ELW Photography #10

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This week features a day trip to Long Island. The itinerary was an indoor flea market, an outlet mall, and the town of Port Jefferson.

Day tripping

The outlets had great bargains including a windbreaker for Fall and a bundle of books at a discount.

Port Jefferson offered Red Shirt Comics and seafood at PJ’s Lobster House where we dined indoors for only the second time since March!

As of this writing indoor dining will return to Manhattan on September 30th.

Women’s Rights

2020 is the Centennial of the Vote for Women in America. New York dedicated its first statue of real women’s rights pioneers on Literary Walk.

Also marking the 200th Anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth, this new monument is long overdue.

Central Park Wonders

I took a nature walk through the ramble recently. This is an area of the park with interconnected paths that twist through scenic woods. Bird watching here is fantastic.

A young Jazz Saxophonist played. A group of guys enjoyed a game of beach volleyball. And the police keep guard over a statue of Christopher Columbus.

The Conservancy takes great care of Central Park. Maintaining the lawns, trees, benches, and the rest every day.

This Summer has been hot and sunny most of the time. My husband and I are staying put in New York for now. These days I love my city. Have you looked at the weather across the country lately?

Park Summer

The Conservatory Garden

Located at E. 105th Street & 5th Avenue across from The Museum of the City of New York, this garden is a treasure with flowers, romantic paths and fountains placed well. A quiet zone perfect for escape from the chaos outside.

9–11–2020

19 years after the attacks on U.S. soil of 3 American planes used as missiles destroying the Twin Towers, damaging The Pentagon, and crashing in Pennsylvania killing over 3,000 people, Corona Virus has killed over 200,000 Americans.

We will all pause to remember 9/11. But never forget that then & now we had a President not duly elected by the people.

Dear Readers, until next week…

ELW Photography #4

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Introduction

July 24, 2020

New York City entered Phase 4 this week of recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic. Outdoor dining and retail are back. I have gone out to dinner with my husband a few times already. We have seen some friends and family too!

Continuing to show my photographs of the Upper Eastside and Central Park I thought about my connection to these images.

This week I feature statues and buildings that have stimulated my lifelong sense of whimsy. A lover of fantasy since childhood I re-discovered places in the park I needed to explore.

I hope they bring back your sense of whimsy as well….

Statues

The base of the Mother Goose figure has characters like Humpty Dumpty and Little Boy Blue carved around it. A homeless man sleeps on a bench nearby. As enchanting as this statue can be there are many experiencing hard times.

This statue shows the famous author sitting on a bench reading his classic, “The Ugly Duckling”, with his top hat placed to the side. You can see the details of this work in each image including the sculptor of the work, Georg J. Jober. The architect who designed the work was Otto F. Lancmann. The statue was dedicated in 1956. The Park Conservancy works hard to preserve all of its treasures.

Hans Christian Andersen (/ˈændərsən/Danish: [ˈhænˀs ˈkʰʁestjæn ˈɑnɐsn̩] (listen); 2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875), in Denmark usually called H.C. Andersen, was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his fairy tales.

Andersen’s fairy tales, consisting of 156 stories across nine volumes and translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West’s collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. His most famous fairy tales include “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Nightingale,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier“, “The Red Shoes“, “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Snow Queen,” and”The Ugly Duckling,” our subject pictured above.

Alice In Wonderland

The centerpiece of this section is the statue of Alice. I took many images of this statue. On any given day the natural light cast many unique looks at this charming monument.

Above you see the entire statue large enough for children to climb on. You see close–ups of her Wonderland cohort: The Mad Hatter, The Rabbit who is always late, and the Cheshire Cat. If you look closely at the rear view you can find the Jabberwocky!

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English writer of children’s fiction, notably Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. He was noted for his facility at word play, logic, and fantasy.

At the base of the steps are engraved plates displaying verse from the classic book seen below…

The Eldorado

One of a series of stately apartment buildings towering above Central Park West, The Eldorado is famous for its Art Deco-inspired twin towers that mirror its predecessor’s, The San Remo. Constructed a year after The San Remo, The Eldorado is a product of renowned architect Emery Roth, whose buildings are visible all along this stretch of Eighth Avenue. Its location, at 300 Central Park West is located near the reservoir.

Art Deco Twin Towers Rise Above Central Park West In Pre-War Grandeur. This is my favourite building.

My Neighborhood

The commercial corridor has declined over the past year. Several stores closed. A movie theater shut down. The Barnes & Noble bookstore is moving to a different location on Third Avenue, a much smaller space.

Restaurants have built outdoor dining areas on the street. The ones who had outdoor tables to start are expanded now. All servers wear mask.

The Metropolitan museum of art announced a return date of August 29, 2020.

The Streets

Walking down any avenue you cannot avoid passing people. Wearing a mask is really the only thing you can do to protect yourself. Remaining indoors is only an option during horrid spells of excessive heat. As of this writing we are having our worst heat of the season.

New York City has proceeded with caution. This enabled us to flatten the curve. Now there are over 30 states with out of control numbers of virus cases. This did not have to happen. Wearing a mask is not a partisan issue. The largest problem now is re-opening the schools.

Will New York City survive? Can we invent a new economy? Do we really need to depend so much on tourism?

The retailers in our area include H&M, Best Buy, Staples, Old Navy, and Banana Republic. Independent shops are mainly services like shoe repair and dry cleaners. A major re–think must be done. New York City is not really as interesting a place as it was in the 20th Century. The internet is a powerful tool but this tech has ravaged our urbanity. If every corner is a fast food chain what is so special about living here? It seems in the past 20 years people have raised children without imagination. Just staring down at screens is Huxley’s Brave New World come to dystopian reality!

In the past 2 weeks I have witnessed a solitary officer and his car guarding a statue of Columbus in Central Park and 3 police vehicles in front of the Met museum with lights on. It was not clear to me what had happened accept perhaps a kid was playing in the fountain. We have collectively lost our marbles during this stressful time.

I have theorized our police are dispatched in groups like street gangs. This can never result in positive outcomes. We need to change how our city is protected.

People are in heavy denial. Understandably the shock of this time is powerful. But I have thought from the start that nothing will come back quickly. I do my part by wearing a mask. Such a simple thing.

I have seen horrifying results of people who think they cannot wear a mask and not get sick. The sacrifice is small yet people are unwilling in so many cases.

My photography continues in the coming weeks of Covid Summer 2020. These were just thoughts I have had while being out enjoying the weather.

Stay healthy dear readers. No matter what polls say, Vote this November!

Back To “Normal”

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There has been a lot of talk lately about returning to normalcy. Before the pandemic hit America the nation was struggling with many issues. There were several fissures in the body politic. Never before this moment had the country been torn asunder by an invisible threat.

Our economy has been the engine that drove us through recessions and social upheaval. The wages of workers stopped rising after 1980. Remained stagnant through 2020.

If you grew up in America between 1955 and 1985 you were indoctrinated into a man’s world. Captains of industry were male. Physical strength dominated. Being smart was deemed weak or ‘gay’.

What men hide is the ability to empathize. To express emotion in a normative way is suppressed. We as a society are paying today in political divides and fringe pursuits of false ideas that support a nation in isolation.

When I was a kid boys always acted strong. Being physical was the primary motivator in boys.

America was so busy working and living mostly private lives decades before Facebook that boys’ real needs could be missed.

The politicians pass laws. Parents do their best. Why were our kids killing one another before this crisis?

The gendered kids of this time and place are wondering what happened to them. People who cannot conceive of anything outside their prescribed norms are angered or scared that gendering could be wrong.

Has anyone asked if closing the schools could end school shootings? Recently a lot of people have suggested this crazy notion. Actually, without schools kids lose crucial development of social skills. Those with limited resources miss meals that schools provide.

America has yet to really tackle the social pandemic of massacres, addiction, and lack of empathy.

A return to normal? What normal are people longing for?

Vaping was killing kids, socially isolated boys were killing classmates, and adults were being killed by opioids.

The rising tide of Anti-Semitism was killing innocent people too.

Police brutality has resulted in a renewal of civil unrest not seen in fifty years.

Leadership is absent.

Should we not imagine a society that is anything but normal?

Trans people, Women, and Racism must be addressed. Just to name a few issues.

During the recent Memorial Day holiday states were informed that if they met certain metrics they could begin re-opening.

I walked around my city. Central Park was full of people socially distancing. Picnics were few and far between on the lawns. Children played. But it was just New Yorkers this year. Anything but normal.

I read the paper every day to check in on the latest concerning the virus. The pandemic has hit the poor the hardest. And economies that have all their eggs in the hospitality basket are in serious trouble.

Has the pandemic stripped away people’s illusions surrounding capitalism? Now we have a clearer idea of just how fragile our social system has become in the last 50 years.

People throw around new wordage to describe our ‘new normal’ but this is a much more serious matter.

Re-opening is not a race. States are finding new outbreaks where there were none until people began to disregard safety measures.

The virus has managed to do what Russian interference could not: push Americans to the brink of a new Civil War.

People who have not fallen ill are voicing their anger toward officials for closing their states.

As New York attempts to re-open let us all hope new cases of Covid—19 do not return us to square one.

The Covid Age is just beginning…

Tao Of Bob

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

—–excerpted lyrics from Hard Times by Bob Dylan (1992)

Can This Really Be The End?

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Reason vs Derangement

The pandemic is scary. A majority of people have pre-existing conditions that can male them feel vunerable.

We still have irrational attitudes toward states of emergency in this country.

Most people are rational. They will self quarantine because it is the most responsible course of action.

The political divide is real. However, the labels we inflict upon one another is detrimental to dialogue.

Liberals are cloistered in cities. Out of touch with how millions of others live. Guns will never go away. We can live with them in a much safer way. Life’s risks can never be reduced to zero. That is not living.

Vote. Vote. Vote. But only once of course. If you want change then you must vote.

Wearing masks is not a gendered thing. Our culture must acclimate itself to it. I walk around the city with a mask. I uncover my nose when there are no people. Not difficult. But for some of us this is just not possible. It may be harder to breathe. Let’s not get crazy out there.

I have taken walks around the neighborhood. Documenting the empty streets with my camera. An upcoming blog will present my photographic work. New York City will function again. Just not in its former glory.

Restaurants will probably install partitions before re-opening. Menus and utensils will become disposable items.

Outside of New York I am concerned the fringes of society are quite visible with their Don’t tread On Me Flags and misplaced love for the current occupant of the White House. This pandemic is not some plan by liberals to rid themselves of enemies.

Our crisis is not binary. Smart vs Dumb; Liberal vs Conservative; Left vs Right. Black vs White.

Memo to all friends on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: You are not expert in anything. Especially political science. Stop posting nonsense about your perceived manias. Do not shame healthy people taking foolish risks. Just keep yourself healthy for better times ahead.

I will not play anymore stupid games on FB either. We are adults!

Post a new hobby you have discovered or an old one you picked back up. Ask your neighbors/friends in other states/ countries how they are coping. Brazil is suffering too.

A virus will always find a host body. Close proximity between bodies will enable it to jump into another body. Like past pandemics this virus jumped from animal to human. And then humans flew around the world. The illness spread fast.

Beaches are filled with bacteria on a good day. Now that environment is hostile to human life. If you do not develop Covid symptoms, the sharks may pose a threat. Either way New York will forbid entry into the Atlantic.

And now kids are getting sick with a mysterious syndrome that shuts down vital functions. One moment your kid is fine, the next seriously ill. Over 100 kids have died. Schools cannot reopen.

The times are scary to be sure but we do not need conspiracy theory. We must stay home when possible. Don’t turn yourself into a prisoner. Enjoy fresh air. Staying shut in is also bad for your health. Muscles atrophy. Your mind will turn to mush.

This blog will continue to reflect issues and take some breaks for more trivial pursuits. Those of us who lived in the 20th Century post World War II are so lucky. We know what prosperity felt and looked like in the 1970s and 1980s.

Keep in mind, the derangement is not exclusive to the Far Right in America. Not since W. has a President incited so much hate from the left. If the opposition continues to feed into the baiting of their worst fears they may actually be realized in the Fall.

If history is accurate there will be a new administration in January 2021. They do not have a magic wand. Things will improve but over a long period of time. This will be the last chance to change the Supreme Court for another 50 years!

Our economy tanked with unemployment now at 20%. Herbert Hoover was not granted a second term. Let us hope that history repeats itself for our future sakes.

As I support local business here I see people doing the best they can despite the challenges of this awful situation.

I strongly believe nothing can re-open quickly. As much as we love to go out during Summer this year we are going to have to adjust to this reality. Just ask yourself if you want to get sick.

Covid-19 which causes the Corona virus takes away your ability to breathe on your own. Just think for a moment. Are you really willing to risk your well being for short term gatherings. Are you ‘dying’ to go to the beach?

Imagine down the road we get a path back to being out and about again. You will be able to keep breathing on your own. And now you will look upon your fellow human beings as survivors.

Keep busy. Relax too. Moments of peace are important. Below is a picture from a favorite show when I was a kid. The teen idols of that era were shirtless a lot. Jack Wild was one of my earliest crushes.

Revisiting the better parts of a past life can help ease the difficulties of this moment.

More about what I am watching during this Covid Era next week my dear readers! Thank you all for reading the gate!

Sigmund & The Sea Monsters
Jack Wild (on Left)

Beyond Here Lies Nothing

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Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Pandemic.

There will be a new world developing over the next 2 years. Some will get to work. Others will get to die. This sounds harsh. Reality is not without pain.

I experienced a lot of physical pain this week. My back went out. Then after recovering from back spasms I wrenched a muscle in my chest.

The pain was crippling. All I could do was sit in a firm chair. The Global Citizen special relieved my stress. I am still recovering. I had mild fevers too.

All injuries today are approached haltingly that it could be Covid—19. It will be years before a vaccine is made widely available. I did not have the virus.

I have learned for myself that this awful time in our shared lives is like all things just temporary.

Before this emergency most Americans were oblivious to the pain lived daily by people without means.

Now many of them know what it’s like to have less. Disease is a leveler of inequality; a forced end to armed conflicts. I am learning to love the pandemic.

Most of America is now a welfare state. Learning the hard way that a strong social safety net is not a bad thing to have in place if things go badly.

I refuse the pie-in-the-sky prediction of reopening the economy. There will not be the same culture anymore.

New York will lose $10 billion during this crisis. The Fed will literally allow us to drop dead.

Forget what you thought was good for you before this emergency hastened by globalization and policies devised by right wing zealots.

You are not better than anyone else. The massive base of working poor must be enabled to get out of poverty.

Progressive policy making will make this a better reality and recovery for all.

We must confront racism, voter repression, and cruel doses of capitalism meant only to make millionaires become billionaires.

Those who are happy looking down upon others have a long in waiting come uppance to experience for the next decade.

America’s folly of allowing right leaning demagogues to enrich themselves with wars of choice is at an end.

The entire world will suffer together. I have learned to love the pandemic since it has the potential to unlock dormant energy from people who deserve a healthy planet.

Our system cannot sustain our population. If you watch news provided by just 6 state supported companies you get their picture of what they want you to believe is a good outcome.

Restaurants and other small businesses were being thrown out of business by greedy landlords long before Covid.

The pie-in-the-sky I cling to is the hope that we can allow industries to die for the sake of human survival.

Let the cruise industry end. The billionaire class only believes in welfare for other billionaires. Let movie theaters end. These businesses are not worth our lives.

What worked for the 20th Century does not work for the 21st. The corporate state will use all of its resources to convince you that a world of endless sequels and violence is just entertainment.

Our streaming platforms have made theaters unnecessary. They want you to pay for their shoddy product. I say no.

Let us create together a spirit for a new era of capitalism tempered with a strong social safety net. And provide grants to cities that grow green renewable energy.

I dream of fast food becoming a thing of the past. Let them go out of business.

Move low wage workers into a federally funded training process to work for higher wages in green businesses.

I was living mostly like a partially quarantined citizen before Covid. Now the rest of society is equal with my reality.

I have empathy for those who thought being upwardly mobile was okay. People must know that no matter their circumstances it’s not okay to leave people behind because access was eliminated by a narrow greedy class.

Living large is not okay. Many places across the country are finding out the hard way we have a housing problem because too many were sold a bill of goods that huge homes were your right.

The American dream is a nightmare of 20th Century thinking. Mostly white male identity that enabled huge cavities of poverty in cities and suburbs alike.

Let this pandemic open your eyes. Let go of your apathy. Downsize soon. My husband and I just want a one bedroom apartment with a normal rent. No living space should cost over a thousand dollars.

If the census is accurate we will see New York City get less from the Fed. Allowing developers to build million dollar cell blocks was never a good idea.

I think people need to become aware of the big picture. NYC & Co. Times Square Alliance are the corporate takeover of public spaces. Their short-term view is a disaster now.

Tourist economies were for third world nations. Why did the richest country in history turn New York into a seamy tourist theme park? Wax museum, a Believe-It-Or-Not gallery, and a lot of junky movie theaters. Our politicians did nothing for actual residents of this city.

Now we are in free fall. Will social conditions devolve back to the 1970’s? More than likely a state of disrepair will prevail. A result of our political class applying short cuts instead of the hard work of creating sustainability.

I just read that the city of Tulsa, OK offers $10,000 to new renters if eligible. Apartments are $825 a month. Bye bye New York.

Tao of Bob

My newfound support of Bob Dylan applies strongly to our country. My blog will feature his lyrics when appropriate. Here’s this week’s debut installment:

Come writers and critics, who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win.

For the times they are a changin.

See you next week dear readers!

The City Sleeps

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Another week is done. I have calendars in my apartment. Two in fact. One features puppies in silly outfits and poses to fit the month/season. The other is a New Yorker magazine cartoon-a-day.

The small things that went unnoticed are now prime pins in my mental machinery. They keep me safe. Taking an anti-depressant is the other component in this equation.

Here we are in New York without sitdown service in restaurants. One diner remains with delivery. It’s called Midnite Express after the drug trafficking movie from the 1970s.

Funny to think how the underbelly of society is operating now. Are they wearing masks too? Everyone is required to wear them now.

So with all this time on our hands we come up with projects. My latest was listening to the entire Bob Dylan catalog. I found out I could listen to 9 albums in one day. This infuriated my beloved husband but I was determined to finish in less than a week.

No theater. No baseball. No concerts. Summer will present a challenge. No day trips. May there be no heatwaves nor hurricanes. Oh, the city pools will not open. The last time that happened was the polio pandemic.

We should remind ourselves daily we must allow the health sector to do its best to curtail new illness. We should also keep in mind that all workers are valuable in any economy. Do not scapegoat.

At 7 each evening New Yorkers are banging pots and pans while cheering for nurses and doctors; food deliverers, store clerks; pharmacists, drugstore clerks. Hand in hand those with advanced educations and those with limited resources are working together to keep us all safe.

The city is quiet. You cannot help but feel how fragile society can become when faced with these unusual circumstances. New York pride was once about being open all the time. Things have changed.

Before the pandemic hit Manhattan the complaints to 311 (our city services number) over noise was hitting records. Subway ridership was bursting, and tourism was high.

Now those complaints are not happening and the subways are empty save essential workers. No tourists.

The past 2 administrations created a city for visitors. This has proved to be a shortsighted vision. Without their revenue now what do we do?

The city sleeps. Schools are closed. Life will not return to normal. Our lack of hindsight has proven to be our folly in 2020, funnily enough a year whose numbers literally mean healthy vision.

Last night at twelve Bob Dylan released another single, “I Contain Multitudes”, referencing Walt Whitman, Anne Frank, and the Rolling Stones! Mr. D is doing his part.

See you next week dear readers!

The Great Society

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Change has been forced upon the population. Humanity faces another pandemic. This time it’s global!

The fault is not in the stars but in ourselves. We were sold a bill of goods.

For better or worse, the entire world became a small village. Air travel made it possible to be exposed to all kinds of new experiences.

Ultimately this includes our health. Now we face potential utter collapse.

Once upon a time there was the political idea of a ‘Great Society’. A social safety net in times of need.

Decades were tossed away to never ending corporate gain which has resulted in deep inequality.

Healthcare for profit has been a disaster. Why are we so short on medical supplies?

Why are we still occupying Afghanistan?

Last week I wrote about the consolidation of media power. This week just take a look at how this pandemic is being reported.

Social distance is one thing. Canceling an entire culture is quite another. I tend to see the big picture.

Closing theaters, postponing primaries, and telling a supposed free people to stay home is not a long-term solution.

Democracy means nothing if we do not live up to the ideals of land of the free, home of the brave.

Here in New York City no resident could stay home for a long period of time. The living spaces encourage outdoor activity.

Why are our leaders allowing the economy to drop so rapidly? This crisis can be the pathway to 100% employment.

By hiring and training people to convert malls, armories, and former retail spaces into medical facilities we could employ hundreds of thousands.

This conversion must happen now. Later will be increasing numbers of infected people with no beds in place; no quarantine spaces.

In just a few weeks the nation went from debates over socialism to wondering how they can cover daily expenses.

Our government is going to provide mortgage relief. A little bit of socialism can go a long way in this imperfect system.

We must put public pressure on our officials to sit down to do the hard work of forming a smarter agenda.

The idea of The Great Society was to provide healthcare as a right. Create new pathways to economic stability. And face the original sin of slavery.

Just think for a moment if you can see a brighter future for every citizen if we continue to feed deep inequality.

If we profit off the sick and infirm and ignore the treatment of prisoners as not human can we claim to be moral?

The environment is shared universally around the world. We the people need to step up to demand this issue be taken seriously. Our money means nothing if an entire population is drowned by rising sea levels.

I feel strongly the best we can do for ourselves is to reach out through Skype or Zoom to fellow citizens to debate these ideas. We must challenge our leaders.

I also think less TV news is a must for people. If you have to look at the headlines use factual outlets.

Cable news is probably the worst source for facts.

NPR and WNYC radio are solid outlets in the Big Apple. The New York Times provides updates, just don’t stare too long.

Grassroots organizing is still the best way to bring together the new ideas for galvanizing a culture that has been taught for generations how to be non-political and compliant with the worst possible agenda.

Take your daily walks/exercise, read a lot, and learn to think for yourself how we can better this now literally sick society.

L.B.J. introduced The Great Society during his presidency in response to poverty.

Woodstock At 50

Searching For The Garden

For thousands of years humanity has been seeking methods to restore a sense of peace among peoples.

Despite my non-belief, I think religion is still the source of our greatest imagined narrative. Despite the reality of suffering on a terrible scale people still strive for universal peace.

I think to understand why Woodstock is important today we must look at the culture that preceded the hippie youth movement.

Let’s begin with a rough review of the 1950’s and 1960’s as they relate to the rise of a New Left and Hippie rebellion in America.

The American Experiment

The seeds of a new nation were planted on soil enriched by slaves. A democratic system evolved to include, to assimilate, and to uplift.

The democratic model of Ancient Greece led the founders to forge a centralized government. There was immense suffering and bloodshed to make this happen. Many were excluded from the possibilities of America.

North America’s native population was decimated. Minority peoples were outsiders. Women could not vote; seek higher education.

A fractured society led to our civil war. Following the Lincoln Era, the newly freed slaves were murdered on a regular basis. Cultural resentment continued in America through WWII.

Americans of every race, creed, and class fought alongside their allies to defeat anti-democratic forces. Unfortunately, the strains of hateful ideology that threatened the world continued to infect our democracy.

The aftermath would bring an era of conservative value making. Discrimination was visible in segregation. Queers of any type were invisible. Any deviation from the straight and narrow was mocked and punished.

If you were white there were many rewards. Good jobs, new homes, and college educations were granted to this newly minted modern middle-class.

Father Knows Best

The 1950’s reinforced a culture where straight white males were the dominant cultural force.

Children were to be seen and not heard. Adults were the authority. Obey rules. Listen to your parents, go to school, and always work hard.

This separate and unequal society had a post-war baby boom that produced 70 million teenagers.

The new technology of TV provided people with a new way of viewing the world .

Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley reflected a new musical expression.

A strata of white middle-class kids rejected the materialistic path they were educated to value. The silver screen rebel arrived in the form of Marlon Brando & James Dean.

White kids started to hang with black kids outside of the Jim Crow Codes. Black leather jackets, rock n roll music, and drugs punched a hole in the wall of conservative white male hierarchy.

Then the 1960’s dawned with America at a cultural divide. The Korean War was followed by Vietnam.

Our politicians put the Cold War with Russia above our domestic problems. Communism was cast as the great threat.

Then a new generation helped elect our youngest President. The Civil Rights movement pressured elected officials to take apart systemic racism.

Amidst all of this cultural change came a youth quake seen and heard around the world.

The Beatles arrival in America in 1964 changed everything. Teenagers wanted to gather in large numbers. The message was heard in stereophonic sound: All You Need Is Love.

Tune In. Turn On. Drop Out.

In contrast to the previous decade in which the teenage rebel was portrayed as aimless, the Vietnam War gave the kids a cause.

The great disillusionment arrived with young people organizing against registering for war. Vietnam was televised every night.

American teenagers did not want to obey. The war was immoral. Racism was immoral. Promoting hate was immoral.

Rebels with a cause. America’s youth did not accept Vietnam as a just war.

The Woodstock Festival became the visible embodiment of what the kids had fought for all decade long. This generation had a style, moral code, and vision that rejected the path of inequality, racism, and war their elders had enacted.

Harvard Prof Timothy Leary told kids to tune in, turn on and drop out. Forget the crap you were told; a new way is needed.

Kids dressed in jeans, colorful vests, and sandals. They took drugs to open their minds and dropped out of straight society to protest the government.

Boys grew their hair long, went shirtless and/or barefoot. Girls went bra less and joined with boys to form new communities beyond the white picket fence.

Many burned draft cards. They marched in solidarity with blacks. The authorities were quite shaken by the rebellion. Then at decade’s end came the big event.

Billed as 3 days of Peace, Music…and Love. On farm land in upstate New York where the Bethel Woods concert pavilion now stands, the festival took place.

The organizers of the Woodstock Festival were four young men: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, and Mike Lang. The oldest of the four was only 27 years old at the time of the Woodstock Festival.

The concert was envisioned to be a fundraiser for a proposed recording studio in Woodstock where many musicians lived at the time. Mr. Roberts was heir to the Polydent fortune. He bankrolled Woodstock.

The original proposed site in Watkill, NY was rejected. The town’s people passed a law against mass concerts. The hippies were not desirable to their town.

The hippie movement was influenced by Eastern religion, rock music, and experimentation with drugs. The youth of this era rose up in mass to protest the Vietnam War.

The Farm

Those American values formed in the 1950’s resulted in Michael Lang scrambling to find a new place for his festival. The township of the first proposal did not want hippies overtaking their community. Several towns declined to host.

He discovered a tract of land on the farm of Max Yasgur that had the right sort of shape for his concert vision.

Michael Lang, seen here on his bike, was the principal organizer of Woodstock.

The logistics got messy.

Tickets were $7 for one day and $18 for 3 days ($26 today) per day.

Fences surrounding the concert were not completed in time.

The promoters expected around 30,000 people. Over 400,000 came on the day closing down the NY state Thruway.

Instead of charging people the festival turned into a free “be in” the size and scale nobody could have predicted. Attendees created a community including makeshift playgrounds and camping areas.

On Day 2 of the festival thunderstorms shut down the music for hours. Chip Monck, the master of ceremonies for the fest, told people to come down from the towers. The monsoon like rains that came forced people to improvise sheltering in place.

Some of the concert goers stripped down, placing their clothes under tarps, and made the best of a tough situation. The temperature dropped quite a bit after the storms. Keeping clothes dry was essential to prevent hypothermia.

Goldmine magazine’s coverage of Woodstock provided an excerpt from Chapter 8 of the book “Back To Yasgur’s Farm” by Mike Greenblatt (Krause Books). Local police made a statement about the festival. Sullivan County Sheriff Louis Ratner said “I never met a nicer bunch of kids in my life.”

Goldmine Magazine’s Woodstock Issue and Mike Greenblatt’s Woodstock 50 book proved invaluable to this blog.

Main Event

Ritchie Havens performed his song, “Freedom”, to open the show. On Monday morning, with only about 30,000 people left, Jimi Hendrix took the stage with his new band, Gypsy Sun & Rainbows. His rendition of our National Anthem is now rock culture’s preferred version.

In between there were The Who, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Country Joe MacDonald, and Sha Na Na.

Poster advert for the Woodstock Festival.

Aftermath

Day 3. Wet sleeping bags, utensils, and the footprints of 400,000 plus souls.

The concert on a hill became an expression of hope for millions of people around the US and the world. Unfortunately the backlash against freedom (free love) followed.

When I was a kid people used to say if you remember Woodstock then you were not there. The wink and nod was due to the use of drugs.

However, in 1969 only 4% of Americans were smoking marijuana. Today more than 50% of people support legalization of the drug.

Woodstock’s organizers had debt of $1 million and faced many lawsuits following the festival.

The documentary film released by Warner Brothers was a hit. The box office receipts helped pay their debts down.

Opposing the war in Vietnam, the hippie counterculture changed our body politic in 1969.
The movie “Easyrider” was in theaters. The modern Gay Rights movement began. America’s unjust war continued through 1975.

1969 was an exceptional year. Stonewall, The Moon Landing, Civil Rights Law, and nearly half a million teenagers/young adults gathered on a farm upstate to express their joys, sorrows, and hopes for a peaceful tomorrow.

50 Year Anniversary

Here in New York City a photographic exhibition will celebrate this milestone at The Morrison Hotel gallery.

https://www.morrisonhotelgallery.com/blog/VBHT7G/WOODSTOCK-50TH-ANNIVERSARY—Join-The-Celebration-in-New-York-City

The Oscar-winning Documentary film is being screened in theaters across the USA on August 15th at 7 p.m. Check Fathom Events for details: https://www.fathomevents.com/events/woodstock-1970-50th-anniversary-directors-cut

The first nationwide screening of the Oscar winning Documentary in theaters since its original release in 1970.

To commemorate the performances at the festival there are some notable records being issued. The original triple LP Woodstock soundtrack album has been re-issued on vinyl.

Rhino, a subsidiary of Warner, will release Woodstock 50: Back To The Garden in separate vinyl and CD box sets.

Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jefferson Airplane’s Woodstock sets have been released on vinyl.

History should not repeat. The proposed Anniversary Festival was cancelled. I think people need to live in the present. Dwelling too much in the past is not only depressing but bears no fruit.

What I do know about the 1969 festival and the culture that fostered it is you cannot copy the past.

We can remember why this event became important to us; there is no repeating it. The emergence of the hippie movement for peace was a flash point in America’s story.

In Mike Greenblatt’s book “Woodstock” he notes a press conference following the festival in which Max Yasgur stated:

“The kids were wonderful, honest, sincere, good kids who said, ‘here we are. This is what we are. This is the way we dress. These are our morals.’ There wasn’t one incident the whole time. The kids were polite, shared everything with everyone, and they forced me to open my eyes.

In my opinion, we must remember that Woodstock remains in the social fabric because it was a successful event.

Nobody was patted down to enter the grounds. The promise of music, peace, and love was fulfilled.

In the ensuing 50 years we have grown militant, selfish, and distracted.

Unkind Millenium

Uncertainty is the word we hear a lot today to describe how people are feeling about society.

The five decades since the Aquarian cultural awakening of free love has seen horrors we could not have imagined.

Cultural shifts have moved our society far away from those of the counterculture. We lost the surplus; Gained record debt.

The ruling political class has been more representative of a shrinking geographical minority than of the actual new demographic reality of 21st century America.

Without a military draft the country has become disconnected in the face of unending wars in Syria and Afghanistan.

Advanced technology allows our government to strike targets a world away. The population suffers under crumbling infrastructure; the military gets billions.

Smart phones enable never ending surveillance. We have become more paranoid as a people. Heads are bent down to the perpetual glow of a portable screen.

I know it all sounds dire. Today we face a lot of adversity. We must overcome…again.

Several movements have started to respond to this litany of potential disaster. The issues today include: Gun Reform, Women’s Equality, Prison Reform, LGBTQ Rights, and Election Reforms.

We serve each other. The people are more powerful than any group or political party. We can assemble and make something positive happen.

Always keep in mind that something special blossomed over 3 days in those grassroots on a farm in upstate New York.

This blog is dedicated to all of the people who made Woodstock happen in 1969.

Birdseye view of the over 400,000 people at Woodstock in 1969.
Evan’s Gate
A Music Blog for Misfits.

Bad Religion/Age Of Unreason

The 17th studio album is “Age Of Unreason”.
With singles like “Chaos From Within” & “Do The Paranoid Style” this record engages our culture’s climate with songs that confront our inner turmoil.


Bad Religion, a band formed in 1980 in the midst of Southern California’s punk rock movement, has put forth a humanist view in the ever increasing hostile climate of organized religion, politics, and our greedy anti-intellectual establishment.

Punk rock is perhaps the best truth-teller music has to offer. I will talk about my other favorites of this genre in future blogs.

For now I want to discuss the new album from Bad Religion. 14 tracks brimming with melody, harmony, and brilliant dissent.

Going against the grain is at the heart of punk music. It can enlighten us, shake us, and bring energy into the deepening void of apathy and ignorance that engulfs most of our world.

After decades of listening to groups that are apolitical or have no critical point of view I decided to seek out more thoughtful groups. I found Bad Religion with their new record, “Age Of Unreason”.

The songs were inspired by America’s revival of nativism. The current attempts at governing are weakening our best intentions towards a more democratic society.

Below is the line-up that recorded this new record.

Current members

One of the qualities I love in punk is the ability to communicate directly with its audience. There are 14 tracks that clock in at 33 minutes. During the late 20th century the punks knew that attention spans were falling. They never faltered in the chords that made rock roll.

The band has a logo that shows a cross with a slash of prohibition through it. Greg Graffin explained: “we don’t like to subscribe to dogmatic ways of life and dogmatic views on life and that religion, in general, is founded in dogma and in restriction of ideas, restriction of thought and it’s these things that I feel are bad about religion, it’s also very bad about nationalistic views, it’s very bad … it’s something that mankind, as a group, is not going to benefit from; it’s only something that mankind will … it’s something mankind will … I’m sorry, it’s something that will instill violence, and it will instill fighting, and it will instill non-cooperation of different groups of humans.”

Chaos From Within opens with a quick tempo that reminds us that our current state results from the constant churning of madness within our body politic. The chorus goes like this:

Threat is urgent, existential
With patience wearing thin
But the danger’s elemental
It’s chaos from within

In this mad country our cockeyed optimism is always on display. The track “My Sanity” is a plea to hold on to this misguided belief system. At song’s end the following is declared: Sometimes there’s no sane reason for optimism.

Oh my sanity, my sanity
I’ve nothing to lose, so please let me be
My life is a song, a short melody
Harmonizing with reality
I’ve got it real bad, there’s no remedy
My world picture is exemplary
I won’t let you go, what else can there be
You’re all I have, my dear sanity

Do The Paranoid Style smartly mocks disposable dance crazes that have reinforced our march towards ignorance over reason. Make up your own truth without a care.

Hey kids on the right and left
Do you feel dispossessed
If you’re on the left or right
I feel your pain tonight
So shake off reality
It’s easy as you please
Soon everyone is dancing
Con-spir-a-tor-i-a-lly

It’s the paranoid style in American politics
Casey Jones you better watch your apocalypse
All kinds of wild interpretation
Are open to the paranoid imagination

Do The Paranoid Style is the catchiest track here. Then a galloping melody kicks in with ‘The Approach’. A reminder that despite the nonsense people are fed via social media we are still approaching the end. Be optimistic if you wish. The seeming rush to our destruction is ongoing.

There’s a moral and intellectual vacuum and you’re right to be lookin’ askance
Philosophically moribund, revolution hasn’t a chance

As the light fades, the shadows dance in silhouette .

Then a beautiful respite in “Lose Your Head”. A real punk statement of not going off the deep end because of our stupid system. My favorite lyric is: There’s an accident waiting to happen at all times anyway
And maybe we’d all benefit from some epistemic humility .

Without this humility how will any of us be remembered? The sixth track, “End Of History” asks the most of us. Are we really okay with letting maniacs lead us to our demise?

Halcyon days are not a thing
Nostalgia is no excuse for stupidity
I don’t believe in golden ages
Or presidents that put kids in cages
America awaits on bended knee
Can’t you see

Sweet children, Locke’s burden
Why did mother draw the curtains
Free will is your dilemma, (what will the dust remember)
Tell me where do you really want to be?
At the end of history?

At the midpoint we receive the title track. The song pleads with us that many cannot see the country’s heart is bleeding because of the man who brought back tyranny.

The mass is unrepentant in this age of unreason. The environment is being poisoned. Dogmatic systems are promoting over population, consumerism, and waste.

I feel strongly this record is one of the finest of 2019. A remarkable dissent in a culture that retreats from empathy.

The second half has good tracks. I will not go deep into them like I did with the first 7 tracks. Listeners should have their own thoughts about this work.

What follows is a brief description of the second half of the record:

  
'The Candidate' denounces our current clown.  He is a fraud.  A Pied Piper type demanding that you (rats like you) should follow his populist tune.   Nothing but a conjurer of violence and despair. Yet still promises to make all your worries disappear. 

"Faces of Grief" is a short, sweet punk riff about the dangerous tribalism religion bestows upon all.

"Old Regime" shreds with protest fury. The track reminds us that today's aristocracy is just the old non-democratic regime with a different name.

"Big Black Dog" is one of my favorite songs. Calling out the President as a traitor in chief. The song is groove driven.

"Downfall" has a new wave thread that allows the hook to take hold of the listener. The lyrics describe a society that has turned away from science in favor of dogma. The wave that is surely to come will destroy us.

"Since Now" poses that we are living in the upside down. Our new bizarre reality is that everything we thought was true is being ripped apart. The punkish answer is to say since when... Structured as a list of grievances sure to wake up the apathetic hordes.

The closing track is "What Tomorrow Brings". A note of hopeful finality to the proceedings, more than sociological or technological, it's what tomorrow brings. The changes we need are what may come.

Punk is protest. Punk is relevant. Punk is open. The form embraces the misfit in all of us. Please give this record a listen. You may just find you are not alone in the crucible of our current mad state.

Superman is 80

The summer of 1939 was a milestone in American entertainment.

The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind premiered in movie theaters.

Superman made his first appearance in Action Comics.

In the first story told by creators Joe Schuster & Jerry Siegel our hero could not fly! He could jump a building in a single bound and lift cars over his head.

Over the next 7 decades there would be many creative teams assigned to Superman. In recent times DC comics restarted their comics at issue #1. So many changes over time. I will relate what Superman meant to me as a kid and now.

Television, Movies, Comic Books, and collectibles are the focus of this entry. Just some memories of how this character impacted my life.

In my early childhood television showed reruns of series broadcast in the 1950s and 1960s. There were sitcoms like “I Love Lucy”, “Father Knows Best”, “Dennis The Menace”, and “Bewitched”, sci-fi like “Star Trek” and “Lost In Space”, and then there was a comic book based series—-“The Adventures of Superman”.

I remember watching this series in black and white. George Reeves played Clark Kent/Superman and Noel Neill played Lois Lane. The opening titles were great. A voice over coupled with images described his powers as “faster than a speeding bullet, strength like a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it’s a bird, no..it’s a plane..no..it’s Superman!

Super TV

Watching all episodes of the series made me want to read the comic magazines from DC. The impact this made on me as a child was greater than the mark made when Jor-El, Son of Krypton, crash lands on the Kent farm in Smallville.

Described as mild mannered Clark Kent, he would report for the Daily Planet newspaper. His change into Superman was Clark dashing into a storage room at the newspaper or using a phone booth. He would loosen his tie and remove his eye glasses to cue the audience.

The narrative importance was lost on me back then but today has great meaning. The creators were Jewish kids from Ohio who used the ultimate immigrant story, Jesus or Moses, as their source material.

Like Moses placed in a basket, the baby Jor-El is placed in a space capsule. He is launched into space to escape the destruction of the planet by their sun. The baby lands on earth. Raised on a farm by the Kents, his secret is kept by them.

When Clark matures he is sent to the big city to begin a mission to “fight for truth, justice, and the American way” as Superman. The costume is made by his surrogate mother. The ‘S’ on the Chevron is a Kryptonian letter meaning hope. The comic books were crucial in discovering all of the details in this narrative.

You can see why these ideas would sail over the head of a child. The adventure was good enough for my imagination. The effects of flying were all done by green screen on TV. Superman flew at steep angles due to this limitation in effects. The sound mix was cool. Right before he flew Superman would take a few running steps then a sound effect would cue us sitting at home. It sounded like a lid being released from a power vacuum.

Super Animation

Through animation Superman became the hero you saw in print.

The Max Fleischer series was captivating. In the 1970s the Saturday morning series, “Superfriends” added Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman to the mix. As a kid I loved the cartoon, but later appreciated the animated series to be quite superior in quality.

Super Movies

In 1978 Warner Brothers brought Superman to the silver screen. Christopher Reeve, a mild mannered star of stage, became a movie star. Margot Kidder was Lois Lane. Gene Hackman played Lex Luthor. Ned Beatty as Otis, the dimwitted sidekick. Jackie Cooper as Perry White, Editor of the Daily Planet. And perhaps the greatest feat of casting at the time—Marlon Brando as Superman’s father.

The movie featured a score by John Williams (Jaws, Close Encounters, E.T., Indiana Jones, and many more classics) that was groundbreaking. His “Superman March” would stay as the theme of the series to come. There were 3 sequel episodes.

In the debut feature the arch villain Lex Luthor plans to blow up the San Andreas fault in Southern California to trigger a devastating earthquake. Lois meets Clark. Lois interviews Superman. The Fortress of Solitude is introduced.

Superman II brought back the entire principal cast. It focused on the three Kryptonian villains sentenced to eternity in the Phantom Zone at the start of the previous film.

Superman saves the Earth from a hydrogen bomb at the Eiffel Tower. He hurls the device into deep space. The ripples of the shock wave caused by detonation shatter the Phantom Zone barrier. Ursa, Non, and General Zod are set free with the same powers as Superman.

Terence Stamp (Billy Budd, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) is imprinted in my memory forever as Zod. Commanding all of humanity to “kneel before Zod” as he takes control of Washington, DC is quite a scene.

Despite Superman III being quite comic with Richard Pryor the story lacks in compelling elements. And Superman IV—The Quest For Peace is just dull. The franchise went dormant after this series. The next feature, “Superman Returns” featured newcomer, Brandon Routh. Then more recently, Henry Cavill starred in “Man Of Steel”.

There were crossover features like “Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League” that failed to catch the public imagination. The future of this character is more certain in the weeklies published. The movies are demanding. In my opinion, the impression made by Christopher Reeve was indelible.

The late Christopher Reeve is my Superman.

In my young adulthood the man of steel returned to the small screen. ABC TV ran “Lois & Clark” Starring Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. Comic book artist John Byrne’s modern retelling of Superman’s origin where Clark is the dominant personality was the series’ inspiration.

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 12: LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN – Pilot – 9/12/93, The “Superman” story, focusing primarily on the relationship between Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent and his alter ego Superman/The Man of Steel (Dean Cain), and his fellow reporter Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher), continued in this 1993-97 ABC series. In the two-part pilot, the reporters worked on a story about the space program being hijacked., (Photo by Bob D’Amico/ABC via Getty Images)

John Shea played Lex Luthor as a business tycoon with unethical methods. Lane Smith was Editor Perry White. The role of Jimmy Olsen changed hands from Michael Landes to Justin Whalin after season one. The show would run from September 1993 thru June 1997.

Super Culture

Since his first appearance on a comic book page 80 years ago Superman has become an iconic presence. Thousands of books, magazines, toys, games, trading cards, playing cards, clothing, and any matter of object imprinted with his image/logo are now a billion dollar industry.

Mego toys produced Superman action figures. Ben Cooper provided Halloween costumes. Our imaginations took care of the rest.

Super Books. The panels in a comic book provide more detail than any screenplay. I did not consider the artists when I was a kid. That is a focus you do not get until you are much older.

Curt Swan drew Superman in the 1970s. This portrait of the character became the standard for modern renderings of Superman. The Mego figure was based on this look. The costume in the first 4 films were also this design.

These stories were tales of adventure no movie could ever match. The Fortress of Solitude was my favorite. Although the rendering on film was quite beautiful I prefer the detail of the page.

Thanks for Reading!