Tag Archives: Steve Swell

Political Connections: Lafayette to Montpelier

19 Sep

On the one hand I’m involved in projects in my neighborhood (Lafayette in Jersey City, NJ), most notably a community garden, but also an anti-litter campaign, and I’m looking to do something with music. On the other hand I just got back from a trip to northern Vermont where I was part of a five-state aggregation of nine musicians that provided music for a conference on Vermont independence, which means Vermont seceding from the United States and establishing itself as a sovereign nation once again (Vermont was a republic between 1777 and 1791).

What do these two spheres of activity have to do with one another? What are the connections?

Some People Links

There is, of course, the fact that I’m involved in both sets of these arenas. I live in the Lafayette neighborhood of Jersey City and am working to make it a better neighborhood. Lafayette’s my home.

I traveled to Vermont at the behest (when was the last time I used that word?) of Charlie Keil, an intellectual and musical compatriot. Charlie is an anarchist, as am I, and a pacifist, ditto. We were both conscientious objectors during our years of draft eligibility. And we’re both musicians.

In particular, Charlie is interested in getting more people to make live music and he’s interested in what he calls a 12/8 Path band, which is a strolling brass band at home in 12/8 time. We’ve played many demonstrations together in New York City, including a large anti-war demonstration prior to the invasion of Iraq and an anti-nuclear demonstration where Japanese and out-numbered everyone else.

But, how’s that get us to Vermont celebrating the future independence of Vermont? Simple, really. Charlie believes in “small is beautiful” and I’m OK with it. Breaking the USofA into a number of smaller and more flexible states seems like a reasonable thing to do. That’s something advocated by Thomas Naylor, an economist and an activist for Vermont independence. It’s Naylor who brought Charlie to Vermont and I came along.

Me and a bunch of other guys. Since this post is about connections I could legitimately talk about these others. But I won’t. For one thing, that could easily go on and on and on as I start moving out along those networks. For another, I don’t know much about most of them except that they’re good and versatile musicians, which I learned from playing with them, some of the for the first time in Vermont. But I’ll mention one, trombonist Steve Swell, who’s sympathetic to Charlie’s politics and mine. You can track his musical links through his Wikipedia entry. Also, Steve’s loosely familiar with my neighborhood as he went to college in Jersey City. Continue reading

Celebrating the Future Independence of Vermont, at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier: Toward a Politics of Jubilee

16 Sep

I spent Friday, 14 September in and around the Vermont Statehouse. Sometime back in the mists of history past some good Vermont citizens decided that, in the face of the cancerous growth of the American state, that Vermont folks of conscience and caring had to organize and urge their fellow Vermonters to secede from the Union. And so the Vermont Independence Party (VIP) was born.

And Friday was their third state-wide convention, with visitors from several other states as well. This convention was organized toward the reading of The Montpelier Manifesto, listing 29 grievances against the Federal Government of the United States of America and urging secession. The conference was held in the House Chamber of the Vermont Statehouse, for it seems that, by law, Vermont citizens have the right to occupy use the statehouse when it is not otherwise in use.

I was there with the Northeast Irregulars, a contingent of the New York Path to Peace, organized by Charlie Keil. We brought musicians from Jersey City, New York City, Connecticut, and Vermont. At least.

Here’s some photographs of that glorious day. I apologize to all those who were there for the celebration but not in these photos.

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That’s Charlie Keil on the right and Jack Lazarowski on the left. Jack and his wife Linda put Charlie and I up for the night. Thanks, Jack and Linda!

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Julie Buck and Rob Williams at the podium on the House Chamber. They were co-chairs for the event. Continue reading