Saturday, August 10, 2013

Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night- The Fall Guy-Take Two


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

There is a fall guy born every minute, especially fall guys who will jump through hoops when they are down on their luck, or when a woman crosses their path, yeah particularly when a dame passes through. Take a guy like Dane Clark, a guy that used to hang around the old neighborhood, my old neighborhood, old Hullsville down by the sea, down by the ocean breezes south of Boston back in the early 1960s. You could always see him hanging in front of Bigelow’s Drug Store on any given night ready to tell his story, tell his story endlessly to whoever would listen.  We, my corner boys and me, got so we could recite it back to him point by point and he always was surprised that we remembered the details and wondered too how we knew the story since he did not recall telling it to us. 

Dane grew up in Hullsville, old run-down seen better days Huntsville , loss in some sea mist back when they used to build ships, great ocean ships in that town,   and like a lot of us blew the dust or the seaweed of the place off his shoes and headed out, out to the big world as fast as he could. As fast as he could and just as fast became a fall guy like a million other guys who tried to blow the dust of their growing up towns off their shoes. And learned to jump through hoops out in that world too, learned that hard task the hard way. Especially when said hoops were being held by foxy-looking young blonde dames (although they do not have to be blonde, okay, no way). Yes, old Dane learned the hard way something it took me a while to figure out too but this is old Dane’s moment in the sun and I can tell my story any old time.

Sure it was about a boy meets girl story just like in the movies, or rather man meets woman, but more to the point was the hard fact of life that the just rich, the very rich, and the super-rich are different, and in this case, very different, from you and me. Now here is the “skinny.”  Dane Clark, after a stint travelling by rail, hobo freight car rail not the deluxe Pullman sleepers in the Great Depression 1930s, shifting, drifting, midnight sifting in the great railroad jungles out west avoiding the bulls and avoiding hungers as best he could, got drafted like a lot of other guys, guys like my father, into the American army during World War II and did his service in Europe, serviceable service, mainly in France after Normandy. After he got out he tried this and that first for a minute in Hullsville, the place was too small for his big world appetites by then though,  that didn’t work and then he drifted to  New York City trying to make a dime out of nothing, and mainly stalling out. He made a few bucks though, enough to get him to London, a town that intrigued him when he was stationed near there at an American base before the D-Day invasion.

So Dane wound up like a lot of other guys as a down and out American looking, well, looking for something in the post-World War II night and he figured London was just as good a place as any to land, and cheaper too. Naturally a down and out guy had to figure things out once in a while, get his bearings, and what better place to do so than at a bar. A bar, a pub I guess you call them over there, that just happened to have a fetching and rich blonde damsel in distress, Phyllis Lee, if you are looking for a name but don’t hold on too long that that was her right name, looking to get married and willing to pay for that status for her own reasons. Maybe it was that If I Didn't Care that was playing in the background and they laughingly instantly called "their song that did it, maybe the high-shelf scotch he was drinking at her expense but he accepted, although as fate would have it he wound up with a case of blackout, really some dropout pills, a mickey for the crime noir fans, and was dumped in some doorway groggy for his efforts immediately after the ceremony. There he was befriended by a very independent starving woman artist who lived on the other side of that door, and who was only tangentially connected with the nefarious doings going on that led to his doorway stop. (And whom he would eventually have an affair with before she too got lost in the London fog, or just quit him, quit him for her own reasons and left him high and dry.)

And then the chase was on, the chase to put a big old frame on one Dane Clark late of Hullsville, late of the great Southern Pacific hobo, jungles, late of the 82nd Airborne Division, late of cheap street New York City, and make it stick. Why? Phyllis’ rich, very rich, father had been murdered that very marriage night and guess who the prime suspect, the numero uno fall guy, was? Needless to say, patsy or not, this called for drastic action to recoup his honor (and to stay out of the slammer) by our boy Dane. But, as usual, everybody and their brother (or sister) had a motive to do harm to old man Lee, had an ax to grind including that fetching blonde who lured him in since that old man was no tone of nature’s noblemen. Who to trust (or not trust) while evading the coppers in the black and white dreary streets and cooped-up apartments of 1950s London got Dane all mixed up.

What drove the real villain, a guy, a guy okay, Philip Reed, yes of the old time British Reed steel fortune long since spent, and by the way not the blonde beauty Phyllis was not involved, no way, although she made Dane think twice about it a couple of times when she abandoned him to his fate and divorced him out of hand when she was done with him, was the need to have plenty of dough. Reed, an old MI5 hand, and a guy who knew people it was good to know when trying to flee, people who knew people for a price,  eventually escaped to the continent and the police never did find him, or the cool two million (pounds) he received, embezzled, from Phyllis’ father’s estate before he fled.

As for Dane, after a few months in gaol (jail, quaint right) the coppers released him for lack of evidence and a semi-confession, meaning guy couldn’t positively identify Dane as the guy who paid him to get rid of old Lee’s body, by a guy who worked with the villainous Reed and he scrambled his way back home, home to Hullsville. Home, never to leave again, seldom leaving the small area around Bigelow’s Drug, and never to stop telling his tale of woe in the ocean air night to whoever would listen. That is where that point about the rich being different, very different, comes in.


From The Marxist Archives-For the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!

Workers Vanguard No. 914
9 May 2008



For the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!

(Quote of the Week)

Writing after the 1917 Russian Revolution, Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky polemicized against German Social Democrat Karl Kautsky, who denounced the Soviet workers state and promoted bourgeois parliamentarism. In exposing bourgeois democracy as a facade for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, Trotsky quoted French revolutionary socialist (and Karl Marx’s son-in-law) Paul Lafargue.

“Parliamentarism,” wrote Paul Lafargue in the Russian review, Sozialdemokrat, in 1888, “is a system of government in which the people acquires the illusion that it is controlling the forces of the country itself, when, in reality, the actual power is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie—and not even of the whole bourgeoisie, but only of certain sections of that class. In the first period of its supremacy the bourgeoisie does not understand, or, more correctly, does not feel, the necessity for making the people believe in the illusion of self-government. Hence it was that all the parliamentary countries of Europe began with a limited franchise. Everywhere the right of influencing the policy of the country by means of the election of deputies belonged at first only to more or less large property holders, and was only gradually extended to less substantial citizens, until finally in some countries it became from a privilege the universal right of all and sundry.

“In bourgeois society, the more considerable becomes the amount of social wealth, the smaller becomes the number of individuals by whom it is appropriated. The same takes place with power: in proportion as the mass of citizens who possess political rights increases, and the number of elected rulers increases, the actual power is concentrated and becomes the monopoly of a smaller and smaller group of individuals.” Such is the secret of the majority.

For the Marxist, Lafargue, parliamentarism remains as long as the supremacy of the bourgeoisie remains. “On the day,” writes Lafargue, “when the proletariat of Europe and America seizes the state, it will have to organize a revolutionary government, and govern society as a dictatorship, until the bourgeoisie has disappeared as a class.”

Kautsky in his time knew this Marxist estimate of parliamentarism, and more than once repeated it himself, although with no such Gallic sharpness and lucidity. The theoretical apostasy of Kautsky lies just in this point: having recognized the principle of democracy as absolute and eternal, he has stepped back from materialist dialectics to natural law. That which was exposed by Marxism as the passing mechanism of the bourgeoisie, and was subjected only to temporary utilization with the object of preparing the proletarian revolution, has been newly sanctified by Kautsky as the supreme principle standing above classes, and unconditionally subordinating to itself the methods of the proletarian struggle.

—Leon Trotsky, Terrorism and Communism (1920)

Leon Trotsky

Terrorism and Communism

Chapter 2
The Dictatorship of the Proletariat

Marx and Engels hammered out the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which Engels stubbornly defended in 1891, shortly before his death – the idea that the political autocracy of the proletariat is the “sole form in which it can realize its control of the state.”
That is what Kautsky wrote about ten years ago. The sole form of power for the proletariat he considered to be not a Socialist majority in a democratic parliament, but the political autocracy of the proletariat, its dictatorship. And it is quite clear that, if our problem is the abolition of private property in the means of production, the only road to its solution lies through the concentration of State power in its entirety in the hands of the proletariat, and the setting up for the transitional period of an exceptional regime – a regime in which the ruling class is guided, not by general principles calculated for a prolonged period, but by considerations of revolutionary policy.
The dictatorship is necessary because it is a case, not of partial changes, but of the very existence of the bourgeoisie. No agreement is possible on this ground. Only force can be the deciding factor. The dictatorship of the proletariat does not exclude, of course, either separate agreements, or considerable concessions, especially in connection with the lower middle class and the peasantry. But the proletariat can only conclude these agreements after having gained possession of the apparatus of power, and having guaranteed to itself the possibility of independently deciding on which points to yield and on which to stand firm, in the interests of the general Socialist task.
Kautsky now repudiates the dictatorship of the proletariat at the very outset, as the “tyranny of the minority over the majority.” That is, he discerns in the revolutionary regime of the proletariat those very features by which the honest Socialists of all countries invariably describe the dictatorship of the exploiters, albeit masked by the forms of democracy.
Abandoning the idea of a revolutionary dictatorship, Kautsky transforms the question of the conquest of power by the proletariat into a question of the conquest of a majority of votes by the Social-Democratic Party in one of the electoral campaigns of the future. Universal suffrage, according to the legal fiction of parliamentarism, expresses the will of the citizens of all classes in the nation, and, consequently, gives a possibility of attracting a majority to the side of Socialism. While the theoretical possibility has not been realized, the Socialist minority must submit to the bourgeois majority. This fetishism of the parliamentary majority represents a brutal repudiation, not only of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but of Marxism and of the revolution altogether. If, in principle, we are to subordinate Socialist policy to the parliamentary mystery of majority and minority, it follows that, in countries where formal democracy prevails, there is no place at all for the revolutionary struggle. If the majority elected on the basis of universal suffrage in Switzerland pass draconian legislation against strikers, or if the executive elected by the will of a formal majority in Northern America shoots workers, have the Swiss and American workers the “right” of protest by organizing a general strike? Obviously, no. The political strike is a form of extra-parliamentary pressure on the “national will,” as it has expressed itself through universal suffrage. True, Kautsky himself, apparently, is ashamed to go as far as the logic of his new position demands. Bound by some sort of remnant of the past, he is obliged to acknowledge the possibility of correcting universal suffrage by action. Parliamentary elections, at all events in principle, never took the place, in the eyes of the Social-Democrats, of the real class struggle, of its conflicts, repulses, attacks, revolts; they were considered merely as a contributory fact in this struggle, playing a greater part at one period, a smaller at another, and no part at all in the period of dictatorship.
In 1891, that is, not long before his death, Engels, as we just heard, obstinately defended the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only possible form of its control of the State. Kautsky himself more than once repeated this definition. Hence, by the way, we can see what an unworthy forgery is Kautsky’s present attempt to throw back the dictatorship of the proletariat at us as a purely Russian invention.
Who aims at the end cannot reject the means. The struggle must be carried on with such intensity as actually to guarantee the supremacy of the proletariat. If the Socialist revolution requires a dictatorship – ”the sole form in which the proletariat can achieve control of the State” – it follows that the dictatorship must be guaranteed at all cost.
To write a pamphlet about dictatorship one needs an ink-pot and a pile of paper, and possibly, in addition, a certain number of ideas in one’s head. But in order to establish and consolidate the dictatorship, one has to prevent the bourgeoisie from undermining the State power of the proletariat. Kautsky apparently thinks that this can be achieved by tearful pamphlets. But his own experience ought to have shown him that it is not sufficient to have lost all influence with the proletariat, to acquire influence with the bourgeoisie.
It is only possible to safeguard the supremacy of the working class by forcing the bourgeoisie accustomed to rule, to realize that it is too dangerous an undertaking for it to revolt against the dictatorship of the proletariat, to undermine it by conspiracies, sabotage, insurrections, or the calling in of foreign troops. The bourgeoisie, hurled from power, must be forced to obey. In what way? The priests used to terrify the people with future penalties. We have no such resources at our disposal. But even the priests’ hell never stood alone, but was always bracketed with the material fire of the Holy Inquisition, and with the scorpions of the democratic State. Is it possible that Kautsky is leaning to the idea that the bourgeoisie can be held down with the help of the categorical imperative, which in his last writings plays the part of the Holy Ghost? We, on our part, can only promise him our material assistance if he decides to equip a Kantian-humanitarian mission to the realms of Denikin and Kolchak. At all events, there he would have the possibility of convincing himself that the counter-revolutionaries are not naturally devoid of character, and that, thanks to their six years’ existence in the fire and smoke of war, their character has managed to become thoroughly hardened. Every White Guard has long ago acquired the simple truth that it is easier to hang a Communist to the branch of a tree than to convert him with a book of Kautsky’s. These gentlemen have no superstitious fear, either of the principles of democracy or of the flames of hell – the more so because the priests of the church and of official learning act in collusion with them, and pour their combined thunders exclusively on the heads of the Bolsheviks. The Russian White Guards resemble the German and all other White Guards in this respect – that they cannot be convinced or shamed, but only terrorized or crushed.
The man who repudiates terrorism in principle – i.e., repudiates measures of suppression and intimidation towards determined and armed counter-revolution, must reject all idea of the political supremacy of the working class and its revolutionary dictatorship. The man who repudiates the dictatorship of the proletariat repudiates the Socialist revolution, and digs the grave of Socialism.

* * *

At the present time, Kautsky has no theory of the social revolution. Every time he tries to generalize his slanders against the revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, he produces merely a réchauffé of the prejudices of Jaurèsism and Bernsteinism.
“The revolution of 1789,” writes Kautsky, “itself put an end to the most important causes which gave it its harsh and violent character, and prepared the way for milder forms of the future revolution.” (Page 140) [Translator’s Note – For convenience sake, the references throughout have been altered to fall in the English translation of Kautsky’s book. Mr. Kerridge’s translation, however, has not been adhered to.] Let us admit this, though to do so we have to forget the June days of 1848 and the horrors of the suppression of the Commune. Let us admit that the great revolution of the eighteenth century, which by measures of merciless terror destroyed the rule of absolutism, of feudalism, and of clericalism, really prepared the way for more peaceful and milder solutions of social problems. But, even if we admit this purely liberal standpoint, even here our accuser will prove to be completely in the wrong; for the Russian Revolution, which culminated in the dictatorship of the proletariat, began with just that work which was done in France at the end of the eighteenth century. Our forefathers, in centuries gone by, did not take the trouble to prepare the democractic way – by means of revolutionary terrorism – for milder manners in our revolution. The ethical mandarin, Kautsky, ought to take these circumstances into account, and accuse our forefathers, not us. Kautsky, however, seems to make a little concession in this direction. “True,” he says, “no man of insight could doubt that a military monarchy like the German, the Austrian, or the Russian could be overthrown only by violent methods. But in this connection there was always less thought” (amongst whom?) “of the bloody use of arms, and more of the working class weapon peculiar to the proletariat – the mass strike. And that a considerable portion of the proletariat, after seizing power, would again – as at the end of the eighteenth century – give vent to its rage and revenge in bloodshed could not be expected. This would have meant a complete negation of all progress.” (Page 147) As we see, the war and a series of revolutions were required to enable us to get a proper view of what was going on in reality in the heads of some of our most learned theoreticians. It turns out that Kautsky did not think that a Romanoff or a Hohenzollern could be put away by means of conversations; but at the same time he seriously imagined that a military monarchy could be overthrown by a general strike – i.e., by a peaceful demonstration of folded arms. In spite of the Russian revolution, and the world discussion of this question, Kautsky, it turns out, retains the anarcho-reformist view of the general strike. We might point out to him that, in the pages of its own journal, the Neue Zeit, it was explained twelve years ago that the general strike is only a mobilization of the proletariat and its setting up against its enemy, the State; but that the strike in itself cannot produce the solution of the problem, because it exhausts the forces of the proletariat sooner than those of its enemies, and this, sooner or later, forces the workers to return to the factories. The general strike acquires a decisive importance only as a preliminary to a conflict between the proletariat and the armed forces of the opposition – i.e., to the open revolutionary rising of the workers. Only by breaking the will of the armies thrown against it can the revolutionary class solve the problem of power – the root problem of every revolution. The general strike produces the mobilization of both sides, and gives the first serious estimate of the powers of resistance of the counterrevolution. But only in the further stages of the struggle, after the transition to the path of armed insurrection, can that bloody price be fixed which the revolutionary class has to pay for power. But that it will have to pay with blood, that, in the struggle for the conquest of power and for its consolidation, the proletariat will have not only to be killed, but also to kill – of this no serious revolutionary ever had any doubt. To announce that the existence of a determined life-and-death struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie “is a complete negation of all progress,” means simply that the heads of some of our most reverend theoreticians take the form of a camera-obscura, in which objects are represented upside down.
But, even when applied to more advanced and cultured countries with established democratic traditions, there is absolutely no proof of the justice of Kautsky’s historical argument. As a matter of fact, the argument itself is not new. Once upon a time the Revisionists gave it a character more based on principle. They strove to prove that the growth of proletarian organizations under democratic conditions guaranteed the gradual and imperceptible – reformist and evolutionary – transition to Socialist society – without general strikes and risings, without the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Kautsky, at that culminating period of his activity, showed that, in spite of the forms of democracy, the class contradictions of capitalist society grew deeper, and that this process must inevitably lead to a revolution and the conquest of power by the proletariat.
No one, of course, attempted to reckon up beforehand the number of victims that will be called for by the revolutionary insurrection of the proletariat, and by the regime of its dictatorship. But it was clear to all that the number of victims will vary with the strength of resistance of the propertied classes. If Kautsky desires to say in his book that a democractic upbringing has not weakened the class egoism of the bourgeoisie, this can be admitted without further parley.
If he wishes to add that the imperialist war, which broke out and continued for four years, in spite of democracy, brought about a degradation of morals and accustomed men to violent methods and action, and completely stripped the bourgeoisie of the last vestige of awkwardness in ordering the destruction of masses of humanity – here also he will be right.
All this is true on the face of it. But one has to struggle in real conditions. The contending forces are not proletarian and bourgeois manikins produced in the retort of Wagner-Kautsky, but a real proletariat against a real bourgeoisie, as they have emerged from the last imperialist slaughter.
In this fact of merciless civil war that is spreading over the whole world, Kautsky sees only the result of a fatal lapse from the “experienced tactics” of the Second International.
“In reality, since the time,” he writes, “that Marxism has dominated the Socialist movement, the latter, up to the world war, was, in spite of its great activities, preserved from great defeats. And the idea of insuring victory by means of terrorist domination had completely disappeared from its ranks.
“Much was contributed in this connection by the fact that, at the time when Marxism was the dominating Socialist teaching, democracy threw out firm roots in Western Europe, and began there to change from an end of the struggle to a trustworthy basis of political life.” (Page 145)
In this “formula of progress” there is not one atom of Marxism. The real process of the struggle of classes and their material conflicts has been lost in Marxist propaganda, which, thanks to the conditions of democracy, guarantees, forsooth, a painless transition to a new and “wiser” order. This is the most vulgar liberalism, a belated piece of rationalism in the spirit of the eighteenth century – with the difference that the ideas of Condorcet are replaced by a vulgarisation of the Communist Manifesto. All history resolves itself into an endless sheet of printed paper, and the centre of this “humane” process proves to be the well-worn writing table of Kautsky.
We are given as an example the working-class movement in the period of the Second International, which, going forward under the banner of Marxism, never sustained great defeats whenever it deliberately challenged them. But did not the whole working-class movement, the proletariat of the whole world, and with it the whole of human culture, sustain an incalculable defeat in August, 1914, when history cast up the accounts of all the forces and possibilities of the Socialist parties, amongst whom, we are told, the guiding role belonged to Marxism, “on the firm footing of democracy”? Those parties proved bankrupt. Those features of their previous work which Kautsky now wishes to render permanent – self-adaptation, repudiation of “illegal” activity, repudiation of the open fight, hopes placed in democracy as the road to a painless revolution – all these fell into dust. In their fear of defeat, holding back the masses from open conflict, dissolving the general strike discussions, the parties of the Second International were preparing their own terrifying defeat; for they were not able to move one finger to avert the greatest catastrophe in world history, the four years’ imperialist slaughter, which foreshadowed the violent character of the civil war. Truly, one has to put a wadded nightcap not only over one’s eyes, but over one’s nose and ears, to be able to-day, after the inglorious collapse of the Second International, after the disgraceful bankruptcy of its leading party – the German Social Democracy – after the bloody lunacy of the world slaughter and the gigantic sweep of the civil war, to set up in contrast to us, the profundity, the loyalty, the peacefulness and the sobriety of the Second International, the heritage of which we are still liquidating.

ba0d8452af0fe07443ba708491489610_lCOTW on the march ...

-------- Original Message --------

The City of Concord, NH has applied for a Homeland Security grant for a $258,000 militarized Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck (BearCat) aka a Tank. The application stated that terrorism “slants primarily towards the domestic type,” and “the threat is real and here”. It went on to say that “groups such as sovereign citizens, free staters, and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges.”

See Occupy NH's reaction to the news:

On Monday August 12 the City is holding a public hearing on whether or not it should accept the DHS grant. Turn out with signs,
prepared statements, or just yourself to stand up for your community and against militarization!

** 6:00pm - Demonstration with Signs and Speeches outside of City Council Chambers (may be moved 2 blocks east to Main Street for visibility to traffic)

** 7:00pm - City Council Meeting. There are likely to be other issues on the docket, so be patient, and please consider speaking on the issue, especially if you're a Concord resident.

More info on the demonstration:

Prepare for a worldwide call to action after sentencing!
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Bradley Manning Support Network

Respond to Bradley’s sentence in your community!

Immediately following the sentencing announcement of heroic WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning by the military court at Fort Meade, Maryland, join us in the streets to declare "Free Bradley Now!"
Many communities have a historic gathering location, such as a downtown intersection, central park, or other visible location. Please spread the word for folks to join you immediately following the sentencing to celebrate, protest, and/or simply show your support for Bradley.
We will likely have one day notice before sentencing occurs, so we'll have some heads up. If it takes place in the morning, we suggest gathering that evening. If it takes place in the afternoon or evening, we suggest the following day. Same-day events are more likely to be covered by your local media in conjunction with the national breaking story of Bradley's sentencing.
Please contact the Support Network for posters, stickers, and info cards. Our primary message for these response rallies: "President Obama: Pardon Bradley Manning"
Sentencing could occur as soon as Friday, August 16.
New York City

Professor Cornel West and Chris Hedges speak out for Bradley Manning (video)

Defense to begin sentencing arguments Monday

Bradley Manning expected to give statement Wednesday
After Judge Lind’s verdict, Bradley Manning’s defense successfully merged several of the needlessly multiplied charges for sentencing purposes, so he now faces a maximum potential sentence of 90 years, instead of the previous 136. The prosecution then spent a week and a half attempting to prove WikiLeaks’ releases had caused severe damage, in an effort to send Bradley Manning to prison for decades. But the government’s own witnesses failed to confirm prosecutors’ mendacious rhetoric. Brigadier General Robert Carr, who reviewed the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs for identified individuals, said that he could find no casualties connected with the war logs’ release.
Similarly, Undersecretary for the Department of State Patrick Kennedy reviewed the diplomatic cables to see if named activists and sources were at risk, and he too couldn’t connect any deaths or injuries to WikiLeaks’ releases.
A large portion of the prosecution’s case took place in classified sessions, closed off to the press and public, because even though the released cables are in the public domain, the government refuses to officially acknowledge them, referring to them as “purported” cables and files.
Monday, August 12, the defense will begin presenting its sentencing case with nearly two dozen witnesses, currently projected to last three days.

Two plays about Bradley Manning

Bradass87 will be performed in Washington DC on Aug 16, 17.
Courage is contagious, and the stories that we tell show what we value. Acting from conscience at any cost is a story as old as humanity and often adapted for the stage. The ancient Greek myth of Prometheus’ heroic act of rebellion against Zeus; bringing fire to humanity at the cost of his own freedom, was performed in 415 BC. Now that our own Prometheus, young, slight, gay soldier PFC Bradley Manning has the full force of the American Empire coming down on him in a tiny courtroom in Ft Meade, Maryland for “want[ing] people to know the truth,” we are learning all over again that knowledge comes at a very high price for which he may pay with life in prison. Bradley’s story has inspired two modern day playwrights to examine if the costs of rebellion and truth telling are so very different in our modern age.

Help us continue to cover 100%
of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.

So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star- Not Fade Away –A Film Review

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

DVD Review

Not Fade Away, starring John Magaro, Will Brill, James Gandolfini, directed by David Chase, Paramount Vintage, 2012
As a member in good standing of the generation of ‘68 I have spent much cyber-ink talking about this and that “seeking a newer world” experiment we tried, with the emphasis on “tried”, back in the day, back in the 1960s day under the sign of the 18th century English poet William Wordworth’s response to the early stirrings of the French Revolution- “to be young was very heaven.”And while, in the end, we were defeated by the monster of the prevailing mores of American society we tried to rock the boat. And politics aside nowhere was this culturally more exploited that in our music, our second-wave rock music (Elvis, Chuck, Bo, Buddy and Jerry Lee being the first wave back in the 1950s).

Some argued, argued strenuously that “music was the revolution.” Well, no, no it wasn’t but who could blame anybody at the time for thinking that lofty thought.Nowhere was this sentiment more pronounced that in the garages and family rooms of America, of suburban America when guys, and it was mainly guys then, tried to form their own rock and roll bands, especially in the wake of the “British invasion (the Beatles and The Stone, mainly). Formed rock and roll bands to become famous, and if not famous as was the fate most bands that were formed including the band in the film under review, Not Fade Away, at least to act as a magnet for, what else, girls.
David Chase directed this little slice-of-life, 1960s style film, reflecting the hard fact that our generation is now deep in our memory mist stage, centered on the trials and tribulation of a group of guys, Jersey guys, high school Jersey guys at the start trying to break-out into the be-bop rock and roll night. But it could have just as easily been guys from Ames, Iowa or Winnemucca, Nevada trying for the brass ring amid the upheavals all around including the down-pressing downwar in Vietnam, the black liberation struggle south then north, the budding women’sand gay struggles, and the very publicly declared war against parental authority. Reflecting too here the unspoken assumption that that time was when men (and women) played rock and roll for keeps in case our memory mist stage was a little foggy.

Here, as always with garage and family room bands, there were struggles around who was, and who was not, going to be “on the bus”, going to be in the band. And what level of commitment those members were willing to pursue to make it to the“bigs.” Other issues that came up as well were how much hard time in lonely low-down joints were the members willing to do to “pay their dues” and the big question in the break-out sixties about whether to be a cover band or concentrate, like the Beatles and the Stones, on writing their own music and not depend of Tin Pan Alley.
Of course no 1960s coming-of-age film saga can avoid the generational conflicts and the film has plenty of that focused on star John Magaro and his relationship with his father, the late James Gandolfini, as back-drop to muddy the cultural waters (you know-“ what are you going to do with your life after this momentary obsession, son or daughter”-what do you mean you are dropping out of school”-what are you going to do about that damn draft notice”-what do you mean you’regoing to live with him (or her)-well you get the drift). And as well the changing boy-girl thing in the post-pill world, the beginning of women striking out on their own guys be damned, drugs, more drugs, and of course more rock and roll. So if you want to see what it was like for a minute back then through the eyes of those who were pioneers, or just confused and “winging it” then take a couple of hours to imbibe this one. And listen to a great soundtrack as well. Yah, then you might know what I meant when I said “to be young was very heaven.”

So you want to be a rock 'n' roll star?
-The Byrds

So you want to be a rock 'n' roll star?
Then listen now to what I say
Just get an electric guitar
Then take some time
and learn how to play
And with your hair swung right
And your pants too tight
It's gonna be all right

Then it's time to go downtown
Where the agent man won't let you down
Sell your soul to the company
Who are waiting there to sell plastic ware
And in a week or two
If you make the charts
The girls'll tear you apart

The price you paid for your riches and fame
Was it all a strange game?
You're a little insane
The money, the fame, the public acclaim
Don't forget what you are
You're a rock 'n' roll star!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Free Bradley Manning Now!

CENTCOM’s Kevin Donegan testifies about WikiLeaks’ war logs, confirming no resulting casualties: trial report, day 31

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. August 9, 2013.
Rear Admiral Kevin Donegan, drawn by Debra Van Poolen
Rear Admiral Kevin Donegan, drawn by Debra Van Poolen
Former Central Command (CENTCOM) Director of Operations, Rear Admiral Kevin M. Donegan, testified today about CENTCOM’s response to WikiLeaks’ 2010 releases, notifying identified individuals of potential risk, and the response effort’s impact on CENTCOM.
RADM Donegan was part of a 24/7 WikiLeaks response team that worked from August 2010 to May 2011, coordinating with the Information Review Task Force (which Brig. Gen. Carr testified about last month). “We dealt with the WikiLeaks thing for my entire time” at the Pentagon, he said. He is now Director of Warfare Integration for the Pentagon.
RADM Donegan issued 2 Fragmentary Orders (FRAGOs), to Iraq and Afghanistan, notifying U.S. military commanders of individuals identified in the WikiLeaks-released war logs so that they could inform those identified that they were potentially at risk of harm. He left it up to commanders to decide if the benefit of notifying outweighed any risk the mission to notify entailed. Sometimes, he said, commanders had to notify a village instead of a single person, as “each area of Afghanistan has a shadow Taliban governor” associated with it who could retaliate against anyone offering assistance to U.S. forces.
Though he said some of these notification missions were potentially dangerous, RADM Donegan said that he identified no U.S. casualties as a result of these ‘duty to inform’ operations.
Defense lawyer Maj. Thomas Hurley asked RADM Donegon to clarify whether these individuals identified were “sources,” as that term typically refers to Human Intelligence (HUMINT) sources that the U.S. works with continually. RADM Donegan said that these individuals were not HUMINT sources; these are any people who have cooperated with U.S. forces and could therefore be at risk of retaliation.
RADM Donegan testified about the usefulness of the Significant Activity (SigActs) reports to the enemy, alleging that they sometimes signaled future operations if viewed with other SigActs. He said the reports didn’t individually disclose ‘doctrine’ – for example, how the U.S. would react to a certain enemy tactic – but that doctrine would be easy to deduce.
The government then moved to question RADM Donegan, as it has with nearly every other sentencing witness, in a closed session.
In the trial’s merits portion, the defense submitted a letter from RADM Donegan confirming that the Collateral Murder video was unclassified and did not disclose TTPs, contradicting testimony from Apache pilot John LaRue.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie testified in a brief open session before the court moved again to a closed session. He was Deputy to the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) for Stability, for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2009-10. He traveled to the Middle East’s gulf states, Oman, UAE, Kuwait, up to Jordan, to maintain face-to-face relationships with these nations. He testified that despite chronic instability in that region, he’d felt in 2010 that the U.S. was “building trust” with these nations.
Asked if he observed an “impact” on CENTCOM’s relationship with these releases as a result of WikiLeaks’ release of State Dept. diplomatic cables in November 2010, Maj. Gen. McKenzie said “yes” and the prosecution moved to close the court after that.
The defense is scheduled to begin its sentencing case Monday, at 9:30am ET.
***Out In The 1950s Crime Night-The Rich, The Very Rich Are Different From You And Me-“Blackout”-A Film Review

Click below to link to a Turner Classic Movies entry for the 1954 film, Blackout.

Blackout, starring Dane Clark, Belinda Lee, Hammer Film Productions, 1954
There is a fall guy born every minute, especially fall guys who will jump through hoops when they are down on their luck. Especially when said hoops are held by foxy-looking young blonde dames (although they do not have to be blonde, okay). That is the premise that drives much of the film under review, Blackout. That boy meets girl story and the hard fact of life that the just rich, very rich, and super-rich are different, and in this case, very different from you and me.

Now here is the “skinny.” Casey (played by Dane Clark) is a down and out American looking, well, looking for something in the post-World War II and he figures London is just as good a place as any to land. Naturally a down and out guy has to figure things out and what better place to do so than at a bar, a bar that just happens to have a fetching and rich blonde damsel in distress, Phyllis (played by Belinda Lee), looking to get married and willing to pay for that status for her own reasons. He accepts, although as fate would have it he winds up with a case of blackout (hence the title of the film) dumped in some doorway groggy for his efforts (and befriended by a very independent starving woman artist who lives on the other side of that door, who is only tangentially connected with the nefarious doings going on). And the chase is on. Why? Phyllis’ rich, very rich, father has been murdered that very marriage night and guess who the prime suspect, the numero uno fall guy, is?

Needless to say, patsy or not, this calls for drastic action to recoup his honor (and to stay out of the slammer) by our boy Casey. But, as usual, everybody and their brother (or sister) has a motive, and an ax to grind including that fetching blonde who lured him in. Who to trust (or not trust) while evading the coppers in the black and white dreary streets and cooped-up apartments of 1950s London drives the plot. And what drives the main villain, by the way not the blonde beauty no way although she makes Casey think twice about it a couple of times, is the need to have plenty of dough. That is where that point about the rich being different, very different, comes in and you can watch the film to figure the why of that out.
***Out In The Be-Bop 1940s Crime Noir Night- “Black Angel”-A Film Review

DVD Review

Black Angel, starring Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre, directed by Roy William Neil, Universal Pictures, 1946

Here is the skinny. Not all crime noirs are equal. The proof? Now over a score of reviews in this space on the genre. Some speak for themselves, some are unspeakable, and some like the one under review here, Black Angel, need a little prodding. In this case the prodding is in paying kudos to the director, Roy William Neil, for great photography in service of a lukewarm plot and so-so performances by the lead performers, very so-so in the case of veteran actor Peter Lorre as a night club owner with a past to hide.

Here is the story. Martin Blair (played by Dan Duryea) had a wayward wife as some men will, a frill songstress who liked jewels and lots of them from any source willing to provide them. Catherine Bennett (played by June Vincent) had a wayward husband, as some women will, who found his way to Martin’s wayward wife. Said wife along the way is foully murdered and Ms. Bennett’s husband fits the bill. Fits the frame neat, very neat, almost all the way to the electric chair. Except that Mr. Blair, a talented drunken piano player and Ms. Bennett a stay at home chanteuse team up as a song and, ah, piano duo, to figure out who really did commit the murder. All the portents point to Marko (played somewhat stiffly by Peter Lorre, no stranger to this type of role). But that is just a ruse. The real killer is well, see the film.

You can see where the problems are just by this rough outline of the plot. A plot that suspends disbelief- not- with anyone who has taken a glance at a newspaper and the likelihood that such a pairing would ring true. But such is Hollywood. The only thing that keep this one from the "has been" bin is the directing/ photography by Neil. Some of the shots just jump out, crime noir jump out at you. Too bad the plot line (which was based on a novel by the great crime story writer, Cornell Woolrich) didn’t add to those fine shots.
The Search For The Blue-Pink Great American West Night, Circa 1970

Markin comment:

I, once long ago, was asked, in earnest, what I meant by the blue-pink western skies that has formed the backdrop for several entries in this space of late. Or rather the way I would prefer to formulate it, and have taken some pains to emphasize it this way, the search for the blue-pink great American West night. Well, of course, there was a literal part to the proposition since ocean-at-my back (sometimes shoreline right at my back) New England homestead meant unless I wanted to take an ill-advised turn at piracy or high-seas hijacking or some such thing east that the hitchhike road meant heading west.

So that night is clearly not in the vicinity of the local Boston Blues Hills or of the out west Berkshires here in ocean-fronted Massachusetts, those are too confined and short-distanced to even produce blues skies much less that west-glanced sweet shade just before heaven, if there was a heaven shade, blue-pink. And certainly not hog-butcher-to-the-world, sinewy Midwest Chicago night, Christ no, nor rarefied, deep-breathed, rockymountainhigh Denver night, although jaded sojourner-writer not known for breathe-taking, awe-bewilderment could have stopped there some place outside of Boulder for choice of great western night. Second place, okay.

But no, onward, beyond, beyond pioneer, genetically-embedded pioneer America, past false god neon blue-pink glitter Las Vegas in the Nevada desert night to the place where, about fifty miles away from sanctified west coast, near some now nameless abandoned ghost town, nameless here for it is a mere speck on the map you would not know the name, you begin, ocean man that you are, if you are, and organically ocean-bred says you are, to smell the dank, incense-like, seaweed-driven, ocean-seized air as it comes in from the Japanese stream, or out there somewhere in the unknown, some Hawaii, or Guam, or Tahiti of the mind, before the gates of holy city, city of a thousand, thousand land’s end dreams, San Francisco. That is where the blue-pink sky devours the sun just before the be-bop, the bop-bop, the do wang-doodle night, the great American Western star-spangled (small case) night I keep reaching for, like it was some physical thing and not the stuff of dreams.

And the scenes below stand (or fall) as moments in support of that eternal search.

Scene One: A First Misstep In The Search For The Blue-Pink Great American West Night

Let me tell this story, okay, this story about a couple of guys that I picked up hitch-hiking out on the 1960s highway. I’ll get to what highway it was later because it could have been any highway, any American or European, or maybe even African or Asian highway, if those locales had such highways, at least highways for cars back in those days. Anyway it’s their story, these two guys, really, and maybe around the edges my story, and if you are of a certain age, your story, just a little anyway.

Some of it though just doesn’t sound right now, or read right, at least the way they told it to me but we will let that pass ‘cause it has been a while and memories, mine in this case, sometimes seize up even among the best of us. Ya, but this part I do remember so let’s just subtitle this one a segment on that search for the blue-pink great American West night and that makes this thing a lot of people’s story. Let’s get to it right now by picking up where they and I intersect on the great American 1960s road:

Two young men were standing pretty close together, talking, up ahead at the side of a brisk, chilly, early spring morning 1969 road, a highway really, a white-lined, four-laned, high-speed highway if you want to know, thumbs out, as I came driving down the line alone in my Volkswagen Beetle (or bug, hey, that’s what they were called in those days, you still see some old restored or well-preserved ones around, especially out on the left coast), see them, and begin to slow down to pick them up. I would no more think not to pick them up than not to breathe. A few years earlier and I would have perhaps been afraid to pick up such an unlikely pair, a few years later and they would not have been on that road. But the thumbs out linked them, and not them alone on this day or in this time, with the old time hitchhike road, the vagabond road that your mother, if she was wise or nervous, told you never ever, ever to take (and it was always Ma who told you this, your father was either held in reserve for the big want-to-do battles, or else was bemused by sonny boy wanting to spread his wings, or better yet, was secretly passing along his own long ago laid aside blue-pink highway dreams).

This pair in any case, as you shall see, were clearly brothers, no, not brothers in the biological sense, although that sometimes was the case, but brothers on that restless, tireless, endless, hitchhike road. My hitchhike road yesterday, and maybe tomorrow, but today I have wheels and they don’t and that was that. No further explanation needed. I stopped. From the first close-up look at them these guys were young, although not too young, not high school or college young but more mid-twenties maybe graduate student young. I’ll describe in more detail how they looked in a minute but for those who desperately need to know where I picked them up, the exact locale that is, let me put your anxieties to rest and tell you that it was heading south on the Connecticut side of the Massachusetts-Connecticut border of U.S. Interstate 84, one of the main roads to New York City from Boston.

Are you happy now? Not as sexy as some of those old-time Kerouac-Cassady late 1940s “beat” roads, but I believe their ghosts were nevertheless hovering in the environs. Hell, now that I think about it, would it have mattered if I said it was Route 6, or Route 66, or Route 666 where I picked them up. I picked them up, that was the way it was done in those halcyon days, and that’s the facts, man, nothing but the facts.

Hey, by the way, while we are talking about facts, just the hard-headed fact of this pair standing on the side of a highway road should have been enough to alert the reader that this is no current episode but rather a tale out of the mist of another American time. Who in their right mind today would be standing on such a road, thumb out, or not, expecting some faded Dennis Hopper-like flower child, or Ken Kesey-like Merry Prankster hold-out to stop. No this was the time of their time, the 1960s (or at the latest, the very latest, about 1973). You have all seen the bell-bottomed jeans, the fringed-deerskin jackets, the long hair and beards and all other manner of baubles in those exotic pre-digital photos so that one really need not bother to describe their appearances. But I will, if only to tempt the fates, or the imaginations of the young.

One, the slightly older one, wispy-bearded, like this was maybe his first attempt at growing the then de rigueur youth nation-demanded male beard to set one apart from the them (and from the eternal Gillette, Bic, Shick razor cuts, rubbing alcohol at the ready, splash of English Leather, spanking clean date night routine, ah, ah, farewell to all that). Attired: Levi blue-jean’d with flared-out bottoms, not exactly bell-bottoms but denims that not self-respecting cowboy, or cowboy wanna-be would, or could, wear out in the grey-black , star-studded great plains night; plaid flannel shirt that one would find out there in that bronco-busting night (or in backwoodsman-heavy Maine and Oregon in the time of the old Wobblies or Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion); skimpily-sneakered, Chuck Taylor blacks, from the look of them, hardly the wear for tackling the great American foot-sore hitchhike road which makes me think that these are guys have started on something like their maiden voyage on that old road; and over one shoulder the ubiquitous string-tied bedroll that speaks already of ravine sleep, apartment floor pick-your-space sleep, and other such vagabond sleep certainly not of Holiday Inn or even flea-bag motel sleeps; and over the other shoulder the also ubiquitous life’s gatherings in a knapsack (socks, a few utensils, maybe underwear, and then again maybe not, change of shirt, a few toilet articles. Not much more than that but more than the kings (and queens) of the roads, 1930s ancestor forbears carried, for sure , ask any old Wobblie, or bum-hobo-tramp hierarch- take your pick-who took that hard-scrabble, living out of your emptied pocket road).

And the other young man, a vision of heaven’s own high 1960s counter-cultural style: long-haired, not quite a pony tail if tied back and maybe not Easy Rider long but surely no advertisement for Gentleman’s Quarterly even in their earnest days of keeping up with the new tastes to corner the more couth segments of the hippie market; cowboy-hatted, no, not a Stetson, howdy, Tex, kind of thing but some Army-Navy store-bought broad brimmed, sun-bashing, working cowboy hat that spoke of hard-riding, branding, cattle night lowing, whiskey and women Saturday town bust-ups, just right for a soft-handed, soft-skinned city boy fearful of unlit places, or places that are not lit up like a Christmas tree; caped, long swirling cape, like someone’s idea of old-time film Zorro stepping out with the senoritas; guitar, an old Martin from the look of it, slung over one shoulder, not protective cased against the winds, rains, snows, or just the bang-ups of living, but protective in other ways when night falls and down in the hills and hollows, or maybe by a creek, heaven’s own strum comes forth. Woody Guthrie’s own child, or stepchild, or some damn relative. I swear.

Welcome brothers, as I open up the passenger side door. “Where are you guys heading?” This line is more meaningful than you might think for those who know, as I know, and as these lads will know, as well, if they spent any time on the hitchhike road. Sometimes it was better, even on a high-speed highway, to not take any old ride that came along if, say, some kind–hearted local spirit was only going a few miles, or the place where a driver would let you out on the highway was a tough stop. Not to worry though these guys, Jack and Mattie, were hitchhiking to California. California really, I swear, although they are stopping off at a crisscross of places on their way. A pretty familiar routine by then, playing hopscotch, thumbs out, across the continent.

These guys were, moreover, indeed brothers, because you see once we started comparing biographical notes, although they never put it that way, or really never could just because of the way they thought about things as I got to know them better on the ride, were out there searching, and searching hard, for my blue-pink night. Christ, there were heaven’s own blessed armies, brigades anyway, of us doing it, although like I said about Jack and Mattie most of the brothers and sisters did not get caught up in the colors of that night, like I did, and just “dug” the search. Jack and Mattie are in luck, in any case, because on this day I’m heading to Washington, D.C. and they have friends near there in Silver Springs, Maryland. The tides of the times are riding with us.

And why, by the way, although it is not germane to the story or at least this part of it, am I heading to D.C.? Well, the cover story is to do some anti-war organizing but, for your eyes only, I had just broken up, for the umpteenth time, with a women who drove me to distraction, sometimes pleasantly but on that occasion fitfully, who I could not, and did not, so I thought, want to get out of my system, but had to put a little distance away from. You know that story, boys and girls, in your own lives so I do not have to spend much time on the details here, although that theme might turn up again sometime. Besides, if you really want to read that kind of story the romance novels section of any library or the DVD film section, for that matter, can tell the story with more heart-throbbing panache that you will find here.

I’ve got a kind of weird story to tell you about why Jack and Mattie were on this desolate border stretch of the highway in a minute but let me tell a little about what they were trying to do out on that road, that west road. First, I was right, mostly, about their ages, but Jack and Mattie were no graduate students on a spring lark before grinding away at some master’s thesis on the meaning of meaning deconstuct’d (although this reference is really an anachronism since such literary theories were not then fashionably on display on the world’s campuses, but you get the drift) or some such worthy subject in desperate need of research in a time when this old world was falling apart and the bombs were (are) raining (literally) on many parts of the world.

In one sense they were graduates though, graduates of the university of hard knocks, hard life, and hard war. They had just a few months before been discharged, a little early as the war, or the American ground troops part of it, was winding down, from the U.S. Army after a couple of tours of duty in ‘Nam (their usage, another of their privileged usages was “in-country”). I swear I didn’t believe them at first, no way, they looked like the poster boys for the San Francisco Summer of Love in 1967. Something, something big was going on here and my mind was trying to digest the sight of these two guys, “good, solid citizens” before the “man” turned them around in that overseas Vietnam quagmire who looked in attire, demeanor, and style just like the guy (me) who picked them up.

Ya, but that is only part of it and not even the most important part, really, because this California thing was also no lark. This is their break-out, bust-out moment and they are going for it. As we rode along that old super highway they related stories about how they came back from “in-county,” were going to settle down, maybe get married (or move in with a girlfriend or seven), and look forward to social security when that distant time came. But something snapped inside of them, and this is where every old Jack London hobo, every old Wobblie, every old bummer on the 1930s rail highway, hell even every old beat denizen of some Greenwich Village walk-up was a kindred spirit. Like I said, and I am sitting right in the car listening to them with a little smirk on my face, the boys are searching that same search that I am searching for and that probably old Walt Whitman really should take the blame for, okay. I’ll tell you more, or rather; I’ll let them tell you more some other time but let me finish up here with that weird little story about why they were at that god forsaken point on the highway.

Look, everybody knows, or should know, or at least knew back then that hitchhiking, especially hitchhiking on the big roads was illegal, and probably always was even when every tramp and tramp-ette in America had his or her thumb out in the 1930s. But usually the cops or upstanding citizenry either ignored it or, especially in small towns, got you on some vagrancy rap. Hey, if you had spent any time on the hitchhike road you had to have been stopped at least once if for no other reason than to harass you. Still some places were more notorious than others in hitchhike grapevine lore in those days, particularly noteworthy were Connecticut and Arizona (both places where I had more than my own fair share of “vagrancy” problems).

So I was not too far off when I figured out that Jack and Mattie were on their maiden voyage. Thumbs out and talking, the pair missed the then ever-present Connecticut State Police cruiser coming from nowhere, or it seemed like nowhere, as it came to a stop sharply about five feet away from them. The pair gulped and prepared for the worst; being taken to some state police barracks and harassed and then let go at some backwater locale as the road lore had it. Or getting “vagged.” Or worst, a nice little nasty trick in those days, have “illegal” drugs conveniently, very conveniently, found on their person.
But get this, after a superficial search and the usual questions about destination, resources, and the law the pair instead were directed to walk the few hundred yards back across the border line to Massachusetts. Oh, I forgot this part; the state cop who stopped them was a Vietnam veteran himself. He had been an MP in ‘Nam. Go figure, right. So starts, the inauspicious start if you think about it, in one of the searches for the blue-pink great American West night. Nobody said it was going to be easy and, you know, they were right. Still every time I drive pass that spot (now close to an official Connecticut Welcomes You rest stop, whee!), especially on any moonless, starless, restless, hitchhiker-less road night I smile and give a little tip of the hat to those youthful, sanctified blue-pink dreams that almost got wrecked before they got started.

The 1960s asphalt-driven, white-lined, hitchhike road, the quest for the blue-pink great American West night, the eternal midnight creep over laden trucks with their company-seeking, benny-high, overwrought teamster drivers, and the steam-driven, onion-filled meatloaf-milk-heavy mashed potatoes-and limpid carrots daily special diner truck stop are all meshed together. You could say that there was no hitchhike road, and no blue-pink dreams, if the old-fashioned caboose (sometimes literally) diner was not part of the mix that glued things together out on that lonely highway. No, I do not speak of the even then creeping family-friendly one-size-fits-all but still steamed meats-milky starches-sogged vegetable franchise interstate restaurants that dot the roads from here to ‘Frisco but back road, back hitchhike road if you were smart, back old-time route one, or sixty-six or twenty road where you had a chance for pushing distance and for feeling America in the raw. Hey, I have a million diner stories, diners with and without truck stops, diners famous and obscene, diners of every shape and composition to tell about. Or rather I have about three basic diner stories with a million steamed meat-loaf-mashed taters-carrots (okay, maybe string beans, steamed, for a change-up)-bread pudding for dessert variations. I want to tell you one, one involving a girl, and involving the great American night that drives these scenes. The other variations can wait their turns for some other time.

Car-less, and with no hope for any car any time soon, but with enough pent-up energy and anger to built a skyscraper single-handedly I set out for the open roads, thumb in good working order, bedroll on one shoulder, life’s worldly goods in a knapsack on the other. It was that simple in those days. Today, sadly, it would take my rental of a major U-Haul truck, for starters. As always in those days as well, and some of you may know the spot if you have ever been in Boston (or, better, Cambridge) there was (and is) a then old abandoned railroad yard that was turned into a truck depot near the entrance to the Massachusetts Turnpike where most of the truckers, the big diesel-fuelled ones, the doubled-wheeled one, picked up or unloaded their goods for further transport. That was the place to check first if you were heading west on the off chance that some mad-man trucker was looking for company on that white-lined, hard scrabble road, and did not mind bedraggled, bearded, long-haired, hippie boy company, at that. As luck would have it I caught a guy who heading out to Chicago with a load of widgets (or whatever, even these guys didn’t know, or want to know, what was on the manifest half the time, especially if they were running “heavy”).

Now there were a million and one reasons that long-haul drivers back then would take hitchhikers on board, even hippies who represented most of what they hated about what was happening in, and to, America in those days (in the days also before the trucking companies, and the insurance companies, squashed that traveling idea and left the truckers to their own devises), some maybe perverse but usually just for sheer, human companionship, another voice, or more usually someone to vent to at seventy or seventy-five miles an hour, especially at night when those straight white lines start to get raggedy looking. This guy, this big-chested, brawny, beef-eating teamster guy, Denver Slim by name (really, I heard other truckers call him that at truck stops when they gave each other the nod, although as described he was neither slim nor, as he told me, from Denver), was not different except the reason, at least the reason that he gave me, was that I reminded him of his goddam son (I am being polite here) who he loved/hated. Loved, because that is what a father was expected to feel toward kin, son kin especially and hated because he was showing signs or rebellion (read: becoming a hippie). I, needless to say, was a little queasy and sat close to the door handle for a while until I realized that it was more about love than hate. Old Denver Slim just didn’t get what was happening to his world, especially the part, the huge part, that he had no control over.

Hey, I had countless hitchhike rides in all kinds of vehicles, from the Denver Slim big wheels to Volkswagen Bugs (look that up) but the common thread was that there were some interesting (if disturbing and hopeless) stories out there. Let me fill you in on Denver Slim’s story both because it helps explain what is coming up in my own quest and the hard, hard fact that there was a malaise, a palpable malaise, in the land and his story is prima facie evidence for that notion. Denver Slim had gone, like a million other members of my parent’s generation, through his childhood in the Great Depression (Chicago) and did his military in the throes of World War II (Corporal, U.S. Army, European Theater, and proud of it). After the war he started driving trucks, finally landing a unionized teamster jobs as over-the-road long-haul driver based in Chicago. As was not unfamiliar then (and maybe not now, either), he married a local women he knew from the old neighborhood, had several children, moved out of Chicago proper to a suburban plot house (“little boxes,” from the description he gave) and bought into the mortgaged, green-grassed lawn, weekly mowed (when he was not on the road), television-watching, neighbor-averting (except for the kids' sake when young) routine that was a blueprint for America 1950s life in the lower middle classes.

Here is where Slim’s story gets tricky though, and interesting. Of course being on the road, being mortgaged up to the neck on the road he was never home enough to make the word family stick. He, as he admitted, when talking about his son Jamie, the rebellious son (read: becoming a hippie), didn’t really know the kids (the other three were daughters whom he , as he said, wouldn’t have known anyway past the age of ten or so the way things work in girl world). But here is the kicker, the kicker for me back then although I get it better now, much better. The wife, Ruth, the ever-loving wife, had along the way taken a boyfriend and, off and on, lived with that boyfriend. Slim went crazy at first about it but somehow got through it and accepted that situation. Oh, you though that was the kicker. No, that was just the prelude to the kicker. Here it is. Denver Slim, old proud soldier-warrior, old mortgaged-to-the-neck teamster, old work and slave on the road for the kids that he doesn’t know has a girlfriend, and had said girlfriend way before his wife took her lover. A beautiful family values story out of the age of the Ozzie and Harriet Show, right? But this is the real kicker for your harried hippie, old salt of the earth Denver Slim in relating the story gets a little lovesick for his honey (no, not his wife, the girlfriend, silly) who lives in Steubenville, Ohio.

And that, my friends, is where we are heading and so instead of getting a ride through to Chicago ( a place when I knew how to catch a ride west, no problem, almost like out of Boston) I am to be left off, and good luck, at the diner truck stop just outside of Steubenville, Ohio. Christ, I never even heard of the place before, never mind trying to get a ride out of there, get out of there at night as it looks like is going to happen by the time we get to the stop. Well, such is the road, the hitchhike road, and I hope old Slim had a good time with his honey, maybe, maybe I hope that is.