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David Rovics Pays Tribute to Fellow Musician and Friend Brad Will

StoryOctober 30, 2006
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Musician David Rovics, pays tribute to his friend, Brad Will, the U.S. journalist and activist shot dead in Oaxaca on Friday. Rovics says, “For those of us alive today who had the honor of being one of Brad’s large circle of friends, his memory will be with us painfully, deeply, lovingly, until we all join him beneath the ground — hopefully only after each of us has managed to have the kind of impact on each other, on the movement, and the world that Brad surely had in his short 36 years.” [includes rush transcript]

We end today’s show with a tribute to Brad Will from his friend and fellow musician, David Rovics.

  • David Rovics, musician remembers his friend, Brad Will. Website:

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Gustavo Esteva, we are going to turn now to a tribute to Brad Will from his friend and fellow musician, David Rovics.

DAVID ROVICS: Brad embodied the spirit of Indymedia. He was not just covering stories that the mainstream press ignores, such as the exciting violent revolutionary moment, which has gripped Oaxaca for several months now. Brad was not risking his life to get a good shot at a confrontation at a barricade because he might get a photo on the cover of a newspaper, get some perhaps well-deserved fame and money. He was posting his communiques on Indymedia for free.

Sure, Brad was filming in order to cover history, but he was there also to make history. Brad knew that a camera is a weapon, or hopefully a shield of some sort, and sometimes can serve to deescalate a situation, to protect people from being violated, beaten, killed. And Brad knew that if the independent media didn’t document history, nobody else would.

Brad deeply appreciated the power of music and culture. If he did not have a camera in his hands, he often had a guitar. During some of his many travels around Latin America, he wrote emails to me about the musicians he met, with whom he shared my songs and recordings. He particularly liked my song “Saint Patrick Battalion” and reportedly shared his rendition of it with lots of people. He would not live to know just how much his life and death would resemble the San Patricios who died fighting for Mexico during the first and the U.S. invasion of that country in the 1840s.

Through all Brad did and saw on large swaths of three different continents, he somehow continually brought with him a boundless enthusiasm and obvious love of life, love of good parties and good riot. He was my favorite kind of person, my favorite kind of revolutionary: the sort who is just as comfortable talking about revolutionary theory, current events, music, relationships or smoking a bowl on a Manhattan rooftop at sunset, the kind of person who was alive in mind, body, and spirit in equal proportions.

Brad became a radical long before it was briefly fashionable in the U.S. with the WTO protests in Seattle and long since it became unfashionable there — September 11, 2001. The kinds of tactics and politics that the global justice movement became briefly known for were practiced by people like Brad in the squatters movement in New York City and the radical environmental movement on the West Coast in the ’90s. Brad was in both places and many more. Brad was somewhere near the ground floor of many other more recent anarchist institutions: Food Not Bombs, Critical Mass, Reclaim the Streets, guerrilla gardening, Indymedia. He saw the connections, deeply understood the concept of the commons and went for it as an activist, a video journalist, a musician and a cheerleader.

There have been many debates about whether it is more useful to organize large events or to focus on community organizing locally, whether to focus on recording history or making it, whether to educate or to act, whether to have a party or have a meeting. Brad clearly decided that the correct answer is “all of the above.” The reality of this is easy to demonstrate. Talk to anybody in New York City involved with just about any aspect of the progressive movement. It’s a city of eight million people, but if they are serious participants in the more grassroots end of the movement, they know Brad, though they may not have known his last name. He was just Brad, the tall, thin guy with long hair, who was often flashing a warm, gentle smile with a compassionate, intelligent glint in his eye. He was often described with a connector, like Brad from Indymedia, or Brad from More Gardens, or Brad the musician.

I haven’t seen him in a while, several months at least. But suddenly, I miss him so much. I miss hanging out with him in the Lower East Side, chilling at his place there, swapping stories. I miss the rejuvenating warmth of his presence. I miss the unspoken mutual admiration. I miss the feeling that I was in the presence of someone who so deeply felt his connection to the world, the feeling that here was somebody who would die for me, and me for him, no questions asked. And now, like so many others before him, he has done just that.

Like all of the rest of us over the generations, his memory will fade and eventually disappear. But for those of us alive today who had the honor of being one of Brad’s large circle of friends, his memory will be with us painfully, deeply, lovingly, until we all join him beneath the ground, hopefully only after each of us has managed to have the kind of impact on each other, on the movement and the world that Brad surely had in his short 36 years.

AMY GOODMAN: David Rovics, musician, remembering his fellow musician, also journalist and activist, Brad Will. Dyan Neary, we end with you.

DYAN NEARY: Wow, that was really hard to see, but it was really good to see his face and hear his voice again. I miss him to death. My life is forever changed. I mean, it was, from the day I met him. But I’ve been thinking a lot about him in just the last few days, how much he’s affected my life and how much he made me want to be a better — not just a better warrior, but a better human being, because he was such a good person and a good friend. I love you.

AMY GOODMAN: Dyan, thanks so much for being so brave as to come on today, and Leslie Kauffman and our friends in Oaxaca, Gustavo Esteva and John Gibler.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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