Wednesday, March 12, 2014

29 B'ford on Avon

Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? 
 Isaiah 63:2-3 

At university I took an urban geography option- with a matching brace of architecture and landscape art history. That was in 1983. In winter, in 1984, it dawned on me that to get educated and yet to remain uninformed of what was happening in the cold war world was a waste.

I discovered that those who were informed, and not by implication those that were classically tutored, had the best grip on the world. The informed were the more interesting to listen to; far more so than the educated empty-headers who held certificates, letters and positions alone.

It was between 1984 and 1986 that I stopped parroting the conservative Daily Mail views of my father. I flipped over. I began to consider and ponder over the left wing perspectives that had been seen and understood by a couple of my uncles and aunts.

video
 
 
"Men walking along the railroad tracks
Going someplace there's no going back
Highway patrol choppers coming up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretching around the corner
Welcome to the New World Order
Families sleeping in their cars in the Southwest
No home no job no peace no rest
The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kidding nobody about where it goes
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
Searching for the ghost of Tom Joad

He pulls a prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
Waitin' for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box underneath the underpass
Got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathing in the city aqueduct

The highway is alive tonight
Where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
Waiting on the ghost of Tom Joad

Now Tom said "Mom, wherever there's a cop beating a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me mom I'll be there
Wherever there's somebody fighting for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helping hand
Wherever somebody's struggling to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me."

Well the highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kidding nobody about where it goes
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad."

Bruce Springsteen
 
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“The Western States nervous under the beginnings of change. Texas and Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas, New Mexico, Arizona, California. A single family moved from the land. Pa borrowed money from the bank, and now the bank wants the land. The land company - that's the bank when it has land - wants tractors, not families on the land. Is a tractor bad? Is the power that turns the long furrows wrong? If this tractor were ours it would be good - not mine, but ours. If our tractor turned the long furrows of our land, it would be good. Not my land, but ours. We could love that tractor then as we have loved this land when it was ours. But the tractor does two things - it turns the land and turns us off the land. There is little difference between this tractor and a tank. The people are driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must think about this.

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I am alone and bewildered. And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here "I lost my land" is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate -"We lost our land." The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first "we" there grows a still more dangerous thing: "I have a little food" plus "I have none." If from this problem the sum is "We have a little food," the thing is on its way, the movement has direction.

Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side - meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It's wool. It was my mother's blanket - take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning - from "I" to "we." If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we." Need is the stimulus to concept, concept to action. A half a million people moving over the country; a million more restive, ready to move; ten million more feeling the first nervousness. And tractors turning the multiple furrows in the vacant land.”  

“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history:
repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”  

“There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue.
There's just stuff people do.”  

“Our people are good people; our people are kind people.
Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor.”  

“How can we live without our lives? How will we know it's us without our past?”  

John Steinbeck

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"The twelve of the Joads made a mighty heavy load;
But Grandpa Joad did cry.
He picked up a handful of land in his hand,
Said: "I'm staying with the farm till I die.
Yes, I'm staying with the farm till I die."
They fed him short ribs and coffee and soothing syrup;
And Grandpa Joad did die.
They buried Grandpa Joad by the side of the road,
Grandma on the California side,
They buried Grandma on the California side.
They stood on a mountain and they looked to the west,
And it looked like the promised land.
That bright green valley with a river running through,
There was work for every single hand, they thought,
There was work for every single hand.
The Joads rolled away to the jungle camp,
There they cooked a stew.
And the hungry little kids of the jungle camp
Said: "We'd like to have some, too."
Said: "We'd like to have some, too."
 
Woody Guthrie



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