It was 20 years ago today…

Tiananmen Square

beijing-tianan-square-2004

Well, actually, May 4, 1989 was a major day of escalation in the Tiananmen Square protests. On that day 100,000 people gathered seeking greater press freedoms and a direct open dialogue with the communist government.

tiananmen_square_protests_wide_angle

Contrary to popular belief, the protests were not about bringing down the government. Although often unfocused in their message, most of the student groups and others sought greater openness from the existing government and an implementation within that government of the democratic principles inherent in Marxist theory.

Little did they know that they were kicking off a process that would bring tanks down upon them on June 4th and inspire the people of Eastern Europe to throw off the governments imposed on them at the end of WWII.

I plan on chronicling the time points of that history—many of which make up my earliest civic-minded memories—in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned.

Execution by Yue Minjun (1995)

Execution by Yue Minjun (1995)

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Hope for a Peaceful 2009

I thought of these two songs last night for the first time in a long time. I found them again because I was thinking about how the world has been really crazy lately with wars, genocide in Congo and elsewhere, murderous rampages, shopping addicts who trample people to death, general financial meltdowns, and greedy bastards who cheat and steal from honorable institutions like the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity (for humanity, for Christ’s sake!). But in spite of all of this I feel that we need to just hold on the best we can. Hold on to hope.

Be nice to one another, change the things that you can for the better, and keep faith. I know, worn-out clichés that might not comfort because it’s all getting so heavy. But let’s just hold on to hope as long as we can. And let’s hope that the amalgamation of hope, faith, and love can be a foundation that anchors our lives and guides us to perform actions that will make this world a better place, a better place in peace.

“Waitin’ for Superman” – The Flaming Lips

“Hold On Hope” – Guided by Voices

A Song for You

Leon Russell, Willie Nelson, and Ray Charles, but the song really gets goin’ when Ray hits the mic.

One More Cup of Coffee

The White Stripes making Dylan their own:

Watching the World Wake Up from History

Here’s another example of the psychological force of an Obama victory:

I talked with my Dad, Glenn, on the phone tonight for quite awhile. We have a lot in common lately, besides just the genes and all. He and I are both living in apartments by ourselves after longterm co-habitive relationships. And oddly enough, we’re both looking forward to the Obama presidency. I was shocked!

My Dad has previously been known to me in some respects as a very racist man, a good man, but the issue of race runs inside of him so deeply. He grew up in the foothills of the Ohio Appalachians, son of the authoritarian Pike County Sheriff and a amazingly lovely woman who died of colon cancer at the tender age of 36 sending his 15 year-old life into a violent whirlwind.

There is so much more to say regarding my father’s childhood, but for now it is important to note the role that racism plays in the Appalachian upbringing. The word nigger is thrown around without a second thought. I grew up much of my life in lower-end mixed race neighborhoods where the charged atmosphere of that word rang from him into me and out with me into the world. I instinctively knew that racism of that sort is wrong, and I fought against it every step, but it’s impossible not to absorb elements of your home life into yourself in one way or another. My own problems in dealing with race have led me into embarrassing misstatements, arguments, and actual fistfights, all of which are unique stories themselves and ones I will share at various points. But this moment is for something a little different: the paradigm shift in my father’s world.

Robert Glenn Snively, Sr., my somewhat racist father, has gone from verbally hatin’ on niggers to being proud that America elected Barack Obama. Some of this has been expected. My Dad has always been a deep-down good-hearted and complex individual. When I was growing up he could turn on a dime from racial tirades to rationalizing his relationship with one of his good black friends, Willy, or telling me about his army days in Germany where he lived in a ten-man bay with nine black men he considered his brothers. So yeah, some of it is not a surprise, but mostly it just blows my mind.

Dad came out to visit me in early June this year and was lamenting Hillary’s defeat because he couldn’t fathom the idea of a black president, “I never thought I would live to see the day.” But now, with this election, there has been a sea change in him. He likes Barack Obama and he expects good things from him.

2008 has certainly been a season of change.

I love you Dad. Here’s the perfect appendix, The Cobalt Season w/”Careful Not to Draw Your Maps in Pen & Ink”:

Song for Vukovar

…and Grozny, Darfur, Bogotá. Fallujah, Kabul and everywhere else that terror has reigned/reigns/will reign.

Radiohead – “Idioteque”:

Idioteque

Who’s in a bunker?
Who’s in a bunker?
Women and children first
And the children first
And the children…
I’ll laugh until my head comes off
I’ll swallow till I burst
Until I burst
Until I…

Who’s in a bunker?
Who’s in a bunker?
I have seen too much
You haven’t seen enough
You haven’t seen it…
I’ll laugh until my head comes off
Women and children first
And children first
And children…

Here I’m allowed
Everything all of the time
Here I’m allowed
Everything all of the time

Ice age coming
Ice age coming
Let me hear both sides
Let me hear both sides
Let me hear both…
Ice age coming
Ice age coming
Throw them in the fire
Throw them in the fire
Throw them in the…

We’re not scare mongering
This is really happening
Happening
We’re not scare mongering
This is really happening
Happening
Mobiles quirking
Mobiles chirping
Take the money and run
Take the money and run
Take the money…

Here I’m allowed
Everything all of the time
Here I’m allowed
Everything all of the time

Here I’m allowed
Everything all of the time
Here I’m allowed
Everything all of the time

deaf and lost are the children…

Writing Checks the Whole World Pays

My cousin should be able to head out of Afghanistan soon, possibly this month. And God willing he won’t leave accompanied by one of the many photos over the years that have appeared in mourning editions all over the world. God bless us all.

Pearl Jam – “World Wide Suicide”:

Hundreds of billions on wars and imaginary credit. Whoa, ain’t it hard? Here are some friends and acquaintances of mine in Iraq Veterans Against the War putting their best spin on Woody Guthrie’s “Blowin’ Down this Road (I ain’t Gonna be Treated this Way)”:

Since the sound and video quality on that last one is pretty poor, here’s an original Woody Guthrie recording of the same song:

Finally Uncle Tupelo taking us to our home in Heaven, where there’s “No Depression”:

From Our Endless Numbered Days

Iron & Wine, “Free Until They Cut Me Down.” Not great video work, but the sound isn’t bad for a crowd mic.

And to all of the Northern chauvinists out there—and sometimes I’m one of yous guys—please don’t think of this as just another song of the South.

Duluth Lynchings June 15, 1920

Combatants for Peace

Just click above.
Palestinian/Israeli love.