Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mike Gravel live tonight on the web

We interrupt the continuing review of songs from Ray Davies' Working Man's Cafe to send you a Mike Gravel update. He is being excluded -- wrongly -- from the debate tonight, but has made arrangements to do a web cast at the same time as the MSNBC debate and will be answering the same questions put to the candidates.
Tuesday, October, 30, 2007

Village Green

Even if you've read this, it's worth repeating.

Corporate censorship has taken over the Presidential race. I have
been excluded unfairly from the MSNBC Debate at Drexel University
this Tuesday. Why? GE owns MSNBC and NBC. Last minute, they
claimed I did not raise enough money.

I won't stand for this in my country!

Join me for this truly historic event, tonight! LIVE.

I am broadcasting via WebCast tonight from Philadelphia
across from the debate site at Drexel University and I will be
answering many of the same debate questions that Hillary and the
others are answering at the MSNBC debate. So join me on the web
at 6pm PT, 7pm MT, 9pm ET at http://Gravel2008.us/LIVEDEBATE
...bookmark this page

If you live in the Philadelphia area, I will be at World Cafe Live
http://www.worldcafelive.com with hundreds of supporters and
anti-war protestors to protest GE (the owner of MSNBC and NBC) and
corporate media censorship in this election. Join me at "World Cafe
Live" -- doors open at 8:30pm ET.

Even if you have donated to my campaign, I urge you to donate
again. I need you to take a stand with me today. According to
NBC, money talks. Let's show them we can speak up!

Yours in gratitude,
Senator Mike Gravel
http://Gravel2008.us/LIVEDEBATE -- link good for tonight only

Official Mike Gravel 2008 Campaign | P.O. Box 948 | Arlington, VA 22216-0948

Monday, October 29, 2007

No One Listen

Hey man, call the D.A., call the National Guard,
Call the President
Call anyone in the land of the free
'Cos they ain't gonna listen to me...
This one better get some airplay in New Orleans. For those who haven't been paying attention, Ray Davies has spent some difficult times in New Orleans, but he's not singing the slow and pain-filled blues. "No One Listen" is a hard-driving and relentless rock-out of a song.
The voice on the phone says we'll
get right back but they say
All the computers are down
And the chief prosecutor had to go out of town
No one listen, nobody listens
No one listens to me...
I feel like that a lot these days. So many examples everywhere I turn: The Executive Branch only listens to the Decider, while Republicans refuse to listen and Democrats claim they are listening but can't act. Meanwhile presidential candidates claim they don't listen to lobbyists or corporate donors.
Hey man call the government
Write to City Hall, United Nations
Tell the preacher at the missionary
'Cos he ain't gonna listen to me.
But nobody listen to me.
The more I look around my city, the more depressed I get at all the for-sale signs sprouting like fungi in the front yards of every neighborhood, rich to poor.
Blame the hurricanes, blame the drug trade,
The economy,
Blame the ghettos in the land of the free
'Cos they ain't gonna listen to me
Mayor says we are going to have a "green print" for Akron, but dumps that into the laps of the non-profit organization responsible for planting flowers around the city. Um, don't you think we need a few scientists, engineers, architects, water and energy experts and probably lawyers involved in the planning?
Everybody knows it's a cryin' shame
how the little guy gets kicked around
Everybody I talk to agrees that if you wanna get
heard its connections that count

Tell the National Guard
Tell the talk show on the TV
Tell the winos in the old man bar
'Cos they ain't gonna listen to me.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Down Route 93

Singing along to Working Man's Cafe, I made it to Berlin in just about an hour. This time I chose to avoid the interstates and take old state route 93 which runs from Kenmore down through the Portage Lakes passing through several old Ohio canal towns. Once past Canal Fulton, the road was relatively empty. The fall trees were in the best color they are going to achieve this long drought-ridden autumn. This grey dreary day produced light rain intermittently, but no complaints here, as the fields and trees need even more than was produced today.

One of the themes in Ray Davies' new solo CD is the pervasiveness of American influences around the world. The title song long mourns the loss of places where working people used to hang out and chat, family owned places with counter tops and familiar faces. The singer goes to the shopping centre of town trying to find a place where he'll fit in among all the retail outlets:
Bought a pair of new designer pants
Where the fruit and veg man used to stand
I always used to see him there
Selling old apples and pears
The fast food franchises began to disappear as Route 93 headed into Ohio farm country. I looked everywhere for a cafe, but there were none to be found, only large tourist trap places selling mounds of Amish goods. There are no cafes, only Cheese Barns featuring "authentic Amish meals."

Going deep into Amish territory is like driving straight into Ohio's rural past. Every now and then a jarring sight comes into view: an Amish woman wrestling with an enormous gasoline powered lawn mower on a steep bank by the road.

A modern egg factory barn contains the non-organic egg producing caged hens that supply Sauder's Eggs. Don't they look happy? Read the description of how Sauder's produce their organic eggs as opposed to their non-organic eggs and then ask yourself why are people still buying eggs from chickens that eat pesticide laden feed, are shot with hormones, antibiotics, fungicides and herbicides?

Berlin, OH is a tourist center in the middle of Holmes county and you know you are there when suddenly the traffic starts to back up. Just around the corner is Zinck's fabric store, a mecca for the serious costumer looking for a variety of fabrics at bargain prices.

Driving back, I begin to count the fast food chains, noting that Subway has made the most inroads into Amish country. I wanted to take some photos, but the rain grew steadier and more determined, so instead I hunkered down inside the cab of my truck, singing along to Working Man's Cafe, the words starting to stay in my memory and the haunting tune now deeply ingrained in my psyche.
Everything around me feels unreal
Everywhere I go it looks and feels like America
We've really come a long way down this road
Improving our surroundings as we go
Changing our roots and culture...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Frankenstein (A De-Monstration)

If you live in or around Akron, do not miss this production. New World Performance Laboratory is back with another presentation of their ongoing work, Frankenstein (A De-monstration) at UA's Sandefur Theatre. You can see it once more this weekend on Friday, Oct 26th at 8 PM and again on November 1-3.

Do not expect to see anything conventional, because with this company the conventional is a dry husk that is shed again and again. They are in search of the essential. They don't "pretend," they do their actions and in the doing reach the audience in ways we hardly ever experience in the theatre. NWPL's co-directors are James Slowiak and Jairo Cuesta. We are so fortunate that Akron, Ohio became the home to a theatre whose roots reach directly back to the work of 20th century theatre revolutionary, the Polish Laboratory director Jerzy Grotowski.

In this pieced and stitched together response to Mary Shelley's work, we are privy to the creation of the monster story and perhaps into the inner workings of the roving band of creative intellects that burst out of the British Isle in the But there are more monsters lurking within the dynamics of the Percy/Mary /Byron relationship and we are taken up by the very breath and heartbeat into the actions. I was very conscious of my own heart pounding as the actions intensified, which had the unusual effect of allying me with the monster. It seemed to me my heart wasn't my own at that part, and like the monster I could only wonder at the the strange organ beating inside me. It takes an amazing amount of energy and focus to create something so charged with shocking electricity.

I could not get over the shoes worn by the cast. All were wearing the most uncomfortable and unsuitable shoes, except for Frankenstein/Shelley (Chris Buck) and The Creature (Jairo Cuesta) who both were working in bare feet. Lord Byron (Justin Hale) in high heels and The Man (Alex White) in medium heeled pumps worked their change in status to perfection. The Woman (Debora Totti) wore men's dress shoes, while Mary Shelley (Megan Elk) and Elizabeth (Jamie Hale) wore tortuously high heels. This all added up to heighten the gender issues that swirled around the life and times of Mary Shelley and her comrades in art.

The costumes (Inda Geib), lighting (Christ Hariasz) and set (Benjamin Hardin) enhanced the patched-together theme of the material, which could also be a metaphor for the group's creative process. Material used for this production includes Mary Shelley's novel and journals, the poetry of Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Milton, and texts drawn from Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women, The Rainbow by DH Lawrence and original material written by the actors. There are references to and lines from classic horror films.

I was fortunate to see the first rendition of this piece last spring. It has grown tremendously, and yet still has that initial fire and astonishing power that made me want more at the initial viewing. I'm definitely going back for another look this time round. NWPL always delivers masterpieces that reveal more and more the deeper you look into them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Working Man's Cafe available via iTunes

I couldn't wait for my order to arrive from the UK. Once I found out that I could download Ray Davies new release, it was click click and all last night spent in listening to the new tunes. I hope to post a full review over the weekend. By then I should have the hard copy with printed lyrics to reference. The only posted lyric from this new CD is Vietnam Cowboys, which can be found at Dave Emlen's Unofficial Kinks Web Site. Right now I'm still absorbing and responding to the work. I can tell you that the brilliance of voice, lyrics and music continues to grow brighter than ever, which is great news and inspiration for all of us who can remember -- back in 1965 -- the first time we heard Well Respected Man on the radio.

My favorite way to get into new music is while driving. There's something about that car stereo that gives the music a heightened immediacy not so easily obtained from an iPod or home stereo. Fortunately, I have a long drive planned for Saturday, down to Berlin, OH, an annual quest for fabric and I can't wait to pop that CD in and blast away all down the highway.

I can tell you that the standout songs for me so far are Working Man's Cafe, The Voodoo Walk, and In a Moment. Most controversial may be Hymn for a New Age, in which the singer doesn't believe in "God" but wants something to look up to. "I believe I want to pray but don't know what to." One always has to tread with caution when interpreting any RD song. The temptation is to say this is his actual view of the world, when so many times he is writing about characters outside himself.

New Orleans resonates throughout the album. The music, the city and its people, and Ray's recovery from a shooting incident that took place in the city are referenced. The album, produced in Nashville with American musicians, is very much about the US, and yet-- there is no official release date for Working Man's Cafe in this country.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mike Gravel gets squeezed out of the next debate

The following arrived in the email today, much to my deep disgust. NBC has arbitrarily decided Mike Gravel is not important enough to include in their next "debate." How much debating can there be when the one guy who speaks truth to power consistently is prohibited from being on the same stage as the rest of the wannabes?

The really sick thing is that Gravel plays by the rules we want all of them to play by. So he gets punished and gets no support while everybody throws money at the people who will be controlled by big the big corporate interests no matter what party they claim to lead.

Read it and weep or else get mad and send emails to the NBC Guys in Charge of Making Irresponsible Decisions. Mike helpfully includes their email addresses below.

A Letter from Mike Gravel also posted on the Huffington Post

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Village Green -

In the past year, I have attended 11 national Democratic debates of
which two were sponsored by corporate media giant NBC. However,
last week, NBC suddenly conjured up arbitrary polling and
fundraising requirements specifically designed to exclude me. None
of the previous debates I attended held such requirements.

When my staff called NBC directly to find out why I was now barred
from attending, Chuck Todd, NBC news' political director, told us
that there were three criteria we did not meet, namely that I had
not campaigned in New Hampshire and/or Iowa at least 14 times in
the past year, that I was not polling at 5% and that I hadn't
raised $1 million.

It is clear that NBC just wants me out of the race. This was made
evident by the fact that NBC did not even inform me of its
arbitrary criteria before making the decision to stifle my
campaign. NBC's Todd waited until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, to
inform my staff that I was not invited to the Oct. 30 debate at
Drexel University in Philadelphia. That's a fact!

Since I announced my candidacy for the Democratic Nomination for
President of the United States on April 17, 2006, I have certainly
traveled to New Hampshire and Iowa at least 14 times. And,
according to a recent CNN poll, I am tied with Joe Biden, Dennis
Kucinich and Chris Dodd.

NBC claims I haven't raised enough money to qualify. I'm proud of
the fact that I don't collect millions from special interests (or
fugitives like Norman Hsu). The reason why Senator Hillary Clinton
seems to have a fundraising scandal every month is because money
has corrupted our democracy. By stifling my voice on the basis of
fundraising dollars, NBC is reinforcing the power of money over our
national political discussion and our freedom.

But why has NBC suddenly come up with "requirements" designed to
exclude me from the debate?

NBC's decision is proof that our corporate media do not want a
genuine debate over our impending war with Iran. During the last
debate I was the only one to aggressively confront Senator Clinton
over her vote to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist
organization. Had I not brought up the subject, seasoned NBC
commentator Tim Russert, the moderator of the Sept. 26 debate,
would not have even asked about it.

Most Americans still don't appreciate the gravity of that vote and
they don't understand that our government is intentionally raising
roadblocks to diplomacy. Corporate media have once again failed to
investigate how Bush and a compliant congress have set us on the
warpath. Instead the media simply parrots the demonization of
Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the administration's unproven
accusations against Iran. NBC and the other corporate media have
jumped on the war bandwagon and they are determined to shut up
anyone who tries to stop it.

The fact that NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the world's
leading military contractors, is frightening and certainly smacks
of censorship directed at the most outspoken critic of the
influence that the military-industrial complex holds over this
great nation. In the past decade, GE has benefited financially from
the global war on terrorism and currently holds almost $2 billion
in military contracts .

So I ask that anyone, who is as concerned as I am about the power
of the mainstream media and the military-industrial complex, speak
out in support of my campaign today.

Village Green here are 3 powerful things you can do:

1. Sign the online petition to have me included in the debate!

2. Contact NBC and GE and tell them they are wrong for trying to
stifle my campaign! Here are there emails you can copy/paste into
your "TO:" field of your email.

chuck.todd@nbcuni.com, viewerservices@msnbc.com,
directors@corporate.ge.com, ombudsperson@corporate.ge.com,
jeff.zucker@nbcuni.com, lynn.calpeter@nbcuni.com,

3. Email the DNC at http://www.democrats.org/page/s/contact

Finally, since the powers that be now require that I raise $1
million in order to participate in the debates, please make a
donation to my campaign.

I will not stop. In fact, this fuels my fire even more.

Unlike my fellow candidates, I am not focused on raising millions of
dollars; I am focused on fixing representative government. Help us
reach that arbitrary threshold for financing and I will continue
to fight for democracy and peace for all of us, not just the

My web site: http://Gravel2008.us

On a personal note, I want to thank the many volunteers who made my
recent swing through Florida such a huge success. I will be
attending the Florida Democratic Party Convention and the United
For Peace And Justice (UFPJ) Southeast Regional Rally & March in
Orlando on Oct. 27. For more information on these events, email
David Nelson-VanDette , Florida State Director.

If you live anywhere near Philly, we are planning an event at
University of Pennsylvania on Oct. 30, the night of the debate. If
you live in the area and would like to attend, please contact my
office via email at phillydebate@gravel2008.us.

Official Mike Gravel 2008 Campaign | P.O. Box 948 | Arlington, VA 22216-0948

Monday, October 22, 2007

From the Village Reader

Hillary's polling continues to improve according to Gallup. But over at Daily Kos, the straw poll reveals steadfast support for Edwards, with a surprising surge for Dodd. Looks like some people are impressed when a senator takes a stand. If only a few more would.

Terra, Not Terror has some fantastic reporting from the Bioneers conference in Cleveland this past weekend. Keep checking back there, as she says she has enough material to last through the week. I think this statement is very important and something we need to work on here in Akron:
Diversity is our best hope. Nature thrives on diversity, and so should humanity. A damaged system can recover if it is diverse. The odds are improved and society is enriched. Community and social capital involves empowering local communities to solve their own problems. This is called the new localism… communities must be decentralized to solve problems. We can see that happening with the Mayors Climate Protection Act… the Federal government is not taking responsibility, so local governments are stepping into the role (that’s what is meant by decentralized).
PZ Meyers delivers one rip snorting good talk at St Olif's. The following snippet certainly relates to the bioneering topic being discussed at Terra's blog:

All those species on our planet are related to one another -- we can trace lines of descent that link every one of the residents of this Earth to every other; we are distantly related to worms and bacteria and sea anemones and trees. We know this because, again, the paleontologists have shown us the chain of history, and because the molecular biologists have mapped out the genes and shown us their similarities. The proteins in my eye that capture light and convert it to an electrical signal are present in jellyfish, and the cellular mechanisms and the genetic code we use to translate those genes into action are identical.

Microdot has the latest goings on in France, where the new conservative president is not making many friends among the citizens. Read how a publicity gimmick terribly misfires, in the tale of a letter from a young communist.

And finally, this in the email:
Dear Village Green,

Regarding your CD WOW! Order No. 378252508

Just to let you know that:
Working Man's Cafe by RAY DAVIES has been dispatched.

Please allow up to 7 days for this item to arrive.

If after this time the above item has not arrived, please do let us know.

This completes your order.

Warmest regards,
CD WOW! Customer Service
Seven days and counting! I'm avoiding all the reviews now being published by our British friends who all got the CD free yesterday along with their copy of the Sunday Times. I want to experience the new songs with no preconceptions. I want to give the artist his due and have no problem with paying for an import. (No date has been given for a US release) Besides, the CD that is on sale for actual cash has two bonus tracks not on the giveaway -- and those two are supposed to be "killer."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Contemplating mortality

A pair of local plays confronted the issue of finite life versus immortality. I saw them both this weekend: Tuck Everlasting at Magical Theatre and The Dead Guy at The Bang and the Clatter. In both cases, I would have made opposite decisions to those made by the protagonists.

In Tuck, a young girl passes on immortal life so she could grow up, get married and have children -- then eventually pass to her grave. She weighs her decision upon meeting a family of eternals, "doomed" to wander the earth and never grow older than the day they drank the magical water. The family must wander and live a Twilight Zone-like existence as folks grow suspicious.

I listened to the various Tuck family members tell us how awful it is to watch the ones you love grow old and die, and how life cannot continue without the changes of birth, growth and death. And yet -- I would have drunk the water -- no question about it. I'm just way too curious about how things turn out and I would not be able to resist the temptation of being able to stick around to the end.

The Dead Guy, features a schmuck who has never looked beyond his immediate present is offered a million dollars to spend in one week on a new reality TV program. The catch is -- he gets the money on Monday and a camera follows him around until Sunday, when he must die. The viewing audience gets to vote for the method of his death. The immortality on offer is that of suddenly becoming known by everybody -- fortune and fame to one who had no hope of ever gaining such status and wealth in his miserable little life.

Not a sympathetic protagonist to begin with, and yet -- the situation brings about the question -- is there anything that could be offered to make one give up life under the conditions offered? Surely not anything material. I could imagine saying OK, if my death brought about world peace or stopped global warming -- but nobody could make good on those deals.

There's nothing I like better than a play that stays with you, bringing questions to mind that can't be answered easily or quickly. Bravo to both companies for providing us with such thoughtful and beautifully rendered productions.

I'm sorry to tell you that these plays wrapped up their public performances this weekend. Tuck Everlasting continues this week with school performances while BNC gets ready for its next production, Bug by Tracy Letts, opening Nov 2nd.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What are we living for?

I'll be spending this week rushing to the mailbox every day to see if CD Wow has fulfilled my order for Working Man's Cafe. You know that cafe, don't you? It's on a Dead End Street:

Friday, October 19, 2007

A bully night at the bookstore

It was educator discount night at the local big bookstore chain, so I showed up, cloth shopping bags in tow. 25% off anything in the store and didn't have to be something to use in the classroom. There are precious few perks in the teacher biz, other than decent health care. We work long hours in a high pressure profession and shoulder more stress than human beings ought to carry around.

I was happy to spend my hard earned bucks on more books. The event was impressive -- tables of refreshments, fresh coffee, giveaways and raffle opportunities along with authors signing books and a special talk on bullying by an expert anti bullying tactician. Now doesn't that sound like a fun Friday night?

Bullying is big these days. There's a new state law that mandates bully awareness and procedures for reporting in every school district in the state.

Why are kids picking on each other more than ever? Perhaps it is the need to assert oneself in a world that seems to be spiraling out of control. Could it be too many people scrambling for dwindling resources? Are we concerned more than ever because the bully's victims are arming themselves with semi-automatic rifles, handguns and explosives? The place of learning is also the place of bullying. The building and all who work within are the targets.

Effective bullying takes skill, but not necessarily a great deal of intelligence. Bullies have perfected the essential skills, the sudden shove, the quick squeeze, the intimidating stance -- all practiced to achieve maximum speed in order to elude the attention of any passing adult. They know when and where to attack and they select their targets for maximum impact. They go for the odd ones, the shy kids, ones that no one sits with. Anyone who is different is considered weak and fair game.

Bullies are everywhere these days. They have over-run the executive branch of our government. Why has bullying increased so rapidly over the past few years? Could it have anything to do with the Bully in Chief and his right wing thugs? Or perhaps they are symptoms of a greater social dis-ease brought about by a complex of socio-economic conditions?

I bought a sale book on Egypt, a brand new analysis of the life of Shelley, a book on green living, a cook book, and -- two books on bullying. If I find any answers to my questions, I'll share them here. And as always, welcome your insights as well.

(Bullying statistics and chart above found here.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

E4S helps you implement sustainability

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability continue to offer cutting edge workshops that can help us turn our building and manufacturing processes away from wasteful, mindless practices that harm our planet and our environment. This one looks very interesting and very useful:

Introduction to SI Workshop (SI = Sustainability Implementation Group)

Date: Thursday, November 1, 2007

Time: 9:00 am -11:30 am

Location: E4S Connection and Learning Center
540 E. 105th St., Suite 213 Cleveland, OH 44108

Price: $50 / organization (We recommend that 3-5 individuals from your management team attend)

What is an SI Group?
A eight month, peer-based, action focused, learning process that increases the rate you can learn new technologies and processes and the probability you will successfully implement what you learn. Develop relationships with other entrepreneurial leaders who will support you during and after the SI Group ends its journey.

Sample of Monthly SI Group Topics:

  • Principles of Sustainability – such as Natural Capitalism, Whole-Systems Design and more
  • Developing an implementation plan based on successful case stories
  • How to engage your employees in the process
  • Waste elimination
  • Green procurement
  • High performance, green building
  • Energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative fuels
  • Curriculum for each SI Group will be custom designed to meet each group’s needs.

Entrepreneurial business leaders and their top management team (3-5 participants/organization) who want to learn how to implement sustainability principles in their buildings, processes, product, markets and company culture.
  • To read more about E4S SI Groups click here
  • To register for the E4S SI Group Intro Workshop click here

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Missing Pho

It's been 17 days and I'm jonesin for a Pho Phix.

Come back soon! My days seem disoriented without checking in at your Akron Pages. The daily ABJ is not enough, although the return of David Giffels is heartening for those of us who live in Akron because we actually like it here and have an innate fondness for Rubber City and its culture, if not climate.

Meanwhile, there's always The Chief Source, with more comments in a day from readers than I can hope to earn in a month.

Terra, Not Terror continues to focus on environmental issues -- and I'm so glad she does all that research and shares it with us. I'm now entering those months of the year in which I am far too busy to keep up with everything I'd like to, so thank you Terra -- your blog is a must-read for Akronites and everybody else.

Accidental Akronite and Radio Free Newport provide a fresh look at our city, through the eyes of newly arrived residents -- and we are so glad they are here.

For the scoop on everything local, there's no blog like Eric Mansfield's Have I Got News For You. If you want transparency in news reporting, be sure to check this one out. It can get downright gripping, when our local television reporter is on the trail of breaking news.

Someone who doesn't write nearly as often as I'd like to read him is Red Horse at Psychobilly Democrat. Same goes for Kerry Clawson at her Stage to Page blog, but we know she is focusing on her own upcoming production!

And while not actually residing in Akron, she's close enough to count -- and she's my mom! She was the first blogger in our family and I probably wouldn't have gotten interested in it if she hadn't begun her Cotswold Corner blog, from the heart of Granger Township in Medina county.

My apologies if I have left off any other important and entertaining Akron blogs. That's why I am missing Pho -- he's the one who finds everybody else and draws us into the local blogosphere. We miss you, man!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Working Man's Cafe to be given away with the Times

The newspaper and music industries are teaming up in a most unusual way. Ray Davies new CD is going to be released -- for free! On October 21st, the Times will be giving away a million and a half copies of Working Man's Cafe with every paper sold.

Oh to be in England!

Read the details here. You can also download Vietnam Cowboys, a preview track at the Times Online. Note the Cleveland reference in the refrain:

You better top up your suntan
Otherwise your skin's going to turn to leather
We'll make a movie in Vietnam
The tax break necessitates we're going to shoot on location
The rug says made in Korea
Manufactured in a factory using cheap labor
And all over Asia
The third world's becoming a major league player

Mass production in Saigon
While all the workers laid off in Cleveland
Hot jacuzzi in Taiwan
With empty factories in Birmingham
Now it's babyboomers in Hong Kong
Playing cowboys in Vietnam
Access the Times Online here. Note that you have to register to get the download.

And how thrilling it was to hear You Really Got Me played at the end of last night's ALCS Indians win over the Red Sox!

Here's a little vintage Ray to keep us going until Oct 1.

Akron City Council gets rational

Great news today for the city of Akron! Our elected officials decided to represent all of us equally by no longer reciting "the Lord's Prayer" at the beginning of each council meeting. Even though they didn't do this of their own initiation, I'll cheer their decision and give them a great big A (See side bar) for their efforts. Be sure to check out the comments after the news report in the Akron Beacon Journal. There are far more rational folks in the area than I thought. Yeah sure, the deluded are still well represented but it sure is nice to see a lot of support for the Constitution in this day and age of patriarchal government.

Next we need to get rid of "In God We Trust" on the currency. Sorry, not all of us do -- trust in a god or goddess. "With God all things are possible" is another one of those tacked-on meaningless phrases that are used to assert moral authority over those of us who are, after all is said and done, condemned to boil in oil for all eternity.

Finally, "The Pledge of Allegiance" must be put to rest in the trunk marked "USA 1950s anti Communist propaganda." Whenever I hear the phrase "under god" during recitation of said mindless oath, I think of a Rolling Stones song -- "Under My Thumb."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Highland Square residents to hold a planning meeting

This came in today's email. If you live in the square, go and participate. I wish I could, but I'm just a Highland Square wannabe living on the outskirts of Kenmore. Someone tried to start a West Summit Lake citizens' group a few years back, but it met on a day that was generally impossible for me to attend and I lost track of what happened with the group. The folks in Highland Square, however, don't look even close to fading away! Here's the info:

The Highland Square Neighborhood Association Planning Meeting, October 18th.

The Highland Square Neighborhood Association(HSNA) will be holding a community planning meeting on October 18th at 6:30pm at the American Legion Hall located at 783 W. Market St. The HSNA will announce the Nominating Committee for the upcoming election of next years Board Officers. Other topics include crime prevention, the grocery store and Holidays in the Square.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weekend wrap-up

"Up" being the operative word here, as I drove up I-71 from Cincinnati to Akron. today. The long drive was made ever so much more bearable by listening to the Browns keep the Dolphins winless. First time I've driven to the Queen City, the other two times were bus trips.

It's a long lovely rural stretch from Cincinnati to Columbus. Great big harvesting contraptions were eating up acres of field corn all along the way. Lots of carbon dioxide being belched out of those behemoths, upping the environmental cost of whatever the corn is used for -- from ethanol to pig production. (Petroleum is also used to make pesticides which get sprayed on the corn and eaten by those pigs.)

Speaking of pig production, I had to close the windows at several points along the journey, the old familiar smell of pig farms came back to haunt me. (Growing up in rural Ohio, my school bus drove past a pig farm twice a day -- we all yelled EWWWW every time.) What a shame people actually eat those delightful and intelligent creatures.

Not a single windmill along the journey, signifying a lot of talk is going on by our state politicians but precious little action. Ohio is fiddling while Greenland melts. Instead I saw two billboards proclaiming these, and a barn roof facing the highway painted with one of these.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Othello, Shakespeare's domestic tragedy

After a full day of intense professional development, the theatre teachers looked at each other and wondered out loud if we had the strength of mind to sit through an intense Shakespearean tragedy. Word was out in the city of Cincinnati that this Othello was a remarkable production and so a number of us decided to gird our loins and head over to the Cincinnati Playhouse -- and we were oh so very glad we did.

I've seen some excellent Shakespeare on stage in my life, but I don't think I've ever seen anything so powerful as this production. The Shelterhouse Theatre is an intimate space, perfect for this "domestic tragedy," so described in the director's notes. (Production details and information can be found here.)

The audience was hanging not only on every word, but on every action and breath. We were struck by the masterful way Iago planted the seeds of jealousy in Othello's mind, torturing him to the point of utter blindness to truth and reason. We were captivated by the lovely Desdemona, shuddering in horrified anticipation of her untimely death, which was staged so realistically that I tried to avert my eyes but could not.

The women were so strong that I thought at one point -- Shakespeare must have written the first feminist drama without even knowing he did so. Bianca, Emilia and Desdemona, were all victims of their lords and masters, yet each in her own way resisted, fighting with body and voice. I don't think I will ever forget the image of Othello kissing Desdemona to her death, stopping her mouth and nose from breathing as her hands tore at his massive arms, until at last a final flutter.

It all seemed terrifyingly modern and as real as the ugly sound of "bitch" and 'slut" through thin apartment walls.

The image above is of Paul Robeson and Uta Hagen in one of the most famous 20th century productions of Othello. I've often wished I had been around to see Robeson on stage in Othello, but after tonight I think I've witnessed something comparable.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Professional Development Weekend

I'm in Cincinnati for the weekend, staying at a hotel for two nights. Having spent four days in NYC very recently, I am in a bit of shock walking into this hotel room. In NYC, the hotel room was so small there was barely enough room to turn around in and there were precious few amenities. No phone, a narrow hard single bed and the bathroom was across the hallway. But it was cheap and it was convenient, and it did have air conditioning and a tiny refrigerator.

I thought this one in Cincinnati would also have a frig, but alas -- no. I brought some vegan food stuffs along so I wouldn't have to worry about finding an appropriate place to eat my meals. Guess I'll have to keep the salsa and vegan cheese in the ice bucket!

This room I'm in tonight is so huge my living room could fit in it. The bed could sleep three adults or six kids, but tonight is all mine. Unlike my NYC flop house, this place has wireless Internet and all kinds of business class attractions like a work center and a fitness room. The best thing about this hotel room, however, is that I am not paying for it!

I'm in Cincinnati for a weekend of professional development in which I will learn how to set up an inquiry into a problem in theatre education. It is an opportunity to combine my two favorite subjects -- drama and science -- to enhance my teaching skills for the benefit of my students. It's a two year project and involves several weekends a year in Cincinnati. So I guess I better get used to this opulent if not downright ostentatious hotel room.

After tomorrow's all day training, we are going to see a production of Othello at the Playhouse here. Looking forward to that very much. Hope to get some pictures of the city as well -- this is only my second visit to Cincinnati, although I've lived in Ohio a good part of my life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Another senseless school shooting

Reading about the school shooting in Cleveland today, I was immediately struck by the horrible fact that the school had been without a proper security guard for two years. There was a guard for the administrative offices, but none for the main entrance. Staff had been pleading for a guard, but nobody would spend the money.

Every school should have some kind of emergency plan in place, but more than that -- in this day and age, not having a locked entrance operating on a buzzer system with video camera in place is asking for trouble.

Is your child's school secure enough to make you feel OK about leaving them for the day? The school in Cleveland was for the best and the brightest students. No one thought a suspended student would come in with two handguns blasting. Nobody ever wants to think that. Better to pretend it won't happen so we don't have to pay a guard a living wage.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

GOP Freak Show

I wonder how many people chose to watch the GOP presidential candidates debate tonight. The theme was "business matters." It's like watching a convention of used car-salesmen. They each have their individual quirks and twitches, but underneath they are all operating under the same motivating principle -- more money for the few rich white guys and less for the rest of us. And if they have to do that by selling us a few lemons, well don't worry -- it'll trickle down in the end.

Romney is trying to be Mr Flash (see Kinks: Preservation Act I & II), all charm and wealth. Huckabee's eyebrows dance about as his voice drips with sincerity. McCain's eyebrows never move, but his eyelids jump up and down as if giving out some kind of Morse code in counterpoint to his spoken words.

Brownback looks like he is smelling something rotten somewhere close to his proximity. Hunter seldom is asked anything, while Tancredo's words stumble out over his tongue. He needs to put more time in rehearsing his various riffs.

Ron Paul sinks his teeth into subjects and shakes them about like a rat terrier. Too bad he's such an idiot about a woman's right to control her own body.

Republicans are "Pro-growth and pro-life." They are proud of their dinosaur mentalities. They are motivated by greed and the need to encourage excessive consumption in order to make more money.

Oops, looks like I forgot to say anything about the former mayor of NYC. Here, I'll let him speak to you:

Monday, October 08, 2007

Post season takes over my life

Don't expect long blogging entries as the play-offs continue on. This is not the middle of summer, a time when baseball on the radio becomes the soundtrack playing behind days spent working in the garden.

In October, every game and every pitch, is of the utmost importance. There's no use trying to sit at a computer and rant about politicians ruining the land. Instead, we must plant ourselves firmly in front of the television, with plenty of cushions to clutch and squeeze as tensions mount. A beverage or two close at hand, we yell at the umps and cheer every Yankee strike out.

Now -- three days to get things done before another series begins. Oh wait -- the NLC begins Thursday and the Rockies vs the Diamondbacks is a very intriguing match-up, plus National League baseball is so much more interesting to watch.

Meanwhile, go Tribe!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Akron Area Solar Energy Tour

The sun was beating down today, with temperatures in the upper 80s. What a perfect day to go on an Akron area Solar Tour.

Thanks to the home-owners who shared their passive and or active solar abodes with us. I took the western leg of the journey, jumping off before the Akron Zoo, as I've already seen the new geothermal Komodo Dragon House already.

Crown Point Ecological Center in Bath was the first stop on the journey to check out a passive solar barn, so situated and designed that it maintains comfortable warmth throughout the winter.

From there our solar adventure took us to State Rd on the eastern edge of Medina county. Here way back in the woods, we visited a passive solar home built with sustainable materials. The house used a geothermal heating system and was situated so that the winter sunlight would have the greatest heating effect, while in summer leafy trees help to keep it cool.

Total cost for heat and electricity in this house goes from a low of $45 to a high of $145 during the year. The heating is radiant and embedded under the flooring.

On the outside, shingles made of sawdust and cement help to keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer. Local and recycled woods were used on the interior. The owner uses no carpeting and has made sure that there are no toxic paints, stains or lacquers. The architecture was creative and inviting, featuring an upper loft area, and beautiful spacious living areas up and down. This two bedroom home was built for a total cost of $380K on land the owners had invested in 30 years ago.

The next house on the tour was an active solar powered home with a mighty display of photovoltaic panels mounted on a slope above and to the rear of the house.

In the basement, we were shown the instrumentation, pipes, and collection points for both the solar and geothermal operations.

If you ever wondered what solar power looks like on the inside, take a look:

During the drive from one site to the next, my eyes fell upon huge new mansions built along Ira road. Each house was situated on acres of land, just like a medieval manor house, and indeed that is what they most resemble. Tall, wide and entirely ostentatious, with three and four car garages, you can bet that each has a "great room" and that none of them were built with any regard for sustainability and energy efficiency.

It was clear from this tour that building a "green" house and detaching oneself from the energy grid is not for those of us living on a modest budget. The homes we saw today were lovely, but they were very large and in zip code areas where land is definitely not cheap.

The solar energy tour I'd like to go on, would feature passive and active solar energy systems built into public housing for urban dwellers. It would also take us to old housing stock that had been refitted for solar energy with added insulation and renovations made from non-toxic and sustainable materials. Let's face it, who really could benefit from lower energy bills? And who could benefit from raising their children in non-asthma inducing environments?

Mayor Plusquellic's "greenprint" for Akron needs to address what is being built in our city and the first place to examine are the building codes and the materials that are to be used in construction. Green housing will continue to be a hobby for the rich as long as we mindlessly allow construction to continue with the same old lack of concern for the planet and each other.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

People Makes Crazy

When Japanese audiences listened to Pimp the Cat the response was overwhelmingly positive. One new fan wrote, "When people listens to your CD, people makes crazy." I'm going crazy over it too, listening to the band's latest release, "People Makes Crazy." Streaming audio of some tracks from the CD are available here.

Pimp the Cat's music is a melding of four very talented musicians with diverse tastes and influences. They feed on the grooves of jazz and progressive rock. The tunes take you on long journeys, jams that pull you in and along for an incredible ride. Very visual stuff, which is the way I like my music. I haven't seen these guys live yet, but I note that there are some upcoming shows in NYC:

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007
Wednesday, November 14th, 2007
BB King's Lucille's
Times Square
New York, NY

December 1st Saturday Night,
the late set at The Bitter End 147 Bleeker Street West Village

Dred Scott, the keyboardist, spent some time in Akron, attending the university and studying with Pat Pace, the legendary Akron jazz pianist. I met Dred one night at the Bauhaus on Main St. He was in a band called Third Plane, along with guitarist Wilbur Krebs and percussionist JoJo Brigandi. No Akron band ever equaled their brilliance. I hadn't listened to much in the way of jazz until I met them, but I got hooked. Third Plane was jazz and beyond. They'd transform themselves into alternate bands, and all forms of music were fair game.

Every Wednesday, I was down at the club for Third Plane night. Eventually I became their "manager" and publicist, and they let me perform my little acts of performance anarchy in between sets. Meanwhile, the band was constantly creating new music, that engaged all the senses with an artistry that could and still does take my breath away.

I treasure the years they were in Ohio. The band moved to San Francisco, and then became tri-coastal. I keep hoping for a big reunion show here in Akron one day. Meanwhile, I keep going to NYC to hang with Dred and hear his latest music.

When not playing with Pimp the Cat, Dred plays with many other musicians and groups, including his own Dred Scott Trio. His MySpace page is here and you can order from his back catalogue of amazing CDs here.

Tilamook Cheddar, canine artist

While in Brooklyn last weekend, I had the good fortune to meet up with noted canine artist Tillamook Cheddar (to the left) and her son (on the right), Doc.

Tillamook has had many showings of her work, which she achieves through great intensity of effort. She even has an official biography out now, called Portrait of the Dog as a Young Artist. You can order a copy online and receive it autographed by the dog's human companion F. Bowman Hastie III, as well as by Tillie herself.

From Tillie's MySpace page:
Tillamook Cheddar is a Jack Russell Terrier from Brooklyn, New York. Widely regarded as the world’s preeminent canine artist, she has already had fourteen solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. Tillie is eight years old. In July 2005 the artist gave birth to six healthy puppies. Her son Doc Chinook Strongheart Cheddar lives with her in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Her biography, Portrait of the Dog as a Young Artist by F. Bowman Hastie III, was published by Sasquatch Books in October 2006. The artist’s primary process is a dynamic color transfer technique. In preparation for each of Tillie's works, her assistants assemble a touch-sensitive recording device by affixing pigment-coated vellum to a sheet of lithograph paper backed by mat board. The artist takes the prepared “canvas” in her mouth and brings it to her workspace. Working on the outside surface, she applies pressure with teeth and claws in a methodic ritual marked by dramatic shifts in tempo and intensity. The resultant sharp and sweeping intersecting lines complement the artist’s delicate paw prints and subtle tongue impressions, composing an expressionistic image that is revealed on the paper beneath when she is finished. She works with shocking intensity, sometimes to the point of destroying her creations.
Tillie's work has grown more in subtlety and in thematic vision over her 8 years as an artist. Her early efforts exude a raw energy and primitivism, while the more recent work displays an ongoing engagement between the inner urges and the frayed outer edges. It appears from her web site that Tillie is going to venture into sculpture, as we see her purposefully gnawing on a plastic carrot.

You can see images of her work here and lots of articles here.

Friday, October 05, 2007

MLB meets Fear Factor

I am not watching the game tonight. I am listening to it, because I cannot bear to look at all those mosquitoes feasting on ball players' necks and faces. After a few shots of players spraying themselves with repellent, the bugs were thicker than ever.

Whoever heard of days and days of high 80s temps in October? Or swarms of insects round your face as you try to carve your harvest pumpkin? It's the bitten boys of October this time around and a post-season brought to you by global warming.

Meanwhile the game is a classic knuckle-biter now in extra innings. Bases loaded in the 10th. Shoot -- nothing doing. On to the 11th. Go Tribe. And while I'm thinking about it, Le Bron -- that was a stupid thing to do, wear a Yankees hat to the opening game of the series. Yeah, so you've been a Yankees fan since you were a kid -- so what. I prefer the National League and the SF Giants are my team, but I sure wouldn't go against the Indians at home. Especially not if I were the number one player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. It lacked class, and seemed a bit out of character for King James -- unless of course he's contemplating a move to the Big Apple at some point in the future.

The logo above is from the semi-pro team called the Cleveland Mosquitoes. Stats available here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

An elephant in Brooklyn and other NYC sights

Some images from a memorable weekend in NYC.

My hotel was conveniently located on W 71st, only two blocks from the subway and only $70 a night. Real bargains can be found if one can get over the American tourist need for bigger and more extravagant. I didn't care that my room was no bigger than a postage stamp and that the bathrooms were shared. There are far more interesting places to be in NYC than in a hotel room.

Two "miraculous" appearances of Jesus in NYC -- one in Times Square and the other on beans in the subway.

I wish I'd had more time to spend at the DUMBO (Down Under the Metropolitan Bridge Over Pass)Arts Festival. Every building seemingly was stuffed with artists' studios and all were open for public inspection. Live music and performance art could be found on every street, which were jammed with people.

The pink Found fliers were posted everywhere in and around the festival streets. You will note that nothing is listed as actually having been "found," so the deduction is that it is either a religious come-on or a work of interactive performance art.

This poor elephant had just been run through his tricks when we came upon him and his handlers. I will not go to any circus that has elephants as part of its "entertainment." They obviously are not happy captives. Those sharp-hooked prodding and controlling devices that humans use upon elephants say everything we need to know about this exploitative relationship.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"Come Dancing" in development at the Theatre Royal

I'm still struggling to catch up with work and real life after four rollicking days in NYC. I've got pix to share of the DUMBO Art Festival, NYC trash practices, and other amazing visuals plus a play review -- but some breaking rock and roll theatre news trumps all:

The long talked of (and wished for by this fanatic) production of Ray Davies' large scale musical called "Come Dancing" is in development at the Theatre Royal East Stratford.


Music and Lyrics by Ray Davies, Book by Ray Davies, Terry Johnson and Paul Sirett

Ray Davies of The Kinks fame has set this large-scale musical in 50’s London, where we see the world though the eyes of young Terry and his big sister Julie. She loves dancing at the Ilford Palais but with the community fast changing it is clear things will soon never be the same again. Ray’s hit song ‘Come Dancing’ is the one classic in an otherwise completely original new score.

No dates posted, not even a summer or fall season type designation. However, this is the most firm notice we've had about this musical in the works for so many years. I'm holding on to my bonus days in case it should open during the school season. I signed up for the Theatre Royal's email newsletter so I can be one of the first to book a seat.

The Theatre Royal looks like it is a progressive theatre organization. Home to Joan Littlewood and her left-wing theatre company for many years, it is currently focused on developing new work, with a multicultural, socially aware perspective. Now playing -- Genet's "The Blacks."