"Occupy Wall Street: Longview Port Fight Isn't Over," by Alpha Unit

Occupy Portland, Occupy Oakland, and Occupy Longview aren’t giving up that easily. They’ve been gearing up for a fight and they’re not ready to call it off just yet – in spite of the tentative agreement that’s been reached between the union they’re supporting and the corporation they’ve been condemning. The long, drawn-out dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Export Grain Terminal appears to be coming to an end, on the heels of the inflammatory news that the US Coast Guard was to escort a ship owned by EGT from the mouth of the Columbia River to Longview, Washington, to be loaded with grain bound for Asian ports. Occupy and the union are outraged not only by US military intervention in the dispute but also by the fact that the loading would be done with non-ILWU workers. The Governor of Washington has stepped in to broker a temporary truce, satisfying those who were hoping to avert a confrontation in Longview when the ship calls at the EGT facility. The involvement of the Coast Guard wasn’t the first federal intervention in the dispute; last year the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against the ILWU, alleging that some of its protest tactics were illegal. The union ended up being fined $300,000 for labor violations. The fight between the ILWU and EGT centers around an agreement the union has with the Port of Longview that only ILWU workers would be hired at the port. EGT – a joint venture among Japan-based Itochu; St. Louis-based Bunge North America; and South Korean shipper STX Pan Ocean – signed a lease with the Port of Longview, but didn’t particularly want to hire ILWU workers. A dispute was born. EGT is said to have begun using non-union labor during construction and during the testing phase of its new $200 million facility. In July of 2011 it announced plans to hire an outside contractor that would employ members of Operating Engineers Local 701. The ILWU had been shut out. EGT filed a lawsuit contending that their contract permitted them to hire non-ILWU labor. Dockworkers responded, “Oh, hell, no.” They picketed. They protested at EGT headquarters. They tried to block a train heading for the terminal. They engaged in vandalism, including dumping grain from train cars, cutting brake lines, and smashing windows. There were arrests, along with intervention by the NLRB. Then came the news that the Coast Guard was going to assist EGT in getting its new ship to port. Other unions drafted resolutions protesting military intervention and supporting the ILWU. Occupy Wall Street started getting ready to block the port, vowing to do everything it could to keep the ship from being loaded. The news of the tentative deal hasn’t stopped Occupy’s mobilization efforts. Their plan is on until rank-and-file Longshore workers reach an agreement. Occupy calls Coast Guard intervention union-busting, pure and simple, saying that under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security the Coast Guard has created a security zone around the port to ensure the loading can progress unhindered. Union supporters insist that this is a crucial battle for all workers. They don’t want to see EGT succeed in this effort, because if it does, other employers will see a green light to bust unions.

"It's the Year of the Peach," by Alpha Unit

It’s been 40 years since the Allman Brothers Band released their album Eat a Peach. In celebration the band has named 2012 “The Year of the Peach.” This is also the year they’re going to be given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, which, according to the Recording Academy, “honors performers who have made contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.” (I know some people are cynical about the Grammys, but I can’t be cynical about the Allman Brothers Band – and there are too many people who are the same.) Eat a Peach is a double album that was recorded after what critics call the group’s “breakthrough” album, At Fillmore East, and contains live tracks that didn’t make it onto that album, including “One Way Out,” a blues song that the Allman Brothers made popular with rock audiences. The Allmans knew blues music, and had been playing it from the time they began forming bands in the early 1960s. After making it to Southern California where they opened for acts like The Doors and Buffalo Springfield, the Allmans moved back South, to Macon, Georgia. That’s where they began to put together the group of players who would join them in forming the Allman Brothers Band: guitarist Dickey Betts, bassist Berry Oakley, and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson – a Black drummer who had started out in R&B and had toured with such acts as Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. According to one chronicler:

At the same time, Duane Allman began doing session work at the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, where this skinny White hippie quickly earned a reputation as a stinging, soulful accompanist. Duane and Gregg both exhibited a natural feel for Black music that the much-hyped British “blues masters” of the period couldn’t begin to match. Growing up in the South, they absorbed gutbucket R&B and sanctified gospel along with the more common influences of soul and freedom jazz and came up with an unprecedented sound…

It was a sound that combined “deeply Southern” strains of music – blues, country, and gospel – with rock and roll. Some called it New South. Critics and fans love Eat a Peach, but the album cover art is famous, too. The album cover includes a gatefold mural featuring a “fantasy landscape of mushrooms and fairies and folklore,” as described by one writer. It is the work of brothers James Flournoy Holmes and David Powell, from Spartanburg, South Carolina. The brothers were in their early twenties when they went into the graphic design business. James had a fine arts degree from the University of Georgia; David was a photographer and businessman who had a degree in sociology from Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina. Their association with the Allman Brothers began, according to a Billboard piece written back in May of 1974, after the band played in Spartanburg, noted the brothers’ talents, and asked them to do an album cover for their Capricorn release. Eat a Peach was among the album covers displayed in an exhibit of J. F. Holmes’ cover art that ran a couple of years ago at Spruill Gallery in Atlanta. Bo Emerson wrote about Holmes and some of the bands he did work for (like the very first cover he did, for Wet Willie), groups on the Capricorn label and elsewhere – like Charlie Daniels and the Marshall Tucker Band.

“He would maybe take the feeling that the band gave you musically and develop it into something that you could get by looking at the album cover,” says Dick Wooley, who was vice president of promotion at Capricorn during the 1970s. “A lot of the bands didn’t have an identity, and he’d come up with something.”

Holmes was talented in watercolor, airbrush, and ink and pen, said Emerson, and his style depended on the music inside.

The clear, spare rendering of the postcard joke on the front of Eat a Peach ( a flatbed hauling a house-sized piece of fruit) contrasts with the crowded, trippy landscape on the gatefold interior, with its mushrooms, dragons, and grotesque figures that he says, “I stole, sorry, ‘borrowed,’ from [Hieronymus] Bosch.”

All of Eat a Peach – the music and the cover art – came from the imagination, skill, and artistry of Southerners. David Quantick calls this album the work of “Southern rock” pioneers at their creative peak. But Gregg Allman has often been quoted as saying:

Well, to say “Southern rock” is kind of redundant, isn’t it? It’s like saying “Rock Rock.”

This is because, as Swampland puts it, rock and roll and all of its precedents – blues, gospel, jazz, country, bluegrass – are products of the American South.


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