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Own Something!

[ 36 ] September 4, 2013 |

Today is the first day of class at URI. I need some motivation to get me pumped for teaching. These 1920s workplace motivational posters should do the trick.

I thought about titling this post “Keep the Wad!” but figured that might be misconstrued.

A More Perfect Union

[ 122 ] September 4, 2013 |

Just in case anyone wasn’t aware that Teach for America is a tool of the capitalists, the organization has teamed up with Goldman Sachs to funnel TFA members into a career with a corporation that only played a major role in the crisis that helped bring down the world economy in 2007 and 2008.

Rheeism and toxic investments–what could be a more perfect union in the 21st century?

Deportee

[ 17 ] September 3, 2013 |

Glad to see the Mexican immigrants killed in a 1948 plane crash near Fresno on an federal plane deporting them back to Mexico finally remembered with a proper gravestone.

Woody Guthrie wrote a song about it. I don’t know if he ever actually recorded it, but it’s been covered a ton of times. I’m a fan of the version Joe Ely did on the Los Super Seven album.

A Meeting

[ 28 ] September 3, 2013 |

In a story almost too good to be true, Jeremy Fugleberg of the Casper Star-Tribune chronicles a meeting between a local NAACP member and the regional leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

[UPDATE BY ROB] Erik neglects to mention that Mr. Fugleberg is an esteemed graduate of the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce...

Hurt

[ 226 ] September 3, 2013 |

Of course “Hurt” is a Johnny Cash song. In the public mind, any song sung by Johnny Cash is automatically a Johnny Cash song, be it “Cocaine Blues” or “Bird on a Wire” or “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” Why even research such an obvious fact? You don’t have to listen to a single country music album to know Johnny Cash is the best country singer since Hank Williams, even if you’ve never listened to Hank either. Any other opinion on these matters will result in scorn toward those who dare say Johnny Paycheck or Merle Haggard are just as great, especially those who actually know those artists’ albums.

The Persisting Vision

[ 67 ] September 3, 2013 |

Martin Scorsese gave a great talk for the 2013 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities. It’s reprinted in the New York Review of Books and is on the importance of preserving our language of film in a culture that values little but the weekly game of box office numbers. A snippet:

So not only do we have to preserve everything, but most importantly, we can’t afford to let ourselves be guided by contemporary cultural standards—particularly now. There was a time when the average person wasn’t even aware of box office grosses. But since the 1980s, it’s become a kind of sport—and really, a form of judgment. It culturally trivializes film.

And for young people today, that’s what they know. Who made the most money? Who was the most popular? Who is the most popular now, as opposed to last year, or last month, or last week? Now, the cycles of popularity are down to a matter of hours, minutes, seconds, and the work that’s been created out of seriousness and real passion is lumped together with the work that hasn’t.

We have to remember: we may think we know what’s going to last and what isn’t. We may feel absolutely sure of ourselves, but we really don’t know, we can’t know. We have to remember Vertigo, and the Civil War plates, and that Sumerian tablet. And we also have to remember that Moby-Dick sold very few copies when it was printed in 1851, that many of the copies that weren’t sold were destroyed in a warehouse fire, that it was dismissed by many, and that Herman Melville’s greatest novel, one of the greatest works in literature, was only reclaimed in the 1920s.

Just as we’ve learned to take pride in our poets and writers, in jazz and the blues, we need to take pride in our cinema, our great American art form. Granted, we weren’t the only ones who invented the movies. We certainly weren’t the only ones who made great films in the twentieth century, but to a large extent the art of cinema and its development have been linked to us, to our country. That’s a big responsibility. And we need to say to ourselves that the moment has come when we have to treat every last moving image as reverently and respectfully as the oldest book in the Library of Congress.

What’s more, he referenced one of my favorite films of all time, Edison’s boxing cats. Because of that, I will once again embed it. Maybe we should get Scorsese to write a guest post here about it.

Labor Day IX

[ 5 ] September 2, 2013 |

An appropriate song to end this exploration of labor and song is this piece on deindustrialization, Tom Russell’s “U.S. Steel.” I hope you enjoyed this set of labor music.

Labor Day VIII

[ 5 ] September 2, 2013 |

Sure it might be a cliche, but Charlie Haden at least believes that the people united will never be defeated. Besides, we need more leftist jazz.

Labor Day VII

[ 2 ] September 2, 2013 |

Talib Kweli on what working people have to do to get by.

Labor Day VI

[ 1 ] September 2, 2013 |

Richard Thompson on love and strikes.

Official Troll of Labor Day

[ 74 ] September 2, 2013 |

Scott Walker.

Labor Day V

[ 0 ] September 2, 2013 |

Run-DMC reminds us of the hard economic times of African-Americans during the Reagan years.