The Grammy Awards are coming up and there will be 30 fewer categories than last year. There were some protests when the announcement was made last April that there wouldn’t be awards for Latin jazz or zydeco. Latin jazz musicians filed suit. Some honorable stars (Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Herbie Hancock and Carlos Santana) said publicly the Grammys were making a mistake.
But the decision stuck and the Grammys trimmed away those categories that were in any way out of the mainstream. Several R&B awards were cut. Norteno and Tejano musics were combined with others in a “regional Mexican” category. Hawaiian, Native American, and Zydeco and Cajun music were all slopped together into the “best regional roots music” lump. See the full list here.
The Grammys have been busy taking the flavor out of American music for some time. In 2009, the organization shed the polka category — as if Brave Combo doesn’t have better musicians (and music) than any stadium rock strummers that will appear on the television broadcast.
There were some meetings in Yonder about what the Grammys did. Cajun and zydeco musicians gathered in Lafayette and the Hawaiian musicians were clearly ticked. But, when it came down to it, these musicians had better things to do than to worry about the Grammys.
“Most people are fed up with it,” said Dennis Kamakahi, a slack-key guitarist whose work has been in at least three compilations that won Grammys. “We would rather concentrate on the Hoku Awards,” a local contest.
“We had one meeting about it, and everybody was on the same page,” said Chubby Carrier, a zydeco musician who won a Grammy in 2010. “Then everybody got to touring pretty heavy.”
Like we said. Grammy smammy. Let’s dance.
• The death toll in U.S. coal mines totaled 21 in 2011, the second lowest annual tally in more than a century. Kentucky had the most mine fatalities, with eight.
It’s still 21 deaths in a year, however, and The New York Times editorial reminds us that there was no meaningful reform or addition to the nation’s coal mine safety law after an explosion in a West Virginia mine in 2010 killed 29 miners. The Times writes:
It is a national disgrace that the strongest supporters of tougher mine safety concede that it will likely take another disaster before lawmakers will be willing to buck Big Coal and pass desperately needed safety legislation. “This is out of mind until another explosion takes place,” Representative George Miller, a California Democrat and sponsor of reform legislation, grimly predicted.
• A minister has opened a refuge for women who are escaping prostitution, strip clubs and pornography at a farm in Central Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports . It’s called the Refuge for Women.
The location of the farm is kept a secret so that the women won’t be bothered by their former pimps or managers.
• Has the “fair trade” movement lost its way?
A Dutch priest began a movement in the 1980s to certify that coffee, bananas, cotton and other goods were grown in a responsible way. (For instance, it would be growth with resorting to child labor.) Products grown to certain standards received the fair trade label.
The label moved goods. Studies have found that slapping a fair trade label on a package can increase sales by 10 percent. Sales of goods approved by Fairtrade International, the largest certifying authority, totaled $5.7 billion in 2010.
That would seem to be a success, but the Washington Post writes that and increase in sales has led to findings that the standards are slipping. The BBC found a variety of companies given the fair trade certification that broke fair trade standards.
• Kivalina is an Inupiat Eskimo community that is, well, remote. The town is on an 8-mile barrier reef between the Kivalina River and the Chukchi Sea in Alaska. You can only get to it by boat or plane. In the winter, you can also get there by snowmobile.
The reef is surrounded by ice in the winder (allowing the town to be reached by snowmobile). But as the climate has gotten warmer, the ice is forming later and melting sooner. That has allowed wave action to erode the reef, reducing the 54 acre town in half in the last few decades.
Now the town is building a new school and the decision is whether to build in the traditional town site or move to higher ground.
• A Kansas hospital has recruiting doctors by being missionary friendly.
The AP reports that the hospital in Ashland, Kansas, is recruiting staff by offering 8 weeks off a year to do mission work in other countries. Medical recruiters are seeing a larger percentage of medical school graduates who want to do mission work. So the Ashland hospital used that as a way to attract doctors.
“I was not surprised by the differences between rural Kansas and rural Zimbabwe. What surprised me were the similarities,” said the hospital’s 32-year-old administrator, Benjamin Anderson, who has been the catalyst for the program. “I am not saying rural Kansas is the same as a developing country, I am simply saying rural Kansas and rural Zimbabwe struggle with some of the same challenges — they just look different.”
• NBC’s “Rock Center” magazine program will have two features on Iowa this evening — one about the high price of farmland and the other about Stephen Bloom, the University of Iowa journalism professor who wrote an uninteresting story for The Atlantic about, as best we could tell, how Iowa was not Boston.
• The Casper paper writes about how Post Office closings are playing out in Wyoming.
And here’s a similar story from Nebraska.