Sunday, March 10, 2019

For All The Girls Who Waited By The Midnight Phone- Janis Ian’s Song “At Seventeen”

For All The Girls Who Waited By The Midnight Phone- Janis Ian’s Song “At Seventeen”

Lance Lawrence comment;

A lot of guys, guys like me at seventeen, hung around the midnight phone, forlornly hung around the midnight phone waiting, two or three hour waiting for that call that was supposed to come at eight for me to pick up some date by nine-if she was ready- if she was available-if she didn’t have a date with Harry and his “boss’ Chevy the pick of the liter in our working class neighborhood-if she didn’t have anything else to do-the next day’s excuses.

But this is Women’s History Month and while hanging by the midnight phone or being ugly in some fool’s blind eye may not be the highest priority for what anybody would call oppression at seventeen as the song presented here notes it does mean just that, means it big time with a bow around it. So listen up all you seventeen midnight by the phone girl dreamers-all you seventeen girl dreamers who worry to perdition about your weight, your shape, your “figure” and whether some benighted fool (or fools) call you ugly either to your face or behind your back. This song will tell you that you are not alone-and you will survive.  



By Janis Ian

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth...
And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say "come dance with me"
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen...

A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said: "Pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve"
The rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly...

So remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debitures of quality and dubious integrity
Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received at seventeen...
To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
the world was younger than today
when dreams were all they gave for free
to ugly duckling girls like me...

We all play the game, and when we dare
We cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
That call and say: "Come on, dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me, at seventeen...

*In Honor Of The Frida Kahlo Exhibit At The Museum Of Fine Arts In Boston- An Exotic Flower- Frida Kahlo

*In Honor Of The Frida Kahlo Exhibit At The Museum Of Fine Arts In Boston- An Exotic Flower- Frida Kahlo

Detail of Frida Kahlo's self-portrait with hummingbird and thorn necklace


By Leslie Dumont 

Frida, Salma Hayek, 2002

I recently read an article in the New York Review of Books (May 15, 2008) analyzing the work of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo that reminded me how much I liked this film, especially the performance by Ms. Hayek (who received an Oscar nomination for her efforts and who bore a striking resemblance to Frida in the film). The gist of the article, which included some biographical detail that is also explored here (her various severe mental and physical problems, his stormy relationship with her fellow artist and husband the world famous muralist Diego Rivera, her bisexuality), is that while much of Kahlo's artistic work reflected her strong psychic attachment to Mexico it also placed her squarely in the camp of naturalist painters.

I am not enough of an art devotee to make comment on that above mentioned critique, however, from the several paintings of Kahlo’s that I have seen I would argue a little more toward the surrealist school that virtually every Mexican artist in the 1920’s and 1930’s drew from as they created their work. But enough of that argument for now. This film, in its own round about way, by presenting the various psychic pains (failure to have the children she desperately wanted, her topsy- turvy relationship with Rivera as she tries to make her own space in the art world and the underlying tensions of combining politics and artistic endeavor) gives a fairly decent gloss, for a commercial film, on the trials and tribulations of being a Mexican woman artist in the early part of the 20th century.

Of course, for this political junkie and admirer of Leon Trotsky the names Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera conjure up political connections as much as art. One of the strands working its way through the film is this couple’s relationship with the exiled Trotsky when President Cardenas granted him a visa in 1937. All sources that I have read and photographs that I have seen have mentioned that Trotsky was smitten with Frida’s exotic beauty (to the furor of his companion, Natalia). However, it was rather startling to watch the episode where Trotsky jumps into bed with Ms. Kahlo. I have noted elsewhere that the old time revolutionaries, especially the Russians, were extremely reticent about discussing personal sexual matters in their memoirs and autobiographies. Trotsky was no exception. Is that scene merely cinematic license or was Trotsky really just a dirty old man? You decide. I will concentrate of his political wisdom. And Frida’s strangely exotic paintings.

The Cold Civil Heats Up-In Fear For The Republic-Dump The Trump-No More Years-Channeling Robert F. Kennedy, 1968- Winnowing Out The Challengers-Who Has The Stomach To Go Down In The Mud To Take Back This Country-Kamala (Finally Got It Right) Harris In Portsmouth, NH February 19th

The Cold Civil Heats Up-In Fear For The Republic-Dump The Trump-No More Years-Channeling Robert F. Kennedy, 1968- Winnowing Out The Challengers-Who Has The Stomach To Go Down In The Mud To Take Back This Country-Kamala (Finally Got It Right) Harris In Portsmouth, NH February 19th   

An on-going series until January 20, 2021 by Frank Jackman

These days, these anguished fearful days I find myself increasingly channeling beloved Robert F. Kennedy, laid low by an assassin’s bullet in 1968 just when his high tide was coming in. In those days among other things which I will get around to later in this series when I have little off-hand time for sweet schoolboy reminiscences I was fearful for the Republic, was worried that things were getting so out of hand what with the no end in sight Vietnam War blazing and dividing the country in almost civil war terms then as well, viciously suppressed inner city black community uprisings and the political low road ascendant with one Richard Milhous Nixon and one George Wallace scorching the earth all forms of political death were in the air including assassinations of political leaders.

At that time, that 1968 what knows what will happen time, being a good old Massachusetts boy who at fourteen years of age had knocked on doors and distributed leaflets for one of our own, our Irish boy made good, Jack Kennedy in the fall of 1960 (while also having in that period attended a nuclear disarmament rally on Boston Common sponsored by what would later be called “peaceniks” but were mainly Quakers and pacifists to show the contradictions  of the times, and the contradictions of one Frank Jackman) I could name the villain of the piece. One Richard Milhous Nixon, petty criminal, low-blow artist and bum of the month who would go to be President of the United States (POTUS henceforth in today’s Twitter-speak) before the wheels went off his train and he sulked his way to eternal infamy out in the Pacific Japan currents.     

I would not have put the matter of my concerns in those days as being fearful for the Republic but in retrospect that is what got me off my dime to go and work like seven whirling dervishes for beloved Robert Kennedy all along the East Coast, working with everybody from idealistic “seek a newer world” college students like myself (not then knowing that RFK had “cribbed” that expression from Alfred Lord Tennyson on the fly but that was okay then, and now) to the old-time still standing ward healer bosses like Meade Esposito and Carmen De Sapio in hothouse New York. Though nothing of earnestly committing to what was a united front of all those against the devil, unblessed RMN. These days when I have been able to articulate better my fears I have the same sinking feelings that we are in for continued hard times if we don’t take this country back from the night-takers and new league of bums of the month headed by one Donald Trump, POTUS, petty thief, Putin’s poodle and every evil associated with RMN writ large. One wag said memorially “Nixon on steroids.”       

I headlined this piece which will be a continuing watch word in this series from now until the next presidential inauguration in 2021 with the dire warning that the cold civil war that has gripped this country for the last couple of decades has over the past few years and particularly the past couple heated up. Heated up enough to get me off my own dime-again. Made me realize that whatever else I might think about the virtues and vices of a Republic (especially against the long discredited “divine right of kings” which seems to be the operating principle if that is the right term to be used in anything talk related to this current administration that is in play now) it is easier, much easier to work my left-wing politics under the norms of a Republic than having to look over my shoulder and worry about being sent to the bastinado every time I get my dander up to go out on the streets and get “uppity” around some cause.     

That feeling has not been one that I have personally operated on for a long time, mainly going about my left-wing business out in the streets without feeling I was headed to some dire blackhole fate. Let me be clear although my experiences in the American Army during Vietnam War times (at a time when Richard Milhous Nixon was ironically my “commander-in-chief”) pushed me in a very different direction from those heady Spring of 1968 days when I was planning to be a consummate bourgeois politician (mucking around with Esposito and DeSapio serving as an apprenticeship) I had not felt a need to worry about the fate of the Republic, one way or the other. Now all bets are off. Now I am ready to make a pact with the devil, make a united front with all who wish to oppose this drift away from even basic democratic republican values. 

So right now, I and a few others, unfortunately not any of my old-time neighborhood corner boys from the Acre in North Adamsville who continue to declare a “pox on both houses,” Democratic and Republican, are working through how to most effectively work to get the country back. Right now, that means, and this is hard for me to say after fifty years of purposefully working against or avoiding the Democratic Party and its various candidates and working instead on the issues, mostly around war and peace, I, we are doing our own personal winnowing out of the candidates, announced and unannounced, who look to challenge the Donald come 2020. Right now, as well we are policy wonks looking to see who has the best projected program if they actually defeat Trump and want to implement things to turn this place around.    

Today, today in February 2019, a long year away from the main actions for nominations I have already staked some ground out in what I am looking for in winnowing out candidates. This is where beloved Robert Kennedy rears his head again. Bobby, yeah, let me call him Bobby, could spin pure gold with his visions and his quasi-Irish poet understandings and cut your balls off the next minute if you opposed Jack or wanted to take the low road on some issue important to him-you would wind up in political Siberia and even your family would not weep for your exile. Then, and now too, just my kind of candidate. (In that poetic sweepstakes his then Democratic Party opponent after Lyndon Johnson fell into a crying fit and quit Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy was the real poet without Bobby’s ruthless streak though)

Today as the field expands to some exponentially impossible number what I am looking for since there are plenty of candidates with at least minimally supportable programs is what I would call the character issue for short. All the great programs in the world will, as is graphically clear these days when things are actually being driven the other way, are so much dust, so much hot air if a candidate does not understand from the past three years at least, that 2020 will be a “street fight,” a nasty affair no question. The question I and my co-thinkers these days will be posing point-blank and in person if candidates show up in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, maybe Maine is do they have the stomach to go down the low road to get elected, to go “down in the mud” with Trump to become POTUS. More, much more later.     

A first wetting of the feet as communicated to those who are part of a an expanding cohort who are looking for and ready to back one candidate who we feel can win first the Democratic Party nomination and then whip the tyrant’s ass:    

Report Back From Kamala Harris 2020 Presidential Campaign Event-Portsmouth, NH -February 18, 2019-

Forward this e-mail to interested parties in your social network who are looking at 2020 in early 2019 so therefore untamed political animals like us. 

This report was written before I received news that Senator Bernie Sanders had entered the race for the White House. I am wondering whether the very positive turn out for Kamala Harris in Portsmouth forced his hand a bit or whether this was his game plan all along.

[This a contribution to our on-going conversation about who to support in the 2020 Presidential election cycle in an attempt to gather a cohort of like-mined organizers around one candidate, if possible, to have a greater impact on the selected campaign and candidate.

We have generally agreed that right now we are “window shopping” as the various campaigns roll out and splash in New Hampshire and that is probably best until the Spring anyway if not until June when the first debates take place. We have also generally agreed and if I am wrong chime in that “winnability” is a key factor up to a point (the Biden point). I would only add here the other factor I am looking at since I think we also generally agree that 2020 will be a down and dirty “street fight.” All the candidates have “the fire in the belly” or else they would have backed off like Deval Patrick and others, but do they have “the stomach to go down in the mud” against Trump, not in kind for that is worthless but to show some serious grit. Fight the low blows from the start when they will, hell, have already come. This time out it is sadly the low road or no road. I’d like other opinions on what amounts to this “character” issue. Frank Jackman] 
Pat Riley, Connie Kelly and Frank Jackman attended this event

Pat, Connie and I arrived about 3 PM for the event scheduled from 4-6 PM at the U/U Church in downtown Portsmouth and found we were “late.”  (Yawn, what place would you expect Sen. Harris to speak at but a U/U venue, right U/U partisan Bob Williams). What we found was that there was a line that extended around a few blocks and we were pissed off that we had not come earlier as originally planned since we did not expect to get in and did not want to watch the event out in the street in the snow and cold on the screen the campaign had set up.

We did get in although up in the balcony which precluded our being able to ask the Senator any questions. The crowd was estimated by the fire department I believe to be over one thousand. I am not sure whether that included the hundred to one hundred and fifty who watched on the hallowed basement of the church where an additional screen was positioned. The size of the crowd surprised me as I figured that based on the snow, the distance from the February 2020 primary, and the lesser name recognition of the candidate, that maybe a couple of hundred diehards would show. (Connie was the only one who thought she would draw a big crowd.) The crowd, a mix of young and old, the vast majority white, the state by the 2010 census was 2% black and 93% white which must make it one of the whitest states in the country, was patient maybe reflecting the old New England character with our freaking weather.          

The event pretty much ran on time and ended on time with not much pre-speech build-up except an introduction by a NH state senator whose name I didn’t get and who is chairing the Harris campaign in NH. In her fairly short speech Senator Harris, as all serious politicians do, honed-in on her stump issues. Her overall theme was that while acknowledging the deep divides in America that we as a nation have more in common that what separates us. For now, she is going the high road as she works out the kinks in her message. Senator Harris seems to be staking out a position on the left-supporting the litmus test issues-Medicare for All, Green New Deal Plan, No Wall, a more humane immigration policy, serious attention to the impending disasters with climate change, fighting the opioid addiction problem (acute in NH). She addressed other issues in the question and answer period generally on a left-liberal, progressive agenda line. What was not addressed in either segment were any issues around the huge military budget or foreign policy which I am not sure was by design or because she was playing to her audience.

Speaking of audience when it came time for question and answers, I am not sure whether campaigns “plan” this stuff, but all the questions she receives were “soft ball” hit out of the ball park things. This is where in response to questions she answered that she favored a comprehensive prescription drug policy, more help for the elderly and chronically ill, support to the union and union organizing movement in answer to a question from a former Portsmouth Naval base worker (although nothing about the fight for $15), support for an NH bill fighting against voter suppression and making it easier to register and vote (which drew one of the big applauses of the day), increased gun ownership requirement invoking Parkland and other horrors, and support for stripping the bastard Columbus of his designated day and making the day Indigenous Peoples Day.    
I made a special effort to talk to people to see why they had come because frankly I was impressed not only by the turnout but how they found out about the event and why they were there as I grabbed as much on the ground political intelligence as I could. Granted it has been a long time since I have been involved in presidential politics but I wondered how much of the crowd turnout for Senator Harris reflected her very public role grilling Brent Kavanaugh at the Judiciary Committee hearings (a lot), being a woman (a fair amount), being an interracial woman (hard to tell but important in the long run), and having a much better organization on the ground than I would has suspected in NH this early (by comparison somebody I talked who had been at a Sen. Booker event in Portsmouth on Saturday and said it was very much smaller).

Of course, the elephant in the room, especially for the young (many of whom I saw busily texting during the event) is the role of social media in the organizing efforts. In other conversations after the event I talked to longtime NH residents who told me that every four years this stuff is a rite of passage and there is a certain “competition” to see who goes to the most events, etc. So that is an element as well as is the fact greater Portsmouth unlike say North Conway or places like that is a Democratic Party stronghold, especially with the conversion of Pease AF base to civilian uses and increased working class jobs and more affordable housing in the area in places like Exeter (even fairly rural Newfield about twenty miles away and the home of the governor Hilary polled 68%)           

Evaluation based solely on this event: Senator Harris as an experienced politician is good on her feet in answering questions. Her style also reflected her obvious personal concern for the downtrodden, the hurt and the underappreciated in this society and her own life story which she alluded to at several points. While I am far from being ready to dismiss her candidacy like I have done on others I left the event not feeling strongly that she has “the stomach to go down in the mud” with Trump and his crazed supporters. It will take a less friendly environment to see how she reacts.      

Final notes: Pat and I were interviewed by NBC News (not bad for day one of our campaign) and Friendly Toast has good food for those of us who will be seeing more of the Seacoast area in the next year that we thought possible. (That Friendly visit via some gift certificates I won in our last VFP live fund-raiser so all the sweeter.)   

On The 50th Anniversary Of The Passing Of The “King Of The Beats” -Ti Jean Kerouac-A Series Of Appreciations- In Honor Of Jean Bon Kerouac On The 60th Anniversary Of “On The Road” (1957)-The Son Of Dharma-With Jack Kerouac’s On The Road In Mind

On The 50th Anniversary Of The Passing Of The “King Of The Beats” -Ti Jean Kerouac-A Series Of Appreciations-  

By Contributing Editor Allan Jackson

[Back in 2007 and then in 2017 when we commemorated the 50th and 60th anniversaries respectively of the publication of Jack Kerouac’s landmark travel book of a different kind On The Road which ignited a generation maybe two to “hit the road” I was the site manager, then called general editor, a throw-back from the times when American Left History was a hard copy publication. At those times I had been re-reading a series of Ti Jean’s books after senior writer Sam Lowell had pointed out to me that the previous years had been the 50th and 60th anniversaries respectively of fellow Jack “beat” brother Allan Ginsberg’s landmark poem (really screed) Howl which for a while took poetry into a different direction which we had neglected to commemorate (and which we did belatedly). Now Sam has again reminded that we have come to a certain commemoration date, the 50th anniversary of the death of Jack Kerouac and we are again in need of evaluation, no, re-evaluating the place of his work, his place as “king of the beats” whether than title fits or not and his place in the sun.    

Of course on those prior occasions I could assign whatever I wanted to whomever I wanted since I was the person who was handing out the assignments. Now after a prolonged internal fight in which I was deposed and sent into “exile” I am back but solely as a contributing editor, not as the person handing out assignments. That task is now in the capable hands of one Greg Green whom I knew over at American Film Gazette many years ago and had brought over a couple of years ago to run the day to day operation here. Greg and I have had our ups and downs especially after I was in desperate straits when I was sent into exile and had no current source of income and had to depend “on the kindnesses of strangers.” But that is past and since I was instrumental in the previous commemorations Greg decided that I should as with a couple of other major projects that I have done since my return oversee the Kerouac death watch this year.   

Needless to say, since this dark cloud anniversary is upon us I have to do a new introduction, a setting of the tone. One thing that I was not able to do when I was overseeing the previous commemorations was to write about something that has haunted me for a long time-how different Jack’s experiences were from those of my parents, from any Acre neighborhood parents despite some very strong similarities between the way he grew up and the way they did. In short they were near contemporaries having all been born and raised in the 1920s and forward. Nevertheless they could not have been more different in their lifestyles and life dreams. It would take their son, and their son’s generation to at least momentarily connect with the older man and what he brought to the table. Maybe the link between “beat” and “hippie” was tenuous, but it was there, and is there fifty years after his passing to the unsettled grave. That will be the thread that runs through this new series. Adieu, Ti Jean.     


Jack fifty tears, fifty years gone in some bastard grave in holy, holy, holy Edson Merrimack River ground busted asunder by holy goofs looking for timely relics, looking for that one word which would spring them into some pantheon, some parity with the king (we will not even mention that other king that animated our dreams for we now speak of parent, parent of class of ’68 dream. Funny non-Catholic ground Lowell given his deep sea dive to right his ship around the beatitudes that the class of ’68 left in the shade if you wished to know. Mere turning in her old Quebec come down to the textile mills from desolate turn of the century farms which gave to the bloody English overlords, another common sticking point against heathen English overrunning the small patch farms with enclosures and encumbered debts devotion grave, with the times out of sorts the young passing before ancient hatreds mother. Not a stranger come the end on Hard Rock Mountain and no place but some stinking trailer benny and that fucking crucifix that never helped anybody that far gone into the haze.

Not strange for assuredly lapsed Catholic cum Buddha swings devotee coming out of Desolation Mountain, Dharma bum frills and assorted other spiritual trips, (won’t even think about that black boy, and he was just a boy, who against some grandmother dreads blew the high white note out to the China Seas, via, well, via Frisco Bay drove the writing, the what, the unvarnished truth  until it drove him into the ground. That and those endless whiskeys and cheap Thunderbird wines when dimes were scarce a few times down on his luck cadging wino bottles from buying for underaged kids, with his bottle the kicker and what the hell if he didn’t go it, didn’t get his some sterno junkie would dip into Salvation Army surplus and the thirst was great. Not “his” thirst but “the” thirst and don’t mix the two up buddy as he told that straggly bearded kid, some hippie bastard from Omaha clueless about the decadent night which lie ahead, the compromises too.

Strangely bisected, fuck finally my real point (another luxury of not having to be general editor with parsing and editing to make “nice” for the academic journals which thrive, which throttle on  Jack’s sputum and can get down in the mud with the real critics like Artie Shaw and Bugs Malone and not worry about half-ablaze in the head, half fire in the head Patti Griffin called it once),  through my own parents too who had no idea of hip, no idea of “beat,” except maybe mother in beatitude but that is a different story, a story about common roots high holy day Catholic stuff. Another common point, emerged in veiled tears, speaking of tears, to rear their ugly heads come feast days. (Wondering if her, their fairy sons would see the light, would submit to the calling that every grandmother hoped without saying leaving it to transient daughters to do their own parsing. Father no hipster born to the hills and hollows which hallowed by memory played no part in big boom beat-beat time coming out of World War II like houses on fire. No speedy cross-country by 1947 Hudson (hell no car a public transportation might as well say welfare crude bum and fuck that is all a guy like that deserved.) With big ideas of shaking things up, making merry with the always with us squares and other geometric forms. Jesus the worst part knowing that they knew not of square or any other geometric dreams. Too bad, too bad when they chance came around and the call went out looking for junkie hipsters, con men and queers hanging around public toilets on Seventh Avenue in New York City.  

No Dean Moriarty, hell call a thing by its right name, no Max Fame, no Allan Ginsberg, no Kenneth Rexforth, no Hank James, or his brother William speaking in tongues trying to figure what a guy named Freud meant when he wanted to go where his mother lived, after killing cosmic fathers and brothers, no Gregory Corso, no John three names somebody a throwback to ancient Boston Brahmin bouts with legitimacy speaking of bastards, trace the genealogy back to Mayfair swells days, nothing for the bastard who is bothering one Laura Perkins who I have been sweet on for an eternity but who only has eyes for Sam Lowell about her sexy takes on serious 19th century artist who were as capable of going down into the mud, blowing some high white note out in the Japan seas for a change. Above all no Neal Cassidy, no fake Dean Moriarty to skirt the libel laws with wives and mistresses searching for vagrant unknown fathers in some dusty coal bins but a poor old good old boy and maybe in another time said Dean, Adonis Dean against Father Sheik, would have wandered out in the cowboy West night looking for drunken fathers with hip-ness but that was not the play, not at all. Father Sheik coming like a bat out of hell from those hazardous coal bins looking to break the eternal hills and hollows existence that plagued his fathers since the time the first clan were cast out of England for stealing pigs or consorting with them in any case with not unfamiliar family refrain of “leave, or the gallows,” such were the tempers of the times.

And Father Sheik, hell, Adonis Dean too, with no way out except that passport via some Nippon adventure over Pearl always Pearl nothing else needed and he off to Pacific battles and raiments. Jack to the North Seas and merchant marine bunks with odd-ball seasick sailors (and me wondering whether having looked of late at YouTube should attribute my borrowed words but the hell with it plenty of seasick sailors had nothing to do with YouTube or song lyrics). And forsaken Dean too young to know the face of battles hung up in reformatory secret vices which an earlier generation (and later ones too) would “dare not speak their names” (Catamite, Sodomite, homosexual, pug ugly, suck-head, your call.) How quaint.

Two years and two places do make a different no Bette Davis eyes in the hills and hollows but Jack-induced Merrimack adventures of boys seeking pleasures in riverside woods and hamming it up for all the world to see. If only the old man could have written out his dreams, if he could have written out anything. Jack to the library born to take his fill of whatever classics that river textile town had to offer and whiskey you’re the devil which should have given even a blinded son something to think about with dear Jack fifty years dead and the old man still trembling in his teeth. My God.

But he never made, he the old man never made New York ever as far as I could tell, knew none but obvious landmarks like tall Empire State Building or Lady Liberty. Mother Jacked on some Cape Cod Canal cutaway small steamer to the Big Apple (not Big Apple then but who knows) and Automats, evoking Laura’s Edward Hopper sad-assed dreams of a guy who couldn’t even draw smiling faces and hence the queen of 20th century angst and alienation and five cent ferry rides to Staten Island. The Village, okay for me to call it Village as I was a denizen once for Jack too might as well have been on some planet’s moon for all she knew-him too, too rich for his blood but Jack’s meat, no problem. Even if strangely Times Square hipsters, grifters, drifters and Howard Johnson hot dog eaters were mixed into the new wave, then new wave against Big Band Duke, Artie, Lionel jazz boys coming up with their sullen lipped riffs to spring a new alienated be-bop on the square world. Jack knew square, knew father square, knew mother, Mere, square in large letters of unrequited love but shook it off long enough to cross the great desert America giving Lady Liberty the boot, the un-shod sole, or maybe taking a cue from Jack book lamming it out on Bear Mountain just for the hell of it. But this old mother, not Mere mother, never knew, never had an idea of even in her big Catholic, Irish Catholic dream of meeting the boy next door and finding steady white-collar civil servant heaven. Jesus is that what she was about when the deal went down and Jack split for Ohio with two bucks and six bologna sandwiches stale well before Toledo believe me I know.             

Life took a different tact though she never found that clever test-worthy boy next door (he was some greaser with a big hog of a bike which would have inflamed Dean, would have gotten his wanting habits on and maybe a run to the Coast). So she having had her fill of Coney Island dreams and Automat five cent pies took a chance on the Sheik (strange on looking at Jack photographs how sheik-like our boy was and father too like some lost tribe members) found guarding the country’s defense not far from her home but he of Pacific wars, many with manly Marines. Jack flopped the Navy but did dangerous merchant marine runs out in the North Atlantic, out to the Murmansk seas (that makes three China and Japan alongside) not honored even in Washington until much later down in front of Arlington National bravos resting places. And a not so funny twist of sagging fate brought her dish loads of kids and some undefined alienation from which she was excluded, and he too by association. They didn’t prosper far from it but they also didn’t have that run, no, those runs, to the West looking for lost fathers, looking for the Adonis of the West to shake up his love. Could two worlds be any more different and only about say forty miles apart. That not a question but maybe a quiet condemnation for some woe-begotten life of quiet desperation, her mantra for all the good it did her.

It would take a son, some son, some great girth of sons and daughters to jailbreak, to Jack their ways out of that parent, remember their parents’ contemporary, that snare set for those who didn’t get to Times Square, didn’t get to the Village but stuck it out in Hoboken, Elko, Oceanside. It would take some unsettled sense that all was not right with the world, that too many kids were stuck with Modesto hot-rod dreams, Hell’s Angels angers, Louisville thwarts, and many La Jolla searches for perfect waves to jumpstart what Jack, and not just Jack but he is fifty tears, fifty years gone. Oh, what might have been. 
In Honor Of Jean Bon Kerouac On The 60th Anniversary Of “On The Road” (1957)

By Book Critic Zack James

To be honest I know about On The Road Jack Kerouac’s epic tale of his generation’s search for something, maybe the truth, maybe just for kicks, for stuff, important stuff that had happened down in the base of society where nobody in authority was looking or some such happening strictly second-hand. His generation’s search looking for a name, found what he, or someone associated with him, maybe the bandit poet Gregory Corso, king of the mean New York streets, mean, very mean indeed in a junkie-hang-out world around Times Square when that place was up to its neck in flea-bit hotels, all-night Joe and Nemo’s and the trail of the “fixer” man on every corner, con men coming out your ass too, called the “beat” generation. (Yes,  I know that the actual term “beat” was first used by Kerouac writer friend John Clemmon Holmes in an article in some arcane journal but the “feel” had to have come from a less academic source so I will crown the bandit prince Corso as genesis)
Beat, beat of the jazzed up drum line backing some sax player searching for the high white note, what somebody told me, maybe my oldest brother Alex who was washed clean in the Summer of Love, 1967 but must have known the edges of Jack’s time since he was in high school when real beat exploded on the scene in Jack-filled 1957, they called “blowing to the China seas” out in West Coast jazz and blues circles, that high white note he heard achieved one skinny night by famed sax man Sonny Johns, dead beat, run out on money, women, life, leaving, and this is important no forwarding address for the desolate repo man to hang onto, dread beat, nine to five, 24/7/365 that you will get caught back up in the spire wind up like your freaking staid, stay at home parents, beaten down, ground down like dust puffed away just for being, hell, let’s just call it being, beatified beat like saintly and all Jack’s kid stuff high holy Catholic incense and a story goes with it about a young man caught up in a dream, like there were not ten thousand other religions in the world to feast on- you can take your pick of the meanings, beat time meanings. Hell, join the club they all did, the guys, and it was mostly guys who hung out on the poet princely mean streets of New York, Chi town, Mecca beckoning North Beach in Frisco town cadging twenty-five cents a night flea-bag sleeps (and the fleas were real no time for metaphor down in the bowels where the cowboy junkies drowse in endless sleeps, raggedy winos toothless suck dry the dregs and hipster con men prey on whoever floats down), half stirred left on corner diners’ coffees and groundling cigarette stubs when the Bull Durham ran out).

I was too young to have had anything but a vague passing reference to the thing, to that “beat” thing since I was probably just pulling out of diapers then, maybe a shade bit older but not much. I got my fill, my brim fill later through my oldest brother Alex. Alex, and his crowd, more about that in a minute, but even he was only washed clean by the “beat” experiment at a very low level, mostly through reading the book (need I say the book was On The Road) and having his mandatory two years of living on the road around the time of the Summer of Love, 1967 an event whose 50th anniversary is being commemorated this year as well and so very appropriate to mention since there were a million threads, fibers, connections between “beat” and “hippie” despite dour grandpa Jack’s attempts to trash those connection when the acolytes and bandit hangers-on  came calling looking for the “word.” So even Alex and his crowd were really too young to have been washed by the beat wave that crashed the continent toward the end of the 1950s on the wings of Allan Ginsburg’s Howl and Jack’s travel book of a different kind (not found on the AAA, Traveler’s Aid, Youth Hostel brochure circuit if you please although Jack and the crowd, my brother and his crowd later would use such services when up against it in let’s say a place like Winnemucca in the Nevadas or Neola in the heartlands).
Literary stuff for sure but the kind of stuff that moves generations, or I like to think the best parts of those cohorts. These were the creation documents the latter of which would drive Alex west before he finally settled down to his career life as a high-road lawyer (and to my sorrow and anger never looked back which has caused more riffs and bad words than I want to yell about here).             

Of course anytime you talk about books and poetry and then add my brother’s Alex name into the mix that automatically brings up memories of another name, the name of the late Peter Paul Markin. Markin, for whom Alex and the rest of the North Adamsville corner boys, Frankie, Jack, Jimmy, Si, Josh (he a separate story from up in Olde Saco, Maine and so only an honorary corner boy after hitching up with the Scribe out on a Russian Hill dope-filled park), Bart, and a few others still alive recently had me put together a tribute book for in connection with that Summer of Love, 1967, their birthright event, just mentioned.  Markin was the vanguard guy, the volunteer odd-ball unkempt mad monk seeker, what did Jack call his generation’s such, oh yeah, holy goofs,   who got several of them off their asses and out to the West Coast to see what there was to see. To see some stuff that Markin had been speaking of for a number of years before 1967 (and which nobody in the crowd paid any attention to, or dismissed out of hand, what they called “could give a rat’s ass” about in the local jargon which I also inherited in those cold, hungry bleak 1950s cultural days in America) and which can be indirectly attributed to the activities of Jack, Allen Ginsburg, Gregory Corso, that aforementioned bandit poet who ran wild on the mean streets among the hustlers, conmen and whores of the major towns of the continent, William Burroughs, the Harvard-trained junkie  and a bunch of other guys who took a very different route for our parents who were of the same generation as them but of a very different world.

But it was above all Jack’s book, Jack’s travel adventure book which had caused a big splash in 1957(after an incredible publishing travail since the story line actually related to events in the late 1940s and which would cause Jack no end of trauma when the kids showed up at his door looking to hitch a ride on the motherlode star, and had ripple effects into the early 1960s and even now certain “hip” kids acknowledge the power of attraction that book had for their own developments, especially that living simple, fast and hard part). Made the young, some of them anyway, like I say I think the best part, have to spend some time thinking through the path of life ahead by hitting the vagrant dusty sweaty road. Maybe not hitchhiking, maybe not going high speed high through the ocean, plains, mountain, desert night but staying unsettled for a while anyway.    

Like I said above Alex was out on the road two years and other guys, other corner boys for whatever else you wanted to call them that was their niche back in those days and were recognized as such in the town not always to their benefit, from a few months to a few years. Markin started first back in the spring of 1967 but was interrupted by his fateful induction into the Army and service, if you can call it that, in Vietnam and then several more years upon his return before his untimely and semi-tragic end down some dusty Jack-strewn road in Mexico cocaine deal blues. With maybe this difference from today’s young who are seeking alternative roads away from what is frankly bourgeois society and was when Jack wrote although nobody except commies and pinkos called it that for fear of being tarred with those brushes. Alex, Frankie Riley the acknowledged leader, Jack Callahan and the rest, Markin included, were strictly “from hunger” working class kids who when they hung around Tonio Pizza Parlor were as likely to be thinking up ways to grab money fast any way they could or of getting into some   hot chick’s pants any way they could as anything else. Down at the base of society when you don’t have enough of life’s goods or have to struggle too much to get even that little bit “from hunger” takes a big toll on your life. I can testify to that part because Alex was not the only one in the James family to go toe to toe with the law back then when the coppers were just waiting for corner boy capers to explode nay Friday or Saturday night, it was a close thing for all us boys as it had been with Jack when all is said and done. But back then dough and sex after all was what was what for corner boys, maybe now too although you don’t see many guys hanging on forlorn Friday night corners anymore.

What made this tribe different, the Tonio Pizza Parlor corner boys, was mad monk Markin. Markin called by Frankie Riley “Scribe” from the time he came to North Adamsville from across town in junior high school and that stuck all through high school. The name stuck because although Markin was as larcenous and lovesick as the rest of them he was also crazy for books and poetry. Christ according to Alex, Markin was the guy who planned most of the “midnight creeps” they called then. Although nobody in their right minds would have the inept Markin actually execute the plan. That was for smooth as silk Frankie now also like Alex a high-road lawyer to lead. That operational sense was why Frankie was the leader then (and maybe why he was a locally famous lawyer later who you definitely did not want to be on the other side against him). Markin was also the guy who all the girls for some strange reason would confide in and thus was the source of intelligence about who was who in the social pecking order, in other words, who was available, sexually or otherwise. That sexually much more important than otherwise. See Markin always had about ten billion facts running around his head in case anybody, boy or girl, asked him about anything so he was ready to do battle, for or against take your pick.

The books and the poetry is where Jack Kerouac and On The Road come into the corner boy life of the Tonio’s Pizza Parlor life. Markin was something like an antennae for anything that seemed like it might help create a jailbreak, help them get out from under. Later he would be the guy who introduced some of the guys to folk music when that was a big thing. (Alex never bought into that genre, still doesn’t, despite Markin’s desperate pleas for him to check it out. Hated whinny Bob Dylan above all else.) Others too like Kerouac’s friend Allen Ginsburg and his wooly homo poem Howl from 1956 which Markin would read sections out loud from on lowdown dough-less, girl-less Friday nights. And drive the strictly hetero guys crazy when he insisted that they read the poem, read what he called a new breeze was coming down the road. They could, using that term from the times again, have given a rat’s ass about some fucking homo faggot poem from some whacko Jewish guy who belonged in a mental hospital. (That is a direct quote from Frankie Riley at the time via my brother Alex’s memory bank.)

Markin flipped out when he found out that Kerouac had grown up in Lowell, a working class town very much like North Adamsville, and that he had broken out of the mold that had been set for him and gave the world some grand literature and something to spark the imagination of guys down at the base of society like his crowd with little chance of grabbing the brass ring. So Markin force-marched the crowd to read the book, especially putting pressure on my brother who was his closest friend then. Alex read it, read it several times and left the dog- eared copy around which I picked up one day when I was having one of my high school summertime blues. Read it through without stopping almost like Jack wrote the final version of the thing on a damn newspaper scroll in about three weeks. So it was through the Scribe via Alex that I got the Kerouac bug. And now on the 60th anniversary I am passing on the bug to you.           

The Son Of Dharma-With Jack Kerouac’s On The Road In Mind

From The Pen Of Sam Lowell

Jack Callahan thought he was going crazy when he thought about the matter after he had awoken from his fitful dream. Thought he was crazy for “channeling” Jack Kerouac, or rather more specifically channeling Jack’s definitive book On The Road that had much to do with his wanderings, got him going in search of what his late corner boy, “the Scribe, Peter Paul Markin called the search for the Great Blue-Pink American West Night (Markin always capitalized that concept so since I too was influenced by the mad man’s dreams I will do so here). That “crazy” stemmed from the fact that those wanderings, that search had begun, and finished, about fifty years before when he left the road for the hand of Chrissie McNamara and a settled life.

But maybe it is best to go back to the beginning, not the fifty years beginning, Jesus, who could remember, maybe want to remember incidents that far back, but to the night several weeks before when Jack, Frankie Riley, who had been our acknowledged corner boy leader out in front of Jack Slack’s bowling alleys from about senior year in high school in 1966 and a couple of years after when for a whole assortment of reasons, including the wanderings, the crowd went its separate ways, Jimmy Jenkins, Allan Johnson, Bart Webber, Josh Breslin, Rich Rizzo, Sam Eaton and me got together for one of our periodic “remember back in the day” get-togethers over at “Jack’s” in Cambridge a few block from where Jimmy lives. We have probably done this a dozen time over the past decade or so, most recently as most of us have more time to spent at a hard night’s drinking (drinking high-shelf liquors as we always laugh about since in the old days we collectively could not have afforded one high-shelf drink and were reduced to drinking rotgut wines and seemingly just mashed whiskeys).

The night I am talking about though as the liquor began to take effect someone, Bart I think, mentioned that he had read in the Globe up in Lowell they were exhibiting the teletype roll of paper that Jack Kerouac had typed the most definitive draft of his classic youth nation travel book, On The Road in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of its publication in 1957. That information stopped everybody in the group’s tracks for a moment. Partly because everybody at the table, except Rich Rizzo, had taken some version of Kerouac’s book to heart and did as thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of certified members of the generation of ’68 did and went wandering in that good 1960s night. But most of all because etched in everybody’s memory were thoughts of the mad monk monster bastard saint who turned us all on to the book, and to the wanderings, the late Peter Paul Markin.

Yeah, we still moan for that sainted bastard all these years later whenever something from our youths come up, it might be an anniversary, it might be all too often the passing of some iconic figure from those times, or it might be passing some place that was associated with our crowd, and with Markin. See Markin was something like a “prophet” to us, not the old time biblical long-beard and ranting guys although maybe he did think he was in that line of work, but as the herald of what he called “a fresh breeze coming across the land” early in the 1960s. Something of a nomadic “hippie” slightly before his time (including wearing his hair-pre moppet Beatles too long for working class North Adamsville tastes, especially his mother’s, who insisted on boys’ regulars and so another round was fought out to something like a stand-still then in the Markin household saga). The time of Markin’s “prophesies” was however a time when we could have given a rat’s ass about some new wave forming in Markin’s mind (and that “rat’s ass” was the term of art we used on such occasions). We would change our collective tunes later in the decade but then, and on Markin’s more sober days he would be clamoring over the same things, all we cared about was girls (or rather “getting into their pants”), getting dough for dates and walking around money (and planning small larcenies to obtain the filthy lucre), and getting a “boss” car, like a ’57 Chevy or at least a friend that had one in order to “do the do” with said girls and spend some dough at places like drive-in theaters and drive-in restaurants (mandatory if you wanted to get past square one with girls in those days).           

Markin was whistling in the dark for a long time, past high school and maybe a couple of years after. He wore us down though pushing us to go up to Harvard Square in Cambridge to see guys with long hair and faded clothes and girls with long hair which looked like they had used an iron to iron it out sing, read poetry, and just hang-out. Hang out waiting for that same “fresh breeze” that Markin spent many a girl-less, dough-less, car-less Friday or Saturday night serenading the heathens about. I don’t know how many times he dragged me, and usually Bart Webber in his trail on the late night subway to hear some latest thing in the early 1960s folk minute which I could barely stand then, and which I still grind my teeth over when I hear some associates going on and on about guys like Bob Dylan, Tom Rush and Dave Von Ronk and gals like Joan Baez, the one I heard later started the whole iron your long hair craze among seemingly rationale girls. Of course I did tolerate the music better once a couple of Cambridge girls asked me if I liked folk music one time in a coffeehouse and I said of course I did and took Markin aside to give me some names to throw at them. One girl, Lorna, I actually dated off and on for several months.

But enough of me and my youthful antics, and enough too of Markin and his wiggy ideas because this screed is about Jack Kerouac, about the effect of his major book, and why Jack Callahan of all people who among those of us corner boys from Jack Slack’s who followed Markin on the roads west left it the earliest. Left to go back to Chrissie, and eventually a car dealership, Toyota, that had him Mr. Toyota around Eastern Massachusetts (and of course Chrissie as Mrs. Toyota). In a lot of ways Markin was only the messenger, the prodder, because when he eventually convinced us all to read the damn book at different points when we were all, all in our own ways getting wrapped up in the 1960s counter-cultural movement (and some of us the alternative political part too) we were in thrall to what adventures Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty were up to. That is why I think Jack had his dreams after the all-night discussions we had. Of course Markin came in for his fair share of comment, good and bad. But what we talked about mostly was how improbable on the face of it a poor working-class kid from the textile mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts, from a staunch Roman Catholic French-Canadian heritage of those who came south to “see if the streets of America really were paved with gold” would seem an unlikely person to be involved in a movement that in many ways was the opposite of what his generation, the parents of our generation of ’68 to put the matter in perspective, born in the 1920s, coming of age in the Great Depression and slogging through World War II was searching for in the post-World War II “golden age of America.”  Add in that he also was a “jock” (no slur intended as we spent more than our fair share of time talking about sports on those girl-less, dough-less, car-less weekend nights, including Markin who had this complicated way that he figured out the top ten college football teams since they didn’t a play-off system to figure it out. Of course he was like the rest of us a Notre Dame “subway” fan), a guy who played hooky to go read books and who hung out with a bunch of corner boys just like us would be-bop part of his own generation and influence our generation enough to get some of us on the roads too. Go figure.       

So we, even Markin when he was in high flower, did not “invent” the era whole, especially in the cultural, personal ethos part, the part about skipping for a while anyway the nine to five work routine, the white house and picket fence family routine, the hold your breath nose to the grindstone routine and discovering the lure of the road and of discovering ourselves, and of the limits of our capacity to wonder. No question that elements of the generation before us, Jack’s, the sullen West Coast hot-rodders, the perfect wave surfers, the teen-alienated rebel James Dean and wild one Marlon Brando we saw on Saturday afternoon matinee Strand Theater movie screens and above all his “beats” helped push the can down the road, especially the “beats” who along with Jack wrote to the high heavens about what they did, how they did it and what the hell it was they were running from. Yeah, gave us a road map to seek that “newer world” Markin got some of us wrapped up in later in the decade and the early part of the next.

Now the truth of the matter is that most generation of ‘68ers, us, only caught the tail-end of the “beat” scene, the end where mainstream culture and commerce made it into just another “bummer” like they have done with any movement that threatened to get out of hand. So most of us who were affected by the be-bop sound and feel of the “beats” got what we knew from reading about them. And above all, above even Allen Ginsberg’s seminal poem, Howl which was a clarion call for rebellion, was Jack Kerouac who thrilled even those who did not go out in the search the great blue-pink American West night.              

Here the odd thing, Kerouac except for that short burst in the late 1940s and a couple of vagrant road trips in the 1950s before fame struck him down was almost the antithesis of what we of the generation of ’68 were striving to accomplish. As is fairly well known, or was by those who lived through the 1960s, he would eventually disown his “step-children.” Be that as it may his role, earned or not, wanted or not, as media-anointed “king of the beats” was decisive.           

But enough of the quasi-literary treatment that I have drifted into when I really wanted to tell you about what Bart Webber told me about his dream. He dreamed that he, after about sixty-five kind of hell with his mother who wanted him to stay home and start that printing business that he had dreamed of since about third grade when he read about how his hero Benjamin Frankin had started in the business, get married to Betsy Binstock, buy a white picket fence house (a step up from the triple decker tenement where he grew up) have children, really grandchildren and have a happy if stilted life. But his mother advise fell off him like a dripping rain, hell, after-all he was caught in that 1960s moment when everything kind of got off-center and so he under the constant prodding of Markin decided to hit the road. Of course the Kerouac part came in from reading the book after about seven million drum-fire assaults by Markin pressing him to read the thing.

So there he was by himself. Markin and I were already in San Francisco so that was the story he gave his mother for going and also did not tell her that he was going  to hitchhike to save money and hell just to do it. It sounded easy in the book. So he went south little to hit Route 6 (a more easterly part of that road in upstate New York which Sal unsuccessfully started his trip on. There he met a young guy, kind of short, black hair, built like a football player who called himself Ti Jean, claimed he was French- Canadian and hailed from Nashua up in New Hampshire but had been living in Barnstable for the summer and was now heading west to see what that summer of love was all about.

Bart was ecstatic to have somebody to kind of show him the ropes, what to do and don’t do on the road to keep moving along. So they travelled together for a while, a long while first hitting New York City where Ti Jean knew a bunch of older guys, gypsy poets, sullen hipsters, con men, drifters and grifters, guys who looked like they had just come out some “beat” movie. Guys who knew what was what about Times Square, about dope, about saying adieu to the American dream of their parents to be free to do as they pleased. Good guys though who taught him a few things about the road since they said they had been on that road since the 1940s.

Ti Jean whose did not look that old said he was there with them, had blown out of Brockton after graduating high school where he had been an outstanding sprinter who could have had a scholarship if his grades had been better. Had gone to prep school in Providence to up his marks, had then been given a track scholarship to Brown, kind of blew that off when Providence seemed too provincial to him, had fled to New York one fine day where he sailed out for a while in the merchant marines to do his bit for the war effort. Hanging around New York in between sailings he met guys who were serious about reading, serious about talking about what they read, and serious about not being caught in anything but what pleased them for the moment. Some of this was self-taught, some picked up from the hipsters and hustlers.

After the war was over, still off-center about what to do about this writing bug that kept gnawing at him despite everybody, his minute wife, his love mother, his carping father telling him to get a profession writing wasn’t where any dough was, any dough for him he met this guy, a hard knocks guys who was something like a plebeian philosopher king, Ned Connelly, who was crazy to fix up cars and drive them, drive them anyway. Which was great since Ti Jean didn’t have a license, didn’t know step one about how to shift gears and hated driving although he loved riding shot-gun getting all blasted on the dope in the glove compartment and the be-bop jazz on the radio. So they tagged along together for a couple of years, zigged and zagged across the continent, hell, went to Mexico too to get that primo dope that he/they craved, got drunk as skunks more times than you could shake a stick, got laid more times than you would think by girls who you would not suspect were horny but were, worked a few short jobs picking produce in the California fields, stole when there was no work, pimped a couple of girls for a while to get a stake and had a hell of time while the “squares” were doing whatever squares do. And then he wrote some book about it, a book that was never published because there were too many squares who could not relate to what he and Ned were about. He was hoping that the kids he saw on the road, kids like Bart would keep the thing moving along as he left Bart at the entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge on their last ride together.
Then Bart woke up, woke up to the fact that he stayed on the road too short a time now looking back on it. That guy Ti Jean had it right though, live fast, drink hard and let the rest of it take care of itself. Thanks Markin.              


In Honor Of International Women's Day-Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-"The Internationale"- A Working Class Song For All Seasons

In this series, presented under the headline Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our communist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist. Sadly though, hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground and have rather more often than not been fellow-travelers. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here. Markin.
The Internationale [variant words in square brackets]

Arise ye workers [starvelings] from your slumbers
Arise ye prisoners of want
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of cant.
Away with all your superstitions
Servile masses arise, arise
We'll change henceforth [forthwith] the old tradition [conditions]
And spurn the dust to win the prize.

So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale unites the human race.
So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction
On tyrants only we'll make war
The soldiers too will take strike action
They'll break ranks and fight no more
And if those cannibals keep trying
To sacrifice us to their pride
They soon shall hear the bullets flying
We'll shoot the generals on our own side.

No saviour from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer
Our own right hand the chains must shiver
Chains of hatred, greed and fear
E'er the thieves will out with their booty [give up their booty]
And give to all a happier lot.
Each [those] at the forge must do their duty
And we'll strike while the iron is hot.


Debout les damnés de la terre
Debout les forçats de la faim
La raison tonne en son cratère
C'est l'éruption de la fin
Du passe faisons table rase
Foules, esclaves, debout, debout
Le monde va changer de base
Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout

C'est la lutte finale
Groupons-nous, et demain (bis)
Sera le genre humain

Il n'est pas de sauveurs suprêmes
Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun
Producteurs, sauvons-nous nous-mêmes
Décrétons le salut commun
Pour que le voleur rende gorge
Pour tirer l'esprit du cachot
Soufflons nous-mêmes notre forge
Battons le fer quand il est chaud

L'état comprime et la loi triche
L'impôt saigne le malheureux
Nul devoir ne s'impose au riche
Le droit du pauvre est un mot creux
C'est assez, languir en tutelle
L'égalité veut d'autres lois
Pas de droits sans devoirs dit-elle
Egaux, pas de devoirs sans droits

Hideux dans leur apothéose
Les rois de la mine et du rail
Ont-ils jamais fait autre chose
Que dévaliser le travail
Dans les coffres-forts de la bande
Ce qu'il a crée s'est fondu
En décrétant qu'on le lui rende
Le peuple ne veut que son dû.

Les rois nous saoulaient de fumées
Paix entre nous, guerre aux tyrans
Appliquons la grève aux armées
Crosse en l'air, et rompons les rangs
S'ils s'obstinent, ces cannibales
A faire de nous des héros
Ils sauront bientôt que nos balles
Sont pour nos propres généraux

Ouvriers, paysans, nous sommes
Le grand parti des travailleurs
La terre n'appartient qu'aux hommes
L'oisif ira loger ailleurs
Combien, de nos chairs se repaissent
Mais si les corbeaux, les vautours
Un de ces matins disparaissent
Le soleil brillera toujours.

Die Internationale

Wacht auf, Verdammte dieser Erde,
die stets man noch zum Hungern zwingt!
Das Recht wie Glut im Kraterherde
nun mit Macht zum Durchbruch dringt.
Reinen Tisch macht mit dem Bedranger!
Heer der Sklaven, wache auf!
Ein nichts zu sein, tragt es nicht langer
Alles zu werden, stromt zuhauf!

Volker, hort die Signale!
Auf, zum letzten Gefecht!
Die Internationale
Erkampft das Menschenrecht

Es rettet uns kein hoh'res Wesen
kein Gott, kein Kaiser, noch Tribun
Uns aus dem Elend zu erlosen
konnen wir nur selber tun!
Leeres Wort: des armen Rechte,
Leeres Wort: des Reichen Pflicht!
Unmundigt nennt man uns Knechte,
duldet die Schmach langer nicht!

In Stadt und Land, ihr Arbeitsleute,
wir sind die starkste Partei'n
Die Mussigganger schiebt beiseite!
Diese Welt muss unser sein;
Unser Blut sei nicht mehr der Raben
und der machtigen Geier Frass!
Erst wenn wir sie vertrieben haben
dann scheint die Sonn' ohn' Unterlass!

(The English version most commonly sung in South Africa. )
The Internationale

Arise ye prisoners of starvation
Arise ye toilers of the earth
For reason thunders new creation
`Tis a better world in birth.

Never more traditions' chains shall bind us
Arise ye toilers no more in thrall
The earth shall rise on new foundations
We are naught but we shall be all.

Then comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale
Unites the human race.

(Zulu) i-Internationale

n'zigqila zezwe lonke
Sizokwakh'umhlaba kabusha
Siqed'indlala nobumpofu.

Asilwise yonk'incindezelo
Asisodwa Kulomkhankaso

Sibhekene nempi yamanqamu
Ibumb'uluntu lonke
British Translation Billy Bragg's Revision[16] American version

First stanza

Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
Arise, ye prisoners of want.
For reason in revolt now thunders,
and at last ends the age of cant!
Away with all your superstitions,
Servile masses, arise, arise!
We'll change henceforth the old tradition,
And spurn the dust to win the prize!

So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale,
Unites the human race.
So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale,
Unites the human race.

Stand up, all victims of oppression,
For the tyrants fear your might!
Don't cling so hard to your possessions,
For you have nothing if you have no rights!
Let racist ignorance be ended,
For respect makes the empires fall!
Freedom is merely privilege extended,
Unless enjoyed by one and all.

So come brothers and sisters,
For the struggle carries on.
The Internationale,
Unites the world in song.
So comrades, come rally,
For this is the time and place!
The international ideal,
Unites the human race.