Thursday, September 04, 2008

pop and politics

...has been my life for the past week, or year, or two, or...four?

But it has never been as overwhelming or intense or amazing as it has been this past week (well, Vote For Change stands, yeah).

This summer has been so full, and I haven't taken the time to write and that's a goddamn shame, really. I wish I would've documented more of it.

The past two weeks have been especially intense. Of course it kicked off with the one thing I look forward to more than ANYTHING else...the State Fair. Damn, it was good. I think I went 4 times, total. We saw Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and Trampled by Turtles at the Leinie's Bandshell (for muthfunkin' FREE, baby). And, I have to tell you...Sharon Jones put on one the best fucking SHOWS I have ever seen in my 26 years of seeing shows.

She has it all and she does it all. Rock-em, sock-em music by the Dap-Kings fueling her powerful, soulful, bee-u-ti-full voice, she COMMANDS that stage like the former prison guard she is. And the groove is so good, and she's so in it, she shakes it and dances up a storm, getting white hipster kids (Hairspray came to mind more than once, as it did at First Ave, the last time I saw her). I was so lifted by her sass and her shakin' ass, I couldn't stop moving (despite the fact that we were stuck in the middle of some very stiff, unmoving, Midwestern-types. humph.)

My dad joined us for Trampled by Turtles' show, and he tripped out on the old-school homage of it all and was impressed by the energy they churned out. They pumped it out so hard that Dave Simonett actually said his wrist was getting a bit sore. I had never heard him utter such a thing! Despite the fact that they ALWAYS grind down hard on those stringed instruments with fierce intensity. Hey, man. This was the Fucking State Fair. They gave it their all.

Speaking of giving it yer all....I've been giving it my all to counter the Republican invasion into our fair, Blue state. Fitzy and I have been involved as much as possible (I even took a day of work off, fer chrissakes. hehe.)Check out Fitzy's fantastic pics from the march here.

Marching from the Capitol, joining peaceful protesters--including babies, grandmas, veterans, moms was one of the most surreal and fascinating acts I've ever participated in. The menacing and intimidating police/National Guard presence was downright scary in some ways. I had never seen anything like it in my life. I smiled at each face I could see (most were sporting that chic Darth Vader look, so you really couldn't connect.) Fitzy and I flashed the peace sign as we marched by, and not a single incident of violence or upset occurred on our path. Of course, we heard and read what everyone else saw...and it's a fucking shame that those thousands who were peaceful were not as represented as those few who were agitators.

The Take Back Labor Day show was dynamite, the highlight for me was Atmosphere who played exactly the right tone. Slug and his mighty and verbose flow of words put a smile on my face and washed away the tension I had been carrying in my neck and shoulders after we had been walking the streets of St Paul for nearly four hours.

The Ripple Effect, on the second of September was a joyful celebration of resistance against the RNC as well. Matisyahu set a peaceful tone at the beginning of the day, only to be shaken up by Dead Prez who felt the need to call MN "the sticks" and prodded the crowd to chant "riot." Not a very fucking smart idea, considering the area was surrounded by police in riot gear and dozens of cops-on-bikes.

I witnessed some hippie-punks get hassled by some boys in blue. They were smoking...sitting by a tree and I saw two cops approach one young man with a back pack on. They calmly exchanged words. But then I saw the cop forcefully take the bag off of his back. He put rubber gloves on and proceeded to search his bag. All the while, a crowd gathered around the action and they were chanting "NO CONSENT! NO CONSENT!" The cops did the smart thing and just bolted. Peace resumed....We left after Michael Frant's wonderful, positive, inspirational set of music. After we left, Tom Morello and his gang of bandmates came, intending on taking the stage, only to be told by the cops that they were too late and their permit had expired at 7. Thing was, it wasn't 7 yet.

I was lucky to hear the story from the mouth of Tom Morello, as he accompanied his old schoolmate, Ike Reilly, to the Happening that was going down at the Parkway Theater on Chicago Ave. It was "Wake Up World," a Lizz Winstead creation that gave us that much-needed comic relief we all needed to wash away the RNC Blues. Billy Bragg gave a powerful, funny and touching performance, with just his guitar and amp, his words and his full, captivating voice (like always). Following that we got to Hoot it up with Jim Walsh, Ike, Morello, Eliza Blue and Jennifer Markey.

Again, it was powerful, profound and just the antidote we were all so thirsty for. Highlights for me: Braggy's "Street Fighting Man," Morello's flawless, blood & fist pumpin (acoustic!) "Guerilla Radio",Ike's "Put a Little Love in It." Markey is fantastic balladeer, in the spirit of Lucinda Williams, she crafts ditties that tell tales of burning down Minneapolis, shooting down lovers who have done her wrong, and she does it all with a sense of humor and lightness to counter the macabre. Blue added her strong voice and beautiful banjo and fiddle to the mix, softening even the most testosterone-fuled offerings from Walsh, Reilly, Bragg and Morello.

I am proud of these Twin Cities, what they've endured and what they brought to the table as a counter-offer to the shitstorm of the RNC.

I <3>

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