Saturday, November 16, 2013

***Out In The Menacing 1950s Be-Bop Night- John Cassavetes’s “Crime In The Street”-Take Two

DVD Review

Crime In The Streets, starring John Cassavetes, James Whitmore, Sal Mineo, 1956
You know sometimes a still-life picture, let’s say Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks with all the lonely customers beating out their own time, prancing through the existential night, waiting for daylight, or for something to break, or a song, let’s say Jerry Lee Lewis’ High School Confidential that “spoke” to our youthful teenage angst and alienations and our desire to jail-break out of the staid 1950s, or a film, let’s say some of the more engrossing parts of Rebel Without A Cause with James Dean exulting the confusions of his age, can tell us more about a particular cultural moment or phenomena than one hundred academic tomes going on and on. At some level the film Crime In The Streets speaks to that gradient of the 1950s where those on the edge of American society, the fellahin, the losers, came under a cinematic microscope and told the world, the world of the golden age American night, that not all boats were rising, not by a long shot.         
With that thought in mind  for those who are too young to remember or those who are older  who have “forgotten” there was a menace, a serious menace, in American society in the 1950s that threatened the whole way of life and concerned young and old, rich and poor, no question. People seized up at the very mention of the idea and went screaming into some dreaded night at the thought. A few reached for their guns, others cowered in their backyard air raid shelters, or some other hidden place, hoping for the thing to pass. The “red scare” you say with all those secret agents, maybe your mommie, maybe she was a commie, turn her in, fast before those guys black grab you, you  of all people because you did not do your duty,  maybe others in high places and low, working 24/7/365 for “Uncle Joe” and his red commie empire?
Well, maybe but that is not the right answer here. Let’s try this -the gut-wrenching fear of every kid (and adult who worried about their kids), who had to hide under his or her desk in some weak-kneed and empty-headed attempt to fend off some coming atomic bomb blast?  Although that meant almost every kid, every kid except the class wise guy who used the opportunity to show his bravado by not hiding under that desk that is not the right answer. Close, but no cigar. No, the thing that drove terror into the hearts of every self-respecting and well-meaning citizen, and even those who were not, those who were doing their own nefarious actions, doing an occasional midnight crawl, was the invasion of … the juvenile delinquent (JD).

Yes, JDs, usually shiftless young men, teenagers really, from the lower depths, corner boys, you saw them, you know you did. Saw them and walked to the other side of the street, head down hoping against hope that you were not the next target, that you would make it home for supper in one piece and with your dough intact. Saw them, white tee-shirt, jeans, complete with chain hanging out of the back pocket, held up by wide balck belts ready to serve rumble duty if necessary, engineer boots the order of the day, cigarette, unfiltered,  perched at the corner of the mouth, hanging around Harry’s Pool Hall, Ma’s Variety Store, or Doc’s Drugstore, hanging of the red brick wall, posed one foot against the wall, defying gravity and anybody to try to take that foot off that wall. Yeah, I thought you would remember. And their hanger-on, frankly, slutty girlfriends  with tight blouses and skirts, boffed hair, heavy mascara, chewing gun, Wrigley’s, hands on swaying hips that you might have minute sweaty dreamed about when you had your own girl troubles (although the girlfriends were not as feared, not nearly as feared for obviously 1950s male-dominated society reasons).
If you came from low-rent, dead-end, dredges public housing, “the projects,” of unblessed memory, as I did, or from the urban slums as portrayed in the film under review, a classic of this mid-1950s genre then the social snubs still smart. The ways this was done from the upper crust, hell, even the rising golden age of America middle classes who were closing their own humble beginnings doors behind them, consciously if amateurishly could constitute its own sketch here, as the immoral, illegal, and threatening male teenager with time on his hands, a chip on his shoulder and no dough and no way to make dough was a lot more pressing that some hyped-up red scare or silly atomic bomb explosion.
And as the plot line unfolds here in the small back streets world those great world-shaking problems don’t even enter the horizon. Life close to the bone, angst-filled and alienation-flooded just swamped all other worldly considerations. Especially for wayward kids. This film opens with a classic “rumble,” over turf naturally, between two rival street gangs. After that “audience fright” as a way to get the juices flowing the rest of the film is a study in whatever sociological notions were floating at the time to identify, descript, and put a Band-Aid on the JD problem.
Frank, sensitive but totally alienated Frank (played by a very young John Cassavetes), is trying to find his place in his small world of the slums but people won’t let him alone. Especially one old goat of a man (a bowler, an avid bowler, no less so you know his is nothing but a bad hombre to mess with), who snitches to the coppers on one of Frank’s boys, and is set up to take the fall- the deep-end  fall so Frankie can feel better about himself. Aided by two fellow gang members he decides to alleviate his bad feelings by a small off-hand murder of this guy, this bad hombre bowler, right in the neighborhood. One of Frank’s confederates turns out to be Baby (played by Sal Mineo made famous as a JD movie character in Rebel Without A Cause) and another played by Mark Rydell who seems to be a pyscho (or at least seriously anti-social).
Enter one settlement house social worker (this was the uptown swells’, 1950s version, notion of how to get these JDs back into society and away from dangerous weapons) played by James Whitmore who keeps prodding on Frankie’s conscious and his “inner” suburban youth. Naturally since a central motif of all crime noirs, JDs or hardened criminals, is that crime doesn’t pay old Frankie is made in his own way and in his own time to see the light. And to take responsibility for his actions. I think based on this plot I would have preferred to be just another punk JD down in “the projects” than go that route. But nobody asked me. So there.
***As The 50th Anniversary Of The JFK Assassination Approaches-On Coming Of Political Age-Norman Mailer's "The Presidential Papers"



At one time, as with Ernest Hemingway, I tried to get my hands on everything that Norman Mailer wrote. In his prime he held out promise to match Hemingway as the preeminent male American prose writer of the 20th century. Mailer certainly has the ambition, ego and skill to do so. Although he wrote several good novels, like The Deer Park, in his time I believe that his journalistic work, as he himself might partially admit, especially his political, social and philosophical musings are what will insure his place in the literary pantheon. With that in mind I recently re-read his work on the 1960 political campaign-the one that pitted John F. Kennedy against Richard M. Nixon- that is the center of the book under review. There are other essays in this work, some of merely passing topical value, but what remains of interest today is a very perceptive analysis of the forces at work in that pivotal election. Theodore White won his spurs breaking down the mechanics of the campaign and made a niche for himself with The Making of a President, 1960. Mailer in a few pithy articles gave the overview of the personalities and the stakes involved for the America of that time.

Needless to say the Kennedy victory of that year has interest today mainly for the forces that it unleashed in the base of society, especially, but not exclusively, among the youth. His rather conventional bourgeois Cold War foreign policy and haphazard domestic politics never transcended those of the New and Fair Deals of Roosevelt and Truman but his style, his youth and his élan seemingly gave the go ahead to all sorts of projects in order to ‘‘seek a newer world”. And we took him up on this. This writer counted himself among those youth who saw the potential to change the world. We also knew that if the main villain of the age , one Richard Milhous Nixon, had been successful in 1960 as he graphically demonstrated when he later became president we would not be seeing any new world but the same old, same old.

I have been, by hook or by crook, interested in politics from an early age. Names like the Rosenbergs, Joseph McCarthy, Khrushchev and organizations like Americans for Democratic Action and the like were familiar to me if not fully understood then. I came of political age with the 1960 presidential campaign. Mailer addresses the malaise of American political life during the stodgy Eisenhower years that created the opening for change-and Kennedy and his superb organization happily rushed in. These chances, as a cursory perusal of the last 40 odd years of bourgeois presidential politics makes painfully clear, do not come often. The funny thing is that during most of 1960 I was actually ‘Madly for Adlai’, that is I preferred Adlai Stevenson the twice defeated previous Democratic candidate, but when the deal went down at the advanced age of 14 I walked door to door talking up Kennedy. Of course, in Massachusetts that was not a big deal but I still recall today that I had a very strong sense I did not want to be left out of the new age ‘aborning’. That, my friends, in a small way is the start of that slippery road to the ‘lesser evil’ practice that dominates American politics and a habit that took me a fairly long time to break.

Mailer has some very cutting, but true, remarks about the kind of people who populate the political milieu down at the base of bourgeois politics, those who make it to the political conventions. Except that today they are better dressed and more media savvy nothing has changed. Why? Bourgeois politics, not being based on any fidelity to program except as a throwaway, is all about winning (and fighting to keep on winning). This does not bring out the better angels of our nature. For those old enough to remember that little spark of youth that urged us on to seek that newer world and for those too young to have acquired knowledge of anything but the myth Mailer’s little book makes for interesting and well-written reading.
***As The 50th Anniversary Of The JFK Assassination Approaches-November 22, 1963-Frankie’s Cry Of The Banshee-For The Class Of 1964 Everywhere
Frankie Riley comment:

Well you, the North Adamsville High School Class of 1964, knew this was coming at some point. That date, November 22, 1963, is etched, one way or another, is the minds of the generation of ’68 forever. Some events form the signposts for every generation. For our parents, the Class of 1964 parents, it was starving or semi-starving, hitting the western roads or just marking time through the Great Depression and slogging, gun in hand, through World War II, or waiting anxiously at home, waiting for the other shoe to drop. For today's kids it is the dastardly heinous criminal acts around 9/11 and the permanent "war against terrorism" that seems to color every political move made these days. For us it was the Cold War “red menace” Soviet Union space race throw-up satellite Sputnik and, in the end, the political horrors emanating from the Irish tragic Kennedy assassination. The cry of the banshee out in the wilds, on the wild oceans, and careening the wild winds.

Usually, when discussing these milestone events the question asked centers on where you were or what you were doing on that fateful day. I do not need to ask that question here. I know where you were, at least most of you. Unless you were sick, legitimately or otherwise, playing hooky, legitimately or otherwise, or on a field trip, legitimately or otherwise, you were sitting in some dank classroom as the old craggy-faced, rum-besotten (as least we all suspected that and which was later confirmed when he was arrested for drunk driving about seven times), headmaster, one Mr. Donald O’Toole, came over the P.A. system to announce the news of the shooting of President Kennedy. What I would find interesting is not what your current take is on that event, whether you were a Kennedy partisan or not, but how you reacted at the time. Here is the story of my reaction:

In the fall of 1960, for most of us our first year at North, a new wind was blowing over the political landscape in America with the Kennedy nomination and later his election victory over Richard Nixon. If you want the feel of that same wind pay attention to the breezes that I sense coming from today's youth, a little anyway if they can stop that eternal, infernal texting and look up for a minute. Maybe that wind grabbed you in 1960. It did me. Although some people that I have met and worked with over the years swear that I was born a “political junkie” the truth is that 1960 marked my political coming of age.

One of my forms of 'fun' as a kid was to write little 'essays' on political questions. You know, like-Should Red China (remember that term) be admitted into the United Nations? Or, are computers going to replace workers and create high unemployment? (I swear that I wrote stuff like that. I do not have that good an imagination to make this up. It also might explain one part of a very troubled childhood.)

In any case, I kept these little 'pearls of wisdom' in a little notebook. Within a couple of days after the Kennedy assassination I threw them all away, swearing off politics forever. Well, I did not hold to that promise. I have also moved away from that youthful admiration for JFK (although I will always hold a little spot open for brother Robert-oh, what might have been.) but I can still hear the clang as I threw those papers in the trash barrel.
So naturally if Frank Riley has anything to say on any subject, from dung beetles to one-worldism, just like in the old North Adamsville Salducci’s Pizza Parlor nights, one Peter Paul Markin has to put his face into the conversation. Here, as usual, is his lame take on the Kennedy days from a sketch he wrote in 2010. In other words he refuses to give us any new stuff but, christ, just the same old, same old. Here it is if you can stand it:

Peter Paul Markin, Class of 1964:

A while back [October, 2010] I mentioned, in a sketch that amounted to a nostalgic 1960s Boston kid time trip down political memory lane, the following that links in with this entry posted under the sign of the 50th anniversary of Jack Kennedy’s presidential election victory election over one Richard Milhous Nixon, the arch-political villain of the age:

“During the course of the afternoon that event [the Massachusetts governor’s race where President Obama was to speak at a rally in behalf of Deval Patrick’s reelection at the Hines Center in Boston], and the particular locale where it was staged, brought back a flood of memories of my first serious organized political actions in 1960 when, as a lad of fourteen, I set out to “save the world.” And my soul, or so I thought at the time, as well. That was the campaign of one of our own, Jack Kennedy, as he ran for president against the nefarious sitting Vice President, one Richard Milhous Nixon. In the course of that long ago campaign he gave one of his most stirring speeches not far from where I stood on this Saturday.

Although gathering troops (read: high school and college students) for that long ago speech was not my first public political action of that year, a small SANE-sponsored demonstration against nuclear proliferation further up the same street was but I did not help to organize that one, the Kennedy campaign was the first one that hinted that I might, against all good sense, become a serious political junkie. Yah, I know, every mother warns their sons (then and now) and daughters (now) against such foolhardiness but what can you do. And, mercifully, I am still at it. And have wound up on the right side of the angels, to boot.

The funny thing about those triggered remembrances is that as far removed from bourgeois politics as I have been for about the last forty years I noticed many young politicos doing their youthful thing just as I did back then; passing out leaflets, holding banners, rousing the crowd, making extemporaneous little soapbox speeches, arguing with an occasional right- wing Tea Party advocate, and making themselves hoarse in the process. In short, exhibiting all the skills (except the techno-savvy computer indoor stuff you do these days before such rallies) of a street organizer from any age, including communist street organizers. Now if those young organizers only had the extra-parliamentary left-wing politics to merge with those organizational skills. In short, come over to the side of the angels.

But that is where we come back to old Jack Kennedy and that 1960 campaign. Who would have thought that a kid, me, who started out walking door to door stuffing Jack Kennedy literature in every available door in 1960 but who turned off that road long ago would be saying thanks, Jack. Thanks for teaching me those political skills.”

And not just that thanks for heralding the break-out, or at least the attempted break-out of my 1960s generation from the Eisenhower-Nixon cold war death trap. See, at the time of the great attempted break-out from the confines of bourgeois society and the tracked career path all kinds of people seemed like they could be allies, and Jack Kennedy seemed a kindred spirit. I will not even mention Bobby, that one still brings a little tear to my eye. But enough of nostalgia we still have to fight to seek that newer world, to hear that high white note before everything comes crashing down on us.”
And here is more from Mr. Markin under cover of a book review from 2007. This guy is too much, way too much-Frank Riley.

On Coming Of Political Age-Norman Mailer's "The Presidential Papers"

Commentary/Book Review

The Presidential Papers, Norman Mailer, Viking, 1963

At one time, as with Ernest Hemingway, I tried to get my hands on everything that Norman Mailer wrote. In his prime he held out promise to match Hemingway as the preeminent male American prose writer of the 20th century. Mailer certainly has the ambition, ego and skill to do so. Although he wrote several good novels, like The Deer Park, in his time I believe that his journalistic work, as he himself might partially admit, especially his political, social and philosophical musings are what will insure his place in the literary pantheon. With that in mind I recently re-read his work on the 1960 political campaign-the one that pitted John F. Kennedy against Richard M. Nixon- that is the center of the book under review. There are other essays in this work, some of merely passing topical value, but what remains of interest today is a very perceptive analysis of the forces at work in that pivotal election. Theodore White won his spurs breaking down the mechanics of the campaign and made a niche for himself with The Making of a President, 1960. Mailer in a few pithy articles gave the overview of the personalities and the stakes involved for the America of that time.

Needless to say the Kennedy victory of that year has interest today mainly for the forces that it unleashed in the base of society, especially, but not exclusively, among the youth. His rather conventional bourgeois Cold War foreign policy and haphazard domestic politics never transcended those of the New and Fair Deals of Roosevelt and Truman but his style, his youth and his élan seemingly gave the go ahead to all sorts of projects in order to ‘‘seek a newer world.” And we took him up on this. This writer counted himself among those youth who saw the potential to change the world. We also knew that if the main villain of the age , one Richard Milhous Nixon, had been successful in 1960 as he graphically demonstrated when he later became president we would not be seeing any new world but the same old, same old.

I have been, by hook or by crook, interested in politics from an early age. Names like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Joseph McCarthy, Khrushchev and organizations like Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and the like were familiar to me if not fully understood then. I came of political age with the 1960 presidential campaign. Mailer addresses the malaise of American political life during the stodgy Eisenhower years that created the opening for change-and Kennedy and his superb organization happily rushed in. These chances, as a cursory perusal of the last 40 odd years of bourgeois presidential politics makes painfully clear, do not come often. The funny thing is that during most of 1960 I was actually ‘Madly for Adlai’, that is I preferred Adlai Stevenson the twice- defeated previous Democratic candidate, but when the deal went down at the advanced age of 14 I walked door to door talking up Kennedy. Of course, in Massachusetts that was not a big deal but I still recall today that I had a very strong sense I did not want to be left out of the new age ‘aborning.’ That, my friends, in a small way is the start of that slippery road to the ‘lesser evil’ practice that dominates American politics and a habit that took me a fairly long time to break.

Mailer has some very cutting, but true, remarks about the kind of people who populate the political milieu down at the base of bourgeois politics, those who make it to the political conventions. Except that today they are better dressed and more media savvy nothing has changed. Why? Bourgeois politics, not being based on any fidelity to program except as a throwaway, is all about winning (and fighting to keep on winning). This does not bring out the "better angels of our nature." For those old enough to remember that little spark of youth that urged us on to seek that "newer world" and for those too young to have acquired knowledge of anything but the myth Mailer’s little book makes for interesting and well-written reading.

From The Marxist Archives- In Honor Of The 96th Anniversary Of The Russian October Revolution- Human Culture: A Marxist View

Leon Trotsky On The Lessons Of The Russian Revolution

Workers Vanguard No. 968
5 November 2010

In Honor of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution

For New October Revolutions!

(From the Archives of Marxism)

November 7 (October 25 by the calendar used in Russia at the time) marks the 93rd anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Led by the Bolshevik Party of V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky, the workers’ seizure of power in Russia gave flesh and blood reality to the Marxist understanding of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Despite the subsequent Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet workers state, culminating in its counterrevolutionary destruction in 1991-92, the October Revolution was and is the international proletariat’s greatest victory; its final undoing, a world-historic defeat. The International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) fought to the bitter end in defense of the Soviet Union and the bureaucratically deformed workers states of East Europe, while calling for workers political revolutions to oust the parasitic nationalist Stalinist bureaucracies that ruled these states. This is the same program we uphold today for the remaining workers states of China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba.

Having been expelled from the USSR in 1929 by Stalin, Trotsky spent the remainder of his life in exile. In November 1932, he gave a speech to a Danish social-democratic student group in Copenhagen. He outlined the political conditions and the social forces that drove the Russian Revolution, stressing the decisive role of the Bolshevik Party. Illuminating the worldwide impact of the Russian Revolution and its place in history, Trotsky underlined the necessity of sweeping away the decaying capitalist order and replacing it with a scientifically planned international socialist economy that will lay the material basis for human freedom.

The ICL fights to forge workers parties modeled on Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks to lead the struggle for new October Revolutions around the globe.

* * *

Revolution means a change of the social order. It transfers the power from the hands of a class which has exhausted itself into those of another class, which is on the rise....

Without the armed insurrection of November 7, 1917, the Soviet state would not be in existence. But the insurrection itself did not drop from Heaven. A series of historical prerequisites was necessary for the October revolution.

1. The rotting away of the old ruling classes—the nobility, the monarchy, the bureaucracy.

2. The political weakness of the bourgeoisie, which had no roots in the masses of the people.

3. The revolutionary character of the peasant question.

4. The revolutionary character of the problem of the oppressed nations.

5. The significant social weight of the proletariat.

To these organic pre-conditions we must add certain conjunctural conditions of the highest importance:

6. The Revolution of 1905 was the great school, or in Lenin’s words, the “dress rehearsal” of the Revolution of 1917. The Soviets, as the irreplaceable organizational form of the proletarian united front in the revolution, were created for the first time in the year 1905.

7. The imperialist war sharpened all the contradictions, tore the backward masses out of their immobility and thereby prepared the grandiose scale of the catastrophe.

But all these conditions, which fully sufficed for the outbreak of the Revolution, were insufficient to assure the victory of the proletariat in the Revolution. For this victory one condition more was needed:

8. The Bolshevik Party....

In the year 1883 there arose among the emigres the first Marxist group. In the year 1898, at a secret meeting, the foundation of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party was proclaimed (we all called ourselves Social-Democrats in those days). In the year 1903 occurred the split between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. In the year 1912 the Bolshevist fraction finally became an independent Party.

It learned to recognize the class mechanics of society in struggle, in the grandiose events of twelve years (1905-1917). It educated cadres equally capable of initiative and of subordination. The discipline of its revolutionary action was based on the unity of its doctrine, on the tradition of common struggles and on confidence in its tested leadership.

Thus stood the Party in the year 1917. Despised by the official “public opinion” and the paper thunder of the intelligentsia press, it adapted itself to the movement of the masses. Firmly it kept in hand the control of factories and regiments. More and more the peasant masses turned toward it. If we understand by “nation,” not the privileged heads, but the majority of the people, that is, the workers and peasants, then Bolshevism became in the course of the year 1917 a truly national Russian Party.

In September 1917, Lenin, who was compelled to keep in hiding, gave the signal, “The crisis is ripe, the hour of the insurrection has approached.” He was right. The ruling classes had landed in a blind alley before the problems of the war, the land and national liberation. The bourgeoisie finally lost its head. The democratic parties, the Mensheviks and social-revolutionaries, wasted the remains of the confidence of the masses in them by their support of the imperialist war, by their policy of ineffectual compromise and concession to the bourgeois and feudal property-owners. The awakened army no longer wanted to fight for the alien aims of imperialism. Disregarding democratic advice, the peasantry smoked the landowners out of their estates. The oppressed nationalities at the periphery rose up against the bureaucracy of Petrograd. In the most important workers’ and soldiers’ Soviets the Bolsheviki were dominant. The workers and soldiers demanded action. The ulcer was ripe. It needed a cut of the lancet.

Only under these social and political conditions was the insurrection possible. And thus it also became inevitable. But there is no playing around with the insurrection. Woe to the surgeon who is careless in the use of the lancet! Insurrection is an art. It has its laws and its rules.

The Party carried through the October insurrection with cold calculation and with flaming determination. Thanks to this, it conquered almost without victims. Through the victorious Soviets the Bolsheviki placed themselves at the head of a country which occupies one sixth of the surface of the globe....

Let us now in closing attempt to ascertain the place of the October Revolution, not only in the history of Russia but in the history of the world. During the year 1917, in a period of eight months, two historical curves intersect. The February upheaval—that belated echo of the great struggles which had been carried out in past centuries on the territories of Holland, England, France, almost all of Continental Europe—takes its place in the series of bourgeois revolutions. The October Revolution proclaims and opens the domination of the proletariat. It was world capitalism that suffered its first great defeat on the territory of Russia. The chain broke at its weakest link. But it was the chain that broke, and not only the link.

Capitalism has outlived itself as a world system. It has ceased to fulfill its essential mission, the increase of human power and human wealth. Humanity cannot stand still at the level which it has reached. Only a powerful increase in productive force and a sound, planned, that is, Socialist organization of production and distribution can assure humanity—all humanity—of a decent standard of life and at the same time give it the precious feeling of freedom with respect to its own economy. Freedom in two senses—first of all, man will no longer be compelled to devote the greater part of his life to physical labor. Second, he will no longer be dependent on the laws of the market, that is, on the blind and dark forces which have grown up behind his back. He will build up his economy freely, that is, according to a plan, with compass in hand. This time it is a question of subjecting the anatomy of society to the X-ray through and through, of disclosing all its secrets and subjecting all its functions to the reason and the will of collective humanity. In this sense, Socialism must become a new step in the historical advance of mankind. Before our ancestor, who first armed himself with a stone axe, the whole of nature represented a conspiracy of secret and hostile forces. Since then, the natural sciences, hand in hand with practical technology, have illuminated nature down to its most secret depths. By means of electrical energy, the physicist passes judgment on the nucleus of the atom. The hour is not far when science will easily solve the task of the alchemists, and turn manure into gold and gold into manure. Where the demons and furies of nature once raged, now rules ever more courageously the industrial will of man.

But while he wrestled victoriously with nature, man built up his relations to other men blindly, almost like the bee or the ant. Belatedly and most undecidedly he approached the problems of human society. He began with religion, and passed on to politics. The Reformation represented the first victory of bourgeois individualism and rationalism in a domain which had been ruled by dead tradition. From the church, critical thought went on to the state. Born in the struggle with absolutism and the medieval estates, the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people and of the rights of man and the citizen grew stronger. Thus arose the system of parliamentarism. Critical thought penetrated into the domain of government administration. The political rationalism of democracy was the highest achievement of the revolutionary bourgeoisie.

But between nature and the state stands economic life. Technology liberated man from the tyranny of the old elements—earth, water, fire and air—only to subject him to its own tyranny. Man ceased to be a slave to nature, to become a slave to the machine, and, still worse, a slave to supply and demand. The present world crisis testifies in especially tragic fashion how man, who dives to the bottom of the ocean, who rises up to the stratosphere, who converses on invisible waves with the Antipodes, how this proud and daring ruler of nature remains a slave to the blind forces of his own economy. The historical task of our epoch consists in replacing the uncontrolled play of the market by reasonable planning, in disciplining the forces of production, compelling them to work together in harmony and obediently serve the needs of mankind. Only on this new social basis will man be able to stretch his weary limbs and—every man and every woman, not only a selected few—become a full citizen in the realm of thought.

—“Leon Trotsky Defends the October Revolution” (Militant, 21 January 1933)

Workers Vanguard No. 1010
12 October 2012



Human Culture: A Marxist View

(Quote of the Week)

Speaking in Moscow in 1926, Leon Trotsky, co-leader with V.I. Lenin of the October Revolution of 1917, stressed that the working class in power would need to acquire and build from the cultural achievements of previous class societies.

Culture is everything that has been created, built, learnt, conquered by man in the course of his entire history, in distinction from what nature has given, including the natural history of man himself as a species of animal....

In the process of adapting itself to nature, in conflict with the hostile forces of nature, human society has taken shape as a complex organization of classes. The class structure of society has determined to a decisive degree the content and form of human history, that is, its material relations and their ideological reflections. This means that historical culture has possessed a class character.

Slave-owning society, feudal serf-owning society, bourgeois society, each engendered a corresponding culture, different at different stages and with a multitude of transitional forms. Historical society has been an organization for the exploitation of man by man. Culture has served the class organization of society. Exploiters’ society has given rise to an exploiters’ culture. But does this mean that we are against all the culture of the past?

There exists, in fact, a profound contradiction here. Everything that has been conquered, created, built by man’s efforts and which serves to enhance man’s power is culture. But since it is not a matter of individual man but of social man, since culture is a social-historical phenomenon in its very essence, and since historical society has been and continues to be class society, culture is found to be the basic instrument of class oppression. Marx said: “The ruling ideas of an epoch are essentially the ideas of the ruling class of that epoch.” This also applies to culture as a whole. And yet we say to the working class: master all the culture of the past, otherwise you will not build socialism.

—Leon Trotsky, “Culture and Socialism” (1926), printed in Labour Review (Autumn 1962)

***As The 50th Anniversary  Of The JFK Assassination Approaches-Coming Of Age, Political Age, In The 1960s Night- A Baptism Of Fire-Making War On The War-Makers-The Struggle Against Nuclear War

He was scared. All of fourteen year old Peter Paul Markin’s body was scared. Of course he knew, knew just as well as anybody else, if anybody thought to ask, that he was really afraid not scared, but Peter Paul was scared anyway. No, not scared (or afraid for the literary correctness types), not Frannie DeAngelo demon neighborhood tough boy, schoolboy nemesis scared, scared that he would be kicked in the groin, bent over to the ground in pain for no reason, no reason except Frannie depth psycho hard boy reasons known only to himself. Markin was used to that kind of scared, not liking it "used to it" but used to it. And this certainly was not his usual girl scared-ness (yes, girls scared him, except in the comfortable confines of a classroom where he could show off to no avail) on the off chance that one, one girl that is, might say something to him and he would have no “cool” rejoinder. This was different. This, and his handkerchief-dabbed wet palms and forehead did not lie, was an unknown scared.

See, Peter Paul had taken a bet, a “put your money where your mouth is" bet, from best high school friend Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, if you want to know the full name. Now these guys had previously bet on everything under the sun since middle school practically from sports game spreads to how high the master pizza man and owner at Salducci’s Pizza Parlor, Tonio, would throw his pizza dough one strange night when Frankie needed dough (money dough that is) for his hot date with girlfriend Joanne. So no bet was too strange for this pair, although this proposition was probably way too solemn to be bet on.

What got it started, the need for a bet started, this time, really had to do with school, or maybe better, the world situation in 1960. Peter Paul, a bundle of two thousand facts that he guarded like a king’s ransom, went off the deep end in 9th grade Civics class when he, during a current events discussion, exploded upon his fellow classmates with the observation that there were too many missiles, too many nuclear bomb-loaded guided missiles, in the world and that both sides in the Cold War (The United States and the Soviet Union and their respective hangers-on) should “ban the bomb.” But you have not heard the most provocative part yet, Peter Paul then argued that, as good-will gesture and having more of them, the United States should destroy a few of its own. Unilaterally.

Pandemonium ensued as smarts guys and gals, simps and stups also, even those who never uttered a word in class, took aim at Peter Paul’s head. The least of it was that he was called a “commie” and a "dupe" and the discussion degenerated from there. Mr. Merck was barely able to contain the class, and nobody usually stepped out line in his class, or else. Somehow order was restored by the end of class and within a few days the class was back to normal, smart guys and girls chirping away with all kinds of flutter answers and the simps and stups, well the simp and stups did their simp and stup thing, as always.

Frankie always maintained that that particular day was one of the few that he wasn’t, and he really wasn’t, glad that Peter Paul was his friend. And during that class discussion he made a point, a big point, of not entering the fray in defense of his misbegotten friend. He thought Peter Paul was off the wall, way off the wall, on this one and let him know it after class. Of course, Peter Paul could not leave well enough alone and started badgering friend Frankie about it some more. But this was stone wall time because Frankie, irreverent, most of the time irreligious, and usually just happy to be girl-smitten in the world, and doing stuff about that, and not worried about its larger problems really believed, like the hard Roman Catholic-bred boy that he was underneath, that the evil Soviet Union should be nuclear fizzled-today.

But Peter Paul kept egging the situation on. And here is the problem with a purist, a fourteen year old purist, a wet behind the ears fourteen year old purist when you think about it. Peter Paul was as Roman Catholic-bred underneath as Frankie but with this not so slight difference. Peter Paul’s grandmother, Anna, was, and everybody who came in contact with her agreed, a saint. A saint in the true-believer catholic social gospel sense and who was a fervent admirer of Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker for social justice movement started in the 1930s. So frequently The Catholic Worker, the movement newspaper, would be lying around her house. And just as frequently Peter Paul, taking grandmother refuge from the hell-bend storms at his own house, would read the articles. And in almost every issue there would be an article bemoaning the incredible increase in nuclear weapons by both sides, the cold war freeze-out that escalated that spiral and the hard fact that the tipping point beyond no return was right around the corner. And something had to be done about it, and fast, by rational people who did not want the world blown up by someone’s ill-tempered whim. Yah, heady stuff, no question, but just the kind of thing that a certain fourteen year old boy could add to his collection of now two thousand plus facts.

Heady stuff, ya, but also stuff that carried some contradictions. Not in grandmother Anna, not in Dorothy Day so much as in Peter Paul and through him Frankie. See, the Catholic Worker movement had no truck, not known truck, anyway with “commies" and "dupes”, although that movement too, more than once, and by fellow Catholics too, was tarred with that brush. They were as fervent in their denunciation of the atheistic Soviet Union as any 1950s red-baiter. But they also saw that that stance alone was not going to make the world safer for believers, or anybody else. And that tension between the two strands is where Frankie and Peter Paul kind of got mixed up in the world’s affairs. Especially when Peter Paul said that the Catholic Worker had an announcement in their last issue that in October (1960) they were going to help sponsor an anti-nuclear proliferation rally on the Boston Common as part of a group called SANE two weeks before the presidential elections.

Frankie took that information as manna from heaven. See, Frankie was just as interested in knowing two thousand facts in this world as Peter Paul. Except Frankie didn’t guard them like a king’s ransom but rather used them, and then discarded them like a tissue. And old Frankie, even then, even in 1960 starting to spread his wings as the corner boy king of the North Adamsville high school class of 1964, knew who how to use his stockpile of facts better than Peter Paul ever could. So one night, one fiercely debated night, when Frankie could take no more, he said “bet.” And he bet that Peter Paul would not have the courage to travel from North Adamsville to Park Street Station in Boston to attend that SANE rally by himself (who else would go from old working -class, patriotic, red-scare scared, North Adamsville anyway). And as is the nature of fourteen year old boy relationships, or was, failure to take the bet, whatever bet was social suicide. “Bet,” said Peter Paul quickly before too much thinking time would elapse and destroy the fact of the bet marred by the hint of hesitation.

But nothing is ever just one thing in this wicked old world. Peter Paul believed, believed fervently, in the social message of the Catholic Worker movement especially on this nuclear war issue. But this was also 1960 and Irish Jack Kennedy was running, and running hard, to be President of the United States against badman Richard Milhous Nixon and Peter Paul was crazy for Jack (really for younger brother, Bobby, the ruthless organizer behind the throne which is the way he saw his own future as a political operative). And, of course, October in election year presidential politics is crunch time, a time to be out hustling votes, out on Saturday hustling votes, especially every Irish vote, every Catholic vote, hell, every youth vote for your man.

On top of that Jack, old Irish Jack Kennedy, war hero, good-looking guy with a good-looking wife (not Irish though not as far as anyone could tell), rich as hell, was trying to out-Cold War Nixon, a Cold War warrior of the first degree. And the way he was trying to outgun Nixon was by haranguing everyone who would listen that there was a “missile gap”, and the United was falling behind. And when one talked about a missile gap in 1960 that only meant one thing, only brooked only one solution- order up more, many more, nuclear-bomb loaded guided missiles. So there it was, one of the little quirks of life, of political life. So, Peter Paul, all fourteen year old scared Peter Paul has to make good on his bet with Frankie but in the process put a crimp into his hoped-for political career. And just for that one moment, although with some hesitation, he decided to be on the side of the “angels” and go.

That Saturday, that October Saturday, was a brisk, clear autumn day and so Peter Paul decided to walk the few miles from his house in North Adamsville over the Neponset Bridge to the first MTA subway station at Fields Corner rather than take the forever Eastern Mass. bus that came by his street erratically. After crossing the bridge he passed through one of the many sections of Boston that could pass for the streets of Dublin. Except on those streets he saw many young Peter Pauls holding signs at street corners for Jack Kennedy, other passing out literature, and others talking up Jack’s name.

Even as he approached the subway station he saw signs everywhere proclaiming Jack’s virtues. Hell, the nearby political hang-out Eire Pub looked like a campaign headquarters. What this whole scene did not look like to Peter Paul was a stronghold place to talk to people about an anti-nuclear weapons rally. Peter Paul got more scared as he thought about the reception likely at the Boston Commons. He pushed on, not without a certain tentative regret, but he pushed on through the turnstile, waited for the on-coming subway to stop, got on, and had an uneventful ride to the Park Street Station, the nearest stop to the Common.

Now Park Street on any given Saturday, especially in October after the college student hordes have descended on Boston, is a madhouse of activity. College student strolling around downtown looking for goods at the shops, other are just rubber-necking, other are sunning themselves on the grass or park benches in the last late sun days before winter arrives with a fury. Beyond the mainly civilized college students (civilized on the streets in the daytime any way) there are the perennial street people who populate any big city and who when not looking for handouts, a stray cigarette, or a stray drink are talking a mile a minute among themselves about some supposed injustice that has marred their lives and caused they unhappy decline. Lastly, and old town Boston, historic old town Boston, scene of many political battles for every cause from temperance to liberty, is defined by this, there are a motley crew of speakers, soap-box speakers whether on a real soap-box or not, who are holding forth on many subjects, although none that draw Peter Paul’s attention this day. So , after running that gauntlet, as he heads for the Francis Parkman Bandstand where the SANE rally is to take place he is amused by all that surrounds him putting him in a better mood, although still apprehensive of what the day will bring forth.

Arriving at the bandstand he sees about twenty people milling around with signs, hand-made signs that showed some spunk, the most prominent being a large poster-painted sign that stated boldly, “Ban The Bomb.” He is in the right place, no question. Although he is surprised that there are not more people present he is happy, secretly happy, that those twenty are there, because, frankly, he thought there might be just about two. And among that crowd he spots a clot of people who are wearing Catholic Worker buttons so he is now more fully at ease, and is starting to be glad that he came here on this day. He goes over to the clot and introduces himself and tells them how he came to be here. He also noted that one CWer wore the collar of a priest; a surprise because at Sacred Heart, his parish church, it was nothing but “fire and brimstone” from the pulpit against the heathen communist menace.

Get this-he also met a little old lady in tennis sneakers. For real. Now Frankie, devil’s advocate Frankie, baited Peter Paul in their arguments about nuclear disarmament by stating that the “peaceniks” were mainly little old ladies in tennis shoes-meaning, of course, batty and of no account, no main chance political account, no manly Jack Kennedy stand up to the Russians account. Peter Paul thought to himself wait until I see Frankie and tell him that this little old lady knew more about politics, and history, than even his two thousand facts. And was funny to boot. Moreover, and this was something that he had privately noticed, as the youngest person by far at the rally she, and later others, would make a fuss over him for that very reason talking about young bravery and courage and stuff like that.

Over the course of the two hours or so of the rally the crowd may have swelled to about fifty, especially when a dynamic black speaker from the W.E.B. Dubois Club at Harvard University linked up the struggle against nuclear weapons with the black struggle down South for voting rights that those in the North had been hearing more about lately. It was not until later, much later, that Peter Paul found out that this Dubois Club business was really the name of the youth group of the American Communist Party (CP) at the time but by that time he was knowledgeable enough to say “so what.” And it was not until later that he found out that the little old lady with the tennis sneakers was a CPer, although she had said at the time he talked to her she was with some committee, some women’s peace committee, within the Democratic Party. Oh, well. But then he would also be able to say “so what” to that accusation in proper “family of the left” fashion.

But forget all that later stuff, and what he knew or did not know later. See, that day, that October 1960 autumn day, Peter Paul learned something about serious politics. If you are on the right side of the angels on an issue, a central issue of the day, you are kindred. And although there were more than a few catcalls from the passers-by about “commies”, “dupes”, and “go back to Russia” he was glad, glad as hell that he came over. Although nothing turned inside him, noticeably turned inside him that day, about his politics and his determination to see Jack Kennedy and the Democrats take the White House he thought about those brave people at the bandstand and what they were standing for a lot for a long time after the event faded from memory. Oh yah, it was good to be on the side of the angels. And it didn’t hurt that he won that Frankie bet either.
Respecting Chelsea's identity
Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.

Bradley Manning Support Network


Call and write Ft Leavenworth today and tell them to honor Manning's wishes around her name and gender:
Chelsea's supporters were awarded the title “absolutely fabulous overall contingent” at the San Francisco Pride Parade

Call: (913) 758-3600

Write to:
Col. Sioban Ledwith, Commander
U.S. Detention Barracks
1301 N Warehouse Rd
Ft. Leavenworth KS 66027

Private Manning has been an icon both for the government transparency movement and LGBTQ activists because of her fearlessness and acts of conscience. Now, as she begins serving her sentence, Chelsea has asked for help with legal appeals, family visits, education, and support for undergoing gender transition. The latter is a decision she’s made following years of experiencing gender dysphoria and examining her options. At a difficult time in her life, she joined the military out of hope–the hope that she could use her service to save lives, and also the hope that it would help to suppress her feelings of gender dysphoria. But after serving time in Iraq, Private Manning realized what mattered to her most was the truth, personal as well as political, even when it proved challenging.
Now she wants the Fort Leavenworth military prison to allow her access to hormone replacement therapy which she has offered to pay for herself, as she pursues the process to have her name legally changed to ‘Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.’
To encourage the prison to honor her transgender identity, we’re calling on progressive supporters and allies to contact Fort Leavenworth officials demanding they acknowledge her requested name change immediately. Currently, prison officials are not required to respect Chelsea’s identity, and can even refuse to deliver mail addressed to the name ‘Chelsea Manning.’ However, it’s within prison administrators’ power to begin using the name ‘Chelsea Manning’ now, in advance of the legal name change which will most likely be approved sometime next year. It’s also up to these officials to approve Private Manning’s request for hormone therapy.

Call: (913) 758-3600

Write to:
Col. Sioban Ledwith, Commander
U.S. Detention Barracks
1301 N Warehouse Rd
Ft. Leavenworth KS 66027

Tell them: “Transgender rights are human rights! Respect Private Manning’s identity by acknowledging the name ‘Chelsea Manning’ whenever possible, including in mail addressed to her, and by allowing her access to appropriate medical treatment for gender dysphoria, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT).”
While openly transgender individuals are allowed to serve in many other militaries around the world, the US military continues to deny their existence. Now, by speaking up for Chelsea’s right to treatment, you can support one brave whistleblower in her personal struggle, and help set an important benchmark for the rights of transgender individuals everywhere. (Remember that letters written with focus and a respectful tone are more likely to be effective.) Feel free to copy this sample letter.
Earlier this year, the Private Manning Support Network won the title of most “absolutely fabulous overall contingent” at the San Francisco Pride Parade, the largest celebration of its kind for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) people nationwide. Over one thousand people marched for Private Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning in that parade, to show LGBTQ community pride for the Iraq War’s most well-known whistleblower.

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


STOP THE DRONES-sat. Nov. 16:

The Saturday vigil on November 16 will be devoted to protesting US drone warfare abroad and drone surveillance in this country. Come to Park St Station Boston at 1:00 this sat. to raise your voice to stop the killer robots flying over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. We'll have a drone replica and show the trauma inflicted by drones with a die-in. This is part of November Days of Action against Drone Killings, a national event which includes a drone summit in Washington. Sponsored by the Committee for Peace and Human Rights and the Eastern Massachusetts Anti-Drones Network. To join the Network, contact Marilyn Levin, Its next meeting is at the AFSC building, 2161 Mass Ave, Camb on Dec 10 @ 7:45.

Socialist Kshama Sawant Poised to Win Election
Big Success for $15/hour Minimum Wage and Independent Working-Class Politics
A Statement from the Kshama Sawant Campaign
November 15, 2013

Seattle, WA - Today's King County Elections ballot count saw the Socialist Alternative candidate for Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant, pulling further ahead of 16-year incumbent, Richard Conlin. The Socialist candidate has now won 88,222 votes compared to the Democrat Richard Conlin's 86,582 votes.

After today's count was released, Richard Conlin announced he was conceding the race. Kshama Sawant replied, "While I do not agree with Richard Conlin's political positions, I respect that he served on the city council for 16 years. He ran a strong campaign, and I commend him for his willingness to participate in numerous political forums, openly debating the issues with me."
"I will reach out to the people who supported Richard Conlin, working with everyone in Seattle to fight for a minimum wage of $15/hour, affordable housing, and the needs of ordinary people," continued Sawant.
"These exciting results show a majority of voters are fed up with the corporate politicians who have presided over the widening chasm between the super-rich and the rest of us," said Kshama Sawant. "The turnaround of the ballot count in my campaign's favor is a stunning mandate to move ahead with raising Seattle's minimum wage to $15/hour. A majority of voters cast ballots for my campaign which did not take a dime of corporate money, yet succeeded through grassroots activism."

Since the signatures on thousands of votes have been challenged, the Sawant campaign will continue to make sure that every vote is counted until the election results are certified on November 26. "Every additional vote for our campaign shows the broad support for a $15/hour minimum wage, rent control, and a tax on the super-rich to fund mass transit and education. We need people to donate to fund our voter protection work, and we need volunteers to help correct the challenged ballots so that every one of these votes will count," says Sawant.

Kshama Sawant is inviting all supporters to a rally this Sunday, November 17 at 2.30 PM to discuss the way forward in the fight against corporate politics and for democratic socialism. Afterwards, volunteers will be trained to knock on doors to correct challenged ballots. Speakers include Abdi Mohamed from the Somali American Public Affairs Council, Nicole Grant from the electrical workers union local 46, and Carlos Hernandez an organizer from the Fast Food Worker Strikes. Geo from the Blue Scholars will also perform. The forum will be at the SEIU local 775 NW auditorium at 215 Columbia St.

Sawant's election, alongside the promises of Mayor-Elect Ed Murray, demonstrates the strong public support that exists for a $15/hour minimum wage. Sawant and her Socialist Alternative organization are working to build a coalition to organize a mass rally for a $15 minimum wage in early 2014. Sawant intends to introduce an ordinance or, if necessary, place an initiative on Seattle's November 2014 ballot like Proposition 1 in SeaTac.
Sawant is urging unions, Greens, and Socialists to use her campaign as a model to inspire a much broader movement of 100 independent candidates across the country in 2014. "We need a movement to break the undemocratic power of big business and build a society that works for working people, not corporate profits - a democratic socialist society," declared Sawant.
Please support our work:
  1. Donate on-line
  2. Volunteer
  3. Become a regular "sustainer" for our organization, paying a monthly donation to help us get out of debt and take advantage of the huge opportunities to build Socialist Alternative.
  4. Become an active member of Socialist Alternative!

Hands Off The Cambridge Insomnia Cookie Workers- Drop The Charges Now !

Dear All,
Last night the Cambridge Police attacked a legal picket of Insomnia Cookies in Cambridge, where workers have struck and initiated an IWW union drive. The police assault was apparently based on a false report by Insomnia that picketers were blocking the sidewalk in front of the store. The cops demanded we shut down our PA, which we did, then tried to force us off the sidewalk, and subsequently punched IWW member Jason Freedman in the face, threw him on the trunk of a car and then on the ground, pinning him partially under a parked car and on the curb as they piled on top of him. Jason's face was covered in blood and he sustained injuries to his back and arm. You can see pictures of the attack here. Predictably, Jason has been charged with multiple offenses including assault on a police officer. At the company's bidding, Cambridge Police had previously failed to shut down our legal pickets but last night they unfortunately succeeded. This incident has to be seen in the context of increasing criminalization of dissent and official efforts to tear away our remnants of civil liberties, labor rights and any protections against brutality by the police.
Please join IWW's and allies in an emergency rally and march, tonight at 5:30 pm in Harvard Square Cambridge. Demonstrators will gather at "the Pit," next to the main entrance of the MBTA in Harvard Square and next to Out of Town News. Feel free to register your protests over the police attack with Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis at or by calling 617-349-4321. Please consider a donation to the Insomnia Cookies Workers' Strike Fund. To reach Insomnia Cookies' CEO Seth Berkowitz, and let him know how you feel about his company's apparent complicity in police violence and attacks on free speech, please call 877 632-6654.
In Solidarity,
Geoff for the Industrial Workers of the World / IWW

***The Roots Is The Toots- The Music That Got Them Through The Great Depression And World War II- From Deep In The Songbook-Sultry Billie Holiday’s Am I Blue…

… he nothing but a kid, nothing but a bog Irish kid fretting away his time, his after school time, was hungry. No, not food hungry although that happened often enough when his father was out of work like a million other fathers in the reared-back Depression night, but hungry for some new sounds, new musical sound that he kept hearing every time he passed Riley’s Market, Riley’s who to draw a crowd had placed a jukebox in the place to lull the patrons. But since he had no money, no nickels to play such an entertainment, he would just linger for a moment and then pass on. And that hunger was not abated until one day he went over to his grandparents’ house and mentioned something to grandmother who was alone in the house at the time about those sounds he heard at Riley’s. His grandmother summoned him to go to her china closet and bring out the radio, a beautiful old Emerson in perfect working order as far as he could tell, hidden there behind a stack of dishes.

See his grandfather an old Puritan, if as bog Irish as he and the whole blessed family, refused to have what he called the devil’s music, that n----r music in the house. After he brought the radio to his grandmother she told him to turn it on and what he heard that afternoon, and many afternoons after that when his grandfather was not present, was out of heaven, some music all sultry and bluesy (although he would not have known then to call it that, call what ailed him the blues either), especially one voice, one voice that spoke of all the anguish and sorrow of the world, spoke through the subtle pauses between the notes of her own personal sorrows, and sang his blues away for a time. He did not learn until much later that she was a Negro, and that the distance between her negritude and his own bog-Irishness, was very short, very short indeed...    


Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:

Whether we liked it or not, whether we even knew what it meant to our parents or not, or frankly, during that hellish growing up absurd teenager time in the 1950s trying to figure out our places, if any, in the cold war red scare world, if there was to be a world, and that was a close thing at times,  or whether we cared, music was as dear a thing to them as to us, their sons and daughters, who were in the throes of finding our own very different musical identities. As well, whether we knew it or not, knew what sacred place the music of the late 1930s and 1940s, swing, be-bop swing, be-bop flat-out, show tunes, you know jitter-bug stuff, and the like held in their youthful hearts that was the music, their getting through the tough times music, that went wafting through the house on the radio, on record player, or for some the television, of many of those of us who constitute the now graying fading generation of ‘68. And some of us will pass to the beyond clueless as to what our forebears were attuned to when they came of age in a world, a very darkly-etched world, which they too had not created, and had no say in creating.

Yes they were crazy for the swing and sway of bespectacled Benny Goodman blowing that clarinet like some angel- herald letting the world know,  if it did know already, that it did not mean a thing, could not possibly matter in the universe, if you did not swing, with and without Miss (Ms.) Peggy Lee, better with, better with, swaying slightly lips moistened, swirling every guy in the place on Why Don’t You Do Right vowing he would do just that for a smile and a chance at those slightly swaying hips. Mr. Harry James with or without the orchestra , better with, blowing Gabriel’s horn, knocking down walls, maybe Jericho, maybe just some Starlight Ballroom in Kansas City blasting the joint with his You Made Me Love You to the top of the charts. Elegant Duke Ellington with or without Mr. Johnny Hodges blowing that sexy sax out into the ocean air night in some Frisco club, blowing out to the Japan seas, on Taking The ‘A’ Train. Tommy Dorsey all banded up if there is such a word making eyes misty with I’ll Never Smile Again.  Jimmy Dorsey too with his own aggregation wailing Tangerine that had every high school girl throwing dreamy nickels and dimes into the jukebox, with or without fanfare, Glenn Miller, with or without those damn glasses, taking that Sentimental Journey before his too soon last journey. Miss (Ms.) Billie Holiday, Lady Day, with or without the blues, personal blues, strung out blues too, singing everybody else’s blues away with that throaty thing she had, that meaningful pause, yeah, Lady Sings The Blues. Miss Lena Horne with or without stormy weather making grown men cry (women too) when she reached that high note fretting about her long gone man, Jesus.  Miss (Ms.) Margaret Whiting going for that Old Black Magic. Mr. Vaughn Monroe with or without goalposts. Mr. Billy Eckstine, too. Mr. Frank Sinatra doing a million songs fronting for the Dorseys and anybody who wanted to rise in that swinging world, with or without a horde of bobbysoxers breaking down his doors, putting everybody else to shame (and later too). The Inkspots, always with that spoken refrain catch that nobody seemed to tire of, doing teary I’ll Get By or If I Didn’tCare. The Mills Brothers with or without those paper dolls. The Andrews Sisters with or without rum in their Coca-Cola, The Dewdrops with or without whatever they were doing with or without. Mr. Cole Porter, with or without the boys, writing the bejesus out of  Tin Pan Alley and Broadway tunes. Mr. Irving Berlin with or without the flag, ditto Mr. Porter. And Mr. George Gershwin with or without his brother, creating Summertime and a thousand other catchy tunes. Yeah, their survival music.  

We the generation of ’68, baby-boomers, decidedly not what Tom Brokaw dubbed rightly or wrongly “ the greatest generation,”  decidedly not your parents’  or grandparents’ (please, please do not say great-grandparents’ even if it is true) generation could not bear to hear that music, could not bear to think anybody in the whole universe would think that stuff was cool. Those of us who came of age, biological, political and social age kicking, screaming and full of the post-war new age teenage angst and alienation in the time of Jack Kennedy’s Camelot were ready for a jail-break, a jail-break on all fronts and that included from “their song” stuff. Their staid Eisenhower red scare cold war stuff (he their organizer of victory, their gentile father Ike), hell, we knew that the world was scary, knew it every time we were forced to go down into some dank school basement and squat down, heads down too, hoping to high heaven that the Russkies had not decided to go crazy and set off “the bomb,” many bombs. And every righteous teenager had a nightmare that they were trapped in some fashionable family bunker and those loving parents had thoughtfully brought their records down into the abyss to soothe their savage beasts for the duration. Please, please, please if we must die then at least let’s go out to Jerry Lee’s High School Confidential.  

We were moreover, some of us any way and I like to think the best of us, driven by some makeshift dream, ready to cross our own swords with the night-takers of our time, and who, in the words of Camelot brother Bobby, sweet ruthless Bobby of more than one shed tear, quoting from Alfred Lord Tennyson, were “seeking a new world.” Those who took up the call to action heralded by the new dispensation and slogged through that decade whether it was in the civil rights/black liberation struggle, the anti-Vietnam War struggle or the struggle to find one’s own identity in the counter-culture swirl before the hammer came down were kindred. To the disapproval, anger, and fury of more than one parent who had gladly slept through the Eisenhower times. And that hammer came down quickly as the decade ended and the high white note that we searched for, desperately searched for, drifted out into the ebbing tide. Gone. But enough about us this series is about our immediate forbears (but please, please not great grandparents) their uphill struggles to make their vision of the their newer world, their struggles to  satisfy their hunger a little, to stop that gnawing want, and the music that in their youth  they dreamed by on cold winter nights and hot summer days.
This is emphatically the music, the get by the tough times in the cities, on the farms, out in the wide spaces, of the hard born generation that survived the dust bowl all farms blown away when the winds gathered like some ancient locust curse to cleanse the earth and leave, leave nothing except silt and coughs. All land worthless no crops could stand the beating, the bankers fearful that the croppers would just leave taking whatever was left and the dusted crowd heading west with whatever was movable. They drifted west, west as far as California if the old buggy held up and they had enough gas in the tank, not knowing what some old time professor, from Harvard I think, knew about the frontier that it had been swallowed up, been staked out long ago and too bad. Not knowing as well what some old time Okie balladeer knew that if you did not have the dough California was just another Okie/Arkie bust.

Survived empty bowls, empty plates, wondering where the next meal would come from, many times, too many times from some Sally soup-line, some praise the lord before thy shall eat soup-line. Survived that serious hunger want that deprives a man, a woman, of dignity scratching for roots like some porcine beast in some back alley lot, too weak to go on but too weak to stop as well. Survived, if not west, then no sugar bowl city street urchin corner boy hard times of the 1930s Great Depression, always with that vagrant foot up against some brick-laid wall, killing time, killing some dreams,  sleeping under soot-lined railroad trestles, on splintered park benches newspapers for a pillow’s rest (one eye open for swarming festering jack-rollers and club-wielding sadistic cops), and hard bench bus stations (ditto jack-rollers and cops).  Survive the time of the madness just then beating the tom-toms of war and degradation coming from a hungry want-infested Europe filled with venom, those drums heralding the time of the night-takers casting a shadow over the darkened world, portending the plainsong of the time of the long knives, outlawing dreams for the duration.

Building up those wants, name them, named those hungers on cold nights against riverside fires, down in dusty arroyos, under forsaken bridges. Survived god knows how by taking the nearest freight, some smoke and dreams freight, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, B&O, Illinois Central, Penn Central, Empire State, Boston and Maine, or one of a million trunk lines to go out and search for, well, search for…

Searching for something that was not triple- decker bodies, three to a room sharing some scraggly blanket, an old worn out pillow for rest, the faint smell of oatmeal, twenty days in a row oatmeal, oatmeal with.., being cooked in the next room meaning no Pa work, meaning one jump, maybe not even that ahead of the rent collector (the landlords do not dare come in person so they hire the task out), meaning the sheriff and the streets are closing in. Bodies, brothers and sisters, enough to lose count, piled high cold-water flat high, that damn cold water splash signifying how low things have gotten, with a common commode for the whole floor and brown-stained sink. Later moving down the scale a rooming house room for the same number of bodies, window looking out onto the air shaft, dark, dark with despair, the very, very faint odor of oatmeal, who knows how many days in a row, from Ma’s make-shift hot plate on its last legs.  Hell, call it what it was flop house stinking of perspiration and low-shelf whiskeys and wines. Others had it worse, tumbled down shack, window pane-less, tarpaper siding, roof tiles falling, a lean-to ready to fall to the first wind, the first red wind coming out of the mountains and swooping down the hills and hollows, ready to fall to the first downpour rain, washed away. Yes, get out on the open road and search for the great promised American night that had been tattered by world events, and greed.

Survived the Hoovervilles, the great cardboard, tin can roof, slap-dash jerry-built camp explosions along rivers, down in ravines and under railroad trestles. Tossed, hither and yon, about six million different ways but it all came down to when the banks, yeah, the banks, the usual suspects, robbed people of their shacks, their cottages, their farm houses. Robbed them as an old-time balladeer, a free-wheeling, song-writing red, a commie, in the days when in some quarters sailing under that banner was a badge of honor, said at the time not with a gun but with a fountain pen, but still robbed them.

Survived the soup kitchens hungers, the gnawing can’t wait in the endless waiting line for scrapes, dreaming of some by-gone steak or dish of ice cream, and always that hunger, not the stomach hunger although that was ever present, but the hunger that hurts a man, hurts his pride when he has to stick his hand out, stick it out and not know why. Planning the fruitless day, fruitless since he was born to work, took pride in work, planning around Sally breakfasts don’t be late, six to nine, but with sermon and song attached, mission stuff in heat-soaked rooms, men smelling of unwashed men, and drink. Planning around city hall lunches, peanut butter sandwiches, slapped slap-dash together with an apple, maybe. Worse, worse by far the Saint Vincent DePaul suppers, soup, bread, some canned vegetable, something they called meat but was in dispute, lukewarm coffee, had only, only if you could prove you were truly destitute with a letter from some churchman and, in addition, under some terrible penalty, that you had searched for work that day. A hard dollar, hard dollar indeed.

Jesus, out of work for another day, and with three hungry growing kids to feed, and a wife sickly, sick unto death of the not having he thought, little work waiting for anybody that day, that day when all hell broke loose and the economy tanked, at least that is what it said in the Globe (ditto New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner if anybody was asking), said that there was too much around, too much and he with nothing for those kids, nothing and he was too proud to ask for some damn letter to give to those Vincent DePaul hard-hearts.  And that day not him, not him yet, others, others who read more that the Globe (and the dittos)  were dreaming of that full head of steam day to come in places like big auto Flint, waterfront Frisco town, rubber Akron, hog butcher to the world prairie Chicago, hell, even in boondock trucker Minneapolis, a day when the score would get evened, evened a little, and a man could hold his head up a little, could at least bring bread to those three hungry growing kids who didn’t understand the finer point of world economics just hunger. Until then though he is left shifting the scroungings of the trash piles of the urban glut, the discard of the haves, the have nots throw nothing away, and on other horizons the brethren curse the rural fallow fields, curse the banks, and curse the weather, but curse most of all having to pack up and head, head anyway, anywhere but the here, and search, search like that brother on that urban glut pile for a way to curb  that gnawing  hungry that cried out in the night-want, want that is all. 

Survived too the look, the look of those, the what did FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the young, or forgetful) call them, oh yeah, the economic royalists, today’s 1%, the rack-renters, the coupon-clippers, the guys, as one of their number said, who hired one half of the working class to fight the other, who in their fortified towers, their Xanadus, their Dearborns, their Beacon Hills, their Upper East Sides, their Nob Hills, and a few other spots, tittered that not everybody was built to survive to be the fittest. That crowd, and let’s name names, a few anyway, Ford, General Motors, Firestone, U.S. Steel, fought tooth and nail against the little guy trying to break bread. Fought that brother too out pounding the mean streets to proud to ask for a letter, Jesus, a letter for some leftover food, before he got “religion” about what was what in the land of “milk and honey.”  Wreaked havoc on that farmer out in the dust bowl not travelling some road, some road west knowing that the East was barred up, egging him on to some hot dusty bracero labor filed picking, maybe “hire” him on as a scab against those uppity city boys. Yes, fought every guy trying to get out from under that cardboard, tar paper, windowless soup kitchen world along with a hell of a lot of comrades, yes, comrades, not Russkie comrades although reds were thick in those battles, took their lumps in Frisco, Flint, Akron and Minneapolis, hell, any place where a righteous people were rising, kindred in the struggle to put that survival of the fittest on the back-burner of human history. To stand up and  take collective action to put things right, hell, made the bosses cry bloody murder when they shut down their factories, shut them down cold until some puny penny justice was eked out. And maybe just maybe make that poor unknowingly mean-street walking city brother and that sweated farm boy thing twice about helping those Mayfair swells.      

Survived but took time out too, time out if young perhaps, as if such things were embedded in some secret teen coda, to stretch those legs, to flash those legs, to sway those hips, to flash the new moves not, I repeat, not the ones learned at sixth grade Miss Prissy’s Saturday dance classes but the ones that every mother, every girl mother warned her Susie against, to a new sound coming out of the mist, coming to take the sting out of the want years nights, and the brewing night of the long knives. Coming out of New York, always New York then, Minton’s, Jimmy’s, some other uptown clubs,   Chicago, Chicago of the big horns and that stream, that black stream heading north, following the northern star, again, for jobs and to get the hell away from one Mister James Crow, from Detroit, with blessed Detroit Slim and automobile sounds, and Kansas City, the Missouri K.C. okay, the Bird land hatchery, the Prez’s big sexy sax blow home. Jesus no wonder that madman Hitler banned it, along with dreams.  

The sound of blessed swing, all big horns, big reeds, big, well big band, replacing the dour Brother, Can You Spare a Dime and its brethren , no banishing such thoughts, casting them out with soup lines (and that awful Friday Saint Vincent DePaul fish stew that even Jesus would have turned down in favor of bread, wine and a listen to Benny’s Buddha Swings) casting that kind of hunger out for a moment, a magical realistic moment, casting out ill-fitting, out of fashion, threadbare (nice, huh) second-hand clothes (passed down from out- the- door  hobo brothers and sisters tramping this good green earth looking for their place, or at least a job of work and money in their newer threadbare [still nice] clothes), and casting aside from hunger looks, that gaunt look of those who have their wanting habits on and no way to do a thing about it.  Banished, all such things banished because after all it did not mean a thing, could not possibly place you anywhere else but in squareville (my term, not theirs), if you did not have that swing. To be as one with jitter-buggery if there was (is) such a word (together, not buggery by itself, not in those days, not in the public vocabulary anyway). And swing as it lost steam with all the boys, all the swing boys, all oversea and the home fire girls tired of dancing two girl dancing, a fade echo of the cool age be-bop that was a-borning, making everybody reach for that high white note floating out of Minton’s, Big Bill’s Jimmie’s, hell, even Olde Saco’s Starlight Ballroom before it breezed out in the ocean air night, crashed into the tepid sea. Yeah.       

Survived, as if there was no time to breathe in new fresh airs, new be-bop tunes, new dance moves, to slog through the time of the gun in World War II.  A time when the night-takers, those who craved the revenge night of the long knives took giant steps in Europe and Asia trying to make that same little guy, Brit, Frenchie, Chinaman, Filipino, God’s American, and half the races and nationalities on this good green earth cry uncle and buckle under, take it, take their stuff without a squawk. It took a bit, took a little shock, to get those war juices flowing, to forget about the blood-letting that had gone on before when the flower of Europe, when the older brothers and fathers the generation before, had taken their number when they were called.  And so after Pearl, after that other shoe dropped on a candid world Johnnie, Jimmie, Paulie, Benny too, all the guys from the old neighborhood, the corner boys, the guys who hung around Doc’s hands in their pockets, guys trying to rub nickels together to play some jitter-buggery thing, guys who had it tough growing up hard in those bad Depression days, took their numbers and fell in line.

Guys too from the wheat fields, Kansas Iowa, you know places where they grow wheat, guys fresh from some Saturday night dance, some country square thing, all shy and with calloused hands, eyeing, eyeing to perdition some virginal Betty or Sue, guys from the coal slags, deep down in hill country, down in the hollows away from public notice, some rumble down shack to rest their heads, full of backwoods home liquor, blackened fingernails, never ever fully clean once the coal got on them, Saturday night front porch fiddlings wound up carrying a M-1 on the shoulder in Europe or the Pacific. Leaving all those Susies, Lauras, Betties, and dark-haired Rebeccas too waiting at home hoping to high heaven that some wayward gun had not carried off sweetheart Johnnie, Jimmy, Paulie, or young Benny.  Jesus not young Benny. Not the runt of the corner boy litter, not our Benny. Not carried off that sweet farm fresh boy with the sly grin, not carried off that coal-dust young man with those jet-black eyes, and fingers.  

Survived the endless lines of boys heading off East and West, heading off to right some wrongs, at least that is what the guys in charge said, put a big dent in the style of the night-takers, the guys who wanted to cut up the world into two to three pieces, and that was that, cutting the little guy, making the little guys like it, making them take it or else. Some of those little guys, after Pearl for sure, could hardly wait to get to the recruiting office, hardly wait to go mano y mano with the night-takers and their illicit dreams, went gladly from the farms, the factories and the mines, many to never look back, never to farm, to run a production line, or to dig from the earth but make new lives, or lay down their heads in some god forsaken piece of dirt, or some watery abyss. Others, well, others were hanging back waiting to be drafted by their friends and neighbors at the local draft board, hanging back just a little to think things over, to see if maybe they could be better used on the home front, scared okay (as if the quick-step volunteers were not afraid, or should have been) but who gave a good accounting of themselves when their number came up. Still others head over heels they were exempt, 4-F, bad feet, you see. Somebody had to keep the home fires, keeping the womenfolk happy.

All, all except that last crew, the dodgers found in every war,  who got to sit a home with Susie, Laura, Betty and even odd-ball Rebecca were constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, for their ships to sail or their planes to fly. Hanging in some old time corner boy drugstore, Doc’s, Rexall, name your drugstore name, just like when they were kids (a mere few weeks before), talking the talk like they used to do to kill time, maybe sitting two by two (two uniforms, two girls if anybody was asking) at the soda fountain playing that newly installed jukebox until the nickels ran out. Listened to funny banana boat songs, rum and coca cola songs, siting under the apple tree songs, songs to forget about the work abroad, and just some flat-out jitter-bugging stuff, frothy stuff in order to get a minute’s reprieve from thoughts of the journey ahead.

Listened too to dreamy, sentimental songs, Always, I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire, Sentimental Journey, songs that spoke of true love, their true love that would out last the ages, would carrying them through that life together if they could ever keep those damn night-takers at bay, songs about faraway places, We’ll Meet Again, Til Then, songs that spoke of future sorrows, future partings, future returnings (always implying though that maybe there would be no return), future sacrifices, future morale-builders, songs about keeping lamp- lights burning, songs to give meeting to that personal sacrifice, to keep the womenfolk, to keep her from fretting her life away waiting for that dreaded other drop, songs about making a better world out of the fire and brimstone sacrifice before them.

Songs to make the best out of the situation about Johnnie, Jimmie and the gang actually returning, returning whole, and putting a big dent in their dreams, that small white house with the white picket fence (maybe needing a little painting, maybe they could do that together), kids, maybe a new car once in a while you know the stuff that keeps average joes alive in sullen foxholes, sea-sick troop transports, freezing cargo planes, keeps them good and alive. Hell, songs, White Cliffs Of Dover songs, about maybe the damn wars would be over sooner rather than later. Listened, drawing closer, getting all, uh, moony-eyed, and as old Doc, or some woe-begotten soda jerk, some high school kid, wet behind the ears, with that white paper service cap at some obscure angle and now smudged white jacket implying that he was in the service too, told them to leave he was closing up they held out for one last tune. Then, well-fortified with swoony feelings they made for the beach, if near a beach, the pond, if near a pond, the back forty, if near the back forty, the hills, you know, or whatever passed for a lovers’ lane in their locale and with the echo of those songs as background, well, do I have draw you a map, what do you think they did, why do you think they call us baby-boomers.              

The music, this survival music, Harry James, Benny, the Dorsey boys, Bing, Frank, the Mills Brothers, the Inkspots, and on and on wafted (nice word, huh) through the air coming from a large console radio, the prized possession centered in the small square living room of my growing up house amid the squalor of falling roof tiles, a broken window or two patched up with cardboard and tape, a front door that would not shut, rooms with second-hand sofas, mattresses, chairs, desks, tables, mildewy towels, corroded sinks, barely serviceable bathtubs, and  woe-begotten stuffed pillows smelling of mothballs. My broken down, needs a new roof, random shingles on the ground as proof, cracked windows stuffed with paper and held with masking tape in need of panes, no proof needed, overgrown lawn in need of cutting of a shack (there is literally no other way to describe it, then or in its current condition) of a too small, much too small for four growing boys and two parents, house. The no room to breathe, no space but shared space, the from hunger look of all the denizens, the stink of my father’s war wounds that would not heal, the stink of too many people in too small a house, excuse me shack. The noise, damn the noise from the nearby railroad, putting paid to wrong side of the tracks-dom worst of all. Jesus.      

That wrong side of the tracks shack of a house surrounded by other houses, shack houses, too small to fit big Irish Catholic- sized families with stony-eyed dreams. Small dreams of Johnny or Jimmy getting on the force (cops, okay), and Lorrie and Pamela getting those secure City Hall jobs in the steno pool until some bright prospect came by and threw a ring at them but in the meantime shack life, and small faded dreams. Funny, no, ironic but these tumbled-down shacks which seemingly would fall with a first serious wind represented in some frankly weird form (but what knew I of such unnamed weirdness then I just cried out in some fit of angst, cried out against that railroad noise, and that sour smell of sweat) the great good desire of those warriors, and almost to a man they had served, and their war brides who had waited, had fretted while waiting, to latch onto a piece of golden age America.
And take their struggle survival music from Doc’s jukebox, from the Starlight Ballroom, from WDJA, with them as if to validate their sweet memory dreams, their youthful innocence before the guys got caught up, caught up close and personal, the ugliness of war, the things they would not speak of unto the grave, and the gals not asking, not asking for all the money in the world but sensing that he, they, had changed, had lost some youthful thing. That radio, that priceless radio console taking pride of place, as if a lifesaver, literally, tuned to local station WDJA in North Adamsville, the memory station for those World War II warriors and their war brides, those who made it back. Some wizard radio station manager knowing his, probably his in those days, demographics, spinned those 1940s platters exclusively, as well as aimed the ubiquitous advertisement at that crowd. Cars, sofas, beds, shaving gear, soap, department store sales, all the basics for the growing families spawned (nice, huh) by those warriors and brides.

My harried mother, harried like all the neighborhood large brood mothers, harried by the bleak wanting prospects of the day with four growing boys and not enough, nor enough food, not enough, well, just not enough and leave it at that. Maybe bewildered is a better expression for her plight, for her wartime young marriage adventure not wanting to be left with only a memory of my father if things went wrong in the Pacific. As so she took to turning the radio on to start her day, hoping that Paper Dolls, I’ll Get By, or dreamy Tangerine would chase her immediate sorrows away. Yea, a quick boost of their songs was called for, their spring youth meeting at some USO dance songs before he shipped out. Those songs   embedded deep in memory, wistful young memory, or so it seemed as she hummed away the day, used the music as background on her appointed household rounds. And whether she won or lost the day’s bout with not enough, with some ill-winded message from some bill due, seemingly always some four boy hurt, some bad father work news, the list of her daily sorrows and trepidations could have stretched to infinity she perked up, swayed even to those tunes.
That stuff, that mother dream stuff, that piano/drum-driven stuff with some torch-singer, Peggy Lee, Helen Morgan, Margaret Whiting, maybe even a sneak Billie thrown in bleeding all over the floor drove me crazy then  Some she bleeding with the pain of  her thwarted loves, her man hurts, her wanderings in search of something in this funny old world, her waitings, waiting for the good times, waiting in line for the rations, waiting, waiting alone mind you, for her man to come home, come home whole from some place whose name she could not pronounce, they should have called it the waiting generation, just flat-out drove me crazy then. Mush stuff at a time when I was craving the big break-out rock and roll sounds I kept hearing every time I went and played the jukebox at Doc’s Drugstore over on Walker Street down near the beach (not the old torn down Doc’s of their generation over on Billings Road if that is what you are thinking). As far as I know Doc (the son of their Doc), knowing his demographics as well as that radio executive at WDJA, did not, I repeat, did not, stock that stuff that, uh, mush for his rock-crazed after school soda fountain crowd, probably stocked nothing, mercifully before about 1955. Funny thing though while I am still a child of rock and roll this so-called mushy stuff sounds pretty good to these ears now long after my parents and those who performed this music have passed on. Go figure. 

Am I Blue?"

Am I blue, am I blue
Ain't these tears in my eyes telling you
Am I blue, you'd be too
If each plan with your man done fell through

Was a time I was his only one
But now I'm the sad and lonely one, lonely
Was I gay till today
Now he's gone and we're through, am I blue

Was I gay till today
Now he's gone and we're through, am I blue
Oh he's gone, he left me, am I blue