Once Upon a Time, The Music Really Mattered

I last night watched a show on the Smithsonian Channel about John Cohen, one of the New Lost City Ramblers.  It featured Pete Seeger and photographs of a young Bob Dylan.

When I was young and very alone the music of Pete Seeger and Joan Baez filled my life.

I joke and say Pete Seeger made me a commie although my left wing roots are more in the labor movement and the anarchists of the IWW.

But the rebel music be it rock and roll or folk was always there and I was always an outsider more attuned to fighting for the oppressed than living the glamorous life.

I was drawn to Greenwich Village because of the music of Washington Square and MacDougal Street.  Gerde’s and the Gaslight. Ban the bomb buttons, long hair, poetry and art.

When my parents busted me at 13 they told me I should go live with the queers in Greenwich Village.  Years later I would discover Ann Bannon’s Beebo Brinker books and know where my mother got that idea.

The music was intertwined with the politics.  Woody Guthrie’s guitar had “This Machine Kills Fascists” written on it.  They called Pete Seeger a red and blacklisted him.

I was a teenage commie queer according to some folks so the Village seemed the place to go.

Rambling around New York town,

The buildings go up and the subway down.

Fresh off the bus the first stop on the train for me was Sheridan Square, at the corner of Christopher Street.  Right near Bleeker Street.

I found Izzy Young’s Folklore Center and Fretted Instrument too.

I saw Dave van Ronk play the Gaslight.  The Fugs, Laura Nyro and the Mothers of Invention too across MacDougal Street at the Cafe Wha.

When I went to the coast it was because San Francisco was easier on kids like me or so I had heard from another transkid finding herself in the Village.

By now the Vietnam War was raging and I was part of a tide moving from protest to resistance.  I danced at the Avalon, the Filmore, the Straight Theater.  The music was the Dead and the Airplane.  Phil Ochs and Country Joe provided the politics.  The MC 5 gave us music to riot to.

Tonight I watched Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on a recent tour.  From “Four Dead in Ohio” to “Let’s Impeach the President”.

Women’s music from Joan Baez and Laura Nyro to the 1970s Meg Christian and Cris Williamson and Alix Dobkin fueled my feminism and gave music to my lesbianism.

When I came back to my roots after getting seduced by the right it was Rage Against the Machine, Green Day and John Fogerty and yeah Neil Young too along with the Dixie Chicks who returned me to my senses.

Maybe the music always mattered and maybe like Grace Slick used to sing it was the way to “Feed your head!”

Spanish government approves controversial abortion reforms

[Controversial if you are a Christo-Fascist misogynist who believes the sole purpose of women is to have babies.  Not if you believe in women’s equality.]

AFP, France

Excerpt: He [Prime Minister Zapatero] has pushed through legislation legalising gay marriage, allowing for fast-track divorces and giving increased rights to transsexuals, among other changes.


Spanish government approves controversial abortion reforms


MADRID — Spain’s Socialist government Saturday approved controversial reforms to the country’s abortion law which would allow women as young as 16 to undergo the procedure without parental consent.

The proposal was passed at a cabinet meeting despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, the conservative opposition Popular Party and even many supporters of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist Party.

The measure now will to go to parliament for approval, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told a news conference.

Under the proposed reforms, abortions would be allowed for women of 16 and over on demand up to the 14th week of pregnancy, and up to 22 weeks if there is a risk to the mother’s health or if the foetus is deformed.

Women can also undergo the procedure after 22 weeks if the foetus has a serious or incurable illness.

“We want to offer minors as much protection as possible and the most respect for their basic rights,” said de la Vega.

The existing law introduced in 1985, a decade after the death of right-wing dictator Francisco Franco, only allows abortion in cases of rape, fetal malformation and when a pregnant woman’s mental or physical health is deemed to be at risk if the pregnancy goes to term.

The Popular Party has said it will challenge the reforms in the Constitutional Court, and the Spanish Family Forum, a coalition of Catholic groups, said it would stage a demonstration against abortion on October 17 in Madrid.

Popular Party spokeswoman Soraya Saenz de Santamaria condemned the reforms which she said “go against to the feelings of the vast majority of women and of parents.”

An opinion poll carried out last June said 64 percent of people oppose the measure allowing 16-year-olds to have abortions without parental consent.

Among Socialist supporters, 56 percent said they opposed the move, according to the Metroscopia poll of 1,000 people carried out for the left-wing newspaper El Pais.

Zapatero has defended the changes, saying the state should not “intervene in the free and private decision of a woman, who is the one who has to take on the responsibility of a pregnancy during her entire life.”

The prime minister has passed a series of sweeping social reforms since coming to power in 2004 that have angered the Roman Catholic Church.

He has pushed through legislation legalising gay marriage, allowing for fast-track divorces and giving increased rights to transsexuals, among other changes.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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