Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Allotment: How the 1887 Dawes Act disrupted Native American cultures

Henry Laurens Dawes
Presented to the Club by Martin C. Langeveld on Tuesday evening, May 26, 2015 (that Monday being a holiday)

One of the founding members of this club in 1869 was Henry Laurens Dawes, born in Cummington in 1816. He graduated from Yale University in 1839 and became a teacher in Greenfield, where he also edited the Greenfield Recorder.

In 1842 he was admitted to the bar and opened a law practice in North Adams, maintaining his interest in journalism by editing the North Adams Transcript.

From journalism he moved into politics, being elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1848, 1849 and 1852, to the state Senate in 1850, and to the Massachusetts Constitutional convention in 1853.

He then served as U.S. district attorney for Western Massachusetts from 1853 to 1857, when he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives and served there for 23 years until 1875.

That year, Dawes was elected by the Massachusetts General Court as United States Senator from Massachusetts, to succeed Charles Sumner, who died in office. He served in the Senate until 1893, and died in Pittsfield in 1903 at the age of 86.

A friend of Abraham Lincoln, he served as a pall bearer at Lincoln’s funeral.

In the House, Dawes figured prominently in the passage of anti-slavery and Reconstruction measures during and after the Civil War, as well as in tariff legislation, the establishment of a fish commission, and the establishment of a system of daily weather reports, which was a forerunner to the United States Weather Service.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

In memoriam: Kim Burbank

We are saddened by the death of Kelton Miller Burbank ("Kim"), who was a member of the Club for nearly 50 years, from 1964 until 2013, and an honorary member for the last few years. Our condolences go to his widow, Hedy, and to his extended family. The Club will miss Kim.

The following is Kim's obituary:

Kelton Miller Burbank died peacefully in his home in New Ashford, Mass. on June 29th, 2015.

He is survived by his loving wife, Hedy Harris Lipez Burbank; his three children, Kelton M. Burbank, Jr., (Betsy Burbank), Brooke E. Burbank, (Blake Wood), and Joshua G. Burbank, (Miriam Preus); his brother, John Burbank, (Ouissa Fohrhaltz), his sister, Donna Burbank Eckhardt, (Alan Eckhardt); his two step-children, Sydney J.Lipez and Zachary H.Lipez, (Zohra Atash); and his three grand-daughters, Phoebe Lan Burbank, Katherine Xian Burbank and Samara Preus Burbank.

Jazz for the Journey

Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões, used under Creative Commons License
Presented to the club by James Lumsden on Monday evening, March 23, 2015


The brilliant American singer-songwriter, Carrie Newcomer, recently wrote that, “some of us come into this world with a note safety pinned to our shirts saying, ‘This one belongs to the song.’ For us music is as necessary as air or water. We live it, breathe it, drink it, dream it and chase it all our lives. For us there are moments when the song feels like the closest thing we'll ever know in this world to true communion.” Such is the case in my life whether the song starts in hardass rock and roll, gentle acoustic folk song, chant, string quartet, gospel or jazz: I was born to make music – and do not feel complete until “I’ve got the music in me.” (Bias Boshell, “I’ve Got the Music in Me,” 1973 performed by Kiki Dee.)

Knowing this, however, people continue to ask me, “Why are you so focused and concerned about jazz?” Specifically, what drives your current emphasis on a spirituality of jazz? The short answer is found in Ted Gioia’s stirring book, A History of Jazz, where he speaks of jazz as “an art music with the emotional pungency of a battle cry.” (p. 209) But such a brilliant quip only communicates with the cognoscenti– those who already know how to read between the lines of culture and spirit and do their own simultaneous translation – and I am not interested in musical Gnosticism.

Rather, I want to be clear why the music matters – to me – as well as the wider community. So this is one attempt to articulate a context for celebrating jazz: why it matters to me, what is going on with the music as an art form and some of the implications I find in both the sounds and feelings it evokes. The impressionistic jazz pianist, Bill Evans, said, “It bugs me when people try to analyze jazz into an intellectual theorem. It’s not – it’s a feeling.” Then he adds:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Never On Sunday: A visit to one of the Club's antecedants

"The Dinner Party" by Henry Sargent, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Presented to the Club by Ronald Trabulsi on Monday evening, April 27, 2015

A few years ago, Ann and I were wandering through Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts when we noticed a handsome painting of a group of 18 men at what was clearly a nineteenth century dinner table, attended by two man servants. We jokingly commented that it looked like an historical version of our Monday Evening Club.

Well, be careful about speculation! Some research showed that the painting was of a dinner meeting of Boston’s Wednesday Evening Club.  The artist was Henry Sargent, a Boston artist who was born in 1770 and died in 1845. The painting was done in 1821.  Sargent’s paintings are known for giving intimate glimpses of Boston’s homes in the early 19th century and this painting certainly does.

All this, of course, then led to curiosity about the Wednesday Evening Club of Boston – and that is the subject of my talk tonight for it is a fascinating look at our forebears and the similarities with our Club that make for what seemed to me to be a captivating story.