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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

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.

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.

Lost My Driving Wheel

September 27, 2009

It’s amazing, how quickly our daily routine can be interrupted, or worse, shattered by a significant event. We are often forced to be strong when we are actually at our most vulnerable, such as in cases of loss or grief, where we need to support others and postpone our own inevitable mourning.

The words to this haunting song sound as if they could have been written a hundred years ago. Like Hank Williams’ “So Lonesome I Could Cry,” from earlier in the century, the evocative and solitary lyrics of “Driving Wheel” are undeniably American, despite its writer’s British roots. So literate, you find yourself listening intently. So sad, you find yourself sobbing for this person as if he were sitting in front of you.

With a steam locomotive, a driving wheel is a powered wheel which is driven by the locomotive’s pistons (or turbine, in the case of a steam turbine locomotive.) It is used in the song as an analogy that most of us can easily identify with.

Tom Rush (1970), Roger McGuinn (1973), Cowboy Junkies(1993) and Jayhawks (2000) are among the artists who have performed this song, originally written by Canadian singer-songwriter David Wiffen in the late 1960’s.

Wiffen originally released it on his early 1970’s album. The Cowboy Junkies’ version above is great, albeit a little sleepy. Vinyl collectors are encouraged to hunt down Wiffen’s original 1971 LP…

wiffen

Lost My Driving Wheel
Well I just came up on the midnight special how about that
My car broke down in Texas she stopped dead in her tracks
Just called to tell you that I need you
Just called to tell you how I feel
I feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel
Feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel
Took my money on the night train what a terrible fight
I gave my promise I would be there with you by Saturday night
I wanna tell you that I need you baby
I need to tell you just how I feel
I feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel
Feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel
Can’t say much in a phone call baby you know how it is
I have to tell you one short thing oh won’t you listen to this
I want to tell you that I love you baby
I want to tell you just how I feel
I feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel
Feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel

-David Wiffen

Goodnight Saigon

July 10, 2009

Obit McNamara

Robert S. McNamara, the Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, died this week at 93.

When McNamara served as the “architect” for the Vietnam War as secretary of defense from 1961 to 1968, he was considered one of Kennedy’s “best and brightest.” He let it be known that he had all the answers, and that those who didn’t agree with him were simply not as well informed as he was.

After being forced to resign in 1968, McNamara refused to discuss the Vietnam War until his 1995 book In Retrospect, was published. In that controversial book, he acknowledged that he “made mistakes” in Vietnam, but reminded the readers that every other top official in Washington did as well. In the book as well as in Errol Morris’ Oscar-winning 2003 documentary The Fog of War, McNamara argued that he based his policies on incorrect information supplied by the military.

In the Morris film, which I highly recommend, he reflected on the decisions he made, from World War II through Vietnam, and the consequences of those decisions.

Those decisions would prove him to be more of an accountant than a strategist or visionary. It is a painful irony that the man who preached the gospel of cost-effectiveness for the nuts and bolts of military hardware failed to realize soon enough that the Vietnam police action would become the least effective and most costly military venture in American history, spending on the Vietnam War escalated from $1 billion to over $20 billion between 1965 and 1967. Then there were the nearly 60,000 dead Americans who never came home.

He deliberately misled President Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin crisis in 1964. He also cost the lives of three million Vietnamese military and civilians through the military action and contamination from Agent Orange.

McNamara spent his later years as a vocal critic of nuclear proliferation and doing other planing and sanding work on his legacy.

His trademarks were his rimless glasses and slicked down hair and his reliance on quantitative analysis to reach conclusions.

McNamara is the best example of how intelligence alone will never guarantee success. The dangers that come from expecting victory through supreme competence may be lessons that Obama himself will want to study.

One of McNamara’s own painfully learned lessons was not to know yourself, or even to know the group you are leading; in his own words, the main thing is to be smart enough understand and to empathize with your enemy.

“Perhaps rationality isn’t enough,” McNamara says in one of Morris’ most memorable scenes from the film.

Indeed.

Rest in peace.

When the bubble bursts

June 26, 2009

MJ

“What are you going to do when the bubble bursts?” was the question – a running gag, really – that the Beatles would often field from reporters at press conferences in the early days. “We’ll burst with it, ha-ha,” the boys would sometimes sarcastically reply. John once replied with “I haven’t a clue, you know. I’m still looking for the bubble.”

With Michael Jackson’s death this week, the bubble is back in the spotlight and apparently alive and well. While Marilyn, Elvis, the Beatles and many others have resided in the celebrity bubble, Jackson may have been the only modern day celebrity so popular or prolific, to still be there. (Just think of the current crop of celebrities whose photos are taken as they run out to the supermarket for some Ben & Jerry’s at midnight in sweatpants and Ray-Ban’s.)

Plastic surgery made him a bizarre laughing stock for the final years of his eccentric adult life. At the same time, his wealth allowed him anything he wished, giving way to the “Wacko Jacko” persona which was reinforced by the later interviews with outlets such as ITV/Martin Bashir and CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes.

Jackson and many other of the ‘usual suspect’ dead celebrities may have been born to be great, but at the end of the day they were still human and flawed.

This leads me back to the bubble of my first paragraph. With all drug-related celebrity deaths, from Marilyn Monroe to Elvis Presley to Heath Ledger, the news media always locks in on the question of why these people couldn’t simply “see all of this coming.”

I always laugh at this assertion. (“Hah!” I say) If humans were only wired that way! If we only concerned ourselves with the far-reaching consequences of our actions as easily as that so we could “see it all coming.” But, of course, we cannot.

Most non-celebrities, including myself, are in self-imposed bubbles of their own. Whether it is being oblivious to our own bad health habits, or other behaviors or simply failing to see things that are right in front of our own eyes, it is often difficult for many of us to see beyond our own bubble.

While we all may not have habits and behaviors which include ingesting enormous amounts of pharmaceuticals, the basic premise is the same – each of us is essentially a cigarette smoker. We aren’t bad, mean, selfish people. We just have a bad habit or three.

So, what about you and your bad habits?

What are you going to do when the bubble bursts?

Talent?

Talent?

In 1997, several executives at McKinsey & Company, America’s largest and most prestigious management-consulting firm, declared what they termed the “War for Talent.” So began the current era of talent management.

What exactly is “talent”?

The recent return of American Idol , and the dreadful Susan Boyle on the UK version, has me thinking about the word ‘talent’ lately.

Dictionary.com describes it as ‘a special natural ability or aptitude.’ Some people are talented athletes; others, gifted artists. I, on the other hand, pride myself on my ability to help people better perform their jobs. It’s probably not what my mom had in mind when she had me taking lessons in everything from the clarinet to karate to computers, but you have to make the most of what you’ve got, right?

To put in another way, talent is something that produces value that is meaningful for our organization’s results. Let’s look at this definition in respect to sports: World class organizations from the New York Yankees (or the Boston Red Sox : ) to Olympic skating teams to regional bowling leagues are constantly out there scouting for the best talent. Why? For the same winning results that all organizations work toward.

While this talent mindset is the new to many American managers, most agree that an organization is considered only as strong as its stars. In the past few years, the talent management message has been promoted by consultants and management gurus all over the world with some arguing that it is the organization that “raises up” an employee and not the other way around.

Even the goings-on in the financial sector and the turmoil created over some less-than-honest companies hasn’t confused the message that the best talent has to be recognized and cultivated.

Simply put, talent is each of us delivering on our own unique capabilities every day.

So, while I may not have become the world class jazz musician that my mom was hoping for, I do contribute in a meaningful, worthwhile way to my organization’s results. (While drinking a great deal of coffee!)

What about you? Why is your organization better because you show up there every day?

What’s your talent?