Thursday, February 28, 2008



-by Jacqrat

Esten & Evelyn Maxwell

One of the reasons behind Blue America's success is the quality of people who built it and make it run. Brilliant and creative-- passionate patriots, all. Jane, Howie, Christy, and the other frontpagers sound the clarion's call that "Gets stuff Done". In truth, however, a good deal of the really hard stuff gets done by anonymous people backstage-- the tireless researchers and others who have a particular talent, and a little time on their hands, and are more than happy to lend them to a cause they also believe passionately in. One of those people around here goes by the pseudonym of Tommy Yum.

Newer readers may not recognize the handle; fact is, he's been kind of busy with other things lately. So, for your edification and entertainment, here is a short primer on Mister Yum; why he and his family are so special, and why it is so important that you take a moment and give what you can to help them out:

In July 2006, Tom Maxwell (late of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Maxwell/Mosher Band) approached Howie Klein with a unique idea for the upcoming 2006 election cycle. He took one of his most popular compositions, “Put a Lid On It,” and rewrote it to create the political call-to-action “Have You Had Enough?” . The song was recorded in August, and producer Andy Paley recorded lead-vocals with Rickie Lee Jones.

Howie Klein and his ad hoc Blue America label released the song in September to support progressive Democratic candidates nationwide. Several dozen versions were customized for specific races. This resource provided a dramatic unifying theme and jingle, and was
used in radio and TV spots
. There was even a "'Have You Had Enough?' WORLD TOUR!" for Ned Lamont's campaign against the odious party-of-one/GOP toady, Joe LIEberman.

It's true, Tommy Yum's contribution to the cause was the impetus that laid the foundation for the "Blue America PAC".

The results gained from Tommy Yum efforts and "Have You Had Enough?" were stunning. Individual online videos received over 200,000 views, 140,000 from YouTube alone. (Special thanks go to mmcintee, who created the first video ad from the tune.) In November, named “Have You Had Enough?” the second most influential video during the 2006 election cycle, behind only Michael J. Fox’s incredible stem cell research endorsements. Since then, you and fellow Blue America members have helped to elect over a dozen "more and better Democrats" to Congress, as evidenced by the latest and greatest member-- Donna Edwards!

It was a very exciting year, filled with many highs and high-five moments... But then, something not so wonderful happened. In October of that year, Tommy's son Esten was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then, the little guy has endured multiple hospital visits, a nasty case of chicken pox, chemotherapy treatments and other painful, difficult things that no kid that young should have to go through.

Esten and his sister Evelyn, and their mother, Mel, and Tommy have all done their parts-- staying positive; working through the rough spots; making certain to honor the milestones; and to keep putting one foot in front of the other... so, now it is OUR turn. Time for the Blue America family to step up to the plate; pitch in again to help defray medical costs. We're asking you to donate through the FDL paypal button and please make all donations out to end in .04, since Esten is four years old and we want to keep track of which donations are going to the Maxwells.

The GREAT news is, as of now, Esten is in remission. But that doesn't mean the hospital has stopped sending bills to the Maxwell house.

This weekend in Chapel Hill, there's going to be a big benefit concert to raise money for the ongoing medical expenses that Esten's illness has incurred. We think this is something you'd be interested in enough to want to help out a little.

Tommy explains it better, here:

On Saturday, March 1st, at the legendary Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, there will be an all-day benefit concert for Esten.

Just so you know, he's still in remission and in great spirits. We're still on the "long-term maintenance" medication schedule, and will be for another couple years. The money being raised will go to assuage associated insurance costs: premiums, deductibles and co-pays. We're lucky to have insurance-- and our son is still alive-- but these costs add up, and anything we raise will be deeply appreciated.

In lieu of a door charge, there will be a donation basket. Those who can't attend can write a check to Esten Maxwell and send it to PO Box 595, Pittsboro NC 27312.

I'm especially indebted to Beth Turner, Rachel Hoff and Jet Schmidt for helping to pull this together, as well as dear old Frank Heath, the patron saint of Chapel Hill music, for providing the venue. Jet did the poster [below], which I love.

I hope to see y'all there.

Let's all dig deep and see what we can come up with to help our extended family member out. He was there for us, and now we can be there for him. Ain't it great the way that stuff works?



At 4:53 AM, Blogger Sangemon said...

Hey Howie -

FYI the "FDL PayPal Button" link appears to be broken.

At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't send much, but will send something.

And Esten and family? I had leukemia twelve years ago and have been out of treatment and totally free of it for eleven wonderful and healthy years. Hang in there little guy, I know it's been tough, but from here things get better than you and your family can probably believe right now - I predict the long and healthy life you have in front of you will always have a special sort of savor to it for you and everyone who loves you. Much joy to you all.

At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Paypal at link is

Snail mail:

write a check to Esten Maxwell and send it to
PO Box 595,
Pittsboro NC 27312.

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