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Beasts of Burden



Much ink has been spilled on the colonial mythology of the upcoming holiday and the horrors in Palestine. When confronted with the unrolling and competing narratives of a real-time conflict, I turn to relevant historians and critics of the past, and I can think of no one more qualified to speak on colonial narrative than late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said, whose landmark work Orientalism is foundational in the study of postcolonialism. Born into an affluent family of Arab Christians in Jerusalem in British Mandate Palestine in 1935, Said was a stateless man by his teenage years and, after many temporary homes, spent his career at Columbia University as a vanguard scholar of cross-discipline cultural studies until his death in 2003. His life as a privileged outsider in the high academic society of America allowed him to study the way colonial powers define the culture of their subjects with wildly inaccurate and damaging results. Every colonizing nation thrives on two central powers for legitimacy: violent force and the creation of narratives to justify and often erase the severity of that force. The "White Man's Burden" of Rudyard Kipling is one such narrative. It defined the foreign policy of the British Empire, inspired Winston Churchill's racist brutality toward India and found purchase in his support of the Balfour Declaration, which laid legal groundwork for the Zionist movement and the establishment of the State of Israel. The image of Arab culture as uncivilized, violent and requiring western administration was something Said worked passionately to dispel. It's a narrative easily transposed onto Colonial America's earlier brutal treatment of Indigenous people. Said offers not only a rejection of the colonial narrative, but a world of deep culture and history long flattened as "exotic." These are notes on a massive body of work I invite the curious among you to explore in a world still vibrating with the constant violence of empire. We must understand each other to be truly civilized. Have a great week.


Some things, like university names, come and go, while others seem resistant to the forces of change. One of those things in the latter category is the university circus community, formerly HSU, now Cal Poly Humboldt. The group's Gist Hall performance Circus? You Hardly Know Us!  is an addition to a long tradition, so if you'd like to be a part of that continuum, roll through at 7:27 p.m. sharp and drop $10 ($8 for students) into the bucket. If memory serves, it's a fun time.


As we wind up to next Thursday's holiday, the gigs get sparse. To correct for this rocky landing, I'm going to double up on shows, starting today and through every day of the weekend, so you can get your kicks one way or another. Tonight's very different events start at 8 p.m. Over at the Arcata Playhouse, you will find Ashland, Oregon, percussionist Terry Longshore, whose multimedia solo performance balance/flow combines various genres and disciplines to reach a satori of technical expression. ($18, $16 Playhouse Fanclub members).

Meanwhile, over at Humbrews there's a rock thing going down with identical twin, SoCal indie rock act Familiar Faces heading a line-up that features Maui mega-band The Lamonts, whose story is scarred by catastrophic loss caused by this year's wildfires, and local up-and-comers The Critics. This one's promising if you're in the mood for some diverse and frantic indie rock with some dancefloor momentum. It's $10 for early bird tickets, $13 at the door on the night of.


Two very different doings tonight, both in Arcata at 9 p.m. One of them subdued and subterranean, one a dancehall treat. Starting with the former, Young & Lovely, the torch and jazz song vehicle manned by the talented Penner siblings and co., is playing some tunes at the Basement with horn player Don Hammerstedt joining the crew for maximum vibes. No cover but consider buying some refreshments.

The Arcata Theatre Lounge has an entirely different beast on tap. Fuego is a reggaeton and Latin dance night curated by DJs Pressure, D'Vinity and Statik. Company dancers will be on stage to lead the groove and, while door costs $15, advance tickets are available for a mere $10.


Another interesting pairing, this time doable as a double bill, as the first performance is a matinee. I am talking about the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts-staged production of the musical The Music Man Jr. The diminutive suffix refers to the youthful cast involved in this iteration of the beloved Broadway hit show. The start time for this last show in the run is 2 p.m. and tickets range from $19-$28, with a special $15 pricing for students.

Four hours later at Blondies, you can enjoy, and possibly participate in, its legendary Jazz Jam. Always interesting, always free. Why not?


Speaking of jams, Seabury Gould is hosting his popular Irish Jam at the Logger Bar at 7 p.m. Although the man comes prepared with material and heartfelt instrumental and vocal pieces, there's always room for someone to pick up their tool of choice and join the fray. Entrance costs nothing, so be sure to bring good spirits and bonhomie to make a proper payment to the scene.


Not to beat the theme into the dust, but since we are nearing Thanksgiving, I'm going to continue this "jam roll" we are on and suggest one more free open jam night. This one is at the Siren's Song Tavern and runs for about an hour, starting at 8 p.m. It's usually a Grateful Dead theme on Tuesday, so I imagine in that hour you could probably fit in most of one song, maybe a few more if the tunes are from their Workingman's Dead speed-boogie country days.


OK, we all know what's coming, so tonight's nightlife isn't going to be any bright lights and promises. However, we can still choose to help those in our community who have less than ourselves. It's a tough time of year for the forgotten who struggle in ways most of us can't imagine. Lend a little charity and care, please. We only have each other.

Collin Yeo (he/him) lives in Arcata, in the homelands of the Wiyot, taken and held by violence.

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