Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Up In the Sky

"My mother thinks I am the best. And I was raised to always believe what my mother tells me." -Diego Maradona, Rest In Peace

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Linking Hearts An’ Heads

"You’re asking, ‘What is Socialism, and what it really means?’ It’s equal rights for every man, regardless of his strength... Socialism is love."

Download The Message: Socialist Sounds From Jamdown — 27 tracks of conscious reggae, from the ska-era up to the early dancehall days.

Compiled by Mr. Lee (Going In Style Sound System)

Saturday, November 14, 2020

They Better Confess

My memories of life on the street are short. It was a long time ago, and a very different city.

I do recall having an irrational fear of being bitten by a rat in the basement, to the point that I fabricated a story of it actually happening, which I bragged about in school. I am not sure why I did it, though perhaps it was my hunger for attention as I felt like an outsider from as early an age as I can remember. I didn’t feel liked. I can perfectly recall when I had my first "girlfriend" and overhearing two popular, starched-collar preppy girls in my class sneer, "Why would she want to be with himmmm?"

It wasn’t until I met other kids like me that I started to like myself. I loved hanging out with the fuck-ups, hoodlums, punks, graffiti writers, and burn-outs. Those who wanted to just live for the day, with little regard for their own well-being, all in the name of a good time. Those were my people.

Before I myself became a fuck-up, I was thought of as one. My all black clothes, unpopular taste in music, permanent frown, and big sloppy mop of hair on my head painted an unintended picture. Being yourself in those days wasn't cool — it was isolating.

Fortunately I had one friend on the street, and at a young age he was already creative, living for adventure. Our favorite pastime was turning off the lights in his second floor bedroom and throwing water balloons at the hard-rocks trooping to the housing projects a few blocks away. These cats would swagger down our street, rocking the fashion of the day: sheepskin coats dyed either dark blue or burgundy. They didn’t really do the best job gussying up their coats, so when the balloon would smash into them, the dye would run. Their reaction was one of total fury, which amused me and my pal to no end. Especially when dudes would pull out out a gun.

We were reckless little shits having the time of our life. For the first time in my short existence, I didn't have to force a smile, and the future didn't look so bleak.

Words by Lee Greenfeld © 2020

Monday, November 9, 2020

A Gallery Of Cool, Take Twenty Two

The Impressions with Prince Buster

Christopher Hitchens in Romania, 1989

Georgie Fame

The Heptones


LSD-OM, 1974

True cool is timeless.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

See The Sky

"The battleground of human transformation is really, more than any other thing, the struggle within the human consciousness to believe and accept what is true. Thus to truly revolutionize our society, we must first revolutionize ourselves. We must be the change we seek if we are to effectively demand transformation from others."

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2020 • Words by John Lewis, 2012

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Give You Nothing

The results so far show that not only is Trumpism alive and well, but it's grown like a cancer. My fellow countrymen and women made it clear that racism, sexism, lies, and mass death are not issues to them. They don't believe in science, care about history, or want to understand anyone who is different than themselves. They worship at the altar of capitalism without even a basic understanding of economics. They hunger for isolationism and pariah state status. They rejoice in cruelty and embrace the Ugly American stereotype

I have never felt more ashamed of my country.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Monday, November 2, 2020

Living In A Film

Walking home this evening and seeing all the banks and chain stores boarding up their windows in preparation for tomorrow made it feel even more like The Purge than it has for the last eight months.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

It's Life, That's All

2020 reveals the worst in others, and makes one confront uncomfortable and ugly truths about themselves. It saps will and strength, and shows the dark side of solitude. It is beyond just a "year," it is itself a plague

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Dance

If she decided to buy the green dress, Mary Beth would certainly be the fanciest girl at the dance. Unfortunately in her heart, she knew that pink was her color. It matched her eyes, and soul.

Her windswept hair felt like silk to his touch, which was the way the oracle told him it would be. He then looked out — the air was colorful. The leaves paled in comparison.

The only thing Henry said was, "This time I will take that walk. Why shouldn't I?" She replied, "Hello small frog. You belong in your original home. That's nature." And that is what she believed.
Words and photography by Lee Greenfeld ©2020

Thursday, October 8, 2020

I Am the Gorgon

Bunny "Striker" Lee
Rest In Peace

Edward O'Sullivan "Bunny" Lee's impact on Jamaican music cannot be overstated, as reggae historian Lloyd Bradley states: "The string of hits he produced during the late '60s was so steady it led to his enduring nickname 'Striker' — the man who couldn’t miss. His catalogue read like a who’s-who of early reggae, including Slim Smith, Lester Sterling, the Uniques, John Holt, Pat Kelly, Delroy Wilson and Eric Donaldson, and such classics as "Better Must Come," "Cherry Oh Baby," "My Conversation" and "Stick By Me." During the next decade he saw dub as an art form in itself rather than just a B-side, encouraging King Tubby’s adventurousness, and was involved in the early careers of Philip Smart and King Jammy. Also around this time, Lee became among the first to use the same backing track — or riddim — multiple times with different singers or mixes. This wasn’t unexpected: for all his generosity he didn’t waste money. Lee’s swansong was the excellent work he did with the late-'70s DJs such as Dennis Alcapone, Tapper Zukie, U-Roy and I-Roy."

Quote from The Guardian

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Time Will Tell

One of the greatest reggae single of all-time. The Heptones originally cut "Hypocrite" for Studio One in 1971 (under the title "Time Will Tell)," and while it's stellar it isn't a patch on this take recorded later the same year, sublimely produced and engineered by Joe Gibbs. "Hypocrite" is a real gem that has everything in three minutes, including timeless and universal lyrics... Reggae got soul!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Smashing The Machinery Of Conformity

"Reality represents nothing more than the privilege of some founded on the slavery of the rest; not the individualistic, egoistic, shabby, and fictitious liberty extolled by the school of J-J. Rousseau and the other schools of bourgeois liberalism, which considers the would-be rights of all men, represented by the State which limits the rights of each—an idea that leads inevitably to the reduction of the rights of each to zero."

Currently digging: Long walks with my daughter and her new love of giving forehead kisses punctuated with an exaggerated MUAHHH, the writing of Daniel Guérin, catching up with friends, Emma Swift’s Blonde On The Tracks LP, the band Chain Cult, the latest issue of Ugly Things, proper Indian food, and getting writing done daily.

Not digging: Loud yuppie transplants in NY shirts, Bill de Blasio, boot-lickers (in particular old subculture types who once claimed to be anti-authoritarian), QAnon and conspiracy kooks (especially those from the "wellness community"), chinstrap maskers, the accelerated rise of American fascism, and on and on.

Quote from Daniel Guérin's L'Anarchisme: De La Doctrine Å L'Action (1965)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Hung Upon A Dream

"My cup is in the sun. So maybe an ice cube."

He walked quietly, so as to not wake the dog, and filled a blue plastic cup with a blend of iced tea and lemonade.

"Thank you. Do you mind if I walk over to the beach and just let the water run over my feet for a bit?," she said with tears still damp on her cheeks.

He nodded, kissed her forehead, and took a long drag of his cigarette. A small grin crossed his face and he thought to himself that for the first time in months, he actually felt free.  

Words and photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020

No Gods, No Masters

Now that NYC is an "Anarchist Jurisdiction" I imagine we can skip paying federal taxes and freely jaywalk? Can we also rename Prospect Park, the Emma Goldman Freespace? Perhaps the BQE can be now known as the Peter Kropotkin Expressway (PQE).

Art via The Base (Brooklyn)

Friday, September 18, 2020

You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

"The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history."

Art by Martin Sprouse (3chordpolitics)

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Take Me Home

Toots Hibbert
Rest In Peace

I saw The Harder They Come when I was around 12 or 13 years old and fully fell in love with Jamaican music (and became a forever fan of The Maytals). Toots sounded like a Jamaican Ray Charles; he also had the same uplifting feeling stretched across his catalog. His loss is immeasurable, but his music will live on forever.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Quiet, Please

"Quiet, please, not only because it is a mark of respect for the deceased and their friends and families, but also because it is the sound of silence that many New Yorkers find so evocative of those days just after the attacks. Our streets closed to regular traffic, patrolled by police and the National Guard, we wandered in mute disbelief at what had happened, at the enormity of our loss. Even the emergency vehicles that raced along the empty streets did so without their sirens. We murmured softly amongst ourselves, looking for answers as many of our fellow citizens still searched for news of their missing loved ones."

Words by Michael Winship
Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2020

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Nail That Sticks Up Gets Hammered Down

Sam McPheeters' latest book Mutations: The Many Strange Faces Of Hardcore Punk (Rare Bird Books), is a memoir, of sorts, of a life informed by music as both a participant and most of all, a rabid fan. It's a beautifully crafted book, imbued with passion (sans nostalgia), humor, and refreshing unvarnished honesty. It is also incredibly biting at times, but thankfully lacks the vitriol McPheeters once trafficked in through his music and fanzine writing.

Among the superb band "profiles," record reviews, essays, memoir fragments, and the must-read endnotes (as Tobi Vail states in her foreword, you would do well by reading them first), one quote jumped out to me and hit home hard: "We begin our lives struggling to grasp the mysteries of adulthood, then spend the rest of our lives struggling to access those raw emotions of childhood." This is what makes the book burn bright: reflections on a youthful existence mapped by music and rebellion (real or preceived), and how one carries that forth into adulthood.

A highly recommended read, whether or not you're a fan of McPheeters' bands (Born Against, Men's Recovery Project, Wrangler Brutes), fanzines (Plain TruthDear Jesus), or even hardcore. As with the best memoirs, it's a total page-turner and McPheeters manages the rare feat of pulling off an emotional portrait of the artist as an angry young man growing up in public, filled with epic stories and revelatory self-reflection. He throws the traditional constraints of memoir writing out the window, and never loses sight of his love of music, and its potential to transform, inform, and destroy.

Review by Lee Greenfeld © 2020

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Answer May Surprise You!

David Graeber
Rest In Peace

"What if freedom were the ability to make up our minds about what it was we wished to pursue, with whom we wished to pursue it, and what sort of commitments we wish to make to them in the process? Equality, then, would simply be a matter of guaranteeing equal access to those resources needed in the pursuit of an endless variety of forms of value. Democracy in that case would simply be our capacity to come together as reasonable human beings and work out the resulting common problems — since problems there will always be — a capacity that can only truly be realized once the bureaucracies of coercion that hold existing structures of power together collapse or fade away."

Words from The Democracy Project: A History, A Crisis, A Movement (2013)

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Beautiful Notes

"The thing to me that's most inspirational about Charlie Parker is that he felt that you could only redeem yourself for bad things by doing something that was beautiful. He felt that he could give the world beautiful notes."

Words from Kansas City Lightning by Stanley Crouch
Photograph of Charlie Parker with Tommy Potter, Miles Davis, and
Max Roach at the Three Deuces in NYC circa 1947 by William Gottlieb

Thursday, August 27, 2020

A Separate Piece

"There is a common superstition that ‘self-respect’ is a kind of charm against snakes, something that keeps those who have it locked in some unblighted Eden, out of strange beds, ambivalent conversations, and trouble in general. It does not at all. It has nothing to do with the face of things, but concerns instead a separate peace, a private reconciliation." -Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

A simple observation, her good natured ribbing did it: all about my beloved black socks. It was more than just the socks, but it was a reminder; the ends were very far from the surface.

Black socks. Bridges. Endless talk. The curl of her lip… That night.

We all shouted "ammonia man" as he clawed at his eyes. Then he stood in front of me wearing a weather-beaten leather vest and big black m.c. boots; hair all slicked back and a deep olive complexion. He asked me his name. I said it, and he hit me. It was a test and I failed. Standing there in front of the candy store shivering from the cold, the shame I felt was nearly unbearable.

I knew the reverberations of that punch would shake right through the neighborhood, and I'd live with it for a time in the spotlight, and for years to come in my own dark corners. There were many moments to come after that snowy day that I'd get hit, literally or otherwise. Many more days and nights of shame, sending me into a dizzying spiral of doubt without reflection.

He asked me his name, I answered and got hit so hard it took my wind away and left me shaking. Why then did I spend time with him the next day, blurring the edges? What was I trying to prove?

Her hand reaching out across a scarred, beer-soaked table, wrapping itself in mine. That breathtaking curl of her lip. It all turned into everything I desired and was lost before I could even understand it.

Black socks... How could that ever sum it up?

Words and photography by Lee Greenfeld © 2020

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Not Everybody Else

Walter Lure
Rest In Peace

"There was definitely a whole community thing going on. It was the New York scene and we were a part of it, whether it was hanging out with Debbie Harry or David Byrne or whoever. There were rivalries later, but it was pretty diverse between bands like Talking Heads and Television, who were almost diametrically opposed to The Heartbreakers. We didn’t even have any management at that time. The main thing was that we’d all been brought up with — and ate, drank and breathed — solid, fast rock'n'roll. That’s what we all loved. I guess you could call us the only authentic rock band in the city."

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

At What Price Is Freedom?

“How many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?”

Words from Fear and Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Hear Me Singin' Through These Tears

Beautiful version of one of Dylan's greatest songs, which captures, and maybe even amplifies the powerful raw ache of the original. (The video is visually stunning as well.) Taken from Emma Swift's sterling new album of Dylan covers, Blonde On The Tracks.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Save The Post Office

Beyond the fascistic electoral interference, defunding and sabotaging the United States Postal Service puts seniors and others who depend on the mail for their prescriptions at risk, as well as threatens the survival of countless small businesses and puts the 500,000 jobs at the USPS itself in jeopardy. (The USPS is also the second biggest employer of veterans in the country.) Everyone needs to step up and fight this fucking insanity. Don't just sit there... Do something!

Friday, August 14, 2020