Tag Archives: boston

Elizabeth Warren and the Commonwealth’s High Stakes

15 Nov

Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, addressed a crowd of about a thousand people on November 13th in Boston. I was among them. In the middle of the indoor track/multi-purpose space at Roxbury Community College‘s Reggie Lewis Athletic Center, Warren and her team addressed the crowd, visibly pleased by the high turnout on the beautiful fall day.

Elizabeth Warren speaks to crowds in Boston November 13, 2011. Photo via Elizabeth Warren for MA, http://www.elizabethwarren.com.

The focus was clear: more honesty, transparency and equity in the nation’s economy. When Warren discussed her creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she received a standing ovation from much of the crowd- and she’s right to toot her horn over that victory. Warren spoke of her history as part of an American family on the edge of the middle class, and the truthfulness of her story shone through the hardening campaign trail speak. She came down firmly on U.S.-based firms based that pay no taxes here. All of that was important – but it’s not the whole story.

We don’t live in an economy; we live in a society. One of my high school classmates used this phrase to chide Republicans for focusing so much on reducing costs of government, rather acknowledging the people who need the resources that some government funding can provide. Well, it’s not only Republicans who can focus too heavily on the dollar amounts of governance. Though the reasoning is different, Democrats who lean too heavily into fixing our illin’ nation with fiscal policies alone will fail as hard as Republicans who’ve done the same. Money is but one of many resources that shape how Americans live, structure families, work, enjoy, commute, eat, shag, travel, spend, and die. Policies – and politicians – need to understand the importance of well-rounded policies and presentation in addressing life-or-death issues.

Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy will have to find a balance between the personal, political and financial if it is to succeed, especially with once-hopeful, now disillusioned 18-30 voters. Warren is a remarkably strong candidate, and is already running a better race than that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley threw down to fill Senator Ted Kennedy’s RIP-vacated seat in 2010.  It’s not more substance that is needed, exactly – but rather, more facets.

I hope that going forward, Warren takes the credit she deserves for being a smart, relatable attorney who learned Washington’s system the hard way, and stood up to corporate interests dabbling in politics. But with two wars abroad, the failed war on drugs and the truly grim war on women at home, we need to know more than her stance on lobbyists in Congress. Rather than play to moderates through vague answers on tough social issues, I want to hear Warren proudly tout Massachusetts’ healthcare as an example for the rest of the nation. I want her to put forth her views on issues such as immigration, environmental protection, and women’s rights (no, it’s not just about choice – though that’s important, too.)

Seeing Elizabeth Warren in person made me excited to support a strong woman candidate. But if Democrats are serious about taking this Senate seat back from Scott Brown and the Republicans, Warren will need to strengthen her appeal by taking clear, brave, and necessary stances.  And by providing the new solutions that the next generation is calling for.

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I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up to No Good

27 Oct

“I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties imposed upon me by appointment as an Election Officer of the City of Boston, according to the Laws of this Commonwealth, so help me God.”

Yep.  That’s right, folks, I’m going to be a poll worker.  No, not that kind of poll worker – though I do have a lot of respect for sex workers.

Oh, you’re without an address and have no ID?  Right this way, m’am….

This is going to be interesting.

My Favorite Band Today: Gracious Calamity

15 Aug

Gracious Calamity, part of local Boston label WhiteHaus Family Records, is polished brass folk music for people who’ve done punk, but who grow weary of the formulaicly coiffed, piss-stained, nightclubbed to death, boy-overloaded scene.

I happened to catch a whiff of what they’ve got cookin’ one day on a local radio station, perhaps WZBC  or WERS– and the scent was distinctly different from that of the rest of New England’s epicurial (which is to say, independent music) scene.  I immediately went and bought their most recent record, Carefree Since ’83, on Bandcamp.  For an absurdly cheap 5 bucks I continued to be both impressed and transported to another land.  A land free of the uptight, tight-lipped, unfriendly vibes of the North. Free of the ubermarketable folk-inspired-ish power ballads getting too much air time of late (Mumford and Bros., anyone?)  Gracious Calamity pack a different punch, full of melancholic lemon shandies infused with lilac wine.

Gracious Calamity's Kit Wallach & Kate Lee. Image via Whitehaus Family Records.

Though somewhat mysterious – all the deejay spinning Gracious Calamity had said was that they’d be playing Boston that Friday – the band had scattered slices of information available online.  GC appears to be a two-piece band that occasionally collaborates with coconspirators; Whitehaus is also a music collective, after all.  Musicians Kit Wallach’s and Kate Lee’s voices have elements of Thao Nguyen (whose collaboration with Mirah is another of my favorite musical things right now), Devendra Banhardt (get yr freak folk on, Weird America), and Joni Mitchell.  Together the pair cast tuneful spells.

According to Whitehaus Family Records’ website, Gracious Calamity is essentially all about the vocals:

At the core of Gracious Calamity is the blessing of two voices singing together. Woven around that are interlocking threads of ukulele and guitar, picking out half-remembered, half-dreamt old-time melodies. The resulting sound is something you might hear when you have been wandering alone through the jungle or a very thick forest, and you start to imagine wisps of human voice on the vine. It was probably just a bird or some far out insect. But because you are alone you tell yourself a story about two sisters who have built themselves string instruments out of plants and spend the days wandering and singing, mimicking the sounds of the forest.

But it is the melding of Wallach’s and Lee’s gorgeous sopranos with bigger sounding arrangements that make Carefree Since ’83 such a beautiful (if brief) album.  Chimes twinkle.  A deep bass steers the rhythm.  An innocent flute adds intrigue, reminiscent on “Happens All the Time” of Peter and the Wolf’s playful, silver sylvan wanderings. Crisp drumming sounds out as though its beats are on the side of a steel garbage can or an antique firearm.  Guitar and ukelele blend together, line dancing toward melody and away in sweet, gentle, slightly-out-of-tune imagery richer than the Americone dream.  As a fanatic wordsmith, the lyrics are the lunar standout for me.  Gracious Calamity has all the poetic lyricism of a Joanna Newsom ballad, complete with wacked out Biblical references, yet distinct from Newsom’s soulful harp-backed trilling.  At times GC sing a sorrowful chant floating on the front porch, and at others a ode to solitary strength (“I’ve got enough people to love/ I don’t need any other/ Don’t need another lover/ Don’t need nobody to keep me warm… In the middle of the night, in the middle of the summer”).  Rhyme schemes are toyed with cleverly and spun into woolly spiderwebs.  Songs sing out to lovers, dying relatives, travelers with perforated heels, the once-beloved who must now be replaced.  The tidy record stretches out in a summertime hammock, kicks its hemp sandals off, and in its own lovely way, rocks OUT.

Listen to “Happens All the Time”

Listen to “Stone That Grazes My Mind”

Buy “Carefree Since ’83” on Bandcamp

List of Boston Area Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Resources and Publications

22 Jul

Had to compile this list for a project I’m working on, so I thought I’d share it.  Only organizations known to be currently active were included.  This is a partial listing.

LGBTQ Networks in Boston

Boston LGBT Film Festival

www.bostonlgbtfilmfest.org.

Email info@bostonlgbtfilmfest.org or executivedirector@bostonlgbtfilmfest.org

617) 233-1190

QWOC- Queer Women of Color

www.qwocboston.org

outspoken@qwocboston.org or qwoctalk@qwocboston.org

Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

http://www.masstpc.org

info@masstpc.org

617-778-0519

MTPC

PO Box 301897

Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

EDGE Boston

www.edgeboston.com

press@edgemedianetwork.com

EDGE Publications, Inc.

434 Massachusetts Avenue #501

Boston, MA 02118

617.422-0707

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

http://chapters.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/massachusetts/home.html

PO Box 302103

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130

P: (617) 536-9669; F: (617) 238-2467;

Email: glsen@glsenmassachusetts.org

Gay Fathers of Boston- A Resource for Gay Parents

www.gayfathersboston.org

outreach@gayfathersboston.org

Outreach Phone:

(781) 333-8429

Boston Bisexual Resource Center

www.biresource.net

P.O. Box 170796

Boston, MA 02117

617.424.9595

brc@biresource.net

Out In Boston (online magazine)

www.outinboston.com

Add events to the Out Calendar at http://www.outinboston.com/resources/calendar.asp?editEvent=-1

PFLAG: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

www.gbpflag.org

Greater Boston PFLAG

85 River St., Suite 3A

P.O. Box 541619

Waltham, MA 02454

Tel: 781-891-5966

Fax: 781-891-7444

Email: info@gbpflag.org

Mass Equality

www.massequality.org

262 Washington St, 7th Floor

Boston, MA 02108

(617) 878-2300

FAX (617) 878-2333

Email info@massequality.org

Metropolitan Community Church of Boston: A Church of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Queer Community

http://www.mccboston.org

Phone: 617.973.0404

Email: church@mccboston.org

SoJust- Socializing for Justice

LGBTQ-friendly events calendar, trainings and networking

http://www.sojust.org/

GLAD- Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders

www.glad.org

30 Winter Street, STE 800

Boston, MA 02108

Phone: (617) 426-1350

Fax: (617) 426-3594

Email: gladlaw@glad.org

Enjoy!  Yay, gay.

-Sam