Punk Band Pussy Riot Jailed In Russia For Engaging In Freedom Of Expression—The Work Of Freedom Is Up To Each Of Us
The Russian punk band Pussy Riot has been sentenced to two years in a Russian prison for exercising free speech and engaging in political protest.
This past February, Pussy Riot staged a performance inside of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. This performance was directed at the linked repressive power of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Pussy Riot has made a practice of staging political concerts in unusual places around Moscow. Above is a Pussy Riot demonstration earlier this year in Red Square. (Photo by Denis Bochkarev.)
After the appearance in the church was posted online, band members were arrested and charged with hooliganism and inciting religious hatred.
The Russian Orthodox Church had the option here to forgive those that trespass, but instead made the call to continue to ally itself with the corrupt and undemocratic power of Vladimir Putin.
Why is so often the case that powerful religious officials cannot get past a sense of perpetual victimhood and so often choose to make common cause with the most retrograde political forces?
Top clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church said that they forgave the band, but still supported the prosecution.
It may seem there is no point to addressing an issue in Russia from where I am in Houston, Texas.
Yet the universal values of free speech and democracy merit our concern no matter where in the world they are under assault.
This case is also a reminder that free speech and freedom from unjust incarceration are hardly matters only for people outside the United States.
Here in our torture-industrial-prison state, no freedom is safe from the forces of big money, a bought government, and millions of mean-spirited and intellectually lazy fellow citizens.
The good news is that we all have the ability to fight back and that very many people all around the world care about these concerns.
As Pussy Riot well understood, the work of freedom is up to each of us.
(Below–Pussy Riot on trial.)
Television star and businessman Dick Clark died earlier this month.
Here are the parts of Mr. Clark’s obit that I liked the most—
“I never took any money to play records,” Mr. Clark said in his 1999 Archive of American Television interview. “I made money other ways. Horizontally, vertically, every which way you can think of, I made money from that show.” Over half a century, Mr. Clark made millions as a producer or executive producer, shepherding projects onto the airwaves that even he acknowledged were more diverting than ennobling: awards shows like the Golden Globes, the Academy of Country Music Awards and the American Music Awards; omnibus shows like “TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes,” featuring collections of clips; and television-movie biographies and dramas that targeted devotees of camp, kitsch or B-list celebrities…..Mr. Clark wasn’t high-minded about his work. “I’ve always dealt with light, frivolous things that didn’t really count; I’m not ashamed of that,” he said during a 1999 interview for the Archive of American Television. “There’s no redeeming cultural value whatsoever to ‘Bloopers,’ but it’s been on for 20 years.” He added: “It’s a piece of fluff. I’ve been a fluffmeister for a long time.”
There is a lot to be said for a performer who can remain on the public stage for a long time.
There is a lot to be said for a showperson who just wants to make a buck and who has the talent to do so without hurting anybody.
Don’t trust anybody who is not a huckster to some degree.
Above is a video of an appearance of Johnny Lydon and Public Image Limited on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in 1980.
P.I.L. “plays” 2 songs from the album Second Edition in this clip. It is some fine television.
Second Edition is a great recording. I’ve been listening to it for 30 years now.
Chrome Cranks Looking To Produce A New Album—Find The Time To Create Something Before The Hour Has Passed
My longtime friend Peter Aaron, who lives in the New York City area, is a member of the band The Chrome Cranks.
This band began in Cincinnati in 1988.
(Above you see the Chrome Cranks. Peter is the one smoking the cigarette.)
The Chrome Cranks are trying to get the money they need to make a new album.
Below is what Peter has written for Texas Liberal regarding this effort—
“The Chrome Cranks are launching a Kickstarter campaign to support the publicizing of Ain’t No Lies in Blood, our first album of all-new material in 15 years. To do this requires a minimum of $4,000, the goal of this effort (any funds accumulated above this range will go toward further publicity for the album). And in addition to copies of the album itself, as rewards for the assistance of our fans in this undertaking we’re offering a wide range of rare and tasty treats: mp3s, album downloads, and signed CDs and LPs, posters, campaign-only CDs of UNHEARD tracks, even ORIGINAL REHEARSAL CASSETTES!”
Needing $4,000, the Chrome Cranks are almost 90% to this goal. I have contributed a small amount. The band has to raise the needed money by April 29.
If you like the music and would like to help these folks out, please offer up a few bucks.
Consistent with the ethic of this blog, the Chrome Cranks are getting it done for themselves.
They are coming up with new material and making use of new forms of communication and fundraising to help produce the album.
Peter and I both lived in Cincinnati back in the day.
I was slow to learn to drive back in th day. There were a number of times when Peter gave me a ride to the punk rock show.
Peter is a good guy and the Chrome Cranks merit a listen.
Beyond all that, if there are people from your past that you can help out, then you should consider doing so.
If you have a creative project or a personal project in your life that you would like to work on and make progress on, then find the time and make the effort before the hour has passed.
Our friendships and our most hopeful efforts are essential to having a good life in the brief time that we have.
I always enjoy telling folks about my every-so-often public schedule.
I recall that Martin Luther King once said that attention is “Vitamin A for the ego.”
Here is the 2012 Texas Liberal Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. This is the best such resource on the web.
I’ll be in-studio and on the radio on Cincinnati’s community radio station WAIF-FM 88.3 on Saturday, March 3.
( Above—A radio. Here is some history of radio.)
I’ll be on Trash Flow Radio with my friend Ken Katkin from 3-5 PM Eastern Time on that date.
You can hear the show on the WAIF livestream.
I was a weekly host on WAIF for a few years in the 1980′s. I co-hosted the punk rock show Search & Destroy with Handsome Clem Carpenter.
It was fun.
Here is a description of Trash Flow Radio from the host–
“Avant-garde punk, pop avant-garde, sad songs with loud guitars, loud songs with sad guitars, anti-Beatle exuberance, pro-drug psychedelia, bargain-bin outsider music, revisionist rock history, music made by teenagers with “sXe” tattoos, and timeless DIY. Absolutely no major label recording artists (except the Ramones). Music from the catholic school, not the parochial.Gushes and rants, stark realism and surrealism, dangerous audio stunts, irritainment, and bad puns. Faint echoes of H.L. Mencken, Coyle & Sharpe, Jorge Luis Borges, Thurgood Marshall, Ron Rosenbaum, Jean Shepard, Lester Bangs, Kim Philby, J.D. Salinger, Bob Lassiter, Carl Reiner, and Eugene V. Debs. Hopefully, some guests. It’s always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”
I’m looking forward to be being on the air with Ken.
(Below–My appearance on WAIF allows me to run my publicity photo. You see me here identifying with the 99% as I enjoy a lobster in Rhode Island in 2011. )
Cincinnati Punk Rock Legend Seeks Bandmates For New Acoustic Protest Band—Find A Use For Your Talents In The Big Political Year Ahead
This is from my longtime friend Robert “Jughead” Sturdevant of Cincinnati, Ohio—
“I am looking to form an acoustic guitar-based jam band where all members sing left wing protest /labor/progressive songs in the alternative scene/occupy protests/coffee shops/and places they won’t let my hardcore band play. I have an excellent practice space and I want to get out and play on the weekends.”
Jughead is a king of the Cincinnati punk rock. Above you see Robert front and center performing at Newport, Kentucky’s legendary Jockey Club at some point in the 1980′s. The odds are decent that I was at the show in the picture.
Robert’s band is SS-20. They are mainstays of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky music scene.
Robert also does spoken word performances in Cincinnati, and has written for Cincinnati’s great local publishing house Aurore Press.
If you’re interested in joining the band Jughead is looking to form in Cincinnati, please leave a comment at the blog. I’ll make sure he gets in touch with you.
There is always something that you can take part in to help bring about a better and more hopeful world.
If you’re not looking to join a band in Cincinnati, then please consider some way you can be part of the action in the big political year of 2012.
This blog will in 2012 be focusing on ways that everyday people can make the best use of their talents, and about how everyday people can assume responsibility for their futures in our democracy.
The work of democracy and freedom is up to each of us.
There will be a big punk rock blast this upcoming Saturday at the Southgate House in Newport, Kentucky.
Newport is just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.
I’m sorry I’ll not be able to attend this fine event.
This concert is another Jockey Club reunion concert being put on by Cincinnati’s Aurore Press.
The Jockey Club, which closed in 1988, was the best punk rock club in all the midwest.
I’ve been fortunate enough in the past few years to contribute to three Aurore Press books and to host one of the Jockey Club reunion shows.
Here I am on a late June afternoon at what was once 633 York Street in Newport, Kentucky. Now it is a parking lot.
633 York Street in Newport, Kentucky was the site of the great punk rock bar The Jockey Club.
There were other establishments at this address at various times. There was the 633 Club and the Flamingo Club. Local lore had Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis visiting this spot over the years. And given the history of Newport, it is possible that these folks did visit these now defunct clubs.
For me, however, this is where a great punk rock club was one time.
A punk rock band in Massachusetts has both Hindu and Muslim members. This band is called The Kominas.
People don’t have to fight because they were born one way and not another or born in one part of the world instead of some other part of the world.
People can join up in bands together or do whatever it is they wish together.
Why should it be otherwise given the brevity and brutality of life?
From the Associated Press story about this band—
“Artwork from the Punjab state of India decorates the Ray family home. A Johann Sebastian Bach statue sits on a piano. But in the basement-cluttered with wires, old concert fliers and drawings-25-year-old Arjun Ray is fighting distortion from his electric guitar…For this son of Indian immigrants, trained in classical violin and raised on traditional Punjab music, getting his three Pakistani-American bandmates in sync is the goal on this cold New England evening. Their band, The Kominas, is trying to record a punk rock version of the classic Bollywood song, “Choli Ke Peeche” (Behind the Blouse)…Deep in the woods of this colonial town boils a kind of revolutionary movement. From the basement of this middle-class home tucked in the woods west of Boston, The Kominas have helped launched a small, but growing, South Asian and Middle Eastern punk rock movement that is attracting children of Muslim and Hindu immigrants and drawing scorn from some traditional Muslims who say their political, hard-edged music is “haraam,” or forbidden….The movement, an anti-establishment subculture borne of religiously conservative communities…The artists say they are just trying to reconcile issues such as life in America, women’s rights and homosexuality with Islam and old East vs. West cultural clashes.”
Punk rock is an excellent thing.
If you have a son or daughter, encourage them to become punk rockers.
At any age, it is good to know that there are people who feel the way that you do about the world.
(Below—Newport, Kentucky’s famous Jockey Club on the last night back in 1988. It was great to be a young punk rocker in Cincinnati with the Jockey Club just across the Ohio River.)
What if Tiger Woods had had his affair with punk rock star Exene Cervenka from the band X?
As an aging punk rocker, I think that would have been great.
Instead, Mr. Woods seems to have been in the company of a cocktail waitress.
There is nothing wrong with being a cocktail waitress—All work has value—but that is not very original on the part of Mr. Woods.
While I disapprove of the affair —As you might expect of a utopian minimalist with Puritanical leanings—what a blow it would have struck for my side of society’s aisle for a mainstream figure such as Mr. Woods to have cavorting with a punk rock icon.
Maybe next time.
Above is a picture of the Cincinnati band called the Fairmount Girls playing a block party.
It is a happy and good-natured picture.
Don’t you wish that life was more happy and good-natured?
A lot of people appear to be quite angry.
The Fairmount Girls have been around for at least 15 years. I think. Maybe longer. Maybe not as long. I guess I’m not fully certain.
Here is how the Fairmount Girls describe themselves on Facebook—”Fairmount Girls are a 5 piece independent rock band .we’ve had several different incarnations due to peoples lives and who can blame anyone for wanting to move out of Cincinnati or get away from us . we’ve always had at least one if not several boys in the band and at least 2 girls if not three or four . we have 3 full length albums……11 minutes to anywhere , tender trap , forever and are pleased to announce we’ve started a fourth . This will be our first vinyl release !!! we remain humble and true to our DIY beginner punk roots, even though we think we write pretty catchy songs and are pretty fucking fabulous . cheers to all things Fairmount . if you are reading this chances are that we LOVE you ! “
Look them up on Facebook. It seems clear they would be happy to hear from you.
The red haired girl in the blue shirt is a good friend of mine. She and I had a cup of coffee together a few weeks ago in Cincinnati.
Below is a poster for a show this band played at the Inner Peace Center in Cincinnati.
I wish there was an Inner Peace Center I could visit. It would be nice to have a greater measure of inner peace.
Today is my 42nd birthday.
Below is a picture of me when I was 12. At the time I lived in Providence, Rhode Island. You see that I have a book in my hand and a measure of attitude. I’ve not progressed much in the 30 years since this photo was taken.
Now here I am at 41. The picture below was taken in Newport, Kentucky last month at the immense punk rock blast.
There you have one person over 30 years. Think what you will.
We age and then die. Hopefully, we give the days in-between some meaning. Hopefully, we have decent private lives and make an effort to be of use to the world as a whole.
My own view is that our personal and public lives are connected. We can’t just care for the people close to us and not care about others. For us to have good personal lives, we must live in a place that is decent and where public services and public benefits are provided.
I feel I’m at least trying to have a good personal life and trying to be of vaue to others in the wider world.
Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.
This is going to be a great show. Please attend if you are able.
This blog is now three years old. I began regular posting on Texas Liberal on July 25, 2006.
I have spent a lot of time working on this blog. I feel it has for the most part been worth the time. I hope I feel that way whenever I decide I am done with the blog.
(Above–Three of the prehistoric salmon Oncorhynchus rastrosus, off the Northwestern coast of Pleistocene North America. That is one prehistoric salmon for each year of the blog so far. The illustration is by Stanley Fink.)
It adds value to life to have a forum with which to communicate.
As I wrote this post, Texas Liberal has received 721,842 page views. I’ve made 1452 posts through yesterday and there have been 4557 comments posted to the blog.
In 2006 I averaged 51 page views a day. In 2007 that number was 177. For 2008 I ran 912 views each day. So far this year I’m at 1513 page views per day.
So, at least in regard to blog traffic, I’m headed in the right direction.
I’m also a featured political reader-blogger at the Houston Chronicle. My space at the Chronicle is second from the bottom of the politcal bloggers listed.
Thank you to those who have read the blog over the past three years and thank you to those who have left comments.
If you like Texas Liberal, please pass on the link to somebody you love— Or anybody at all.
A blog grows one reader at a time.
I can also be found on Facebook. My name is Neil Aquino. My current profile picture is of me in a suit standing next to very well-dressed woman and with three drunk men waving behind me. Please feel free to make a friend request.
It is good to communicate with others. Please give consideration to who you wish to communicate with in life. Please consider what would be the best way to proceed with that communication.
You’ll be glad you made the effort to reach out to other folks.
Please also know that I’ll be the host of the biggest punk rock concert of 2009. It’s taking place on August 15 at Newport, Kentucky’s Southgate House. Newport is just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.
My friend and fellow blogger Rachel Farris of Austin sent me a Facebook invitation today to an upcoming event in Austin.
Rachel writes the blog Mean Rachel.
The event is the Texas Young Democrats Women’s Caucus Happy Hour that is taking place at the Molotov Lounge in Austin July 15 at 6:30 PM. The Molotov Lounge is located at 719 W. 6th street in Austin. A purpose of the gathering will be to show support for Judge Sotomayor as she seeks Senate approval to serve on the Supreme Court.
I’m not likely to make it to Austin for this event. I don’t think I’d go even if I lived in Austin. I’m sure I’m one of about 300 people Ms. Farris sent notice to about the function as she went down her list of Facebook friends.
Still, I’ve got this forum here and if I can give something Ms. Farris finds of value a plug —Why not? No doubt that would be better than the crap I would write otherwise.
As a further example of this sentiment—I’m very glad to have become an online member of Democratic Women of Denton County.
(Above is my profile picture for Democratic Women of Denton County. If you notice anything different about me it is that I just got my hair done.)
My friend Judith Ford, who writes the blog Castle Hill Democrats, is a co-founder of the group. If this group has value to Judith, it has value to me.
I see that I can cough up $20 in dues and become a paying member of Democratic Women of Denton County. Maybe I should do this soon.
A few weeks ago I ran an essay here on the blog from my friend Ted McLaughlin of Amarillo about why he supports Kinky Friedman in the 2010 Democratic primary for Governor of Texas. Here is that post.
Ted writes the blog Jobsanger.
I don’t agree with Ted about Kinky. Yet at the same time, Ted is a good guy who writes a strong blog and who is a committed liberal. If I can do something that helps Ted a bit then that is what I’ll do. I know he would do the same for me.
And, of course, we should not forget that Wednesday, July 8 was the birthday of the distinguished Houston political blogger Perry Dorell.
Happy birthday Perry.
Perry writes the blog Brains & Eggs.
Life is brief and brutal. Let’s help our friends and help the people with who we share deeply-held beliefs.
I’m happy to promote just about any Democratic or progessive/liberal event here in Texas. (or elsewhere.) Please e-mail me at naa618 at att dot net and give me the details—Or leave a comment on this post.
I’m happy to plug to all sorts of things. If you have a band– or some type of creative endeavor in life– or whatever– please e-mail me and provide the details. This shop runs a bit over 1500 page views a day and you never know who will see a blog post.
We all have things we want to accomplish and be known for in life.
Please don’t forget that on August 15 I’ll be hosting the most immense punk rock blast of 2009 at Newport, Kentucky’s Southgate House. Newport is just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.
Thanks to my friends and thanks to all who read this blog.