Posts tagged ‘Music’

Pete Seeger (1919-2014): My job is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.

My job is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world,
and if used right it may help to save the planet.

—Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

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I’ve witnessed great social change in my lifetime; the 20th century was full of tremendous progress thanks to an ever-flowing river of brave leftist advocates and leaders who kept us moving forward…

Eugene Debs, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King Jr., Betty Friedan, Cesar Chavez, Harvey Milk…

They inspired progressive action towards the ideals of liberty, equality, justice and opportunity for all.

Today we lost Pete Seeger, another shining star among American progressives. His voice lulled me in my childhood, singing out against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War and steadfast in facing the coercive House Un-American Activities Committee. He opposed the arms race and the Vietnam War and staunchly supported the environment and civil rights.

We heard his patriotic shouts of protest in “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, “If I Had a Hammer, “We Shall Overcome”, and “Turn, Turn, Turn!”. These verses are now part of America’s forward-looking psyche.

Pete Seeger’s words and works will embolden future Americans wanting to forge a more perfect Union. His now-departed soul is another seed planted in the fertile ground of progressive America, blooming with the cosmic energy building towards a better world.

A good song reminds us what we’re fighting for.

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This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender ☮

This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender 

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The Brazilian bus where I served a 26-hour sentence

Twenty-six hours with little sleep on a cramped bus – most of it beside a crying, fidgety child sitting on his pregnant mother’s lap. I’m hungry and weary of cheese sandwiches – the only vegetarian option at rest stops. I forgot to unpack my healthy snacks which are buried in the storage below. I’m under the weather – sneezing and congested and low-energy – from the cold snap that hovered over the region for a few days.

I feel alone in this less-trodden corner of Brazil and miss my companions on the backpacker-friendly coast. I left Cuiabá disappointed by the cost-prohibitive Pantanal wildlife (3-day tours are nearly $800 USD) and the bureaucratic hurdles at Chapada de Guimarães national park that made it very difficult to enjoy.

So I feel the last few days have been a bust. Things just haven’t quite worked out.

Bus break in Brazil

Travel is full of shitty moments like this. Like most things in life – a job, a relationship, a hobby – there’s no shortage of let downs. And when on your own it can feel worse, there’s no one to turn to amid indifferent surroundings.

With the battery dying on my mobile phone, I opened my calendar and counted the days remaining in Brazil. Almost home… I tell myself. What a relief!

As if by chance Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song “Almost Home” plays in my random mix:

I’m not running
I’m not hiding
I’m not reaching
I’m just resting in the arms of the great wide open
It’s gonna pull my soul in
And I’m almost home

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Almost home… is momentarily forgetting the thousand tiny details that travel demands, knowing things soon will be logistically easier. It’s thinking of those I love and miss. It’s setting an anchor by filling my mind with familiar things.

Almost home… is remembering that I choose this life. Being away has allowed me to let go of the demands and dull routines of home. Knowing home is around the corner helps me to accept the here and now.

Almost home… is not being homesick. It’s part of the journey, a destination too. It’s appreciating the home I carry inside that lets me find comfort in new places and with new faces.

Almost home… is a great place to be. It means I’m out there. Travel is a permanent part of my life and home is what connects all the trips, it’s the pause in the middle between adventures.

Almost home… is time to start dreaming about my next travel destination!

Sometimes I’m not happy, things aren’t wonderful and my surroundings don’t delight. Tomorrow will be a new day. I’m just resting in the arms of the great wide open.
And I’m almost home.

Brazilian sunrise as seen from a bus window

The intricate railwork on the windows and doors of Cali's San Antonio neighborhood

After a couple weeks in sleepy, southwestern Colombia – a tourist hinterland – Cali was a refreshing change. A large city of three million, Cali’s strong Afro-Colombian culture makes it one of the friendliest. I was greeted warmly by locals with a hearty Bienvenidos, de dónde viene? (“Welcome, where are you from?”).

In a country rich in rhythms, salsa reigns supreme in Cali. It blasts from buses, apartment windows, bars and restaurants, even in public plazas. And Cali’s energetic vibe is boosted by the strong coffee that flows freely in cafés on seemingly every street corner.

My stay in Cali was brief but I got a good taste of the city: its chaotic markets, the flavorful foods, the surprising large expatriate community, even the night life. With my mates from the hostal I took a salsa dancing lesson and enjoyed cold Club Colombia beers at a bar blasting cumbia tunes.

I stayed in the charismatic colonial neighborhood of San Antonio, just a few blocks south of the main city center, which is a bohemian cluster of residences, hip cafés and galleries. I enjoyed the tranquility of this urban barrio with its picturesque streets and ornate doorways and window, but I left the city wanting to see more…

My next visit to Cali will hopefully coincide with the renowned World Salsa Festival… ¡a baila’, a goza’!

Adios, amigo... ¡otro viaje maravilloso contigo!

Well… another arrival and departure of Paul. It doesn’t get easier.

We had an extraordinary five weeks together in Ecuador’s wild playground: traipsing through the rainforest, flying on zip-lines above thundering waterfalls, crisscrossing the Equator, hiking past volcanoes, descending the steepest railroad track in the world, lounging on Pacific Coast beaches, galloping through the tropics on horseback, mountain biking from the Andes to the Amazon — we did it all.

It’s been a transient few months for us. I’ve been living in South America, volunteering and traveling through four countries. Paul has been moving between friends and family and joining me when he can. We have no fixed address since we rented our home.

But we’re not homeless. We’ve long yearned to be free of the hassles and headaches of maintaining a house and being tied down. It has been a long (and arduous) process of letting go.

We’re working to establish a new way of living, one that is freeing but also fleeting. The bonds of living together under one roof become slippery; special care is required to keep our relationship on meaningful footing.

This is new to us. It’s exciting, tricky, bold, and irregular… We’re learning as we craft new ways to engage our interests and passions and each other.

Today as I entered Colombia I was marveling (as usual) at the breathtakingly awesome Andes. And reflecting on my rambling ’round life — now in its fifth month.

The truth is I deeply miss Paul. But I’m also very happy. It puzzles me.

Then as this song popped in my headset the light bulb went off:

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you
Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is whenever I’m with you

This feels crazy but it all makes sense.

Click below to listen to “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros:

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¡Viva Cuba Libre!

In the waning days of the Clinton administration, we threw caution to the wind and booked flights from Toronto to Havana, realizing a lifelong dream of mine to visit Cuba and taste firsthand the spicy history, politics and culture of this proud island nation.  Although illegal for US citizens to spend money in Cuba without authorization, we decided to buck this restriction and Trade with the Enemy.  We are Americans after all and Freedom is our established right and responsibility.

Continue reading ‘Cuba, 2001’ »