Freedom of Speech Equals Terrorism

I’ve been so busy being either sick or working on this commercial I helped write and direct (more details later) that the Miami protests were something happening in the far corner of my eye. I finally read about them in this Rebecca Solnit essay, and I can see that this is where this country is heading. That “F” word is rearing its head again, and we shouldn’t be afraid to use it, because that’s what this is.

Fragments of the Future:
The FTAA in Miami

By Rebecca Solnit
The future was being modeled on both sides of the massive steel fence erected around the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami last Thursday. Inside, delegates from every nation in the western hemisphere but Cuba watered down some portions of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement and postponed deciding on others in an attempt to prevent a failure as stark as that of the World Trade Organization ministerial in Cancun two months before. Outside, an army of 2,500 police in full armor used a broad arsenal of weapons against thousands of demonstrators and their constitutional rights. ‘Not every day do you get tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, and hit in the face,’ said Starhawk, a prominent figure in the global anticapitalism movement,, who experienced all three Thursday.
Since the Seattle surprise of 1999, it has become standard procedure to erect a miniature police state around globalization summits, and it’s hard not to read these rights-free zones as prefigurations of what full-blown corporate globalization might bring. After all, this form of globalization would essentially suspend local, regional, and national rights of self-determination over labor, environmental, and agricultural conditions in the name of the dubious benefits of the free market, benefits that would be enforced by unaccountable transnational authorities acting primarily to protect the rights of capital. At a labor forum held the day before the major actions, Dave Bevard, a laid-off union metalworker, referred to this new world order as ‘government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.’

By way of Tom Dispatch

Book Club Profiles: Literary Discussion Group examines great authors, richness of life

The Literary Discussion Group (the title is still in flux) grew out of an offshoot of one of the first American book clubs, the Great Books Foundation. “We finished the list of books they gave us,” says Gene Waller, one of its main members, “and we wondered what to read next.”

Fortunately, discovering what to read next has kept this book club going for nearly 20 years. Currently, the discussion group, which generally numbers 8 to 12 members per meeting, bases its readings around essays and short stories.

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Sign of the Four: The Fab Four find imitation is the most successful form of flattery

Since the premiere of Beatlemania in 1977, the Beatles tribute band has not just become an accepted part of popular entertainment, but something approaching an art, with its own unspoken laws and aesthetics. Audiences accepted the Beatlemania cover band because it came in the guise of a Broadway show, a multimedia experience, and were forgiving for any inauthentic moment. But just as there are forgeries of Rembrandts so good that even the experts are fooled, the stakes in the Beatles tribute band world are very high indeed.

For several years now, the Fab Four, an Orange County-based tribute band, has earned a reputation as the toppermost of the poppermost. With Ron McNeil as John Lennon, Ardy Sarraf as Paul McCartney, Michael George Amador as George Harrison, and Rolo Sandoval as Ringo Starr, the Fab Four have made thousands of jaws drop with their uncanny performances. They won’t win any look-alike competitions (though Sarraf gets pretty close), but their voices sound dead on, and the music, all live, comes as close as most people will get to either reliving their first Beatles concert or seeing them at all. Santa Barbara audiences will have that chance when they play a benefit concert for the Marjorie Luke Theater, on Sunday, November 23.

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U.S. Occupiers Blow Things Up to Make them Feel Good

It’s about time I linked to the fabulous Baghdad Burning blog. Even more than “Where Is Raed” and some other Iraq-based blogs, this page by a young, female Iraqi citizen dishes up life in the Occupied Territories of the U.S.A. The news here made much of our bombings of Tikrit and Baghdad as if it meant progress. “See, we’re not just getting attacked indiscriminately! We can drop bombs too!” And seeings the news is vague about what exactly was hit, we can just assume it’s the usual: innocent people’s houses, fields, and livestock. Take it away, riverbend:

Difficult Days…
They’ve been bombing houses in Tikrit and other areas! Unbelievable

This man can move: Savion Glover at Lobero

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Tap-dancing wonder Savion Glover brings out his dancing art from somewhere deep within his thin frame. Like a Rasta shaman, he conjures multilayered syncopation, pushing and pulling the beat, compressing and exploding over and over into showers of rapid-fire foot movements. At nearly 90 minutes of dancing with only a short break, Mr. Glover thrilled the Lobero audience on Sunday night in a personal, packed show.

He has been amazing theatergoers since he was 12, and his tour brings a four-piece jazz ensemble along with a young protégé called Cartier for a deep examination of tap-dancing. Whereas traditional tap-dancers coast along on top of the music, with gaps left by the band for the dancer to fill, Mr. Glover is the fifth instrument.

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Sacred Revolutions: St. Petersburg Choir Brings Rachmaninoff’s Vespers to America

It’s taken conductor Vladislav Chernushenko 25 years to get to the United States to tour. Originally, the group he heads-the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella Choir-was scheduled to make their first American tour back in 1978. “The contract was signed,” he says, “And then it didn’t happen for political reasons.”

The history of the St. Petersburg choir can be charted out along centuries of political reasons, events, and decisions, yet their music has kept its close ties to the spiritual. One of the world’s oldest choirs, the group formed in Moscow in 1479 for the express purpose of accompanying Tsar Ivan III wherever he went, celebrating mass or entertaining. Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great both sang in choir at certain points. In 1703, the choir sang at the inauguration of St. Petersburg a major event in the choir’s history, and there they remained. In 1837, the great Russian composer Mikhail Glinka became Kapellmeister, and wrote many operatic works expressly for the choir. During the Communist Revolution the choir’s sacred music fell out of favor, but the group continued, under the name the Popular Academic Chorus, and performed works by Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, and Prokofiev. As rules became lax, the sacred crept back in, until the coming of perestroika unleashed the history of sacred Russian composers and work back into the repertoire.

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Sandoval’s Slight Return: Second Symphony concert features a reconfigured menu

Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval was supposed to make a welcome return to the Santa Barbara Symphony Saturday night, opening with a pleasant Haydn concerto and closing with a Glière concerto. Somewhere along the way, those plans got the mice-and-men treatment, and the Glière was dropped. Haydn became the finale, and a very brief Glière piece was added to the opening, allowing the beaming Sandoval to show his face and remind the audience that he was around and would be returning for the second half.

So in fact the first half of the evening became centered around Sibelius and his First Symphony in E Minor, Opus 39.

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Surrealism Lives: 70 pairs of shoes filled with butter

This later turned out to be the remains of some art project, but still, how cool is it to come across this on a hike?

Mystery surrounds 70 pairs of shoes filled with butter in woods
By The Associated Press
(10/10/03 – STOCKHOLM, Sweden) A couple hiking in the mountains of far northern Sweden found 70 pairs of shoes, all filled with butter. Officials have no idea who put the shoes there, or why.
A provincial spokesman says the buttered footwear ranges from sneakers to boots. There are even butter-filled high heels and tap shoes. Each contains about a pound of butter.
The province spokesman says they’d like to catch the person who did it and make them clean it up. He says it’s going to create quite a mess when the butter starts to spoil.
Officials say they’ll wait for snow, so they can get a snowmobile into the area.