A New Year

3 Jan

The new year has begun.  This was the first New Year celebration that I attended in which Auld Lang Syne was not sung by those gathered together.  Instead, we sang the Internationale, a staple at Steve and Kazmi’s home celebration of the New Year.

“Arise, you prisoners of starvation! / Arise, you wretched of the earth! / For justice thunders condemnation. / A better world’s in birth. / No more tradition’s chains shall bind us. / Arise, you slaves, no more in thrall! / The earth shall rise on new foundations. / We have been naught, we shall be all. / ‘Tis the final conflict: / Let each stand in his place. / The international working class / Shall be the human race.”

“Arriba, parias de la tierra! / En pié, famélica legión! / Los proletarios gritan: Guerra! / Guerra hasta el fin de la opresión. / Borrad el rastro del pasado! / Arriba, esclavos, todos en pié! / El mundo va a cambiar de base. / Los nada de hoy todo han de ser. / Agrupémonos todos, / En la lucha final. / El género humano / Es la Internacional.”

“Debout!  les damnés de la terre! / Debout!  les forçats de la faim! / La raison tonne en son cratère. / C’est l’éruption de la fin. / Du passé faisons table rase, / Foule esclave, debout!  debout! / Le monde va changer de base: / Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout! / C’est la lutte finale: / Groupons-nous, et demain, / L’Internationale / Sera la genre humain. / C’est la lutte finale: / Groupons-nous, et demain. / L’Internationale / Sera le genre humain.”

We sang the English and Spanish versions in unison, but did not attempt the French version.  Kazmi sang the Internationale in Japanese, an annual highlight of this home party.  There were also renditions of other songs by individuals in Russian and Japanese.  One song in particular, a folk song, sung by Velina Brown in English with a clarity of beauty and emotion, brought some of us to tears.

The following day was equally rich in sound.  My friend Tyler was visiting from Brooklyn, so we spent our time together wandering the city.  Our first stop was along Judah Street near the ocean.  The beach was cold but sunny and attended by many visitors, the ocean providing an incomparable music of its own.  I tried my best to capture the visual day with a cell phone.

The highlight of the day occurred in the evening as we were walking along Valencia Street, joined by our friend Juan.  Tyler wanted one last drink between us, following dinner.  We stopped at Blondie’s where the joint was rocking to a live performance by the band Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic.  Winner of a West Coast Blues Hall of Fame “Best Zydeco Group” award in 2008, this East Bay band will have you dancing against your let-me-sit-and-get-comfortable will.  This is true stompin’ music and I danced all night, Blondie’s set up with ample space for spirited movement.  There were plenty of partners to find for coordinated dancing and plenty of moments for getting on a solo groove.  Thierry’s accordion can be deliciously lilting, but also struts and grinds in energized calls for audience response.  A young Ruben played a mean washboard.  The great thing about Blondie’s is their no cover hospitality.  I will be back there on the second Wednesday of the month, January 11th, to dance again to Thierry & Zydeco Magic (http://andrethierry.com/).

Window at Other Avenues Food Store Cooperative, 3930 Judah Street.

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