Dr. Martin Luther King’s Inspiring Street Sweeper Speeches (Audio)

One recurring theme in many of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s speeches that always inspires involves the job of street sweeper as a parable for self-fulfillment. I’ve always admired Dr. King’s ability to affect not just churchgoers or civil rights activists but humans of all kinds, secular and otherwise, and the “street sweeper” element and its metaphorical allusions to the arts is my favorite example of this.

…[E]ven if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry…

This sentiment is reminiscent of the anonymously-penned poems, “Be the Best of Whatever You Are,” (often attributed to Douglas Malloch) which Dr. King cites in the sermon. In my searches tonight reflecting on Dr. King, I really appreciated how he introduced the street sweeper at the 50th anniversary of Alpha Phi Alpha in Buffalo, 1957 – “The Birth of a New Age.” A great blueprint for any commencement speech.

“We need more people who are competent in all areas and always remember that the important thing is to do a good job. No matter what it is. Whatever you are doing consider it as something having cosmic significance, as it is a part of the uplifting of humanity. No matter what it is, no matter how small you think it is, do it right. As someone said, do it so well that the living, dead, or the unborn could do it no better.

More and more multimedia from Dr. King’s sermons and speeches in the ’50s and 60s continues to crop up and it’s sometimes stunning how much more impact the words have when spoken by the reverend himself as opposed to reads on the written page or website.

I could not find the Buffalo ’57 audio, however I came across audio of a King speech that includes the street sweeper riff in the King Institute archives at Stanford. This 3.5-minute clip was taken from the full “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life” sermon delivered at New Covenant Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, on 9 April 1967. Another recently web-published sermon of note is this one from Temple Israel, a Jewish synagogue in Hollywood from 1965 which popped up a few years ago.

In addition to the King Institute archives, find more audio of Dr. King’s speeches here, here, and here.

RIP Ron Santo, Cubs Legend

I’d often wince at the thought of Ron Santo leaving us in the middle of a Cubs Mets game at New York, in one of the late innings when Carlos Marmol or [fill-in-the-blank] inevitably loads the basis before retiring the side and saving the game.

Obviously this would not be an ideal situation and certainly was not what I hoped for. But it came as quite a disappointment when I heard, early this morning, that Santo passed from complications from a recurrence of bladder cancer at age 70.

I really thought he’d be around to see the Cubs finally win it all. Of course I imagine a Cubs championship as a likelihood every spring, only to have my heartbroken by August and inevitably lose interest in baseball altogether by the time the Wrigley Field ivy starts turning colors. But there were definitely a few seasons over the past decade in which I had a pretty-to-really good feeling that it was going to happen.

Santo raised more than $50 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund through his annual Walk for the Cure and other charitable activities. Every time a Cubs player was issued a base on balls, Santo took the opportunity to advocate for JDRF, thanks to a partnership in which Walgreens donated $100 to JDRF for every Cubs walk.

So let’s show some appreciation and thanks to #10, one of the greatest Cubs of all time, and see if we can raise 10 grand for JDRF in the name of Ron Santo over the next ten days. It’s as simple as filling in the box below or you can visit: http://www.razoo.com/story/Donate-To-Jdrf-In-Memory-Of-Ron-Santo.

Continue reading “RIP Ron Santo, Cubs Legend”

From the Archives: Chicago Jazz Scene, Turn of the Century

poster from 2nd Jazz and Improvised fest at Empty Bottle Chicago 1998It’s often dawned on me that my early scribblings on the web may someday disappear without a trace yet I continuously forget to archive said posts — for posterity if nothing else. Well today I listened to this blistering set from last week’s Newport Jazz Festival and was transported to ten years ago, Empty Bottle, Tuesday night Vandermark Five sessions and the frenetic rhythm from the band set up living room style disrupting the magic in the air. Love how that sound pumps through my veins and so does the rest of the world.

Ken Vandermark continues blazing trails across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East while basing himself in Chicago with many of the same cats. I keep up with Ken via his daily Twitter and Facebook updates which highlight the daily undertakings of a creative troubadour in brief, diary-like entries. I still subscribe to the chi-improv Yahoo! group for sentiment. Little has changed in Chicago I imagine — although my visits are too rare. (Save for the tragic death of Malachi Ritscher and the recent passing of Fred Anderson). Still a few active venues and occasional improv backrooms shifted throughout the town and Peter Brötzmann, Ab Baars and the finest European improvisers still come over almost every year and the Chicago contingent of the Tentet visits Europe at least once a year.

Thanks to NPR for recording this set by Vandermark’s Powerhouse Sound combo and making it available for download, you can listen to it right here.

Powerhouse Sound features Vandermark on reeds with longtime collaborator Nate McBride on electric bass; Jeff Parker, guitar and John Herndon, drums – both of whom are known for their work with Tortoise.

Below, three articles I wrote in 1998 for Centerstage.net relating to the Chicago Jazz scene. Still buried in some closet — minidiscs of interviews that I conducted with several of the players for a piece I never completed. There’s a nice long interview with Fred Anderson there and hopefully i’ll find it and when I do I’ll post it for all to share.

Poster above by Dan Grzeca via this webpage Continue reading “From the Archives: Chicago Jazz Scene, Turn of the Century”