Watermelon Slim Addressing President Obama from Lafayette Park 3/19/2011
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I am now old enough to collect social security. The saying goes, old age is a privilege denied to many.
I can now play for my local friends whenever I want without having to worry about making a living from them. I can putter in my garden now, behind a tiny house that I nonetheless own free and clear in the cheapest place to own property in the US, north Mississippi.
In normal times, I might be looking forward to the kind of quiet fishing retirement my mother enjoyed. And to choosing my own diminished number of better and better paid gigs. One of my fans wrote me two days ago hoping I was going to be appearing at the King Biscuit Blues Festival, one of the "majors" in my business, which I haven't played since 2006.
However, I regretted to tell her that I will be in Washington, DC on those dates, and will undoubtedly spend some part of that time in jail for committing civil disobedience. October 6 will be the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion. And whatever the govt. says, there's still a war in Iraq and we're in it.
I've been arrested twice in the last 7 months in DC protesting the wars. Go to Youtube and see. There is a clip of me chained to a pole in front of the White House, in which, at 23 degrees with a near-blizzard going on, I describe my mission.
It needs to be all of our mission. I want everyone to know that though my zeal for the music has not diminished, the urgency I feel about the actions of my government, which of force are done IN MY NAME, is increasing. I must devote more time to walking the activist path I started on 40 years ago in VVAW.
I will continue to join in symbolic actions. And I will even continue to make political contributions where I think it does any good.
For instance, Haley Barbour's Lieutenant Governor is a far-Right social conservative, and he is running to succeed Barbour.
Mississippi's probable Democratic candidate, Bill Luckett, is a moderate liberal, a businessman and lawyer, and I know him to be both successful and a man of integrity. Well worth my support against a candidate whose slogan is (he made it up, not me): "The Right Values."
But eventually I will do something very non-symbolic. Non-violent, because even if our opponents will stoop to any underhandedness or brutality, we must maintain a moral distance from those we resist. But I will put myself in the way. I AM a wrench in the machine.
Let me give you an idea of what Americans might do to throw a wrench in the machine of business-as-usual-because-we're-scared-to-try-anything-else. This is the account of the freest, most spontaneous act of revolution I ever committed:
On April 24, 1971, I took part in the Moratorium March in Washington DC (the VVAW had thrown their medals, crutches, etc. on the Capitol steps only hundreds of yards from where I was parked (try that today) on the Mall, but I didn't get the word, and would not officially join VVAW until Memorial Day weekend.
I partied and made love all night (hey, I was still technically a virgin at 20 with both sexes before I went to Vietnam!). The next morning, a bunch of us really hard partiers who had out-partied everyone else and were still up for more pulled over by the side of Interstate 95.
Everybody was kinda headed back up the eastern seaboard for various places they called home, but we were all doing it ve-r-ry leisurely, a stop here and there for a pull on a whatever, or just a joyful dance in the sparkling sunshine of the day.
We really did just dance spontaneously back then. I still do, bad knees and all. Dancing is part of revolution. Music is too.