Monday, February 22, 2010
Let's Put Our Heads Together
Let us put our heads together, and see if we don’t find our shoulders put to the same wheel of progress. By “us” I mean all who consider themselves part of the progressive community, whether they are from the arts, organized labor, community organizations, the blogosphere, non-profits, or the rest of civil society. How put our heads together? Add your comments at Broken Turtle Blog.
Now, I’m not saying that the verbal fisticuffs at many local blogs don’t exhibit some vigorous thinking-on-one’s-feet, but the Broken Turtle Blog, with its well-crafted commentary on arts and politics, has some of the most thoughtful writing in the Delaware Valley, if I may toot our own horns. Sure, there is some high-quality word-smithing in some of the other blogs, not to mention in the News Journal, Delaware Today, Out and About, and some academic organs in our state. Hell, we on the blog team at Broken Turtle have written for most of these fine publications. But the Broken Turtle Blog takes on the topics those outlets cannot or will not touch, from the corporate domination of the arts, to the claustrophobic pettiness of Delaware’s culture, to the clueless snobbery of would-be progressives.
In four months, the Broken Turtle Team of Steven Leech, Phillip Bannowsky, Franetta McMillian, and Douglas Morea has broken new ground and struck some hidden veins of contention, some of gold and some that bleed.
For example, right from the start in Literary Anemia, Steven Leech challenged the homogenized national market in books with a call for a revival of local literature. Then he illustrated the theme with Discovering Local Cultural Mythology, where he unlocks the roman-a-clef Love’s Pilgrimage by the original muckraker Upton Sinclair, about how poet Harry Kemp ran off with Sinclair’s wife when they all lived in Arden, Delaware. Leech reviews Mark McGurl's new book, The Program Era in Casualties from the Fast Track, adding to McGurl's work his own take on the commoditization of art. Leech takes on the establishmentarian Brandywine Tradition in Why We Should and How We Can Preserve Our Local Literatures, Part One, about the families that have defined the limits in Delaware’s economic and cultural life for a century, and he follows up with Part Two, which deals with the one-time alternative source of literary funding, the Works Progress Administration of FDR’s New Deal. Leech follows up in Following What Money There Is to explain the continuing difficulties of re-establishing state support for artists after the privations of WWII and the degradations of McCarthyism from the 50s to today.
Phillip Bannowsky’s inaugural column announced Dreamstreets Archive, the impressive store of three decades of progressive literature and art in the Delaware Valley. He introduced his now continuing refrain about the responsibilities of artists, as members of civil society, to assert their citizenship in Toward an Ecology of Local Literature. The theme is expanded in Bannowsky’s critique of corporate control of arts funding in Arts and Civil Society on Maggie’s Farm. Bannowsky reprints his column from Op-Ed News on Avatar and the Destruction of Haiti to illustrate the limitations of corporate-dominated art when addressing solidarity with the indigenous of the earth or other planets.
Douglas Morea praises the Dreamstreets Archive in his spare but pithy Thanks and Good Goin'!, observing that “this visit to memory lane is more importantly a trip to the future.”
In Telling Stories, artist and critic Franetta McMillian attempts to answer the question, “How might progressives learn to tell better stories? For one thing,” she answers, “don’t be snobs.” In our latest column, Between Barack and a Hard Place, McMillian sympathizes with President Obama as a high-achieving African American held to a near perfect standard of the king’s English and suggests, “if Obama had affected the folksy, befuddled persona of say, George W. Bush, during his campaign, he would have never been elected.”
Progressives have to believe the wheel of life rolls toward peace and a cooperative commonwealth. Join your words to the common effort at the Broken Turtle Blog.