Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “punk music”

We’ll Never Have That Receipe…Ever – Donna Summer RIP

Earlier this month, Donna Summer passed away, may she rest in peace. I was never into the disco scene; rather I saw it as a (generally unsuccessful) opportunity to pick up a member of the opposite sex. Compared to today’s analytical on-line dating, what we did in the 70’s and 80’s seems practically cave man.

Disco music often seemed superficial as though it’s sole aim was to get you strutting your funky stuff out on the discothèque floor. Coming from a guy who was headbanging to Led Zeppelin and Rainbow, or trying to find his place in the punk music of the day (Boomtown Rats anyone?), I admit this is somewhat ironic at best.

But there was one Donna Summer song that resonated with me as I left England, the country where I was born and had grown up. It occasionally rains in England and this song offered a finality that has stuck with me in everything to do with my birthplace (family and soccer apart, of course).

I really don’t know much about Donna Summer and resisted lifting snippets of other people’s articles on her life and personality. Ms. Summer gave me a gift that traveled with me through three decades and three continents. MacArthur Park resides in my all-time Top Ten. For that reason alone, I want to take a moment and honor her life.

Donna Summer – R.I.P 1948-2012.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Sir Punk Rocker

Bob Geldof is/was a hero of mine. It is not often that Her Majesty knights a punk rocker who freely swore on TV (when it was not okay to do so), who wore his heart on his sleeve, called it as he saw it, and never flinched from courting controversy.

The Boomtown Rats were my favorite band in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. One hot English summer, the youth were incarcerated by the sound of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John crooning Summer Nights at each other every night at 5.50pm as they stood at No. 1 in Capital Radio’s daily Top Ten. And then there was Rat Trap, crawling up the charts and it was, I believe, on a Thursday that Rat Trap reached No. 2.

London held its collective breath (wildly embellished from a then 14-year-old’s memory) and that Friday, Capital Radio boasted record listening statistics as at 5.45pm, whatever song had reached No. 3 finished and whoever had obliviously booked that advertisement slot months before enjoyed unexpected exposure.

Then the DJ announced: “After six Weeks at No.1, their reign is over.” London (well, at least me and my mates) cheered even if we couldn’t text each other or update our Facebook statuses. Five minutes later, the Boomtown Rats had arrived.

But it takes more than displacing John Travolta to earn a knighthood. Even the most stodgy Brits nodded in approval as six years later Bob Geldof galvanized the music world with the Live Aid concerts.

For the next 25 years, Geldof has led the activist charge to relieve the massive debt in Africa. He has never shied from controversy or let politics get in his way. When George Bush publicly stated he was willing to fight AIDS in Africa, Geldof embraced him.

Bob Geldof is not a model of chivalry or the kind of gentleman that one conjures up an image of a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, on his knee, head bowed as Her Majesty nobly swings her sword. In the music world of cheap commercial popularism, he never embraced the grovelling need for marketable acceptance.

But Bob Geldof is a relentless activist, a showbiz man who kept it real, and kept it real for many others in the celebrity world and on the street. So what if he used profanity on T.V. in the middle of the Band Aid concerts, it shamed people into reaching into their wallets and answering the call of a desperate nation.

Bob Geldof has saved millions of lives. He has often single-handedly led a charge for a desperate and forgotten part of our world. He has woken many of us up and released us from our own Rat Trap …

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

Valentines Day – Most Romantic Song

It is thirty years since this song came out. Hazel O’Connor was part of the UK Punk music scene. Though I never spiked my hair, I loved the edgy pulse that ran through Punk culture. It was a good time to be growing up in London. Breaking Glass is an absolute classic album, as was the movie.

So, you are wondering, punk music + romantic Valentines Day = ? Just trust me, watch and listen. And if you can do that with someone special next to you, all the better.

And while I’m here, this is dedicated to my special Valentine – 15 years together and it just keeps on getting better.

If you can’t see the video, click here.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com

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