|This post was going to be called 'Good News' and focus on recent positive indications but the notion hasn't washed (see below).|
And 'apocalypse' may be too subtle, meaning as it does 'discover', as in dis-cover - take the cover off. 'Catastrophe' might be better, more towards the secular end of the scale; but, focussing as we should be on those who probably don't know the etymology of apocalypse, it works in that realm. So 'Environmental Apocalypse Greatest Hits' it is.
I had this epiphany! ... Er, well ... not exactly an epiphany - more like an idea sooo crazy that I can't not follow it up (just call me Horse Badorties). Can 'epiphany' ever be properly used in the past tense? It's a bit of a long story but wtf, here's how it unfolds ...
Let this part of the story begin (and maybe it does) with learning 'Brazilian' in the early oughts and finding cracks of light coming through where English & Portuguese don't quite correspond. And, you know, once light starts getting in through cracks, or gets in anyhow, there's no telling what may happen. The first translation exercise I take on is 'Terra' by Caetano Veloso - a fortunate choice.
Best part of a decade later I want special music for my daughter's wedding. Bob Marley's 'One Love' is on the go with Playing For Change in those days and I try to get some musician friends to put it on for me, for money even, but there are no takers. It doesn't occur to me to make a DVD to bring along (the wheels are still turning, but more-and-more slowly y'unnerstan') and I try to sing it myself. That's funny; the lyrics all vanish from my mind except part of the chorus ...
Let's get together and feel alright:
Thando olu-lodwa masi-be-sonke ah masi-hlan-gan-eni-sonke sibe-mun-ye.
(Thanks to Bhekani Memela for the Zulu lyric.)
Tim DeChristopher enters the story twice. First, when he acknowledges what I already know, viz. that 'the movement' ain't movin' (in this speech at Powershift in 2011). And again when the film 'Bidder 70' comes out last year.
There is a tune in that movie which grabs me waaaay down among the short hairs of my Sunday-school roots: 'This Little Light Of Mine'.
Pussy Riot figures in it too. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova says, "Anyone can become a member of Pussy Riot, including any one of you. The only thing you have to do is be passionate about politics, make up a song, record that song, find a place, put on a mask and perform," and I think she means it.
Hank Snow begins the second (or third, depending how you count) inning when his tune 'Ninety miles an hour down a dead end street' comes to me, and suddenly ... it's about the doomed planetary trajectory.
I think, "Hmmm, a pattern seems to be emerging; this feels like a hit parade!" But the musician friend I bounce it off doesn't respond.
Then I hear Jane Siberry calling all angels (at the end of 'Pay it Forward') and am transported into a realm where healing for this horrid despair might be possible: "... and we don't know how it goes."
A few days after that I wake up in the morning singing 'There's a Dead Skunk in the middle of the road' and it's about ... the Koch brothers and their cronies and the smell of their money and the smell of their thinking.
The dead skunk morphs into a live seagull (who flies once around the bay and shits upon the Dew Drop Inn) ... and when I find that Pied Pumpkin now keep a website ... I think ... ... ... Oh!
[Properly it's 'Pied Pumkin' and always has been but that's not how I remember it.]
We are all standing in the field in front of the stage (that I helped to build) at Simon Charlie's Festival of the Sun - in the rain - waiting for Pied Pumkin to begin their show. They come on stage, look out at us and up at the sky ... ... ... and the rain stops and the sun comes out.
Yep. That's just the way it happens. The rain soon starts again but for a few minutes, half an hour, it's there and so are we.
I wind up with a copy of the album. It migrates (by a commodius vicus of flotsam & jetsam) to my parent's home in Toronto where I listen to it once or twice on visits. When mom goes into Whitby with the Alz' and dad dies, the album goes to a cottage in Muskoka, on a shelf with Barber's adiago (also from mom & dad's collection), where I find it and listen again.
Some things stick.
I put this out there with these coordinates. To Pied Pumkin. And Jane Sibbery too. And Naomi Klein - maybe she will want to come along. And my children. And to anyone at all who comes by and sees.
So far the Lucky Top Seven of the Environmental Apocalypse Greatest Hits list looks like this:
Caetano Veloso - Terra,
Bob Marley - One Love (Playing For Change) & alternate,
This Little Light of Mine,
Hank Snow - Dead End Street,
Jane Siberry - Calling All Angels,
Loudon Wainwright III - Dead Skunk, and,
Pied Pumkin - Mister Mulvangel.
A-and: Anita Best - The Cliffs of Baccalieu / The Incredible String Band - Cousin Caterpillar / Linda Ronstadt - Willing / Bob Marley - Three Little Birds (Gilberto Gil) / Bruce Cockburn - Wondering Where the Lions Are / Bob Dylan - It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry / Bo Diddley - Who Do You Love / Woody Guthrie - When That Great Ship Went Down / Bob Dylan - Everything Is Broken & Tempest / Chaka Khan and Rufus - Tell Me Something Good / Bill Withers - Lean On Me / Three Dog Night - Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog / Joan Armatrading - Eating the Bear ...
I am in front of another stage another time in Ottawa and Stephen Gaskin (from the farm in Tennessee) is up there wearing a leather Grateful Dead cap. He takes it off and tells us about it, says, "When I'm wearing this I am flying my colours."
Well, these are my colours and I'm flyin' 'em to ya. Wadd'ya think of that!
Looking to find YouTube links to all of the tunes but ... I'm making a mix CD instead. If you want a copy, send a mailing address to dlw1 [at] hush [dot] com.
PS: It's in the NYT on the 2nd that Stephen Gaskin has died. In the light of that maybe this post looks like a eulogy. Not so. A coincidence then - I just happened to be thinking of him - but yeah, things do get stranger & stranger.
Once again this is feeling like the end of a blog and despite all my complaints about positive-thinking ideologies it may be 'appropriate' for the closing cadence to both resonate with 'Gospel' and include some recent high points:
The photograph is by Dominic O'Brien. Traditional owners from Muckaty, near Tennant Creek, NT come to Melbourne for legal meetings about their federal court case against a nuclear waste dump on their country. Left to right, posing in front of a billboard in Northcote are: Gladys Brown, Mark Lane, Jeannie Sambo, Dianne Stokes and Doris Kelly.
The nuclear dump has now been kiboshed. Good on 'em!
[The other 'high points' I had in mind turned out not to be so high on closer examination so there's just that one.]
A sample of partners with one of the few remaining and (almost) trusted purveyors of news:
(Merely intended as a caution mind you.)
Object lesson - Years of Living Dangerously:
Nine hours of TV by James Cameron et al. weekly on Sunday, then Monday nights over April-June 2014. I guess it would be 1½ hours by the time you add in sponsors (and I wonder who they were?).
OF COURSE I downloaded and watched carefully; and was mostly unmoved. I expected ... more somehow.
Several good men have got their thumbs out:
"The intervenor defendants ['Arch Coal' & 'The Government'] are immediately enjoined from proceeding with the Exploration Plan in any manner that involves any construction, bulldozing or other on-the-ground, above-ground or below-ground disturbing activity in the subject area."
It's equivocal. A stop gap. Arch Coal is not backing down. But it's something. If you read the decision it is very clear whose side the government is on.
See: Coal Mine's Rejection on Global-Warming Grounds Has Major Implications;
United States District Court Civil Action 13-cv-01723-RBJ Decision; and,
Mining companies face lawsuits as US government rallies to their defence
Deputy Sheriff Hector Zertuche, environmental crimes officer for Jim Wells County, Texas. Again, it's a stop gap. The job has fallen to him, he says, because the state's environmental agencies don't effectively police the disposal of the industry's waste. Hector is 70 years old. The Texas Railroad Commission, who should be doing the job but look like they are in someone's pocket, will end-run him, move the fracking waste to pits in other counties, wait for him to die.
See: One Man's Mission to Curb Illegal Dumping of Texas Frack Waste.
[A-and who knows how much of an end it will be? I've only called it wrong about a dozen times already.]