Bring out the soapbox

Ahem. Clear your throat with
Slogans mean nothing. Clever placards will not lead a revolution. Change has to come from brave souls willing to walk or sit where they are not meant to be. And whereas embracing the same type of rhetoric of those you oppose leads only to division, a great unifier has always been found in song or on stage. The birth of American theater occurred when Shakespeare was finally put back on the shelf and a true national story was brought to life, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Three thousand copies of her novel were sold the first day, 10,000 the first week; by the second month eight presses were running night and day; and, finally, this tale that reflected what was happening on our own streets was put on stage, on Aug. 23, 1852. Reviews were poor, and yet within 50 years Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the most popular play of all time. Perhaps more important, the play reached into people’s souls and stimulated the consciousness that would carry forth the Abolitionist movement and that is the foundation of the civil-rights movement.

It’s interesting to look at what our 21st-century “stage,” the television set, is offering us in terms of entertainment. Are there creative, deep, thoughtful picture shows flickering through our living rooms or mere distractions to keep us off-center and slightly delirious? There needs to be a new way to “get through” these days of anxiety. Who among us doesn’t hear of multi-colored alerts without a deep yellow streak of fear running down our cowardly backs? Personally, I’m baffled about what, if any, response is appropriate.

A new “trend” in town is “reunion” shows of local bands. Tonight, March 6, at 9:30pm at Stormy’s Off Broadway is the reincarnation of one of Chico’s favorite jam bands, The Fire Monkeys. Lead guitarist Sid Lewis has been busy teaching guitar classes and working on an exciting Joe Craven project. Bassist Sam Good returns from the world of punk with local gods the P.A.W.N.S. to get busy with the funk. Zack Cowan, one of Chico’s most talented percussionists, alongside "old-school-to-the-max" John Glick, fill out the Fire Monkeys’ rhythm section. I don’t know if the Fire Monkeys can "stop the war," but I know they’ll try, and that’s about all anybody can do these days. On the horizon a Ride the Nine show is approaching rapidly. Perhaps bands are indicator species whose inner sense is causing them to re-band for one last hoorah before the poop hits the fan.