Category Archives: Music

Detroit’s Slow-Motion Crash, America’s Race Against Time

When I heard the news Friday, July 19, that the City of Detroit is declaring bankruptcy, I was saddened, but not at all surprised.  Detroit has been under the jurisdiction of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder, for four months.  Elected Mayor Dave Bing (and former Pistons basketball player), is effectively out of power, but he has been cooperating with Kevyn Orr during this transition.

Later the same day, President Obama made some heartfelt and personal remarks on race relations in America, in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial over the death of Trayvon Martin.  I see a connection of President Obama’s remarks to the racial history of metro Detroit, and how racial tensions were one of the contributing factors to Detroit’s decline over the decades.  Metro Detroit is one of the most segregated regions in America, north of Mississippi.  In some ways, metro Detroit is a Southern City trapped inside of a Northern State.

The City of Detroit could be compared to a slow-motion car crash, decades in the making.  Imagine a circa 1940 or 1950 Chevy cruising down Woodward Avenue, morphing into other vehicle models over time, up through a 2013 Chevy Volt (one of the few vehicles still manufactured in the City of Detroit), just before hitting a financial brick wall.  When watching those slow-motion crash test videos, you know what the outcome will be, but not exactly when the moment of impact will occur.

Although I moved away from metro Detroit in 1986, I grew up there and still have many family members living there, most of who work in the auto industry, or have since retired.  I travel to Detroit once or twice a year to visit my family.  At a young age, I was able to sense the racial and economic trajectory of metro Detroit.  I decided that I would eventually leave the area when I grew up.  I later moved to the Lansing area, before moving to Vermont.

I will try to describe Detroit’s slow-motion car crash in a nutshell.  Given the state of today’s U.S. economy, unemployment, declining middle class and racial tensions, I think there are lessons to be learned from Detroit’s situation.  Detroit has been the favorite punching bag of the news media and people in other states for many years.  But I see signs of what happened in Detoit decades ago in other parts of the country in recent times, even in Rutland County, Vermont where I have lived for 18 years.

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Premature Death: American Lives and Sensible Gun Legislation

Here are some things I’ve been pondering (well before Sandy Hook, and Tucson, AZ and VA Tech, but since 9/11):

If Americans are killed by box-cutter wielding foreign terrorists, most of our elected politicians know exactly what to do:

Invade the wrong country (Iraq).

If Americans are killed by other gun wielding Americans, most of our elected politicians know exactly what to do:

Run away from the NRA and Wayne LaLaLaPierre, blame video games and movies, and complain instead about drones.

How many Americans have been killed by drones on American soil since December 14th, 2012?

I don’t know, but maybe Sen. Rand Paul knows the number.

How many Americans have been killed or attacked by video game wielding Americans since December 14th, 2012?

Maybe a handful of people were beaten with an X-Box or PlayStation controller, who knows?

How many Americans have been killed by gun wielding Americans since December 14th, 2012?

Count as of March 7, 2013: (at least) 2,635 known gun related deaths (gun-wielding Americans killing other Americans), via crowd-sourced data collected from Slate and Twitter (@GunDeaths).

Gun Deaths in America since December 14th, 2012:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

America has a “PREMATURE DEATH” problem.  Too many Americans are dying needlessly while our politicians do very little, or are afraid to even debate the topic.  It seems that our nation’s leaders handle this problem differently if the murderers are foreign versus domestic.  Will an adult, sensible debate and vote on gun-related “premature death” happen in Congress?  Or, will any proposed legislation itself succumb to “Premature Death Syndrome” in Congressional committees?

Any political party or politician in 2014 and beyond who continues to claim that “they are better at protecting us” than their opponent party or candidate, is full of “Shaving Cream” (Benny Bell lyrics).

Martin Had A Dream

As we celebrate this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, I would like to share the lyrics I wrote as a children’s song, an adaptation to the melody of “We Shall Overcome“.

In 1999-2000, a musician friend of mine, Linda MacFarlane, and I had a weekly children’s music gig at the Teacher’s Closet store in downtown Rutland, VT (has since closed, now is Cafe Tera).  For the 2000 MLK Holiday, I came up with some alternative lyrics to “We Shall Overcome”, that we played and sang with the children for that week’s gathering.  Later, Linda and I also used this song when we taught “Guitars In The Classroom” courses, in in 2002-2005, at the Rutland Rec. Dept.

The lyrics are below for you to read, or sing along with.  After that, the guitar chords to verse 1 are listed, in case you want to strum along (or have a friend play guitar for you).

Martin Had A Dream

To the tune of “We Shall Overcome
Song for children, new lyrics by Ron Pulcer (2000)
For Martin Luther King Day (January 15th)

Martin had a dream.
Martin had a dream.
Martin Luther King had a dream…
Oh, deep in his heart,
He did believe,
We could live in peace someday.

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