To commemorate this April 4th memorial of Martin Luther King’s assassination, a friend sent me this 9-minute video of excerpts from King’s speeches – a short 9-minute history that not only allows us to think of King as one of our very best, but also a true prophet of God. He would be 82 now.
Dr. King’s whole 22-minute speech against the War in Vietnam:
Dr. King made this anti-Vietnam War speech on April 4, 1967.
He was assassinated one year later, to-the-day: April 4, 1968.
Hang On, Sloopy was a hit when I was in 7th grade. I was just becoming aware of the Vietnam War, but it wasn’t much on my mind; I had problems closer to home. Other songs I remember most from that year are Satisfaction, which played in heavy rotation in the little cafeteria where we waited to be picked up after the school bus dropped us off, and I Think We’re Alone Now, which suited my teenage desire for privacy and rejection of my parents and authority in general.
It’s interesting that, in the comments on this video at YouTube, some see it as promoting war or honoring vet, or condemn ruining a good song with unrelated pictures from a war — everyone seeing it in a different light, depending on their own world view and experience.
Fortunately, ignorant comments get offset by those from people who might have a better grasp on what they are talking about (and the world beyond themselves in general).
Grunt6869 says “I had ”[H]ang on Sloopy” written on my steel pot=helmet During my tour in Vietnam 68-69…” and fffreddie remembers that “[t]his song came out just the start of the Vietnam conflict. Our service men would play music to help forget the horror they were in. It still helps. Now some of the negative comments are from morons.”
I concur with fffreddie. If music was unrelated to current events, we would not have film soundtrack albums, or “hear” songs in our heads when we see old images, mementos or people. The video in my head for Hang On, Sloopy doesn’t have these images of a foreign war — it has school lunchrooms and buses, a pink bedroom and an AM radio — but this video might be a better reflection of the historical record.
Happy Christmas to all my Christian friends and readers (all two of you!). This video cracks me up. It starts with Bettie Page pinup shots followed by vintage home videos of moms and kids in front of the Christmas tree, all with Brenda Lee belting out “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” What could possibly be more American?
Back on September 26, I joined the band MoonSue and friends as they filmed a music video on the steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol. My photos are here. Now the video has been released. The song has been playing on some of the Spanish language stations for a few weeks, and reportedly getting good response. I’m not into music, but I am into the message this group and this song is about.
Dennos Libertad is a song written and performed by MoonSue, in an effort to promote peace and unity across the United States, between all people, regardless of background, ethnicity, race, or creed. It is also intended to reassure all citizens of this country that all anyone wants is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This song is an effort to encourage those who are being persecuted for their background, for their ethnicity, and sometimes for choices that they or their parents made in order to secure a better life for themselves and their children.
New York City, April 12 – The Pulitzer Prize Board has awarded a posthumous Special Citation to country music icon Hank Williams for his lifetime achievement as a musician, Columbia University announced today.
The citation praises Williams for “his craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life.”
That the writer/singer of “Honky Tonkin'” and “Hey, Good Lookin'” would get an award like the Pulitzer once would have been sacrilege.
“The citation, above all, recognizes the lasting impact of Williams as a creative force that influenced a wide range of other musicians and performers,” said Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes. “At the same time, the award highlights the Board’s desire to broaden its Music Prize and recognize the full range of musical excellence that might not have been considered in the past.”
Shorter Gissler: “We used to be artsy fartsy snobs!”
My mother knew Williams in Montgomery in the late 30s, or knew of him, somewhat crossed paths. In her mid teens she played steel guitar (“Hawaiian guitar” back then) on a radio program and says he, a couple of years younger, hung out around the station, and at other music venues. She had no idea of his amazing talent, though. She can be a little snobby, I have to say, so she probably didn’t give him the time of day, much less a good listen. Who’s sorry now?
Also in opening-the-arts-to-the-lowly-masses news today, Meryl Streep was honored with a membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This is a pretty exclusive club and she’s the first artist elected solely for acting, and this is seen either as the collapse of culture, or the democratization of art, depending on your point of view.
The inductees [of the special category Streep’s membership is in] demonstrate again how far the academy has changed from its frankly snobbish roots, when modernists, women, non-whites and Jews were not welcome and the presence of a “lowly” actress, even one as talented as Streep, might have set off mass resignations.
Oh. My. God. This had me wiping tears off my cheeks AND my keyboard, it’s so hilarious. Maybe to fully appreciate it, you had to have watched them religiously for years like I did, enjoying the tension between the two movie lovers who couldn’t seem to agree on anything.
I often wondered what they talked about during the commercials, so to speak. Well, now we know.
By the time Gene Siskel died much too early, they really had bonded and loved each other, though maybe they didn’t say it, or recognize it until Gene was sick and the writing was on the wall. Roger Ebert has memorialized his partner and friend so beautifully since then, in a way we should all hope to be honored when we are gone.
Now Roger himself is ill, has lost his voice, but still writes and his real Voice rings pretty clear on issues beyond celluloid and art. He has stood strong to rant against the violations of our constitution, and the immorality of war. You can’t keep a spirit like that down.
That pair has brought me a lot of insight, pleasure and laughter over the years. These outtakes — biting, argumentative, silly, make me love those guys all the more.
Sterlin Harjo, an Oklahoma filmmaker, had his latest movie, Barking Water, premiere at Sundance on Jan. 17. Here’s the synopsis:
Before Oklahoma was a red state, it was known as the Land of the Red People, described by the Choctaw phrase Okla Humma. In his sophomore film, Sterlin Harjo takes viewers on a road trip through his own personal Oklahoma, which includes an eclectic mix of humanity. Irene and Frankie have a difficult past, but Frankie needs Irene to help him with one task. He needs to get out of the hospital and go home to his daughter and new grandbaby to make amends. Irene had been his one, true, on-again, off-again love until they parted ways for good. But to make up for the past, Irene agrees to help him in this trying time.With steady and graceful performances by Richard Ray Whitman as Frankie and Casey Camp-Horinek as Irene, this story takes viewers for a ride in the backseat of Frankie and Irene’s Indian car, listening to their past and the rhythmic soundtrack that sets the beat for a redemptive road journey. Harjo wraps us in the charm and love of Oklahoma through the people and places Irene and Frankie visit along the way. In this sparingly sentimental and achingly poignant film, Harjo claims his place as one of the most truthful and honest voices working in American cinema today. Barking Water is an expression of gratitude for the ability to have lived and loved. Bird Runningwater. Sundance Film Festival 2009 Catalog
A Q & A with Harjo at Sundance. And the just released trailer:
“Wouldn’t you rather be with someone with a working car?” So smart and real. And the actor, Richard Ray Whitman is incredibly sexy. So, um, “No!”
Barking Water looks spare and incredibly alive. Can’t wait to see it. No indication of when it might be in theaters. But look for it.
I did my first interview with my new Flip camera on Thursday, talking to Daniel Sandate, who was just released from Ft. Sill on Tuesday. He was accompanied by James M. Branum, “G.I. Rights Lawyer,” who was co-counsel for Sandate’s court martial at Ft. Carson, and of course whom I work with at Oklahoma Center for Conscience.
My raw footage has been cut into four parts and posted on Youtube by James. Here are the links:
I learned a couple of things about using the camera. The main one is, I need a tripod! I’m not a fan of that style of wobbling the camera around for no good reason, but if you are, you’ll love my freshman effort. Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the Flip Ultra. For a cheap camera, it does a great job.
I hope to edit the footage down to 10 or 12 minutes when I have time.