Saturday, April 15, 2017

From The Massachusetts Jobs With Justice Coalition-Fight For $15 And More

From The Massachusetts Jobs With Justice Coalition-Fight For $15 And More


4/22 March for Science (Boston)-Support Scientific Research & Build The Resistance!

This is the Boston, MA rally being held in parallel to the Scientists
March on Washington DC. This page is simply an event page so you can get
time, date, and location updates. Please JOIN OUR GROUP for discussion,
calls to action, volunteering opportunities, and other ways to be
involved. 😊

We are working on permits to determine a venue. Stay tuned for more
updates on logistics.

We have also updated our mission statement in solidarity with the D.C.
organizers (now updated in the group's description, and included below).

We would like to again emphasize that the focus of this event is a
non-partisan support for science. While we understand that politics may
be a motivator for involvement by some participants, the core goal of
this event will continue to be the show of support for science.

Mission Statement:
The March for Science champions publicly-funded and
publicly-communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and
prosperity. We unite as a diverse, non-partisan group to call for
science that upholds the common good, and for political leaders and
policy makers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.
This group is inclusive of all individuals and types of science!

Sat. 12 PM - 5 PM

Boston Common

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Friday, April 14, 2017

In Honor Of Russian Revolutionary Vladimir Lenin’s Birthday (April 1870-Janaury 1924)-The Struggle Continues

In Honor Of Russian Revolutionary Vladimir Lenin’s Birthday (April 1870-Janaury 1924)-The Struggle Continues 


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman 



For a number of years I have been honoring various revolutionary forbears, including the subject of this birthday tribute, the Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin architect (along with fellow revolutionary Leon Trotsky) of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 in each January under the headline-Honor The Three L’s –Lenin, Luxemburg , Liebknecht. My purpose then was (and still is) to continue the traditions established by the Communist International in the early post-World War I period in honoring revolutionary forbears. That month has special significance since every January  

Leftists honor those three leading revolutionaries who died in that month, V.I. Lenin of Russia in his sleep after a long illness in 1924, and Karl Liebknecht of Germany and Rosa Luxemburg of Poland in 1919 murdered in separate incidents after leading the defeated Spartacist uprising in Berlin.


I have made my political points about the heroic Karl Liebknecht and his parliamentary fight against the German war budget in World War I in which he eventually wound up in prison only to be released when the Kaiser abdicated (correctly went to jail when it came down to it once the government pulled the hammer down on his opposition), on some previous occasions. The key point to be taken away today, still applicable today as in America we are in the age of endless war, endless war appropriations and seemingly endless desires to racket up another war out of whole cloth every change some ill-begotten administration decides it needs to “show the colors”, one hundred years later in that still lonely and frustrating struggle to get politicians to oppose war budgets, to risk prison to choke off the flow of war materials.  


I have also made some special point in previous years about the life of Rosa Luxemburg, the “rose of the revolution.” About her always opposing the tendencies in her adopted party, the German Social-Democracy, toward reform and accommodation, her struggle to make her Polish party ready for revolutionary opportunities, her important contributions to Marxist theory and her willing to face and go to jail when she opposed the first World War.


This month, the month of his birth, it is appropriate, at a time when the young needs to find, and are in desperate need of a few good heroes, a few revolutionaries who contributed to both our theoretical understandings about the tasks of the international working class in the age of imperialism (the age, unfortunately, that we are still mired in) and to the importance of the organization question in the struggle for revolutionary power, to highlight the early struggles of Vladimir Lenin, the third L, in order to define himself politically. It is rather a truism that nobody is born a revolutionary and that was the case with Lenin as well although the hagiography surrounding his name by the Stalinists later would attempt to make one believe that was the case. But, Lenin, not unlike many of us who took part in the 1960s political upheavals and had gone pillar to post from one political perspective to another before understanding that Marxism held some promise about creating that “world turned upside down,” that search for the newer world” that animated many of us, also when through various strategies before coming to that same conclusion. One of the best ways to show this development is to look at one of his seminal works, a work which speaks volumes to today’s tepid one-sided class struggle situation in which we of the international working class are taking it on the chin:









An underlying premise of the Lenin-led Bolshevik Revolution in Russian in 1917 was that success there would be the first episode in a world-wide socialist revolution. The idea of breaking world imperialism at its weakest link at a time when the norms of that international order were in a chaos due to the breakdowns of World War I but also that no way could devastated backward Russia move on to socialism isolated from the far greater developed capitalist societies to its west. While a specific timetable was not placed on the order of the day the early Bolshevik leaders, principally Lenin and Trotsky, both assumed that those events would occur in the immediate post-World War I period, or shortly thereafter. Alas, such was not the case, although not from lack of trying on the part of an internationalist-mined section of the Bolshevik leadership (not everybody even in the throes of the revolution was gung-ho to push the world revolution, to provide the leadership and materials,  forward although during Lenin’s lifetime they kept quiet about it for the most part).

Another underlying premise that the core Bolshevik leadership worked under and that had been developed by the Leninists very early on as part of their opposition to the imperialist First World War, was the need for a new revolutionary labor international to replace the compromised and moribund Socialist International (also known as the Second International) which had turned out to be useless as an instrument for revolution or even of opposition to the European war. The Bolsheviks took that step after seizing power and established the Communist International (also known as the Comintern or Third International) in 1919. As part of the process of arming that International with a revolutionary strategy (and practice) Lenin produced this polemic to address certain confusions, some willful others out of a misreading of what actually happened in the period from about 1900 to 1917 in Russia revolutionary circle, that had arisen in the European left and attempted to instill some of the hard-learned lessons of the Russian revolutionary experience in them.

The Russian Revolution, and after it the Comintern in the early heroic days, for the most part, drew the best and most militant layers of the working-class and radical intellectuals to their defense. However, that is not the same as drawing experienced Bolsheviks to that defense. Many militants were anti-parliamentarian or anti-electoral in principle after the sorry experiences with the European social democracy during and immediately after the war. Others wanted to emulate the old heroic days of the Bolshevik underground party or create a minority, exclusive conspiratorial party. Still others wanted to abandon the reformist bureaucratically-led trade unions to their current leaderships, and so on. Lenin’s polemic, and it nothing but a flat-out polemic against all kinds of misconceptions of the Bolshevik experience, cut across these erroneous ideas like a knife. His literary style may not appeal to today’s audience (his style unlike the more florid fluid Trotsky is at best turbid although today in the age of “twitter,” short-hand language and twenty second attention spans they both would stand condemned as too wordy whatever valid points they were trying to make) but the political message still has considerable application today. At the time this polemic was written and delivered no less a figure than James P. Cannon, a founder and central leader of the American Communist Party and later founder of the American Trotskyist party, credited the pamphlet with straightening out that badly confused movement. Indeed, it seems every possible political problem Lenin argued against had some following in the American Party-in triplicate! And other parties too.  That alone makes it worth a look.

I would like to highlight one point made by Lenin that has currency for leftists today, unfortunately. At the time it was written many (most) of the communist organizations adhering to the Comintern were little more than propaganda groups (including the American Party). Lenin suggested one of the ways to break out of that isolation was a tactic of critical support to the still large and influential social- democratic organizations at election time. In his apt expression- “to support those organizations’ candidates like a rope supports a hanging man.” However, as part of my political experiences in America around election time I have run into any number of socialists and communists who have turned Lenin’s concept on its head.

How? By arguing that militants needed to “critically support” the Democratic Party (who else, right?) as an application of the Leninist criterion for critical support. No, a thousand times no. Lenin’s specific example was the reformist British Labor Party, a party at that time (and to a lesser extent today) solidly based on the trade unions- organizations of the working class and no other. The Democratic Party in America was then, is now, and will always be a capitalist party. Yes, the labor bureaucrats and ordinary workers support it, finance it, drool over it but in no way is it a labor party. That is the class difference which even sincere militants have broken their teeth on for at least the last seventy years. And that, dear reader, is another reason why it worthwhile to take a peek at this book.

Smedley Stand-out to Stop Trump’s “Death Budget” Saturday, April 15 Noon – 1:00 p.m. Harvard Square

Smedley Stand-out to Stop Trump’s “Death Budget”
Saturday, April 15  Noon – 1:00 p.m.
Harvard Square

Smedleys and Friends,

The Smedleys are planning to do a one hour stand-out tomorrow, Saturday,  to oppose the Trump regime’s military budget and especially its $54 billion increase. 

This stand-out will be just Smedleys with VFP flags flying.  We've hit our target number of a dozen commitments, but it would be great to have a real crowd.  If you can join us please let us know tonight by replying to or simply show up wearing your VFP - Smedley attire. We're meeting right in the middle of Harvard Sq., next to the magazine kiosk "Out of Town News". We'll have plenty of flags.

Hoping to see many more than a dozen of you tomorrow. We've printed up four 18 x 24 posters with the message shown on the attachment below.  Feel free to make up your own. 

The Exec. Committee

P.S.  When our stand-out ends we’re planning on marching all of about one block to the Cambridge Commons to join with a much larger Tax Day 2017 Mobilization that starts at 1:00 p.m.  We're schedule to speak during the latter part of the rally.
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A View From The Left- NEW WARS / OLD WARS – What Could Possibly Go Wrong-Join And Build The Resistance!

NEW WARS / OLD WARS – What Could Possibly Go Wrong Friday, April 14 at 7 pm Harvard Square T Station

Emergency Protest:
Stand Against MOAB, Stand for Nangarhar, Afghanistan!

Join the Anti-Islamophobia Network, HDS Students for Afghanistan, the Harvard Islamic Society, the Harvard College Pakistan Students Association, HDS Muslims, and others for...

Stand against the US's recent dropping of the "Mother of All Bombs" (MOAB), a 21,000-pound bomb (the largest and most destructive non-nuclear bomb we possess), on Nangarhar, Afghanistan.

Used for the first time ever, the MOAB is not just a target weapon, but is also administered for psychological warfare. It's a concussive blast that obliterates and for miles causes bleeding ears.
Radius damage:
* Up to 1,000 yards: Obliterates everything. 
cid:ii_j1hxzo8v0_15b6ce9dc4d012c6* Up to 1 mile: Knocks people, tents, light buildings, cars and jeeps over within 1-mile radius. 
* Up to 1.7 miles: shock wave kills people, causes severe damage to buildings, equipment, blows trucks, tanks off road. 
* Up to 2 miles: causes deafness. 
* Up to 5 miles: shakes ground, breaks windows. 
* Up to 30 miles: 10,000 foot high mushroom cloud visible.

Join us as we stand against yesterday's war crime and 16 years of drone strikes and bombings in Afghanistan, resulting in thousands of civilian deaths and this prolonged, unjustified war and occupation.

Regardless of who is responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun chemical deaths, however, Trump’s response violated both U.S. and international law.
Two days after Trump’s bombing occurred, the President sent a letter to congressional leaders informing them of his attack on Syria. The War Powers Resolution, passed in the wake of the Vietnam War, requires that the President report to Congress within 60 days of initiating the use of military force.  The resolution, however, allows the President to introduce U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities in only three situations: First, after Congress has declared war, which has not happened in this case; second, in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces,” which has not occurred; third, when there is “specific statutory authorization,” which there is not…  Regarding international law, the United Nations Charter prohibits the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” There are only two exceptions: when conducted in self-defense after an armed attack, or with the approval of the Security Council.  Syria had not attacked the United States or any other country before Trump ordered the missile strike.  More

Trump Plunges Toward World War III
At this point, the anti-Russia bandwagon has gained so much momentum that a national frenzy is boosting the odds of unfathomable catastrophe… The dangers of a direct U.S.-Russian military conflict are spiking upward. After the missile attack, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it was suspending a memorandum of understanding with the United States to prevent mid-air collisions over Syria. And Russia’s prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, issued a statement referring to “our now completely ruined relations” and declaring that the United States was “on the verge of a military clash with Russia.” These ominous developments are a longtime dream come true for ultra-hawks like Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who’ve gained leverage in an alliance with numerous congressional Democrats. The neocons and the “liberal interventionists” really have something going now, after propagating the meme that Trump is a Putin puppet.   More ACTION: A Preemptive Strike on North Korea Would Have Dire Consequences
Yet again, the Trump administration appears to be threatening a preemptive war against North Korea. The mere threat of such an attack has already ratcheted up tensions in the Korean Peninsula. Following through on the threat could lead to all out war and give the invasion of Iraq a run for its money as one of the most catastrophic foreign policy decisions in U.S. history.  When the inevitable retaliation comes, what form does it take? North Korea could fire artillery into South Korea, it could bombard U.S. military installations, or send troops streaming south across the border. Given that some of North Korea’s nuclear warheads are likely to survive any U.S. strike, the worst case scenario is frankly terrifying. If President Trump were to authorize such a reckless strike, he’d be putting millions of South Koreans and the roughly 28,500 U.S. troops stationed there in immediate danger.   More

China proposes "double suspension" to defuse Korean Peninsula crisis
China proposed "double suspension" to defuse the looming crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday.  "As a first step, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) military exercises," Wang told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress.  This will help the parties to break out of the security dilemma and return to the negotiating table, Wang said.  "We may follow the dual-track approach of denuclearizing the peninsula on the one hand and establishing a peace mechanism on the other," he added.   More

Let's stop calling North Korea 'crazy' and understand their motives
There is widespread belief in the US that North Korea is so hard to deal with because Kim is insane; John McCain, for example, recently called him “this crazy fat kid that’s running North Korea”. But there is a simpler, and more convincing explanation for Pyongyang’s behavior – and one that Trump, a firm believer in brinksmanship, should understand: it makes strategic and economic sense for North Korea to act this way.  Kim’s desire for deterrence – to not end up like Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi – helps explain the existence of its weapons program. Someone who has participated in more than a decade of Track II dialogues with the North Koreans once recounted to me how North Koreans asked them: “Would the Americans have gone in and done what they did to Gaddafi, and to Syria, if they had what we have?’   More

It’s Time for America to Cut South Korea Loose
Washington has been deeply involved in the Korean Peninsula since the end of World War II. Subsequently, the Cold War gave a zero-sum quality to international relations, with Washington’s loss being the Soviet Union’s gain. Having invested some 37,000 lives to save South Korea during the Korean War, America’s credibility was also at stake. And with the “loss” of China to communism fresh on Americans’ minds, nobody was willing to see another Asian nation go red.  But that world disappeared long ago…  The Koreas are no longer a proxy battleground between superpowers. There was a time when U.S. withdrawal from a confrontation with a Soviet ally in Asia would have, analysts believed, signaled weakness a continent away in Europe. But the Soviets are long gone and the cause for American commitment with them. An inter-Korean war would be tragic and the body count enormous, but absent American involvement the fighting would largely be confined to the peninsula. The continued presence of U.S. forces, by contrast, virtually guarantees the spread of conflict.   More

An Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report About the Nerve Agent Attack in Syria
The only undisputable facts stated in the White House report is the claim that a chemical attack using nerve agent occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria on that morning. Although the White House statement repeats this point in many places within its report, the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft. In fact, the report contains absolutely no evidence that would indicate who was the perpetrator of this atrocity…   I have worked with the intelligence community in the past, and I have grave concerns about the politicization of intelligence that seems to be occurring with more frequency in recent times – but I know that the intelligence community has highly capable analysts in it. And if those analysts were properly consulted about the claims in the White House document they would have not approved the document going forward.   More

Assad vs Regime of Warring Jihadis
The Syrian agony poses a straightforward strategic question: which is worse, Assad or the opposition? Choosing between these two brutal sides is unpalatable. But there is a powerful case to be made that the motley grouping that makes up the armed opposition affects nearly all players far more negatively than the continuation of Assad’s ugly regime.  Look at the opposition. It is made up of numerous rival and warring elements, many of whom are radical jihadis. One of the biggest is an offshoot of al Qaeda. The sad reality is that radical jihadis generally fight better than the democratic, pro-West reformers. If Assad, a secular nationalist, is overwhelmed by jihadi forces, we will most likely face a radical jihadi regime in his stead…  If we support jihadis against Assad, we will be fighting to the last Syrian…  Assad, with help from his allies, is now in the process of extending final control over the country. So who benefits from a prolonged and unresolved war? Ask the people on the ground. Many Syrians who hate Assad actually fear a jihadi victory — and anarchy — even more.   More

What could go wrong for the U.S. in Syria? War with Russia.
If the United States goes down this road, the prospects of a military confrontation with Moscow are real. A few thousand Russian military personnel are distributed across Syria’s key military bases. Moscow has also placed some of the world’s most sophisticated air defense systems in Syria, and Russian planes police Syrian skies. So an extensive U.S. campaign aimed at coercing Assad by targeting Syrian air bases and command-and-control facilities would run big risks of killing Russian troops on the ground. The same holds for a no-fly zone, which would likely require targeting Syrian and Russian air defenses and could lead to air-to-air incidents between Russian and U.S. jets. Under any of these circumstances, the prospect of spiraling conflict is enhanced by Moscow’s decision to suspend the “deconfliction” channel between the Russian and U.S. militaries.   More

55 Bipartisan Lawmakers Demand Trump Pump Brakes on Military Action in Yemen
As conflict swirls over the recent U.S. bombing in Syria, more than 50 bipartisan lawmakers have demanded President Donald Trump seek approval from Congress before expanding U.S. military action in another Middle East theater: Yemen.  The letter sent this week came in response to reportsthat the Trump administration is considering a proposal to directly engage the U.S. military in Saudi Arabia's war against the Houthis in Yemen, including a planned United Arab Emirates-led attack on the Yemeni port of Hodeida, currently held by Houthi rebels. "Such an attack could push the country into full-blown famine, where nearly half a million children in Yemen are facing starvation," said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), who led the letter campaign along with Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)…   The lawmakers, who garnered 50 additional signatures for their missive, note that "Congress has never authorized the actions under consideration."  More      [Signed by McGovern, Capuano, Lynch]

A View From The Left- WARS ABROAD, WARS AT HOME-Join And Build The Resistance


Our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent. We need to transform our economy, our politics, our policies and our priorities to reflect that reality. That means reversing the flow of our tax dollars, away from war and militarism, and towards funding human and environmental needs, and demanding support for that reversal from all our political leaders at the local, state and national levels. We and the movements we are part of face multiple crises. Military and climate wars are destroying lives and environments, threatening the planet and creating enormous flows of desperate refugees. Violent racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and other hatreds are rising, encouraged by the most powerful voices in Washington DC. President Trump plans to strip $54 billion from human and environmental spending so as to increase already massive spending on the military…  Washington's militarized foreign policy comes home as domestic law enforcement agencies acquire military equipment and training from the Pentagon and from military allies abroad. Impoverished communities of color see and face the power of this equipment regularly, in the on-going domestic wars on drugs and immigrants. This military-grade equipment is distributed and used by many of the same private companies that profit from mass incarceration and mass deportation.  More

Trump Trial Balloon to Eliminate Social Security Tax Undermines Key Defense of the Program
The Trump administration is considering a proposal to remove Social Security’s dedicated funding stream by eliminating the payroll tax that funds it, the Associated Press reports.  That would generate a considerable and highly visible tax cut for workers — 6.2 percent of their wages, putting an extra $3,720 a year into the paychecks of someone who makes $60,000 a year. And it would save the same amount for their employers.
But Social Security advocates worry that it would undermine the program’s finances by making it reliant on general revenues. Nancy Altman, who co-directs the Social Security Works advocacy group, called it a potential stealth attack.  “We were always able to say Social Security doesn’t add a penny to the deficit, and if all of a sudden there’s general revenue flowing to it, then it does contribute to the deficit,” she said. “It undermines the idea that it’s an earned benefit.”  More

Reaching Out to the Voters the Left Left Behind
Trump won majorities in counties with populations under one million, and his margin of victory rose as the population numbers got smaller. In counties with fewer than 2,500 people, Trump won 70.6 to 25.1 percent. From another vantage point, Trump did best in regions where economic growth was the worst — where jobs are disappearing and where middle-aged white men and women are dying at younger ages…  In other words, the centuries-long shift of economic activity from country and small town areas to populous urban regions has sharply accelerated over the past 10 years…  As the last election demonstrated, the compact geographical distribution of Democratic voters with liberal or progressive ideologies in states that were already blue allowed Trump to win in the Electoral College despite a sizable Democratic victory in the popular vote.
Democrats, in turn, must figure out a way to extend their reach beyond the mega-population centers located mostly on the coasts, where cosmopolitan, globalist and post-materialist values dominate…  Trump supporters’ politics may be filtered through the perverse lenses of racial anxiety and cultural reaction. But they are not wrong to look upon cities as distant and alien metropolises that have benefited at rural America’s expense.   More

An Encore -When The Tin Can Bended…. In The Time Of The Late Folk-Singer Dave Van Ronk’s Time

An Encore -When The Tin Can Bended…. In The Time Of The Late Folk-Singer Dave Van Ronk’s Time

From The Pen Of Bart Webber

Sometimes Sam Lowell and his “friend” (really “sweetie,” long time sweetie, paramour, significant other, consort or whatever passes for the socially acceptable or Census Bureau bureaucratic “speak” way to name somebody who is one’s soul-mate, his preferred term) Laura Perkins whose relationship to Sam was just described at the end of the parentheses, and righteously so, liked to go to Crane’s Beach in Ipswich to either cool off in the late summer heat or in the fall before the New England weather lowers its hammer and the place gets a bit inaccessible and too windswept to force the delicate Laura into the weathers. That later summer  heat escape valve is a result, unfortunately for an otherwise Edenic environment of the hard fact that July, when they really would like to go there to catch a few fresh sea breezes, is not a time to show up at the bleach white sands beach due to nasty blood-sucking green flies swarming and dive-bombing like some berserk renegade Air Force squadron lost on a spree captained by someone with a depraved childhood who breed in the nearby swaying mephitic marshes (mephitic courtesy of multi-use by Norman Mailer who seemed to get it in every novel- if you don't what it means look it up but think nasty and smelly and you will close-okay).

The only “safe haven” then is to drive up the hill to the nearby robber-baron days etched Crane Castle (they of the American indoor plumbing fortune way back) to get away from the buggers, although on a stagnant wind day you might have a few vagrant followers, as the well-to-do have been doing since there were the well-to-do and had the where-with-all to escape the summer heat and bugs at higher altitudes. By the way I assume that “castle” is capitalized when it part of a huge estate, the big ass estate of Crane, now a trust monument to the first Gilded Age, not today’s neo-Gilded Age, architectural proclivities of the rich, the guy whose company did, does all the plumbing fixture stuff on half the bathrooms in America including in the various incantations of the mansion. 

Along the way, along the hour way to get to Ipswich from Cambridge Sam and Laura had developed a habit of making the time more easy passing by listening to various CDs, inevitably not listened to for a long time folk CDs, not listened to for so long that the plastic containers needed to be dusted off before being brought along, on the car's improvised  CD player. And as is their wont while listening to some CD to comment on this or that thing that some song brought to mind, or the significance of some song in their youth.  One of the things that had brought them together early on several years back was their mutual interest in the old 1960s folk minute which Sam, a little older and having grown up within thirty miles of Harvard Square, one the big folk centers of that period along with the Village and North Beach out in Frisco town, had imbibed deeply. Laura, growing up “in the sticks,” in farm country in upstate New York had gotten the breeze at second-hand through records, records bought at Cheapo Records and the eternal Sandy's on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge and a little the fading Cambridge folk scene through breathing in the coffeehouse atmosphere when she had moved to Boston in the early 1970s to go to graduate school.     

One hot late August day they got into one such discussion about how they first developed an interest in folk music when Sam had said “sure everybody, everybody over the age of say fifty to be on the safe side, knows about Bob Dylan, maybe some a little younger too if some hip kids have browsed through their parents’ old vinyl record collections now safely ensconced in the attic although there are stirrings of retro-vinyl revival of late according a report I had heard on NPR."

Some of that over 50 crowd and their young acolytes would also have known about how Dylan, after serving something like an apprenticeship under the influence of Woody Guthrie in the late 1950s singing Woody’s songs imitating Woody's style something fellow Woody acolytes like Ramblin’ Jack Elliot never quite got over moved on, got all hung up on high symbolism and obscure references. Funny guys like Jack actually made a nice workman-like career out of Woody covers, so their complaints about the "great Dylan betrayal, about moving on, seen rather hollow now. That over 50s crowd would also know Dylan became if not the voice of the Generation of ’68, their generation, which he probably did not seriously aspire in the final analysis, then he would settle for the master troubadour of the age.

Sam continued along that line after Laura had said she was not sure about the connection and he said he meant, “troubadour in the medieval sense of bringing news to the people and entertaining them by song and poetry as well if not decked in some officially approved garb like back in those olden days where they worked under a king’s license if lucky, by their wit otherwise but the 'new wave' post-beatnik flannel shirt, work boots, and dungarees which connected you with the roots, the American folk roots down in the Piedmont, down in Appalachia, down in Mister James Crow’s Delta, and out in the high plains, the dust bowl plains. So, yes, that story has been pretty well covered.”  

Laura said she knew all of that about the desperate search for roots although not that Ramblin’ Jack had been an acolyte of Woody’s but she wondered about others, some other folk performers whom she listened to on WUMB on Saturday morning when some weeping willow DJ put forth about fifty old time rock and folk rock things a lot of which she had never heard of back in Mechanicsville outside of Albany where she grew up. Sam then started in again, “Of course that is hardly the end of the story since Dylan did not create that now hallowed folk minute of the early 1960s. He had been washed by it when he came to the East from Hibbing, Minnesota for God’s sake (via Dink’s at the University there), came into the Village where there was a cauldron of talent trying to make folk the next big thing, the next big cultural thing for the young and restless of the post-World War II generations. For us. But also those in little oases like the Village where the disaffected could pick up on stuff they couldn’t get in places like Mechanicsville or Carver where I grew up. People who I guess, since even I was too young to know about that red scare stuff except you had to follow your teacher’s orders to put your head under your desk and hands neatly folded over your head if the nuclear holocaust was coming, were frankly fed up with the cultural straightjacket of the red scare Cold War times and began seriously looking as hard at roots in all its manifestations as our parents, definitely mine, yours were just weird about stuff like that, right, were burying those same roots under a vanilla existential Americanization. How do you like that for pop sociology 101.”

“One of the talents who was already there when hick Dylan came a calling, lived there, came from around there was the late Dave Van Ronk who as you know we had heard several times in person, although unfortunately when his health and well-being were declining not when he was a young politico and hell-raising folk aspirant. You know he also, deservedly, fancied himself a folk historian as well as musician.”    

“Here’s the funny thing, Laura, that former role is important because we all know that behind every  'king' is the 'fixer man,' the guy who knows what is what, the guy who tells one and all what the roots of the matter were like some mighty mystic (although in those days when he fancied himself a socialist that mystic part was played down). Dave Van Ronk was serious about that part, serious about imparting that knowledge about the little influences that had accumulated during the middle to late 1950s especially around New York which set up that folk minute. New York like I said, Frisco, maybe in small enclaves in L.A. and in precious few other places during those frozen times a haven for the misfits, the outlaws, the outcast, the politically “unreliable,” and the just curious. People like the mistreated Weavers, you know, Pete Seeger and that crowd found refuge there when the hammer came down around their heads from the red-baiters and others like advertisers who ran for cover to “protect” their precious soap, toothpaste, beer, deodorant or whatever they were mass producing to sell to a hungry pent-up market.  

"Boston and Cambridge by comparison until late in the 1950s when the Club 47 and other little places started up and the guys and gals who could sing, could write songs, could recite some be-bop deep from the blackened soul poetry even had a place to show their stuff instead of to the winos, rummies, grifters and con men who hung out at the Hayes-Bickford or out on the streets could have been any of the thousands of towns who bought into the freeze.”     

“Sweetie, I remember one time but I don’t remember where, maybe the Café Nana when that was still around after it had been part of the Club 47 folk circuit for new talent to play and before Harry Reid, who ran the place, died and it closed down, I know it was before we met, so it had to be before the late 1980s Von Ronk told a funny story, actually two funny stories, about the folk scene and his part in that scene as it developed a head of steam in the mid-1950s which will give you an idea about his place in the pantheon. During the late 1950s after the publication of Jack Kerouac’s ground-breaking road wanderlust adventure novel, On The Road, that got young blood stirring, not mine until later since I was clueless on all that stuff except rock and roll which I didn’t read until high school, the jazz scene, the cool be-bop jazz scene and poetry reading, poems reflecting off of “beat” giant Allen Ginsberg’s Howl the clubs and coffeehouse of the Village were ablaze with readings and cool jazz, people waiting in line to get in to hear the next big poetic wisdom guy if you can believe that these days when poetry is generally some esoteric endeavor by small clots of devotees just like folk music. The crush of the lines meant that there were several shows per evening. But how to get rid of one audience to bring in another in those small quarters was a challenge."

"Presto, if you wanted to clear the house just bring in some desperate “from hunger” snarly nasally folk singer for a couple, maybe three songs, and if that did not clear the high art be-bop poetry house then that folk singer was a goner. A goner until the folk minute of the 1960s where that very same folk singer probably in that very same club then played for the 'basket.' You know the 'passed hat' which even on a cheap date, and a folk music coffeehouse date was a cheap one in those days like I told you before and you laughed at cheapie me and the 'Dutch treat' thing, you felt obliged to throw a few bucks into to show solidarity or something.  And so the roots of New York City folk according to the 'father.'

Laura interrupted to ask if that “basket” was like the buskers put in front them these days and Sam said yes. And then asked Sam about a few of the dates he took to the coffeehouses in those days, just out of curiosity she said, meaning if she had been around would he have taken her there then. He answered that question but since it is an eternally complicated and internal one I having to do with where she stood in the long Sam girlfriend  pecking order (very high and leave it at that unless she reads this and then the highest) have skipped it to let him go on with the other Von Ronk story.

He continued with the other funny story like this-“The second story involved his [Von Ronk's] authoritative role as a folk historian who after the folk minute had passed became the subject matter for, well, for doctoral dissertations of course just like today maybe people are getting doctorates in hip-hop or some such subject. Eager young students, having basked in the folk moment in the abstract and with an academic bent, breaking new ground in folk history who would come to him for the 'skinny.' Now Van Ronk had a peculiar if not savage sense of humor and a wicked snarly cynic’s laugh but also could not abide academia and its’ barren insider language so when those eager young students came a calling he would give them some gibberish which they would duly note and footnote. Here is the funny part. That gibberish once published in the dissertation would then be cited by some other younger and even more eager students complete with the appropriate footnotes. Nice touch, nice touch indeed on that one, right.”

Laura did not answer but laughed, laughed harder as she thought about it having come from that unformed academic background and having read plenty of sterile themes turned inside out.       

As Laura laugh settled Sam continued “As for Van Ronk’s music, his musicianship which he cultivated throughout his life, I think the best way to describe that for me is that one Sunday night in the early 1960s I was listening to the local folk program on WBZ hosted by Dick Summer, who was influential in boosting local folk musician Tom Rush’s career and who was featured on that  Tom Rush documentary No Regrets we got for being members of WUMB, when this gravelly-voice guy, sounding like some old mountain pioneer, sang the Kentucky hills classic Fair and Tender Ladies. It turned out to be Von Ronk's version which you know I still play up in the third floor attic. After that I was hooked on that voice and that depth of feeling that he brought to every song even those of his own creation which tended to be spoofs on some issue of the day.”

Laura laughed at Sam and the intensity with which his expressed his mentioning of the fact that he liked gravelly-voiced guys for some reason. Here is her answer, “You should became when you go up to the third floor to do your “third floor folk- singer” thing and you sing Fair and Tender Ladies I hear this gravelly-voiced guy, sounding like some old mountain pioneer, some Old Testament Jehovah prophet come to pass judgment come that end day time.”
They both laughed. 

Laura then mentioned the various times that they had seen Dave Von Ronk before he passed away, not having seen him in his prime, when that voice did sound like some old time prophet, a title he would have probably secretly enjoyed for publicly he was an adamant atheist. Sam went on, “ I saw him perform many times over the years, sometimes in high form and sometimes when drinking too much high-shelf whiskey, Chavis Regal, or something like that not so good. Remember we had expected to see him perform as part of Rosalie Sorrels’ farewell concert at Saunders Theater at Harvard in 2002 I think. He had died a few weeks before.  Remember though before that when we had seen him for what turned out to be our last time and I told you he did not look well and had been, as always, drinking heavily and we agreed his performance was subpar. But that was at the end. For a long time he sang well, sang us well with his own troubadour style, and gave us plenty of real information about the history of American folk music. Yeah like he always used to say-'when the tin can bended …..and the story ended.'

As they came to the admission booth at the entrance to Crane’s Beach Sam with Carolyn Hester’s song version of Walt Whitman’s On Captain, My Captain on the CD player said “I was on my soap box long enough on the way out here. You’re turn with Carolyn Hester on the way back who you know a lot about and I know zero, okay.” Laura retorted, “Yeah you were definitely on your soap-box but yes we can talk Carolyn Hester because I am going to cover one of her songs at my next “open mic.” And so it goes.