Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I was a simple fruit farmer, a member of an intentional community called “The Farm.” I was a much simpler fruit farmer than most, since I didn’t own the land, didn’t buy my farm supplies with my own money, and grew the fruit to share with the other members of my community rather than for sale. Pretty much all the money in the community was handled through a central office, with budget decisions made by a board of the different interests in the community–farmers, construction workers, health workers, school teachers, etc.
Our income, while impressive in total–hundreds of thousands of dollars a year–averaged out to about a dollar a day per person, but the dollars were only a small percentage of our wealth. We provided each other/ourselves with food, medical care, housing, transportation, school for our children, and a host of other things at no cost. It was not paradise. We were dirt poor by any standard, but we had our freedom.
One of the things we eventually came up with was our own community TV station–not broadcast (tho we had a low-power broadcast pirate FM station) but distributed through the community via cable. We used it for internal communication–such as telling the community the Farming Crew’s plans, often via humorous skits. In one of those skits, I “became” Brother Martin, holding a revival in The First Church of Farming.
The community started experiencing social and financial difficulties in the early eighties. Socially, our kids started becoming television-influenced teenagers who wanted things that couldn’t be had on a dollar a day, and many of my generation fell prey to the same neuroses that had bedeviled our parents when we were teenagers, causing general dissatisfaction with our standard of living and the same generation gap that we, as young parents, had sworn we would never create. Financially, we fell prey to the general worsening of the economy that occurred as the seventies faded into the eighties, plus which we were saddled with serious debts due to overly speculative vegetable and field crop farming ventures, serious medical bills incurred by a few community members, and the failure of a local bank that had been very friendly to us. There was increasing debate in the community about whether to continue our communal experiement. I argued strongly against abandoning it, and would appear on the community TV station as “Brother Martin,” railing humorously against changing the community’s nature and calling for a revival of our “old time religion.” My viewpoint did not prevail, and the commune turned into a community in which “all for one and one for all” was replaced with “every man for himself.” I stuck it out for seven years, trying to run the apple orchard as a business and hoping things would change, but by 1990 it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make a living from the apple trees and the community was not going to de-gentrify itself, and I left, a bitter exile from a country that no longer existed. There was no place I could go that felt like home, and home didn’t feel like home any more either.
As the twentieth century staggered to a close, I was working in the produce department of a health food store in Nashville, Tennessee, and starting to get more serious about singing the songs I had occasionally been writing and playing on the pianos that seemed to materialize wherever I went. Out of the blue, an old friend and sympathizer from my days on The Farm started working at the store, too, and she hailed me as “Brother Martin,” the first time anybody had reminded me of my religious sobriquet in many years. I started using it as a musical nom de plume, and then as I became more involved in the internet, it just seemed natural to use it other places as well. I still base my politics on what I consider spiritual principles, such as
Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
We’re all in this together.
We are not separate from each other. (nearly the same as preceding statement, but profoundly different, as well)
“Howsoever ye treat the least of Mine, is how ye treat Me.”
It’s very serioius, but don’t take it too seriously.
so “Brother Martin,” with its strong religious overtones (tho I am neither Protestant nor Catholic, but Buddhist) seems like a good handle. Any questions?
here”s where you can find my humble attempts at music:
and on Reverbnation