Snow in Austin, Winter in America – Still

A year and two weeks ago, I wrote Snow in Austin, Winter in America, based on a powerful song by Gil Scott-Heron. I think that post is some of my best work, not necessarily prize-winning, but in trying to capture a mood. (You should go read it now. I’ll wait.) The street poet, progenitor of rap, musician, and author was a voice of conscience regarding the state of Black people in America, among other things. He could also lay down some serious grooves to go with his strong words; Winter in America is in a minor key and has a great blues flute solo. I wrote that post right before coronavirus began its whirlwind tour of the US — just before it went viral. (Ha!) It was a few months before the modern-day lynching of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. (Not ha.) Scott-Heron died on May 27, 2011, a decade ago later this year. What would he have to say about Floyd’s killer, Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin still being out on bail awaiting trial and maybe even getting some justice for George (yeah, we’ll see about that)? Time marches on. But as Sting once sang,“History will teach us nothing.” The prophetic music and lyrics of Scott-Heron and others like him (Marvin Gaye comes to mind) are relevant — still. Maybe in GSH’s poetry we can find a little solace in these cold and dark days. Or maybe we’ll get pissed and take action somehow. It is Black History Month, but is there more to it than history?

Scott-Heron performing at WOMAD in Bristol, 1986
Gil Scott-Heron in 1986. Source
Continue reading

Meeting Bicyclists and Writers at a Poetry Reading in Austin, Texas

My first time at Malvern Books, a small independent store in Austin, Texas, was exactly what I expected and yet wholly surprising. The expected part was that people would come to hear the author and the poet, there’d be snacks before and Q & A plus schmoozing after. One Page Salon creator and host Owen Egerton had announced the reading of his good friend Walter Moore, who also read a page earlier in the week. When I bicycled over to the site formerly adjacent to Vulcan Video, I was greeted outside the door by Owen. He took a moment from his conversation with the smoking guest poet to smile at me. I thought he was opening the door but instead gave me a big hug. Sorpresa numero uno.

Continue reading

Paul Simon: Poet, Musician, Legend

Paul Simon and his band played the large concert Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center in Austin, Texas tonight.  I hesitate to even attempt to review the show, but I can certainly try to put in words the emotions his music evoked and other thoughts that come to mind.  Even that is hard, because he is such an important part of American music for over 60 years.  He’s a winner of countless awards, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 13-time Grammy winner, actor, had music featured in movies (notably The Graduate) and much more.  There are popular musicians who become famous, but some are at the next level, and he’s one of the greats for sure. Continue reading