November 13, 2017

Tags: Chris Messina, Google, metadata, hashtags

Have you noticed, dear reader, that personal hashtags on FB posts, for example, are getting longer, and longer, and longer? This being the case, what does the evolving length of #wordsconnectedtowords without spaces signify for the writer? A stop sign, I’d say.

Let us take a breather and ask some questions about this linguistic phenomena. Did Chris Messina @ Google (in 2007) intend his content search invention to be used to tell stories? Probably not. Nor did he want to patent his “invention,” if indeed it would have qualified as a patented “product,” because he knew that the internet highway would capture and proliferate whatever was useful in hashtags with our without him, for free. Which it did.

My concern is solely that of a writer: hashtags are useful for content searches, but they are not the content itself. They make a mishmash of words, sentences, concepts and stories. They are not stories. They are indicators, symbols, short-cuts, synopsi, compressed thoughts, instantaneous observations, and symptoms of a time-pressured, hyperkinetic, goal-driven tweeting culture. Writers, real writers, not #hashtagwriters, cannot function well in such a charged environment except to say: meet me here—at this literal or virtual place—where something is happening you may be interested in.

Is it retro of me to suggest that writers stop writing hashtags, or use them only at the end of a narrative prose story? Probably. Think of me, and all educators, as guardian angels of language. The more our language is diluted, over-simplified and distorted, the harder it will be to retrieve the complexities of thought required in our challenging world. Our children must be taught to think, to analyze, to discern fact from fiction, to make intelligent decisions and choices. They need language to do this, not #soundbytenews or #hashtags. End of story: #writersresisthashtags

Are We Safe?

November 1, 2017

Tags: Urban terrorism, New York City, UNICEF, NYPD, FDNY, FBI, war zones

I wish to say only this: let us dedicate this blog post and this day to the murdered cyclists on the West Side Highway of Manhattan. Let us put our arms around the terrified children, their teachers and caretakers, the pedestrians who witnessed the carnage, the brave men and women of the NYPD, FDNY and FBI. Let us think about our human frailty, our resilience and our resistance. Let us not stop listening to one another. Let us not build walls. Let us study colonial history intently and understand why a lunatic terrorist came to America if only to kill. This trouble we are in did not begin out of thin air. And though utterly irrational in many respects, it has a source, a reason. Let us begin there in our understanding and our effort to find solutions.

I offer you, dear reader, a photograph of beautiful, innocent children, soccer fans, far away from New York. If we could transport them to New York they, too, might have been victims of the terrorist’s truck. Indeed, children in many countries are living in war zones and desperate poverty. They are in grave danger. What are we, as adults, doing to protect them, to make the world a more peaceful and safer place?

These are very abstract thoughts for this writer, but I am weary this morning, and sad for the afflicted families. It took me two hours in a slowed down, partially locked down city, to get home yesterday, and when I arrived, and only then, did I find out what had happened. I was safe, all my friends and loved ones were safe, messages were flooding Facebook, a troubled sleep, some journaling, this blog post, and onward into a new day.

But not without some reflection. And, as a writer, not without some thoughtful words. What can we do, little by little, one small action at a time, to make the world a safer and more peaceful place?

Anonymous Letters

October 26, 2017

In celebration of Halloween, a completely true story:

My name was handwritten on the envelope: “Ms. C. Bergman.” A New York postmark, no return address, no note. Inside, tear sheets from JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, a review of a new biography of the manic-depressive poet, Robert Lowell. It was interesting in many ways, most particularly in its assertion that to medicate mentally ill artists risks interfering with their creative process. But why had the sender underlined the words “mutely alone,” or bracketed the sentence, “The reigning assumption is that depression and anxiety are meaningless?" And why send it to me anonymously? Was one of my former students in trouble? A friend? Someone asking for help? Or was it meant to disturb my sense of well-being?

It wasn’t the first time I had received an anonymous letter, or been threatened, or denounced, or stalked. Years ago, in London, I’d written an investigative article for the educational supplement of The Times and received a threatening post card from the National Front. The—unknown someone—wanted me to go back where I came from. And I am not sure they meant the United States of America. Hell maybe? The police considered the message a form of “gentle” terrorism, if that isn’t an oxymoron. Most disconcerting: whoever had penned that sweet note knew my address. So, too, the person who sent me the most recent anonymous message.

Weeks have passed since I received the JAMA article and I have still not thrown it out, nor have I shown it to the police. Dear Anonymous Reader, it’s Halloween, the game of Hide and Seek is over. Come out, come out wherever you are! Patiently, I await a phone call, an email, a broomstick delivery by the Wicked Witch, or a middle-of-the night epiphany that will reveal you/the sender to me. Someone who might say, “Oh, I thought you’d be interested. Sorry if I spooked you in any way.”

John le Carré @ 85

October 18, 2017

Tags: John le Carré, humanitarian workers, UN, ICRC

My mother adored his books and gave them as gifts to everyone. The only one I had ever read was “The Constant Gardener,” because it was about a relief worker and le Carré had written a foreword to my book, “Another Day in Paradise; International Humanitarian Workers Tell Their Stories.” That book, thanks to him, is still in print in the English-speaking world. His offer to write the foreword , well, dear reader, that was an offer I could not refuse.

I had been invited to the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva for “war games,” and was picked up at the airport by the PR who had arranged my visit, a Brit.

“How is your French?,” he asked.
“Pas mal,” I answered, perhaps too boldly.

He would be introducing me to the assembled in French, which is still the diplomatic lingua franca. I let that daunting thought slip as he continued his questioning about the book, which was nearly complete. Had we commissioned a foreword? Not yet. “How about le Carré?,” he asked. “He’s deeply involved in humanitarian initiatives. He’s high profile. He’ll sell your book.”

“But can you arrange it?”
“I know his agent.”

I was on un nuage, a cloud. This wonderful news dampened, somewhat, the disturbing effects of the war games. I studied the Geneva Conventions—in French and English—and rode in a jeep into a bombed out city, casualties and corpses everywhere. It was difficult to sleep. I’d brought melatonin, useful beyond the jet lag. I returned to New York and called my publisher: “I’m going to write to le Carré’s agent.”

“Good luck,” he said.
I wondered if he believed me. I wondered if I believed me.

Dear reader, it took about five minutes for le Carré to agree to write the foreword to my book. The manuscript arrived before deadline, pristine, not a comma out of place. I had hoped to meet him to thank him personally, but he sent his agent to the launch in London, which was enough. His presence might have upstaged the relief workers who were present, I thought to myself. And I knew he would never have wanted to do that.

Years have passed and there are more refugees than ever before wandering the world in search of shelter. And more relief workers in grave danger. The Red Cross sign and the UN and NGO logos are no guarantee of safe passage any more.

And where is le Carré ? When he is not researching a new book, he lives quietly on the Cornish coast with his wife. His children are grown. He has written his memoir, “The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories From My Life,” and finally agreed to an interview on 60 minutes. Shy, retiring, modest, a disciplined writer dedicated to illuminating in his fictions the unending hypocrisies and tragedies of governments. He cannot and will not stop, he has said.

And so I have started reading more of le Carré and, finally, appreciate him as a storyteller as well as a humanitarian. This week—because I found it on a giveaway shelf in my neighborhood—“The Russia House.” An epigraph from Dwight D. Eisenhower begins the book:

“Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.”

Two pages in and I was riveted.

Ai Weiwei; Ode to Freedom

October 7, 2017

Tags: Ai Weiwei, New York Public Art Fund, Chinese dissidents, Washington Square Park

Ai Weiwei: "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" in Washington Square Park. The installation sits under the arch. Some members of the community objected that there would be no Christmas tree this year. Photo by Carol Bergman
Ai Weiwei, who lived in New York in the 80’s and 90’s, is back in a city he loves creating art. It’s a small miracle. Last I heard, his passport had been confiscated, he’d been in jail for 81 days without charge and emerged with a brain hemorrhage requiring surgery, his studio in Shanghai was shuttered, one of his assistants was still missing, and he’d been charged with alleged “tax evasion.”

Is an artist or a writer, by definition, a dissident in a still despotic China? It depends on the artist or the writer. Tow the line, if you can figure out what that line is, and you’ll be okay. Ai is bold, he would not be silenced. He wrote a blog and when that was shut down, he went on to Twitter. A 2000 exhibition in Shanghai was called the “Fuck Off Art Exhibition.”

At times Ai reminds me of a punk Michael Moore—part prankster, part provocateur, part performance artist. I will never forget a scene in “Never Sorry,” Alison Klayman’s 2012 documentary about him. In the midst of a “citizens' investigation” of the earthquake in Yunnan Province in which thousands of children died in poorly constructed “tofu-dreg” school buildings (government corruption revealed), Ai sat down to dinner in the local village. The police were all around standing at attention, surveying, reporting, intimidating. Ai began to talk with them directly and invited them to share his meal. I was smitten; irreverence is powerful, especially when it is knowledgeable irreverence. Ai in the film: “We will seek out the names of each departed child, and we will remember them.”

Once upon a time, Ai was in favor. Trained as an architect, he worked on the Beijing National Stadium. But having grown up in labor camps during the Cultural Revolution with his out- of- favor father, Ai Qing, a famous poet, he also knew the travails of dis-favor and exile. And might have been expecting the same for himself, or worse.

It is unclear why Ai’s passport was returned in 2015. He is now based in Berlin and traveling everywhere to mount exhibitions. He can walk his small son to school every morning and return home to a peaceful, undisturbed working day. He can create art without censorship. China’s loss, the world’s gain.

Now Ai is in New York at the invitation of the Public Art Fund creating installations throughout the city in celebration of the 65 million refugees wandering the world, or living in tents, or trying to breach the walls of sovereign nations that don’t want them to enter, including our own. As a refugee who has himself found refuge, Ai is giving back with this exhibition and a companion film called “Human Flow.” He traveled—freely—to more than twelve countries to get the story.

Puerto Rico: One Way to Help

September 28, 2017

Tags: Hurricane Maria, hurricanes, climate change, FEMA, UN, disaster preparedness, dependence on fossil fuel

I’ve just had a long conversation with MacKay Wolff, one of the relief workers who wrote a story for my book, “Another Day in Paradise,” about his gig as a human rights’ observer during the First Intifada in Palestine. After an earthquake in Turkey, he designed “Child Friendly Spaces,” which could easily be transported by UNICEF, who run the program, to get the kids in Puerto Rico into safe spaces where they can have a bit of schooling, food, and play time, as their families and the island recover.

“Women and children first. Relief at the most elemental level,” says MacKay. “They will certainly be using local clinics and schools in the communities as they get them up and running."

Usually, the basics for human life—food, water, health care, tents for shelter, and control of sewerage—are brought in within 72 hours of a natural disaster by UN agencies and various NGOs. But Puerto Rico is an American Territory so FEMA and the US Military is in charge. President Trump would have to request UN support to augment FEMA’s efforts. This is a major disaster and it’s surprising that he hasn’t. Future preparedness, and a return to participation in the the Paris Climate Agreement, should also be considered, given that this disaster is firmly linked to climate change.

I was pleased to hear that President Trump has temporarily waived the Jones Act, albeit very late, so that ships other than American ships can land on the island with supplies. The French and the British are also working hard on their respective hard-hit islands. In pre-Trump times, collaboration would have been possible. But our allies are wary these days.

PR, our lovely island in the sun. The American Virgin Islands are suffering, too, perhaps even more so. What can we do?

“Often the problems are just logistics,” says MacKay. “The supplies arrive and there are no trucks or truck drivers, no tires for the trucks, no fuel, to deliver them. This island is very dependent on fossil fuel. The roads may be impassable. Air drops are very expensive and not that efficient.”

The military, on the other hand, is very efficient, and essential in such a disaster zone. Aid workers rely on soldiers to--literally--move mountains. Mackay is certain they are working 24-7.

But for the suffering people, the long view, is difficult. No water, no food, sewerage everywhere, and the danger of a cholera epidemic. Hospitals have been shut down because there is no fuel for their generators.

Yesterday, an email arrived from Rebeca Garcia Gonzalez, a long time friend of my friend, Carol Tateishi, the former Director of the Berkeley Writing Project. Rebeca is a native Puerto Rican, teacher and artist, whose information Carol trusts:

Here is an abridged version of her email:

"It has been one of the worst weeks of my life. I didn't know about my dad or other family for 8 days. Finally through social media I found someone who could walk to his house and check on him. I have not yet been able to talk with him to tell him I have a ticket for him to come to CA. My cousins are flooded and isolated even though they live just minutes from the metro area. My other cousins from my mom's village saw all the crops flattened. There was a scary flood that reached their home and brought corpses with it. They are completely isolated. No one is delivering goods to the island. Emergency supplies have arrived but they are not being distributed. There is no signal for planes to use... "

Donations are important, of course, but so are the calls we make to our representatives to keep the pressure up. Since the election, I have had their numbers post-it on my computer.

If you have a chance today, please make just one call. And discuss the logistics of getting supplies distributed. Is it happening? Are the roads still impassable? Suggest that the President request that the UN agencies—such as UNICEF— amplify FEMA’s relief efforts. Ask for details about the children, about the elderly, about the hospitals.

I have just talked to the aides in Senator Gillibrand's and Congressman Espaillat's office. I couldn't get through to Senator Schumer.

Tell Your Story Here

September 18, 2017

Tags: Lesbos, refugees, "Another Day in Paradise; International Humanitarian Workers Tell Their Stories"

This year, more than 400,000 refugees have landed in Greece. Photo: Courtesy UNHCR
A friend’s daughter, Sarah, recently graduated from college, and went to the island of Lesbos to teach English to Syrian women in a refugee camp. We are Facebook friends and I noted that she’d put up a post or two during her three-month “mission,” the word relief workers use to describe their forays into the netherworld of refugees and the internally displaced, as the UN calls them. There is a lot of jargon in this netherworld. I think the word “mission” originated in the religious relief organizations, of which there are many. The word “testimony,” of which more later, also comes from a religious tradition. Relief workers are, by definition, outsiders, yet often find it impossible to stay neutral in their opinions, especially in a war zone, and when they write about their experiences some say they are “giving testimony.”

Sarah posted Facebook photos with short captions, not of her refugee students, but of herself, a friend or two, I recall, a cerulean sky. I didn’t ask if she kept a journal; somehow I knew she would. Then her three-month EU visa was up and she left Greece for Morocco where she has been studying Arabic. She was never a constant Facebook user, but I missed the occasional posts she put up from Lesbos. I was confident she eventually would write her story and perhaps use some of these posts—photos and text—as well as her journal entries to document an essay.

Then a phone call from Sarah’s father, Steve, reassured me that all was well with Sarah in Morocco, more than well. Steve is a physician, enough time had passed for Sarah to obtain a new visa for Greece, and together father and daughter met in Lesbos for a couple of weeks--a short mission--to work in the same camp where Sarah had been before. She had missed her students and reunited with some of them; others had moved on. Steve worked with mostly Congolese refugees in a clinic. Such work is challenging, taxing, and often very upsetting.

Relief workers are expected to sign time-limited contracts, not to stay on and on, or shift agencies and take on other missions one after another. They get hooked. They have to be encouraged to take R&R, take care of themselves, and one small way to do this is to keep a journal and to use Facebook to write long captions to their photos. Social media now amplifies journals and emails; it’s a useful tool.

It was not difficult to gather stories for my book, “Another Day in Paradise,” even though the logistics were often daunting. Eventually, I traveled to London, Amsterdam and Geneva for editing sessions, and emailed drafts back and forth numerous times. Without exception, all the workers were avid readers, kept journals, and had a fundamental understanding of how to shape a story.

Now Steve and Sarah, father and daughter, after just a short time “in the field,” have many “witnessing” stories of their own. I look forward to reading them.

The Student & The Harpist

September 3, 2017

Tags: Higher education, mentoring, harpists, LaGuardia High School of Art and the Performing Arts

Benjamin, of "Arpa International," mentoring LaGuardia High School student, Daniel Mahfooz.
You shouldn’t be surprised, dear reader, that I am writing about students at the beginning of the semester. I love to teach, as well as to write, and I love my students—their enthusiasm, their curiosity, their effort. Young, middle-aged, or elderly, experienced writers or newborns, they arrive in my workshop starstruck and hopeful.

And, so, in the waning days of summer, as I sit at my computer, prepare my syllabi and amend my reading lists, I contemplate two recent encounters that reaffirm my dedication to teaching. The first was on the “A” train, a source of many stories. It’s a microcosm of the city, a gathering of the city’s diverse population.

The Mexican guitarists had disappeared and the trains had been quiet for a while. Perhaps the hiatus prepared us for the arrival of Benjamin, The Harpist. Dressed as a mariachi player, he carried a miniature harp and played “Besame Mucho,” translation: “Kiss Me A Lot.” It was written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez, and is one of the most famous boleros ever recorded. I began to hum. Others took off their headphones, or stopped reading. When it was over, everyone burst into applause. Benjamin is a talented musician.

The train pulled into 59th street, which was also my stop that day. But that wasn’t the end of the story. A young man followed The Harpist out of the train. I stood and watched as they began to talk. Suddenly, the harp had been passed along and the young man was plucking at the strings, his ear close to the top of the harp to feel its resonance. I was touched by Benjamin’s kindness, his easy, generous mentoring, and couldn’t resist a flash interview. I took out my notebook and asked a few questions. The young man, Daniel Mahfooz, is a music student at LaGuardia High School of Art and the Performing Arts, my daughter’s alma mater. His family are originally from Egypt. I asked if he’d heard of Naguib Mahfouz, a famous Egyptian writer, but his answer was lost in the cacophony of incoming trains. And he was mostly interested in the harp anyway.

Then later that week, I met a young woman I will call Flo, as our conversation flowed so easily. She works at the welcome desk at the Y where I swim. I was waiting for a friend and had some time. We started chatting. She told me she was a student, and I told her I was a professor at NYU. She perked up. Thwarted by financial strain and disinterested professors, she explained, she was losing interest in getting her degree. I will not name the instituion where she is studying, it shall remain anonymous, as shall Flo’s real name, but I was shocked when she told me her story. How can a young woman, already in college, be so discouraged? It really hurt me. What she needs is a mentor, I thought to myself, a mentor like Benjamin, The Harpist. I shall be her mentor, if only for a few minutes, I said to myself. I asked about her major—English —and when I asked what she likes to read she said she didn’t like to read and, by the way, did I have any tips to “get through” Beowolf and Chaucer. So I gave her some tips—not for “getting through,” but to begin a relationship with these ancient works, and to get into the minds of the writers and oral story tellers who lived so long ago. “I write poetry,” Flo then told me. “And I like Malcolm Gladwell’s books.”

“I thought you told me you didn’t like to read?”

“My teachers don’t care what I have to say. I usually go off on tangents. ”

“I would love you in my class,” I said. “But you do need to learn how to read more tenaciously, at least one book a week,” I said. “Let Malcolm Gladwell lead you to other books. Take notes. Find a line that resonates (I told her the story about the harpist on the train and his resonating harp) and continue the line into your own poem. Follow your heart, discipline your mind. Read everything on your reading list in the same way. Read and write, read and write, all day long. Ignore disinterested professors who may feel as discouraged as you do, by the way. Maintain interest in yourself and your education. You’ve paid your tuition, don’t waste it.”

I gave Flo my card and encouraged her to stay in touch. I want to know how she does this year. Like all young people, she deserves a demanding education and teachers who care about her.

Scandinavian Murder Mysteries

August 23, 2017

Tags: Syrian refugees, Scandinavian murder mysteries, "Bordertown, " "Trapped, " 9/11

Ville Vartanen as Detective Kari Sorjonen in "Bordertown."
Is Finland in Scandinavia? Is it a Nordic country? And what is the difference between Scandinavian and Nordic? Like most Americans, my geographical knowledge is pitiful-- I must take a class sometime soon—and I always have to Google countries. I’ve traveled to Norway and Denmark, but never to Sweden or Finland. Finland has a border with Russia and is just miles from St. Petersburg. Russian, Swedish, Finnish, English—these four languages are almost interchangeable in Finland. Who knew? I didn’t.

We can learn a lot from murder mysteries. Right now my husband, Jim, and I are hooked—and bingeing on—“Bordertown”—four episodes to go. And before that we watched “Trapped,” from Iceland, which is not Scandinavia exactly, but feels as though it was chopped off from Scandinavia in an earthquake millennia ago.

And both of these series are wonderful. Why? The production values are high, the scripts are gorgeous—both character and plot driven with little or no gunfire. And we get a taste of a landscape and culture, albeit fictionalized and idealized , that is uniquely strange, yet familiar in its Western mores. It’s pure escapism, which is what we—Americans—seem to need these days. Texts fly from friends and family with suggestions of series newly discovered on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Stream me, baby, I’m ready for more fairy tales to vent my fears and discontents. But are these stories fairy tales? Or are they real? And what is real? And how close to real are these scripts? The murders are often grotesque, portrayed so graphically I often have to turn my head away. But the detectives are so imperfect, quirky and humane, I want to invite them over for dinner.

I had a Norwegian student when I was teaching at the University of London who invited us to her home four hours north of Oslo. High summer, lots of swimming in a fiord just minutes from her home. Her father was a Lennsmannkontor—the town’s mayor, notary republic and sheriff. He had a very impressive sign on his car with lights on top. But there was little danger; everything about the life in this small town seemed safe, stable. The population in Norway at the time was still homogeneous—no refugees. And there were no Scandinavian murder mysteries hitting the international bestseller lists then, either. So, perhaps, the success of these books and streamed series has something to do with the influx of desperate, migrating populations into the EU, and the transformation of once homogeneous societies into something else, or more, or different. All the Nordic/Scandinavian countries have been generous in welcoming refugee families. And they have suffered attacks. The most recent has been in Finland when an 18-year old Moroccan citizen, denied asylum, and known to authorities, went on a stabbing rampage. Two people were killed.

Undoubtedly, this tragic episode will stir the imaginations of Finnish writers as 9/11 has stirred the imaginations of American writers. After that world-changing event, I got a phone call from a reporter at the LA Times. She wanted to know if I thought the destruction of The Towers would show up in literature any time soon. All that we were writing in the wake of the attack was raw and insistent; it had not yet been transformed into literature. Beyond that, I really didn’t know. Who can predict these things? Years later, after 9/11 had mulched and settled, I wrote a murder mystery myself, “Say Nothing,” which, to my surprise, tapped into the trauma of 9/11 big time. The female detective is an Iraq vet. And she's very quirky and humane.

Jazz Journal

August 16, 2017

Tags: Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman, Voting Rights, Mississippi, Cleo Laine, JohnnyDankworth, George Melly, Daniel Goldhagen, Charlottesville

It’s a summer Monday, I’ve been away for a few days, the emails and Facebook posts have accumulated, and I am saddened—and frightened—by the events in Charlottesville. I attended a peaceful rally and stood with uptown New York City neighbors of every ethnicity and age, some carrying candles or signs, a new literary genre since 45 was elected. I am sure someone will eventually collect them into a book.

I began this blog post thinking about free speech vs. hate speech, and how propaganda—words and images—are often prequels to violent action, an historical truism. Hitler’s “willing executioners,” as Daniel Goldhagen, a Harvard historian called the ordinary people of Germany during Hitler’s rise, are too easily led, too unquestioning, too virulent in their verbal expressions of loathing and exclusion. Hatred obliterates conscience, humanity and rational thought. And this being unequivocally true, a bizarre question surfaced in my writer’s mind: I wonder if bigots listen to jazz? And, if not, what is their music of choice?

I listen to all kinds of music, but it is only jazz—its melodies and riffs, the improvisation of the next unscripted note—that satisfies during hard times. And this has been true for me since high school. Only my really cool friends listened to jazz on the all-night station in New York, unbeknownst to our parents, of course. We were supposed to be sleeping, not talking on the phone about the latest Jimmy Breslin editorial in the New York Post, or listening to the radio. We were going to a progressive, politically engaged school. Andrew Goodman, an alumnus, had just been murdered during a voter registration drive in Mississippi, a murder that remained unsolved until 2004.

Jazz. I spent my late adolescent years in Boston, New York and San Francisco, in affordable jazz clubs instead of rock clubs. For the price of one drink, we could stay into the night and all night. Jazz lovers and jazz clubs were integrated. What an amazing word! Some of the musicians were white, some were black. Did it matter where the music originated? Yes and no. Its African and slave origins were embedded. Tunes held the pain of the Middle Passage, the celebration of survival, hope for the future. The British imitators I knew when I lived in London—George Melly, Johnnie Dankworth, Cleo Laine, in particular—were in awe of its power and did their best to honor the musical tradition, making their own contributions.

So I ask again: do bigots listen to jazz? Should we pipe this indigenous American music through the air ducts of offices and bus stations, supermarkets and Walmarts? And, if we could do this, would a bigot’s brain waves shift from hatred to love? Would they begin to absorb the true meaning and promise of America? Would they stand down and turn in their guns?