Saturday, June 28, 2014

Nike and Rainbow Flags

Though I'd intended to blog daily in the weeks leading up to the making of our 17th CD, June found me in a whirl of end-of-the-year parties, potlucks, celebrations, graduations, baby showers, the World Cup, birthdays and most germanely, songwriting. I wrote three new songs for the CD; songs which may have effectively changed the nature of the album. We are now unsure what the title will be. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, here are some of my musings.

It’s Sunday evening at La Veracruzana, a Salvadorian restaurant in downtown Northampton. My family dragged me here (on a school night!) to watch the US play Portugal in the second round of the World Cup. The restaurant's main TV is broken, so everyone has pulled tables and chairs toward the west side of the room to see the TV on the eastern wall, craning their necks and jockeying for position in order to watch. My back is to the screen. I am watching the watchers.
I did slip around at one point to get our dinners from the counter, and this afforded me a good look at the screen. It was still pre-game, and there was a lovely shot from the stadium of the Rio sky, almost violet, with wisps of clouds floating through in the shape of the Nike logo.

“What a sky,” I murmured to no one.

“Ehhn, it’s OK,” said the young man standing next to me. He was wearing a black tee shirt and looked a little like Jian Ghomeshi. “Better than Massachusetts. New England skies don’t impress me.”

I pulled down the corners of my mouth. “I like them.”

“I’m from Colorado,” he shook his head. “No contest.”

I nodded. “I’ll give you that.”

But, he conceded. “I will say that yesterday I drove back here from Boston. Right into the sunset. Now that was a sky.”

Today in church, Steve preached on two different texts. The first was a parable of the Buddha’s, the one about the guy who comes to a river and builds a raft to cross it. He is so thrilled to have crossed safely that he carries the raft with him wherever he goes. “This is not a skillful use of the raft,” says the Buddha.

Then he preached on the end of Luke 9. Jesus tells a guy to follow him. The guy says, “First let me go and bury my father.”

“Let the dead bury their dead,” says Jesus. “But you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Harsh. But effective. Jesus and the Buddha are essentially saying the same thing: let it go. Move on. Don’t cling. In the Jesus passage, the message is even more direct: get over your parents. Whether they were “good” parents or “bad” parents, get over them. Move on. Live your life.

Jay is obsessed with all things soccer, not necessarily in this order: playing it; watching the World Cup; Messi; and anything that has the Nike logo on it. For those who know my son, it’s just one in a long line of obsessions: The Beatles, cars, birds of prey, guitars, Thomas trains, Ninjago, cheetahs, this band from the 90s called The Nields, Colossal Squid.

The Nike thing started a few weeks ago when we went to Famous Footwear to get Elle some shoes. Jay felt deprived, so I threw him a bone; a pack of socks. I might have noticed they were Nikes, and I might have rolled my eyes and shrugged at my unfortunate choice; the latest in my own long line of eco-transgressions. For many years, Nike has been a target for activists wanting to put an end to sweat shop conditions. Here’s more on why Nike is Bad. I used to do pretty well with my consumer boycotts, but eight long years of motherhood has worn me down.

Besides, the more I oppose him about Nike, the more appealing it surely would be to him. I started on about the sweat shops, but somehow he could not draw a connection between the logo that all his favorite kindergarten pals have on their sneakers and the stories I was telling him about unfairness on the other side of the globe.

And why should I? Recently, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I don’t get to boss everyone around. I’ve been noticing that without my excellent advice and bits of wisdom, other people do just fine. Especially my family members. Sometime in the last month, the mild voice of my beloved uncle Brian keeps popping into my head. “They’ll figure it out.” That’s my new motto. He'll find out about bad Nike on his own. We live in Northampton.

My other new motto is, “Everyone is doing the absolute best they can at any given moment.” Even though I might be mightily disappointed with their behavior (or my own), we really are, most of us, doing the best we can with the resources we have. I don’t know if I am right about this, but I do know that when I adopt this attitude, I relax and stop being a pain in other people’s necks.

On the last day of school, Jay announced, “I am going to wear all things that have Nike on them.” He showed up dressed completely in Nike garb, which meant, on a hot June day, he wore a shiny red nylon swim suit top, a pair of navy blue and orange fleecy sweatpants, his royal blue socks, and his sister’s pink and black sports sandals. He could not have been more pleased with himself. Indeed, all items were branded. I looked at him solemnly and nodded. “You are all in Nike.”

He turned on his heel and started out the door; realized it was too hot for the fleecy pants. He ran upstairs and traded them for his favorite pair of Nike shorts, which happen to be hot pink. Satisfied, he left for the day, racing off in his too-big sandals. His last day of Kindergarten. The day before, his class spent all day painting rainbow pride flags. Someone had stolen the school’s Pride flag earlier that week, ripping it down from where it flew underneath the stars and stripes. No problem. The teachers and students of Jackson Street covered the front of the school with rainbows. In the last issue of the JSS Gazette, and 8 year old wrote an editorial about how she thought it was wrong how some people said men couldn’t marry men, or women couldn’t marry women. “Adults should be able to marry anyone they want,” she opined.

So I let my son go to school in his un-PC Nike wear, not worried about what my friends would say about my logo-worshipping son, nor worried that anyone would tease him for wearing pink sandals. He lives in Northampton. These are some of the blessings. Later in the morning, I joined him and his classmates and some of their parents for a last lunch next to the playground. He was racing around the jungle gym. He saw me, and approached the fence, all big eyes and dirty knees. “Can I keep playing, Mama?”

“Of course,” I said and kissed him before he could get away completely. Kindergarten. Over in a flash. His birthday is at the end of August and he wants to invite Messi. “I know he will come,” he says. “He loves soccer, and I am having a soccer party.” I just nod. Why disappoint him now? That would be just trying to protect him from a later disappointment. If disappointment is inevitable (and it always is, isn’t it?) it’s better to let him have the joy now and the disappointment later. I'm thinking that's the proper use of the raft.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Lean In

I am reading Sheryl Sandberg's excellent book Lean In. I understand that she makes some people mad. I am not one of those people, even though, at times as I am reading it, I feel inadequate because I am certainly guilty (again, at times) of NOT leaning in. But usually I feel that I lean in too much, so it's nice to have a breather from that particular Jiminy Cricket.

Patty came across this list of our tour dates circa 2002, when Love and China came out. Katryna's daughter was seven months old at the beginning of 2002, and by the end she was 19 months old. Katryna was most certainly leaning in.

January 5, 2002 Circle of Friends Coffeehouse - Franklin, MA
January 12, 2002 Barns of Wolftrap - Vienna, VA
January 24, 2002 Club Helsinki - Great Barrington, MA
January 25, 2002 Sanders Theater - Cambridge, MA
January 26, 2002 Woodland Coffeehouse
January 27, 2002 House Party- Holyoke, MA (tent)
February 2, 2002 Mass College of Liberal Arts - North Adams, MA
February 4, 2002 Taft Theater - Cincinnati, OH (o/f CAKE)
February 5, 2002 Palace Theater - Louisville,KY (o/f CAKE)
February 8, 2002 University of Rochester - Rochester, NY
February 9, 2002 Cornel Folk Music Society - Ithaca, NY
February 13, 2002 The Mint (Nerissa & Pam) - Los Angeles, CA
February 21, 2002 Makor, NYC
February 22, 2002 Wilde Auditorium - Hartford, CT
February 23, 2002 Owings Mills, MD (o/f Cheryl Wheeler)
February 24, 2002 Cherry Tree, Philly
March 4, 2002 Homegrown - TV in Greenfield, MA
March 5, 2002 CD Release Date
March 5, 2002 3:30pm For the Record - Amherst, MA
March 5, 2002 6:00pm B-Side Records - Northampton, MA
March 6, 2002 3:00pm Cutlers - New Haven
March 8, 2002 College- Gardner, MA
March 20, 2002 All Ground Up- Elyria, OH
March 22, 2002 12:30 WYSO Phone Interview
March 22, 2002 3:00pm WFPK - Radio Interview
March 22, 2002 5:30pm Ear Ecstasy - Louisville, KY
March 23, 2002 Canal Street - Dayton, OH
March 24, 2002 York Street - Cincinnati, OH
March 24, 2002 2:30pm WNKU -KY Radio (arrive by 2:15pm)
March 27, 2002 One Trick Pony - Grand Rapids, MI
March 27, 2002 3:45 pm WYCE (arrive at 3:15pm)
March 28, 2002 4:00pm Acoustic Cafe Radio - Ann Arbor, MI
March 28, 2002 The Ark - Ann Arbor, MI
March 29, 2002 Earlham College, Richmond, IN
March 30, 2002 Club Cafe - Pittsburg, PA
April 5, 2002 Pres House - Madison, WI
April 6, 2002 Washington Univ. - St Louis, MO
April 10, 2002 9:00am WFUV - New York City (arrive at 8:30am)
April 11, 2002 5:00pm WRSI, Northampton (arrive 4:45pm)
April 12, 2002 Valley Players Theater - Waitsfield, VT
April 13, 2002 Iron Horse - Northampton, MA
April 17, 2002 The Fez - NYC
April 19, 2002 The Fez - NYC
April 20, 2002 Towne Crier Cafe - Pawling, NY
April 21, 2002 United Church on the Green - New Haven, CT
April 24, 2002 12:00 (noon) WUMB - Dorchester, MA
April 26, 2002 Emerson Umbrella - Concord, MA
April 27, 2002 Wells College - Aurora, NY
April 28, 2002 Daffodil Festival - Meriden, CT
April 30, 2002 Rehearsal with the Kennedys in NYC
May 2, 2002 Cats Cradle - Carborro, NC
May 3, 2002 Birchmere - Alexandria, VA
May 4, 2002 Dar's Wedding
May 7, 2002 Reich Benefit Show
May 8, 2002 Brandies University - Waltham, MA
May 11, 2002 Sedgwick, Philadelphia, PA
May 15, 2002 2pm - Scholastic Book Meeting 557 Broadway (between prince & spring)
May 16, 2002 3:00pm WDIY
May 16, 2002 Godfrey Daniels - Bethlehem, PA
May 18, 2002 Unity Centre for the Perf Arts - Unity, ME
May 19, 2002 Iron Horse/Dylan Event
May 20, 2002 Amelia's Birthday
May 28, 2002 9:00am Meeting with Brian
May 28, 2002 6:00pm - Dinner with Philip
May 31, 2002 Democratic State Convention
June 1, 2002 Appel Farm - Elmer, NJ
June 3, 2002 LORI'S BIRTHDAY
June 7, 2002 Uptown Concerts - Baltimore, MD
June 15, 2002 Clearwater Festival
June 16, 2002 King of Prussia
June 20, 2002 Club Helsinki - Great Barrington, MA
June 22, 2002 Ruth Eckard Hall- Clearwater, FL
June 29, 2002 Forksville Folk Festival, Forksville, PA
July 3, 2002 Kennedy Center- Washington, DC
July 5, 2002 The Garage - Winston Salem
July 6, 2002 ENO - Festival
July 18, 2002 The Palms- Davis, CA
July 19, 2002 Freight and Salvage - Berkeley, CA
July 20, 2002 California World Music Festival - first show at 1:30pm
July 21, 2002 California World Music Festival 11:30am
July 27, 2002 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
July 28, 2002 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
August 2, 2002 IMAC - Huntington, NY opening for Dar ($200)
August 7, 2002 Red Sox vs. Oakland A's
August 17, 2002 Levitt Pavillion- Westport, CT
August 18, 2002 House Concert- Falls River, MA
August 23, 2002 Ottawa Folk Festival
August 24, 2002 Ottawa Folk Festival
August 25, 2002 Ottawa Folk Festival
August 27, 2002 Transperformance - CANADA
September 2, 2002 LABOR DAY
September 6, 2002 Acoustic Cafe - Bridgeport, CT
September 7, 2002 Alfred University - Alfred, NY
September 13, 2002 Long Island House Concert
September 14, 2002 Harvest Moon Festival - Warwick, NY
September 24, 2002 Towsen University - Towsen, MD $1900
September 27, 2002 FEZ - NYC
September 28, 2002 Stone Soup - Providence, RI
October 4, 2002 South Shore Folk Music Club - Kingston, MA
October 5, 2002 Iron Horse - Northampton, MA
October 9, 2002 Paul Smiths College
October 12, 2002 Somerville Theater - Somerville, MA
October 13, 2002 Grey Goose
October 18, 2002 WAMC - Albany, NY
October 19, 2002 Towne Crier-Pawling, NY
October 20, 2002 Night Eagle - Oxford, NY
October 25, 2002 Me and Thee - Marblehead, MA
November 1, 2002 Tin Angel - Philadelphia, PA
November 2, 2002 Roaring Brook Concerts - Canton, CT
November 14, 2002 Penn State Dubios
November 15, 2002 Club Cafe - Pittsburgh
November 16, 2002 12 corners coffeehouse Rochester
November 22, 2002 McCabe - Los Angles
November 23, 2002 Tracktor- Seattle
November 28, 2002 THANKSGIVING
December 6, 2002 Birchmere-Alexandria VA
December 7, 2002 Titusville, NJ
December 13, 2002 Opera House - Newport, HN
December 14, 2002 Joyful Noise Coffeehouse-Lexington, MA
December 31, 2002 First Night Northampton

Now, when I was having my first baby, this is what we sent out to fans:

A picture (or touring schedule) is worth a thousand words. I can't believe how hard we worked twelve years ago when our first duo CD came out. And at the time, it seemed we were slacking, since it was way fewer dates than we'd played as a band. I saw my bed (and my dog) a lot more in 2002 than I had in 2000, or 1998. But today, just looking at this list makes me exhausted.

I will (I hope) say something more intelligent about Lean In when I finish it, but right now I have to get our Nields News out to you. (If you don't get Nields News, go to our web page and subscribe!) For now I will leave you with this, from Sheryl Sandberg (though not original with her):

Done is better than perfect.