Monday, January 25

Monday, January 18

The Opening

I have been thinking a lot about Haiti and the Haitian people this week, as I'm sure you have.  As the people of Haiti fight for their lives and to rebuild what has been destroyed by this earthquake, I am reminded of one of the incredible and almost universally unrecognized contributions Haitians have made to our world.

In 1791, Haitians rose up in arms against the French colonial occupying power and in about 10 years accomplished something that no group had ever done anywhere: they ended Slavery in Haiti.  This was the first and only successful slave revolution in human history of it's scale.  Haiti was the major sugar producer for the French empire, competing with British Barbados and Jamaica in the Caribbean as well as the indigo, rice, tobacco and cotton crops of the Amerian south - and all of this wealth came from the work of enslaved African people.  So it goes without saying that the threat that a revolution of enslaved people posed to all slave societies was enormous.

As a result, the United States (and other world powers) refused to acknowledge Haitian sovereignty after the revolution - in other words they isolated Haiti from any potential allies or trade partners in an overt attempt prevent the newly free people of Haiti from thriving.  Industrial capitalism, globalization, white supremacy - Haitians took a stand against all of these things and probably a bigger stand than any one people has ever taken.

So when we see footage or hear reports of haitian businesses crumpled into dust on either side of the rock-solid American embassy, or hear stories of the forests of the Dominican Republic that turn to dirt at the Haitian border, it is important to remember how Haiti became the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.  It was no accident.  Let's stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti and insist on a world where all our children, sisters and brothers live in equality.  Major changes are needed, a better world is possible.

Lastly, I'll add that I have always been particularly inspired by Toussaint Louverture, one of the key leaders of Haiti's revolution.  Louverture was a name he chose for himself - French for "the opening".

A statue of Toussaint Louverture

For more information on the Haitian Revolution, see the classic text - CLR James' "The Black Jacobins" or the celebrated contemporary work by Laurent DuBois, "Avengers of the New World".  I'd appreciate any recommendations for articles or books on modern Haiti that you might have, just post it in a comment.

Friday, January 15

Special Blend Studios

I've been trying to record another song for my myspace page...I'm having a hard time getting the rhythm right.  And the vocals are wobbly.  My friend and deskmate at the Arboretum, Kyle Stephens, has lent me his condenser mike - maybe that'll do the trick.  Behold, Special Blend Studios...

Tour Poster

My good buddy Glen Hutcheson (who I've known since I was 11 and he was, I believe, 8) has agreed to make Sandman and I a tour poster. Glen just opened a show in NYC of the work he did since recieving the Hohenberg Travel Award which allowed him to study art in Europe.  Here's some of his work:

Self Portrait:


You can check out all his work on his website and blog.  Tour poster coming soon!