Sunday, November 29, 2009

ellington/strayhorn nutcracker

Back in 1960, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn got the idea to do some jazz interpretations of the Nutcracker Suite. This year, some cats from the SA jazz scene decided to get hold of those charts and put on a show.

It's this very weekend, Friday, December 4th and Saturday the 5th, at the perennially cool Josephine Theater. Check my events page for more info. Meanwhile, Jim Beal Jr. wrote a nice piece on us on the front page of SA Life, in the Express-News. Check it out — and we'll see you there.


Friday, November 20, 2009

the month before christmas

It's that time of year again: just today I got one of those horrible emails forwarded to me by a friend who loves the feeling of being a beleaguered minority. This time I had to respond.

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
See, the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas — no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a ' Holiday '.
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas — was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Not Happy Holiday!


Twas December again, and all through the land
True Christians prayed prayers that can never be banned.
They closed all their shutters and threw down the sash,
They heeded their Savior in not being brash,
Behind their closed doors, shut tight with a key,
They prayed to their Father who hears secretly.

These Christians care not for the corridors of power;
They know that it is on their knees that they tower.
Of course, some among them at one time complained
Of a "War Against Christmas" — they griped and campaigned!
They shouted and emailed and raised such a clatter
That millions of people thought something was the matter.
Despite all the evidence, they thought they knew
That the world was against them. They thought it was true!
They imagined they saw store displays for Kwanzaa
And for Ramadan too, in the stores at the maal.
They said God had been booted out of America,
But those folks were being just a tad bit hysterica.

Then God's people realized that Satan had tricked 'em
To bow at the throne of the Almighty Victim.
They turned from their longing for fame, gold, and thrones,
And away from the stages and (gulp) microphones.
They remembered Christ's words: "Do not pray like the hyps,
Who make every word heard from their hypocrite lips!"
They remembered we live in a God-blessed land
Where each person can live by his conscience, as planned;
Where we live and respect and obey and behave —
Roger Williams no longer turns round in his grave.

And then from my sleep I awoke with a start.
A familiar old feeling came back to my heart.
I looked round and saw, like the very first Christmas
A people who want a God you can't resistmas,
A Savior who looked like a conquering hero,
Who fought, won, and ruled... what they wanted was Nero.
What they did to the Servant, we all know and grieve.
Which Christ will be born in you this Christmas eve?

Tis the month before Christmas and all through the earth
True Christians will celebrate Jesus's birth.
They know how to love all God's children, and reach them.
They don't need a Wal-Mart or Target to teach them.