Saturday, December 22, 2018

Happy Birthday Keith Richards-From The Archives- The Cultural Contradictions Of The Generation Of '68


Those who have followed this space over the past year may have noticed that I have spend some little time going back down memory lane some forty years to that decisive year of 1968, a year to which I have attached the term the 'Generation of ’68'-the generation who fought or fought against the Vietnam war and other issues of that day. Blame the misbegotten elections of 2008 for my preoccupations. I expected to spend more time on that presidential campaign but around June of this year I discovered that it was basically so much “ill wind” abrewing. So onward.

Of course the generic term ‘Generation of ‘68’, like that of our immediate forbears the media-crowned ‘greatest generation’, is as much a metaphor for what we attempted to do in those days on a social, political and cultural level as an actual definable structured phenomena. In the past I have mentioned that we, mainly out of innocence or better still ignorance (sometimes willfully so, as in the early rejection of Marxism as a guide to seeing things) made every mistake in the social, political and cultural book. We have, unfortunately, lived to pay for those essentially youthful mistakes with a forty year ‘blow back’ from the reactionaries who have had a free run of this country ever since.

If today, in December 2008, we have a little breathing room for our old time visions we best think things through better this time because, as it turns out, we are historically only given limited space and time to prove that we are capable of listening to “the better angels of our natures”. That said, as I have been at pains to point out in this space, not all of our long ago efforts should be dismissed out of hand. I nevertheless want to use this entry as a place to examine some of the cultural conceptions that, upon reflection, while they seemed very radical and progressive then seem kind of stale and ‘corny’ today. I intend this as a continuing entry through the next year or so. Feel free to add your "howlers" from the old days. Here’s the grab bag for now.

Back To The Archives, Please.

The Rolling Stones: Sympathy For The Devil, starring The Rolling Stones (1968 members), directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1968

In an entry elsewhere in this space I noted my early youth allegiance to The Rolling Stones with the following remarks:

“I am not sure exactly when I first hear a Stones song although it was probably “Satisfaction”. However, what really hooked me on them was when I hear them cover the old Willie Dixon blues classic “The Red Rooster”. If you will recall that song was banned, at first, from the radio stations of Boston. Later, I think, and someone can maybe help me out on this, WMEX broke the ban and played it. And no, the song was not about the doings of our barnyard friends. But, beyond that it was the fact that it was banned that made me, and perhaps you, want to hear it at any cost….

That event began my long love affair with the blues. And that is probably why, although American blues also influenced the Beatles, it is the Stones that I favor. Their cover still holds up, by the way. Not as good, as I found out later, as the legendary Howlin' Wolf’s version but good. I have also thought about The Stones influence recently as I have thought about the long ago past of my youth. Compare some works like John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” and The Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” (yes, I know these are later works) and I believe that you will find that something in the way The Stones presented that angry, defiant sound appealed to my working class alienation.”

Thus when I recently re-watched this Stones-based documentary, self-styled political manifesto and 'new wave' film by one of the cultural hero-directors of the 1960’s I expected to get as excited over its presentation as the first time I saw it. Well, here is the “skinny”. I still love The Stones’ song “Sympathy For The Devil” the production of which forms the core of this film. I do not, however, need to see the creation of this musical rock and roll gem over the course of an hour and one-half interspersed with one thousand and one of Godard’s pre-occupations of the day from Marxism to pornography to racism to Black Nationalist politics. In out youths we accepted anything that was new, different and haphazard as pure as the driven snow. Forty years later this reviewer may be a more little jaded but certainly less self-indulgent, as Godard should have been in directing this film. Some things from the 1960’s age very well like the social commitment to “seek a newer world”. Others are best left in the archives.

Strictly For Aficionados

The “Genuine” Basement Tapes”, Volumes 1-5, Bob Dylan and The Band (1967 members), Alternate Edge Productions, 2002

In a review of Bob Dylan’s “The Freewheeling Bob Dylan” elsewhere in this space I noted:

“In reviewing Bob Dylan’s 1965 classic album “Bringing All Back Home” (you know, the one where he went electric) I mentioned that it seemed hard to believe now that both as to the performer as well as to what was being attempted that anyone would take umbrage at a performer using an electric guitar to tell a folk story (or any story for that matter). I further pointed out that it is not necessary to go into all the details of what or what did not happen with Pete Seeger at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 to know that one should be glad, glad as hell, that Bob Dylan continued to listen to his own drummer and carry on a career based on electronic music.”

And I am still glad of that fact. What I am less enamored of is the virtual cottage industry that has grown up around various bootleg, basement, cellar, barn, attic or other odd location versions of Dylan’s work, electric or acoustic. This archival material is nice for folk, rock and cultural historians but I would argue that Mr. Bob Dylan’s usually well-produced albums are after over forty years more than enough to listen to without having to get into the minutia of his career. And, somehow, made to feel in the process that one has missed something without this other more esoteric material. In short, these five volumes of practice, outtakes, cuts, etc. done with The Band while he was “hiding” out in rural New York after his motorcycle accident are strictly for aficionados.

That said, for those who insist on getting their little hands on this material here is the “scoop”. From Volume One- “Odds And Ends”. From Volume Two- “Quinn The Eskimo”. From Volume Three-“Tiny Montgomery”, “Santa Fe” and “Sign Of The Cross (excellent)”. From Volume Four- “You Ain’t Going Nowhere”, “Confidential To Me” and “Bring It On Home”. From Volume Five (the album to get if you get just one)-“Four Strong Winds”, Joshua Gone Barbados” “I Forgot To Remember To Forget”, “Bells Of Rhymney”, “Spanish Is The Loving Tongue”, “Cool Water”, “Banks Of The Royal Canal”. These are all covers and very nicely done, if sometimes hard to hear.

Once Again, On Those Damn Tapes

The Basement Tapes, Bob Dylan and The Band (1967 members), CBS Records, 1975

Parts of this review were used in a review of The “Genuine” Basement Tapes. I make most of the same objections here for this set as I did there, except if you need to choose between the two the quality of the production values here is greater than on the former. Although the more I listen to Volume 5 of the “genuine” tapes with that “Joshua Gone Barbados” and hard to hear but mesmerizing cover of “ I Forgot To Remember to Forget” and a couple of others I am starting to waver.

In a review of Bob Dylan’s “The Freewheeling Bob Dylan” elsewhere in this space I noted:

“In reviewing Bob Dylan’s 1965 classic album “Bringing All Back Home” (you know, the one where he went electric) I mentioned that it seemed hard to believe now that both as to the performer as well as to what was being attempted that anyone would take umbrage at a performer using an electric guitar to tell a folk story (or any story for that matter). I further pointed out that it is not necessary to go into all the details of what or what did not happen with Pete Seeger at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 to know that one should be glad, glad as hell, that Bob Dylan continued to listen to his own drummer and carry on a career based on electronic music.”

And I am still glad of that fact. What I am less enamored of is the virtual cottage industry that has grown up around various bootleg, basement, cellar, barn, attic or other odd location versions of Dylan’s work, electric or acoustic. This archival material is nice for folk, rock and cultural historians but I would argue that Mr. Bob Dylan’s usually well-produced albums are after over forty years more than enough to listen to without having to get into the minutia of his career. And, somehow, left to feel that one has missed something without this other more esoteric material. That same sentiment applies to the virtuoso work of The Band in their heyday. And certainly to their joint work. In short, this two disc set of practice, outtakes, cuts, etc. done with The Band while he was “hiding” out in rural New York after his motorcycle accident are strictly for aficionados.

That said, for those who insist on getting their little hands on this material here is the “scoop”. “Tears Of Rage” ; “You Ain’t Going Nowhere”; “Yazoo Street Scandal” and “Odds and Ends” are what you are getting this CD for. That does not seem like enough given what I mentioned above.

Happy Birthday Keith Richards- *The Hoochie Coochie Man- The Blues of Muddy Waters - Muddy Becomes Muddy

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Muddy Waters in performance mode.

CD Review

Muddy Becomes Muddy

Muddy Waters: First Recording Sessions, 1941-1946, In Chronological Order, Document Records, 1991

I have spent very little ink over the past year as I go through some of the great acoustic and electric blues guitars and performers on the iconic Muddy Waters. I have explained elsewhere some of my reasoning for this as well as other personal preferences that I wanted to highlight first. Nevertheless when all is said and done no one who loves the blues in its various incantations can avoid the influence and importance of Muddy’s work.

I will argue here that this little compilation of early, mainly pre-Chicago electric blues Muddy is a worthy historical document on two counts. First, because it is in chronological order it shows the evolution of Muddy’s style from the traditional country blues sound of the Delta that was becoming passé. Secondly, because some of this pre-Chicago sound is, to this reviewer’s ear at least, better than many of his later pieces. As evidence I would point to the pure jam efforts on the classic “Joe Turner’s Blues” and “Pearlie May Blues”. Then move down to “Mean Spider Blues” and “Come To Me Baby”. None of these are in the league of “Mannish Boy” when he got it going but I think this is worthy Muddy. The argument continues.

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin- When Woody Allen Ruled The Social Satire (And Adult Angst) Night

[In a recent introduction to this new series, a series based on short film reviews for films that deserve short reviews if not just a thumb’s up or down I noted that Allan Jackson, the deposed previous site manager, required his film reviewers to write endlessly about the film giving the material an almost cinema studies academic journal take on it. That caused a serious decline in the number of reviews over the years which I hope to make up with a flurry of snap reviews for busy people. To see in full why check the archives for November 28, 2018- Not Ready For Prime Time But Ready For Some Freaking Kind Of Review Film Reviews To Keep The Writers Busy And Not Plotting Cabals Against The Site Manager-Introduction To The New Series Greg Green]

Short Film Clips

From an American Left History blog review of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall-

 Hey, haven’t I already reviewed this movie. No, sorry that was Manhattan another in the line of very witty Woody Allen movies. But the point is this it is the same subject that Woody addressed there even though chronologically Annie Hall came first by a couple of years and received the lion’s share of kudos and awards. As virtually always Allen is intent upon commenting on New York life and its intellectual trends and the ups and downs of relationships, mainly with women. Here he adds a flourish by contrasting old New York (in the 1970’s) to up and coming California as the cultural mecca of the American empire. And, as should be the case, New York wins.

Add to that the perennial issue of Woody’s struggle with ‘interpersonal’ relationships and his angst-driven desire to understand the modern world and you have a very fine social commentary of the times. Needless to say Woody’s love interest Annie Hall (as played by his then paramour Diane Keaton) keeps him hopping. As does an ensemble cast that works well together as foils for his ironic and savage humor. The only surprise in revisiting this film recently is how well Keaton plays her role as an up and coming torch singer. Of course, I have always been a sucker for torch singers but that is another matter. Some of the humor may seem dated and very 1970’s New Yorkish. Some of Woody’s mannerism and use of sight gags may seem like old news. But this is a film to watch or re-watch if you have seen it before.

And hence…

Bullets Over Broadway

Apparently, as long as it involves a New York City scenario Woody Allen is more than happy to take a run at a plot that involves that locale in some way. Here it is the Great White Way- Broadway during its heyday in the Prohibition Era 1920’s that gets his attention (as it has before in the classic Broadway Danny Rose). What really makes this plot line very, very funny and makes the film work however is the twist of interspersing production of a play with nefarious gangster activity.

Here a struggling (weren’t we all and still are) Greenwich Village writer has a play in search of a backer and in the process a gangster ‘ghostwriter’. Up comes one backer-with a problem- his ‘doll’ wants in on the play and he needs to stay one or two steps ahead of his rivals. These antics drive the play nicely as does a brilliant performance by Diane Wierst doing a fantastic send up of Gloria Swanson as the has been actress searching for a comeback in Billy Wilder’s classic Hollywood Boulevard. This one is definitely the five star without the hype.

I Did It My Way-With Bob Dylan’s "Shadows In The Night"CD In Mind

I Did It My Way-With Bob Dylan’s "Shadows In The Night"CD In Mind

By Sam Lowell 

Recently I did a review of Bob Dylan’s CD, Shadows In The Night, a tribute to the king of Tin Pan Alley Frank Sinatra. (No, not as part of the never-ending and getting weird for material bootleg series which I believe is up to volume thirteen or some such number with outtakes and such overriding any real music certainly nothing that hasn’t been done better on the long list of classic album CDs like Blonde on Blonde, Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing It All Back Home) I noted that such an effort was bound to happen if Dylan lived long enough. Strange as it may seem to a generation, the generation of ’68, the AARP generation, okay, baby-boomers who came of age with the clarion call put forth musically by Bob Dylan and others to dramatically break with the music of our parents’ pasts, the music that got them through the Great Depression and slogging through World War II, he has put out an album featuring the work of Mr. Frank Sinatra the king of that era in many our parents’ households. The music of the Broadway shows, Tin Pan Alley, Cole Porter/Irving Berlin/ the Gershwins’ and so on. That proposition though seems less strange if you are not totally mired in the Bob Dylan protest minute of the early 1960s when he with Blowin’ In The Wind, The Times They Are A-Changin’, whether he wanted that designation or not, was the “voice of a generation,” catching the new breeze a lot of us felt coming through the land.

What Dylan has been about for the greater part of his career has been as an entertainer, a guy who sings his songs to the crowd and hopes they share his feelings for his songs. Just like Frank when he was in high tide. What Dylan has also been about through it all has been a deep and abiding respect for the American songbook (look on YouTube to a clip from Don’t Look Back with him doing Hank Williams’ Lost Highway or stuff from the Basement tapes with everything for Williams to Johnny Cash to some old stuff he must have heard coming up in growing up Hibbing, Minnesota). In the old days that was looking for roots, roots music from the mountains, the desolate oceans, the slave quarters, along the rivers and Dylan’s hero then was Woody Guthrie. But the American songbook is a “big tent” operation and the Tin Pan Alley that he broke from when he became his own songwriter is an important part of the overall tradition and now his hero is Frank Sinatra as well.

I may long for the old protest songs, the songs from the album pictured above, you know Blowin’ In The Wind, The Times Are A Changin’ stuff like that, the roots music and not just Woody but Hank, Tex-Mex, the Carters, the odd and unusual like Desolation Row or his cover of Lonnie Johnson’s Tomorrow Night but Dylan has sought to entertain and there is room in his tent for the king of Tin Pan Alley (as Billie Holiday was the queen). Having heard Dylan live and in concert over the past several years with his grating lost voice (it was always about the lyrics not the voice although by comparison that young voice seems not to bad if not always on key) I do wonder though how much production was needed to get the wrinkles out of that voice to sing as smoothly as the “Chairman of the boards.” What goes around comes around.             

When Super-Heroes Go Mano a Mano-“Captain America: Civil War” (2016)-A Film Review

When Super-Heroes Go Mano a Mano-“Captain America: Civil War” (2016)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Phil Larkin

Captain America: Civil War, starring Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johannsson, 2016

[WTF and anybody who is ready this freaking review will know exactly what I am saying and not worry about the kids, since kids don’t come anywhere near this site because they are way too busy texting each other or doing some unearthly social media vamping. Yes, WTF am I, a guy who has shaded three score and ten doing reviewing a Marvel Comic film production about some silly guy who had been frozen since about 1945 and ever since being defrosted has been running his ass off (remember it is okay-no kids will see this) trying to save every American city that he can from various evil parties, parties from a place which bear a striking affinity to the late USSR, the Soviet Union today’s just plan Russia-and Crimea. And now in a brawl with other super-heroes over turf and policy Yeah, what the hell. 

Here is my take and it burns me up because a film that I should have naturally reviewed, Deadline-USA, a late effort by legendary actor Humphrey Bogart which while not his best or most classic work (Casablanca, To Have And Have Not, The Big Sleep, Key Largo are in my book) should have been mine by right. I, who spent many a Saturday afternoon double film matinee with one stretched out bag of popcorn in the second-run Strand Theater in North Adamsville about forty miles south of Boston watching and many times more than once to get out of the chaotic household I grew in at least am old enough to have seen the films before the dust settle on them. Unlike the kid, the young man, this Jacobs kid, who new site manager Greg Green had assigned to do the review, his first, and who came right out and said that he went to the re-run theaters in Michigan with his parents, his parents for God’s sake, when he was nothing but a kid, Didn’t even understand half of what was going on. 
No. This coup has all the earmarks of new site manager Greg Green’s work although I am sure he will deny this simple truth as will this new toady Editorial Board who has bowed to his every wish getting even with me for supporting one hundred per cent, and still supporting, the recently deposed long-time site manager and a childhood friend Allan Jackson. I don’t expect this comment to see the light of day. Probably I will be pieced off with one of those not enough space excuses and told I can have it to introduce my next article when again space limitations will be cited and I will be pieced off until infinity or the end days come around. Bullshit (don’t worry even a stray curious kid has long ago stopped reading this screed as some meanderings of an old three score and ten guy if they know how much that is and that is not a given). But onto the review. Phil Larkin] 

Frank Jackman who writes here now on anything as per the new so-called Editorial Board rule but who used to be the senior political commentator under Jackson and a good one has spent most of the last year proclaiming to everybody who will listen or read that we are in the age of Trump in a cold civil war situation for real. And there is plenty if not definitive proof of that escalating this year rather than as Trump publicity hounds would have it become a dead issue. Compare that real not “fake” storyline with the stuff that this film is throwing your way as Captain America yet again bounces of buildings and people with maybe a scratch or two since they took him out to defrost a few years back comes firing at you (having been in deep freeze since 1945 if you can believe that therefore unlike three score and ten me looking like about twenty-five or whatever graphic the studios are shooting for).   

That said and I hope you can hold your ability to suspend your disbelief long enough for me to give you what my old friend Sam Lowell calls the “skinny” here  (a guy who nevertheless stabbed his old friend Alan in the back by voting with the kids to send him packing).  I will grant no question the super-hero grift is a tough racket. Even with a motley of those with some specialized skills like speed, iron, being good with a bow and arrow, spidery, flame-throwers, robotic, double- flip artists who have the ability to fend off the bad guys they are too few in number to keep the world save from the creeps for long. Moreover for every action they, these so-called avengers, take against the creeps, usually not many at least in the leading cadre  there is “collateral damage” as they say, innocents by the scores, hundred, thousands,  get wasted through no fault of their own.

The question becomes, ever for those running kinds who make up the avenger herd, a moral one. Against cutting off a few bad guys who will just be replaced by another crop how many innocents must die. That is the premise behind the duel to the death here not only against the bad guys but with a falling out among the good guys when push comes to shove between the immoral rogues and the guilty accommodators. And it will be push come to shove when the various super-heroes pick up sides. Those who are willing to come under some international control commission to become essentially a super elite special forces operation working under instructions and those who want to roam free and kill whatever they can and let the devil take the hinter-post.       

Leading the rogue element, the don’t give a fuck about casualties, is this former ninety-eight pound weakling out of an old matchbook Charles Atlas kick sand in your face advertisement who gets boosted up like crazy so he can run, fight and bounce off walls is the aforementioned Captain America played by bean-head Chris Evans. This is the third film in the series so we already know his bio-and his trail of destruction. He can do everything but think beyond the killing fields he has created. Leading the civilized avengers, a brainy guy who can actually think before he acts Stark aka Ironman, played by Robert Downey, Jr. who is, catching on about that collateral damage outweighs whatever bad guys get wasted argument, willing to take himself and some others into that elite unit under international control. That is how the good guys divide up and since they all have checkered pasts the line-up splits down the middle. Of course the joker is the bad guys led by the totally berserk Winter Solider, played by Sebastian Stan, who is really an old buddy of the Captain’s who has been brain-washed by the Russians to do their dirty work. A little Cold War I scenario familiar from Le Carre novels and James Bond films.      

So the so-called tensions between the two factions mount especially when Winter Soldier allegedly blows an international conference building to smithereens with heavy causalitie. Wrong fall guy as it turned out and when he is captured miraculously he goes over the Captain’s side just like the old days once he is out of range of his handlers and their nefarious skills. But there are still those government toady avengers to deal with and so the two sides go mano a mano until, well, until it is discovered that some over-the top nefarious fourth party, a Doctor Zemo has been manipulating the whole controversy for his own sense of revenge. So all the old gang get back together after waylaying each other in such a manner that mere mortals would have gone beyond the pale long ago-or held some serious long-standing grudges. Yeah, now you know why I said WTF. Give me a hard-boiled rough-edged private detective, a salty sea captain ready to do his bit for the cause, ditto a nightclub/café owner in the Kasbah, or another private detective who sends a gun-simple femme fatale over for the big step-off Bogie just regular anti-hero any day.        

“Once Again on North Adamsville Fourth Of July" And No Fireworks Of The Good Kind Around

 “Once Again on North Adamsville Fourth Of July" And No Fireworks Of The Good Kind Around -With Elvis' " I Forget To Remember To Forget" In Mind

 By Frank Jackman

Professor Loring, oh, I won’t be formal, Linny, if I recall I think I saw a photo of you in the Magnet [school yearbook] one time as a member of the Russian Club. [In those red scare Cold War days after Sputnik and a rise in tensions in relationships at critical points, like with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, it was not at all clear whether we would not all be speaking Russian after everything was said and done. Apparently some students, including Melinda, wanted a running start.] And I think some place I read that you were a Russian history major or something like that so you probably remember the samizdat movement where the dissidents had to speak in strange Aesopian phrases or say things in a certain way to express themselves. [Of course Sam knew both that she had been in the Russian Club and had been a history major, although not Russian history since they had spent many a pillow talk night discussing just such matters, Jesus. The “samizdat” reference is a beauty since even I had forgotten the term since the demise of the Soviet Union and the word had become something of an anachronism, double Jesus.] That is what this classmate website seems like sometimes since many times short replies are necessary, etc. I think of how strange it is that we are Message Forum #74 and 75 as I answer this and are right next to each other in cyberspace although we live very far apart from each other. It’s a great tool to have though. [A reference to her posting that old time 4th of July photograph that wound up next to a reply he was making about some aspect of his 4th experiences. Laced as well with some Sam symbolic cosmic meaning that I still have not quite figured out and did not want to ask about since I did not need another six hour run on that “written in the stars” theme he was ambling on about between shots of high-shelf whiskey.]  
Needless to say I am very happy that Professor Garland, I will use that designation here, has read my Fourth of July sketch and I am also very happy that you shared that photo of you and the Norfolk gang from back in the day although now with sadness. [Norfolk Melinda’s growing up section of North Adamsville.] Were we ever that young? I wish I had some photos from then. About that July 4th sketch I have been telling everybody they should go back and re-read the dedication though because I have changed it some.
[Sam had made yet another fatal mistake by including a fetching, yes, fetching photograph of Laura with an inscription about how she had stood by him as his “best friend” which he had placed in the site prior to seeing Melinda’s placement of her California photograph. He had quickly deleted Laura’s photo in some kind of frenzied reaction to what her reaction might be. By the way the word “fatal,” is Sam’s term whenever I use it here and was based purely on his speculation as noted previously since Melinda has not said word one to him since that awful highway parting, I have my own terms for his dizzy schemes.]  
Maybe if you have time you could write a little something expanding on what was going on in the photo you posted. You know what events took place, did you have tonic [soda] and ice cream and so on. Or you could write about anything like the nice thing you wrote about Miss Hooker.
I know from your In Memory contribution to Alice Hardy (also for Corrine and Linda) that you were great friends. [All three, now deceased, had been on the float that posted Melinda photo.] Funny because as you know she was very much into photography at some point. I actually have a photo that she had taken some time ago of the North Adamsville Yacht Club that I am looking as I write this message that somebody had bought and had given me. [Guess who that somebody might have been, triple Jesus.]
I also noticed that you updated your profile page and placed a couple of photos of you and your longtime friend and our fellow classmate Donna Mario out in California celebrating your birthday. Belated best wishes. [Like he hadn’t already sent those previous private e-mails saying the same thing.] Funny I was out in California last month on business, San Francisco. I had wanted to go to Big Sur but things did not work out for one reason or another so I only got as far as Pacifica. I know I sure would like to get to Big Sur some time since I am crazy for Jack Kerouac these days and I recently saw a film adaptation of his book Big Sur by that name. [Of course he and Melinda were to go to Big Sur after they visited Donna on that projected trip.]
By the way both of you look very nice in those photos. I would say “hot” but I don’t think members of the 68 club that you and I are now in (although not Kathy, right?) are supposed to say such things. [Saying things like “hot” which I suppose could mean “sexy” as well are part of what got him before the lord high executioner, the site webmaster. Jesus you would think, hell, I would think if I was a, ah, “mature woman,” that if anybody, even and old geezer like Sam said I was hot that would make my day. Actually if any women said that to me it would make my day.] Especially to people they don’t know very well or haven’t seen in a long time. [Humility itself here, Sam.]
Someone on site says aging sucks and I agree. All the aches and pains gathering like a storm I know you must feel that way after that hip surgery you had. BTW I hope you have recovered fully and are okay. 
I hope you are going to the prom, oops, it feels like a prom the way things are going, I mean reunion. [The way Sam explained this one was that since neither of them had gone to the senior prom they were, in sunnier days, planning to use the reunion as the prom. Fair enough.] Please write stuff here if you have some time. Regards, your fellow classmate. Sam Lowell”    
[Honestly I had to re-read this screed a couple of times to figure out how anybody would figure out what he was referring to who was also not equipped with a Rosetta Stone or some such ancient deciphering tool, much less see the damn thing as a love letter, coded or not. Actually my first response had been-what the f- -k and then I started laughing at the almost sophomoric way, yes sixteen-ish way, he was thinking. I held off for a while in telling him that though. When I did mention the flim-flam of the thing he too broke into laughter, but I felt bringing the matter up was a close thing.]        

That Message Forum note elicited no response from Melinda.   

Then Sam got the bright idea to make a “cute” comment about how sexy the two women looked in that earlier posted photo by Melinda. [Apparently you can make comments under the photos which is where Sam said he placed the remarks. That is both open to public (class public) view and cannot be deleted, except by the webmaster.     
“Well Dan McNulty [an ex-football player and flame of Donna according to Sam] may have lost a step, may have become a little modest in his old age, maybe has played too much golf or something, I don’t know. I will be a little forward though since I am in a flirty mood today. From where I sit whether you are partial to dark–haired, brown-eyed, ruby-red-lipped women [Donna] or favor light brown-haired, pale blue-eyed, no lipstick ones [Melinda] they are “hot.” 16 or 68 (is Donna 68 yet?) Is anybody going to argue with me? I think not.” 
[Yes, very definitely that would put a bug in the ear of somebody who was not speaking to a guy, who was pretending not to know him. This comment has trouble all over it and you do not need a Rosetta Stone to figure that out. Sorry Sam, that’s the bitter truth, and that is a sophomoric mistake if I ever saw one.]          
That posting brought down the “cops,” the webmaster Delores. It seems (although Sam is still not sure of the exact story since we know Melinda has never spoken or written to him since she dumped him) that she took umbrage at Sam’s remarks and got in touch with Delores who read Sam the riot act about appropriate behavior on the site threatening bloody murder if he did not stop bothering Melinda.
That “snitch” (and here I agree with his classification of the deed being an old-time corner boy myself) to the “cops” was the end for Sam. A boyhood corner boy like me, a working-class corner boy who had followed a certain code established seemingly from time immemorial did not countenance squealing, not for this silly stuff. Snitching to anybody but certainly not to authorities of whatever degree. Sam wrote one last personal e-mail to her commercial e-mail address (he had been warned not to use the class site to contact her by the “cops”) with a very cutting e-mail finally giving up the ghost of that relationship. [I am being polite here using the term “cutting.” I turned red when I read his draft although there was nothing obscene in the thing but any normal person might have avoided the word “bloated” to a mature woman or low-rent to anybody. Worse, far worse, even mentioning Laura’s name to “seeing red” Melinda.]
“Melinda-Laura was right. You are turning into vicious bloated old hag. I should have listened to her. Six month later and we are reduced to this. I was only trying to be friends with you. Now I finally see the light. For the first time I am glad that you dumped me. Now I can write you off as the latest chapter in the low-rent continuing saga of the North Adamsville bummer that has followed my life. I have had enough.”        
[Nothing more need be said by me.]
Moreover, since in the communications between him and Delores  seemed to him to have cast him as some kind of lonely-heart “cyberspace” stalker of an older woman, he set Delores straight about what had been what was going on between Melinda and him since it was apparent that she was taking Melinda’s side or assuming Melinda’s case was clear-cut. (Melinda used Delores as an intermediary and did not communicate with him directly also not good form from an old corner boy perspective.) Delores had threatened to kick him off the site and made other remarks that indicated to him that she was not getting the whole story so he felt he had to lay his cards out on the table. Here is Sam’s part of the e-mail traffic around this controversy since he does not have Delores permission to use her name and the messages are pretty straight forward anyway:
“Delores- Finally on this whole mess-or as you say trying to let it die a quiet death part of this whole flare-up with Melinda from NH (I don't know who else would be complaining and do not need to know since everything else is I think straightened out between you and me) was my attempt to be friends or civil for a reason. [Delores did not initially identify who was complaining about what Sam had written but since Melinda’s photos were the only ones where he placed a message he identified her.] Melinda has said on her profile page that she intends to go to the reunion. I obviously am going and so I was trying to smooth things over since the way things were left between us (and probably for her as well) was not good. My long- time companion Laura has been talking about wanting to go the reunion. So you can see where things were heading. 

I was using Melinda’s posted photo of her and Donna (and a Message Forum message which you deleted) in what appears to be an ill-advised effort to break the ice since I didn't want to have a bad evening filled with tension, etc. for either of us but, frankly, mainly for me. I am sure that this information is far more than you need or want to know but Melinda could have e-mailed me at my Comcast address as she has it (as I have hers so I would not have to make that one NA64 e-mail if I thought she would answer the Comcast one) rather than put you in the middle. That is apparently how bad things are between us. Hopefully all this will have died its proper death by September but who knows. (Maybe we can hire another ballroom at BW for all the estranged ones). So that is the inside story and I am sure you understand that this information is between you and me in case Melinda contacts you for some reason.  At least you have my part, or part of my part of the story. I will not try to contact her again in any case (or make comments on her page except maybe vanilla stuff if she posts something like the photo of Norfolk July 4th 1962 like I would with anybody.  Yeah, 16 or 68 relationships are hard to figure. Later "oh great dudette webmaster" -Thanks for your input and actually your help as well-the Dude (or is it dud)-Sam”       

And then:

“Delores- I just sent you an e-mail detailing what I was trying to do.  I have not sent any e-mails on the class website so I am not what you are talking about. If it is about Melinda then I have explained my situation and will say yesterday that I sent one last Comcast e-mail to her [that one with bloated, low-rent and Laura in it] which I do not know whether she has received or not. If it is somebody else then let me know who because I have not sent any female classmate a message either on the site or through my own personal Comcast-mail. Why would anybody including Melinda put you in the middle like this? If it is Melinda she has no right to cause me problems with you or the site when she has my e-mail address. If she has a problem which I think I addressed yesterday then she can e-mail or write me. This is all will say for now until you explain better what is going on. I was startled by your message to be honest. This has to straightened out and let's get it done today if possible.”

And yet again [after another e-mail from Delores complaining that Sam had not stopped using the class e-mail system to contact Melinda as she had requested]:

“Delores - I have not posted anything on Melinda’s page since Thursday I think which you deleted-so I am not sure what is going on with this. I have just sent another e-mail to you and will wait on your response but what the heck is going on here and why are you being put in the middle of a personal dispute. And why am I being put in the middle here through you by somebody I cared about and think highly of in my apparently ill-advised attempt to smooth things over. I said before 16 or 68 it does not get easier. Later Sam” 
“And then after several hours of getting enraged, bitter, and in order to defend himself and what he was about this e-mail:
“Delores-the more I think about it the more I think you should know some facts about whatever is wrong between Melinda and me. That “threatening to throw me off the site” and the way you emphasized that point about not e-mailing female classmates (really Melinda) and your “scary” reference has me feeling you should know some facts that she has, or has not, related to you. The way you presented the situation to me was like I was some lonely-heart  cyberspace “stalker” preying upon some older woman from out of nowhere- I will present some other facts that you should weigh. For better or worse at least until this is settled you are in the middle- I am sorry for that since I consider you the heart and soul of NA64 and a fine person who should never have to deal with this.     
1-Melinda is not some faint-hearted female but a very strong, assertive person who should be able to deal with this situation on her own. Christ this is all about e-mails, comments and stuff not some abuse thing. That strength was part of my attraction to her. 
2. In our good days we would exchange about six zillion e-mails a day so this whole e-mail thing is rather strange since before this past week when I e-mailed her once on site (saying I missed her basically), put a comment on her profile page (basically telling she was “hot” and hoping she was doing well) and wrote a reply to her on the MF (which I sent to you earlier) and a cutting Comcast e-mail yesterday before she called our affair off in early April I had sent her exactly two e-mails –one to ask her to be friends, the other a couple of weeks ago sending birthday wishes.
3. Who do think was the person who cared for Melinda a lot up in NH when she had her hip surgery in Feb/March?
4. Who do you think encouraged her to write the Ms Hooper article and her painful parts biography on her profile page.
5. This one will be ironic now-who got mad when I called a classmate “hot” in a personal e-mail which I did not include her. 
6. Why do you think I picked the recent Melinda-Donna photo from CA. Originally her and I were supposed to go see Donna in June to celebrate Melinda’s birthday-so that did not come out of nowhere. Also we were to go to Big Sur. 
7. I am not altogether even now sure of the exact reasons why Melinda decided to split up with me because she refused to see me in person after she made her decision. I know a couple of things around our last meeting but the deeper reasons escape me.
8. I had actually told Laura, my off and on companion of 30 years, that I was leaving her and our shared house together for Melinda when she decided to call our thing off. Laura and I are still trying to work something out but we are not living together right now.  
9. I still hold Melinda in high regard and still think she is one of the most interesting woman I have ever met. I have had enough though and told her so yesterday in a cutting way because she should have just sent a damn e-mail back in May to say definitely that she did not want to be friends.  
10. I probably still am heart-broken that things did not work out but like the rest of our generation or most of it I will get over it.
You can show Melinda this if you want. At this point you can share it with anybody you want but there are two sides here and I will not be made to look like a fool/maniac/weirdo just on her say so.  Later Sam”   
Delores, a good woman and wonderful webmaster, now caught in the middle of something she did not want to be caught in the middle of, e-mailed Sam back and said “let’s drop the thing.” He agreed and agreed to not contact Melinda on site.  And that is the end of the story. Oh well, knowing Sam, actually knowing him much better now than in the old days when we were more like nodding acquaintances he had one more thing to get off his chest. (The “nod” for those not in the know was that slight tip of the head, or hand, that let another guy that was not your corner boy, or somebody you played sports with or had in one of your classes, know that he was okay with you, that if the chance came up you would be friendly toward him so a very important social distinction, especially if a guy did not nod you up)   
Obviously Sam had taken seriously his attempts to help organize the reunion, help too to try to exorcize some of those childhood North Adamsville demons but the whole flap with Melinda had left a bad taste in his mouth, make him think as he said in his parting shot at her that she was “one more North Adamsville bummer experience” in his life. That factor and the fact that the number of classmates who had signed up was relatively small meant that he would be unable to avoid her at the reunion. So he sent Delores the following e-mail explaining, among other things why he would not be going go to the reunion come September:
“Delores- When I started thinking about the reunion last year, got interested in it, and in helping to organize it one of my motives was to erase some of the negative stuff about my experiences in North Adamsville when I was a kid. Apparently after 50 years that negative stuff will not go away. All of this is getting wearisome-apparently as Thomas Wolfe put in the title of one of his books-You Can’t Go Home Again. Nothing to do with you and the great job you have done as the heart and soul of NA64 and the website. And a fine person in a trying job as well.
On that last Message Forum thing I think we crossed messages or something because I see that you have deleted yours. Naturally I will delete mine since it makes no sense now by itself. [A reference here to a question somebody on the Message Forum asked about why Sam did not discuss much about his post-high school experiences in reply to which he noted that he found no groundswell of classmates clamoring to learn about his marriages, job history, afflictions, addictions, and predilections. I laughed when I read that not having realized that he was a funny guy during all of this heartache stuff.] 
However I think, without asking me, you were wrong to delete that second paragraph.  That was not a reference to Melinda who I did not “meet” on this site but on the Facebook event page that I created last fall before I knew we had this site when we were both looking for reunion information. That was another classmate who I had English with in the old days and who I was (and am) in communication with.  I have tried to be a little more sensitive on identifying others since that flap over Melinda a couple of weeks ago. BTW I don’t believe that Melinda is a better writer than me, I would say about equal, although I agree that she would writer a shorter piece. But these days I am not sure that she would be straighter. Not everything in this world is about Melinda, not now, not by me.  I am having enough trouble getting back on track with Laura.       
All of this brings up the main point of this e-mail reply. Since that Melinda flap a couple of weeks ago and looking at the way that the reunion is shaping up as a small event as of today where it would be difficult to avoid her  I have done some thinking and for my own benefit I am now not planning to go to the reunion. I don’t need another NA-related bummer even if only for one evening. I am giving you this information so that you can either give my ticket to somebody who needs it or use the money as a donation to the fund being set up.  As always thanks for your work. Later Sam”
I will not be going either not out of solidarity with Sam but because I never intended on going after that first flurry on Sam’s part to get me to go. And that is the end of the story, finally. But at 68 Sam still has that heartbroken feeling of a schoolboy of 16.  Join the club, brother, join the club.                        

Support The Class-War Prisoners During The Holidays-Support The Partisan Defense Committee’s Holiday Appeal- Help Build The Resistance

Support The Class-War Prisoners During The Holidays-Support The Partisan Defense Committee’s Holiday Appeal- Help Build The Resistance 

By Josh Breslin 

My yearly comment on behalf of the Holiday Appeal

I like to think of myself as a long-time fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, an organization committed to social and political defense cases and causes in the interests of the international working class. Cases from early on in the 1970s when the organization was founded and the committee defended the Black Panthers who were being targeted by every police agency that had an say in the matter, the almost abandoned by the left Weather Underground (in its various incantations) and Chilean miners in the wake of the Pinochet coup there in 1973 up to more recent times with the Mumia death penalty case, defense of the Occupy movement and the NATO three, and defense of the heroic Wiki-leaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley) and more recently the courageous anti-fascist fighters who have been rounded up for protesting the alt-right, Nazi, KKK, white supremacist bastards.      

Moreover the PDC is an organization committed, at this time of the year, to raising funds to support the class-war prisoners’ stipend program through the annual Holiday Appeal drive. Unfortunately having to raise these funds in support of political prisoners for many years now, too many years, as the American and international capitalist class and their hangers-on have declared relentless war, recently a very one-sided war, against those who would cry out against the monster. Attempting to silence voices from zealous lawyers like the late Lynne Stewart, articulate death-row prisoners like Mumia and the late Tookie Williams, the Anti-fa anti-fascist street fighters to black liberation fighters like the Assata Shakur, the Omaha Three and the Angola Three and who ended up on the wrong side of a cop and state vendetta and anti-imperialist fighters like the working-class based Ohio Seven and student-based Weather Underground who took Che Guevara’s admonition to wage battle inside the “belly of the beast” seriously. Of course a couple of years ago  we lost Hugo Pinell, George Jackson’s comrade-in-arms from the San Quentin Six to a murderous vendetta. Others, other militant labor and social liberation fighters as well, too numerous to mention here but remembered.

Normally I do not need any prompting in the matter. One year though, and it now bears repeating each year, after I read the 25th Anniversary Appeal article in Workers Vanguard No. 969 I was startled to note how many of the names, organizations, and political philosophies mentioned there hark back to my own radical coming of age, and the need for class-struggle defense of all our political prisoners in the late 1960s (although I may not have used that exact term at the time).

That recognition included names like black liberation fighter George Jackson’s present class-war prisoner the late Hugo Pinell’s San Quentin Six comrade; the Black Panthers in their better days, the days when the American state really was out to kill or detain every last supporter, and in the days when we needed, desperately needed, to fight for their defense in places from Oakland to New Haven,  as represented by two of the Omaha Three (Poindexter and the late wa Langa), in their younger days; the struggle, the fierce struggle, against the death penalty as represented in Mumia’s case today (also Black Panther-connected); the Ohio 7 and the Weather Underground who, rightly or wrongly, were committed to building a second front against American imperialism, and who most of the left, the respectable left, abandoned; and, of course, Leonard Peltier and the Native American struggles from Pine Ridge to the Southwest. It has been a long time and victories few. I could go on but you get the point.

That point also includes the hard fact that we have paid a high price, a very high price, for not winning back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when we last had this capitalist imperialist society on the ropes. Maybe it was political immaturity, maybe it was cranky theory, maybe it was elitism, hell, maybe it was just old-fashioned hubris but we let them off the hook. And have had to fight forty years of rear-guard “culture wars” since just to keep from falling further behind.

And the class-war prisoners, our class-war prisoners, have had to face their “justice” and their prisons. And this, as well, as a quick glance at the news these days should make every liberation fighter realize; the difference between being on one side of that prison wall and the other is a very close thing when the bourgeois decides to pull the hammer down. The support of class-war prisoners is thus not charity, as International Labor Defense founder James P. Cannon noted back in the 1920s, but a duty of those fighters outside the walls. Today I do my duty, and gladly. I urge others to do the same now at the holidays and throughout the year. 

The class-war prisoners must not stand alone. 
Box 99 Canal Street Station                        
New York, N.Y. 10013

Google Partisan Defense Committee for more information and updates 

From The Veterans For Peace- The Twelve Days, Maybe More, Of ......The Struggle Against The Endless American Wars-From Some People Who Know About Endless Wars

From The Veterans For Peace- The Twelve Days, Maybe More, Of  ......The Struggle Against The Endless American Wars-From Some People Who Know About Endless Wars

From The Archives Of “American Left History”-An Analysis And A Summing Up After His First Year By Site Manager Greg Green

From The Archives Of “American Left History”-An Analysis And A Summing Up After His First Year By Site Manager Greg Green

November 14, 2018 marked the first anniversary of my officially becoming site manager at this publication and in acknowledgement of that tight touch first year I started going back to the archives here from the time this publication went to totally on-line existence due to financial considerations in 2006. (Previously from its inception in 1974 it had been hard copy for many years and then in the early 2000s was both hard copy and on-line before turning solely to on-line publication.) This first year has been hard starting with the residue of the “water-cooler fist fight” started by some of the younger writers who balked at the incessant coverage of the 1960s, highlighted in 2017 by the 50th anniversary commemorations of the Summer of Love, 1967 ordered by previous site manager Allan Jackson. 

They had not even been born, had had to consult in many cases parents and the older writers here when Allan assigned them say a review of the Jefferson Airplane rock band which dominated the San Francisco scene at the height of the 1960s. That balking led to a decisive vote of “no confidence” requested by the “youth cabal” in the Jackson regime and replacement by me. You can read all about the various “takes” on the situation in these very archives from the fall of 2017 on if you can stand it. If you want to know if Allan was “purged,” “sent into exile,” variously ran a whorehouse in San Francisco with old flame Madame LaRue or shacked up with a drag queen named Miss Judy Garland or sold out to the Mormons to get a press agent job with the Mitt Romney for Senate campaign after he left here it is all there. I, having been brought in by Allan from American Film Gazette to run the day to day operations as he concentrated on “the big picture” stayed on the sidelines, didn’t have a vote in any case since I was only on “probation.”        

A lot of the rocky road I faced was of my own making early on since to make my mark, and to look toward the future I came up with what even I now see as a silly idea of trying to reach a younger demographic (than the 1960s devotees who have sustained this publication since its founding). I went on a crash program of having writers, young and old, do reviews of Marvel/DC cinematic comic book characters, graphic novels, hip-hop, techno music and such. The blow-back came fast and furious by young and old writers alike and so the Editorial Board that had been put in place in the wake of Allan’s departure called a halt to that direction. A lot of the reasons why I am presenting the archival material along with this piece is both to see where we can go from here that makes sense to the Ed Board and through that body the cohort of writers who grace this publication and which deals with the reality of a fading demographic as the “Generation of ’68” passes on. Additionally, like every publication hard copy or on-line, we receive much material we can’t or won’t use although that too falls into the archives so here is a chance to give that material a “second life.”    
When one, me, glanced through the archives I was struck almost immediately that the ghost of Peter Paul Markin hovers over this publication and won’t give up, at least it appears until the older writers who knew him, who caught the fresh breeze he had early on in 1960s predicted was on its way and acted with him on it pass on. At least one, Sam Lowell, who had known Markin from elementary school days  (they always call him the Scribe among themselves , a corner boy nickname, moniker they gave him for always writing something down on the tattered notepad he carried in his out of fashion plaid shirts along with some wizened pencil but I will stick with Markin to avoid confusion ) has been working his ass off since the founding to link Markin to the purpose of this publication-the preservation of the memories of the political, social, economic and cultural movements that animated their times, that “Generation of’ 68” that caught Allan Jackson short when he tried to single-handedly revive the times out of some serious hubris, earlier and later movements which linked into that time.

A lot of “water cooler” talk, first heard by me from Laura Perkins, Sam’s long-time companion and a recent and welcome addition to the writers’ stable here, was that the whole idea of a then hard copy publication had been hatched in one last desperate effort to save Markin’s sagging life by letting him write reviews, music, film, books, cultural events which they would “piggyback” onto. Stuff they all were in varying degrees good at. It was not to be, as looking at a small memorial book in Markin’s honor put together by younger writer Zack James in the summer of 2017 at the urging of his oldest brother Alex, another close Markin friend, after he had come back from viewing a Summer of Love, 1967 exhibition at the de Young Museum out in San Francisco graphically illustrated. There, almost to a man, and it was a man’s recollections memoir, Markin’s corner boys from the growing up Acre section of North Adamsville and a few others like Josh Breslin met along the way, comment on Markin’s deterioration, his increasing addition to cocaine when that became the drug of the month among the “hip” in the mid-1970s. Sam commented that Markin, and to a certain extent the other Acre corner boys as well including himself, never got over their military experiences in Vietnam and maybe a bigger push his from hunger “wanting” habits from growing up dirt poor down in the mud of society. I won’t go into the details, such as they are since everybody who has tried was warned off so the details are to say the least sketchy, of Markin’s end except he now is down in some potters’ field plot in Sonora, Mexico after having been murdered in some dirty dusty back road over what is still presumed to have been a busted drug deal Markin was trying to put together to get on “easy street” once he saw what was good about the 1960s fading before his very eyes.         

I have not gone through the hard copy archives and I am not sure I will get a chance to since they are located in New York City and I am not sure when I will be able to spent at least a week looking through them, dusting off old year volumes and other materials so I will let it rip in no particular order but what comes to mind about what has been written, political clearing house advertised, and commemorated in this space as I have ventured to gather what the heck has gone on here for the past decade plus of the on-line work. The overarching comment though is that patchwork quilt or not it has stayed pretty close to what it had in the masthead stated it intended to do-without much, or too much bloodshed.    

You can tell, number-wise and number of pages that 2006 was a year when the financial crunch which necessitated the complete switch-over to on-line publication really was a wrenching process. The pieces are too-heavily weighted toward book, film, music reviews and an overlay of political commentary when Frank Jackman had to take a part-time job working at National Commentary. I can disclose here that many of the writers, guys like Si Lannon, Seth Garth, Fritz Taylor, even Josh Breslin were “moonlighting” when I ran things over at American Film Gazette which despite its’ name reviewed all kind of things including consumer products (not my decision but that was that). Or they were submitting the reviews they wrote here for free (no money in any case) and then submitting them over to me for cold hard cash. I was going to say they were double-dipping but that would imply they were being paid here for their work which generally was hit or miss. I did not know the financial situation here although I was glad to have the reviews whatever was happening here. Paid my cash and got my due.

I am not exactly sure when the shift toward lots of personal pieces about the 1960s and reviews of earlier books, films music connected with those times became a serious trend under the former head, Allan Jackson, but you can see by browsing the archives that 2006 is definite trend-setter. Not only that but once again by virtue of “water-cooler” gossip shifting slightly that way grabbed a spike in readership and more revenue. So Allan, who later, who in 2017 would be skewered for his 24/7/365 nostalgia blanket coverage, made a good decision then to move away from reviews of more contemporary cultural events. Interestingly he got into a “pissing” contest when he had Si Lannon, sorry Si if I am mistaken, do a series of 1960s folksingers who were “not Bob Dylan,” did not go on to what has become a never-ending concert tour schedule and career but moved elsewhere or kept their ambitions low when the so-called folk minute passed by and it did not look like they could survive on the thin gruel left. I heard that there was almost an insurrection with say Seth Garth wondering why his old sidekick folksinger/songwriter Erick Saint Jean was not highlighted (meaning what didn’t he get that assignment to explain why Erick went on to a successful art career rather than grind out the dimes and donuts coffeehouse circuit rapidly fading away in the acid rock night). Half these guys, according to Sam, hated folk music when, guess who, Markin is right, started going to Harvard Square on the low to get the hell out of his horrible homelife and really only accidently gravitated to the coffeehouse when guys and gals he would meet late at night at the Hayes-Bickford told him that was where the action was. Not the H-B itself though which was for winos and con men, maybe a hang-out for a while after the coffeehouses closed down and you still were trying to figure out what was what with some girl you wanted to take down to the Charles River to see what was really what.

From what I can gather Markin was a guy who was all in or forget it so once he had some dough, some dough when the guy caddied for some swanks at some country club to get dough to meet the cover charge, grab some coffee, grab a date’s bill and throw some money in the basket for the performer whose life depended on those proceeds then tried to get everybody in. Seth Garth to this day cannot stand the Dylan voice, cannot stand the silly lyrics about lost loves and doing bodily harm if some dish did not reciprocate your devotion and you dunked her in say the Ohio River. Be that as it may I noticed a definite spike in sales and ad revenue when that series ran since Allan must have highlighted every guy who could handle three chords and some basic melody-guys like Lemon Lewis and Ben Amos, guys who about three people have heard of. He had though as Sam loves to say a “hook” no question as even people who never heard the singers took interest in where they landed, if they landed. Maybe this says it better than anything else Allan decided to run the distaff side, okay, woman of folk playing off of the anointed queen, anointed at least in the tabloids, Joan Baez.       

It is hard to say what will drive the nuts and bolts of a publication but I think I can see something like a clear line when Allan decided to do “nostalgia” and let the writers he had at the time who were all, I think all, veterans of the 1960s or like beautiful Zack James were influenced by older brother Alex who was knee-down into that period which created some stability for the publication in the post-2006 period. That Bob Dylan-Joan Baez spike got the ball rolling even further back to the time of classic rock and roll and all that meant to the veteran writers who sucked up the air with their recollections and received plenty of attention (and a couple of awards) for their work. How much of it was to gather in their regrets about Markin and how much was natural going back to the music you grew up with which never really leaves you is hard to say but the spike in interest of the old Acre section of North Adamsville where most of the action takes place is interesting.

It must have been exciting, separate, hard-scrabble, cagey in those days when each guy, and it was all guys in those days, the girls, young women were kind of appendages, important appendages but appendages nevertheless reflecting not only that coming of age awkwardness but a kind of unwritten law established by Markin who was trying even then, even in high school to emulate the “beats” the guys who came up the line just before them and who were popular figures like Jack Kerouac and Allan Ginsberg even as the “beats” were in retreat. (Seth Garth told me that Markin never mentioned those guys when they were out in the corner boy night but he was reading their stuff, including pretty openly gay Ginsberg which would have closed the door if he had mentioned that to the boyos.) These guys from nowhere had a certain routine, a certain laundry- list of things they talked about, adventures they got into (including the always veiled mention of certain burglaries to get dough which was one way they did it). Rock and roll, music, music that spoke to that generation perhaps more than any earlier one and certainly more than in my own generation one generation removed from the classic days of the genre.

No question these guys lived and died for the music, hanging out not by chance at a pizza parlor where the owner had installed a jukebox with all the latest hits to draw the kids in-and he did. Taking the boys in because if boys were hanging around then girls, the ones with money, the ones who came in and played the machine would come by too. Nice move but also the source of many interesting stories about how the guys would con the girls to play music they, the guys wanted to hear. Conned them, the girls out of other stuff too if you believe half of what memories they have decided to share knowing from my own experiences in a very different environment that lying was a matter of honor on the question of sexual conquests. The funniest part is that for all his leadership, so-called, his intelligence about what was going on in school, with girls with, guys who had girlfriends, more importantly, girls with boyfriends, invaluable intelligence no question and would make any such person if he or she had existed in my crowd a leader, never really had dates with Acre or North Adamsville girls when he was a corner boy. He would find companionship in Harvard Square or some such place but not at home.         

As anybody with eyes can see, even with the temporary disaster of the “dumbing down” action I initiated and blew off when the deal went down this past year has been heavy with political material, some additional art material and a big push on commemorating 100th anniversary the last year of the horrendous World War I and the armistice which put everything on hold as it turned out. Since I agree that we are essentially in the middle of a cold civil war which may very likely turn hot before our eyes we will be amping up our political coverage anchored by award-winning Frank Jackman interspersed with additional art and poetry reviews to augment the films, music and book reviews the reader is already familiar with and will hopefully appreciate with our stable of younger writers taking the lead.