Saturday, May 30, 2015

As The 100th Anniversary Of The First Year Of World War I (Remember The War To End All Wars) Continues ... Some Remembrances-Musicians’ Corner

In say 1912, 1913, hell, even the beginning of 1914, the first few months anyway, before the war clouds got a full head of steam in the summer they all profusely professed their unmitigated horror at the thought of war, thought of the old way of doing business in the world. Yes the artists of every school the Cubist/Fauvists/Futurists/Constructivists, Surrealists or those who would come to speak for those movements (hell even the hide-bound Academy filled with its rules, or be damned, spoke the pious words of peace, brotherhood and the affinity of all humankind when there was sunny weather), those who saw the disjointedness of modern industrial society in its squalor, it creation of generations of short, nasty, brutish lives just like the philosophers predicted and put the pieces to paint, sculptors who put twisted pieces of metal juxtaposed to each other saw that building a mighty machine from which you had to run created many problems; writers of serious history books proving that, according to their Whiggish theory of progress,  humankind had moved beyond war as an instrument of policy and the diplomats and high and mighty would put the brakes on in time, not realizing that they were all squabbling cousins; writers of serious and not so serious novels drenched in platitudes and hidden gazebo love affairs put paid to that notion in their sweet nothing words that man and woman had too much to do, too much sex to harness to denigrate themselves by crying the warrior’s cry and by having half-virgin, neat trick, maidens strewing flowers on the bloodlust streets; musicians whose muse spoke of delicate tempos and sweet muted violin concertos, not the stress and strife of the tattoos of war marches with their tinny conceits; and poets, ah, those constricted poets who bleed the moon of its amber swearing, swearing on a stack of seven sealed bibles, that they would go to the hells before touching the hair of another man, putting another man to ground or laying their own heads down for some imperial mission.

They all professed loudly (and those few who did not profess, could not profess because they were happily getting their blood rising, kept their own consul until the summer), that come the war drums they would resist the siren call, would stick to their Whiggish, Futurist, Constructionist, Cubist worlds and blast the war-makers to hell in quotes, words, chords, clanged metal, and pretty pastels. They would stay the course. 

And then the war drums intensified, the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they made of ordinary human clay as it turned out, poets, beautiful poets like Wilfred Owens who would sicken of war before he passed leaving a beautiful damnation on war, its psychoses, and broken bones and dreams, and the idiots who brought humankind to such a fate, like e. e. cummings who drove through sheer hell in those rickety ambulances floors sprayed with blood, man blood, angers, anguishes and more sets of broken bones, and broken dreams, like Rupert Brooke all manly and old school give and go, as they marched in formation leaving the ports and then mowed down like freshly mown grass in their thousands as the charge call came and they rested, a lot of them, in those freshly mown grasses, like Robert Graves all grave all sputtering in his words confused about what had happened, suppressing, always suppressing that instinct to cry out against the hatred night, like old school, old Thomas Hardy writing beautiful old English pastoral sentiments before the war and then full-blown into imperium’s service, no questions asked old England right or wrong, like old stuffed shirt himself T.S. Eliot speaking of hollow loves, hollow men, wastelands, and such in the high club rooms on the home front, and like old brother Yeats speaking of terrible beauties born in the colonies and maybe at the home front too as long as Eliot does not miss his high tea. Jesus what a blasted night that Great War time was.  

And as the war drums intensified, the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they made of ordinary human clay as it turned out, artists, beautiful artists like Fernand Leger who could no longer push the envelope of representative art because it had been twisted by the rubble of war, by the crashing big guns, by the hubris of commanders and commanded and he turned to new form, tubes, cubes, prisms, anything but battered humankind in its every rusts and lusts, all bright and intersecting once he got the mustard gas out of his system, once he had done his patria duty, like speaking of mustard gas old worn out John Singer Sargent of the three name WASPs forgetting Boston Brahmin society ladies in decollage, forgetting ancient world religious murals hanging atop Boston museum and spewing trench warfare and the blind leading the blind out of no man’s land, out of the devil’s claws, like Umberto Boccioni, all swirls, curves, dashes, and dangling guns as the endless charges endlessly charge, like Gustav Klimt and his endlessly detailed gold dust opulent Asiatic dreams filled with lovely matrons and high symbolism and blessed Eve women to fill the night, Adam’s night after they fled the garden, like Joan Miro and his infernal boxes, circles, spats, eyes, dibs, dabs, vaginas, and blots forever suspended in deep space for a candid world to fret through, fret through a long career, and like poor maddened rising like a phoenix in the Spartacist uprising George Grosz puncturing the nasty bourgeoisie, the big bourgeoisie the ones with the real dough and their overfed dreams stuffed with sausage, and from the bloated military and their fat-assed generals stuff with howitzers and rocket shells, like Picasso, yeah, Picasso taking the shape out of recognized human existence and reconfiguring the forms, the mesh of form to fit the new hard order, like, Braque, if only because if you put the yolk on Picasso you have to tie him to the tether too.          

And do not forget when the war drums intensified, and the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they, other creative souls made of ordinary human clay as it turned out sculptors, writers, serious and not, musicians went to the trenches to die deathless deaths in their thousands for, well, for humankind, of course, their always fate ….           
I Hear Mother Africa Calling-With Odetta In Mind




They say that the blues, you know, the quintessential black musical contribution to the American songbook along with first cousin jazz that breaks you out of your depression about whatever ails you or the world, was formed down in the Mississippi muds, down in some sweat-drenched bayou, down in some woody hollow all near Mister’s plantation, mill, or store. Well they might be right in a way about how it all started in America as a coded response to Mister’s, Master’s, Captain’s wicked perverse ways back in slavery times, later back in Mister James Crow times (now too but in a different code, but the same old Mister do this and not that, do that but not this just like when old James ran the code). I do believe however they are off by several maybe more generations and off by a few thousand miles from its origins in hell-bent Africa, hell-bent when Mister’s forbears took what he thought was the measure of some poor grimy “natives” and shipped them in death slave boats and brought them to the Mississippi muds, bayous and hollows (those who survived the horrendous middle passage without being swallowed up by the unfriendly. Took peoples, proud Nubians who had created very sharp civilizations when Mister’s forbears were wondering what the hell a spoon was for when placed in their dirty clenched fingers, still wondered later how the heck to use the damn thing, and why and uprooted them whole.          

Uprooted you hear but somehow that beat, that tah, tat, tah, tah, tat, tah played on some stretched string tightened against some cabin post by young black boys kept Africa home alive. Kept it alive while women, mothers, grandmothers and once in a while despite the hard conditions some great-grandmother who nursed and taught the little ones the old home beat, made them keep the thing alive. Kept alive too Mister’s forced on them religion strange as it was, kept the low branch spirituals that mixed with blues alive in plain wood churches but kept it alive. So a few generations back black men took all that sweat, anger, angst, humiliation, and among themselves “spoke” blues on juke joint no electricity Saturday nights and sang high collar blues come Sunday morning plain wood church time.  Son House, Charley Patton, Skip James, Sleepy John Estes, Mississippi John Hurt and a lot of guys who went to their graves undiscovered in the sweat sultry Delta night carried on, and some sisters too, some younger sisters who heard the beat and heard the high collar Sunday spirituals. Some sisters like Odetta, big-voiced, who made lots of funny duck searching for roots white college students mainly marvel that they had heard some ancient Nubian Queen, some deep-voiced Mother Africa calling them back to the cradle of civilization.           


Report: Boston-Park Street Station Weekly Vigil-May 30th-Five Years In Jail Is Enough, More Than Enough- President Obama Pardon Chelsea Manning Now!



Chelsea Manning’s Five Years Of Confinement

A spirited rally on behalf of freedom for the heroic Wikileaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning was held in Boston at the historic protest spot, Park Street Station on the Common, on May 30th to note the fifth anniversary of her incarceration by the United States government (three plus years pre-trial and almost two on the conviction). Member of Veterans for Peace and other organizations stood in solidarity with efforts to win freedom for Private Manning via the Amnesty International/Chelsea Manning Support Network on-line petition campaign to pressure President Obama to pardon her.       



Taken into Army MP custody on May 27, 2010 and later held for months under torturous conditions at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia Chelsea Manning was tried and sentenced in a military court-martial at Fort Meade in Maryland to 35 years in August 2013 for releasing many military documents through Wikileaks about U.S. crimes in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan among other revelations. If this sentence stands she will be out in 2045 (earlier for good time, etc.) We cannot let this happen. We will not leave our sister behind.  

It Don't Mean A Thing If You Ain't Got That Swing-The Women Of World War II Jazz In America-

Band Of Their Own

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Doris Funderburk directs The Darlinettes.i
Doris Funderburk directs The Darlinettes. Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro hide caption
itoggle caption Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Doris Funderburk directs The Darlinettes.
Doris Funderburk directs The Darlinettes.
Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
In the 1940s, swing was king, and with World War II raging, many of the best male musicians in the States were sent off to combat. That left the door open for female jazz musicians to take the stage. By then there were already several well-known female jazz bands, including Ina Ray Hutton and her Melodears and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
The Darlinettes were a lesser-known band formed in central North Carolina whose path to the bandstand was not an easy one.
Turning 90 this month, Doris Funderburk Morgan's still got it when it comes to the keys.i
Turning 90 this month, Doris Funderburk Morgan's still got it when it comes to the keys. Courtesy of David Ford hide caption
itoggle caption Courtesy of David Ford
Turning 90 this month, Doris Funderburk Morgan's still got it when it comes to the keys.
Turning 90 this month, Doris Funderburk Morgan's still got it when it comes to the keys.
Courtesy of David Ford
Doris Funderburk Morgan lives in a quiet suburban neighborhood in Monroe, N.C., just about 40 minutes outside of Charlotte, and not far from where she grew up.
"I had played jazz all of my life," says Morgan. "Fats Waller was one of my favorites. Art Tatum was another one, and Duke Ellington's band."
Her shiny black Yamaha baby grand sits by a sunlit window in the living room. I'm wondering to myself if the 89-year-old still plays when Morgan sits down quietly at the keyboard and answers my question.
In 1942, she enrolled as a piano and voice major in Greensboro at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina. But the idea of playing jazz was out of the question.
"I remember in a practice hall one time I was determined I was going to play 'Honeysuckle Rose' just like Hoagy Carmichael did," Morgan says. "And he had these big hands and could play these big chords, and here I am, 16 years old with the little hands, but I tried and I tried and I banged away for hours, and all of a sudden the door flew open, and this red-faced professor of organ says, 'What do you think you are doing?!'"
That kind of pushback against white women playing jazz was commonplace back then. Morgan says she never thought about the fact that most of the musicians she admired were African-American. "I simply was so carried away with their ability, their technique, and what they had been through to get where they are," she says.
She wasn't alone. The same year Morgan arrived in Greensboro, a 20-year-old transfer student from the Eastman School of Music decided to put together a band. Trumpeter Cherry Folger named the group the Darlinettes. All of the musicians in the band had to deal with old perceptions of jazz, gender and race — particularly in the South, says Sherrie Tucker, author of Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s.
"For white women to play music that was associated with African-Americans gets at the very taboos on which the black/white color line is based, and it's very threatening," Tucker says. "When you look at Greensboro [in the] 1940s, Woman's College — all white women — that is not the image that that college wants to foster."
So, two nights a week, the Darlinettes met in secret and rehearsed in a cramped basement practice room. Drummer Jo Singletary Barbre recalls the Woman's College administration never supported the musicians.
"The big drums and the cymbals were left in the music building downstairs," Barbre says. "I carried those heavy — I don't know how I did it — but I would carry the big drum when we took a bus to go out at places. Five feet two and struggling, and my dormitory was a very long way. It was on one end of the campus and the music building was on the very last end of it."
The band's first performance was for a small, informal campus dance, and according to the school paper, "The Darlinettes could put out some hot jive and rugged boogie-woogie."
The Darlinettes performed off-campus, too, at Elks Clubs and USO dances. They arranged their own bus transportation, and on a good gig they might make $120. Take out $50 or more for bus rental, gas and food and each musician received a couple of bucks. The rest went toward purchasing new charts for the band.
"To a swell gal with best wishes" — Jo Singletary Barbre holds a snare drum signed by her fellow Darlinettes.i
"To a swell gal with best wishes" — Jo Singletary Barbre holds a snare drum signed by her fellow Darlinettes. Courtesy of David Ford hide caption
itoggle caption Courtesy of David Ford
"To a swell gal with best wishes" — Jo Singletary Barbre holds a snare drum signed by her fellow Darlinettes.
"To a swell gal with best wishes" — Jo Singletary Barbre holds a snare drum signed by her fellow Darlinettes.
Courtesy of David Ford
The Darlinettes broke up in 1953. Ten years later, Woman's College began accepting male students and became the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The school's jazz studies program director, Steve Haines, says The Darlinettes did a lot more than just entertain audiences.
"For a long time jazz music was sort of considered the red-headed stepchild in music academia," Haines says, "and really now we're finally starting to see more women playing jazz, and the Darlinettes certainly helped pave the way for that. Because of the Darlinettes, we have an artist in residency program now that's dedicated to women coming and doing clinics at our school."
When asked about what she remembers most from her four years at Woman's College, Morgan closes her eyes and thinks about it for a moment.
"The arranging and everything that I studied — I loved it," Morgan says. "And I felt like that was preparing me for something, but at the same time, when I look back now, this experience with these girls in this band and our trips and our funny adventures, that's the thing that means the most to me right now."
Morgan went on to perform at the old Charlotte Coliseum. For 46 years she played organ to pump up crowds during professional ice hockey and college basketball games. She still gets together with her old bandmate Jo Barbre to reminisce about what they both say were some of the best times of their lives. 
On The 103rd Anniversary Of The Great IWW-led Lawrence Textile Strike Of 1912-Reflections In A Wobblie Wind


From The Pen Of Sam Lowell


One night Bart Webber, the now retired master print shop operator in Carver who made his mark in the business by early on in the 1960s counter-cultural explosion hiring a silkscreen artist to take advantage of craze for emblazoned posters and tee-shirts, and Frank Jackman who provided Bart with plenty of such business after taking his first trip west with the late Peter Paul Markin from up the road in North Adamsville and telling Bart of the craze for such materials out in Golden Gate San Francisco when he came back were cutting up old touches at Jack Higgin’s Sunnyvale Grille in Plymouth. Since Bart and Frank had reconnected several years before via the “magic” of the Internet when they were both seeking information about an upcoming class reunion they periodically, sometimes just the two of them, sometimes with Frankie Riley, Jimmy Jenkins, or Johnny Callahan, would gather together and discuss old times, or if in a philosophical or political mood attempt to figure out what all that meant.

Back in the 1960s, the earlier part of that decade at least neither Bart nor Frank were all that political, were not ready to slay the dragon, and had both gravitated to the musical, sexual and dope end of what was going on at the time. It was only later in the decade after one of their hang around boys from high school, quiet Billy Badger, was killed during the Vietnam War in some jungle outpost whose name they still could not pronounce correctly that they began to go to the anti-war marches and take part in various acts of civil disobedience by sitting in at draft boards, including the hometown Carver one, blocking government buildings and stopping traffic to make political points, stuff like that. They had both been arrested and held for several days in a football stadium (then RFK Stadium) during the great if doomed May Day action in Washington, D.C. in 1971 when they tried, futilely tried, along with thousands of others to shut down the government, a government which had no intention of ending the war. That dramatic action was something of a last hurrah for the pair as they both agreed afterward that something more than a symbolic street action where they were easily defeated by the massed arms of the state was necessary to change the way the business of government was done in this country.

During this short few year activist period though they had also read a lot, been caught up in left-wing reader circles, had read significant labor and left-wing history including plenty of Marxist-tinged material that was something of the flavor of the month at one point once all the student-centered actions proved to come up empty and the pair had picked their villains and heroes accordingly. And although they both forsook political activism as the seventies brought quiet on the left-wing political fronts and they went back to Carver “normal”, Bart to amp up his commercial printing operation once the silk screen craze died down in order to provide for his growing family and Frank to editorial work with a small commercial publishing house, they separately had kept up an interest on what went right and wrong back then as the years went by. So it would not be out of character at one of their gatherings for anybody to comment on almost anything political whether they were going to do anything about the matter or not.

This one night in particular Bart had gotten on his “high horse” about the odd-ball commemoration craze that had kind of snuck up on everybody with the advent of 24/7/365 media coverage of events and the need to “fill in” the time on slow news days or periods with hype, bells and whistles and the appropriate “talking heads” to explain what it meant to a candid world, or better an indifferent world. What Bart had meant by this reference was that unlike in the old days when there was a certain order to anniversary dates like five, ten, twenty-five, fifty and so on observances now there were odd-ball ones like the thirtieth this or fortieth that. The reason that Bart had brought that subject up that particular night was that he had recently seen and heard a jumble of coverage about the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon [now Ho Chi Minh City] and the thirty-fifth anniversary of the release of Dave Sargent’s masterful song, Don’t Rock The Boat. Frank, in response, challenged Bart on this point although he acknowledged that the craze existed, was something of a media and social networking contrived firestorm, and that far too many events were getting odd-ball year recognition. Frank, remembering as he had to in his later jobs on the editorial staffs of publishing houses, the Verve Left Publishing Co in particular, which inclined to publish left-wing book and academic studies and to republish classics of major works on their sometimes odd-ball years, that certain events fell outside of the normal anniversary cycles they had known from childhood. To make his point Frank mentioned that the recent 144th anniversary of the establishment of the Paris Commune in 1871, the first working-class in power government, if short-lived, in history, the upcoming 98th anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917, although since 1991 a major world working-class defeat with the demise of the Soviet Union and the 103rd anniversary of the great IWW-led (Industrial Workers of the World, Wobblies) “Bread and Roses” strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912 one of the great strikes of the pre-World War One world all fit into his exceptional category.                               

Now you have to know the long-time one-upsmanship characteristic that had been a part of the relationship between Frank and Bart since early high school which the years apart had not diminished to know that once Frank created the exceptions Bart would challenge him on such assertions. [And not just that pair, the whole hang-around Jimmy Jack’s Diner on Main Street gang, Frankie Riley in particular who had made it an art-form, on lonely girl-less, car-less, dough-less weekend nights, and almost any night in summer almost made a “religion” of one-upping even if a guy said a color was brown and another guy would “correct” him and say beige.]  Bart had no quarrel with the commemoration of the Paris Commune which in his funny now very middle-class and prosperous way said could be celebrated yearly since the leadership of that government such as it was didn’t exclude anybody but known counter-revolutionaries, spies, and thieves from participation and he had been to Paris and had taken part in the annual commemoration in the late 1970s. Bart also said he could see why there would have been an annual commemoration of the Russian Revolution while the Soviet Union existed even if he personally was still in thrall to the red scare Cold War anti-Stalinist ethos of his, his family’s, his town’s and his country’s attitudes toward that event but he would be damned why anybody would do so once the whole Potemkin Village edifice fell apart at the first serious wind in 1991. [Frank less in thrall to that Cold War ethos did an end around on Bart and reminded him that in 1972 just as they were getting wary of the political they had both attended, both had wanted to attend the fifty-fifth anniversary commemoration of the revolution put on by the Soviet-American Friendship Association which in turn brought Bart back to the point that at least there had been an actual dysfunctional society to pay homage to.] What really befuddled Bart though was about the Lawrence strike of 1912 which while important in Wobblie history and left-wing trade union history didn’t seem to merit special odd-ball anniversary status any more than the great general strikes in 1934 in Toledo, Minneapolis and San Francisco which had a couple of years before been correctly honored on their seventy-fifth anniversaries.

Needless to say despite a few hours back and forth that night, despite a few too many high-shelf whiskies consumed too quickly as they got a little hot under their respective collars Frank later when he thought about what Bart had said decided to write a little something to argue for the great strike’s inclusion in the exception category. Here is what he had to say: 


“Every kid who has had wanderlust, even just a starry little, little bit on his or her way to the big bad world had said “bread and roses” under his or her breathe (and not just shop-worn shop girls drawing insufficient pay to buy bread let alone roses while waiting for some immigrant young man from their respective immigrant communities to sweep them off their feet and move them into married bliss in some cozy triple-decker close to the mighty Merrimac and from there who knew where in gilded golden age America). Meaning every half-starved (brought up on baloney sandwiches, grey clumpy oatmeal, and flatulent baked beans and franks), ill-clothed (older brother hand-me-down, too big, too long, too last year or the year before fashion, worse, Mother-selected at the local Bargain Center, home to all the train wreaks of 1950s fashions), hard-scrabble kid (hustling dough here and there collecting bottles, selling newspapers trying to out-hustle the crippled “newsie” down the block, a go at the Mayfair swells caddying at the country club, pearl-diving [washing dishes], and if worse came to worse, even later on the midnight creep, hit Ma’s  pocketbook for change), memory Carver kids too, reduced to life in walking paces (no automobile, no father automobile in trade in every three years prosperous America), footsore (those raggedy-assed Thom McAn’s bought for Easter time well-worn by summer’s end after walking what seemed like half the continent), time-lost sore (self-explanatory), endless bus waiting sore (walking half that half the continent rather than hoping against hope for that privately run solo Eastern Mass to come with its surly driver), and not the speed, the “boss” hi-blown ’57 gilded cherry red Chevy speed of the 20th century go-go (and, hell, not even close in the 21st century speedo Audi super go-go) itching, itching like crazy, like feverish night sweats crazy, to bust out of the small, no, tiny, four-square wall “the project” existence and have a room, a big room, of his or her own (shared dream with that shop-worn shop girl, and that crippled newsie too).

Meaning also every day-dream kid doodling his or her small-sized dream away looking out at forlorn white foam-flecked, grey-granite ocean expanses (the ocean trains catering to Mayfair swells and not to pensive walk tow-headed boys), crashing, crashing if that is the right word to tepid waiting shores),flat brown-yellow, hell, beyond brown-yellow to hate all such earthen colors to some evil muck prairie home expanses (and desires not to stay put in the center of nowhere), up ice cold, ice blue, beyond blue rocky mountain high expanses and stuck(winter stuck, light jacket against snow-bound white howls). Just plain, ordinary, vanilla stuck in the 1950s (or name your very own generational signifier, hell, go back to that turn of the century, 20th century and you will still not be far off, double hell go forward to the 21st century and if you believe the “talking heads you most certainly will not be far off) red scare, cold war, maybe we won’t be here tomorrow, one size fits all, death to be-bop non-be-bop night. Yah, just plain, ordinary, vanilla stuck. What other way is there to say it?

And every kid who dreamed the dream of the great jail break-out of dark, dank, deathic bourgeois family around the square, very square, table life and unnamed, maybe un-namable, teen hormonal craziness itching, just itching that’s all. Waiting, waiting infinity waiting, kid infinity waiting, for the echo rebound be-bop middle of the night sound of mad monk rock walking daddies from far away radio planets, and an occasional momma too, to ease the pain, to show the way, hell, to dance the way away. Down the road to break out of the large four-square wall suburban existence, complete with Spot dog, and have some breathe, some asphalt highway not traveled, some Jersey turnpike of the mind not traveled, of his or her own.

Meaning also, just in case it was not mentioned before, every day-dream kid, small roomed or large, doodling, silly doodling to tell the truth, his or her dream away looking out at fetid seashores next to ocean expanses, corn-fed fields next to prairie home expanses, blasted human-handed rocks up rocky mountain high expanses and stuck. Just plain, ordinary, vanilla stuck in the 1950s (oh, yah, just name your generational signifier, okay) red scare, cold war, maybe we won’t be here tomorrow, one size fits all, death to be-bop non-be-bop night. Yah, just plain, ordinary, vanilla stuck. What other way is there to say it?

And every guy or gal who has been down on their luck a little. Like maybe he or she just couldn’t jump out of that “the projects” rut, couldn’t jump that hoop when somebody just a little higher up in the food chain laughed at those ill-fitted clothes, those stripped cuffed pants one size too large when black chinos, uncuffed, were called for. Or when stuffed bologna sandwiches, no mustard, had to serve to still some hunger, some ever present hunger. Or just got caught holding some wrong thing, some non-descript bauble really, or just had to sell their thing for their daily bread and got tired, no, weary, weary-tired weary, of looking at those next to ocean, prairie, rocky mountain expanses. Or, maybe, came across some wrong gee, some bad-ass drifter, grifter or midnight sifter and had to flee. Yah, crap like that happens, happens all the time in “the projects” time. And split, split in two, maybe more, split west I hope.

And every guy or gal who has slept, newspaper, crushed hat, or folded hands for a pillow, all worldly possessions in some ground found Safeway shopping bag along some torrent running river, under some hide-away bridge, off some arroyo spill, hell, anywhere not noticed and safe, minute safe, from prying, greedy evil hands. Worst, the law. Or, half-dazed smelling of public toilet soap and urinals, half-dozing on some hard shell plastic seat avoiding maddened human this way and that traffic noises and law prodding keep movings and you can’t stay heres in some wayward Winnemucca, Roseburg, Gilroy, Paseo, El Paso, Neola, the names are legion, Greyhound, Continental, Trailways bus station. Or sitting by campfires, chicken scratch firewood, flame-flecked, shadow canyon boomer, eating slop stews, olio really, in some track-side hobo jungle waiting, day and day waiting, bindle ready, for some Southern Pacific or Denver and Rio Grande bull-free freight train smoke to move on.

Hell, everybody, not just lonely hard- luck project boys, wrong, dead wrong girls, wronged, badly wronged, girls, wise guy guys who got caught short, wrong gees on the run, right gees on the run from some shadow past, drifters, grifters and midnight sifters, society boys on a spree, debutantes out for a thrill, and just plain ordinary vanilla day-dreamers who just wanted to be free from the chains of the nine to five white picket fence work forty years and get your gold watch (if that) retirement capitalist system was (and, maybe, secretly is) an old Wobblie at heart. Yah, just like one-eyed Big Bill (Haywood who loved his Nevada Jane according to the lore), Jim Cannon, the Rebel Girl (Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, later that stalwart Stalinist that every red fearing young Carver boy crawled away from), Joe Hill (executed out in the Utahs, Frank Little (ditto private posse Montana), Vincent Saint John (the “Saint” who held it all together in those tough times around World War I when it counted, and me. Yah, all the one big union boys and girls from way back, just to name a few.

Except when you need to take on the big issues, the life and death struggle to keep our unions against the capitalist onslaught to reduce us to chattel, the anti-war wars giving the self-same imperialists not one penny nor one person for their infernal wars as they deface the world, the class wars where they take no prisoners, none, then you need something more. Something more that childish child’s dreams, hobo camp freedom fireside smoke, or Rio Grande train white flume smoke. That is when day dreaming gets you cut up. That is when you need to stay in one place and fight. That is when you need more than what our beloved old free-wheeling wobblie dream could provide. And that is a fact, a hard fact, sisters and brothers.

If that coming up short against the monster back in the day doesn’t deserve full yearly recognition from one Bartlett Webber then nothing more I can say to give him the spirit of the commemoration will do it.”
The Latest From The "Jobs With Justice Blog"-The Seemingly One-Sided Struggle Continues-It's High Time To Push Back-Push Back Hard-30 For 40 Is The Slogan Of The Day.

Click below to link to the Jobs With Justice Blog for the latest national and international labor news, and of the efforts to counteract the massively one-sided class struggle against the international working class movement.
From the American Left History blog-Wednesday, June 17, 2009
With Unemployment Too High, Way Too High - The Call "30 For 40"- Now More Than Ever- The Transitional Socialist Program

Click Below To Link To The Full Transitional Program Of The Fourth International Adopted In 1938 As A Fighting Program In The Struggle For Socialism In That Era. Many Of The Points, Including The Headline Point Of 30 Hours Work For 40 Hours Pay To Spread The Work Around Among All Workers, Is As Valid Today As Then.

From The Transitional Program Of The Fourth International In 1938- Sliding Scale of Wages and Sliding Scale of Hours

Under the conditions of disintegrating capitalism, the masses continue to live the meagerized life of the oppressed, threatened now more than at any other time with the danger of being cast into the pit of pauperism. They must defend their mouthful of bread, if they cannot increase or better it. There is neither the need nor the opportunity to enumerate here those separate, partial demands which time and again arise on the basis of concrete circumstances – national, local, trade union. But two basic economic afflictions, in which is summarized the increasing absurdity of the capitalist system, that is, unemployment and high prices, demand generalized slogans and methods of struggle.

The Fourth International declares uncompromising war on the politics of the capitalists which, to a considerable degree, like the politics of their agents, the reformists, aims to place the whole burden of militarism, the crisis, the disorganization of the monetary system and all other scourges stemming from capitalism’s death agony upon the backs of the toilers. The Fourth International demands employment and decent living conditions for all.

Neither monetary inflation nor stabilization can serve as slogans for the proletariat because these are but two ends of the same stick. Against a bounding rise in prices, which with the approach of war will assume an ever more unbridled character, one can fight only under the slogan of a sliding scale of wages. This means that collective agreements should assure an automatic rise in wages in relation to the increase in price of consumer goods.

Under the menace of its own disintegration, the proletariat cannot permit the transformation of an increasing section of the workers into chronically unemployed paupers, living off the slops of a crumbling society. The right to employment is the only serious right left to the worker in a society based upon exploitation. This right today is left to the worker in a society based upon exploitation. This right today is being shorn from him at every step. Against unemployment,“structural” as well as “conjunctural,” the time is ripe to advance along with the slogan of public works, the slogan of a sliding scale of working hours. Trade unions and other mass organizations should bind the workers and the unemployed together in the solidarity of mutual responsibility. On this basis all the work on hand would then be divided among all existing workers in accordance with how the extent of the working week is defined. The average wage of every worker remains the same as it was under the old working week. Wages, under a strictly guaranteed minimum, would follow the movement of prices. It is impossible to accept any other program for the present catastrophic period.

Property owners and their lawyers will prove the “unrealizability” of these demands. Smaller, especially ruined capitalists, in addition will refer to their account ledgers. The workers categorically denounce such conclusions and references. The question is not one of a “normal” collision between opposing material interests. The question is one of guarding the proletariat from decay, demoralization and ruin. The question is one of life or death of the only creative and progressive class, and by that token of the future of mankind. If capitalism is incapable of satisfying the demands inevitably arising from the calamities generated by itself, then let it perish. “Realizability” or “unrealizability” is in the given instance a question of the relationship of forces, which can be decided only by the struggle. By means of this struggle, no matter what immediate practical successes may be, the workers will best come to understand the necessity of liquidating capitalist slavery.

Victory To The Fast-Food Workers......Fight For $15 Is Just A Beginning-All Labor Must Support Our Sisters And Brothers- Free All The Striking Fast Food Protesters!

Comments of a supporter of the “Fight for $15” action in Downtown Boston on September 4, 2014 as part of a national struggle for economic justice and dignity for the our hard working sisters and brothers:

No question in this wicked old world that those at the bottom are “the forgotten ones.” Here we are talking about working people, people working and working hard for eight, nine, ten dollars an hour. Maybe working two jobs to make ends meet since a lot of times these McJobs, these Wal-Marts jobs do not come with forty hours of work attached but whatever some cost-cutting manager deems right. And lately taking advantage of cover from Obamacare keeping the hours below the threshold necessary to kick in health insurance and other benefits. Yes, the forgotten people.

But let’s do the math here figuring on forty hours and figuring on say ten dollars an hour. That‘s four hundred a week times fifty weeks (okay so I am rounding off for estimate purposes here too since most of these jobs do not have vacation time figured in).That’s twenty thousand a year. Okay so just figure any kind of descent apartment in the Boston area where I am writing this-say one thousand a month. That’s twelve thousand a year. So the other eight thousand is for everything else. No way can that be done. And if you had listened to the young and not so young fast-food workers, the working mothers, the working older brothers taking care of younger siblings, workers trying to go to school to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty you would understand the truth of that statement. And the stories went on and on along that line all during the action. 

Confession: it has been a very long time since I have had to scrimp and scrim to make ends meet, to get the rent in, to keep those damn bill-collectors away from my door, to beg the utility companies to not shut off those necessary services. But I have been there, no question. And I did not like it then and I do not like the idea of it now.  I am here to say even the “Fight for $15” is not enough, but it is a start. And I whole-heartedly support the struggle of my sisters and brothers for a little economic justice in this wicked old world. And any reader who might read this-would you work for slave wages? I think not. So show your solidarity and get out and support the fast-food and Wal-Mart workers in their just struggles. 

Organize Wal-Mart! Organize the fast food workers! Union! Union! 
**********A Five-Point Program As Talking Points

*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement going back to the 1930s Great Depression the last time that unemployment, under-employment, and those who have just plain quit looking for work was this high in the American labor force, although it is admittedly down from the Great Recession highs. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay is a formula to spread the available work around. This is no mere propaganda point but shows the way forward toward a more equitable distribution of available work.

The basic scheme, as was the case with the early days of the longshoremen’s and maritime unions, is that the work would be divided up through local representative workers’ councils that would act, in one of its capacities, as a giant hiring hall where the jobs would be parceled out. This would be a simpler task now than when it was when first proposed in the 1930s with the vast increase in modern technology that could fairly accurately, via computers, target jobs that need filling and equitably divide up current work.

Without the key capitalist necessity of keeping up the rate of profit the social surplus created by that work could be used to redistribute the available work at the same agreed upon rate rather than go into the capitalists’ pockets. The only catch, a big catch one must admit, is that no capitalist, and no capitalist system, is going to do any such thing as to implement “30 for 40” –with the no reduction in pay proviso, although many low –end employers are even now under the “cover” of the flawed Obamacare reducing hours WITH loss of pay-so that to establish this work system as a norm it will, in the end, be necessary to fight for and win a workers government to implement this demand.

Organize the unorganized is a demand that cries out for solution today now that the organized sectors of the labor movement, both public and private, in America are at historic lows, just over ten percent of the workforce. Part of the task is to reorganize some of the old industries like the automobile industry, now mainly unorganized as new plants come on line and others are abandoned, which used to provide a massive amount of decent jobs with decent benefits but which now have fallen to globalization and the “race to the bottom” bad times. The other sector that desperately need to be organized is to ratchet up the efforts to organize the service industries, hospitals, hotels, hi-tech, restaurants and the like, that have become a dominant aspect of the American economy. Support the recent militant efforts, including the old tactic of civil disobedience, by service unions and groups of fast-food workers to increase the minimum socially acceptable wage in their Fight For 15.

Organize the South-this low wage area, this consciously low-wage area, where many industries land before heading off-shore to even lower wage places cries out for organizing, especially among black and Hispanic workers who form the bulk of this industrial workforce. A corollary to organizing the South is obviously to organize internationally to keep the “race to the bottom” from continually occurring short of being resolved in favor of an international commonwealth of workers’ governments. Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy.

Organize Wal-Mart- millions of workers, thousands of company-owned trucks, hundreds of distribution centers. A victory here would be the springboard to a revitalized organized labor movement just as auto and steel lead the industrial union movements of the 1930s. The key here is to organize the truckers and distribution workers the place where the whole thing comes together. We have seen mostly unsuccessful organizing of retail stores. To give an idea of how hard this task might be though someone once argued that it would be easier to organize a workers’ revolution that organize this giant. Well, that’s a thought.

Defend the right of public and private workers to unionize. Simple-No more defeats like in Wisconsin in 2011, no more attacks on collective bargaining the hallmark of a union contract. No reliance on labor boards, arbitration, courts or bourgeois recall elections either. Unions must keep their independent from government interference. Period.

* Defend the independence of the working classes! No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. In 2008 and 2012 labor, organized labor, spent over 450 million dollars respectively trying to elect Barack Obama and other Democrats (mainly). The “no show, no go” results speak for themselves as the gap between the rich and poor has risen even more in this period. For those bogus efforts the labor skates should have been sent packing long ago. The idea in those elections was that the Democrats (mainly) were “friends of labor.” The past period of cuts-backs, cut-in-the-back give backs should put paid to that notion. Although anyone who is politically savvy at all knows that is not true, not true for the labor skates at the top of the movement.

The hard reality is that the labor skates, not used to any form of class struggle or any kind of struggle, know no other way than class-collaboration, arbitration, courts, and every other way to avoid the appearance of strife, strife in defense of the bosses’ profits. The most egregious recent example that I can recall- the return of the Verizon workers to work after two weeks in the summer of 2011 when they had the company on the run and the subsequent announcement by the company of record profits. That sellout strategy may have worked for the bureaucrats, or rather their “fathers” for a time back in the 1950s “golden age” of labor, but now we are in a very hard and open class war. The rank and file must demand an end to using their precious dues payments for bourgeois candidates all of whom have turned out to be sworn enemies of labor from Obama on down.

This does not mean not using union dues for political purposes though. On the contrary we need to use them now more than ever in the class battles ahead. Spent the dough on organizing the unorganized, organizing the South, organizing Wal-Mart, and other pro-labor causes. Think, for example, of the dough spent on the successful November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio. That type of activity is where labor’s money and other resources should go. And not on recall elections against individual reactionaries, like in Wisconsin, as substitutes for class struggle (and which was overwhelmingly unsuccessful to boot-while the number of unionized public workers has dwindled to a precious few).  

*End the endless wars!- As the so-called draw-down of American and Allied troops in Iraq reached its final stages back in 2011, the draw- down of non-mercenary forces anyway, I argued that we must recognize that we anti-warriors had failed, and failed rather spectacularly, to affect that withdrawal after a promising start to our opposition in late 2002 and early 2003 (and a little in 2006).As the endless American-led wars (even if behind the scenes, as in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and other proxy wars) continue now with a new stage against ISIS (Islamic State) in Iraq we had better straighten out our anti-war, anti-imperialist front quickly if we are to have any effect on the U.S. troop escalation we know is coming before that fight is over. Not Another War In Iraq! No Intervention In Syria! Stop The Arms Shipments To The Middle East! Stop The Bombing Campaign! Defend The Palestinian People-End The Blockade of Gaza. And as always since 2001 Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan!  

U.S. Hands Off Iran! Hands Off Syria!- American (and world) imperialists have periodically ratcheted up their propaganda war (right now) and increased economic sanctions that are a prelude to war well before the dust has settled on the now unsettled situation in Iraq and well before they have even sniffed at an Afghan withdrawal of any import. We will hold our noses, as we did with the Saddam leadership in Iraq and on other occasions, and call for the defense of Iran against the American imperial monster. A victory for the Americans (and their junior partner on this issue, Israel) in Iran is not in the interests of the international working class. Especially here in the “belly of the beast” we are duty-bound to call not just for non-intervention but for defense of Iran. We will, believe me we will, deal with the mullahs, the Revolutionary Guards, and the Islamic fundamentalist in Iran in our own way in our own time.

U.S. Hands Off The World! And Keep Them Off!- With the number of “hot spots” that the American imperialists, or one or another of their junior allies, have their hands on in this wicked old world this generic slogan would seem to fill the bill.

Down With The War Budget! Not One Penny, Not One Person For The Wars! Honor World War I German Social-Democratic Party MP, Karl Liebknecht, who did just that in 1915 in the heat of war and paid the price unlike other party leaders who were pledged to stop the war budgets by going to prison. The only play for an honest representative of the working class under those conditions. The litmus test for every political candidate must be first opposition to the war budgets (let’s see, right now no new funding in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran preparations, China preparations, etc. you get my drift). Then that big leap. The whole damn imperialist military budget. Again, no one said it would be simple. Revolution may be easier that depriving the imperialists of their military money. Well….okay.

*Fight for a social agenda for working people! Free Quality Healthcare For All! This would be a no-brainer in any rationally based society. The health and welfare of any society’s citizenry is the simple glue that holds that society together. It is no accident that one of the prime concerns of workers states like Cuba, whatever their other political problems, has been to place health care and education front and center and to provide to the best of their capacity for free, quality healthcare and education for all. Even the hide-bound social-democratic-run capitalist governments of Europe have, until recently anyway, placed the “welfare state” protections central to their programs. Be clear Obamacare is not our program and has been shown to be totally inadequate and wasteful however we will defend that program against those who wish to dismantle it and leave millions once again uninsured and denied basic health benefits.  

Free, quality higher education for all! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! One Hundred, Two Hundred, Many Harvards!

This would again be a no-brainer in any rationally based society. The struggle to increase the educational level of a society’s citizenry is another part of the simple glue that holds that society together. Today higher education is being placed out of reach for many working-class and minority families. Hell, it is getting tough for the middle-class as well.

Moreover the whole higher educational system is increasing skewed toward those who have better formal preparation and family lives leaving many deserving students from broken homes and minority homes in the wilderness. Take the resources of the private institutions and spread them around, throw in hundreds of billions from the government (take from the military budget and the bank bail-out money if you want to find the money quickly to do the job right), get rid of the top heavy and useless college administration apparatuses, mix it up, and let students, teachers, and campus workers run the thing through councils on a democratic basis.

Forgive student debt! The latest reports indicate that college student debt is something like a trillion dollars, give or take a few billion but who is counting. The price of tuition and expenses has gone up dramatically while low-cost aid has not kept pace. What has happened is that the future highly educated workforce that a modern society, and certainly a socialist society, desperately needs is going to be cast in some form of indentured servitude to the banks or other lending agencies for much of their young working lives. Let the banks take a “hit” for a change!

Stop housing foreclosures and aid underwater mortgages now! Although the worst of the crunch has abated there are still plenty of problems and so this demand is still timely if not desperately timely like in the recent past. Hey, everybody, everywhere in the world not just in America should have a safe, clean roof over their heads. Hell, even a single family home that is part of the “American dream,” if that is what they want. We didn’t make the housing crisis in America (or elsewhere, like in Ireland, where the bubble has also burst). The banks did. Their predatory lending practices and slip-shot application processes were out of control. Let them take the “hit” here as well.

*We created the wealth, let’s take it back. Karl Marx was right way back in the 19th century on his labor theory of value, the workers do produce the social surplus appropriated by the capitalists. Capitalism tends to beat down, beat down hard in all kinds of ways the mass of society for the benefit of the few. Most importantly capitalism, a system that at one time was historically progressive in the fight against feudalism and other ancient forms of production, has turned into its opposite and now is a fetter on production. The current multiple crises spawned by this system show there is no way forward, except that unless we push them out, push them out fast, they will muddle through, again.

Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Socialism is the only serious answer to the human crisis we face economically, socially, culturally and politically. This socialist system is the only one calculated to take one of the great tragedies of life, the struggle for daily survival in a world that we did not create, and replace it with more co-operative human endeavors.

Build a workers’ party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed. None of the nice things mentioned above can be accomplished without as serious struggle for political power. We need to struggle for an independent working-class-centered political party that we can call our own and where our leaders act as “tribunes of the people” not hacks. The creation of that workers party, however, will get us nowhere unless it fights for a workers government to begin the transition to the next level of human progress on a world-wide scale.

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

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

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