Happy anniversary, dear. Look, I got us handcuffs!

Tomorrow is Hiroshima Day, a time to remember the dreadful destructiveness of nuclear weapons. A time to remember that our country is the only country ever to have used these inhuman weapons — twice. And it is a time to rededicate ourselves to the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. There are today still nearly 15,000 nuclear warheads in the hands of nine countries. 

I’ll be hosting a special edition of Other Voices TV about the current state of nuclear weapons and the continuing abolition movement. I’m looking forward to my conversation with Jackie Cabasso, a nuclear abolition activist for over 30 years, and Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action. Here are the details. I hope you’ll join me for this forum.

But for this post, I wanted to briefly relate the story of one particular anti-nuclear weapons protest that I participated in because it was particularly memorable.

Continue reading “Happy anniversary, dear. Look, I got us handcuffs!”

Endless summer memories

Florida c. 1966 – ’67 / Hawaii 2006

Nothing but memories here today. No politics. No analysis. No dissent. Just memories plain and simple. Very fond memories.

This has been a banner year to indulge our appetites for celebrating anniversaries, especially those weighty ones like 50th anniversaries. We got off to a good start with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ last public concert, from the roof of Apple Studios. We have just finished (mostly) a celebration of the moon landing, and Woodstock’s 50th lies just ahead.

Continue reading “Endless summer memories”

My throwback weekend

I recorded my part of the narration for the PBS Woodstock 50th anniversary documentary film almost exactly 2 years ago. Exactly was this past Thursday. I finally saw the film this weekend — twice. And participated in 2 Q&A sessions after the screenings, along with the director.

I love the film. (“Of course you do” says everyone.) I think it is a seriously fine piece of historical documentary filmmaking, narrated by the original participants. The film is comprised of 80-90% never before seen footage, shot by Michael Wadleigh’s crew but never used in his epic Woodstock film. And the views are almost all down on the ground with the people, in and of the crowd, not on stage.

The many friends who accompanied me (thank you again!) said they came away feeling they had a whole new idea of what it felt like to be there. It’s an entirely new take on Woodstock.

It’s still opening in theaters around the country. If you went to Woodstock, you should definitely check this out. You might see yourself in the film – “never before seen” footage, right? Check the sked at this link. Coming to PBS in August.

The (Endless Screenings of) Sound of Music

I was recently searching through old movies to find something to stream online. I came across a listing for “The Sound of Music”. It evoked a very specific memory…
Photo Credit: Friends of the Westmont Theater, Inc.

Summer of 1965. I was 13 years old, feverish with the idea of being a teenager and all that I imagined that status would bestow on me.

I was a frequent visitor to my hometown movie theater, the Westmont Theater. I specialized in Saturday afternoon science fiction matinees, but at heart I was a generalist. Comedy, animated, horror. I went to a lot of movies. Continue reading “The (Endless Screenings of) Sound of Music”

Story time

The history of grassroots activism abounds with classic stories of struggle against all odds, and tales worthy of telling around a campfire. History is the important element.

My own campfire tales were told around a flickering TV monitor last night. Owing to my impending retirement, I felt free to invite myself to be the guest on the monthly TV program that I produce and host.

Elliot Margolies’ interview was a marvel.

My goal for this blog is to tell more of these stories. Old and new.

Improv memories on the passing of a friend

paul steffy michael michele

I lost a dear friend recently. A friend of nearly 30 years. He was by trade and by nature a jazz musician. So I thought I would improv some memories of Michael Allan Slaughter.

As a professional jazz musician, Michael was of course licensed to invoke the word cat, as in cool cat. Most who are thus privileged do not use the term anymore, I believe. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it has become … mossy. I think I would inwardly cringe if I heard it in conversation. But Michael employed the word frequently, easily. And it never sounded one bit mossy to me coming from him. I never understood that. Continue reading “Improv memories on the passing of a friend”

My First Thoughtcrime

mccarthy office

The first time I was hauled into a police station for thoughtcrime was in 1968. I was 16 years old.

I volunteered for the Eugene McCarthy for President campaign that year. In an unlikely turn of events for the suburban New Jersey town where I lived, a McCarthy campaign office had opened in a former pet shop (“former” being just the week before). I happened across it on the way home from school and dropped in. Continue reading “My First Thoughtcrime”