You’re not going to believe it but this was written by
Sheldon Harnick in 1958 and recorded by theKingston Trio. Does
anything sound familiar? I couldn't find a decent video but it was too good to waste.
They're rioting in Africa (whistling)
They're starving in Spain (whistling)
There's hurricanes in Flo-ri-da (whistling)
And Texas needs rain
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
AND I DON'T LIKE ANYBODY VERY MUCH!!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
Are you unplugged? It's Friday morning and soon Shabbat will be here. I'll light the candles and we'll go to friends for dinner and tomorrow to services and to lunch (I'm bringing part of it). Later we're going to another home to be part of what they call a "shabbat hangout" where the kids all play and the parents (and their older friends, like us) talk, and study and enjoy the peace of 24 hours of an unplugged, non-electric, non-driving, non-cooking, non-working life.*
But the reason why Unplugged is so great is that when you start, you think Shabbat will be what you hate. No more errands or Saturday manicures or movies. No phone calls or emails or web wandering.
And then you unplug. And even if - as I suspect will be true for many - you don't go the way we went and adopt (almost) the entire package, you find the peace of what Josh Foer, in the video, calls this "ancient" idea, and are grateful for it. And for the people around you -- IRL -- close, and easy and at peace.
*OK I admit it. I'm really glad the health care vote is on Sunday; if it had been on Saturday it would have been a real pain.
I don't spend my time talking about the "olden days" - really I don't. Working on the web has kept me very much in the present. But tonight I watched a Rock and RollHall of Fame Induction Ceremony retrospective and since you have to have given music at least 25 performing years to be inducted most of the performers were closer to my age than to that of my buddies here on the Web. And wow.
I feel the way you feel 2/3 of the way down a fantastic black diamond slope with the wind in your hair and frost on your ear lobes and your heart pounding. Where else is there the power that music brings to us? We go where it takes us -- return to places we'd forgotten we knew, find pride in the memories we cherish and an abashed amusement in those that might have been a bit - um -- less luminous. Our moods, our clothes, the way we're driving, or eating, or doing less discussable things, changes with the music around us. It's bits of soul reflected.
I was blessed to be at a couple of the most amazing inductions; I've written about that before but some of those moments appeared tonight and I could feel again the hair raising thrill of watching Ben E King and The Beach Boys and Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan and Billy Joel and Mick Jagger and dozens (literally dozens) of others performing together. Coming as we all do from a generation that did so many things as a tribe, it's particularly moving to watch them trade glances and cues -- such a familiar pattern.
I love my life now and am so grateful to be a part of the explosion of the new connected world, but I am also grateful for the years those musicians gave us. They are brothers and sisters and inspirations and former fantasies and just plain fun. I know how many died of overdoses, I know there are seamy stories and I know that there are wonderful musicians who have followed them and will themselves end up on that stage when enough years have passed but my time was a wonderful time to be young and loving music. And once again tonight I remembered how many moments of my own personal Hall of Fame were accompanied by, or part of, or generated from - the music they gave us all.
Beside him, Bruce Springsteen, a modern troubadour whose songs speak for many Americans whose opinions are never sought, whose voices are seldom heard.
they stood together at the Lincoln Memorial in celebration of the
Inauguration of Barack Obama, they represented, to me, all that I had
believed and tried to help bring into being. To many, though, they
were "the ultimate in subtly old-left populism."
Speaking about the concert early Sunday before it began, I kept talking
about Bruce. A younger friend gently suggested that he was probably
not the day's headliner. That would be Beyonce Knowles, she said. I'm sure she's right.
As one who was present the last time
"the torch was passed to a new generation;" as a strongly defined Baby
Boomer, it's painful to hear anchormen celebrate the fact that "there
will never be another Baby Boom President." It' s not that I mind the
fact of that; it's just painful that it seems to be something to
celebrate. So many of us have tried so to be productive agents of
change, have spent our lives working either full or part of the time to
see that our country offers more to the least powerful, demands quality
education, justice and maybe, even peace. So to hear Joe Scarborough
revel in the fact that "16 horrible years of baby boomer presidents is
over" really hurts. All my adult life we've been tarred by the brush
of the least attractive of us while the work of the rest of us went
unnoticed. For most campaigns, as I'vewritten before, we were the secret weapon of the right.
as exciting as all this is, especially for one who has supported Obama
for so long, it's also bittersweet because I feel the shadow of the
disdain in which so many of us are held. I really don't know how to
respond. If I were to try, it might be by offering some of the words
to Si Kahn's They All Sang Bread and Roses. It's better with the music, but it does the job.
They All Sang "Bread and Roses (Si Kahn, 1989,
It's very hard to be married. This is no headline.
But the Sunday New York Times on December 13th carried a piece by David
Sarasohn; a meditation on marriage, moving from the first
lines: "I have been married forever. Well, not since the
Big Bang but since the Nixon administration — 35 years — a stretch long enough
to startle new acquaintances or make talk-show audiences applaud" to
As you may deduce from the hair, we too married during the
Nixon years, and we too are still together. We were married on September 12,
1971 and have survived more than 38 years of complicated marriage about which
I've written before. So why now?
Well, first of all because my husband asked me to write
it. Just to see what came out, I think. How did we do
it? How are we still doing it? Oh - and why have we bothered?
We've seen friends split over much less than what we've faced, so what was
Here's Mr. Sarasohn's theory:
I am somewhat better with words than my wife is; she is
infinitely better with people. In different ways, we translate each other to
the rest of the world, and admire each other’s contrasting language skills.
Being married to someone you respect for being somehow better than you keeps
affection alive. That this impressive person chooses you year after year makes
you more pleased with yourself, fueling the kind of mutual self-esteem that can
get you through decades.
Not bad.I know we've been all over the world and
I would never have had the nerve with out him; he is the one who was probably
an airplane in a previous life. And that we met an extraordinary number
of wonderful people because of the work he chose to do. And that he
pushed me to write my book and never expected me to be anything but a working
mom. And among psychoanalysts in Manhattan in the 70s and 80s that was
pretty amazing. OH and he shoved and pushed and pulled me to spend money
on myself once in a while, which was very hard for a girl from a
Depression-scarred background. I know he's got his own list for me as well.
Of course we've faced plenty of though stuff too. His chronic illness is
a rotten burden and one that has colored much of our time together. And
we've had professional and financial crises, and moved from Washington to Palo
Alto to New York to another apartment in New York to Los Angeles to another house
in Los Angeles to Washington and another house in Washington.We've
had some challenges as parents and as partners, other health issues including open-heart
surgery, loss of our parents and very tough moments even now. But leaving
- that was never an option. We have many young friends who wonder at the
fact that we are still together and it's one of the few times I feel a distance
from them. I'm so aware that it's something you know more than you say, despite the beauty
and wisdom of the Sarasohn piece and despite my efforts here.
Once my dad told me that he was sure we'd never be divorced; we
were both too stubborn. I guess that's true too, but it takes more than
that. We are never ever bored with each other. We share basic
values that we've been able to pass on to our kids even though we may have
differed on the details. We trust each other. We have fun - and
now, day-by-day, we share a history.
A collected set of joint memories is not a small thing. I
always say it's like quitting smoking - every day you accumulate increases the
value of the commitment. Just this morning, listening to the blizzard
weather predictions, I recalled an orange outfit we had bought our toddler in
Paris more than thirty years ago. "
Remember the orange snowsuit we bought Josh in au Printemps?" I asked him. He smiled in fond recollection and said
"Yeah, but it was Galeries Lafayette." There are a
lifetime of those moments.
That was, by the way, the same trip where Josh
stared up at the Winged Victory of Samothrace towering at the
top of the main staircase in the Louvre and said "pigeon."
I'm telling you these small memories for a reason. The
big things are cool too - watching a son get married, fancy parties with
high-profile people, trips around the country and around the world. But
within and surrounding the gigantic are those moments that make a marriage,
tiny and still; a quiet loving word from a son, or the sharing of a meal he has
prepared, the deck of a beach house while the sun goes down, wonder at a great
performance or a great meal shared. For the two of us, 38 years of those trump the
aggravation and the stressful moments.
Frighteningly, I'm about to turn the age I always thought a
subject for humor - after all, there is even a song.
When I get older, losing my hair,
Many years from now.
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?
If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four.
We knew each other when this song was
still part of FM rotation – when we counted our ages in fewer than half those years.Between then and now, more has happened
than I can describe – both in the “outside world” and in our home. And I know the answer to the question. Yes - from me and from him. When we're sixty-four and, God willng, long after that.
It wasn't that long ago - not really. Thousands of us singing "All we are saying, is give peace a chance" on the Mall in Washington. It all started when Sam Brown, David Hawk, David Mixner, Marge Sklenkar, John Gage and other peace luminaries, many of whom were veterans of the failed McCarthy and Kennedy campaigns, decided to call a "moratorium on the war in Vietnam" and ask everyone to come to Washington to support it. It was a great idea: a kind of strike against the war, but with manners.
And 250,000 came, followed by at least 500,000 exactly a month later, during the November Moratorium that followed. But on this day, a manageable and peaceful crew assembled. My memories of the day are scattered. I worked for CBS News by then and my job was to keep track of the march, marchers and plans for all the peace activity going on in the capital. There was plenty, in a wide spectrum of militancy and affect.
I wish I could describe for you some of the more radical "peace houses" I visited; collectives with tie died cloth covering the windows and mattresses on the floor - working for a much tougher way to oppose the war.
Organizers and participants in this march , though, slept in church basements and the homes of local people who made room for them. Everyone who lived in Washington didn't have a spare bed or couch - or inch of space on the floor. You know this, but just to remind you, listen to what the BBC says about that time "in context:
American combat troops had been fighting the Communist Viet Cong in Vietnam since 1965.
Some 45,000 Americans had already been killed by the end of 1969. Almost half a million US men and women were deployed in the conflict, and opposition to the war was growing.
The Moratorium for the first time brought out America's middle class and middle-aged voters, in large numbers. Other demonstrations followed in its wake.
I guess that song is what I remember most - that, and members of the Chicago 7, out on bail as they awaited trial, addressing the crowd and pulling off wigs to show how their jailers had cut off all their hair. For some reason, I can still see that - it felt to me like such a violation. A less than friendly observer asked me later "How did you like what they did to "your friends" huh? They weren't my friends; I barely knew them, but the question was a punch in the gut. So many things stood for other things then. Long hair on men meant rebellion and outlier.
Anyway, it's yet another 40 year anniversary and I didn't feel that I could let it go un-noted.
If you have never heard the Lennon song "Give Peace a Chance" here are John and Yoko singing it with a crew of friends during a peace "bed in" in, I believe, Amsterdam. Happy Anniversary
The first time I ever heard Peter Paul and Mary I was 15 and spending the summer at a writing program at Exeter Academy - the first year they ever let "girls" into the school at all. I remember loving Blowin' in the Wind, If I Had a Hammer and of course, Puff. I remember visiting another student's home in Concord where her older brother, already in college, told me that the three were just "popularizers of Bob Dylan songs" and scornfully complaining that I should be listening to Dylan not them. (I didn't find Bob Dylan until later - junior year, I guess.) I thought he was nuts To me, Peter Paul and Mary were an introduction to music that was about things I cared about: civil rights, war, peace and love -- from a more political perspective.
From then on, through high school, into college and "out into the world" Peter Paul and Mary held a special place in my life. We seemed to cross paths often. We played their music all the time, of course. My sister and I saw them at a summer concert in Pittsburgh (my long-suffering mom driving us, of course.) I remember watching them sing at the 1963 March on Washington, and later seeing them at Wolf Trap with a blind date. And, most profoundly, I remember seeing them quite literally, save lives in Grant Park at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968. Hordes of demonstrators were coming over a bridge into the part of the park right outside the Hilton. There had been trouble, lots of trouble, for at least days and this would be another terrible confrontation. Then, from nowhere, Peter, Paul and Mary started to sing. The demonstrators slowly converged around their platform, diverted from certain misery. It was quite a thing.
Here's what else I remember. Mary Travers herself, who died today. She was a powerful model: not just her deep, resonant voice but also her powerful, sure presence, on stage and off. She was brave and funny and looked amazing. We all knocked ourselves out trying to have straight hair like hers: ironed it, slept with it wrapped around orange juice cans. She was a powerful presence.
Of course, part of her power, and that of Peter and Paul was their commitment. Where they were needed, they came. Civil rights marches, peace marches, the McCarthy presidential campaign, even regional and local union struggles. It was a signal to the rest of us: if we can show up, so can you. And we did. As another friend wrote to me tonight: "I just saw the news story. Can't believe how much of our history was tied up with them."