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Donna Summer Dead At 63—The Interesting History of Disco Music

(Blogger’s Note–5/17/12–With the death of Donna Summer today, here is a post I first ran on the blog in 2009 about the history of Disco music. Disco music had substance. Here is an obituary of Ms. Summer from The New York Times. Ms. Summer was a star in her own right. But she was also part of a larger cultural trend. Learning about that larger trend helps one enjoy Ms. Summer’s songs all the more.)

I enjoy disco music. As I write this post, I’m listening to the disco channel on Pandora radio. I find the music good-natured.

Enough of life is angry. I’m often angry. I want something good-natured and disco music fits the bill.

I think if we all played disco music in our cars during our commutes to work that people would be nicer to each other on the road.

At this very moment the song Disco Inferno by The Trammps is playing on Pandora.

Here are some of the lyrics to Disco Inferno—

To mass fires, yes! One hundred stories high

People gettin’ loose – all gettin’ down on the roof – Do you hear?

(the folks are flaming) Folks were screamin’ – out of control
It was so entertainin’ – when the boogie started to explode
I heard somebody say

Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno!

Burn baby burn! – Burn that mother down
Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno!
Burn baby burn! – Burn that mother down
Burnin’!

These words seem like you are being urged to burn something down. But it is quite the opposite. The singer clearly says in the song that your soul is on fire and you are happy. This song is channeling your negative energy away from destructive acts!

A new book reviewed in the New York Times recently tells some of the history and the social meaning of disco. The book is called Disco and the Remaking of American Culture and was written by Alice Echols.

From the review-

“But for the thrill-seekers, especially gay ones, who packed the trendier nightspots, disco was the sound of hard-earned freedom. It meant dancing your heart out until dawn, often aided by drugs, in clubs where anybody could pair with anybody. Disco’s beat took over your body and pounded away your inhibitions. At its headiest, the experience was a close simulation of sex, or a direct lead-in to it. Women were the main voices of lust. In “I Feel Love,” Donna Summer’s techno-backed moaning — “Oooooh, it’s so good, it’s so good, it’s so good” — seemed like a six-minute glide on the runway to orgasm….Alice Echols, a professor of American studies and history at Rutgers University and a former disco D.J., knows that most of the music she spun is considered “mindless, repetitive, formulaic and banal.” But in her engrossing new book, “Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture,” she portrays that scene as a hotbed of social change — for gays, for women and their sexual rights, for blacks in the record industry. Other writers have done more to evoke the era’s sleazy glamour and animal excitement. But Echols…has few peers among music sociologists. Scholarly but fun, “Hot Stuff” is not just about disco; it re-examines the ’70s as a decade of revolution.”

(Below—A classic.)

Here is an article on the history of disco from American Heritage magazine. It is a good article that traces the evolution of disco to Paris during WW II.

Now playing on Pandora is Upside Down by Diana Ross.

Here is a history of disco from Soul-Patrol.com.

Listen to some disco and let some happiness into your life. Learn about the history of disco and see why it was music that made a difference in people’s lives and in our society.

(Below–Why must this gentleman be a hater? Photo taken by Rich.lionheart.)

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Chad Holley Verdict By All-White Houston Jury A Source Of Concern For All Houstonians Concerned With Justice—An All-White Jury In The Most Diverse City In America?

Former Houston police officer Andrew Blomberg was found innocent by an all-white jury of any criminal role for his part in the videotaped police beating of black teen Chad Holley.

(Above–A scene from the 2010 Chad Holley beating.) 

I was not a juror in this case and I did not hear all the evidence.

I can say that it is frustrating that the jury was all-white in what is by some measures the most diverse city in America.

Given our national history, our local history here in Houston and Texas, and the fact of strong divisions of all kinds in America, it is a given that an innocent verdict in the case from an all-white jury would provoke a strong reaction.

Given the present day role of our so-called justice system as a new Jim Crow that incarcerates black men at an alarming rate, it is a given that an innocent verdict in this case from an all-white jury would provoke a strong reaction.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Republican Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos disagree with the verdict.

Some local black activists and local black ministers have reacted angrily to the verdict.

Just imagine if these leaders spoke up consistently on a broad range of issues of justice that impact all people and not just one group of people in Houston.

If they did, they would be listened to with greater respect when issues seen in a conventional and narrow sense as mostly impacting black folks were before the public.

At the same time, where are the voices of people of all kinds in voicing concerns on this matter?

If a broader cross-section of Houston white and Latino progressives and liberals would speak up with concerns about the verdict of an all-white jury in this trial, maybe this would help lay the groundwork for a more energetic and hopeful progressive coalition in our city.

The freedom of all people is connected.

Here is a link to the video of the Chad Holley beating.

Three former Houston Police officers are awaiting trial for their roles in the Chad Holley beating.

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cigarette Machine

Above is a photo I took recently in Houston of a cigarette machine.

You used to see these machines all the time. Now you don’t see them so often.

The cigarettes in this machine cost $10.

Tobacco is indeed the Devil’s weed.

Though the truth is my dad smoked incessantly from the Truman years up until his death–from lung cancer—in 2011.

I’d be hard-pressed to say anything other than that cigarettes probably made by father’s life more enjoyable.

Still—Please do quit now if you smoke.

Just the price alone of a pack cigarettes is enough to make you quit.

Here is some history of vending machines. 

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

Lissa Squiers Makes Her Case in Democratic Texas 7th District Congressional Primary

I support Lissa Squiers in the Democratic primary for the 7th Congressional district of Texas.

Primary Day is May 29. Early voting is taking place now and runs through May 25.

The primary is for the right to challenge incumbent Republican John Culberson.

Here is Ms. Squiers’ Facebook page.

I asked Ms. Squiers if she would like to write a brief account for my blog as to why people should vote for her.

Here is what Ms. Squiers wrote—-

As a candidate for political office I meet a lot of people.  Every one of these people has the same basic needs, and underneath everything else, they are saying they want a good life for themselves and their children.   Every family benefits when people are healthy and educated.  Every community benefits when they have good roads and bridges and schools and first responders.  Every business benefits when people and families and communities are strong.  No one ever says they don’t want these things.

The next logical step is where we differ:  what’s good for people is what’s good for business.   That’s what I believe and that’s what liberal Democrats believe.  Centrists and ‘moderates’ in both parties believe the opposite.  They say that what’s good for business is what’s good for people.  Both of my opponents for Congressional District 7 have made a lifetime and a business out of this opposite approach.  But the economy and Occupy Wall Street and current reality for the majority of Americans shows us this doesn’t work – catering to corporations has given us nothing but a few scraps of their leftover lunch and a big mess to clean up. Continue reading

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Two Ships

Two ships—One of the Bolivar Ferry boats and the other a big Carnival Cruise ship—passing each other yesterday in the Galveston Ship Channel.

Ships can pass in the day as well as in the night.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

At Rest

The dead were at rest yesterday in Galveston, Texas.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—Gone To Texas

Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas.

(Above–A movie I did not see. Here is some background on the phrase Gone To Texas from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online.)

Every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

I normally offer a post to the round-up each week. But last week I forgot to do so. Oops.

The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us.

I say this every week in this space. There is nothing more basic and essential I can tell you.

The round-up—

Three more Congressional candidate interviews from Off the Kuff: State Rep. Joaquin Castro, the heir apparent in CD20; Bexar County Tax Assessor Sylvia Romo in CD35; and former Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald in CD27.  

BossKitty at TruthHugger is overwhelmed by the disgusting realization that everyone’s future will be determined by America UNDER THE INFLUENCE!  

BlueBloggin sees zombies everywhere. Zombies are disengaging common sense and promoting the Great Unlearning of America at the bidding of the Koch Brothers: Zombie Politics Desecrates Science Education and Economy. Continue reading

May 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Stormy

It has rained and stormed a lot in Houston over the past two days.

Here is a picture of that rain through my car windshield.

May 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Latest Occupy Wall Street: Houston Newsletter—The Work Of Freedom Is Up To Each Of Us

Here is the latest newsletter of Occupy Wall Street: Houston. OWSH is an ongoing effort to revitalize the Occupy Wall Street effort in Houston.

Please read the newsletter and consider getting involved. Contact information is on the newsletter.

It is up to each of us to do the work of freedom.

News from the 5/6/12 GA

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Upcoming Events


Sat May 19, 8:30AM-12:30PM, 949 Kirby Dr:
Permablitz with Transition Houston.


Thurs May 24, 7PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd:
computer privacy and freedom skillshare with activist Patrick Gibbs. Bring your laptop if
you’ve got one!


June 7-9: TX state Democratic convention. Details to come.

Ongoing


2nd Friday of each month, 8:30PM, Domy Books, 1709 Westheimer Rd, back courtyard (enter through Cafe Brasil):
 On June 8 we’re showing “The Corporation”. Reviews call it “the most astute and flat-out persuasive political documentary of the new millennium.” Come see for yourself!

Sundays, 1:30 PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd (in Tlaquepaque Market):GA.


Tuesdays, 5PM, U.S. 59 and Dunlavy: Freeway blog.

Autonomous action: join the OWSHops google group and help plan our actions outside of the GA.

Autonomous action: petition drive to require a referendum vote on the anti food-sharing ordinance. We need 28,000 valid signatures by the middle of July. Download the updated (as of 4/17) petition here.

Occupy Your Capital on Independence Day


We’re gearing up for July 4, when occupiers from all over the state of Texas will gather in Austin to show our commitment to a just future in Texas and also connecting folks with cars with folks in need of rides. Check out theirweb page and make your voice heard!

Breaking Up with the Big Banks

by Amy PriceI was one of 15-20 people who showed up on May 9, the date of Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting, to “divorce” from the Big Banks. We donned top hat and veil and unmarried the institutions that have abused their relationship with the American public, occupier Donni Romaniello doing a great job officiating. The rest of us were an anti-bride, an anti-groom, and witnesses, all of whom promised to support our local banks and credit unions, “for as long as we all shall bank”.

This was OWSH’s first piece of street theater, and we learned a lot from it. Some of what we learned can apply to other actions:

  • Look non-activisty for as long as possible. Had we done this, we might’ve been able to finish the skit at all three locations, and we might’ve been able to sneak in some props that the police refused to allow.
  • Plan a rehearsal beforehand. We did a brief run-through, but folks were paying scant attention. Had we invested ourselves more in that runthrough things might’ve gone a little more smoothly out of the gate.
  • Designate people to deal with management. We stopped the skit once to speak to a manager, when we could’ve just barrelled right through.

What went well? Everything! We did a good job with an action we’d never done before, distributed a bunch of flyers that were packed with good info about how the big banks reward themselves for wrecking the American economy, picked the right action for the number of people we thought we’d pull out, had a member of the public tell a police officer to let us exercise our free speech rights, and collected good footage that we hope to make into a great video. Just as importantly, we had FUN. We left proud of our actions and happy, and the whole group agreed that this action is worth repeating at others bank branches on different occasions.

Educating the Public

One of the early steps in any campaign is to educate the people you’re trying to motivate. Unlike cities such as San Fransico, which has a long history of activism and a large and dedicated core of activists, Houston is hard to mobilize. That’s one reason OWSH is focusing hard on this step.

Our freeway blog, at US59 and Dunlavy, is going strong. We took a break this week to concentrate on May Day actions and will be finishing up a Bank of America thread next week. Next thread: ALEC.

Beginning in June, OWSH will be hosting a monthly film at Domy Books, starting with “The Corporation” on June 8. Be sure to invite your friends! Let’s make the most of this great opportunity to lay some truth on people in a way they’ll be able to hear.

We plan to show entertaining films that point out problems with the world we live in and solutions to those problems. Got film suggestions? Send them toowshou@gmail.com.

Other News from Our GA

  • Donnie Romaniellocontinues to sort out HPJC sponsorship to secure a bank account and a means of collecting online payment.
  • At the next GA,Delbert Jacksonwill present a report on two other groups he’s working with, OSHA and an anti Hewlett-Packard group. This sort of cross pollination is part of how we can build a strong coalition.
  • Jesus Waldo, Amy Price, and Donnie Romaniello are researching corporate donations and ties between ALEC and the Texas Democratic party to plan for the state Democratic convention in June.
  • We plan to move to twice monthly GAs in June.
  • At the next GA, we will discuss becoming a non-profit.

Volunteer Opportunities

Come to a GA or contact us atowshou@gmail.com and find out how to participate.

from your home:

  • Video editor(takes previously recorded footage of OWSH actions, helps it tell an engaging story)
  • Facebook admin(in charge of researching and posting Tuesday Houston City Council agenda items)

out in the world, with other members:

  • Freeway blogger(participates in banner hangs on Houston’s bridges. Safe and fun.)
  • Film coordinator(sets up for the monthy film screening)

out in the world, autonomously:

  • Coalition builder(speaks for OWSH at meetings of other orgs in the GHA, builds bridges.)


Got an item–an announcement, a proposal, a report–for the next GA? Send it toowshou@gmail.com before Thurs at 10 PM, and Facilitation will get it onto the agenda! Know of an Occupy-friendly event coming up? Email it and we’ll put it in the next newsletter.



Make Your Ideas Heard Outside of the GAJoin our google group,owshOps. Some of the threads so far:

  • Ladder of engagement–ways for interested parties to become engaged at different levels of involvement?
  • Facebook Campaign–how can we promote dialog?
  • Website–usability and design preferences?

Agenda Items For Our Next GA

Discussion

  • providing opportunities for engagement
  • Permablitz report
  • website (offered by Jesus Waldo’s business as a portfolio-builder)
  • coalition building
  • Pay It Forward in Edward Munoz’s and Selene Ballestas’s neighborhood
  • coalition building

Agenda Items (Cont.)

  • long range planning: June (state Democratic convention), July (Occupy Your Capital), Aug (?), Sept (?), Oct (Re-occupy), November (elections), Occupy solidarity actions

Reports

  • banner hang
  • Permablitz
  • Finance on HPJC, bank account
  • Theater for the 99%
  • website

May 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Sean Hubbard Is The Best Candidate In The Democratic Texas U.S. Senate Primary

In the primary race for the Democratic nomination to serve in the United States Senate, I support Sean Hubbard.

(Above is Mr. Hubbard with a group of people who just realized that somebody is pointing a camera at them.)  

Mr. Hubbard is running for the seat left open by the retirement of Republican Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

Mr. Hubbard has consistently taken progressive stands in his campaign for the nomination.

Mr. Hubbard has worked hard, and has made an effort to win support all across our big State of Texas.

At age 31, Mr. Hubbard can possibly build upon on what is already a strong campaign effort as he seeks to move Texas into the 21st century. (Or even dragging Texas into the 20th century would be progress in many regards.)

My friend Harold Cook in Austin has endorsed Mr. Hubbard in his blog Letters From Texas.  Mr. Cook is a respected and forward-looking political voice in Texas, who views Mr. Hubbard as someone who can be a hopeful part of a revitalized Texas Democratic Party  in the years ahead.

Here is the website for Mr. Hubbard.

Here is the Facebook page for Mr. Hubbard. 

Primary Day is Tuesday, May 29. Early voting runs May 14-May 25.

Fellow Houston and Texas blogger Charles Kuffner has the best rundown of the Democratic primary candidates here in Harris County, and about other contested Texas Democratic primary fights as well. 

Fellow Houston and Texas blogger Perry Dorrell has written about the Green Party slate in Harris County and in Texas at his blog Brains & Eggs.

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Lissa Squiers For The Democratic Nomination In The 7th Congressional District Of Texas

In the upcoming Texas Democratic primary, I’m voting for Lissa Squiers in the 7th Congressional district.

(Above is a photo of Ms. Squiers noting something that I’m certain was important.)

The incumbent in this race is Republican right-wing extremist John Culberson.

Ms. Squiers is an energetic and progressive local Democratic leader who will work hard to win a Republican-leaning district.

When no Democrat challenged Mr. Culberson in 2010, Ms. Squiers took up the fight as a write-in.

Ms. Squiers can always be counted on for leadership and for hard work in the service of others.

I know Lissa and I trust her to advocate for all people in the 7th district with consistently progressive views,–I live in the 7th–and to give Mr. Culberson a strong challenge.

Here is the Facebook page for Ms. Squiers.

Primary Day is Tuesday, May 29. Early voting runs May 14-May 25.

Fellow Houston and Texas blogger Charles Kuffner has the best rundown of the Democratic primary candidates here in Harris County, and about other contested Texas Democratic primary fights as well. 

Fellow Houston and Texas blogger Perry Dorrell has written about the Green Party slate in Harris County and in Texas at his blog Brains & Eggs.

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

North Carolina Bans Gay Marriage—Why Would A Public That So Often Has So Little Self-Respect Have Much Care For The Rights Of Others?

Voters in North Carolina have made gay marriage in that state illegal by approving an amendment to the state constitution that will ban such marriages.

This was a cruel act by North Carolina voters. Life is brutally short and people should be allowed to live in marriage with the person they most value.

If I had it within my power, I would annul the marriages and break apart the families of the people who voted for this amendment. I would ask them how they like it to be denied the relationships they hope for with the people they love.

Then, after a time, the folks who opposed the amendment could vote on if those marriages and families should be restored.  That seems fair.

Why is such basic thing as the right to get married is up for a public vote in the first place?

Where was the “get the government out of my life” crowd on this issue?

Gay marriage is going to be the law of the land sooner or later in this nation.

However, until that time it seems that the rights of gay people will be up for approval by a public that in so many cases is unable to maintain steady relationships and unable to treat children well.

It is no surprise that a public that is so often incapable of self-respect, and so often incapable of respect for the people they say they most value, would have when given the choice little respect for the basic humanity of others.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 4 Comments

Texas Democratic Primary Is May 29—Kirkland And Fertitta Lack Credible Opponents In Two Harris County Races

The Texas Democratic primary will be held this month.

Primary Day is Tuesday, May 29. Early voting runs May 14-May 25.

The time by which you must register to vote to take part in the primary is already past.

Who may vote in this primary?

Any registered Texas voter may vote in the Democratic primary with the exception of those who have signed a ballot access petition for a Green or a Republican in 2012.

Here are some additional facts about the primary from The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area.

There are contested Democratic primaries in Harris County, and for all Texas on the upcoming ballot.

I have written about one of these contested primaries so far on the blog.

Highly-rated incumbent Harris County judge Steven Kirkland has a primary opponent for no other reason than that Judge Kirkland is gay.

Another easy race to call is the primary for the Democratic nomination for Harris County District Attorney.

Lyold Oliver has run for office a number of times before in Harris County as a Republican. He has also voted in Republican primaries.

Zack Fertitta is the only credible candidate on the Democratic ballot for DA.

Fellow Houston and Texas blogger Charles Kuffner has the best rundown of the Democratic candidates here in Harris County, and about other contested Texas primary fights as well. 

You might feel that the two-party system is broken and in the hands of the rich.

You might be torn over the fact that while there are clear differences in many respects between the two major parties, that it is also so both parties ignore the poor, and are both leading us to a police state in which the super-wealthy call all the shots.

Fellow Houston and Texas blogger Perry Dorrell has written about the Green Party slate in Harris County and in Texas at his great blog Brains & Eggs.

I will be voting in the Democratic primary.

I guess that is what I should do. It’s what I have done before.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be endorsing candidates in other contested Democratic races.

Maybe I’ll even find a real liberal someplace along the way.

May 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Voters In France Reject Austerity—We Must Work Hard And We Must Work Together

French voters have tossed out conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and have tossed out austerity.

(Above–The Eiffel Tower. Photo by Nitot.)  

Socialist Francois Hollande has been elected as President of France. 

Austerity is a dead end.

Austerity has led Great Britain to a double-dip recession.

The people of France understand this fact.

You can cling to a far-right ideology of austerity if you wish.

And yet the fact is that you and the people who you value need access to education, jobs and health care.

While we must each work hard on our own, we cannot go it alone in such a complex society.

May 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—The Work Of Freedom Is Up To Each Of Us

Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas.

(Above–A WPA poster for an event in Texas back in New Deal days. From the American Memory project of the Library of Congress. Texans where happy to vote for Franklin D. Roosevelt and take all sorts of government funds until race became an issue for real in the 1960’s.) 

Every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us.

I say this every week in this space. There is nothing more basic and essential I can tell you.

Here is the round-up—

Could BeTrue of South Texas Chisme sees Republicans holding on to private power at the expense of children.

More Congressional candidate interviews from Off the Kuff, who has conversations with Marc VeaseyRamiro Garza, and Anthony Troiani 

BossKitty at TruthHugger takes a vacation from the sanitized, filtered, Hollywood marketing of political candidates and looks at the world, specifically the dramatic trial in Norway for a mass murderer has unified civilized Europeans who sang … To Annoy The Monster. Continue reading

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment