Daily Archives: August 5, 2017

Soft Rock from the 1970’s: Dr. Hook and the Medicine Band, “Sylvia’s Mother”

Great song from 1972, little remembered to this day. Sad song about a broken love affair, heart-crushing to listen to with those deadly creaky vocals even today. Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show are little known today, but they had a huge hit in On the Cover of the Rolling Stone, another great song from around the same time which is never played anymore. It was hugely popular back in the day. Great music from the early 1970’s!

Lyrics, written by Shel Silverstein, incredibly enough.

Sylvia’s mother says “Sylvia’s busy,
Too busy to come to the phone.”
Sylvia’s mother says, “Sylvia’s trying,
to start a new life of her own.”
Sylvia’s mother says “Sylvia’s happy,
So why don’t you leave her alone?”
And the operator says: “Forty cents more,
for the next three minutes.”

Please Mrs. Avery, I’ve just got to talk to her
I’ll only keep her a while.
Please Mrs. Avery, I just want to tell her
Goodbye.

Sylvia’s mother says, “Sylvia’s packing,
She’s going be leaving today.”
Sylvia’s mother says, “Sylvia’s marrying,
A fellow down Galveston-way.”
Sylvia’s mother says, “Please don’t say nothing
To make her start crying and stay.”
And the operator says: “Forty cents more
for the next three minutes.”

Please Mrs. Avery, I’ve just got to talk to her
I’ll only keep her a while.
Please Mrs. Avery, just want to tell her
Goodbye.

Sylvia’s mother says, “Sylvia’s hurrying,
She’s catching the nine o’clock train.”
Sylvia’s mother says: “Take your umbrella,
Cause Sylvia, it’s starting to rain.”
And Sylvia’s mother says, “Thank you for calling.
And sir, won’t you call back again?”
And the operator says, “Forty cents more
For the next three minutes.”

Please Mrs. Avery, I’ve just got to talk to her
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, just want to tell her
Goodbye
Tell her goodbye
Please, tell her goodbye
Goodbye

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Filed under Music, Rock

Soft Rock from the 1960’s: Scott McKenzie “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”

God I love this song! And I still love the hippies, too. If there’s anything we need to go back to, it’s that. It’s so painful to realize that the Flower Children of the 1960’s grew up to be a generation that voted in Donald Trump.

Or did they?

You must understand. Back in those days with Revolution in the air, maybe half the young people were part of the Movement and the other half hated it with all their guts and intensity. We never hear about them. There were as many young people for the war as against it. There were as many lining up outside ROTC buildings as there were bombing them. The campuses were full of short-haired conservatives, members of Buckley’s Young Americans for Freedom. Sometimes it played out in the streets, when rightwing construction workers and even bikers assaulted hippies. It’s true. Bikers have always been conservatives and still are to this very day. I’m sure they all voted for Trump this time around.

What we saw in the 1990’s and 200’s was history replaying itself, but this time as farce. Bush and his minions – Rumsfeld, Cheney, the neoconservative Jews around Bill Kristol and his father Irving at Commentary, John Bolton, Condoleeza Rice, Colon Powell – these were the 60’s Generation too, but they were the other side of the mirror – the 60’s young conservatives who hated the Movement types as much as anyone’s parents did.

Clinton ruled for eight years, and he was the Hippie Movement Generation or the Revolutionary 1960’s in power even though he barely inhaled. One of the reasons he was so hated is because the Culture War of the 1960’s-1970’s with a generation split between Left and Right at each others’ throats trying to – sometimes successfully – kill each other, never really ended. There was no truce or even a ceasefire. Surely there was no peace deal.

And when Bush came in, he was the other side of the coin, this time the conservatives of the 1960’s – the squares as we derisively called them – had taken back over the reigns from their lifelong enemies. They did it by stealing elections, but they got in no matter what.

The 1960’s were replayed again under Barack Obama, this time even worse, with accusations of hobnobbing around with actual revolutionaries like Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn (these are still two of my heroes), former high-ranking members of the Weather Underground who lived underground for over a decade and resurfaced only to be pardoned of all charges.

Dohrn and Ayers resurfaced as Education Professors at the University of Chicago where they teach to this day. U of Chicago has a bad rap. Forget the Economics Department where the curse of neoliberalism was resurrected from the dead by Friedman and his gangsters who then went on to destroy Chile and poison the minds of generations. There’s a whole tradition of radicalism there too, especially in the social sciences and nowadays in the Education Department. Former bomb-throwing revolutionaries now tenured professors living comfortable lives in ivy-covered brick apartments? Who could have guessed?

Chicago’s a funny place. Sure you had the reactionary Tribune, but you also had Marshall Fields, a Leftist millionaire and head of a department store chain who funded huge pro-labor newspapers because they would die with ads they would never get. It’s a funny place, Left and Right all mixed in and in each other’s face, gripped at each other’s throats and choking hard, sort of like…the whole country now? N’est pas?

The reaction against the so-called Movement radicalism of Obama in power was of course the election of Trump on a fake populist platform, whose job it is apparently to roll back the entire Revolutionary Project of the 1960’s – and the New Deal of the 1930’s while they’re at it – and oh Hell, let’s go all the way back to Gilded Age of the 1890’s as Rove dreams. We’re already there anyway. What is the US from 1990-present but the Gilded Age Part 2, as if we never learned a thing the first time?

The infinite return coming back to punch us all in the face again. Cirlces aren’t all round. Some are flat in fact.

Riverrun, past Eve and Adams, from swerve of shore to bend of bay…

OK, you get it now?

 

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Filed under Conservatism, Culture, Democrats, Economics, Higher Education, History, Left, Midwest, Music, Neoconservatism, Neoliberalism, Obama, Political Science, Politics, Regional, Republicans, Revolution, Rock, US, US Politics, USA

Soft Rock from the 1970’s: Gilbert O’Sullivan, “Alone Again”

Great music from 1971! This is the original version from Gilbert O’Sullivan. Dig that hair. My hair used to look a lot like that, or more like Tony Orlando from Dawn actually. Everybody laughs when they see it now but really long hair on men was a big deal back on this days. My hair was very curly and it was near Jewfro but not quite. More like this guy’s. Women and girls went nuts over long hair back then, especially long curly hair. They were always grabbing me and trying to rub their fingers through it “just to see what it feels like.” Yeah sure.

Apparently the song is about suicide, death and other things, but I never knew that until today.

I always just thought it was a great song, just a sad song is all. But so what? Some of the best music is sad, face it. Life’s half sadness anyway, and that’s on a good day. Don’t believe me? Ask any Buddhist. They figured this out a long time ago.

Once you figure out that some of the beauty of life is in its gloriously catastrophic sadness, now you’ve got it. There’s the road to Satori, stretching out right in front of you. All you gotta do is take that first step. Come on, you can do it. Don’t be chicken.

Take a deep breath and dive right into the black fathomless pool of life. Who knows what’s down there? Who knows if you will come up or not? Who cares?

Just say, “The Hell with it and I’m going to do this anyway. If I die, I die, ok, so be it.”

This is one of the secrets to life. You have to keep diving into that pool over and over, dammit.

Otherwise you will never live. You will have one foot in the grave your whole life until someone shoves you all the way in to that very familiar hole of yours at the end. Death-in-life is no way to live. Why be a Zombie? Look around you. The world’s full of them anyway.

Choose life, dammit! Dive in! Live dangerously!

Here’s the lyrics.

In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself
To treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top
Will throw myself off
In an effort to
Make it clear to who
Wants to know
What it’s like when you’re shattered

Left standing in the lurch
At a church
Were people saying,
“My God, that’s tough
She stood him up
No point in us remaining
We may as well go home”
As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to
The brutal new
The role I was about to play
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much
As a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about
God in His mercy
Oh, if he really does exist
Why did he desert me
In my hour of need
I truly am indeed
Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that
There are more hearts broken in the world
That can’t be mended
Left unattended
What do we do?
What do we do?
Alone again, naturally

Looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried
When my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears
And at sixty-five years old
My mother God rest her soul
Couldn’t understand
Why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start
With a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken
And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally

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Filed under Buddhism, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Rock

Soft Rock from the 1970’s: Terry Jacks, “Seasons in the Sun”

Terry Jacks from 1974. Actually the song had a much longer history dating all the way back to 1961 when it was written by a French poetger. It was later translated by Rod McKuen, the famous popular poet who many thought was a hack. The Kingston Trio recorded it in 1963 and later it was recorded by the Fortunes in 1968 and Pearls Before Swine in 1970. The Beach Boys recorded the song but never released it. Jacks was actually at that session and he encouraged the Beach Boys to perform the song. None of these versions ever took off until it was recorded by Jacks in 1974 when it became a smash hit in Europe and the US.

It was heavily derided at the time as Bubblegum and an example of what crap popular music was back then. However, I even love Bubblegum junk music, the musical equivalent of cult B-movie hits. The song had and still has many fans. It’s about a man who is dying, which I never knew in all those years I listened to it!

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Filed under Literature, Music, Poetry, Rock

Soft Rock from the 1960’s: The Mamas and the Papas, “California Dreamin'”

My God, what a beautiful song that was. I even loved Mama Cass. I don’t care if she was fat. And John Phillips and his lovely teenage daughter! This was actually a family and a band.

1968. It was a different time back then. I was only 11, so I missed it, but I experienced the Hippie Movement just fine in the 1970’s from 1974-on. The Hippie Movement was still going strong all through the 1970’s, believe it or not, and it was not a whole lot different from the Movement in the 1960’s. Some of my acid dealer friends used to get their LSD directly form Timothy Leary’s Brotherhood of Eternal Love in Laguna Beach. This organization was headquartered in Laguna Canyon where they had rented a number of homes. They even lookouts up in the trees! Over the years, they manufactured and sold millions of hits of LSD. They were the makers of the original Orange Sunshine LSD.

I wasn’t all for peace and love though. I was actually on the mailing list for the Weather Underground!

I even have a soft spot for the Black Liberation Army, even though they were little more than criminals turned revolutionaries.

But hey, so were the Panthers.

Don’t believe me? Read Soul on Ice, and get back to me on that.

Or look up the Jackson Brothers and Angela Davis in Wikipedia. I always thought Angela Davis smuggled that gun in to the courtroom that day. Somehow the Jacksons got a hold of firearms and opened fire in a Bay Area courtroom one day in 1970. No one ever figured out how the guns got into the courtroom, but my mother always thought that Angela Davis smuggled them in in her Afro! Davis was a radical lawyer representing George Jackson and his brother, and she was there in the courthouse circus that day. A wild shootout took place in the courtroom, the judge was shot and killed (!), and both of the Jacksons were shot dead outside the courtroom by police.

Those were the days, man!

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Filed under California, Crime, Dope, Hallucinogens, History, Intoxicants, Law enforcement, Left, LSD, Music, Regional, Revolution, Rock, US, USA, West

The Little-Known Story of Joanne Chesimard and the Black Liberation Army

The story of the Black Liberation Army, a radical armed Black revolutionary Marxist movement in the 1960’s-1970’s,  is little known. Although at first they were little more than thugs turned revolutionaries, they carried out some spectacular actions and seemed to always be one step ahead of the cops. You know that’s got to count for something. I believe in giving respect where it is deserved.

I always had a soft spot for the Black Liberation Army.

One of the leaders of the BLA was Joanne Chesimard, aka Assatu Shakur is fairly well known because of lying propaganda that she shot and killed a cop and subsequently is near the top of the US Most Wanted List. The truth is she is 100% innocent of that charge. She is probably guilty of some other things and she is certainly guilty of a spectactual prison break, but she is innocent of shooting that cop.

In fact, she was shot and badly wounded in the incident where the police officer was killed. She and four other BLA members were pulled over by the police in New Jersey and a wild shootout ensued. I believe the police officer was killed with his own gun. The man who killed the cop was also shot dead. Joanne was badly wounded, but she never fired a weapon during the whole shootout. In fact, I believe she was not even armed. Nevertheless, she has been charged with the officer’s murder though she had nothing to do with it. She was given political asylum by revolutionary Cuba. One of the US’ stupid and arrogant demands of the Cubans is that they give up Assata. Raul Castro said they never will. They should not. She’s innocent anyway.

Chesimard and other BLA members were very good, always escaping from close calls with the cops and even escaping from police custody a few times. Chesimard and some others escaped from a federal prison in Florida in 1979 disguised as laundry workers. Fellow BLA members disguised as laundry workers and drove a laundry truck in and broke the BLA out of a maximum security prison! There was a vast manhunt on for Chesimard all over the US, but she could never be found. There were a lot of people hiding her and they were very good at it. Suddenly, three years later, she popped up in Cuba and said she had been given asylum. No one knew how she got there, and no one has ever figured out where she was for three years.

This is one reason I can never get into any serious anti-Black racism. John Brown is one of my ultimate heroes! I don’t care how many people he killed. So what! A revolution is not a picnic! I liked the Black Panthers a lot too, and I still like them to this very day. I rather like the idea of armed Black revolutionaries running around waging a revolutionary war against the system. Good for them! And the Black Panthers’ armed self-defense was also a good thing. I loved Huey Newton and love Elaine Brown. I even have a soft spot for Stokely Carmichael and even Eldridge Cleaver. How can I be an anti-Black racist? What crap!

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Filed under Blacks, Caribbean, Corrections, Crime, Cuba, Florida, History, Latin America, Law enforcement, Left, Marxism, Race/Ethnicity, Racism, Regional, Revolution, South, US, USA

Alt Left Criticism: “Lindsay Has Moved Far to the Left”

In a radio interview on Robert Stark’s show with Rabbit, Pilleater and Ryan England, England remarked in a baffled tone that I had seemed to have moved far to the Left. This wasn’t really a true statement, as there really wasn’t anywhere to the Left remaining for me to move to. I would have fallen off the cliff if I did. I have always been Hard Left. I am a former member of the Communist Party USA. I used to contribute to the Weapons Funds of Latin American armed revolutionary movements like the FMLN in El Salvador. At one point, I was talking to a representative of the ELN armed group in Colombia, and I was thinking about translating some of their articles for them. I chickened when I worried that I could maybe get 10 years in prison for such harmless activity.

From 1988-1990, I was even on the mailing list for the Weather Underground! I received regular mailings from them.

That was the Weathermen, an underground guerrilla movement that took up arms in the 1960’s to fight the US government. They set off many bombs all over that country. During the period of radical activism from the 1960’s to the 1970’s, a total of 50,000 bombs were set off! I believe in 1970 alone, there were 3,000 bombs set off all around the country. And very few people were hurt or even killed, as they often set them off in the middle of the night and often telephoned in warning calls first so the area could be evacuated.

There was a very large community helping those people – I would estimate 200,000 people at the very low end. The FBI had a very hard time infiltrating the Weathermen because the community was so dedicated to them. People hid them, supported them, moved them around, gave them tips, and funded them with lots of money. A lot of rich people supported them too, especially at the universities and in the legal community. There was a whole group of lawyers who were more or less actively helping them. That was one of the reasons it was so hard to break the movement – you would have had to arrest tens or hundreds of thousands of people.

I used to subscribe to their above-ground publication called Breakthrough. It was put out by something called the John Brown Book Club, headquartered in either Berkeley or San Francisco as of ~1990. The above ground component was legal, and the underground component was illegal.

The Weathermen only killed one person accidentally in their many years of armed action. That was a chemistry student who was up all night working on something in the lab when they bombed at ROTC Headquarters at the University of Wisconsin. Some cops were killed in a bomb attack in Berkeley at Police Headquarters, but I do not think the Weathermen did that. The Weathermen were not the only maniacs running around setting off bombs back then. There were all sorts of groups doing that.

Unfortunately the Weathermen got in with the radical Blacks of the Black Liberation Army and some others and in 1980, they held up an armed car and killed one of the drivers. They got a lot of money, but I did not approve of that action. A couple of them were caught. Afterwards there were raids on Weathermen hideouts all over the US. The FBI mostly found nothing. I remember in one raid in New York City, the Weathermen had left so quickly that burners were left on on the stove. Obviously they had sympathizers inside the government and even law enforcement who were tipping them off to the raids. They why they usually were already gone before they got raided.

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Filed under California, Central America, Colombia, El Salvador, Government, History, Homegrown Terrorism, Latin America, Law enforcement, Left, Maoism, Marxism, Regional, Revolution, South America, US, USA, West