BIG Changes at GDPR

ImageYour progressive-peace Internet public radio voice is movin’ on up: We’ve upgraded our broadcast server and now are available to a much wider audience. GDPR still presents our singular multigenre kind music mix, progressive news/talk programming such as Democracy Now, Free Speech Radio News, Alternative Radio  and NORML Show Live, activist and altruist opportunities, artists and points of view you won’t find in mainstream media, music shows including Grateful Dead Hour and WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour, and much more. But now, it is available directly from our website at and the website. Our signal can also be found via a number of platforms, including Yahoo!, Netflix, Roku, Hulu Plus and TiVo (just go to Live365 and search for “GratefulDread PublicRadio”). You can also listen to GDPR on your smartphone: Get the Live365 app for iPhone or Android and search for “GratefulDread PublicRadio.” Check out our diverse sounds and ideas for open minds and become a supporting member—listening is free of charge!—but we need you as a member more than ever as we finalize our available budget and decide upon our new progressive news/talk, lifestyle and cultural programming for 2013 (we’re also trying to become a Pacifica member). Noncommercial, nonmainstream media is what we do as part of our mission to educate, entertain, inform and inspire in the hopes of making a better world. GDPR is here for you: Tune in, turn on, become a member.

Garden for Your Life: Five Exciting Reasons—and One Downright Scary One—You Should Learn to Grow Food This Year

Just in time for Earth Day on April 22, guest writer Ellen LaConte suggests digging into the gifts of gardening. Learn why growing your own veggies and fruits may be more than a richly rewarding pastime—it may be, literally, a lifesaver.

Spring has sprung, and Earth Day is almost upon us. And if you’re looking for a good way to “go green” this year, here’s a suggestion. Don’t stop at planting a tree, attending a rally, or giving to your favorite conservation fund. Instead, make 2011 the year you move beyond symbolic gestures and engage with the Earth in the most primal, profound, and productive way possible: by learning to grow your own food.

It’s interesting to me that people work so hard to acquire the skills we need to make a living, yet most of us neglect the most basic, essential, and valuable skill of all: the ability to feed ourselves. We depend almost totally on other people to provide the nourishment that keeps us alive.

When you ponder the implications—especially in an economy that seems to be hanging on by a thread—you can see it doesn’t make a lot of sense. For this reason and many others, I’d love to see more people commemorate Earth Day by vowing to experience firsthand the miracle of growing food.

Plenty of people dabble in gardening, of course. A survey by the Garden Writers Association revealed that 38 percent of Americans grew some of their own vegetables in 2009, a number that reflected a growing percentage of under-40s, many of whom dragged or coaxed their kids to get down and dirty, too. And apparently something like 37 percent of food gardeners aim to expand their gardens this year.

While these aren’t bad numbers, I would rather see that 38 percent reverse itself into 83 percent. Growing your own food brings with it a huge variety of benefits. Even if you discount the ever-more-plausible specter of economic collapse (more on this later), it’s hard to deny the gifts that gardening brings to your life:

1. It’s a source of fresh, delicious, wholesome food. Guess what most people list as their first and primary reason for growing some of their own food? That’s right: the food itself. Fresher, healthier, tastier—especially if it’s grown organically, without toxic chemicals—homegrown food is just closer to what food is supposed to be about. It doesn’t just keep you alive; it makes life worth living. And it keeps your body as happy as your taste buds.

What’s especially pleasing is that so many young people still have a taste for fresh and homegrown, for live and soil-born, hand-harvested and heirloom. Contrary to what modern taste mavens have written, the young haven’t all gone over to the artificial strawberry-flavored column.

2. It helps us get mo’ satisfaction. Seventy-one percent of young people, and at least that many older vegetable gardeners, spend hours on their hands and knees in proximity to earthworms and ants because they get some kind of satisfaction out of it. Part of that satisfaction is doubtless chalked up to tasty food and bragging rights. But a large part of it is owed to the ancient, unshakeable, bred-in-the-bone sense of competence and self-reliance that comes from providing for yourself and your loved ones and friends something that you and they absolutely need.

These are feelings most Americans have lost since they’ve come to depend on “the economy” to supply them with food. They are bone-deep feelings we share not just with those hearty, self-reliant colonial Americans we’re so proud to trace ourselves back to but also with the first humans that figured out that maybe if they left those apple seeds where they lay, maybe scuffed a little dirt over them or scattered a handful of those self-sown wheat seeds where the light and soil were better, why, darn, miracles would happen over which they had some control. On-demand food, 10,000 B.C.-style.

3. We’re up for downtime, and digging in the dirt supplies it in (pun alert!) spades. Gardening’s hard work. It takes concentration and focus. But for most Americans, the break from artificial lighting and air, plastic plants, a chair that may or may not be ergonomic, multitasking, 24/7/365 exposure to interruption, and other demands is more like a vacation than work. Sixty percent of the young vegetable gardeners in the Garden Writers Association survey said that’s why they gardened: It relaxed them.

When you’re in the garden, you’re working on plant and wind and sun and rain time, not clock time. If you let yourself be fully present to what the garden needs from you, you’re automatically attuned to Life’s more leisurely time frames, not the customary frenetic human ones.

4. It’s a spiritual thing. The original sacred texts of most of the great spiritual traditions begin in or refer to some sort of garden. Most of the world’s spiritual teachers have taught us how we should live in the world and with each other by using gardening metaphors and parables. So is it any wonder that for many, the garden, even one created in pots huddled on a patio on the fifteenth floor above an urban street, triggers a spontaneous, instinctive connection with that larger Life within which we have our lives and that ineffable Source of all that is, which makes new life arise out of something as unprepossessing as a seed?

Gardening makes us partners in the ongoing Creation. Like other forms of what feels like playing and praying at the same time, gardening is something that can be done alone. Its depths and pleasures are, however, amplified greatly by being shared.

Where I live in the Bible-belt south, it would be safe to say “the family that breaks clay together, stays together.”

5. It keeps us fit and healthy. Bend and stretch, bend and stretch. No doubt about it, gardening is one of the best ways to get and stay fit even before it offers up bounties of food that, if we eat them instead of what we pick up on the way home or have in a box in the cupboard or bag in the freezer, amplify fitness. Whole muscle groups you didn’t know you had get worked out at least seasonally in the process of digging, turning, hoeing, raking, sowing, weeding.

“Infamous twentieth century homesteader, vegetarian, and gardener Helen Nearing liked to say “gardening is an adult sport.” It’s also an aerobic and isotonic one. And, since she didn’t have children, she couldn’t have known that they take to gardening like doctors to golf courses, too.

6. And last—but certainly not least!—it might someday save your life. Here, without a doubt, is the most compelling reason of all to get proficient at growing your own food. As I explain in my book Life Rules, the entire global economy is too big not to fail. Dwindling resources, climate instability, skyrocketing prices, and other red flags point to a future in which the cheap, abundant, and readily available food we currently enjoy may no longer be there for us.

As hard as it is for most Americans to imagine, there may come a day when grocery store shelves are bare. If and when that day comes, the ability to grow your own food will no longer be a hobby but a survival skill.

Even if the worst doesn’t happen (I fervently hope we’ll get on top of our converging problems so that it doesn’t), a society that’s not disconnected from its food production is a healthier one in general. And when you consider how easy it really is to grow fruits and veggies—in backyards, on vacant lots, in community gardens, and in patio pots—there’s certainly no reason not to.

Gardening well takes skill, but seeds, soil, earthworms, more billions of soil microbes than you can count (if you don’t kill ’em with inorganic chemicals), rain, and sun do most of the work. The food is built into the seed and is called out of the seed by the other five. To take charge of our food supply again, we just need 83 instead of 38 percent of Americans to bring seeds into contact with them, love ’em a little, and wait.

Sounds like a good way to get up close and personal with our particular places on Earth this April 22.

New GDPR Production Premiering: Grateful Dread’s Potpourri

Every Thursday at 9am and Sunday at 11pm Eastern time, join us for GRATEFUL DREAD’S POTPOURRI, an hour-long foray into progressive news, activism info, and music that you won’t find in mainstream media. Our inaugural episode premieres tomorrow, April 7 at 9am during AM Chai… It includes an interview with Baltimore-based sound artist WOODY LISSAUER, whose newest LP, Adventures and Misadventures in Loveland is a treasure! Woody will perform April 8 at New York’s Cafe Vivaldi and April 9 at Cafe Cielo. Listen and hear what this gifted, innovative artist has to say through words and music.

Again, don’t miss GRATEFUL DREAD’S POTPOURRI each and every Thursday morning and Sunday night on Grateful Dread Public Radio, the progressive-peace radio voice of Summit, NJ. In fact, listen now!


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The staff of Grateful Dread Peace Media and Summit Peace wish you and yours the happiest of times. May your winter holiday celebrations be filled with light and love, with joy and peace. And may the new year bring us all good times with family and friends, prosperity and positivity, and opportunities to help make the world a better place.

Thanks for your support now and in the past. We hope we can count on it in the future. Trust, you can count on us.

In honor of the season, GDPR will air kynd holiday music beginning at 1pm Eastern on Christmas Eve and ending at midnight Christmas Day. Enjoy!

Gay E-Marriage Annulled: Wedding Couple Disappointed and Fearful


dot429 EXCLUSIVE by Xiaolu Ning – Reprinted with permission

When Mark Reed and Dante Walkup celebrated their wedding in an e-marriage  ceremony on October 10, 2010, they thought they had uncovered a loophole in the laws that prohibit gay marriage. The ceremony, officiated by Washington, D.C. Reverend Sheila Alexander-Reid over Skype, took place in Texas and included over 80 guests.

Reed and Walkup had spent months researching the legality of an online marriage.  Last year, they discovered a D.C. law dictating that only the officiant—and not the wedding party—is required to be present in D.C. during the solemnization of the ceremony.  According to Reed, he and his partner filed for marriage and planned their wedding after they had verified this stipulation with D.C. court authorities.

The couple was shocked when they received a letter from a D.C. court last week informing them that while gay marriage is legal in D.C., their marriage was not because they had not been physically present in D.C. during the wedding.  “We were stunned because the court had annulled our marriage without contacting us or our officiant,” Reed says.  “There was a total lack of due process of law.”
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JD Souther Visits Nearby Chatham

JD Souther

What a gorgeous early-Autumn night it was: Skies were clear, unseasonably high temperatures had mellowed, and a packed house at the Presbyterian Church of Chatham, NJ, was in place, anticipating a memorable performance by legendary singer-songwriter John David Souther. We were at an installment of the Sanctuary Concerts, a collection of shows featuring notables from the folk-country-Americana world. And on this night, spirits were high as we waited to see and hear the award-winning Detroit-born, Texas-raised artist, who made his mark as one of the pioneers of the Southern California/Laurel Canyon country-rock sound.

When the lights dimmed for the first time — the concert took place in the actual sanctuary beneath a huge white cross — we were treated to a performance by Judy Collins protégé Amy Speace. The Baltimore native, who spent six years honing her craft on the folk circuit while living in New Jersey and now resides in Nashville, was a revelation. A Sanctuary Concerts favorite, Speace is blessed with a multi-octave vocal range, great personality, and true lyrical insight. She favored us with self-penned highlights from her 2009 release The Killer in Me plus other sonic gems. Speace also displayed a quick, entertaining wit. She was a great opener and I look forward to seeing her again (you can hear her music on GDPR). Amy Speace is a major talent on the rise. Do check out her music and look for a new album, which is due for release in March 2011.

After the ubiquitous folkie intermission featuring coffee and cookies, the main event began: JD Souther appeared in a brown suit and tie looking fit, trim, and handsome alongside pianist Chris Walters, who provided beautiful accompaniment to the songwriter’s guitar. Souther, charismatic, charming (dare I say seductive?), and surprisingly chatty, started off with an apology for being a wee bit late, thanks to Jersey traffic. The annoyance allowed him, he joked, to learn a “new” song, which he shared with us: the classic Fats Waller tune, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Souther and Walters presented the standard in a stripped-down fashion that elegantly framed the singer’s smoothly weathered and soulful tenor. It made for a great beginning.

Souther played other covers too — “Bye, Bye Blackbird” and the mighty Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” — but the real treat was hearing his own classic compositions (among them, “Simple Man, Simple Dream”; an Afro-Cuban flavored “Banging My Head Against the Moon”; and the irresistible “White Rhythm and Blues”); hits he penned for The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and others (the gut-wrenching “Faithless Love”; “Sad Cafe”; “Heartache Tonight”); and selections from his latest, the jazz-influenced If the World Was You: “I’ll Be Here at Closing Time”; “Journey Down the Nile”; the stunning and sensual “The Secret Handshake of Fate.”

He did not do what I consider his modern classic, “I Just Want to Hold You Tonight.” Early in the set, an audience member shouted out a request, “Silver Blue,” a wonderful piece from Souther’s stellar and underappreciated 1976 LP Black Rose. The artist complied, but said from the stage that requests meant a shorter show. I wonder… In any case, his rendition of “Silver Blue” was magical, with lovely interplay between Souther and Walters, so we can forgive.

Next came a song Souther co-wrote for The Eagles, a poignant version of “New Kid in Town” that gained new luster from his guitar, which sounded like a resonator. Its shimmering addition made the performance (to this biased spectator) superior to the version played by Henley, Frey, & Co. Then again, I believe firmly that John David Souther is and always has been way cooler than The Eagles.

Naturally, the encore included his big hit, the Orbison-like “You’re Only Lonely.” I half-expected to hear the story he often tells regarding the tune (which he wrote for Ronstadt years before he recorded it), but Souther told another tale that surprised me: Knowledgeable fans know that “Lonely” came about when studio guitarist Waddy Wachtel begged John David to come up with a surefire hit record for the LP under production. Souther had the song, but couldn’t come up with a third verse; Wachtel advised him to repeat the first. Boom — Souther’s first hit for himself. (The song went to  number one on Billboard’s adult contemporary chart, peaked at a still-impressive number seven on the pop ranking, and even made the top country singles chart.)

But JD revealed more with this telling of the tale: Originally, the title for the 1979 LP, ultimately called You’re Only Lonely, was to be the name of “another song” that Columbia Records nixed as the album’s title for fear it would be considered racist. (The song, which he did not name at the time, was “White Rhythm and Blues.” If you know the song — and several artists, including Ronstadt, have recorded it, but Souther’s version is the definitive one — you know the record execs had their heads where the sun doesn’t shine.)

What a charmer John David Souther is. And apparently, like me, he enjoys the color purple. After the show, I had an opportunity to chat with (and be charmed thoroughly by) John David, and, noting that the song in question had to be “White Rhythm and Blues,” asked him again about  the stupidity of the Columbia suits. “Oh yeah, that’s the song, and this is an absolutely true story. They really thought someone would consider it racist,” he said, his eyes widening at the outrageous memory.

“Shows they didn’t even listen to it,” I said.

“Shows they didn’t know me,” JD added, sounding indignant all these years later. “I mean, racist? Give me a break. Half my band wouldn’t be called ‘white.’ My girlfriend at the time was Chinese. I mean, they didn’t get the song — or me — at all.”

I’d say “their loss,” but the album was a hit for Columbia.

In the end, though, the Sanctuary Concerts audience understood the song, and the assembled certainly appreciated the artist that was and is John David Souther.  I told him he needs to get to Jersey more often. He replied that he really likes the state and indicated that his spending more time in New Jersey just might happen.  A girl can dream.

Hat tip to my new bud Michael Laurio for the photo of John David and me.

Target May Not Be a True Friend to LGBTs… But Is MoveOn?

I’ve been wary about MoveOn, the liberal behemoth activist network, for a very long time. A look at the group’s annual members’ polls explains why: Issues surrounding gay equality are consistently considered a low priority in the hearts and minds of most of the (mostly mainstream and definitely not what we think of as “progressive”) MoveOn faithful.

Most recently, the 2009 polling shows MoveOn members’ priorities:


1. Universal health care 64.9%
2. Economic recovery and job creation 62.1%
3. Build a green economy, stop climate change 49.6%
4. End the war in Iraq 48.3%
5. Improve public schools 21.6%
6. Restore civil liberties 16.8%
7. Hold the Bush Administration accountable 15.2%
8. Gay rights/LGBT equality 8.6%
9. Increase access to higher education 7.6%
10. Reform campaigns and elections 5.7%

Let me reiterate:  Only 8.6 percent of MoveOn’s membership considers equality a priority.  Boo, MoveOn members!

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