Justice for Lynne Stewart

Latest from Lynne

November 29th, 2012

November, 2012

Dear Friends, Supporters, Comrades, Brothers and Sisters:

I am now beginning my fourth (4th) year of imprisonment.  It does not get better and I have to gut check myself regularly to be certain that I am resisting the pervasive institutionalization that takes place.  A certain degree of reclusiveness  with the help of good books, interesting people to correspond with, writing on topics of public interest, seems to work for me.  Of course I still am working with any woman who needs help but I know that my sometimes truthtelling self is not what folks here want to hear.  I do try to give folks whatever comfort I can.  An old timer here, 18 years in, has begun an initiative to mobilize for prison reform by getting people on the outside to sign off on her well written petition to the White House.  She is straight out of the courage and style of the old southern civil rights struggle but has now dedicated herself to this.  The demands are modest. I have placed her petition on this, my website.  Please sign on.

On a personal note, I am feeling well although we are now pressuring the prison medical authorities to send me out to have biopsies done of some hot spots that showed up on a pet scan I had back in October.  I am refusing to jump off any bridges until I come to them so not to worry !!

via Justice for Lynne Stewart.

Ted Curson: More than a Survivor


Ted Curson: More than a Survivor

I’ve got your opening quote for you, right here,” laughs Ted Curson when I say I plan to write about him for JazzTimes. “My life is like a barrel with no bottom. I keep putting stuff in, but it never fills up!” It’s a joke, but a serious joke, the rueful kind that veteran jazz musicians often make when discussing life in the bebop business.


Nick Ruechel

Ted Curson

At age 71, Ted Curson is not a household name—in this country, at least. Still, he’s made his mark. A jazz musician’s life is not measured by the money he’s made or the number of readers’ polls he wins but by the respect he commands from his peers and the quality of his body of work. By those standards, Curson is an unqualified success. Since making his recording debut in 1959 with Cecil Taylor (Love for Sale on United Artists), the Philadelphia native has worked nonstop, playing with just about everyone who matters.

For a brief time, Curson and Eric Dolphy were Charles Mingus’ answer to Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman. In July 1960, the trumpet-sax duo joined Mingus, drummer Dannie Richmond and tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin at the Juan-Les-Pins Jazz Festival in France. The concert is one of the greatest live jazz performances ever committed to disc. On Mingus at Antibes (Atlantic), Curson is an early exemplar of the inside-outside approach. Steeped in the blues, with a talent for capricious melody, the self-assured young Curson occupies a middle ground between Ervin’s steadfast bluesiness and Dolphy’s outward-bound impetuousness. Curson’s playing on the Antibes album might be the definitive recorded performance by a trumpeter in a Mingus-led band.

“Oh, that’s a great record; that’s some of Mingus’ greatest playing,” remembers Curson. “What made the record so great is that each guy was an individual, [all] put together by Mingus. It was a special chemistry. It’s great music, the best.”

They didn’t stay together long. The band (without Ervin) went into the studio a few months after the Antibes gig to record Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus for Candid, and that was basically it. Mingus moved on. So did Curson. “Mingus was acting so ridiculous, man,” says Curson. After all these years, you can still hear a hint of frustration in his voice. “He couldn’t handle success. I don’t know why he was like that.”

That truncated stint with Mingus was just the beginning of a long, distinguished career. Over the years, Curson has performed far and wide and recorded for such labels as Black Lion, Inner City, India Navigation and Atlantic. In recent years he’s led sessions for the Futura label. His dates as a sideman are too numerous to list. Curson estimates them at more than 300.

One of his best bands was a pianoless quartet with the late tenor saxophonist Bill Barron. In 1964 the group (with Herb Bushler on bass and Dick Berk in drums) recorded the classic Tears for Dolphy. The title track has been used in three films, most recently by actor/director Vincent Gallo in his notorious 2003 release, The Brown Bunny. Gallo discovered Curson through the 1968 Pier Paolo Pasolini film, Teorema, for which the trumpeter did the music.

“I don’t know how Vincent Gallo found out I did the music [for Teorema], because my name wasn’t on it,” says Curson. “Ennio Morricone took credit, but the music was by Ted Curson and Amadeus Mozart. Anyway, Gallo saw it and liked the music, so when he did The Brown Bunny, he used it.”

Making records hasn’t filled Curson’s pockets. Jazz records are typically made, released and—without proper promotion—overlooked or forgotten, usually with the musician making little or no money. Curson knows the drill. “On so many of my records, the company would tell me up front they weren’t going to promote it,” Curson says. “If people found it, fine; if they didn’t, fine. It was like a Frisbee, another Ted Curson Frisbee, and if the dog don’t catch it, too bad!”

Curson’s close relationship with the annual Pori Jazz Festival in Finland has helped keep him afloat. He’s played the festival every year since its inception. This summer marked the 41st anniversary. “It started in 1965, actually. I was playing in Paris, and three guys approached me, said ‘We’re from Finland. Do you know of Finland?’ And I said, ‘Yes,’ because when I was a kid I remember singing Sibelius’ ‘Finlandia.’ I don’t know why black kids in a black neighborhood in a black school in the U.S. would be singing ‘Finlandia,’ but we did, true story,” says Curson. “So anyway, the guys said they liked me and thought people in Finland would like my music and would I like to come? I said, ‘Sure, just make the arrangements.’” He played the very first Pori Festival the next year.

The association has paid off. Ted Curson is a household name in Finland, or darn close. He appears on television and even endorses products—a certain brand of shoes, for example, gets the Curson seal of approval. He’s even hosted a party for the country’s president, Tarja Halonen (stateside insomniacs know Halonen as the world leader who most resembles late-night talk-show host Conan O’Brien). “It turns out that she was always a fan of mine, even from college,” says Curson, still sounding a bit amazed. Halonen proposed a visit to Curson’s home in Upper Montclair, N.J., on a trip to the United States for a meeting at the United Nations in Sept. 2005.

“My wife and I put together a small party of 88 people, with special police and everything else, and it was just beautiful,” says Curson. “At first, the American government said, ‘No,’ when she told them I was a black man and it was in New Jersey. They panicked and said, ‘We can’t do this,’ but she insisted, so they sent out the Secret Service and they went over the property and saw I had a nice house. They saw everything was OK. So it was on, we had it and she was very gracious.”

Gigs in the United States can be scarce, but Curson manages to get by. He hosts a monthly jam session at Trumpets, a club in Montclair. He played a reunion concert with old friend Henry Grimes at New York’s Cornelia Street Café this past summer. This October he’s booked into his old stomping ground, the Blue Note in New York City. For well over a decade, Curson hosted a late-night jam session at the Blue Note that attracted many of the best players around. He quit a few years ago, not on the best of terms (“They were a bit steamed at me when I left”). Time heals all wounds, however. Is a revival of the club’s after-hours jam in the offing? “Well, maybe if they read this article,” he chuckles. “A lot of people think I’m still there!” He should be, if he wants to be. He seems the perfect jam-session host: warm, charming, with a good-natured sense of humor—and serious chops. Ted can still bring it. “I’m playing better than ever,” he says.

Curson is philosophical about his career. He knows the score. Still, a lack of recognition in his home country clearly bothers him, at least a little bit. “Because you called me [about this article] I feel 100 percent better,” he says. “It makes me think, like, maybe there’s a chance for me. But I’m 71, I don’t know. If someone’s saying: ‘Ted Curson? Ted Curson, who?’ then you’re in serious trouble. Fortunately, when I work in Finland, where everybody knows me, I don’t have to worry about that. Finland and France, I’m cool. I don’t know about New York.”

Curson obviously appreciates the good things to have come his way, and he’s grateful to those who’ve helped him. “I have to thank my wife Marge, number one. I couldn’t have done anything without her. Gary Giddins, number two. I have to thank Jyrki Kangas at the Pori Festival, and (producer) Gerard Terrones, who did a lot of my records…I have to thank Mingus for giving me my shot, even though he didn’t like trumpet…and Enrico [Granefei] at Trumpets in Montclair. Those are the people who stuck with me through thick and thin. I’ve been able to survive thanks to that small group of people.”

You could say he’s done better than simply survive. His work with Mingus will live forever, and his records with Bill Barron are classics waiting to be discovered. He’s made friends all over the world. Indeed, in many important respects Ted Curson has positively thrived. Who knows? Maybe one day soon, someone will slap a bottom on that barrel, and it’ll fill up with all the acclaim he deserves. Stranger things have happened.

Jazz Times


Congo’s hidden war for natural resources – New York Amsterdam News: African

Congo’s hidden war for natural resources

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11:31 am

Nov. 27 (GIN) – Power brokers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and western countries are putting their money on one or another of the armed groups now patrolling Goma and Bukavu. A victory by the rebel M23, Mai Mai or Congolese Army could mean unlimited access for the lucky broker to the Eastern Congo’s great natural wealth, with its mineral deposits worth trillions of dollars.

The area holds about 70 percent of the world’s supply of tantalum, a metal used in cellphones, tablets, laptops and other computers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The eastern region also has massive amounts of gold, tin, tungsten, copper, coltan and cobalt. Some 450,000 artisanal miners work in eastern Congo, according to the Survey.

via Congo’s hidden war for natural resources – New York Amsterdam News: African.

For public housing residents after Sandy, ‘a slow-motion Katrina’ | San Francisco Bay View

For public housing residents after Sandy, ‘a slow-motion Katrina’

November 10, 2012

The gas is on, so Richard Bates can cook by candlelight, but life has been hard in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Houses and for tens of thousands of other public housing residents without heat, water or power since Hurricane Sandy hit. No lights or elevators function in their 12-story buildings. – Photo: Ruth Fremson, New York Times

by Lucas Kavner

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Ask anyone living in Cobble Hill or Carroll Gardens or Park Slope earlier this week, and they would tell you that they have power, hot water and wi-fi. In fact, most of the $1 million-plus townhouses and local businesses in Brooklyn’s wealthier neighborhoods never lost any basic necessities, even during the worst of the storm.

The gas is on, so Richard Bates can cook by candlelight, but life has been hard in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Houses and for tens of thousands of other public housing residents without heat, water or power since Hurricane Sandy hit. No lights or elevators function in their 12-story buildings. – Photo: Ruth Fremson, New York Times

But the Gowanus Houses, a low-income public housing complex owned and operated by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which falls almost at the intersection of those three neighborhoods, is an exception. During flooding from Hurricane Sandy, water seeped into the basement of one of the larger buildings, shorting out electrical cables that were located there and destroying its boiler. It took days before the water was even drained and the damage assessed, despite the fact that the complex houses almost 3,000 residents.

Power was restored on Friday, but its 12-day absence created severe conditions in the area, according to Councilman Stephen Levin, who represents the district where the Gowanus Houses is located. Many on the highest floors couldn’t get down without climbing 14 flights of stairs. Elderly residents with debilitating diseases and respiratory problems were literally stuck for a week, surviving off of food, medical supplies and flashlights donated primarily by individual volunteers, who have been working for these residents every day since Sandy hit.

One Occupy Sandy volunteer discovered a family without heat, warming their apartment with an open stove. Levin said a young girl with epilepsy was not able to plug in her nebulizer, while another woman, whose son is asthmatic, needed an electrical oxygen machine.

And as of Wednesday morning, more than a week after Sandy hit, at least two of the buildings at the Gowanus Houses were still without power, though a few residents said that number was actually five, and many others were without hot water and heat. Comparatively, power had been restored to most NYCHA complexes last week, including those in Lower Manhattan, Queens and other parts of Brooklyn.

via For public housing residents after Sandy, ‘a slow-motion Katrina’ | San Francisco Bay View.

Non Profit Organizations & the Privatization of Public Housing | Black Agenda Report

An Against the Grain Interview with Prof. Jay Arena

In this Against the Grain interview, about 50 minutes, Jay Arena outlines the process of destroying public housing in New Orleans and more broadly across the country, with particular attention to the roles played by not for profit organizations and black elites carrying out the neoliberal agenda of gentrification.

This interview was broadcast recently on KPFA Berkeley, and can be found online, with hundreds more like it at Against the Grain Radio, http://againstthegrain.org.

via Non Profit Organizations & the Privatization of Public Housing | Black Agenda Report.

Can We Hold Israel Accountable? – Politics – Utne Reader

To read Breaking the Silence testimonies by Israeli soldiers on the ongoing occupation and blockade of Palestine, check out “It’s Mostly Punishment,” by Oded Na’aman.

A version of this article appeared at YesMagazine.org.

The great wish of the early Zionist leader Theodor Herzl was that Israel would be treated like “any other state.” Were that the case, there might be more rational and productive discourse regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is particularly critical in light of Israel launching yet another devastating attack against civilian-populated areas of nearby Arab lands.

via Can We Hold Israel Accountable? – Politics – Utne Reader.

Oprah, Beyoncé, and Truth


Radical feminist, artist, and media activist Alexis Pauline Gumbs calls herself,

rom Beyoncé and Oprah to Serena and Venus Williams, African American women are some of the most celebrated people in today’s media-saturated culture. Despite the largely positive nature of this attention, misconceptions and stereotypes are often reinforced when we see these women on screens and in the pages of magazines. In a new book of poems contemplating celebrity, race, and representation, Alexis Pauline Gumbs considers “what it is possible to know about the most famous Black women alive today.” Gumbs describes her book, One Hundred and One Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive, as “part prayer part polemic […] an intervention into the consumption of Black women.”

via Oprah, Beyoncé, and Truth.

Can Your Beauty Products Cause Diabetes? – Diabetes Center – Everyday Health

Can Your Beauty Products Cause Diabetes?

According to some recent research, your hair spray, nail polish, or perfume could add to your diabetes risk, thanks to a class of chemicals called phthalates.

By Chris Iliades, MD

Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

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You probably haven’t heard of phthalates, a type of chemical found in beauty products, like nail polish, hair spray, skin lotions, and perfumes; and household products, including raincoats, shower curtains, and food packaging. But you should expect to hear a lot more about them soon

via Can Your Beauty Products Cause Diabetes? – Diabetes Center – Everyday Health.

Left of Black S3:E11 | Everyday Racism, Everyday Homophobia

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

On Thursday, November 8, 2012, HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) sponsored Everyday Racism, Everyday Homophobia: A Symposium on the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality at the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University.


The event featured Jack Halberstam, Professor of English and Director of The Center for Feminist Research at University of Southern California, and author of the recently published Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon); Marlon Ross, Professor on English at the University of Virginia and author of Manning the Race: Reforming Black Men in the Jim Crow Era (NYU Press); Kathryn Bond Stockton, Distinguished Professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Utah and author of Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame: Where “Black” Meets “Queer”; and Sharon Patricia Holland, Associate Professor of English and African & African American Studies at Duke University and the author of the just published The Erotic Life of Racism (Duke University Press).



See on www.networkedblogs.com

The World According To Kagame: People Who Have Power, A Lot Of Power, Should Use It Wisely (And Who He’d Like To Succeed Him)

The World According To Kagame: People Who Have Power, A Lot Of Power, Should Use It Wisely (And Who He’d Like To Succeed Him)

 So what does Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame REALLY think about accusations (which he denies) that he, or at least some key figures in the Rwandan government and military, are the patrons of the Democratic Republic of Congo rebel group M23 that recently captured the eastern city of Goma?

What does he think of “international justice”? Is Rwanda going to blink over aid cuts and the threat of sanctions for its alleged support for the M23 rebels? Does Kagame and the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) see the history of the Great Lakes the way we outsiders do, or do they have a totally different take?

President Kagame, Rwanda’s Foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo, and the country’s Defence minister Gen. James Kaberebe, to name a few, have said a lot in recent months at home and abroad (especially the UN) in defence of Rwanda.

Kagame came out swinging (New Times photo).




















The World According To Kagame: People Who Have Power, A Lot Of Power, Should Use It Wisely (And Who He’d Like To Succeed Him).