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What the Robin Knows (Enhanced Edition) – Jon Young


What the Robin Knows (Enhanced Edition)

How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World

Jon Young

Genre: Nature

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: May 8, 2012

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

A guide to listening to songbirds—the key to observing nature in a whole new way. Includes audio of bird vocalizations!   A lifelong birder, tracker, and naturalist, Jon Young is guided in his work and teaching by three basic premises: the robin, junco, and other songbirds know everything important about their environment, be it backyard or forest; by tuning in to their vocalizations and behavior, we can acquire much of this wisdom for our own pleasure and benefit; and the birds’ companion calls and warning alarms are just as important as their songs.   Birds are the sentries of—and our key to understanding the world beyond our front door. By learning to remain quiet and avoid disturbing the environment, we can heed the birds and acquire an amazing new level of awareness. We are welcome in their habitat. The birds don’t fly away. The larger animals don’t race off. No longer hapless intruders, we now find, see, and engage the deer, the fox, the red-shouldered hawk—even the elusive, whispering wren.   Deep bird language is an ancient discipline, perfected by Native peoples the world over. Finally, science is catching up. This groundbreaking book unites the indigenous knowledge, the latest research, and the author’s own experience of four decades in the field to lead us toward a deeper connection to the animals and, in the end, ourselves.   “He can sit still in his yard, watching and listening for the moment when robins and other birds no longer perceive him as a threat. Then he can begin to hear what the birds say to each other, warning about nearby hawks, cats, or competitors. Young’s book will teach you how you, too, can understand birds and their fascinating behaviors.” — BirdWatching   “Here is the ancestral wisdom passed down from Apache elder Stalking Wolf to renowned tracker Tom Brown to Jon Young himself, who in turn passes on to the reader the art of truly listening to the avian soundscape. With all senses more finely tuned, you’ll find yourself more aware of your surroundings, slowing down, and reconnecting with a native intelligence and love of the natural world that lies deep within each of us.” —Donald Kroodsma, author of The Singing Life of Birds  and  Birdsong by the Seasons

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What the Robin Knows (Enhanced Edition) – Jon Young

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How to Make Ocean-Friendly Choices for Your Saltwater Aquarium

Nearly all fish living in saltwater aquarium tanks began their lives thousands of miles away on warm tropical reefs, according to For the Fishes?(FTF), a nonprofit working to protect the future of reefs and wildlife. Many of these fragile fish die before reaching aquariums from poisoning, the stress of captivity or the inhumane practices used in handling and transport to the pet store.

?Most people have no idea that the saltwater fish they are buying for their aquarium were captured in the wild,? said Rene Umberger founder and executive director of FTF and a consultant to the HSUS and Humane Society International on coral reef wildlife issues. ?Aquarium hobbyists automatically assume that they are buying fish that were bred in captivity.?

According to FTF, only 2 percent of fish species kept in saltwater tanks can be bred in captivity. The other 98 percent are among the most trafficked animals in the world. They are captured on reefs depleted and degraded from overfishing and cyanide use and exposed to ill treatment leading to prolonged suffering and premature death. On many tropical reefs, methods of wild capture include the illegal use of cyanide as a stunning agent, puncturing of organs, spine cutting and starvation prior to transport.

?It?s almost impossible to breed saltwater fish, which is why there are fewer than 60 species that are commercially available out of the 2,500 marine fish species that the U.S. currently imports for the aquarium industry,? Umberger said.

There are simple actions that environmentally-minded aquarium hobbyists can take to help stop the exploitation of marine life. The first, Umberger said, is to purchase only captive-bred fish for aquariums. She also recommends that those who are thinking about owning marine fish consider a virtual aquarium instead. It provides a low-cost and humane way to enjoy coral reefs.

Thinking of adding fish to your saltwater aquarium? Here?s a list of five captive-bred fish that do not contribute to the exploitation of wildlife and the destruction of coral reefs:

Royal Dottyback. This is a good novice fish with blue eyes and a body that?s one half purple/violet and the other half yellow. An aggressive defender of its territory, this fish requires suitable tank?and plenty of hiding spaces.

Allard?s Clownfish. These fish are suitable for intermediate hobbyists. The young have white tail saddles while adults have translucent to solid white tails that are sometimes lined in yellow. Their bodies have two white bars and range in color from deep yellow to dark brown. With proper care, these fish can live for 20 to 30 years.
Cinnamon Clownfish. A good fish for novice aquariums. Young cinnamon clownfish have two to three white bars while the adults have one white bar or one pale blue. Their body colors range from deep orange to red and black. They can live for 20 to 30 years when cared for properly.

Spine-cheeked Anemone fish. This species is suitable for intermediate hobbyists. The young and male fish are bright orange or red darkening to maroon or mahogany red with age. All of the fish have three narrow white to gray/gold bars.
Combtooth Blenny. A good novice fish, this species is mottled tan, white and dark brown with large eyes and fringe-like appendages on the nape of its neck. This fish is a bottom dweller who needs plenty of hiding spaces.

A complete list of good fish for saltwater aquariums can be found on Tank Watch, a free mobile app created by For the Fishes that helps saltwater fish hobbyists keep a 100 percent ocean-friendly aquarium.?

Find out thirty of the most threatened marine fish?exploited in the wild to supply the personal aquarium hobby industry in the U.S. ??

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Make Ocean-Friendly Choices for Your Saltwater Aquarium

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Michelle Obama’s Farewell Address Will Leave You an Emotional Wreck

Mother Jones

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Michelle Obama delivered her final remarks as first lady of the United States on Friday, telling a room of educators that the role has been “the greatest honor” of her life. It was an emotional end to a White House event honoring the 2017 School Counselor of the Year, where she also urged young people to embrace diversity and empower themselves through education.

“As I end my time in the White House, I can think of no better message to send to our young people,” Obama said. “For all the young people in this room and that are watching, that this country belongs to you. If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are a part of proud American tradition.”

“I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid. Be focused, be determined, be hopeful, be empowered.”

Obama will leave the White House as one of the most popular first ladies in recent memory.

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Michelle Obama’s Farewell Address Will Leave You an Emotional Wreck

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College-Educated Millennials Don’t Have It So Bad

Mother Jones

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Quoctrung Bui of the New York Times writes today about perceptions of massive unemployment among young college grads:

We asked: “What would you guess is the current unemployment rate for four-year college graduates between the ages of 25 and 34?”…The most common answers for college graduates were between 20 and 30 percent. Perhaps an understandable mistake….But what surprised us was that the majority of people thought that unemployment rates for those with college degrees were higher than for those without.

….We posed the same question to our friends and parents. Many have college degrees themselves; some are educators. They, too, mostly guessed that college graduates would be more likely to be unemployed than nongraduates….We ran the quiz one last time with the same question and anchor, structured as a multiple-choice quiz. This time, nearly half of the people in the survey guessed that college graduates had higher unemployment rates. We had to concede that we weren’t witnessing a mirage.

Are we — the news media — to blame?

Yes! Yes you are!

But I’ll cut you some slack. The range of 20-30 percent seems to be the American public’s go-to guess for just about everything in the news. What’s the percentage of gay people in the US? 20-30 percent. The inflation rate? 20-30 percent. Illegal immigrant population? 20-30 percent. Amount of the federal budget dedicated to foreign aid? 20-30 percent. Bird deaths from wind turbines? 20-30 percent.

As near as I can tell, anytime something becomes familiar enough to intrude on the public consciousness, it falls into the 20-30 percent trap. That seems to be the all-around perception of “a smallish but still newsworthy amount.”

That said, the news media still shares a lot of the blame for this, because they’re the ones who collectively decide how much to cover stuff. By over-covering the alleged employment woes of college-educated millennials, they encourage people to think the problem is worse than it is—and they distract attention from where the problem really is. The truth is quite different: even at the height of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate of college-educated millennials never cracked 5 percent other than momentarily. It was young high school grads who suffered from astronomical joblessness:

But wait! Maybe college grads got jobs, but they were all crappy jobs that paid peanuts. Not really. College-educated millennials took a beating during the Great Recession, just like everyone, but rebounded to their 2003-05 level after three years and have rebounded even further since. Young high school grads, by contrast, are still making about 10 percent less than they did in 2003-05:

(This is from Census table P-28 here if you feel like checking it out yourself.)

College-educated millennials get all the attention, but that’s not because they have it so bad. It’s largely because they loom large in the minds of the press corps—who are all college educated themselves—and because they’re verbal enough that they write a lot about themselves. High school grads, not so much. But they’re the ones who were really hit hard by the Great Recession.

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College-Educated Millennials Don’t Have It So Bad

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Our Barbie Vaginas, Ourselves

Mother Jones

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One night not long ago while coming home late from a dinner with friends, I passed frat row near the University of California-Berkeley campus. Groups of girls were clacking along the street in their party uniforms: short skirts, bare midriffs, five-inch heels. One of them stopped and lifted her skirt above her waist, revealing a tiny thong, a flat belly, and some righteously toned glutes. She looked happy and strong, laughing, surrounded by friends, having fun. Then she turned toward a building where two bros, appraising the relative “hotness” of those trying to gain entrée to their party, were posted by the door.

Honestly? I didn’t know whether to be impressed or appalled.

I have spent three years interviewing dozens of young women about their attitudes toward and experiences with physical intimacy. On the one hand, girls would enthuse about pop icons like Beyoncé, Gaga, Miley, and Nicki who were actively “taking control” of their sexuality. Whereas earlier generations of feminist-identified women may have seen Kim Kardashian West’s “happy #internationalwomensday” tweet and accompanying nude selfie (Instagram caption: “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL”) as something to denounce, many of today’s generation talked about it as an expression rather than an imposition of sexuality—brand promotion done on her own terms.

Young women may not have a million-dollar empire to promote, but they can relate. As one college sophomore told me, she never feels more “liberated” than “when I wear a crop top and my boobs are showing and my legs are showing and I’m wearing super high heels.” She added, “I’m proud of my body, and I like to show it off.”

But a moment later it became clear that unless, through fortuitous genetics or incessant work, you were able to “show off” the right body, the threat of ridicule lurked. The young woman told me that a friend had recently gained some weight. It’s not that she couldn’t wear skimpy clothes, the woman explained. “But she knows how she would feel if there were asshole-y boys who were like, ‘She’s a fat girl.'”

Young women talked about feeling simultaneously free to choose a sexualized image—which was nobody’s damned business but their own—and having no other choice. “You want to stand out,” one college freshman explains. “It’s not just about being hot, but who can be the hottest.”

But as journalist Ariel Levy pointed out in her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, “hot” is not the same as “beautiful” or “attractive”: It is a narrow, commercialized vision of sexiness that, when applied to women, can be reduced to two words: “fuckable” and “sellable.” No coincidence, Levy added, that this is “the literal job criteria for stars of the sex industry.” And maybe no coincidence that young people are growing up with far more access to porn than ever before. Which means their early ideas about sex are drawn from fiction that has largely been produced for male masturbation.

Perhaps nowhere is that influence more clear than in the emergence of full-frontal waxing. Once the province of fetishists and, yes, porn stars, the Brazilian moved mainstream in 2000, thanks to Sex and the City. (“I feel like one of those freaking hairless dogs!” Carrie complained after visiting an overzealous aesthetician.) In 2003, trendsetter Victoria Beckham declared that Brazilians should be “compulsory” starting at age 15. She may get her wish: A study of two universities, published in 2014, found that nearly half of female college students were entirely hairless and just 4 percent went fully au naturel.

Most young women I met had been removing their pubic hair—all of it—since they were about 14. They cast it as a “personal choice,” saying it made them feel “cleaner.” Yet, when I pressed further, another darker motivation emerged: avoiding humiliation. “I remember all these boys were telling stories about this girl in high school, how she kind of ‘got around,'” one young woman told me. “And people would go down there to finger her, or whatever, and there would be hair, and they were appalled…Guys act like they would be disgusted by it.”

“There’s this real sense of shame if you don’t have your genitals prepared,” agreed Debby Herbenick, an associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Public Health. Herbenick studies something called “genital self-image“—how people feel about their private parts. Women’s feelings about their genitals have been directly linked to their enjoyment of sex, she told me. In interviews with young women, she found that those who were uncomfortable with their genitalia were not only less sexually satisfied, but also more likely to engage in unprotected sex. Herbenick is concerned that young women’s genital self-image is under siege, with more pressure than ever to see their vulvae as unacceptable in their natural state. She recalled a student who started shaving after a boy announced—during one of her class discussions—that he’d never seen pubic hair on a woman in real life, and that if he came across it he’d walk out the door.

There’s no question that a bald vulva is baby smooth—some would say disturbingly so. Perhaps in the 1920s, when women first started shaving their legs and armpits, that act seemed creepily infantilizing, too, but now depilating those areas is a standard rite of passage. That early wave of hair removal was driven by flapper fashions that displayed a woman’s limbs; arms and legs were, for the first time, no longer part of the private realm. Today’s pubic hair removal could be seen the same way: We have opened our most intimate parts to unprecedented scrutiny, evaluation, commodification.

Consider: Largely as a result of the Brazilian trend, cosmetic labiaplasty, the clipping of the folds of skin that make up the vulva, has skyrocketed as well. While it’s still a small slice of overall cosmetic surgeries, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, there was a 16 percent rise in the procedure between 2014 and 2015—following a 49 percent jump the previous year. Labiaplasty is rarely under­taken for sexual function or pleasure; it can actually impede both. Never mind: In 2014, Dr. Michael Edwards, the society’s president-elect, hailed the uptick as part of “an ever-evolving concept of beauty and self-confidence.” One sought-after look, incidentally, is called—wait for it—the Barbie: a clamshell-type effect, meaning the outer labia appears fused, with no visible labia minora. I trust I don’t need to remind the reader that Barbie (a) is made of plastic and (b) has no vagina.

It might be tempting to pass off my concerns as the hand-wringing of an older generation. And if all that sexiness were making for better sex, I might embrace it. Yet while young women talked about dress and dep­ilation as things they did for themselves, when they talked about actual sex, that phrase disappeared. Virtually none of the women I met had been told what (or where) a clitoris was. Sex education tends to stick with a woman’s internal parts—uteri, tubes, ovaries. Those classic diagrams of a woman’s reproductive system, the ones shaped like the head of a steer, blur into a gray Y between the legs, as if the vulva and the labia, let alone the clitoris, don’t exist. Whereas we talk about male puberty and the emergence of a near-unstoppable sex drive, female puberty is defined by…periods and the possibility of unwanted pregnancy. When do we talk to girls about desire and pleasure?

Few of the young women I met had ever had an orgasm with a partner, either, though according to one longitudinal study, the percentage of college women who fake it is on the rise, from less than half in the early 1990s to 69 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, a researcher at the University of Michigan found that when asked to talk about good sex, college men are likely to talk about pleasure while women are likely to use their partners’ satisfaction to measure their own.

It’s not surprising that young women feel powerful when they feel “hot”: It’s presented to them over and over as a precondition for success. But the truth is that “hot” tells girls that appearing sexually confident is more important than actually being confident. And because of that, as often as not the confidence that “hot” confers comes off with their clothes.

This article is adapted, in part, from Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Girls & Sex.

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Our Barbie Vaginas, Ourselves

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Lindsey Graham Just Went Off on Donald Trump and the GOP: "My Party Is Completely Screwed Up"

Mother Jones

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Shortly after Sen. Lindsey Graham issued a series of spectacular insults aimed at his former Republican presidential challengers—one of which included the line, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, no one would convict you”—Graham endorsed the Texas senator for president. On the Daily Show on Wednesday, he tried his best to explain why.

“I’m on the Ted train, absolutely,” Graham told host Trevor Noah, grinning and seemingly aware of his own bullshit. “What’s not to like?”

Noah then ran the clip of his memorable Cruz diss, and asked why things have changed. Smiling ruefully, Graham said, “It tells you everything you need to know about Donald Trump.” He later laughed, “I’m gettin’ better at this.”

Graham proceeded to basically call out the entire Republican party, which he called “absolutely screwed up,” even warning Noah to prepare accordingly if Trump were to make it to the White House.

“If Trump wins, your days are numbered, pal,” he said. “Young, black, liberal guy from Africa is not going to work with him.”

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Lindsey Graham Just Went Off on Donald Trump and the GOP: "My Party Is Completely Screwed Up"

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Here’s What Rappers Have to Say About Donald Trump

Mother Jones

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“He loves Trump! He loves Trump!” GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump exclaimed this week about Kanye West. But rappers have been invoking Trump’s name since long before the real estate mogul entered politics, and it hasn’t always been with love.

According to Genius.com, a site that specializes in lyrics annotation, Trump has been mentioned more than 400 times in songs and interviews, with many, many references coming from hip-hop artists. Most of the Trump references are brief, with Trump’s name appearing as a stand-in for obscene wealth. Here are five of the most notable mentions.

1. “Constantly Hating,” by Young Thug (feat. Birdman)

Yeah thumbs up,
I’ve seen more holes than a golf course on Donald Trump’s course

Jeffrey Lamar Williams, a.k.a. Young Thug, a.k.a. Thugger Thugger, is a new rapper who, with his twisting melodies and distinctive crooning, has changed hip-hop’s popular sound. In this song, he invokes Trump before launching into the hook, using Trump’s golf courses to highlight how many women he’s slept with.

2. “So Appalled,” by Kanye West (feat. CyHi the Prynce, Jay-Z, Pusha T, RZA, and Swizz Beatz)

I’m so appalled, Spalding ball
Balding, Donald Trump taking dollars from y’all.

Kanye West’s verse on “So Appalled,” from 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, calls out Trump as a symbol of income inequality. West equates Trump with income redistribution. He spends the rest of the song discussing individuals acting above the law and unemployment in America.

3. “Song for the Ville,” by J. Cole

Too much spinach to eat for niggas beefin’,
So I’m out here trick or treatin’, can my niggas comprehend?
Bill Gates, Donald Trump, motherfucker let me in.

Fayetteville, North Carolina, rapper J. Cole uses Trump to talk about glass ceilings for people of color. Trump and Gates represent gatekeepers of a life of luxury and immense wealth that only the smallest fraction of the population will ever enjoy.

4. “Lights,” by Frank Ocean

Donald Trump said buy an apartment with her (ha),
Buying an apartment with ya,
Greenspan said the rate was good,
My pastor says that your faith is major,
Best friend said I ought to wife you today,
Like jumping over the broom,
The white dress and all, yup the rice and all,
They said you love that girl

Frank Ocean is technically not a rapper, yet much of his music has hip-hop influences. In “Lights,” Ocean makes a sly reference to Trump’s real estate history and expresses regret at taking The Donald’s advice and buying an apartment with his girlfriend.

5. “Bossed Up, Pickle Juice,” by Nicki Minaj

Donald Trump can say, “You’re fired!” Let Martha Stewart run her company the same way and be the same way! “Fuck, oh evil bitch.” But Donald Trump, he gets to hang out with young bitches and have 50 different wives and just be cool. “Oh Donald, we love ya. Donald Trump.” But when you’re a girl, you have to be like, everything. You have to be—you have to be dope at what you do, but you have to be super sweet, and you have to be sexy, and you have to be this, and you have to be that, and you have to be nice, and you have to—it’s like, I can’t be all those things at once. I’m a human being.

Okay, this is not a song by Nicki Minaj, but a recorded conversation uploaded to YouTube in which she critiques the double standards and sexism in the music industry and America’s cultural landscape.


Here’s What Rappers Have to Say About Donald Trump

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Jazz Heavyweight Terence Blanchard Won’t Turn a Blind Eye

Mother Jones

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Terence Blanchard

Fifty-three year-old New Orleans-born trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard is a heavyweight among his musical peers, and not only for his passion as an amateur boxer. As a bandleader, he has released 20 albums over the past three decades. A prolific composer for film and television—he created the soundtracks for every Spike Lee film since Jungle Fever—Blanchard has a gift for constructing narrative and nuanced mood in his music.

His new album Breathless, released this past May, is his first with the electric E-Collective band and features vocal contributions from Maroon 5’s PJ Morton and Blanchard’s son JRei Oliver.

With the new band and the thematic connection to Eric Garner’s death, you’d think the album would be full of raw nerves and anger. But instead, Blanchard has created a suite of instrumentals, songs, and spoken word meditations that invite reflection on finding the strength and peace to heal and move forward. He challenges listeners to be “breathless from exerting your free will, breathless from doing good, breathless from blowing your own sweet solo.”

I spoke with Blanchard at the Jazz Standard in New York, and later on the phone from his home in New Orleans.

Mother Jones: Was your label, Blue Note, supportive about changing directions with this album?

Terence Blanchard: We just lost one of the greatest music executives of my time, Bruce Lundvall. The last time I saw him we were right here, taking a picture together. He was the type of dude that whenever I saw him, he always talked about music. It wasn’t ever, “I can do this for you, blah, blah, blah.” I always thought it would be great to be on a label with a guy like that because not only does he appreciate the music but I could also learn from him. When we finally got the chance to work together, he said, “I want you to be you.”

Now we have Don Was, who is very much like Bruce in that regard. When I first had the conversation with Don about the record he said, “Great, but bring it up to where you are, don’t dumb it down.” It was great to hear that.

MJ: Is composing for film a different process for you than making an album?

TB: When I first started it gave me headaches: I’d be working on a jazz thing then my brain would have to click out of that mode and then go work on the film. Wayne Shorter talks about your life being one continuous song with different variations, moods, textures, and color. That’s the way it is right now for me: Both inform each other in a way that I can see more clearly now. The film side has opened my eyes to story telling, context, and all of those issues. You’d think that working in film is limiting, but it’s actually liberating because it shows you that within the context of the story there are still a million permutations.

MJ: How did the topical side to Breathless evolve?

TB: Breathless didn’t start out to be a statement record, it started out as something we wanted to have fun with just playing music. But it’s hard with my background to turn a blind eye to what’s been happening.

MJ: Given that many of the people who have died in these police incidents have been young people, what did it mean to you to have your son involved in the record?

TB: It wasn’t something I thought about initially, but once it dawned on me, it made more sense. My son had had an incident of mistaken identity. A woman claimed that somebody had broken into her house, and she described the suspect as a black guy with dreads. My son had been walking by that house at that time. Her husband saw my son, followed him all the way to school and called 911. Seven patrol calls pulled up to the school. Seven. They handcuffed my son in class, walked him out and put him and put him in a patrol car. One of the cops there was a guy I grew up with, literally our back yards were connected. He saw my son sitting in the back of a patrol car and said, “I know this kid, he didn’t do this.” When they brought my son back to the woman’s house, her story fell apart. What got me was the seven patrol cars. That says a lot about the mentality going on in law enforcement. The thing I keep saying: It’s not going to stop until those police who are responsible go to jail.

MJ: My guess is that if the police prosecute their own, it undermines their power and control, and they’re afraid.

TB: I believe it to be true. That describes a whole host of problems with insecurity. You see it all the time.

I’ve been boxing for 20 years. When you start boxing and you get in the ring, the first thing you learn is to respect the person in front of you. That carries over into my daily life. I don’t care who it is or what they look like.

I’m going to tell you this, and this is probably going to get me in trouble, but I’ve seen some cops come to the boxing gym and not stay. Some of these dudes, they have an attitude problem; they come to the gym for the wrong reasons. And I think, if you have that problem here, what’s going to happen out on the street with your badge and a gun?

That’s the part we’re not dealing with. They are supposed to be the professionals. I’ve accepted that there are things that come with being a public figure as a musician. What’s crazy is the power they want to exert over everyday people when the side of the car says, “protect and serve.” To serve is something noble, something distinguished and honorable.

I have friends who are good cops but they are not speaking out. It’s creating this atmosphere of distrust that is truly dangerous. These police officers are human beings too, but they are subject to the same faults as everybody else, so they make the same assumptions as everybody else.

MJ: Your song “See Me As I Am” brings up the issue about perception and race.

TB: I hate using the term “as a black man,” but in my experience, I’ve gotten to the point when I meet people I feel that tension, I can see their minds change as I’m talking to them, I can see their thoughts about who I am change as we’re having a conversation. That’s normal in some ways for all interactions, but you call always tell when a first impression is mostly negative. Forget what you see on the news and television. Try to come and experience who I really am.

What gives me hope is when I look at my kids and their friends, I see that as an indication of where we’re going. My daughter was talking to me the other day about a girl friend of hers who is “gender mobile.” And I was like, “What’s that?” She says, “Sometimes she dresses like a boy, sometimes like a girl.” And she was cool with that. Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation— nothing matters to these kids, it’s beautiful.

MJ: Despite the real and justified anger about these incidents, the album seems to focus more on internal feelings and preservation of the self.

TB: At the end of the day that’s all we have: self-preservation. Our history has been to rely on our faith in times of trouble and distress. That’s been the place where we have found our salvation, and our rejuvenation.

MJ: As expressed in the song “Samadhi,” what does the practice of meditation do for you personally and creatively?

TB: It’s done so many things. It’s built up my awareness, it’s allowed me to understand that being selfless doesn’t mean powerless. That’s the reason I have “Confident Selflessness” on the album too, because you need to be confident in your aspirations, but you also need to be selfless in how you serve society and other people. It has allowed me to choose whether to be angry or not. Anger is not necessarily a reaction; it can be something that you choose to allow. When you start to see the bigger picture of things, you can respond accordingly. It’s brought me a lot of peace. It allows your mind to slow down, it allows your thoughts to slow down, and it allows your soul to strengthen itself. One of the things I chant for is peace in this country.

MJ: Is there anything else to staying happy and healthy as a musician?

TB: A lot of it is just peace and solitude. You need that to rejuvenate yourself and rebuild your brain and your spirit. People don’t understand how much energy it takes to do this, not just physically but mentally. I did a gig with Ron Carter and on the way back to the hotel, the driver was playing some music. Ron said, “Excuse me, could you please just turn that off? I’ve been playing music all night and I have to resolve all this shit that I played in my mind.” I get his point.

Actually, do you know what most musicians used to do? They’ll never admit it, but before the Internet—it was soap operas. There were a lot of them, and they would have discussions about this stuff on the road. I wasn’t into them but I would think to myself, “Boy if they could see me now, with these dudes talking about The Young and the Restless!”

MJ: Are you going to name names?

TB: Naww, I can’t do that! For me it used to be Jerry Springer, because when you watch Jerry Springer you immediately forget about whatever you were doing.

This profile is part of In Close Contact, an independent documentary project on music, musicians, and creativity.


Jazz Heavyweight Terence Blanchard Won’t Turn a Blind Eye

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Neil Young to Donald Trump: Don’t Rock in My Free World

Mother Jones

When Donald Trump strode on to the stage at Trump Tower on Tuesday to announce that he would enter the Republican race for president, a rock and roll anthem blared: Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” It was an odd choice, given that the 1989 song seemed to slam a Republican administration for not giving a damn about the poor. And Young has taken exception to Trump’s appropriation of his tune. A statement issued to Mother Jones for Young by his longtime manager Elliot Roberts suggests Young was not pleased by Trump’s use of the song:

Donald Trump’s use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” was not authorized. Mr. Young is a longtime supporter of Bernie Sanders.

In other words, it may be a free world, but you’re not free to steal my song.

Here’s Young’s classic:

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Neil Young to Donald Trump: Don’t Rock in My Free World

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President Obama Urges Grammys Viewers to Stand Up Against Sexual Violence

Mother Jones

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“It’s on us—all of us—to create a culture where violence isn’t tolerated, where survivors are supported, and where all our young people – men and women – can go as far as their talents and their dreams will take them.” —President Obama.


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President Obama Urges Grammys Viewers to Stand Up Against Sexual Violence

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