On what was one of the coldest, snowiest, winteryest nights of the year around one hundred brave souls chose to express their solidarity together in what became the social(ist) event of the season. The reason? Gaza.
In a benefit for the Palestine Office in Dearborn some of Detroit’s finest jazz and improv musicians came together including Joel Peterson on bass, Kurt Prisbe on drums, James Cornish on trumpet, Michael Carey and Marco Navatchcoff on all kinds of reeds. Comrade Brad Duncan organized the event and opened his Corktown flat/communist reading room for the show. Food was donated (more on that later), adult beverages and party favors were abundant, comrades and friends, old and new, all came together creating a scene so warm that the invasion of Arctic Air outside melted at the door.
A broad swath of Detroit’s activist and arts community were in attendance (including some folks from places much further away). Included were folks from Critical Moment– our local radical paper, Jewish Voice for Peace– who helped turn out people, The Green Party, The Communist Party–including Peoples Weekly World arts and film writer, Labor Notes activists– from founding members to interns, anarchists and familiar faces from anti-globalization protests, Food Not Bombs– who brought tons of food and people, The Palestine Office, Solidarity– Detroit branch members past, present, and future, politicizing high school and college students from Wayne, EMU and UofM, a SNCC veteran and postal worker activist, long standing peace activists, many peace-minded jazz aficionados, established voices in jazz and experimental music, musicians from Immigrant Suns, Odu Afrobeat Orchestra, Faruq Z Bey Quartet, the Raw Truth, Palestinians and Jews, Muslims, atheists and agnostics, Washtenaw Reds, UAW members– from rank and filers to elected leaders and all kinds of others good people.
Over $1,000 was raised, which is super-good money in recession riven Michigan. The music was wonderful, the conversation stimulating, the cause righteous. Folks came out in such conditions because the Israeli assault on Gaza has produced real outrage and real solidarity. Poor people gave dollars so they could give something, do something, for Gaza. And the food– a word on the banana nut bread. It seemed to arrive divinely. Was it homemade, did it come from a box? Who brought the banana nut bread? Perhaps it was my state, but I can still taste its buttery goodness– without a doubt the best nut bread I’ve ever had (apologies to my mother).
It went on well late as old and new friends snaked in and out of conversation, folks met and parted, exchanged numbers, plotted demonstrations and camping trips, benefits and shows. All succor to the soul. Thanks to all who came out, all who put it together; thanks to the musicians and most of all thanks to Brad for organizing and hosting. The demos in Detroit have been big, young and angry. A movement is being reformed. As Brad said this was all the very least we could do given the circumstances. But it was wonderful to do.