren't going great then. (Moyers left the show by January 2005). And you think they've gotten better?

Her name is Sarah Chayes. Here's some of what she said on the October 24, 2003 broadcast:

CHAYES: It does technically, but there's a lot of autonomy in these provinces. Largely because frankly the leaders or the rulers of these provinces were chosen to be the proxy to drive the Taliban out of Kandahar. Sorry… to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan.
Because it's not just Kandahar that's under this sort of war-lord rule. It's also Herat in the west, and it's, you know, it's basically each region has its local strong man. And these people obtained a lot of weapons and a lot of money, largely from the United States.
Which was fair enough. In other words, we were not going to go in massively on the ground in Afghanistan the way we did in Iraq. And so we needed people to do it for us. And these were people who had been opposed to the Taliban, so why not go with them?
The problem was that this massive influx of arms and money to these guys gave them a kind of… it rooted them. It anchored them. And what's happened now is that they report nominally to Kabul. But very little in fact.
That's one side of the security situation. The other side of the security situation is a visible resurgence of Taliban activity. And this has been happening very… again, I don't feel in danger in Kandahar. I don't… it's not on the surface of it now very grave as far as I'm concerned.
But it's the pattern that I'm starting to feel to be a bit worrisome. Which is that there was sort of nothing for the first six months after the Taliban defeat. Then you started to see in, for example, across the border in Pakistan you started seeing Taliban showing themselves very openly in the streets with their classic clothing and all that kind of thing.
It was clearly a trial balloon to see what the reaction would be. And there was actually no reaction. And then the next phase was sermons against… in mosques against the U.S. Presidents, against the central government in Afghanistan. Against girls going to school, things like that. There were letters left in mosques and schools in Afghanistan.

That was in 2003. Things haven't gotten better. But this is supposed to be a "success."

Here's what Christian Parenti wrote recently in Christian Parenti's "Afghanistan: The Other War:"

Only ninety-eight US troops died in Afghanistan last year; but the ratio of US casualties to overall troop levels makes Afghanistan as dangerous as Iraq. While Iraq's violent disintegration dominates the headlines, Bush touts Afghanistan as a success. During his recent visit, the President told Afghans that their country was "inspiring demand their freedom."
But many features of the political landscape here are not so inspiring--for example, the deteriorating security situation. Taliban attacks are up; their tactics have become more aggressive and nihilistic. They have detonated at least twenty-three suicide bombs in the past six months, killing foreign and Afghan troops, a Canadian diplomat, local police and in some cases crowds of civilians. Kidnapping is on the rise. American contractors are being targeted. Some 200 schools have been burned or closed down. And Lieut. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the senior American military officer here, expects the violence to get worse over the spring and summer.

And this week saw the death of a Canadian soldier and an American. C.I. noted it yesterday:

The scene of Bully Boy's other "liberation" still hasn't seen "democracy" but it does continue to see violence: in Kandahar a Canadian soldier, an American solider and eight Afghan soldiers were killed. (The name of the Canadian is Robert Costall -- only name released -- who was twenty-two.) Three Canadian soldiers were also wounded. And veterans of the Vietnam war have joined with others to insist that the United States "take responsibility for victims of the Agent Orange defoliant used by the U.S. military."

I included the Agent Orange sentence because I think that's important but as soon as I read over the copy and paste, I started thinking it was also fitting. We don't follow up on anything. We've denied Agent Orange and we deny what's going on Afghanistan. I'm not sure if I should write "we." Obviously, I'm largely speaking of the administration (which isn't "we" -- I never gave my approval for faith-based funding or for illegal wars or for anything the administration has done) but it's true that "we" also includes the people. And if we demanded that the government be accountable for its actions, they'd have to.

It's all "the other war" unless it's Tom Brokaw getting misty-eyed for "The Great Generation."
We don't think about it, we don't care. You can throw in WWI as well. Tom Brokaw didn't think they were the greatest generation. And with Bully Boy saying "global war on terror" all the time, I've started to realize he really means WWIII.

Katrina vanden Heuvel doesn't want people making comparisons to Hitler and others of his ilk. I like her but I don't work for The Nation and I'll write whatever want, thanks for the suggestion.
Now Hitler's considered to have started WWII. There's dispute about Pearl Harbor (which leads to the US entering) but I think a lot of people would say it was Hitler's actions that set WWII into motion. (If not, e-mail me and gripe.) Who's put the "global war on terror" into motion? Bully Boy.

He didn't want to prosecute terrorism, he wanted a war. He's said it plenty of times, "I'm a war time president." So if he wants a "global war" -- what is that but another world war? "Globe" equals "war."

I remember a city council meeting that a number (a large number) of us attended. And a pastor (not my preacher) spoke in front of it. This was in 2003, a few months after the invasion. He said Bully Boy was acting like Hitler by lying us into war and this White man, at least in his fifties, starts crying. In public. And he's a city council member. And he starts going, "Don't you say that! Don't you say that! Don't you compare our president to Hitler! Don't you say he lied us into war."

Okay, with the Downing Street Memo and this week's memo, I think a lot of us can say, "He lied us into war" and if that causes someone to burst into tears, too bad for them.

But I really don't like Katrina vanden Heuvel telling people what comparisons are "good" or "bad." Maybe it works that way in the White world but she's not speaking for all cultures and she's sure not speaking for the African-American culture around me.

It's like when that creep Bernie wanted to lecture Kayne West about what to say and how to say. African-Americans don't need Whites telling them how to speak. If it irritates you, don't listen. But outside of the conservatives ones, I doubt there was any confusion about what Kayne West meant in the African-American community.

We're still fighting for our rights and we don't need a White person, trying to be helpful or not, telling us how to talk. Maybe it's not that we don't know how to speak, maybe it's that your not the intended audience?

There are cultural differences and a lot of "helpful advice" often seems like a White person is trying to tell us how to speak. It's like when the Katrina victims were testifying to Congress and that White man butted in on the African-American woman and started saying, "Don't you use concentration camps!" She's a grown woman. She can use any damn term she wants to. That was so disrespectful.

It offends White ears? Too bad. If James Brown had polled "I'm Black and I'm Proud" to White audiences, he never would have used it in a song.

You don't want to use a phrase, don't use it. You don't want to make a comparison, don't make it. But quit thinking that Kanye West is talking to you just because you saw him on the TV. A lot of people grasped what he was saying, people of all color, that some New Republic pushing, "War Got Your Tonuge?" silenced White guy didn't get it is his own problem.

And I don't think Harry Belafonte made a mistake comparing Bully Boy to Hitler. I'm proud he said it. Katrina vanden Heuvel listed that as a one of her no-no examples. I'm sorry it was a no-no for her. But in the real world, in African-American circles, we got it. We understood what he was saying. And a lot of us, including me, got it.

It's like when Aretha Franklin sang it "Sock it to me" in "Respect" and when Richard Nixon said "Sock it to me" on Laugh-In. It didn't mean the same thing. There was a racial context. And I really didn't appreciate Katrina vanden Heuvel including Harry Belafonte on her list.

I'm glad she's against the war. But African-Americans were against it in large numbers before it started and that's remained consisentent. We didn't need the mainstream media to report a little of the truth (finally) to form our opinions. We didn't need "tastemakers" with their carefully chosen words telling us how to speak or advising us of what was going on.

Next time Katrina vanden Heuvel wants to make a list of suggestions, she should focus on people of her class, her race, her education background. (I won't say her gender because she doesn't spend a lot of time writing about gender.) Leave the African-Americans and Native Americans off the list of examples and understand that although I respect you, I don't need a White person telling me how to speak or what comparisons to make.

She really offended me by putting Harry Belafonte on her list. As far as I know, The Nation has only one African-American who regularly writes for the magazine, Patricia J. Williamson. So maybe she thinks African-Americans don't read The Nation? If that's the case, we do. If that's not the case, before she tries to put words in our mouths, she might want to consider putting us in the magazine itself in something other than a "Remember Brown v. Board of Education" special issue. I see a lot of Whites writing for the magazine. I don't see a lot of non-whites. I'm assuming Liza Featherstone is Native American based upon her name and that might be a mistake on my part. But I see Featherstone and Williams and that's really it.

Instead of telling everyone how to speak, that time might be better spent trying to make the magazine more representative of how all of us, from various backgrounds speak.

I didn't realize how offended I was by that column until now.

I think it's because I don't think she was trying to offend to anyone. I think she was trying to offer some inspiration and she does that in many of her columns. But I'm serious on this, if you've got a beef with the way people are talking, stick to your own kind. Don't write suggestions for everyone. Not when everyone is represented equally in your magazine. In fact, if it weren't for the Jewish writers, the magazine would probably be overwhelming WASP.

I'd just intended to write about Afghanistan and have no idea how I even got into this topic. I think it was Bully Boy's "global war." That's a world war. WWIII on terrorism, but it's still a world war. We don't have gas chambers. We do have a government that tortures. We do have a government that rounded up people after 9-11 and it was the dark skinned people, not the ones who looked like Katrina vanden Heuvel.

She's spoken out against torture and I know she gets it and then some. But just because she doesn't make the connections other people make doesn't make them wrong. And it may go to the fact that she's writing from her own perspective while attempting to make universal statements.

I'll stop here because I've been trying to rush tonight because Mike wants to note my post. C.I.'s been asking if everyone's doing their part to note at least one other site each day. I called C.I. and said it was very nice (and C.I. notes me all the time) but that I was doing fine. But C.I. wants to be sure that everyone has a chance to be noted. (And C.I. noted Kat twice this morning. Kat said C.I. asked her not to post her review at The Common Ills until she knew she'd have time to blog at her site too because that way people clicking on her name in the review would see something new.)

I just called C.I. even though I know this is a crazy time. I said I had some strong criticism of Katrina vanden Heuvel. C.I. goes, "And?" Which made me laugh. I said, "Well I didn't want to post it if it was going to make you or the community uncomfortable." C.I. said, "Post it. Your opinion matters. If someone disagrees, they disagree. But you need to share your thoughts or there's no point in writing anything." I said, "Well, you noted you disagreed with her column but I'm going into why I disagree with it." C.I. said, "That's fine. There's nothing wrong with that. She wrote her point of view and you're allowed to write your point of view. That's how free speech works. I'll make a point to note your entry tonight or tomorrow morning depending upon how time goes."

I appreicate C.I.'s support. And feel more than a little foolish for wondering if I'd get it. I know from Wally and Mike that one of the sites C.I.'s concerned about getting attention is mine. Trina's and Seth's are two others. C.I.'s never been anything but supportive and that's probably why I did worry. Like most of the community, I do like Katrina vanden Heuvel's writing. I think she's smart and often inspirational. But I think that was a really bad idea. If you have a problem with that, write me and don't gripe to C.I. Visitor or member, take it up with me. (I know, especially visitors, usually go running to C.I. and I don't want to cause a headache for C.I. Especially after last weekend's marathon, never ending session at The Third Estate Sunday Review.)

Let me add that you should check out Rebecca's "iraq in crisis and chaos - the us continuing the occupation will destroy the country" and Elaine's "Peace comes from being able to contribute the best we have" because they are both making strong points. Also Betty's posting a new chapter tonight. (It may be up already.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Blabbering when I'm tired

Channeling Wally's Bully Boy Press for a moment:

Sunday Condi Rice accepted the apology of Dave Lenihan's racial slur against her. Said Rice, "It didn't hurt at all. It might have if I were African-American but as a White woman, I frequently use racial slurs against those people as well."

Thanks to everyone who e-mailed to say they enjoyed Wally and my joint entry Friday. It was fun writing with Wally. The other thing I got e-mailed about (three) was what happened with The Third Estate Sunday Review to make it take so long for features to go up there? I can't answer that in full because I had to bail to get some sleep before church. I know from Dona and Ty that it was just a long, long session. While I was taking part, there was a lot of discussion. I think it was a case of feeling like the choices were too wide spread and wanting more of a focus. (Some wanting more of a focus.)

Dona said Jim feels really bad because C.I. and Ava were both wiped out. They wrote their TV review near the end of the morning ("TV Review: Joy Ride?") and they both fell asleep while they were writing it. (I'd already bailed at that point). So Jim feels bad about that and about the fact that C.I. still had to go and post at The Common Ills after that. Saturday/Sunday was like pulling teeth.

Jim may write about it and I'll leave it at that in case he does. But it was just a really long session and I wasn't there at the end so I have no idea how it went in the final hours. Ava and C.I. both agreed, while I was helping, to a piece that they really weren't too keen on and they did it because they wanted features on France (the protests) and on Puerto Rico (the way the FBI's targeting those who are part of the independence movement). They were both promised that if they participated on the feature they didn't want to, those features would be done. Then they didn't get done. There was no time, there was no energy. So Jim feels bad about that.

If you read it now, it's a strong edition. But if you were up Sunday morning and ready to read, you may have been disappointed. Jim said that there was only one thing up at 7:00 pm eastern time (one new thing, not highlights). You did get a strong edition. It just took some time for stuff to go up. And because everybody was working hard to smooth out what was completed, Ava and C.I. couldn't break away for their review. They wrote it and it went up.

Ava said she'd talked to C.I. and neither of them have any idea what they wrote but hope that they got the point across that Free Ride was a good show and that it revolved around the main character (Nate) and the environment (the city he lives in). I've read it and I told her it did. (It's a really strong review. I was impressed reading it. I was more impressed when I found out that they both fell asleep while they were writing it. And not the thing where you doze off and then jerk your head back up and wake up. Ava says they were both out for five minutes at least.) Ava said she'd take my word for it because she never wants to read that review.

That's always weird to me, that they don't go back and read their reviews, because I'll go back and read my stuff. I may think, "Wow that wasn't clear" or I might think I did an okay job, but I'll read it. But from what everyone says, it was just the longest, most never ending writing session and the editorial was taken from roughed out stage to completed at which point Ava and C.I. wrote their review. So I guess if it was me in that kind of process (and that's happened before) maybe I'd see it like torture and just be glad something was up (as long as I never had to read it).

If you missed the latest edition, here's what's up:

Danny Schechter speaks on Iraq and the media 7PM March 29th in NYC (open to the public, no charge for admission)
Will Interview With The Vampire become the new Catcher in the Rye?
NSA Hearings This Tuesday on PACIFICA RADIO
Editorial: Who's hiding in the shadows and who's waving their Feingold?
TV Review: Joy Ride?
The Washington Post leaves us still Waiting For Lefty
The 2008 Democratic primary is already over
Saturday's third hour goes to the arts on RadioNation with Laura Flanders
Why They Crawl

I did talk to C.I. today but mainly we talked about highlighting because C.I. wanted to know if I thought I was being highlighted enough at The Common Ills? I think C.I.'s done a wonderful job highlighting me. I appreciate the concern and the ability to always ask "Am I doing enough?" because a lot of people don't have that. (I'm not referring to anyone in the community.) But C.I.'s always doing that sort of self-examination.

Well not always. We talked mid-day Saturday on the phone and C.I. was pissed. You don't get to hear that side of C.I. too often. But this guy had written in slamming C.I. about Iran. "How dare you say ..." And if the person was disagreeing with what C.I. wrote, C.I. would have tossed it around and wondered whether it was fair or not. But this person was cricitizing C.I. for stuff that Margaret Kimberly wrote. That's the one thing C.I. hates. If you disagree, C.I. is more than willing to discuss it (and usually more than willing to take blame that shouldn't be grabbed, in my opinion). But if you're trashing C.I. for something C.I. wrote and C.I. didn't write it . . .

That's just an issue with C.I. Take apart anything written and fine, it's your opinion and you may be right is the attitude. But don't put words in C.I.'s mouth.

I'm going to repost that section from Friday so you can see how it read and it will let me note Magaret Kimberley who is a write I really enjoy:

The above is from Andrew C. Revkin's "Climate Data Hint at Irreversible Rise in Seas" in this morning's New York Times (Brad noted it). One of the few articles worth noting in what's a very "skimpy on news" newspaper today.
When the DN! entry was done yesterday, The Black Commentator's latest edition hadn't gone up yet. Now that it has, we'll note Margaret Kimberley's "Let Iran Have the Bomb" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):
On August 6, 1945 the United States killed over 100,000 men, women and children at Hiroshima, Japan with the newly invented atomic bomb. Three days later a second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. Some victims were incinerated into thin air, others fled in agony with their skin hanging from their bodies. Thousands more died in the weeks, months and years that followed.
The justification for this horror is the usual one for blood thirsty behavior. We killed people in order to help them, a convenient explanation for the perpetrators.
In fact, large numbers of civilian casualties were not an incentive for the Japanese to surrender. The napalm fire bombing of Tokyo and other cities created similar numbers of casualties but the Japanese didn't surrender after those human catastrophes. More than likely the Soviet Union's declaration of war against Japan motivated the raising of the white flag. The mass murder of thousands served only as a test for a new weapon, a horrific experiment in mass murder.
The United States is still the only nation to use an atomic weapon on human beings. Keep that fact in mind when we are whipped into a frenzy of fear regarding the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
Every impartial observer of Iran's nuclear program agrees that it is at least five to ten years away from attaining a nuclear weapons capability. You wouldn't know it to hear members of Congress, the lapdog press and the Israeli government.
Keesha, Lewis and Carl all noted Kimberley's latest in their e-mails.
From Iran to Iraq, Denise notes Matthew Rothschild's "Press Conference Confessions" (This Just In, The Progressive):
OK, Bush finally fessed up: U.S. troops are going to be in Iraq after he's out of the Oval Office, a day that can’t come soon enough.

So you read it. Did C.I. write about Iran? No. "Every impartial observer of Iran's" was the thing that ticked the guy off. He wrote C.I. asking something like, "How dare you write that! You don't know what you're talking about! People who don't know about Iran shouldn't write about it." And the guy didn't say where the thing appeared, C.I. just knew that it wasn't written by C.I.

But how bad a reader do you have to be to read that and miss Margaret Kimberley's name? Or "Keesha, Lewis and Carl all noted"? Pretty bad.

I liked Kimberley's column. I always do. She's a really good writer.

I'm just blabbering on tonight because I'm tired. I'm almost took the night off but decided to post something, anything. Do yourself a favor and check out C.I.'s commentary on the NSA hearing today with an emphasis on Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo.