Rolling Stones To Perform in Cuba

The Rolling Stones, always full of surprises, announced today that they will do a free open air concert in Havana, Cuba on Friday March 25, 2016. Wish I could be there, but I guess “you can’t always get what you want.”

It will be the first concert in the country by a British rock band. Under the theme of “Concert for Amity,” the path-breaking concert in Havana will come only a few days after President Obama’s visit there. The Stones are now on a tour of other Latin American cities.

The concert will be filmed and produced by award-winning production company JA Digital with Paul Dugdale directing and Simon Fisher and Sam Bridger as producers.

Let’s give it up to the Stones! But let’s also give it up to the Cuban government for refusing to be a prisoner of outmoded ideas and practices.


Aretha, Jim, and Respect

Remember hearing this song on an Xmas shopping trip to New York in 1967. I was living in a small town in Connecticut at the time. But with a very meager paycheck in hand, my co-worker and I took a train to the “City” to buy some holiday gifts. We shopped during the day and drank much too much beer at night.

As we visited several watering holes, we must have heard Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” a dozen times on the juke box. Little did I know that a decade later I would be living in Aretha’s home town – a town where music, civil rights, labor rights, and democratic struggles generally intersect in such powerful ways.

For that good fortune, I have to thank the late James Jackson. one of the outstanding leaders of the Communist Party in the 20th century. Jim, as we called him, advised me that if the opportunity ever came up to join the Party’s staff to make sure it’s somewhere in the Midwest. “There is a lot more room to make mistakes,” he said. New York, on the other hand, “is a fish bowl. Everybody will be telling you what you should do.”

With that advice (and the counsel of a few others), I turned down a proposal to join the New York staff a short time later and, not long after that, jumped at the chance to become the Party leader in Michigan. And decades later I’m so glad I did. Nothing that I did before or since compares with 11 years in Detroit.

Anyway, in the waning days of African American History Month, let me tip my hat to Jim for his storied life as well as to Aretha, one of the great cultural treasures of Detroit and the country.


Looking back, glancing ahead

Biggest footprint on world stage: Pope Francis, for his speeches on economic justice, poverty, and climate change; modesty and modest lifestyle; appeals for peace and non-violence; lifting up the people and crisis of the Global South; role in facilitating diplomatic breakthrough between the U.S. and Cuba and, last but not least, willingness to challenge the profit making and growth logic of capitalist development.

Biggest splash on sports scene: Who else but Steph Curry, the basketball point guard extraordinaire of the Golden State Warriors. He’s a magician on the court and, with his team mates, is reconfiguring the game.

Happy New Year

Merry Christmas

Joni makes mention of Xmas here, but this song is a bit melancholy, not exactly in the holiday spirit. But damn, it’s beautiful. Happy Holidays!