Fighting Times

As corporations are making record profits, workers are being squeezed more than ever. But workers are fighting back in surprising ways. Jon Melrod, has been involved as hell raiser and union organizer for decades, ever since his groundbreaking union organizing on the shop floor for the United Auto Workers in the 70s and 1980s. He’s now written a rip-roaring memoir called Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War about his fight to make workers lives better, and I was happy to get the chance to interview him.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Jon Melrod, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

“The War Prayer”: Mark Twain

Here’s a story by Mark Twain that was never published until after his death.

“The War Prayer” was written in 1905, in response to both the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American Wars, but even Mark Twain didn’t have the courage to publish it in his lifetime. It was left unpublished at his death in April 1910. Twain said about it, “I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead.”

Click on the triangle to hear the story as broadcast today on the Art Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

August’s Actors And Authors

This month in the Arts Express Magazine:

** Veteran Actor Carl Lumbly talks about playing Miles Davis, Gil Scott-Heron, and his new film, I’m Charlie Walker

** Caitlin Johnstone‘s new poems on the latest world madness

** Julia Stein catalogues the city of Los Angeles as a character in modern fiction…and more!

Listen to Arts Express Radio Saturdays 6AM ET on WBAI.org

View online here: August 2022 AE Magazine

Get your free subscription to the Arts Express Magazine, the companion magazine to Arts Express Radio, by sending an email with the word “subscribe” in the subject line to: artsexpresslist@gmail.com

“I Feel Drunk All The Time” : The Poems of Kenneth Patchen

Kenneth Patchen’s poetry is a bullet right between the eyes.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear Mary Murphy and me read a selection of poems by Kenneth Patchen, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

Thanks to New Directions Publishing Corporation for the following poems: “And When Freedom is Achieved,” “I Feel Drunk All the Time,” “The Way Men Live is a Lie,” “What I’d Like to Know Is,” “All The Roses of the World,” “No One Ever Works Alone,” “The Orange Bears,” “Should Be Sufficient,” “Lonesome Boy Blues,” and “Delighted With Bluepink” by Kenneth Patchen, from COLLECTED POEMS OF KENNETH PATCHEN, copyright ©1936, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1952, 1963, 1968 by Kenneth Patchen. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Under the Boardwalk

Arts Express wishes you a great summer!

This month in the July Arts Express Magazine:

** Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young talks Music, Memories, and War

** Great Record Album Covers of the 1960s/70s: those visual pieces of art that trigger instant memories

** Dennis Broe’s “Meet Juan Guaidó,” a parody where the Venezualan presidential pretender’s story echoes a Frank Capra film.

** “Before the Law”: Franz Kafka Meets Julian Assange

and more!!

View here: July 2022 Arts Express Magazine

June Magazine Jewels

June is Busting Out All Over! This month:

** Castro’s Spies: Director Gary Lennon phones in from Dublin to talk about his documentary depicting the heroic undercover Cubans infiltrating Miami, known as the Cuban Five.

** Decolonizing Museums: A review of the new book by Shimrit Lee on the service of museums to imperialism

** Lost People, Places and Spaces: Dennis Broe on the international crime novel writing festival in Lyons

and more!!

View online here: June 2022 Arts Express Magazine

“A Spectre is Haunting Europe…”

It’s May, and May brings up thoughts of Mayday and revolution and Karl Marx’s birthday, May 5,1818, so I thought it might be worthwhile to read from the surprisingly readable Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

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

Mighty May’s Magazine

This month in the Arts Express Magazine:

** Veteran Actor Jim Broadbent on playing a true-life working class hero in The Duke

** Artist Tom Keough shares scenes from his graphic bio about the Irish revolutionary, James Connolly

** Dennis Broe on the constructed media representations of Zelensky in “Mr. Zelensky Goes to Washington”

and more!

View online here: May 2022 Arts Express Magazine

Get your free subscription to the Arts Express Magazine, the companion magazine to Arts Express Radio, by sending an email with the word “subscribe” in the subject line to: artsexpresslist@gmail.com

The Price of Immortality

Some people seek immortality through fame, but others want physical-body-forever immortality. A new book, The Price of Immortality, explores the numerous paths that people have sought to extend their lives—and the hucksters and scam artists who have taken advantage of them. I was happy to have as my guest, the author of The Price of Immortality, Peter Ward.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Peter Ward, as broadcast today on Arts Express radio, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

The Five-Foot-Shelf of Magic: Foot Four

It’s been quite a while since the three prior installments of this series (which you can see here, here and here) but perhaps the time off has been a good thing. In the previous installment, I limited myself to books that were generally in print–this time I went a bit more afield, though most of these books below are still pretty obtainable, though not necessarily in print anymore. I’ve also included books that I had either overlooked, or had already written about in other contexts, or simply had not owned or read before.

Switch by John Lovick: This is the last word in what has come to be known as the Hundred Dollar Bill Switch. There are dozens of variations and techniques taught in close detail, both tip and tipless, worth getting under your belt.

Act Two by Barrie Richardson: Richardson is one of my favorite magic writers and his books are overflowing with excellent mental magic plots, scripts, and methods. This book contains my favorite—and possibly easiest–parlor ACAAN effect.

Before We Begin by Asi Wind: This is a brilliant book that fills a neglected but important technique of mentalism. After reading this book with its very detailed scripts you might change your mind as I did, and consider the usefulness and effectiveness of this technique.

The Devil’s Staircase by Greg Chapman and Details of Deception by Greg Chapman: I’ve written about these two books on this blog before, so see those essays for more details, but in brief, these two books of Greg’s are filled with unique gambling type card routines, sleights and tools that will leave audiences with no possible explanation.

Approaching Magic by David Regal: all of Regal’s material is great, and in this big book there is a wealth of card, coin and parlor effects. Regal’s magic always has a strong premise and script, and his methods are often ingenious. This book also has some wonderful essays and will keep you busy for a long time. A desert island kind of book.

Smoke and Mirrors by John Bannon: Like David Regal, Bannon’s close-up card and coin effects are fun and ingenious, and any of his books are worth picking up. I like this early book best as I think it has some of his strongest magic in it for casual tabletop performance.

Magic For Young Lovers by Andy of the Jerx: this book is probably the hardest book on the list to find now–it was offered a few years ago to subscribers to Andy’s blog. When I read it, I thought it was one of the best magic books I’d ever read, outlining an approach to magic that really resonated with me. It conveyed what a true magic experience should encompass. This may sound strange, but I’ve never opened it since my first reading of it, because I’ve been reluctant to disturb the memory of what a great experience it was to read it that first time.

Outs, Precautions and Challenges by Charles H. Hopkins: I’ve written about this before on my blog, and it’s a fun little booklet to read. It’s kind of old-fashioned and maybe promises more than it delivers, but it presents a good outline of the problems a performer can face and some possible solutions.

In Order To Amaze by Pit Hartling: This is a must for memdeck workers. As powerful a tool that a memdeck is, the most difficult part of devising magic for it in my opinion has always been in creating entertaining plots and presentations for those effects. Pit Hartling’s ideas and scripts are superb and set this book apart from many others using the same tool.

The Magic of Alan Wakeling by Jim Steinmeyer: I don’t do much stage magic so I can’t say this is a book that I go back to many times, but it is a fascinating look at the mind of an incredibly ingenious designer and performer of stage illusions. The section alone on the Think-a-Drink plot and apparatus is inspiring.

The Annotated Erdnase by S. W. Erdnase and Darwin Ortiz: Eventually if you’re into cards you know one day you are going to have to eat your spinach, and Ortiz’s annotated version of Erdnase is a delightful way to do it. In this large hard bound book, Erdnase’s text is on the inside portion of the double page, while Ortiz’s commentary is in the outer margins. The commentary covers much historical and technical information that makes the journey even more tasty.

Routined Manipulation Finale by Lewis Ganson: I included this book because I think poor Lewis Ganson generally gets a raw deal as a magic writer. He tends to be dismissed because he is generally describing the work of other great magicians such as Dai Vernon, but his books are generally full of wonderful material. For the life of me, I can’t understand why this book, available in paperback, is not referenced more often. I think the contents rival the material in the Stars of Magic book. There are effects in here from Fred Kaps, Pat Page, Ali Bongo, Al Koran, Alex Elmsley, and more.

Faro Fundamentals by Greg Chapman: I’ve written about this book on the blog before so see that essay for more detail. This 52-page booklet would be my go-to recommendation to learn not only how to faro but some excellent uses of it. Even if you already do a faro, you’ll find information in here that you may not have seen before that will help you get the most out of it.

April’s Artists

April issue here

** Veteran Danish Director Bille August discusses his new film, The Pact, and Ingmar Bergman

**An Arts Express exclusive excerpt from the re-release of the Ballad of An American: the Autobiography of Earl Robinson, the composer of “Joe Hill,” “The House I Live In,” and “Ballad for Americans”

**Our April Fools “Dear Ethicist”–advice for the morally confused

**The Freebie Zone: The best of the free ‘net

and more!

Listen to Arts Express Radio Saturdays 6AM ET on WBAI.org and WBAI 99.5 FM NYC

**Arts Express, Always Fresh —

Never A Repeat Show**

March Arts Express Magazine

Get your free subscription to the Arts Express Magazine, the companion magazine to Arts Express Radio, by sending an email with the word “subscribe” in the subject line to:

artsexpresslist@gmail.com

This month in the Arts Express Magazine:

** The Unforgivable: Director Nora Fingscheidt on the Sandra Bullock film about eviction and life after incarceration

** Caitlin Johnstone’s Three Poems for Today: “Sources Say,” “To-do List” and “Crazy”

** Red Book Day Art--International celebrations of Left books and the anniversary of the Communist Manifesto.

** War Is A Racket

**The Freebie Zone: The best of the free ‘net

and more!

Click on the logo above to view

Advice For The Ethically Challenged

Wherein our Dear Ethicist columnist commits himself to audio and answers your knotty moral dilemmas.

We’ll take a moment to note here that we were ahead of the current New Yorker‘s take on the same theme by more than two weeks in our print version of February 5th. (Modesty forbids that we mention who we thought executed the theme better.)

Click on the gray triangle or mp3 link above to hear the Dear Ethicist satire as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

That Was The Week That Was 2/18/22

And now another weekly round-up of news items that attracted my attention, along with my comments. All news items are guaranteed truly to be items reported this week from various online sources (though not the comments…)

Jurassic-Parking-Lot -Dept.

DINOSAURS survived a flu pandemic 150 million years ago, researchers have found. It would have spread rapidly among the beasts, leaving them coughing, sneezing and shivering, scientists believe, but it did not kill them off as they lasted for another 100 million years. No explanation was given for their survival.

Comment: Though the dinosaurs thus may have been walking around with a flu for 50 million years, some archeologists believe that scientists may have overlooked the nearby fossilized bottles of Nyquil and containers of Tropicana Orange Juice.

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Into-The-Mouths-of-Babes Dept.

The Food and Drug Administration announced that a meeting to discuss vaccines for children under the age of 5 is now postponed. It’s been delayed as health officials say new data recently emerged on Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization request.

Comment: No word when Pfizer will start recommending vaccines for fetuses and sperm cells.

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One-Plus-One-Equals-Three Dept

The accounting firm, Mazars USA, said in a letter that they have retracted their financial statements of Donald Trump, which are central to an investigation by the New York attorney general. In a statement, the accounting firm said that “under our standards of professional ethics, we cannot comment on any client services or relationships.”

Comment: Later, the president of Mazar’s reportedly declared that “under our standards of professional accounting ethics, I was double crossing the fingers on both of my hands when I signed the statements, so it doesn’t count.”

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Snap-Crackle-Pop Dept.

A trial continues for a retired Tampa police captain who shot and killed a man in a Wesley Chapel movie theater eight years ago. The ex-cop had been arguing with the man over his use of a cellphone in the theater. After the man threw popcorn in his face, the ex-cop pulled out a handgun and opened fire, killing him. Defense attorneys claim their client felt threatened enough to fire in self-defense, citing the stand-your-ground law.

Comment: Some say the shooter’s lawyer also argued his client was on a low-salt diet, and inhaling the fumes from the movie house popcorn projectiles raised his blood pressure, exacerbating the threat.

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Declension Intention Suspension Dept

A priest in Arizona resigned after he incorrectly performed baptisms for decades, using the words “We baptize you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit,” instead of the correct phrase “I baptize you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Shrugging off the invalid baptisms isn’t an option for many worshippers, because it affects sacred practices such as confirmation, communion and marriages, derailing the rites for thousands of people.

Comment: The priest allegedly confessed humbly that, “We will strive to do better.—Umm—er, that is–I mean–I will strive to do better.”

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Bye-Bye-Blackbird Dept.

Hundreds of blackbirds were seen on video falling from the sky in Mexico and hitting the pavement. Some died on impact. The circumstances surrounding the event led some to question whether it was pollution or 5G on social media. Residents in the community saw hundreds of blackbirds dead on the streets and sidewalks and called police. 

Comment: There is no truth to the rumor that Tippi Hedren was seen with a rifle lurking behind trees.

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Save-the-Date Dept.

Russia denied reports that it was planning to attack Ukraine imminently, telling the German Newspaper Die Welt,Wars in Europe rarely start on a Wednesday. There will be no escalation in the coming week either, or in the week after that, or in the coming month.”

Comment: Sources say when asked by a Biden administration undersecretary when would be a good time for you, the Russian pulled out his cellphone calendar and asked, “How about never? Is never good for you?” (hat tip to Robert Mankoff’s famous New Yorker cartoon)

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.

That Was The Week That Was: 2/11/22

Back in the sunny days of 2014 and 2015, I was writing little satirical one-liners a few times a week for a local radio personality. I’d set up the premise with a true news story from the day, and then add a comment punchline. Well, the good folks at Shalblog® Industries (a division of Axolotls ‘R’ Us International) have given me encouragement to do the same here, on a weekly basis. So let’s see how long I can sustain this as a steady Friday feature. All news items are true (though not necessarily the comments…)

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But-Not-a-Drop-to-Drink Dept.

Roughly one million people in Austin have had to boil their water Saturday after officials said “errors” at a treatment plant resulted in potentially unsafe water flowing into homes. Last February, in addition, the collapse of the state’s electricity grid resulted in power failures at Austin’s largest water treatment plant.

Comment: Unnamed officials assured the public that the mishaps were now all water under the bridge and that in the future, the city would be the recipient of a tidal wave of sewage treatment.

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I’m-Looking-Through-You Dept

NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, has faced widespread allegations that its hacking software Pegasus has been sold to and misused by authoritarian governments across the world. The company has insisted that it could not be used to track Israeli citizens.

Comment: A company spokesman elaborated, “We absolutely do not track Israeli citizens. We are sure of that. We know who Israeli citizens are and non-Israeli citizens are by the contents of their wallets and their phone conversations and Internet browser histories and credit card histories and our satellite imagery of their houses, and data extracted from their birth records, passports, immigration and emigration records; so rest assured, we have identified who not to track. We only track all the other poor fools.”

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You’ve-Got-to-Carry-That-Weight Dept.

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Feb. 7 finds that getting more sleep each night may help facilitate weight loss. An extra 1-2 hours of sleep may help you eat fewer calories.

Comment: The exact mechanism is unknown, but one doctor ventured, “We suspect it has something to do with not being able to stuff your face the longer you’re asleep. In fact, we find that our patients who are dead actually have managed to cease weight gain all together.”

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What’s-In-A-Name Dept.

Queen Elizabeth has announced her royal successors: Prince Charles will take over as monarch (no surprises there) while Camilla Parker Bowles’s new title will become Queen Consort.

Comment: The soon-to-be Queen Consort, whose affair with Prince Charles was widely reported, previously had the official title at Buckingham Palace of Royal Skank.

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Water-Under-the Bridge Dept.

Rotterdam has agreed to temporarily dismantle part of its historic Koningshaven Bridge so that Jeff Bezos’s 417 foot long, three-mast yacht can pass through the waterway sometime this summer, according to a spokeswoman for the city.

Comment: Bezos reportedly replied, “I figured it was an easy ask, since I’d already paid to dismantle democracy.”

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That’s-A-Rap Dept.

In a record-breaking scheme, Heather Morgan, 31, was taken into custody for conspiracy to launder $3.6 billion of stolen Bitcoin. Morgan, in a bizarre 2019 music video rapped of her status as the “mother-fucking crocodile of Wall Street,” and explained she was “a badass CEO and female rapper.”

Comment: Proving you can take the criminal out of the street, but you can’t take the Wall Street out of the criminal.

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All-In-Favor-Say-Eyes Dept

On his first day on the job, a bored security guard drew two pairs of eyes with a ballpoint pen onto artist Anna Leporskaya’s ‘Three Figures’ painting. The painting, which is insured for $1 million, ended up requiring $3,360 of restoration services.

Comment: The guard allegedly expressed sorrow for his actions. “If I had known that defacing a million dollar painting only required $3000 worth of restoration, I would have added mustaches and my ex-boss’s home phone number to the paintings as well.”

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This-Land-Is-My-Land Dept.

NASA has raised concerns that Elon Musk’s plan to send another 30,000 Starlink satellites into orbit could lead to “substantial congestion,” increase the potential for collisions, and interfere with the agency’s activities.

Comment: Sources say Musk has plans to alleviate the congestion with a temporary force of retired elementary school crossing guards named Irma and Vera on alternate weekends.

Dear Ethicist

Shalblog® Industries recently acquired from a deep source, a document which purports to be from an upcoming New York Crimes Sunday Magazine issue. The manuscript pages seem to be an impending edition of the popular Dear Ethicist column, wherein the award-winning NY Crimes ethics columnist answers his readers’ knotty moral dilemmas.

Dear Ethicist,

I recently evicted a score of tenants from a building I own. It is obviously unfortunate, but do you think that as a homeowner I am ethically obligated to file a change of address form with the Postal Service for each former tenant?

The Ethicist replies: You’re under no obligation to fill out the postal forms yourself; however, if some of the tenants were disabled, or became disabled as a result of the eviction proceedings, then it would be a gracious gesture, though not a legal one, to perhaps provide the forms and pens to those still camped out on your doorsteps.

Dear Ethicist,

A colleague recently uncovered massive fraud and deception at work while updating the department’s computer operating system. Should I report my colleague directly to my boss, or would it be better simply to send an anonymous letter so that no one’s feelings are hurt?

The Ethicist replies: It’s certainly thoughtful of you not to want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but it may be the situation calls for honesty among friends. Your co-worker deserves to know of your loyalty to your company, so that after his release from prison he might model himself on someone who gives 100% to the job. As they say, a good example is the best teacher.

Dear Ethicist

Last week, while at my home computer supervising the remote drone bombing of a Syrian village, a friendly colleague who I hadn’t seen in a number of months came by to help me out.  My wife says that after such a long absence the colleague should have brought over a little gift of some kind to acknowledge the long absence. I feel if we’re friends, then we shouldn’t have to rest on formality. Who is right?

The Ethicist replies: Unannounced visits can be startling to one’s partner, even if you yourself welcome the visit. Perhaps your wife felt that she should be compensated in some way for the inconvenience a sudden “drop-in” might cause. Or, and this is something you might take up with your spouse privately at a quiet time, perhaps your loved one feels shut out when you and your colleague conduct bombing raids and leave her out. Nobody likes feeling left out, and in the future, you might invite her to try her hand at the controls, even if it’s just a small hut or two and not a major population center.

Dear Ethicist

My grandmother, whose Medicare does not pay for dental care, has taken to losing teeth whenever she eats her favorite apple crumb pie. We hate to ban the pie from her diet, but we never know whether a tooth should go into the compost heap, the plastics and metals, or just the regular trash, so now they are just piling up. Which would be the more environmentally correct way to dispose of them?

The Ethicist replies: It’s one of the truisms of modern life that as we try to treat the planet better, things can get more confusing. It depends whether Granny’s teeth are her own or some kind of replacement. If they were her own, they are organic and should go in the compost heap; if they are replacements, then they are probably an amalgam of plastic and metal and should go in the re-cycling bin, assuming your town or city has separate streams for such. The good news is that even under the worst possible scenario, you will only have to make the decision 32 times, since Grandma has no insurance to replace the teeth.

Dear Ethicist

As head of a medical supply company, in a recent merger, I acquired the patent of a new life-saving drug. Based on supply and demand and what the market will bear, I tripled the consumer price. My investors have congratulated me over how the company’s stock price has soared. However, some patients can no longer afford the medication. Would it be all right to organize a picnic for those poorer patients in order to make their final days more pleasant? And do you think it should be on a weekday or on a weekend? And would it be okay to institute a no pets policy for those who may be allergic?

The Ethicist replies: When I last taught my Ethics 101 class at Harvard University, we had a similar situation come up in the very classroom itself. There was one student who could no longer pay tuition after the most recent tuition hike, and though we didn’t arrange a picnic as you are considering, we did take up a collection to present the student with a 10% off coupon for the Red Lobster restaurant of his choice. It turned out the boy was an observant Jew, and so couldn’t use the coupons, but it’s always important to remember that it is the gesture that is remembered. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Dear Ethicist

I am in a rather powerful political position. It is not easy, especially as a woman, to handle the volume of complaints I must deal with. The number of emails in my inbox from constituents who carp about not having enough bread to eat has gotten to the point where I spend more time answering their emails than all my other work combined. Should I just direct their complaints to the SPAM folder, or would it be more efficient to remind them through autoreply that in a pinch they could just eat cake? I don’t want to impugn the intelligence of my unimaginative constituents, but it’s not rocket science.

The Ethicist replies: The stresses of a responsible job can make us all a little bit cranky at times, it comes with the territory. While it was considerate of you to offer an alternative to bread, it may be wise to remember that not everybody can digest gluten-based products. There are some cake mixes on the market today that offer a healthier choice. Perhaps replying with a photo or two of some oat-based or quinoa-based bakery goods might stimulate the imaginations—and palates!—of your more idea-challenged constituents.

Dear Ethicist

Is it ethical to write a column that focuses on everyday trivial matters of etiquette and ethics while ignoring and thus implicitly excusing the larger breaches of ethics and morality that your newspaper supports every single day?

(Unfortunately, the document ends here. You will have to supply your own answers.)

Border Crossings

A while ago we brought you an excerpt from Manuel Tiago’s The 3rd Floor, stories of the Portuguese Communist resistance under fascism. Now Eric Gordon has translated into English another book of Tiago’s called Border Crossings, a collection of short stories about the everyday lives of those who worked for the party resistance and had to flee from town to town and country to country as they carried out their assignments.

Tiago, whose real name was Álvaro Cunhal, based these stories on his longtime experiences in the Portuguese Communist Party. As Eric Gordon writes in his introduction, “One theme that pops up in story after story here is that of communication, cooperation and collaboration. No one makes these journeys alone. They are aided by a global support system that recognized the critical importance of these crossings.”

I would add that these stories taken as a whole add up to a three dimensional portrait of ordinary people doing heroic things in extraordinary times.

Here’s one story from Border Crossings called “Women over the Soajo.”

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