The tables were turned — David Rovics interviewed me in a wide-ranging, tangentially themed hour a few days ago. Here is what one Dissident Voice article has to say about Portland, OR-based Rovics
He is not one to wait for his turn to talk. He listens intently and when I’m finished asks another question. After all that Rovics has seen and heard during more than 20 years as a singer-song writer who has performed all over the world, he has yet to act like a self-proclaimed expert on anything. — “The Social Significance of David Rovics” by Jasmin Ramsey, July 25th, 2009
David and I have talked, exchanged emails, and alas, we are a few 110 miles away from each other, he in my old haunts, Portland, and me on the Central Oregon Coast.
Lyrics by Rovics strike me hard since I was a social services activist and practitioner in Portland for people who were homeless, civilians, youth, ex-military and former prisoners.
Each couch by the street has a story
I wonder what this one maybe
Did they leave their home and move into a car
Or find a sofa to sleep on at a friend’s house
Did they stay near, or go far away
Disappear without a trace […]
When they come to evict your neighbor, what will you do?
— “Each Couch by the Street” song by David Rovics
We both feel the sting of parasitic capitalism as artists and writers (we are artists) in this predatory and war capitalism, pre- and during-the-plandemic.
Here’s what I stated:
Rovics is acutely aware that most of the thriving artists who might weather economic tsunamis are white artists, but there are thousands upon thousands of BIPOC artists who continue working but do not have those “safety nets” underneath them. The mainstream and commercial art scene will continue to be a white wave.
This gentrification is now coupled with lack of income(s), Rovics says, as artists who used to be able to show and sell their work (and bar-tend and wait tables), and in the case of musicians, perform and then peddle “merch” at venues, have zero options for in-person engagement.
Mounting debt, continuing eviction threats, and increasing vulnerability to disease and illness also are additional factors to the mental health stress of artists. David knows of artists who just have shut down, and can’t work. Others are manic, going through sleepless periods but producing a lot. For Rovics, he fits this latter category, but he admits he is not immune to GAD – general anxiety disorder. He told me he watches a lot more news feeds than he did before the pandemic, and doesn’t sleep through the night.
— “On the Streets, In Union Halls, On the Frontlines: Have Guitar, Will Travel” by Paul Haeder, November 25th, 2020
Listen to the interview. Yes, we covered a lot of topics, and the kernel of the interview is around my own newspaper journalist roots, and the many jobs I have had in communications — as a faculty at colleges and universities teaching writing, composition, literature and creative writing. And as a writer who happens to need a 9 to 5 job to continue writing in this exploitative and dead-end celebrity culture.
I do this sort of writing to promote where I work, and for now, it’s with adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Job developer, coach, life skills mentor, and more: “When the going gets tough, Shangri-la comes to the rescue”
I’ve written about this many times, and many of the pieces have ended up in Dissident Voice, which is a semi-safe harbor in the sea of chaotic blogs, aggregating news sites, and specialty discussion boards and Zeens.
This post was originally published on Radio Free.