Thursday, June 27, 2013

American people accept a lower standard of living. Globalization in Action by Shannon Hill

Shannon Hill
27 June 2013
You may have heard references to us making the transition into the new economy. If you haven't then you need to be paying closer attention because this may be the single most defining point in all of human history, especially economically speaking. In the global economy wealthy corporations are able to pit the labor force of one nation against the labor forces of all other nations. This has been developing more and more over the past 20 years and by now is well entrenched globally. The ramifications of this poses problems for labor that have never been encountered before. In this new economy, labor will no longer have any leverage to negotiate for better pay, benefits, or working conditions. In addition to stifling efforts of labor the effects of a global economy will have profound effects on social welfare as well. These effect are a part of an even larger design intended to lower the standard of living of the American working class.

The movement toward it has been going on for a long time and our fate was sealed when 26 years ago President Reagan famously stated, or infamously stated, depending on how you look at it, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" The end of the cold war marked the beginning of the unbridled capitalist movement to be able to spread around the world. Our government sent a message to labor when President Reagan fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers in 1981, effectively saying to labor that your demands will no longer be tolerated in this country. Since then, Union membership has fallen to about 7% of the workforce, down from 35% at the peak of membership.

As we have already seen participation in the global economy does not bold well for the labor forces of wealthy countries like the US. Jobs are outsourced, Unions are made impotent, unemployment grows and thus wages are pushed down while poorer countries see wages inch up ever so slightly. The ultimate goal is to equalize wages of labor worldwide. With this and advances in technology, labor will be forevermore on the wrong side of the supply and demand equation and thus wages will remain low. The stark reality is that US labor will simply have no chance of negotiating for better pay or benefits in a global economy.

Another way being utilized to lower the standard of living for the American working class is by reducing the amount of social aid available to our society. While we have seen a rise in the amount of social spending in the US, especially since the economic crash of 2008-09, real dollar amounts, adjusted for inflation, of government benefits for those in poverty have been in decline since the late 70's. When the AFDC was replaced with TANF in 1996 it paved the way for even more reductions setting lifetime available benefit limits and 5 year time limits of participating in the program.

To be effective, social benefit programs have to be able to expand in poor economic times and then contract as the economy strengthens. TANF eliminated the ability of this kind of federal aid to adjust according to need. What we have seen as a result is benefits continually shrinking even in the worst economic times.

Instead of recognizing this problem there are factions that push for even more severe cuts to our safety net in these times of desperate need. Their excuse, and indeed the same reasoning that fueled the change from AFDC to TANF to begin with, is that supplying aid takes away the incentive of the poor to get out and work to earn their keep.

They fail to acknowledge that 69% of those receiving aid are either elderly, disabled, or children who cannot work no matter how much you cut their benefits. They disregard the fact that 13% of those receiving benefits are already working but make so little income they qualify for benefits. They do this while not only opposing the raising of the minimum wage but actually vote to eliminate the minimum wage. Finally, they fail to realize that only 18% of those that receive benefits are unemployed, many of whom would happily go to work given the opportunity.

Given these facts it begs the question why are these factions REALLY pushing our society in this direction? Why are not more of our representatives from the left standing up and screaming against this? After all, we must remember that it was Bill Clinton who negotiated TANF with a republican controlled congress to begin with. Just last week, house republicans purposed $20 Billion in cuts to SNAP but the Democratically controlled Senate passed cuts themselves of $4 Billion to SNAP. Democrats have even supported cuts to Social Security in the form of reduction of chained CPI. Why?

Well, part of the answer is that even those on the left see and understand the reality and inevitability of our new global economy. Not only did Clinton sign TANF into law he also signed in the first major step to make the global economy a reality, NAFTA. The reasons there is now this attack on welfare spending is really twofold. First, it is to the corporations advantage to drive wages down in the wealthy countries faster than wages can rise in the poor nations. Eliminating the safety net is done as a way of lowering overall wages and thus conditioning people for lower standards of living. The first ones to see their benefits eliminated will be the working poor. Their incomes that are now subsidized by government benefits will be lowered by doing away with that social spending. Secondly, with other's incomes also falling it will mean less tax revenue to finance social programs especially when more and more of the middle class fall into poverty as is inevitable because of the lowering of wages.

What we have to realize is that the global economy mandates that the American people accept a lower standard of living. The housing crisis was contrived by banking deregulation and promotion of home ownership by our government. The end result was to send a message through record foreclosures that the American people can no longer afford the American dream. 8 million people lost jobs, many of them the kind of living wage jobs that paid for the American dream have now been replaced by low wage jobs that no longer have the kind of benefits, insurance and retirement, that living wage jobs once had. This was necessary to force us to lower our expectations of living standards. Cutting social benefits now at such a crucial time is an announcement by our government that we have to accept and find other ways to adjust to these new standards of living.

Our government understands the effects of the global economy and are working to adjust to it to give multinational corporations every advantage that it can give them. All the while they keep the people in the dark because they believe the consequences for the American worker are inevitable. If we truly had a government for the people it would be working towards solutions to shield the American worker from the effects of the global economy but this is not our governments objective. The people are being sold out and if Americans had any idea of what is coming they would be rioting in the streets.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Maya city in Georgia Mountains By: Richard Thornton

Re-discovered book confirms Maya city and Roanoke colonists in Georgia Mountains

Two popular segments of the History Channel’s America Unearthed examined these mysterie
America has a secret history. On June 18, 2013 a modest, unpaid researcher for the People of One Fire Native American research alliance turned that history upside down. Marilyn Rae is a graduate of Boston University with a degree in Spanish language and Spanish literature. In the years since graduation she has become an expert linguist of the Mediterranean languages and does independent research on the period when Spain was colonizing the New World.
Marilyn was in her first day of helping out colleagues with the translation of some odd personal names associated with an enigmatic Spanish-speaking “tribe” in the Georgia Mountains, named the Bohurans. She was able to translate almost all the strange sounding words provided in “An Early History of Jackson County, Georgia,” which was originally written in the early 1800s. The names are Portuguese, Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic, French and Dutch. The word, Bohuran is French Breton (Celtic) and means “drum.”
The translation of the names, alone, changes the history of the Southeastern United States. There was a polyglot colony of European colonists living in the Southern Appalachians and mining gold a full century before England began colonizing the Lower Southeast. Both Great Britain and later, American historians covered up their existence to strengthen the claim of the British Crown, and later, the United States, to all of North America.

The Bohurans lived in a province in northern Georgia that the French called Bemarin. Lacking anything else to do that afternoon, Mary searched for information about Bemarin at the libraries of several Ivy League universities. She found a book in the rare books collection of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University which included a Europeanized drawing of the capital of the Apalache at Track Rock Gap. The book was written by French Huguenot, Charles de Rochefort, and published by Arnout Leers in Rotterdam in 1665. The purpose of the book was to encourage disfranchised French Huguenots and Sephardic Jews to immigrate to the Western Antilles and Southeastern North America.
The chapter on the Georgia Mountains was actually written in the early 1600s by a man, who had traded with the Apalache People living there. The original booklet was entitled, Paysage de la Province de Bemarin au Royaume de Apalache. [Journey to the Province of Bemarin in the Kingdom of the Apalache] The Province of Bemarin in northern Georgia still existed until the French & Indian War period in the 1700s.

The rare book has been long forgotten by New England scholars. A brief description of the book collection where it was stored, explains why. It was interpreted as being one of those fantasies by European authors, who had never been in North America. The card catalog states that the book is a description of the "mythical kingdom of Apalache."
Neither the Apalachee nor Timucua Indians of Florida called themselves by those names. The names were given them by the Spanish. The real Apalachee Indians lived in the Georgia and North Carolina Mountains. However, New England scholars didn’t know that. A professor sarcastically commented, “This book is obviously of no historical value because it places mountains, waterfalls and gold mines in Florida.”
The illustration in the book also destroyed its credibility with scholars. It showed large stone buildings and stone-walled terraces going up a steep mountainside. Everyone knew that the Southeastern Indians didn’t know how to build stone structures.

History erased
According to the book, French Huguenot and Spanish traders made contact with Kingdom of Apalache in the Georgia Mountains during the mid-1500s and continued to both trade and live in the Southern Appalachians throughout the 1600s. This is not stated in official history books.
Some traders were permitted to visit the capital of the Apalache, called the Quechua word, Motelot, or the Maya word, Copal. It was a large town built of stone on terraces rising up the side of the highest mountain in the region. There were two large stone structures at the top of the acropolis. The Temple of the Sun was rectangular and contained a fire that always burned. Only priests were allowed to go within its inner sanctum. In back of it was a round, stone temple, which functioned as an observatory. One can still see rectangular and round stone foundations at this location at the Track Rock ruins.
The drawing shows agave-type plants with a large single flowers growing on the terraces. This may be the Dutch artist’s misinterpretation of a sunflower. As drawn, however, they look like several tropical flowers that grow on the humid east slopes of the Andes.

The palace of the king, called a Paracus, was on a lower terrace on the mountainside. Paracus is the ethnic name of the people who created the Nazca Lines in Peru. The word, Peru, is derived from their name. Native Americans living east of Track Rock Gap in 2012 were found to carry high levels of Maya and South American DNA.
All of the Native American words recorded in the book are either Itza Maya or Quechua (South American). There are no Muskogee or Cherokee words. This totally negates the public claims made on behalf of the US Forest Service by the Tribal Cultural Preservation Officers of the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina that “the Track Rock ruins constituted a ceremonial site built by the Cherokee and Muscogee-Creek Indians.”
The Muskogee-Creek Indians never lived in the Georgia Mountains. The mountains and eastern Georgia were always the territory of the Itsate-Creek Indians. Recent, comprehensive DNA testing at the North Carolina Cherokee Reservation have found the Cherokees to be a Middle Eastern population with very little Native American DNA. They are the descendants of 17th century escaped Muslim prisoners of war and Spanish Sephardic refugees. The Track Rock Complex was started around 1000 AD or earlier.

The lost Roanoke Colonists
Late in the afternoon of June 18th, Rae sent an email to a People of One Fire member that contained the fanciful drawing of the Track Rock terrace complex. As the email was forwarded around the nation, other researchers were astonished to find in the book’s text, a description of the lost Roanoke Island colonists.
After visiting with the King of the Apalachee in his capital, the Frenchmen traveled southward for a day to a beautiful valley where English Protestants, who were survivors of a colony in Virginia, re-established themselves. They had built a village and a Protestant chapel. Several had Native American spouses.
In 1940 a Nacoochee Valley farmer found a stack of slate slabs in a cave, inscribed with Elizabethan English words. One of them was the grave marker of Eleanor Dare. At the time, these slabs were assumed to be hoaxes because it was ludicrous to believe that the survivors of the Roanoke Colony would have walked to the Nacoochee Valley. Now it is known that these disparaged artifacts are probably real. They are stored at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA.

One of the founding members of the People of One Fire is a PhD archivist, is fluent in Late Medieval French. As soon as “Paysage de la Province de Bemarin au Royaume de Apalache is fully translated and analyzed, the group plans to post the translation on its web site for the public to read.
Diseases, introduced by European explorers and immigrants, repeatedly swept through the Southern Appalachians during the late 1500s and 1600s. The indigenous population steadily declined and became increasingly unable to defend itself from invaders.
At the same time that the printer in Rotterdam was setting his type, the Colony of Virginia passed a law institutionalizing slavery for the first time in English history. The Rickohocken Indians were given firearms and a contract to do an ethnic cleansing of the Southeast. Hundreds of thousands of Southeastern Indians would be marched off to slavery or else killed in the slave raids.

The world described in the book, re-discovered by Marilyn Rae, would be gone in a few years. European maps continued to label the mountainous region around the border between Georgia and North Carolina as "Apalache" until 1717. However, by then there were pathetically few survivors.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

War on the Poor by Shannon Hill

War on the Poor
by Shannon Hill
I believe that one of the most important things in life is having "something to look forward to". I know that it can be different things for different people. For instance, I look forward to getting new socks, watching my kids grow up, and a long hug from my wife after a rough day or seeing her sleepy eyes when she wakes up. Sometimes we may look forward to a movie coming out, a new CD , or a book. These are the little things that give some of us joy and happiness. Others may look forward to a birthday party, a wedding, or the birth of a grandchild or child. Others look forward to being able to get a new car, a new house, or maybe a trip for vacation. Whatever it is, having something to look forward to is important to us all, it is what motivates us and keeps us going even when things are tough. 
 It is about hope and having something in our lives that is going to make things a little bit or even a whole lot better. I know we have all heard someone say "we may be poor but we are rich in experiences" or "rich in a loving family" and I believe that is true for many. However, I also believe many of our poor have a huge deficit in having something to look forward to.

When your hope is for enough money to be able to feed your children until the next pay day it is no longer hope, it's desperation. Hoping your electric, gas or water is not turned off is not something to look forward to, it's something to dread. Wondering if you are going to have enough gas in the car to make it to work the next two days before payday is a struggle.

Many in our society have very little if anything at all to look forward to. These people are of all ages from small children to our most elderly. In our country, as some describe it the richest country in the world, about 59% of our population will live in poverty at some point between the ages of 25 and 75. Currently the poverty threshold is set at about $23,000 yearly income for a family of four. In 2012, nearly 44 million Americans lived in poverty, including 20% of our children. This year children living in poverty is at a record high with 16.7 million now living in "food insecure" households. The number of homeless children hit record highs in 2011, 2012, and again in 2013 with well over 1.5 million each year and growing. About 4 million seniors, many of them that live alone, also live in poverty.

At the same time poverty is hitting record highs, corporate profits have gained about 20% per year since 2008, setting record highs year after year. Given these facts it is logical to think that the focus of government spending would be to help those in need but reason does not prevail in our society. 

Corporate welfare spending is triple what we spend on social welfare. In 2011 adding up tax breaks and subsidies big business received over $750 billion in corporate welfare. This cost the average tax payer about $1650 that year for handouts to companies with record profits. At the same time we collected $181 billion in corporate taxes, which paid for about 18 days worth or 5% of the yearly federal budget. That left we the people, the individual tax payer, to pay the other $3.4 trillion that funded the other 347 days or 95% of the 2011 federal budget.

In contrast, in 2011 we spent about $255.6 billion in actual social welfare and that is before deducting for administrative cost. Of this amount $103.2 billion went to food and nutrition including programs like SNAP, WIC, and other child nutrition programs. $55.4 billion went for housing assistance, $4.4 billion went for home energy assistance, $6.9 billion for the foster care system, and $17.1 billion for temporary assistance for needy families (TANF). The rest goes to other things like Children's Research and Technical Assistance, Payments to States for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Refugee and Entrant Assistance, Payments to States for Child Support Enforcement and Family Support Programs, a contingency fund and other similar programs. In all, social welfare cost the average tax payer about $610 per year with food and nutrition costing about $246 per year, housing assistance about $132.00 per year and TANF about $41.00 per year.

Summing this up, corporations, with record profits, pay 5% of our taxes for the federal budget but receive 75% of the total welfare while the people, with record poverty, pay 95% of the taxes for the federal budget and only receive 25% of the welfare. As bad as it may be, even this might make sense if corporations were creating jobs to help elevate people out of poverty. However, unemployment remains high after these same corporations have outsourced over 6 million jobs to other countries in the last few years while devastating our countries manufacturing base. Wages remain so low that a great many of those who work full time receive forms of social welfare (13% of those who receive SNAP assistance) to supplement their incomes from corporate giants like Walmart and McDonald's, which in the opinion of some should really be classified as more corporate welfare because of their refusal to pay employees a living wage.

So the question is, what do we have to look forward to from here? Corporations are expected to cut another 700,000 jobs as a result of the ongoing sequester cuts implemented by congress earlier this year. Our government continues to negotiate more Free Trade agreements that will encourage even more outsourcing of our jobs. The globalist economy we now live in expands the available work force for these multinational corporations which means it is likely unemployment in the US will get worse and wages will remain low or even grow smaller. 

In addition, funding for education is being slashed and its possible that student loan interest rates will soon double for those families and students that are carrying over a trillion dollars in education debt already. Government budgets at all levels are being cut resulting in many publicly funded jobs being cut as well. The house and senate both have passed their versions of the 2013 Farm Bill. The house suggest we cut $20 billion from SNAP and the senate's version cuts $4 billion from SNAP, both of these while also handing out huge subsidies to corporate giants like Monsanto.

Somewhere along the way the war against poverty became the war on the poor. We have seen a reduction in employment opportunity and at the same time an attack on social benefit funding. The way to cut welfare spending is to create jobs and put people back to work not to cut benefits and let people starve while living in the streets with no hope and nothing to look forward to. Poverty has human cost such as hunger and homelessness. Society in general pays the cost of higher crime rates, wide spread drug abuse, elevated levels of teen pregnancy and abortion, lower rates of education as well as higher medical cost. Poverty is not only a plague of the poor it has vast effects on all of us in our society.

It doesn't matter what your political bias is at all. Whether we are conservative or liberal we understand that our country has to have a safety net to help those that can't help themselves. We have to send a message to our elected representatives that this unbalanced approach of giving to wealthy corporations and taking from the poor is unacceptable. We need jobs not benefit cuts. We need policies that reward companies for growing jobs in this country instead of shipping them overseas. We need opportunity in place of rejection. We need to give ourselves and those in poverty something to look forward to instead of pulling the rug out from under them.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Child Handcuffs-Atrocities against the helpless

**A MUST READ of a chilling little known fact**
Actual tiny child handcuffs used by the US government to restrain captured Native American children and drag them away from their families to send them to the Indian boarding schools where their identities, cultures and their rights to speak their Native languages were forcefully stripped away from them.

Haskell’s Cultural Center & Museum is located on campus at the Haskell Indian Nations University, and tells the full, and often cruel, story of Haskell’s painful past. Opened in 2002, the center features the permanent exhibit Honoring Our Children Through Seasons of Sacrifice, Survival, Change and Celebration, featuring artifacts, photos and letters from the school’s early days.

Among the artifacts currently on display is a heavy lock and key from the small on site jail used to punish unruly students. Soon, perhaps, the handcuffs will be included among these artifacts, adding their own chilling testimony regarding the practices used by early educators to 'kill the Indian and save the child.'

Not much is known about the diminutive little handcuffs, which were donated to the Cultural Center in 1989 by a non-Indian man who described their use to Bobbi Rahder, former director of the Haskell Cultural Center & Museum. “He told us they were used to restrain captured Indian children who were being taken to boarding schools,” says Rahder. The middle-age white man said his father had the handcuffs for years but that he no longer wanted to have them in his possession. “He seemed relieved to get rid of them,” Rahder recalls. I made many phone calls, but was unable to track down the man, who is said to have lived in Lawrence. According to Rahder, he failed to respond to messages they had left him over the years, and he has not been seen at Haskell since the day he brought the handcuffs to the Cultural Center. “It was all very vague. He didn’t tell us how his father came to have the handcuffs. He just showed up one day and donated them to the Center."

Mysterious donations are common at the Cultural Center. The handcuffs, however, were much different, “I was shocked and afraid to touch them." A number of elders and leaders, conducted a modest ceremony the next day at the school’s medicine fire. Women from the Creek and Choctaw Nations, provided a tiny handmade quilt in which the handcuffs were reverently wrapped before being stored in the Cultural Center’s archives. The handcuffs remained in storage there for more than 20 years.

Although the Cultural Center displays a number of artifacts related to the harsh treatment of early Indian students at Haskell, the handcuffs were simply too painful to be addressed. Elders blessed the handcuffs and were further advised to put them away. The handcuffs languished in the archives of the center until this past summer.

As word of the handcuffs began to leak out over the past few years, students and faculty began discussing the importance of acknowledging their existence and putting them on display. For whatever reason, no one at the school has been willing to take the lead in the handling of this powerful artifact, but with the approval of Haskell administration, it was agreed to unwrap them for ICTMN.

The tiny handcuffs are a tangible example of the painful history between Native people and the U.S. The history of our genocide has been forever swept under the rug by the mainstream. People need to see the impact that these policies had on us. If those handcuffs could talk, they would tell some terrible chilling stories.

Steve Prue, spokesman for Haskell, says "there are no immediate plans regarding how the handcuffs will be presented to the public, nor how or even if they will ever be displayed." He does agree with the students that the handcuffs are an appropriate item and should be included in displays of other Haskell artifacts at the Cultural Center. “It’s good to have these sorts of things on display in the Cultural Center,” he says. “They tell the REAL story of who truly paid the price for us to be here today.” There is no doubt, to any compassionate reader of this horrid and unspeakable history, as to who were the REAL savages were.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bob Dylan's 'Never Ending Tour' by Eric Jaffe


808 Cities, 2,503 Shows, and 1,007,416 Miles: The Staggering Geography of Bob Dylan's 'Never Ending Tour'

808 Cities, 2,503 Shows, and 1,007,416 Miles: The Staggering Geography of Bob Dylan's 'Never Ending Tour'

Today marks exactly 25 years since Bob Dylan first embarked on what's commonly known as his Never Ending Tour. During this time, he's played at least 2,503 shows in 808 cities and towns all over the world, and a conservative, as-the-crow-flies estimate of the complete itinerary puts his travels over the last quarter century at an astonishing 1,007,416 miles.
That's the equivalent of going to and from the moon, twice, then completely around the Earth, twice more — with enough left over to fly from Duluth, Minnesota, to New York City and back again. So, the man's kind of a popular performer.
There are six cities in which Dylan's played at least 25 shows on the Never Ending Tour — New York (52) and London (50) lead the way — and he broken double digits in 50 cities altogether. He plays the United States most often, but the tour is truly global: Dylan maintains about a 3 to 2 ratio of domestic to international shows and has reached 54 other countries to date. He frequents major world cities like Toronto and Paris and Stockholm and Tokyo and Melbourne, of course, but he's played in Estonia and Andorra and Macedonia and recently China, too.
He may well be America's most-popular cultural emissary.

This map includes every show Bob Dylan has played for the last 25 years. Click on the icons and refer to the legend at lower right for a more detailed view. (Map by Sara Johnson and Eric Jaffe)

Dylan's been to so many places in these two-and-a-half decades that they start to form their own natural clusters. He's played Big Sky and Little Rock, Mountain View and Long Beach, Great Falls and Lake Placid, Palm Desert and Thunder Bay. He's played Eastlake and West Point and South Bend and Middletown and Northampton. He's played Providence and Christchurch and Las Cruces, and at least 20 different Saints or Sans or Santas, and Bethlehem (Pennsylvania).
He's played Forts Lauderdale and Myers and Pierce and Wayne and Worth. And Esch-sur-Alzette and Juan-les-Pins and Winston-Salem and Stratford-upon-Avon. And Elizabeth (Indiana) and Murray (Kentucky) and Eugene (Oregon) and Salina (Kansas) and Wayne (New Jersey) and George, Washington. And Altoona and Alpharetta, Chattanooga and Chula Vista, Kalamazoo and Kissimmee, Tuscaloosa and Tallahassee, Yspilanti and Waikiki, and Normal, Illinois.
He's played Aberdeen in Scotland and Maryland, and Hamburg in New York and Germany, and Victoria in Canada and Hong Kong. He's gone from Louisville to Nashville to Knoxville to Asheville to Huntsville in eight days. He's toured Cork and Bordeaux, College Park and State College, Jean and Jaen, Dijon and Gijon, Nampa and Tampa. He played London, Canada, the same night a Dylan cover band played London, England. He once went straight from Assago to Zurich.

Twenty-five years of Bob Dylan shows, organized by city. (Compiled by Eric Jaffe and Sara Johnson)
The very first song of the Never Ending Tour, played in Concord, California, was "Subterranean Homesick Blues." He's only played Duluth, Minnesota, twice — once more than he's played Duluth, Georgia. But he'll be going home again soon. The city is on the schedule for a new U.S. summer leg, stretching from Florida to California, that begins in just a few weeks.

•       •       •       •       •
In a sense, Bob Dylan has been on tour ever since he arrived in New York City in 1961. There were breaks — most notably, the roughly eight-year fallow period following his motorcycle accident in mid-1966 — but it wasn't until the late 1980s that Dylan seems to have started thinking his playing days "might well have been faded out," he writes in volume one of his memoir, Chronicles (2004). Then suddenly, a two-part transformation occurred that seems to have set the stage, so to speak, for the Never Ending Tour.
The first part of the change, related to Dylan's voice, was rather mystical. It occurred during some sessions with the Grateful Dead that took place during a break on his tour with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Struggling to connect emotionally with his old songs, he left the session and wandered into a jazz bar where he heard a singer who seemed to have "an open window to my soul." The experience called to mind some "elemental" singing technique that promised to help Dylan recapture some of the power he felt he'd lost.
He joined Petty for one final tour leg, and at a show in Locarno, Switzerland, in October of 1987, the vocal trick clicked:
Nobody would have noticed that a metamorphosis had taken place. Now the energy was coming from a hundred different angles, completely unpredictable ones. … It was like I'd become a new performer, an unknown one in the true sense of the word. In more than thirty years of performing, I had never seen this place before, never been here.
The other part, related to his playing, was much more mechanical. Dylan recalls that he replaced his "flat-picking" guitar style with a "highly controlled" system that blues artist Lonnie Johnson had taught him in the early 1960s. The effect might make Dylan's songs sound a bit unfamiliar and maybe even off rhythm, but it would also enable him to play with an emotional detachment. He described the style as "strict and orthodox" and the complete opposite of improvisation:
Nobody else played this way and I thought of it as a new form of music.
So if we're to believe Dylan's published recollections, come 1988 he felt like a "new" singing performer and had discovered a "new" musical style. The only thing left was to offer these insights to a new audience. He told his touring manager to plan at least three years of shows in the same towns, because he thought it would take him that long to get the techniques down. He thought he might lose older fans but that younger ones would be intrigued and bring their friends back with them the following year. Ultimately this would form "the nucleus of my future audience":
I wished I was at least twenty years younger, wished that I had just dropped on the scene all over again.
•       •       •       •       •
Jeff Rosen, Dylan's manager, declined to comment for this article on the current strategy and operations of the Never Ending Tour, but statistics and trends suggest the two core concepts of Dylan's original plan remain in place.
Take his focus on playing the same towns. Of the 62 cities he played in 1988, for instance, Dylan went back to nearly half the very next year, and has since re-visited all but four. (For the record: Charlevoix, Michigan; Carlsbad, California; Middletown, New York; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.) This repetition has endured. There are currently 390 cities that Dylan has played only once during the Never Ending Tour. That means 84 percent of the time he's performing in front of a fan who's had the chance to see him before — and maybe this time brought some new friend.
His focus on a younger audience persists as well. Back in 1988 he established a mid-tour college town presence that's become habitual during U.S. legs. Berkeley leads the way with 12 shows, but countless others have made the map. In 2004 he did an entire 29-show college leg. He'll play big arenas sometimes but also mix in downtown clubs and minor league ballparks. He'll share the stage with acts ranging from Elvis Costello and Paul Simon to Willie Nelson and Phil Lesh to Jack White and (this summer) Wilco.
Dylan's three-year outlook has broadened since 1988 — it's now twenty-five going on eternity — but a lot of other things haven't changed.

The frequency of Bob Dylan's U.S. performances can be seen state by state (use the legend above). (Sara Johnson)
There's a regularity to the travel pattern, sometimes down to the month. (In recent years, New Yorkers could set their calendars to Dylan's November appearances.) Since 1989 he's played shows in Europe every year, and he returns to Asia or Australia about once every five. He tends to play four or five legs a year, give or take one; there were a high of seven legs in 1998, when Dylan logged nearly 66,000 miles on tour, including a trip to South America with the Stones. Even after his latest start — May 27, 1989 — he still managed 99 shows.
The wildest Never Ending leg is open for debate. A strong case can be made for Leg 2 of 1995, when Dylan began in Maine, worked west and south to San Diego, then headed back to Boston and down the East Coast before flying to Oslo four days later for Leg 3. But it's hard to top Leg 1 of 1990 for grandeur. It began January 12 with an epic 50-song, 4-set, 18-cover, 6-ish-hour show (with 240 minutes of actual music) at Toad's Place in New Haven, then to Brazil, then to Paris, then a six-night, six-show residency at the Hammersmith in London. All that inside a month.
Winston Watson, who played drums for the band in the early 1990s, describes the frenzy of the road in a documentary called Bob Dylan Never Ending Tour Diaries (2009). With the house lights up the band would do what's called a "runner," dashing for the 12-bunk tour bus (with a star coach, of course) and leaving for the next city. "A very well-oiled machine," said Watson of the whole operation. "Everybody's where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be."
Watson said the grind wore him down physically and emotionally during his four years, but when it was finally over he must have found himself missing it a bit, because he joined a Dylan cover band called Highway 61 Revisited.
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Dylan himself doesn't seem to care much for the Never Ending Tour moniker. Initially fans were led to believe Dylan coined the phrase during an interview with journalist Adrian Deevoy for Q, the British music magazine, in late 1989. According to Clinton Heylin's 1991 unauthorized biography, Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades, Dylan responded to a question from Deevoy about the back-to-back nature of his recent tour schedule by saying:
It's all the same tour. The Never-Ending Tour. … You know, you just don't have to start it up and end it. It's better just to keep it out there with the breaks … extended breaks.
As it turns out, Deevoy seems to have put the phrase into Dylan's mouth. That's according to the writer Michael Gray, author of the wonderful Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (2006), whose comprehensive book devotes an entire entry to Deevoy. On the actual recorded interview, writes Gray, Dylan does say, "It's all the same tour." But then Deevoy suggests, "It's the Never-Ending Tour" and Dylan replies, "Yeah. Yeah."
"[I]n order to reference the source of what everyone said was Dylan's quote, I naturally checked that source — and found to my surprise that it was not Dylan's at all, but Adrian Deevoy's," Gray says.
Over the years Dylan has criticized the nickname. In the liner notes to his 1993 album World Gone Wrong, Dylan writes that fans shouldn't get "bewildered by the Never Ending Tour chatter," claims it ended in 1991 with the departure of lead guitarist G. E. Smith, and says that each leg of his tour has its "own character and design." The notes have a sardonic tone, but in a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, Dylan showed some genuine rancor for the label:
"Critics should know that there's no such thing as forever. … You never heard about Oral Roberts and Billy Graham being on some Never Ending Preacher Tour. Does anybody ever call Henry Ford a Never Ending Car Builder? Is Rupert Murdoch a Never Ending Media Tycoon? What about Donald Trump? Does anybody say he has a Never Ending Quest to build buildings? … Anybody ever say that Duke Ellington was on a Never Ending Bandstand Tour? But critics apply a different standard to me for some reason. … "
However Dylan truly feels about the Never Ending Tour name, it certainly exists in the minds of his fans. Bill Pagel's set list website is updated within minutes of the curtain as attendees call or email him. Olof Björner's keeps a concert history page celebrated for its detail. There's a "never ending pool" to predict what songs will be performed on a given leg, spinning off a contest that began in 2001. (Yes, my team did win once, thanks for asking.) And of course there are the joys of the shows and bootlegs themselves — hearing new songs played live for the first time, developing a taste for old tunes arranged like never before.
It's enough to keep fans busy forever, if there is such a thing.
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The 1,007,416-mile question, of course, is what drives Dylan to tour at such a relentless pace. "People do say: he's a 72-year-old guy, he's got plenty of money, he doesn't have to do this," says Sean Wilentz of Princeton University, author of Bob Dylan in America (2010) and historian-in-residence at Dylan's official website. "He's obviously not doing it because he has to do it, he's doing it because he wants to do it."
Wilentz believes some of the mystery of what motivates Dylan slips away if we consider him a performing artist instead of a recording artist. That idea harmonizes with a few clues Dylan himself has left during recent interviews. Together they suggest we should be looking at the Never Ending Tour not as some static display of Dylan's creative process but rather its essence.
"He does the recordings, to be sure, and they're important, but the songs have a life much bigger than what's on the record," says Wilentz. "That's why he goes around performing them. That's what he does. That's what his art is about. It's about lots of other things, too, but that's, I think, at the core of it."
For one thing, Dylan clearly derives inspiration from being on the road. He soaks up every new corner of the universe: whether it's the low-income shore community in New Jersey where police found him wandering around a few years back, or Neil Young's home in Winnipeg where he once made an excursion just to walk the same steps Young had walked. Is it merely a coincidence that the Never Ending Tour has coincided with Dylan's most fertile songwriting period since the 1960s?
"Traveling allows Dylan's aloofness to ferment into clarity," Douglas Brinkley wrote in Rolling Stone in 2009.
Then there's the development of his musical sound. With the exception of bassist Tony Garnier, who's been around since The Hague show in 1989, band members unceremoniously come and go. Every band permutation — there have been twenty-two at last count — is like a fresh effort to enhance the vocal and technical epiphanies Dylan experienced back in the late 1980s. They try to perfect Dylan's songs every night, or perhaps let them evolve in some Darwinian sense that may itself be perfection.
"I don't think you'll hear what I do ever again," Dylan told Brinkley in 2009. "It took a while to find this thing."
And last there's the very artistry of performance. Maybe the reason Dylan gives new arrangements to old favorites or rewrites the lyrics to classics etched in cultural stone is because they're still growing in his eyes. "People still have this idea that the record is the real thing and shows are just kind of the unreal thing," says Wilentz. "But, in fact, the shows may be the real thing." In a 2012 interview with Mikal Gilmore for Rolling Stone, Dylan agreed that performance brought a song to life:
Songs don't come alive in a recording studio. You try your best, but there's always something missing. What's missing is a live audience.
May his search for that missing something never end.
Enormous thanks goes to Atlantic Cities fellow Sara Johnson for producing the maps and to Dylan-pool teammate Chris Chase for numerous suggestions.
A note on data: The main source of geographic data for the interactive map was A handful of "private shows" tracked by the site were removed. Some venue details have been clarified with the help of Olof Björner's concert history page, which has show information Dylan's site doesn't. In cases where ambiguities or differences could not be reconciled, details were presented as they appeared at Dylan's official site.
A note on mileage methodology: Total mileage for the Never Ending Tour was calculated via Google Maps using an as-the-crow-flies distance tool. The estimate is imprecise in three notable ways. First, it measures distance from city to city rather than venue to venue. Second, it measures distance to the start of a new leg from the end of the previous leg (thereby omitting whatever changes in location occurred in between). Third, Dylan typically travels by bus instead of by air. For this last reason in particular the mileage should be considered a conservative estimate. The actual distance covered by the tour is likely much greater.
UPDATE: The interactive and state-by-state maps have been updated to address a data coding error.
Keywords: Music, Tours, bob dylan
Eric Jaffe is a contributing writer to The Atlantic Cities and the author of The King's Best Highway: The Lost History of the Boston Post Road, the Route That Made America. He lives in New York. All posts »