January 31, 2008

Take Five--Short Live Music Videos

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[Take Five. Every once in a while on Friday, Fire on the Mountain picks a category and lists five cool things in it. It's up to you, dear reader, to add your own in the Comments section. Just click on the word "comments" at the bottom of the piece and you're off to the races.]

The most recent piece I posted here, a week ago on the Killer Coke campaign, I introduced with a pop music video speaking unkindly about drinking Coke. On the whole I don't like music videos much--I prefer to listen to listen to my music unmediated by a set of images somebody else has conjured for me to associate with a tune.

But I still love YouTube, which is where I link the bulk of the tunes I post here at FotM from (in fact, it's much easier to embed videos than simple sound files).

One big fat reason is that YouTube gives us the unprecedented ability to see musicians of the past (and present) in live performance. Those who've come up since the vinyl era have no idea how cool this is. Seeing in this instance does provide a better approximation of being there than even a live album like Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club or Got Live If You Want It can give.

So here are five short pieces, designed to showcase the unbelievable wealth of great stuff that not so long ago was available to only a handful of fortunate obsessives. It's all live or quasi-live as far as I can tell, all old or really old (ya wanna see Amy Winehouse live, that means you're young enough to know how to do it without me), all really short (2 minutes or less--NB: this means if it doesn't play smoothly the first time around just wait 'til the end and click on replay and it'll play great), and all exciting as hell!

And being as it's me, there'll be a bit of commentary with each one.

Whew. The video says this is from 1960 but I'd swear that's the Duchess on rhythm and I'm pretty sure she didn't replace Lady Bo until 1962. Play it again and turn it up some this time.

Yep, yer lookin' at Woody Guthrie in one of the only two film clips known to exist of him. And yep, that's Sunny Terry and Brownie McGhee backing him up. History, y'all, our history.

And speaking of Woody, here's his greatest acolyte making the big break. This is Dylan on the legendary 1966 European tour with the Hawks (minus Levon Helm), where the culture clash over his "betrayal" of his acoustic, lefty, folk past made every show a battleground. This is here because it made the less than 2 minute cut, but to really get a sense of the historic moment, at YouTube enter "Dylan 1966" and rummage around. This does have that loose grind-y drive that's my favorite thing in rock and roll (and while you're at it, check out live videos of Them in '65 or the Faces or the Dolls or Slade in the early '70s for other variations).

Ruth Brown tears the Apollo apart in the mid-1950s. Check her tambourine.

Guy who posted this says it's field hands from Augusta, GA in 1929. Some amazing stuff in any event. While "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep" dates back to slavery days, it would later become an anthem we sang during the Civil Rights Movement. Guess the message of Pharaoh's army getting drownded always resonates. Note also that the banjo is still used by African Americans, though it is in the process of a transition that will make this most African of stringed instruments into an almost totally white-identified instrument, used in country, folk and polka, a backlash against blackface...

Okay, folks, now it's to you--post or link to great, live music (preferably at least 40 years old) on YouTube that's less than two minutes long. Beware lip-synchers...

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January 24, 2008

Beating Up On Killer Coke!

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I'm hardly the best one here at FotM to blog about the student movement, but lately Modern Pitung has been ricocheting between schadenfreude and naked rage on the Suharto Death Watch. Soon I'm sure he'll have some things to say about the startling off-the-media-radar growth of the new SDS.

Me, I'm not going there. But today my email in-box featured the latest issue of the Stop Killer Coke Newsletter, and I decided to give this excellent campus-based corporate campaign against Coca-Cola some play. You can check out their website at killercoke.org but I strongly suggest signing up for their infrequent and informative newsletter.

So far, they've driven Coca Cola products out of over 45 campuses, protesting a range of corporate outrages, but focusing on the death-squad murders of trade unionists at Coke-affiliated bottling companies in Colombia. As usual, the newsletter reports on lively protests, more than 20 this time, and a few new campus victories. I want to highlight one in the City University system here in NYC, because of the moving letter they sent to give Coke the bad news:

As an Institute of the City University dedicated to the education of union members and New York City workers, we want you to know that we are removing all Coca Cola products from vending machines in our facility. We cannot support a company in blatant violation of the basic right of all workers to organize for just, humane, and decent working conditions. In solidarity with workers in Colombia, we refuse to buy any of your products, and ask that you stop your violent reprisals against those seeking their rights as workers and as human beings.

As an individual, I must add my voice to those who object to your treatment of Colombian workers because my father worked for Coca Cola Bottling Company in Asbury Park, New Jersey for more than 40 years, and served as a Teamster shop steward for some of that time. I owe it to his memory to speak out against actions he would deplore by a company to which he gave so much of his life.

Deborah D'Amico, Senior Program Developer, PhD
Joseph Murphy Institute

The spotlight generated by this campaign, which has also involved many US and European unions has undoubtedly saved the lives of trade unionists, not just at Coke bottlers, but throughout Colombia, the deadliest country in the world for trade union activists. So again I urge you to support the campaign (I've been adorning vending machines with their little Killer Coke stickers for years) and subscribe to the newsletter, which will drop a shot of struggle and success in your inbox when you least expect it.

[Formal disclaimer: As far as I know Quiero Club has no formal connection with the campaign against Killer Coke, but this nifty little video can't hurt. Plus which, I think it rocks. Sue me.]

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Generalissimo Suharto is still dying; the people are still not satisfied

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"Peoples do not judge in the same way as courts of law; they do not hand down sentences, they throw thunderbolts; they do not condemn kings, they drop them back into the void; and this justice is worth just as much as that of the courts." Robespierre on trying King Louis XVI (source)
The Suharto swan-song saga continues in Indonesia. The big story on the old fascist's health: he's eating cookies. There are a number of last-ditch efforts to prosecute: the formation of a coalition of civil society organizations under the name KERAS; as well as a proposal for a 24-hour trial.

I may be bitter, but all of this may be too little too late. Why the haste for a speedy trial, a right that was denied thousands of leftist political prisoners, some of whom waited two decades between their arrest in the wake of Sukarno's 1965 coup and their kangaroo court trials?

Further, there seems a bit of a rush to bury Suharto, both literally and metaphorically. It would seem that across the Indonesian bourgeoisie, there are those who simply want to re-appropriate the embezzled state funds and let slide all of the butchery of Suharto's career (the civil war in 1965, the martial law periods of administration in Aceh, West Papua, and East Timor, not to mention the everyday extrajudicial killings, abductions, and so forth). Not to mention those in the U.S. media who conveniently accuse Suharto of being a murderer now that the smoke has cleared, but who provided cover for the man his entire term of office.

It seems unlikely that there will be any verdict on Suharto in a court of law. It will be up to the Indonesian people to decide whether they will actually make a break with the old, or accept a new New Order.

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January 23, 2008

Generalissimo Suharto is still dying

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As discussed earlier, former Indonesian President Suharto's health seems to come and go. Just a few days ago, we were told of a miraculous recovery from multiple organ failure that had people talking (by turns) either his Chuck Norris-like manliness or his prowess as a witch doctor. Today? He's just another strongman becoming weak with infection.

Kudos are in store for the Indonesian student movement (pictured above, in Yogyakarta) for keeping up calls for justice as the national bourgeoisie crumbles craven to power once again. As time goes on, Suharto -- once a terror of a Southeast Asian tiger -- becomes a mere bean-curd tiger.

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January 21, 2008

And It Just Keeps Getting Better...

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Heh! Some sharp video cut 'n' paste, no?

And all just to underline the point that we here here at Fire on the Mountain don't just promise change, we deliver.

Since Modern Pitung came aboard and started posting just two days ago, we have added yet another new compa to the Contributors roll, Rahim on the Docks, who had contributed greatly to FotM's earlier stories about Black and labor struggles in Northern Jersey.

We have also signed on to the Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus, whose scrolling (and growing) list of members is in our right hand column under its own little widget logo. Check out their (our) home page for more info, and consider signing up your own blog too, if you have one.

Finally, you may not have noticed, but we have a new logo. Seems Modern Pitung's folks didn't throw out that 10th birthday woodburning kit after all.

And more ch-ch-ch-changes are in the works. Keep your eyes open. And feel free to comment and make suggestions below!

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