Trip Start Dec 19, 2006
24Trip End Feb 22, 2007
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We're counting on getting ourselves back together at the start of next week following our strenuous residency in the City, but first we've got a weekend date in Johnson City at an art space called Spool MFG, and we drive up Saturday afternoon to check in with my childhood chum Ron Jones, by now a long-time resident of the Triple Cities and an elected official on the Johnson City governing body.
I hooked up with Jonesy on the internet after a separation of about 45 years and we got together last summer at Churchill's Pub in Flint MI, where I get to play with a great band called Glowb and feel the deep vibrations of the past in the liitle city where I came of age in the late 1950s and early '60s. We had a ball revisiting our teenage years when the music on the radio was kicking around the clock and scores of the greatest records of all time were played for all to hear whenever you turned your radio on. We lived to dance and sing with these records, get drunk and have a ball.
Now we're old men in our mid-60s, still fired by our love for the music and the wonders it can work on a receptive populace like it did when we were kids and for several years thereafter. Jonesy is advancing a plan in his home town to revitalize the seriously decayed downtown area through community arts activities and institutions, and one of the key components of his strategy is a place called Spool MFG, a former factory where spools were made that's been redeveloped by modern art and music lovers in the city to serve as a gallery, performance and meeting space.
While we're talking at Churchill's I don't realize that the place I'm going to live with Dr Dorothy in Susquehanna PA is just a few miles away from the place he's talking about, but we resolve to look into the possibility of bringing me there the next time I'm working on the East Coast, and by e-mail we set up a date, get it approved, line up a band to back me up and serve as the Johnson City Blues Scholars, and begin to publicize the event. I'll do a concert on Saturday evening with the local players and then come back Sunday afternoon for a free preview screening of my movie, 20 To Life: The Life & Times of John Sinclair, a film by Steve Gebhardt.
While I'm working on Spool MFG with Jonesy I'm also lining up a three-day visit to Rochester and a stop in Ithaca where Danny Collins went to college and maintains close contact with his comrades at Compassionately Stoneground Press, a publishing collective that makes its members' books by hand. So that's a good 8-day week's worth of work in a previously unexplored area for me, and then I find out by finally looking at a goddamned map that I'll be venturing out into my own new neighborhood from Dorothy's place in Susquehanna.
Johnson City is kicks. Jonesy takes us on a quick tour of the former stronghold of the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company and then International Business Machines, but the visual evidence is that most of those once employed by these two industrial behemoths no longer enjoy the luxury of a steady job with a weekly paycheck and paid vacations and substantial health insurance benefits.
Like most former centers of industry, the bustling American cities where the factories hummed and the populace was gainfully employed have been busted down and abandoned to an underclass no one wants to acknowledge or serve. The suburbs thrive with white people who are allowed to keep their jobs if they give up every shred of their identities as anything but consumers striving to keep up the payments on all the shit they have to possess to be real working Americans, and they're glad to be there surrounded by all their shit too.
When the Triple Cities were booming, they attracted other industries like the spool manufacturing company that erected the building we're performing in tonight. They haven't made spools there for a long time, but in recent years the place has been claimed by arts maniacs who are determined to make a living, working arts and performance space out of it. They're doing a hell of a job so far, and I can't wait to return there.
Our concert was remarkably well attended by a diverse audience and the band was right on time. My friend Richard Johnston was the opening act with his one-man three-piece band, just recently transplanted from Memphis and the Mississippi hill country as a result of falling in love with the daughter of the owner of the Spool MFG and marrying her at Christmas time. He switched over to drums to join the Blues Scholars, my pal A.J. from Common Ground was on keyboards, Jake Lear on guitar, Triple City Slim on the harmonica, and a great time was had by all.
Spool MFG put out an incredible series of posters for the event Saturday night, but for some reason they put up no notices of the film screening on Sunday afternoon and, consequently, hardly anyone came. They'll know better the next time.
John Sinclair Radio Show #122
WHRW-FM, Binghamton NY
Sunday, January 21, 2007 @ 3:30-4:30 pm [20-0701]
At my appearance at Spool MFG in Johnson City NY I met a cat called Dr. B who's been doing his radio show at WHRW-FM in neighboring Binghamton since 1979. We agreed to do a Joint Production of our radio shows and I met the Dr. at the funky studios of WHRW for an hour of music and talk, with tunes by Crown Prince Waterford, Coco Robicheaux, Craig Klein, Cyril Neville, Danny Barker & His Creole Cats, John Sinclair & Dr Dorothy Goodman, Del Close & John Heard and Clifford Solomon. My boyhood pal Ron Jones stopped by to chat, and there were two David Kunian/Bill Taylor Mardi Gras Tune Features to top things off.
 Opening Music: Crown Prince Waterford: Time to Blow
 Intro, IDs, Opening Comments with Dr. B
 Coco Robicheaux: Weight of the World
 Craig Klein: Shake Your Rugulator with Voice-Over Comments
 Mardi Gras Tune Feature: Handa Wanda
 Cyril Neville: Big Chief Jolly
 Danny Barker & His Creole Cats: Chockamo Feendo Hey
 Mardi Gras Tune Feature: New Suit
 Comments with John Sinclair & Dr. B
 John Sinclair & Dr Dorothy Goodman: Smells Like Sulfur Here
 Comments with John Sinclair & Dr. B
 Interview with Ron Jones
 Del Close/John Heard: Cool
 Del Close/John Heard: Uncool
 Clifford Solomon: But Officer with Voice-Over Comments & Outro
A Joint Production
Hosted by Dr. B for WHRW-FM and John Sinclair for Radio Free Amsterdam
Produced & Engineered by Paul "Dr. B" Goldschmidt
Mastered & Posted by Henk Botwinik
Executive Producer: John Sinclair
Special thanks to Dr. Dorothy Goodman & Ron Jones
©(P) 2007 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
Podcast @ February 12, 2007 by www.RadioFreeAmsterdam.com
Speaking of old friends, the great Detroit painter Howard Weingarden sent me a rare poem yesterday:
THESE UNITED STATES (12/12/2000)
America: Your savage thirst for more;
Your hunger for the distant train whistle
On a snowy night;
That roar of your cascading desires;
Those thorns and thistles and the flight
Of the whore to the prison
Of repressed national fires:
To cool the guilt; that mannequin
Dance of grim smiling faces the camera
Lies with, to bury truth
Under the lights of
Legal twists and turns;
And it burns with rage;
It burns with rage.
And then, America, you sleep and dream the winter dream
Of chill suspended death. The strobing half-lit visions you
Forget upon awakening. It's entertainment you want;
Not the enthralling motion of the Astral Light;
Not the iron red of the Martian night;
Nor the wise Buddha or Zeta Reticulan visitor
Of your dreams.
Rather the lie, the sham, the image, the Craft of the Cash Register.
Rather the icy mercury vapor lamps that darken the night with frightful Glare: they trample upon the stars.
And the cold fluorescent light in your offices and medical buildings; the Suffocation of windows that do not open. Where the beauty, or even sense of it-in that cubicle death world?
America: The betrayer of your dream; the forgetfulness of your two-fold Mission: To give the sacred to the commonplace;
To race past the bloodline to the form divine.
You falter at the crossroads between worlds and choices.
What voices will you heed
What voices, indeed!
February 17, 2007