Keith Richards new autobiography, Life, offers some insight into what
youth is capable of when the fires of a dream are lit.
The Rolling Stones spent the first year of their life hanging places,
stealing food and rehearsing, he writes of their early days.
It doesnt sound like an auspicious beginning, but Richards adds that he,
Mick Jagger and fellow guitarist Brian Jones spent that entire year
dissecting the songs of American blues musicians, breaking down their
chords, leads, harmonica riffs and vocal nuances in minute detail.
We moved in in the summer of 1962 and lived there for a year through the
coldest winter since 1740, he writes of their flat in London, which was
It was mattresses and no furniture to speak of, only a threadbare
carpet... And it didnt really matter much; usually all three of us would
wake up on the floor... Wed sit around working out the music...
The threesome made up for their lack of comforts with a collection of
blues albums, many purchased by mail order from Chess Records in Chicago.
These were by artists who were largely unknown and unappreciated in the
U.S. -- Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Bo Diddly, B.B. King, Howlin Wolf,
Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, Robert Johnson...
We didnt have any other interests in the world except how to keep the
electricity going and how to nick a few things out of the supermarket.
Women were really third on that list... We needed to work together, we
needed to rehearse, we needed to listen to music, we needed to do what we
wanted to do. It was a mania, Benedictines had nothing on us. Anybody that
strayed from the nest to get laid, or try to get laid, was a traitor. You
were supposed to spend all your waking hours studying Jimmy Reed, Muddy
Waters, Little Walter, Howlin Wolf, Robert Johnson. That was your gig.
Every other moment taken away from it was a sin.
Asked to come up with a name for their band on the spot, Mick, Keith and
Brian noticed a Muddy Waters album lying on the floor with the first song
on the back cover listed as Rollin Stone.
The marriage of blues and rock clicked with English listeners and armies
of feral, body-snatching girls. For three years from 1963-66 the Rolling
Stones played virtually every night, or every day, sometimes two gigs a
day. We played well over 1,000 gigs, almost back to back with barely a
break and perhaps ten days off that whole period.
It just goes to show what a good work ethic and a passion for your pursuit
can do, and Ive noticed this same drive in other young guitarists who
will practice for six hours straight until their fingers bleed. When
someone wants to learn -- especially a young person -- that passion is an
unstoppable force of nature.
But this is where todays students are on the ropes in America. Despite
all of the complaints about our countrys education system, we know that
there are millions of young people who are eager to learn -- driven, in
fact -- American colleges and universities have no lack of willing, highly
intelligent students of the sort depicted in the film The Social Network.
What we dont have is a political culture that encourages the retention of
jobs in America. Corporations are allowed to skate jobs out of our
country tax-free, while still relying on all of the freedoms and military
protection that American citizenship provides.
Last week, in a televised report, Tom Brokaw bemoaned that American
students arent getting the education they need to work in the factories
of tomorrow -- not like the brainy kids of China and India who are the
innovators in places like Silicon Valley.
Oh really? Consider that many of Americas best and most recent products
arent even made in our country. Apples iPhone and iPad, for instance,
are made at factories in Asia. The Ford Fusion and Fiesta are built in
Mexico. Magnetic-levitation (Maglev) trains were invented in the U.S., but
today they are built and used primarily in Japan.
How can our 15 million unemployed workers perform like rock stars if the
factories of tomorrow keep streaming out of America?
Serafin Mendoza to be deported
By Anne Stanton
Serafin Mendoza, an undocumented worker who was featured in Northern
Express a few weeks ago, will be deported to Mexico on Tuesday, March 8.
The U.S. Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) office in Detroit
denied his request for prosecutorial discretion last week, saying he had
previously entered the country illegally and had also been recently
convicted of a crime. The crime they referred to was his possession of two
hunting rifles that ICE agents discovered at his home during their
November raid. Mendoza used the rifles to keep critters away on the
apple and cherry orchard where he worked, according to Josh Wunsch, owner
of the farm.
Im disappointed with their decision, its heart breaking. Unfortunately
these are the laws, said his Traverse City-based attorney, Joanna Kloet.
Kloet said that the only consolation was that there was a lot of
discussion among ICE officials thanks to an outpouring of letters and
public sentiment asking ICE to make an exception for Mendoza. Wunsch
described Mendoza as a loved and highly valued employee, who set a
terrific example for other workers. His girlfriend, Mindy Aguillar,
told the Express that she will move their combined family of four
children to live in Mexico.