Updated: Aug 11
I hope you're safe and well. This morning, I was running in a new subdivision development. So far, there are only roads laid out. 'Twas a fun run. I listened to "Jordan B. Peterson's Biblical Series: Genesis 1 - Chaos & Order" and did my best to maintain a methodical stride and pace. I knocked out 2-miles at a measly pace. I'm not breaking any records. But, I'm looking to clock in 350 miles this year. We'll see how it goes.
Presumably, the plots where houses will sit are determined at this juncture. I let my mind run, and I imagined what this development would look like in 20 years. This is the birth of a community of sorts, no? Then it occurred to me. It was a wave of pensiveness and sadness. It's The 2020 Bummer. I was running until the fresh, it-still-looks-sticky, dark asphalt turned into gravel. Development ended. I was curious why the construction was not happening. Where were the crews? Why are there machines in this field and no one there to operate them? Was this caused by the economic fallout we're surfing? Was there a contractual dispute that held up the progress? Was it the weather? It had rained last night, perhaps, and most likely, its the weather. Right? It was the weather.
So, as you may have noticed, we are living in unprecedented times. I remember times back in Cane Valley, Kentucky what my grandmother would say when she recalled her experiences in the Great Depression, and how impactful that was to her. I have been thinking a lot about the culture of the 30s. So, even while navigating a funky, maybe, new-normal, some things will remain the same -- as they always have.
One) Use your turning signal, or you're a turd.
Two) Reliable information should be critically considered.
Three) The development of a neighborhood is the death of a field.
Four) Any good coffee shop will grace your ears with the enchanting music from the beautiful Billie Holiday.
Speaking of Billie Holiday! In the late 1930s, while she was recording for Columbia Records, she was introduced to a track titled "Strange Fruit," a prolific anti-lynching song. If you're like me, you enjoy exciting facts.
Get this: The song was originally written as a poem by a fella named "Lewis Allan." Abel Meeropol was his government name. He was from the Bronx, born to immigrants from Russia. He was a school teacher, songwriter, and CURVEBALL, a proper communist! Like adopted-the-children-of-Julius-and-Ethel-Rosenberg, level communist. They were a couple executed for espionage for spying on behalf of Russia. NUTS! Communism is garbage. He wrote one hell of a song. Okay, enough of that rabbit hole.
So, we're dealing with a new normal. That comes with a heavy dose of difficulty. Many of the challenges we're facing are unique and specific to our current and modern way of life. Luckily, there are things from our American past that we can draw parallels from. Let's continue on my penchant for talking about the 30s.
Have you ever heard of "Black Thursday?"
So, on October 24, 1929, the value of common stock and shares in the U.S. market dropped by a staggering 40 percent. Black Thursday would send the US a massive economic shockwave, debilitating our financial equilibrium, and setting-in-motion a downward spiral to the American way of life. That was the beginning of the Great Depression, a decade-long period of unemployment and poverty. That sounds exactly like, "Nah, I'm good."
Things were bad then, and things are bad now. It is crucial to remember Black Thursday is a symptom rather than a cause. The designs behind a meltdown would look more like an overall decline in demand, imbalances and weaknesses in the economy, faltering demand for housing, and reduced production in the automobile industry. Things got critically bad for a lot of people. The folks that had mortgages had a specific crisis from defaulting on their loans. The overall residential housing market was seeing rising loan-to-value ratios.
I think about what happened in those homes during those times. I think of the music that echoed in their walls. I think of the conversations these families took on when a song particularly moving hit them. Give yourself a gift. Here is a sampling of music from the 30s, it's a collection of your favorite 7 minutes of your day.
1. Over the Rainbow - Judy Garland (1939)
2. In the Mood - Glenn Miller (1939)
3. Minnie The Moocher - Cab Calloway (1931)
4. Silent Night - Bing Crosby (1935)
5. Night and Day - Cole Porter and Ginger Rogers (1932)
6. Begin the Beguine - Artie Shaw and his Orchestra (1938)
7. If I Didn't Care - The Ink Spots (1939)
8. Cheek to Cheek - Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers & Leo Reisman (1935)
9. As Time Goes By - Rudy Vallee (1931)
10. Tea for Two - Art Tatum (1939)
11. A-Tisket, A-Tasket - Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb (1938)
12. The Way You Look Tonight - Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers (1936)
13. Wabash Cannonball - Roy Acuff & the Smoky Mountain Boys (1938)
14. Stormy Weather - Ethel Waters (1933)
15. I Got Rhythm - Red Nichols & his Orchestra (1930)
16. Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday (1939)
17. God Bless America - Kate Smith (1939)
18. All the Things You Are - Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra (1939)
19. Pennies from Heaven - Bing Crosby with George Stoll (1936)
20. Mood Indigo - Duke Ellington (1930)
So, when life levies upon you years like the 1930s or 2020, I find it productive to focus your efforts and celebrate small wins. It is important to remember we're all in this together. It is important to remember we must do what is best for neighbors and friends. In many ways, doing what was best for neighbors and friends, America showcased how incredible the American will is when we focus. So, that British fella, Issac Newton had a couple of laws, the third one being: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This rule of reactions can be applied to economics. But, it can also be applied to the human spirit. Let start with economics.
Reaction one: Republican Herbert Hoover, with sharp libertarian sentiments, promoted "Rugged Individualism" during the challenging times, but also, was signing legitimately helpful government programs into law. One of those being the Federal Home Loan Bank Act of 1932 is one of the most potent examples of efficient government intervention during an economic crisis. Originally a system of 12 Federal Home Loan Banks, now 11. It is where Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac emerged. This program has provided funding for residential mortgage loans for the better half of nine decades and kept the cost of homeownership within feasible levels. It was one of the main factors that led to the creation of Mortgage Back Securities, which in 2008 was the financial instrument that got us in a mess, causing the recession. At least it all comes full circle.
No good deed goes unpunished. Nevertheless, I really want to talk about good deeds. The human spirit. The collective virtue. Aiming at your highest good. That's what many friends and neighbors did one day in Cleveland, Ohio, for Sparengas Family.
Reaction two: An official representing a "home defense" organization named the Small Home and Land Owners' Federation showed up to advocate for the Sparengas family. The bank foreclosed on their house on July 18, 1933. So, the Cuyahoga County sheriff's deputies arrived at their home and evicted the Sparengas and their four children. That didn't go over so well with their community. That sparked passionate advocacy from their neighbors, and over 4,000 people showed up in protest of the eviction.
In the same sense, many friends and neighbors are showing up to support the music industry! Businesses and livelihoods dedicated to the economy produced by the industry have crippled under regulations required to keep everyone safe.
To be fair, most everyone I've encountered is not sour about the notion of keeping people safe. Simply put, it doesn't take an individual with an MBA to figure out if they can't operate their business, they cannot generate revenue, if they can't generate revenue, they can't pay for life's necessities.
Justin Weatherbee at Tidball's Sounds at Spirits September 29th, 2018.
They say you should look for the helpers. In 1933, it was the Small Home and Land Owners' Federation, and in 2020 it is the National Independent Venue Association. NIVA just formed, has nearly 2,000 charter members in all 50 states. I encourage you to learn more about their massive plea to the rest of America to help #SaveOurStages. The mission of NIVA is to preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.
They're asking for help for the final push to Congress. It does not appear there will be another opportunity. So, it is essential to learn more about how to support #SaveOurStagesAct and #RestartAct right now. We need those passed in order to keep independent venues & promotors nationwide from closing permanently. Please help us #SaveOurStages now.
Time is short. How can you help?
Small Business Owners:
Sign the letter from Howard Schultz from Starbucks.
The deadline is Wednesday, August 12 at 5:30 PM EDT.
Here is the link: https://helpsmallbusinessesnow.com/
Check here to find the e-mail address of your Congresspeople and Senators if you do not have them.
The Live Event Industry has been at zero income since March 13th and will be until well into 2021. The complete lack of income has been and will continue to be destroying the people, the firms, and the industry. This was caused by the COVID 19 crisis and the ongoing forced shutdown of all venues and large gatherings. The original round of PPP was vital and appreciated but that was depleted long ago. It is imperative that Congress provide vital funding to assure that the entirety of the Live Event Industry survives. I kindly request that you support and cosponsor the #SaveOurStagesAct and #RestartAct. These actions must pass immediately as most individuals and firms are long since out of money. This cannot wait another 2 weeks. I would urge you to consider passing the #SaveOurStagesAct and #RestartAct legislation as a clean bill to save American small businesses. I wish to thank you in advance for your consideration and support for the Live Event Industry, and indeed all such affected small businesses.
Thank you for everything you have done for our country, it is greatly appreciated.
Depression Facts and Figures:
From 1929 to 1933, wage income fell 42.5%.
The gross national product dropped from $103.8 billion to $55.7 billion.
Nearly half the commercial banks in the country failed and home building plummeted 80 percent.
In 1933, 25% of all workers and 37% of all non-farm workers were unemployed.
Approximately 273,000 families were evicted in 1932.
Milk cost 14 cents a quart, bread was 9 cents a loaf.
When the Depression started under President Herbert Hoover, his name became a popular part of the cynical everyday jargon, as in "Hoovervilles" a scoffing term related shantytowns for the homeless. Along with calling newspapers used for blankets, "Hoover blankets" and eating wild rabbits "Hoover Hogs"
Popular songs of the Depression often reflected despair and dreams, as in "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" "We're In the Money," "I've Gotta Right to Sing the Blues" and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams and Dream Your Troubles Away."
Check out our Sounds of the Great Depression playlist to transform yourself back a few decades.