NUGGETS FROM THE NUT HOUSE
Edward S. Herman
Million Dollar Minute
Tom H. Hastings
KINGS & QUEENS
Obama Crowns Himself
Masked in Gaza
Oaxaca's New Government
The People's Caucus
Defending Civil and Human Rights
The Fight for Worker Rights
Not Just About Occupying
MUSIC & BOOKS
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Musicians as Cultural Warriors in the Occupy Movement
For as long as there has been dissent, there has been the protest song. In the people’s history, the fight for social justice has always been accompanied and inspired by the voices of outspoken songwriters, the daring harmonies of dissident composers, the passionate cry of radical poets, and the compelling news reports of the topical balladeer. This is the drumbeat of radicalism.
One can easily trace work songs back to the earliest toilers and songs of revolt directly to the movements to organize in each era. Reviewing poetry or ballads composed on slave ships, within workers’ hovels or concentration camps, or in cold urban landscapes, we can not only gain valuable information about earlier uprisings against injustice, but develop a visceral understanding of them. Where progressive history books offer core stories and important dates, topical art-forms deliver the fervor, the agitation, and the struggle of the embattled to survive and then to live.
In my own experience as a musician and a cultural organizer, I’d long sought out something—anything—like OWS. After my first visit to
Though drum circles are empowering and an excellent means to build still larger masses, there is a need for musicians of conscience to forge a more cohesive unit, a cultural arm of OWS. Rather than the occasional folksinger or rapper writing an anthem for the movement, why couldn’t there be a committed organization, which would feed the protest, inspire creativity, and then take it out to the wider populace?
The Occupy Musicians group (www.occupymusicians.com) is an exciting means toward this goal. Hundreds of signatories and a series of events has fortified the organization’s dawning. Now what’s needed is to draw on the considerable strengths of musicians of conscience to agitate, educate, and organize through song.
The generation of folksingers in the 1960s became the very soul of the struggles of civil rights and peace. Folk revival musicians such as Bob Dylan, Odetta, Phil Ochs and Joan Baez wrote the anthems that acted as shields against the assaults of the police and the national guard, as did the songs which had originated in southern Black churches. Performers like the Freedom Singers made the difference when staring down Bull Connor.
The Black Arts Movement offered creative guidance along with fiery radical sounds to urban centers. Avant garde jazz figured in this scene. Legendary names like Amiri Baraka, the late Sam Rivers, the AACM, and the Black Arts Group were instrumental in countless seminars, rallies, gatherings, and confrontations.
The Punk movement often carried with it an anarchist message and an intolerance for compliance. While some aspects of Punk could seem right wing due to the presence of fascist imagery (to shock), most Punks were drawn to the left messages found in the music of the Clash and the fight against Reaganism launched by the Dead Kennedys. Punk also turned “DIY” into a freedom cry for all artists.
Hip Hop has also stood out as a people’s movement, which has called on multiple generations to speak out. For every gangsta rapper, there are scores of Hip Hop artists who use their poetry and music as a means of unity and expression: life and survival in the ghettos, exposing social ills and the need for social change are mainstays.
Occupy Musicians should call on composers, improvisers, rappers, singers, songwriters and instrumentalists. We must speak in every language, to every taste, to allow for the unrestrained flow of outreach. We need to establish a series of awareness-raising concerts, to circulate recordings of OWS musicians and offer teach-ins and workshops to not only insure continuity of current artists but to inspire the generations to come. Occupy Musicians can organize Shock Brigade bands to descend upon rallies and marches. We need to do so in concert with radical poets, performance artists, and other cultural workers.
Occupy Musicians can become an integral part of Occupy movements all over the nation and the world. Through both concert presentations and social media, we can grow a network that will keep live music relevant even as it carries activists to the necessary next level, true social and political change.
John Pietaro is a musician, writer, and activist from
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.