Posts Tagged ‘Utne’

The bimonthly magazine called the Utne Reader likes to showcase alternative and contrarian views on the news. Here’s a sort of hands-across-the world story about taking bluegrass music to Afghanistan.

“My name is Peyton Tochterman. I’m a musician from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. I make my living writing, teaching and performing American Folk music—the music that tells stories in notes, chords and verse about who we are and what we Americans are all about. And I’m now in war-torn Afghanistan. …

“In little more than a week we have already met thousands of Afghans and found them to be kind, generous, hospitable, talented and honorable. They take great pride in their heritage and culture, but they also have a thirst for American Folk Music, for the stories we tell, our instruments and the way we play. The Afghan musicians with whom we played are some of the best in the world and were eager to share their masterful techniques and songs.

“Some might ask, ‘What difference can a folk singer from the Blue Ridge Mountains make in a tortured place like Afghanistan?’ It’s a valid question—partly answered by one of the State Department officers who said our visit did ‘more for diplomacy between Afghanistan and the United States than any diplomat had done, more then any road that was built, or any power plant that was constructed in the last year.’ ” Read more.

Photograph of Peyton Tochterman: The Utne Reader

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My sister buys a subscription to the Utne Reader even though you can read much of it online. She loves the variety of articles it reprints and thinks she should support the effort.

At Thanksgiving she told us about an article Rachel Kadish wrote that originally appeared in The Good Men Project Magazine. It’s about Kadish’s Israeli cousin, Noam Galai, and a photo he took of himself screaming up at the sky. It’s about how the photo struck a chord with Iranians and with Arabs working to overthrow oppressive regimes and how they used the photo widely, knowing nothing about the photographer.

Rachel Kadish writes that people originally lifted the photo from Flickr, and soon it went viral. “Shortly after Noam began investigating the spread of his scream photograph around the globe, he discovered something completely unexpected. Images of his face were turning up graffitied on walls in Tehran. In Tabriz City.

“His portrait, it turned out, had been picked up by some antigovernment protesters in Iran. In the year following the Green Movement’s first open clashes with Ahmadinejad’s government—a violent [June 2009] confrontation watched anxiously by the world—images of Noam’s face were reproduced by activist graffiti artists, sometimes veiled in red-painted blood. His anonymous face was rendered by anonymous Iranians on metal fuse-boxes and walls, alone or amid a crowd of other spray-painted images: part of a mute but vociferous message dangerous to utter aloud. …

“When Noam learned that his self-portrait was being used by anti-Ahmadinejad protesters, he emailed some of the Iranian graffiti artists through Flickr, where they’d posted images of their work under aliases.

“ ‘I told them, “It’s me. It’s cool. I’ll be happy to see more of what you do.’ ” ‘

“One of the Iranian graffiti artists wrote back. It was a two-line exchange.

“ ‘He was cool,’ Noam said. ‘He was “Nice to meet you, I like your picture.” I didn’t tell him I’m from Jerusalem.’ ”

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