Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day

This Labor Day weekend we had to miss out on one of favorite things about living in California: Attending the Strawberry Music Festival near Yosemite. However, we did drive 30 minutes north to Lawrence, Ma. where we attended the annual Bread & Roses festival. The festival commemorates an important strike that happened in the mills there back in 1912. The strike not only succeeded in winning the strikers demands, it helped ignite the movement for new child labor laws, safety laws, and a host of other reforms.

Today, of course, most of the mills are empty and like seemingly every town in New England, the locals are trying to attract commuters to live in mills converted to lofts with fancy shops underneath. At the music festival itself, the crowd was enthusiastically pro-union -- and mostly in their 50s and 60s. Great to see their passion, but also a sad commentary on where unions stand today that there weren't more younger people there.

We opted to pass on some of the heartier fare offered by the local vendors at the festival: fried twinkies, fried oreos, fried snickers.

Maybe this is the real reason the labor movement is in trouble: clogged arteries.

In any case, we heard some great music that was very Strawberry-like. In particular, we enjoyed the folks rock sounds of The Mammals, a group that apparently includes Pete Seeger's grandson, and worth checking out. We still missed Camp Naked Babies at Strawberry, but this was a nice consolation prize.

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