Friday, August 14, 2009

Ethylene, steel bright

As no one can avoid being reminded of repeatedly at the moment, tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the start of the Woodstock Festival. I haven't found any particularly original, meaningful or, heaven forfend, class-conscious commentary amid the current round of prattle. Nor do I have any to offer myself. But I am a product of the 60s. And I do remember Woodstock, very well. I was 15, too young to get my parents' permission to go and not quite rebellious enough yet to take off without their permission, but my friends and I kept close track of the events as best we could. The brother of one of my best friends was a few years older than us and he did go, and we descended on him upon his return to Detroit and dragged from him every detail that could be dredged from his stoned, smudged memory. I was crazy about Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, still am, come to think of it, not to mention Country Joe and the Fish and their terrific "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag," which I still often sing and should be sung constantly still, with "Iraq" and/or "Afghanistan" substituted for "Vietnam." This evening, then, I'll go home after work, Teresa and I will have some dinner, and then we'll turn on VH1 to watch Barbara Kopple's new documentary about Woodstock. Bathe in a bit of nostalgia, wonder where the years went -- this seems to be the week for it -- and bundle ourselves off to bed with the well-loved soundtrack of our youth echoing in our heads.

Then it's back to today's reality. Like the ongoing horrors being endured by the people of Gaza. Writers Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Naomi Klein are among the endorsers of an important new initiative, the Gaza Freedom March, which will culminate on January 1, 2010, with an international delegation breaking the Israeli apartheid state's blockade against the Palestinians. I'll write more about this crucial effort as the time approaches.

Coming up much sooner--later this month--are actions in support of the people of Honduras who continue to battle against the murderous military coup d'etat that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya to stop his progressive agenda from proceeding. The National Days of Action in Solidarity with the People of Honduras will see various forms of protest in cities across the United States. The White House, despite occasional pro forma denunciations of the coup, has made no real move against it. Mass anger is on the agenda. Where to express it? In the streets.

Today's blog title is an anagram for my full name, which I got from one of those sites folks are forwarding around on Facebook. I like it rather a lot. Ethylene, steel bright. Well alrighty. I'll try to live up to it. The site cooked up an even better, and I must say incredibly apt, anagram for my lover's name: Zestier, true rage. I'll say! I'll be back next week with links leaning more toward the literary side, but this next is more important.

True rage continues to be the reasonable and righteous response to both last month's Cambridge, Mass., arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates and the ensuing propaganda campaign designed to blame the victim and/or distort this blatantly racist incident into its opposite, as Gore Vidal and other liberal darlings have been doing with bizarrely contorted commentary masquerading as class analysis. I attended a meeting last Saturday where my comrade Larry Hales cut through the nonsense and told some truth. I'm having some trouble getting the video to show up here, so I urge you to go here and hear what he had to say.