The poet Jacqueline Suskin is back in town. You may know her from a few years ago when she was a regular part of the Arcata Farmers’ Market selling poems from her makeshift “Poem Store,” sitting on a folding chair with a typewriter in her lap.She’s been away — her poems have taken her all over the world — but she’ll be in Humboldt for the rest of May.
First, Friday, May 25 @ 7 p.m., she’ll read from (and sign) her brand new book of poems, The Edge of the Continent, at Northtown Books.
Then the next day (May 26, 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.), she has a Poem Store session at the Arcata Farmers’ Market. (Note: it’s not on the Plaza, since Saturday the Kinetic Grand Champion launches at noon.)
My first experience with the Poem Store was in the summer of ’09. The proprietor, Jacqueline, was sitting on a chair in the shade of some trees in a grassy area just outside the main Portland Farmers’ Market. Wearing a vintage dress that seemed to suit her, she was typing away on a vintage typewriter — clickity click. A handmade sign announced, “Poem Store, Your Subject, Your Price!”
Intrigued, I bought a custom typed poem, an improvised bit of free verse dedicated to my son and his (then) girlfriend. She read it aloud, I gave her a few bucks and took my gift away. I liked it, they liked it. Successful sale.
A couple of months later, to my surprise, I ran across her again, this time clickity clicking on the Arcata Plaza. She’d moved to Humboldt and she’d set up shop at our own Farmers’ Market.
When I bought my next poem, I asked some questions. Jacqueline told me about how she got in the Poem Store business. “My friend in Oakland, Zach Houston, does it for a living,” she explained. “He told me I should try. I went with him one day and it was amazing. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
She traveled with her Poem Store rig — everything fits on a bicycle — “all the way up the coast to Seattle,” typing verses on all sorts of subjects for all sorts of people. When she wasn’t busy writing custom poems, she typed letters to friends to keep the clickity clicking going (and attract customers).
After calling Humboldt home for a few years, in 2013, she packed up the Store, pulled up stakes and headed for the bright lights of Hollywood (and the general vicinity). She published a couple of books, The Collected, which she describes as “a compendium of narrative poems describing found photographs,” and Go Ahead & Like It, “about the power of making lists of things you like.”
“As I poet, I am always writing, and so about two years ago I started to pull from my hoards of verse and I saw a theme: California. This got me really excited: a three volume book about California!”
The Edge of the Continent, Volume One: The Forest is “a book that has been in the making ever since I lived in Humboldt. It’s a collection of poems about my time up there, how important that place is for me.
“The next book will be about ‘The City’ — my time here in Los Angeles — and the third is ‘The Desert’ about living in Joshua Tree.”
These are not a bunch of poems written for her store. “I wrote all of the poems over a long period of time,” she explained, “the period of time I’ve lived in CA, since 2009.” As she noted, she’s always writing, but she mostly says good-bye to the work she writes for “your subject, your price.”
“Sometimes I take a photo, but there are thousands of Poem Store poems out there that I’ll never see again. I like that about this practice, the writing doesn’t have to be about me or what I will do with a poem someday, it’s for the customer.”
This weekend’s farmers’ market session is something of a return for her. Lately she’s held off on doing poetry at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market.
“I’ve been typing poems at private events in L.A. and doing residencies at bookstores and shops there. After 8 years of typing at the market, it’s been a good thing for me to have a break. I don’t always feel safe in public markets, such crazy energy surrounding me, no one to hold space for me, and I’m a sitting duck.
“It’s been an interesting transition and I’ve taken to creating large poetry installations, speaking at colleges, and traveling to perform.
“Last month I was selected as one of 50 artists from around the world to go to Abu Dhabi for a Culture Summit: a big think tank of artists and culture makers in conversation for a week. It was incredible.”
“When I performed, I wrote a poem about the always-changing cultural voice of humanity and it felt good to translate a week’s worth of musing. When the panel discussions were happening, the folks who held their ground the most, who dug the deepest, spoke the most poetically.
“I learned that the function of art as a cultural guide is endlessly expansive, it reaches every part of society, it gives us purpose and can shift political power. Poetry is at the root of everything.”
I haven’t written the Hum for a bit, but today seemed like a good a time as any to get back to it. Casey Neill and the Norway Ratsare playing in Eureka tonight and I bought advance tickets.
Depending on where you find out about music, you may not have heard about the show. For some reason the North Coast Journal didn’t mention it at all and there aren’t many other places to read about shows outside of the imperfect, but massively powerful Facebook.
Maybe you’ve never heard of Casey. As an introduction I’ll quote Wikipedia, where they note,
“Casey Neill is an American musician. He leads Portland, Oregon-based band Casey Neill & The Norway Rats, singing with a raspy vocal quality and playing electric and acoustic guitars. Neill’s style, folk-punk, mixes influences from punk, Celtic and folk music, and has been compared to R.E.M. and The Pogues.”
(Aside from the “raspy” part I’d agree.) Or there’s this short interview and song he did with a tv station in Portland…
I first met Casey in the ’90s when he was touring up and down the coast in support of Earth First!, usually fighting the good fight in support of our forests or something like that. He had a cassette release (I may have one somewhere) with songs like the hopeful “Dancing on The Ruins of Multinational Corporations.”
I’ve seen him play every chance I could, like at this gig in PDX where he played a tribute for Joe Strummer of the Clash. It may or may not have been with the Pogues cover band he’s in called KMRIA.
“It stands for Kiss My Royal Irish Ass,” Neill explained when I asked, “It’s originally a reference from James Joyce’s Ulysses, but then was used in a Pogues song. That band has definitely influenced my writing — there’s a lot of Pogues in there, along with Joe Strummer and others in and around that world.”
There’s a lot of politics in his songs, some personal, some the other kind. “If you’re singing about the real world at all, it’s political,” he told me. “It’s more that my standards for what makes a good political song have gotten much higher. There’s definitely less of the anthemic political cheerleading. I’m trying to focus more on storytelling, where the narrative draws people into the story, which has inherent politics to it. I want to let the listeners come to their own conclusions without being a bully about it. Of course we still play some of the old songs because, well, people won’t let us stop.”
As noted in that tv interview, The Norway Rats have a new album out. I assume this song is on it.
Years ago, before a show in Blue Lake at the dearly departed Red Radish, I asked him what is it he’s trying to do with his songs and music. “I am simply trying to move people,” he said. “I think it’s what anyone who isn’t in music for fame and glory is trying to do. If I can draw a listener into a song and have it resonate for them personally, that’s a victory.”
The Rats’ short album release tour includes just one date in California, tonight in the Grand Theatre Ballroom at the Historic Eagle House, Old Town, Eureka. If you don’t have other plans (like perhaps the Forest Prom is Arcata) you should go.
Burning Leaf tells us, “The music of Casey Neill and The Norway Rats combines high energy indie rock rave-ups and haunting lush acoustic reveries built around melodic narrative songwriting. Neill has been touring extensively through the USA, Japan, and Europe for more than a decade, performing his songs at venues such as Town Hall in New York, San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, and the Newport Folk Festival. He is often a member of the Northwest power pop collective The Minus 5 (with members of R.E.M.) as well as Japanese/American cross cultural band Big Bridges. ALL AGES, Doors at 7pm, Show at 8pm. Tickets are available at the door for $12 Entrance on 2nd street. Phatsy Kline’s Parlor Lounge will be serving up the finest local libations! See you tonight!”
Seems like every time I turn around lately someone is offering up their opinion on William McKinley and the statue of him at the center of the Arcata Plaza. I’ve lived in or around Arcata most of my life, since 1969 to be exact, that’s when I moved here to attend college. Needless to say, my opinion has changed over time.
His book basically expands on his thoughts from the day.
Here’s part of what he said:
This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from the truth.I know that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like.
So relocating these monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once.
This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and, most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong.Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division…
Wednesday evening the people of Arcata will gather once again with the city council to talk about that statue of Bill. They’re expecting a big crowd so they’ve moved the meeting to the Arcata Community Center. We’re a town struggling with a decision, to paraphrase Mayor Landrieu, “paying a price with discord, with division.” To outsiders it may seem like a minor question to occupy so much time and energy, but I see a town at a crossroads, with a chance to make things change. The result? That remains to be seen. We can only hope it’s a change for the better.
Coming soon: more thoughts on McKinley including a photo essay on respect for our statue and the lack thereof.
In case you hadn’t noticed, that green time of year is here, the time when every venue in town books Irish music, (not to be confused with Humboldt Green Week a celebration of cannabis in April and May). To mark Saint Patrick’s Day, The Hum hosted a live session by cellist Summer McCall and fiddler Rosalind Parducci playing some Irish (and Scottish) tunes and talking about the music they love, while offering details of plans for St. Pat’s Day weekend. They start with one of their faves…
As noted in the vid, their green weekend begins Friday, March 16, sort of St. Pat’s Eve if you will, with a Kitchen Benefit Concert, an intimate evening with Summer & Rosalind with special guest Britt Smith on guitar etc. Starting at 7 p.m. They’re offering “cafe style drinks and food available for purchase. Proceeds benefit the kitchen upgrade at the hall.” To reiterate…
Now I’ve been telling Ros and Summer they need a name for their duo, and sometime after they came to see me, they came up with one: Port Mooncall.
Live music starts at 12:30 with local traditional Celtic music from Good Company plus DJ J Dub will spin vinyl from rock to reggae and there will be bagpipes!
Enjoy Irish Food Specials and Drink Specials including a delicious new stout from Brewmaster Los, and of course, green beer!
Join us at 4:20 for the conclusion of our “Brew Your Beard” competition raising money for the McKinleyville Teen Center. Local judges will award prizes to the generous gents who have been growing beards since New Year’s Day! Cosmetologist, Carmen Sargent will be ready to groom our guys too!
If you’ve never been to Six Rivers’ massive green blow-out for everything Irish, well you don’t know what you’re missing. The Pine Box Boys aren’t exactly trad Celtic, but their murder ballads are to die for, with the other bands offering variations on that theme…
And, while we’re talking Celtic music this weekend, we should mention the show at The Old Steeple in Ferndale with Alasdair Fraser, known as “the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling” (whatever that means) and cellist Natalie Haason
Also this weekend, there a couple of shows at the Van Duzer. First Mr. Dave, the Prince of Polyester, David Lindley is here on St. Pat’s Day. Dave plays Irish bouzouki so he might play something appropriate, but he may jam on an oud, Turkish saz or about any stringed instrument you can name. The man can play.
Then Sunday, it’s the long awaited Bonnie Raitt, which we’re told in capital letters is SOLD OUT. Well, maybe, maybe not, at least if you’re willing to pay scalper prices: As of Monday afternoon, StubHub is offering two seats in the balcony for $216.66 apiece, but they note “2 people are looking at this event,” and probably wondering if they can afford a $500 date night. Here’s a little flash from the past, and yes, that is the late great Norton Buffalo taking a harp solo…
Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer has some work to do. The last two meetings of the City Council included decisions about the removal of the McKinley statue and altering a historic plaque. There was what Karen calls “spirited debate” about the subject that calls for some changes in Arcata, and her job is to make that change as smooth as possible.
Wondering why we need an EIR to move Bill? What happens next? She explains it as succinctly as possible. Give her a listen…
A message popped up in my feed via CenterArts a while back. Joan was heading out on a farewell tour, which includes a stop in Humboldt. You may have heard about Joan’s album on NPR. It came out back then and the ultimate protest singer was promoting the record, “Whistle Down The Wind,” getting the word out.
She’s called it her final “formal tour,” meaning the last time she hits the road for one of those day-after-day grueling cross-country slogs. She’s getting too old for that. I guessing her show here this week (Thursday, Nov. 8) is the last time she’ll play here. (What follows is a rehash of a post from earlier this year,)
Locally she’s playing at the Arkley, which is a little bit ironic since she stands in direct opposition to many things the building’s owner Rob Arkley believes in. I don’t have time to get into that right now. But by chance, it turns out the show comes during a time when CenterArts is not doing shows at the Van Duzer. The long awaited earthquake retrofit is finally happening, so the shows in this season have to go somewhere else. (KHSU moved their studios, which won’t be easy.)
I bought tickets for my mother and members of our family since Ms. Baez was one of her favorites and a touchstone for my sisters. My mom was looking to the show, but sadly she didn’t lived long enough to see that last show. I’ll be there with my wife, my oldest sister and a few other friends, joining a full house to hear what Joan has to sing and what she says.
I met Joan years ago, when she played at the Van Duzer, but not via my ongoing media job, I had a gig for CenterArts at the time. I was running a restaurant, writing on the side, I served as the chef for various clients they wanted to treat right, to impress, whatever.
Most of the time that just meant a nice dinner. I had developed a menu I could cook on campus using a teaching kitchen in Nelson Hall (there was a mirror over the stove and cutting board. I usually offered artists grilled chicken with a Brazilian-style sauce (peppers, tomatoes, coconut milk etc.) and a veggie option. It was a step above typical tour food, no pizza, crudites and cold cuts platters. This show was a little different. They wanted me to handle all hospitality, basically get anything Joan or her crew might want.
I remember I had a hard time finding throat coat tea, which was a starred item, not to be skipped, since Joan used it to protect her voice. I’d never heard of the stuff, but someone suggested checking at Moonrise Herbs and they had it and educated me about that herb. I’ve shared the story of hunting for Joan’s throat coat many times with everyone from reggae stars to local folkies. Everyone knows the importance of protecting your voice.
I had actually tried really hard to land an interview with Joan to advance the show, but her publicist put me off again and again. Spending the day hanging around backstage, I got to talk with her informally a few times. I actually steered her to the Green Room when she needed a quiet place for a phoner (a phone interview) and I asked her why I had been put off. She explained a couple of things, she tries to limit the interviews to save her voice, and the Arcata show was sold out ahead of time, so didn’t require that little push that a newspaper story might provide.
The next time I met her was at Reggae on the River where she made a surprise appearance on a Sunday that most people missed. More on that some other day…
I may contact the publicity people about this tour, but I don’t expect to talk with Joan. That’s already handled by journalists like NPR’s Ari Shapiro. So I’ll settle for some p.r. from CenterArts and a rerun of his interview.
JOAN BAEZ ANNOUNCES FINAL FORMAL NORTH AMERICAN TOUR
Acclaimed artist Joan Baez will begin a run of North American dates beginning on September 11 in Ithaca, NY. The extensive run of shows, following 50 UK and European dates, marks Baez’s last year of formal touring and includes stops at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York City and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and Humboldt County!
“I’m looking forward to being on the road with a beautiful new album of which I am truly proud,” says Baez. “I welcome the opportunity to share this new music as well as longtime favorites with my audiences around the world.”
As a special offer to fans purchasing tickets for Baez’s U.S. tour, a CD or digital download of her forthcoming album, Whistle Down The Wind, is included with every ticket purchased. General tickets for all shows go on sale March 2. Every ticket purchased includes a CD or download of Joan’s new album, Whistle Down The Wind. Purchaser will receive an email with instructions for redeeming offer approximately 7 days after purchase.
I tried embedding this NPR interview but that seems to be disabled, which might mean I’m not supposed to gank this conversation, but what will they do? If they complain, I’ll drop it, but will they try to yank my blogging licence? Sue me? Good luck with either.
JOAN BAEZ: Don’t sing love songs. You’ll wake my mother.
They say I had a voice like an angel and a mouth like a dockworker.
NPR host ARI SHAPIRO: And that is Joan Baez. Starting in the 1960s, her music provided the soundtrack to a peaceful revolution through street protests and civil rights battles, marches for women’s equality and against the Vietnam War. Now Joan Baez is 77 with her first album in a decade called “Whistle Down The Wind.” She says this album tour will be her last. And she thinks of the record as a bookend to her very first one in 1959.
BAEZ: The first album had the song “Silver Dagger” on it, this famous, famous old folk song ballad.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “SILVER DAGGER”)
BAEZ: (Singing) And in her right hand a silver dagger.
And on this one I asked Josh Ritter if he’d write me a song. And he wrote a song called “Silver Blade.”
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “SILVER BLADE”)
BAEZ: (Singing) I have myself a silver blade. The edge is sharp, the handle bone. A little thing of silver made.
I think in the beginning also there was – I did mostly ballads. And then as the years went by, as in, like, the second and third album, then the political-leaning music came in. And this album now is a combination of those two things, very sparse. We made it in three visits of three days each, which is how I like to work – fast.
SHAPIRO: Your music was some of the signature protest songs of the 1960s. And in that time, there were songs that everybody sang together at protests, some of them your songs. And today it feels like the protests are as big as they have ever been, but it doesn’t feel like there is a shared soundtrack.
BAEZ: No, I think you’re absolutely right. And in the ’60s and ’70s, we had basically civil rights and Vietnam. It was very clear.
BAEZ: Now every single day there’s a new issue to try and keep up with and deal with and decide if that’s where you want to put your energy. So it’s baffling, as you know (laughter). And it’s not going to get any simpler. So, yes, we need that anthem. It beats shouting. But in the meantime, it’s better shouting than silence.
SHAPIRO: I wondered about “The President Sang Amazing Grace”…
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE PRESIDENT SANG AMAZING GRACE”)
BAEZ: (Singing) A young man came to a house of prayer. They did not ask what brought him there.
Oh, gosh (laughter).
SHAPIRO: …Because it feels so specific and so overtly political. And…
SHAPIRO: …It’s a beautiful, simple tune.
BAEZ: Yeah. It’s an amazing little tune. When I first heard it, I had to pull the car over ’cause I started crying.
SHAPIRO: We should say this song about President Obama was written by an artist named Zoe Mulford.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE PRESIDENT SANG AMAZING GRACE”)
BAEZ: (Singing) But then the young man drew a gun and killed nine people, old and young.
And then for the first two weeks of trying to figure it out on the guitar, (laughter) I kept crying. I was afraid that when I got in the studio it wouldn’t be over. But I went into the studio. And then I just looked at the musicians and I said, let’s go to church.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE PRESIDENT SANG AMAZING GRACE”)
BAEZ: (Singing) So on that day and in that place, the president sang “Amazing Grace.” The president sang “Amazing Grace.”
SHAPIRO: I have seen women of a certain age march with a protest sign this year, and the sign euphemistically says, I can’t believe I still have to protest this – let’s just say nonsense because it ends with a word we can’t say on the radio.
BAEZ: (Laughter) I’ve seen the sign.
SHAPIRO: (Laughter) You’ve seen the sign. After half a century of singing songs of protest about women’s equality and war and racial justice, do you share that sense of exhaustion? I can’t believe I have to keep protesting this nonsense.
BAEZ: (Laughter) I have such a low regard with how human race has behaved, you know…
BAEZ: …For the last, you know, few centuries at least that I don’t expect much. And in that…
SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Whoa.
BAEZ: (Laughter) Seriously. So that way any little step becomes a victory. And I also think that now, in the light of what we are experiencing in this decade, which is something that none of us could have dreamed up – you know, in the worst, darkest periods of the work that we did in the ’60s and ’70s and – or ’80s and 90s we couldn’t have written this scenario. So in the face of what looks like really bleak defeat, we have to do the little victories. And you have to consider every step that’s a positive step, that brings back compassion, that brings back empathy, that brings back understanding of political action. Day by day, these are the victories. And at the end of the day, you get only what you did that day.
SHAPIRO: There are some moments of despair on this album. There’s a song by Anohni called “I Need Another World” (ph).
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “ANOTHER WORLD”)
BAEZ: (Singing) I need another place. Will there be peace? I need another world. This one’s nearly gone.
Yeah. If it weren’t so beautiful, it’s too dark to sing. It’s too dark. But unfortunately, that’s (laughter) – that speaks to my heart. I’m basically pessimistic. But really, the other day I heard somebody say that pessimism was a waste of time, so I’m working on it.
SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Still working on it 50 years later (laughter)?
BAEZ: I’m working on it, trying to get that glass half full.
SHAPIRO: Well, you know, it strikes me that that song, “I Need Another World,” whether it is sung by Anohni or sung by you…
SHAPIRO: …Requires a voice as beautiful as that to allow the lyrics to not just destroy the listener, that…
BAEZ: To sing this. Yeah.
SHAPIRO: …The voice tempers the lyrics.
BAEZ: I hope so because it is. It’s devastating. You know, it says, I’m going to miss the birds.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “ANOTHER WORLD”)
BAEZ: (Singing) I’m going to miss the birds.
And I already do. So for me, it’s finding beauty in the day because I can’t lament the fact that the birds are endangered. I have to listen to the birds that are singing in my yard.
SHAPIRO: OK, so you’ve said this is going to be your last year of formal touring. And I think…
SHAPIRO: …A lot of your fans are hoping that there’s a big loophole in that word formal.
BAEZ: Yeah, there is. That’s why we’re talking about it that way. I think the thing that I need to say goodbye to is the six weeks in the bus…
BAEZ: …And keeping the voice up, which is a daily affair. And then preparing for the concert, and then singing for an hour and a half to two hours, and then getting on the bus and going to the next place. So, no, the loophole is obviously any time I feel compelled to take part in political action or if somebody called and said, you know, here in Istanbul we’re having a folk festival; we’d like to come and do 20 minutes. And that’s very different to me from the other.
SHAPIRO: Well, Joan Baez, thank you for the decades of wonderful music, including this newest album, “Whistle Down The Wind.”
BAEZ: Thank you. Thanks for having me on the show.
SHAPIRO: “Whistle Down The Wind” comes out this Friday.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LAST LEAF”)
BAEZ: (Singing) I’m the last leaf on the tree. The autumn took the rest, but it won’t take me.
My wife and I went to the movies last night, basically blind, not knowing much about the films being shown aside from the fact that they’re short documentaries nominated for an Academy Award this year, which means at Sunday’s Oscar show on March 4. There was supposed to be a preview online with some more details on the Minor’s website, but all we saw was an “error” message. (They may have fixed it by the time you read this.)
The five films apparently are too long for one program, so at the Minor, that meant last night we saw just two. I’d heard about one called “Knife Skills,” about a restaurant run by ex-cons (although there’s much more). I had determined that that it was showing as part of “Documentaries B,” which for some reason shows first. (Today that’s at 3 p.m.)
Program B started with “Heroin(e),” a film with a clever title focusing on three heroines in the ongoing “war on drugs,” and a drug that’s killing people at a horrendous rate, heroin (and opiates of various sorts). Through glimpses of the lives (and sometimes deaths) of people involved we learn a lot about drugs and heroism. At the center there’s a fire chief, and we meet a drug court judge and a volunteer aide — the three heroines are all women, although that seems incidental. I don’t need to tell you much more except that you can watch this one on Netflix, since they’re handling distribution.
As I mentioned, I’d heard about “Knife Skills.” I was intrigued since I used to work in the restaurant business, and learned a bit of French cooking along the way. This is about the opening of a place called “Edwins” short for “education wins,” a nice restaurant with a French chef who teaches various skills (including knife skills) to folks in trouble with the law. Coincidently, some of those involved were ex-drug users and/or dealers, and we see some of them pull their lives out of those troubles. Not to go off on a tangent, but both films demonstrate how messed up America’s relationship with drugs can get.
As I mentioned we knew nothing about the films going in, and didn’t know we’d only see two yesterday. Program A has three films and I’m going to sse them today at 5:30 p.m. If all goes as planned, I’ll take my mom. If you know anything about her, you’ll understand. I’m guessing on the order, but the docs include “Edith and Eddie,” a sort of a tragic love story about an interracial couple in their waning years, who got married when they were 90-something. The preview gives you a hint about where the story goes.
“Heaven is a Traffic Jam On The 405” is about Mindy Alper, an outsider artist from SoCal who struggles with depression, anxiety, etc. through her art. Again, the preview will fill in some gaps.
Last but not least, we have “Traffic Stop,” which is about just that, a minor moving violation in Austin that resulted in the arrest and roughing up of Breaion King, a 26-year-old black schoolteacher. Since Austin uses dash-cams, a video clip showed exactly what happened (you may have seen it since it went viral for a moment. HBO is showing this one, which makes in another film you may get to watch, providing you invest in movie-watching one way or another. (We spend too much on tv and subscribe to HBO and Netflix.)
My wife and I both loves movies of all kinds, of course Oscar time is a big deal in our household. We usually have some friends over to watch, and we try to see as many nominees as possible (within reason). We saw a program of “live action” shorts at the Miniplex, which means fiction films, shorter than features. It doesn’t look like they screen them again, but there’s also Oscar Nominated Animated Shortsscreening at the Miniplex tonight at 7:30, then again Wednesday (7:30) and Thursday at 8 p.m.
And there’s the5th Annual Red Carpet Gala at the Eureka Theater with “an appetizer bar, prizes, champagne and cocktails from the no host bar, a best dressed contest, local Film Friendly awards, and musical entertainment by the RLA Jazz Trio and solo artist Michael Dayvid, all while watching ABC’s live public telecast of the 2018 Academy Awards on the BIG screen.” Advance tix $25 ($30 at the door). Take your pick if you want go out. I’ll be watching at home…
I woke up early in the midst of an odd dream, one where I had gone underground looking for some strange creatures that weren’t quite human, more a mix of foxes and furry people who lived under the human world. I’d gone to bed too early and figured I’d get up before I went deeper into dreamland.
I initially had a bit of trouble finding my glasses. I finally found them using the flashlight on my iPhone. There was a message that had just come in on my phone, it was my old buddy Anna “Banana” Hamilton, blues singer extraordinaire, a good friend from way back.
Anna had showed up on Facebook Messenger recently, like many of my friends and my FB “friends,” I assumed she found it an easy-to-use alternative to text messaging via the phone system. The trouble is, in this case it was not the real Anna who I added as a contact via Messenger. It was a replicant. This morning I started out my day chatting with “Anna” without initially realizing who I was talking to.
The real Anna Hamilton is a “working singer songwriter guitarist entertainer golfer” who has 521 “friends” in common with me.
The fake Anna? She’s from somewhere else…
“You know 11 of the same people on Messenger”
Here’s the text of our chat after a prelude of stats…
Anna added you on Messenger.
You added Anna Hamilton on Messenger.
SAT 4:45AM (Note: I was not quite awake when she called.)
How are you doing??
Just had a strange experience
My glasses went missing
Weren’t on the night stand where I leave them
I looked all over the house
I hope you have heard about the good news yet??
Then found them in a pile of clothes
That was good news
What’s your good news?
I just wake up early and I think you will have heard the news already
I try not to wake my wife in the morning
I did look at headlines in my phone, didn’t see anything noteworthy
The department of health and human service,they are helping the Youth, Retired and Disabled and Old in the society, i just benefited from the program also.i got a sum of $50,000 from them.
Have you been contacted yet??
Am I going to get some money if I ask for it?
Who do I contact ?
Oh yeah you will surely get some money to
I could use some
And I can’t think of anyone that can use some extra money than you
Anyway i think you should contact their claiming agent now on their text before the program closed so that you can also try your luck and see if you can get something good from them too. Do you know how to do that?
Here is the agent text number ### #### #### (number withheld for your safety)
I’m lucky to have a friend to help me
Just text the agent and tell her you are here to claim your winnings from her and you will also be ask to pay for the delivery fee after claiming your winning money Ok
And make sure you don’t discuss this with anyone until you get your winnings from them OK
I’m going to tell all my friends, but first I’m going to tell all my friends that Anna’s Facebook account has been hacked.
What did you mean by that I am the one talking to you hun
When the replicant called me “hun” it was the first time she/he/it went off script.
Do you understand that it’s very early where I am. I’m guessing you are far, far away, probably in Nigeria or maybe Russia, working a scam. Anna is a real friend of mine, someone I’ve known since before Facebook was around. Back then, if you were in this business you were probably impersonating African princes, or widows, or someone else who has a way for me to get money for nothing.
Who are you really? I’m curious.
Of course you might be Anna. Tell me something about yourself so I’ll know who is on the other side of this chat window.
That’s me. Right now.
Send me a picture of yourself
Oh yeah I understand you
But this is real me and I will like to talk to you more on my hangout mail
I’ve been through this before. Usually, it’s a new person, not someone who I actually know.
So that I can explain things to you I don’t have a good self phone to take a self now ok
Do you have a few accounts you’re working? I’m fascinated about how this works.
If I call that number you gave me, who answers? Not you, someone you work for, right?
The UPS men delivered the winning money to my door step
And I do see your name on the winning list ok
You have to contact the agent now and also claim your winnings from her ok
OK, But it’s all false. You may not even be a human, just a clever bot.
I am not a clever bot I am real believe me OK
I am just telling you this just because I want you to also get your winnings like I do get mine OK
Just keep me posted when the agent reply you OK
Can you see that?
I can see that of course
That is my profile
Do you understand whose page that is?
Oh yeah I understand you
Seen by Anna Hamilton at 5:27am
This is not how I’d planned on starting my day.
Oh why did you say that don’t you believe me
This is real and legit OK
Your name is not Anna. You are a made-up person working a scam. I call you a replicant, but that probably means little to you and is a personal joke. (Google that word if you’re curious.)
You, or someone you work for, created this Messenger persona as an attempt to get me to call or text a phone number as the next step in the scam. I don’t know what happens if I take the next step and try to claim my “grant” or whatever. I’m curious, but not that curious. I’m a journalist and looking for a story. Your real story interests me. Who is the real “Anna”? Where are you? Are you male or female? Are you struggling to earn enough to eat, or doing alright scamming Americans, or maybe all over the world? Who are you really? I’ll probably never know.
What did you mean by all this insult
Seen by Anna Hamilton at 5:49am
I am Anna Eureka California
I’m sorry if I offended you, but your scam is easy to see through.
This where I do live OK
You stole Anna’s identification.
What did you mean by that I am not a scam ok
Not I don’t ok
I know Anna, the real Anna.
I am the one of course
She will be intrigued by this, but she will hope none of her friends get ripped off by the scam.
Anna may even write a song about you. She’s a songwriter you know.
If you don’t believe me it’s left to you hun
I am a song writer its me okay
I like that line. “It’s left to you hun.”
Seen by Anna Hamilton at 5:59am
What would you like to say to the real Anna?
What did you mean by that hun
I guess I was wondering what you might say to my friend Anna. Maybe you have another line for the song she will write for me, hun (I hope you don’t mind if I call you hun.)
I am a real person. You are not. If you don’t believe me it’s left to you hun
I got a message this morning from Zev, one of the founders of something called the Breakfast All Day Collective.
“Hi Bob,” he began, cordially. “Just wanted to share Outer Space’s fundraising video with you, in case you wanted to share it on The Hum.” Sure. I could do that…
“Contributors of the fundraiser get digital downloads of our newest compilation album, featuring locals like: White Manna, Mister Moonbeam, Clean Girl and the Dirty Dishes, along with bands from across the country.Thank you!”
I followed a couple of links, and checked out the Bandcamp page for the comp, A Year In Outer Space, featuring 23 bands that have played at Outer Space (or is it in Outer Space?).
An email I received a little later (I’m on their mailing list) repeated the invitation to check out the comp, and filled me in on what they have going on in the week ahead — a couple of shows and an Open Collective Meeting (Wednesday, 1/31/18 at 6:30 at Outer Space) where you can “find out ways to help and get involved!”
At this point, you may be wondering, what is the Breakfast in Outer Space thing? In lieu of retelling a story that was done well by my former editor at the Mad River Union, Lauraine Leblanc, I’ll give you a link [here] to a piece she wrote a little more than a year ago, based on an interview with Zev.
Arcata’s Breakfast All Day Collective works to establish an art space for all ages
At the time the Collective was just about ready to open up an all ages venue, “a long-lasting, safer community space,” on 11th Street in Arcata (across the street from the Portuguese Hall).
If you’ve been following The Hum a long time, you may remember repeated mention of a youth organization called The Placebo, so named since it was an all ages space where drinking and drugs were not allowed. My son, Spencer, was involved at the start — he was in high school at the time, now he’s 30-something. Yes, that was long, long ago.
The first Placebo venue was in a warehouse the kids rented on South G in Arcata where they started putting on shows back in the 20th Century (in 1999). I’m not sure exactly which space it was, but it was in one of the slots near what is is now Redwood Curtain Brewery, or maybe M. Walker Guitars. (Anyone remember?) They did not jump through the requisite hoops with the city and before long they were shut down.
Now you might think and authorities would encouragea youth-run organization that tried to offer a place where you didn’t have to worry about underage drinking and the other things that go on at wild parties, but no, The Placebo never had any support outside of non-profit angel Libby Maynard, who offered Ink People’s welcome umbrella, just as she’s done for scores of organizations.
The Placebo found a home for a time at the Manila Community Center, but was ultimately shut down. They shared a warehouse on the outskirts of Old Town Eureka with the art collective Empire Squared, splitting it with Synapsis (before Leslie moved into the heart of Old Town). Volunteer organizations always face an uphill battle, and Placebo was homeless for years, and eventually stopped doing shows or anything at all outside maintaining a Facebook page.
That tangent down memory lane brings us back to the present, and what seems to be a successful arts and music based non-profit with a “long-lasting” space known as Outer Space. Here’s what’s going on there:
Local support comes from my friends Medicine Baul Loves Sound Church, a extremely eclectic experimental combo who are planning an acoustic set…
and Julio Lopezhiler from Eureka with “queer freakfolk.” Tuesday, Jan. 30 , doors at 6:30, music 7-10 p.m. Cover: $6.
Wednesday there’s that Open Collective Meeting, where you can “find out ways to help and get involved.” Perhaps you’re interested in “helping volunteer during open hours or at shows,” or you might want to play music or show your art or do something else collectively. [1/31/18 at 6:30 at Outer Space, 1296 11th Street at M St.]
“A founding member of the bands Cool Rays, Beat Happening, The Go Team, The Halo Benders, and the Hive Dwellers, Calvin Johnson is also the founder and owner of the influential indie label K Records (see above re: Arrington) based in Olympia, WA.
Kurt Cobain cited Beat Happening’s Jamboree as one of his favorite records, and even got the K Records logo (a small “K” in a shield) tattooed on his arm to “try and remind him to stay a child.”
Since founding his Dub Narcotic recording studio in 1993, he has produced and engineered recordings by many bands and artists. Calvin has worked with Modest Mouse, Beck, Heavenly, The Microphones, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The Blow, Mecca Normal, The Gossip and Built to Spill, among many others.
Local support comes (once again) from The Monster Women, who are all over Humboldt currently since they are on the cover of Insider, the NC Journal’s glossy aimed at the tourist trade.
(They’re interviewed inside too.)
The BAD Collective describes The M-Women as having
their own original sound, a smorgasbord combination of many eras gone by. Drenched in rich vocal harmonies and dance-able quirky beats accompanied by complex poetic lyrics and an flair for artistic costuming! Yes please!
Plus, SLOP, “up and coming fresh and fierce Arcata queer punk rockers.”
Coming next week…
Okay, that’s all for now. See you in Outer Space ~ Bob Doran
It is with profound sorrow that the family of Ramapolo Hugh Masekela announce his passing. After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully, surrounded by his family.
A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with profound loss. Hugh’s global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre, and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memory of millions across 6 continents and we are blessed and grateful to be part of a life and ever-expanding legacy of love, sharing and vanguard creativity that spans the time and space of 6 decades. Rest in power beloved, you are forever in our hearts.
I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Masekela sometime in the ‘90s on one of his visits to Humboldt. I spoke with him just after he arrived in New York from South Africa for one of many extensive tours of the states.
We skipped through most of his long career in music, one that took him away from Africa, into exile for years back and forth between his home in Africa, and around the world over the course of long career. He wrote and recorded a large body of work and played with many great musicians. (For details, try this New York Timesobit, or this one in Rolling Stone.) We started with talk of home.
Where is home for you?
I live outside Johannesburg on a farm.
Are the musicians in your band from South Africa too?
Yeah, all of them.
Is your U.S. tour in connection with a new record?
Well, we come here almost every year. We came last year but only for a short tour of the East Coast. There are many venues and a lot of festivals that like our music and they ask us to come to the states. The record promotion is just part of it.
You call your latest album Black to the Future. Is it a look forward?
In South Africa we have a white past. We were run by whites for 350 years and it’s just a joy to be able to have a government of the majority of the people and to actually live in an environment where being black is not illegal. The name is a pun on Back to the Future, which was a movie, but you know it’s a fact of life in South Africa that the future has to be lived with major consideration and reparation for black lives.
As I recall, your first hit record in America was a called Promise of the Future, so you’ve always been looking forward to a brighter day.
Doesn’t everybody want to live with hope for a better future? You certainly can’t improve the past, it’s already happened. Coming from a community that was oppressed for such a long time you always must look towards the future. With the damage that has been done, we’re working on the future. We’re very future focused and future oriented.
Where are things going in the future of South Africa?
I’m not a prophet, but we’re hoping for it to be a great country and for people to be able to take advantage of new found opportunities and make it a wonderful place. We’re working on making it a better place but even though we are free, it’s not a movie. The realities of the past are with us and we have to improve, but it is a country with great potential.
Do you think things changing for the better?
Let me say that everybody is working on change. People who were privileged before don’t suddenly turn around and say, ‘We’re sorry.’ Of course we had a lot of solidarity and help from the world, but now after we’ve voted, everybody figures that we are okay now and we’ve lost a lot of that solidarity support. But life in certain ls much more enjoyable because we’re not being harassed by cops and death squads and the opportunity is there for us to improve our lives. That in itself is much better than what we had before.
What do you see as the role of the musicians in all of this?
I think a musician is just part of the community now. We’ve always tried to be informative through our access to the broadcasting media, but now it is just as a part of the whole community. In the end I think human beings should live to create a life of freedom, peace and joy. Musicians who are socially conscious should try to make people aware of the necessity of love and peace and joy and hopefully prosperity as well.
Love is a very necessary ingredient in the lives of human beings. We are a strange breed, as you can tell by some of the deeds that human beings pull off. So I think that love for life, for each other, for the human species, as opposed to romantic love, that is an important message to harp on, especially for our children.
Human beings are inherently very vengeful and violent people. So for example I think that our President and his team were amazing in achieving the kind of peace that we live under in South Africa given our past circumstances. That is a very important thing, because if there is any place where there should be a war in the world right now, it’s in South Africa. And after 350 years of war here, we have seen out first five years of living in peace. There is a great potential for an understanding of how you can live a life in love even when others have wronged you. We hope it may set an example for the rest of the world. I think a musician can play a role in that.
Your music played an important part in the battle against apartheid. How has your role changed now it has ended?
My role hasn’t changed, I never looked at it as a role.I was just part of the 14 million oppressed people and if I was a garbage man I would have had the same feelings. I don’t think I could have expressed them through collecting garbage, it just happened that I worked in a profession where I had access to the media and could help make people aware of what’s happening. My talents come from my people. As my grandmother told me, I was born naked, I didn’t bring any money, any music, any talent, I didn’t have anywhere to live. Everything I have I inherited from the people I come from and their music. So I owed it to them to talk about their trials and tribulations. It wasn’t a role, it was an obligation.
At the beginning of your music career you were in a band called the Father Huddleston Orchestra.
I was the founder of the band.
Who was Father Huddleston?
Bishop Trevor Huddleston was one of the greatest foes of apartheid. He was deported from South Africa in 1955 by Hendrik Verwoerd, who was then Minister of Native Affairs and later became the chief architect of apartheid.
Bishop Huddleston was the chaplain of my boarding school. He got me my first trumpet. He asked me one day, ‘What do you really want to be, what do you want to do?’ because I was always in trouble with the authorities.
I had seen a movie about Bix Beiderbecke called Young Man With a Horn…
I said, ‘Father, if I could get a trumpet, I wouldn’t bother anybody anymore. And he got me a second-hand trumpet and a teacher, and in two months time I was beginning to play the trumpet.
Other kids also asked for instruments and he raised the monies and soon we had the Trevor Huddleston Band.
So, this was the school band at St. Peter’s?
Yes, the high school band. We were the first youth band in South Africa ever.
Were you playing American jazz then?
No, we played our own compositions. We had a fantastic repertoire of South African band music and American music, we were great record collectors. South Africa is a country of record collectors, so we had heard all of the great music from America, but we also composed our own songs.
Would you say your own things were a combination of African music and American jazz?
Well, we were not thinking like that, we were just writing songs. We had a better knowledge of American music than most Americans, so we had libraries of African music and American music. We were a product of that experience and we produced our own hybrid, but when we composed, we didn’t say, ‘I’m now composing a song combining African music with American music.
When Huddleston was deported from South Africa he came and met with Louis Armstrong and told him about the band he had started, and Louis Armstrong sent us one of his trumpets, which of course got us fantastic media coverage.
Was Huddleston partly responsible for arranging for you to come to America to study?
No, but he helped me to come to England to study music at the Guildhall School of Music. Miriam Makeba was in the states and she helped me along with Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, they all helped me come and study in the states.
And my interests in music were sort of crisscrossed by many prominent people in music and politics. Yehudi Menuhin and Johnny Dankworth had been deported from South Africa when they visited there. Johnny Dankworth was married to Cleo Laine.
It was a mixed marriage, which was illegal in South Africa, and he and Yehudi Menuhin both hung out with blacks. Huddleston appealed to them to help me to get a scholarship to study in England, which they did.
Did you want to leave because of what was going on politically or was it more just to improve your playing?
I wanted to leave South Africa from the time I started playing, when I was 13 years old. I wanted to have the same access to teachers as someone like a Louis Armstrong or a Dizzy Gillespie or Clifford Brown, Miles Davis or a Lee Morgan or Chet Baker. I was after excellence.
So it wasn’t just politics…
I couldn’t get what I wanted because it was politically impossible. The two things were interrelated.
But after you left, you were not allowed to come back?
It was impossible to come back because when I came [to America], the people who had helped me, Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie, people like that were fundraisers for the civil rights movement in America and in South Africa, people like Mandela and all my schoolmates were being put in jail or were leaving the country.
We were increasingly making Americans aware of what was happening in South Africa, which didn’t endear us to our government. I would have been a masochist to try and condemn the government from overseas and then try to go home.
After 1962 my passport was never renewed. I took it back for renewal, but they never renewed it. I had to make due.
Out of the one and a half million people who left South Africa because of apartheid, only 35,000 of us have returned. Others have established their lives overseas, but some of us were obsessed with our freedom and going back home.
Didn’t you live in Botswana for awhile to be near South Africa?
I lived there for like four years and the death squads came and killed most of my friends, so I had to leave and go into the second exile.
When did you finally go back?
Did you settle right back in?
No, I had to acclimatize and find a means of living, I had to find my place in South Africa.
But your music was well known there already, so you had a start…
Of course. I was in demand, but it doesn’t mean anything, because there were other obstacles. It wasn’t the same as here: There were no booking agencies, there were not enough venues. I had to live a life that I was not accustomed to. Over here I was kind of spoiled.
I also had to help and be involved in building an infrastructure that would elevate the music community. Kids wanted to learn music, and those who were talented wanted to be able to earn money. They needed help and guidance and they wanted to know the things I know. But the circumstances that brought my success in America didn’t exist in South Africa.
You mean with the music business?
Right. Now it’s growing slowly. I’m getting more involved in production and talent development and all of the things that pertain to trying to create a better infrastructure. Until that infrastructure is owned by a black business community, it will be hard to make a change.
Are the record companies still all owned by white people?
They were never owned by anyone else — and you don’t wake up one day and say, ‘We voted, give us your record company.’
You say the album you just released here came out first in South Africa, was that on a black owned label?
It was on Sony South Africa, part of Sony International.
Are there any black record labels at this point?
I’m forming my own record company, not a black record company per se, but a company that will address where we are coming from and improve those conditions. It will not only be a record company, but also a television company and and a film company involved in distribution. We’re going into business. We’re calling it Chisa, Chisa Entertainment Corporation. When I lived in the states I had Chisa Records, that’s one I started.
What does Chisa mean?
Chisa means put fire. Light the fire.
So that is your plan for the future?
It’s not my plan, I’m doing it. I’m not dreaming about it, I’m in the process of doing it. We are lighting the fire.
We end with what may the most memorable set in the times Mr. Masekela visited Humboldt. It didn’t start the way it was supposed to. He was booked for Reggae on the River to play a set before Reggae faves, Third World. Hugh’s plane ran into fog in our socked in airport. I’m not sure what happened, but he was not on time for his set and the Reggae Ambassadors had to play earlier than planned. They were ripping it up as usual and without notice, we heard a familiar lick, the Third World keyboard player playing “Grazin’ in the Grass,” and Mr. Masekela took over, slowly his band with the reggae band. Amazing…