Thursday, September 22, 2005
New Orleans, music and compassion
Missing New Orleans
New Orleans needs help. While the major charities are collecting and dispensing financial, medical and infrastructure support and the federal government is looking at allocating $200 billion for rebuilding, there are more personal ways to help too. The overriding reason to help in a way that is personally meaningful to you as well as contributing to the major charities, is unique in the case of New Orleans, arguably the most unique city in the world: When people go to New Orleans, everyone there is helpful, friendly and hospitable. It's time to repay that extraordinary municipal spirit and repay it the way it extends to every visitor--from the heart. New Orleans is the birthplace, heart and soul of American music.
Community radio is a vital cultural asset, and those stations that have great music can be enormous nourishment in difficult as well as ordinary times. There's been a dearth of ordinary times lately, which is to say that the American psyche is plagued with misfortune and despair, cynicism and divisive politics. I love listening to the streaming broadcast of WERU, a small and very hip station in Maine. If you read this in time, tune into Doc Dufour's Highway 61, a Dylan-focused radio show at 10:00 PM EST (GMT -4 for you expats) --or on any Thursday. Charlie is a curmudgeonly and supremely knowledgeable deejay with a lot of hard-to-find tracks in his library. WERU has a lot of great shows by dedicated volunteer deejays with supreme playlist taste, including bluegrass, folk, country, soul and jazz. Their schedule is here .
Through WERU, I found out about WFMU, another freeform radio station, this one from New Orleans. Freeform Radio is: "An approach to radio programming in which a station's management gives the DJ complete control over program content. Freeform shows are as different as the personalities of DJ's, but they share a feeling of spontaneity, a tendency to play music that is not usually heard." (from WFMU's website)
WFMU has an eclectic banana bunch of intriguing programs, too and an online schedule that lets you click up a sample of a program or explore the online archives. This morning early (China time) I listened to an amazing program of Southern spiritual music. Through WFMU, I found out about WWOZ.
WWOZ, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage station, lost their entire production facility to Katrina and needs help. They're off the air until they can get a temporary transmitter up. Check out WFMU's terrific blog for details and go to the WWOZ membership page to help out.
Arlo Guthrie, who made the song "City of New Orleans" famous, is riding that train's route to help resuscitate the music scene there. He's scheduling a tour to collect equipment and money for the music venues that succumbed to Hurricane Katrina. He says:
When I think of New Orleans, I think of music. I also think of food, but that's another story. The City of New Orleans is America's first music city. New Orleans is the city that truly began America's contribution to the history of music world-wide. Without it, there'd be no popular music as we know it today.
"Christmas on The City of New Orleans with Arlo Guthrie and Friends:" Bringing Back The Music Benefiting The Victims of Katrina will depart Chicago on December 7th and arrive in New Orleans on December 17th. Along the way they will stop in depots and performance venues, play concerts to raise money, and collect or purchase equipment.
It costs what it costs
About that 200 million that Bush will ask congress to ante up for Katrina relief. At the press conference in New Orleans on September 15, when asked by a reporter how much rebuilding the south coast will cost, Bush replied: "it's going to cost whatever it costs." That's the right answer. And as for fiscal concerns, an article in USA today reports on the various ideas for consolidating those funds that are being discussed in Washington:
It costs what it costs. That's the right answer. It'll take some sacrifice and tops on my list is to let the tax cuts for the rich expire.
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