“These boys can play,” he said about the youthful band. Not one among the 40 patrons would have disagreed — including the 10 young men sitting up front in their hoodies and windbreakers, attentive to every note and word. How reassuring about the continuity of culture that they could dig this old hippie poet in his own black hoodie — and enjoy this quicksilver old jazz.

Sinclair announced he wanted to propose to the president that every school class begin every day with 15 minutes of American music. As one who survived the ’60s, I hereby attest that this proposal perfectly captured the spirit of those times: wonderful and politically impossible.

No, not impossible. As Chomsky said, activism can work. The current of history, though, is not always quickly diverted. It took decades and thousands of human beings wasting in prison, but finally marijuana activism is giving cannabis some legitimacy, as we see in Maine. It took years and millions of human beings rotting in their graves, but protests against the wars in Vietnam and Iraq had their limiting effects. Enough activism and the unique American torture of 50,000 human beings in solitary confinement will end.

Change isn’t as simple as voting for a president who promises it. Activism is the answer. I hope.

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