Saturday, April 14, 2018

In Boston (Everywhere)-Build (and Nourish) The Resistance!-Introducing The Organization Food For Activists

In Boston (Everywhere)-Build (and Nourish) The Resistance!-Introducing The Organization Food For Activists 


Songs Of The Old Sod- The Traditional Irish Singer/Storyteller Joe Heaney

Songs Of The Old Sod- The Traditional Irish Singer/Storyteller Joe Heaney

CD Review

The Road From Connemara: As Told To Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl, Joe Heaney, Topic Records, 2002

Over the past couple of years I have spilled plenty of ink harking back to the American side of the folk revival movement of the early 1960s in which a whole generation it seemed, the generation of my youth, could not get enough of traditional music from many different sources: the mountains of Virginia and Kentucky; the swamps and bayous of Louisiana; the Mississippi delta and the North Carolina piedmont to name a few. And as part of that revival, of course, a renewed interest in songs from the old country, Ireland, which formed the backbone along with England, Scotland and Wales of the core of many trans-Atlantic versions of old time music, especially from the Scotch- Irish who populated those eastern mountain regions.

Furthermore, I have recognized as part of that spilled ink on the subject of the folk revival the names of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, and to a lesser extent, The Dubliners, as having been pivotal in the renewed interest in Irish music beyond the patented Saint Patrick’s Day classics of “My Wild Irish Rose and “Danny Boy” that were carted out every year on that date, at least here in the American Irish diaspora.

Of course, that input begs the question of where the lads mentioned above got their source music from, and that is where the likes of all-Irish champion a capella singer/storyteller Joe Heaney comes in, via a connection with some familiar names from the American folk scene, Peggy Seeger (fame folklorist Pete Seeger’s half-sister) and folk historian and songwriter Ewan MacColl. This compilation of songs and stories is an excellent primer for getting a handle on the music that our grandparents, or great-grandparents, heard and listened to back in the old country.

Moreover some of the songs are sung in Irish (a real treat and the source of some of Heaney’s best renditions on this compilation). There are songs of love, young and old, misused and abused love, laments for lost and couldn’t be love. Also the British occupation and what it did to the formation of the Irish psyche and the national liberation struggle as it was brought to fruition. Heaney does a great job as well of telling the stories behind many of the songs. So if you are a little behind in your knowledge of the Irish folk tradition, the real tradition, here is a way to catch up fast.

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-In The Time Of The Be-Bop Baby Boom Jail Break-Out-The Cats Are Still Rocking –With The Chiffons He’s So Fine In Mind

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-In The Time Of The Be-Bop Baby Boom Jail Break-Out-The Cats Are Still Rocking –With The Chiffons He’s So Fine In Mind

By Allan Jackson

[A while back, maybe a couple of modern introductions ago I mentioned that out in the corner boy night a lot, a very lot if one can use such a term, of the talk was about girls, and not just the local girls who gave us more hard times and hard luck than you could imagine (that hard times and hard luck having a lot to do with them to use a crude term of art of the corner boy times not “coming across” meaning exactly if you were, are, a teenage boy no sex, or worse no “do the do” as we called after we heard the old blues master mad monk Howlin’ Wolf use the term in one of his blues songs, which might be expected after they got you all worked up although that did not preclude, not preclude at all lying our asses off saying we got whatever we wanted from some sullen frail of interest. That too a very lot part of the stifling corner boy night around Tonio’s Pizza Parlor “up the Downs” where we working class boys from the Acre section of North Adamsville hung when we weren’t doing something). We also talked, endlessly talked when the Scribe was on the run, when he wanted to dazzle us with one of his two thousand arcane facts about other faraway girls, girls which I would later following Mick Jagger call the girls with the faraway eyes.

The big category in high school though, this long before the Scribe dragged us out to the West Coast at the time of the Summer of Love uprising in 1967 were the golden dream girls of Southern California, the ones that the Beach Boys were endlessly writing songs about and   which in our vapid imaginations made us hunger for those seemingly easy blonde, tanned, long-legged surfer girls who according to urban legend or against our from hunger minds were ready to do the do at the drop of a hat. Nice dream if not the reality, well, no the reality for me anyway as much as I loved the ocean and figure that I could have learned to surf, learned to fret about not having a little deuce coup, fret about that perfect wave and such. That was then though, the dream time which made our many girl-less nights, our many no come across nights a little less onerous.     

Here’s the funny part, the part that drove me to re-think about that phantom surfer girls experience when the real deal went down. When we did get to the West Coast a few years later after high school we could see the sea change in dramatic form, in the form of “Butterfly Swirl” for one who can stand in for what I want to mention today about the genesis of this sketch. Butterfly Swirl, obviously not her real name but a moniker I think Josh Breslin, who had an affair with her as did others from our crowd, put on her since she was a flaming light for our sore eyes, real name Kathy Callahan, from Carlsbad about forty miles north of San Diego whom we met when we were riding Captain Crunch’s merry prankster yellow brick road converted bus to psychedelic travelling caravan home down into La Jolla. La Jolla one of the surfing kingdom’s hot spots.

In 1963 said she, we, would probably not come within ten thousand miles of each other-Carlsbad surfer girl and North Adamsville corner boys not matter what our desires, our Beach Boy-etched desires. In 1967 though there was convergence in an odd way. Butterfly really was the classic surfer girl of the day all blonde, corn-fed great figure as opposed to her Okie forebears who left the dust bowl to seek the Garden of Eden written with hunger on every face, the bluest of blue eyes but most importantly she had imbibed the whole surfer culture which meant then, not now when you can’t tell the gender of the surfer until they come ashore and take off their wetsuits, waiting on some forlorn beach looking beautiful if bored until your surfer boy found his perfect wave-which usually took all day. That bored part is what got Butterfly to come over to the bus and ask what we were about, whether we had dope which she had heard about, the answer yes, and where we were headed. Anyplace. That night, no the next night Butterfly fed up with waiting around those forlorn beaches decided to travel with us for a while. Those travels, her affairs for the few months she was with us have been detailed elsewhere. Like I have said before-wasn’t that a time. A time when surfer girls and hippies plied the same sodden path. But also like I said before the road, the long winding road seeking that newer world that the Scribe was always yakking about wasn’t for everybody and it wasn’t for Butterfly who having flown the coop for a while went back to her perfect wave surfer boy. Yeah, but wasn’t that a time. Allan Jackson]          
Everybody knew, everybody who got within fifty feet of him, distance enough for him to bellow out some 1950s song, sometimes on key sometimes off depending on his pipes since he had not been gifted with perfect pitch, knew that Jimmy Jones had been on some kind of childhood nostalgia kick back in 2012 when he went wild or as he said more soberly at the time, “I have recently been on a tear in reviewing individual CDs in an extensive commercial Rock ‘n’ Roll series and have kicked out the jams doing that deed.” Done so for a purpose to be described now. Well, hell, you already know if you knew Jimmy back in the day, back when that rock and roll music was just coming off the presses as fast a discretionary spending teenagers could get their hands on the latest be all and end all number, or like I did when I met him about twenty years ago when he was married to my sister Jenny, his third and hers too so there was no crying about what to expect, or not expect out of that institution, that it had to be about some woman.

A lot of the nostalgia gag, given that Jimmy had just turned seventy at the time, and frankly should have been past such childish things had been a result of running into Melinda Loring, an old classmate and one time dream flame in high school, Hampton Falls High up in New Hampshire, although nothing had come of it then. Nothing had come of it after he, having been properly warned off after inquiring of some guys at school about whether she had a boyfriend or not, important information to avoid the fatal faux pas of making a “move” on somebody who was “taken” that she was “unapproachable,” had moved on.

There are books that could be written, and maybe they have already, about the subtle and not so subtle codes in that old time mating ritual but I think Jimmy had it about right to move on rather than test the waters and become the tittle at some Monday morning before school girls’ locker room talkfest where such an indiscretion would have been the kiss of death for him for the rest of his high school time. See too Melinda confirmed that information when he ran into her at some class reunion thing or I think he said it was the class celebrating all those who had survived three score and ten having gained some wisdom from two broken marriages. Get this though and you may not find it in any code book but maybe just the book of getting on in life she said that she was not “unapproachable” to Jimmy now.

And so they had had a short affair, a few month thing not exactly a fling but not exactly forever, an affair that just didn’t have the will power to survive on both parts, her with her incessant need to plan in detail their every move for the next three years and he by an incessant need after his own three failed marriages to keep running away from the serious commitment that she craved. However during the high life of the affair Jimmy felt that he needed to go back and retrace their musical times, felt as was his wont that he had to trace every blessed song (and bellow them out as well) from their youth in order to impress her with his sincerity. See that was his style, his way to work the woman scene back then and it worked, worked on girls who were as nerdy as him but not genuine foxes like Melinda (and looking at an old high school yearbook photograph, no, not the silly class picture where everybody looked like they had just done five to ten for armed robbery at the state pen, even the girls, but one of her as an officer some club, the Glee Club I think, confirms that “fox” designation).

And so the affair, or whatever it was in each of their minds, might not have lasted but his CD review work has a certain lasting quality that he insisted that I read. See I knew guys like Jimmy in high school, nerdy guys who had to know every blessed thing about some subject or they felt stupid or incomplete but you had better ask your shrink about that, and being the same age roughly knew the music (unlike my sister Jenny who was ten years younger and so knew “acid rock” and later stuff) and so I became something of a sounding board as he “discovered” each new selection. Oh yeah, and in case you don’t remember I would have been a guy who warned Jimmy off of Melinda back in the day, and that little recent affair they had as well except I was in California then, and so he said I “owed” him. In the interest of full disclosure, and Jimmy knows this opinion of mine so I am not telling tales out of school. See I too was a guy who was interested in a girl, Diana Wilson, and another classmate had warned me off her as “unapproachable” except I did not move on and faced a few Monday morning before school girls’ locker room bashings (again showing how important intelligence is to have before making some fatal blushing move).       

Jimmy told me a lot of his reviews had been driven by the artwork which graced the covers of each CD, both to stir ancient memories and reflect that precise moment in time, the youth time of the now very, very mature (nice sliding over the age issue, right?) baby-boomer generation who lived and died by the music. And who fit in, or did not fit in as the case may, to the themes of those artwork scenes. The series basically went from about 1955 to 1965 the time now called the age of classic rock and roll. One year, the year I want to hone in on, 1959, Jimmy found the artwork a case of the latter, of the not fitting in.

He said on the cover (actually he showed me the cover after he described the thing since I just had to see it), a summer scene (always a nice touch since that was the time when we had least at the feel of our generational breakout), two blondish surfer guys, surf boards in tow, were “checking out” the scene. A term back then, maybe now too, meaning only one thing in summer, hell, in any season, meaning checking out the frails (a localism that got started as far as Jimmy knew by his corner boy, Frankie Kelly, who had about twenty different names for girls, so many that he and the other corner boys could not keep up).

The two blonde surfers, although not all surfers were blonde even though I think all their girlfriends were out there in sunny California, were just the front. Just the frosting, okay. The important scene although not pictured (except a little background fluff to inform you that you are at the beach, the summer youth beach and no other, the place where oldsters, even old hipsters in the black night let out for a day of sun are not welcome here, and certainly not the tortuous family beach scene with its lotions, luggage, lawn chairs, and tacky hot dogs and tepid hamburgers, longings, longings to be elsewhere in early teen brains), can only mean checking out the babes, girls, chicks, or whatever you called them in that primitive time before we called them sister, and woman. No question that this whole scene had been nothing but a California come hinter scene. One thinks ahead to warm night breezes and souped-up cars traveling the boulevard (also not pictured) looking, and looking hard like we all did, and not just in cool breeze California for the heart of Saturday night.

No way that it has the look of Eastern pale-face beaches, family or youth. This is nothing but early days California dreamin’ cool hot days and cooler hot nights with those dreamed bikini girls. These surfers, if that is what they are calling themselves are, no question “beach bums,” inventing themselves in classic Hollywood-driven California style, little did we know in the frigid East unless we had relatives or friends there that whole sub-cultures, or what would be called sub-cultures by the hoary academics who wanted to explain everything, of surfers, hot-rodders, outlaw bikers valley boys, and later girls, out there waiting for the winds to blow eastward. No way that they are serious surfer guys, certainly not Tom Wolfe’s Pump House La Jolla gang where those surfers lived for the perfect wave, and nothing else better get in the way. For such activity though for avoiding becoming a prune waiting on those perfect waves needed rubberized surf suits complete with all necessary gear. In short these guys are “faux” surfers. Whether that was enough to draw the attention of those shes they are checking out Jimmy said he would leave to the reader’s imagination.

And what caused Jimmy not to fit into that scene other that the fact that he was not blonde, had not known until he actually when out there in the mid-1960s that surfers as a culture even existed, and as we know had been rebuffed before he started by a fetching girl who probably, no definitely, in summer was one of those bikini-clad frails. Eastern version. Believe it or not Jimmy was afraid, or at least half afraid, of the ocean even though he had grown up (as had I) a stone’s throw from the ocean all his growing up times. I had actually gone many times to the beach with him when he was married to Jenny (and we were talking not always coterminous) and had forgotten that I had never seen him go in the water. There was a reason for him not going into the water, although he said that he would go in when the spirit moved him or he was hot, just not over his head.

Reason: when Jimmy was about eight or nine he had almost drowned when he lived on the other side of town, down at the treacherous Snug Harbor Beach. That summer shortly after school got out he had been out swimming on a decent day, not a threatening day at all, and had lazily drifted out with the tide. While there he grabbed on to a floating log, a telephone pole, and drifted some more until he realized that he was pretty far out for a kid who was not a good swimmer. Typical kid’s move though as he started back for shore he let go of the log as he swan back. Swimming for a while and getting tired he knew he could not make it back and started to go down. Somehow his older brother, Sam, saw what was happening and called for help to the swimming instructor who was stationed at the beach that day. She went out and saved him before he went down for the third time. When she got him ashore and revived him he thanked her and scurried off totally embarrassed. And also made his brother swear not to tell their mother. So that was why he was cold to that 1959 cover art. Why he could not relate to the surfers, beach bums or whatever they were trying to pull off. 

Oh yeah, get this, the woman who saved him was Melinda Loring’s mother and Melinda had been on the beach that day sitting with her mother since she was too young to be left at home. She had watched the whole episode, and vividly remembered that her mother was both shaken and elated. Shaken since Jimmy was very close to drowning and elated because she had acted coolly and saved a life, her first save. The way Jimmy found out about that connection was when he mentioned that he had gone to Snug Harbor Elementary School and Melinda thought back the times when she would accompany her mother to the beach which was near the school.  Melinda had mentioned in an e-mail about her mother saving an eight or nine year old boy at the beach and that was that. One of the things Jimmy said to Melinda before they started dating, while they were still feeling each other out about getting together, was that they might as well get together since they had already “met.” Melinda laughed and agreed. During their short time together both thought for a while that the “meeting” at the beach when they were eight or nine meant that their thing was “written in the stars.” It was not but Jimmy said don’t blame the sea for that.            

As for the music that Jimmy was crazy for Melinda to know about, the 1959 music that backs up this cover art that didn’t quite fit well that didn’t fit either, really. As Jimmy said we were clearly in a trough as anybody who had heard the shift in musical tone on the transistor radio that provide the source of most of our music and formed our tastes knew. The golden age of rock with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Chuck Berry was fading, fading fast into what Jimmy said when he described the music scene back then could only be called “bubble gum” music. (Strangely or maybe not, Melinda told Jimmy she liked the Fabian -Bobby Vee – Bobby Darin-Everly Brothers stuff that dominated that year and a few years after which may have been an omen but maybe Jimmy was just exhibiting sour grapes about the affair and not a fair evaluation of what these guys were doing except they were “pretty” to the girls who grabbed their fan magazines).

Jimmy said sure he listened to it (and so did I), listened to it hard on his old transistor radio (as did I), mainly because that was all that was presented to us. It would be a while until the folk, folk rock, British invasion, and free expression rock (aka “acid” rock) engulfed us. Jimmy said the bulk of this CDs contents attested to our marking time. There were, however, some stick-outs there that have withstood the test of time. They include: La Bamba, Ritchie Valens; Dance With Me, The Drifters; You’re So Fine (great harmony),The Falcons; Tallahassee Lassie (a favorite then at the local school dances by a New England boy  who made good), Freddy Cannon; Mr. Blue (another great harmony song and the one, or one of the ones, anyway that you hoped, hoped to distraction that they would play for the last dance), The Fleetwoods; and, Lonely Teardrops, Jackie Wilson (a much underrated singer, then and now, including by this writer after not hearing that voice for a while). So that was Jimmy take on the music year 1959.

Oh yeah I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this. After a recent trip to the Southern California coast I can inform you that those two faux surfer guys are still out there and still checking out the scene. Although that scene for them now is solely the eternal search for the perfect wave complete with full rubberized suit and gear. Forget the girls part.  Moreover their days as cover art material have taken a turn for the worst, No artist would now, or at least I hope no artist would, care to rush up and draw them. For now these brothers have lost a step, or seven, lost a fair amount of that beautiful bongo blonde hair, and have added, added believe me, very definite paunches to bulge out those surfer suits all out of shape. Ah, such are the travails of the baby-boomer generation. Good luck though, brothers.

On Patriot's Day April 16th In Massachusetts Join The Protest March From Lexington To Hanscom Field To Stop The U.S.Nuclear Command Center From Being Stationed There

On Patriot's Day  April 16th In Massachusetts Join The Protest March From Lexington To Hanscom Field To Stop The U.S.Nuclear Command Center From Being Stationed There   

We have mentioned that one of the things you very definitely want to say "not in my neighborhood" about is the designation of Hanscom as the control and command center for the U.S. military nuclear program. Join your friends and neighbors to protest this activity. The Executive Board 

The Art Of The Defeated-“Inventur-Art In Germany-1943-1955 At The Harvard Art Museums-A Comment

The Art Of The Defeated-“Inventur-Art In Germany-1943-1955 At The Harvard Art Museums-A Comment

By Lenny Lynch

Of course I am way too young at thirty-five to have been affected by even the tremors of the post-World War II happenings in Western culture like a number of my older writer co-workers were in what in America was the “golden age” of lots of things. In talking to Sam Lowell, now a retired by still feisty former film editor here and Frank Jackman who still writes little sketches here as well about this art exhibit at the Harvard Art Museums which features the work of many German artists in various media they were quite surprised about how many of those artists dealt with struggling as a defeated nation. Strangely this included artists who were well-known anti-Nazi and anti-fascist who either had been in exile (those who could get out before the curtain came down and they were stuck), had been Jewish and yet had survived the camps somehow or had been stuck in Germany and worked their creative skills as best they could. Included too a catalogue of artists who showed up in the infamous “Degenerate Art” exhibits of the late 1930s in Germany.

Two things stuck out that I carried with me from the exhibit. In the art world, the serious part, sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. A defeated nation, heavily bombed by Allied warplanes, huge destruction of infrastructure, hobbling along on American rations and black markets nevertheless provided room for artists to come up with new ways of creating art from other than traditional material like oils and canvass. Shingles, scrape metal, house paints and the like let these folks create some new ways of making art. The other thing that stuff out was that even in defeat and isolation many of these artists were aware of, took part in, and expanded the new theories in art in their work from expressionism to abstraction and colorism. Minimalism in sculpture. Interesting exhibit if you are in Cambridge sometime soon.     

Friday, April 13, 2018

On Patriot's Day April 16th In Massachusetts Join The Protest March From Lexington To Hanscom Field To Stop The U.S.Nuclear Command Center From Being Stationed There

On Patriot's Day  April 16th In Massachusetts Join The Protest March From Lexington To Hanscom Field To Stop The U.S.Nuclear Command Center From Being Stationed There   

We have mentioned that one of the things you very definitely want to say "not in my neighborhood" about is the designation of Hanscom as the control and command center for the U.S. military nuclear program. Join your friends and neighbors to protest this activity. The Executive Board 

Happy, Happy Birthday Brother Frankenstein-On the 200th Anniversary Of The “Birth” of Mary Shelley’s Avenging Angel “Frankenstein”-A Comment

Happy, Happy Birthday Brother Frankenstein-On the 200th Anniversary Of The “Birth” of Mary Shelley’s Avenging Angel “Frankenstein”-A Comment 

A link to a 200th anniversary discussion of Mary Shelley and her “baby” Frankenstein on NPR’s On Point

By Lenny Lynch

We all know in the year 2018 that it is impossible to create a human being, maybe any being, out of spare stitched up human parts, and a few jolts of electricity. At least I hope everybody short of say Hannibal Lecter, Lucy Lane or some such holy goof who thought he or she could “do God’s handiwork” on the cheap, out of some “how to manual” knows the ropes enough to have figured that out. You have to go big time MIT scientist and MGH doctor routes running through DNA, RNA, genetic matching and such to do what back in the day only a scary primitive amateur guy working in some foreboding isolated mountain retreat would even dare to contemplate. Back in that 1818 day when Mary Shelley (she of the thoroughbred breeding via Earth Mother feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft and French Revolution-saturated  anarcho- philosopher William Godwin and later channeling Romantic era poet husband Percy Shelley who hung around with ill-fated heroic Lord Byron and that crowd ) wrote her iconic classis Frankenstein former idea, the stitch and sew part, seemed pretty far out on the surface and would go on to sell scads of books to titillate and disturb the sleep of fevered.  

I like the Modern Prometheus part of her title better since like I said science was pretty primitive on that count, not much better that the Greeks creation from earth’s laden clay process, about the way our brother was put together in a slapdash manner but provided an impetus to further discovery. Today where through genetic engineering we have a better understanding of science and medicine who knows what the possibilities are for good or evil. Although at times we need to treat science, maybe medicine too, like a thing from which we have to run. (Example, a very current example, running the rack on discovering everything there is to know about the atom and then have such a discovery threatening a hostage world with nuclear weapons once the night-takers latched on to the military possibilities. At that point running away from the results of the creation like cowardly Victor Frankenstein doesn’t mean a thing, not a thing.)      

Still Mary Shelley was onto something, some very worthy thoughts about human beings, about sentient and sapient beings, about where women fit into the whole scheme of things if we can at the flip of a button create life without human intervention which has already accrued to us today in marginal cases and probably would have shocked her 19th sensibilities. A better result if humankind can make itself out of odd spare parts, a little DNA splicing here and there, that also puts a big crimp in the various ideas about God and his or her tasks once he or she becomes a sullen bystander to human endeavor. Not a bad thing not a bad thing at all. But the most beautiful part of her story is the possibility, once again, that we may get back to the Garden to retrofit that Paradise Lost that the blind revolutionary 17th poet John Milton lost his eyesight over trying to in verse form how we lost our human grace. Yeah, tell us that we might be able to get back to the Garden. Nice choice Ms. Shelley. 

We know, or at least I know, that Frankenstein aka Modern Prometheus, has gotten a bad rap. Prometheus remember him from subtle Greek mythology and how he was able to create his brethren out of clay. Nice trick. Better, the brother did not leave humankind hanging by offering the gift of fire to move human progress at a faster clip. To keep the race from cold and hunger. Took a beating from psychopath Zeus for his lese majeste by having to roll that rock for eternity. Mister Frankenstein really has been misunderstood especially since the rise of the cinema starting from that first libelous presentation in 1931 which turned him from that misunderstood and challenged youth who was orphaned by a unfit “father” into a scary monster who made kids afraid on nighttime shadows on bedroom walls. There are a million ways that piece of bad celluloid got it wrong but if you will he remember actually learned English, despite being “born” out in the wilds of 19th century Germany, so movie audiences could understand what he was saying. Does that sound like a monster to you? I thought not.

The bad ass in the whole caper is this dolt Victor Frankenstein, the human so-called scientist who built a thing from which he had to run like some silly schoolgirl. If the guy had the sense that God, yes God, gave geese he would not have abandoned his brethren, his avenging angel. Wouldn’t have started a string of murders for which he not his so-called “monster” was morally responsible for. Instead the dink just let the bodies stack up like a cord of wood as he let his “creation” get out of control.

On this site my fellow writer Danny Moriarty has recently taken it upon himself to smash what he has called the unearned reputation of one Lanny Lamont, aka Basil Rathbone, aka Sherlock Holmes the so-called deductive logic detective who also let innocent bodies pile up before he got a bright thought in his dope-addled head about how to stop the carnage. That Danny’s take, Danny not his real name by the way but an alias he had been forced to use to protect himself and his family who have been threatened by a bunch of hooligans who are cultist devotees and aficionados of this Lanny Lamont known as the Baker Street Irregulars.

I don’t know enough about the merits of Danny’s crusade to decide whether he too is also an avenging angel, a blessed brethren in the fight for human progress against the night-takers, against the “alternate fact” crowd. But I do know that the idea behind what he is trying to do is solid. In his case the bare knuckle blowing up of an undeserved legend. This bicentennial year of the existence our beautiful Mister Frankenstein, the Old Testament avenging angel, I am proud to defend his honor against all the abuse he has taken for far too long. That may be a tough road but so be it.         

Mary Shelley started something for us to think about on letting things get out of hand though and now we have to try to put the genie back in the bottle. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Yet Again On Bond, James Bond-Will The Real 007 Please Stand Up- Daniel Craig’s “Skyfall” (2012)-A Film Review

Yet Again On Bond, James Bond-Will The Real 007 Please Stand Up- Daniel Craig’s “Skyfall” (2012)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Seth Garth

Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, Judith Dench, Javier Bardem, 2012

You really have to know how serious the back-biting and jockeying for position is which drives the film review, the film criticism business if you want to get high-blown about the matter, drives film reviewers as a lot, to understand why this reviewer is not regaling you from word one about some aspect of the film under review Skyfall, another in the continuing saga of one 007 James Bond a creature of the mad monk pen of Ian Fleming way back when (in the days when he allegedly was playing footsie with Queen Elizabeth, no not the monarch, not as far as I know although I wouldn’t put it pass the bugger thinking he could get a free ride off of his fake service to her majesty, fake since it was full of holes just ask Kim Philby or his memoirs now that he has gone to the shades,  but the stately queen of England, the drag queen Malcolm Marcy). The latest “civil war” involves two critics who are also working this series longtime critic Phil Larkin and relative newcomer Will Bradley (or have worked on it since both have now finished their respective sections Phil on original 007 Sean Connery’s seven works and Will on Pierce Brosnan’s four). The “controversy” -which of the two Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan is the real Bond, James Bond by temperament and style (they have eliminated the other four who have played the role out of hand as a bunch of sissy boys and drunken sots who couldn’t shoot straight if they tried except getting a lot of civilians killed in the cross-fire which makes the legendary Sherlock Holmes seem a sniper by comparison).        

How does this humble non-partisan reviewer get embroiled in this thicket? Aside from doing the Daniel Craig version of 007 part of the series I made the momentous mortal error of stating in public that I thought picking either of those two candidates seemed to be the best representatives of the character. That started a firestorm on both parts that my non-committal statement meant I “really” sided with one or the other. Hence the donnybrook. The real reason though for their fire and brimstone, and here they take a page from the academy’s handbook for stirring up a hornet’s nest over trifles, was, is to take me down a peg for being “wishy-washy,” for not coming up with some pearls of wisdom to fortify my position. In short to run the sword through my work as so much vanilla, so much getting paid by the word flutter a dirty remark in the industry these days. All to enhance their  slight little junkie and boozehound insights into whatever it is they are arguing about. Jesus.

Laura Perkins, also a film reviewer here, may have put her finger on exactly what is going on of late in the industry among “the boys” as she called us. She was assigned to review a film Dangerous by Bette Davis from 1935. She had watched the film one night with her companion Sam Lowell another long-time film critic who since retirement had become an occasional contributor when he out of the blue belted out that he hated Bette Davis, hated that she always played the untamed shrew, the schoolgirl with the heart of stone, the vampish destroyer of everything around her. This outburst after Sam had almost always given Ms. Davis high marks in his previous work. (Laura had combed the archives to confront him with this truth.) She speculated that the usually placid, even-handed Sam had been bitten by the 007 bug and felt he had to assert himself in some outlandish way to keep his place in the pecking order. Maybe so.           

Certainly Phil and Will still have the bug. In my last review I mentioned that since I couldn’t win against one or the other or both in the one-ups-man-ship contest that I would just tell what I wanted to tell and be done with. Whatever drugs or other dangerous substances they are into they couldn’t let me just go at that. Phil clamored that I had nothing to say about any film which he declared had been true for a long time and Will, younger and maybe not quite as jaded, felt that my not saying anything out of the ordinary meant that I at least realized that Sean Connery was not all he was cracked up to be. By inference Pierce was. So be it although I am sorely tempted to really go after that pair with my razor wit and let them hope they get work out in Utah someplace with the Mormons like Allan Jackson tried to do. And he got nothing but a big laugh from those guys, those guys with the white underwear for crying out loud.   

Back to the film reviewing business. I mentioned in passing
in my last Daniel Craig-etched Bond film Quantum of Solace that it was heavy on action, almost nonstop, and light on plot except for the inevitable beating down of whatever bad guys he was after for M, for MI6, for England and the Queen whatever. (Once again it is not clear whether 007, this 007 was having an affair with Queen Elizabeth, the real queen not the drag queen previously mentioned who strangely enough performed in a statelier manner than Liz ever could. Don’t make light of this charge since it is well known that even a heavy duty rock star like Mick Jagger had entered her chambers in the old days when he was into older women. How do you think he got that freaking knighthood if not for dedicating Sister Morphine to her from their junkie days so don’t think a slick guy like 007 couldn’t take the tumble either on his way up the MI6 bureaucracy).

This Skyfall (named for the estate in Scotland where Bond grew up before his parents were killed and he was left an orphan and to the winds) has much more of a plot aside from the usual ration of mind-numbing action which would put the average human in the hospital for maybe a year-or more. This one gets more personal since it involves the fate of M’s career (played by Dame Judith Dench in this Craig series so far). Involves her maybe needing some retirement time since on her watch an important list of agents who have infiltrated terrorist organizations internationally has been compromised.

By whom? By a former hotshot 00 agent Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem last seen here playing a consummate bureaucrat either for the Inquisition in Spain or for the French when they occupied Spain in the wake of the French Revolution in the 1790s in Goya’s Ghosts, who she had to make a split decision to send over to the enemy for the greater good of saving a slew of others. Tough decision and one which Brother Silva holds a very big grudge over since they worked him over something fierce and that was on the good days. So much so that he has made it his main goal in life to do her harm, slowly, in her profession and in the end physically as well since she winds up dying in Bond’s arms after the usual all hell breaking loose final confrontation. Needless to say after a long period of mayhem and destruction including that final blast from hell that rogue agent goes down, goes down hard. Thems the facts Jack.         

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-Ain’t Got No Time For The Harry’s Variety Corner Boys-With Jerry Lee Lewis’ Breathless In Mind

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-Ain’t Got No Time For The Harry’s Variety Corner Boys-With Jerry Lee Lewis’ Breathless In Mind 

By Allan Jackson

[Sure I have put many a positive spin on my old corner boy Acre neighborhood growing up day in North Adamsville and have extended that wand plenty in comparing notes with other corner boy growing experiences like Josh Breslin’s up in Olde Saco, Maine and Fritz Taylor from up in New Hampshire (not the Fritz Taylor who occasionally writes in this space he was born down in Fulton County, Georgia where they didn’t have enough going to have a corner except some hayseed company general store best kept away from especially if Papa was behind in his land payments).

But know this that corner boy stuff had plenty of backside bad side. Had rough killer guys like the Red Hickey of the sketch below who could kiss your lips or give you the kiss of death and made you wish you never were born. Every Acre urban legend began and ended with some Red exploit just like every fresh breeze thing began and ended with the Scribe a few years after Red’s time, after Red went to the states the first time, but before he got caught in some fucking cops cross hairs down in the South robbing some goddam White Hen for nickels and dimes. The top urban legend story, the story that made him king of the hill around Harry’s Variety where the rough boys stood their ground and kept one foot against the placid brick walls that protected Harry from Red chaos was the time he chain whipped a guy within an inch of his life just because he was from some wrong corner, meaning any corner that Red did not control. Chain-whipped Loosey Goosey, that is the only name I knew him by so go with it, and Loosey was a member in good standing of Red’s corner boys just for not having his white tee shirt ironed like he was supposed to when they stood around the corner looking tough.

Sure it is easy to go chapter and verse on the real hood death battalion corner boys and have we simply bored corner boys with big dreams and swollen cocks look innocent by comparison. And maybe by comparison our hungry was not as great but we were no avenging angels, more like some exterminating angels out of some weird surreal Jean Cocteau play or the rough trade crowd around the waterfront in some Jean Genet our lady of the flowers moment. Sure the Scribe kept our, kept his head full of dreams and misty stuff that we could have given a fuck about listening too until much later when a lot for what he predicted came to fruition. But we also waylaid guys who tried to cut our turf, not chain-whipped but beaten bloody. You already know about our “exploits” with the fags down in Provincetown led by Timmy Riley, the guy who I mentioned before someplace who turned out to be gay and a flaming, his word, drag queen out in Frisco. Spent many a Scribe idea-Frankie Riley operational night doing the midnight creep around the darkened houses of the local version of the Mayfair swells. 

Why. Because we could do it, could get away with it one Scribe and Frankie put their heads. And because we were so poor and so desperate that we were willing to do a low-rent version of class war to prove our metal. So pull me up short if I make a myth out of the hard-boiled corner boyt night in the Acre. It wasn’t always pretty. Allan Jackson]      

Lewis Jerry Lee
Best Of Jerry Lee Lewis


Now if you love me please don't tease
If I can hold then let me squeeze
My heart goes round and round
My love comes a tumblin' down
You leave me ahhhhhhh
Breathtess ahh !

I shake all over and you know why
I am sure its love honey thats no lie
Cause when you call my name
You know I burn like a wooden flame
You leave me ahhhhhh

OOOOOOOhhhhhh baby Oooooooh crazy!
Your much to much Honey I can't love you enough
It's alright to hold me tight
But when you love me love me riiiiighhhht!
Ah come on baby now don't be shy
This love was ment for you and I
Wind, rain, sleet or snow
I am gonna be wherever you go
You have left me ahhhh
Breathless !



oooooh baby mmmmnnn crazy
Your much to much
I can't love you enough
Well its alright to hold me tight
But when you love me love me right
Ah come on baby now don't be shy
This love was ment for you and I
Wind, rain, sleet or snow
I am gonna be wherever you go
You leave me ahhhh
Breathless Ah!
Riding down the old neighborhood streets a while back, the old North Adamsville working class streets, streets dotted with triple-deckers housing multiple families along with close-quarter, small cottage-sized single family houses like the one of Tim Murphy’s own growing to manhood time in the early 1960s. He reflected as he drove on how little the basic structure of things had changed with the changing of the ethnic composition of those streets. Sure many of the houses had been worked on, new roofs, new siding, maybe a deck add-on for the ritualistic family barbecue (barbecues that his family on the infrequent occasions that they actually had one were taken at Treasure Island a picnic area that provided pits for the grill-less like his from hunger family on the site), maybe an add-on of a room if that home equity loan came through (or the refinance worked out). The lawns, manicured or landscaped like some miniature English garden, reflected some extra cash and care that in his time was prohibited by the needs to fix up the insides first or save money for emergencies like the furnace blowing out in mid-winter. In all the tradition of keeping up appearances as best you could had been successfully transferred to the new inhabitants (keeping up appearances being a big reason work was done back then in those old judgmental Irish streets, maybe now too for all he knew).

Whatever condition the houses were in, and a few as to be expected when there are so many houses in such a small area were getting that run-down feel that he saw more frequently back in the day by those not worried by the “keeping up appearances” ethos, the houses reflected, no, exclaimed right to their tiny rooftops, that seemingly eternal overweening desire to have, small or not, worth the trouble or not, something of one’s own against the otherwise endless servitude of days. Suddenly, coming to an intersection, Tim was startled, no, more than that he was forced into a double-take, by the sight of some guys, some teenage guys hanging, hanging hard, one foot on the ground the other bent holding up the infernal brick wall that spoke of practice and marking one’s territory, against the oncoming night in front of an old time variety store, a mom and pop variety from some extinct times before the 7/11 chain store, fast shop, no room for corner boys, police take notice, dark night.

Memory called it Kelly’s (as almost every local institution was Irish called from that small dream of ownership and out of hard manual labor variety store to the Dublin Grille bar that transfixed many a neighborhood father, including his father Michael Murphy to the shanty born, or else had an Italian surname reflecting the other major ethnic group, and at times mortal enemies). Today the name is Chiang’s. From the look of them, baggy-panted, latest fashion footwear name sneakered, baseball cap-headed, all items marked, marked with the insignia (secretly, and with no hope of outside decoding) signifying their "homeboy" associations (he would say gang, meaning of course corner boy gang, but that word is charged these days and this is not exactly what it looked like, at least to the public eye, his public eye) they could be the grandsons, probably not biological because these kids were almost all Asians speckled with a couple of Irish-lookers, shanty Irish-lookers, of the ghost be-bop night guys that held Tim in thrall in those misty early 1960s times.

Yeah, that tableau, that time-etched scene, got Tim to thinking of some long lost comrades of the schoolboy night like the hang-around guys in front of Harry’s Variety several blocks away (Harry O’Toole, the most “connected” guy in the neighborhood after Jimmy Mulvey who ran the Dublin Grille, since he ran the local “book”), although comrades might not be the right word because he had been just some punk young kid trying to be a wannabe, or half-wannabe, corner boy and they had no time for punk kids and later when he came of age he had no time for corner boys being unlike his older brothers, Red and Digger, a serious student and not a hell-raiser like them giving Martha Murphy nothing but the miseries. (He gave Ma Murphy his own miseries later but that was when all of society, all youth nation society, was going through a sea-change and he just travelled in that stream to her angers and dismays, especially in his wardrobe and physical appearance.)

Yeah, that scene got Tim to thinking of the old time corner boys who ruled the whole wide North Adamsville night (and day for those who didn’t work or go to school, which was quite a few on certain days, because most of these guys were between sixteen and their early twenties with very jittery school and work histories better left unspoken then, or else if you wanted to make something of it they would oblige you with some fists). Yeah, got Tim thinking about where the white tee-shirted, blue-jeaned, engineer-booted, cigarette-smoking, unfiltered of course (Luckies the “coffin nails” of choice, sneering (learned from watching, closely watching and repeatedly Marlon Brando in The Wild One and James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause at the retro- Strand Theater up on Main Street), soda-swilling, Coke with a some kicks added, naturally, pinball wizards held forth daily and nightly, and let him cadge a few odd games when they had more important business, more important girl business, to attend to. Either a date with some hot “fox” sitting in some souped up car looking like the queen of the Nile or putting their girls to “work,” pimping them in other words. Tim had been clueless about that whole scene until much later, that pimping scene, he had just assumed that they were “easy” and left it at that. Hell he had his own sex problems, or really no sex problems although if he had known what he found out from Red and Digger he might have paid more attention to those “loose women.”

Yeah, Tim got to thinking too about Harry’s, old Harry’s Variety over there near his grandmother’s house (on his mother’s side, nee Riley) over there in that block on Sagamore Street where the Irish workingman’s whiskey-drinking (with a beer chaser), fist-fighting, sports-betting after a hard day’s work Dublin Grille was located. Harry’s was on the corner of that block. Now if you have some image, some quirky, sentimental image, of Harry’s as being run by an up-and-coming just arrived immigrant guy, maybe with a big family, trying to make this neighborhood store thing work so he can take in, take in vicariously anyway, the American dream like you see running such places now forget it. Harry’s was nothing, like he had said before, but a “front.” Old Harry, Harry O’Toole, now long gone, was nothing but the neighborhood “bookie” known far and wide to one and all as such. Even the cops would pull up in their squad cars to place their bets, laughingly, with Harry in the days before state became the bookie-of-choice for most bettors. And he had his “book”, his precious penciled-notation book right out on the counter. But see punk kid Tim, even then just a little too book-unworldly didn’t pick up on that fact until, old grandmother, Jesus, Grandmother Riley who knew nothing of the world and was called a saint by almost everybody, everybody but husband Daniel Riley when he was in his cups “hipped” him to the fact.

Until then Tim didn’t think anything of the fact that Harry had about three dust-laden cans of soup, two dust-laden cans of beans, a couple of loaves of bread (Wonder Bread, if you want to know) on his dust-laden shelves, a few old quarts of milk and an ice chest full of tonic (now called soda, even by New Englanders) and a few other odds and ends that did not, under any theory of economics, capitalist or Marxist, add up to a thriving business ethos. Unless, of course, something else was going on. But what drew Tim to Harry’s was not that stuff anyway. What drew him to Harry’s was, one, his pin ball machine complete with corner boy players and their corner boy ways, and, two, his huge Coca Cola ice chest (now sold as antique curiosities for much money at big-time flea markets and other venues) filled with ice cold, cold tonics (see above), especially the local Robb’s Root Beer that Tim was practically addicted to in those days (and that Harry, kind-hearted Harry, stocked for him).

Many an afternoon, a summer’s afternoon for sure, or an occasional early night, Tim would sip, sip hard on his Robb’s and watch the corner boys play, no sway, sway just right, with that sweet pinball machine, that pin ball machine with the bosomy, lusty-looking, cleavage-showing women pictured on the top glass frame of the machine practically inviting you, and only you the player, on to some secret place if you just put in enough coins. Of course, like many dream-things what those lusty dames really gave you, only you the player, was maybe a few free games. Teasers, right. But Tim had to just watch at first because he was too young (you had to be sixteen to play), however, every once in a while, one of the corner boys who didn’t want to just gouge out his eyes for not being a corner boy, or for no reason at all, would let him cadge a game while Harry was not looking. When he thought about it though, now anyway, Harry was so “connected” (and you know what he meant by that) what the hell did he care if some underage kid, punk kid, cadged a few games and looked at those bosomy babes in the frame.

Yeah, and thinking about Harry’s automatically got Tim thinking about Daniel (nobody ever called him that, ever) “Red” Hickey, the boss king of his schoolboy night at Harry’s. Red, the guy who set the rules, set the style, hell, set the breathing, allowed or not and when, of the place. He didn’t know if Red went to some corner boy school to learn his trade but he was the be-bop daddy (at least all the girls, all the hanging all over him girls, called him that) because he, except for one incident that Tim will mention below, ruled unchallenged with an iron fist. At least Tim never saw his regular corner boys Spike, Lenny, Shawn, Ward, Goof (yes, that was his name the only name Tim knew him by, and he liked it, that is Goof like his moniker), Bop (real name William) or the Clipper (real name Kenny, the arch-petty Woolworth’s thief of the group hence the name) challenge him, or want to.

Yeah, Red, old red-headed Red was tough alright, and has a pretty good-sized built but that was not what kept the others in line. It was a certain look he had, a certain look that if Tim went to the trouble of describing it now would go way overboard  describing it as some stone-cold killer look, some psycho-killer look but that would be wrong because it didn’t show that way. But that was what it was. Tim thought he had better put it this way. Tommy Thunder, older brother of his junior high and high school best friend and a corner boy king in his own right, Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, a big bruiser of a legendary North Adamsville football player and human wrecking machine who lived a few doors up from Harry’s went out of his way not to go near the place. See, Red was that tough.

Red was like some general, or colonel or something, an officer at least, and besides being tough, he would “inspect” his troops to see that all and sundry had their “uniform” right. White tee-shirt, full-necked, no vee-neck sissy stuff, no muscle shirt half-naked stuff, straight 100% cotton, American-cottoned, American-textiled, American-produced, ironed, mother-ironed Tim was sure, crisp. One time Goof (sorry that’s all he knew him by, really) had a wrinkled shirt on and Red marched him up the street to his triple-decker cold-water walk-up flat and berated, berated out loud for all to hear, Goof’s mother for letting him out of the house like that. And Red, old Red like all Irish guys sanctified mothers, at least in public, so you can see he meant business on the keeping the uniform right question.

And like some James Dean or Marlon Brando tough guy photo, some motorcycle disdainful, sneering guy photo, each white tee-shirt, or the right sleeve of each white tee-shirt anyway, was rolled up to provide a place, a safe haven, for the ubiquitous package of cigarettes, matches inserted inside its cellophane outer wrapping, Luckies, Chesterfields, Camels, Pall Malls, all unfiltered in defiance of the then beginning incessant cancer drumbeat warnings, for the day’s show of manliness smoking pleasures.
And blue jeans, tight fit, no this scrub-washed, fake-worn stuff, but worn and then discarded worn. No chinos, no punk kid, maybe faux "beatnik," black chinos, un-cuffed, or cuffed like Tim wore, and Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, king of the faux beatnik junior high school night, including among his devotees Tim, a little too bookish Tim, who was as tough a general, colonel, or some officer anyway, as corner boy Red was with his guys. Frankie example: no cuffs on those black chinos, stay home, or go elsewhere, if you are cuffed. Same kingly manner, right? Corner boys blue-jeaned and wide black-belted, black always, black-belt used as a handy weapon for that off-hand street fight that might erupt out of nowhere, for no reason, or many. Maybe a heavy-duty watch chain, also war-worthy, dangly down from those jeans. Boots, engineer boots, black and buckled, worn summer or winter, heavy, heavy-heeled, spit-shined, another piece of the modern armor for street fight nights. Inspection completed the night’s work lies ahead.

And most nights work, seemingly glamorous to Tim’s little too bookish eyes at the time, was holding up some corner of the brick wall in front or on the side of Harry’s Variety with those engineer boots, one firmly on the ground the other bent against the wall, small talk, small low-tone talk between comrades waiting, waiting for… Or just waiting for their turn at that Harry luscious ladies pictured pinball machine. Protocol, strictly observed, required “General Red” to have first coin in the machine. But see old Red was the master swayer with that damn machine and would rack up free games galore so, usually, he was on that thing for a while.
Hey, Red was so good, although this is not strictly part of the story, that he could have one of his several honeys right in front of him on the machine pressing some buttons and he behind pressing some other buttons Red swaying and his Capri-panted honey, usually some blond, real or imagined, blonde that is depending on the bottle, swaying, and eyes glazing, but he thought he had better let off with that description right now, as he was getting a little glassy-eyed himself at the thought, and because like he said it was strictly speaking not part of the story.

What is part of the story is that Red, when he was in the mood or just bored, or had some business, some girl business, maybe that blond, real or imagined, just mentioned business would after Tim had been hanging around a while, and Red  thought he was okay, give him his leftover free games.

Now that was the “innocent” part of Red, the swaying pinball wizard, girl-swaying, inspector general part. But see if you want to be king of the corner boy night you have to show your metal once in a while, if for no other reason than the corner boys, the old time North Adamsville corner boys might be just a little forgetful of who the king hell corner boy was, or as Tim will describe, some other corner boy king of some other variety store night might show up to see what was what.

Tim must have watched the Harry’s corner boy scene for a couple of years, maybe three, the last part just off and on, but he  only remembered once when he saw Red show “his colors.” Some guy from Adamsville, some tough-looking guy who, no question, was a corner boy just stopped at Harry’s after tipping a couple, or twenty, at the Dublin Grille. He must have said something to Red, or maybe Red just knew instinctively that he had to show his colors, but all of a sudden these two were chain-whipping each other. No, that’s not quite right, Red was wailing, flailing, nailing, chain-whipping this other guy mercilessly, worse, if that is possible. The guy, after a few minutes, was left in a pool of blood on the street, ambulance ready. And Red just walked way, just kind of sauntering away.

Of course that is not the end of the Red story. Needless to say, no work, no wanna work Red had to have coin, dough, not just for the pinball machine, cigarettes, and soda, hell, that was nothing. But for the up-keep on his Chevy (Chevy then being the “boss” car, and not just among corner boys either), and that stream of ever-loving blond honeys, real or imagined blonde depending on the bottle, he escorted into the seashore night. So said corner boys did their midnight creep around the area grabbing this and that to bring in a little dough. Eventually Red “graduated” to armed robberies when the overhead grew too much for little midnight creeps, and graduated to one of the branches of the state pen, more than once. Strangely, his end came, although Tim only heard about this second- hand, after a shoot-out with the cops down South after he tried to rob some White Hen convenience store. There is some kind of moral there, although Tim thought he would be damned if he could figure it out. Red, thanks for those free games though.

On Patriot's Day April 16th In Massachusetts Join The Protest March From Lexington To Hanscom Field To Stop The U.S.Nuclear Command Center From Being Stationed There

On Patriot's Day April 16th In Massachusetts Join The Protest March From Lexington To Hanscom Field To Stop The U.S.Nuclear Command Center From Being Stationed There   

We have mentioned that one of the things you very definitely want to say "not in my neighborhood" about is the designation of Hanscom as the control and command center for the U.S. military nuclear program. Join your friends and neighbors to protest this activity. The Executive Board 

From The American Left History Archives (2008)- In Honor Of The Late Lynne Stewart (1939-2017)-Defend Lynne Stewart!

From The American Left History Archives (2008)- In Honor Of The Late Lynne Stewart (1939-2017)-Defend Lynne Stewart!

I think that I said it all back in 2006 and this can stand as a tribute to a courageous political woman and one hell of a lawyer, a people's lawyer-Frank Jackman (2017)

Ihave just added a link to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee. Please read about this case at that site. Also note that here appeal is coming up for oral arguments before the Federal Appeals Court this week (January 28 2008). Below is a commentary I made at the time of her sentencing in October 2006 that I repost here.




Well, the Bush Administration has finally got New York Attorney Lynne Stewart (DESPITE HER DISBARMENT I WILL CONTINUE TO CALL HER ATTORNEY) where they want her. Ms. Stewart had previously been indicted on the vague and flimsy charge of "materially" aiding terrorism by essentially, on the record presented by the government at the trial, providing zealous advocacy for her client, Sheik Rahman, who had been convicted in various terrorist schemes including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. At a trial in Federal District Court in New York City where the prosecution used every scare tactic in the post- 9/11 “War on Terror” playbook she was convicted. On October 16, 2006 she was finally sentenced on the charges. The federal judge in the case noting the severity of the crime but also the invaluable service that Ms. Stewart had rendered to the voiceless and downtrodden sentenced her to 28 months.

This sentence has been described as victory of sorts by Attorney Stewart and other commentators. The ever upbeat Ms. Stewart is quoted as stating that she, like some of her clients, could do that time “standing on her head”. Well, that may be, but the fact of the matter is that Attorney Stewart should not have been indicted, should not have been convicted and most definitely not sentenced for her actions on behalf of her client. Only the fact that the judge did not totally surrender to the government’s blatant appeals to “national security” issues and sentence her to the thirty years that they requested makes this any kind of “victory”. That joy over any lesser sentence could be considered as such is a telling reminder of the times we live in.

This case and the publicity surrounding it has dramatically warned any attorney who is committed to zealous defense of an unpopular or voiceless client to back off or face the consequences. The chilling effect on such advocacy, in some cases the only possible way to truly defend a client in this overheated reactionary atmosphere, is obvious. Moreover, the whole question of “material” aid to terrorism is a Pandora’s box for any political activist or even a merely interested non-political participant in any organization on the government’s “hit” list.

The government has the possibility of appealing the sentence to the Federal Court of Appeals so as of today October 18, 2006 the travails of Ms. Stewart are not over. Moreover, her conviction is still on appeal. From what I can gather in any reasonably quiet appeals court some of more blatant actions by the prosecution at trial would warrant, at minimum, a new trial if not the overturning of the conviction. Again, in these times such confidence may be unwarranted. I might add the “people’s lawyer” Lynne Stewart needs financial help to wage these new battles. Please consider sending a donation to the Lynne Stewart Defense Fund or to the organization I support- the Partisan Defense Committee- which will forward the donation. You can google either organization for addresses.



The Ghost Of Delores Landon (nee Riley)-A Si Landon Story

The Ghost Of Delores Landon (nee Riley)-A Si Landon Story  

By Zack James

[The Pete Markin mentioned in the sketch below is the late Peter Paul Markin who despite a lot of serious work as a journalist back in the early 1970s fell off the wagon down south of the border and fell down shot dead with a couple of slugs in some desolate back alley in Sonora after a busted drug deal as far as anybody in America was able to find out. The Peter Markin who moderates this site is a pseudonym for a guy, Frank Jackman, who along with Si Landon, Jack Callahan, Frankie Riley, Josh Breslin and a bunch of other guys knew Markin in the old days and has taken the pseudonym in honor of his fallen comrade who before his untimely end taught him a lot about the world and its ways. “Peter Paul Markin”]          

Si Landon like a lot of guys, gals too, but this is about guys from his now creeping aging generation, a generation a guy, Pete Markin  who hung around with Si in the old days, the old high school days around North Adamsville where they grew up called the “generation of ‘68” because that seemed to have been the watershed year in the explosive 1960s which they all had been  washed by, washed clean by at least for a while, was a man of hard-bitten memory. Had remembered whatever needed to be remembered when called upon by the surviving members of the tribe, the corner boys they called themselves back in the late 1950s, early 1960s when everybody, every professional everybody from teachers and the cops to the Governor was trying to figure out why ordinary growing up working class guys were so sullen, so “alienated” was the term most frequently used, from what has been called the golden age of the American working class and its progeny. Had despite drifting away from the old crowd more than most in the recent past had that “remembering” gene activated big time after a period of dormancy.      

Si was, according to Frankie Riley, who was anointed the leader of the leaderless corner boys who hung around the corner of Doc’s Drugstore up on Sudbury Street near the Josiah Adams School (the town was named after this head of an illustrious ship-building family who had help settle the town back, way back, when religious dissenters, dissenters from orthodox Puritanism, were not welcomed in Boston) something of a loner. A guy who was genial enough on those awkward Friday and Saturday nights when they shared their individual alienations collectively, but more inclined than anybody to brood endlessly and walk alone along the existential beaches that dotted the old town. So it had been no surprise that he was the first to leave the group, drift away would probably be a better way to put it, once they graduated from hallowed North Adamsville High School.        

What the corner boys, what anybody who came in contact with Si back then, did not know was that Si’s family life was something like a living hell on a day to day basis. The only one who did have an inkling was that same Markin mentioned up in the brackets whom Si would confide in when things got really bad and he had to stay over at Markin’s house when he for the umpteenth time got kicked out of his family house for some schoolboy misbehavior. Si would tell the others, tell the lie, the big lie, that he had walked out of the   
house, had decided to seek the next best thing, had decided to seek a newer world a term he learned from a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson that he had read in English class in school and then a few days later would be seen coming out of the family house. You get the drift.   

The cause of Si’s constant anguish had a name, had a name to be conjured with. Delores Landon nee Riley the latter surname reflecting the overwhelmingly Irish “Acre” neighborhood where Si and about three prior generations of Rileys had grown up, some to prosper others like the Landons to suffer the slings and arrows of misfortune since Delores had not only married outside the neighborhood, outside the religion, outside the Irish diaspora, a decided no-no, but had married what the whole clan had determined was beneath her status as lace curtain progeny. Had married Si’s father, a southern redneck transported by fate, and world politics, World War II-style, to finish up his time as a Marine at the well-known Riverdale Naval Depot and the rest was history, family history mostly kept under the rug. That rug referring to a neighborhood steeped in the tradition of not “airing the family business in public,” of keeping closed-mouth about what was going on inside the house (or inside the brain). Si’s father Lawrence was nothing but a high school drop-out whose lack of skills and education would be the torment of one Delores Landon once the reality of that teenage marriage and the five subsequent children, all boys, sunk in.     

Moreover it did not help that Si was the oldest of the lot and therefore bore the brunt of Delores’ unspoken anger at her situation. Unspoken to anybody but Si upon whom it came out as continual carping and belittling from the time that the last, mercifully the last, of the Landon siblings were born. The anger, the righteous Delores anger came out in little ways and large. Little by the constant pressure on Si to act beyond his years as a secondary father figure to the younger boys. Any variation, any trouble that normal Acre boys got into without much damage got magnified way out of proportion in screaming matches that while they were held in private could be heard all the way to Adamsville proper. An example, small but one that the great rememberer would brood about even fifty years later. 

In fifth grade at a time in the neighborhood where boys and girls started to see each other as interesting rather than as something to be avoided like the plague Si had been sweet on one Rosalind Lahey, a born heartbreaker as would later prove to be the case but just then the focal point of his un-channeled lust. As things went in school life then Miss Willow had planned a dance exhibition to show parents what little well-versed social creatures their off-spring had turned into. As blind fate would have it the dance exhibition was about square dancing which Miss Willow had spent several months trying to teach her charges. As double fate would have it Si was to be paired with Rosalind. So Si thought it natural when Miss Willow told the class that they should make an effort to dress up as country folk, farmers to do something to impress Rosalind. That was when overheated brain Si decided that if he cut up the bottoms of the one of two pairs of dungarees to his name that he would impress the lady Rosalind. He did so as it turned out before the exhibition and before the parents arrived including Delores Landon (Lawrence was trying to hold onto for dear life a nighttime extra pay job and so could not attend which was probably just as well).           

Things were okay until the dancing squares were formed and somehow Delores spotted what Si had done to his pants and let out a blood-curdling cry against her son. Said right there in public so you know that it was a bad time how could Si disgrace and disrespect his parents meager hold on reality and cut  up one of his only two pairs of pants which moreover were slated to be handed down soon to the next oldest boy, Norman. Needless to say that was the end of any “romance” with the fickle Rosalind. But that was not the worst of it for he was grounded for the next two weeks and the subject of the “belt” from his father. Even that was not the worse since for about the next four years until something more serious replaced it in Delores ammunition dump of grievances Si and whoever else was around the hearth got an earful about Si’s rotten deed.

That event four years later would set up what would be an on-going battle between mother and son for the next forty years or so until she passed away. (Si would be estranged for longer and shorter periods from high school onward and would not even attend Delores’ funeral so you know how bad the blood between them had been.) The simple fact was that Delores between her young age at marriage and on-going health problems from complications in a couple of her deliveries coupled with extreme economic distress for most of Si’s time at the family house was in way over her head whatever love she had, and it was untiring devoted love, for Lawrence Landon. (Si would regale his corner boys with his stories about that extreme economic distress-long-hand for the weekly “envelopes”-the envelopes which sat on the kitchen table every Thursday payday for the various bill collectors one at least each week would be empty and the stall would be on for a week’s reprieve. When things got really bad the envelopes were all “short.” Si dearly knew those weeks because those would be the weeks when he from about age six to twelve after which he refused to do the arduous chore anymore and it was farmed out to his brother Norman had to go with the envelope to the landlord and look very sheepish, very sheepish with the “tide over until good times” short money. Little did Si know then that in “don’t air your dirty linen in public” Acre that his corner boys could have retailed the same kind of stories.       

That inability of Delores to do anything more than rant and rave at Si in her frustration combined with that economic distress which the late Pete Markin called the “wanting habits” the whole crowd suffered from left him with very few outlets for his own anger. Made him very malleable when it came to any kind of ways to grab some dough or to do some other misadventure. That misadventure part happened one night when Si had just turned sixteen and he and a few corner boys, he would not mention any names, still wouldn’t almost fifty years later, when he was the only one caught, had “hot-wired” a 1959 Chevy and went joy-riding down the causeway one hot summer night. Problem: Si had no driver’s license when he crashed into a stone wall and the others fled leaving him to face the inevitable coppers alone. Fortunately the guy whose car was stolen had adequate insurance to cover the damage but Si wound up with six months’ probation in “juvvy.”

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Delores and was the very first of an untold number of kicks out of the house (Si always disputed whether he was kicked out or had left of his own volition on each occasion including the last serious one when he left the house for good never to return to stay, never.)  That was the way things went for the next forty years as was already mentioned with longer and longer periods between temporary reconciliations. The main thrust of the battles royals was that Si was some version of the devil incarnate which Delores was made to suffer against some unknown offense against the church, the church being the holy apostolic Roman Catholic Church which was the only serious religious expression in the Acre dominated by the Irish and the Italians.      

Here’s the funny thing in the long haul which will make the story sort of byzantine. Si would go on to be a fairly successful lawyer in Boston although Delores refused to recognize that accomplishment. She would dwell on the more mundane fact of his three unsuccessful marriage, no that is not right, she would have known only about two of them but the three unsuccessful marriages is right and the failure of that third one is what brings us back to the ghost of Delores Landon. A few months before, maybe six months, his third wife, Maria, had given Si his walking papers. Had told him that between his eternal moodiness and withdrawal and her own need to “find herself” they were done as a couple after nearly a decade of marriage. (Delores had always hated Maria since she was “one of those,” a heathen, a bloody Protestant, English to boot, forgetting, conveniently forgetting, that the late Lawrence Landon, the love of her life, had been a Southern Baptist before he converted after agreeing to raise the children as Catholics when they were married. Married not in the church because he was a Protestant but in the rectory by the parish priest who from all accounts was not pleased to perform the ceremony.)         

The immediate effect of their separation was that Maria would stay in the marriage house for the sake of the children and that “rolling stone” Si would go fend for himself someplace. Initially he had taken a sublet from a friend’s daughter who was heading to Europe for six months. When that six months was up, actually before that six months was up Si decided once it was finally very clear that Maria was not going to attempt any sort of reconciliation that he needed some feeling of rootedness, some grounding after all the years of feeling out of sorts, feeling like some silly alienated youth which he found that he never really grew out of. So he decided to go back to the old town, old North Adamsville. Since he was not up for buying a condo he had decided to rent one for a year and see if that helped his situation. He eventually found a place not far from where he had grown up. The place had been an old elementary schoolhouse which had been several years before due to changes in the demographics of the neighborhood and its ethnic composition closed down, sold and converted to condos.       

Although Si had not gone to the school, Adams, named after that same Josiah who was a big wheel in shipbuilding in the town’s more prosperous days, since he had gone to elementary school across town at the Harbor school, three of his younger brothers had and so he thought it ironic that “what goes around, comes around.” He did not think much more about the matter until he moved into his new rental, his condo. Of course converting an old school into individual units was no big deal just reconfigure the old classrooms. What the converters had done though was to keep some of the flavor of the old school in the main foyer by preserving various aspects of the school when it was functioning as such. One of the things that they had done was to place many of the early graduating classes on the walls. Si still didn’t think much of the matter until he noticed a newspaper article in the North Adamsville Gazette announcing the opening of the school in 1925. Damn.

The school was located only a block from where Delores had grown up and so she would have gone to elementary school there in the early 1930s. And sure enough when he perused the various class pictures from the early 1930s there among the Class of 1931 was one Delores Riley. Si freaked. A few nights later when he was a little restless not about his discovery but about the finality of the split with Maria he thought he heard a voice, a shrill voice calling out that he would never amount to anything. Probably just the wind gusting outside but he shuddered to think that he would have to live with the “ghost” of Delores Landon for the duration. Double Damn.