Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Just a few updates from the Tasini campaign. First, we are delighted to announce that Jonathan has been endorsed by the Downtown Independent Democrats, a very active club in lower Manhattan. This is one more in a steady stream of endorsements by progressive Democratic clubs in NYC and all around the state. Check out our blog for the latest announcements: www.tasinifornewyork.org

Jonathan is at the moment cycling toward Rochester on his way to Buffalo for the State Democratic Convention. As you know, he is carrying a petition calling for an end to the war in Iraq. If you haven't already, please go the website and sign the petition, and forward the link along to your friends. We'd like to present thousands of signatures at the convention and let them know that this resolution really deserves a debate on the floor.

Interview with Desmond Tutu
by Mark Tompkins
For the Peace Alliance
At the Quest for Global Healing Conference
May, 2006, Bali, Indonesia

What are your thoughts on the movement to establish Ministries and Departments of Peace in governments worldwide?

DESMOND TUTU: It’s an extraordinary idea and, it fills one with a great deal of excitement and exhilaration, and it sounds crazy, but then I think it was crazy when Gandhi said we’re going to work so that eventually India is free. It must have been crazy when Martin Luther King Jr. also said we’re going to make civil rights a real issue in the United States, and maybe when Nelson Mandela and others said one day apartheid will be no more, that we need those like yourselves who dream dreams and say, "It is possible. It is possible for people to know that war is not natural."

People have been able to live peacefully together, but if they live peacefully together after war, why should they have war first before they can realize that it is a great deal better. War is not nice to children, it’s not nice to people, it’s not nice to the environment. And so I say go for it. This is marvelous. Go for it and really be crazy and say, one day we’ll ask, "Why were we so stupid for so long because of something so obvious?" Saying let us put our massive investment that we are putting right now in instruments of death and destruction, let us put them into something that is creative, that is life-enhancing teaching kids that there are ways of resolving differences that don’t need to be violent. You can sit down and ultimately say, "You know, actually, an enemy is a friend waiting to be made."

TIME Magazine
Letter to the Editor
The Following letter was published in TIME magazine recently, in response to an article about Senator Mark Dayton. Thanks to all in the Dept of Peace campaign who wrote in to the magazine and congratulations to Matt Rotella in Pennsylvania.

"The resolution to create a Federal Department of Peace and Nonviolence that Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton introduced was portrayed as an impractical liberal endeavor. In fact, that idea is neither impractical nor liberal. It is commonsense. The proposed legislation strives to establish a framework for resolving conflicts without military aggression. Will it prevent all future conflict? No. Will it reduce the amount of violence? The answer is yes. Is it worth a try? Yes! I tip my hat to Senator Dayton for standing his ground on what he believes, something that seems to be rare on Capitol Hill these days."
West Chester, Pa.

LIVING WITH WAR - The occupation of Iraq Helps Three Established Musicians Create Some of the Best Work of Their Careers
By Brian Smith, Daily Vanguard
May 26, 2006

It's been a little over three years since the United States of America invaded Iraq. Public opinion on the issue was divided before the invasion began and hasn't calmed down since. And as body counts and the price of everything from freedom to gasoline has risen, President Bush's approval rating has continued to slide downward. For many in the U.S.A., though, the day-to-day onslaught in Iraq remains a distant topic - something briefly seen and noted in the news, then just as quickly discarded. Yet for rock artists Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam, the United States' occupation of Iraq is still a burning issue. All three have recently released LPs that directly comment on the situation in Iraq. Coincidentally, all three albums are high-watermarks in each artist's career.

While Pearl Jam has openly discussed politics since the band began in 1991, Young's Living With War and Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions are in many ways the first time the artists have used their commercial artistic medium to loudly and vividly sing what can best be described as "protest songs." Granted, Springsteen has always been topical. Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A. were filled with images of a worn-out, downtrodden American working class. Creating a wondrous world of lost lovers and all-or-nothing laborers who constantly battled the cold realities of America and lost, Springsteen was a champion of and for the common person. In the 2004 presidential election, he was a co-headliner (along with Pearl Jam) on the Vote for Change tour. And Springsteen spoke and performed during the final days of John Kerry's presidential campaign, warming up the crowd prior to Kerry's on-stage appearances.

Young has dipped his toes in politics before as well. He made passionate guest appearances on the Vote for Change tour. He wrote "Let's Roll" following the downing of Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001. His "Ohio" is perhaps the finest protest song ever written by anyone who isn't Bob Dylan. And LPs such as Mirrorball, On the Beach and Hawks and Doves were all filled with stark portraits of an America at a loss as to how to define itself. But as the United States' occupation of Iraq has changed the world as of late, Young, Springsteen and Pearl Jam have found a common ground in their reaction and outrage to the new world order. Moreover, there is a striking similarity in the tone, demeanor and outlook of the songs that each artist has recently recorded.

"What does it mean when a war has taken over?" sings a defiant Ed Vedder in "World Wide Suicide," the blistering first single from Pearl Jam. "All foreign wars I do proclaim, live on blood and a mother's pain," Springsteen improvs in the Irish folk tune "Mrs. McGrath". "I'd rather have my son as he used to be, than the king of America and his whole Navy." Young is even more vitriolic. "And as the dawn breaks I see my fellow man," Young sings in his customary shaky tone. "And on the flat-screen we kill and we're killed again." As each artist's lyrics converge and meet on the same battlefield, so does the music that serves as their background.

On Living With War, the chameleon-like Young changes his sound once again. Stripping his arrangements back down (following the Grand Ole Opry big-band sound found on Prairie Wind), Young harkens back to his Rust Never Sleeps and Ragged Glory days. The guitar is thick and overtly distorted. Rhythmic chords charge while long, held notes shriek. A trumpet blares. Bass is simple and low. The drumming is tight and minimalistic. And a 100-person chorus backs Young as he delivers a sermon that would have President Bush in a confession box if he ever actually heard the songs. Springsteen matches Young's fire. Using only acoustic instruments, Springsteen re-opens graves and wounds via folk songs that have been sung (loudly) in barrooms and on stages for centuries. Horns, violins, a banjo, acoustic guitars, rolling drums and a rollicking backing chorus create an explosion of sound.

Sounding like an aged, impassioned general barking out orders to his troops, it's as if Springsteen has discovered the fountain of youth. But he's seen too much go down in the last three years to take a drink. Lastly, Pearl Jam can be read in a variety of ways. A 13-song testament to the perils of war, the insides of a soldier's head. A unified collection of characters, each of whom has been touched and left worse off by the policies of the Bush administration. Or, simply, a fiery, straight forward, propulsive rock record that has the band sounding better than The Who in their prime. Take your pick. However one sees it, though, it cannot be ignored that, lyrically, the LP takes the same reigns that Young and Springsteen hold on their albums. In their own way, each artist is making a declaration ... enough.

Vedder, a disciple of Young and Springsteen, is fond of Mike Watt's statement that "all of this manure will make for good fertilizer." Watt is right. It's taken three years of war and chaos, but Young, Springsteen and Pearl Jam have each released some of the best work of their long, storied careers. And people are listening. Each album has debuted in the top five of Billboard's sales charts. So, the question instantly arises: just what are the listeners going to do with the new sounds?


Post a Comment

<< Home