About Me

I am Associate Professor and Chair of the History Department at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. I am also the Academic Director of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, in New Bedford MA. Author of "Social Security and the Middle Class Squeeze" (Praeger, 2005) and the forthcoming "Saul Alinsky the Dilemma of Race in the Post-War City" (University of Chicago Press), my teaching and scholarship focuses on American urban history, social policy, and politics. I am presently writing a book on home ownership in modern America, entitled "Castles Made of Sand? Home Ownership and the American Dream." I live in Providence RI, where I have served on the School Board since March 2015. All opinions posted here are my own.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vic Chesnutt hedges his mortal bets, in "It Is What It Is"

December always make me think about the brilliant Vic Chesnutt, who took his life on Christmas Day 4 years ago.

From Chesnutt's song "It Is What It Is," a kind of atheists psalm:

I’m not a pagan
I don’t worship anything
Not gods that don’t exist
Nor the sun which is oblivious

I love my ancestors
But not ritually
I don’t blame them or praise them
For anything that they passed along to me

I don't need stone altars to help me hedge my bet
Against the looming blackness
It is what it is
The performance below took place just weeks before he launched himself into that 'looming darkness.'

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