It’s Only Rock and Roll


Had an interesting discussion last night with my brother about the packaging and personality of music — the lost art of album covers and lyric inserts.

My brother is in the music biz. Along with partner, Chuck Leavell — The Rolling Stone’s legendary keyboardist — he’s created irocku, a website that provides online rock music lessons.

We talked about how we’ve wholeheartedly embraced digital music, but cannot remember the words to current songs. Could it be age, or that we don’t watch music videos? We agreed that it was most likely because we read album covers and inserts.

We looked at music differently.

The covers of The Beatles White Album and James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, are indelibly inked in my music memory. The late 1960’s and early ’70’s were chaotic, full of friction and heady introspection. All the coming of age stuff — that moment in time when life changes forever.

This excellent video critiques the intersection of culture, music, art — and its changes:

What’s your most memorable album cover?

Concert Honors Children


We can feel the spirit of the blowing wind
A mighty source of power in our lives
Offering another way to fill our needs
Nature’s gift can help us carry on.” ~ Raffi

Did Raffi’s playful music spin the soundtrack of your family’s early life? The larger significance in Raffi’s lyrics ring remarkably relevant today — like this nudge towards exploring the power of clean, powerful wind energy.

Raffi is still making music for families and advocating for a “child-honouring approach to healing communities and restoring ecosystems.” 

On April 28th, grab a kid or grandkid and check out Raffi’s concert in New York City. The concert is presented in association with Moms Clean Air Force and all proceeds benefit the Centre For Child-Honouring.

Free To Be

Marlo Thomas with children of Free To Be writers and performers in a 1972 publicity photo.

Forty years ago, Free to Be…You and Me was released. The children’s platinum-winning record (remember those?) and book was created to expel gender and racial stereotypes of the era. Marlo Thomas described why she created the collaborative classic:

“Our mission was simple: to convince children that their dreams were not only boundless, but achievable.”

Free To Be was wedged between school and my not-so “That Girl” work life. I took notice of Marlo fanning the feminist flame because as a teacher of young children, I was becoming well acquainted with the Free To Be demographic.

Me on the cover of a Vassar College brochure when I was teaching at the college’s campus school.

When I was studying to be a teacher in the ’70’s, I wrote a paper based on a passage in the Dr. Seuss book, And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street. My feminism was in full bloom, and my professor scrolled across the top of the paper in red marker, “a provocative title.” I titled the paper, “Dr. Seuss Is A Sexist.” Braless, long-haired, Earth Shoe wearing young women from Long Island were weaned on the good Doctor, and I was shocked when I unearthed so many perpetuated stereotypes…like this one:

“Say – anyone could think of that.
Jack or Fred or Nat
Say – even Jane could think of that.”

Of course, despite being caught up in the sexist rhyme of the time, I loved, and still love Dr. Seuss. He mastered the art of empowering confident children. So throwing the baby out with the bathwater was a futile, but informative exercise because noticing pushes the needle in the right direction.

Realizing the power of the potential of children is something we must continue to value and nurture. The reality of our children and their children’s future will require them to muster up an activism that can only come from being educated and engaged citizens.

Kurt Vonnegut may have touched the future when he wrote in the afterword for the Free To Be book,

“I’ve often thought there ought to be a manual to hand to little kids, telling them what kind of planet they’re on, why they don’t fall off it, how to avoid poison ivy, and so on.”

Fruits Of Labor

Happy Labor Day!

Hope you are enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Does your community come together and lift your spirits?

Beach Plum photo: Ben Scott for Bluerock Design

A Crack In Fracking

There’s a refrain from an old Leonard Cohen song, “Anthem” that goes like this:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

We can only postulate what Cohen was writing about in the ’60, but right now, cracks are ringing warning bells in the fight against hydraulic gas fracking.

Frack New York?

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of fracking, as I believe many of my Econesting friends are well-versed on the subject (you can read my post from last year, and this comprehensive natural gas Q&A). I also leave that to my environmental planner husband, Ted. He’s working with municipalities up and down the Marcellus Shale helping citizens protect their environmental destinies, rather than accept a poisonous fate that has already inflicted so many people. (If you have any questions about fracking, please leave a comment below–he’s happy to answer.)

Because of “cracks” from gas companies and politicians, fracking has crept dangerously close to my beloved home state of New York. Gov. Cuomo will soon make a final decision regarding shale gas fracturing in the Southern Tier of NY State

3 Reasons Not To Frack The Southern Tier of NY

1. This area houses bountiful and clean groundwater. The possibility that a precious water supply will be irreparably harmed seems senseless.

2. This area is more impoverished than other parts of NY, bringing rightful cries of environmental justice:

“Sending a polluting industry into our most economically impoverished communities is a violation of environmental justice…Partitioning our state into frack and no-frack zones based on economic desperation is a shameful idea…The pregnant mother who drinks unfiltered water from a rural well in the Susquehanna River Valley has the same right to environmental protection as the mother in Manhattan who drinks unfiltered water brought to her from the off-limits New York City watershed” ~ Sandra Steingraber, New Yorkers Against Fracking

3. We are hearing very little from our political leaders about clean alternative energy sources as viable options.

“The Governor promised to be ‘guided by science’ when it came to fracking. He has not kept his promises. Instead, he put a climate denier in charge of overseeing the environmental review process for fracking…Introducing new oil and gas drilling into New York will keep us dangerously addicted to fossil fuels as the world warms, and leave a toxic legacy in the Southern Tier counties that most need an economic revival led by green industry.” ~ Phil Aroneanu,

Mother Love and Loss

As someone who helps lead a powerful group of parents, the Moms Clean Air Force, I’ve come to understand the importance of everyday people working alongside large organizations, and even celebrities, in the fight for our children’s future. I’ve also lived with artists my whole life, and I know that the natural environment is a source of constant inspiration worth fighting for.

The matter of love and loss is something parents know all too well, and I believe frack activists may have found the crack that lets in the light with two artist celebs who know a thing or two about love and loss, Yoko and Sean:

Didn’t that crack you up?

Please join Artists Against Fracking. And while you’re at it, if you haven’t already joined Moms Clean Air Force, you can do so right here. Thank you.

Main image: New Yorkers Against Fracking