Took Pen in Hand

Steve Albini pens a clear call to action this holiday season in describing his work with Letters to Santa.

These weren’t impish requests for toys or a new bike; mostly, they were desperate pleas from heads of households asking for help. It was staggering. People let down by the remnants of a social safety net, without families or abandoned by their families, people suffering sickness, poverty and abuse. People so far out on a limb that they swallowed what pride they had left, took pen in hand and wrote down everything that had failed them, everything that had broken or been stolen, everything that had hurt them and made them feel fear and shame and worry.

They described anguish over their children’s needs, their hunger, their lack of appropriate clothing, school supplies and other basic needs.They described homes they could barely afford to stay in, wretched though they were. They described relationships wracked by abuse, the legal system, disease and addiction. They addressed their problems to Santa Claus at the North Pole and sent them by mail into the vacuum of humanity that had left them so desperate.

Years ago when writing curriculum for Rock and Roll: An American Story I really wanted to work in his letter to Nirvana. Amazing insight into the record industry and Albini’s work.

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