I was long-winded last time, so let me try to minimize the gab today. I went to sleep last night wondering if I’ve ever done anything for an Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Though I’m going to keep my own comments brief, I can hear over the Internet a few groans. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day? Isn’t that one of those woke-ish things with a work-ish name meant to single out some small subsection of Americans?” Well, objects in my mirror are closer than they may appear to you.
The Twin Cities is home to a lot of what used to be called Urban Indians. “Indians” of course being part of Columbus’ “My dog ate my GPS” report back to the royals in Spain, where he imagined he had found a route to the frontiers of South Asia. My part of the Twin Cities has a lot of Mexican and Central American immigrants — immigrants that have DNA that says they were in the Americas before my ancestors were. We’ve got folks around here from India too — makes things confusing.
But for any complaints about special holidays implying special pleading, this day is still widely known as “Columbus Day,” which with footnotes and explications, can be said to mark the start of European colonization of the Americas. But it’s widely known that the day became a holiday through the desires of Americans with Italian heritage wanting a day to celebrate that. I’m fine with that too, it’s just that where I live in our big and diverse country I’m more likely to be around folks who think of themselves as Native or Indigenous Americans.
So, here’s what I did today to hurry up and figuratively meet the Spanish boats with an Italian commander, and to celebrate Americans discovering them. Yes, what happened as a result is a complicated story, and I said I’ll be brief.
I recalled that the LYL Band had once covered a couple of songs on one past version of this holiday. One was Patti Smith’s “Amerigo” from her under-rated Banga record. I listened to it, and it’s kind of long and languid, and I’m not in that mood today. Then I listened to the other, a cover of a song from the Nazz.* Now that was more like it, though my mix of the rough and ready performance from six years ago was not very good. So, I took some time to remix it today, not so that’s it’s sophisticated or genteel. No, it’s still LYL in its immediate punk mode. No acoustic guitar or my approaches to Jazz-my-way. This is turn it up and roar music. Also, some notes escaped being hit in the mayhem. Sorry about that, but in the right punk mode you may be able to deal with it.
You may want to turn it up loud.
*The Nazz were a group from the late Sixties that never got as much traction as their records deserved. Think of an American band that sounded like Laura Nyro or Loving Spoonful-era John Sebastian writing songs for The Who or The Yardbirds. Connoisseurs know The Nazz as the band Todd Rundgren emerged from. Todd’s talents as a producer and musician made sure their recordings sounded a lot more polished than our cover, but maybe he’d like our energy? After all, he did get the job producing the first New York Dolls LP (and the Patti Smith Group’s Wave too). I think I even casually assumed “Christopher Columbus” was a Rundgren song, but it seems that it was written by the band’s bass player Carson Van Osten. Van Osten went on to have a considerable career behind the scenes at, of all things, Disney.