By Jerry Waxman
“To see you through
Till you’re everything you want to be
It can’t be true, but
This time the dream’s on me”
Search the song catalogs from ASCAP or BMI and you’ll probably find thousands with the word dream, or it’s plural in the title and in the song itself. It can be used as a noun or a verb or an adjective or even an adverb. It’s a great word for emphasis and has a certain rhyme quality with scheme (I Can’t Get Started), supreme, beam, gleam, steam, seem, cream and team. Probably every song writer has used it more times than they care to count. Why not? The dictionary provides a plethora of uses and moods for the word, ranging from hope and desire to hallucinate and nightmare. We all love to dream in one way or other. The 1941 Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer song cited above depicted the hopes and dreams of a band of travelling musicians, living in boxcars, in the movie, Blues in the Night, just looking to be seen as respectable. Dreams provide a release from some of the reality we face. I’ll wager that if I took the time I could take a line from song A and a phrase from song B and mix and match lines, word and phrases from all of the available material in songs C,D…………ad infinitum that I could write a convincing article or story. In my piano playing days I could easily play four or five sets a night for a solid week without ever repeating a title that had the word in it.
Dreams keep hope alive. Dreams themselves are not important-the subjects of them are. Cervantes chased the impossible dream knowing full well that he would never see it through to fruition, however it gave him his reason d’ etre. Four words spoken by Martin Luther King inspired a nation. Late 19th Century industrial empires were envisioned by dreamers and built on the toil of everyday labor. European immigration was fostered by the dream of “Streets paved with gold” in the land of opportunity, which is still the reason people come here. It also saw the dreams of labor leaders like Samuel Gompers start to grow. By the early 20th Century labor was becoming firmly established in the industrial and transportation trades with leaders like John L Lewis and A Philip Randolph and their followers fulfilling their dreams. On March 25, 1911 146 young women had their dreams cut short in a devastating fire at the Triangle Shirwaist factory that exposed horrendous sweat shop conditions in the New York Garment Industry. That tragedy gave rise to the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and many of the social reforms in New York. Upton Sinclair’s Novel, The Jungle, caused a sensation in 1906 by exposing the horrid working conditions in Chicago’s stockyards. It took nearly 30 years before the residents of the neighborhood were organized by Saul Alinsky to actually clean them up. In short, all of these people were chasing what we call “The American Dream.” America’s labor movement helped millions of them achieve it.
The dream may yet be alive today but the opportunities to achieve it are less and less. Under the sponsorship of Moveon.org a series of national rallies called Defending the Dream were staged all over the country on March 15 in order to keep the dream alive for average working people, you know, the middle class. In Orlando, Moveon.org council member Falcon Taylor got the word out and assembled scores of people to demonstrate in Lake Eola Park. Many people were there to support Wisconsin and protest against the war on the middle class.
Falcon Taylor opened the rally by requesting a moment of silence for the victims of the earthquake in Japan and then outlined all of the issues which the group was fighting for. Mary Burnette, a retired teacher extolled the intrinsic value of teachers and all public sector employees which is being ignored by the Florida Legislature in favor of budget cutting. The crowd showed its enthusiasm chanting
“The people, united, will never be divided!” Sue Casterline spoke about the disparity of wealth between the 400 people who have as much wealth as half the population of the country combined. Patty Duffy, a physical therapist who treats elderly patients, works hard to get funding for them, yet meets resistance from the authorities. She pleaded with the crowd to attend ever rally and grow in numbers. Special guest speaker, former Congressman Alan Grayson responding to the chant, “Don’t cut teachers, don’t cut cops, collect the taxes from the top!” said that we owe something to our teachers, police, fire fighters, hospital workers and other public servants and that we need to fight for those jobs and benefits.
There was a short strategy discussion on how to deal with conservative legislators before the last speaker, Shayan Elahi, who came here 21 years ago from Pakistan, spoke about the opportunities that still exist here, excoriating the Republicans for creating our bad economy over the decade they have been in charge in Florida. There will be future gatherings and the crowds are expected to grow.
Florida is in the awakening stages. Last week’s Awake the State rallies are just the beginning. People here have not completely shaken the cobwebs off and have not yet gotten the sleep out of their eyes, but the movement is growing, as it is in other states being shown the way by the crowds in Wisconsin. One thing is for sure, no one at the Lake Eola rally was wishing Rick Scott pleasant dreams, unless they include a visit from Freddy Krueger.