Friday, August 20, 2010

Richie Hayward w/ Little Feat - 2009-05-03-Dixie Chicken

Dixie Chicken Little Feat

I’ve seen the bright lights of Memphis
And the Commodore Hotel
And underneath a street lamp, I met a southern belle
Oh she took me to the river, where she cast her spell
And in that southern moonlight, she sang this song so well

If you’ll be my Dixie chicken I’ll be your Tennessee lamb
And we can walk together down in Dixieland
Down in Dixieland

We made all the hotspots, my money flowed like wine
Then the low-down southern whiskey, yeah, began to fog my mind
And I don’t remember church bells, or the money I put down
On the white picket fence and boardwalk
On the house at the end of town
Oh but boy do I remember the strain of her refrain
And the nights we spent together
And the way she called my name

If you’ll be my Dixie chicken I’ll be your Tennessee lamb
And we can walk together down in Dixieland
Down in Dixieland

Many years since she ran away
Yes that guitar player sure could play
She always liked to sing along
She always handy with a song
But then one night at the lobby of the Commodore Hotel
I chanced to meet a bartender who said he knew her well
And as he handed me a drink he began to hum a song
And all the boys there, at the bar, began to sing along

If you’ll be my Dixie chicken I’ll be your Tennessee lamb
And we can walk together down in Dixieland
Down in Dixieland, Down in Dixieland

Social Media like Bertilak de Hautdesert – the mysterious Green Knight?

A report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph in the UK highlighted the problems of social media sites such as Facebook, Bebo, Twitter etc – an innocent surrendering of privacy destined to come back and haunt the writer in years to come.

In the anonymous Middle English classic, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Green Knight arrives at the court of King Arthur one Christmas and invites anyone bold enough to do so to chop off his head. The terms of the deal are that whosoever takes the challenge must in a year’s time meet with the Green Knight again, where they will be beheaded by the Green Knight in return.

Oh woe unto Sir Gawain who takes up the challenge! He strikes off the Green Knight’s head and the court watches as it rolls across the hall. And then, and then… the headless Green Knight picks up his head and rides off, demanding of Gawain that he meets him again in a year’s time.

So it is that a year later, that Gawain fulfils his promise. Before the final denouement with the Green Knight, he stays with the mysterious Bertilak de Hautdesert and his wife. Bertilak leaves to go hunting and his wife is left to look after Gawain. Here’s where the test begins: the wife tempts our hero, inviting him to be disloyal to his host, tempting him with her pleasures and her beauty.

Her failure is critical. Unable to tempt Gawain, she gives in and - in time-honoured fashion - hands him a green sash to protect himself from evil. It is this sash, when Gawain meets the Green Knight in readiness for his execution, which protects him from death. The Green Knight reveals himself to Sir Gawain as none other than Bertilak de Hautdesert, his host. The two depart; Gawain absolved of his deal a purer and more devoted knight…

And so it is with social media, methinks. We are invited in to its lair and exposed to its beauty. We become publishers. We write our own hagiographies. But there is a price to pay – our own potential execution when we have had our fill. Teenagers who reap the rewards for “dissing” friends and family. Membership of obscure and potentially dangerous groups revealed when candidates apply for jobs. Singular and eccentric views regarded as a flaw of personality.

Picture the horror on the face of the candidate for a job as family law practitioner when the interviewer asks them about their performance of lewd acts in a college bar. Or the teaching applicant laid bare in fish net tights and a cane…

If the challenge laid down by Social Media is the same as that laid down by the Green Knight, so it is that in the temptations which follow on our routes to purity are those laid out in front of us by the wife of Bertilak de Hautdesert. Cam we resist them? Can we be true to ourselves? And is our self truth one which can be substantiated when confronted by that higher judge, once more, the Green Knight?

Social media is about consistency delivering credibility, as commentators Chris Brogan and Julien Smith say in their book Trust Agents. So if we stay consistent in what we say, and what we do, there should be no problem. But if we pitch ourselves one way and describe ourselves another, then we will fail. And there will be no green sash to protect ourselves save that of the whim of Google, Facebook and the rest, giving us some form of privacy protection.

So let it be that social media – as marketing – is used with honour and not with contempt for manipulation. For if used well then we too shall emerge from its shadows stronger in ourselves and more credible. As Bertilak himself may well have said:

“Thou art confessed so clene, beknowen of thy misses and hast the penounce apert of the poynt of myn egge” – You are cleansed by your confession, by admission of your errors, and having openly done penance at the point of my blade.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Send Them Back an Old, and Awful, Refrain

Posted on 16. Aug, 2010 on Bob Rae's blog

Canadians have been caught up in the drama of the arrival of a small boat with 500 people aboard. They have travelled for several months on the Pacific Ocean, turned away in Thailand, Australia, and given the cold shoulder everywhere else until they reached the western shore of Vancouver Island, escorted by the Canadian navy.

Many have suggested that the ship should have been boarded and just turned away. Unfortunately these views have a terrible pedigree, and call to mind the fate of two other boats, the Komagata Maru and the SS St Louis.

The Komagata Maru set sail from Calcutta in 1914, picking up passengers in Yokohama and Shanghai before making the long voyage to Vancouver. Its arrival in the harbour was met by powerful hostility. In the previous decade Canada had opened itself to the arrival of 400,000 Europeans, but had strict laws and regulations preventing Asians and others from coming. The passengers on board the Komagata Maru, who were mainly Sikh, tried desperately to land but both the federal and provincial governments did all in their power to prevent the 354 passengers from landing. This brutal discrimination succeeded, and the ship was forced to sail back to Calcutta. The Imperial authorities concluded that the leaders on the boat were dangerous agitators for Indian freedom, and 19 of them were killed on arrival in Calcutta. Many others were arrested and imprisoned. The incident remains a dark stain on Canada’s reputation, for which Stephen Harper has yet to apologise in the House of Commons. The House itself has endorsed a motion in the name of Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla expressing just such an apology.

The SS St Louis made its famous voyage, known as the “voyage of the damned”, in 1939. Its 936 Jewish passengers made their way from Hamburg to Cuba, where they were denied landing, although they all had visas. After a stay of many days, the ship set sail for the U.S., where it was also rejected, and then to Halifax, where the Liberal government of the day also refused entry. It had to make its way back across the north Atlantic to Antwerp, where passengers were dispersed to a number of countries, many of which were soon to be occupied by the Nazis. Historians tell us that as many as 254 of the St Louis passengers were killed in Nazi death camps, while the rest probably survived the war.

Just two years ago Canadian Church leaders held a ceremony of apology to recognise the terrible wrong done. Bishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa said “remembering what happened to the passengers will help Christians make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

This past week Canadians have been subjected to wild rumours of disease rampant aboard the ship, and allegations that “terrorists” and “criminals” are about to run amok in the country. Many urged the Canadian navy to board the ship in international waters and send them on their way.

Bishop Gervais’s admonition notwithstanding, it would seem some have learned very little from our past. Of course people paid to get on the Tamil boat, just as they did to get on the Komagata Maru, the SS St Louis, and Kastner’s train for that matter.

Sri Lanka’s civil war did not come to a pretty ending. As the army made its way through the country, planes strafing villages and bombing civilians, Tamils who had returned home after the ceasefire of 2001 were corralled by the opposing sides to the north-eastern shore of the country. The complete exclusion of journalists and international observers and agencies makes it impossible to know how many died in the last weeks of the war: estimates range from a few hundred to 40,000. The entire leadership of the LTTE and their families were wiped out. Hundreds of thousands became refugees in their own country.

General Fonseca, who ran as a presidential candidate, was arrested the day after the election. Dozens of journalists are killed every year, and many foreign observers, from Swedish Foreign Minister to Bob Rae, Canadian MP (and writer of this blog), have been refused entry to the country.

Canada has an obligation under our law to take refugee claims seriously, to weigh them in a judicious manner, and to insist that allegations of “terrorism” and “human trafficking” be proven. We also need to work with our international friends and the UN to understand better why these boats are travelling, how they are being organised, and why people feel they should take them.

It is a pity Vic Toews didn’t mention the Komagata Maru and the SS St Louis, and why we’re not going to repeat those atrocities. To turn away a boat that’s been on the high seas for over 90 days would be unconscionable. It would also be illegal.

What, then, of the “moral hazard”, the argument that if we let one boat it will be followed by countless more ? These are not exactly cruise ships. Not everyone on them will be found to be a refugee. But if the Sri Lankan government says I’m a threat to their national security I’m less inclined to take seriously their blanket conclusions about who’s on the boat and why they’re there. I have confidence in our immigration and justice system. Vic Toews is right about one thing: the world is watching. I’m proudest as a Canadian when we’re setting the right standard for the world. We didn’t do it in 1914 for the Komagata Maru or in 1939 for the St Louis. Let’s get it right this time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tanya Tucker - Not Fade Away

That's not me playing sax, but it should be.

Third parties get third-class treatment

Published: Sunday, August 08, 2010, 11:43 AM
By Candy Neville

Third parties are not third-class citizens and the Fourth Estate should never forget it. According to an Aug. 2, 2010, Rasmussen Report, 35.4 percent of American adults are Democrats, 31.8 percent Republicans. The number not affiliated with either party is now at 32.8 percent -- a substantial piece of the American pie.

Big and constant "news" in this country is the national disenchantment not just with the government, but with the two major political parties.

Big and constant "olds" is repetitious coverage of every detail of squabbles between the two parties, while leaving a gaping hole regarding what change is occurring outside of them.

It's easy to follow the well-worn trail, but it is very clear that the trails that wander outside the Democrat and Republican boxes are growing in size and number. It is these trails of discontent, venture and new pursuits that represent the "news."

It is important that the loud, disharmonious, din of change that comes from within this 32.8 percent be recorded and published. The free press is our pride and hope. It is a lofty challenge to be the keepers of the parchment and ink and to pen today's story as it happens with objectivity. It is important that journalists seize the responsibility of it and not just the entitlement.

Frankly, only covering the same old, same old is getting old -- and just outside the box of negligence.

Candy Neville has been nominated by the Pacific Green Party to run for the U.S. Senate.

Related topics: candy neville, pacific green party, political parties

Fly Me To The Moon

Here's a great old recording from the first album by The Big Steam Band, including me on second tenor sax.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010