Most countries’ prison systems are failures—the rate of recidivism is abysmal. In the US, 76.6 percent of prisoners end up back in prison within five years of their release. Does this mean criminal behavior is genetic and some folks are born criminals? No. Does it mean most criminals are incredibly sloppy and will inevitably get caught? No. Can this be fixed? Yes, it can. The fact that it can be fixed disproves the above.
When I saw what the DSA students did with my song, it completely changed the way I thought of the song. In fact, it changed the meaning of the song—I realized it was about inclusion, welcoming and not being alone. It's a more generous interpretation of the song than what I do with my voice. Just goes to show how a song can change (radically!) depending on who is singing it.
These are some of my favorite reasons to be cheerful. Around the world, the right and left are increasingly ensconcing themselves in their partisan bubbles, behaving and voting along tribal lines rather than according to what might actually make the most sense for them. These examples (and I’d love to have some from the liberal/Democrat side too) show that this needn’t be the case.
By chance, I found a guide, and together we encountered a city filled with resilient architecture such as a Cor-Ten steel bridge, dozens of houses on stilts, and 133 miles of reengineered walls that promise to be indestructible. How apropos—in a city synonymous with its music—that Donnell and I began on the beat of Jay-Z and drumrolled our way to Chief Zulu. Two African American men building platforms, albeit of different scales, that demonstrate a kind of cultural resiliency. Hip-hop, just fifty years ago, was a rebellious, counter-narrative musical form. It’s now an industry juggernaut, employing thousands and creating a system in which African American rappers can obtain and maintain economic success and independence.
(Meaning: to divide a region into smaller, mutually antagonistic states.)
That wasn’t the case at the Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, held at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn the weekend of January 12th & 13th. It’s a two day festival of music and more from the Balkan countries, and it is generously inclusive. Hungary (technically not quite Balkan), Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.
In 2016, I was what I guess one would call a creative impresario on some shows here in NY and in Toronto called Contemporary Color. The shows matched 10 color guard teams with 10 contemporary musical artists to perform music written specifically for these events. The shows were at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and the Barclays Center here in NY.
Color guard (and more properly, winter guard) is a phenomena, an athletic and artistic expression, that takes place mainly in North America but increasingly around the world. Though it began as formations and performances to accompany football games, it has evolved into something wilder, stranger, more creative and beautiful and very much apart from the sports context. Though they still retain the flags, sabers and rifles.
I was in L.A. for some meetings and went with my friends Iris Alonzo, who has a community and ecologically oriented clothing line called Everybody.World and Margot Jacobs, who is an innovative landscape architect, to an event in Chinatown. First we had some pho down the street, and the restaurant was almost half full with cops. A friend asked if their green guns were tasers—“Yes, they’re green so we don’t get them confused.” I asked about the fires; if they were now under control. This was Thursday night (December 7th)—“They’re maybe 20% under control.” Wow, that still leaves some room for a flare-up.