19Apr

Holograms for Peace

In the year 1968, in the month of August, from the 26th to the 29th, I spent most of my time running down one alley chased by the Chicago police and another chased by the National Guard. The hottest month of 1968 was August with an average daily high temperature of 83°F. The hottest day of 1968 was August 6. Ironically enough, it was on August 6, 1945, during World War II that an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. My dad helped to build that bomb, and 23 years later here was his son being chased by his own countrymen for protesting a war, one with not even the slightest justification of World War II.

Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, and the assassination of Robert Kennedy on June 5, 1968, the country was hot, not just from the sun but in the minds of many, as riots broke out in over 100 cities in America.

Chicago's mayor Richard J. Daley intended to showcase his and the city's achievements to democrats and the news media at the National Democratic Convention. Instead, the proceedings became notorious for the large number of demonstrators and the use of force by the Chicago police during what was supposed to be, in the words of the activist organizers, an anti-convention demonstration, the Festival of Life. Rioting took place between demonstrators and the Chicago police, who were assisted by the Illinois National Guard. The disturbances were well publicized by the mass media, with some journalists and reporters also caught up in the violence. Dan Rather was roughed up on the convention floor.

In 1968, “Hey Jude” by the Beatles was number 1 on the Billboard charts, and “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat was number 2. When said properly in French, “Love Is Blue”—“L’amour est bleu”—sounds like you might not be feeling very well, appropriate, I thought, for a sad, numbing little ditty. Strangely enough, not one song by the man who has since come to embody the spirit of the 60’s, Bob Dylan, was in the Billboard Hot 100 that year.

Now we have a new way to break the silence I wish we had when I was getting beaten in one alley by the Chicago police and chased down another by the National Guard at the Chicago convention in August, 1968.  Go to http://revolution-news.com/ and you’ll find a number of stories about holograms used to protest without violating the law.

In the podcast, there are some musical notes, tra-la, and also some thoughts on the Aaron Hernandez conviction vs. the Jodi Arias conviction and on our interest in those things: Are we more upset at Aaron Hernandez or at our hero-worshipping selves? Join me at Rambling Harbor.

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12Apr

Roth, Springsteen, and Allen

On July 25, 2014, there was a death, a death not just of a person but of a vanishing period of time, a time that history books will never truly cover and that will never come again. That death likely went unnoticed even by the most devoted hippies of the 1960s.

When the ‘60s are studied in some far off time and place, one name I hope will be remembered is Manuel Lee Roth, Manny Roth, founder of Cafe Wha’ and owner until 1968. Roth died of natural causes at his Ojai, California, home on July 25, 2014.

Without Manny Roth many of us might never have seen such greats as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen,Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground, Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, Kool and the Gang, Peter, Paul & Mary, Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen, and many others. They all got their start at the Wha?, thanks to Manny Roth.

I knew last year that Manny Roth had passed on, but I was preoccupied with writing about so-called “important things”: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, and other morons and mental defectives; great events like our plans to shoot a submarine to Titan (yes, we are) and colonizing Mars (yes, we are); and how about that great event, landing a bean can on a flying comet (yes, we did). The bean can never spoke to us again, and NASA will never be able to say “roll that beautiful bean-meets-comet footage,” but it seemed important at the time. Manny Roth did something the selfish, maybe insane, morons playing politics with our lives will never do. He made the world a much better place by helping to further the careers of some of the most talented people of our generation.

In 1975, after sleeping for a few days on the sand alone on Myrtle Beach and on the occasional Episcopal pew (in those days they left the doors unlocked), I started hitching north, and this knight was saved by a hippie damsel. Along with a cat named Clare, a few bottles of red wine, and the song “Born to Run” blasting from the sound system, a woman named Faye, with me in tow, drove from the shores of South Carolina to accomplish what the confederate army failed to do. We took Washington, DC, by storm. Without Manny Roth, Springsteen might not have been along for the ride.

I really don’t like using the term “hippie,” as I did at the top of this blog, since it seems inextricably caught in the ‘60s and implies that after that decade hippies vanished like the dinosaur. But what I was in the ‘60s in thought and action, I am even more so now. Does that make me an old hippie, a super-hippie, or just a person still on the road to self-discovery?

There are more stories on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there.

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5Apr

Our Small Place in Space Is Dying

For the first time ever, California’s Governor Jerry Brown has imposed a mandatory limit on water use, this after the state’s fourth year of record-breaking drought. The mandate targets businesses and residents in cities and towns, but it will not affect the farms that use most of California's water. California, a place that you might not think of as depending much on snow, actually does, and this move by Governor Brown comes as California reports its lowest snowpack levels on record, oddly enough as the city of Boston reports its snowiest winter in recorded history. Something’s happening here and it’s become more and more clear: global warming. The only place we have to call home is in deep trouble.

In the 1930’s, America suffered The Dust Bowl. Also known as the Dirty Thirties, it was a period of severe dust storms that damaged the ecology and agriculture of the U.S. and Canadian prairies. Severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion caused the phenomenon. The drought came in three waves—1934, 1936, and 1939–40, but some regions of the high plains experienced drought conditions for as many as eight years.

There is a breathtakingly beautiful five-minute video that makes it even easier to love our earth and brings the present drought into perspective. It shows the history of what our small place has suffered with indications of the probability that the worst is yet to come. At the end of the video is a tribute in honor of some of those who have died for the common home we call earth and the creatures who share it with us.

This video was brought to my attention by Shalini Kagal, a friend and writer who lives in Pune, Maharashtra. Pune is the seventh most populous city in India and the second largest in the state of Maharashtra. The producer of the video is a friend of Shalini’s, and they have given me permission to share it with you. I thank them for that.

https://youtu.be/nGeXdv-uPaw

In the podcast, there is more on our small place as well as music and other timely events. Come join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

 

 

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