“What’s Wrong and How to Fix It”: Woody Guthrie and the Maintenance of Folk Music
Intro In September 1940, Oklahoma-born musician, writer, artist and activist Woody Guthrie wrote to Alan Lomax at the Library of Congress, laying out his philosophy of folk music. “A folk song,” he wrote “is what’s wrong and how to fix it,” as clear a statement of what maintenance is and does as any you’ll hear this conference.1 I argue that Guthrie’s understanding of folk music as maintenance is manifested in two ways. First, it can...
Archives as Sites of Resistance, Liberation and Creativity
Following is the text of a talk I delivered at The Word is Action: Engaging the Bible and Social Justice in memory of Walter Wink, a conference celebrating the fifth anniversary of The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice. As I was writing this talk, my colleague Jarrett Drake delivered a co-keynote address at a Community Archives Forum hosted at UCLA. His talk covers all that I wanted to say and more,...
Archivists have an invisibility problem. Our work is misunderstood, undervalued, and often taken for granted. At the same time, we are complicit in making others - both inside and outside of the profession - invisible. We need to fix those things. Over the past year, I’ve been introduced to maintenance theory, an avenue of inquiry that I think can help us address these problems. In putting together this talk, I’ve developed a list of of...
The Burning of Paper Instead of Children: the Symbolic Destruction of Records
This is the text of a talk I gave in 2012 at the Society of American Archivists’ Annual Conference in San Diego as part of a panel on religion and archives. Yesterday’s passing of Daniel Berrigan reminded me that I never got around to publishing this work so, warts and all, here it is. I’ve added a few links here and there, but otherwise the text is largely unchanged. The bibliography for this talk is...
Introducing staticAid: A Static Site Generator for Archival Description
A recent trend in web development (first brought to my attention at this year’s edUI conference) is a renewed interest in building static websites because they’re faster, more secure, allow for more transparent versioning of content, and are more maintainable over time than CMS-backed systems. With staticAid, I’ve tried to apply those ideas to archival description: JSON files generated via ArchivesSpace’s REST API are rendered as HTML with Jekyll.1 What are static websites? Static websites...
Following is the text for a talk I gave at the 2014 edUi conference in beautiful Richmond, Virginia. Slides for the talk are available here. If you like this talk, you’ll also probaby like an interview with my boss Sibyl Schaefer in “The Signal,” which covers much of the same territory, although from a more holistic perspective. Good morning! My name is Hillel, and I’ll be talking to you about a project I’ve been involved...
Growing up, I never thought about whether or not I could sing. Everyone around me did, and I did too. My family sang before and after every meal; that was our way of saying grace. Whether or not I had a “good voice” was not something I ever thought about. Imagine my surprise, when I found myself immersed in popular American culture some years later, and discovered that not having a good voice was considered...
For us, communization does not signify some general positive process of ‘sharing’ or ‘making commoning’. It signifies the specific revolutionary undoing of the relations of property constitutive of the capitalist class relation. Sharing as such - if this has any meaning at all - can hardly be understood as involving this undoing of capitalist relations, for various kinds of ‘sharing’ or ‘making common’ can easily be shown to play important roles withing capitalist society without...
I am a songwriter. I write because I want to talk about things that matter to me in ways I think other people can understand. I want my songs to mean something (and something different) to everyone who hears them. I write verses, choruses, bridges, rhyme schemes and melodies. I steal ideas, words and melodies from other people; sometimes I use them as-is, more often I change them a little or a lot. Although I...
I’m sitting at O’Hare, waiting for my return flight from this year’s Code4lib conference. Code4lib always gets me to think about things - code, community, craft and creativity, to name a few - but most of all it gets me thinking about my identity. It gets me to ask “who am I?” in subtle, complex and unexpected ways. This year at Code4lib, there was a lot of talk about “hacker epistemology,” which got me to...
A couple of months ago, I decided it was time to redo my website. So, in an exercise to learn something new in the process, I’ve redone my site using Octopress, a simple blogging framework built on Jekyll. Although you can use a number of services to power it, Github works really well (plus it’s free). Since I’d already implemented a site for my song lyrics using Github Pages, I wanted to dig into this...
A few months ago, I posted that I was trying to gauge interest level in a open jam at this year’s All-Attendee Reception at the SAA Annual Meeting in San Diego. I’m pleased to announce that there was sufficient interest and enthusiasm for the idea and the event will indeed be happening! A special thank you to SAA Executive Director Nancy Beaumont for her support. A small group of musicians has come together as a...
In conversations with a number of my more creative colleagues, we came up with idea to have some sort of an open jam session, song circle or hootenanny (or whatever else you want to call it) at this year’s SAA Annual Meeting in recognition of the fact that many of us archivists are also musicians. The admittedly vague plan, as it stands now, is that a group of interested folks would bring their voices and/or...
This morning, David McClure’s blog post titled “The anxious keystroke” came across my Twitter feed. For a variety of reasons, I’ve recently been thinking a lot about archival description and the principles that are (or ought to be) behind it, and as always I’ve been thinking in metaphors (one of the hazards of being a songwriter). I found the post resonated strongly with many of my thoughts about archival description, and in many cases McClure’s...
Social conflicts arise from rivalries between those who occupy and preserve an eco-system as the place that specifies them as a family or group, and that therefore deserves every sacrifice, including sudden death. For if “to be is to inhabit,” not to inhabit is no longer to exist. Sudden death is preferable to the slow death of he who is no longer welcome, of the reject, of the man deprived of a specific place and...
At this week’s Code4Lib conference in Seattle, I was scheduled to give a lighting talk on some of the work I’ve been doing with the Occupy Wall Street Minutes Working Group. However, due to the previous evening’s festivities I was, um, indisposed and ended up not giving the talk. Since there seemed to be some interest in the topic, I thought I’d write something up and post it, especially since the indefatigable Corey Harper offered...
For anarchism today, reality is to be found in a diversity of activity we have outlined previously; anarchist living can adapt itself to a multiplicity of forms, beginning with the revolutionary demands of anarchosyndicalism and concluding with the libertarian presence in urban neighborhoods, in universities, in teaching…. The libertarian presence in neighborhoods must learn how to introduce practical activities leading to self-management. The citizen living in a particular neighborhood tries to understand the problems of...
Introducing the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice
For the past two-plus years, I’ve been working with a stellar group of folks on the daunting and somewhat quixotic task of setting up a new library and educational center. Located at Stony Point Center about 40 miles north of New York City in the scenic Hudson Valley, the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice has a fantastic collection of books and periodicals in the fields of biblical study, the social sciences,...
Theodore Roosevelt used to say: “If you want peace prepare for war.” So everybody prepared for war but war preparations did not bring peace; they brought war. Since war preparations brought war, why not quit preparing for war. If nations preparing for peace instead of preparing for war, they might have peace. Aristide Briand used to say: “The best kind of disarmament is the disarmament of the heart.” The disarmament of Germany by the Allies...
The French believe that trade follows the flag. So do the English, so do the Germans, so do the Japanese, so do the Italians. Italy is in Ethopia for the same reason that the French are in Algeria, the English in India, the Japanese in Manchuria. The Italians say thatthe Ethopians are not civilized. The last war proves that Europeans are no more civilized than the Africans. So Europeans ought to find a way to...
To protect the British Isles the English took the sea. To protect the sea the English took Gibraltar, Canada, and India. To protect India the English went to Egypt. To protect Egypt the English took the Sudan. To protect the Sudan the English forced the French to leave Fashoda. To protect the Cape and Natal the English took the Transvaal. To protect South Africa the English prevented the French from giving Agadir to Germany. So...
The Society of American Archivists’ annual meeting (held this year in Chicago) ended almost two weeks ago today and, while it’s hard to believe it’s already been that long, I wanted to get down a few thoughts about the conference before it all fades away. First of all, I had a fantastic time. There was a lot of unfortunate drama surrounding the labor dispute before the conference that led to my being pretty ambivalent about...
To protect French citizens living in Algeria the French took Algeria from the natives. To protect Algeria the French took control for Tunisia. To protect Senegal the French took Dahomey, the Gabon, and the Congo. To protect the isle of Reunion the French took Madagascar. They took Madagascar for another reason. The other reason was that the English wished to take it. When the English take something the French say: “The English do that because...
Some people say:
is always right.”
Some people say:
is always wrong.”
Some people say:
is sometimes right
and sometimes wrong,
but my country
right or wrong.”
To stick up for one’s country
when one’s country is wrong
does not make
the country right.
To stick up for the right
even when the world is wrong
is the only way we know
to make everything right.
The Catholic Worker believes in the gentle personalism of traditional Catholicism. The Catholic Worker believes in the personal obligation of looking after the needs of our brother. The Catholic Worker believes in the daily practice of the Works of Mercy. The Catholic Worker believes in Houses of Hospitality for the immediate relief of those who are in need. The Catholic Worker believes in the establishment of Farming Communes where each one works according to his...
in universal suffrage,
freedom of opportunity.
in the right of the rich
to become richer
and of the poor
to try to become rich.
in labor unions
and financial corporations.
in the law of supply and demand.
On Continuing Conversations and Organizational Transparency
Since my post last week which detailed my concerns with the latest communication from SAA regarding the labor dispute at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, I’ve had a number of significant conversations and communications have clarified the situation and my thoughts about it. Unsurprisingly, the email which I found so problematic made a number of my colleague’s uneasy as well. Some had similar questions (and conclusions) as I did, while others wondered if they should be...
in a gradual realization
of a classless society.
in the social ownership
of natural resources
and the means of production
in a transition period
under democratic management
between two economic systems,
the systems of production for use
and the system of production for profits.
in freedom of the press,
freedom of assemblage,
freedom of worship.
A personal response to SAA's stance on the Hyatt labor dispute
Like many of my colleagues, I’ve been following the ongoing labor dispute between UNITE HERE Local 1 (a Chicago-based hospitality workers union) and the Hyatt chain of hotels (one of which, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, is the site for the upcoming Society of American Archivists annual meeting) with growing concern. The situation has been described in pretty great detail elsewhere, and a number of communications from SAA are available online, both on SAA’s website as...
The Fascists believe
in a national economy
for the protection
of national and private interests.
in the regulation of industries
so as to assure
a wage for the worker
and a dividend for the investor.
in class collaboration
under State supervision.
in the co-operation
of employers’ unions
and workers’ unions.
Communists believe that the capitalist system has reached the point where it no longer works. Communists believe that when the workers come to the realization of the downfall of capitalism they will no longer tolerate it. Communists believe that the capitalist class will resort to all means that may be in their power to maintain their existence. Communists believe that the Communist Party knows how to assure production and distribution in an orderly manner according...
Laborers of a Farming Commune do not work for wages; they leave that to the Farming Commune. Laborers of a Farming Commune do not look for a bank account; they leave that to the Farming Commune. Laborers of a Farming Commune do not look for an insurance policy; they leave that to the Farming Commune. Laborers of a Farming Commune do not look for an old-age pension; they leave that to the Farming Commune. Laborers...
Professors of a Farming Commune do not look for endowments; they look for manual labor. Professors of a Farming Commune do not tell their students what to do; they show them how to do it. Professors of a Farming Commune do not enable their students to master subjects; they enable them to master situations. Professors of a Farming Commune do not teach their students how to make profitable deals; they teach them how to realize...
The unemployed need free rent; they can have that on a Farming Commune. The unemployed need free food; they can raise that on a Farming Commune. The unemployed need free fuel; they can cut that on a Farming Commune. The unemployed need to acquire skill; they can do that on a Farming Commune. The unemployed need to improve their minds; they can do that on a Farming Commune. The unemployed need spiritual guidance; they can...
Ralph Adams Cram says: What I propose is that Catholics should take up this back-to-the-land problem and put it into operation. Why Catholics? Because they realize more clearly than any others the shortcomings of the old capitalist industrial system. They, better than others, see the threat that impends. They alone understand that while the family is the primary social unit, the community comes next. And there is no sound and righteous and enduring community where...
Andrew Nelson Lytle says: The escape from industrialism is not in socialism or in sovietism. The answer lies in a return to a society where agriculture is practised by most of the people. It is in fact impossible for any culture to be sound and healthy without a proper regard for the soil, no matter how many urban dwellers think that their food comes from groceries and delicatessens or their milk from tin cans. This...
A Chinese says: I thought I had become westernized but now I am becoming repatriated. The material progress of America has dazzled me. I wished while there to transplant what I saw to China. But now that I am home again I see that our two civilizations have irreconcilable differences. Yours is a machine civilization; ours is a handicraft civilization. Your people work in factories; our people work in shops. Your people produce quality things...
Eric Gill says: the notion of work has been separated from the notion of art. The notion of the useful has been separated from the notion of the beautiful. The artist, that is to say, the responsible workman, has been separated from all other workmen. The factory hand has no responsibility for what he produces. He has been reduced to a sub-human condition of intellectual irresponsibility. Industrialism has released the artist from the necessity of...
“He who has found his work
let him look
for no other blessedness.”
cannot find hapiness
in mechanized work.
As Charles Devas says,
“The great majority
having to perform
some mechanized operation
which requires little thought
and allows no originality
concerns an object
in the transformation of which
whether previous or subsequent
they have no part,
cannot take pleasure
in their work.”
“Industrialism is evil.”
Industrialism is evil
because it brings idleness
both to the capitalist class
and the working class.
Idleness does no good
either to the capitalist class
or the working class.
is what keeps people
out of mischief.
is craft labor.
is not creative labor.
“The world cannot be
and half agricultural.”
Japan, and America
is trying to keep up
with England, Germany,
Japan, and America.
When all the world
will be looking
for foreign markets.
But when every country
you will not have
Owen Young says: “We will never have prosperity as long as there is no balance between industry and agriculture.” The farmer sells in an open market and is forced to buy in a restricted market. When the farmer gets a pair of overalls for a bushel of wheat the wheat and the overalls are on the level. When the farmer has to give two bushels of wheat for a pair of overalls the wheat and...
According to Johannes Jorgensen, a Danish convert, living in Assisi: Saint Francis desired that men should give up superfluous possessions. Saint Francis desired that men should work with their hands. Saint Francis desired that men should offer their services as a gift. Saint Francis desired that men should ask other people for help when work failed them. Saint Francis desired that men should live as free as birds. Saint Francis desired that men should go...
Fr. Henry Carr, Superior of the Basilians, says: Socialists and Communists battle against the unequal conditions of the poor. Presumably they would be satisfied if all were on a level. Do you not see that this does not touch the question that is vital, namely, whether or not the people, no matter how much or how little they possess, regard it and use it in the way they should? The right way is to regard...
Christianity has nothing to do with either modern Capitalism or modern Communism, for Christianity has a Capitalism of its own, and a Communism of its own. Modern Capitalism is based on property without responsibility, while Christian Capitalism is based on property with responsibility. Modern Communism is based on poverty through force, while Christian Communism is based on poverty through choice. For a Christian, voluntary poverty is the ideal as exemplified by Saint Francis of Assisi,...
When the big shots become bigger shots then the little shots become littler shots. And when the little shots become littler shots because the big shots become bigger shots then the little shots get mad at the big shots. And when the little shots get mad at the big shots because the big shots by becomming bigger shots make the little shots littler shots they shoot the big shots full of little shots. But by...
The world would be better off, if people tried to become better. And people would become better if they stopped trying to be better off. For when everybody tries to become better off, nobody is better off. But when everybody tries to become better, everybody is better off. Everybody would be rich if nobody tried to be richer. And nobody would be poor if everybody tried to be the poorest. And everybody woiuld be what...
To give and not to take that is what makes man human. To serve and not to rule that is what makes man human. To help and not to crush that is what makes man human. To nourish and not to devour that is what makes man human. And if need be to die and not to live that is what makes man human. Ideals and not deals that is what makes man human. Creed...
And when the capitalists or accumulators of labor have accumulated so much of the laborer’s labor that they no longer find it profitable to buy the labor’s labor then the laborers can no longer sell their labor to the capitalists or accumulators of labor. And when the laborers can no longer sell their labor to the capitalists or accumulators of labor, they can no longer buy the products of their labor. And that is what...
“Capital”, says Karl Marx, “is accumulated labor, not for the benefit of the laborers, but for the benefit of the accumulators.” And Capitalists succeed in accumulating labor by treating labor not as a gift, but as a commodity, buying it as any other commodity at the lowest possible price. And organized labor plays into the hands of the capitalists or accumulators of labor by treating their own labor not as a gift, but as a...
A Communist Community
is a Community
with a common unity.
A common belief
is what makes the unity
if a community.
Norman Thomas says
that “Ramsay MacDonald
has failed to give to Labor
a philosophy of labor”.
What labor needs
is not economic security.
What Labor needs
is a philosophy of labor.
The Communist Party credits bourgeois capitalism with an historic mission. The Communitarian Movement condemns it on general principles. The Communist Party throws the monkey-wrench of class struggle into the economic machinery and by doing so delays the fulfilling of the historic mission which it credits to capitalism. The Communitarian Movement aims to create a new society within the shell of the old with the philosophy of the new which is not a new philosophy but...
The Nazis, the Fascists,
and the Bolshevists
The Catholic Worker
The principles of Communitarianism
are expounded every month
in the French magazine
Esprit (The Spirit).
editor of the magizine,
has a book entitled,
“La revolution personnaliste
Raymond de Becker
is the leader in Belgium
of the Communitarian Movement
the Japanese co-operator
is truly imbued
with the communitarian spirit.
I’ve never really liked Phil Ochs all that much, mostly because I always found his songs hard to cover. His music was always too idiosyncratic; the chord changes simultaneously too labored and too unpredictable, the melodies unmemorable, the lyrics too specific and pedantic. I’m just back from watching Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune at the IFC Center, and thought I’d post a few thoughts while they’re still fresh in my mind. It’s one of...
People say: “They don’t do this, they don’t do that, they ought to do this, this ought to do that.” Always “They” and never “I”. People should say: “They are crazy for doing this and not doing that but I don’t need to be crazy the way they are crazy.” The Communitarian Revolution is basically a personal revolution. It starts with I not with They. One I plus one I makes two I and two...
Mirabeau says: “There are only three ways to make a living: Stealing, begging, working.” Stealing is against the law of God and against the law of men. Begging is against the law of men, but not against the law of God. Working is neither against the law of God nor against the law of men. But they say that there is no work to do. There is plenty of work to do, but no wages....
A Bourgeois is a fellow who tries to be somebody by trying to be like everybody, which makes him a nobody. A Dictator is a fellow who does not hesitate to strike you over the head if you refuse to do what he waants you to do. A Leader is a fellow who refuses to be crazy the way everybody else is crazy and tries to be crazy in his own crazy way. A Bolshevist...
Having realized that a Communist Manifesto was the basis of a Communist Movement, Karl Marx decided to write a Communist Manifesto. To write the Communist Manifesto Karl marx did not use his own analysis of Capitalism. He took the criticism of the bourgeois society of his time by Victor Considerant and made it the first part of the Communist Manifesto. He took the definition of Communism by Proudhon and made it his own. He tried...
Karl Marx soon realized that his own analysis of bourgeois society could not be the basis of a dynamic revolutionary movement. Karl Marx soon realized that a forceful Communist Manifesto was the necessary foundation of a dynamic Communist Movement. Karl Marx soon realized, as Lenin realized, that there is no revolution without revolutionary action; that there is no revolutionary action without a revolutionary movement; that there is no revolutionary movement without a vanguard of revolution...
Before he died Karl Marx told one of his friends: “I have lived long enough to be able to say that i am not a Marxist.” To be a Marxist, according to the logic of Das Kapital, is to maintain that the best thing to do is to wait patiently till Capitalism has fulfilled its historic mission. To be a Marxist according to the logic of Das Kapital, is to step back, take and academic...
I agree with seven Bishops, three of whom are Archbishops, that the Communist criticism of the rugged individualism of bourgeois capitalism is a sound criticism. I agree with seven Bishops, three of whom are Archbishops, that the main social aim of the communist Party is a sound social aim. I agree with seven Bishops, three whom are Archbishops, that the Communists are not sound when they advocate class struggle and proletarian dictatorship as the best...
Communists believe in capturing the State so as to be able to use it as a club to prevent anybody from becoming a Capitalist. The Communist manifesto defines Communism as “a state of society” where each one works according to his ability and gets according to his needs.” Using the power of the State will enable Communists to prevent anybody from becoming a successful Capitalist but it will not make anybody Communist at heart. To...
The aim of the Communists
is to take over the control
of the means of production
The means of production
are now in the hands
The class war is a war
of the means of production
that the way to bring about
a classless society
is a class war
between the Capitalist State
and the working class.
There is nothing wrong with Communism, but there is something wrong with Communists. The wrong thing with Communists is that they are not Communists, they are Socialists. There is no Communism in Soviet Russia, there is State Socialism in Soviet Russia. The State has not withered away, the wage system still prevails, and they are selling 7% government bonds in Soviet Russia. By selling 7% government bonds they are creating a new parasitic class in...
Afraid of the poor who don’t like to get poorer, the rich who like to get richer turn to the State for protection. But the State is not only the State of the rich it is also the State of the poor who don’t like to get poorer. So the State sometimes chooses to help the many poor who don’t like to get poorer, at the expense of the few rich who like to get...
I recently finished reading Up in the Old Hotel, a collection of Joseph Mitchell’s short stories from the 1940s. Mitchell was a New York City-based writer who worked for The New Yorker for a number of years, and is well-known as a chronicler of the eccentrics and social outcasts who abounded then (and still abound) in the city. While the whole book is fantastic (I’d highly recommend you find yourself a copy), I was taken...
The training of social workers enables them to help people to adjust themselves to the existing environment. The training of social workers does not enable them to help people to change the environment. Social workers must become social minded before they can be critics of the existing environment and free creative agents of the new environment. In the Houses of Hospitality social workers can aquire the art of human contacts and the social-mindedness or understanding...
Lately I’ve been very taken with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an trio of fine musicians reinventing the African American string band tradition in their own unique way. Their latest release, Genuine Negro Jig, is an absolute masterpiece, but is still no substitute for seeing them live. I’ve been to a couple of their shows over the summer, and aside from being blown away by their energy and charisma, I was really fascinated by how invested...
By living with the workers in Houses of Hospitality scholars will be able to convey to the workers why things are what they are, how things would be if they were as they should be, and how a path can be made from things as they are to things as they should be. By living with the workers in Houses of Hospitality scholars will be able to win the workers’ sympathy, and therefore keep the...
In seventeenth-century France there was a priest by the name of Vincent. Father Vincent realized that the country was going to the dogs. When something goes wrong they say in France: “Cherchez la femme- look for the woman.” Looking for the woman Father Vincent found out that many woman were trying to be the mistresses of the rich. St. Vincent of Paul gathered several women and told them: “If you want to put the country...
We need Houses of Hospitality
to give to the rich
to serve the poor.
We need Houses of Hospitality
to bring the scholars
to the workers
or the workers
to the scholars.
We need Houses of Hospitality
to bring back to institutions
the technique to institutions.
We need Houses of Hospitality
what idealism looks like
when it is practised.
We read in the Catholic Encyclopedia
that during the early ages
or Houses of Hospitality
was a shelter
for the sick, the poor,
the orphan, the old, the traveller,
and the needy of every kind.
Originally the Hospices
of Houses of Hospitality
were under the supervision
of the Bishops
who designated priests
and temporal affairs
of these charitable institutions.
In the first centuries of Christianity the poor were fed, clothed, and sheltered at a personal sacrifice and the Pagans said about the Christians: “See how they love each other.” Today the poor are fed, clothed, and sheltered by the politicians at the expense of the taxpayers. And because the poor are no longer fed, clothed, and sheltered at a personal sacrifice but at the expense of taxpayers Pagans say about Christians: “See how they...
The Holy Father appoints a man named a Bishop to a seat - a cathedra. From that seat - cathedra the Bishop teaches the truth to all men so the truth may make them free. But some people are Bishop-shy. They are Bishop-shy because they are hungry, shivering, or sleepy. They must be fed, clothed, and sheltered before they will consent to come to listen to Christ’s Bishop. To feed, clothe, and shelter them at...
People who are in need are not invited to spend the night in homes of the rich. here are guest rooms in the homes of the rich but they are not for those who need them. They are not for those who need them because those who need them are no longer considered as the Ambassadors of God. So the duty of hospitality is no longer considered as a personal duty. So people without a...
People who are in need and are not afraid to beg give to people not in need the occasion to do good for goodness’ sake. Modern society calls the beggar bum and panhandler and gives him the bum’s rush. The Greeks used to say that people in need are the ambassadors of the gods. We read in the Gospel: “As long as you did it to one of the least of My brothers you did...
God wants us
to be our brother’s keeper.
To feed the hungry,
to clothe the naked,
to shelter the homeless,
to instruct the ignorant,
at a personal sacrifice,
is what God
wants us to do.
What we give to the poor
for Christ’s sake
is what we carry with us
when we die.
As Jean-Jacques Rousseau say:
“When man dies
in his clutches hands
only that which
he has given away.”
To give to the poor
is to enable the poor to buy.
To enable the poor to buy
is to improve the market.
To improve the market
is to help business.
To help business
is to reduce unemployment.
To reduce unemployment
is to reduce crime.
To reduce crime
is to reduce taxation.
So why not give to the poor
for business’ sake,
for humanity’s sake,
for God’s sake?
Some say that inflation is desirable. Some say that inflation is deplorable. Some say that inflation is deplorable but inevitable. The way to avoid inflation is to tighten the burden of money-borrowers without robbing the money-lenders. And the way to lighten the burden of money-borrowers with robbing the money-lenders is to pass two laws: one law making immediately illegal all interest on money lent and another law obligating the money-borrowers to pay one per cent...
When people save money
that means money is invested.
brings a surplus in production.
A surplus in production
brings a slump in business.
A slump in business
brings more unemployment.
brings a depression.
brings more depression.
brings red agitation.
brings red revolution.
When John Calvin legalized money-lending at interest, he made the bank account the standard of values. When the bank account became the standard of values, people ceased to produce for use and began to produce for profits. When people began to produce for profits they became wealth-producing maniacs. When people became wealth-producing maniacs they produced too much wealth. When people found out that they had produced too much wealth they went on an orgy of...
Because John Calvin legalized money-lending at interest, the State has legalized money-lending at interest. Because the State has legalized money-lending at interest, home owners have mortgaged their farms; institutions have mortgaged their buildings; congregations have mortgaged their churches; cities, counties, States and Federal Government have mortgaged their budgets. So people find themselves in all kinds of financial difficulties because the State has legalized money-lending at interest in spite of the teachings of the Prophets of...
The Prophets of Israel and the Fathers of the Church forbade lending money at interest. Lending at interest was called usury by the Prophets of Israel and the Fathers of the Church. Usurers were not considered to be gentlemen when people used to listen to the Prophets of Israel and the Fathers of the Church. When people used to listen to the Prophets of Israel and the Fathers of the Church they could not see...
Christ says: “The dollar you have is the dollar you give.” The Banker says: “The dollar you have is the dollar you keep.” Christ says: “You cannot serve two masters, God and Mammon.” “‘You cannot.’ And all our education consists in trying to find out how we can,” says Robert Louis Stevenson. “The poor are the true children of the Church”, says Bossuet. “Modern society has made the bank account the standard of values”, says...
After the World War people tried to believe that a New Era had dawned upon the world. People thought that they had found a solution to the problem of mass-distribution. People thought that the time had come for the two-car garage, a chicken in every pot, and a sign “To Let” in front of every poor-house. And everybody wanted to cash in on the future prosperity. So stock promoters got busy and stocked people with...
As President Wilson said,
the World War
was a commercial war.
But a commercial war
had to be idealized,
so it was called
a War for Democracy.
But the War for Democracy
did not bring Democracy:
Bolshevism in Russia,
Fascism in Italy,
Nazism in Germany.
The Laissez-Faire Economists
is the life of trade
and that it is a case
of survival of the fittest.
So since 1800
looking for markets
has engaged men’s activities.
And since trade follows the flag
have also become
The fight for markets
between two industrial nations,
England and Germany,
was the main cause
of the World War.
With the discovery of steam the factory system made its appearance. To take drudgery out of the home was suppose to be the aim of the manufacturer. So the guildsman left his shop and went to the factory. But the profit-making manufacturer found it more profitable to employ women than to employ men. So the women left the home and went to the factory. Soon the children followed the women into the factory. So the...
Before John Calvin people were not allowed to lend money at interest. John Calvin decided to legalize money-lending at interest in spite of the teachings of the Prophets of Israel and the Fathers of the Church. Protestant countries tried to keep up with John Calvin and money-lending at interest became the general practice. And money ceased to be a means of exchange and began to be a means to make money. So people lent money...
American Puritanism was to a great extent an outgrowth of Calvinism. Andre’ Siegfried says: “The Puritan is proud to be rich. “If he makes money, he likes to tell himself that Divine Providence sends it to him. “His wealth itself becomes in his eyes as well as the eyes of others a mark of God’s blessing. “A time comes when he no longer knows if he acts for duty’s sake or for interest’s sake. “It...
Around 1400 A.D. appears the middle-man. He offers to buy the goods and to find a market. The guild’s man thinks about the money offered for his goods and forgets the Common Good. And the middle-man is not interested in selling useful goods but in making money on any kind of goods. And the consumer never meets the producer and the producer ceases to think in terms of service and begins to think in terms...
In 1300 A.D.
the Roman Law
of the Canon Law.
The Roman Law
enables rich men
to live among the poor men.
The Canon Law
enables good men
to live among bad men.
“Divide to rule”
became the slogan
of the politicians.
In his book “The Prince”,
taught them how.
ceased to be policy
In 1200 A.D.
there was no Capitalist System,
there was the Guild System.
The doctrine of the Guilds
was the doctrine
of the Common Good.
The people used to say
as they do now:
“What can I do for you?”
but they meant what they said.
Now they say one thing
and they mean another.
They did not look for markets,
they let markets
look for them.
Henry Adams, who had in his ancestry two Presidents of the United States, says in his autobiography that one cannot get an education in modern America. And the reason he gives is, that there is no unity of thought in modern America. So he went to England and found that modern England is too much like America. So he went to France and found that modern France is too much like England and America. But...
The order of the day is to talk about the social order. Conservatives would like to keep it from changing but they don’t know how. Liberals try to patch it and call it a New Deal. Socialists want a change, but a gradual change. Communists want a change, an immediate change, but a Socialist change. Communists in Russia do not build Communism, they build Socialism. Communists want to pass from capitalism to Socialism and from...
In the first centuries of Christianity the hungry were fed at a personal sacrifice, the naked were clothed at a personal sacrifice, the homeless were sheltered at personal sacrifice. And because the poor were fed, clothed and sheltered at a personal sacrifice, the pagans used to say about the Christians “See how they love each other.” In our own day the poor are no longer fed, clothed, sheltered at a personal sacrifice, but at the...
People who are in need and are not afraid to beg give to people not in need the occasion to do good for goodness’sake. Modern society calls the beggar bum and panhandler and gives him the bum’s rush. But the Greeks used to say that people in need are the ambassadors of the gods. Although you may be called bums and panhandlers you are in fact the Ambassadors of God. As God’s Ambassadors you should...
“The Christian ideal
has not been tried
and found wanting.
It has been found difficult
and left untried.”
Christianity has not been tried
because people thought
it was impractical.
And men have tried everything
that men have tried
The modern man looks for thought so that he can have light, and he is unable to find it in our modern schools. According to Professor Meiklejohn, “Students go school not to be directed but to become business men.” According to Glenn Frank, President of the University of Wisconsin, “Schools reflect the environment, they do not create it.” Which explains why shortly after their graduation, school graduates could be heard shouting with Rotarians: “Service for...
“What ails modern society is separation of the spiritual from the material”, says Glenn Frank. “Secularism is a pest”, says Pius XI. When religion has nothing to do with education, education, education is only information; plenty of facts, but no understanding. When religion has nothing to do with politics, politics is only factionalism: “Let’s turn the rascals out so our good friends can get in.” When religion has nothing to do with business, business is...
Ethical teachers seem to wish
every worker to be a stockholder
and every stockhoulder to be a worker.
As a stockholder
the worker wants bigger dividends.
As a worker
he wants bigger wages.
And the stock promoters
stock him with stocks
till he gets stuck.
And labor organizers
promise him better conditions
and exact bigger dues.
And the worker
finds himself exploited
both by stock promoters
and labor organizers.
Modern Society believes in the separation of Church and State. But the Jews did not believe in it. The Greeks did not believe in it. The Romans did not believe in it. The Mediaevals did not believe in it. The Puritians did not believe in it. Modern society has separated Church and State but it did not separate the State from business. The State is no longer a Church’s State. The State is now a...
Pope Pius IX and Cardinal Newman consider liberalism, whether it be religious, philosophical, or economic, the greatest error of the nineteenth century. Modern liberalism is the logical sequence of the so-called age of Enlightenment- the age of Voltaire, Rousseau, Thomas Paine- sometimes called the Age of Reason in opposition to the Age of Faith. By sponsoring nationalism and capitalism modern liberals have given up the search for truth and have become paid propagandists. Modern liberals...
Out business managers
don’t know how to manage
the things they try to manage,
because they don’t understand
the things they try to manage.
So they turn to college professors
in the hope of understanding
the things they try to manage.
But college professors
do not profess anything,
they only teach subjects.
As teachers of subjects,
may enable people
to master subjects,
but mastering subjects
has never enabled anyone
to master situations.
Business men say
that because everybody is selfish
business must necessarily
be based on selfishness.
But when business
is based on selfishness
everbody is busy
becoming more selfish.
And when everybody is busy
becoming more selfish,
you have classes and clashes.
Business men create problems;
they do not solve them.
A politician is an artist in the art of following the wind of public opinion. He who follows the wind of public opinion does not follow his own judgement. And he who does not follow his own judgement cannot lead people out of the beaten path. He is like the tail of a dog that tries to lead the head. When people stand behind their president and their president stands behind them they and their...
Politicians used to say:
“We make prosperity
through our wise policies.”
Business men used to say:
“We make prosperity
through our private enterprise.”
The workers did not have anything to say
about the matter;
They were either put to work
or thrown out of employment
And when unemployment came
had no recourse
against the professed makers
politicians and business men.
Next Sunday I’ll be starting a new series of posts from the words of Peter Maurin,replacing “Today’s Debs” as a weekly feature of this blog.Surely, Gentle Reader(s), you must be wondering who this Peter Maurin bloke is, and why he’s taking over for the great Gene Debs, and I’m here to tell you. Peter Maurin was the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Very little biographical information is known about him (his Wikipedia entry gives...
The capitalist employer has very wisely adapted himself and his interests to the changed conditions resulting from this industrial development. He is not only thoroughly equipped with all of the latest means of production, but he is organized in an ironclad corporation, which furnishes a magnificent illustration of capitalist solidarity. There are no craft union divisions and weaknesses in his armor when it comes to facing his hereditary enemy, the exploited worker. He is thoroughly...
The labor movement in the United States, in proportion to the working class, is the weakest and most backward in the world. Most workers belong to something in the way of a labor union or a labor party, but there is utter lack of coherency and clarity and unity of aim and purpose when it comes to organization, economic and political, as a whole.
from “Why Are We Not Stronger?”
Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free… I am opposing a...
Beware of the liveried hypocrites of the landlords, the usurers, the money-changers, the stock-gamblers, the exploiters, the enslavers and despoilers of the people; beware of the ruling class politicians and preachers and mercenary menials in every form who are so profoundly concerned about your “patriotism” and your “religion” and who receive their 30 pieces for warning you against socialism because it will endanger your morality and interfere with your salvation.
from “Politicians and Preachers”
No man ever made a great speech on a mean subject. Slavery never inspired an immortal thought or utterance. Selfishness is dead to every art. The love of truth and the passion to serve it fight every torch of real eloquence… The most thrilling and inspiring oratory, the most powerful and impressive eloquence, is the voice of the disinherited, the oppressed, the suffering and submerged; it is the voice of poverty and misery, of rags...
Rosanne Cash - The List So we all know the great back story for this album by now. And to be honest, I’m starting to think that the back story outstrips the album. Look, this is a great collection of songs, and it would be pretty darn hard to totally screw it up, and Rosanne hasn’t done that. But let’s start with the song choice - there were 100 songs on that list, right? So...
Let those desert us who will because we refuse to shut the international door in the faces of their own brethren; we will be none the weaker but all the stronger for their going, for they evidently have no clear conception of the international solidarity, are wholly lacking in the revolutionary spirit, and have no proper place in the Socialist movement while they entertain such aristocratic notions of their own assumed superiority. Let us stand...
**Neko Case - **Middle Cyclone Seeing Neko Case live is a lot like watching one of Shakespeare’s comedies. There are two women (good friends, obviously), who get most of the lines (and definitely all the good ones) and you spend most of your time paying attention to them. Then there are a bunch of men who do things like play drums and bass and guitar and banjo and whatnot. And they’re all very proficient, but...
I have just returned from a visit over yonder, where three of our most loyal comrades are paying the penalty for their devotion to the cause of the working class. They have come to realize, as many of us have, that it is extremely dangerous to exercise the constitutional right of free speech in a country fighting to make democracy safe in the world. I realize that, in speaking to you this afternoon, there are...
Just back from an exhausting and exhilarating day at DrupalCampNYC6. Met a lot of great new people, and hung with a few current and old acquaintances as well. My brain hurts from trying to wrap it around Views, Panels, Nodes, and PHP, but it’s a good tired. While, there, I ran into my friend Phil Buehler, who just recently “edited” All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy by Jack Torrance. Apparently it’s...
Mark Olson and Gary Louris -_Ready for the Flood_ Saw these guys in concert a few weeks back, and I have to say that seeing these songs live helped put the record into perspective. On the first few listens it falls flat, absent of the pop sparkle and supersized hooks of the Jayhawks days. Even the harmonies sound lazy. But seeing these two guys on stage together, you realize thisrecord is all about the unconscious...
The government is now operating its railroads for the more effective prosecution of the war. Private ownership has broken down utterly and the government has had to come to the rescue. We have always said that the people ought to own the railroads and operate them for the benefit of the people. We advocated that twenty years ago. But the capitalists and their henchmen emphatically objected. “You have got to have brains to run the...
It is the minorities who have made the history of this world. It is the few who have had the courage to take their places at the front; who have been true enough to themselves to speak the truth that was in them; who have dared oppose the established order of things; who have espoused the cause of the suffering, struggling poor; who have upheld without regard to personal consequences the cause of freedom and...
A few days ago one of the most prominent capitalist preachers in New York City issued a frenzied appeal from his pulpit for military preparedness. Thisparticular dog awakened just long enough to bark furiously at the command of his plutocratic master. He may not have received his 30 pieces of silver at the time; the reward of his apostasy comes in gold and flows into his capacious receptacle that connects with his master’s bank vault...
When I showed up for rehearsal, my dad and stepmother, June, were there, sitting in the empty audience. I knew he was in Washington, planning to go to some of the festivities, but I didn’t expect to see him at rehearsal for a show in which he wasn’t even performing. I knew he had come partly to see me, and partly because he had a huge crush on Emmylou. Everyone knew about his crush on...
The secret of efficient expression in oratory “”if secret it can properly be called “” is in having somethingefficient to express and being so filled with itthat it expresses itself. The choice of wordsis not important since efficient expression,the result of efficient thinking, chooses itsown words, moulds and fashions its own sentences,and creates a diction suited to its ownpurposes.
from “The Secret of Efficient Expression”
In the library of a school that will remain unnamed, where I may or may not work, there is an elevator (in a bank of seven others) which is intended to be used exclusively by administrative staff. It runs directly to the top floor of the building, which is where the administrative offices are located, and does not stop on any of the intervening 10 floors. Now, during the school year, this is a great...
Away with the “tactics” which require the exclusion of the oppressed and suffering slaves who seek these shores with the hope of bettering their wretched condition and are driven back under the cruel lash of expediency by those who call themselves Socialists in the name of a movement whose proud boast it is that it stands uncompromisingly for the oppressed and down-trodden of all the earth. These poor slaves have just as good a right...
So I was out in San Francisco for a week over the holidays (basically I was acting as posse/moral support for Miss SlightlyRidiculous who was presenting her genius at MLA) and while walking around in the Mission (love it, btw) managed to find Clarion Alley, home to an amazingly diverse group of murals. Photos, in case you haven’t seen them, are here. Anyway, one of the photos I took was of this mural for something...
Typical capitalists are barren of the social spirit. The very nature of the catch-as-catch-can encounter in which they are engaged makes them wary and suspicious, if not downright hateful of each other, and the latent good that is in them dies for the want of incentive to express itself. The other day I saw two such capitalists shake hands. It was pitiable. Their hearts had no part in the purely perfunctory ceremony. They happened to...
Signed J. Keir Hardie portrait card. This guy was a huge hero of my grandad, and it’s not hard to see why. “The Labour movement is an attempt to enable the working class to realize itself, its thoughts, and its aspirations. At present the People is a formless, shapeless, and voiceless mass, or at best, ‘An infant waiting for the light, and with no language but a cry.’ We will change all this by developing...
We need to grow out of the selfish, sordid, brutal spirit of individualism which still lurks even in Socialists and is responsible for the strife and contention which prevail where there should be concord and good will. The social spirit and the social conscience must be developed and govern our social relations before we shall have any social revolution.
-from “The Social Spirit”
The proposition is here made to put an end to war by democratizing war. In all the history of the world THE PEOPLE have never declared a war. A constitutional amendment providing that no war shall be declared except by a vote of the people and that, as Allan Benson has suggested, if war is declared they who voted for it shall be the first to go to the front would put an end to...
It is of little use to cry out against war while we tolerate a social system that breeds war. Capitalism makes war inevitable. Capitalist nations not only exploit their workers but ruthlessly invade, plunder, and ravage one another. The profit system is responsible for it all. Abolish that, establish industrial democracy, produce for use, and the incentive to war vanishes. Until then men may talk about “Peace on earth” but it will be a myth...
There has never been “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men;” and we shall have to go forward and not backward to realize that ideal. Civilization is still in a primitive, rudimentary state. It has taken countless ages to bring us from the brute, the caveman, and the savage to where we are today. The development has been painfully slow, but steady, and will continue to the farthest stretches of time. “Thou shalt not kill”...
Just ran across this great article in the NY Times in which Clinton aides talk about the way the White House has changed. It’s a fascinating read from any number of angles. To whit: “None of these newly arrived archaeologists would allow their names to be used when discussing their findings; to preserve cooperation with the Bush White House in a handover-of-power that still has 49 days to go, President-elect Barack Obama’s top aides have...
Came across these rockin’ German anarchists stickers from the FAU (very well put-together website, by the way), and had to share them.
Love the cat logo.
I have no idea what any of these are saying. My pitiful grasp of high school German did not (shockingly) include the revolutionary vocabulary that might be helpful.
There are but meagre accounts of the doings of Jesus until at a trifle over thirty he entered upon his public “ministry” and began the campaign of agitation and revolt he had been planning and dreaming through all the years of his yearning and burning adolescence. He was of the working class and loyal to it in every drop of his hot blood to the very hour of his death. He hated and denounced the...
It matters little whether Jesus was born at Nazareth or Bethlehem. The accounts conflict, but the point is of no consequence. It is of consequence, however, that He was born in a stable and cradled in a manger. This fact of itself, about which there is no question, certifies conclusively the proletarian character of Jesus Christ. Had His parents been other than poor working people “money-changers, usurers, merchants, lawyers, scribes, priests, or other parasites” He...
Political parties are responsive to the interests of those who finance them. This is the infallible test of their character and applied to the Republican, Democratic and Progressive parties, these parties stand forth as the several political expressions of the several divisions of the capitalist class. The funds of all these parties are furnished by the capitalist class for the reason, and only for the reason, that they represent the interests of that class. Professional...
Away with the “tactics” which require the exclusion of the oppressed and suffering slaves who seek these shores with the hope of bettering their wretched condition and are driven back under the cruel lash of expediency by those who call themselves Socialists in the name of a movement whose proud boast it is that it stands uncompromisingly for the oppressed and down-trodden of all the earth. These poor slaves have just as good a right...
At a public meeting in New York City some months ago the present Presidential candidate of the Republican party was asked this question: [“]What is a man to do who is out of work[,] in a financial panic and is starving?” This is an intensely human as well as a very practical question. It epitomizes the problem of the unemployed and places it in bold relief. It is not too much to say that the...
The vain attempt persisted in through twenty centuries of ruling class interpolation, interpretation, and falsification to make Jesus appear the divinely commissioned conservator of the peace and soother of the oppressed, instead of the master proletarian revolutionist and sower of the social whirlwind “” the vain attempt to prostitute the name and teachings and example of the martyred Christ to the power of Mammon, the very power which had murdered him in cold blood, vindicates...
I hate to admit it, but for once Murtha’s right:
“There’s no question western Pennsylvania’s a racist area,” Mr. Murtha said, predicting that Mr. Obama would face difficulty attracting some voters in this state.
I venture the prophecy that within the next few years you will be almost completely dispossessed. You are howling against the trusts, and the trusts are laughing at you. You keep on voting in the same old way, and the trusts will keep on getting what you produce. You say congress will give you relief. Good heavens! Who will save us from congress? Don’t you know that congress is made up almost wholly of trust...
You may think you are very comfortable. You may not agree with me. I don’t expect you to and don’t ask you to. I am going to ask you to remember what I say this afternoon and perhaps before I am elected president of the United States you will know it is true. Now there are those of you who are fairly comfortable under the present standard. Isn’t it amazing to you how little the...
Quick thoughts on sports (because I'm tired of politics)
I am totally psyched for Manny v. Boston in the World Series. John Madden is one of the stupidest people on television. Troy Aikman, and I quote, “he continually continues to take bad angles on plays.” Dude, you embarrassed yourself enough as a quarterback. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the inevitable TO implosion, which should come next week. Here’s hoping he bitchslaps Tony Romo while screaming, “take that, Jessica.” Seriously,...
Nature’s storehouse is full to the surface of the earth. All of the raw materials are deposited here in abundance. We have the most marvelous machinery the world has ever known. Man has long since become master of the natural forces and made them work for him. Now he has but to touch a button and the wheels begin to spin and the machinery to whir, and wealth is produced on every hand in increasing...
Sometimes they’re unassuming. But no less beautiful: I found this hiding in the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union, Local 1-S Records, in a folder for Suburban Foods, a kitchen equipment business which required their salespeople to make onsite visits in order to conduct business and make sales. Apparently there was some dispute in the mid 70s about neighborhoods that were “safe” and “unsafe.” And here’s the “unsafe” list. As one of my co-workers...
I am in revolt against capitalism because I love my fellow men, and if I am opposing you it is for what I believe to be your good, and though you spat upon me with contempt I would still oppose you to the extent of my power.
-from “The Issue”
The republican and democratic parties are alike capitalist parties. Some of you may think that Mr. Bryan, if elected, will do great things for the workers. Conditions will remain substantially the same. We will still be under capitalism. It will not matter how you many tinker with the tariff or the currency. The tools are still the property of the capitalists and you are still at their mercy.
-from “Unity and Victory”
The only time in my life I ever saw Theodore Roosevelt was years before he became president of the United States. I was aboard of a train in the far west, where Roosevelt was then said to be following ranch life, and as he and several companions in cowboy costume entered the car at a station stop, he was pointed out to me. I did not like him. The years since have not altered that...
The workingman today does not understand his industrial relation to his fellow-workers. He has never been correlated with others in the same industry. He has mechanically done his part. He has simply been a cog, with little reference to, or knowledge of, the rest of the cogs. Now, we teach him to hold up his head and look over the whole mechanism. If he is employed in a certain plant, as an Industrial Unionist, his...
Not so much an artifact as much as an obsolete piece of equipment. A most excellent one, mind you. Yes, it’s a radio. It’s hard to believe they were ever this big. Check out the guts of this thing though. Talk about precision tuning: I really, really wanted to take this home with me. But it weighed a lot, and besides, when the zombies attack, we’re going to need something to communicate with the rest...
It does not matter that the Creator has sown with stars the fields of ether and decked the earth with countless beauties for man’s enjoyment. It does not matter that air and ocean teem with the wonders of innumerable forms of life to challenge man’s admiration and investigation. It does not matter that nature spreads forth all her scenes of beauty and gladness and pours forth the melodics of her myriad tongued voices for man’s...
I’m a huge fan of Wikipedia, but there are some things it’s just not good for, and one of them is providing a well-written and nuanced argument. I was reading a review of Ingrid Rowland’s new book, Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic in _Salon _when I came across this paragraph: Their fellow prisoners confirmed that Bruno had cursed God, Christ and the church. Of course, many Italians (then and now) have been known to do this in...
Agitation is the order of nature. Nature abhors quiet as it does a vacuum. Someone may object and point to the “everlasting hills” in proof of their theory, forgetful of the fact that the hills are the product of agitation. The sea is never still. The tides forever ebb and flow. The “dead calm” presages the storm. Air in motion is the demand. The peacefully disposed, the quiet, inert, lethargic souls, those who glory in...
The owners of 18 Chevrolets had their cars blessed Sunday in the first of such ceremonies at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. On Sept. 7 Rev. Bill Winters will bless Fords, Mercurys, Lincolns, Chryslers, Dodges, Jeeps and all GMC products other than Chevrolets. He’ll bless Toyotas and Hondas on Oct. 5. The last blessing will be Nov. for cars of all other makes. Most of the 18 Chevy owners are members of Epiphany, but...
There is not a plutocrat in America who does not profess belief in and love for democracy. In his heart he despises it. Democracy is a dreadfully abused term. Like liberty, it has to weep often for the crimes committed in its name. If by democracy we understand the people, the whole people, their absolute sovereignty, their collective freedom and their self-government, then there is no real democracy in the world. The American people, especially...
A couple of shots from the 10th floor of Bobst Library, where shelving is being removed to make room for…more shelving. All in an effort to make some space for TamWag. A sign of things to come? Of course, as someone pointed out to me today, given the whole “exposing hidden collections” jag that libraries are on these days, it seems weird that you can’t jump directly to specific special collections from the NYU Library’s...
[This is a long one, but I promise it’s worth it. I’ve thrown in a few links to keep your interest] There is nothing lower in the moral scale than an intellectual prostitute. The most degenerate specimen in the redlight is his moral superior. The plutocratic press breeds this sort of prostitution as a carcass does maggots. John Swinton, the veteran New York editor, the friend of Lincoln, Greeley, Raymond and Dana, once made a...
Leaflet from The Group of English speaking Communists, 1918-1918. During the Russian Civil War (immediately following World War I), some Allied troops, including American and British soldiers, fought against the Communist forces in Russia. On the American side, perhaps the most famous of these groups was the Polar Bear Expedition (which totally sounds like an Arctic exploration team). Besides sending the full force of the Red Army against the invaders and their allies, the White...
It struck me the other day that us archivists have really wasteful practices. Take, for example, this method of organizing cassette tapes: Yes, those are post-its. Nothing against my colleague who was doing this. As he said, “If you can think of a better way of doing it, tell me.” Well, I couldn’t. Today I threw out some forty-odd perfectly good folders (acid-free and everything!) and replaced them with new ones simply because they were...
OK, I don’t mean to be callous, but come on, if you are a) wearing a Red Sox uniform and b) parading down 6th Avenue, something is very wrong if you don’t feel threatened.
Also, stop using your wife as a cover for your wussiness. Thank you.
I know it’s Sunday evening, and I should be acting responsibly and going to bed so I can get up like a good little rat tomorrow morning and go to work. Screw that. I just saw this, and I wanted you to see it too. I don’t know why I think it’s so great, but it is, right? By the way, Jan Chipchase is a genius and totally deserves to have the world’s most fantastic...
Daily the columns of the capitalist press are filled with the outcry that the wolves of greed are threatening to devour everything in sight and bring ruination and destruction upon the country. How sad! Every solitary wolf in the pack is an arch patriot. Even the food hog has turned wolf and is now baying with the pack. The food wolf, the fuel wolf, the oil wolf, the leather wolf, the transportation wolf and the...
We are not inclined to see anything discouraging in the labor movement. We must prefer and always try to see in everything in and about it and everything that happens to it an indication of its growing power and a promise of its final victory. Even the very worst that happens we try to construe as an evil necessary to the experience of its membership and to its ultimate success. But now and then something...
Seems appropriate on today, the most patriotic of all days, to tell you that I’m really, really digging Apostle of Hustle’s record National Anthem of Nowhere. I’ve just run through it once, and it was so good I’m doing what I rarely do, which is immediately listen to it again.
Y’all do the same.
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Conscription, compulsory military service, murder by coercion, is the negation and repudiation of every fundamental principle of democracy and self-government. Its enactment into statutory law in the United States was not only unconstitutional, but amounted to a congressional crime excusable only on the ground that the plutocracy had to have it and what in hell are the people going to do about it! The registration that followed conscription proved beyond question that the people are...
…to all of you faithful readers (I know, all two of you) for my extended absence. I’ve been out of town the last week-plus, and now that I am back, find myself swamped with an overflowing inbox, blog reader, and to-do list. I’ll be back soon. In the meantime, a few more words from Mr. Debs will have to do (and they always do so well).
Working men are forced into war as working women are into prostitution. Let us think for a moment! The working man who turns soldier today becomes the hired assassin of his capitalist master. He goes on the murderers’ pay roll at fifty cents a day, under orders to kill anybody, anywhere, at any time. To refuse to brain his own mother in a hunger strike is treason to his pot-bellied master. This is the vile...
So a few weekends ago I finally got around to watching the latest Indiana Jones movie. My review? Well, it was an Indiana Jones movie, which meant that I was thoroughly entertained, if only because the movie perfectly met my expectations (obscure and probably erroneous archaeological references, bad people with Russian accents, and wholesale destruction of newly discovered cultural landmarks). The alien presence which drives the (admittedly thin) plot reminded me of one of the...
John McCain, if the last eight years have taught us anything, it is that it is NOT at all difficult to convince Americans that something they know is false is actually true.
Telling us we’re smarter than we actually are is condescending, wrong, and downright evil. No number of Daily Show appearances will convince me otherwise.
Now _this _is something you won’t see every day. Walter pointed this out to me in the NY Times City Room blog. If you’d seen where this house was before they moved it, you’d be even more impressed. There’s a pretty decent website (with pictures) courtesy of the National Park Service, who apparently have a shockingly good grasp of web technologies for a government agency. The house is moving June 7th. I needs to get...
OK, this is a great idea: take a technology hoax from over a hundred years ago, toss some new technology into the mix and, poof - the hoax is no longer a hoax. Well, not exactly, anyway. Once again, I’m behind the 8-ball on this one, since the project has apparently been open since May 22nd. Oh well…thanks to the wonders of Vincenzo Rutigliano’s NYPL blog I am no longer clueless. So, here’s the deal...
I know I’m a few days late on this, which in the blogosphere is completely inexcusable, but I can’t let the passing of a legend go by without adding my own two cents of digital fodder. Utah Phillips, singer, songwriter, activist, storyteller and consummate union man, died last Friday. He had turned 73 eight days earlier. He’ll be missed by many, but I think especially by those of us who believe that grounding our art...
Today is the 40th anniversary of the Catonsville Nine action. Not much has been said, at least that I’ve seen, aside from the usual suspects saying the usual things. So I thought I’d post a bunch of links, as an admittedly pathetic tribute to shat was, and still is, a moment that lives large in the imagination of the religious Left. I wasn’t born in 1968, of course, but I know the echoes of that...
Every once in a while, you come across a song that perfectly describes not only how you feel, the world around you and the people you know, but describes _you _better than if you’d written it yourself. Smells Like Teen Spirit, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Like A Rolling Stone, Purple Haze…the list goes on. Sometimes it’s a novel, a short story, a poem, or even just a line in one of those things that does...
Since it’s Sunday, it seemed appropriate to post a link to this article from Jessica Pizga’s blog that touches on the connection between creativity and spirituality: Lady A: Where are —? Weren’t they coming? Lady B: They’re at church. They’ll come here after and meet us. Lady A: Church? This IS my church! And Lady A has, indeed, hit upon a truth. Creative acts have a role in spirituality that goes far beyond singing in...
One of the (admittedly few) cool things about my job is that I get to be in places that very few people get to see. Admittedly, these are often dusty, dirty, poorly lit and mold-infested. Still. This is one of them: This used to be a penthouse apartment, and supposedly it was one of Joseph Kennedy’s (JFK’s father) lairs where he would entertain his lady friends. Don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a good...
Based on the evidence supplied in the photo below, Orson Welles has (a) had one too many highballs. (b) just snorted a mountain of cocaine with Charlton Heston. (c) realized that Citizen Kane was the highlight of his cinematic career and that he is now a puffy actor/director for whom the rest of his life will be a long downhill slide. (d) been practicing for the lead role in his next movie, the life of...
…that punk is dead, consider this it. I know I am way behind the 8-ball on this one, but I totally intended to write about this a few weeks ago when I walked by the former site of CBGBs and saw this freaking monstrosity in its place. Whoever took over this space was going to have to deal with some serious demons, but John Varvatos? Really? I don’t really have a problem with Varvatos, other...
This is a library - we're not supposed to be cool.
There was a great article in the NY Times today about the British Library’s hallowed reading rooms, which are gasp being overrun by teenagers and other “unscholarly” (read “unworthy”) characters. In its own way, the article actually does a pretty good job of outlining the evolving nature of libraries and their user communities. There are a ton of hilarious quotes in this article, most of them dripping with disdain courtesy of serious scholars. To wit:...
So I have to admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for George Bernard Shaw, mostly because he’s such a contrary old curmudgeon, and I really do appreciate a fellow spirit. I came across this letter (a reply to an invitation to speak) buried in a collection I was processing and thought it was pretty classic G. B. Shaw. Addressed to Harry Laidler, then Secretary of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, and dated...
I am now teaching a course in how not to remove your over-the-range microwave oven. I am also offering a class in how not to order a new microwave oven (a hint: it involves ordering from Rainbow Appliance, who will them promptly lose your order and will refuse to return multiple phone messages). And by popular demand, I will be offering my world-famous class in how not to install a new over-the-range microwave oven soon,...
I was out at Kingsborough Community College recently for their “Eco-Fest,” which was a day-long celebration/awareness-raising day for all things environmental. I sang a bunch of Woody Guthrie songs with Anne Price and Steve Suffet, which is more than a little ironic since Woody was not remotely what we’d call an environmentalist today. Whatever. The joy of Woody is that you can believe anything you want to about the man, and there’s probably some evidence...
So there’s this ad on Scrabulous for a Kabal personality test which has the headline, “What does your soul look like?” I have to admit I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it’s karaoke night and I’ve been regaled by a parade of just absolutely atrocious renditions of the worst songs ever written (really people, it is necessary to try and do a karaoke version of Love Shack? Really? That’s right, I didn’t think so.) and...
I apologize to all of you that I know don’t get this (who am I kidding, nobody reads this blog…) but I just had to post this. I am not going to say where I got it, as I have been sworn to protect the innocent. The eye sees all.
I neglected to mention yesterday that I have friends who used to have a very large tabby cat, which they named Ratzinger because, as they said, it’s the perfect name for a cat. Ratzinger, however, never seemed too interested in getting involved with rats; he was more into eating and sleeping. I think it’s been a number of years since he’s passed along to the happy hunting grounds of feline bliss. As usual, there’s no...
I mentioned this yesterday, but thought it was worth posting a scan of the case document here, because really there are so many good ones and far be it from me to censor anyone’s potential jollies. Also, I am an archivist.
Needless to say, the next time I am looking for a band name, I am going to look at some of these cases.
I got the link to this absolutely insane article in the NY Times today from Nick, who can always be counted on to find the arcane and/or slightly unbelievable corners of the web, especially when they involve Republicans, the Yankees, or Catholicism. Benedict is, without a doubt, the first pope to have had an authorized biography of him written by a cat “” Chico, a ginger tabby who lives across the road from Benedict’s old...
I’ve been in the studio a lot the last week or so, and thought I’d drop a couple pictures from the sessions here. By the way, this record is going to be great. It’s currently being mixed, so stay tuned.
Alvin and Russ rocking the horns.
Alvin is a Japanese nerd from 1985
Jason Mercer on the bass.
I like this idea: it’s so elegant. “Ten Thousand Cents” is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and...
Okay, so I know there have been a million and one covers of Mr. Tambourine Man, and most of them aren’t all that good, not to mention imaginative. Add to that the five hundred versions out there of Dylan singing the song (did he sing this song at every concert he ever recorded, or does it just seem like that?), and I know we’re all at the point where we’re really a little bit sick...
Every once in a while the New York Times gets it right, like when they hand over the reins to someone with something interesting to say. I was just clued into this blog today (thanks Josh), and started reading back into the entries and came across Roseanne Cash’s post from April 5th, which contained these two gems of paragraphs: On vacation recently, there were some Christian fundamentalists at lunch at the next table and I...
It tells you something when I had a brief (really brief) moment of “can this really be true?” Back in the States, in a move that has been anticipated for weeks, Miley Cyrus was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant for her work as Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana. The MacArthur foundation heaped praise on the singer for her contributions to “the advancement of syncretic metafiction,” describing the singer, real name Destiny Hope Cyrus, as a “a web...
In the course of my daily web-wanderings, I ran across the blog of Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle, Last Plane to Jakarta (great name, by the way). All I have to say is that if you haven’t heard about this, you need to check it out and/or subscribe immediately. If my word isn’t good enough (and really, it shouldn’t be) take a look at the most recent post: Trend seems to be afoot amongst a...
Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to all the people who have been wreaking havoc along the route of the Olympic torch. I’m impressed with the consistent pressure that’s been brought to bear by people who live in different continents, speak different languages, and will probably never meet each other. Tibet is back in mainstream news again, and for a while it was even the top headline on ye olde ESPN.com. Nice work, y’all....
I apologize for the silence here over the last few days. I’ve been exceptionally busy and focused on getting the last few pieces of the new Mermaids album recorded. We’re really, really excited about this record, and everyone who’s heard it is as well. A lot of people have asked me when it will be available, and the answer is that I don’t know. There’s still a lot of work to do; mixing, mastering, album...
So I turned on the TV tonight to watch the baseball game between Atlanta and Washington. I was really looking forward to some baseball; it’s been a long offseason. But what do I see when I turn on ESPN but George W. Bush’s smug face, doing his whole “look, I’m a folksy guy who just loves baseball” thing while Joe Morgan and Jon Miller laughed at his lame non-jokes and tried to pretend they were...
I was alerted to these excerpts of interviews that Charlie Rose conducted for his show on the five-year anniversary of the Disaster Formerly Known as Operation Enduring Freedom (more like Operation Endure My Freedom). There are definitely more than a few highlights here, to wit: SINAN ANTOON: But looking around, you know, if the United States was interested in democracy, it would maybe topple Saudi Arabia. Why go to Iraq? CHARLIE ROSE: So we have...
The Dow Jones blog ran this graphic a while ago. While it is obviously outdated at this point, I still think it’s interesting. The actual nuts and bolts of how they put this together are a little hazy, but I do like that it gives you a very quick read on each candidate’s platform. Also, in case you haven’t seen it, here is an excellent video of a debate between Noam Chomsky and Robert F....
So a while back I posted about MSN’s “No One Wants to Look Dumb” ad campaign, which involved a ridiculous Woody Guthrie reference and a fair amount of, well, looking dumb. Seems I was, ahem, ahead of the curve for once. I know we are all shocked. AdFreak just posted a slightly uncharitable review of said campaign. Apparently MSN went to the trouble to put up a dedicated website for their, um, less than brilliant...
The __New Yorker had an interesting article (only the abstract is currently online) on the by-now infamous photo album of Karl Hoecker, a guard at Auschwitz. Some of the photos can be seen here. The story is not exactly new; I first read about it in the New York Times in September of last year. The article provided some interesting insights into the way in which archivists think and highlighted the broad range of knowledge...
A couple of month ago, I guested on an episode of “Woody’s Children” hosted by the irrepressible Bob Sherman with my good friends Anne Price and Steve Suffet. Although the show aired on January 20th, I just recently managed to get my hands on the audio (hey WFUV, how about updating your website so it doesn’t look so 80’s-tastic. And what’s the point of having an “archive” if there’s nothing in it? Just askin’). Listening...
Yesterday was the five-year anniversary of the war in Iraq - although let’s face it, it’s been going on for far longer than that - and there were a ton of protests all over the place. More than a few of my friends ended up in handcuffs. Meanwhile, Bush continues to defend the war and McCain seems to have no grasp on the situation at all. I had been meaning to work myself up into...
Just when you thought we were getting over this, along comes this… Iraq Veterans Against the War organized the event “Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan,” (a reference to the Vietnam-era film which never saw theatrical or television release) which aired some of these stories. The Underwire had a cute story on how technology is helping soldiers to release accounts of atrocities more easily, which is true, but also does make you wonder what is not...
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir
So yesterday I was listening to Blue on Brown, the new record from the Abrams Brothers, which is pretty cool. You should check it out. Anyway, they do a great cover of “Gotta Serve Somebody” on the record which had me cracking up. I might have even laughed out loud on the subway (and you know what a faux pas that is). Not only is the song genuinely funny - I know Dylan was in...
As one of my co-workers put it, “Lou Reed is like a cartoon to me.” I hate to say it, but I agree… “People say, “˜How would you know that?’” Reed said, after Willner asked him to recite some verses of his poignant “Rock Minuet.” “You’re joking right? I have a BA in dope. But a PhD in soul.” Seriously, Lou? If you have to tell me you have an advanced degree in soul, well…you...
From Overheard in New York:
“Subway performer, finishing barbershop-quartet style song: We’d like to wish you all a beautiful afternoon. If any of you happen to run into Condoleezza Rice, please tell her we’ve got a sista in Harlem waitin’ to do her hair.”
Never thought of it that way, but hey, it’s totally true.
This has rapidly reached “save until you need a reward” status. Particularly liked this week’s installment, and also this one (which has been edited since I first saw it, which makes it slightly safer for work, but also way less funny).
from an Alex Balk post: “Either the Times thinks its audience is full of effete retards or I am just, finally, really old.” Don’t worry, Mr. Balk. You’re not old, at least not yet, based on the evidence provided in this comment to an article titled “Not Highfalutin, but Highly Satisfying Indulgences:” “A relatively recent recording of conductors’s transcriptions of Bach organ works, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, would be near the top of my playlist....
My good friend Josh just posted a selection of photos he took in NYC featuring the work of a number of local graffiti artists such as Neck Face, Marco, Gusto, Booze and Peace King. Worth a look.
It’s easy to miss things in NYC.
So, I’m one of those people who’s had a Hotmail account for about ten years now, so at this point it’s purely a spam- and listserv-catcher. I happened to notice, in one of the banner ads which appeared the other day, a photo of a guy with a guitar that looked eerily familiar. I clicked on it, and got this stupid video. I don’t know how obvious I need to be, but…um, well, just look...
Every once in a while, I’m reminded of the genius of Bob Dylan, and I also understand why the whole “voice of a generation” thing pissed him off so much. He wasn’t just after a generation, he was after something bigger.
And sometimes I think he got it.