Mná Mná

Niceol Blue seems to get mentioned on this blog more than any other person. That’s what comes I guess of having a wonderful voice and a computer almost permanently in need of repair – two things I have a weakness for. But she also organizes Mná Mná – Women in Music, a monthly showcase gig for musicians and particularly singers who are female. I’m worried overseas readers won’t get the title. Suffice to say, Mná is the Irish for Women, and is pronounced – more or less – “Mnah”.

It’s been on once a month for almost a year now, but to my shame last night was my first visit. I’ve been missing something good. A thing like this could so easily be what I might call… excessively supportive. But thanks to what I can only guess are hidden reserves of steely ruthlessness, the standards are excellent. Three acts last night, each worth the entrance.

Next month will be a special gig for their first anniversary – definitely one to watch out for. You can sign up for notifications here.

The Liberation Of Wall Street

The corner of Wall Street and Broadway, showin...
Stop Protesting - If You Know What's Good For You

So Wall Street is no longer occupied; not by protesters at least. The encampment has been swept away on the – quite specious – grounds of health and safety. I’m a strong supporter of laws to protect innocent people, so it always angers me to see them abused. Taking something enacted for public benefit and repurposing it to oppress undermines the rule of law and draws democracy into disrepute.

To compound the dishonesty they were told that, this being nothing more than a cleaning, they would of course be welcome to return as soon as it was over.

Only… Don’t bring camping gear.

Whose health and safety anyway? The order cites that of local residents, the emergency services, and the protesters themselves. The former two you could understand if the encampment did present some sort of hazard. (It didn’t.) Those groups have little choice but to be in its proximity. But the protesters themselves? They’re being ordered to leave on the grounds that by assembling peacefully, they pose a health hazard to themselves.

One wonders what form of protest couldn’t be suppressed on such grounds. Leave the powers that be to get on with it. Resistance is bad for you.

Occupy All Streets

Giełda na Wall Street
"Question us, and you're questioning America"

It is to my shame that I have not yet written about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I hadn’t intended to write about politics at all of course, with my driving test now less than 36 hours away. But if I can break that for something as parochial and – when it comes down to it – irrelevant as an uncorroborated allegation against a relative of a presidential candidate, I can surely spare a few words on the global revolt against capitalism. And as it happens, I have only three:

About ***ing time.

Really, what took so long? When the financial industry has been allowed to get away with the greatest act of larceny in history. When the people of capitalist countries have spent years looking on helplessly as their nations’ wealth was corralled into fewer and fewer pockets. As democracy degenerates into a re-branded aristocracy. As poorer people – indeed, poorer countries – are crushed by systems set up to benefit the rich, while being told that that is their personal failure. How have we managed to put up with this shit for so long?

It is great to see that ordinary people of good intent still believe you can change things. Or maybe they don’t believe that. Maybe they see no hope of ever changing anything. But they protest anyway, because they cannot not protest anymore.

Coincidence?

Yes!

But a weird one. As WordPress users may recognise, the graph is of blog traffic, and shows a sudden, mysterious peak starting on September 11.

Despite the date, the resemblance to a now-lost New York skyline is due not to readers eager for my opinions of 9/11 ‘Truthers’, but my piece on a whole other conspiracy theory.

September 11 – The First Ten Years

wtc
View onto a lost world

Ten years ago I spent this day with an online community, riveted to the events of September 11 even as some of our members were living through them in New York. Many moving things were said. Many terrible too – naturally we had one or two who wanted vengeance equal in horror to the attack. One actually did use the term “carpet bomb them into the stone age”.

But that was overwhelmed by the nobility of what most had to say, even as their country was being attacked. And not just the things they said, but what they did. Phones were out in New York, and some were frustrated to the point of tears that they couldn’t let their families know they were all right. Then someone had an idea – the rest of us could make the calls for them. The community proved itself that day.

I hope they do not mind if, ten years on, I repeat some of their words here.

I’m sitting watching the sky get dark from the smoke of the third building collapsing, and seeing a layer of soot settling on the cars and sidewalks. Soot that might be skin and bone and hair and burnt fragments of family pictures.
I haven’t got to the anger and revenge part of the process yet. I’m thinking of the mommy and daddy who are right now dying under 110 stories of rubble, while their kids are waiting in some school cafeteria to be picked up.
And I’m buoyed by the simple acts of grace and humanity shown by most of the folks on this board, offering to make phone calls and expressing true concern.
Sleep and food don’t seem to be very necessary things. But solidarity and human-ness sure are.
Defending a home is as close to pure animal instinct as most civilized humans get, and that’s as it should be, I imagine.
But in the defense of principles, on the contrary, we must behave as principled people, we must act as rationally and intelligently as we have the capacity to muster.
I’ve spent the day in a lot of quiet thought and meditation, and in watching to be sure my friends and loved ones were safe. I don’t really have much to say about this, except that I hope that we do not inflame a larger conflict in our quest to bring the perpetrators to justice. That would be a far greater tragedy than a single bombing, however horrible.

Wise words, and prophetic.