Web links related to the Back of the Book program of June 25, 2001
It's Sunday afternoon 7/1/2001 14:15:40 and I've gotten the updates in at last. So this was my annual Pride Day program. I talked about some health issues that had come up in the previous fortnight, and then I launched into a long monologue about the gay liberation movement, my participation in it and what we did in some cases decades ago. I also talked about the march itself, which I participated in before the program. I didn't get to much mail at all, but what I got to is up here. So this page should be done now. Beware of tense switches below, an artifact of the update.
Here is the latest on the theft of Pacifica.
Here's my take on the current WBAI and Pacifica crisis.
And remember, there's still a gag rule at WBAI.
There have been some developments in the listener lawsuits, as well.
Okay, so our colleagues from Off the Hook probably have both a RealAudio streaming web cast and the new, permanent MP3 stream going tonight, at 10:40 PM last night both of these feeds were working.
So in the past fortnight I've heard that Vitamin C can be bad for you, that sleep apnea, which I have, is caused by the same gene that causes high cholesterol, which I have, and Alzheimer's disease. This study, headed by Dr. Hiroshi Kadotani of Stanford University's psychiatry and behavioral sciences department, doesn't say that I necessarily will get Alzheimer's Disease, but it does say that the same genetic defect causes all three of these problems. So I've pretty likely got this lovely bit of genetic bollix in me, and I've got two of the three symptoms. To make me feel even better a new study shows that “Forgetfulness May Indicate Alzheimer's.” And as I've said before, I've been forgetting names for a couple of years now.
On top of all this, there's Alzheimer's in my immediate family. It begins to look like something is closing in on me.
Well, of course the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Trans Pride March occurred just hours before this program. And I still call it a march because I realize that a lot of society is still very anti-gay and would kill us all if they could.
As I do every year I used the phrase “Freaking Fag Revolutionary Radio” to open the program. This was a phrase that was used in the early years of the gay liberation movement as an act of defiance. It was originally used in the infamous “Chicago 7 Trial” in 1969, by District Attorney Thomas A. Foran who was attempting to vilify the defendants (who were all straight) and prejudice the judge, jury and spectators against them. The very conservative folks who predominate in the movement these days do not usually like this phrase of defiance.
After I got out of Viet Nam in November 1969, I started trying to find out about gay activism. After a few fits and starts I finally went to a meeting of the militant Gay Activists Alliance (G.A.A.) on March 26, 1970. After that first meeting, I was hooked.
Here's my G.A.A. membership card. That number “33” in the upper left hand corner was the serial number. I got it on the first night that G.A.A. membership cards were issued, which I think was in May 1970. I'd already been a “long time” member of a couple of months by then. A lot of us were thrilled to finally be able to say that we were “card carrying homosexuals.”
It's signed by Arnie Kantrowitz, who became Secretary by volunteering to fill in for the first Secretary of G.A.A. after that young man fled to Canada upon getting his induction notice; Arnie was elected Vice President of G.A.A. a couple of years later. Also signing the card was Jim Owles who was the first President of G.A.A. Unfortunately, Jim died of AIDS in 1993.
In the photograph I'm showing here I am 25 years of age and I'm wearing my “Gay Power” and “Lambda” buttons, as I usually did. apparently I was being emphatic about something when this photograph was taken by my male ex.
I wore those buttons for more than 14 years. In 1974, I started wearing a slightly larger and more visible “Gay Power” button. That certainly made gay liberation a day to day activity for me.
On the program I talked a bunch about the past stuff I did in the militant Gay Activists Alliance back in the '70s. Oh, things were certainly different then.
One of the things I spoke about on the program was the action that G.A.A. had at the New York State Republican Headquarters in Manhattan on June 25, 1970. That morning a number of G.A.A. members walked into the tenth floor offices of the New York State Republican Headquarters and demanded to see Governor Nelson Rockefeller about the issue of gay civil rights in New York State. They were informed that the governor wasn't in the office at that moment and, strangely, didn't seem interested in coming over to talk with them. And so the upstairs action began. When asked to leave the demonstrators refused and sat in.
Downstairs we were marching around chanting as loudly as we could; loud was a G.A.A. trademark. There were never more than ten of us downstairs. Upstairs the Republicans had decided that they'd ignore the people who were sitting in, demanding to see Governor Rockefeller. About two hours into the action Arthur Bell came down and told us that they could hear us over the general noise of the city up in the Republican Headquarters office! He told us that we sounded like there were fifty people or more down in the street demonstrating. A large crowd had gathered around to see what we were doing, and when the Republicans looked out the window they couldn't tell that the demonstration consisted of only the small number of people in the middle of that large crowd. I don't think there was ever more than a few continuous seconds of silence on that picket line. Did I mention we were loud?
Upstairs there were negotiations, there were demands, and there were requests to leave. The demonstration lasted for hours and hours. Finally, after the Republicans couldn't stand it anymore, they had five of the sit in demonstrators arrested for criminal trespass. We cheered them as they were led away in handcuffs, and at long last we could stop yelling. My voice never actually recovered from that day.
At a meeting of the G.A.A. Political Action Committee (it had nothing to do with campaign contributions) some time later we were all wondering what to call the people who had been arrested. Suggestions were tossed around. I suggested “The Rockefeller Five,” which was met with silence. Shortly, Arthur Evans, one of the arrestees, said, “How about 'The Rockefeller Five?'” and there was suddenly great jubilation in the room. That was the name that stuck. And I learned a lesson about groups' expectations and how it shapes the way they listen to you or not.
The Rockefeller Five went through court appearance after court appearance, and months after the action the charges were simply dropped. The Rockefeller Five action was one of those ongoing activities that G.A.A. could sustain that were to prove crucial to pushing gay liberation forward in the seventies.
The gay community has been devastated by AIDS over the past couple of decades, and I spoke about that a bit as well. As of a few years ago only two of the Rockefeller Five were still alive, and only a small minority of the demonstrators from that day are still around. A great many people have been lost and, with them, some of our history as well. Meanwhile AIDS is claiming more lives all over the world every day.
I spoke about Sunday's march. I still wonder why Heritage of Pride, the group which runs the event every year, didn't publish its “order of march” until the morning of the event itself. That's not terribly convenient. The march itself was sort of the usual event we've come to expect over the past decade and a half. The “Movement Groups” section of the march was assembled on W. 55th St. We in fact were still there for the 2:00 PM “Moment of Silence” that commemorates those who have died of AIDS. We didn't get on to Fifth Avenue until about 2:15. Something happened at Fifth Avenue & 32nd St. There were rumors that someone had been run over by a float. Everything stopped for at least twenty minutes. When we passed by we saw that indeed one of the floats was pulled over to the curb, there were cops all around and the position of the float was outlined in yellow chalk. Luckily, we didn't see any other chalk marks on the asphalt.
So I talked about more than this on the air, but the above should give you an idea of what this section of the program was like.
We didn't get to much of the mail at all on the program. I was shooting my mouth off a lot. Next time we'll make a bigger dent in the mail backlog. We actually are getting closer to caught up. Over the Summer months we usually get less mail, so I'll become current sometime during this Summer, I figure. Of course we have to hope that the program stays on WBAI and that WBAI stays on the air during this time. Nothing is certain.
I had WBAI on in the background tonight, but wasn't paying a lot of attention to it until I heard you mentioning atoms & molecules & the processes of life-systems. It caught my attention because I've recently been reading a book called “Atom” by Lawrence M. Krauss. It traces the life of a single oxygen atom from the beginning of time to the end of the the universe. It was a bit heavy at times (especially since I'm not a physicist) but it's generally easy enough to follow, and very interesting. I had just read the chapter on adenosine triphosphate and how all living systems on Earth use it to store & redistribute energy, so the fact that you were talking about it on tonight's show was interesting to me. I'd never caught your show before tonight, but I'll make a point of listening in the future now. Keep up the good work!J
Well, I'm always glad when I can get someone to actually listen to what I'm saying. Talking about things that you almost never hear on the broadcast media is something I particularly enjoy. I hope Juintz is still listening!
I also read something from Seth, who is a long time listener, correspondent and contributor to the program. It's snail mail, and can't be reproduced here, but he did send me a catalog of some “New Age” type of stuff that included full spectrum light bulbs and such. Maybe I'll look into those, although we have some around the house already.
The catalog is full of other things that are pretty goofy, however. Maybe I'll address some of their products and claims on a future program.
There are a lot of issues that we can't talk about on the air at WBAI. But there is an Internet list called “Free Pacifica!” which you can subscribe to, and these issues are discussed there. If you subscribe to it you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.
If you want to subscribe to the “Free Pacifica!” list just click on this link and follow the instructions, and you'll be subscribed. Could open your eyes a little bit.
The above list has occasionally produced a high volume of E-mail because of the attention that these issues have drawn. If you would prefer to subscribe to a low volume list that only provides announcements of events related to these issues then subscribe to the FreePac mailing list.
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