Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Landscape Is a Mirror


. . . a splendid revealer of things not often seen
with the eyes of everyday life.



Last Wednesday (March 22) was Earth Day, an annual event celebrated around the world to show and encourage support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

To mark Earth Day this year, I spent time after work down by the Mississippi River with my friend Adnan. I'm fortunate to live in a part of south Minneapolis very close to the river. And as you'll see from the images I share in this post, it's a very beautiful area of urban wilderness.

Along with photos taken on Earth Day by the Mississippi, I also include in this post some images from this past Sunday when I visited a friend who lives beside a small lake in Minnetonka. This post's opening image shows reflections of trees in part of this lake.

Speaking of reflections, the title of this post comes from Frank MacEowen's book, The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers, in particular that part in which he talks about the “Way of the Earth” as an essential component of a true spiritual framework, one rooted in a practical embodied spiritualty and which brings people together in the “awareness that we are all bound together in this holy tapestry of living shapes.”

An excerpt from MacEowen's book is also part of this post. This sharing reflects my growing interest in Celtic spirituality (including Celtic Christianity), which I'm discovering shares many characteristics with other indigenous (i.e., Earth-oriented) spiritual traditions from around the world, most foundationally the experience of a deep, abiding, and transforming connection with nature.




The landscape is a mirror. It is a splendid revealer of things not often seen with the eyes of everyday life. When walking out on the land, it is good to invite the “eyes of the seer” and the "eyes of the poet"“eyes of the poet” to be present. These are eyes that see the true shape of things. Poets and seers see things differently. When we relax the literal thinking mind and enter a landscape with more fluid perceptions (a soft gaze), we soon find that we become changed. We are then able to connect with our primal, preliterate selves. This preliterate, or perhaps postliterate, state of consciousness opens us to the Great Mirror of Nature.

The Great Mirror is that striking feature of Creation that soulfully reflects back to us our own soul when we slow our rhythm and our daily pace down long enough to be recipents of its wisdom.

Through the Celtic practice of merging the human soul with the soul of nature and the soul of place, a deep healing occurs. A profoundly sacred education awaits us all. But, as Quaker educator and philosopher Parker Palmer has said, “Education isn't necessarily a learning, but very often an unlearning of false perceptions or a remembering of what we've forgotten.”

The Celtic path of working with the beauty of Creation is one of dialogue. It is not a one-way conversation. This work is about allowing ourselves to become one-third of the sacred dialogue. We open ourselves to the inherent intelligence of the earth, the earth leans toward us in response, and a third thing is created: a true human being.




Those who follow the Celtic mystical paths have always perceived nature as sacred. There is an unspoken understanding that nature acts as a reflective mirror, shining back our own soul's essence and sometimes even prophetic information. The Great Mirror reminds us of our truest self. For this reason any spiritual work with the natural world, whether prayer, pilgrimage, hillwalking, fasting, or purification practices, is an invitation to return to the primal (meaning “original”) essence of who we really are.

Frank MacEowen
(From The Mist-Filled Path, pp. 231-232)












NEXT: Spring Awakens


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Thomas Moore on the Circling of Nature as the Best Way to Find Our Substance
In This In-Between Time
Mistwalking
Holy Encounters Where Two Worlds Meet
The Mysticism of Trees
Celtic Spirituality: “A Fluid, Transmutable Affair”
The Prayer Tree
Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019: On Sacred Ground
This Holy Trinity
Earth Day 2015
Quote of the Day – September 19, 2014
Earth Day 2013
Time and the River
Somewhere In Between

Related Off-site Link:
Bill McKibben on Earth Day at 50: We Must Stop Subsidizing Fossil Fuel Industry Wrecking the PlanetDemocracy Now! (April 22, 2020).

Images: Michael J. Bayly and Adnan.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Marianne Williamson: “This Is a Time of Transformation”

Author and former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson continues, like many at this time, to hunker down at home (or in her case, at a friend's home in Florida) as she sits out the worst of the current coronavirus pandemic.

True to form, Marianne is not just being mindful of her own heart and spirit during this time but also the hearts and spirits of others. This compassionate mindfulness is being manifested in an ongoing series of videos and audios that she's releasing on her various social media platforms on pretty much a daily basis. I haven't tuned into all of them but I did watch last Thursday's video, and its message very much resonated with me. Perhaps it will resonate with you too!





See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
The Calm Before the Storm
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020
Examining the Link Between Destruction of Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Examining the Link Between Destruction of Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases



Following are excerpts from six articles that explore how human destruction of biodiversity contributes to increasing disease threats. This exploration is especially timely and important given the current global coronavirus (or COVID-19) pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic is an incredible human tragedy. Today an estimated one million people have been infected by the virus, and over 50,000 have died. And, for the foreseeable future, those numbers will be rising sharply.

But this is not the first time a new disease erupted into the human population, causing significant harm. Consider the H1N1 influenza virus, SARS, MERS, Zika virus, Nipah virus, Hantavirus, and Ebola. Or consider the terrible toll of HIV. In fact, during the last few decades, the world has seen many “emerging” and “re-emerging” infectious diseases.

It seems odd that these emerging infectious diseases erupted into the world after the massive improvements in public health of the 20th century, when we saw the biggest gains in life expectancy in human history. The discovery and deployment of antibiotics, the widespread use of vaccinations, increased sanitation, better food and water security, and other medical miracles extended our lives and reduced human suffering. But it also gave us the illusion that infectious diseases were a thing of the past.

But recent decades have shown us that infectious diseases never really left, and they’re back with a vengeance.

Despite what some politicians and pundits are saying, this is not a surprise. Scientists have been ringing the alarm for decades, urging us to be better prepared. Countless reports have warned us during the last thirty years, including numerous pieces by Dr. Anthony Fauci. In the popular literature, Laurie Garrett warned us about this in her New York Times best-selling book, The Coming Plague in 1994. And Dr. Larry Brilliant spoke about this in his TED talk (which has over one billion views) in 2006.

They all warned us that changing environmental conditions were contributing to increasing disease threats. Numerous studies highlighted how infectious diseases could arise from deforestation, habitat and biodiversity loss, wildlife exploitation, the bushmeat and traditional medicine trade, confined animal agriculture, and antibiotic misuse.

Smart leaders knew this was coming. Scientists told them, again and again. And some wise leaders started to prepare. Sadly, others ignored the science, and some recently dismantled key programs needed to combat these threats.

So, here we are.

. . . While other factors can give rise to emerging infectious disease, human activities are a driver of many. In fact, back in 2005, my colleagues and I wrote an article in Science that pointed out that “Habitat modification, road and dam construction, irrigation, increased proximity of people and livestock, and the concentration or expansion of urban environments all modify the transmission of infectious disease and can lead to outbreaks and emergence episodes.”

We knew that the loss of habitats and biodiversity, breaking down natural ecological systems, and increasing contact between dense human populations, wild animal products, and poorly-regulated animal agriculture, was a recipe for disaster.

Many more studies have reinforced these conclusions. In a recent article by John Vidall, he concludes that the continued decline of biodiversity and habitat worldwide could lead to many more incidents like COVID-19.

– Jonathan Foley
Excerpted from “After the Storm
Medium
April 2, 2020



The role of biodiversity in disease prevention has received increased attention of late. In a 2015 “state of knowledge review” of biodiversity and human health by the United Nations, scientists wrote that “an ecological approach to disease, rather than a simplistic 'one germ, one disease' approach, will provide a richer understanding of disease-related outcomes.” Recent research has given more support to the idea that biodiversity protection in one part of the world can prevent novel diseases from emerging and leaping into another.

It’s a numbers game, in part. Not all species in a community are equally susceptible to a given disease, nor are they all equally efficient transmitters. In diverse ecosystems well separated from human habitations, viruses ebb and flow without ever having a chance to make it to the big time.

But as people move in, those protections begin to break down. Disrupted ecosystems tend to lose their biggest predators first, and what they leave behind are smaller critters that live fast, reproduce in large numbers, and have immune systems more capable of carrying disease without succumbing to it. When there are only a few species left, they’re good at carrying disease, and they thrive near people, there may be nothing between a deadly pathogen and all of humanity.

– Eric Roston
Excerpted from “Want to Stop the Next Pandemic?
Start Protecting Wildlife Habitats

Bloomberg via TIME
April 8, 2020



COVID-19 is not a separate issue from climate change. It is precisely because humans have so badly damaged the environment and thrown nature out of balance that novel epidemics are happening. COVID-19 is not a one off emergency that we will sort out and be done with. It may be the new normal. Climate change will bring with it cascading catastrophes. We will not be able to manage one before another hits. The only chance we have is to act immediately and on a scale humanity has not done before.

– McAuley Hentges
via Facebook
April 20, 2020



There’s misapprehension among scientists and the public that natural ecosystems are the source of threats to ourselves. It’s a mistake. Nature poses threats, it is true, but it’s human activities that do the real damage. The health risks in a natural environment can be made much worse when we interfere with it. Rodents and some bats thrive when we disrupt natural habitats. They are the most likely to promote transmissions [of pathogens]. The more we disturb the forests and habitats the more danger we are in.

– Richard Ostfeld
Quoted in John Vidal's article, “'Tip of the Iceberg':
Is Our Destruction of Nature Responsible for Covid-19?

The Guardian
March 18, 2020



We must stop talking about everything as it benefits us and start realizing that the reason for this pandemic now is because we have shown so little respect for the natural world, with destroying more and more forest and animal species being pushed together. Viruses spilling over from one species to another, which normally wouldn't [happen]; animals pushed into closer contact with people [farming], for example, another opportunity for spillover of viruses. And then of course, the animal trafficking and export and the number of animals that are being sold in these so-called wet markets in Asia, but also the bushmeat in Africa.

These viruses have been predicted for many years and [were written about] in the book Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen. People haven't listened; they haven't learned from the last SARS epidemic.

The silver lining [of this current pandemic] is that many people for the first time ever have breathed clean air, because with the shutdown of some of the big businesses the air has become cleaner in places like Mumbai and Beijing.

The hope is that enough people will realize what they've been missing, [that there will be] a groundswell of people determined somehow to persuade business and government to do things differently, to have a different mindset. And unfortunately, materialism and big business being what it is, I fear that business will work even more quickly to catch up on all the revenue they've lost, and it's a real conundrum because of business shutdown, commercial things being closed down. People have lost their jobs, and they're suffering.

On the other hand, it's giving a respite to nature. So we have to find a balance, we have to get back to a different way of doing things.

– Jane Goodall
Quoted in Kathleen Rellihan's article, “Jane Goodall Says
Pandemic Is Due to 'Little Respect for the Natural World.'
But There's Hope for This Planet Yet

Newsweek
April 22, 2020



If we fail to understand and take care of the natural world, it can cause a breakdown of [biodiverse] systems and come back to haunt us in ways we know little about. A critical example is a developing model of infectious disease that shows that most epidemics – AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, Lyme disease and hundreds more that have occurred over the last several decades – don’t just happen. They are a result of things people do to nature.

Disease, it turns out, is largely an environmental issue. Sixty percent of emerging infectious diseases that affect humans are zoonotic – they originate in animals. And more than two-thirds of those originate in wildlife.

We destroy them and they gift us self-destruction keys.

– Jim Robbins
Excerpted from “The Ecology of Disease
The New York Times
July 15, 2012


Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Without “Transformative Change” to Global Economic Systems, Humans Risk Causing More Deadly Pandemics – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, April 27, 2020).
Amid Dual Crises of Climate and Covid-19, World Leaders Told “Empty Words Will Not Help Us” – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, April 28, 2020).
She Predicted the Coronavirus. What Does She Foresee Next? – Frank Bruni (The New York Times via Yahoo! News, May 4, 2020).
The Indigenous Communities That Predicted Covid-19 – Rachel Nuwer (BBC Travel, May 4, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
The Calm Before the Storm
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
Something to Think About – February 10, 2020
Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020
Something to Think About – April 22, 2020

Image: Photographer unknown.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Something to Think About . . .




Related Off-site Links:
Powerful Photos Show Healthcare Workers Quietly Standing Up to Lockdown Protesters in Denver – James Pasley (Insider, April 20, 2020).
The Right-wing Groups Behind the Wave of Protests Against Covid-19 Restrictions – Jason Wilson (The Guardian, April 17, 2020).
The Lockdown Is Tough. Ending It Too Soon Would Be Worse – Noah Smith (Bloomberg, April 16, 2020).
Trump Calls to “Liberate” States Where Protesters Have Demanded Easing Coronavirus Lockdowns – John Fritze and David Jackson (USA Today via Yahoo! News, April 17, 2020).
Pro-Trump Protesters Push Back on Stay-at-Home Orders – Sarah Rankin, Sean Murphy, David Eggert and Scott Bauer (Associated Press via PBS Newshour, April 17, 2020).
In Trump's “Liberate” Tweets, Extremists See a Call to Arms – Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny (NBC News, April 17, 2020).
“Liberate Minnesota” Didn’t Liberate Anything – David Weiss (Full Frontal Faith, April 18, 2020).
White People Have Been HOME for 3 Weeks – “Oh, the Oppression” – Hannah Drake (WriteSomeShit.com, April 15, 2020).
Christ the Redeemer Statue Lit Up as Doctor to Honor Frontline Medical Workers During Coronavirus Pandemic – Caitlin O'Kane (CBS News, April 13, 2020).
How America Built the Best Pandemic Response System in History – and Threw It Away – Will Dunn (New Statesman, March 24, 2020).

UPDATES: “That's the One There”: How a Photo of a Protesting Nurse in Phoenix Went Viral – Richard Ruelas (Arizona Republic, April 24, 2020).
To the People Protesting Stay-At-Home Orders: How Dare You – Kristine Koser (Yahoo! Life, April 24, 2020).
Coronavirus Cases Are Spiking in Places Where Trump Supporters Protested Stay-At-Home Orders – Sean Colarossi (PoliticusUSA, April 25, 2020).
Hospital Workers Like Me Are Waging a War Against Coronavirus. Where Is Our GI Bill? – Elizabeth May (The Intercept, April 23, 2020).
Coronavirus Has Now Killed More Americans Than Vietnam War – David Welna (NPR News, April 28, 2020).
Georgia Has Hundreds Of New COVID-19 Cases After Reopening On Friday – Moná Thomas (Narcity, April 28, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
The Calm Before the Storm
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020


Monday, April 20, 2020

Keeper of the Fire



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Balancing the Fire
In This In-Between Time
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That “Human-Being Magic”
Keeping the Spark Alive
O Dancer of Creation

Image: “Deandre, Keeper of the Fire” by Michael J. Bayly.



Sunday, April 19, 2020

Nine Years On, a Poignant Farewell to Sarah Jane

Well, the following brought a tear to my eye. It's a 13-minute video marking today's 9th anniversary of the passing of Elisabeth Sladen.

In the 1970s, Sladen appeared in the popular British sci-fi TV show Doctor Who, playing the Doctor’s time and space traveling companion Sarah Jane Smith. Decades later, Sladen would have her own successful TV series, The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-2011), though it was sadly cut short by her death from cancer.




Above: Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith in the
"classic" Doctor Who story, The Hand of Fear (1976).


In the video released today, one scripted by Russell T Davies and narrated by Jacob Dudman, Sarah Jane’s closest friends come together to say farewell.

There's just so much I appreciate about this creative endeavor. First and foremost, it's clearly a labor of love by all involved; that's so clearly evident.

I also appreciate how Sarah Jane's son Luke (Tommy Knight) comes out as gay. You know, there were plans for this to happen in The Sarah Jane Adventures, but Sladen's sudden death prevented it. I'm glad it's been revealed now, and in such a touching way by Luke himself. The testimonies by Clyde (Daniel Anthony) and Rani (Anjli Mohindra) are also incredibly moving.

And of course, it's great to see from the "classic" Doctor Who era characters such as Jo Jones, née Grant (Katy Manning) and Ace (Sophie Aldred), and to hear so many others being mentioned – Tegan and Nyssa (seemingly a lesbian couple now), Ben and Polly, Ian and Barbara, Dodo, Dr. Grace Holloway, Liz Shaw, Victoria, and K-9.

In addition, a number of characters are mentioned from both the relaunched Doctor Who series (Captain Jack Harkness; the Brigadier's daughter, Kate; and Martha and Mickey, now married with a son, August) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (Maria and her dad, Alan; and Sky. Also, Rani's mum Gita makes an appearance and, like her daughter, delivers a moving testimony).

The video also resolves the long-standing uncertainty of what happened to Sarah Jane Smith in the world of Doctor Who. We now know that the character of Sarah Jane died alongside the woman who had so magically brought her to life.






Russell T Davies' Sarah Jane Adventures
Farewell Story Is the Perfect Send-off


By Dan Seddon

Digital Spy
April 19, 2020

Russell T Davies' specially-written farewell to The Sarah Jane Adventures debuted online today (April 19).

Now available on the Doctor Who YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, this short-but-touching episode featured a number of the original cast in phone-captured scenes as they hunkered down during the global health crisis.

Edited into a 13-minute, 32-second piece, it was a perfect send-off for the late Elisabeth Sladen, who played the show's titular character until her death nine years ago.

Narrated by The Stranger's Jacob Dudman, the episode depicted a wonderful funeral for Sarah Jane Smith, with a carnival of Doctor Who universe characters making cameos such as Captain Jack Harkness, Luke Smith, Rani Chandra and Sky Smith "who manifested briefly in her human form".

Tall tales, laughter and "a sense of huge joy" dominated the scene, while a number of faces agreed to meet up every year and adopt the moniker 'The Family Smith.'

Actress Katy Manning made a physical appearance as Jo Jones, alongside Dorothy McShane [Ace] and Clyde Langer, before the house on Bannerman Road was later revisited.

Rani closed out the episode by confessing she believed Sarah was still out there somewhere, traversing the stars with The Doctor on one final adventure.




Above: The cast of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
From left: Daniel Anthony (Clyde Langer), Rani Chandra (Anjli Mohindra),
Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), and Thomas Knight
(Sarah Jane's adopted son Luke).




Doctor Who Fans Honor Elisabeth Sladen
After Release of Farewell, Sarah Jane


By Jeremy Fuster

The Wrap
April 19, 2020

It has been nine years since Elisabeth Sladen, known to millions of Doctor Who fans as Sarah Jane Smith, passed away. Now, Whovians finally have a chance to say goodbye as former Who showrunner Russell T. Davies released a 15-minute audio epilogue for The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off series that featured the beloved TARDIS companion.

Narrated by Jacob Dudman, who has played the Doctor in several audio dramas, the epilogue reveals that Sarah Jane had died alongside Sladen. All of her friends from Bannerman Road are there at her funeral, including Clyde Langer, Rani Chandra, and her adopted son Luke. Her funeral is also attended by two fellow companions of the Doctor, Jo Grant and Ace, played once again by Katy Manning and Sophie Aldred.

Tommy, Clyde and Rani were all allies of Sarah Jane in her fight to protect Britain and Earth from evil forces while the Doctor was off traveling through time and space. They joined the Whoniverse when The Sarah Jane Adventures launched on CBBC in response to overwhelming praise to Sladen’s return to Doctor Who for the first time in 23 years. Once an investigative journalist whose reporting led her to cross paths with the Doctor in the 1970s, Smith had become a formidable planetary defender in her own right with the help of an extraterrestrial computer, Mr. Smith, and the former robot companion of the Doctor, K-9.

The Sarah Jane Adventures lasted for five seasons and saw special cameos from Doctor Who leads David Tennant and Matt Smith during its run. Sadly, Sladen’s death in 2011 caused the show’s fifth season to be cut unceremoniously short.

With all of Britain on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, Davies took the extra time to write a proper send-off to Sarah Jane and the woman who played her.

“Sarah Jane is the one that told me that Sanjay was looking at me . . . in that way,” Luke says. “And she’s the one who told me to go and talk to him. And now we’ve been married for five years. That’s the greatest gift she ever gave me.”





Related Off-site Link:
The Sarah Jane Adventures: A Fitting Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen – Stephen Kelly (The Guardian, October 3, 2011).

For more on Elisabeth Sladen and Sarah Jane Smith at The Wild Reed, see:
Blast from the Past: Sarah Jane Smith Returns to Doctor Who
What Sarah Jane Did Next
She’s So Lovely
Impossible! . . . It Can’t Be!
She’s Back!
Too Good to Miss
The Adventures Continue
Remembering Elisabeth Sladen
Quote of the Day – April 20, 2011
Mourning Lis, Farewelling Sarah Jane
As Doctor Who Celebrates its 50th Anniversary, Sarah Jane Smith is Voted #1 Favorite Companion


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Quote of the Day

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.


Sonya Renee Taylor
Quoted in Vicki Davis' article,
COVID-19 Has Shown Us How We Internalized Capitalism
Medium
April 13, 2020


Related Off-site Links:
Why Coronavirus Is Humanity's Wake-Up Call – David Korten (Yes! March 18, 2020).
Love and Nonviolence in the Time of Coronavirus – Ken Butigan (Common Dreams, March 17, 2020).
Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting* – Julio Vincent Gambuto (Forge, April 10, 2020).
The Coronavirus Pandemic Demonstrates the Failures of Capitalism – Kandist Mallett (Teen Vogue, March 24, 2020).
The Future Socialists Want, And Centrists Fear – Joel Bleifuss (In These Times, March 23, 2020).
The Pandemic Is a Portal – Arundhati Roy (Dnyuz, April 4, 2020).
That Discomfort You're Feeling Is Grief – Scott Berinato (Harvard Business Review, March 23, 2020).
Social Movements in Times of Pandemic: Another World Is Needed – Donatella della Porta (OpenDemocracy.net via Common Dreams, March 23, 2020).
Bernie Sanders: Coronavirus Reminds Us Why We Must Guarantee Health Care to All – Tim Hains (Real Clear Politics, March 27, 2020).
In the Midst of Converging Crises, the Green New Deal Is the Answer – Avi Lewis (The Globe and Mail, March 15, 2020).
A Pandemic in Retrospect – Looking Back on the Coronavirus From 2050 – Hazel Henderson and Fritjof Capra (Common Dreams, March 19, 2020).
“The Body Is Not an Apology”: Sonya Renee Taylor Is Leading a Revolution of Radical Self-Love – Maiysha Kai (The Root, March 26, 2020).
10 Revolutionary Activists You Should Know About This Black History Month – Jada Jackson (Rewire News, February 25, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
The Calm Before the Storm
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience

Image: Photographer unknown.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Remembering and Celebrating Dusty


.
Today is the 81st anniversary of the birth of the late, great British pop/soul vocalist Dusty Springfield (1939-1999).

Dusty's been in the news lately as her landmark 1969 album, Dusty in Memphis is one of this year's selections for inclusion in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in the U.S. (For The Sounds of America's recent 20-minute audio documentary on Dusty in Memphis, click here.)

My interest in and admiration for Dusty is well documented here at The Wild Reed, most notably in Soul Deep, one of my very first posts.

Other previous posts worth investigating, especially if you're new to Dusty, are Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon, which features an excerpt from Laurence Cole's book, Dusty Springfield: In the Middle of Nowhere; Celebrating Dusty (2017), which features an excerpt from Patricia Juliana Smith's insightful article on Dusty's “camp masquerades”; Celebrating Dusty (2013), which features excerpts from Annie J. Randall's book, Dusty!: Queen of the Postmods; Remembering Dusty, my 2009 tribute to Dusty on the tenth anniversary of Dusty's death; and Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On, my tribute last year on the twentieth anniversary of her death.

And, of course, off-site there's my website dedicated to Dusty, Woman of Repute (currently only accessible through the Internet archive service, The Way Back Machine).

My website's name is derived from Dusty's 1990 album Reputation, and as I explain in Soul Deep, it was this album that introduced me not only to Dusty's music but also to her life and journey – much of which resonated deeply with me. Indeed, my identification with aspects of Dusty's journey played an important role in my coming out as a gay man.



Above: Dusty, "amidst the flowing streams, standing stones and picturesque Celtic ruins of County Clare and the Galway coast" for the making of the music video for "Roll Away," a track from her last album, 1995's A Very Fine Love. The liner notes of the 2016 2-disc expanded collector's edition of A Very Fine Love include my reflections on this beautiful song, reflections which are also shared in the previous Wild Reed post, Time and the River.


In honor of today's 81th anniversary of Dusty's birth, I share the audio recording of Dusty singing Chip Taylor's "Angel of the Morning," from the fifth episode of her BBC television series Decidedly Dusty (originally broadcast October 7, 1969). This audio has been beautifully combined with a video montage of Dusty images by Francis Bacon. After this video is a series of quotes about Dusty, many of which I first shared on the introduction page of Woman of Repute.





___________________________


Maybe it's the sultriness. The urgency in the gentlest whisper, the subtlety in her boldest proclamations of love, loss, heartache, and ascendancy. Maybe it's the way she can capture both the ecstasy of the afterglow and the despair of a breakup's aftershock. But there is something about Dusty Springfield that makes her contribution to pop music - hell, to life - particular, peerless. There are plenty of divas, plenty of blue-eyed soul sisters, but there is only one Dusty, and when I think about it there is no other singer who reaches me in so many ways so deeply as Dusty. . . . While remaining incredibly true to her own sensibility and spirit, no other singer has as effortlessly proven that soul is not a matter of color or nationality but of feeling. Dusty knows not just the look of love but also its essence.

Barry Walters
American writer




The way she looked was easy to impersonate -
the panda eyes and the bouffant hair.
But the voice was impossible to imitate.
Dusty was the perfect pop singer.

Petula Clark
Legendary British vocalist




Being the first British artist to chase The Beatles up the U.S. charts, Dusty used her celebrity to champion the cause of soul music in England, bringing over Motown acts [including Martha and the Vandellas] before anyone had heard of them and featuring them on her TV specials. Her affinity with blacks didn't stop with their music. In 1964, she was deported from South Africa after refusing to perform for segregated audiences, long before apartheid was a cause celebre. "I wasn't making any major statements," she told the British press. "I just thought it was morally the right thing to do." If that isn't textbook soul, it ought to be.

Serene Dominic
American music critic



Above: Dusty with Ike and Tina Turner on Ready Steady Go! – October 14, 1966. The three performed "Land of a Thousand Dances."



She didn't write the songs, and if you had never heard her sing, you could argue Dusty was a '60s version of the non-writing, so-called divas of today, the Celine Dions, Mariah Careys, et al. But the difference is that she was an interpreter, not just someone who hit the right notes. Like Sinatra, she didn't write the songs but she sounded as if she had lived them.

– Bernard Zuel
Australian music critic




[Dusty's voice] stirred up strange feelings and mysterious longings, unearthing anything you thought was buried for good. It was the voice of experience. . . . [She] refused to indulge in anything as ordinary as excess. Her voice could sound as big as a hurricane, but the British pop icon never blew a tune away just because she could. She used her power sparingly, unleashing the gospel diva within only when necessary. She treated the songs she recorded like scripts, and she negotiated their emotional peaks and valleys like an Oscar-winning Sherpa. No wonder songwriters loved her. . . . Whether she was holding back ot letting her big voice fly, Dusty Springfield sang like a woman whose interior life was as rich as the melodramas she played out on vinyl. She sang with intelligence and intuition. She gave the songs room to breathe, but she always made them her own.

Karla Peterson
American music critic




Dusty Springfield's voice wafts through her recordings like smoke, spiraling into shadowy plumes, echoing in a sexy mist. Listening to her records, you can never quite locate the center of her voice. She seems to be everywhere and nowhere in the song, permeating the pianos, vibrating between violin strings. It's a bewitching mix of messages her voice exudes, expressing both power in its barreling range and vulnerability in its airy tone. Match a sound that engrossing to top-rank material, brilliantly ornamental arrangements, and a singer decked out like a Christmas tree, and you've got a certified legend on your hands . . . Dusty's authority comes through in more than just her honed persona. It also rings through the command of her voice. What other singer could combine the power of Barbra Streisand, the grace of Julie London and the soul of Martha Reeves? That Dusty can explains why her songs will always appeal to anyone who ever had a heart.

Jim Farber
British music critic




Most of the queer boy bands of contemporary rock music, as well as such androgynous or sexually ambiguous women performers as Annie Lennox, Allison Moyet, Chrissie Hynde, and even Madonna, demonstrate the musical, visual or aesthetic influence of Dusty Springfield, one of the first women in rock who dared to 'strike a pose.'

– Patricia Juliana Smith
Author and editor of The Queer Sixties




She's unique, alien, an enigmatic amalgamation
of black soul and Brit melodrama,
private passions and popular myth,
fantasy and reality.

Who was Dusty?
Did she ever really exist?
What did it all mean?
Now all we have is the music.
Just listen to the music.

– Christian Ward
British music critic/writer


For more of Dusty at The Wild Reed, see:
Soul Deep
Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon
Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On
Remembering and Celebrating Dusty (2019)
Remembering Dusty (2018)
Celebrating Dusty (2017)
Celebrating Dusty (2013)
Remembering Dusty (2009)
Remembering Dusty – 14 Years On
Remembering Dusty – 11 Years On
The Other "Born This Way"
Time and the River
Remembering a Great Soul Singer
A Song and Challenge for 2012
The Sound of Two Decades Colliding


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Quote of the Day

Stimulus checks dropped today. Can't say I'm complaining. But hailing piecemeal socialism from a fascist administration after Bernie Sanders is rejected as too radical for the country is the biggest mindfuck I've experienced in awhile. 🌹

Phillip Clark
via Facebook
April 15, 2020



Related Off-site Links:
Stimulus Checks Are Depositing: Here’s How People Are Spending the Money – Lance Lambert (Fortune, April 15, 2020).
“Disgusting”: Treasury Slows Delivery of 70 Million Covid-19 Stimulus Checks to Put Trump's Name on Them – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, April 15, 2020).
Nancy Pelosi Calls Trump's Name Appearing on Stimulus Checks “Shameful” – Clare Foran (CNN News, April 15, 2020).
The Working Class, Socialism and the Fight Against the Pandemic – David North (World Socialist Web Site, April 1, 2020).

UPDATE: Small Business Rescue Loan Program Hits $349 Billion Limit and Is Now Out of Money – Thomas Franck and Kate Rogers (CNBC News, April 16, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders' Suspension of His Presidential Campaign
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love
Quote of the Day – June 12, 2019
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Quote of the Day – August 17, 2011
A Socialist Response to the 2008 Financial Crisis
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19

Image: Kristen Solberg.