HOME IS WHERE...
It turns out that the house concert I thought was in Lakebay, Washington was actually in a nearby town called Home. There is something deeply comforting about the cosmic twist that would have me going Home to play this first show of my new life. Portland is a good place to land and catch my breathe. I left the Mendocino Coast with 30 days notice after making my home there for 30 years. There are moments when I feel like I'm hurtling through a wormhole from one galaxy to another and wonder if I'll ever again know so sweet a world as the one I left behind. When the sky got bright as I drove across the Narrows Bridge over Puget Sound to Gig Harbor, I remembered that I've always wanted to visit the land of Chief Seattle.
The event was organized by Dan Wilson of Flying W Guitars. He lived on the Mendocino Coast once upon a time, long ago. He got in touch via the website and offered to set up a house concert. Although my plan (and heart's desire and lifelong dream) has long been to travel and play house concerts it nevertheless took me months to confirm a date. It turns out I had to finish the old life before the new could begin.
Dee and Wayne Knight have lived in the turn of the century farmhouse looking across Puget Sound to Mount Rainier since 1953. Their home has the patina of years of hands-on loving kindness and a huge living room with the most harmoniously placed stage from which the performer can see the audience with a backdrop of water and mountains. The eclectic gathering of woodworkers, waitresses, lawyers, teachers, doctors, nurses, artists, oyster farmers and fellow musicians (plus some terrific kids) were all folks I hope to meet again. It was powerfully restorative for me to be among those kind people in that beautiful place.
In mid-May I will begin my travels in earnest. I want to start by following Lewis and Clark's journey backwards to the Mandan village where they spent their first winter and met Sacajawea. By June I will be in the mid-West making stops in Chicago, Nashville and Cincinnati for certain (exact dates to be announced ASAP). Eastern seaboard next. And I'll be coming back around.
If you are interested in having a house concert in your home town, please let me know. It would be my pleasure to come and play for your friends and neighbors. I also appreciate hearing about your favorite local venue. Please email me at- email@example.com
Doomsday Foresworn - January 1, 2000
I made a new millennium resolution. I gave up preparing for the end of the world. If the world ends, it's going catch me by surprise.
I woke up to find my cupboard full of black beans and rice, canned milk and coffee and remembered that I'm really not partial to beans. The lights were on, the computer still worked, and Y2K was beginning pretty much like every New Year's morning. Once again I'd bought into a doomsday scenario and some of my precious time on this earth had been utterly squandered getting ready for the end.
I lived for a long time with a sense of impending cataclysm. It was like static, an unpleasant background sound. Silent Spring, nuclear winter, over-population, deforestation, oil spills, herbicides, ground zero, ozone holes, economic collapse, greenhouse gases, space debris and an almost infinite variety deadly possibilities had me considering contingency plans. Even as I worked on projects to "save the world" I prepared for the end, just in case. It was always a waste of time.
The world hasn't ended and that is an actual fact. I can't say why the world hasn't ended. Is it luck? Is it a miracle? Is the end of the world lurking nearby waiting to catch me in an unwary moment? Whatever! One thing is certain. Every moment I have ever spent pondering about or preparing for doomsday came right of the hide of the next generation. Getting ready for Armageddon or creating an abundant Earth unto the seventh generation? Which shall it be?
Both Sides of the Street - April 5, 2003
The peace march in Fort Bragg, California drew hundreds of coastal citizens who gathered near the Exxon station. We marched down Main Street with banners, flags, drums and a police escort past a contingent of citizens in front of the Shell station arrayed in red, white and blue. They were chanting "We support the troops." We started chanting "We support the troops, too."
The following Saturday the pro-troops folks were gallantly standing in the rain when Sherry Glazer and I stopped by to see if we could find some common ground with these people. We brought information about the latest cuts to Veteran's Budget. There was a lot of agreement that no medical care for veteran's on the Mendocino coast, long waiting lists, and a four hour drive to a doctor does not "support the troops." One of the people we met at the rally works at the local clinic. A conversation has since begun at the clinic and on the coast exploring what it would take for the clinic to provide medical care for veterans. It might take redesigning the Veteran's Administration and the entire American medical system since both may be part of the problem. Problems of this magnitude can only be solved when the peace people and the pro-troops people work together.
So there is a lot at stake. Really. Large multinational corporations and entrenched bureaucracies don't need the peace people and the pro-troops people comparing notes and finding common ground. Keeping these constituencies polarized, on the opposite sides of the street, is paramount to your survival, if you're a multinational corporation or an entrenched bureaucracy. The rest of us might be better served by comparing notes and finding common ground.
Just how committed corporations are to keeping communities polarized became apparent to me during Redwood Summer. Judi Bari wrote a book which was aptly named "Timber Wars". Up and down the Pacific Northwest giant corporations were pillaging the forests, cutting trees down at an astonishing clip. Communities were divided between environmentalists and pro-timber camps. The environmentalists wanted to preserve the forests and the habitat they provide. The loggers and mill workers wanted to preserve the forests and the livelihood they provide. The forests were not preserved. The corporations won. The mill in Fort Bragg closed down last year.
Here in Fort Bragg, California during Redwood Summer we had a giant rally. A few thousand environmentalists, clad in eco-hippy hues, marched downtown and met up with a big group of "pro-timber" folks, who were all wearing yellow t-shirts, at the intersection in front the old company store. A staunch array of motorcycle cops imported from Oakland stood by ready to riot. It was a pretty fine hour and a pretty good time was had by all. There were a few invectives hurled by the inebriated and unwise. Some moving speeches were made, especially one by a former logger who had seen the light and given up logging and drinking to work at the recycling center "for the sake of his kids and his kidses kids". After a while we all, and I mean everybody, tree huggers, mill workers and Oakland police, sang "This Land Is Your Land" and then we all went home. Except for the timber corporations who went back to forest pillaging and mill closing until there just isn't much of that left.
It was the yellow t-shirts. At least Hills & Knowlton recycles. Remember Hills & Knowlton? They are the Washington, DC public relations firm that brought the American public that brilliantly persuasive tale of Iraqi soldiers tossing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators. The girl who testified to the Senate about the alleged atrocity turned out to be the Kuwaiti ambassador's daughter, a fact which emerged only after Desert Storm had blown over. But Desert Storm supporters were wearing yellow t-shirts too. I always thought it was an odd choice of color if the message was to be statement about the courage of the wearer.
Fast forward to the peace march and pro-troops rally in Fort Bragg this spring. It doesn't matter which side of the street you were standing on. I have more in common with the pro-troops rally than with people who stayed home and said nothing. We all have a civic responsibility to hold our government accountable for actions taken in our name. And those who have the least interest in being held accountable are hoping to keep the peace march and the pro-troops rally on opposites side of the street lest we find common ground.
Suppose we agreed that supporting the troops would necessarily include providing medical care. Before too long an alliance between peace activists and patriots might emerge with some specific ideas about health care for veteran's. This could lead to truly dangerous wide ranging discussions about subjects like the long term consequences of using depleted uranium. Imagine such an alliance deciding to discuss health care for everyone. Consider the possibility that there might be a lot of agreement.