Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bob Dylan Takes It To The Streets.

Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,

You say that I'm a thief.

Here's a Christmas dinner

For the families on relief.

Those are lyrics from Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd." The song tells the story of the legendary outlaw known to some as a hunted man with a soft heart. Bob Dylan began his career as a Guthrie acolyte before going on to revolutionize popular music. He's neither outlaw nor thief, but he, too, has spent time as a hunted man with a soft heart. Dylan's New York City garbage was famously picked through and written about by obsessed yutz A.J. Weberman, and he ultimately had to move his family from their formerly idyllic hideaway in Woodstock, NY, because he was stalked and followed until he couldn't take it anymore.

But he kept his soft heart.

As previously mentioned on this blog, Dylan has released a Christmas album--Christmas In The Heart--with all future proceeds from the record going to charities combating hunger. And in typically iconoclastic fashion, Dylan has done just one interview to promote the album--to old hand Bill Flanagan--and it is only available through NASNA--the North American Street Newspaper Association.

What is a street newspaper? As NASNA points out:

A street newspaper is a newspaper that primarily addresses issues related to poverty and homelessness and is distributed by poor or homeless vendors. Vendors sell the newspaper for a set price, usually $1, and have to pay the organization a fraction of the price (20% to 40%) for each paper up front. The self-employed vendor sells the papers on the street and keeps the money he or she makes. For many people, this is the opportunity they need to get back on their feet and into permanent housing.

The benefits of street papers go far beyond economic opportunity. For the vendor, they offer a positive experience of self-help that breaks through the isolation that many homeless people experience. They offer the public a means to reach out with their dollar to help a homeless person directly and, over time, form a caring relationship.

Most street newspapers also provide homeless and/or those living on the margins of society the opportunities for expression by publishing their articles, letters and artwork. These publications build a bridge between the very poor and the wider public by helping people to understand the issues and the personal stories of those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Read Flanagan's interview here, and if you see a NASNA vendor on the street, please buy a paper. He or she needs that buck more than you do.

BeltwayBlips: vote it up!

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