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Showing posts from October, 2008
My experience up in Buffalo was really interesting in multiple ways I am still enjoying. It was something of a moveable feast I keep thinking of Lars Gustafsson: "We go from warm rooms to cold/and from cold to warm again."

I always enjoy getting together with people who share my love for old time music, who really get it. Add in that they are all sharp as hell too and it makes for days filled with interesting conversation, just a fine and really stimulating time overall.

The symposium had the enticing title of "Uncanny America: The Coming Apocalypse, Tacos, and Folk Music in Babylon," and it has its own fine looking website. I was officially the "tacos" part, though of course I had some things to add about the apocalypse and about music. Hard to keep me quiet on those issues. Come to think of it, it is hard to think of a more perfect set of topics for me. I presented some Mexican migrant music from NC and VA and showed photographs I've taken th…
I am heading to Buffalo early in the a.m. for a several day long symposium. I'll be presenting my research on Latinization of space and place in the Blue Ridge and showing a lot of photographs from North Carolina and Virginia. The other guys involved will be Charles McNair, Lance Ledbetter from Dust-to-Digital records and Art Rosenbaum, artist, banjo player, and field recorder. Lance and Art were both profiled in the New Yorker this past summer.

Yes, it is quite humbling and exciting to be in such company.

I have been enormously impressed by Dust-to-Digital since it started, both with their collections and also their amazing packaging. They have taken a lot of my money, that is for sure, but all well spent. I used to listen to Art's banjo records from the Madison public library many years ago. I am really looking forward to meeting all of these guys.
It hasn't gotten much, or any, media attention, but there have been some interesting discussions on historians' lists about the comparison of JFK in 1960 running to the right of Nixon on the Vietnam issue and, as the theory goes, Obama running to the right of McCain on Afghanistan and al Qaeda. Obama does sound like a hawk, and of course people seem driven to compare him to Kennedy, from whom he differed in most respects (which is a good thing), including being the source of his own inspiring prose.

I don't personally buy the idea that Obama is a hawk like JFK. I see the emphasis on Afghanistan, and the surprisingly explicit calls on Obama's part to kill Osama bin Laden, as a way to inoculate the Dems against any attack that they are soft on terrorism and thereby simply remove the issue from the race. This has happened to some extent. Obama can call for the end of Iraq only because he is the first in line to say we should escalate in Afghanistan. Time will tell if …
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Turns out that when you have a kid, Halloween stretches for more than just the night you go out to either get candy or whip eggs at people. The younger the kids, the more there are rounds of parties to make. Good thing to, because what is cuter than the Lil Buddha dressed as a bee?






the yellow pants didn't last long so one of us made the unusual choice of purple pants. (note: it wasn't the one of us who actually "keeps bees").

note the stinger:



She will of course be dressing like a bee for the next 17 years, at which point she will be an adult and at that point can decide to pick another costume if necessary.

There was a costume contest but it was decided that no person without the cognitive ability to know that had one would be judged for their costume. (Do I need to point out that this was a party of clinical and cognitive psychologists?)
It is 12:49 a.m., I am sitting here at my computer working and I just heard four shots. I figured this was blog-worthy, though unfortunately it is not uncommon in these parts.

Somehow, the information I learned from soldier's memoirs that the one you hear is not the one with your name on it is not reassuring.

I did read this amazing stat the other day. Between January and September, 2008, there were "168,312 recorded firearm transactions" in Virginia. No telling how many were unrecorded. Though that seems like an incredibly high number, it is not considered unusual. Since those were all legal gun sales, I doubt that one of them was just being fired around here.
The conspiratorial among you may be atwitter at the sudden desire of the U.S. military in Korea to slow the redeployment out of Seoul to Pyeongtaek. It will be interesting to see what transpires with a new administration and an ongoing economic crisis, especially amidst FTA talks.



"The United States has asked to delay the scheduled relocation of U.S. military bases in South Korea by up to four years due to budgetary constraints, according to military sources in Seoul.

The latest development is expected to further fan concerns about the cost of the military relocation that is already estimated to come to about 13 trillion won ($9.6 billion) - a figure that could well increase with any additional delay.

According to the Defense Ministry, the U.S. asked for the delay during a meeting with South Korean military officials in Seoul on Oct. 3.

Officials from the two countries agreed in July to complete the relocation.

The action would move the military base in Yongsan, Seoul, to
Pyeongtaek, …
We finally got around to having the website for our yes-it-is-closer-to-being-done documentary film "Saturday Night at Wayne's" put at the right url, you can see it here. The website needs work and needs updating but at least it is comfortably sitting there, many thanks to our friend Bill.
Mike Davis offers some typically interesting perspectives on the nature of the crisis and its political dimension:

"In addition, both Obama and his vice presidential partner Joe Biden, in their support for Secretary of the Treasury Paulson's plan, avoid any discussion of the inevitable result of cataclysmic restructuring and government bailouts: not "socialism," but ultra-capitalism -- one that is likely to concentrate control of credit in a few leviathan banks, controlled in large part by sovereign wealth funds but subsidized by generations of public debt and domestic austerity.

Never have so many ordinary Americans been nailed to a cross of gold (or derivatives), yet Obama is the most mild-mannered William Jennings Bryan imaginable. Unlike Sarah Palin who masticates the phrase "the working class" with defiant glee, he hews to a party line that acknowledges only the needs of an amorphous "middle class" living on a largely mythical "Main Stree…
I have trouble even getting to speak to a for-real human being at Verizon, the McCain's must have the magic touch...



The Atlantic: This Story Doesn't Cell

Yesterday, the Washington Post’s James Grimaldi published a fairly damning piece suggesting, with a good deal of evidence, that John and Cindy McCain were beneficiaries of special treatment from Verizon and AT&T—the implication being that the companies had sought to curry favor with the former Senate Commerce committee chairman by erecting cell phone towers at the McCains’ remote Arizona ranch.
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers responded that the towers were temporary, the result of a Secret Service request and, while conceding that Cindy McCain had made a separate, earlier request for the towers that predated her husband’s status as Republican presidential nominee, added, “Mrs. McCain's staff went through the Website as any member of the general public would—no string pulling, no phone calls, no involvement of Senate staf…
This story is interesting for all sorts of reasons as it falls at the confluence of Mexican migrant labor exploitation, state corruption, the pig trough of U.S. torts, and perhaps, just perhaps, actually some bit of justice for workers robbed of their pay.


Mexican workers in US during WWII can get back pay

"CHICAGO (AP) -- Ramon Ibarra remembers his backbreaking days repairing railroads in the Southwest, a contract job for which he left Mexico in 1942 as part of a guest worker program. More than 60 years later, he's looking forward to the rest of his paycheck.

Now 86, Ibarra was one of the hundreds of thousands of Mexican laborers, or braceros, who helped the U.S. meet its labor demands during World War II. A judge recently decided they can now apply for money that was withheld from their paychecks in the 1940s and sent to the Mexican government as an incentive for them to return home.

Many of them never saw the money again.

Ibarra, of Chicago, and others like him are entitled t…
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The Richmond Folk festival was a whole lot of fun. It helped that the weather was perfect and the whole thing went off without a hitch. I think there were easily as many people there as last year. Quite an auspicious beginning.

Lark had a great time:


The music was the point of the whole thing, of course, and it was quite fine. A couple highlights were Dale Watson, rock solid as usual, and a Columbian joropo group that was great.

I filmed some stuff on my crappy little camera just to capture it.

Here is Lee Sexton playing (his uncle) Morgan Sexton's version of "Cumberland Gap".




Lee sounded good, especially when you consider that he is 80. He had some good stories too. I was really happy to be able to see him play a few different sets.

Here is James Cheechoo, a Cree Indian fiddler from James Bay in Canada. I thought he was great. His tunes sound somewhat like Ozark tunes. They all have an old timey vibe but are different. His wife is playing the bones and his son is pla…
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I went running (ok, jogging) through the Riverview neighborhood in Norfolk today and was struck by the ubiquity of Obama signs. This is in clear contrast with the area just over the Lafayette River where I completed jogging, which was decidedly for McCain. Some neighborhoods in Norfolk are saturated with signs and some, like mine, don't have signs up yet. We do get a mailing from Obama several times a week. This is a hotly targeted area. I hope nobody has forgotten the Republican shenanigans in 2006 trying to keep voters from the polls, including calls to voters telling them the polls had all closed. I only found out about it because the NAACP put fliers on everybody's door on election day to counter the calls.

But geez, this type of partisanship was nothing compared to the drooling rabid looney tunes out in Virginia Beach who showed up for the McCain/Palin rally. Andrew Sullivan posted this picture from today:



As Sullivan writes: "This is what it means to be a Repub…
If somehow you are wondering who to vote for (and don't chose to listen to me for some reason) then perhaps Dr. Ralph Stanley will convince you. Here you can hear the radio ad that is currently running in southwestern Virginia, starring Ralph.

The fact that this was recorded shows a sensitivity to the region and further shows that someone in the Obama campaign knows what they are doing. Good.

All failure is local

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In Norfolk, a bunch of armed people went to the City Council meeting yesterday to protest the police harassment of armed people. It is legal, of course, to carry unconcealed weapons in Virginia. It is legal to carry unconcealed weapons too, you just need a permit. But to strap a gun on your waist here in the Commonwealth is legal. You are, however, limited to the purchase of only one handgun a month.

These gun carrying guys are protesting how police arrested someone for carrying a legal gun and the city ended up paying him 10 grand to avoid a court case.

Members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League claim that Danladi Moore, a Peninsula resident, was recently harassed three times, the last time in September while attempting to ride an HRT bus with a gun.

That was after the city paid Moore $10,000 in July to prevent what could have been long and costly litigation after he had been stopped by police the first two times.


Yes, that is 10 grand of my tax money. This is in a city that …
The Richmond Folk Festival is coming up this weekend and it is a hell of a line-up, I am excited to go.

This is the first year of the festival as a stand-alone festival. For the past three years the city has been the temporary home of the National Folk Festival, a traveling event which is meant in part to seed the ground for future endeavors when it moves on. The bands at the festival this year promise to make this an incredible experience. I especially excited to see Dale Watson, whom I haven't seen play in about 10 years, Lee Sexton, one of my favorite banjo players, and also the Inuit throat singing. There are a great many excellent musicians coming in a variety of styles:

More than 30 Performing Groups on Seven Stages Scheduled to Perform

September 19, 2008 (Richmond, Va.) -- The Richmond Folk Festival organizers are excited to announce the final line-up for the 2008 inaugural event, taking place October 10-12, 2008 on downtown Richmond’s riverfront. More than 30 performing…
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This is, without a doubt, the best part of the year in Virginia. The weather is perfect, as it often is in the fall. Sunny and warm without a trace of humidity. Great weather all around, and particularly good for beekeeping.

Suffolk looks beautiful this time of year since the cotton is blooming, which is always an impressive sight. I love to see that fields stretch as far as you can see. Some cotton always blows off of the plants and there are bits of cotton all along the road. It burns well and is good for a smoker.

Of course, my bees love the cotton plants when they are blooming. It makes a very nice light honey, though it crystallizes very quickly, sometimes in the comb even.


Here is a cotton field:




Here are many huge bales in front of the Suffolk Cotton Gin:



My bees in Suffolk are, as usual, keeping ahead (or, more accurately, apart) from any of my expectations. After a couple of years of chemical free beekeeping the bees that have survived are looking great. I could find no e…
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Skye and I have been filming a documentary about the country, bluegrass, and bluegrass gospel (there is a difference) music being played over at Wayne's Body Shop in Portsmouth for several years. This is a jam at which all are welcome. it has been going for a couple of decades. I've been going there since 2000 and we have been filming for at least six of those years. Our filming is actually done, though the project was on hiatus when we were in Korea. I am really excited about finishing it finally. We just need to edit down the many, many hours of footage and cut it together. "Just"...It is is a lot of work, but definitely worth the time since the whole experience at Wayne's is singular and incredible.

This weekend marked Wayne's 71st birthday, and there was a surprise party for him. So we went and filmed the big celebration, jam, and feast. It was a good time, I was glad we got to be there to celebrate with him. Lark also got to meet Wayne for the f…
People seem to love to read about bees, and the so-called "colony collapse disorder" and the possible ramifications for agriculture (and life on earth) have really ramped up the number of articles about them. Now there are three new books about colony collapse that just came out. What is making me write here is this Salon article about bees. It is well meaning, to be sure, but the solutions it proposes are underwhelming, to say the least, and largely consumerist. They recommend buying things from Burt's Bees and Haagen Dazs because they support bee research. Oh boy.

My humble recommendation is to start a hive yourself. Now is the time to read up on the basics and assemble the necessary equipment. A little bit of work and a small investment and you will be good to go in the spring. The best way for the bees to flourish and/or recover is to have many diversified hives and wide distribution of beekeepers. Rather than think of the solution as something that can be p…
If you want a good example of the sort of sheer government incompetence that is sure to mismanage this "bailout", try applying for a government grant. I did. I just spent the past three and a half hours solid trying to upload the application to the government grants website; grants.gov. I tried for a couple of hours in the afternoon and couldn't get it to work so at the advice of the grants.gov help desk I tried again this evening. Tried repeatedly, in fact, for those precious many hours. Since this involves inexhaustibly typing in passwords and then having to respond to little boxes it is not hard to lose your mind. The grant was due tonight by 11:59, which is why I was attempting with such vigor. Alas, I never could get it submitted and now I won't even have the pleasure of being rejected for it...

(could I have done it earlier? Do I only have myself to blame? Yes to the first question, but for the second I would have to say that it is the government's …