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The questions you ask yourself…

I’m discovering as I face brain surgery and it’s unknown consequences that I find myself asking questions about what I have and have not accomplished over the last 66 or so years. It’s not a pleasant experience, btw, only one that makes me realize how many things I REALLY wanted to do which will probably never be realized. I guess, however, that this is common to just about everyone.

(Sorry… this is much longer than I expected and it will not hurt my feelings if you sign out right now,   – Bill)

Starting with the basics:

  • I have a wonderful wife who is taking care of me when she also maintains a full time teaching job that keeps us supported and in our mandatory health insurance mode.
  • I have three impressive and incredible grown children, Cassandra, Penny and Will (who we call Buddy… I don’t know where “Will” came from), and four wonderful grandsons, 3 in Maryland and one in Connecticut. (Allow me to say while I’m in this particular note about how lucky I am to have my son-in-law Matthew Corrigan in Connecticut who has made sure Cassandra could be down here with me during all of this.)
  • I set out many years ago for a life in the Arts, something I really discovered while a prep-school student at Tabor Academy in Marion, MA.  Between painting and sculpture creation under Lou LaVoie, drama and theatre discoveries under Tom Weisshaus, ending as President of the Drama Club where i acted, but didn’t do much in tech theatre, I was poised to take off when I headed for The School Of Speech/Theatre Department at Northwestern University in 1964.

And just what did I do that I remember proudly?:

  • After I discovered systems analysis through an amazing engineer, art collector and professor, Dr. Gustave J. Rath, I created my first small theatre company, Systems Theatre, which applied this amazing intellectual technology to performance creation. Our first major production was an adaptation of Frank Zappa’s “Lumpy Gravy” which eventually played Chicago’s Performing Warehouse between sets by the two great bluesmen B.B. King and Albert King (who I got to give a ride home to later… wow!) When I ended up in NYC in 1971 I restarted Systems Theatre with some of the same people who were with me at Northwestern
  • There were a couple of plays that we did at Theatre at St. Clement’s, one of the really great off-off Broadway locations in the city. Well reviewed, well attended and most important to me was my adaptation of Thomas Merton’s “Original Child Bomb” which had gothic-y chants composed by a wonderful musician, Ed Roberts, who I had met when teaching for a year at Tabor. Ed and I went on to do several shows together… at St. Clement’s and other places. My greatest pride came in a project we did a little later:
  • Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark”, an opera for children, was presented at the Whitney

    The Whitney

    Museum of American Art, thanks to a contact I made with one of the most  influential people in my life and someone who I am so proud to call a friend today, Berta Walker. Berta was working as the Administrative Assistant to Steve Weil at the Whitney and was looking for children’s programming. Ed and I suggested doing “Snark” which we had just started working on and now we had a reason for pushing through. We opened to great reception at the Whitney and, a little bit later on, Berta and I produced it for a few weekends at a little theater on the East Side of Manhattan. Following that, it was taken to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, a major museum which had been started by Berta’s grandfather, where it was also successful.

  • My friend and former Northwestern student John Driver, who played the original Bellman in “Snark” had been writing a musical based on Samurai warrior Mushami called “Ride The Wind” with pretty much of a rock ‘n roll score and martial arts based choreography. This was during the time that “Kung Fu” was a big television show, and we thought we were really on something here, so Berta and I decided to produce it (the company we created was called Snarkophilus Productions after our big success). We started out aiming for Off-Broadway, but then the Bijou Theater, a little house at the end of Shubert Alley, became available and we booked it. We were now a Broadway show… albeit a very small one. My set design professor, Sam Ball, agreed to do the sets, which were built by Northwestern students and which I brought to New York driving a truck across country. A number of the actors who auditioned were folks I had known from the New Theatre Workshop, a small non-profit group which acted as a try-out location for new plays that writers were working on. I was their stage electrician for a year before they tore the theater down to build the CitiPlace Center on 57th Street.
  • Unfortunately, “Ride The Winds” didn’t pass the New York Times test and I was no longer a Broadway producer.
  • I had to work, so I took a job as Administrator of the Jamaica Arts Center in Queens, where I structured classes, set up concerts, scheduled movies and ran the books. It was there I met Elly, my current wife, who I hired to teach Photography in the class size darkroom I had built in the Center’s basement (I took up photography, too… something I really loved.)  Eddy came down and we did a little revival of “Snark” in Jamaica for the kids in Queens. When I was hired later on by The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, by their Board President (you can probably see this coming… it was Berta Walker), Elly came with me and we settled in on  lower Cape Cod. I helped the Work Center fund raise, grow and prosper over three years, then spent another three years on it’s Board. Elly and I however, moved down to the mid-Cape where we started a business that would keep us in debt and development for the next decade: Our photo studio, Photography Associates of New England Inc., and U-Design, Inc.
  • The appearance of the Apple Macintosh computer, the laser printer, a piece of software called Aldus PageMaker and things like scanners, modems, etc., inspired us to set up a rental-area business where folks would come in, rent space in a booth, and lay out, with our help, their ads and brochures. After a couple of years, we moved it to Hartford, CT… back in my home state. At one point we had U-Designs in three cities in CT (that was a mistake!) and we started doing more jobs for clients ourselves rather than booth rentals. We worked with major and minor companies, lots of non-profits, plus we offered desktop publishing classes. At one time we had a dozen or so employees. During this time I did no theatre, maybe a little painting, but not much (Elly was our painter and her work was wonderful.) While in Marlborough, however, I was recruited to be a Justice of the Peace, where I married several couples (I specialized in non-believers who I thought should have a person of their own.) I did start designing computer fonts at this time… still do it, especially my “picture fonts” which have been used on this blog many times. U-Design Type Foundry has attracted hundreds of buyers, for which I have great appreciation.

More recent years… “Things fall apart, the center does not hold” – TS Eliot.

  • We had built a passive solar house in Marlborough, CT, where we moved so Buddy could go to school there and we could lead the suburban life (eventually, we moved the last vestige of U-Design to Marlborough where it finally ended up in our house until it died.) I started going out and getting jobs as an Information Technologist at some larger companies, finally ending up at Computer Sciences Corporation, where I spent five working years. For most of that I was commuting to the Maryland-DC area every week to do a major piece of work for the Internal Revenue Service with a bunch of my colleagues. I made more money here than I ever had before. When my whole department was laid off after three years I even got six months of part-time work for the IRS itself to finish some of the project stuff.
  • Elly and I sold the Marlborough house and bought a historic co-op space in Old Greenbelt, MD, where I was still doing CSC work. Eventually, when there was no more work and a guy in his late fifties had a hard time finding IT jobs when the market was stuffed with lower earning young guys. I had to take early retirement which, thanks to CSC’s salary, brought me a higher Social Security than I had expected. Elly took a teaching job in Graphic Design at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, MD, and we eventually moved to

    Ride The Winds

    Hagerstown, then Shepherdstown (our favorite) and now Harper’s Ferry. While I was living in Greenbelt, I got involved with two community theatres, the Laurel Mill Playhouse and the Greenbelt Arts Center. Amazingly enough, with the entrance to all of this I made by meeting Linda Bartash, I directed several plays and musicals. The highlight of these was a revival of “Ride The Winds” which I got John Driver to rewrite the second act for. It was well-reviewed in the Washington Post and local papers and I breathed a sight of final relief. I also, amid all the shows I did, had a really good production of that unusual musical “Urinetown” at Greenbelt, also a success.

  • I got involved with a new Community Theater in Shepherdstown, The Full Circle Theater, where I

    The Hunting of the Snark, in Shepherdstown

    became the House Electrician and ran lights on a bunch of shows, And then, can you believe it, I go to to do a revival of “The Hunting of the Snark” and Eddy, who was then living in Pennsylvania, came down from time to time to help my friend and music director, Ruth Raubertas, get our favorite opera for kids off the ground. Everyone seemed to like it, but this was my last chance to direct anything and I sank into an ongoing depression hoping I would get to do it again some day. I don’t think, now, that it will happen. I have to say, though, that I made a great friend of John Case who played the Butcher in that last production. John had a weekday morning radio show on WSCH 89.7FM on Shepherd University’s radio station and originally he invited me on for an interview and eventually I was on every Friday, which John started promoting as “The Bill and John Show.” I guess I did OK, since a few months later the station manager, Todd Cottgreave, gave me a show of my own on Saturday mornings which I called “Talk To Me” and which I made into a call-in production. I think the radio shows really saved my intelligence and ability to carry on while under depression.

So those are things I’ve been thinking about. What I haven’t discussed here is this blog, which is the major occupation of an old, retired guy’s day. I hope I can keep it going for years (as you can see, I love to talk)… if it has to cease, however, someone will put up a final post.

Time to feed the dogs.

Obama and Romney become humorists at the Al Smith Dinner…

Becoming comedians in the support of Catholic Charities at last night’s Al Smith Dinner in NYC, the candidates made fun of each other and of themselves. Here are their respective speeches in their entirety:

 

Farewell to Miss Monitor. Tedi Thurman dies at 89…

Tedi Thurman – Miss Monitor

It was said that she had the most recognizable female voice in the country. She was the “weather girl” on the long-running NBC radio show “Monitor” in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Tedi Thurman came on and in soft, sexy tones she lured us into rapture with “Cleveland, 34, snow; Boston, 41, cloudy; Phoenix, 62, fair; New York City, 43, sunny; Paris, 38, cloudy.”

She always led her weather report with Atlanta because Georgia was her home state, according to Dennis Hart, author of “Monitor: The Last Great Radio Show” (2002). Monitor was created by Pat Weaver (father of Sigourney Weaver), then president of NBC, in 1955. I remember it well. It filled my weekends from 8 a.m  Saturdays until midnight on Sundays.

Ms. Thurman, who died on Monday at 89, made the forecasts “sound like an irresistible invitation to an unforgettable evening,” according to Jack Gould  in The New York Times right after the show’s premiere.

Monitor became a hit with hosts like Dave Garroway, Hugh Downs, Frank Blair, Gene Rayburn, Henry Morgan and Bill Cullen, and offeried an array of news, sports, comedy, variety, music and live remote pickups from around the nation and the world. For the first six of the show’s 20 years, Ms. Thurman was featured as the so-called Miss Monitor, updating the weather hour after hour.

Decades after she’d left the show, people at parties and gatherings would still ask her to do the weather in the sexy Miss Monitor voice.

A day I have not looked forward to… have you?

 

It’s the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy and it will be the subject of all of today’s talk shows. The very thought of everything involved in the event… from the destruction of the World Trade Center, the crash into the Pentagon and the plane that went down in a Pennsylvania field. I remember the father of one of Buddy’s friends when we lived in Marlborough,CT, who had made his monthly business trip to NYC and died in the attack… which means not only did it happen, but I knew someone killed in the tragedy.

We are at war in the Middle East… still going after Al Qaeda. It is the longest war in our history and seems to go on forever. After the loss of citizens on 9/11, we continue to lose even more Americans because of the attack. I ask my self: what have we become?

I will try to put the day out of my mind. I have thought about it so much over the past eleven years. I am just crestfallen to find it on my mind again.

 

Quote for Labor Day Weekend

 

 

There can be no better way to honor the American worker then to support an increase in the minimum wage to a living wage of at least $10 per hour. That would be one Happy Labor Day.

- Dennis Kucinich

 

War on Health

 

I’m happy to present Gary Null‘s documentary: War on Health, The FDA‘s Cult of Tyranny.

If you are worried about organic foods, raw dairy products or other things being available, or if you are afraid of GMOs in your food, this will startle you:

 

Art Collector Herb Vogel has died…

If you were an artist living in New York in the latter part of the twentieth century and early years of the twenty first, you knew the names Herbert and Dorothy Vogel. They were not rich people. They lived in a one bedroom apartment with their cats and turtles… and thousands of works of art by major American artists piled floor to ceiling.

Herb was a postal worker who loved art. He met his wife, Dorothy, while visiting the National Gallery in Washington, DC in 1962. They built their art collection by purchasing smaller works, often on a monthly payment plan, from younger artists who had not yet gained fame. Their biggest rule for purchase, beside the work being something they took a liking to, was that it would fit in a taxi cab to take it home.

In the early 1990s. after long negotiations, the Vogels left much of their collection to the National Gallery, where they met.

“We wanted to do something for the nation. The National Gallery doesn’t sell works they acquire. They’ll keep the collection together. And they don’t charge admission.”

- Herb Vogel

They lived simply, eating at neighborhood diners and Chinese restaurants.When they bought art hey usually paid cash or worked out novel arrangements with artists.

“When they came to the studio, they always came with a wad of cash. You’d always wind up selling something for a fraction of what it was worth.”

- artist Chuck Close

The Vogels were featured on “60 Minutes” and in a 2008 documentary film by Megumi Sasaki called “Herb and Dorothy.” Their names have been carved in the wall at the entrance to the National Gallery’s West Building alongside those of other major benefactors.

Herb died Sunday, at age 89, at a nursing home in New York City. His wife survives.

Trailer from the 2009 film “Herb and Dorothy”

My life has changed… not for the better, I’m afraid

Following my radio show this morning, I’m sitting over at Mellow Moods having coffee while I wait for my friend Cecil to pick me up

He’s over at  workshop at the Contemporary American Theater Festival and are schedules our slightly skewed.

This not being able to drive, what I have been condemned to since my accident, stands a real possibility of going on for the rest of my life. If I were in a city with public transportation to everything going on, it would be one thing, but I’m a few miles out of town in an empty, rural neighborhood where walking to anything is out of the question and there are no buses or anything else.

I’m dependent on family and friends to go out, can no longer do the grocery shopping, which I enjoyed, and, basically I feel trapped. The internet is my only way out, so you, dear blog readers, are now my connection to the world. I enjoy hearing from you whether you agree with me or not.

Think I’ll go buy another cup of coffee while it becomes 102° outside.

I’m on my way over to CATF this morning to interview Ed Herendeen…

Ed Herendeen

Given his tight rehearsal schedule, I have been lucky to snare 20 minutes with Producing Director Ed Herendeen this morning at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. I am doing this for Fluent, Nancy McKeithen’s forthcoming on-line arts magazine which will appear on or about July 1st.

Ed is a theatre professional that I greatly admire and his festival is one of the reasons Elly and I moved to Shepherdstown. Indeed, because of the CATF even more arts organizations and programs have built up here and, if you can’t live in short travel distance to NYC, this is a great place to be.

Anyway, I’ve got to get out of the house. I’ll be back on line later…

The Obies! My favorite awards of the year…

The Village Voice has announced this year’s off-Broadway awards… the Obies … for the past year. And here they are:Best New American Play, which is accompanied by a $1,000 prize.

A complete list of awards is given below:

Lifetime Achievement:

  • Caridad Svich—a playwright, translator, and teacher

Best New American Play (with $1,000 prize):

Performance:

  •  Cherise Boothe, Milk Like Sugar (Playwrights Horizons and the Women’s Project)
  • Steven Boyer, Hand to God (Ensemble Studio Theatre/Youngblood)

Sweet and Sad Ensemble:

  • Jon DeVries, Shuler Hensley, Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders, J. Smith-Cameron (The Public Theater)
  • Gabriel Ebert and Mary Louise Wilson, 4000 Miles (Lincoln Center Theater)
  • Jim Fletcher, Sustained Excellence
  • Santino Fontana, Sons of the Prophet (The Roundabout Theatre)
  • Linda Lavin, The Lyons (The Vineyard Theatre)
  • Susan Pourfar, Tribes (Barrow Street Theatre)

Playwriting:

  • Kirsten Greenidge, Milk Like Sugar (Playwrights Horizons and the Women’s Project)

Direction:

  • Richard Maxwell, Early Plays (The Wooster Group and St. Ann’s Warehouse)
  • Jay Scheib, World of Wires (The Kitchen)

Design:

  • Mark Barton, Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design
  • Mimi Lien, Sustained Excellence of Set Design
  • Matt Tierney and Ben Williams, sound design
  • The Select (The Sun Also Rises) (New York Theatre Workshop)

Special Citations:

  • Mark Bennett, Denis O’Hare, Lisa Peterson, and Stephen Spinella, An Iliad (New York Theatre Workshop), Elevator Repair Service

Sustained Excellence:

  • Erin Courtney and Ken Rus Schmoll, A Map of Virtue (13P)
  • Steven Hoggett, Martin Lowe, and John Tiffany, Once (New York Theatre Workshop)
  • Daniel Kitson, It’s Always Right

The Obies were judged by a committee of seven: Brian Parks, Obie Awards Chairman and Arts & Culture editor of The Village Voice; Michael Feingold, chief theater critic for the Voice, two-time Pulitzer finalist, dramaturg, and Obie Chairman Emeritus; Alexis Soloski, a Voice theater critic as well as contributor to The New York Times, the U.K. Guardian, and BBC Radio, plus theater professor at Columbia University; Annie Baker, Best New American Play Obie winner in 2010 for her plays Circle Mirror Transformation and The Aliens; Anne Kauffman, accomplished director, instructor, and 2007 Obie winner for her direction of The Thugs; José Rivera, two-time Obie Award winner for his plays Marisol and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot; and Helen Shaw, a theater critic for Time Out New York and a past Obie judge. Her writing has also appeared in The Village Voice.

Tomorrow is May Day… Workers of the World Get it Together

This was posted by Occupy Wall Strteet:

This May Day, hundreds of thousands of workers, immigrants, students, retirees, and unemployed people across the U.S. and around world will take to the streets, many for the first time. (If you are in NYC, check here for a schedule for the full day!) For folks new to protest (and of course, everyone else) we’ve thrown together a last-minute May Day Checklist:

What To Bring

(1) An affinity group: An affinity group is a group of people you know and trust. Before going to the demo, bring together a group of 2 or more friends and discuss your plans for the day, the tactics you plan on using, how comfortable you are risking arrest, etc. Everyone should have an affinity group, even if its just casual or informal. Once at the march, stick together and try to leave together. If someone has to leave early, make sure they do it safely. Make sure you have each other’s phone numbers. It might be a good idea to pair together more experienced protesters with newers folks. Most importantly, look out for each other.

(2) Footwear: Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to run in and won’t give you blisters. If possible, wear water-proof shoes. (There is a chance of showers tomorrow in NYC.) Don’t wear open-toe shoes.

(3) Band-aids: Your comfortable shoes may not be so comfortable after a day of marching, so bring band-aids in case of blisters.

(4) Water: Seriously. Lots and lots of water.

(5) Snacks: Especially nonperishable food like dried fruit, energy bars, nuts, and things that are easy to eat on-the-move.

(6) Backpack: Carry your stuff in a backpack. It´s easier to carry than a purse, especially if you need to run to catch up with a march. Also, pack light. Don´t bring unnecessary or heavy things, especially if you plan on being out all day.

(7) Multiple layers of clothes: Anticipate changes in weather. According to Weather Underground, the high in NYC for tomorrow is 72F and the low is 52F with a chance of showers.

(8) Cell phones and cameras: Cell phones are useful for communicating with others on the ground to get information and stay safe. You can also use video and cameras to document police brutality. You have a legal right to document police behavior and it is usually safe. However, be aware that police (especially the NYPD) have a documented history of targeting grassroots journalists with violence or arrest. (See here for more on your rights as a photographer.) If you do try to document police abuse, make sure you write down or photograph the officer’s badge number. Also be aware that there may be disruptions of service in heavily-clogged, high-traffic areas like lower Manhattan. (On #N17, the largest OWS action in NYC to date, many cell phones mysteriously stopped working.) Also, bring extra batteries and memory!

(9) Maps: Try to be familiar with the area before you go. Bring a map (on your phone or in print) with you and be aware of your surroundings.

(10) Rain gear: It might be a good idea to bring a poncho. Garbage bags also work. Keep in mind some police may perceive umbrellas as a threat. Bring extras of everything, kept dry in your backpack.

(11) Your own sign or banner: If you have a catchy slogan, bust out a sharper and some cardboard and tell the world! Write what makes you indignant; or, write something about the world you’d rather live in. Write why you´re on strike, or why you support #OWS, labor, students, immigrants, etc. Here are some common slogans: ¨Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out,¨ ¨We Are The 99%,¨ ¨Occupy Everywhere,¨ ¨We Are Unstoppable – Another World Is Possible.¨

(12) Know how to identify legal observers: Observers from the National Lawyers Guild will be on the ground throughout the day. You can identify them by their bright green hats. If you have important information for them (for example, one of your friends just got arrested) let them know. Don´t distract them otherwise. To report arrests on May Day in NYC, call the NLG at 212-679-6018. To help, text OWS-JS to 774-254-4697.

(13) Know how to Mic Check: One easy way to convey information to large groups of people is by using the People’s Mic. One person (or a few people) first yell ¨Mic Check!¨ Everyone who hears them responds by echoing ¨Mic Check!¨ After that, one person says a few words and pauses to let the crowd repeat those words. If you hear someone mic check, let them know by repeating too; that way, the people around you can also listen. However, if you disagree with what someone is saying, you don’t have to repeat it. This is a useful way to make spontaneous, democratic decisions. However, you should also be aware that false or misleading information can sometimes spread quickly this way, so don’t assume something is true just because it was said over the People’s Mic. (Hint: If you hear people chanting ¨Shame!¨ or ¨The whole world is watching!¨ it often means that police brutality and/or arrests are happening nearby. If you’re trying to avoid arrest, go the other way. Or, if you want to help or document, head over!)

(14) Smart phones: If you have one, install free aps like Twitter and Livestream so you can keep up on what´s going on elsewhere. There might be something important happening just a block away, but impossible to see. The best way to get up-to-the-minute information is by following Twitter accounts. Here are a few: #M1NYC | #M1GS | #GeneralStrike | #MayDay | @OWSMayDay | @OccupyGenStrk | @StrikeEverywher | @OccupyGenStrike. However, as with Mic Checks, be aware that information on Twitter might not be 100% accurate.

(15) Know your rights: The ACLU has some good basic info on your legal right to protest here. If you are a transgender or gender non-conforming, check out this helpful document for trans people participating in direct actions. If you are an active duty Service Member, note that your rights are different. (See below for some more helpful information if you are worried about being arrested.)

(16) Drums, whistles, noisemakers, giant puppets: They’re fun!

(17) WHAT NOT TO BRING: Illegal drugs, weapons, your address book, anything that could be potentially incriminating (including pictures on your cell phone).

Have Fun! Get the word out! Let me k now how it goes.

Seymour Chwast hits it right on the head (with both faces)

Chwast is such a great illustrator. When I saw this I felt that it summed up women’s issues and Romney in a simple image:

Chwast, of course, is one of the great names in advertising and a founder of Pushpin Studios with Milton Glaser.

On today’s date it’s been a Century since the Titanic was lost…

On April 10, 1912, the Titanic, largest ship afloat, left Southampton, England on her maiden voyage to New York City. The White Star Line had spared no expense in assuring her luxury. A legend even before she sailed, her passengers were a mixture of the world’s wealthiest basking in the elegance of first class accommodations and immigrants packed into steerage.

She was touted as the safest ship ever built, so safe that she carried only 20 lifeboats – enough to provide accommodation for only half her 2,200 passengers and crew. This discrepancy rested on the belief that since the ship’s construction made her ‘unsinkable,’ her lifeboats were necessary only to rescue survivors of other sinking ships. Additionally, lifeboats took up valuable deck space.

Four days into her journey, at 11:40 P.M. on the night of April 14, she struck an iceberg. Her fireman compared the sound of the impact to ‘the tearing of calico, nothing more.’ However, the collision was fatal and the icy water soon poured through the ship.

It became obvious that many would not find safety in a lifeboat. Each passenger was issued a life jacket but life expectancy would be short when exposed to water four degrees below freezing. As the forward portion of the ship sank deeper, passengers scrambled to the stern. John Thayer witnessed the sinking from a lifeboat. ‘We could see groups of the almost fifteen hundred people still aboard, clinging in clusters or bunches, like swarming bees; only to fall in masses, pairs or singly, as the great after part of the ship, two hundred and fifty feet of it, rose into the sky, till it reached a sixty-five or seventy degree angle.’ The great ship slowly slid beneath the waters two hours and forty minutes after the collision

The next morning, the liner Carpathia rescued 705 survivors. One thousand five hundred twenty-two passengers and crew were lost. Subsequent inquiries attributed the high loss of life to an insufficient number of lifeboats and inadequate training in their use.

…more at EyewitnessHistory.com

How to make public education worthless…

I guess new York City public school students will be the best motivators for home schooling in the future. Why? Read on…

This post was put up by Jonathan Turley, one of the legal bloggers I have the most respect for:

The New York City Department of Education has barred the use of “Dinosaur” on tests to avoid upsetting people who believe creationism.

Educations in New York decided that, with such things as Halloween and dancing, the reference to dinosaurs “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.” Also banned is the word “evolution.” It is basically designing a test for Sarah Palin to pass.

“Birthday” is also out because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays.

Well, there’s a list of a couple of dozen more words which should not be included in the students’ education… words like “slavery”, “terrorism”, and “Religion.”

In commenting on the DOE, The New York Post came out with this:

Officials said there isn’t an absolute ban on the items, in that they do get included on some exams on a case-by-case basis.

“The intent is to avoid giving offense or disadvantage any test takers by privileging prior knowledge,” said Robert Pondiscio, a spokesman for the Core Knowledge Foundation, an education group.

“But the irony is they’re eliminating some subjects, like junk food, holidays and popular music, that the broadest number of kids are likely to know quite a lot about.”

This is the most absurd… most unbelievable approach to education that I’ve heard about anywhere. I’d love to know what New York teachers think and what they intend to do about the situation.
Any ideas?

Monsanto Attempts to Lockout Socially Responsible Shareholder at Annual Meeting…

CLICK HERE

In the Organic Consumers Association blog, the report concerns Monsanto shareholder (and organic food activist) Adam Eidinger. A clip:

Eidinger, who organized last October’s a 100 person, 313 mile “Right2Know March” from New York City to the White House for federally mandated GMO food labeling says: “With the rise or Round-Up resistant ‘superweeds‘ the company is simply telling farmers to spray even more toxic herbicides including 2,4 D, the main ingredient in Agent Orange.

I urge you to go read the article and to contact your representatives about Monsanto poisoning (and hiding their actions concerning) our food.

Night of the Living Dead…

I’ve had to get up really early every morning this week, what with WSHC calls and doctors appointments… tomorrow is no different. My big problem is that I don’t get any sleep at night. I tend to wake up in one and a half hour increments and by the time the 6 AM alarm goes off I’m more tired than I was when I went to bed at 10 PM.

As the week goes by I feel much worse. Usually I come back after my Saturday radio show and sleep off the afternoon… but I can’t this weekend since Elly and I have to drive down to DC for a party at an old friend’s house.

That means tonight will be utter misery, even if I go to bed at 9… even if I take a useless sleeping pill.

I need a vacation (hiding in my bedroom).

Getting ready to go on the air at WSHC…

It’s about ten after seven and I’m warming up the board for John Case’s  Tuesday morning show (we go on at 7:30). John is spending a couple of days in DC and I’m covering today and tomorrow… so I’ll be here until 9:00 AM.

If you want to listen, we’re at 89.7 FM in Shepherdstown, WV, but our signal doesn’t go very far… we are really meant to cover Shepherd University and the Town… but people all over the country listen to us at http://www.897wshc.edu. We know that because we get calls from New York, Montreal, Chicago and other places (like DC).


Anyway, I’ll get back to the blog when I get home… right after I walk the dogs.

Zappa sings Montana….

Frank Zappa performing in live MTV Halloween Concert in 1981…Montana:


Have a nice Sunday Evening… know I will.

Then we’ll have three more days of Zappadan.

Very Early Zappa… after the Watts Riots

In 1966 before Zappa and The Mothers ( before they became the Mothers of Invention after signing their contract with Verve Records) came out with the Freak Out album, they recorded a song based on the Watts Riots called Trouble Coming Every Day (later renamed to Trouble Every Day.)

He later added it to the Freak Out album.

Here it is:

Lyrics:

Well I’m about to get sick
From watchin’ my TV
Been checkin’ out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it’s gonna change, my friend
Is anybody’s guess

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin‘ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ‘em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Wednesday I watched the riot . . .
Seen the cops out on the street
Watched ‘em throwin’ rocks and stuff
And chokin’ in the heat
Listened to reports
About the whisky passin’ ’round
Seen the smoke and fire
And the market burnin’ down
Watched while everybody
On his street would take a turn
To stomp and smash and bash and crash
And slash and bust and burn

And I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ‘em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Well, you can cool it,
You can heat it . . .
‘Cause, baby, I don’t need it . . .
Take your TV tube and eat it
‘N all that phony stuff on sports
‘N all the unconfirmed reports
You know I watched that rotten box
Until my head begin to hurt
From checkin’ out the way
The newsman say they get the dirt
Before the guys on channel so-and-so

And further they assert
That any show they’ll interrupt
To bring you news if it comes up
They say that if the place blows up
They will be the first to tell,
Because the boys they got downtown
Are workin’ hard and doin’ swell,
And if anybody gets the news
Before it hits the street,
They say that no one blabs it faster
Their coverage can’t be beat
And if another woman driver
Gets machine-gunned from her seat
They’ll send some joker with a brownie
And you’ll see it all complete

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ‘em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Hey, you know something people?
I’m not black
But there’s a whole lots a times
I wish I could say I’m not white

Well, I seen the fires burnin’
And the local people turnin’
On the merchants and the shops
Who used to sell their brooms and mops
And every other household item
Watched the mob just turn and bite ‘em
And they say it served ‘em right
Because a few of them are white,
And it’s the same across the nation
Black and white discrimination
Yellin’ “You can’t understand me!”
‘N all that other jazz they hand me
In the papers and TV and
All that mass stupidity
That seems to grow more every day
Each time you hear some nitwit say
He wants to go and do you in
Because the color of your skin
Just don’t appeal to him
(No matter if it’s black or white)
Because he’s out for blood tonight

You know we got to sit around at home
And watch this thing begin
But I bet there won’t be many live
To see it really end
‘Cause the fire in the street
Ain’t like the fire in the heart
And in the eyes of all these people
Don’t you know that this could start
On any street in any town
In any state if any clown
Decides that now’s the time to fight
For some ideal he thinks is right
And if a million more agree
There ain’t no Great Society
As it applies to you and me
Our country isn’t free
And the law refuses to see
If all that you can ever be
Is just a lousy janitor
Unless your uncle owns a store
You know that five in every four
Just won’t amount to nothin’ more
Gonna watch the rats go across the floor
And make up songs about being poor

Zappa on the Music Business… a lecture:

On the 23rd of April 1975, Frank Zappa Lectured at the Gifford Auditorium, Syracuse University, along with George Duke and Captain Beefhart, about the Music Business and Music in general.

Fortunately it was recorded:

And here’s a song for the morning…

Can’t Afford No Shoes also from 1975 (from the last album made as the Mothers of Invention: One Size Fits All):

Quote of the Day – Time for us all to get involved…

“The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are shining a light on one of the most serious problems facing the United States — the greed and power of Wall Street.  Now is the time for the American people to demand that the president and Congress follow that light — and act.  The future of our economy is at stake.”

- Bernie Sanders

Senator Sanders hits it right on the head. For my local fans, Occupy Martinsburg is starting this weekend… let’s get out there and see what Shelley Moore Capito (millionaire, btw) is going to do about it.

 

Ban Fracking on 9/13 — Spread the Word!

Contaminated Water from Pennsylvania Fracking

Mark your calendar: Call the White House at (888) 498-2945 tomorrow and tell the President to Ban Fracking!
Don’t think that what has happened in Pennsylvania and new York State can’t happen in West Virginia!
Help build the momentum by spreading the word for the National Call-in Day to Ban Fracking — Tuesday, Sept. 13th! (THAT’S TOMORROW!)

George Carlin on The Republicans and our Culture:

Carlin did this routine 23 years ago and it is amazing how it still holds true. Be careful if the kiddies are around… this is X rated. (Thanks to my friend Joe Bratcher who passed this out on Facebook today.)

What I remember on 9/11

Ten years ago, I lived in Marlborough, CT, a small town just south of Hartford, with a population made up mostly of commuters. Most of us worked in Hartford or other nearby towns (I was then working for Computer Sciences Corporation in East Hartford), but some went longer distances.

Marlborough is the kind of town where everyone meets everyone else over coffee on Sunday Mornings at the local bakery, or at the local grocery after work, or at town hall for our frequent, New England style, town meetings… or at our children’s sports events at the grade school basketball court or on our local baseball diamond.

Jim Hobin was one of the people you spoke with at these events.

Jim was one of the mainstays of the Marlborough Youth Athletic League which ran our local Baseball and Basketball programs for kids. In 2001 he was my son Buddy’s Basketball Coach. The previous year he had coached his baseball team.

Nobody worked better with kids than Jim Hobin… and he was always there fore the MYAL… he loved Baseball especially and you’d frequently find him mowing the grass at our small ball field, or  chalking the base lines, or painting the benches. He loved keeping that field ready for the teams.

He was particular known for training the kids and playing EVERY child for an equal amount of time… something that always amazed us, because his teams usually won.

While much of his work was done traveling all over the country for Marsh and McLennen, once or twice a month he had to go the 150 miles or so to New York to the company offices in the World Trade Center. September 11th was one of those days. Jim always left early in the morning to make it to the office on time… it was not like him to be late for anything.

When the first plane hit the WTC, I was at my East Hartford desk at CSC listening to the news on a local radio station as I worked on my computer. At first it was reported as a small plane accident, then the second plane struck and the whole event was devastatingly clear. My partner came over to my desk to listen to the report… then like all the employees in my division we gathered in the lunchroom and watched the buildings collapse over and over on television.

No work was done that day… we all went home to be with our families.

When I got there my wife told me that Jim Hobin had been at the WTC that morning and no one was able to get hold of him. His wife, Sheila, was especially upset at the lack of contact.

In fact, Jim was one of those whose body was never found or identified.

So, on 9/11, like most people who lived in Marlborough, I don’t think about terrorists, or war, or world politics… I think of Jim Hobin and what he meant to our children and to all of us.

10 years later, nothing has changed.

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