Detroit, Trinosophes, Maureen Taylor and Marian Kramer, and WATER

Finished an extended residency at Trinosophes in Detroit. Trinoshopes is a wonderful cafe, club, book store, gallery, crossroads, and hangout in the Eastern Market.  Lovingly run by Rebecca Mazzei and Joel Peterson.

Quite the extraordinary cast of characters works there, plays there, eats and drinks there, and passes through there. Just in the little time I was there I heard two piano virtuosos (Thollem McDonas and Craig Taborn), the Nakatani Gong Orchestra, a group from Mali, and saw a sculpture exhibition by Pauline & Chip Flynn. All of this was good, and some was fantastic.

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So much going on in Detroit. I went to a poetry salon at Kaleema Hassan’s house. Went out to Bert’s as often as I could to hear soul and R&B music. Shopped at Rachel Legg’s second hand clothing store. Heard blues at the Carpet House. Ate food from urban farms. And had TWO opportunities to hear Chip Flynn and Leith Campbell‘s amazing electromechanical gamelan.

But the high point of the whole adventure was being on the Ask Welfare Rights TV and radio show with Maureen Taylor and Marian Kramer. These women are fighters in the best possible sense. And they have been fighting tooth and nail for many, many years for the most minimal rights for a large population of people that have been chewed up and spit out by the broader culture and whom very few people care about or even think about. The passion, creativity, anger, and most of all love these women show every day is inspiring. A higher kind of human life.

Can’t end this without talking about WATER. Poor people in Detroit continue to lose their access to water through city-imposed water shut-offs. Water is a basic human right, as defined by the United Nations, by human decency, and by biology. You can go for a while without food but you cannot go without water. If your water gets shut off the state can take away your children. The United Nations has sent representatives to Detroit to inform the powers that be that this is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Back home in California we have big water problems because of drought. In El Salvador I met poor campesinos whose villages have lost access to water because of drought. All over the world climate change is wreaking havoc with water. But Detroit is on the Great Lakes, the world’s largest supply of fresh water. Detroit is the only place where people are losing access to water in the midst of abundance. There is no natural disaster, only a human disaster of profit, racism, and indifference. No one in America should sleep well while this continues.

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