Archive - Dec 2011

December 31st

Fiona's First Press Pass

For nearly four years, Fiona has been doing an Internet based radio show on Blogtalkradio. Earlier this month, she interviewed Jen Alexander about Middnight on Main, a big New Year's Eve celebration in Middletown, CT.

I've been working to help promote the event and I asked if Fiona could get a press pass. Everyone agreed, so she will be attending the celebration as a journalist. She is very excited.

We've spent time pouring over the list of great bands and other performances, as well as the food trucks and other wonderful eating opportunities. I've tweaked Kim's phone to make it easier for Fiona to tweet and blog and do interviews from Kim's phone.

I've also set up some new pages for Fiona. She is too young to have a Facebook account according to their terms of service. However, an older person can set up a Facebook page for her, so I've set up Facebook Fan Page. I also set up a page on about.me to make it easier to find some of her postings.

With that, it is time for us to rush out and begin the festivities and the coverage.

December 30th

#ff @MiddnightOnMain @InnatMiddletown @jenfromkidcity @MattJPugliese @Oddfellowsplay @SteveSongs @slambovia @JohnWhelanMusic

This week's Follow Friday List is focused on Middnight On Main, a New Year's Eve celebration in Middletown, CT. I've been working a lot with Middnight on Main and want to highlight some of the other folks involved.

The @InnatMiddletown is where many people that are coming a long distance for Middnight on Main will be staying. @JenfromKidCity is one of the people who helped organize Middnight on Main and has been on various radio and television shows talking about the events.

Joining Jen on some of these broadcasts has been @MattJPugliese who heads up @Oddfellowplay Both KidsCity and Oddfellows Playhouse are important venues in Middnight on Main.

One of the performers that will appeal greatly to the younger set is @SteveStongs. Steve performs on PBS as has quite a following. Gandalf Murphy (@slambovia) is another group with a large following. I've often heard them at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.

Rounding out the list is @JohnWhelanMusic who performs Irish music and Catie Talarski (@scuttlebuttt) from WNPR who will be hosting the Radio Adventure Theatre.

A lot of great things to listen to and do at Middnight on Main, and I didn't even mention the food….

December 29th

R.I.P. Rich Sivel

The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in '68
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate...

I sat on a wooden pew in the Hartford Quaker Meeting House. The windows were clear glass and the light illuminated a simple room with white walls and a white ceiling. A little wood work and some light grey curtains did not take away from the simplicity. A fire crackled in a fireplace at the front of the hall as people slowly trickled in.

By my guess, the room could probably hold around 125 people. The space would not be large enough to hold "eight hundred and sixty-two members of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and Cloth, Hat and Cap Makers' Union", but it needed to find room for Friends from the Quaker Meeting House, Brothers and Sisters from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4, as well as assorted other friends, family and few progressives of Rich Sivel.

The participants were welcomed and the structure of the meeting was explained. People would speak, as they felt led, and time should be left between comments to ponder what had been said. Neither Kim nor I had been to a Quaker service before, so we sat quietly, waiting.

Yet one of my keen interests has been Group Relations, a school of psychoanalytic thought applied to organizations, growing out of the work of Wilfred Bion and John Rickman. Rickman had been born into a Quaker family, and I found the quite sitting of the memorial service strongly reminiscent of my experiences as Group Relations conferences.

Besides the crackle of the fire, there was assorted coughing, perhaps due in part to the respiratory ailments one often finds in New England winters and perhaps due in part to people sitting uncomfortably with silence at a memorial. This was compounded by the occasional rustling of papers and babies crying at one end or the room or another.

As I sat there, I thought about what I would write in my blog, and whether or not I would have anything to say. It seems strange to blog memorial services, but it seems like many good friends have died and that it is important for me to write my remembrances.

I didn't know Rich all that well, but we had many common interests, particularly around communications about progressive causes. Checking on Facebook, I find one message from Rich:

It was good to see you the other night at Common Cause!

Are you interested in doing some live blogging from the Wesleyan Anti-war conference on 4/12? And/or perhaps interviewing former Brig. General Janis Karpinski, who will be the keynote speaker, to generate some advance publicity?

With that, it only seems appropriate that I blog about his memorial service.

Eventually, close friends of Rich started speaking. They told stories of his great smile, his fierce pacifism, is intellectual brilliance, his love of his family, and his heart. It was his heart that failed him and took him too early from us.

The service ended with everyone signing "When I'm Gone" by Phil Ochs; "So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here", and we headed downstairs.

It was the typical reception after a memorial service, though it reflected some of Rich's influence. I spoke with labor organizers and peace activists; friends I had met through various political campaigns. I spoke with a couple noted politicians about their current or potentially upcoming coming campaigns. Yeah, it seemed an appropriate homage to Rich, "So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here".

Memorial services can be sad, dreary events, and everyone I know is deeply saddened by Rich's death. Yet there was an undercurrent of hope, as people spoke about troops leaving Iraq, the occupy movement, and social justice.

There was the story of Rich's new grandchild playing the role of the infant Jesus in the Christmas pageant and is eager awaiting for the arrival of the infant. There was the story of the close friend who saw a hawk the day Rich died and felt a sense of the closeness of Rich's spirit.

At the Christmas Eve service I attended, there was the story of the struggling monastery that became revitalized when they were told that the Messiah was amongst them, and they started looking for signs of the Messiah in the people around them. Whether we are looking for signs of The Prince of Peace amongst us, or signs of a great man who worked hard for peace, we would all be better off if we could find more signs of such spirits amongst us.

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December 28th

Wordless Wednesday



Untitled, originally uploaded by Aldon.

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December 27th

The New Hampshire Primary

One of the things I've always liked about the New Hampshire Primary is that it is pretty easy to get on the ballot. Pretty much, all you have to do is file your application and send in a check for $1000. Maybe I'll run for President some day.

Of course, being on the ballot doesn't mean you'll get any votes, or an press coverage, as many of the candidates are finding. The candidate list from the New Hampshire Secretary of State office lists thirty different candidates.

We've all heard the big names on the ballot, people like Romney, Perry and Gingrich, all of which seem to be just more of the old little government, except for when it benefits their corporate cronies, Republicans. Then there's the Bachmann, Santorum social conservative crazies. Cain is still on the ballot.

Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman are probably the two mainstream Republican candidates that I can take at all seriously. I don't agree with Paul on a lot of issues, but I mostly respect him. The little I've heard about Huntsman is good, but I haven't really studied where he is on the issues.

Yet this leaves a lot of other candidates worth looking at. Fred Karger talks about supporting LBGT rights, the right of a woman to choose her reproductive health, legalizing and taxing marijuana, and lowering the voting age. He's a fiscal conservative who believes in energy independence and a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the country. While I don't agree with him on all issues, he sounds like that extinct breed of mainstream Republicans.

Another Republican candidate on the ballot is Andy Martin. He lists himself as a 'corruption fighter' from Illinois. He strongly supports the Second Amendment, strongly opposes Cap and Trade, etc. Doesn't seem to be much of substance there.

Prior to reading through the list from the Secretary of State's office, the lesser known Republican candidate that I was most interested in was Buddy Roemer. Somehow, I ended up on his press list. Probably his press list includes anyone who will write something about him online, because, he's getting no coverage, even though, I think he may be one of the more respectable Republican candidates. His lead issue is fighting special interests, and he's doing a good job on that issue. He calls for a balanced budget and supports reforming health care but says "Healthcare reform under President Obama fell victim to special interests". Like with other Republican candidates, I'm likely to have major disagreements with them, and I suspect this is the case with Roemer as well, but he's well worth looking at.

Then, there's Vern Wuensche. He ran back in 2008, spent $36,000 and came in tenth in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Pretty much standard drastically smaller government stuff; do away with the Department of Education, eliminate the IRS, eliminate the Department of Energy, etc.

John Davis has an eagle, and image of him wielding a giant star spangled pipe wrench, and lots of conservative rhetoric. I think Stephen Colbert does a better parody of image obsessed conservatives, but I'm not sure that Davis is intending his site to be a parody.

Yeah, there's lots more, and I might get around to writing about more of the candidates later. Who knows, maybe I'll even take a crack at some of the other Democratic candidates; yeah, there's several….

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