The “Quaker Scout”: Highlighting A Very Relevant Piece of Quaker History

In 1848 Quaker farmer Jonathan Roberts moved his family south from New Jersey to a new farm in northern VA in 1848. He arrived with high hopes and even higher ideals.

The new spread adjoined George Washington’s Mt. Vernon plantation, already a historic site for the still-young nation. Yet with its distinguished lineage, the property brought its characteristic issues: the fields had been exploited to grow tobacco, which brought quick profits but depleted the soil; and the white owners had been corrupted by maintaining themselves and their culture on a system of enslaved labor and chronic indebtedness.

The more scarred the land became and the deeper in debt many planters sank, the more belligerent they had become in their system’s defense, threatening rebellion and war if it were at all disturbed or upset.

By acquiring land among them, Roberts intended to change all that: renew the soil and make it sustainably profitable; do so entirely with free labor; thereby they would show the slaveowners a way out of debt and the thrall of their brutal human commerce. This would undermine and banish the slavery system, not overnight, but by invincible example and thus without falling prey to the scourge of war. Continue reading The “Quaker Scout”: Highlighting A Very Relevant Piece of Quaker History

Quote of The Day: A teacher Who Dreads Carrying A Gun to Class

By 

Ms. Fennelly, the former poet laureate of Mississippi, teaches at the University of Mississippi:

Last year, one of my students turned 21, and her friends tied two giant Mylar balloons, a “2” and a “1,” to her chair to celebrate. Later, deep in our discussion of John Donne, we heard what sounded like a gun shot. Everyone jumped. A few screamed. One student — I can see him still — hit the floor.

When we realized, all of us, that our active shooter was none other than an exploding Mylar “2,” there was a painful pause. Then we laughed a shaky laugh, and I slowly resumed the discussion.

I wish I hadn’t. I wish I’d given them the rest of class to share how difficult it is to learn when one is always listening for a bullet.

From “I Love My Students, but I Won’t Use a Gun to Protect Them,” New York Times

A Motown Genius Is Now Immortal

The Guardian – Lamont Dozier: the  Motown master craftsman who created miracles under pressure

As one third of a legendary songwriting and production partnership, Dozier produced a slew of indelible hits that expressed the joy and frustration of a whole generation

Lamont Dozier, Motown songwriter, dies aged 81

Published: Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Lamont Dozier was not a man much given to discussing the mystical art of songwriting and inspiration. You might have thought he would be. There’s certainly something extraordinary about the sheer quality of the songs he wrote with Brian and Eddie Holland in the 60s and early 70s:

Baby Love, Nowhere to Run, Stop! In the Name of Love, Reach Out I’ll Be There, Heatwave, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch), Band of Gold, You Can’t Hurry Love, You Keep Me Hangin On and Bernadette among them – a catalogue that meant Holland-Dozier-Holland stood out even amid the riches of songwriting and production talent assembled at Motown. There’s a fair argument for calling this collection of songs the greatest in the history of pop.

And it wasn’t just that these songs were hits – they were the kind of hits that became indelibly imprinted on the brain of anyone with even a passing interest in pop music. But Dozier took a very prosaic attitude to it all, presenting himself not as the genius he clearly was but as a man who’d simply worked hard, “banging on that piano”.

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block,” he contended a few years before his death. “That’s just being lazy. That’s just something you put in your own head. ‘I don’t feel it today’ – that’s bullshit.”

Perhaps that was just the attitude one developed in the hothouse hit factory environment of Motown where, Dozier recalled, songwriting sessions could last for 18 hours straight and founder Berry Gordy was given to announcing “so-and-so needs a hit because they’re going out of town and they need something right away”.

The more successful the label got, the more Gordy seemed to pile on the pressure: in 1965, at the height of Motown’s golden age, he issued an edict: “We will release nothing less than Top 10 product on any artist. Because the Supremes’ worldwide acceptance is greater than the other artists, on them we will release only No 1 records.”

‘No such thing as writers’ block’ … Holland Dozier Holland with Smokey Robinson.
‘No such thing as writer’s block’ … Holland-Dozier-Holland with Smokey Robinson. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

It was a challenging environment to which Dozier and the Holland brothers responded in the most incredible fashion. Each of them had started out as a performer in Detroit before being brought together by Gordy. Dozier thought they worked so well together because of their shared background in the church and a mutual love of classical music.

They were, by all accounts, as determined and tough as their boss, and not above provoking the artists they worked with in order to get the best out of them. Diana Ross fled the sessions for Where Did Our Love Go in tears: she hated the song, which Dozier just maintained gave her vocal “the attitude it needed to become a big hit”. Their relationship with Marvin Gaye was also frequently volatile, the singer feeling provoked by the trio deliberately writing songs in a key he felt was too high for him, in order, Dozier said, “to be a little more imaginative, reach up to a falsetto”.

However much trouble their methods caused around Hitsville USA, you couldn’t argue with the end result. Holland-Dozier-Holland were skilled at drawing out performances of startling intensity from artists. Listen to Levi Stubbs’ voice on the Four Tops’ Standing in the Shadows of Love. Or his cry of “Just look over your shoulder!” on Reach Out (I’ll Be There). Or the 1971 single You Keep Running Away, where the singer’s agonies – “Just look at me, I’m not the man I used to be / I used to be proud, I used to be strong” – chafe against the ebullience of the musical backing.

Meanwhile, the Supremes may have been painted as Motown’s poppiest and sweetest group, but there’s a genuine desperation about Ross’s lead vocal on You Keep Me Hangin’ On that is startlingly powerful when combined with the music’s churning relentlessness, the pounding drums, the one-note morse-code guitar.

Holland-Dozier-Holland’s songs occasionally contained a darker undercurrent than was immediately apparent. Martha and the Vandellas’ wonderful 1967 single Jimmy Mack was inspired when Dozier attended a songwriting ceremony in New York where the mother of the songwriter Ronnie Mack – who had died aged 23 from cancer – accepted an award on his behalf for the Chiffons’ He’s So Fine. It takes on a noticeably different hue if you consider that the subject of the Martha Reeves’ pleas to return might be dead.

Standing in the shadows of love … Lamont Dozier
Standing in the shadows of love … Lamont Dozier Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Although never overtly political, Motown’s golden age played out against a backdrop of turmoil in America, much of it connected to the civil rights movement. And without ever making it explicit enough to harm their commercial chances, Holland-Dozier-Holland frequently seemed to be sending out coded messages to their black American audience.

As the writer Jon Savage subsequently noted, the tense, Bob Dylan-influenced Reach Out (I’ll Be There) “offered advice and sustenance to communities … under extreme duress”. Martha and the Vandellas’ Nowhere to Run, meanwhile, presents itself as a love song but in reality was inspired by the state of America. Dozier later said its claustrophobic atmosphere had more to do with seeing tanks on the streets in the wake of riots and teenagers being shipped off to Vietnam than with romance.

Immediate, accessible pop music that is emotionally impactful and rich with meaning: it was an incredible trick to pull off, but Holland-Dozier-Holland did it again and again. It wasn’t enough to save their relationship with Motown. Promised and then denied their own sub-label, and angry about the way money was distributed in the company, they first went on a go-slow, then left entirely in 1968. The ensuing litigation went on for years, and forced them to use a pseudonym – Wayne-Dunbar – when writing for artists on their own labels, Invicta and Hot Wax.

They had more hits – Freda Payne’s Band of Gold; Give Me Just a Little More Time by the Chairmen of the Board – maintaining the same breathtaking standard that they’d kept at Motown. But Dozier became disillusioned: he claimed the Holland brothers passed on the chance to sign both Funkadelic and Al Green, and their rejection of the latter pre-empted his decision to leave, and another lawsuit.

He pursued a successful solo career as a performer: 1973’s gorgeous Take Off Your Make Up and the following year’s Trying to Hold Onto My Woman suggested songwriting powers undiminished by the break-up of the partnership, and the Afrocentric 1977 album track Going Back to My Roots enjoyed a long afterlife thanks to multiple cover versions. Somehow his friendships with both Berry Gordy and the Holland brothers survived the legal disputes: “Business is business,” he shrugged, “but love is love.”

Lamont performing solo in 2009.
Lamont performing solo in 2009. Photograph: Paul Morigi/WireImage

He moved to London in the 80s and kept writing: he was behind Alison Moyet’s 1984 hit Invisible, and collaborated with Mick Hucknall, who one suspects couldn’t believe his luck, on a string of tracks for Simply Red. Sometimes he dealt in material that nodded to the classic 60s Motown sound, such as the Four Tops’ Loco in Acapulco or Phil Collins’ Two Hearts. None of it was ever likely to supplant Holland-Dozier-Holland’s 60s output in anyone’s affections, but clearly his hitmaking touch was intact.

In his later years, he dabbled in musical theatre, taught courses at the University of Southern California and seemed happy to give interviews in which he reflected on Holland-Dozier-Holland’s peerless achievements; the pressure they’d worked under at Motown; the havoc it had wreaked on their personal lives; the way they’d come up with this song or that song. Ultimately, however, every interview seemed to come back to the same unassuming theme. “It was blood, sweat and tears,” he told the Guardian in 2015. “We just worked and worked … until we came up with things.”

Can’t Cut It: The French Mustard Crisis in France

Why there is a shortage of Dijon mustard in France

First, find the seeds
The Economist – August 9, 2022

For the past few months, France has been gripped by the mystery of the Dijon mustard shortage.

The sharp pale-yellow condiment, a French household staple, has all but disappeared from the country’s supermarket shelves. When scarce deliveries arrive, some shops resort to rationing purchases to a single pot per person. On social media, amateur cooks swap ideas for an alternative ingredient to Dijon mustard in order to prepare vinaigrette, mayonnaise, or steak tartare, a French dish made of raw meat also seasoned with egg yolk and capers.

The sauce has a long history. In Dijon, the capital of Burgundy and home to the mustard that bears its name, the craft of the moutardier dates back to 1634. Yet even in this town, pots of the stuff are near-impossible to find.

The French consume a kilo of mustard per person each year. Much of it is the Dijon variety, a condiment that comes with a nose-tingling kick, not the milder and sweeter sauce slathered on hot dogs in Britain or America. Continue reading Can’t Cut It: The French Mustard Crisis in France

Exclusive: A Leak from the FBI Mar-A-Lago Raid!

My sources are tireless . . . .

Imagine the Feds this past Monday morning, sweating in their suits and ties, but with rubber gloves up to the elbows, hands thrust deep in each of the Mar’s 477 (gold-plated?) toilets, searching fearlessly, searching relentlessly, thanking god no selfies were allowed, and no alligators have been seen nearby for a couple of weeks.

But the G-Mens’ –or G-persons’ — thoroughness paid off. . . .

And the implications of their find, as they unroll, are sure to be historic, once they dry out and if need be are deodorized.

But a source who insisted on anonymity leaked this sample. (The White House declined comment.) Our analysts are still poring over it.

We can’t wait to see more; especially the real stuff.

YES — Swords (or rather, Guns) Into Plowshares. (Only a few million more to go!)

Raleigh NC News & Observer
BY ILANA AROUGHETI UPDATED AUGUST 07, 2022

DURHAM The line of cars stretched three blocks as Durham County’s second gun buyback in four months began Saturday morning. The event’s purpose was to encourage responsible gun ownership and get guns off the street, said Durham County Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead.

Durham’s first buyback event was held in April. Then, the department netted just over 100 firearms before running out of money, The N&O has reported.

After the first event, community interest increased, Birkhead told The N&O. “People, even after the first buyback, continued to call us and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got guns that belonged to my grandfather, he’s now passed away,’” Birkhead said. “Or, ‘We don’t want guns in the house. We have small kids now. When are you going to do another one?’”

Like the first time, the event was held at two locations — Mt. Vernon Baptist Church and Durham Memorial Stadium. Between the two locations, 295 guns were turned in before the department ran out of money, communications manager David L. Bowser told The N&O. Continue reading YES — Swords (or rather, Guns) Into Plowshares. (Only a few million more to go!)

Getting a Start on Worldly Quaker Wisdom

In the early 1830s, a young man went to sea, hoping to make his

fortune.

A Presbyterian by birth, he read his Bible each night in his shipboard
hammock, and was haunted by a verse in the fourth chapter of Proverbs:

“Wisdom is the principal thing: Therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding.”

Wealth, the youth piously decided, was nothing without this special seasoning. But where was such a combination to be found?

Presently his ship sailed into the harbor of Nantucket Island, off the Massachusetts coast.  Nantucket was then a wealthy and vibrant community, built and largely populated by members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers.

As he walked the bustling, cobbled streets of Nantucket town, observing the fine grey shingled houses and the plain but prosperous inhabitants, another verse from Proverbs came to him. It was something about , “I am Wisdom, and in my right hand is riches and honor.”

The more he saw of Nantucketers, the more he felt sure that here was a group that genuinely understood and knew how to apply this kind of Wisdom. Continue reading Getting a Start on Worldly Quaker Wisdom

New Quaker Arts Journal Issue: “Types & Shadows”

NOTE: I’ve been a member of the Fellowship of Quakers in the arts since the late ’90s. It’s a small, scattered and anarchic network [confirming its Quaker character], which has done a lot with a little, and should be better known. Here’s an intro to its newest journal issue (online for free; but consider joining), from FQA member and noted guitarist, Keith Calmes.

Issue #92, front cover

Friends—
The new issue (#92) of “Types and Shadows,” [a journal of Quaker-connected art published by the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts], Summer 2022, is now available electronically on our recently revamped website:
www.fqaquaker.org
I hope you enjoy seeing what many fellow Friends are up to in the arts in this beautiful issue. Many other Quakers are doing art. We’d love to heer from you and, as way opens, share your work.

While I have your attention: have you explored our website? There are many opportunities for Friends to share their work, events, opportunities, and connect.
Be well,
Keith Calmes

[FQA Board member Keith Calmes is a classically trained guitarist, educator, composer, and author. He has transcribed several works for Mel Bay Publications, including Guitar Music of the Sixteenth Century and The Eight Masterpieces of Alonso Mudarra. Click the link below for a sample of his music.]

FQA-Why “Types & Shadows”?

Why Types & Shadows? by Esther Greenleaf Mürer, writer and editor of the first years of T&S. This article is excerpted from the first issue published in 1996. The theology is hers; the philosophy is Plato’s; the name is ours:

Quaker lore does not exactly teem with pithy phrases about the arts–at least not the sort calculated to encourage artists. Our title–more fully “Types, figures and shadows” is perhaps the kindest term our ancestors might have used. It comes from the Epistle to the Hebrews, a book beloved of early
Friends.

The idea was borrowed from Platonic philosophy, which posits a realm where the ideal forms of everything that exists are kept. Somewhere there is, say, an ideal balloon of which all earthly balloons are but pale copies or shadows. (At the age of two my daughter Phoebe really began to believe this.)

The writer of Hebrews gives the Platonic idea a Jewish twist. For him the forms, events and institutions of the Old Testament are antitypes which prefigure or foreshadow the coming of Christ, the true Substance which makes the types and shadows obsolete.

From Types & Shadows in 2005, Friend Elizabeth Hallmark performs.

For early Friends the idea of the primacy of “Christ the Substance” came to mean a near-total rejection of sensory means of grace, and of symbolism. The immediate experience of God was the goal, and symbols were felt as obstructions.

And yet, as Thomas Kelly writes in his essay “Quakers and Symbolism”, immediacy cannot be communicated to others except through the mediation of symbols. A symbol by definition points to something beyond itself. If I point to the sunrise, I mean you to look at the sunrise, not at my finger.

Symbols, of course, easily become idols–ends in themselves. Our gestures become ever more mannered, the sunrise is forgotten. The danger is ever-present that I may become obsessed with “My Ministry” not because it heals, not because it speaks truth, but because it’s mine.

This is a pitfall for any ministry. Are artists more prone than others to fall into it? Certainly it’s harder to avoid the trap when the possibility that one’s art might be ministry is not acknowledged in the first place. What if early Friends, instead of shunning the arts, had recognized art’s healing and prophetic powers and had sought ways to help artists grow in the spirit?

Roses, thorns, and more Roses. By Jennifer Elam.

The realm of sense and symbol–of “types, figures and shadows”–is where we, as artists, live. This is as it should be. The Truth which we as Friends are called to publish can never be anything but fragmentary, for we cannot publish Truth-in-general any more than we can speak language-in-general. We must speak a specific language, work in a specific medium. And however great our skill, the nature of the medium will set bounds to our ability to convey our vision.

And yet we must go on trying to convey it. For as Thomas Kelly said, “Where there is no impulse to communicate the good news, there it is doubtful whether there is any living good news to share.”

Our types and shadows are needed. If we are faithful, they may provide islands of unity and meaning  in the jangling sea of cynicism and discord which surrounds us. If we can point others to the sunrise, we do not labor in vain.

AR-15s In All Schools? A Carolina County Says Yes

AR-15s put in all Madison County NC  schools to enhance security in case of active shooter
Johnny Casey — Asheville Citizen Times — August 5, 2022

MARSHALL, North Carolina – In response to the Texas school shooting that left 19 children dead May 24, the (Madison County] school system and Sheriff’s Office are rolling out some beefed up security measures in 2022-23, including putting AR-15 rifles in every school.

Madison County Schools and Madison County Sheriff’s Office are collaborating to enhance security in the schools for the upcoming school year after the Uvalde, Texas, tragedy revealed systemic failures and poor decision-making, with responding police disregarding active-shooter trainings, according to a report from the Texas state house.

“Those officers were in that building for so long, and that suspect was able to infiltrate that building and injure and kill so many kids,” Madison County] Sheriff Buddy Harwood said. “I just want to make sure my deputies are prepared in the event that happens.”
[Wikipedia: “Madison County is located deep in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, and much of the county’s terrain is rugged, heavily forested, and sparsely populated. The county’s northern border is with the State of Tennessee.” The county’s 2021 estimated population was 21000+, 90% white, less than 1% Black, 3-5% Hispanic.]

Continue reading AR-15s In All Schools? A Carolina County Says Yes

Kansas Kartoons & Updated Classics

After Tuesday this week, I read about a political “earthquake” in Kansas. And a thunderbolt.  Even a “tsunami.”
Naaaah.  What happened there was a real surprise, for sure. Maybe a game-changer? ?

We’ll see. But the proper metaphor had to be what the hired man shouted to Dorothy and Auntie Em in the classic taught and watched in all true-blue American schools worthy of the name. Right?

But there’s more . . .

And pushback these days even comes through the mailbox . . .

But of course, the Original is still the greatest! Here are two, with minor updates:

 

It’s Wednesday Morning in Kansas, and America . . .