Sunday, September 17, 2006

Amy Goodman and Mission of Burma... In one day!

Well, today (yesterday really, it's after midnight) I got to see one of my heroes, Amy Goodman, at the Bagdad Theater (insert Amy Goodman in Baghdad joke here... and by the way, yes the theater's name is spelled without the "h"). She and her brother David have just written another book, called Static, and are on tour supporting it. They read some excerpts and spoke about the process of gathering the information and turning it into a book, typical stuff for a book tour. They also related a number of stories culled from their experiences as investigative journalists. David offered a particularly interesting story, of a historical nature, which goes roughly as follows:

Back in the days of slavery, there was a fellow in Eastern Maryland named (I think I'm getting this right) Edward Covey, who was a well known slave breaker. Plantation owners could send any particularly rebellious or troublemaking slaves to Mr. Covey's property, dubbed "Misery Mountain," where the slaves would be "broken." What that means, exactly, I'll leave to your imagination. One of the slaves sent to Misery Mountain was Frederick Douglas, who was very nearly broken, but managed to escape, made his way to Massachusetts via the Underground Railroad, and changed the course of history.

That's interesting. But it's not the end of the story. What's perhaps even more interesting is that this particular property was recently purchased, as a vacation retreat, by none other than Donald Rumsfeld. Now this doesn't say anything about Rumsfeld, of course, but it does seem oddly fitting, no?

Anyway, that was my afternoon. This evening, a friend and I went to see Mission of Burma at Portland's basement log cabin of rock, the Doug Fir. For those of you not familiar with Burma, they were one of the first bands to take the energy of punk rock and channel it into a more experimental and cerebral direction. Hailing from Boston, their milieu was the post-punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s. I would say they were a sort of musical bridge between the Stooges and Husker Du. They were never hugely successful, but they were a classic example of the critically acclaimed, "influential" band. Those of you who are familiar with Burma are probably thinking "Tommy, what are you a music critic? You're full of shit and I'm going to call you on it next time I see you." Yeah, well... At any rate, they were well in form. And LOUD (acoustics aside, the Fir is a relatively small room). These guys must be in their early fifties by now, and they haven't lost their edge one bit.

Kinda gives one hope, doesn't it?


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