Cider Salon #3 – Sources, Methods, and Musings (October 18th, 2018)


Maybe you'd like to watch a documentary about the Wrecking Crew ...

Maybe you’d like to watch a documentary about the Wrecking Crew …

You don’t know what will happen at a Cider Salon. Put interesting, engaged people together with other interesting, engaged people – there’s no way to know what will happen.

How was the third Salon? Very high percentage of musicians, including a jazz saxophonist was taught anthropology for years.

We talked Little House on the Planet, we talked the Wrecking Crew, we talked local politics. We talked leadership of the Peekskill Arts Alliance. We talked about communication across political divides and a new LHOP storyline.

The Wrecking Crew is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Denny Tedesco.

“Music lovers will be astonished at the influence The Wrecking Crew wielded over rock and pop music in the 1960s and early 1970s. These unsung instrumentalists were the de-facto backing band on hit records by The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Sonny & Cher, Elvis, The Monkees and many more. These dedicated musicians brought the flair and musicianship that made the American “West Coast Sound” a dominant cultural force around the world.”

Maybe you'd like to read "A Colony in a Nation"

Maybe you’d like to read “A Colony in a Nation”

Over the weekend I read a book we talked about at the Salon by “a journalist who talked to people in Ferguson other people wouldn’t have talked to.” A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes

“America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a postracial world, yet nearly every empirical measure–wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation–reveals that racial inequality has barely improved since 1968, when Richard Nixon became our first “law and order” president. With the clarity and originality that distinguished his prescient bestseller, Twilight of the Elites, Chris Hayes upends our national conversation on policing and democracy in a book of wide-ranging historical, social, and political analysis.”

Maybe you'd like to read In Search of the Primitive ...

Maybe you’d like to read In Search of the Primitive …

In Search of the Primitive by Stanley Diamond

“Anthropology is a kind of debate between human possibilities-a dialectical movement between the anthropologist as a modern man and the primitive peoples he studies. In Search of the Primitive is a tough-minded book containing chapters ranging from encounters in the field to essays on the nature of law, schizophrenia and civilization, and the evolution of the work of Claude Levi-Strauss.”

Maybe you'd like to read Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture ...

Maybe you’d like to read Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture …

Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture by Marvin Harris

“One of America’s leading anthropolgists offers solutions to the perplexing question of why people behave the way they do.
Why do Hindus worship cows? Why do Jews and Moslems refuse to eat pork? Why did so many people in post-medieval Europe believe in witches?”

Maybe you’d like to read Culture against Man … (notice how there’s USA in colored letters, right in the name of the book!)

Maybe you’d like to read Culture against Man … (notice how there’s USA in colored letters, right in the name of the book!)

Culture Against Man by Jules Henry

“Culture Against Man is a 1963 book-length ethnography by anthropologist Jules Henry of his native United States culture. The book is presented in three parts: American life and its institutions, discussion on child-rearing, and discussion on nursing homes.”

Hope To See You at the Screening of “13th” Thursday Night, July 20th


Don't Miss It!

Don’t Miss It!

I am very proud of Our Better Future’s work in recommending the film and recruiting the panel for this important event. (

It’s hard to comprehend: Our country has more people in prison than any other country on earth. China, repressive as it is, imprisons fewer even though they’ve got four times more people. Other countries with fewer people in prison: (well, all of them, which includes:) Russia, North Korea, Syria, Egypt. And it’s not because we’re a big country — we’ve also got the most people in prison as a percentage of our population. We don’t think of our country that way. Though, that’s a particular “we” — there are millions of people in this country who understand this perfectly well, and have for generations.

Why is this true? How did it happen?

Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th” explains. After slavery was made illegal by the 13th Amendment, lots of people didn’t want to give up the advantages of having slaves work for them. So, slavery was made illegal except as “punishment for a crime.” That’s one of many ways it happens. Chances are good you’ve received goods or services created by American citizens who are slaves.

Come to our free screening and learn about America’s mass incarceration and slavery situation. After the film listen or participate in the panel discussion with: A pastor and activist who spent 9 years behind bars; an educator and author dedicated to young people of African descent including those currently in, or recently released from, prison; and the Director of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Rev. Dr. Darren Ferguson, Kahlil Koromantee, Shannon Wong

Rev. Dr. Darren Ferguson, Kahlil Koromantee, Shannon Wong

Hi Everyone! #90 — Go See The Book of Will

The First Folio

The First Folio

I spent a moving evening in the theater this week attending the opening night of Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s crowd-pleasing production of The Book of Will. ( You should, without delay, make plans attend a performance yourself. (I’ll tell you why it’s worth the price of admission soon. I’ll tell you now that, given the challenges of filling the theatre for an unfamiliar play, especially at the beginning of the run, HVSF is offering a two-for-one ticket deal – just type the code OPENTHEBOOK when ordering your tickets.)

The play is directed by Davis McCallum, one of the most valuable recent additions to the Hudson Valley as artistic director of HVSF, who’s done so much to open the Festival up to Hudson Valley communities. He’s also a stage director of rare power and taste. (You may remember my unabashed enthusiasm for his production of The Winter’s Tale.

The play, by America’s most produced living playwright, the talented and modest Lauren Gunderson, tells the true story of the production of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, a project conceived and accomplished against impossibly long odds by two actors from the Globe’s theater company and their fiercely supportive wives (and one captivatingly vital daughter). If their project had not succeeded, nearly all the plays would exist today only in wildly distorted and diminished form, if they were not lost entirely. Interest in the plays would probably be confined to the occasional graduate student.

Nearly all the characters are based on real-life historic personalities. Their labour of love is set against a vividly Shakespearean portrait of their times – a story of passionate intention, doubt, love, loss, that even includes a somewhat ambiguously villainous old man, a short and stirring turn by Richard Burbage, “the first great actor of English theatre,” and a larger-than-life Ben Jonson.

You might think such a play best suited for Shakespeare buffs and English majors, but it’d be a great night in the theatre even without Shakespeare. The characters are vivid and appealing, the story, even if you know the outcome, is exciting and suspenseful. It’s a story that reminds us that it’s possible for heroic perseverance to be anchored in a world permeated with loss and the passage of time.

The Book of Will

The Book of Will

It’s not a widely appreciated story, even among those who know about the First Folio. It’s one of those pivotal moments in history, where different choices by a small number of people would have made an enormous difference.

There’s something vertiginous in considering how close the collected works of Shakespeare came to being lost or severely compromised. How many lives would be different, how impoverished our language and understanding of the human condition? One can imagine the Potterville of a world in which Shakespeare had been lost.

I have a strong attraction to stories of heroic efforts to save irreplaceable cultural treasures. For Father’s Day this year I received a copy of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer, in which a band of librarians pulls off a brazen heist to save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda. And I’ve always deeply felt the heroic efforts of young linguists traveling to remote corners of the world to preserve at least the outline of languages before the last native speakers succumb to old age.

And, as long as we’re talking, there’s the heroism of wildlife biologists doing everything they can to preserve the last surviving mating pair of a nearly extinct species.

Anyway, go up to Boscobel and see the play. And we took a picnic before and that was a really good experience.

Another Little House on the Planet (LHOP) Scene


  • [if you don’t know what LHOP is, or who “Nationwide” Ned and Lucille are, look at the end of the post – it’s all explained!]

Look at the DemEntors!

Look at the DemEntors!

A scene between “Nationwide” Ned and Lucille, Hostess with a heart of gold. He’s early for the weekly Solidarity Salon.

(Crowd sounds, band doing sound check)

Nationwide Ned: Lucille, Lucille, sucking on a lemon peel!

Lucille: Are you making fun?

NED: Of your poetess with a heart of gold schtick? Yes, yes I am.

Lucille: Want a hard cider?

NED: How hard? Yes.

LUCILLE: You look like you’ve been through it and back.

NED: I just got back from Voice of the People.

LUCILLE: I heard you were going.

NED: Well I did, and boy oh boy.

LUCILLE: Is there hope for the Republic?

NED: First of all, I kind of get Kansas City is non-elite and all, but climate change or whatever, it was miserable hot. Second, schism, schismatics played bass for Plasmatics.

LUCILLE: Did you all have a Kum Ba Won’t moment?

NED: What wasn’t? The Green Party hates the socialists, the DemExits hate the DemEnters, the Hillarybots and BernieBros will savage each other long after the Apocalypse, and everyone’s like your praxis ain’t nothin’ at all.

LUCILLE: That last was a little esoteric.

NED: Really, I’ve had it. I don’t even care anymore. Praxis Schmaxis, who’s fooling who?

LUCILLE: You’re depressed.

NED: Very astute. Though I got a pretty big laugh with “Hermoine, look out! Those aren’t DemExit’s! They’re DemEnters!” And were there any non-depressing developments here?

LUCILLE: Remember how we used to complain that we’d put up 75 flyers and be lucky to get three people at the Solidarity Salon? Well, last week we got 20.

NED: 20, wow. Now we can have a banner after all.

LUCILLE: Well, it’s a quality 20. And trending. Plus, I took your advice and booked the Resistance Quartet.

NED: Barbershop is the vanguard of the Revolution.

Gulf War Song - Moxy Früvous

Gulf War Song – Moxy Früvous

LUCILLE: And I got them to learn that song you wanted?

NED: The Gulf War Song? What a fricking heartbreaking song. But, you know, it’s such a Why We Fight anthem.

LUCILLE: Greg, can you guys do the song for Ned?

Greg: Check check. Yeah. Guys …

(Quartet sings the haunting Gulf War Song, which can be heard here (

# # #

What it’s all about: LHOP tells stories of characters working for transformation in a place slightly more amenable to change than Northern Westchester. It’s a radio serial podcast.

Many characters are based on real people already working here. All are created, written, and performed by a team, often including the model for the character.

And yes, you can play too. And yes, there are lots of different ways to participate. And yes, we’re going to have real advertisers and generate real revenue.

Every episode includes the “Chris in the Morning” radio show featuring a phone interview with an actual famous transformation worker (Michael Moore! Eve Ensler! Adam McKay!)

Learn more here ( and here (

“Nationwide” Ned is a grassroots organizer finding his way. One of his projects includes Reality 101 – at a regular time and place a couple people show up with a two-minute video, free coffee, and just the facts on Climate Change! Income Inequality! A program he’s already got up and running locally and is working to deploy – wait for it – nationwide. Lucille, the hostess with a heart of gold, a poet and therapist, runs a coffee shop that hosts a weekly Solidarity Café – a gathering of activists, with music, poetry – everything but a bongo, and sometimes there even is a bongo.

Hi Everyone! #89 — There Should Be Less Cheating …


Political Mentors

Political Mentors

My Mom gave me my early political education: It’s good to sing songs; Be skeptical of what they’re saying; Power doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

Here’s a couple Chad Mitchell Trio songs I learned at her knee. They’re catchy and fun and easy to remember even decades later. John Birch Society and What Did You Learn in School Today? (written by Pete Seeger and she would have been so glad to know I eventually sat and talked with him.)



I’ve spent a lifetime verifying and building on her lessons. I got a little older and realized there were Republicans. I thought of them as boosters, bank vice-presidents, Elks. It was good there were people involved who were dedicated to order, making things work, following the rules (yes, the letter and even the spirit). Who passionately believed in being even-handed and practical. Knowing that without that there will be chaos and people will suffer. Does anyone really want Janis Joplin running the Coast Guard?

But those were different Republicans. Republicans who would be ashamed to be caught cheating. Along the way they became Crusaders, battling for self-dealing and for a twisted theology dressed up like an ideology – since God is on our side, our Ends justify any devious Means our sneaky minds can come up with. Maybe it was Roger Ailes who got those balls rolling.

Noam Chomsky: The Republican Party Is the ‘Most Dangerous Organization in World History!’ Outlandish? Well, no. “The party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand.” Learn more here (

So, now it’s now. As I’m sure you’ve noticed. And all politics is local. Here’s what William Barber says about cheating:

Don’t you understand how afraid they are of our unity? Think about it:

    If, in order to win,

  • they had to lie almost every other ten minutes,
  • they had to find a way to put pornographic sums of money into the electoral pot,
  • they had to spend years pushing voter suppression,
  • they had to use fear against Muslims, against immigrants,
  • they had to be helped by the media that played too long with Trump,
  • and they had to go all the way over to Russia to get help …

We are not weak. Somebody fears our unity.

People only cheat you
when they can’t beat you

in a fair fight.

We’re stronger than we realize and it’s our time to stand up and be the moral dissenters, the moral defibrillators, and the moral dreamers and to make it through this moment and use it to change the course of history, to change America. And, if we work together, to change the world.

Chris reports real events for a fictional show …


Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

Our Better Future (here ( recently hosted the first annual “Celebrate MLK’s Beyond Vietnam & Gather Our Tribe” (here (, and has been producing the podcast Little House on the Planet (LHOP) (here ( since the beginning of the year.

LHOP tells stories of activated citizens in a lightly fictional Northern Westchester. Many of the good things depicted in the podcast can happen in real life – with some effort, ingenuity, luck, and a receptive population. I have faith that some ideas actually will.

Little House

Little House

Vanessa Agudelo reads MLK, photo: Alan Haywood

Vanessa Agudelo celebrates MLK. Photo: Alan Haywood

And sometimes good things in real life can be included in the LHOP universe, and the MLK event was a perfect example. Every episode of LHOP contains an excerpt from the Chris in the Morning internet radio show. One of the talented podcast performers could have reported on the event and interviewed the participants.

To enjoy all the Little House posts, visit here (

Our Better Future is dedicated to working with and supporting activated citizens in Northern Westchester. Learn more about OBF here Visit our Crowdfunding and Awareness Campaign, and consider donating (and earning some high-quality incentive rewards) here

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Beyond Vietnam speech

In 1967 MLK delivered a prophetic speech. I want you to help commemorate the 50th anniversary.

Moral principles should provide a foundation to the choice of what to actually do

Moral principles should provide a foundation to the choice of what to actually do

Our Better Future is organizing three events commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam – A Time To Break Silence” delivered in NYC exactly one year before his assassination. (Links to read and hear the speech can be found in the final section.) The National Council of Elders has encouraged people to create events commemorating the speech – gatherings of local people to hear the speech and spend time together. Our Better Future has taken up the challenge for Northern Westchester and is organizing three separate events for May 21st, 2017 – one in Peekskill, one in Katonah / Bedford, and one in Ossining.

Learn all the details here (

These events are just one manifestation of multiple OBF projects intended to find new ways to work together for transformation in Northern Westchester. You can learn more here here ( or here ( You can support OBF here (

Varieties of American Experience

Varieties of American Experience

Our Better Future #3 — Fund-Raising and Awareness Campaign Launched


People Get Ready ...

People Get Ready …

In a somewhat breathless announcement today Our Better Future (OBF), the organization supporting progressive transformation and activated citizens in Northern Westchester, unveiled its first-ever crowdsourcing campaign, inviting support from the public for its many projects and initiatives.

Founder Paul Stark provided the following background on OBF, which he referred to as “something new under the sun.”

The fundraising campaign is available here (

All the details about OBF are available here (

The Story

This day has been a long time coming.

Since October 10th, 2010, 10/10/10, 350’s global day of work for climate change – I organized four separate events, including a theatrical afternoon, moving, direct, and suffused with hope. That was more than six years ago.

Or since the Club of Rome, in 1976, when I discovered computer simulations showed infinite human expansion on a finite planet would, inevitably and obviously, lead to difficulties. That was more than 40 years ago.

Like sharks trying to bite the giant peach, we’re confronted with questions so big we can’t bite into them. Enormous forces are in motion. We are so little, each with our singular circumscribed lives, and the forces are so big.

What to do, why to do it? Today I’m announcing my answer. Since I’m not so different from anyone else, at least around here; since I’m living on the same planet subject to the same enormous forces as anyone else, I’m confident my answer will be part of other people’s answers. Maybe yours.

It’s got, as they say, moving parts. Simply: it makes sense to engage the world, to work hard for transformation, to act from sane and human-sized values. And, as should have been obvious all along: we’re on our own. No institutions or leaders will provide guidance or structure to support the creation of our so-obviously-required new world, our so-obviously-required better future.

Raising Money

For the last six years I’ve worked for free. Now I’m raising money so I can get paid, and I’m asking for help. And I’m hiring five part-time project coordinators.

There are people who know me, my work, and my intentions. For three months OBF will be financed through individual donations. During April, and May, and June OBF will arrange money from other sources and be self-sufficient by July 1st.


Our Better Future supports citizen engagement and resilient community in Northern Westchester. We believe in the work of transformation. We run projects, host events, write, create journalism, and performance, and promote similar work done by others.

We bring together groups and individuals of differing identities. We provide life-changing experiences to young people and interns.

We’ll find meaningful work for anyone with an impulse to work for transformation. We exist to deploy Northern Westchester’s enormous talents and resources to help save the world.

Success here will be replicated in other communities across the country.

Progressives, activists, radicals, and other hotheads need the broad support of a community of citizens. Not everyone is ready to derail her or his life to join an all-consuming struggle.


It was already an emergency – between ruining the biosphere, selling off our democracy, and the biggest wealth gap since four minutes before 1929’s collapse into the Great Depression – so the sudden all-too-obvious lurch toward American Fascism is a vertigo-inducing surrealistic awfulness that’s almost too much to comprehend.


New projects underway during the campaign period. Including Events in three Northern Westchester communities marking the 50 anniversary of Martin Luther King’s fiercely truthful speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break The Silence” (April 30) (, and from The Ossining Documentary & Discussion Series ( A Fierce Green Fire (April 20) (, and 13th (July 20) (

Projects include: Little House on the Planet, a podcast that tells the intertwined stories of young and older people pursuing progressive and radical goals. ( This Day in Civil Rights, an online database designed, run, promoted, and funded by young people. ( There’s also Pro Bono PR, ( Pray for All of Us, Art for Activism, Northern Westchester Monthly, Climate Comedy, ( and Our Friendly Town. (

Link to CV
Here’s some of what Paul Stark and OBF’s ancestors have been doing for the last six years. (

Yes, You Can Help!
Please visit the campaign page here and seriously consider donating. There’s many kinds of rewards ( Please share and post widely.

People Like It When Someone Tells The Real, Actual Truth


At the Little House on the Planet Development Party last week we worked on using comedy to tell the truth. Lord knows, there’s plenty of difficult truths these days. Some ways the truth has been told are deeply beloved. People return to them again and again as a kind of talisman, an article of a certain kind of faith. And my goodness, there’s been an awful lot of lying and lying and lying on the national political stage these days.

If I didn’t include one of your favorites, please include it in the comments.

Some of my Favorites
Greatest County in the World?

Greatest County in the World?

It’s been called “the most honest three and a half minutes of television, EVER” Jeff Daniels on The Newsroom250 width
They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking.

They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking.

It’s a big club and you ain’t in it. George Carlin spills the beans on the oligarchy.
It's like everything everywhere is going crazy

It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore! Network
He’ll see everything! He’ll see the big board!

He’ll see everything! He’ll see the big board!

General Buck Turgidson, George C Scott, Frying chickens in the barnyard. Dr. Strangelove brilliantly told so many different kinds of difficult truths
Here is the fucking news ...

Here is the fucking news …

Reporter gets angry and tells us the REAL news. This has been viral for a while now. It’s not hard to believe it’s a real reporter who’s had more than enough — but it’s satire from British actor and comedian Tom Walker
War always encourages a patriotism that means not love of country but unquestioning obedience to power.

War always encourages a patriotism that means not love of country but unquestioning obedience to power.

Robert Shetterly’s Americans Who Tell the Truth portraits and narratives highlight citizens who courageously address issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness.

What a labor of love! There’s more than 200 of them. I’ve been using his Wendell Berry portrait for years when I was tweeting one quotation a day from “Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays.”

Here’s a bunch of Americans who tell the truth that are particular heroes of mine, as they are for many other people. These are some of my favorites from A through H, plus Z of course

Noam Chomsky “…jingoism, racism, fear, religious fundamentalism: these are the ways of appealing to people if you’re trying to organize a mass base of support for policies that are really intended to crush them.”

Wendell Berry “The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and wasteful.”

Grace Lee Boggs “People are aware that they cannot continue in the same old way but are immobilized because they cannot imagine an alternative. We need a vision that recognizes that we are at one of the great turning points in human history when the survival of our planet and the restoration of our humanity require a great sea change in our ecological, economic, political, and spiritual values.”

Major General Smedley Butler “I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of the racket all the time. Now I am sure of it.”
Received 16 military medals, 5 for valor. Is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice.
Wrote the 1935 exposé that linked business and the military titled “War Is A Racket.”

Frederick Douglass “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe. ”

Eve Ensler “I am proposing that we reconceive the dream. That we consider what would happen if security were not the point of our existence. That we find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates, and protects us, but from what dissolves, reveals and expands us.”

Emma Goldman“…The greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism.”

Amy Goodman “I really do think that if for one week in the United States we saw the true face of war, we saw people’s limbs sheared off, we saw kids blown apart, for one week, war would be eradicated. Instead, what we see in the U.S. media is the video war game. Our mission is to make dissent commonplace in America.”

James Hansen “Coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet…the dirtiest trick that governments play on their citizens is that they are working for ‘clean coal’. The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death. ”

Howard Zinn “The rule of law does not do away with the unequal distribution of wealth and power, but reinforces that inequality with the authority of law. It allocates wealth and poverty in such calculated and indirect ways as to leave the victim bewildered.”

Baby’s First Steps


I had a transcendent experience Friday night. I’ve been working on a podcast called “Little House on the Planet.” It tells intertwined stories of engaged citizens in a place just like Northern Westchester. Some extraordinary people are working on it, and some of us met on Friday to develop characters and stories, and actually record some audio. It was a milestone reached after six years of work, and it felt great.

For years, I’ve known, written about, worked with, many people who know another world is possible, and make efforts to hasten the day. These transformation workers focus on different issues and use different methodologies, but what they have in common is a hunger for change and hope and meaning. And since the last election, many more people are finding themselves possessed of these same hungers.

Some Highlights
A live bilingual radio show celebrating the beauty and intelligence of Spanish-speaking culture interrupted by a phone call from a friend with immigration agents pounding on her door.250 width
Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda

A comedy team struggling to choose how much truth tell and what to tell the truth about on their first big break into TV.
Lenny Bruce told the truth

Lenny Bruce told the truth

Activists vividly imagining the experience and effect of chaining themselves to equipment while wearing no clothes.
Naked protesters protesting nakedly

Naked protesters protesting nakedly

An artist partnering with recently-unemployed circus professionals using a zip line to say what needs to be said.
The daring young artists on the flying trapezes

The daring young artists on the flying trapezes