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Shifting Topographies: Mickey Hart and The World’s Music

It’s appropriate that another conversation with Mickey Hart takes place during springtime, a time of renewal, a time of earthly rebirth. Hart’s music career moves in that type of cycle, gestating with possibilities and, suddenly, blossoming for public view.

Last fall Global Drum Project — the album and tour — brought him back to the World Music scene that he helped spotlight with his side projects away from his day job — beating the skins in the Grateful Dead. With the Mickey Hart Collection on Shout! Factory, reissues of those world rhythm-based albums — Diga, At the Edge, Planet Drum, Mystery Box and Supralingua – it felt like a good reason to discuss among other subjects the musical efforts that opened the ears of Deadheads and many others accustomed mainly to the sounds of the western world.

Of course, Hart moves constantly forward. A DVD of the 2006 Rhythm Devils tour comes out later this year. He performed with the Mickey Hart Band last March at the Langerado Music Festival, took part in the Green Apple Festival with an ad hoc grouping of percussionists and vocalists and celebrated in song at the Wavy Gravy Birthday Party. In June MHB will begin a series of festival appearances and headlining dates with a line up that includes Steve Kimock, George Porter Jr., Jen Durkin, Sikiru Adepoju and Walfredo Reyes Jr.

JPG: I thought we’d start with upcoming events and then discuss the re-issues. First off, summer tour with the Mickey Hart Band. I didn’t see or hear the Langerado show but I saw the Rhythm Devils back in 2006. On paper it looks like the same musical set up. Should fans expect a similar type of set as the Rhythm Devils?

MH: It’s the Rhythm Devils without Billy [Kreutzmann] and without Mike Gordon, basically.

JPG: It seems typical of you, going from different type of project to another, where this is a bit more of a straightforward rock outfit and last fall you did Global Drum Project, which was more of a World effort.

MH: I wouldn’t say straightforward rock’ thing because we have a talking drummer. We’re playing international grooves. So, no it’s not straight rock at all. The band does rock. It’s a different kind of rock. It has more relevance to West African highlife music. Pop music of Africa, we incorporate a lot of that. That’s my favorite music. I wouldn’t say it’s rock and roll exactly. It’ll be familiar to western ears as opposed to Global Drum Project, which is rhythm-based. This one is, too, considering we have three drummers. All my projects are rhythm-based. That might be a commonality to it all. That’s a good question.

JPG: In the announcement for the tour it said MHB perform a number of recent Robert Hunter tunes performed by the Rhythm Devils (“Fountains of Wood,” “The Center” and “Your House”).

MH: A lot of Robert Hunter tunes, typically for this band. And so we have a lot more Robert Hunter songs. We’ve been composing. It’s a new band with new songs. And some of the old songs from the Rhythm Devils.

JPG: Now, I’m calling you in the studio, is that just a convenient spot or are you working on anything?

MH: Find something every day. Always in the studio. When I’m not out performing, I’m in the studio experimenting and working on projects. Today, I’m composing.

JPG: Composing for anything particular?

MH: Yeah, Mickey Hart Band

JPG: Oh, okay. I didn’t know if it was for this band or previous recording or a score or

MH: No, no, I’m working on electronic enhancement for the Mickey Hart Band.

JPG: As we head start to head back in time towards the reissues, let’s move to last month to your Green Apple Festival performance.

MH: (slight laugh) That was something. That was really, really a moment. We had the horde of Brazilian drummers and the drummers from Guinea. There was Joan Baez and Bobby [Weir]. We had about, I guess, 45 drums up there at one time. It was really beautiful to see how the Brazilian groove kind of melted into the Guinea/African groove. The slightly different groove rhythms, same tempo, as one was leaving the other one was coming. We had them overlapping. The transitions were just beautiful. Tommy Lee was there. Ludacris was there. About 25 to 30,000 people. Were you there?

JPG: Unfortunately I wasn’t, not able to make it. I would have loved to. Just reading about it sounds fantastic.

MK: Oh, yeah. It was really a high moment.

JPG: A situation like that, playing with so many different drummers, are you able to take the opportunity to rehearse in some manner or does it kind of run on the fly?

MH: Both. Before the show, we rehearsed. We had a giant tent back there. Really, they all did their own thing and I just gave them transitions how to get from one thing to another and time limits, a couple of hand signals. But this kind of stuff is mostly left to the spirit of the moment. I like those kinds of things. As long as you have capable players that aren’t just going to run away with it, just become oblivious to their counterparts onstage. You have to pick those kind of people that are suitable to play Moment Music. That’s really the composition. Give me an overall concept, which again is rhythm-based. You put the right people together. You point them in that direction and you say, Let’s rock.’

JPG: I have to ask because it just seems on the surface a case of strange musical bedfellows. Playing next to Tommy Lee [of Motley Crue]. No one would expect him to be part of that situation. How did that come about?

MH: He just called up and wanted to be part of it. I’ve never met him. Nice fella. We had a great time. We talked. We hung out. Very respectful. Very nice. He listened. There were no airs. He was just another drummer on the stage. As I was. Just enjoying the moment. So, it was a pleasure.

The percussive parts weren’t challenging. We’re all trying to play group rhythms. It wasn’t about virtuoso solo…it was more like playing together and enjoying the rush of Group Rhythm. He was standing next to me with a big drum just like I had and we were just playing in unison. It was really just fun. I don’t know his history except stuff that you know, [Pamela] Anderson stuff and all that.

JPG: Moving on to the five reissues Diga, At the Edge, Planet Drum, Mickey Hart’s Mystery Box and Suprlingua I wanted to touch upon your memories of each album, goals and whether or not you achieved them, happy accidents, etc.

MH: All of the above. Each one of these things I try to give every timewhen I step up to the plate, I swing. I go to the long ball. There’s also a lot of chance, chaos involved in my work. The ultimate, I guess, reward is to see that, eventually, they are still in print. They’re very successful. They’re seminal records all of them.

Diga [by Diga Rhythm Band], that started this whole world fusion thing, you know. It was released in ’76. That was a major challenge, learning all of those very intricate parts and the memorization. It was a major leap in both Zakir [Hussain’s] and my development. And it solidified our partnership for life That was a seminal work.

JPG:Now, Diga recorded at the Barn. That was your place, correct?

MH:In Novato, [California]. Right.

JPG: At that time in the early to mid-70s, I don’t think that many people had a quality home studio. If they did it was something small for a few demos, like Pete Townshend.

MH: I’ve had a studio since 69 in my home, quality studio, multi-track. The best gear. I’m a studio rat. Dan Healy, our engineer, myself, and my partner, Johnny D, we built this studio together in the woods. It was modeled inside an old cow barn. I slept, ate, recorded in the same place. It was really home.

I remember seeing Stephen Stills back in the studio in ’68. He inspired me because he was the first musician I’d ever seen get behind the controls and actually drive that train. He was in charge of his destiny and his fate. Steve and I were very good friends cause we lived together for awhile. He lived with me at the studio for awhile — The Barn — when Crosby, Stills and Nash were doing that thing in 68, ’69. So, we were all very good friends. Actually influenced the Grateful Dead vocally quite a bit by hanging out.

JPG: I could see that.

MH: A major part of voices really coming together in marvelous harmoniesAfter we all heard them do that we said, Wow! Maybe we could do that, too.’ I guess the vocalists thought that anyway. I wasn’t one of em. I certainly saw the difference in the vocal interpretation after these encounters.

I love the studio and I wanted to be in control of my own fate and not have to ask anybody how to do it, what to do or do it at all. I like to get down behind the knobs and do that kind of stuff. Stephen was a major influence in that respect because in those daysremember, when we first started in the studio in ’67 the engineers were all union. You couldn’t touch the knobs. You couldn’t even go near the desk. You couldn’t go near the console. You couldn’t touch a fader. It was against the rules, the laws of the studio. That was just not acceptable. So, sooner or later, we took their jobs. Built our own studios and took their jobs.

JPG: If you didn’t have the Barn, do you think some of these projects

MH: Absolutely. They would never have happened. They were so labor intensive. You could never afford to let the clock turn because most of this was experimentation. Hundreds of hours. And there was no budget for anything. So Diga, At The Edge, all that stuff would never have existed if I didn’t build my own studio and my work space. Absolutely that was a very good question, really a very good point, salient point.

JPG: Thanks. The recording of Rolling Thunder (Hart’s 1972 solo album released on Warner Brothers Records), that was done at the Barn as well?

MH: Absolutely. That’s when I learned how to do all these things. It was on Rolling Thunder. I took about a year to make that, off and on.

JPG: Makes sense, seeing how it had so many different people on there.

MH: Oh yeah, everybody was just walking in. Grace Slick, Stephen Stills, all those people that just pass through, Terry Haggerty, Jerry Garcia (plus John Cipollina, Barry Melton, Zakir Hassain, Paul Kantner and the Tower of Power horns). We got “Playing in the Band” out of that. We got “Greatest Story [Ever Told]” from that. We got “Fire On the Mountain” from Diga. A lot of this stuff spilled over into the Grateful Dead. It was always that way and that was the way it was supposed to be, that you do in your private time off the Grateful Dead clock always spills over into your main squeeze, as it were, at the time.

JPG: In some manner, you could still see that happening with a song like “Only the Strange Remain” from Mystery Box becoming a part of The Other Ones and The Dead’s set list.

MH: Oh yeah. It always works that way. That’s the great synthesis. And if you do it in the right spirit, that’s the way it should work; one thing should feed the other. Everything should be healthy organisms. You should progress musically, emotionally, spiritually with your music and whatever you’re doing at the time, whether it be a Mickey Hart Band or Grateful Dead or Diga [Rhythm Band] or Planet Drum or Global Drum Project. All these things are works in progress.

JPG: Is the Barn now Studio X, which has been used on later projects?

MH: No. Different. That burned down a long time ago. I had left that place, and then some kids came in and had a big party and burned it down. I had taken all the instruments and everything out of it. It was just a shell. It was no great loss. It was just about falling down anyway.

JPG: Then, you released At The Edge, a companion to your book, Dancing At The Edge of Magic.

MH: The soft side of percussion. More, we were romancing the drum on that one and that was really very sparse, beautiful, serene, patient and calm.

Then, we went to Planet Drum. Planet Drum was, of course, that was the apogee of our commercial success. We were very successful with that one. Won a Grammy and did all kinds of things. That was really great and we went out on tour. That was when we really brought the band together with what we call Planet Drum. That version of it. Again, was a seminal record. That changed the topography quite a bit. It was also the easiest to make.

Talking about strange situations. Everything on that was first take. We just played for a few days and it was over. Maybe a week. And that was probably the most successful commercially and also the quickest. That was a surprise.

JPG: In the liner notes for At The Edge it talks about the music in your dreams — When I slept the voice of the old instruments accompanied my dreams, blending with the sounds of nature, resonating and awaken a memory of a far-off time before speech, but not before song.’ If the music was coming to you in dreams here, did a similar thing happen for the other projects?

MH: Every project. If I don’t dream it, I don’t record it. It’s not real to me. Dreams are your connections to your subconscious and the elements that really make up who you are. If you’re not dreaming it, if you’re not really part of that stream, then it’s just a head trip. It’s got to be deeper for me. All of the core ideas usually appear in dreams, some shape or form. Not clearly. It’s not like the Ten Commandments. (slight laugh) I didn’t walk off the mountain. I don’t want it to sound like that. You get glimpses, called a muse. If it’s the right glimpse, the muse will take you there, and if not you wind up in a dead end street and you abandon it.

JPG: Lou Reed has described writing songs as hearing them as if a radio station is running through his head. Are you naturally inclined where your dreams can bring things up or have you had to develop that?

MH: I used to be into hypnosis. So, I give myself suggestions before I go to sleep. That helps a lot. I use self-hypnosis from time to time as well. That strengthens the connection between you and the dream. That means what the last thing you’re thinking about you’re going to dream of this dream, a dream. You’re thinking of the music. You’re playing it all day. You’re in the middle of a project, totally consumed by it. If you’re not dreaming it then something’s wrong. Then, I’m saying I’m not really there with both feet in the right pond. I’m not focused or anything.

I really don’t have any trouble with that. Not only that, I see colors with the dreams as well. So I have synesthesia. That is a knack. Something you just have or you don’t have like perfect pitch or relative pitch or… Many times, the dreams come in colors. By having a home studio, all I have to do is roll out of bed and stagger about 50 yards and hit one button and I’m recording. And I do a lot of this at night and early morning before dawn. My best time. Laying down some of the raw ideas. Usually, they happen any time. There’s a lot of times for me. It happens when night turns into day…when dark goes into light.

JPG: I read that Neil Young makes it a habit to record according to the lunar phases. Have you tried that?

MH: Not at all. Whenever I want, wherever I want. I’m not really locked into the moon cycles. I know I am, but consciously. I live in a forest. I don’t live in a city. I live in the Redwood Forest in the middle of nature. You can’t see anything but redwood trees. You hear birds and animals everywhere. I’m really locked into nature here. I’m really well grounded in that. I don’t do this work in the cities.

JPG: No, I don’t think it would work. When you talk about the dreams and guiding your dreams, was it a result of reading and studying or did LSD help the brain synapses more effectively do this?

MH: Yeah, I would have to say that the hypnosis and certainly psychoactive drugs helped for me, personally. I’m not advocating it for everybody. It certainly worked to open up my subconscious and the unconscious and just realms of perception that were not available to me in the normal waking state. Yes. I’d say absolutely.

JPG: Understandable. Studies done.

MH: I never inhaled. Ever. (laughs)

JPG: You mentioned Jerry Garcia earlier. He appeared on Diga, At Edge and Planet Drum. Was it a matter of timing, that out of your Grateful Dead band mates he appeared on those albums or did he just get it and could see where he could fit in whereas the others did not?

MH: Yeah. Jerry was really flexible, more flexible than most guitar players in many ways. He could mutate and transform into the music at hand. And Jerry being my best friend, he was over the house a lot. What we usually did when we were together was we played music. It was just a natural thing. It was one of those things.

JPG:When constructing the songs for Planet Drum, for example, is it a series of jam sessions that have been edited to form a song?

MH: Pretty much. What we did was each person started something and the other person jumped in, and then the other person jumped in on top of that until we had a full-blown official groove going. And I record everything. A piece of it, you say, Okay, this five minutes. This will be the song.’ We started putting vocals on it or this or that or cutting it up. Back then, there was no Pro Tools or anything. It was a little different. We didn’t really use the razor [to edit] that much.

JPG: Do you think that by editing a number of jam segments together it would take away the essence from it?

MH: No, not really. It’s how skilled you are. These are all tools, Pro Tools, because some people cut in straight lines, some people can’t cut zig zag. If you’re really good at what you’re doing and you can perceive what you want and you don’t let the Pro Tools take you into some Godforsaken sterile land, you can have your way with it. It can actually be an asset and it can be a legitimate tool in the recording process. But it’s dangerous because you have sometimes unlimited opportunities, and when you have that it’s very easy to get lost and to hurt yourself and…to hurt the music is a better way of putting it.

JPG: Next is Mickey Hart’s Mystery Box.

MH: That was another adventure. That’s one that Garcia got me into. He helped me find the Mint Juleps, the six vocalists. I think they were in a Spike Lee video and Jerry had seen it. He gave me the video. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted it with voices, and Hunter wrote just those beautiful songs. That was a real labor. That took awhile cause of six parts. I’d never worked with that kind of vocal component before. Always loved Doo-Wop and all those vocal based harmonies. It was just great. That was very successful as well.

JPG: With the Mint Juleps, you said Jerry helped you find them, were you looking to make, as a lot of people refer to it, more of a pop-oriented album to begin with? And from that you got hold of the Mint Juleps and then enlisted Robert Hunter to write lyrics? The result was kind of World in its rhythms, but it was more of a poppy song structure with verses and choruses.

MH: Right. I wanted to keep it within the Westernthat one was song with some bridges and choruses and stuff. It really wasn’t my thing, and that’s why I wanted to do it. I thought it was appropriate at the time. And Jerry was very supportive, actually was pushing me in this direction because he knew that I wanted to do it. We used to have long conversations about the music of the Girl Groups, the Shirelles and all that kind of stuff. Loved those things. So, this was kind of as throw back into that world.

It was my attempt at that. I had a lot of fun with it and I got it out of my system and it was done.

JPG: Okay. Finally, Supralingua.

MH: (as he speaks I can tell he just loves the sound of the word and what it represented) Supralingua!! Superlingua, that’s when I started getting into my electronic world. I started really getting serious about electronics. It had more of a European kind of electronica, electronic-flavored processed percussion is the best way to put it.

JPG: Now, usually with reissues there’s bonus material or outtakes. Any reason why these five came out as the originals?

MH: First of all, I was moving pretty fast. I was on tour when all this was happening, when we signed the deal with [Shout! Factory]. I just didn’t have time to go back into the studio vault to get the outtakes and put them on there, really, to be honest with you. That was really the bottom line here. I didn’t have any time to do it. My vault is deep. A deep vault.

JPG: Out of the five releases, does one or two particularly stand out for you?

MH: Diga is the most rewarding. It was the most difficult and most challenging. See, I was always after 20th century gamelan percussive orchestra, tuned percussion. That’s always been the carrot. Always been chasing that. Still am. Percussive orchestra for the new day, as opposed to the traditional gamelan of Indonesia. But that’s tuned percussion. I just took that kind of example and brought it over into my world of percussion with a drum set plays a part in it and all the Latin instruments, Brazilian, African, instruments from Borneo, Australian instruments, all kinds of percussive colors.

And so Diga was the most intense recording session that I’ve ever been a part of because of the rates, the tempos and much of it wasn’t in 4/4. Some of it was in 10/4. There were lots of things in 9/4. There were things in 102 . Can you imagine? That’s really a long phrase. We were composing Zakir and I and [Ustad] Alla Rakha, Zakir’s father.

It was an impossible mission. It was mission impossible to get all of theseremember the disparity between the tabla and the drum set couldn’t be greater — the loudest percussive instrument and the quietest. They all play together. It’s not just a matter of beats and grooves and stuff. It’s a matter of psycho-acoustics and physics. How can this happen? So, we had to build the technology just to record the album. We had to build Plexiglas baffles to see people moving because we were at such great, amazing rates of speed, so intricate, and playing a lot of North Indian classical bowls or rhythmic cycles.

This was really a challenge for me, for everyone else, even Zakir, because this was an ensemble stretch, and then one person performing rhythmic airs above the ground as opposed to 15 people flying. It was like on a magic carpet ride. It was truly exhilarating. Nothing will ever be like that. I couldn’t perform that now. It was so difficult. I would have to lock myself up for awhile and focus, totally, to be able to play those parts again.

JPG: You mention Zakir Hassain the one constant on all these albums, besides yourself and the idea of rhythm being a major part of it, is Zakir being there.

MH: Not a bad partner to have.

JPG: How did you two meet and was the bond immediate or did it take a few sessions?

MH: (laughs) Yeah, it was the medium. His father was my teacher. I met Alla Rakha in 67. He was Ravi Shankar’s drummer, the most developed rhythmist on the planet; way beyond anything that existed. Beyond Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa and all the things that we knew of as drummers. Those people, rhythmically speaking, were novices compared to Alla Rakha. When I heard Alla Rakha, actually it was a record that Phil gave me,
Drums of North and South India. When I heard that record, I couldn’t believe a person was making that rhythm. And he knew what he was doing. It was way beyond my perception. I found out where he was and I knocked on his door and he accepted me graciously as a student. But my instrument was much louder than his and he was an elderly gentleman at the time. He said, I’m going to give you my son. You can play with my son.’ He had just brought his son over from India. He came and lived with me at the studio. It was so charming. He’s such a wonderful man. Still is. We’re still best friends. I spoke with him yesterday. That’s where it all started. He showed up. Knocked on the door and that’s where it all began. Hanging out with me in the studio and everybody, he just fit right in. Everybody loved him and he loved everybody else. So we just had a realwe learned from each other.

Now, he’s recognized ashe is the Man on the planet as far as knowledge of rhythm. He is the number one percussionist in the world now. He comes from this very muscular tradition. He was born and bred for what he has become. Not an accident, I assure you. His father played on his mother’s belly while he was in the womb. He was imprinted even before he hit the air. This is a serious thing in India. Being a rhythmist of this stature is very spiritual, very sacred business. This is not entertainment. He was nurtured and bred for what he was about to do. His father passed away. He assumed the mantle.

We just went to India a couple months ago together. We rolled around India for about 2 weeks. This one person came up to me and he had tears in his eyes and he said There are no words.’ Zakir didn’t hear it. There are no words to describe this man. Who this man is, and what he means to us. He’s indescribable.’ It really was true. It was such a soulful, beautiful thing. They were trying to express their love for him it was just totally impossible. It was beyond words. In India, where they appreciate this kind of rhythm or this very sophisticated rhythm, he’s godlike there. He walks on water.

JPG: Because you mentioned traveling to a foreign land that reminded me of your field recordings.

MH: I recorded in India, too.

JPG: Oh, you did?

MH: Part of it.

JPG: I wondered if you were still doing that.

MH: I always record. I always bring my machine with me. I never leave home without it.

JPG: For awhile a lot of them were being released and then there has been a barren period. So, I didn’t know if you were still doing it.

MH: I always record. If I don’t release it, it’s in my vault. Eventually, it’ll see the light of day.

JPG: I happened to see that you’re going to be at the Kripalu Institute in July. You’re listed as a presenter. What is it you’re going to do there?

MH: It’s more sonic healing, rhythmic healing type of thing, yoga and turning these people on to the power of group rhythm and how it can be used as a lifestyle. How it can be used as preventive medicine and so forth. That’s what that’s all about.

JPG: I see you have the HeadCount banner on your website. Do you feel that Americans are waking up to the political situation around them?

MH: If they don’t, they’re going to regret it because if you don’t use your vote wisely, someone is going to take this country, this world away from you. That’s not acceptable. At least you should be part of the process. Yes, people are waking uplook at the scares — global warming, climate change, carbon emissions. All this is life and death stuff. Besides, that beautiful war that we’re mired in over there in the Middle East. That’s a travesty. This administration damn near killed us. I see changes appropriate, so you better get out there and steer the ship. You own it.

JPG: Make some waves if you will.

MH: There’s a guy by the name of “Scoop” Nisker with a book called Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again!: Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution. He used to sign off on the radio, every night he’d say, If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.’ That’s how I feel about becoming aware; that your vote is important even if you don’t think it means anything. Believe me, if enough feel that same mindset go out there, you better believe that it will mean something. You just have to believe that you do count. Eventually, it might make a difference. It’s fairly impossible, but it’s not totally impossible. It’s very difficult to make people aware that they’re in control.

JPG: As I tell friends who don’t vote, Hunter Thompson was nearly elected sheriff.’ If enough people show up at the polls just about anything can happen. Now, I don’t know if you want to speak for Phil and Bob as well, but except for the Rainforest Benefit, which most people can get behind since it’s not controversial, you never really stood up and said anything political or about a candidate one way or the other.

MH: We thought the music was above politics. And then we woke up and realized that it’s not so. It is, but it isn’t. But once we grew up, we realized it was our responsibility, not all the time and not be a political machine because people come to be entertained, because music is about uplifting the spirit and not necessarily laying heavy trips on them. There’s a fine line on that. We’ve always tried to skirt that.

As adults we realized, we grew up and learned ourselves that standing up for the environment, that was the first thing we did. Couldn’t really agree on anything. That was the thing. There’s very little that we could actually all get behind and want it to go out there, besides the music and our friendship and our love of each other. There was no candidate. There was no one thing that we thought superceded the music. And then we realized that we had a huge constituency that did listen to us, not necessarily did what we said or were asked. We had an ear to speak into. We thought our responsibility to speak our mind without getting up there on the bully pulpit and beat people to death with it. But it’s being very serious about it.

JPG: In regards to the Dead Heads for Obama show, did it feel good for yourselves that it came about suddenly, without having a lengthy build up?

MH: We didn’t even have a soundcheck. (slight laugh) We don’t have to. You know what I mean? It’s just telepathy by now. It was very good, clean. It was one of those, two days before, Let’s play.’ Boom. Okay, I’ll be there.’ Got my drum set up. I’ll be there and I’ll help spread this message.’ Really what we all believe in. I think that this Obama fella can go the distance. He has a whiff of that old Robert Kennedy about him. I knew Kennedy and I’ve never met Obama. Bobby had this air about him, his body language and just this thing that he evoked, his spirit. And Obama has a whiff of that. A big whiff of that. He’s in that statesman league. Not just a politician. And he is a good politician. I figure he could be a great statesman given the chance.

Whatever happens will happen, but it’s not because I didn’t give it a shot.

JPG: I was going to say you could feel good about the idea doing another Dead Heads for Obama show later this year because he’ll be the likely Democratic nominee.

MH: If there’s an inauguration, I’m pretty sure I’ll be around. We’ll see. We’re not going to project too much. We’re holding out for it.

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Aneta April 23, 2012, 21:10:58

This a part of a story I want to write set in South Africa (where I live). This is about one of my characters hitsroy (escaping Zimbabwe into SA) PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF MY WRITING IS WORTH PERSUING. Im sorry if its long. They claimed it would cost them R200 each to cross the border. In Africa money is hailed like the gods, Selina was aware of that doctrine and she had to buy her freedom through pious loyalty of such preaching. On this land the drums beat to the rhythm of revenue, the beads of red, blue and orange, bloated with buoyancy, are threaded for the making of that little-bit-extra not as rescue missions to savour fading histories. In Africa government houses chant with hallow debate because all ears are fixed on the lyrical lyre of the dollar. For it is where politicians and businessmen are synonymous terms… and it’s called an example of ‘developmental democracy’. Money is the emerald blood that channels through the black markets. Row after row of vendors, stick stalls, carpets and people form the veins, thick and thin…a hundred and a thousand tiny lines stretching across capitals, towns and villages. The hemoglobin flow of estranged heads on bronze or some other rusty colour fill cities with fraud, ‘favours’, blackmails and business contracts. The notes of minted green flow from dirt-hibernating pocket to pocket. The money itself almost tastes of blood. This need brings only more poverty and licenses greed and Selina saw it. She had lived it until she could not breathe the choking dirt any longer. Squinting up at paper planes and kites that litter the Gweru sky she waits for their secret meeting to materialise. All of the flying toys are made up of Zim dollars. With freshly ‘passed by parliament’ billion dollar notes the older ones are used by the children to build jets and towers of money, racing each other to see who can stack the most in the fastest time.Zimbabwe is on life-support. But for how long can oxygen be artificially pumped in a body that is terminally paralysed? She didn’t believe in euthanasia but hope seemed more sacrilegious than ever. As she waits by a pineapple and chille stall somewhere in the market her gaze is torn from a particularly amusing tower of notes toppling to the ground to another young child, a bright blue spot, weaving through the crowds of brown, black and white, running in her direction. The pace of his legs reminds her of small turbines as he draws nearer. She watches him turn his face to glance back at who it was that was chasing him but he isn’t quick enough and, in shock, she doesn’t have time to move out of the way and like a train collision, he hits the ground that coughs up a spray of dust in ill-fated complaint.“Are you alright?”Selina holds out a hand and helps the boy to his feet. She can’t help but note the skeletal feel of his fingers reminding her of the chicken necks they would suck at as children. He places his bony hands on his excuses for knee caps and breathes tightly as if he didn’t hear her. Staring at the bag he is gripping around his tiny fist he suddenly remembers the barrier that had halted his escape and his eyes flash both fear and shock as he cuts her an upward look. The bag looks like its filled with sugar and he held onto it as if it were filled with diamonds that he, himself, had mined. Without a word he turns away from her and hurtles back into the crowd. She checks her watch, broken in the middle, but the roman numerals are still visible. 5:17pm. Daya was late and Rahul and the trafficker are nowhere in sight. Could someone have tipped them off? Maybe Daya had changed her mind, like she is beginning to feel… that all too familiar sinking sickness in the pit of her stomach. She tightens the blanket she has wrapped around her to keep Moyo warm on her back as she scans the now filtering crowds. Watching them, the scent of afternoon tea that the vendors drink flows past her nose, lazy-like, on the breeze that meandered through the people. It took her back to a time on a farm just outside Bulawayo. – (there’s more ) I know Im sometimes verbose?? Is the writing good?BE BRUTAL if you must. PLEASE PLEASE give me some feedback.APOLOGIES FOR THE SPELLING ERROR IN THE QUESTION. I TYPE TOO FAST FOR MY OWN GOOD.

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