My friend and collaborator Brian Eno recently mentioned to me an organization he is involved with. ClientEarth is an organization that has taken a somewhat unique approach to pushing for change regarding issues of pollution, fossil fuel emissions and more. Comprising a team of legal experts, they look for areas where regulations are being ignored or not being enforced, and where legal violations have not been addressed—and then they take action. They bring lawsuits against states and regions in order to effect change.Read More
In February 2017, the Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Ángel Mancera, made a major announcement—the city would prioritize parking reform. This announcement was the first of several from the city, culminating in the implementation of a major, progressive policy change enacted on July 11th, 2017.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
(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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
As in the rest of the Reasons to Be Cheerful posts, cross-platform images and ideas, this is about initiatives and changes that have already happened and have proven to be successful.
Cities around the world aren’t waiting for federal or state governments to mandate energy innovations and responses to climate change. Cities are more nimble than states and nations, and they’re stepping up to be the models for others. As Mayor Hidalgo of Paris said, “they are where the future happens”.Read More
Through a friend who works there, I was introduced to the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT), which is based out of Bellevue hospital here in Manhattan. Besides the obvious medical issues, the organization deals with a host of other needs from their clients—immigration, legal and human rights issues, psychological trauma, employment, housing—all of which are interconnected.Read More
We who are engaged in the humanities—art, music, writing, dancing, architecture—often like to tell ourselves that we are doing some good. I often have my doubts. I doubt that art or a song can change people’s minds, but it seems there is real proof they can change people’s lives in other ways.Read More
What happens when we think of Drug addiction as a health problem rather than a crime?
In Vancouver, Mayor Robertson and I biked through a funky neighborhood called Gastown known for drug use. He pointed out a giant photo piece by local artist Stan Douglas of what became known as the Gastown Riot when police rounded up drug users in 1971. It’s like a scene from a movie, with all the period detail.Read More
I’ve used a bicycle as my principal means of getting around NY for decades. It’s easier and safer now than it used to be. I often take a full-size folding bike when I do a music tour, and this becomes a way of exploring where I happen to be. Vibrant neighborhoods, odd museums, an explosion of suburban house buildings and wonderful cities bisected by freeways. Not always encouraging, but there are signs of change.Read More
I’m starting an online project here that is an continuation and extension of some writing and talks I’ve done recently.
The project will be cross-platform—some elements may appear on social media, some on a website and some might manifest as a recording or performance… much of the published material will be collected here.Read More