And the Band Played On


During a recent visit to New Orleans, I attended the funeral of Antoinette K-Doe who passed away on February 24th, the first day of Mardi Gras this year. Owner of the popular Mother-in-Law restaurant in Treme, one of the oldest African American neighborhoods,... Additionally, she took twenty-seven foster children under her care and was indeed a fixture on the Krewe de Vieux floats during Mardi Gras parades.

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Black Peruvians: A Vanishing Presence?

Black Peruvians

A freedman from Angola, a Peruvian legend says, lived in a shantytown on the edge of colonial Lima. An ardent convert to Catholicism, he painted a picture of Christ on one of the shantytown’s walls. When an earthquake ravaged Lima in the 1650s, that wall remained standing.

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Common Ground for a People Divided: Let’s Start with Community College

Philadelphia The Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates left supporters of each candidate convinced that their candidate had won and wondering how on earth any reasonable person could possibly vote for that wretched disaster on the other side. Plus ça change…. November’s election will come and go, and we all will move on, one way or another.

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Community vs. Addiction

On this bone-soaking rainy Monday morning, I ride shotgun beside spry sixtyish Dr. Ira Mandel in his RAV-4 en route to his office in nearby Rockland, Maine. 

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Helo Pad, Camp Bastion

Camp Helo

At precisely 2135 my public affairs escort to the Helo Pad shows up and we load my gear into the back of a beat up mini-van. My backpack is pretty heavy and there are black and blue welts on both my forearms from all the times I’ve slung it on and off the past couple days. It’s good to have a little help. I ask him what day it is and he tells me Saturday. I think it’s Friday.

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Junot Diaz – The Only Way Out is In

Junot Diaz

Author Junot Diaz electrified a packed room of over two hundred at Yale on Nov. 12, 2013 with fighting words: "If you're writing real art, no one wants your shit anyway...The point of an artist is to give people what they don't want. The day you start giving people what they want you become an entertainer."

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Living the Dada Life: Andrei Codrescu Style

Andrei Codrescu

Because in the dada world, poets (and other mischief makers) will always make the best headlines… and the dada world might very well be the REAL world according to Andrei Codrescu’s latest book, The Posthuman Dada Guide (Princeton University Press).You see, headlines are dada, especially when you take out a pair of scissors and whip down a shot of whiskey while reconstructing prose. (I warn you, this is not easy—but neither is dada).

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Rolex Arts Weekend – I Discovered a Mountain

Rolex Proteges

As library patrons and tourists filed into the front entrance of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, another cluster of people formed along the side of the century-old institution. On a cloudy Sunday afternoon in November, a crowd of bookish types, journalists and rockers strained their necks for a glimpse of the soon-to-appear speakers as they walked into the Celeste Bartos forum of the New York Public Library, a ballroom sized space with towering ceilings. Four chairs had been arranged in a semi-circle on stage.

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The Fourth Wall Arts Salon: Confessions of a Cynic

4th Wall Being of the grunge generation, under 30-somethings who, from behind a fray of overgrown hair and weathered flannel, lazily roll our bloodshot eyes at both positivity and activism, I must take my share of blame for the lack of communal action that came so naturally to other, more restless, generations. In the spirit of confession I will add that I felt slightly punished when I had to cancel a Scrabble game with a friend to attend a Salon, of all things, to hear spoken word poetry. However, as I walked away from the first salon in a nomadic arrangement  called the Fourth Wall Arts Salon, in terms of my cynicism for spoken word poetry, I had been liberated.

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The Other Side of Abu Ghraib – Part Two: The Yoga Teacher Goes to Istanbul

Abu Ghraib - 2 When lawyers Susan Burke and Shereef Akeel traveled to Baghdad, Amman, and Istanbul to record testimony of the Abu Ghraib detainees, the full horror of what the former prisoners had lived through began to sink in.

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The Other Side Of Abu Ghraib — Part One

Abu Ghraib 1

…the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) Taking of hostages; (c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;... --- — The Geneva Convention/Article 3

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Why Clowns are Knocking at Our Doors

Illustration Credit: Eliane GerritsThe Trickster is a shadowy, shape-shifting figure who plays with us, confusing us, and in the end holding up a warped mirror to our anxieties.

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Veterans Finding a Home

Lyons - Project Home

62,000 Vets will wake up homeless today. One of seven homeless adults is a Vet. Today twenty-two Vets will commit suicide. Vets will be twice as likely as non-Vets to be without a job.

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