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The fight for justice has never been easy. But human history has always been shaped by courageous actions and a vision of a better world.

 

From the civil rights movement to the end of Apartheid, people with a vision of a better world have sparked and spread their passion for change in families, communities and countries… building social movements that changed things forever.

 

As Global Citizens, we stand against the greatest injustice of our time: extreme poverty. Because we know that a world that deprives 1.3 billion people of their basic rights and opportunities is unjust, and unacceptable. We know that we must do something about it. We celebrate the efforts made to cut extreme poverty by half, but recognise more still needs to be done. We know that people living in extreme poverty are working hard themselves, and that we need to learn, and take action, to change the rules that trap them in broken systems.  

 

We don’t ask for charity, we ask for justice. And we put our hands up to write the next chapter in the greatest story yet to be told… the end of extreme poverty.

 

Using Global Citizen we unite and amplify our collective voice, working together to learn more and take action on issues that perpetuate extreme poverty. We share our passion for the issues we care about, and mobilise around crucial moments for change.

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How much food do you waste?

Ghost of Christmas Past

August 2, 2012


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You, rushing and on your way to work
I was a child, daydreaming by the window
About snowflakes and simple things
You looked at me and said,“Feliz Navidad, mi niño”
I smiled at the joy that the season brings

Soon you’ll be silent and
Every star will look down and cry
Leaving me wishing for one more day
Waiting, a child with my father’s eyes

You called to me from the kitchen
I was reading in the other room
Under an old, dim lamp, hollow and gray
You said, “Mantener tus memorias cerca de ti”
I said, “No one can ever take those away”

Trapped inside yourself
Struggling to endure
The fruits of your labor replaced with doubt
Now I watch your woods fill up with snow
Every hour the same; day in, day out

Soon you’ll be silent and
Every star will look down and cry
Leaving me wishing for one more day
Waiting, a child with my father’s eyes

Graduation

July 12, 2012

I saw this poem on a NYC 7 subway train last month. Part of Arts for Transit program.
Beautiful words for graduates as they move on to their next challenge.

Graduation

He told us, with the years, you will come
to love the world.

And we sat there with our souls in our laps,
and comforted them.

~Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012)

Libra

November 24, 2010


Libra (Part One)

Much of America heard about the death of John Lennon from Howard Cosell during Monday Night Football or from Tom Brokaw on the Today Show the next morning. I was a 13-year-old delivering the NY Daily News.

I remember the news death of John Lennon and the week following it extremely well considering all the things I’ve forgotten over the years.

One cold and early Tuesday morning, early in December, 1980, I was delivering the Daily News for my neighbor Ralph who couldn’t deliver his “paper route” that morning. (Yes, back then we still had young people delivering newspapers at 5 in the morning!)

Riding my bicycle and throwing the folded, bagged and rubber-banded papers to the doorsteps, most of the fifty or so papers I had to deliver were in garden apartment complexes on a fairly busy road called Liberty Street.

As always, when I filled in for these morning deliveries, I took notice of the cover story as I was bagging the papers: “John Lennon Slain Here; ex-Beatle shot.”
I knew the name Lennon because a month or two earlier, around the time of my birthday in late September (Lennon was a Libra, like myself, you see). I had received a bunch of “hand-me-downs” from an older cousin. My cousin was also a huge Elvis and Beatles fan and had sent a few Elvis and Beatles 45’s along with the sweaters and corduroys whose hem would have to be let down.

Having just turned thirteen years old, I had certainly heard of The Beatles. At that age though, my previous exposure was only through promotion for things like ‘Beatlemania’ on Broadway and the promotion of the cheesy Sergeant Pepper film with the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton.

Listening to the records from my cousin during the month of October and November was my real introduction to the band. It was also how I immediately knew the “Lennon” to which the headline was referring because most of the songs had the familiar “Lennon-McCartney” songwriting credit below them of course. I had also watched the film “Help” (or was it “A Hard Days Night”?) when it was aired on one of the local channels sometime that Fall.

So as little as I really knew about the man, I knew that this was simply very sad news.

I was not so young that I didn’t know that people kill for all sorts of bad reasons. After all, a few summers earlier all of the neighborhood kids were fascinated with the ‘Son of Sam’ murders. But this was different. The ‘Sam’ killings were the random efforts of a psychotic. This was the targeted killing of a well-known husband and father who, from what I was reading, was simply on his way home from work.

While the story was in the back of my mind the entire morning at school, it hadn’t really pre-occupied me. It was the typical Tuesday eighth grade experience, including the (dreadful) daily reading from Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer which our teacher, Miss Rotini, would read for about twenty minutes every day before lunch.

That Tuesday was different though, because before she dismissed us for lunch, Miss Rotini, a 60-something year old, unapproachable but entirely adequate (for what I knew back then) teacher gave us a warning. “You’re going to go home later and hear news about a man who lived a life of doing drugs and not following the rules,” she said. “He questioned the good people who lead this country, but don’t let them fool you –there’s a phrase ‘what goes around comes around’ and sometimes you pay a price for not following the rules.” She said nothing more or less and most of the kids didn’t even know who she was talking about because she didn’t allow him the dignity of even mentioning his name.

Immediately, I wondered – had I misread the newspaper? Had he overdosed on drugs or been killed trying to overthrow the government? During the short walk home for lunch, I wondered the whole time how I could have misunderstood that morning’s newspaper.

Of course I hadn’t misunderstood and I realized that shortly after as I heard more about what had happened and learned more about the life of the man.

And by presenting the story to me this way, my teacher taught me an early lesson. That was to always question, at least in my own mind, the information I was being given. Later, i learned that this rule was especially relevant if it came from the people who are the elected leaders of this country.

Imagine that.

Best Music of 2009

February 11, 2010

I know that many of you are too busy to even buy/download or listen ten albums in a year, but if you know me, you know I try to find the time.

Feel free to listen to some samples at Amazon or elsewhere online and consider giving them a spin. No particular order — my top ten, and then some, for 2009:


Neko Case: MIDDLE CYCLONE
With cameos by Calexico, M. Ward, and the New Pornographers, Case’s fifth studio effort, Middle Cyclone (Anti), finds its heart in the middle of America. Probably my favorite album from the past year, I cannot say enough good things about it. Amazon named Cyclone its best album of the year, and continues to price it so low that you can’t afford not to get it.


Wilco: WILCO

The Chicago sextet’s seventh studio album, Wilco (Nonesuch) is a modest collection of solid, well-written songs. Turn it up!


Bob Dylan: TOGETHER THROUGH LIFE
A brand new studio album from Bob Dylan, Together Through Life (Sony), finds Dylan successfully collaborating with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter on all but one of the songs here. A few clunkers, but all in all worthwhile.

Dan Aeurbach: KEEP IT HID
As the frontman for blues rock duo the Black Keys, Auerbach is known for his powerful songwriting and guitar playing. His first solo effort, Keep It Hid (Nonesuch), highlights the simpler moments. Not a “wimpier Black Keys album” as some have said, but a solid collection of well-crafted songs.


The Avett Brothers: I AND LOVE AND YOU (Sony)
American roots music put forth by the two multi-talented brothers from North Carolina. I And Love And You is their sixth full-length album since their debut in 2001 and their first major label release. The Avett Brothers’ words paint pictures and short stories in your mind and they do it extremely well. The three words that the title refers to, when said from the heart, can rock your world.


The Decemberists: THE HAZARDS OF LOVE

The band’s fifth album, began as an attempt to write a title song for The Hazards of Love (Capitol), Anne Briggs’ fabled 1964 EP of unaccompanied singing, but seems to have grown out of control. This 17-track concept album tells the story of a fair maiden called Margaret who is ravished by a shape-shifting demon. Prog-Folk concept album is more than a bit self-indulgent, but still one of the best releases by far. Check out some samples.


Bruce Springsteen: WORKIN’ ON A DREAM

Apparently Springsteen is dreaming that it is the mid-1960’s in Phil Spector’s America, and it works for him on this, his sixteenth studio album. Like 2007’s Magic, these sounds could be coming from a mono am radio during the Johnson administration as easily as an iPod during the first days of Obama.

The title track and song “This Life,” feature some of the best vocal harmonies this side of the Beach Boys and Roy Orbison. A few tracks have an obvious Byrds influence — the guitars on “Life Itself” sound like they are right out of “Eight Miles High.”

Much like Magic before it, I’m not happy with what sounds like over-compression on the Brendan O’Brien production, but O’Brien and Springsteen insist that it was the sound they were going for. Musically, it is a gem and worth seeking out, no matter which decade you may have come of age. (Sony)


Andrew Bird: NOBLE BEAST
This record is a constant pleasure, offering the sort of tunefully creative pop that combines some of the emotionalism of Belle and Sebastian with the whimsy of Badly Drawn Boy and the croon of Rufus Wainwright. He stumbles here and there with some uneven lyrics. The songs on Noble Beast (Fat Possum)are a bit complex, with unexpected left turns and unusual structures and they take a few listens to sink in. I highly recommend the US vinyl version.

Nirvana: LIVE AT READING
(Geffen Records) For those of you, like me, who have been carrying around the cassette of this show for over fifteen years, this official 2-Disc set is a Godsend. Wait — fifteen years!?! An impressive, if not essential look at their catalog back in the day. Highlights include songs from the then forthcoming In Utero album, including the first ever performance of “Tourette’s” and the soon to become classic “All Apologies.” The DVD , has a 5.1 Surround Mix by Robert Ludwig and might be a better option for the A/V geeks -Audiophiles among us.


Monsters of Folk: MONSTERS OF FOLK

For those caught unaware, Monsters of Folk is comprised of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, singer/songwriter M.Ward and producer Mike Mogis, four of this generation’s most critically acclaimed artists. Great teamwork here recalls the happier days of CSNY or the one-off Thorns release of a few years back. All four songwriters sharing vocals and songwriting duties. M. Ward is a wonder: an amazing multi-instrumentalist with an interesting, quirky voice and appreciation of musical history. His solo album, also released this year, is worth seeking out. Monstrous and folkie, I was introduced to this via WFUV-FM. I give this my highest recommends. (Shangri La)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Tons of great reissued/legacy stuff this year, most of which I haven’t had a chance to hear…

    2009’s Top Five Legacy Releases (Live or Compilations)


The Beatles’ REMASTERED CATALOG
(Mono and Stereo) You may have heard something about these tuned-up compact discs…

Ella Fitzgerald: TWELVE NIGHTS IN HOLLYWOOD 4-CD box set of 73 completely unreleased live recordings from Ella in her prime.

The Doors: LIVE IN NEW YORK 6-CD box set that contains all of the Doors’ performances in their entirety recorded in 1970 at the Felt Forum in New York. All four shows were mixed and mastered by the band’s long-time engineer, Bruce Botnick.

Nirvana: LIVE AT READING (See above)

Neil Young: ARCHIVES, VOL. ONE BOXED SET
Perhaps too mammoth for me to digest in less than a year, I honestly haven’t listened to quite all of it yet. 8-Disc CD Set (or 10-disc DVD or Blu-Ray) appears to be the definitive, chronological survey of his entire body of work. Volume I covers the period from his earliest recordings with the Squires in 1963, through to his classic 1972 album, Harvest. I’m sure that whichever format you end up getting this in is fine., but if you’re a classic rock collector, you definitely should pick it up…

******HONORABLE MENTIONS:


Pearl Jam: BACKSPACER

With Kurt Cobain long gone and after eight years of George Bush’s America, PJ starts its own label, with their ninth album as its first release. With longtime producer Brendan O’Brien, the boys still want to stick it to “the man” and “corporate America,” even though it is a Target exclusive release. A marked improvement over recent offerings, dig out your 90’s flannel shirt for “Amongst the Waves” and “The Fixer.” “Just Breathe” might be the greatest love song Pearl Jam has ever written.

U2: NO LINE ON THE HORIZON
Forgive me! I had a busy year with changing jobs, getting married and buying a house, all in the matter of six months. I haven’t listened to this, but its got to be great, no?

Regina Spektor: FAR
Don’t just write her off as another girl with a piano. The emergence of the Moscow-born, Bronx-raised Regina Spektor is a great story and this, her third album. Mid-tempo and pleasant, there’s alot to like here.

Various Artists: DARK WAS THE NIGHT
31 exclusive tracks were recorded for this compilation. Available as a 2-CD, 3-LP and will benefit the Red Hot Organization – an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS. Contributors include Andrew Bird, Iron and Wine, Spoon and Conor Oberst. The few tracks that I’ve heard sound terrific and there was a great deal of buzz around this collection at the end of the year.

Willie Nelson: AMERICAN CLASSIC
A sort-of sequel to his widely-acclaimed 1978 release Stardust, American Classic revisits some old favorite standards, covered previously by Nelson and others. Unremarkable, but solid. I think it is a “grower.” Just avoid the vinyl version. Ticky and surface noise, the bastards. If you’re going to do vinyl, do it right, for the love of all that’s holy.

Yeah, so I’m pretty bad at keeping my “Top Ten” lists to ten.

Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-Independent from Connecticut, appears to be taking the lead in the Senate to expand gay rights.

President Obama has been working with Lieberman to create a strategy to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans openly gay servicemen from the military, the Advocate reports.

“On ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ this administration is talking directly to the Hill — we are in direct discussions with Senator Lieberman,” John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, recently told the Advocate. Berry is the administration’s highest-ranking, openly gay official.

A spokesman for Lieberman confirmed that the senator, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, had been speaking to the White House about the bill, the Advocate reports. The spokesman, however, gave no other information regarding the senator’s plans.

Lieberman is already working to expand rights for homosexuals with legislation to grant the same benefits to gay federal employees and their spouses as given any married federal employee and their spouse, the Hill newspaper reports.

The bill has one GOP co-sponsor, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), along with 23 Democratic co-sponsors. Lieberman hopes to bring the bill to the Senate floor by the end of the year, the Hill reports.

With respect to repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Berry told the Advocate the White House would like to see Senate legislation gain bipartisan support.

While many in the gay community are losing patience with Mr. Obama for his lack of action on gay rights issues, the Washington Post points out in an editorial Tuesday that Congress shares the blame.

“Ending… forms of institutional discrimination based on sexual orientation requires leadership. Pity there’s not enough of it coming from either end of Pennsylvania Avenue,” the Post wrote. “Overturning ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and DOMA require legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) have been content to sit on the sidelines while Mr. Obama takes the hits. This can’t continue.”

Shame on Who?

January 26, 2010


Shame on Who?

For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, this Facebook “cut and paste” status campaign is making the rounds within moron circles:


“Shame on you America: The only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds and mentally ill without treatment – yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won’t have the guts to copy and repost this…”

WTF? Here’s my response to them. Feel free to use/share:
***************************************************************
Those causes are not ignored. You might ignore them, but other Americans give over $250 Billion to charity each year. There are hundreds of ways for Americans to give to national and local causes, if they want to put in a little effort. There are numerous programs to assist individuals who want that help.

The original spirit of this status message was meant to be negative. The tone of many of the threads I’ve seen drifts into resentment and anger because of their own lot in life. (“Nobody gives me a hand out…”) Why are you contributing to it?

You have a very narrow view of the world that hasn’t changed in a long time. For starters, you need a passport or a train ticket and a clue.

Some more facts for the ignorant:

After Katrina, $854 Million in aid was offered to the US by foreign countries around the globe.

After 9/11, several countries around the globe responded to help.

Google is your friend and can be used for things other than finding nail salons and porn.

If you Google: “programs for the homeless”
first result: “homeless assistance programs

If you Google:”government programs for the elderly”
first result:”http://www.usa.gov”

If you Google: ”programs for the mentally ill”
first result:”NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

(Their website currently has a banner that asks people to HELP HAITI. Wow, even the mentally ill care more about Haiti than these sociopaths.)

While America has our share of problems, those problems won’t be solved in one day. Haiti needs our help now as the death toll rises to 200,000.

They have only collected 50,000 dead bodies. What does that tell you?

Don’t sit there and cut & paste to me about how not doing a telethon to help Americans in need should make us feel shame. Fuck you.

You can sit there on your computer and tell us about how “America has problems” but what have you actually done to try to help make things better even in your own neighborhood?

Those of you that are all up in arms about sending money to Haiti “when we have our own poor, hungry, etc.” are a lot of the same asshats that get all up in arms about programs that help our own citizens. Hypocrites.

Cutting and pasting a status update is as easy (and helpful) as putting a yellow ribbon decal on your car, but *actually doing something* to help people might be a better use of your time. Go do something positive.

I’m not saying that I’m an angel as far as charitable giving, because I am not. I’m also not publicly bitching about a country that has billions of dollars donating to a penniless country that is literally bleeding in the streets.

If the US were struck by a similar natural disaster tomorrow, I wouldn’t count on many of the people who posted that status message to do anything positive to help anyone. They wouldn’t piss on you if you were in flames.

The people telling America to be “ashamed” need to crawl under a rock and reconsider their role as a member of the human race.

On Safire

September 28, 2009

safireW

William Safire, former Nixon speechwriter, conservative NY Times columnist, language guru, has died at age 79.

He was always fascinating on the subject of English language use and style(<~~ Ironically, a ‘sentence fragment,’ my spell-check tells me.) Perhaps one of the last among a generation of great writers, BUT Safire was often on the wrong on the issues politically and cannot be forgiven for being the Nixon speechwriter who introduced the word ‘values’ into their lexicon, helping to start the divisive, hateful era that we are currently in the middle of.

I’d like to say ‘Rest In Peace,” but instead have to say “Good riddance.” This country has a great deal of cleaning up to do thanks to how some of the language he introduced has been manipulated.