Crazy Life

The story of Leonard Peltier as described in the book “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse” was the inspiration for the Toad song Crazy Life. There are many disagreements and strong feelings on all sides about the shootout at Jumping Bull Ranch on June 6, 1975. The more I have read about it, the less clear the details become – it is a cacophony of conflicting reports. What is clear, though, is that the trial was mismanaged, witnesses were intimidated, and that the incident brought the issue of Native American civil rights to the fore. Amnesty International has recognized Leonard as a political prisoner, and his life behind bars has been filled with humanitarian work, activism and art.  He has been regarded as a model prisoner.

Leonard was recently moved to Canaan Federal Penitentiary, where he was almost immediately severely beaten and thrown into solitary confinement. His family has not been allowed to contact him. His sister, Betty Ann Peltier-Solano, wrote this letter, which contains email and physical addresses of prison officials and Barak Obama. While you may not support his pardon, I do hope you could support this letter writing campaign to simply support his basic human rights while in prison. As Betty says, we are simply asking that he be treated “with dignity and respect”.

I realize this is something of a heavy topic only one day after the celebration of the inauguration. It does seem fitting, though. We are a nation of laws, and it is vital that we uphold the rights of all – from mansions to slums to prisons. This is one of the many good ways to start in on the work before us.

One more time, a link to Betty’s letter.

Thanks

g

Billboard Critics Top 10s

Plover is #6 on Steve Adams top 10 list! It’s good to know that an indie album with a $0.00 marketing budget (no publicist, no ads, no photos, no videos, no tour, no physical copies) can still find its way into the hands of someone who will not only enjoy it but help to spread the word. Thanks, Steve!

Fresh for the Holidays

Here’s another project for you, available for what may be a limited time in its current form. May I introduce RemoteTreeChildren…

I should note: DRM-free lossless (full-quality) downloads make an excellent gift. Eco-friendly and space-saving, they will delight the lucky recipient for years to come (you can also throw ‘em on a disc, ipod, or memory stick, make custom artwork for a loved one, or convert to binary code for a puzzle you can spend a lifetime working on!)

Also available are Plover and most of my catalog.

Please feel free to spread the word – Bandcamp allows you to embed players in your blog or social networking site. Just like this:

Enjoy.

Mountain Drive Community Association

Hi, all. The smoke has cleared, but it’s still pretty topsy turvy out here. Laurel’s family has been tied into the Mountain Drive community for generations, and that neighborhood was one of the hardest hit by the Tea Fire. The homes on Mountain Drive were all hand-built, one-of-a-kind dwellings, and the people inhabiting them have been gathering together to work and play since the 50′s. Mountain Drive is home to artists, craftsmen, barefoot (not naked since the 70′s) wine stomps and a rare and beautiful collection of good souls. For all the news emphasis on the rich and famous in Montecito, this community is full of people who work with their hands and hearts, close to the earth. Laurel can name more than 40 people off the top of her head who’ve lost their homes this week. I’ve been amazed by the resilience of the fire victims and the generosity of the community around them. It may be something of a cliche, but it’s good to see that the toughest of times seem to bring out the best in most people.

My friends Abe Powell and Bryan Field-Elliot have created MountainDriveCommunityAssociation.org to provide resources for Tea Fire victims and those who would like to help them. The site is unique in that registered victims can list specific needs and contributors can list specific resources. Links to relief organizations and bulletins listing meetings and events for Tea Fire victims (MDCA, Red Cross, FEMA and more) are also at the site.

Photos by Laurel and me are here. If you’d like to see pictures from our friend Cara Peace, go here..

Fire Update

I’ve been getting lots of calls and emails about the Tea Fire near my house. We’re just a few blocks from the mandatory evacuation area, and updates on that will depend on today’s winds. A group of evacuated friends spent the night with us yesterday, and a some of them have definitely lost their homes. The fire has torn a big hole in our community, but people are doing well considering their losses.

Our house is adjacent to a staging area, so we won’t get too worried unless we hear all the firetrucks moving out.

Thanks so much for the concern and good wishes.

That Toyota Commercial.

Just to save me having to write another email in response to the question:

No, it is not me singing “Saved By Zero”. And yes, I think I would have said yes if they’d asked me. I have three girls going to college some day…

That Election Thing

Just a few thoughts: The day is drawing near (or for some of us who voted early, already gone). I think it’s a pretty big election – the choices are extremely starkly contrasted. Those of you who know much at all about me know that I’m rather to the left of center, and for the most part the discussions we’ve had, public and private, have been pretty respectful. The fact is that we all want what’s best for the country, but we have rather divergent attitudes about how either define or achieve this.

If you’re voting for McCain in this election because his platform is what you want to see in government, then…well…we can talk about that some other time. The people I’m interested in right now are the ones voting for McCain because they are scared of Barack Obama being a stealthy terrorist, or Muslim, or Elitist, or the Antichrist, or Black Power radical, or having a scary middle name, or having a bad Christian preacher, or being a Marxist, or just plain old being black.  I have met people who believe pretty much anything about Obama as long as it’s negative, no matter how self-contradictory those beliefs are. Those people, without fail, have been consumers of Fox News, Rush, Hannity, O’Reilly and the like.

What I’d like to beg of you is this: If you are voting for McCain not because you like his policy, but because of the endless string of ads, emails, robocalls and media talking heads filling you with fear, take a moment – just one hour (heck, 15 minutes) – to look for sources elsewhere. Try some different websites, some new news sources (maybe something not owned by ClearChannel or Murdoch). Read entire speeches by both candidates, not just decontextualized soundbites. Take a single step back and think that maybe we aren’t living in a comic book. Maybe this positive, composed, intelligent, respectful man who is asking us to stand up for each other and believe in our best nature is presicely what he seems. Maybe it’s a little crazy to think that Obama’s going to turn into a supervillian the moment he steps into the oval office. Maybe it’s more likely that people who want him to lose are spreading as much hate about him as they can because they know they can’t win on the issues.

Anyway – that’s my request. Just consider the possibility that we have two imperfect but decent men running for office, and vote for the things they actually say and do instead of what their opposition says about them.

A simple and interesting place to start is: FactCheck.org, and you can also go to C-SPAN for audio and video of speeches and debates.

Thanks, all…

Accompanists, websites, breakfast, purple feet.

Sean Watkins (from Nickel Creek, and knows how to staunch bleeding) will be joining me for the shows in Northampton MA, Long Branch NJ and Alexandria VA. Jonathan Kingham will be with me down the West Coast from Portland to San Diego. This is good.

Thanks for the nice words about the Plover project. We had a great time making the record. Don’t be afraid of spreading the word – there’s no label or manager or anything, so nobody will know unless you tell them…

Also – there’s a placeholder website for Works Progress Administration where you can hear the song “Always Have My Love”. We also have a Myspace page, but our songs disappeared from the player, and I get error messages when I try to erase or replace them. I’m five letters deep with tech support, but they just keep sending me generic faq answers. Sorry for the inconvenience.

And I’m remembering that I forgot to eat the most important meal of the day. I was booking flights and hotels for the next few weeks, and my mug of French pressed rocket fuel is burning a hole in my stomach. Typical. One more thing and I’ll go eat something.

Laurel and the kids went over to Santa Ynez this morning to pick grapes with a bunch of our friends. I’ll be joining them in the afternoon for a good old fashioned stomp. It’s a yearly even that’s been going on in the Mountain Drive community for around 40 years. A queen is chosen, feet become purple, and months later some delicious wine is passed around. David Lafond, excellent father/person/winemaker is a Mountain Drive local, and provides the knowhow. If you’re curious about his non-foot-stomped wines, you can go to Lafond Winery to learn more.

New Project, New Site

You might want to refresh my homepage the next time you open it up – I revamped things a little, so there may be a thing or two left in your cache.

And the Plover album (short album? long ep?) is done! Visit the minimalist site! Stream the entire record! Buy the entire record! Have a nice relaxing bath!

Healing time…

So: the surgery went well (or so I am told). I apparently had the good sense to slice open my muscle and nerve in such a way that repairing them was a straightforward affair. The doctor (one Dennis Phelps, to whom I am forever indebted) was very confident about the repair. Still, nerve healing is a somewhat unpredictable thing and only time will tell what the outcome will be. Nerves regenerate at the rate of 1/2 an inch to an inch per month, and movment tends to return more swiftly than sensation, so it could take a year for me to really know what’s up. I’ll have a meeting with the good doctor next week, and find out a little more about what’s in store for me as far as occupational therapy and such.

All that said – I’m in very good spirits, and looking forward to getting back in the studio and on the road. I might need to buy some boas for my temporary new role as guitarless lead singer…

Thanks again for all the kind thoughts, emails, and cookies. Y’all rock.