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In Apulia, There Is No Remedy More Effective and Immediate Than Music

In 1728, in Campo Salentino, Anna Palazzo was bit by a spider while working in the vineyards and  promptly collapsed. She was hauled into her bed and the doctor Nicola Caputo wrote that he called the only people who could still save her: the musicians. The famed dance ‘the Tarantella’ is derived from what is about to play…

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The Song of Life among the Montana Blackfoot

Constitutions are a kind of creation story. These political documents try to say ‘this is who we are, where we are from, and what we value.’ The United States constitution starts with ‘we the people’ and so does the Montana constitution written in 1889. But while the United States constitution veers into the purpose of…

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Follow Your Blisters: weaving the stone wall

Here in the west we largely consider history to be ‘the facts.’ Sure there are the more liberally minded that concede that history is written by the victors and that voices like Howard Zinn (and others) capture more nuanced truths about history. Believe me, we need Howard Zinn’s in this world and his academic ancestors…

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Maremma, Italy to Upstate New York to You

Luisa Sciavolo and Jody Somers have their own love story to be sure but I learned to love them at the Northwest corner of Union Square at the farmers market there years ago. Eating their Tuscan style sausage and cheese for more lunches than I would care to count was an old kind of nourishment.…

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The Joys and Sorrows of Gumboot Dancing

The British aristocracy copied the style of the war hero The Duke of Wellington when he had his custom made utilitarian boot made for him and his soldiers. In 1852 the boot started to be made in vulcanized rubber and the leather was phased out. The boot came along as a labor standard wherever Colonial…

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Spoon Gravity

In ancient Wales if you were a young man and you gave a woman a spoon you were proposing to her. We have all held spoons. Their design is so elegant and so simple. What could be easier than a spoon? I have tried to carve spoons from a block of wood. It isn’t easy.…

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Nobody Wanted To Collaborate: Litvakus and reclaiming Jewish music from Belarus

One strand of the story of Jews is of worn down wandering boot heels. A story of the road. They have heard ‘you should probably get going’ (or worse) often enough that you almost have to wonder how people such as these learned such hospitality. Jews have been in the nation we call Belarus for…

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What’s With Those Beads?: Where Brains Meet Beauty Podcast

Dear Culture Makers and Primal Dermers, Not all of you know what I look like over in my corner of the world. Well take a gander. . What a bunch of people have asked me is, “Hey, what’s with those beads?” Well it’s a good story and you can hear all about it and some…

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The Lion Shakes His Mane

I’m reading a great book called “Culture and the Senses: Bodily Ways of Knowing in an African Community” by Kathryn Linn-Geurts. In the Western world there is ‘consensus’ that we have five senses and if we have a sixth sense that somehow it is associated with some kind of mystical intuition about the supernatural world…

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Tugging at the Lakota Language Thread

Before I was born my mother spent some time in South Dakota living and working with the Lakota Sioux on a reservation. When I was a kid I always admired and was glad to hold the small cache of beaded jewelry that she had. I couldn’t speak to the stories or meanings of any of…

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