Lefty Nostalgia

I am so sentimental about those old idealistic Communist SOBs (and Bs) of my “old days” and of Dos Passos’s USA trilogy that I wanted to remind you of the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913, which was organized from the Botto House in Haledon, NJ. I was born (later than 1913!!!) in Haledon, 42 or 47 N. 12th Street, although I grew up mostly in Paterson – lived in Haledon for only about six months (alcoholic parents had to keep moving). The town – a working-class suburb of Paterson – was Socialist in 1913 and had a Socialist mayor (William Brueckmann). Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Big Bill Hayward, and John Reed were all there, speaking to the crowd from the 2d floor porch – which was like a balcony. It’s still there. You can see it. It is now the home of the American Labor Museum, 83 Norwood Street, Haledon, NJ.

Carlo Tresca was also there. He was an anarcho-syndicalist (my kinda guy) assassinated in NYC in the ‘40s, possibly because he had become a strong anti-Stalinist. (Tresca was also, however, a strong critic of Italian Fascism, so….) Reed died in 1920; Haywood in 1928; when Stalin was just getting started. So they never lived to decide where they would stand vis-a-vis “Uncle Joe,” the Ivan the Terrible of 20th century Russia. Apparently and unfortunately, Elizabeth remained a loyal Stalinist right to the end of her life in 1964. That makes me sad. Good woman – limited discernment.

Reed is buried in the Kremlin. Half of the ashes of Flynn and half of the ashes of Haywood are interred in the Kremlin and the other half in each case are buried near the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument in Chicago.

Tomorrow, Sept. 5, the Haledon-to-Paterson Labor Day Parade will begin at the Botto House at 1:30 PM and will finish “at the Great Falls Historic District in the City of Paterson, where a festival with food, fun and entertainment will be taking place.” My friends and I in downtown Paterson used to swim in the deep and frightening water of the Passaic Falls chasm (90 feet deep, they say), the statue of Alexander Hamilton (the founder of Paterson) gazing at us from across the industrial swirl.

Here’s something on Elizabeth Flynn and the 1913 strike: Flynn – Take a look.

Solidarity Forever!


P.S. I still have an up-to-date dues-paying IWW card. But my membership in the Insane Liberation Front has lapsed. Ah, Romanticism!
P.P.S. Communism, of course, once established and entrenched, became brutal, and awful, even genocidal. “The best-laid schemes….”
P.P.P.S. How ‘bout this?
P.P.P.P.S. And here’s the “Orthodox” version :)

She Gobbles it Up…in Bayonne?

Here’s a song of the 1950s (see below). Street guys in northern NJ (and maybe other places) heard some of the words as “She gobbles it up…in Bayonne.” We were “interpreting” it in (a kind of) English.

It’s a multicultural work. While the music in the song “El Negro Zumbon” is Brazilian/Portugese, the lyrics are Spanish. Silvana Mangano, of course, was Italian.

Here is the part that was (devilishly) misunderstood by my friends and me:

Tengo gana de bailar el nuevo compás.
Dicen todos cuando me ven pasar
“¿Chica, dónde vas?”
¡Me voy para baila…”el baión!”!

I feel like dancing to this new beat.
When they see me pass by, they ask,
“Girl, where are you going?”
I’m going to dance…”The Baión”!

When the background singers sang, “¿Chica, dónde vas?,” we heard it as “She gobbles it up.” Then the girl would sing, “¡Me voy para baila…,” followed by “el baión!” – “in Bayonne!”

“The Baión” was evidently some kind of dance.

The movie “Anna” was 1951. The song was a big hit in the US in 1953.


This is part of my mission of spreading sweetness and light to all quarters.

Is there hope? Really?

Global warming? Evolution? Scientific sophistication? End of the world?

I’m fascinated by the people who are into saving the earth, the environmentalists, the GREEN people. They are so nice, so well-meaning, so earnest, so SERIOUS.

Are you green? I’m blue.

When viewed from space, the earth looks a lot more blue than green. There’s some green, some tan, some brown – but it looks mostly blue. It’s got the blues.

And that’s fitting. Y’all dig science? Does science give us a basis for hope? What does science tell us about “saving the earth”? Isn’t the contemporary scientific perspective on the “sustainability” of the world (not just the earth) something like the following?

The current universe originated about 14 or 15 billion years ago with an explosion known as the “Big Bang.” So far, there is no scientific explanation of that event. It’s a “singularity.” The explosion set off a cosmic expansion of time, space, matter, etc. The universe evolved into existence.

The universe will go on developing/expanding/evolving for another 50 billion years or so, and then it will “run out of steam,” it will “run down.” This running-down is known as “entropy” and follows from the Second Law of Thermodynamics (look it up).

It seems that the universe is headed in a very disheartening and unsustainable direction, at least from an ordinary human point of view. After its final entropy (running down), and after trillions of years to come, the universe will enter a final DARK ERA, an infinitely long future in which it will remain, forever after, dark, cold, and dismal. Long, long before the “final end,” all life in the universe will be extinguished. Our Sun will “die” within the next 5 billion years. Long before the end of the Sun, all life on earth will be terminated.

No green. No blue. Just Dark.

The scientific “Theory of Everything” (TOE) is turning out to be a theory of the Death of Everything (DOE).

Yup, we are doomed. We’ve got (a lot) less than 5 billion years to go. Better get your affairs in order.

Or shall we just keep on whistling in the graveyard, babbling on about sustainability, greenness, hope, and other such “smiley face” stuff?

If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come….

“Cheers! (Where’s that Vodka? LIme juice?)”

“Annie Hall” (1977)

Doctor in Brooklyn: Why are you depressed, Alvy?
Alvy’s Mom: Tell Dr. Flicker.
[Young Alvy sits, his head down – his mother answers for him]
Alvy’s Mom: It’s something he read.
Doctor in Brooklyn: Something he read, huh?
Alvy at 9: [his head still down] The universe is expanding.
Doctor in Brooklyn: The universe is expanding?
Alvy at 9: Well, the universe is everything, and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything!
Alvy’s Mom: What is that your business?
[she turns back to the doctor]
Alvy’s Mom: He stopped doing his homework!
Alvy at 9: What’s the point?
Alvy’s Mom: What has the universe got to do with it? You’re here in Brooklyn! Brooklyn is not expanding!
Doctor in Brooklyn: It won’t be expanding for billions of years yet, Alvy. And we’ve gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we’re here!