The summer of 2012 marks the centennial of the birth of American folk icon Woody Guthrie, on July 14, 1912. A poet of the people, Guthrie wrote some of America's most important songs, including "This Land Is Your Land." He penned ballads that captured the heart of hard economic times and war.
While Guthrie left a lasting mark on music, culture and politics, he struggled with family poverty, tragedies and personal demons.
The barn reeked of mildew, wet wood in 90 degrees, an odious perfume with which I was familiar from a childhood in a Long Island canal town peppered with planked houses. I opened my instrument's case to see the hygrometer's needle stuck on the highest humidity level: assurance that my first professional-grade violin would not crack, or, to the great aural pleasure of Katja, my radiant Austrian stand partner with superb pitch, remain in tune.
Ernie K-Doe poses outside his Mother-In-Law Lounge during Jazz Fest in New Orleans in 2001. He died a few months later and was buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.
Credit Courtesy of Rob Florence
Antoinette K-Doe (second from the left) stands with friends around a statue of her deceased husband, Ernie, at the St. Louis No. 2 tomb. Antoinette is buried in the tomb, and her mother — Ernie K-Doe's second and favorite mother-in-law, Leola Clark — is shown in the portrait. Clark is buried in the tomb, too.
Credit Masahiro Sumori / Wikimedia
Earl King on stage at the 1997 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He died a few years after Ernie K-Doe, and now the two share a tomb.
There's so much water in, around and underneath New Orleans, that the dead spend eternity in tombs above ground.
Most of the tombs now have a similar design: On top, there's space for a wooden coffin or two, and at the bottom lies a potpourri of decanted family remains. Sooner or later, whoever is up high must vacate and settle lower, making room for the newly dead. That's how families stay together — in a desiccated jumble of grandpas, grandmas, siblings and cousins.
A black arm band is a gesture of mourning around the world. But for aboriginals in Australia it has come to mean something else.
The "black arm band view of history" is a version of history that takes a critical — some would say militant — analysis of Anglo-Australia's mistreatment of indigenous people. Much like American Indians, indigenous Australians — who've lived on their continent for at least 40,000 years — have had their land stolen, treaties broken, and children taken away.
Aaron Copland is considered one of America's greatest composers. Among his most famous works is a tribute to an iconic figure in American history. In 1942, Copland wrote A Lincoln Portrait, which features a full orchestra playing while a narrator reads excerpts from Lincoln's speeches and other writings.