Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Truce

Michael Winship writes about The Christmas Day That Peace Broke Out when a bunch of World War I soldiers actually practiced the true meaning of their faiths, and stopped fighting, of their own accord and agreement, apart from the governments involved, in an event that has since become known as "The Christmas Truce of 1914."

The cover of the Daily Mirror showing the news of the truce between British and German soldiers during Christmas, 1914.

Windship himself had gone to see an off-Broadway play on the same subject, Alex Gwyther's Our Friends, The Enemy, whereupon this small group of soldiers from each side took up the December 7th same-year-advice of Pope Benedict XV.

Windship writes:
That Christmas of 1914, the peace lasted in some places longer than others; and in still others it never happened at all. Afterwards, word came from on high that such behavior - insubordination! - would never again be permitted. One German infantryman in the trenches also thought it was a disgrace. "Such a thing should not happen in wartime," he declared. His name was Adolf Hitler.
In a similar spirit of peace and resistance to wars not of our own making (i.e. if we do not participate, to begin with), Tom Morello's Firebrand Records, in conjunction with Veterans For Peace U.K. have just released the following anti-war Christmas song about that World War I Christmas Truce.  The song is performed by London-based Food Not Bombs singer Fenya, lyrics by Ryan Harvey, and features "former soldiers of conflicts stretching from the Second World War to the present interventions and occupations in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan."

From Vimeo:
"The Christmas Truce lives in the hearts of millions of people,” says Veterans For Peace UK coordinator Ben Griffin, who served in Northern Ireland, the former-Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan with the Parachute Regiment and the Special Air Service. “However we need to move on from the idea of a truce being something that is only carried out at Christmas. Throughout history soldiers have formed truces with their supposed enemies; in fact soldiers often find that they have a lot more in common with the enemy than with their own governments."
“I wrote this song to tell a simple story that reflects a much larger reality,” Harvey says. “Soldiers have spoken out, protested, and revolted in almost every war in history. We encourage and need this resistance, because historically, it is one of the single strongest factors in bringing wars to an end. At a time when a civil and proxy-war is ripping Syria apart and the world seems to be lingering on the brink of yet another global catastrophic conflict, this ever-relevant song references history to describe the present. 
”“We hope to convince people that war is not the solution to the problems of the 21st century,” Griffin concludes.
Merry Christmas. May the true spirit of brotherhood govern humanity - rather than political and economic purveyors of war and senseless slaughter.  May we, in reality - not just hope - live together in peace and justice, each and every day, in accordance with the message of the 1914 Truce.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tree Of Life

Lila Downs singing Arbol de la Vida (Day of the Dead).  Poetry for Day of the Dead here.

Real Change

The Bernie Sanders campaign will be releasing its first T.V. advertisement in Iowa and New Hampshire.  Feel the Bern in Real Change, posted below, paid for only by the hard-earned contributions of everyday Americans, not the corporations:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hey Bernie Sanders

There's a lotta great Bernie Sanders tunes.  (Hey, the man inspires for a lotta good reasons, right?)

Here's one of my favs among those many.  Hey Bernie Sanders, by Brian Estes and performed by Brian Estes (who also does a great job with it here) and Happytown ... Feel The Bern!

Hot Sausage and Mustard!

Per twitter stream, these school lunches in other countries make me weep for mine.  The cookie in the U.S. example about the same size as the piece of roast beef in the French lunch.  

"Compare cookie to roast beef"

Those perfectly normal, everyday food items on school lunch plates in .. Brazil, Italy, Finland, South Korea, France, Ukraine, Spain .. even impoverished Greece?  --->>

"This is what (even) a poor country 
provides its children for a school lunch"

Here in the well-to-do U.S.A. (certainly much wealthier than Greece), those normal food items (i.e. from the nutrition community's well-known requisite food groups) are called "luxury" food items. (That means you're not supposed to expect to eat it - even if that is all that food is!)

No, you're supposed to expect to eat make-believe food.  The "let's pretend it's from one of the food groups" the way Reagan said catsup was a vegetable.  The other stuff?  That's for the crowd at the Waldorf.

And .. they wonder why childhood diabetes is at epidemic levels in the United States? 

Let's fund more studies to figure this out .. maybe in another couple of hundred years, we'll know why.  And maybe after another couple of hundred more, we'll do something about it.

So quit yer complainin' and finish those deep-fried cardboard chicken balls with red high fructose corn syrup!

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"What a lunch, my little pretties! What a school lunch!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Occupy Madrid

Yet another massive anti-austerity, and also Podemos, rally in Madrid. Like London, on January 31st, and similarly inspired by developments in Greece.

Occupy London

Huge January 31st pro-housing and anti-austerity protest in London.  "If they can do it in Greece, we can do it here!" says one speaker.  Tweets and video below:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bella Ciao !

Yes!  Syriza sweeps into power in the Greek elections, a landslide win for Alexis Tsipras, heralding an end to austerity, a new era of "hope and the will to fight in the very birthplace of democracy."


Syriza obtained 149 of 300 seats in Parliament, only two seats short of a complete majority.

Greek voters jubilantly celebrated into the Athens night, the old anti-fascist song of partisan resistance, Bella Ciao, among other favorites, sung, danced to, and played about in halls, bars, and cafes - the mood described as "electric." 

Two tweets from just prior to this incredible win, the first time in modern Greek history a left government has taken power:

Victory tweets and some Bella Ciao song samples below (more posted on twitter @OldSaukRiver).   

Bella Ciao has been sung in many languages (an example of that, also below), originally an old folk tune, now triumphantly declared (see another tweet below) as the new international anthem of democracy and resistance, and against the economic ravages of a 1% precariously tipping the scales of global economic injustice to staggering heights of disparity never before seen in human history.  (At present, the world's 80 richest people possess the same wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion, Greeks suffering most keenly under the European union austerity package.)

An English translation of the lyrics, below, from Antoinette Fawcett, performed in 2007 by 21 Love Hotel.  Here you can find the text in 30 languages, with commentary.   (English speakers see some translations reading "the invaders," which refers to the fascists during World War II.)

I woke this morning and all seemed peaceful
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
I woke this morning and all seemed peaceful
But oppression still exists.

Oh freedom fighter, I want to fight too
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
Oh freedom fighter, I want to fight too
Against their living death.

And if I die, a freedom fighter,
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
And if I die, a freedom fighter,
Then you’ll have to bury me.

Let my body rest in the mountains
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
Let my body rest in the mountains
In the shadow of my flower.

And all the people who will pass by there
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
And all the people who will pass by there
Will show that lovely flower.

This is the blossom of those that died here
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
This is the blossom of those that died here
For land and liberty.

And, in another English language version with Chumbawamba:
The world is waking outside my window
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
Drags my senses into the sunlight
For there are things that I must do

Wish me luck now, I have to leave you
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
With my friends now up to the city
We're going to shake the Gates of Hell

And I will tell them - we will tell them
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
That our sunlight is not for franchise
And wish the bastards drop down dead

Next time you see me I may be smiling
Bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
I'll be in prison or on the TV
I'll say, "the sunlight dragged me here!"

Monday, January 19, 2015

Let Freedom Ring

Tom Morello shared Let Freedom Ring for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.



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A couple of specials on Martin Luther King Jr. Day .. a newly discovered recording of a prophetic 1964 speech Dr. King made in London on civil rights and economic justice, apartheid in South Africa, U.S. colonialism and war, and, the power of agape, or love for one's fellow humans.  

And .. since we've been on the subject of cartoons, an MLK cartoon from Thich Nhat Hanh from MLK's first speech publicly questioning the war in Vietnam (which caused a lot of waves back then ... and is good to remember, now ... and we know why).

(As Dr. King said, "The time is always right to do what is right.")

Democracy Now! has posted the full recording of Dr. King's renowned Vietnam speech via the first link to the newly discovered recording.

Sadly, we have not learned enough, yet, have we!  

A compelling visual below, putting the 2009 American soldier suicide/death toll in perspective.

While the status quo honored Dr. King with (what have become) the usual ceremonies and service opportunities, Ferguson and #ICantBreathe activists sought to reclaim the holiday with Dr. King's original message of non-violent activism and protest.  In Saint Louis, demonstrators reportedly "crashed" a planned event, blocking traffic and decrying what they called "a watered down version" of King's views, which were unapologetically militant, protesting and being arrested for real social change. 

At Seneca Lake, New York, 200 climate activists were arrested for the occasion.

More #ReclaimMLK:
The work of this campaign is important, since MLK did not die because he wanted someone to paint a wall. While volunteering in and of itself is great and people should be encouraged to give back, it is not what got him killed. He was shot by an assassin for fighting against the racist, classist status quo, murdered while in Memphis, Tenn., to support striking black garbage workers. To make his birthday a day about giving back is to defang the legacy of a man who was both revered and reviled in his time for his tireless work confronting America’s sins.
And from Sojourners:
King was outspoken against capitalism’s oppressive clutch on both the national and global levels. King made it clear that racism and economics were intimately intertwined. I’m reminded of his classic quote, “What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?”
Random tweets from inspiring protests around the country:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Confessions Of Robert Crumb (1987)

[Guest contributor crossposting from the Ptarmigan]

Simply heartbroken by the #jesuischarlie cartoonist news.  Me too ... in honor of satiric artists everywhere, free thought & speech, and the eternal (French, s'il vous plaît ) spirit of résistance ... posting The Confessions of Robert Crumb (1987) ...

More at Paris Review with American cartoonist Robert Crumb, last seen about the south of France (shhhh!)  ..

Below, another Cheap Suit Serenaders chanson, Crying My Blues Away:

Oh, here is the cover, if you're still searching ... (pricey though) along with more no one is showing you ...

For sale in Chicago, though.

*crossposted at Old Sauk River, amongst the many fondly regarded contributors, with that Hunter-Gatherer news site.  As for the curiosity shop, it is still out for the time being.  We are still working on that coming back, reincarnated better than ever before, soon (we hope)  ...


1.21.2015 crossposted Editor's Note.  The satiric comment about a pricey Ebay Charlie Hebdo copy was made with the writer's off-the-cuff perception (and possible misunderstanding) that an unknown individual was selling theirs (in the Charlie Hebdo magazine-deprived U.S.A.) for something like 30,000 dollars .. and the way others, say, have Ebay or amazon-posted their favorite 10.00 dollar novel or CD for similar profits with a "Hey, ya never know," "might as well." 

It has since come to our attention that the magazine is donating proceeds to the families of the victims and that may be a genuine fundraising attempt.  We, of course, fully support such fundraising on behalf of the families of the  victims;  however, we do not research these channels one way or the other.  Therefore, if you wish to donate funds for the Charlie Hebdo families of the victims, we recommend contacting the newspaper directly for further information as to where and how you can do that over the internet.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Allen Ginsberg reads Howl in Chicago on January 29, 1959.  Listen only, like the old days of radio;  and be prepared for the visual images drawn only with the pen of your own mind.  Posted in remembrance of the executed Paris artists.  Posted in recognition of all condemned, arrested, trialed, jailed, banned or executed, artists.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

N'existe Pas

More #JeSuisCharlie.  Salmon Rushdie delivered pointed remarks in Vermont on the importance of an absolute right to freedom of speech.  He criticized voices on both sides of the American political spectrum who judged the appropriateness of the magazine's material, and without familiarity or context.  Rushdie pointed to a merciless French satirical tradition, and the need for artists to be free to explore expressive limits. 

From the Guardian:
[Rushdie] said the role of art was to go to the edge, open the universe and expand minds. But doing that was not easy and artists could not occupy a middle ground.
"And so artists who go to that edge and push outwards often find very powerful forces pushing back. They find the forces of silence opposing the forces of speech. The forces of censorship against the forces of utterance,” he said.
"At that boundary is that push-and-pull between more and less. And that push and pull can be very dangerous to the artist. And many artists have suffered terribly for that.”
Weirdly, one of the killers was a rap artist, so (we would gather) he regularly engaged with, and felt passionate about, an art form that has historically pushed the limitations of free speech, and put a high premium on its absolute right to offend. 

In the meantime, thousands lined up in Paris to purchase the latest Charlie Hebdo, print runs rising to 5 million as the magazine quickly sold out, more than ever now interested in the magazine's comics, and following the largest march in French history on Sunday, January 11th, and against the violence.  At the demonstration, protesters also displayed the eyes of the popular editor and one of the cartoonists killed in the attack, the way American demonstrators carried banners showing Mike Brown's eyes bearing down upon the U.S. ... with the gaze of truth and confrontation as to the injustice of his death.

"You can kill a man, but not an idea," said many, once again, showing, rather, the multiplicative effect.

World leaders, shown in the above tweet, marched arm in arm at the massive rally, leading some to wryly comment on the implied hypocrisy of politicians who orchestrate one form of terrorism in other nations, then leading a demonstration against another form of what basically amounts to the same barbarism.

Readers of the ultra orthodox Jewish newspaper HaMevaser (published in Israel) read an edition with all female world leaders photoshopped out of the image (and by a woman editor).  (There weren't that many, however, so, it still looked like a lot of world leaders were there): 

Missing in action:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Anne Hidalgo, the first female mayor of Paris, European Union foreign affairs and security chief Federica Mogherini.  The original photo, is from Benjamin Netanjahu's twitter stream. 

Really, I found this offensive, that is, western allies, our country, have no explanation as to how they fail to produce more front line women leaders in the 21st century.  Though the newspaper provides one, it was not their intention to offend, je comprends, women are holy, they cannot be depicted, at all, just like Mohammad, so let's just keep it outta sight.  And, in the case of the newspaper, it is not something like a death threat, posted, in one case, recently on twitter, by once again photoshopping imagery onto or off of bodies, including the faces of public officials.  

As per that (original) photo above, Barack Obama and John Kerry really weren't at the march, a point of criticism for (Republicans, especially), though some say John may have been breaking at one of the cafes, sipping a bit o white wine and singing. (La Marseillaise.)  The U.S. French Ambassador, Jane Hartley, attended.

Major U.S. newspapers discussed the new Charlie Hebdo edition without showing its front page cover, describing (for our image-deprived, innocent American public) a cartoon drawing that depicted Mohammad in white robes holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign while weeping, under a large headliner/caption that says, English translation, "All Is Forgiven."  (The cartoonist said that the robes hid human genitalia, as do Michelangelo's renderings of God on the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel.)  I myself read about this in a cafe in a copy of the NY Times print edition left by the last reader, a number of interesting pieces that day .. though I couldn't .. see for myself what any of the writers were talking about .. (the online edition has a link to bold imagery at the French Libération, a paper that counts Jean-Paul Sartre among its founders).  

The Jerusalem Post showed a copy of the latest issue on a newsstand in Israel where people were similarly lining up to get one, many for the first time (and which is where I first caught up with what the cover looked like).

Charlie Hebdo

Tell people they can't and they will! 

A bit of the U.S.:

Meanwhile, as below, a grocery check-out for American shoppers and their kids.  (The owner, upon complaint, reportedly moved it over a couple of feet.)


This is when I browse the Trident:


Though Trident wrapper is pretty thin reading alternative. 

Oh look, breaking:

N'existe pas.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More Elvis Sightings ..

The One True "King" (a.k.a, "The King") was born on January 8th, 1935, his birth honored last week via cross-species ceremonies, for example, like look-alike contests ...


Arrived by way of humble Mississippi origins in a two-room shotgun house (his Papa built just for the said-prophesied occasion), Elvis revealed himself as the Last Real Known Messenger, and to the Americans, first, of course, when (as part of the original prophesy) he provided rapt 1956 audiences 3 initial messages (or commandments, and from Ed Sullivan's Mount) .. "Love Me Tender," as the first communicado, "Don't Be Cruel," as the second, and finally, "You Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog" (rumored in reference to an adored predecessor he was unapologetically knocking off the throne).  That, we are told, is what Elvis was spotted, doing and saying in the Sistene Chapel, today, when reported tourists spotting the King also studying the ceiling, then threw themselves down in fits of ecstasy, screaming, as he began to sing ...

It Is Said That Elvis further revealed his Great Compassion for humanity when he sang about himself as a person experiencing great suffering in a house of ill repute, and then, in another, prophesied the freeing of all prisoners from jail cells with a big dance party.  Many commoners throughout the western empire identified and found solace in His Message.

 As the Elvis Gospel goes, however, all earth species, including dogs, really knew he was top-dog when he told Some Babes they could do anything .. slander his name, commit sacrilege, dominate him, violate all the prior rules he had stated .. just don't mess with, or blaspheme, His Blue Suede Shoes.  Thus, the ultimate commandment was issued, greater than the previous messages, including the ones initially revealed from Ed's Mount.  People knew he really meant it, too, because you could see when he sang and swung his hips, rolled his eyes, beneath the eyeliner and mascara, the subtle turn of those lush Scots-Irish, French-Norman, Cherokee-Mississippi boy lips, the slight toss of his soft chin up at that one small deft angle, the chin that became more squarely chiseled with time, that a Real King doesn't take his own rules too seriously, even the most sacred shoes can be defiled.

So, Hallelujah, True Greatness was born, and hedged religiously into human record, this time, however, with incontestable film so viewers until Judgment Day could truly see the late 1950s for themselves, see that, this indeed was (and still is) The Truth, without anyone having to say it again and again, while being paid, every single week.  And, when the King starting donning a black leather jacket, he sailed especially well with the French who'd already liked him quite a bit, and said something like, "Qui pourrait résister à de telles provocations?"

"There's no one else after me, baby," said Elvis during a rumored late night dinner conversation back in 1962 in Tennessee.

And then again, "Are you kidding? I didn't do anything but just jiggle."


Thursday, January 8, 2015


Thousands rapidly gathered in a massive Paris demonstration against recent jihadist killings of 4 Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, including the editor, plus two police officers and at least six others.  Protest photos below.  Coverage and analysis here at Democracy Now!  

Paris protesters displayed signs saying, "Je Suis Charlie," which means, "I am Charlie," many holding up pens to symbolize the point that the journalists died for freedom of speech and expression.  The crowd also displayed signs stating, "We Are Not Afraid."

Charlie Hebdo is a French weekly satirical newspaper that frequently features political cartoons as shown in the protest tweet below. 

Some twitter statements defiantly included more cartooning:

Protests were held outside France;  for example, in the U.S., New York City:

And below, from the Newseum (First Amendment journalism museum) in Washington D.C.,  where a vigil was held for the slain journalists:

More photos from the protests here

The newspaper itself has posted a website announcement,  "Je Suis Charlie - parce que le crayon sera toujours au dessus de la barberie .. parce que la liberté est un droit universel .. parce que vous nous soutenez... nous, Charlie, Sortirons votre journal mercredi prochain!" Roughly translated, that means, "I am Charlie - because the pen is always greater than barbarism ... because liberty is a universal right .. because you support us .. we, at Charlie, will be bringing you, your next Wednesday newspaper!"