War Is A Racket

Wherein your correspondent reads from the classic anti-war book by America’s most decorated soldier, US Marine Major General Smedley Butler.

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer; a gangster for capitalism…”

Click on the gray triangle or mp3 link above to hear War is A Racket as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Rebel Hearts: Defiant Nuns of the Immaculate Heart

In the early nineteen sixties, a hidebound Catholic Church attempted to modernize with a movement known as Vatican 2. But some Church people, nuns and priests, wanted changes that were a bridge too far for Vatican 2. In Los Angeles, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary went toe to toe with the church hierarchy, involving themselves in anti-war and social justice movements. I was happy to speak with Pedro Kos, the director of a new film documentary called Rebel Hearts about those women of the Immaculate Heart who insisted on staying true to their consciences.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview with Pedro Kos as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Gold, Oil, And Avocados

Leftists who have followed the recent fortunes of socialist governments in Latin America can’t help but be both heartened and chastened by the ups and downs in those economies and in their social development projects. The dynamics of building socialism in the midst of an imperialist world presents enormous challenges.  I was happy to interview journalist Andy Robinson who succeeds in demystifying much of the politics of the area by getting down to basics in his fascinating and illuminating new book, Gold, Oil, and Avocados: A Recent History of Latin America in Sixteen Commodities.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Andy Robinson, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

The Third Floor

The longtime head of the Portuguese Communist Party, Álvaro Cunhal, spent many years of his life in Portuguese fascist prisons. Later in exile, from the 1950s onward, he wrote novels, novellas and short stories about Portuguese life under the fascists who ruled from 1927 to the early 1970s. In particular, he wrote of the leading role of the Portuguese Communist Party in the anti-fascist struggle for almost 50 years. To create a literary identity apart from his political renown, he employed the pen name Manuel Tiago.

Author and translator Eric Gordon set himself the task of translating Cunhal’s work into English, and so far, the books Five Days, Five Nights and The Six-Pointed Star have appeared from International Publishers. The 3rd Floor has just been issued, with five more books on their way.

The title story is a prison break tale. In the excerpt I’ll be reading, the Communist prisoners have worked out a messaging system with the Party by writing on little bits of cigarette papers and smuggling them in and out under the buttons of shirts in the dirty prison laundry. A trio of prisoners who are secretly working on a prison break have just received back a message from the Party.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

Diaspora Boy

American artist Eli Valley created his Diaspora Boy comics because of his anger with the corruption of American Jewish institutions and so-called Jewish “leaders” that he was constantly exposed to. His response was a savage comic strip with a visual style that mixed the 50s Mad’s Harvey Kurtzman and the 60s R. Crumb.

I broadcast a radio commentary about the collected strips that Valley published in book form, and I also read one of his 9-panel cartoons on the air.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the commentary, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

The People Vs. Agent Orange

Agent Orange has been called the most destructive instance of chemical warfare in modern history. Sad to say the US government has been instrumental in the awful deaths caused by Agent Orange both in Vietnam and the United States. A powerful new documentary,  The People Vs. Agent Orange, depicts the horrific story but also the courageous action by two extraordinary women, Tran To Nga and Carol Van Strum, who fought and sacrificed so much to bring the guilty parties responsible to account.

I was happy to speak with the directors and producers of the film, Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna, and also with one of those extraordinary women, Carol Van Strum, on Arts Express.

The film, The People vs Agent Orange is broadcast on PBS starting 6/28/21 and can be streamed via the PBS streaming app until July 11.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear our interview, as broadcast this week on Arts Express Pacifica stations across the nation, and later in the week on WBAI FM NY.

Denial

(“Enjoy Denial” by Tim Fenn is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Here’s a re-working of an essay that I originally printed on this blog some time ago, and revised for radio broadcast.

Well everyone’s all aflutter these days with our newly elected overlords, and far be it from me to burst anyone’s bubble.  I mean, what fun is it in having enemies if you can’t beat up on them and blame them for all the country’s ills? Of course our unelected overlords still continue apace, but today I want to talk about a different level of reality that remains largely unspoken...the one incontrovertible fact about life in these United States regardless of who is ruling is the following…”

Click on the triangle or link above to hear it as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Facing The Music

Nellie McKay stops the music to talk to her audience in a way you probably have not seen before. This was the first in-person concert she had done since the advent of the pandemic. It was an outdoor concert in a small field in a small town in Ohio. If you watch the video of the whole concert (see the link below), you realize that some have walked out, but by the end of the concert she wins the crowd back over again.

Warning: Not Suitable For Work

More at Paula Conklin

“Tried To Suffocate Us, But We Are Air”: Louise Dessertine

I was led to Montreal-based singer/songwriter activist Louise Dessertine by poet Steve Bloom who had sent me a YouTube video of her singing her extraordinary song, “Put Your Red Dress On.” I was able to contact her and we had a lovely Zoom talk. You can listen to our conversation as well as some of her wonderful songs by listening to the radio segment I put together, which was broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica radio affiliates across the country.

Click on the triangle or link above to listen.

More Louise Dessertine here:

Louise Dessertine – Home | Facebook

Louise Dessertine | ReverbNation

Free Voice Of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists

In 1980, Joel Sucher made a film called Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists, which was a portrait of immigrant life in the U.S. as seen through the eyes of sweatshop workers who made up the Jewish anarchist movement. Between 1900 and World War I, these Yiddish-speaking anarchists constituted an influential political movement affecting trade unions, newspapers, left-wing culture—and hysteria—in the US. Now 40 years later, that film has been re-released. I was happy to interview one of the original directors of Free Voice of Labor, Joel Sucher.

Click on the triangle or link above to hear my conversation with director Joel Sucher as broadcast today on WBAI NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

David Graeber: Bullshit Jobs

David Graeber died last month and it was a real loss. The radical anthropologist was probably best known as the author of Debt: The First 5000 Years, but my favorite book of his is the quirky Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. Here’s my commentary on this important book as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

Click on the triangle or the image above to listen.

The Young Lords: A Radical History, Part 1

In her fascinating new book, The Young Lords, Professor Johanna Fernández makes a compelling case that the Young Lords were one of the most important revolutionary groups of the late 60s and early 70s. They won lasting victories by coupling street smarts, sophisticated organizing techniques, and intense political analyses. There’s much to be learned from their story, both successes and failures, which is cogently and lovingly told by the author.

Click on the triangle or image above to hear my interview with Johanna Fernández, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program, heard on WBAI NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.

You can find Part 2 here:

STRIKE!

strike

Jeremy Brecher has just come out with a revised and updated  50th anniversary edition of his brilliantly readable book called STRIKE! about the history of strikes in the United States. It’s an eye-opening history in so many ways, but for now, I’d just like to excerpt from the book an editorial that was published in the Seattle Union Record concerning the general strike that had taken hold in Seattle in 1919. The general strike involved shipbuilders, dockworkers, laundry workers, restaurant workers, milk-wagon drivers, and many more trades who brought the city to a standstill. If this rings a bell for you today, it’s not a coincidence.

There will be many cheering, and there will be some who fear.
Both these emotions are useful, but not too much of either.

We are undertaking the most tremendous move ever made by LABOR 
in this country, a move which will lead—NO ONE KNOWS WHERE!

We do not need hysteria.

We need the iron march of labor.

LABOR WILL FEED THE PEOPLE.

Twelve great kitchens have been offered, and from them food 
will be distributed by the provision trades at low cost to all.

LABOR WILL CARE FOR THE BABIES AND THE SICK.

The milk-wagon drivers and the laundry drivers are arranging plans 
for supplying milk to babies, invalids and hospitals and taking care 
of the cleaning of linen for hospitals.

LABOR WILL PRESERVE ORDER.

The strike committee is arranging for guards and it is expected that 
the stopping of the cars will keep people at home..

A few hot-headed enthusiasts have complained that strikers-only 
should be fed, and the general public left to endure severe 
discomfort. Aside from the inhumanitarian character of such 
suggestions, let them get this straight—

NOT THE WITHDRAWAL OF LABOR POWER, 
BUT THE POWER OF THE STRIKERS TO MANAGE WILL WIN THIS STRIKE.

What does Mr. Piez of the Shipping Board care about the 
closing down of Seattle’s shipyards, or even of all of the 
industries of the northwest? Will it not merely strengthen the 
yards at Hog Island, in which he is more interested?

When the shipyard owners of Seattle were on the point of agreeing 
with the workers, It was Mr. Piez who wired them that, if they so 
agreed—

HE WOULD STILL NOT LET THEM HAVE STEEL.

Whether this is camouflage we have no means of knowing. 
But we do know that the great eastern combinations of capitalists 
COULD AFFORD to offer privately to Mr. Skinner, Mr. Ames and 
Mr. Duthie a few millions apiece in eastern shipyard stock.

RATHER THAN LET THE WORKERS WIN.

The closing down of Seattle’s industries, as a MERE SHUTDOWN, 
will not affect these eastern gentlemen much. They could let the 
whole northwest go to pieces, as far as money alone is concerned.

BUT, the closing down of the capitalistically controlled industries 
of Seattle, while the WORKERS ORGANIZE to feed the people, 
to care for the babies and the sick, to preserve order—
THIS will move them, for this looks too much like the taking over 
of the POWER of the workers.

Labor will not only SHUT DOWN the industries, 
but Labor will REOPEN, under the management of the appropriate trades, 
such activities as are needed to preserve public health 
and public peace. If the strike continues, Labor may feel led 
to avoid public suffering by reopening more and more activities.

UNDER ITS OWN MANAGEMENT

And that is why we say that we are starting on a road that leads—
NO ONE KNOWS WHERE!

					

Comrade: Jodi Dean, Part Two

JODI DEAN

***

***

Last week I posted Part One of my interview with Jodi Dean, author of the new book, Comrade. In that part of the interview, she talked about the origin and unique importance of the word, “comrade,” and how it differs from other terms like friend or ally.

This week we continue with Part Two of that conversation as we talk about what happens when comrades and party part company, and what the opening for a real politics might be in the time of pandemic. As events occur at lightening speed, her point of view becomes more important than ever.

Click on the triangle or the mp3 link above to hear the interview as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

You can listen to Part One, here.

Ringing of Revolution: Phil Ochs

Phil Ochs in 1966, 54 years ahead of his time.

A few notes on the jokes in his intro:

Senator Carl Hayden was the oldest senator in the Senate at the time at 89 years old at the time of the recording; and George Murphy was a former song and dance man who had been elected Senator from California in 1965, predating Ronald Reagan who became California governor a year later.

Thanks to YouTuber farmboy10001

Comrade: Jodi Dean, Part One

comrade-370be9f2a7037742dae346b973d4d4f7

***

***

In Jodi Dean’s  provocative new book called Comrade, she argues that the word “comrade” is an indispensable one that describes a unique political relationship not captured by words like citizen, colleague, friend, brother/sister, or even ally. If the future of revolutionary change is through the vehicle of the revolutionary political party, she says, then the understanding of what “comrade” really means is vital.

I was happy to interview Jodi Dean on the Arts Express radio program. To hear Part One as broadcast today on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC and Pacifica radio affiliates across the country, click on the triangle or mp3 link above.

You can hear Part Two here

The Fire This Time

fire-298105_1280

***

***

The delightful Mary Murphy as interviewer Merri Boast grills The Devil, played by me, in our original  “Sympathy For The Devil” radio satire, broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program over WBAI 99.5FM, WBAI.org ,and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Click on the triangle or the mp3 file link above to listen.

Bedlam: Part Two

Bedlam jacket

***

***

Last week , I posted Part One of an interview with Dr Ken Paul Rosenberg, the creator of the book and film documentary, Bedlam. He talked about the present crisis state of  mental health care in the US. This week we continue with the final part of that conversation as we talk about political considerations —-and Dr. Rosenberg’s personal stake in the story.

Click on the triangle above to hear the conversation as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

Arts Express April Newsletter Preview!

April logo

And here we are with a preview of our third free issue of the Arts Express Newsletter, the jam-packed, super-duper April Issue.

As always, think of the Arts Express newsletter as a print extension of the conversation started on our global radio arts magazine, Arts Express, heard on WBAI 99.5 FM in NYC, WBAI.org, and Pacifica affiliates across the country, in Paris, Beijing, and Berlin.

Every month, it’s full color pages of Arts Express goodness, filled with fascinating interviews, reviews, scripts of our radio drama, photo features, gossip, film, theatre, book recommendations and more.

Here’s a preview of what’s in our April issue, which if you subscribe (just send an email to ArtsExpressList@gmail.com and put Subscribe in the subject line) , you will receive for free the first week in April and every month thereafter:

* Prairie Miller’s  interview with South African writer and anti-apartheid activist Tim Jenkin, who talks about his film Escape From Pretoria, which details his escape from Pretoria Maximum Security Prison, and his work setting up a communication system for the imprisoned Nelson Mandela.

*A joyful portfolio of photographs of the world’s largest flower parade held every year in Zundert, Netherlands, the birthplace of Vincent Van Gogh.

socks

* Red Vienna: An Arts Express Extra: Culture critic Dennis Broe writes about the city of Vienna in the 1920s, when a socialist city government planned and built public housing and public facilities throughout the city, which to this day makes Vienna one of the most livable cities in Europe.

* The poetry of Trinidad and Tobagoan poet Camryn Bruno, also known as “Queen Bee,” from her book Queen Bee Cavity.

queen bee (1)

*And Announcing the Arts Express Community Call-in. Would you like to join your fellow listeners in a telephone conversation about culture in a time of pandemic? Write us at artsexpresslist@gmail.com and we’ll give you more details!

*Plus: The Guest List–our recent and upcoming guests; The Back Room–news and gossip about WBAI and the Arts Express crew; and information about exclusive giveaways, and how to win an opportunity to broadcast your own work on the air.

It’s all in the new free Arts Express Newsletter.

If you’re not yet subscribed, you can get your free pdf copy every month to your email address, by sending an email to ArtsExpressList@gmail.com and put Subscribe in the subject line. We’ll do the rest!

And don’t miss our next radio show, Tuesday 3/31 at 4am NYC time, which you can hear on WBAI.org or WBAI 99.5FM NYC., featuring:

 Film: Mrs. America – Actress Margo Martindale discusses playing Bella Abzug in this upcoming feminist mini-series

TV: Asian American actress Keiko Agena on Prodigal Son, Gilmore Girls, Better Call Saul

Report From The Front: Europe And The Coronavirus. Arts Express Paris correspondent Professor Dennis Broe’s news and analysis from the European pandemic epicenter. And what all of this may have to do with austerity and automation; Shakespeare, the plague, King Lear and Macbeth; and Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal – where the poor are served up as a source of nutrition and fine dining.

Plus…Pandemic radio drama, Syrian comic pandemic satire in the No Laughing Matter Comedy Corner episode – and Bernie Sanders in performance.

 

 

 

The Great Debate

giraffes-627031_1920
“I’m the only one on the stage who…” — Wednesday, 2/19, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobachar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren
***
(With a tip of the hat to masercot)

“I’m the only one on the stage who has mudwrestled with a ferret.”

“I’m the only on the stage who has chopped down all the trees west of the Mississippi with Babe, The Giant Blue Ox.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who doesn’t give a crap that I took three tabs of LSD ten minutes ago.”

“I’m the only on the stage who speaks nightly with Elvis.”

“What are you talking about?! I’m the guy who passed the Silly Walks Amendment.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who played Mah Jong with Barack Obama.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who isn’t on the stage.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who is wearing three jock straps.”

“I’m the only on the stage who’s wearing two clown shoes—on each foot.”

“A little girl in 1850 jumped on a train, took dead aim, and shot Jesse James. That little girl was me.”

“I’m the only one on the stage with an outty belly button.”

“I’m the only one on the stage with a dead body in my refrigerator.”

“I’m the only one on the stage lip -synching the whole debate.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who’s a graduate of the DeVry Institute.”

“I’m the only one on the stage, Chuck, who has undergone nasal irrigation.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who’s playing a kazoo.”

“I’m the only one on the stage with a banana in my ear.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who is wearing a mustache made of yak hair.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who’s speaking in Klingon.”

“Socks keep falling down whenever you limbo? I’ve got a plan for that.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who’s a Siamese twin.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who’s having open heart surgery performed on me as we speak.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who can open a bottle of Perrier with my teeth.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who can beat Donald Trump at Chinese Checkers.”

“A little girl in the year 2050, donned her jet pack and flew to the moon. That little girl was me.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who is hopping on a pogo stick.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who’s done the hokey-pokey with Martin Luther King.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who sleeps in jammies with built-in feet.”

“I’m the only one on the stage who has Borscht dribbling down his chest.”

“Let me be perfectly clear: no one should have to choose between slaughtering a porcupine and caressing a weasel.”

Chomsky vs Buckley

***

This one is longish, but fun. William Buckley was a conservative who hosted a PBS show called Firing Line. He was fairly erudite, and on his show he was usually able to intellectually intimidate his debate opponents. But when he had on Noam Chomsky, Buckley was definitely outclassed, and it ‘s fun to watch the two of them parrying, with Buckley clearly in over his head. To Buckley’s credit, he allowed Chomsky onto mainstream television, something that broadcasters then and now were and are loath to do.

Thanks to YouTuber Patrick Steinkuhl

 

What’s Important

alcohol alcoholic bar blur

Photo by Joonas kääriäinen on Pexels.com

 

What’s Important? Their parties and their affairs. Their politics and their children and their schools.  Their colleges and their internships.

Their museums and their theatres and their writers and their vacations and their marriages and their infidelities; their pets and their drunkenness and their doctors.

Their beaches and their summer homes and their nameplates and their cars and their morals and their bankers and their finances and their magazines and their dresses and their jewelry and their connections. Anything else is in agreement or opposition to them.

Their music and their institutions and their candidates and their newspapers and their stocks and their bonds and their penthouses and their department stores and their linens and their towels and their privilege, their vast vast privilege.

Their intellectuals and their painters and their dealers and their playwrights and their novelists and their poetry and their foundations and their PBS and their NPR and their film festivals and their Pulitzers,  all of a piece, one big connected piece: their businesses, their Green New Deals, their social register,  their churches, their synagogues, their causes, their donations, their fashion, their unmentionables, their stories, their bodies, their color, their hair, their tuxedos.

Their television shows, their late night hosts, their pundits, their news columnists. Their op-eds and their editorials and everywhere everywhere their offices, their architecture, their downtowns, their urban renewal, their zoning boards, their free-fire zones, their armies, their wars, their front pages. Their water, their vitamins, their foot massages, their masseuses, their exercise machines, their angst, their problems, their shrinks, their gurus, their meditations. Their guns and their guards and their ocean cruises and their executive class and their private helicopters and their gold plated bathrooms and their penthouses and their literary supplements and their trust funds and their restaurants and their chefs and their poodles and their desserts and their musicals,  their sculpture, their police force, their mayor, their bribes, their musclemen, their crime and their punishment.

Their shock jocks and their PR people and their advance men and their drug dealers and their psychiatric hospitals and their doormen. Their elevator operators and their operas. Their Christmases and their bonuses. Their playgrounds and their baby carriages. Their smoothies and their lattes. Their Siri and their Echo. Their maids and their housekeepers, their butlers and their caterers,  their golf courses and their tennis courts. Their charities, their bequests, their billionaires, their philanthropies, their checks and their balances. Their lawyers and their judges, their pastors and their rabbis, their endowed chair professors and their university presidents. Their fall guys and their stooges. Their saints and their sinners. Their cocktail hours and their cigarettes. Their appetizers and their entrees, their champagne and their caviar, their perks and their lighting. Their make-up and their make-up artists, their voices and their songs.

Their money money money all over the place in every conversation, in every action, in every thought, in every deed, from getting up in the morning to puking up at night, to the sheets and the covers and the beds. Their deaths and their inheritances.

Their lives, their world.

That’s what’s important.

“How I Became A Socialist”: Jack London

800px-Jack_London_young

***

***

This month we celebrate the birthday of author Jack London, born January 12, 1876. London wrote the great nature novels Call of the Wild and White Fang, but he was also a committed socialist who wrote two volumes of essays about socialism called The War of the Classes and Revolution and other essays.

I performed a reading of London’s “How I Became A Socialist” for the Arts Express radio program. Click on the triangle above to hear it as broadcast today on WBAI 99.5 FM radio and Pacifica affiliates cross the country.