Saturday, May 25, 2013

***Philly Rules- With Silver Lining Playbook In Mind
From The Pen Of Frank Jackman
Let say you had a Philly guy, a regular Philly guy, a regular Philly guy from one of its Little Italy neighborhoods. You know a guy who would root himself hoarse at a Phillies’ game, or for the Flyers, or the ‘76ers (forget U/Penn though) and would go absolutely bonkers (maybe I sure reserve the use of that would here), would get heated up a lot, okay, at an Eagles football game. A guy who would, maybe, know how to make use of a good buffalo wings recipe or the secrets of a good place to get a good cheese and steak submarine sandwich. See a regular Philly guy, okay. Regular except for a little, uh, mental problem, a bi-polar problem, a little problem that got to be a big problem when his ever-lovin’ wife proved unfaithful to him, as some wives will, proved unfaith though maybe because he spent just a little too much time cheering on those sports teams and not enough time being, well, being a well-rounded modern man. And our regular Philly guy went a little overboard in reaction to that treachery and wound up in a mental institution, complete with “meds” to calm him down. Oh yah, and despite those quirky little characteristics he is a voracious reader, a cowboy intellectual (although perhaps I should also reserve the word cowboy as well). Either way keep that reader thing under your hat since “real” Philly guys are too busy to read.
Let’s say while our regular Philly guy, Pat to give him a name, was getting well (and not getting within shouting distance of his wife under penalty of another stretch, maybe some prison time the next time) and trying to make himself worthy of his wife’s affections when she comes along. The she in question being another of the world’s waif, Tiffany, who has her own set of, uh, mental problems but who came on board to try to get Pat through his rough spots on the road to reuniting with his wife.
And let’s say that Ms. Tiffany is, well, kind of screwy, kind of outdoes Pat in the screwy department. At least for a while. On the face of it one regular Philly guy (albeit with those little problems mentioned above), and one screwy Philly dame with her own set of high octane problems would be strictly oil and fire. No go, nada, get lost. Except she had a thing for regular Philly guys with problems, or for one Philly guy with problems. And so to lure the unsuspecting Pat in she, as part of an agreement to with him to contact his wife, bargains him into becoming her amateur night dancing partner. Just partners that’s all. As it turns out, they aren’t half bad after a ton of practice and a road strewn filled with pitfalls. See too, though as it turned out he developed a thing for regular (if screwy) Philly gals (or gal).
Now let’s say all this happened, plus a few odd-ball things around Pat’s family issues, then you would have a very amusing and well-produced romantic comedy for the 21st century. Hey, I’ll take the Eagles and three points, okay Pat. See this one, okay, even if you aren’t a regular Philly guy or gal.
Silver-Lining Playbook Theater Poster
***Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night -Sweet Dreams, Baby- With Thanks to Mister Roy Orbison

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Sixteen and sex. Hold on a minute let me explain, although the clued in of any generation know what I mean without having to write a thesis about it. The clueless, any generation, well maybe they will or maybe they won’t but don’t say I didn’t try to tell them what it was like back then, back in the late 1950s, early 1960s night. So sixteen and sex. No, not touchy feely stuff in some backseat coupe (maybe a “boss” ’57 Chevy and if not then any old car, hell, maybe your father’s borrowed Buick that you better bring back in one piece, or else). No, right now I am not, hear me, not talking about some back seat down by the seashore, up some hilled lovers’ lane, or in some midnight minute motel kind of thing, at least not yet. This is just about getting to know her (and the young woman reader can change the gender and draw her own diagram), easy know her, and let things take their course from there. No more of this frenzied, heated, beating some other guy’s time (or trying to) like he had just got finished doing with Lucy. No more Lucys, and as an amendment, make it a constitutional amendment if you want, no more dog-eat-dog fighting over girls, women, you know, frails.

That is exactly what Johnny Prescott had on his mind as noticed this cool looking frill (girl) across the field heading his way. The field being, for those not from Clintondale, unofficially known as “the meadows,” a family outing place not well-used now that they had the big Gloversville Amusement Park going full blast but just the place to go and think through, well think through, sixteen and sex, boy sixteen and sex. So he knew, knew as sure as he knew he own think through habits that this frill (girl) was also here to do some thinking. Maybe some getting over a boy think like he was getting over Lucy. Or maybe thinking that the way the boy meets girl rules were set up were just flat-out screwy. He hoped so.

And as she, this girl okay, approached he recognized her from school, from Clintondale High. At least he thought so because although the high school was fairly big it was small enough so that he should have recognized her, even if only from the “caf.” As she came very close in view he noticed that it was none other than Timmy Riley’s younger sister, Betty Ann, a sophomore a year behind him. At first he was going to pass because now that he thought about it, although it was clear that she was pretty in a second look way, and maybe a third look way too, she was known as one of those bookish-types that, well, you know were too bookish to think about sixteen year old boys and sex, or maybe boys of any age. And, well Timmy, Timmy Riley, was the star fullback on the Clintondale Red Raiders football team, and who the hell knew how Timmy felt about his bookish sister and sexed-up sixteen year old boys.

But Johnny felt lucky, or maybe just desperate, and started to speak. But before he could get word one out Betty Ann said, “It’s a nice day for walking the meadows with nobody around. I come here when I want to think about stuff, about my future and what I want to do in the world. How about you?” Bingo, thought Johnny. I am going to talk to Betty Ann, and I’ll take my chances with Timmy- the hell with him (unless he reads this then it’s strictly only in his head, okay Timmy). And they talked and talked until almost dark. Talk-weary but still no wanting to move more than three yards from each other Johnny pulled out his transistor radio and they listened to WMEX, the be-bop, non-stop rock ‘n’ roll station that was mandatory listening for those under eighteen, for those who counted.

And while listening to Roy Orbison trill out Dream Baby; Brenda Lee heart-breakingly warble All Alone Am I: Patty Cline ditto heartbreak She’s Got You; Don and Juan telegraphing Johnny’s pitch line What’s Your Name; The Angels silky be-bop ‘Til; and Frank Ifield croon I Remember You Johnny and Betty Ann began what became one of the great Clintonville High romances of 1962. Sex, well you figure it out, clued in or clueless.

Friday, May 24, 2013

**His Father’s Uniform- With The Songs That Got Us Through World War II In Mind

From The Pen Of Peter Markin

Rick Roberts was curious. Not curious about everything in the world just that 1963 minute, although more than one teacher had noted on his early childhood reports cards that little characteristic, but curious about his father’s military uniform, his faded, drab, slightly moth-eaten army dress uniform, World War II version, of course. That curiousness came not from, like the Rick usual, some daydream curiosity, some impossible or improbable configuration, but the result, the this minute result, of having come across the suit in an attic closet as he was preparing to store his own not used, not much used, or merely out-of-fashion, excess clothing against time. And that time was, or rather is, the time of his imminent departure for State University and his first extended time away from home.

Funny Rick knew that his father had been in World War II, had gotten some medals for his service as was apparent from the fruit salad on the uniform, and had spent a little time, he was not exactly sure on the time but his mother had told him 1950 when he asked, in the Veterans Hospital for an undisclosed ailment. But he had not heard anything beyond those bare facts from his father. Never. And his mother had insistently shh-ed him away whenever he tried to bring it up.

Rick had been sick unto death back in the 1950s when the kitchen radio, tuned into WNAC exclusively to old-time World War II Roberts’ parent music. To the exclusion of any serious rock music like Elvis, Chuck, Little Richard and Jerry Lee, but that was parents just being parents and kicking up old torches. Especially when Frank Sinatra sang I’ll Be Seeing You, or his mother would laugh whimsically when The Andrew Sisters performed Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy or The Mills Brothers would croon Till Then. But they, Rick’s parents, never were overheard discussing that war, nor was it discussed when his father’s cronies, and fellow veterans, came over to play their weekly card games until dawn down in the family room complete with beer and chips. What happened back then, what went wrong?

After having spied the uniform Rick decided it was time to ask those questions, those curiosity questions. Later it would be too late, he would be too busy raising a family of his own, or he would be doing his own military service, although he hoped not on that last count. It just didn’t figure into his plans, and that was that. So with a deep breathe one evening, one Friday evening after dinner, when his father would not be distracted by thoughts of next day work, or Saturday night card games, his asked the big question. And his father’s answer- “I did what a lot of guys did, not more, not less. I did it the best way I could. I saw some things, some tough things, and did some tough things too. I survived and that’s all that there is to say.” And Rick’s father said it in such a way that there was no torture too severe, no hole too deep, and no hell too hot to get more than that out of him.

Later that evening, still shell-shocked at his father’s response, as he prepared to go out with his boys for one last North Adamsville fling before heading to State, he stopped for some moments in the front hall foyer and could hear his mother softy sobbing while the pair listened to a record on the living room phonograph with Martha Tilton warble I’ll Walk Alone, The Ink Spots heavenly harmonize on I’ll Get By, Doris Day song-birding Sentimental Journey, Vaughn Monroe sentimentally stir When The Lights Go on Again, and Harry James orchestrate through It’s Been A Long, Long Time. Then Rick understood, understood as well as an eighteen- year old boy could understand such things, that it was those songs that had gotten them through the war, and its aftermath. And that was all he had to know.

Boston Private Bradley Manning Stand-Out Part Of An International Day Of Solidarity-Saturday June 1st Park Street Station – 1 PM

Let’s Redouble Our Efforts To Free Private Bradley Manning-President Obama Pardon Bradley Manning -Make Every Town Square In America (And The World) A Bradley Manning Square From Boston To Berkeley to Berlin-Join Us At Park Street Station In Boston On June 1st At 1 PM For A Stand-Out In Solidarity Before Bradley’s June 3rd Trial

Stand in solidarity with the heroic Wikileaks whistleblower Private Bradley Manning in his fight against the Obama Administration's attempts to keep in prison for life. 

Plan to go to Fort Meade outside of Washington, D.C. on June 1st for an international day of solidarity with Bradley before his scheduled June 3rd trial. Check with the Bradley Manning Support Network information about going to Fort Meade from your area.

If you can’t make it to Fort Meade come to Park Street Station on June 1st in support of this brave whistle-blower.

*Contribute to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund- as the trial date approaches funds are urgently needed! The government has unlimited financial and personnel resources to prosecute Bradley. And the Obama government is fully using them. We have a fine defense civilian lawyer, David Coombs, many supporters throughout America and the world working hard for Bradley’s freedom, and the truth on our side. Still the hard reality of the American legal system, civilian or military, is that an adequate defense cost serious money. So help out with whatever you can spare. For link go to

*Sign the online petition at the Bradley Manning Support Network (for link go to )to the Secretary of the Army to free Bradley Manning-1000 plus days is enough! The Secretary of the Army stands in the direct chain of command up to the President and can release Private Manning from pre-trial confinement and drop the charges against him at his discretion. For basically any reason that he wishes to-let us say 1000 plus days is enough. Join the over 25,000 supporters in the United States and throughout the world clamoring for Bradley’s well-deserved freedom.


From the Archives of Marxism-“Warsaw Ghetto Anti-Nazi Uprising of Labor”

From the Archives of Marxism-“Warsaw Ghetto Anti-Nazi Uprising of Labor”

By Art Preis

Militant, 6 May 1944

Last month marked the 70th anniversary of the heroic uprising against the Nazis by Jews interned in the Warsaw Ghetto. Memorial events grotesquely claimed the memory of these martyrs for Zionist Israel, a state whose oppression of the Palestinian people calls to mind the Nazis’ drive for lebensraum (“living space”). During the Nazi occupation, Zionist leaders in the West provided little assistance to the East European Jews. As Polish Jews bitterly observed in a January 1943 appeal to American Jewish leaders: “The survivors of the Jews in Poland live with the awareness that in the worst days of our history you have given us no aid.”

Who came to the assistance of the isolated and courageous Jews fighting extermination? The Polish nationalist Home Army not only refused to offer any practical or military assistance but also pocketed most of the small quantity of arms airlifted from Britain for the ghetto insurgents. The British Royal Air Force refused to bomb the gas chambers of Auschwitz even as they carried out sorties a few miles away. But 600,000 Soviet soldiers died liberating Poland from the Nazi scourge. We honor their memory. (For more, see “Hail Warsaw Ghetto Fighters!” WV No. 452, 6 May 1988.)

As our comrades of the Spartakusowska Grupa Polski said, “We stand in the tradition of the brave Trotskyists in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw” (WV No. 892, 11 May 2007). Trotskyists, including those of Czerwony Sztandar [Red Flag] who went to their deaths in the Warsaw Ghetto, sided militarily with the Soviet Union despite the misrule of the Stalinist bureaucracy and opposed all the imperialist combatants, not least the “democratic” Allied powers. For the imperialists, World War II was a struggle over the redivision of colonies and spheres of exploitation. The Trotskyists saw in the German working class, trampled under the fascist jackboot, the instrument to overthrow the Nazi regime and to expropriate the bourgeoisie that had brought Hitler to power.

Zionist leaders remained silent about Nazi atrocities. The American government kept their knowledge secret as well. But our forebears, the American Trotskyists of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), broke the government and Zionist news blackout. They reported in their newspaper, the Militant, on 19 September 1942 that the State Department had “suppressed information that it received from its consular agents in Switzerland. This information has to do with the treatment of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Evidence of the greatest atrocities has occurred there in connection with the renewed campaign to exterminate all Jews.” The SWP also fought to lift U.S. immigration restrictions on Jewish refugees, even as American Zionist leaders did not.

The article reprinted below, which was based on the limited information available at the time, originally appeared in the Militant on 6 May 1944.

*   *   *

The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto, which began on April 19, 1943 and raged for 42 days, will go down in history as the first great revolutionary act of working-class mass resistance to the Nazi enslavers and hangmen of Occupied Europe.

Amid the dark alleyways and crumbling walls of their rat-infested, disease-ridden Ghetto prison, 40,000 men, women and children, the proletarian remnants of the Jewish population of Warsaw, Poland, went to their death battling arms in hand against the massed, trained legions of Hitler.

With weapons sufficient for only 3,000 fighters, the starved and ragged Jewish workers, who were organized and led by the labor and socialist underground movement, for six weeks held out with revolvers, rifles, a few machine guns, home-made bombs, knives, clubs and stones against thousands of trained soldiers using heavy artillery, tanks, flame throwers and aerial bombs.

The battle ended only after the Nazis dynamited and put to the torch every hovel and tenement in the entire area, and when every Jewish fighter lay dead under the ashes and rubble that marked the site where 400,000 Jews once lived.

Three Facts

Only within recent weeks have some of the details of the Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto been revealed outside of the labor and socialist press. But from the still-scanty information now available, three salient facts stand out. The Jewish fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto were overwhelmingly workers, armed, organized and led by the labor and socialist underground. They were inspired not merely by Jewish and Polish nationalist sentiment, but by class solidarity and socialist convictions, hoping that their struggle, conducted under the red flag, would help to arouse the workers everywhere in Poland and Europe to revolutionary class struggle. And theirs was not a “spontaneous revolt, out of desperation,” as bourgeois press commentators would have it appear, but a well-prepared, skillfully planned, organized mass action.

The Gestapo on July 22, 1942, demanded that the Judenrat (Jewish Council) deliver 6,000 to 10,000 persons a day for deportation to the “East,” as it turned out, for mass execution in specially designed gas chambers or by machine-gunning. Deceptively, the Nazis broadcast the rumor that the deportees were going to labor camps and even “the machinery of the Jewish auxiliary police was utilized by the Germans to spread rumors about the favorable labor conditions which awaited the deported.” (The Battle of Warsaw by S. Mendelsohn.) The Ghetto was a self-contained, isolated world with its own government, police, firemen and public health agencies.

The extermination campaign was initiated because “the German authorities, according to the report of the Polish government representatives, reckoned with the possibility of armed resistance at the time when there were still half a million Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. They were afraid of it...”

Extermination Campaign

Within the Ghetto, a conflict arose. The Jewish leadership from the bourgeois class counseled against resistance, spreading the hope that the deportations were what the Nazis claimed. But the Jewish underground labor organizations, according to an official report to the Polish government-in-exile, “through handbills warned against the trap and called at least for passive resistance.”

The extermination campaign raged unabated. By January 1943, only about 40,000 to 45,000 of the original 400,000 Jews remained alive in the Ghetto. During this entire period, the Allied powers and their press scarcely commented on the unprecedented mass slaughter of the Jewish people.

Then came accounts of the first resistance. In the Polish newspaper Przez Walke do Zwyciesta, Jan. 20, 1943, it was reported, “We extend our admiration to the Fighter Unit (of the Jewish Labor underground) which during the latest liquidation met the Gestapo with gun in hand. Shooting broke out and developed into a real battle on Zamenhofa Street from where the Gestapo agents and German police had to flee and to which they returned only with reinforcements. Jews defended themselves with hand grenades and revolvers. Twenty Gestapo agents and police are dead and many more wounded.”

For three months the Nazis drew back from completing their liquidation drive. The Jewish workers of Warsaw used the respite to organize further for armed resistance.

Nazi Attack

When, in the middle of April, 1943, the Gestapo and Nazi military police attempted to renew the “deportation” drive, their orders for an assemblage of the Ghetto inhabitants were defied. Their police detachments tried to enter the Ghetto. “As a reply from the seemingly empty houses came flying bullets and hand grenades. Roofs and attics began to spit fire and to rain death on the German police. Fear descended on Hitler’s henchmen. They fled in confusion.” (Polska, April 29, 1943.)

From the account of an official representative of the Polish Government-in-Exile, we learn that the Nazis began the attack with “numerous, heavily armed S.S. detachments on cars mounted with machine guns and on tanks.”

“The actions of the defenders were perfectly coordinated,” says the report, “and the battles were fought on practically the entire territory of the Ghetto. Jewish resistance was brilliantly planned, so that in spite of the vast superiority in men and materiel on the German side, good results were achieved. In the first days of combat the Germans took severe punishment; hundreds of them were killed and more wounded. Several times they had to retreat behind the Ghetto walls. During the first week the battle had all the characteristics of regular military operations. The din of a tremendous cannonade was constantly heard from the Ghetto.” This phase of the battle lasted a week.

Authentic Accounts

Then the Nazis concentrated forces at individual points of resistance reducing them slowly one by one with dynamite, flame throwers and incendiary bombs. The Jewish workers fell back on guerrilla tactics, fighting from cellars, roofs, sewers, sortying out at night to assault the Nazi troops under cover of darkness. “The burning in the Ghetto kept spreading. The fires were becoming intolerable. After six days of further combat, after the Germans had already been using planes, artillery and tanks, they managed to break into the northern part of the Ghetto... By April 28th, the Germans had thrown into the battle 6,000 heavily armed troops. Estimates place the number of Germans dead at between 1,000 and 1,200. The Jews lost about 3,000 to 5,000...”

According to the most authentic accounts, Nazi occupation of the Warsaw Ghetto was not completed until 42 days after the fight began, and even months later they were meeting unexpected resistance from tiny hidden groups dug into the ruins and cellars.

Above all, it is necessary to emphasize the working class character of the resistance. The Stalinist swine and the bourgeois nationalist and religious leaders are engaged in a systematic campaign of falsification intended to obscure or deny the class struggle content of the Warsaw Ghetto revolt. While a few middle-class elements did participate, they fought under the inspiration, guidance, organization and leadership of the workers.

“Workers and the working intelligentsia are the heart and soul among the masses of fighting Jews who arose gun in hand against Nazi atrocities,” states an appeal of the Polish Labor Movement issued on the second day of the revolt. “Almost all underground publications, as well as the reports of the government representative, speak of the Jewish Fighter Organization which began and led the struggle... both the appeal of the Polish Labor Movement and some newspapers indicate that the organization consisted chiefly of workers, most of them young.” (S. Mendelsohn, The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto.)

Underground Manifesto

An underground manifesto from Poland, issued by the Fighter Units, proclaims, “Our activity will still make it possible for a certain number of people to be spared... We live in full realization that it is our duty to proudly continue our glorious heritage of Socialist struggle.” (PM, April 18.)

That struggle is continuing, inspired by the example of the Jewish workers of Warsaw. In Lodz, the biggest Polish industrial center, 130,000 Jewish workers went on a general strike, halting temporarily the Nazi extermination drive there. Armed rebellions have flared up through all the labor camps. A full scale armed resistance was carried on for a month by the Jews of Bialystok, where 30,000 died in struggle and where the “German losses were high despite the heavy armaments, tanks and fire-throwers thrown into the battle.” (PM, April 18.)

Since the Warsaw battle, the British government has closed the last door of refuge for the Jews, in Palestine, while the American State Department and Roosevelt shed crocodile tears in public but deny haven to the Jews in any United States territory. Roosevelt could only mumble evasive statements about “military necessity” and “post-war” plans when asked to intercede with the British government to open Palestine once more for Jewish refugees. And on British soil, Jewish soldiers who resisted the anti-Semitic attacks imposed on them in the armed forces of the reactionary Polish exiled regime are court-martialed and given prison sentences.

Now it should be clear to the Jewish people everywhere, and to all the workers, that the capitalist “democracies” will not save the Jews from fascist barbarism. As the Jewish workers of Warsaw have demonstrated, only the workers themselves in revolutionary struggle will fight fascism to the death.

All honor to the brave Jewish worker dead, who have shown the workers everywhere the revolutionary road to freedom and socialist emancipation from capitalist reaction and fascism. When tens of millions shall rise in the manner of the heroic 40,000 worker-fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto, the forces of Nazism and capitalism will be swept away like chaff before the irresistible might of their onslaught. 

14,000 Demand: Free Lynne Stewart Now!

Workers Vanguard No. 1024
17 May 2013

14,000 Demand: Free Lynne Stewart Now!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

As we reported two months ago, the family of class-war prisoner Lynne Stewart is waging a desperate fight for a “compassionate” release to obtain critical medical treatment. The 73-year-old Stewart has been battling breast cancer, which has metastasized and spread to her lymph nodes, shoulder and lungs. Following bouts of debilitating chemotherapy, Stewart’s cancer remains at Stage 4.

A radical lawyer with a history of defending leftists, black militants and others in the crosshairs of the imperialist rulers, Stewart was railroaded to prison on ludicrous “support to terrorism” charges for zealously defending her client, a blind Islamic cleric. Over 14,000 have signed a petition demanding Stewart’s release that was circulated by her family. Typical of the many messages of support, famed actor Ed Asner stated: “In tormenting Lynne Stewart the government seeks to terrorize all lawyers who would defend those targeted by State repression. The treatment of Lynne Stewart is a threat to due process, an assault on fundamental rights that date to Magna Carta.”

Last month, Stewart’s husband Ralph Poynter reported that the warden of FMC Carswell recommended Stewart’s release. Standing in the way of Stewart’s going home is the federal judge who resentenced her to ten years in prison. We continue to urge readers of WV to sign the petition posted on Contributions to Stewart’s legal defense can be sent to: Lynne Stewart Organization, 1070 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216.

We print below an appreciation of Stewart by Tom Manning dated April 3 and sent to the Partisan Defense Committee. Like Stewart and his comrade Jaan Laaman, Manning is one of 20 activists behind bars receiving stipends under the PDC’s program of support to class-war prisoners. Manning and Laaman were members of the group of anti-imperialist fighters that came to be known as the Ohio 7, convicted for their roles in a radical group that took credit for bank “expropriations” and bombings of symbols of U.S. imperialism, such as military and corporate offices, in the late 1970s and ’80s.

Before their arrests in 1984 and 1985, the Ohio 7 were targets of massive manhunts. Having already sentenced the Ohio 7 to decades in prison, the Feds subsequently tried three of them on charges of “seditious conspiracy.” Despite pouring $10 million into this effort, the government failed in its ominous attempt to revive the sweeping McCarthy-era criminalization of left-wing political activism. This was a victory for the working class and all oppressed. Yet today Ohio 7 attorney Stewart has been condemned to what could be a death sentence under the “war on terror,” presently a more effective means to isolate and witchhunt left-wing activists. Free Lynne Stewart! Free Tom Manning and Jaan Laaman! Free the class-war prisoners!

*   *   *

Dear Folks—

Your stipend gift arrived, again, welcome and useful as ever.

In appreciation I thought I’d copy something I’d written for Mumia—back at ADX, and send it to you all. To do with as you will—a gift to a supporter?

Thinking about Lynne, a dear friend, a part of our defense team in all ten United Freedom Front trials—always bringing joy and solidarity into the prisons for late night visits hours of travel time away from her home in N.Y.C.—her children and her partner Ralph becoming part of the family—Ralph our investigator, traveling back to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and wherever else need checking on. Coming back with a report on how my Great Dane, Chico, was doing five years after I had to abandon him as the FBI Hostage Rescue Team assaulted our farm house with Huey helicopters bearing large Red Cross insignia—a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Their positive spirits in the visiting room would get under the skin of the guard that, one night they keyed Ralph’s car—all down the driver’s side.

Twice, the judge ordered blood taken from me to use DNA in the trial—knowing I’d resist to the best of my ability—in keeping with my vow of total non-collaboration. Lynne came into the prison as moral support. On the first occasion I was beaten so bad—the guys in the block rioted for four days, and Lynne was badly shaken. The authorities lost the videotape of the event. On the second occasion Lynne got a court order to bring a camera—and videotaped the whole thing. On each blood taking, the shoulder of the arm they wanted—was badly damaged—and both had to have open rotator cuff surgery. As I write I’m awaiting a total reverse shoulder implant—stemming from the original damage. Lynne’s tape of that day will always be there—as a piece of this history.

She would make sure we’d get to read any book we expressed interest in, or that she thought we’d find interesting—especially anything on John Brown. A man close to her heart.

So as I read of her troubles now—her health and captivity situation—it galls me bitterly not to be able to bring her relief.

The struggle continues!
Tom Manning

FBI’s Racist “Anti-Terror” Vendetta Against Assata Shakur

Workers Vanguard No. 1024
17 May 2013

FBI’s Racist “Anti-Terror” Vendetta Against Assata Shakur

Although the government largely succeeded in destroying the Black Panther Party decades ago, the state vendetta against these courageous fighters for black freedom is not only alive and well, but thriving under the administration of the first black president and attorney general. To great fanfare, two weeks ago the FBI named Assata Shakur (formerly known as Joanne Chesimard) as the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s list of “Most Wanted Terrorists.” Shakur was convicted in 1977 on frame-up murder charges in the shooting death of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster on 2 May 1973 and sentenced to life plus 33 years. Shakur escaped from prison in 1979, and five years later was granted political asylum in the Cuban deformed workers state, where she has resided for the past 29 years.

Declaring a 65-year-old grandmother one of the world’s deadliest “terrorists” may have many scratching their heads and wondering what the Feds are smoking. But this is deadly serious. At a May 2 press conference, the Feds and New Jersey State Police announced they were doubling the bounty on Shakur to $2 million. In an unprecedented move, the FBI placed billboards with her likeness, reading “Wanted: Terrorist Joanne Chesimard a/k/a Assata Shakur,” along New Jersey highways.

Given that Shakur is unlikely to pop up in Newark or Jersey City any time soon, this may seem a bit gratuitous—but that’s hardly the point. Cloaking the decades-long vendetta against Assata Shakur in the guise of the current “war on terrorism” has a dual purpose: to settle the score against those who fought for black freedom over 40 years ago and to warn that radical activity would be treated as “domestic terrorism.” It underscores what we have insisted since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon—that the ultimate target of the vast “anti-terror” arsenal will be labor, blacks and radical youth. Indeed, the Democratic administration of Barack Obama has accelerated the use of anti-terror laws against leftists. The renewed vendetta against Shakur is particularly ominous coming on the heels of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, which was seized on by the bloody capitalist rulers to further enhance their vast repressive powers.

The FBI/cop crusade is nothing but a racist political witchhunt with a drawn gun. New Jersey State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes railed, “From her safe haven in Cuba, Chesimard has been given the pulpit to preach and profess, stirring supporters and groups to mobilize against the United States by any means necessary.” Aaron T. Ford, special agent in charge of the FBI Newark Division, complained that in Cuba Shakur has continued to espouse her “anti-U.S. views” in speeches advocating “revolution and terrorism,” and ludicrously added that she may have connections to international terrorist organizations. He added: “She’s a danger to the American government.”

The State Department seized on the FBI announcement to make clear that Cuba will remain on its list of “state sponsors of terrorism,” one of the many pretexts for the continued embargo of the tiny island, where capitalist rule was overthrown 53 years ago. As always, whom the U.S. capitalist rulers consider a terrorist is entirely self-serving. Freely roaming the beaches of Miami is Cuban CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles, the mastermind of the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner, which killed 73 people, as well as hotel bombings in Cuba in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist and wounded 12 other people.

On 2 May 1973, Shakur and two other former Panthers, Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli—then members of the Black Liberation Army—were stopped by troopers Foerster and James Harper on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for a “faulty taillight.” Approaching the car, one of the cops drew his gun and ordered the three to raise their hands. A moment later, Zayd Shakur was shot dead by Harper. Foerster died in the crossfire, shot with a bullet from a police revolver. Assata had just been shot twice, once in the back. Acoli was convicted of killing Foerster in 1974 and sentenced to life. After standing trial six times on other charges without a conviction, in 1977 Assata Shakur was finally tried and convicted by an all-white New Jersey jury on grotesque charges of killing her own comrade Zayd as well as Foerster.

At their May 2 press conference, Fuentes and Ford repeated the lie, dutifully echoed by the bourgeois press, that Shakur “murdered a law enforcement officer execution style.” This never happened, nor could it have. One of the bullets that struck Assata shattered her clavicle and median nerve, paralyzing her entire right arm. Assata’s fingerprints were absent from every gun and piece of ammunition found at the scene. Neutron activation analysis taken immediately after Assata arrived at the hospital showed there was no gunpowder residue on her hands. Shakur was never convicted of firing the shot that killed Foerster. Instead, she was railroaded to prison as an “accomplice” under a New Jersey statute that declares that if a person present at the scene of a crime can be construed as “aiding and abetting” it, she can be convicted of the crime itself.

Assata Shakur was on the receiving end of the greatest terrorist enterprise in the world—the bloodthirsty American capitalist rulers. She and her two comrades were among the targets for assassination by the FBI and cops under the deadly Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). In the eyes of the capitalist rulers, the great crime of the Panthers was not only proclaiming the need for a revolutionary solution to the oppression of black people but advocating the right of armed self-defense against the racist terrorists, whether in the white robes of the KKK or the navy blue of the police. The FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover labeled the Panthers the “greatest threat to the internal security of the U.S.” and in 1968 vowed, “The Negro youth and moderate[s] must be made to understand that if they succumb to revolutionary teachings, they will be dead revolutionaries.” Despite our deep political differences with the Panthers, we as Marxists vigorously defended them against the capitalist state’s murderous drive to crush black radicalism.

Thirty-eight Panthers were cut down, including Chicago party leader Fred Hampton, shot to death in December 1969 as he lay in his bed. Countless more were locked away for decades on frame-up charges. Foremost among them was Los Angeles Panther leader Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt), who himself survived an LAPD assassination attempt days after Hampton’s murder and was later imprisoned for 27 years on frame-up charges for a murder that FBI wiretap logs confirmed he could not have committed, as he was 400 miles away. Today, former Panther spokesman Mumia Abu-Jamal is condemned to a life of prison hell on false charges of killing police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. Mumia spent 30 years on death row before his death sentence was overturned two years ago. Like Shakur, the seriously wounded Mumia could not have shot anyone: no physical evidence linked Mumia to Faulkner’s killing and the courts rejected outright the evidence of innocence. In Mumia’s case, the suppressed evidence included the confession of the actual killer.

After the New Jersey governor put a $100,000 bounty on her head 15 years ago, Shakur stated in an open letter:

“I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color....

“This political persecution was part and parcel of the government’s policy of eliminating political opponents by charging them with crimes and arresting them with no regard to the factual basis of such charges....

“I guess the theory is that if they could kidnap millions of Africans from Africa 400 years ago, they should be able to kidnap one African woman today. It is nothing but an attempt to bring about the re-incarnation of the Fugitive Slave Act. All I represent is just another slave that they want to bring back to the plantation. Well, I might be a slave, but I will go to my grave a rebellious slave.”

In the absence of a class-struggle leadership of labor committed to the fight for black freedom, the Panthers, their personal courage notwithstanding, rejected the only strategy for sweeping away the racist bourgeois order—socialist revolution by the multiracial proletariat. Instead, they embraced a reformist program that included the utopian call for “community control” of the police. Racist repression and cop terror will only be ended when the working class seizes state power under the leadership of a Leninist vanguard party. Hands off Assata Shakur! Free Sundiata Acoli! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! 

***On The 77th  Anniversary Of The Start Of The Spanish Civil War- All Honor to Those Who Fought On The Republican Side- In Honor Of The Working Class Militants In The Spanish Civil War- An Anniversary, Of Sorts


***On The 77th Anniversary Of The Start Of The Spanish Civil War- All Honor to Those Who Fought On The Republican Side- In Honor Of The Working Class Militants In The Spanish Civil War- An Anniversary, Of Sorts

In Honor Of The Working Class Militants In The Spanish Civil War- An Anniversary, Of Sorts

I have noted in other posts that some of our working class anniversaries like the Paris Commune, the Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917, and the establishment of the Communist International are worthy of yearly commemoration. So, let us say, the 94th anniversary of the Russian revolution while awkward as a milestone is nevertheless, because of its world-historic importance (both in its establishment and its demise), an appropriate yearly commemoration. Others, like the Russian Revolution of 1905 are worthy of the more traditional five, ten and multiples observations. I have also noted previously my dismay (although that may be too strong a word) at the rise of odd-ball year anniversaries (30th, for example) and rise in the number of mundane occasions for such celebrations although I am not immune to that fever myself. Here, as the headline notes, I am observing a traditional milestone. However, the event itself, that I am observing has far less historic importance (actually far, far less importance) than as an occasion to make some point about the Spanish Civil War. The 50th anniversary designation is to commemorate the first time that I seriously studied the “lessons” of the Spanish Civil War. And the form that that study took was as the subject my very first high school term paper in 9th grade Civics class. I can hear the air being let out of the tires now. But hear me out on this one.

I make no pretense that I can zero in on when I first became interested in the subject of the Spanish Civil War but I was driven by two things in that direction- the general hatred of fascism as transmitted by family and others, the other, and this one is less precise as to origin, was a devotion to the fighters in the American-led Abraham Lincoln battalion of the 15th Brigade of the International Brigades. I believe it may have been hearing Pete Seeger doing a version of Viva La Quince Brigada but I am just not sure. In any case by the spring of 1961 I was knee-deep in studying the subject, including time after school up at the North Adamsville branch of the town’s Thomas Crane Public Library. My first stop, I remember, was looking through the Encyclopedia Americana for the entry on the Spanish Civil War for sources and then turning to the card catalogue. For those not familiar with those ancient forms of research the Encyclopedia was like the online Wikipedia today (except no collective editing, for good or evil, at a touch) and the card catalogue was just a paper version on, well, 3X5 cards, of the computerized systems in most libraries today. But enough of this history of research back in the Dark Ages because what this entry is about is the lessons of that event.

I have noted before, although here too I cannot remember all the details of the genesis of the notion, that on the subject of the Spanish Civil War I have been “haunted” (and still am) by the fact of the lost by the Republican side when in July and August of 1936 (and for about a year later as well) victory against Franco’s brutal counter-revolutionary forces seemed assured. In a sense Spain, and the various stages of my interpretation of events there, represents kind of a foundation stone for my political perspectives as I gained more understanding of the possibilities. I have, more recently, characterized 1930s Spain as the last serious chance to create a companion to the original Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia and so we had best look at its lesson closely, very closely.

Of course as a 9th grade political neophyte I was not even close to making that kind of observation just mentioned. I distinctly recall, and it was reflected in my liberal politics at that time, that the center of my argument on that term paper was the perfidy of the Western democracies in not coming to the aid of the Spanish republicans and further in not allowing the republicans to get arms from them or other sources, other than the Soviet Union. Mainly I was incensed that the British and French did not do more except cave in to Hitler when he called a tune. Now that was pretty raw stuff, pretty raw analysis, although probably not bad coming from that perspective. But depending on outside forces to save your bacon (or revolution) is always tricky and so as I moved leftward in my own political perspective I spent more time looking at the internal political dynamics driving the revolution. For an extremely long time I was under the spell (the proto-Stalinist derived spell) as articulated by the majority of the pro-republican organizations.- it was first necessary to win the war against Franco and then the revolution, presumably socialist, would be pursued under which all manner of good things like workers control of production, land to the tiller, some justice on the various national questions (Catalonia, Basque country) could take place, co-operative and collective government established, etc.

As I moved further leftward, leftward not just politically but also organizationally away from left-liberal and social democratic operations, and began to study more closely radical and revolutionary movements for social change I began to chaff under that war-revolution dichotomy and look more closely as the policies of the various organization within the republican camp. That was rather more eye-opening than not. The gist of it was that all the major organizations were working at cross purposes but most importantly they were putting brakes on the continuation of a revolutionary thrust in Spain. An so in the final analysis, although this was hardest to finally see in the cases of the CGT-FAI and POUM organizations and some individual militants, it was the failure to seek revolutionary solutions that would have galvanized the masses (or could have, rather than after 1937 left them indifferent, mainly, to the republican cause).

What was lacking? Obviously since even opponents agree there was a revolutionary situation in that period a party willing to go right to the end to achieve its goals, a Bolshevik-style party. Such things, as we are now painfully aware of, make all the different. And it is that little pearl of wisdom that makes this anniversary entry worth thinking about for the future.


From The American Left History Archives-From The Labor History Archives- The Oakland General Strike, 1946 -Today November 2, 2011 Oakland General Strike- It's The Same Damn Struggle-Let's Win For Good This Time


A general strike only, as witness the latest actions in Greece, poses the question of power. We have to go on from there to take it and create that new society we have all been fighting for so long. Today in Oakland we go on the offensive, praise be, and like I stated in the headline-let's win this one for good this time.


As Isaac Deutscher said in his speech “On Socialist Man” (1966):


“We do not maintain that socialism is going to solve all predicaments of the human race. We are struggling in the first instance with the predicaments that are of man’s making and that man can resolve. May I remind you that Trotsky, for instance, speaks of three basic tragedies—hunger, sex and death—besetting man. Hunger is the enemy that Marxism and the modern labour movement have taken on.... Yes, socialist man will still be pursued by sex and death; but we are convinced that he will be better equipped than we are to cope even with these.” 


Markin comment from the Fall of 2011 :


After last week’s Oakland General Strike and the closing down of the Port of Oakland I thought we were on the offensive, finally. And I was not wrong. This Ohio vote was a sweet victory to put the breaks on this “in your face” right-wing slide that we having been dealing with for a long time. While, in the final analysis, hard struggles, hard street struggles,  still lie ahead we will take our victories, small or large, wherever we can. I don’t think that the bourgeoisie is ready to make reservations to some island  and let us take over yet but I would think that some of the more far-sighted elements might be checking their frequent-flyer miles status. Nor am I so intoxicated by Ohio that I would raise the propaganda slogan to build workers councils now. But I will raise right here, well in advance of the 2012 bourgeois electoral fist-fight, the need to fight for a workers party that fights for a workers government. And I am not wrong on that.        

From The American Left History Archives- From #Un-Occupied Boston (#Ur-Tomemonos Boston)-General Assembly-An Embryo Of An Alternate Government Gone Wrong-What Happens When We Do Not Learn The Lessons Of History


<b>An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend The Occupy Movement And All  Occupiers! Drop All Charges Against All Occupy Protesters Everywhere!



<b>Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It Back! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!</b>


<b>A Five-Point Program As Talking Points


*<b>Jobs For All Now!</b>-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay to spread the available work around.  Organize the unorganized- Organize the South- Organize Wal-Mart- Defend the right for public and private workers to unionize.  


* <b>Defend the working classes!</b> No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. Spent the dough instead on organizing the unorganized and on other labor-specific causes (good example, the November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio, bad example the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race in June 2012).  


*<b>End the endless wars!</b>- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan! Hands Off Pakistan! Hands Off Iran!  U.S. Hands Off The World! 


*<b>Fight for a social agenda for working people!</b>. Quality Healthcare For All! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! Forgive student debt! Stop housing foreclosures!    


*<b>We created the wealth, let’s take it back.</b> Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Build a workers party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed.     


<b>Emblazon on our red banner-Labor and the oppressed must rule!   



Below I am posting, occasionally, comments on the <i>Occupy</i> movement as I see or hear things of interest, or that cause alarm bells to ring in my head. The first comment directly below from October 1, which represented my first impressions of <i>Occupy Boston</i>, is the lead for all further postings.


<b>Markin comment October 1, 2011:</b>


There is a lot of naiveté expressed about the nature of capitalism, capitalists, and the way to win in the class struggle by various participants in this occupation. Many also have attempted to make a virtue out of that naiveté, particularly around the issues of effective democratic organization and relationships with the police (they are not our friends, no way, when the deal goes down). However, their spirit is refreshing, they are acting out of good subjective anti-capitalist motives and, most importantly, even those of us who call themselves "reds" (communists), including this writer, started out from liberal premises as naive, if not more so, than those encountered at the occupation site. We can all learn something but in the meantime we must defend the "occupation" and the occupiers. More later as the occupation continues.


<b>Markin comment October 22, 2011</b>


As part of my comment, dated October 20, 2011, I noted the following:


“… The idea of the General Assembly with each individual attendee acting as a “tribune of the people” is interesting and important. And, of course, it represents, for today anyway, the embryo of what the “new world” we need to create might look like at the governmental level.”


A couple of the people that I have talked to were not quite sure what to make of that idea. The idea that what is going on in <i>Occupy Boston</i> at the governmental level could, should, would be a possible form of governing this society in the “new world a-borning” with the rise of the <i>Occupy</i> movement. Part of the problem is that there was some confusion on the part of the listeners that one of the possible aims of this movement is to create an alternative government, or at least provide a model for such a government. I will argue here now, and in the future, that it should be one the goals. In short, we need to take power away from the Democrats and Republicans and their tired old congressional/executive/judicial form of governing and place it at the grassroots level and work upward from there rather than, as now, have power devolve from the top. (And stop well short of the bottom.)


I will leave aside the question (the problem really) of what it would take to create such a possibility. Of course a revolutionary solution would, of necessity, have be on the table since there is no way that the current powerful interests, Democratic, Republican or those having no named politics, is going to give up power without a fight. What I want to pose now is the use of the General Assembly as a deliberative executive, legislative, and judicial body all rolled into one. In that sense previous historical models come to mind; the short-lived but heroic Paris Commune of 1871 that Karl Marx tirelessly defended against the reactionaries of Europe as the prototype of a workers government; the early heroic days of the Russian October Revolution of 1917 when the workers councils (soviets in Russian parlance) acted as a true workers' government; and the period in the Spanish Revolution of 1936-39 where the Central Committee of the Anti-Fascist Militias acted, <em>de facto</em>, as a workers government. All the just mentioned examples had their problems and flaws, no question. However, merely mentioning the General Assembly concept in the same paragraph as these great historic examples should signal that thoughtful leftists and other militants need to investigate and study these examples.


Markin comment October 26, 2011:


Recently (see October 22, 2011 comment above) I noted the following while arguing for the General Assembly concept as a form of alternate government using historic examples like the Paris Commune (1871), the early Soviets in Russia (1905 and 1917), and early antifascist militias in the Spanish Civil War (1936-37:


“However, merely mentioning the General Assembly concept in the same paragraph as these great historic examples should signal that thoughtful leftists and other militants need to investigate and study these examples.”


In order to facilitate the investigation and study of those examples I will, occasionally, post works in this space that deal with these forbears from several leftist perspectives (rightist perspectives were clear- crush all the above examples ruthlessly, and with no mercy- so we need not look at them now). I started the series with Karl Marx’s classic defense and critique of the Paris Commune, <i>The Civil War In France</i> and today’s presentation noted in the headline continues on in that same vein.


As Isaac Deutscher said in his speech “On Socialist Man” (1966):


“We do not maintain that socialism is going to solve all predicaments of the human race. We are struggling in the first instance with the predicaments that are of man’s making and that man can resolve. May I remind you that Trotsky, for instance, speaks of three basic tragedies—hunger, sex and death—besetting man. Hunger is the enemy that Marxism and the modern labour movement have taken on.... Yes, socialist man will still be pursued by sex and death; but we are convinced that he will be better equipped than we are to cope even with these.” 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day for PeaceVeterans for Peace logo

Please join us on Monday, May 27 for our Memorial Day for Peace on Boston Harbor.
We have a wonderful program planned: We will remember our friend and partner in peace Charley Richardson, with remarks by Bonnie Gorman and Nancy Lessin.
We will have a remembrance of Hiroshima and Nagaski with David Rothauser, Producer of the film Hibakusha: Our Life to Live, and Kazue Cambell, a Hiroshima survivor.
Sev Bruyn will speak about the Dangers of another nuclear catastrophe and Cole Harrison (Mass Peace Action) will speak about America after Hegemony.
Webb Nichols will share his writing, "Common Thoughts on Our Common Humanity.
A member from the Iraqi community will speak (TBD) and then we will have our Flower Ceremony. Rev. Lara Hoke and Rev. Ralph Galen will say the beginning and ending words.
Brian Quirk will play the bag-pipes and Jesse Perrier will end the program by playing taps.
Please join us and please pass the word to others to also join us.
Thank you,
Pat Scanlon, Coordinator, Veterans for Peace, Smedley Butler Brigade

Memorial Day for Peace

May 27, 2013, 1:00 – 3:00 pm

Christopher Columbus Park

105 Atlantic Ave.

Boston, Massachusetts

Please join us
Please join Veterans For Peace, Smedley Butler Brigade, Chapter 9 and Samantha Smith, Chapter 45, Military Families Speak Out, Mass Peace Action and United for Justice with Peace as we commemorate Memorial Day on Monday May 27, 2013
There will be no parade, no marching band, no military equipment, no guns and drums, no Air Force fly-overs.
There will be veterans and supporters who have lost friends and loved ones. There will be veterans who know the horrors of war and the pain and anguish of loss. There will be friends and families of soldiers, remembering their loved ones. There will be Iraqi Refugees who have suffered terrible losses and will join us as we remember and show respect for their loss.
There will be flowers dropped into the harbor for each fallen U.S. soldier from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Flowers will also be also be dropped into the harbor remembering the loss of Iraqi family and friends.
Brian Quirk Scottish Bag Pipes
Merrimack Valley People for Peace
Rev. Lara Hoke Opening
Sec. VFP, Smedley D. Butler Brigade
Pat Scanlon Welcome
Coordinator, VFP, Smedley D. Butler Brigade
Bonnie Gorman / Nancy Lessin In Memory of our friend Charley Richardson
Military Families Speak Out
Gold Star Families Vietnam
VFP, Smedley D. Butler Brigade
Dan Perkins What Memorial Day Means to Me
VFP, Smedley D. Butler Brigade, Vietnam veteran
David Rothauser Hiroshima and Nagasaki
VFP, Smedley D. Butler Brigade
Kazue Campbell Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor
Yoshi Campbell
Sev Bruyn,
Professor Emeritus, Boston College Dangers of another nuclear catastrophe
VFP, Smedley D. Butler Brigade , WWII veteran
Pat Scanlon Song – Pop There Goes Boston
Coordinator, VFP Smedley D. Butler Brigade (VN 69’)
Cole Harrison America after Hegemony
Executive Director, Mass Peace Action
Webb Nichols Common Thoughts on Our Common Humanity
Smedley D. Butler Brigade, Vietnam Veteran
Iraqi Refugee
Brian Quirk Scottish Bag Pipes
Flower Ceremony
Rev. Ralph Galen Closing
Community Church of Lawrence
Jesse Perrier Taps
Ex. Comm. Smedley D. Butler Brigade
Out in the Be-Bop 1950s Night –With The Stones’ The Girl With The Faraway Eyes In Mind

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Jack Harper wished he had met her, the young woman that he called before he met her “the girl with the faraway eyes,” about ten years before where he was twenty or so. Although from the look of her ten years before would have put her at about age ten or eleven, no more, and probably at that time she had not possessed the sorrows that came with those eyes and without those sorrowful eyes he might very well have passed her by. It had all started when he went to his local jazz club hang-out that he had frequented often since he hit Frisco town a couple of years before over in the Fillmore District, the Red Cap Club, on a Monday night a slow night for anything musical and there she was sitting at the bar by herself, drinking slowly from some scotch glass, the neon Miller Hi-Life sign blinking on the wall behind her, and listening to the boys in the jazz combo as they warmed up for their first set. That was when she first looked his way, not at him, not directly anyway, but in his direction.
It wasn’t that she was beautiful, physically beautiful, although her slender frame, boffed brunette hair, brown eyes, and tight –fitting cashmere sweater would have attracted guys who were not irredeemably hooked on faraway looks by one of the neon wilderness waifs of the world. But that look, that ten- thousand year old embedded in the genes look, that look that spoke of unnamed sorrows, of unnamed bumps in life’s road, but spoke as well of gallant knights tilting at windmills trying to erase that look, of trying to bring some sense of order into her world had him transfixed. He was hooked, and so he walked over, he took the ticket and walked over to the wild side. He asked her if he could sit down and she said “suit yourself” but she also said, giving him her best quizzical smile, that she “hoped he knew what he was in for.” And so it started.

They talked for a bit, the usual chitchat bar stuff, he offered and she accepted the offer of another scotch, which she drank slowly as they talked, mainly of jazz, of the boys, the house combo who were going through their paces on the first set. Going a little shy with a big sound early but also sensing, knowing, that if not early, if not Monday night early, then there would be no big sound audience for them to feed off of later. She, Wendy, Wendy Johnson, when they got around to names, was extremely knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the jazz world that was framing the be-bop nights around San Francisco just then. And framing as well the be-bop poetry that guys, guys like Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and mad monk Gregory Corso were spewing forth based on the long gone rhythm, the beat beat, beat down beat, beat around cool ass rhythm, all big note stuff, breaking away a little from Father Duke, Father Count, Father Louis and Mother Fatah Hines, getting purely tonal she called it. She noted that the house band had just a year or so before been all juiced up with big Johnny Hodges-like sex sax blows by Eddie Lee but more recently had begun to feature Miles-like trumpets Gabriel-blowing with new band member Sid Lament.
Jack asked her how she knew some much about the jazz scene, was she a music student, or something. She said no that she had had an affair with Luke Lemming the up and coming trumpet player around town and he had hepped her to the scene. (She seemed too young at twenty-one to be able to call any youthful liaison an affair. Jack thought, hell, he was a decade older than she and he had had only one such liaison that he would designate as such.) Luke took her to all the after- hours places, the back rooms, the places where after guys had had their fill of the paying customers and just blew until dawn, looking for that elusive big breeze curling in from the bay high white note before the sun destroyed the night and their dreams. He had also turned her onto kicks (although Jack was not exactly sure what she meant by that term just then). A few months before Luke had blown her off, had told her that even in wide-open Barbary Coast Frisco a freaky black guy and a white girl was nothing but trouble, trouble for him, trouble for him about six ways including moving up in his profession, and hell not getting called on it by the guys on his block. As she spoke about her loss he noticed that faraway look come over her again.

After he bought her another scotch she asked him whether he would like to step out back and do a little tea to get his head in the right place, to get well, to get some kicks. Jack laughed to himself that now he was beginning to understand why she had that faraway look, that heaven- bound angel look that had hooked him earlier in the evening. Jack was no square, or as least he did not think of himself as square, not square in the red scare cold war 1950s night when tea was a sidebar oddity spoken of in whispers in such places as Frisco, Division Street in Chicago, and Village/Harlem New York City but he had never done it. Still he wanted to understand those faraway eyes, to find out what was behind those eyes and so he told her “what the hell.”

They went out back, she passed him a pre-wrapped joint after lighting up and taking two big draughts herself. He following her lead inhaled, inhaled and started coughing like crazy. Although he smoked tobacco, Luckies, the tea smoke just made him cough and cough. She laughed and told him the next gulp would go down easier. She also said she could not understand why men could just not say they had not experienced something when they hadn’t and he turned red at that. Then she patted his hand as if to say it was okay and he suddenly realized that he was also beginning to get an idea of what she meant when she said she hoped that he knew what he was in for.

After a couple more hits they went back inside the club, Jack reeling a little from the effects of the tea. Sid Lament was in the middle of a cool note breeze trumpet solo and she went to the dance floor alone and began doing her dance interpretation of Sid’s blast. Not sexual, not in the obvious way like some Kama Sutra trance. No, more like she was trying to reach something just beyond her grasp and whatever it was controlled the contortions she was going through. A couple of guys at the end of the bar gave leering stares and started to lightly clap like they thought she was mimicking a strip-tease. Drunks probably. Jack, somewhat less inhibited from the tea smoke, joined her following her lead. (The drunks turned their heads back toward the bartender once that knew they had no play.) He noticed yet again during Sid’s play that she would get that faraway look, maybe more so, maybe go to a private place where that trumpet swoon would carry her to some dreamland, maybe take away some unspoken fear, some awful hurts. All he knew was that there was something almost religious, no, spiritual in that look.

Once that number was finished Wendy told Jack that she had to get home because she had to get to work early the next morning. As she was gathering her things to leave she neither invited him home nor made mention of meeting again. He asked her if they would meet again (after having made a big fumbling deal out of whether he could take her home and then getting a negative response asking her for a future date). She said she would be at the club on Thursday night when Benny Bix and his Quartet were playing. That was as far as she would commit to.

Needless to say, he was at the Red Cap that next Thursday night. She was at the bar alone, sipping, slowly sipping that eternal scotch. They talked for a while during Benny Bix’s first set both commenting that the combo seemed a little unsure where they wanted to go. After that set finished up she again offered him to do some tea out back. They then reenacted that same tea blast scene as Monday night, minus the dancing. Bix’s music was for listening, especially when he was on and so they listened through the second set as the combo found a groove. They or rather she, when it was time to leave also reenacted that same ambiguous parting. He tried to make that same take her home/future date play. Again all she would commit to was that she would be at the club Monday night.

Jack though decided after she left the hell with it, the thing, hooked or not, tea-leafed or not, was going nowhere. She probably had some walking daddy at home who let her roam once in a while and she was just toying with him for kicks. Or she was still in mourning over Luke and other sorrows. (He had heard, asking around, that Luke had taken up with Lilly Loft, the torch-singer, and as black as black could be. Luke would take no grief on the block over that choice.) He was no quitter but it was time to get off that ride. No soap, and too bad. Time to move on.

A few weeks later he was sitting at the Hi Hat Club over on Bay Street, a place he was starting to frequent to avoid the Red Cap, when she walked in alone. Walked in, sat at the bar, ordered a scotch, and gave a look in his direction, not directly at him, no, just in his direction. That faraway look. Yah, she was the girl with the faraway eyes that hid sorrows that he could not reach, could not fathom, and could not ease. He finished his drink, put on his coat, and left.