Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
Crossposted on Topix.com
Travis Manning, author of the article below Why do Idaho charter schools have 10% fewer Brown students than White? announced his candidacy for the open legislative seat in District 10, Canyon County. Speaking last night at a gathering of Democrats at the Caldwell Public Library, he detailed his reasons for stepping into the fray, including the fact that "absolute power corrupts absolutely," referring to the antics of the Idaho GOP.
Travis Manning is currently an English teacher at Vallivue High School. He is executive director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation, an Idaho grassroots think tank formed in June 2011 in response to radical education reform measures in Idaho. He is a member of the Idaho Council of Teachers of English and active participant with the Boise State Writing Project. Travis is active in his local teacher’s union where he has led and been engaged in numerous committees. In 2011 he spoke out at the Idaho House and Senate Education Committee hearings in support of Idaho public schools, and has since published a number of editorials across the great state of Idaho supporting the voices of all Idaho citizens. He supports the needs of all learners in public schools and works hard in his teaching to reach out to help struggling students. He is an advocate for parents and teachers, believing that they are critical stakeholders in the success of Idaho’s children, despite being largely ignored by the Idaho legislature in 2011. Travis has taught high school English and Journalism for seven years in Caldwell, Idaho, and two years of middle school before that in Salt Lake City. Most recently, Travis gave up coaching high school wrestling, one of his great loves, in order to advocate for parents, teachers and students in Idaho governmental affairs. read more »
On February 5, John Miller had an interesting article published in the Idaho Statesman that led with fact that Representative Bob Nonini, chairman of the House Education Committee, is the last 'open' tobacco smoker in the legislature, a fact he tries to conceal. The article examines the juxtaposition of lawmakers who have incorporated the message that tobacco is a dangerous product, yet have such an ideologically entrenched aversion to raising taxes, they won't consider it as a method to discourage people from smoking.
Most Idaho conservatives have a stronger aversion to government overreach and tax hikes than they have to cigarettes, even ex-smokers such as Challis Republican Rep. Lenore Barrett.
"What we're doing is whipping on folks who are making stupid choices," Barrett says. "They have a right to make those stupid choices."
Highlighting how deeply those sentiments run, Democrats last year failed to win even a hearing when they proposed raising cigarette taxes from 57 cents to $1.25 per pack.
This sentiment was echoed in a recent debate in Boise when it passed additional restrictions on areas where smoking is allowed than the state restrictions already in place. Opponents of the ban bleated that such restrictions were an encroachment on their freedom to using a "legal" product, while utilizing the lofty, yet ignorance based, terminology reminiscent of the the Tea Party movement. This isn't about freedom. Its a defense of a toxic product heavily marketed by a powerful industry. read more »
On Monday, January 16, our nation celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a charismatic albeit imperfect human being.
Born on January 15, 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression, King was a man vested in freedom for all Americans, especially Blacks: freedom from segregation, freedom from bigotry, freedom from racism.
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared, in Brown v. the Board of Education, that establishing separate public schools for Black and White students was unconstitutional. This historic, unanimous decision (9 – 0), declared that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
Brown overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed for state-sponsored segregation, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white woman. King, a Baptist minister and growing force in the South, led the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, sparked by Parks. In 1957 he became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a powerful, grassroots force that fought for Black freedom and civil rights.
In the 1960’s, the term “colored” still had an entirely different meaning from now. If you were “colored,” it meant you drank from a different water fountain, ate in a different part of the restaurant, and watched a picture show from the nosebleed section of the theater.
Today, surprisingly, there is a movement afoot to allow for “separate educational facilities” in our schools. And it’s important that Idaho citizens are reminded, more than 50 years after Brown, of the potential ramifications of “separate educational facilities.”
King understood the importance of freedom and desegregated schools and the value of communities and ethnicities assimilated into one, beautiful melting pot.
Idaho does not have many Blacks, only .6 percent of the state’s population – but, Idaho does have many Brown. The 2010 Census reports the Hispanic population in Canyon County, for example, is 23.9 percent.
One component of “separate educational facilities” could be charter schools. Inadvertently, charter schools could undo gains made for minorities, if charters are not totally, operationally transparent.
The Idaho State Department of Education cites that in 2007 state charter public schools had 3.78% Hispanic students and 92.82% White students. Whereas, their public school counterparts had 13.78% Hispanic students and 81.9% White students.
Why do Idaho charter schools have 10% fewer Brown students than White?
Is this “White flight” from Idaho’s public schools?
Couched in the option of so called “school choice,” there is potential to regress into a political and cultural status once held decades ago.
Segregation was once legal, a conviction that celebrated oneness and sameness in the name of so called freedom and opportunity.
Segregation was, however, choice gone awry.
So what is really meant by “school choice”?
Are our Brown brothers and sisters as aware of the same “school choice” options as our White brothers and sisters?
What would Dr. King say about so called “school choice”?
Travis Manning is Executive Director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation, an Idaho citizen think tank, and can be reached at Manning_Travis@hotmail.com.
Also republished by DKOMA.
A bunch of cute gals chase a guy to the left, screaming. The same bunch of fiesty women then chase a guy to the right, screaming and waving their arms. The guys dance, skillfully moving like Elvis in his prime. The gals dance, twisting and turning artfully, as if in a scene from Grease. The scene is tasteful, anachronistic, and warmly inviting. So began an evening of exciting, innovative choreography featuring the work of Carl Rowe and Marla Hansen, Co-Artistic Directors of the Idaho Dance Theatre and guest choreographer, Lauren Edson.
It was a delighful opening to the IDT’s winter show, which I caught this weekend at Boise State University. The performance includes dance with poetry, music and film weaved through, as if it were a tapestry. The program demonstrates stunning virtuosity in works that effectively utilize the the considerable abilities of the dancers. Good dancers look best in good choreography, and Hansen and Rowe provide that. The show also relies on an underexposed music score by excellent composers. An artistic balance is wisely struck, and the audience is allowed to remain engaged since the myriad of profound and complex ideas presented are never taken past tolerance.
The first piece, “Love Hurts”, is built around love themes, punctuated by somewhat minimalist background stage art. The opening set, "Gone, Gone, Gone" - Teeny Bopper Love, featured dancers Gonzalo Valdez and Eric Glenn. The second scene, "Sister Rosetta Goes Before U"– Lost Love, is graced by the poise and authenticity of dancers Shantyl Betty, Elizabeth Henscheid, Sayoko Knode, Lia Mrazek, and Caitlin Stanley. The group achieves a cohesiveness that compliments the music and each individual dancer’s style, forming a holistic visual experience.
Two pieces, “Nothin” -Angry Love and Trampled Rose, by themselves are worth whatever you pay to see this show. In the first, we are treated with Yurek Hansen’s amazing dance abilities in movement choices that constantly ebb and flow with the music score. Hansen is at times totally still, at times en adagio. Then within a microsecond he explodes across the stage with exceptional movement choices and skill. Nothin-Angry Love, requires significant virtuosity and timing. IDT dancers Yurek Hansen, Elizabeth Henscheld, Sayoko Knode, and Lia Mrazek literally nailed it. Intensely kinetic, the work consists of non-stop energy with stunning duets and a compelling storyline.
The subsequent works, “Silent Past”, choreographed by guest Lauren Edson, and “How Things Are” choreographed by Carl Rowe contain the requisite level of development to maintain performace life. They feature wonderful music, diverse costumes, and unpredictable choreography. Timing is crisp and the variations are nuanced.
UPDATED BELOW 2/6
At the beginning of the 2011 legislative session, Idaho Education Superintendent Tom Luna surprised the state by unveiling legislation designed to accomplish a draconian overhaul of public education, by diverting a significant portion of students' school time to online course from private entities, in essence swapping live teachers for one on a laptop. While vociferous opposition to the so called "Students Come First" legislation was prompt, education stakeholders had little time to mobilize against a coordinated Republican effort to shepherd the legislation to Governor Otter's desk. Realizing the fix was in, opponents concerted their efforts into an initiative putting the Students Come First legislation to a public referendum. Both Otter and Luna have vowed to fight these efforts.
The money behind Idaho education reform is prodigious, with at least two lengthy expensive newsletters already sent to every Idahoan via mail and/or newspaper outlet extolling the virtues of the legislation. Some of Idaho's wealthiest and most powerful business interests are behind education reform, notably Albertsons heir Joe Scott, who has significant ownership interest in K-9, Inc., a private education outlet. In contrast, one prong of the Students Come First legislation was designed to gut the primary loser in the legislation, Idaho's public educators, and their union the Idaho Education Association, mirroring Republican efforts in other states.
The referendum on Students Comes First will take place on the date of the general election, the first Tuesday of November, 2012. Word on the street is that John Foster has been tapped to lead the political efforts for Republicans against the initiatives, and in favor of leaving intact the draconian education reform legislation. John Foster is the former executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party. Foster is most notorious for his role as a staffer for Idaho's blue dog Congressman Walt Minnick, and leading Minnick's 2010 re-election campaign to an ignoble defeat. Since then, Foster has headed the office for a lobbying group. Foster's move makes this passage look almost prophetic: read more »
Idaho legislators propose allowing quad trailer semi trucks hauling toxic waste to use decommissioned Soviet submarine reactors as "supplemental engines on low density highways" to travel at sub-sonic speeds.
Idaho legislators propose tattooing "Jesus Saves" or "Jesus Saved Me" on the foreheads of all Idaho DOC prisoners convicted of malicious mischief or theft charges involving churches or temples.
Idaho legislators propose elimination of all public benefits for anyone who refuses to take polygraph examinations to monitor their use of food and medical benefits.
Idaho legislators propose issuing a State of Idaho Warrant and Detainer for the arrest of President Barack Obama as a foreign agent/provocateur.
Idaho legislators propose a proclamation which states Governor Brewer of Arizona is Idaho's "Official Soul Sister!"
Idaho legislators propose a "Free State Timber" day in honor of their esteemed member, Phil Hart, where one day each summer Idaho residents can cut trees on Idaho state land for their personal use only.
Idaho legislators propose a new public education system in which all K-12 students will be issued inexpensive smart phones with three basic educational applications and be sent home to "do God's will and some phone learnin'"
Idaho legislators propose a proclamation declaring the Caterpillar D5 as the official Idaho bulldozer. read more »
Originally posted to Daily Kos Readers and Book Lovers.
Also republished by Black Kos community and Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.
Studies like The All White World of Children's Books and African American Children's Literature chronicle how it was not until fairly recent history that a positive Black presence was seen in children's literature.
In the past, when Black or African ideas and people were found, the depictions were often stereotypical. The expressions of Black culture in supposedly innocent children's books perpetuated prejudicial attitudes. For example, the story of Babar the elephant smacked of colonialism. An African elephant was civilized under the custodial leadership of a French caregiver in the wake of the murder of his mother by the "hunter." The elephant in turn favors Egyptian (Arab, Coptic) culture and civilizes his jungle kingdom. His African (Black) rival is bestial.
But my years of writing and literary travels have found me fortunate enough to meet and work with two pioneers who have done a great deal toward solving this problem. I first met Wade and Cheryl Hudson in the early 1990s at conferences such as the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.
If you’re familiar with Black children’s book publishing, then you might know why Just Us Books was founded. Parents Wade and Cheryl Hudson were tired of searching for books that featured little brown boys and girls, and coming up with the same handful of titles. So they combined their experience in writing, marketing and art direction and launched Just Us Books in 1988 to publish children’s books that celebrate the diversity of Black history, culture and experiences.
Raising their two children in Northern NJ, the Hudsons found it difficult to find quality Black-interest books for children outside of Black History month. The couple decided to fill the void themselves, and went to work developing their own. But publisher after publisher turned the couple down, some outwardly doubting the viability of the Black children's book market. So the Hudsons founded their own publishing company. The success of Just Us Books and their signature brand AFRO-BETS quickly proved doubters wrong.
From the start the company was dedicated to ensuring that high quality books with blacks as the main characters would be available throughout the year—not just during Black History Month. They also worked to provide a creative venue for talented Black writers, illustrators, designers and other professionals; and most importantly to inspiring, encouraging and educating young people through reading by offering books with characters, stories and themes that reflected their lives as young Black people.
In addition to their roles as publishers, both Wade and Cheryl have cultivated dual careers as children's book authors. Wade's books include Jamal's Busy Day; Book of Black Heroes from A to Z; and Powerful Words. Cheryl's titles include Bright Eyes, Brown Skin; Hands Can and My Friend Maya Loves to Dance.
The Hudsons are also partners, with their children Katura and Stephan, in Hudson Publishing LLC, which recently founded Marimba Books, a new multicultural children's book imprint.
Crossposted (with several very interesting reader comments) on Daily Kos.
In response to my article: White African Americans, about a white South African trying to sue for racial discrimination,
I was born in Oakland, blond/blue but practically raised black by my friends mothers and families until my father got transferred to Japan in the 60's and I learned what racism was. All of a sudden, at the age of 10, I was a Gaijin, an outsider subject to the full discrimination and hatred of the native population. We were the only foreigners in town and when we went to a bath house in our neighborhood where we were tolerated the first time. On our second visit there was a sign saying no Gaijins allowed. Hand printed in English. I cried all the way home.
... From Japan we moved to the "great melting pot" known as Hawaii. Finally heading back to the USA where every thing would back to normal I thought. Wrong. No longer a Gaijin, I was now a Haolie. In Japan the racism had been endemic and systematic, but without violence but now the game was about to change. In Hawaii my race put me in harms way, I was dragged behind the school and beaten just out of hatred.I just about gagged. There is no "Diaspora" among blacks just as there is no "melting pot" in Hawaii.
When I see statements such as “A white guy cannot be a black guy, because he does not share our history and present context, with all its beauty and pain, joy and suffering Can a white guy be an African American? “ my response is simple. How arrogant can you be? You don’t own it, you’ve just shared in it. You are not alone.
By the logic you are using, a wealthy white South African, living and working in America, should have his needs addressed by organizations such as:
Such groups exist to address the unique needs of a specific group of people. Since we cannot be defined by a geographic boundary, blacks exist in Diaspora. You would be hard pressed to find a noted scholar of black, African, or African American Studies who would disagree with this. Please let me know if you find one.
The unique experience of blacks is also intergenerational. There are the things our parents shared and experienced. There are legacies from grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. Good and bad, these were passed on and are part of our heritage. The nuances are infinitely more complex than being raised by or around blacks or being beat up in school; then going on to live as a white person in a white dominant culture.
That's why the Urban League, the world's oldest and largest civil rights organization has a State of Black America Report.
By your logic, all of these support groups are being arrogant. And according to your thinking, as is talked about in the article, a white South African can sue for discrimination as a black person.
There is no diaspora among blacks? You make an interesting claim in that assertion.
Please email that argument to The Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University.
And you might want to contact the National Black Child Development Institute to let them know how arrogant they are being, to assume that this racially defined group of children may have specific needs (at all levels) that should be addressed.
Finally, please share your ideas with the research scholars in the Black Diaspora Review.
I'd be interested to see that discussion.
Thanks for sharing! read more »
Can a white guy also be a black guy?
Here is one of my latest Yahoo! columns.
Republican Senator John McGee on his first on-camera interview since he was arrested for DUI in an incident that caught wide attention when he was found by police in a pickup truck that was not his. He weaves in and out more than he was able to do on the night in question. Background here.
Here is a story that gives me hope. When I was a teen I was tempted to compete but didn't because I felt the project wasn't my own. My father had designed it. I did win some science awards on my own though. read more »
As this video makes clear Romney's the kind of guy who would sell Yosemite and the Grand Canyon to pay down the debt. This video is upsetting the Republican establishment and Steve Benen explains why.
Gingrich’s Super PAC is slamming the likely Republican presidential nominee with this brutal video and it’s doing so in a way that reinforces and validates liberal arguments — about Romney, about excessive greed, about the politics of income inequality, and about the ruthless, screw-the-workers style of capitalism Romney relied on to get rich.
The party establishment doesn’t want their nominee damaged before the general-election phase begins, and they especially don’t want him damaged in such a way that says concerns about Romney’s vulture capitalism is bipartisan.
Let’s also note the target audience. Ed Kilgore noted the video is “a heat-seeking missile aimed directly at the white working class id.” This is incredibly important in a 2012 context — if Romney is going to win the presidency, he’s going to need to crush President Obama with white working-class voters who tend to support the GOP anyway. This short film, with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, tells this constituency that Romney is not only indifferent to their struggles, but he and people like him caused their economic plight.
Its a half hour long but you can quickly see what's upsetting them. This will be very useful to share with your friends when the Republican Convention makes Romney the party candidate. We agree, putting this guy in charge is pretty scary. read more »
Last night, while my husband and I were relaxing, I had call from a pollster... I always take political polls because I have strong views and I want them known. .. This poll started out like most polls.... Then they started asking me what stores I shopped at... that seemed weird... Why would a political party care whether I hate Walmart or like Costco.... My reasons for where I shop has a great deal on how I perceive that the workers are treated. read more »
Warning this is political. I am not planning to talk about issues but against caucus'.
inside the 2008 Ada county caucusLine to get into the 2008 Ada county caucus
Here in Idaho the Democratic Party has had a Caucus every four years. I have participated in the caucus every four years... This year the Idaho Republican party decided to emulate us and have a caucus too.... I think they are afraid that we Democrats go to our caucus then go vote in the Republican primary..... Today I have been thinking about the caucus... I really do not like the party caucus... read more »
In No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Mitt Romney asserts that American strength is essential—not just for our own well-being, but for the world’s. Governments such as China and a newly-robust Russia threaten to overtake us on many fronts, and radical Islam continues its dangerous rise.
Ever wonder what Mitt Romney's foreign policy would be like if he made it to the White House?
An interesting article in the Daily Star points to a dangerous connection:
When it comes to the Middle East, alarms have been raised in some corners over his decision to appoint as his top adviser on the region Walid Phares, a leading figure in right-wing Christian militias during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War and a former adviser to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
Critics have also focused on Phares' subsequent roles in the United States, where he has served as a “terrorism expert” for Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network. During these shows, he has warned that jihadists are the enemy, and that the U.S. must act preemptively to defeat them.
“An adviser on the Middle East should be more sensitive and neutral. Walid Phares is very extreme. He leans toward being an Islamo-phobe,” Warren David, president of the Arab-American civil rights group, the Anti-Discrimination Committee told The Daily Star. “I would think that most Lebanese Christians don’t agree with his viewpoints.
One of my friends summarized the problem: "Advising from the skewed perspective of ancient texts that advocate genocide and plunder and the believe in an eventual Armageddon rather than genuine history with a humane approach to real live people seems dangerous to me." read more »
"I soar / and fly, but have no wing / I dip / and dive / from a trail / of string." - Rebecca Kai Dotlich
I first met Rebecca Kai Dotlich in the early 90s and had the good fortune of collaborating with here on a few projects.
Her poem "Fiddler from Sassilli Street" appears in my anthology: My Own Song and Other Poems to Groove To.
I love Rebecca's poetry. The language is spontaneous and energetic. It is accessible and musical. Children love it. I rarely leave a language arts classroom experience or staff development session without sharing at least one of her works.
Here are some of Rebecca's collections:
About her work Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems, Booklist said:
Gilchrist's bright, sturdy acrylics work well with these child-friendly poems, simple but graced with the occasional fabulous image: sunflowers as "garden kings / with chocolate eyes" or a firefly as a "Rhinestone in / a jelly jar." Some poems on walking barefoot, dragonflies and bumblebees, and selling lemonade might be more accessible to country children than to city ones, but the joys of jump rope and jacks seem to be universal. The racially diverse cast of children who inhabit these sidewalks and meadows have individual charm; some, such as the titian-haired moppet who peers from behind a sunflower, could be portraits.
One of my favorites is In the Spin of Things: Poetry of Motion. In this book, Rebecca pays poetic tribute to things that shake or slap, whoosh or whirl, swirl or spill in this captivating book of verse. With delightful illustrations by Karen Dugan, these twenty-three poems sparkle with clever imagery and crackle with dazzling wordplay. This is a remarkable collection by a gifted poet to set young imaginations spinning.
When Riddles Come Rumbling: Poems to Ponder includes presents 29 short, descriptive, rhyming poems about everyday ideas and objects such as a telephone, soup, fireworks, a hula hoop, and an octopus, ending with a poet. "Readers must guess what each poem is about and are helped by the realistic pictures that provide a two-inch border around each one. In addition to the riddle element, each picture also contains jumbled alphabet letters that spell out the poem's subject," according to School Library Journal. Karen Dugan's illustrations help readers to ponder the solutions. Finally, answers appear in fine print at the bottom of the copyright page. Children can enjoy these riddle poems either one-on-one or in a group setting.
Also check out Bella & Bean:
Bella wants to write poems.
Bean wants to go for a walk.
Bella wants to write poems.
Bean wants Bella to look at her cute toes.
Could these two best friends be more different? But as Bean's attempt to coax Bella away from her notepad become ever more over the top, Bella finds her poetry taking unexpected twists.
You might be a Bella or you could be a Bean - either way, this sweet, clever tale will remind you there is perfect poetry to mismatched friends.
Little Bella is a poetry-writing rat. Bean is a fashion-conscious rat. It’s hard to see how they can be best friends when one wants to think about rivers and moons, and the other wants to think about hats. Words like flow, gurgle, and silver are put down on Bella’s pages of poems, but even as she demands peace and quiet to write, she knows she’s missing out on fun with her friend. But Bean’s not one to hold a grudge, and when invited by Bella to sit under the stars and listen to poems, she’s happy to oblige—and thrilled when one of the verses is about her.
This rodent duo is a good example of how opposites attract and can improve each other’s lives. The artwork uses rich shades of gold, teal, and sea green as backgrounds for the very personable rats. Bella & Bean is a nice starting point for a discussion of friendship.
Immersing children in great poetry is an ideal way to start the new year. Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing your song with us all!
Dan Popkey shared a report from The Washington Post, which is:
... running a photo gallery of the 25 members of Congress with the lowest net worth in 2010 and Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador is No. 25 on the low list. Labrador's net worth is between a negative $130,993 and a maximum of $66,997, averaging out at minus $31,998 according to the Center For Responsive Politics, which tracks personal financial disclosure statements filed by members of Congress and offers a free, searchable database. The statements require reporting assets, within broad ranges, so exact figures are not available.
Labrador was faced with a "move up or move out" of politics situation before the Republican Congressional primary, in which he won a surprise victory. The word around the statehouse was that he couldn't afford to live on the legislator's paltry salary, perform his work as an Idaho legislator at the time; and still maintain his law practice.
For Raul's sake, I hope he's making some good friends in Washington now (the kind who can help him be a high paid lobbyist in the future). He has already reported how frustrating things are for him in DC.
Congress is not the greatest career path for men of color in the Republican Party. As one of his predecessors, Rep. J.C. Watts, a black conservative from Oklahoma, is famous for saying:
"If I ever find out that I have six years to live, I hope that they are in Congress ... because my time here has been the longest six years of my life."
In 2008 I won my parties nomination for Candidate for the House of Representatives in CD2 of Idaho….I was my parties sacrificial lamb against a 5 term incumbent… Mike Simpson…I ran mostly so the people in the second district would have a choice…I also felt that no one should be able to run for federal office unopposed. So I spent from March to November traveling my huge Congressional District…. read more »
And deep, heartfelt thanks to everyone for your writing here at 43sb. Words can't convey how much I appreciate your efforts and this site.
A musician and song came to mind this morning, which I've shared if you click the link below.
More than 20 years ago, a friend booked an amazing acoustic guitarist named Billy McLaughlin for a performance at ISU. Billy and his band showed up in a big van crammed full of sound gear, instruments, speakers and people; they'd driven 1000 miles nonstop out from Minneapolis. They played an amazing show to a good crowd here in southeast Idaho, then we hung out (possibly at the Hindenberg?) for a while. Then they turned around and headed back to MN. Turns out, despite the gig being booked many months in advance, their agent hadn't found *any* gigs between there and here in either direction. Even on 1988 prices, I doubt they covered the gas money to get here.
I saw Billy again when we had him play at Mac's in Pocatello, around 1998 or '99. He'd been on the road for months, alternating between partnering with another musician and solo gigs like ours, traveling this time in a wicked-beautiful retro 1960's motor coach -- That coach was gorgeous. It must have had an acre of chrome in the coolest art-deco lines, and was powered by Detroit's finest in drivetrains and engines. I think Billy said he'd paid $60k for it and if he ever stopped touring, it'd resell for the same amount. If you've gotta tour, that's the mode of travel I'd recommend.
Around that time, Billy's career was quietly taking a tragic turn. He started having difficulty playing his trademark frenetic two-handed fretwork. He'd suddenly have hand spasms, play wrong notes, and ruin his own performances. In interviews, Billy said it was terrifying because there wasn't initially a diagnosis and he was left wondering if he was subconsciously sabotaging his playing or quite literally going insane. These muscle spasms literally destroyed his career, and it took him years to track down the obscure neurological cause, Focal Dystonia.
Since then, unable to undo this localized rebellion against focussed repetitive muscular activity, Billy has found a narrow way through. Starting in 2006, he's worked to relearn guitar left-handed. He's again pretty amazing, and he's garnering attention as an inspirational speaker, an advocate for Focal Dystonia victims, and he also arranges and coordinates musical projects. Still, it's his Wintersongs that jump to my mind each Christmas morning.
(>Billy McLaughlin, Carol of the Bells)
Again, a cool yule to you all. read more »