Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Odds and Ends...

At the May mouthoff the theme was working mothers. A kind of celebration of May Day and Mother's Day which fall in the same month. As I was in the middle of an awful time I did not have a story (- or maybe too many stories?) to tell about my own mother so riffed on the topic. I apologize that this is not so much a story as a rant.

Thanks to Doria Hughes for encouraging me and taping, editing and posting the mouthoffs for a year.

Find more videos like this on MASSMOUTH The Power of Story

Some video from my show at Bull Feeny's Second part of the story of Mary Read - part one is here: more to come... Thanks all who came out to Bull Feeny's to hear my stories from the life and times of Mary Read. What a fabulous audience you were and special thanks to Lynne Cullen for the venue, invite and hospitality. You mooses is great. X her mark (Mary...)
MUSIC: Mary Black - "Though I Live Not Where I Love"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Norah at Bull Feeny's Pub tonight - Portland ME

7- 9PM @ Bull Feeny's in Portland MA - 375 Fore Street - upstairs -

Come celebrate 'Talk Like A Pirate Day' as a three day weekend, with Norah Dooley performing as pirate Mary Read, telling tales about the people she sailed with in the Golden Age of Piracy, and the wonders of the seven seas. In the early 1700s, Mary Read disguised herself as a sailor to survive in the harsh world and became a pirate quite by accident when her ship was overtaken by pirates and she was captured by the crew of Captain "Calico Jack" Rackham.

Performer Norah Dooley tells Mary's story in the first person, brandishing pistol and sword, and sharing pirate lore, secrets and seafaring stories from her sea bag. Some of her favorites are Maury O'Connor and the Mermaid (Ireland), Arion and the Dolphins (Greek), Ocean Born Mary (New England), and Mitsu and the Pirates (Japan). Norah plays the pennywhistle and leads songs and sea shanties, including John Kanaka, The Mermaid, and Run the Riggin' Again. Lynne Cullen will join 'Mary' on the concertina.

Bull Feeney's EMAIL:
Lynne Cullen EMAIL:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NECN shows rational discussion breaking out at Town Hall!

I guess you could say that Sheila and I are rōnin for health care reform. Rōnin literally means "wave man". The term originated in Japan when it referred to a serf who had fled or deserted his master's land. It then came to be used for a samurai who had lost his master. Sheila and I have no particular affiliations, just a strong affinity for justice and an extreme distaste for bullshit. Sheila has been going to everyone of these Town Halls this summer and has been kicked around by non other than Rush Limbaugh himself. She and her family have been attacked by right wing bloggers nationwide.

At the Town Meeting today,Sheila took on Barney for not supporting what he says he believes in - single payer plan, and she was the main mover in getting us to the event in time, as luck would have it, to be interviewed. Sheila is the brains of our rōnin team.

Yesterday, seems the right wing droids were all in DC so a rational discussion broke out. Take a look in the video above.

A friend in Raging Grannies from RI gave us some good questions for the right wing "astroturfed grassroots" :

" Why are you mad NOW?

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn't get mad when we spent over 600 billion (and counting) on that illegal war.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when you saw the Abu Grahib photos.

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city drown.

You didn't get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark.

You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans... oh hell no!"

Barney answers some health care Qs and

Too bad you weren't there:

We went to another town hall meeting and we were very glad we did. Along with some lovely octogenarians, we were some of the only people with signs and all our signs in support of HR 676 and single payer/medicare for all. Every person who walked by us said they agreed with us. We also had a chance to raise some real questions, in public debate, about what is going on around health care reform.

So where were the whack jobs wanting to save poor granny from the death panel ? Had they all gone to DC with the "teabaggers"? All 20K of them, nationwide? And the La-La LaRouche folk? Wither have they gone? In DC too?

So,today we had a discussion of health care reform actually about...wait for care reform. And why is this not bigger news? After all, Barney said HR 676 could not pass (Medicare for All) because of the widespread fear of big government in the country. Huh? And then he was very rude to my friend Sheila when she pushed him to answer a very good question: Why there was not more visible support from Democrats for Medicare for All? Barney's answer included this story:

A Jewish mother was much distressed over the problem of her young son who was afraid to eat kreplach. She took the boy to a Rabbi for consultation. After hearing the case, the rabbi said, "Now, Madam, this is very simple. Take the boy home, take him out into the kitchen, and show him how kreplach are made. This should probably eliminate the condition.Hopefully the mother followed the rabbi advice. On the kitchen table she put out a small square of dough beside which was a small mound of prepared chopped meat. "Now," she said, "there is nothing here you should mind." The lad beamed and nodded encouragingly. The mother then put the meat in the center of the dough and folded over one corner. The boy smiled and all seemed to be going well. She folded over the second corner and the third. The boy was nodding, and the experiment seemed to be progressing most favorably. Then she folded over the fourth and final corner; whereupon the boy jumped up and said "Oy, KREPLACH !" and ran screaming from the table.

Barney used this to show why he could not get the votes in Congress to pass HR 676 - He said that "People are too afraid of big government in health care..." to move HR 676 forward. I say he missed the point of our questions about why the Democratic party has not pushed for real reform.

What is happening is not analogous with the story he repeated above. The important story is that there are forces in the media who are pointing to kreplach and saying,


The right wing lies about health care reform are every bit as disgusting and evil as the dccc and Democratic Party response has been feeble, late and half hearted.

Barney, shrugging his shoulders with a "Nu - what do you want from me working with such idiots?" might be okay if the 1st story , with the rabbi mom and the boy is the story that is being acted out all over the country. BUT it is not. And the evil lies have taken root. Our party DOES have the power. Not to silence the lies but to dominate and crush them with a heavy dose of truth. What are the Dems waiting for? When will you step it up? And actually, it may be too late - so the other question is - "Nu, what kept you?" Did you really, as a party, want meaningful health care reform? Or just want to look like you want reform? Because, in reality, the Dem party is in the pockets of big pharma and insurance companies? These are the questions we will ask ourselves in NOV.

"We have one party that is severely compromised by its ties to big money, and another party that is just plain nuts." said Neal Gabler in the Globe op-ed today. As commentator Bill Maher said recently, when will the President and the Democrats "stand up for the 70 percent of Americans who aren't crazy?" Personally, I am not holding my breath. They should tho' and we should ask them to step it up - recent polls show that only 23% of Americans identify themselves as Republicans.

Q: When will the Democrats act like they have the power to make the changes they promised?
A: When we kick their butts and hold them to their word.

And we will have to because I believe all this media attention on the bogus " grassroots" opposition is a smoke screen behind which the Dem leaders have sold out the single payer AND public option. Hope I am wrong? We shall see.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Senator Kerry subdues "straw dog" with bare hands...

It was an overwhelmingly pro health care reform crowd tonight and when - "An Arlington woman asked why Kerry and other Democrats weren't pushing for a single-payer system..." she got an ovation from the crowd. One "... Somerville woman accused Kerry and his Democratic colleagues of launching a "big government" takeover with the current reform plan..." She also disclosed that she was 66 and on Medicare..," prompting catcalls from many in the auditorium."

"...White House officials have complained [that] media coverage has been skewed toward troublemakers." Here is what we saw... the - vocal- and- very- fringe- could- not- wait- for- a- turn- to- speak- loopy- woman ( did she HAVE to say she was an artist and a feminist?) was immediately accosted by the press who took her picture and interviewed her! Why her? Why not the primary care doctor who spoke for reform? Why not the woman from Arlington who called for single payer, universal health care? Out of 2400 people at Town Hall in Somerville tonight, about 12 were vocally AGAINST health care reform --- Help me with the math people - isn't that only 0.5% ? Why do these people get so much attention?

Maybe it is because without this "astroturf grassroots" opposition, it would be the Dems backpedaling on universal health care with no one pushing them back except the GOP and the insurance companies and that would be, well, embarrassing?
Although he gave a great speech showing how much we needed reform Kerry kept grand standing with his "promises" that we would not lose what private insurance we had and that the most egregious abuses of insurance companies would be regulated. Big wooop. You done whipped that straw dog, John. Well done.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sen. Kerry Town Hall - come as soon as you can Wednesday, September 2, 2009 7:30pm-9:00pm

Sen. Kerry Town Hall

Join Senator John Kerry and discuss the issues at an open Town Hall in Somerville, MA. The seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early to make sure you get in! Somerville Town Hall Wednesday, September 2, 2009 7:30pm-9:00pm Somerville High School Auditorium 81 Highland Ave Somerville MA
The right wing whack jobs have dominated the news - Isn't it time we went out and showed some unity and pushed for real reform? Filled the void of Teddy K ?

In the words of Mother Jones " Don't mourn, Organize!"

With that in mind, will join us at Somerville High?
Meet at Somerville HIgh @ 5PM or as soon as you can get there? Bring your dinner or eat before you come - it will be a long night . Also please bring some signs - I am sure you can think of some good words, If not you can riff on these...
  • HONK! if you want REAL health care reform
  • Single payer yes ! Mass model? No!
  • Managed care "kills grannies" every day
  • We want Sen. Kerry's health plan!
  • My Other Car is a Health Insurance Payment
  • My Car Has Better Insurance Than I Do
  • My Death Panel is an HMO
  • Hate "Socialism"? Repeal Medicare Today!
  • Sanctity of Life should not end at Birth! Support Healthcare Reform!
  • WWJD: Who Would Jesus Deny? (Healthcare Reform Now!)
  • My single prayer is single payer
  • The Public GOPtion: Don't Get Sick
  • GOP: Rest Uninsured America
  • It8 0s OK..Congress Has GREAT Insurance
  • Before Jesus healed the leper...did He check his insurance coverage?
  • Public Option: Putting People Before Profit
  • Democrat: A Republican Who Lost His Health Insurance
  • What's Wrong With Expanding Medicare for Those UNDER 65?
  • We Can't Fix the Economy Until We Fix Health Care!
  • Healthcare Reform...Your Life Depends On It!
  • Jesus didn’t ask for a co-pay
  • All I Wanted Was Real Health Care Reform, and All I Got Was This Lousy Bumper Sticker
  • GOP: Cancer Happens!
  • Coming to a Hospital Near You: Attack of the Wingnuts Socialized Health Scare
  • Put health back in healthcare
  • Life is a pre-existing condition
  • Doctors prescribe healthcare, insurance companies proscribe healthcare.
  • USA: Third World Country. No Universal Healthcare.
  • Health Insurance Profits Up 400%
  • Kill Single Payer Healthcare! 30,000 Lobbyists Can’t Be Wrong!
  • Universal Health Care Is a Family Value
  • GOP: Defending Your Right to Higher Premiums Deductibles
  • Government run military = #1 Private Health Care = #37
  • Support the Health Care Bill - Or We'll Focus on Passing Strict Gun Control"
  • Public option not public optional.
  • POTUS+60 Senators+80seat House majority No public option in health care means there is NO PUBLIC OPTION IN DEMOCRACY!
  • 1.4 Million Bucks A Day - Keeps Healthcare Away
  • "Letting Americans Die For Profit?"
  • "For Profit Healthcare Makes Me Sick"
  • Health Insurance Premiums: its where 7 of your last 10 raises went
  • Take My High Premiums From My Cold, Dead Hands
  • One Nation, Underinsured.
  • Republican Healthcare Reform: Be Rich or Die
  • Health care should be a right...not a privilege
  • Single Payer Is Pro-Life
  • Take My High Premiums from my Cold Dead Hands
  • Health Care is a Human Right
  • Public Health Care will succeed where Private Health Care has failed
  • Put Public Health before Private Profits
  • Cure Health Care from Profititis
  • Having insurance today does not mean you're covered.

Like flames to The Moth...part ii

...writing as I ride out of "....NY,NY the city that never shuts up..."- ani diFranco

Imagine 400 people in Boston lining up to hear stories - people of all ages but predominantly people 30 and under. Imagine nearly 300 souls crushed into a dark club paying $7 bucks to get in and buying 2 mandatory drinks just so they could hear 10 people tell stories (mostly) connected the evening's theme of " coincidence". Well, dream on. Meanwhile, in NY,NY this scene is happening once a month.

Word from the listserv was we needed to be very early to get in, much less to have seats. ( Shout out to Claire B and others). We were lucky to have three people to manage the line and dinner situation. Barbara A. stood in line at 6PM while we ordered out at nearby Suzy's, and got some great Chinese food that did not cost a mortgage payment. The line stretched round the block by 6:30PM and if I were an entrepreneur I would host an alternate story event for the overflow crowd at anyone of the gagillion clubs in that part of the Village. But I digress.

I never wait for anything - lines are an anathema to me, but I had traveled 250 miles to see the Moth in action and took one for the team. Once inside we got seats right up front near the sound engineer. The Moth website has been posting audio recordings of these storyslam stories for years.

Sara Barron was the delightful emcee/host for the storySLAM at the Moth. She was extremely funny in a very Tourettes-esque kinda way . She employs a volatile mix of self deprecating humor and vitriol while sharing TMI, outing ex-boyfriends, naming names, giving out all save cell phone #s for each egregious offender to woman kind via her own person - freakin' hilarious. Libelous even. Sara explained the rules, the voting and the time keeping signals all while hopping about on one leg - seems she broke the other in a bicycling accident and was still in a cast. Never far below her comic persona was her genuine care for the performers and she kept the scene flowing and the energy up for each teller. As for the rules, it turns out, 5 minutes stories are actually 6 and people mainly kept to the limits. The scores are posted on a flip chart on stage after they are delivered Olympic Games style, with numbers, no comments. Last night the founder/originator of The Moth was in attendance and sat in on one of the judging teams.

"The Moth believes that everyone has a story. The Moth created StorySLAM to give those stories a forum.Following the wild success of our Mainstage series, The Moth sought to accommodate all the people who asked, “When can I tell my story?” and to encourage those people who doubted they had a story worth telling. The Moth StorySLAM provides a stage and a microphone, a theme to inspire and shape the evening, a lively and supportive audience, and a host to guide the festivities. Stories are limited to five minutes, and ten stories are heard.
The stories are scored by three teams of audience-member judges, and a winner is announced at every SLAM. The SLAM winners later face off in a Moth GrandSLAM." More from their website What is The Moth?The Moth, a not-for-profit storytelling organization, was founded in New York in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate in New York the feeling of sultry summer evenings on his native St. Simon's Island, Georgia, where he and a small circle of friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales on his friend Wanda's porch...the first "Moth" evening took place in his NYC living room. Word of these captivating story nights quickly spread, and The Moth moved to bigger venues in New York. Today, The Moth conducts eight ongoing programs and has brought more than 3,000 live stories to over 100,000 audience members."

Tellers put their names in a bag and ten are selected, one at a time. The first set of five flew by and we had a "10" minute intermission. The stories and tellers ranged from good, to very good to absolutely amazing. After all the stories were told and a winner announced and celebrated, those who had not been in the 10 chosen, (yours truly and Robin Bady among them) were invited up to share our opening sentences for the untold stories. What a cool tradition!

The audience was warm and engaged. The judging was not at all the distraction I had imagined it would be. In fact the judging gave tellers time to prepare and added something to the concentration and the quality of the evening. Stories are judged on how they relate to the theme of the slam, how they are presented and timeliness and and having an arc; a beginning , middle and end. Now, we all know that no one wants to bomb. No one wants to suck. But you need to think twice and practice before telling and you will think before putting your name into the Moth bag to be picked. And this is a good thing. The judging seems to promote a healthy respect for the time and attention of the audience.
I really believe that competition is not an inevitable part of "human nature" and does not de facto motivate us to do our best, so I am surprised at myself for saying any competition in the arts is good. Check out my anti- competition bible No Contest for more in this vein. I think in terms of overall quality, the fear factor + the time limits at MOTH add a welcome self reflection and crafting of story before telling - something I believe we desperately need in our New England open mic scene.

I went to the MOTH to study. I am reflecting and scheming and dreaming to create a place for storytelling - yes, they use that good old fashioned term for it, in Boston. We have the stories. We have the clubs. What else do we need? Oh yeah, 300 people lining up so they will not miss the monthly feast of story - told live.

Big hugs to my NY, NY friends who schlepped, housed and guided me - Robin Bady and Barbara AliprantisBoth these women are shakers and movers, bringing story to the city that never shuts up.