8 Days to Celebrate Italian-American Heritage Besides Columbus Day

While living in New York, I learned that there was a parade on Columbus Day, and that parade was to celebrate Italian-American heritage. Prior to living in New York–at least that I can remember–I had never thought of Christopher Columbus as an Italian hero. I was mortified. There are plenty of Italians and Italian-Americans who have contributed to civilization and society who weren’t genocidal maniacs. In case you’re new to this discussion about how Christopher Columbus is awful and Columbus Day makes no sense, I’ll let my best friend John Oliver catch you up. This clip was aired a year ago but is just as relevant and to the point.

At about the 2:00 mark, Oliver suggests alternate days to celebrate Italian heritage starting with Frank Sinatra Day. This got me thinking. Why don’t we celebrate our heritage on any other days? Italians (the ones in Italy) don’t even celebrate Columbus Day!

To help get the conversation started, I’ve pulled together a list of people, moments, and days worth celebrating. (more…)

Bernie Worrell with SociaLibrium at the Porgy & Bess in Vienna

The Best Bass Line: A Tribute to Bernie Worrell

Photo By Manfred Werner / Tsui (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I played air bass in high school. Not in the air guitar championship sense (yes, that’s a thing), but when all of my friends were playing air guitar or air drums, I was playing air bass. I don’t remember when exactly I started, but it would have been somewhere between 6th and 9th grade. I couldn’t tell you why I chose bass. Something about bass lines in songs immediately grabbed me and it was what I wanted to imitate in the safety of my bedroom walls.

Parliament Funk EssentialsThere were three songs in particular that I used to loop ad nauseam and never quite lose interest in “playing.” One of these songs was the classic funk song “Flash Light” by Parliament. I don’t remember exactly when I first heard it, but I know that I was first introduced to Parliament, and P-Funk in general, at summer camp between 9th and 10th grade (Thanks, Matt!). I returned home and started collecting. My first CD was a greatest hits collection with “Flash Light” opening the album. I was hooked. Somehow the 5-minute jam (or the 10-minute mix from another compilation) wasn’t enough. Parliament had become one of my favorite bands with an unquestionable favorite tune. (more…)

My NPR Tiny Desk Contest Entry

You might be familiar with NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Typically, it involves a musician or band performing at or around a desk in NPR’s offices. Part of the appeal is the band performing in tight quarters. NPR ran a contest this past January asking bands to submit their own Tiny Desk Concert video. One of my bandmates from The New Limits saw the opportunity and suggested we enter. The project contained the right amount of urgency and flexibility. (more…)

Crate Digging: The Flirts – “Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime)”

This came home with me on 45 on my last vinyl haul from Tres Gatos in Jamaica Plain. I first heard the song when raiding my dad’s 45 collection when I was in middle school or high school. I used to randomly choose records from his collection and find stuff I liked. This one stuck with me so when I came across it again, it had to come home with me. (more…)

War on Women - Glass City - Youtube Screenshot

Glass Ceiling? Try Glass City

The term “Glass Ceiling” is too limiting. The idea that women can’t get promoted past particular positions or roles in the workforce makes the issue sound confined. You might say “at least there’s only problems in the work place” or “at least that’s the only problem in the work place.” You’d be wrong to say that. That’s not how systemic sexism works. Everything is connected. The work force is connected to an unfair ecosystem and a system that’s stacked up against women.

As we steadily fight against that system, it’s important to get angry. Women have a right to be pissed off and a right to rage. Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill called for “girls to the front” at punk shows. So how about “Girls to the top” in the workforce? (more…)