November 8, 2014
Goethe said: One should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words.
Music is all around us, rowers still chant and call their strokes, campers sing around the fire, auctioneers and street vendors, sing to sell their wares, mothers sing to their children, father’s too. Protestors sing on the picket lines. Music comforts the sick and weary and inspires writers, and thinkers and all of us to grander effort, or to lighten our mood. Music wafts through stores and elevators, and one is never far from television and radio. And, music for the most part is poetry.
I’ve been rummaging around in folk anthologies about working people’s songs.
Most of us can remember Sixteen Tons, Eight Hours, The Old Chisholm Trail.
I got caught up in the music and forgot they were real men working real jobs and suffering exploitation by the “company.” I knew Sixteen Tons was about back-breaking work at a low pay-day after day where the coal miner was unable to get out of the trap of indebtedness. Employers knew how to set up that invisible net to keep them in that trap.
And, of course, I’m familiar with the happy sounds of Ty Yi Yippy, Yippy, Yea… of the Old Chisholm Trail . Somehow I didn’t hear the other verses of the song that make the exploitation clear. The boss can fire you on a whim and dock your pay if he sees fit and they always did.
A-ropeing and a-tying and a-branding all day,
I’m working mighty hard for mighty little pay,
I went to the boss to draw my roll,
He had me figured out ten dollars in the hole.
The boss says to me, “I’ll fire you,
Not only you but the whole damn crew.”
We organized a union and it’s going mighty strong,
The boss minds his business and we all get along.”
The song, Eight Hours was a rallying song from the late nineteenth century when people worked from sun-up to sun-set, the whole year, no vacations, time off, no cushion against illness. Unions made things better, but young people today, don’t recognize what they owe to unions and in some ways, our current middle class is working very hard for low wages, often both parents and not getting ahead. I see some similarities.
The song says:
We mean to make things over, we are tired of toil for naught,
With but bare enough to live upon and never and hour for thought.
We want to feel the sunshine and we want to sell the flowers,
We are sure that God has will’d it, and we mean to have eight hours.
We’re summoning our forces from the shipyard , shop and mill,
Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest and eight hours for what we will.
Carpenters won an 8-hour day in 1890, but it took decades before the majority of workers won a shorter work day.
For me it was a repeat education and a reminder of what we owe unions and a treatise on the power of the people when they are maligned.
September 5, 2014
In yesterday’s blog, I kind of jumped around because I walked the waterfront then doubled back with cousin Bob. He is fun to be with, very talkative, and he likes to learn everything about a subject before he goes on to another.
For instance, I spotted a yarn tree in its early stages; intrigued because I’d run into the original yarn tree in Turkey, so we stopped.
By the time we left the yarn shop, I could have taught a class in natural dyes. I tried dying wool for rugs in the early 1970’s and found out what I did wrong. Naturally dyed yarns are really big now according to this proprietor.
At a yacht riggers, I expected to see them with a yacht in the warehouse and rigging the sails. Nope! You take classes here and learn to rig your sales yourself. Christian Toss and her husband Brian have books and videos and classes. They were beastly busy with the upcoming boat show. And since we’d already had lunch and we wanted to see a museum and a bit of an art fix for me, Bob left for his house and we continued around town.
On the waterfront is a huge patio of concrete with many panels. We guess the panels were set in as a fundraiser. No information about them.
I’m going to let the museum tell a story, too. This picture of a poor original picture I include because it shows what I was seeing in the huge red cedar stumps at cousin Davids get-away camp a couple of blogs back. Wood boards inserted into the tree allowed them to cut the tree with a cross-cut saw.
There was child labor, prostitution and men shanghaied in this community. All under the knowing eye of the powers that be.
You can double click on any of these pictures to get an enlarged view. Then back arrow to the blog again.
Prostitution was a dead-end street. Few walked away with a grand new life or pocketfuls of money except a madam and she didn’t have a free ride either.
The “good old days” were full of horror and hardship for many. But, we got from there to here and no one can change history. It helps to know where we come from and to learn from the past.
But, back to the waterfront. I got a kick out of this little boy and his dog being helpful to dad in the boat.
I laughed at this shirt.
A bit of an art fix at the Williams Gallery.
This painting was in the museum. So typical here, the windblown trees. Winds can be fierce her.
My cousin told us John Steinbeck’s boat was at the other Marina. We couldn’t find out much about it, except that a guy from Salinas was willing to pay 700 thousand dollars to fix it up so he could put it in his men’s clothing store in Salinas. Why it is here? Don’t know. Men on the dock said it was underwater for 90 days. Online, it claims 30 days. Who knows.
We drove to Cousin Bob’s house. He has let loose his farmer instincts and has a huge garden. He claims the vegetables just jump out of the ground.
He is building higher boxes for his garden out of beautiful red cedar.
I picked the last of his french beans, he picked me some tomatoes and a kohlrabi. One apple on the ground was ripe, out of three types. A nice little taste of home.
December 28, 2011
The U.S. Constitution has been a model for other countries since its inception more than two centuries ago. Our Bill of Rights is considered one of humanity’s finest achievements. People from many nations have sought refuge here to enjoy those freedoms. Yet, our current government has suspended important protections in the name of terrorism. A dangerous precedent via the Rave Act, the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act. With those and U.S. drug policies we are the most controlled and monitored society on earth. There are cameras watching our every move on practically every street corner, every store, every mall. From the satellite above, every vehicle can be tracked by GPS devices; there is one in every cell phone. Big Brother Is Definitely Watching. And, we’ve allowed it to happen.
Legislators are toying with interfering with our Judicial branch of government, by making laws against the court’s unpopular decisions. Whether we like them or not we must not give up our checks and balances because they are currently unpopular. Let them stand the test of time.
We must give thought to what is happening in our country and become involved. It has swung out of control, prosperity evades us, and anarchy approaches, carried in a flag with a cross. Thomas Jefferson was famous for the Virginia Statute as much as for writing the Declaration of Independence. He organized a Virginia colony that separated Church and State, the very choking environment the colonists left behind in England, the new colonies wanted to reinstate in “their” particular view of God. Thanks to the Virginia Statute we didn’t have to fight that same nightmare all over again. And now, religionists are pushing strongly for laws that inject their morality into our laws on same-sex marriage, abortion, doctors rights to counsel, planned parenthood, and other bills slipped by us by both Democrats and Republicans.
With idyllic frenzy we’ve made laws that affect our country negatively. Two million Americans are incarcerated in the U.S., most of them for non-violent drug crimes. Billions of dollars have been spent building prisons to house all of the Americans convicted of drug crimes. For carrying a half ounce of marijuana, a man who works and supports his children can go to prison for life in California and Texas. Now Oklahoma is considering a similar law.
We are living in a police state not only from the surveillance, and the drug wars, but an increase in Police over-reaction. Nevada police have skipped free after killing an American Woman who came to the aid of her husband whom they had just killed when they asked him for identification and he reached into his jacket for his wallet. Such things should not happen in America. Protestors tasered, more police attacks on unarmed citizens. America imprisons more citizens than any other nation. The government cannot afford to pay lifetime care for people who could and should be working and paying taxes. It is insanely expensive and yet, they are willing to pay an informant, even a convicted felon, up to $250,000 to testify against someone charged with a drug crime. Of course, what convicted felon would lie to receive that kind of cash?
America’s prohibitionist policies have eliminated freedom all over the globe and the high money paid for drugs crossing our borders has helped fuel the terrorists instead of our tax purse. It is draconian.
Now, I read where the Occupy Wall Street protests are bothering the government enough to instigate a huge anti-public relations move and that the FBI will penetrate large OWS groups to sabotage their effectiveness, make petty arrests and harass them.
Beware! We don’t lose our freedoms, we give them away.
January 11, 2010
We watched the workers dip iron molds into a vat of wax and stamp the cloth. Many beautiful patterns find their way onto table cloths, jackets, shirts, scarves, handbags and just about anything you can make with cloth. I might mention that these many stops in our travels are arranged to educate us and to provide a “Happy Room” stop since we don’t always have convenient roadside rests.
We wandered the village and watched them at work and leisure. Some men were making sticky rice in an outdoor tub, a very muscular task. In front of another thatched hut, men were butchering what looked like a wild pig. Children run around with the chickens, dogs and cats and play happily as all children do. They are probably unaware that they are poor since their village is quite remote. Fruits and foodstuffs dry on the rooves, they have little gardens between huts and clothing hangs on the lines. Old men watch the village activities from their hammock or chair.
A simple life style, but it wasn’t always so. We are close to the Golden Triangle. Many of the hill tribes were induced by drug lords to grow opium. Not that they benefited much from the trade. The government established programs for them to benefit from legal crops and tourism, a safer alternative. The women danced for us with their children on their backs. Some of the mothers appeared to be 15 years old, children themselves.
The history of these various peoples was explained to us in detail. The Lishu, we will meet later at the Elephant Camp.
Our hotel today is a couple kilometers from an Opium Museum as we are at a beautiful hotel in the Golden Triangle.