Bessie Smith, Hideous Umbrellas…..and Look Out For Monday!

Still sick as a dog, folks, so I’m letting Bessie take over for me today.  Found this gem through the James Baldwin essay I mentioned Wednesday.  Just amazing.  I love the way she draws out her first “You can’t trust Noooooooo-body/ You might as well be alone.”

LONG OLD ROAD Bessie Smith 1931 Bessie Smith rec June 11th 1931 New York It's a long old road, but I'm gonna find the end, It's a long old road, but I'm gonna find the end, And when I get there, I'm gonna shake hands with a friend. On the side of the road,I sat underneath a tree, On the side of the road,I sat underneath a tree, Nobody knows a thought that came over me. Weepin' and cryin', tears fallin'on the ground, Weepin' and cryin', tears fallin'on the ground, When I got to the end, I was so worried down. Picked up my bag, baby, and I tried again, Picked up my bag, baby, and I tried again, I got to make it, I've got to find the end! You can't trust nobody, you might as well be alone, You can't trust nobody, you might as well be alone, Found my long lost friend, and I might as well stayed at home! [Lyrics from] (Contributed by Peter Akers - May 2009)

Speaking of the blues, in a way: have you ever had a very hideous umbrella?  Not as a backup in the closet but I mean like your main public umbrella.  Currently I’m saddled with one.  i can imagine equally ugly models, but none uglier.  it’s large and striped like a circus tent, yellow and white.  the yellow isn’t a pretty saffron or gold, but like this really awful chemical lemon-drop yellow.  the fabric is also torn off the spokes in one or two places.  anyway, the reason i bring this up is that thursday morning i had a revelation about my very hideous public umbrella.  before now, the two qualities counting in its favor were (a) that it was free, and a gift from my dad: i think he gave it to me one day when i was unprotected; and (b) that it is big: i think it was originally a golf umbrella, possibly one of the freebies they give you at the end of a swanky tournament (but not too swanky, i guess, since this one doesn’t have any sort of country club logo printed on it).

Random ugly umbrella on flickr; mine not shown. Would you be able to lose this? Didn't think so.

yesterday, however, i realized that the ugliness itself is also an advantage.  because, like so many of us, i’ve lost uncountable umbrellas in my lifetime.  uncountable.  small, shitty ones; big, precious ones.  but this guy i’ve hung onto longer than usual.  why?  precisely because i’m embarrassed about its hideousness.  wherever i go, when i set my huge, janky, chemical lemon-drop umbrella on the floor, i remain mildly self-conscious about it the whole time.  so i never forget to bring it with me when i leave.

has the Hideous Umbrella CurseBlessing ever happened to you?  what do you think of my theory?




Finally, I leave you on an exciting note about fresh news to come on Monday: I’ll be reporting back from the first action of the new East Bay Solidarity Network that I helped to start up with four friends.  We’re taking on a case of a comrade of ours who was unscrupulously fired from his live-in job, and summarily kicked out into homelessness.  Next week, the fightback begins!  I can’t share more details now because the action has to be a secret reveal, but I am suuuuper pumped about getting this production rolling.  Already the organizing feels so solid and healthy with this quality team, based on the excellent, proven “recipe” for solidarity networks that comes out of the Seattle Solidarity Network, or SeaSol.  It’s compassionate action with people power to back it up.  I’m about to learn a TON through this project, and can’t wait to share it with y’all as it unfolds.

SeaSol logo, links to nifty web site

One note: since EBSol needs to get some more groundwork in place before our grand opening in mid-April, we’re not yet having open invitations to meetings or actions.  But we will in a couple of weeks!  So if you’re in the East Bay and want to help neighbors win stuggles against bosses and landlords, definitely hit me up and we’ll get you into our contact list!

love, solidarity, and no hugs for the moment due to unending nasal drippery,


2 thoughts on “Bessie Smith, Hideous Umbrellas…..and Look Out For Monday!

  1. Roger March 25, 2011 / 5:42 pm

    I like your ugly umbrella theory-it makes great sense as to why you have kept it for so long. But I can’t quite grasp being embarrassed about an umbrella? It is like feeling shabby because your steel toed work boots aren’t very chic, y’know. Bumbershoots are just so utilitarian.
    Anyway, I hope your nose stops dripping soon.

  2. nathan March 25, 2011 / 5:57 pm

    get well soon.

    that is quite a wacky umbrella there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s