Tag Archives: Innovation
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the death of legendary saxophonist Charlie “Yardbird” Parker who died on March 12, 1955. Bird lives on in the musicians he influenced from bebop to hip-hop.
In June, Opera Philadelphia will present the world premiere of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.
As luck would have it, the first performance will be on June 5th. On June 5, 1945, the Dizzy Gillespie Quartet, featuring Charlie Parker, played the Academy of Music. Seated in the next-to-last row was John Coltrane who was seeing Bird for the first time. Coltrane later said:
The first time I heard Bird play, it hit me right between the eyes.
These are the kinds of stories we will share at All That Philly Jazz — a virtual jazz scene — which will be launched on Friday at the March convening of Open Access Philly. The event is free and open to the public. To register, go here.
For most folks, Philadelphia’s jazz heritage begins and ends with John Coltrane. To be sure, Coltrane is a giant part of the story. But as James G. Spady wrote in “Lost Jazz Shrines”:
Conversations with pioneers of the jazz community in Philadelphia reveal the city’s illustrious yet largely undocumented jazz history.
We’re working on an app for that. All That Philly Jazz is mapping Philly’s jazz heritage from bebop to hip-hop.
From Dizzy Gillespie at the Downbeat to The Roots mural on South Street, we are breathing life into legendary jazz spots like Union Local 274 (Clef Club), Pep’s, Showboat, Aqua Lounge, Watts Zanzibar, Café Holiday, Geno’s Empty Foxhole and the Red Rooster.
Sadly, few physical assets remain. Jazz spots fell victim to race riots and urban renewal. As a result, the history largely resides in the memories of those who were there. So to preserve the legacy for future generations, All That Philly Jazz is crowdsourced. As we build out the interactive map, we have created a placeholder website where community members and folks anywhere in the world can share their stories, photos and videos of the jazz scene back in the day.
I’m making a presentation on this citizen-led project at the third annual Fast Forward Philly, a DesignPhiladelphia festival event. DesignPhiladelphia is the oldest and largest design festival in the country.
I will answer the question: What’s next for Philly? To get involved with All That Philly Jazz, contact us.
On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department is launching a new initiative to collect data about stops, searches and arrests in an effort to “reduce tensions between law enforcement and minority communities.” Holder said:
This overrepresentation of young men of color in our criminal justice system is a problem we must confront—not only as an issue of individual responsibility but also as one of fundamental fairness, and as an issue of effective law enforcement. Racial disparities contribute to tension in our nation generally and within communities of color specifically, and tend to breed resentment towards law enforcement that is counterproductive to the goal of reducing crime.
Recent incidents of racial profiling have exacerbated tensions between Philly police officers and minority communities.
On Jan. 7, 2014, Darrin Manning, a 16-year-old honor student from a good family, was minding his own business. On a record cold day in Philadelphia, he was wearing a hoodie on his way to play in his school’s basketball game. That was enough for a Philadelphia police officer to stop him for “acting suspiciously.” Less than 24 hours after the illegal investigatory stop and violent pat down by a white female officer, Darrin underwent emergency surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Fast forward three months. Philippe Holland, a 20-year-old black man from a good family, is in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after two plainclothes police officers fired 14 shots into his car. Three of the bullets hit him. Holland is a pizza delivery man who was on his second job when he was shot. This hard-working man may lose an eye because two Philly cops deemed a black man wearing a hoodie with his hands in his pockets is acting suspiciously.
The two illegal stops run amok, coupled with the decision not to prosecute rogue Philly cops caught on camera, have sparked outrage.
A Philly.com reader, Willphill1, commented:
Reminiscent of the Frank Rizzo regime, he must be smiling from the grave. Just another gang of thugs with no regard for the law and rights of citizens they are sworn and paid to uphold… ‘Tainted justice’? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The cops are shooting innocent people in the streets like animals. That pizza delivery guy didn’t choose to be in that neighborhood at that hour. It was his job. He was just trying to get home to his family. The fact that an innocent man with not even a traffic warrant ran for his life in that situation definitely indicates that there was something seriously wrong in the way they approached him. In his trying to protect his life they shot him down like a dog. It has to stop. Truly the worst of times have arrived when law-abiding citizens need protection from so-called ‘law enforcement.’
Indeed, from former Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo to current Commissioner Ramsey Charles, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
The new National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice should collect data about Philadelphia, where it’s always Groundhog Day. In 1979, the Justice Department accused then-Mayor Frank Rizzo of “condoning policies to commit random beatings, unjustified shootings and other flagrant civil rights violations.” The lawsuit noted the victims of police misconduct were overwhelmingly black or Hispanic.
But we don’t have to wait on the feds to hold officials, including the next mayor, accountable. Philadelphia Daily News columnist Will Bunch recently wrote:
Ask the men and women who want to be Philadelphia’s next mayor after Nutter leaves office in 2015 what they will do to change the current system where so few allegations of police misconduct stick (remember this guy) and the end result is so often that the officer accused of wrongdoing gets his job back with back overtime pay (what is that, even?).
Sure, we can complain but to have an impact we must do something. So with a hat tip to the New York Police Department, we will use #myPhillyPD to tell the story of the Philadelphia Police Department’s pattern or practice of racial bias in law enforcement. The crowdsourced interactive map will help citizens hold officials accountable for their failure to end the culture of corruption that taints Philly police officers and breeds resentment and distrust in communities of color.
To get involved, post a photo to Twitter with the hashtag #myPhillyPD. Not on Twitter? No problem. Go to http://bit.ly/myPhillyPD and upload your photos.
To stay informed, follow us on Twitter: @myPhillyPD.
Jazz Appreciation Month is in full swing. On Saturday, the joints were jumping in Center City Philadelphia.
While I love jazz, I live for the blues. I don’t remember a time in my life when the blues didn’t touch me to my core.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Jimmy McGriff’s Hammond B-3 organ fueled my imagination. So it was awesome to discover McGriff perfected his craft in organ joints in West Philly.
The blues is the prism through which I view the world. The musical genre shaped my self-image and my expectations about male-female relationships. It captured my joy. When that joy turned to pain, “I cried like a baby.” But guess what? “Everything is really all right.”
The blues is more than a feeling. It’s a state of mind. Since we were “brought over on a ship,” blues has been our sanctuary.
From slaves working in the field to the civil rights movement, blues has been at the center of African Americans’ struggle for equal rights and social justice. In the 1960s, Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road, Jack” and “Lonely Avenue” were repurposed as freedom songs, “Get Your Rights, Jack” and “Fighting for My Rights.”
For me, it’s about more than 12-bar blues. Instead, it’s about raising the bar and empowering ordinary people to make a difference. Indeed, the blues has powered my lifelong activism.
In February 2012, President Barack Obama hosted PBS’s In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues . In his remarks, Obama noted:
This is music with humble beginnings, roots in slavery and segregation, a society that rarely treated black Americans with the dignity and respect that they deserved. The blues bore witness to these hard times. And like so many of the men and women who sang them, the blues refused to be limited by the circumstances of their birth.
The music migrated north—from Mississippi Delta to Memphis to my hometown in Chicago. It helped lay the foundation for rock and roll and R&B and hip-hop. It inspired artists and audiences around the world. And as tonight’s performers will demonstrate, the blues continue to draw a crowd. Because this music speaks to something universal. No one goes through life without both joy and pain, triumph and sorrow. The blues gets all of that, sometimes with just one lyric or one note.
In an interview with Bill Moyers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, similarly observed:
Blacks learned how to sing the blues rather than just giving up on life. A guy’s wife walks out on him with his best friend. And he’s crushed. So what does he say? Instead of going out and taking a gun and killing he sings a song “I’m going down to the railroad to lay my poor head on the track. I’m going down to the railroad to lay my poor head on the track. And when the locomotive comes I’m gonna pull my fool head back.
I’m not giving up life over this. That life goes on beyond this. Pain is just for a moment. This whole notion about what we’re going through is only a season. And this came to pass, didn’t come to stay. That’s what the blues do. And that’s what the music tradition does.
When black folks were connected to the blues, we had a plan and we worked that plan. The plan took us from the slave master’s house to claiming victory at the White House, where President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The blues is how we got over. This is turn begs the question: What’s not to love?
Tags: @PhillyJazzApp, civic apps, Civic Engagement, civic hacker, civil rights, Innovation, Jazz, March on Washington, race, Social Change, Technology, Voter Participation, voter suppression, voting rights
Tags: #MusicHack, #STEMEverywhere, @PhillyJazzApp, civic apps, civic hacker, Civic Tech, hackathon, Innovation, Knight Foundation, Random Hacks of Kindness, Social Media, Technology, voter ID, Voter Participation, voting rights
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