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
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Snow in Austin, Winter in America

Snow fell from the cold, dark skies on my bike ride home from the gym. The frozen precipitation is rare in Central Texas, especially in relatively mild winters like we’ve been having. So it’s a wondrous sight when it does snow. I felt lucky to have been outside riding when it came down. Light, white, wet kisses on my face melted quickly. Some accumulated on car hoods and lawn chairs, and the roommates and dogs were happy to see and feel it, too.

Of course in other places, there are no romantic notions about snow, because they’re drowning in it and shoveling it by metric ton. Another substance is also being shoveled in similar quantities, but it’s brown, smelly, and comes out of the back end of a cow. And by that of course, I can only be referring to the State of the Union, which was by some accounts a total snow job. Winter isn’t coming, Jon Snow, it’s already here. The revolution will not be televised. It’s winter in America.

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We Are the World, Not Narrow-Minded, Nationalistic Neo-Nazis!

It’s Independence Day, or July 4th, in the United States of America.  A day when we are supposed to pause as a nation to reflect upon our history, throwing off our British oppressors, and founding a new nation that cherished the ideals of freedom, democracy, equality and much more.  But usually people set off fireworks, cook alot of meat, drink alot of beer, and don’t think anything of it.  And woe be to anyone like A Dude who declares himself a citizen of the world.  After all, the location of my birthplace was a completely random event.  I could be Swedish, Afghani, Congolese, Inuit, or even from New Jersey.  The horror!

Today’s blog was going to be a review of my statistics about my blog.  And that just seemed frivolous, as things do when you’re having deep thoughts.  So as I went on my 25-mile ride, with people setting off fireworks all around me, I couldn’t help but think about the dichotomy, contradiction even, between those historic ideals and present, very ugly realities.  With the backdrop of the World Cup on my mind, and given how few people still actually read my words, I decided to throw in my two cents about how wrong it is to treat immigrants like second-class citizens, and the dangerous path toward neo-fascism the U.S. appears to be on.

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