GrassRoutes was a multidisciplinary arts event, held 5/21/06 in Seattle, which represented the paradox inherent in our transportation choices. It was held where in 1969, several thousand citizens marched to stop construction of an Expressway which would have cut through the beautiful Arboretum. Citizen protest won out, leaving "ghost ramps."
In "Tour of the Future: Come Visit the Historic Ruins of Highway 520," artist Nicole Kistler acted as our "tour guide of the future." Inspired by visits to archaeological ruins such as Tikal, Rome and Ankor Wat - whose societies collapsed - she decided to illustrate the eery parallel with the behaviors of our society. Signage was posed along the trail loop, with simulated binoculars and telescopes for viewing from historical and future periods. We passed installations such as a site of possible former car worship, the "tangled web" woven by the oil companies, and an opportunity to experience what it felt like to ride in a "single occupancy vehicle." Finally, we ended up at Ghost Ramp Field for a dance by backpackers and participatory percussion with instruments made from cars, the transportation mode of the past.
My friend Touba and I got up early and went to Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Seattle this morning. The sermon was given by Reverend Al Sharpton. We saw $67,000 given out in University scholarships and the music was so fabulous we didn't stop moving for two hours! I told Sebastien in Paris about it and he sent the photo of himself (upper right, tall guy) taken in NYC while he was an intern for Bill Clinton recently. "Is this the guy?" he asked. Definitely!!
"Every day above ground is a great day!"
Reverend Sharpton proclaimed this in observing that the world seems on a collision course, with bombs, going to Iraq on a lie, poverty and homelessness. He talked about how the church needs to return to its roots of social justice. We should not come to church expecting to learn how to get rich via "gospel Lotto." After 150 years of segregation, why should people be afraid to discuss what's going on in the world.
"You meet many preachers but few ministers."
"Anyone can be saved for two or three hours a week."
"We live in a strange time .. with big edifices with small missions."
"Too many of us are so heavenly bound that we're no earthy good."
"Ain't no use filliln' up your tank if you ain't got nowhere to go."
"We don't need preachers to bless our shackles, we need preachers to break our shackles."
"God used Moses to speak up against Pharaoh, and God can use an al Sharpton to speak up against George Bush."
He really hit hard on going back to "the fruits of our roots." Knowing that there is a large black middle class in Seattle yet some gang and social problems, he wondered whether parents were doing enough to underline the historic role of people who "died to give them their rights." He championed illiterates who paved the way for later generations to go to college, unempoyed who opened the door for corporate executives.
"Mirrors are not to reflect what you see. Mirrors are to correct what you see."
He told how one of the news magazines had featured three black executives and titled the article "The New Black Power." They considered these individuals to be "the alternative to the Jesse Jacksons and the Al Sharptons." He pointed out that they are the "result of the Jesse Jacksons and the Al Sharptons." Similarly, he chided black academicians who never fought for affirmative action but champion the right to use the "n word." Gangsta rappers have told him they are only exercising their right to "free expression" and "keepin' it real" and "kicking it like we see it." He told them that it was interesting that they only denounced their own and wondered what would happen if they used racial slurs for other groups on the radio. Similarly, he denounced the degradation of women in music.
"There wouldn't have been a Colin Powell if there hadn't been an Adam Clayton Powell."
That one almost made me fall off my feet, because it came on the tales of a history lesson about Althea Gibson and Medgar Evars and Martin Luther King. Adam Clayton Powell and Jesse Jackson were mentors of Al Sharpton's. Adam Clayton Powell was known for saying "Keep the faith, baby" and Jesse Jackson was known for saying "Keep hope alive." Over time, Al has come to believe that Adam Clayton Powell's slogan is much deeper than he ever imagined, for what is hope without some kind of underlying faith - in the future, in something. Otherwise, what is the point of even hoping?!
Al used to join the entourage of Muhammed Ali when he would come through Brooklyn, where Al came up through the projects as child of a single mother. He once asked Ali, "When did you know you were the greatest?" At first Ali thought it was after he beat Sonny Liston. Then he thought it was after he returned to boxing after being kicked out for not going to Vietnam. Then he thought it was after he knocked out Ken Norton, an unknown, when the tide was turning against him. He said, "Al, you wn't be great until you've been knocked out." The message was "don't give up." This tied in perfectly with Al's earlier message that the legacy of the black race has been not to surrender, even when considered subhuman.
I think I would call what we saw both triumphant and inspiring, and it's a little of an antidote to one of those depressing articles a friend just sent me about consolidation of Bush's base through the megachurches.
Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Pile on many more layers and I'll be joining you there.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph,
sail on the steel breeze.
Come on you boy child, you winner and loser,
come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine
Dedicated to Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd
(died, age 60)
I am so sick of the president desecrating the flag. He and his followers wrap themselves in the flag and claim they are bringing freedom to the Iraqi people. This, given the results, makes me sick just to think about it. I’m not talking about the lies that led the US into Iraq; I’m talking about the results of this policy. The president claims that a war is being waged in Iraq. It isn't a war; it's a bloody occupation.
So let’s look at what the president calls Iraqi freedom:
It’s clear now that more than 100,000 Iraqis have died since Bush declared war and the US occupied Iraq. This was true two years ago before the start of large scale sectarian violence and renewed bombing by the US.
The US is grabbing people off the street in Europe and “rendering” them to prisons where they are tortured. Several have been released after two years and it is known that their renditions were a mistake. If this kind of activity is taking place in Europe, what is the US doing in Iraq?
Well, we know that the US is torturing people in Iraq. We know, too, that US troops are insufficiently trained and overstressed, and that this has led to US deaths and war atrocities.
Freedom? Do you call that freedom? So what’s the republican controlled congress doing about it? They discussed an anti-flag desecration amendment to distract public attention from real issues. Well, I’m tired of it. I plan to barbecue this Independence day and not even think about the crimes of this administration. Below is a photo of my meal, right before it was transferred to the grill.
In case you are interested, the meal includes a Chicken-Feta Cheese-Spinach Bratwurst along with low-fat Turkey meatballs displayed on a American flag paper plate.
Flag desecration was the right-wing topic de jour for the past few weeks. Most of the discussion and examples that were brought up in the debate were about flag burning, but the amendment addressed flag desecration. What the right failed to mention was that many of their supporters desecrate the flag on a daily basis. I thought I would use this July 4th holiday to show you some images that represent how many GW Bush enablers are supporting the economy and the country by going shopping (snark) and wrapping themselves in the flag.
First, they put on their flag t-shirt and fill up the tank because Walmart might be 40 miles or more from home now that the local stores are all bankrupt.
When they arrive at the store they can buy some American-flag clothed dolls for use at a pro-war rally:
Or add this item to their wardrobe so they can be a bowtie conservative like Tucker Carlson:
If they want to join a right-wing think tank or run for republican office, they might consider something a little more manly, such as an Army tie with the image of a tank in the foreground of the flag. It doesn’t matter if they were never in the army. In fact, it's better not to be a vet because vets can be swiftboated.
To show their allegiance to the cause, they can buy an exploding Bin Ladin noggin.
And ignite it with their burning Twin Towers lighter.
I sure am glad that the flag amendment didn’t pass. According to some interpretations of the law that would accompany that amendment, it would be a crime for me to burn these awful images that I am sharing with you.
Instead of going shopping as GW Bush suggested after 9-11, I encourage you to celebrate Independence Day by standing up for the constitution.