Live Like a Refugee

Although Tom Petty uses “refugee” metaphorically, his song captures the meaning of the word. “This was a reaction to the pressures of the music business,” he said. “I wound up in a huge row with the record company when ABC Records tried to sell our contract to MCA Records without us knowing about it, despite a clause in our contract that said they didn’t have the right to do that. I was so angry with the whole system that I think that had a lot to do with the tone of the Damn the Torpedoes album. I was in this defiant mood. I wasn’t so conscious of it then, but I can look back and see what was happening. I find that’s true a lot. It takes some time usually before you fully understand what’s going on in a song—or maybe what led up to it.”

An Unjoined Person

For the opening lines of The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers wrote: “It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old. This was the summer when for a long time she had not been a member. She belonged to no club and was a member of nothing in the world. Frankie had become an unjoined person and hung around in doorways, and she was afraid.”

An Oral History

The following is an interview with 83-year-old Mirdza Balas, a librarian in the Sonoma County system. She drove the bookmobile and subsequently became manager of Sebastopol branch, from which she retired in 1989. Balas relates her memories of growing up in Latvia before and during World War II and moving through Europe as a displaced person before she came to the United States in 1957.

The Soviet Story

The Economist, 22 May 2008: “Being burnt in effigy on the streets of Moscow by nationalist hoodlums must count as a kind of Oscar if you are a Latvian filmmaker whose aim is to expose modern Russia’s blindness to the criminal history of the Soviet Union. The ire of Young Russia’s protest outside the Latvian embassy this week was directed at Edvins Snore, whose film Soviet Story is the most powerful antidote yet to the sanitisation of the past.”