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Jason Crane Posts

POEM: Reggae Shack

In 1999, Jen and I lived just over the bridge from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I played in a dance club on the island, and Jen taught ESL. There was a guy who frequented our club, and who was known to just about everyone who knew the island. He was your typical working-class islander, living the beach life to the best of his ability. He was a big reggae fan, and one morning, in the small hours, we was found dead outside a little reggae hideaway near the beach. This is his poem.

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Reggae Shack
by Jason Crane

2 a.m.

Waves examine the sand, retreat.
A bird nestles its head
into wings.

The air holds a final sigh,
a letting out of breath from
tired lungs,

the gritty sound
of reggae on worn vinyl
from a wooden shack
nestled in the trees
only a few feet away.

Bright smiles on black faces,
sweat on glasses of unlicensed beer.

Voices ease past the half-open door;
slip, unconcerned, into water.

Again, the waves glance at the sand;
the bird looks up, startled
by a dull wooden sound.

A head lolls against the tabletop —
spent, unknowing, spirit released.

He is found alone;
arms splayed out in
supplication, or exhaustion.

(July 1999)

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POEM: Aidan Arrives

Our neighbors recently had a baby boy. This is the poem I wrote on the day he came home from the hospital.

Aidan Arrives
by Jason Crane

Sunday morning —
Sweet soul music,
Archie Bell and the Drells
Can’t stop dancing
While I sweep locust leaves
Off our porch.

Then it’s Marvin Gaye with a
Soul sacrament, his own
Worship of the joined human form,
While I fill the recycling bin and pick up
The kids’ rockets and bouncy balls.

Across the street, a ceramic pelican
Heralds the arrival of a new
Baby boy
Who comes home from the hospital today.

The Stylistics sing a backdrop to
Dog walkers, leaf rakers,
And two brothers chasing each other
With a bright orange butterfly net.

Our rope swing sways in an autumn breeze
As the little one starts crying,
Not wanting to come inside.

Then a red Jeep rolls to a stop
From a speed so low that the brakes
Are barely needed.

The neighborhood is instantly alert.
A silent signal —
And the boys screaming “The baby!” —
Brings everyone from their houses.

A dad (!) takes his first steps
Onto a driveway filled with new
Dangers and joys.

His wife slowly emerges from the passenger seat,
One hand on her lower back as she
Leans against the Jeep for support.
A circle of eager children is
Held at bay
By cautious parents.

A boon is granted —
A glimpse of tiny new life
Nestled in blankets,
All but covered by a striped hat.

Young Mr. Magoo has come home.

They slip past the pirate and the ghost
Suspended from the porch
In preparation for Halloween.

The door closes,
And the street lets out its breath.

(October 2008)

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Return to Five Rivers

Earlier this year, we camped at Five Rivers nature center near Albany. In late September, we went back there for a hike:

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White Privilege

I used to read Tim Wise all the time, and then somehow lost touch with his work. I’m so glad this was forwarded to me by my mom and my friend Julie and others. It’s worth a read. Tim has also written a follow-up piece.

This Is Your Nation On White Privilege
By Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”


White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office–since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s–while if you’re black and believe in reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), you’re a dangerous and mushy liberal who isn’t fit to safeguard American institutions.


White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.


White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.


White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do–like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor–and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives near Russia, you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.


White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”


White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.


White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose “next door neighbor” qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you’re a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you’re irresponsibly exploiting them.

White privilege is being able to give a 36-minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.


White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.


White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and Harvard Business School (George W. Bush), and still be seen as an “average guy,” while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then Harvard Law, makes you “uppity” and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.), and that’s OK, and you’re still cut out to be president, but if you’re black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can’t be trusted to make good decisions in office.

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she’s disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you then go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you’re black and married for nearly 20 years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called “terrorist fist bumps.”

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you may have sold drugs at some point.

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you dangerously naive and immature.

White privilege is being able to say that you hate “gooks” and “will always hate them,” and yet, you aren’t a racist because, ya know, you were a POW, so you’re entitled to your hatred, while being black and noting that black anger about racism is understandable, given the history of your country, makes you a dangerous bigot.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the “lesser adversities” faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain…


White privilege is, in short, the problem.

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Late summer in Albany

Here are two slideshows from the past couple weeks.

Late Summer In Albany, Part 1:

Late Summer In Albany, Part 2:

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Dorothy Flanders (1916-2008)

My grandmother, Dorothy Flanders, died yesterday morning at the age of 92. I’ll write more soon, but here is her obituary:

Dorothy Flanders

Dorothy Flanders Beloved wife, mother, grandmother CANANDAIGUA – Dorothy M. Flanders, age 92, died Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008, at M.M. Ewing Continuing Care Center in Canandaigua. She is survived by her husband of 68 years, Bernard J. Flanders of Canandaigua; two daughters, Linda Jacquot of Dresden and Sally (David) Gustavson of Canandaigua; five grandchildren, Tamara Jacquot of Dresden, N.Y., Todd Jacquot of Arizona, Jason (Jennifer) Crane of Albany, N.Y., Gretchen Gustavson of Chili and Dana Cordice of Canandaigua; three great-grandchildren, Sarah Jacquot and Bernard and John Crane; and nieces, Denise (John) Breen of Kentucky and Jill Sohl of Maryland. Mrs. Flanders and her husband moved to Canandaigua from Arizona in 2000. There will be no calling hours. Services are private. Interment will be in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Pittsfield, Mass. Memorial contributions may be made for M.M. Ewing Continuing Care Center to F.F. Thompson Foundation, 350 Parrish St., Canandaigua, NY 14424. Arrangements are by Johnson-Kennedy Funeral Home Inc., Canandaigua.

I miss you, Grandma.

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The Family, 2002
Front, left to right: Bernie Crane, Sally Gustavson, Tamara Jacquot
Middle: Jason Crane, Bernie Flanders, Dorothy Flanders
Rear: Gretchen Gustavson, Linda Jacquot, Jennifer Crane, Dave Gustavson

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Dorothy and Bernie Flanders, married for 68 years

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POEM: For Henry Grimes

For Henry Grimes

Henry sits
in a plastic chair on
the balcony,
drinking water and watching
the lake.
Below the surface,
roiling motion.
Outside,
reflected sky.

Henry waits
to be surprised,
never knowing where
this note — here —
will take him.
Sometimes
he doesn’t find his way back
for a long time.

Henry talks
with his hands,
plucking and bowing his message,
going to the ritual and
inviting all to follow.

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This week’s “All Things Crane” update — 12 September 2008

The Jazz Session

I posted three new episodes of The Jazz Session this week:

All About Jazz

All About Jazz published my interview with saxophonist Donny McCaslin and my coverage of the 2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival.

Other news

And today, I hung out with my good friend, trumpeter Satoru Ohashi, for the first time in years. Satoru is in Troy tonight with Tony Clifton and His Katrina Kiss My Ass Orchestra for a performance at Revolution Hall.

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Returning to JasonCrane.org

Howdy, friends.

For a long time now, this site has had a static front page directing you to other places. However, JasonCrane.org is still the first thing that comes up when you Google my name (not that I have, of course, but that’s what people tell me). And there are some things that happen to me that don’t fit at The Jazz Session or RocBike.com.

So I’ve decided to start posting here again, and to also use this site to aggregate my work from other places.

And then, in a couple months, I’ll give up again.

Cool?

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Article — Bobby Sanabria: Afro-Cuban Storyteller


My latest article for All About Jazz is an interview with percussionist and educator Bobby Sanabria:

Bobby Sanabria is a living museum of Afro-Cuban music. Sanabria is a percussionist, drummer and educator who is at the forefront of Afro-Cuban music—particularly the frontier where it intersects with jazz. In 2007, Sanabria released Big Band Urban Folktales (Jazzheads, 2007), an album he says takes the music “beyond the 21st century.” Jason Crane, AAJ contributor and host of The Jazz Session, sat down with Sanabria in May 2007 to talk about the history of Afro-Cuban music, Sanabria’s own career, and “The Ugliest Man In America.”

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Domino T. Cat (1995-2008)

I’m very sorry to report the passing of our cat, Domino. She’s been living with me in Albany for the past several weeks, and I came home tonight to find her in the den, no longer living.

Jen and I got her from the Hermitage Cat Shelter in Tucson, AZ, in 1995. She was 6 months old when we got her, and she’d been left in a box in the desert with her sister; left there to die. Luckily, she and her sister were rescued and adopted.

Since then, Domino has traveled with us to Pennsylvania, Japan, South Carolina, New York City, New Hampshire, Rochester and Albany. She had a very happy seven years or so, particularly in Japan, where the fish were fresh and plentiful. Those years of relative bliss were followed by The Child Years, of which she was less than fond. In recent months, she’d been sick, losing a lot of weight and lot of hair. She’d made a nearly full recovery, however, since moving to Albany with me.

She was a strange pet. Aloof, not too fond of humans. Many of our friends went years without knowing we even had a cat. She was always attached to Jen and me, though, and was our practice child before the real things came along.

So raise a glass to Domino. A good cat who led a happy life and who will be fondly remembered.

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