So I was standing at the box office last night and I heard myself say “Two for Capitalism” and I thought that doesn’t sound right. I liked most of the movie a lot, especially the swing version of “The Internationale.” Just googled it and found it was sung by a New Jersey lounge singer named Tony Babino. Far out. Then we got to the Berkeley High parking lot at 10:40 and the gate was closed—usually we go to earlier movies. So we started to walk home, me grumping about the cold because the reason I was at a movie instead of chorus is that I have a cold and can’t sing. Then a truck drove by and a guy said, “You have a car in the lot?” “Yes!” “I’ll open it.” So we walked back to the gate. The guy said, “I have to close the gate at 10:30 but if I see anybody around I open it again.” Claudia told him we thought the movie would get out earlier. He said, “What movie did you see?” “Capitalism!” We all laughed. He said, “Capitalism sucks!” It made my day.
Now I want to get some crime scene tape.
What I forgot to say last week about the Children’s Music Network gathering is that in Sarah Pirtle’s workshop, “Music as a Bridge over Troubled Waters,” she asked us at one point to think of a song that got us through bad times, or that got us teary-eyed, and I couldn’t think of a particular song until some other folks had said and/or sung theirs and I thought of a song that chokes me up every time: “The Internationale.” I don’t know all the words—even to the first verse—but I started it and others joined in and we got through that verse. A couple of old lefties stopped me afterwards to thank me for starting it. I vowed to learn the verse but was reminded in conversation that it sounds so much better in French that I want to learn it in its original language.
Here’s an interesting pair of web sites: has three meters running, and I do mean running, showing the mounting cost of all wars since 2001, of the Iraq war specifically, and of the war in Afghanistan. You can also break the cost down by community, and then see what the trade-offs are. According to the site, “Taxpayers in Berkeley, California will pay $4.4 million for proposed ballistic missile defense in FY2009. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided: 62 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year” So which will make us more peaceful, missiles on the Polish border or music and art in the schools? The other site is visuals of a million, a billion and a trillion dollars in stacked $100 bills. A real eye-opener.
Back in the eighties Lou Gottlieb asked me to write a song about SDI (Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense scheme). I had just gotten a mailing about it, saying that to better imagine the cost, you could think of it as a million dollars a day for the next 400-odd years. So I wrote lyrics for “A Million a Day” And Lou wrote the music and he and the Limeliters recorded it and used it in their shows.
What would you do with a million a day?
Would you offer it up or sock it away?
Would you feed the poor or keep up with the rich?
Would it make you a saint or a son-of-a-b? etc.
I’m determined to get over this cold in time to go to the local manifestation of the International Day of Climate Action this Saturday. They are up to 4452 actions in 172 countries—pretty much all the countries there are. The Maldives held an underwater Cabinet meeting on Sunday to draw attention to the danger of rising sea levels to their island nation. Our action in Berkeley won’t be that cool, but very Berkeley: an hour of meditation at the West Berkeley Senior Center at 11:00 a.m. then the usual sign-waving at a University Avenue intersection (Sixth Street this time) but I want to be part of it. Find your local action at That number, 350, is the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere deemed safe by scientists. We’re at 390 ppm now, which is why the ice caps and glaciers are melting.
A small one: in response to many letters, Amazon stopped advertising a demeaning “illegal alien” Halloween costume (at $40!). A big one: Joe Biden is proposing a national solar program based on Berkeley’s sensible model in which the loan to install solar in a building is paid for by tax assessments, so the debt goes with the building, not the owner, if the building is sold.
©2009 by Nancy Schimmel
2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
When I was making a sandwich for lunch, I remembered the surprise in Capitalism: A Love Story. Alvarado Street bread, our favorite store-bought bread, is made by a workers' cooperative. We didn't know--we just liked the flavor. Try the sprouted whole wheat.
Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 12:48 PM
Hey, its my favorite store bought bread too! And they carry it at Costco.
There's more to comment on but that's what struck me. Hope you're feeling better.  Claire J
Friday, October 23, 2009 - 06:32 PM
Thursday, October 22, 2009