Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rufus and Martha Wainwright in Chicago: Hallelujah!

                This is a lovely photograph of Rufus and Martha Wainwright on either side of their mother,  Kate McGarrigle, who sadly passed away on 18 January 2010.

I always wanted an awesome sister and a gay brother, so no matter how you look at it, Martha and Rufus Wainwright have something I don't: each other. But they each have suffered a great loss, as their mother, the folk singer Kate McGarrigle, to whom each paid tribute on Friday, passed away earlier this year.

I have seen them together before, but always welcome seeing them perform on the same stage. The last time I saw them both together was in Montreal. Here is a lovely review by Megan Ritt, with photograph gallery by Meghan Brosnan, from here @ CoS: You can also click on the title below to link back. Thank you Megan and Meghan!

Rufus Wainwright and sister Martha mesmerize Chicago (8/13)

By Megan Ritt on August 15th, 2010 in Concert Reviews, Hot
The marquee was bright; the walls were edged in gold; the tickets said “Broadway in Chicago”, for heavens’ sake. When Rufus Wainwright decides to put on a show, you know you’re in for something magical, but his current tour in support of All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu takes magical to a whole new level. “Mesmerizing” is the word most often bandied about by the crowd after the first half of his set—but wait! We’re getting ahead of ourselves, and no part of the show, which took place this past Friday at Chicago’s Bank of America Theater, could conscionably be skipped over.

Opening for Mr. Wainwright would be no easy feat for any musician, which may explain why Wainwright chose his little sister Martha for the job. Martha is best known as a folk singer, and I wondered how her music would jive with the audience, who came in want of high pageantry. But if you’ve grown up with someone, of course, it would be hard to be intimidated by him. Martha filled her role capably, comfortably, and dare I say, wonderfully. Her gorgeous, buttery alto poured from her throat, the folk-flavored female compliment to Rufus’ tenor. Like her brother, Martha slides effortlessly up and down the scales, one moment shouting, now quiet; one moment throaty but up to falsetto in an instant. She sings a fearless, bottomless brand of folk comparable to her brother’s music only in its limitlessness. One wishes to be a fly on the wall in their childhood home.

The crowd clearly adored Martha, whooping almost involuntarily throughout her set. Crowd favorites included opener “Bleeding All Over You”, which showcases Martha’s beautiful capability for heartbreak; “This Life”, during which Martha often closed her eyes and looked to the ceiling as if to invoke the gods of music, to a quite moving effect; and “Soudain Une Vallee”, for which her husband joined her on piano, from her recent record of Edith Piaf songs, Sans Fusils, Ni Souliers, A Paris. Martha’s Piaf is throaty, raw, nuanced—in a word, lovely. The crowd was so taken with this latter piece—and with an a cappella last song performed at the edge of the stage, hands wrung—that her Piaf record sold out at the show during intermission. Martha took the great, cavernous theater and made it feel like a small coffeehouse joint, like you were sitting five feet away, like she was the coolest girl you knew from college. Never have I had such a strong desire to sit over whiskeys with a musician.

After a brief intermission, the crowd was reminded of the particulars of Rufus’ set: He would play Lulu start to finish, and there was to be no clapping or interruptions of any kind during this song cycle portion of the program. The lights dimmed, and Rufus appeared stage left in his now-famous costume: the feathers, the jewels, the 15-foot train, all in black. He walked somberly, slowly to the piano and took his seat under a single spotlight. He paused, and then launched into the meandering, river-like piano intro of “Who Are You New York”. The somber black-and-white setting, lit from behind by Douglas Gordon’s art film of a heavily made-up eye opening and closing, threw both the high and low emotional points of the record into sharp relief.

A particular highlight of the set was Rufus’ stark love song to his sister, “Martha”, dealing with their beloved mother’s recent fatal illness. The somber setting and the bareness of his voice all alone on the wide-open stage made the song heartbreakingly plaintive; I cannot have been the only audience member moved to tears. Though the crowd forgot their instructions and clapped at the beginning of the set (possibly an after-effect of their boundless enthusiasm for Martha), Rufus took only a silent sip of water and kept playing; by the third song, the silence between pieces was an actual absence of sound. At one point, car horns could be heard outside the theater. The piano parts on the record are quite challenging at times, and Rufus leaned into the difficult ones, giving the audience a real sense of his effort. The Shakespearean sonnets took on a new drama in that setting, as did “What Would I Ever Do With A Rose”, with its slightly insidious piano part. I never before noticed the darkness of that piece until I heard it live under the spotlight. “Zebulon”, the closer of this set, was given new depth as well; one was struck by the degree to which Rufus laid his soul bare on that stage. This was high drama, living opera– performance art at its finest– and conceiving of and performing it surely took some moxie. Bravo, Mr. Wainwright, bravo.

After another brief intermission (cue the audience to say “mesmerizing”), Rufus took the stage again, this time dressed as himself, to a standing ovation. He played a mix of popular songs from his previous records, with Martha joining him on stage for a few. Highlights of this set (copious applause permitted) included “This Love Affair”, “Memphis Skyline”, and particular crowd favorite “The Art Teacher”, all from Want Two; and “Nuits de Miami” and “Complainte de la Butte”, both sung with Martha and in French (“since we’re in the Paris-Berlin-Moscow of the Midwest!” Rufus proclaimed to adoring Chicagoans). And yes—finally, for this long-time fan– he played a heartrending version of “Hallelujah”.

The crowd brought him back out for an encore, which ended with his late mother’s song for his father, a beautiful rendition of her “Walking Song”. The show lasted three hours, but we could have stayed all night. A mix of operatic drama and coffeehouse warmth, costume and charisma, light and dark, soft and loud, male and female, stark sadness and bright optimism: The Wainwrights surely know how to put on a show for the ages.

Photography by Meghan Brosnan.

Martha Wainwright setlist:
Bleeding All Over You
Comin’ Tonight
Four Black Sheep
This Life
Soudain Une Vallee (Edith Piaf cover)
(unknown song in French)

Rufus Wainwright first setlist (song cycle):

Who Are You New York
Sad With What I Have
Give Me What I Want and Give It to Me Now!
True Loves
Sonnet 43
Sonnet 20
Sonnet 10
The Dream
What Would I Ever Do with a Rose?
Les feux d’artifice t’appellent

Rufus Wainwright second setlist:

Beauty Mark
Grey Gardens
This Love Affair
Matinee Idol
Memphis Skyline
Art Teacher
Nuits de Miami (with Martha)
Complainte de la Butte (with Martha)
Hallelujah (with Martha)
Little Sister
Dinner at Eight
Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk

Poses (with Martha)
Going to a Town
Walking Song (Kate McGarrigle cover)
Gallery by Meghan Brosnan

2010 August Archives: Revisiting September of 2008: on whiteness and racism, manhood and sexism, heterosexism and radical social change

This image/poster is from here

In the autumn of 2008, I began to lay out some of the major themes of this blog: challenging profeminists and antifeminists who purport to be acting on behalf of justice and freedom; identifying the dangers of white privilege and white supremacy; and offering up perspectives on radicalism, rape, and white men's ageist sexism and misogynist racism in media.

I have been deeply dismayed and disheartened to learn that Ward Churchill, who I regard as a white man with a strongly pro-Indigenist politic and perspective, has since been identified as a batterer of at least one American Indian woman. This raises the on-going question of who we look to for leadership on matters of liberation from oppressive systems of dehumanisation and degradation. In my own experience, one definitive answer is "not white men". I find white men, on both structural and experiential levels (the two being intimately related) ill-prepared to lead anyone out of white male supremacist ways of being and systems which benefit them. The investment in them is too great, and white men believe themselves too great to not be leaders.

Here are some excerpts:

“[...] it is obvious to most of us that under socialism, and certainly under communism, social relations will be ruptured and go through lots of changes, in line with the necessities of building a new society.” [a comment from another website's discussion on socialism, by Linda D.]

The question, of course, is whose new society, and is there just one? If just one, is it based and constructed on the political philosophies and practices of white europeans and their descendants? If so, this is deeply problematic, which is to say, white supremacist. See, Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior (1994), by Marimba Ani for much more on this matter.

Although not strictly on the topic of LGBT community and its future, Ward Churchill does tackle this matter rather impressively. I shall first pull the passage from the above discussion I am responding to, posted by Dave:

The issue is a line that says that it is an open question whether or not a certain group of people will “cease to exist” under socialism or communism. This is wrong, and worthy of derision and scorn.

What follows is from the book Acts of Rebellion: The Ward Churchill Reader (2003), page 260. I believe it can apply to some degrees to many marginalised and oppressed ethnic/cultural groups, but here he is discussing Indigenous populations/nations. I will note that I consider Ward Churchill to be a U.S. white man, as am I, but in the passage below he speaks of himself as someone directly descended from American Indian nationalities. This is beside the point, in terms of accepting his analysis of marxism-leninism, however. His work is thoroughly researched, and not only academically.

Our very right to exist in a national sense, and usually as distinct cultures as well, has instead been denied as such. Always and everywhere, marxism-leninism has assigned itself a practical priority leading directly to the incorporation, subordination, and dissolution of native societies as such. This is quite revealing, considering that the term “genocide” was coined to describe not only policies leading to the outright physical liquidation of “ethnical, racial, religious or national” aggregates, but also policies designed to bring about the dissolution, destruction, and disappearance of these “identified human groups as such,” by other means. [see note 113 in the book] Viewed this way, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that marxism-leninism is and always has been a genocidal doctrine, wherever indigenous nationalities/cultures are concerned. [see note 114 in the book]

I also want to recommend two other books to the readers and commenters here on the matter Linda D. specifically raises. One is titled Black Sexual Politics, by Patricia Hill Collins (2004) and the other is called Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism (expanded edition, 1997), by Suzanne Pharr. With those two books, and Churchill’s and Ani’s, I strongly agree with Linda D. that Dworkin’s analysis, too, is needed in this discussion.

Related concerns:

Whose LGBT culture are we talking about? Is our understanding of this culture u.s./eurocentric? Does it place the experiences of Two Spirited people and Womanist woman-centered women at the center of its theories on heterosexuality and queerness? What is our analysis of heterosexuality and its causes? Heterosexuality, not having an asocial or cross-cultural history, nor a future that is eternal, is infused with political ideology, is it not? (It sure seems that way to gay ole me!)

Do those who discuss "the LGBT community" mean white people in the middle class or those who are part of the bourgeoisie? If so, this is but a small piece of the whole of Queer experience and culture.

On Roger Ebert's sexism and ageism (and if you read the whole post, we can note how this also includes racism and heterosexism):

What irks me even more is this comment by Roger: "What a pleasure this movie is, showcasing actresses I've admired for a long time, all at the top of their form. Yes, they're older now, as are we all, but they look great, and know what they're doing." Well, we're not all "older now", as the film stars one actor who is all of thirteen; let's hope she's not yet hit the top of her acting game. And I doubt he's been admiring her for a long time, or, well, I hope he hasn't.

So, getting to the most sexist portion of his review: why do men ALWAYS say things about women's appearances like "they're older now, BUT they look great"? What, exactly, does "great" mean: not old? That they've had enough cosmetic facial surgery, but not too much? First, older women are older than younger women AND they look great. Age doesn't take away beauty; it adds more dimensions to it. And what's with the obsession about how great older or younger women appear, particularly to white heterosexual men who write movie reviews? This film's actors are whatever various ages they are (and they are various ages: a teenager performing in a film with women in their thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, and at least one woman in her eighties). And whether or not they are still lookin' great really ought to be entirely irrelevant. It would appear looks don't matter when we're dealing with white male actors who are "older." There's plenty of unattractive older male actors, and plenty of ugly-as-f*ck younger ones as well.

*          *          *

On September 2, I published another piece on the sexual assaulter and former profeminist activist Kyle Payne, who I'd dealt with in several posts already and who I regard as a dangerous man, psychologically and politically capable of sexually assaulting women again. I regard him as such because he has demonstrated no appreciable empathy for his victim, nor a willingness to be accountable to feminists, or, even this one profeminist. He has refused to answer basic questions about his crime and his awareness of what he did that was destructive to another human life. He has remained utterly preoccupied with how his life was harmed by being caught.

On whiteness, white privilege, and white supremacy, there was a posted video promoting the work of Tim Wise, who, increasingly, I find to be in need of a deeper immersion in radical feminism, particularly that radical feminism which firmly embraces intersectionality as a core theoretical practice, based in the reality that most women, intersex people, men, and transgender people, occupy multiple locations socially and politically such that focusing on just one--say racism/white supremacy--insufficiently deals with the complex of oppressions ALL oppressed people endure, resist, and challenge. There is not one single human being who is only located as oppressed by color or race.

I also noted a few personal-political observations about white folks like me, the content of which is reproduced below:

1. We know best. When we fight for justice, for, say, animal rights, we are quick to condemn those other human cultures (you know, the ones we have colonized and are exploiting and destroying) because they, allegedly, "don't get it" that animals are not inferior to us. Never mind that this view doesn't inhere in Western Philosophy, in our Civilizations at all. Our religions, laws, and customs place men above women, (some) humans above animals, (some) men above the Earth, as a ruler, as a dominator. Never mind that most white folks, disproportionately men, are or have been barbarians and savages (currently often by proxy). Never mind that any notions of animals being like us, not being inferior, being spirited and sentient, comes from the cultures we oppress, not from our own.

2. We behave, without acknowledging it as reprehensible and wrong, as if white folks were adults, and people of color are children. We will actually argue (not in so many words, necessarily) that because some people of color participate in the systems which disproportionately harm them and benefit us, that they are not equipped to lead a struggle against oppression.

3. We actually believe that because not all Indigenous cultures were/are [fill in the blank: respectful of women, respectful of animals, peaceful, sustainable] that we ought to decide who owns the land, as if it is ethically ours to begin with. (It isn't: we stole it, and ought to give it back "without reservation.")

4. We think we are the experts on everything that isn't about us, while being profoundly ignorant about how and what we do that is so harmful and oppressive to others. We call our oppression of others "good", "moral", and "right".

5. We don't think we are raced: we actually believe that "those people" are a race of some kind, and we are, well, just people. We refuse to acknowledge that in any social space, we are white supremacists. Whether we behave like white supremacists has a lot to do with what we recognize in ourselves as racist actions. There are exceptions to this belief: white liberals think we are white, but that race should just be invisible, meaning we should all act like white people. White Nationalists do believe in a white race, and that it is in danger, or must be "pure" as if that was ever the case, or as if creating "purity" involves anything other than bigotry and violence against people of color. White Nationalists, the ones I've heard speak out, believe that race is natural, inevitable, not political and cultural. White Nationalists believe in genocide against non-white people, even if they don't promote it publicly. Such white folks, it may be concluded, aim to be purely evil.

6. We argue there is such as thing as "reverse racism" and reverse ethnic bigotry. We carry around a ridiculous belief that we either have been living in, do live in, or will soon be living in, an Indigenist Supremacist, Asian Supremacist, Latina/o Supremacist, Arab Supremacist, Jewish Supremacist, Muslim Supremacist, or Black Supremacist society. Never mind who still controls every political institution and economy in this country and other white-dominated countries. (The answer is white Christian men.)

The Beatles At Shea Stadium, 15 August 1965 (45 years ago)

I could have been there: in diapers (nappies)!

Obnoxious White Man Scott D. Pierce Goes on a Cutting Attack in His "Editorial" Against Yoko Ono

"Cut Piece" 
Performance by Yoko Ono (1965)
In Cut Piece, the powdered up Yoko Ono knelt down in a traditional Japanese position, seemingly indifferent as members of the audience are invited to cut off her clothes with a pair of scissors. This was first performed in May 1964 in Kyoto.  [source: here]
The performance is a feminist work dealing with issues of sexism, racism, and ageism, vulnerability, and assumptions about who has the right to take a piece of what covers you for protection. But don't ask Scott D. Pierce to get it. He's too busy mercilessly cutting off pieces of Yoko Ono's humanity.

Scott D. Pierce isn't exactly the most popular of cutting columnists. And apparently that's not just because he demonstrates racist-sexist-ageist attitudes in his recent editorial about Ono's response to a grossly insensitive and repetitive question from the press. It's not only Scott who displays this callous and contemptuous attitude: for forty years racist-sexist people have found various spurious ways to malign her, question her sanity, and make her seem like an evil or, at the very least, contentious and controversial person. Let's dip into that putrid past, where it has always been permissible and patriarchal to invoke this idea that "there's something wrong with her".

Question: Why would Yoko be in the studio with the Beatles while they are recording???
Answer: Because John welcomed her there and wanted her there. Why isn't the question "How did she cope with all the obnoxious sexism from the band's other boys?"

Question: What does John want to be so controlled by a Japanese woman???
Answer: Equality between a white man and a woman of color is always seen as HER having too much power, because, you know, the Asian woman is supposed to be subservient on two counts to any white man.

Question: How could she have been so cruel as to break up our beloved Beatles???
Answer: This assumes, once again, that it is her agency and power that did something that four guys did all by themselves. They broke themselves up. The Fab Four did it because, you know, they were adults, and they made the decision, and had been slowly breaking apart since their disastrous 1966 (and last) tour, because of in-fighting over song choices, drug pre-occupations, business failures, legal battles, none of which had a thing to do with Yoko entering the all-male sacred ground of their Abbey Road recording studio or John falling in love with a feminist.

Question: But why would a white man fall in love with her???
Answer: Isn't it obvious? She was brilliant, socially and politically conscious, tremendously talented, and not attracted to him BECAUSE he was a Beatle. The assumption embedded in the question is that a wealthy white man can only fall in love with a successful woman of color is because of her manipulations or "ulterior motives". These assumptions and attitudes are both misogynistic and deeply racist.

I mean, white folks don't question why anyone would fall in love with him, right? Because he was, you know, famous, brilliant, witty, white, and male.

But Yoko Ono had a lot to offer him that he desperately needed. Even Cynthia Lennon recognised that.

John and Yoko were a perfect match at that point in their lives. John was done cheating on the "good [white] wife" who was kept out of view during John's Beatlemania days. Let's not forget Cynthia was hated also, when adoring John fans found out he wasn't single and available to marry all the adoring teenage girls. They weren't too thrilled with Jane Asher either, for dating Paul.

But Cynthia and Jane weren't accused of being too powerful and manipulative; they had learned to remain largely out of view (Jane had her own acting career, after all and Cynthia had Julian to raise, mostly alone). Brian Epstein and other handlers made sure the Beatles public image was "available" to the female fans.

Yoko Ono wasn't willing to be so invisible and in the minds of far too many white U.S. and UK men especially--then and now--if an East Asian woman, particularly a Japanese woman, isn't "naturally" demure and deferential, pleasantly cordial and considerate, smiling amicably and adoringly at all times, she's [fill in the racist and woman-hating term of your choice].

We've seen for forty years how Yoko Ono has been scapegoated for decisions John Lennon and the other Beatles made because the white male and white female fan base would rather blame a Japanese woman who was empowered [read: "too powerful"]. 

Whether they knew it or not, she was and is an accomplished conceptual, performance, visual, and musical artist, crossing genres from avant-garde to pop. The Y E S YOKO ONO retrospective show was, by far, the best visual art show I've ever seen, combining drawing, sculpture, film, and interactive conceptual pieces. For those who don't know, she was a key figure in the Fluxus movement and had an amazing career--a whole life--well before she met John Lennon when he came into the Indica Gallery to meet her, the artist, on 9 November 1966. (She didn't seek him out.)

If time shows us anything, it demonstrates that misogyny and racism don't fade into the sunset, but seem to rise, like the hot sun, every morning, setting every evening without plans to do otherwise the following day. To this very day.

Yoko Ono Scott D. Pierce goes on the attack

Published: Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010 3:00 p.m. MDT

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Yoko Ono isn't exactly the most popular of celebrities. And, apparently, that's not just because she's blamed for breaking up the Beatles.

(I'm not blaming her. But people do.)

Appearing before television critics to promote an upcoming documentary about her late husband, John Lennon, Ono's behavior was jaw-droppingly odd. Offensive, even.

She accused one writer of being both "sexist" and "racist" for asking the most innocuous of questions. In a completely nonjudgmental, nonconfrontational tone, the writer asked Ono why she still lives in the apartment she shared with Lennon in the Dakota. Because he was shot to death on the sidewalk outside the building.

Here's the exchange:

Writer: "Sometimes when events like this happen, people leave behind the place it happened. Can you talk about why you didn't leave behind New York and why it's still a part of your life?"

Ono: "I think people say, 'Why are you still living on Dakota?' You know, I think it is a slightly racist remark, and maybe sexist, too. Because I'm sure that many people are living in their own ... home, that he or she shared with their spouses, even after the spouse has passed away. Especially because they passed away. Because there's a lot of memories, and also you built the place with the spouse. I'm not going to leave that and go to some strange house. ... This is something we built, and when you go inside, you see that each room is something that we made."

Her reason for wanting to stay in the Dakota is absolutely valid. It was a perfectly good answer to the question.

But to suggest that the question was "sexist" or "racist" was bizarre. And it was Ono who refused to let go of it, returning to the question even after another had been asked.

Ono: "Wait a second. I want to answer more fully about what he said, because that's sexist and racist. The thing is ... when somebody like me, who is probably not part of your culture, how you think, 'Why she still living there? We wouldn't live there. Well, maybe because she has a different tradition and she doesn't care about the fact that he died there.' You know, something like that. A little bit more barbaric or something.

"I think that you would want to live there, too, because ... you cherish the memory of that person. That's one. ... The other thing is, for you to be able to say something like that, 'How dare she's living there?' is sexism, because I know that all guys wouldn't care. They would just live in the house whatever happens. They may not even care that they got a divorce or whatever happened. They would just live in the house, and no one's going to comment. No one's going to comment that you would go to maybe a whorehouse or something like that right after your wife died. 'I'm so sorry. He must be so sad.'

"I was still sad, so I'm still living in that house. Do you mind?"

This was something new. Literally, my jaw dropped in shock.

I had to question Ono's mindset. Or maybe her sanity.

She went from an innocuous question to a whorehouse? Really?

The writer who asked the question apologized, although he had absolutely nothing to apologize for. He was in no way confrontational or rude. And the documentary in question, "LennoNYC" (scheduled to air on PBS in November) is about, yes, Lennon's life in New York City. So it was a perfectly legitimate question.

Ono went on the attack for no reason whatsoever.

It would be hard to argue that cultural differences led to her misunderstanding. She's lived in the United States off and on since she was an infant, and full time for decades.

Maybe it dawned on Ono that she'd gone over the line. Later, she said she "was being a little bit facetious. I'm sorry." And, still later, she said, "Well, I cracked a joke. Now I'm so sorry I did."

To be clear, there was neither the hint of a smile nor even the tiniest spark of humor as she was speaking.

And let's assume that she was kidding. It's unconscionable to make unfounded charges of sexism and racism even if it's a joke.

So the only possible excuse for her behavior means she did something utterly indefensible.

Come to think of it, it really isn't particularly surprising that Ono isn't exactly popular.

Another world: Ono does seem to live in her own little world. And it's a strange place.

"It's so funny because when I go into Central Park on the weekend and all these guys are seriously just sort of pushing the stroller, with their babies. ... And they don't know that before John, no men did it in the world," she said. "No men did it because they would be so embarrassed, I suppose. But they don't even know that John is the one who started it."

Yes, because Lennon was the first man on the face of the Earth who ever pushed his child in a stroller.

Welcome to her world, where reality seldom intrudes.

[And in Scott D. Pierce's world, empathy and compassion seldom intrudes. My posted comment follows.  -- Julian]  

Reader comments for
Mindtrain | 4:30 p.m. Aug. 12, 2010
Nowhere in the transcript does Ono call this reporter "sexist" or "racist" as your misleading story claims. She says that the question is sexist because it would only be asked (in our culture) of a widow and not a man. She goes on to say that there may be an element of racism in the question because it's possible that there is the assumption that she is different because of her racial background. These are ideas and not insults hurled at a reporter. They are not thoughtless and they hardly come from nowhere. She's asking very simply: What are the assumptions of this question? And whether the reporter intended it this way or not, this is what she heard (which she has more than likely encountered before). One could question your headline in a similar way. Ono did not attack anyone. She did attack an idea. To say that she "goes on the attack" when she has been the victim of relentless attacks for decades is disingenuous. Should she just "take it?"And your statement that "I'm not blaming her (for breaking up the Beatles). But people do." Is an attempt to have it both ways.

Belching Cow | 8:06 a.m. Aug. 13, 2010
Why did the theme from twilight zone start playing in my head when I was reading this article? Obviously some people can make a controversy out of nothing. However, she does look very sophisticated with the way she peers over those funky glasses perched on the end of her nose.

angelbug | 11:12 a.m. Aug. 13, 2010
To quote Yoko, "That's one. ... The other thing is, for you to be able to say something like that, 'How dare she's living there?' is sexism, because I know that all guys wouldn't care." etc. It seems it's okay for her to say sexist things I guess. Does she really think she "knows" ALL GUYS WOULDN'T CARE? That seems to be a pretty huge sexist remark from the mouth of a lady speaking out against racism & sexism - even in the same sentence! No one should have a problem with her living where she shared her life with John. I think she is a bit over-sensitive in what she perceives people are saying about her. I took the original question as to why she would want to stay there where her mate was violently killed. As for the comments from Belching Cow & Mindtrain; I fall in between both of them. I did hear the Twilight Zone theme, but felt Ono's sadness too. Maybe, in her remaining years, she can receive compassion from us and she can have a softer heart toward others. Forgiveness can heal both sides.

Julian | 4:56 a.m. Aug. 15, 2010
I don't recall Paul McCartney being pestered by being asked--for years--"Why are you still in the same home you lived with your now dead wife Linda?" Because, you know, it's assumed a UK white man's house is HIS castle, not hers. And to ask is crass. I see nothing wrong with Yoko's reply, and find the way you frame up her reply as racist and sexist. I'm not saying you are either, but the way you present this editorialised "news" participates in a decades old practice of inferring the way a woman of color "goes off" and "may be crazy" for having a response to a matter that you have neither experienced nor dealt with from the public so many times that it's probably sickening just to even hear the question thirty years after the fact. Clearly she wants to live there, right? Why should she have to answer to living in her home? Why not live there? From the wicked "Dragon Lady" on, why are you so eager to tap into these old racist-sexist characterisations of a woman who has been stigmatised for years?  
[My comment has been removed from the Deseret News for violating their terms: you can't criticise the writer's editorial for being callous, racist, and sexist, apparently.]

Niyamgiri, a test case for the defense of our forests and tribals: "we are simultaneously witnessing an ecocide, aquacide, culturecide eventually leading to silent genocide due to displacement." -- Usha Ramanathan

photo of Dr. Usha Ramanathan is from here
What follows is cross posted from *here*, at Navdanya, Dr. Vandana Shiva's blog.

Press Release On Policy Dialogue: Niyamgiri, a test case for the defense of our forests and tribals

Yesterday, 12th of August 2010 Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology and the Save Niyamgiri Movement joined hands to hold a policy dialogue “Niyamgiri: a test case for the defense of our forests and tribals”, at the Constitution Club in New Delhi to support the struggle of Niyamgiri, its forests and its people against Vedanta’s plans to mine its sacred mountain.

While on their way to the conference to narrate the atrocities witnessed in Niyamgiri by the hands of Vedanta, two of the Dongria Kondh leaders Lado Sikaka and Sana Sikaka were beaten and abducted by police officers in plain clothes, and only released after the intervention of Kalahandi MP

The two leaders were traveling to Delhi along with members of their community who were also to attend the policy dialogue. The following Dongria Kondh representatives were also supposed to attend, but as phones and car keys had been confiscated by the abductors, they were forced back to send the alarm to the kin.

Men: Women:
Kalia Sikaka Rinja Sikaka
Drinju Sikaka Sinde Sikaka
Sima Sikaka Pandra Kadraka

Sundri Krusiki

Minjadi Sikaka

This incident reinforces the message that Vedanta’s rule of terror in Niyamgiri must be put to an end now, a message that all eminent speakers at the conference laid out clearly and unequivocally. “Niyamgiri stands as a test case” says Dr Shiva, for “If we fail in Niyamgiri, we won’t be able to protect the rights of people and nature anywhere else”.

The policy dialogue’s two objectives were in fact putting forward a comprehensive strategy to support the Niyamgiri struggle, while also more broadly deepening the democratic processes of the country to ensure its laws are upheld. Kalahandi MP Bakt Charan Das reiterates that laws on paper are not translating into rights in practice, as despite the FRA and PESA the individual and community rights of tribals in Niyamgiri are not b eing recognized or respected. B.D. Sharma, one of the architects of PESA, validates this point by saying that the provisions existing in the legal constitutional framework are not followed. For example the Gram Sabha, he goes on, is competent to manage its affairs and resources according to traditions and customs but the issue arises as the “top leadership doesn’t allow for people to be supreme”.

From a legal standpoint, Pinky Anand - Senior Advocate (SC) - and Sanjay Uphadyay –one of the framers of the Act - stress in fact that the issue is not one of absence of laws, but of lack of implementation, a point that was reiterated by most speakers. In reality, as T.K. Oommen, B.D. Sharma and Vandana Shiva remind us, the rights the tribal and forest dwelling communities are fighting for are rights to the Earth and its produce; they derive from Mother Earth and hence they are natural rights; they shouldn’t depend on an Act in the first place. Still, Sanjay Uphadyay reminds us how the rights are “already vested” and it is a duty of the State to respect them.

Much of the problem, the speakers conveyed, is that neither the Government, nor the urban public deeply understand the relationship that bonds the tribal and forest communities to their land and the environment. These communities have informally implemented the law of nature for centuries; as opposed to the law of loot, of greed, and corporate terror that is in place today.

Usha Ramanathan makes an important point by stressing that in cases like Niyamgiri, the Government itself is acting in violation of the Constitution and the law; we members of civil society should not question how the Government is using its powers; we should, practicing democracy, assert that it doesn’t have such powers in the first place! “The State” she says “has Constitutional obligations and does not have absolute powers”.

She goes on to say that much of the problem lies in our understanding of development and in the imposition of our urban paradigm to communities with a unique lifestyle. Eminent sociologist T.K. Oommen follows on this stating that while some displacement is perhaps inevitable, it is paramount to minimize it, and adequately compensate the displaced, after receiving their informed consent. Neither holds true in the case of Niyamgiri, where, he says, we are simultaneously witnessing an ecocide, aquacide, culturecide eventually leading to silent genocide due to displacement.

Unfortunately though, the approach followed by the Centre in forest and tribal areas has been one of “control” or “develop”, says Uphadyay. Questions of good governance or empowerment were never raised.

Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyas said: ‘The tribes need to feel empowered and free which is only possible when the centre involves them in the process of development.’ All the speakers agreed that the approach to be followed should be one of community empowerment: this stresses on the paramount essence of both the notion of common management of resources, and on the fact that these communities know what they want.

The Dongria Kondh through the voice of Lingraj reiterate that they are well aware of what they want: they do want development, but a sustainable one, that respects their traditions and customs. People have the right to refuse our urban industrial paradigm of development; if the process is leading to immiserization of locals, it can’t be called development, says Ramanathan.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said tribals and other forest communities should be made stakeholders of their own development, and also part of the market economy the country has embraced. "The way forward in Niyamgiri” he said “is to make the forest dwellers owners of their own produce. The benefit of any capital investment is their inherent right."

Finally, all speakers agreed that in the immediate future, the efforts should concentrate on creating a comprehensive legal framework that addresses all issues thoroughly, in the place on the individual Acts currently in place; there is also need for a review of existing legislation to do away with all loopholes and inconsistencies that allow Vedanta and companies alike to carry on with their national loot.

In the words of Bakt Charan Das “We have to choose what is more important, the corporate leaders or millions of people in the countryside.

We must use mass agitation. We can assemble. We can go on hunger strike in Gandhiji’s way. This is how community rights must be brought to the country. We can decide. With this I conclude.”

World Indigenous Peoples Day, August 9 event in Tucson, Arizona: photos and report on speakers and topics discussed

What follows is a cross post from Brenda's excellent website, Censored News. Thanks again, Brenda!!!

What is in bold and in larger text, within the post, was put in bold and made larger by me. For the original post at Censored News, please click *here*.

Photos: World Indigenous Peoples Day Tucson

Indigenous Peoples 2010 in Tucson, Arizona

Article and photos by the Indigenous Alliance without Borders/Alianza Indigena sin Fronteras

The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on Monday, August 9th, 2010 hosted at the YWCA Frances McClelland Leadership Center in Tucson, Arizona was a profound success. Thank You to each and every one of you for marking this day of celebration for indigenous peoples!

The celebratory gala brought together speakers, panelists, activists/youth activists, and a wonderful crowd of supporters from the southwest region of the United States and northern Mexico. The day is marked by the United Nations resolution 49/214, and subsequent resolution 59/174, to promote the heritages of the world’s indigenous peoples. The focus of the event in Tucson shadowed the U.N. resolution “to further strengthen international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.”

The event kicked off with a lovely drum circle performed by the Panther Creek Singers. Jose Matus, Program Director of Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras/Indigenous Alliance Without Borders and Yaqui Ceremonial leader, gave a gracious welcome followed by an opening prayer led by Tupac Enrique of Tonatierra.

Beloved poet and writer, Simon Ortiz of Acoma Pueblo heritage, addressed the audience with an insightful keynote speech. Six different speakers/panelists illuminated the event with their sage perspectives on indigenous rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, indigenous women’s rights, Arizona state laws SB1070 and HB2281, and civil rights conflicts occurring at a localized level. This was followed up with a Q & A session where audience members were able to ask speaker/panelist a question.

The following is a list of speakers/panelists:
Shannon Rivers – Akimel O’odham Activist
Wenona Benally – Diné/Navajo Attorney
Professor James Anaya – United Nations Special Rapporteur, University of Arizona Law Professor
Attorney Antonio Bustamente – Civil Rights lawyer
Dr. Roberto Cintli Rodriguez – University of Arizona Chican@ Studies Professor and Indigenous/Chican@ Activist
Leilani Clark – Coalicion dé Derechos Humanos and Youth Indigenous Chican@ Activist

Indigenous Women’s rights conflicts became a focus of conversation amongst the panelists. Following the incredible reporting from international NGO’s such as Amnesty International’s “Stolen Sisters” reporting and the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s “Sisters in Spirit” continuing initiative, it is clear that indigenous women’s rights needs to be brought to the forefront of further discussion.

The highlight of the celebration was the short interlude between speakers. The YWCA Nuestra Voz Youth group enlightened the audience with a beautiful interpretation on the negative impact of racism and stereotyping. Other youth from the southern Arizona community joined the event and regaled their humanistic experience with United States immigration policies. Their undaunted courage and resolve to overcome any obstacle did not go unnoticed. They are, indeed, the future leaders of our global community.

The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples engagement was sponsored by Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras/Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, Coalicion dé Derechos Humanos, Indigenous Environmental Network, the International Indian Treaty Council, The Seventh Generation Fund, Inc., Tonatierra, the Yoeme Commission on Human Rights, and the YWCA in Tucson.

We give a heartfelt thank you to each speaker for sharing their experience with us. Thank You Simon Ortiz for your beautiful address. We offer sincere gratitude to the YWCA Frances McClelland Leadership Center for allowing us to host this event in their beautiful facility and for the fine performance from their youth group.

Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras, a non-profit organization based out of Tucson, Arizona, is a grassroots indigenous organization promoting rights for indigenous peoples along the southern United States and Mexico border region. We promote respect for Indigenous peoples’ human, civil, and sovereignty rights; promote self determination, rights of mobility and passage in crossing the United States and Mexico border, and environmental protection of native lands and sacred sites. 
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The Fest for Beatles Fans: in Chicago! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!!!!

All that follows is from the official site of the Fest for Beatles Fans:

image of the poster is from here

August 13-15, 2010

AUGUST 13-15, 2010


Dear Fellow Beatles Fans,
It is one of those rare Summers when both Paul and Ringo are out on tour. Paul is mostly in the British Isles, but other dates are to be announced. Ringo begins in late June with a special 70th Birthday Party Concert at Radio City Music Hall on July 7th! We are very thrilled to have one of Ringo's band mates on this tour as a Special Guest in Chicago, just days after the tour. Read below.
Our 34th Annual CHICAGO FEST FOR BEATLES FANS takes place Friday-Sunday, August 13-15! With a terrific lineup of Special Guests and other new events, we are sure it is going to be a very memorable one!