The summer of 2012 marks the centennial of the birth of American folk icon Woody Guthrie, on July 14, 1912. A poet of the people, Guthrie wrote some of America's most important songs, including "This Land Is Your Land." He penned ballads that captured the heart of hard economic times and war.
While Guthrie left a lasting mark on music, culture and politics, he struggled with family poverty, tragedies and personal demons.
The barn reeked of mildew, wet wood in 90 degrees, an odious perfume with which I was familiar from a childhood in a Long Island canal town peppered with planked houses. I opened my instrument's case to see the hygrometer's needle stuck on the highest humidity level: assurance that my first professional-grade violin would not crack, or, to the great aural pleasure of Katja, my radiant Austrian stand partner with superb pitch, remain in tune.
There's so much water in, around and underneath New Orleans, that the dead spend eternity in tombs above ground.
Most of the tombs now have a similar design: On top, there's space for a wooden coffin or two, and at the bottom lies a potpourri of decanted family remains. Sooner or later, whoever is up high must vacate and settle lower, making room for the newly dead. That's how families stay together — in a desiccated jumble of grandpas, grandmas, siblings and cousins.
A black arm band is a gesture of mourning around the world. But for aboriginals in Australia it has come to mean something else.
The "black arm band view of history" is a version of history that takes a critical — some would say militant — analysis of Anglo-Australia's mistreatment of indigenous people. Much like American Indians, indigenous Australians — who've lived on their continent for at least 40,000 years — have had their land stolen, treaties broken, and children taken away.