Web links related to the Back of the Book program of May 29, 2000

It's Friday, 6/2/2000 04:44:35, and I'm finally done working on this page. The week leading up to the program was a week of sleep deprivation for me! UPS is a bunch of idiots! We naturally spoke about our old pal Jack Shugg, and got through some of the mail. In an unusual happenstance, Pickles of the North comprised our studio audience for this radio program. I've gotten what must be the definitive and complete information on 70 Pine St., which means you get two photographs in this program's Web page. I hope they don't make the page load too slowly for you.

Besides the job action against the Pacifica Network News, there's also information about the good results of the trial of Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi on the Pacifica Theft Menu.

The Web cast of tonight's program was working at 10:55 PM, so it should be all right for Back of the Book.

Paul Williams of UFO Desk is arranging for this feed. And we thank Porus dot com for providing it.

Jack Shugg
1940 - 2000

Jack Shugg passed away on Wednesday, May 25th. Jack was co-producer of The Golden Age of Radio on WBAI for several years. He did a number of different programs on WBAI, and could be a wild and crazy guy. He even maintained the WBAI soda and other stuff vending machine for a number of years. He was a friend. His former co-producer Max Schmid will be putting up a Web page in memory of Jack soon.

On the program, Max and I reminisced about Jack and the many projects and hijinks he was involved in at WBAI in his approximately eight years at the station. Max is planning a show in the next couple of weeks where he'll have a number of people on to hold a sort of on air wake for Jack. And it'll probably be just as un-solemn as Jack would have wanted it!

On the last program I spoke at some length about the superstitious folderol around the revelation of the “Third Secret of Fatima”. The Vatican had a spin on it, but there are others who scoff at this and find the “revelation” a bit flat.

New York City is finally cracking down on one of the irresponsible companies that run those tourist buses through the city. A number of citizen's groups have been fighting against some of the unsafe and unhealthy things the owners and operators of these buses have been doing for years.

On May 22nd, 71 year old actor Randolph Walker, who was crossing West 45th St. in Manhattan, was killed when the unlicensed driver of a bus operated by New York Apple Tours ran over him while making an illegal turn. Maybe this will finally close down this illegal operation that has no regard for the people of New York.

Bizarrely, this tourist bus company won a court fight a few years ago which said that they didn't need to be inspected, as all other buses in the city must be! I've never understood the legalities of that decision.

Aftermath of a blazing bus

Did this bus burst into flames because of the lack of inspections? Before I was able to take this photograph I saw towering flames, and smoke that stopped all the traffic on Houston St. and Broadway, where this fire occurred. Luckily, there were no fatalities in this case.

R. Paul's UPS Sleep Deprivation Adventure

So I had to buy a new computer this past fortnight. It was supposed to be delivered early in the week. Unfortunately, it turned into a UPS marathon wait.

I figured it should show up on Monday or Tuesday. It didn't show up on Monday. On Tuesday I had been up all night as usual, and was wanting to go to sleep, but I knew I had to wait for that package. So I got out an old lawn chair thing and sat by the bell, so I'd be there if it rang. I nodded out a bit, but I didn't get any good sleep. No packages came.

On Tuesday night I went on line and looked up the United Parcel Service tracking numbers. It turned out that the computer and its monitor were on two separate trucks. The information on line was that one UPS driver said, “RECEIVER NOT IN ON 1ST DELIVERY ATTEMPT.” But of course I was in! I'd been waiting all day for this computer to arrive. I looked at the notes about the monitor and they said, “APARTMENT NUMBER NEEDED, NOT DELIVERED;POSTCARD HAS BEEN SENT.” My first impression was that it was rainy that day, and the packages were heavy, so the drivers just didn't want to deliver them. I never got a yellow UPS slip, which also indicates that the driver had not actually tried to make a delivery.

I called the UPS 800 number very early Wednesday morning. I gave the person my apartment number. Later on I got a call from someone at the Brooklyn UPS facility that was handling my deliveries. I was told that one package was on the truck, but that the one they needed the apartment number for was still in their warehouse. So I told them my apartment number as well. They said that one delivery would be made on Wednesday, and the other on Thursday.

I set about camping next to the bell on Wednesday so I could make sure to get to it immediately when the UPS guy rang. I wasn't going to allow the chance for someone to run away while I rushed through the apartment to get to the intercom. By this time I had not had proper sleep since Monday, and I wasn't even eating right. So one package arrived very late on Wednesday, and on Thursday I camped by the bell again. I waited a long time on Thursday, until after 7:00 PM. I'd been assured that it would be delivered that day. Nothing. Another call. They still wanted my apartment number! I gave it to them. They assured me that it would be sent the next day, Friday and that I'd get it between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

On Friday I camped next to the bell again. I was really in bad shape. Several days of not sleeping right were starting to take a toll. I'm at an age when I can't just fall right to sleep when I want to anymore, especially when I'm getting more and more agitated about a delivery of something important that's not happening. Just after 4:00 PM I called. They said that it would be delivered after 4:00 PM, that the driver had been in my neighborhood shortly after 5:00 PM the previous day and would probably be around then. I was assured that the package was on the truck and would be delivered. At 5:30 I called again. Same answer. At 6:43 I was getting really concerned and called again. I was told again to wait for it, the delivery would happen. Shortly after 7:00 PM I called UPS in Brooklyn again and they said that they were holding it in their warehouse because they needed an apartment number on it! It had been in their warehouse since Tuesday. I gave them my apartment number and said I wanted to speak to someone in charge. I was told that they had all left for the day already. The person I spoke to said I'd get the package on Tuesday.

I called the UPS 800 number again and got someone who said that the apartment number had not been entered properly and had not gotten through the system, which doesn't explain why the imbeciles in the UPS facility in Brooklyn didn't write it down when I told them directly. When I said I wanted to speak to someone in charge to complain, she said she'd switch me. And then she hung up!

I called again and was switched successfully to some guy in UPS Management. He agreed that it was terrible and that he'd upgrade my delivery so that I could get it the next day, Saturday. He said that either he or someone from the UPS Brooklyn facility would call me in half an hour. No one ever called.

On Saturday, however, at about 11:30 AM the bell rang. I answered it immediately and it was UPS. But no one came up. A few minutes later the bell rang again and I buzzed someone in again. Looks like he was hoping to catch me out and I surprised him by being home and ready to receive the package. So he brings it up, and the box was not too badly damaged, so I accepted it. After a while I lifted the new label off the box a little, and there, on the old, original label, was my apartment number! A great cap to some fine service.

So the one guy in UPS Management had done his job, but most others just walked away from any responsibilities they had. If he hadn't intervened I might still be waiting for that package. What a way to run a package delivery service.

I'm writing this column on Planet IT about being a beginner with the Linux operating system. You can watch me stumble around trying to figure it out.

And here's a more recent column on beginning Linux.

On the air I was lamenting the state of the world, something else I'm powerless to do anything about. Here's a simple list of what was going on while I was talking about it:

On the last program I went on about this building at 70 Pine St. in Manhattan. Besides Claude's contribution I also got some snail mail about this art deco masterpiece from Seth, who's not only a long time listener and correspondent but also an architect.

70_pine.jpg - 10893 Bytes

I took this photograph from Chase Plaza recently. You can see how narrow this building is. It only occupies half a city block, and that's a block from old New York which was laid out over 300 years ago. Seth has unearthed the fact that this skyscraper was built in 1932, at the height of The Great Depression. Seth's letter clued me in to the fact that there are stone replicas of the building at it's main entrance on 70 Pine St. Supposedly, these were put there so people could get an idea of the building's “Jazz Gothic” upper reaches, which are not visible from the narrow nearby streets.

Pickles of the North and I walked past 70 Pine St. after the last program and we saw those stone replicas. They seem a bit weathered now. But they are interesting looking examples of carved limestone. They do lack that distinctive, extremely tall flagpole or mast that tops off the building, but that would be one delicate piece of stonework and might not have lasted very long if they had included it. I'd have taken a photograph of the stone replicas, but the lighting was just not good and my tiny camera's flash wouldn't have done anything useful. Maybe if my plans to expand this Web site come to fruition I'll be able to get a good photograph of that entrance and put it up here.

At night the upper portion of the building, called its “crown” by some critics and architects, is lit up in green.

The building was built for the Cities Service Company. That company wanted a Wall Street address, but their building was on Pine Street, the street immediately north of Wall Street. So the Cities Service Company had a bridge built from the 15th floor of 70 Pine St. to a building at 60 Wall St. They then designated the art deco skyscraper the “60 Wall St. Tower.”

Older folks, like me, will remember the Cities Service Company as an oil and natural gas empire that had a distinctive green and white logo. The company changed its name to CITGO in 1965, and lost its logo. When the company left New York City it had the building at 60 Wall St., and the bridge that linked it to 70 Pine St., demolished.

The materials Seth sent me say variously that the building is 66 or 67 storeys high, and that this amounts to 965 feet. It's not clear if this includes that flagpole/mast structure at the very top of the building. For decades 70 pine St. was the third tallest building in New York City, topped only by the Chrysler Building, built in 1930, and the Empire State Building, built in 1931. While it was never the world's tallest building it was certainly a respected structure in the age of skyscrapers. Even today it's the 40th tallest building in the world.

Movies that involved New York City from the 1930s, through the 1960s, frequently had shots of lower Manhattan in them which showed off the top floors of 70 Pine St.

So in the space of a little more than a fortnight I've gone from wondering what the building was that I'd always been seeing in movies and in wandering around the city to knowing quite a bit about it and its history.

Despite the onrush of topics we did get to some of the mail on the program. North American Shirley gets in a subtle dig about the letter to Susan from Long Island that I've been working on — for some years now.

Subject: About 2000 Words
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 12:19:01 EST
From: North American Shirley
To: rpm@glib.com

good thing you didn't write that letter in the last century; think of how out of date it would be by now

Of course it still is the twentieth century! But we just let that sort of thing slide, I guess.

Our next E-mail concerns a Web site that indeed does have some very interesting virtual toys on it. You must have Java enabled on your browser in order to be able to play in this particular sandbox. I've corrected the syntax in the URLs below so they'll work right.

Subject: Moving wire bugs + Lynda Weinman Webpage Designer
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 10:20:31 -0500
From: Alan

OK, ok, so the Whitney's 9 art webpages were not so hot, IMHO. And 2 or 3 of them didn't even load on my machine. But, here are 2 very very cool sites that I really like.

Wire frame bugs that move as in water and you can push them around, you can set the way they move. www.soda.co.uk/soda/constructor

An interview with Web Designer Lynda Weinman, she makes very nice webpages. www.webreference.com/graphics/greats/lynda Lynda's Site: www.lynda.com


This next missive is the result of some discussions between a listener and me. I've cut out the first part because it mostly quotes a previous E-mail. The rest relates to the program I did on that Dennis Lee guy. I hope this is the last we'll have to hear of him.

Subject: Re: geocexpl.htm "The Universe Revolves Around Earth"
Date: Sun, 02 Apr 2000 17:52:00 +0000
From: "Irene B."
To: rpm@glib.com

I heard the coverage that you did on your program regarding Lee the scam artist. It was an excellent show. I think that the more that is done to debunk a fraud like this the better. I am shocked to read about how many people who have money have invested in this snake oil salesman. I guess it goes to show that some people have money but little knowledge to see through the phony crank artists.

> Did you see that he sends you the 2 tapes and book after you send him a
> $100 "deposit?" And he only mentions once that you have to get the
> stuff back to him within two weeks or he will cash your check or "hit"
> your credit card. And everything's sent UPS! BTW, I would feel really
> queasy about giving this guy a credit card number. But then a check can
> be used to empty your checking account too.

I saw that too. And some of the products that he sells. Like the Y2K lamp. The Y2K lamp looks like nothing more than a fluorescent camping lantern. But it's the most awkward one I've ever seen. The thing looks so bulky. Who's going to carry something like that around. And that "brown gas thing". Experts claim that the think is a big piece of junk that's inefficient and possibly dangerous. And the idea for the car that runs on water which experts claim is totally inefficient. And some of the scientific gadgets advertised on his site can be bought from and "Star Magic" store. Like that hand boiler thing, or the thing with the magnets. I picked one of those things up at a Star Magic store around 5 years ago. And notice that he doesn't mention any prices on his site? He just says that you should write to him or one of his distributors.

> Oh well, I'll be going on about this tonight.

it was a great show. I'm glad you spent some time debunking this character. Besides he got plenty of coverage over the WBAI airwaves to make his claims. So it's only fair that he got a little debunking in return for his troubles.

Hopefully the coverage you gave on this issue will alert people and get them to think first before they send this guy any of their hard earned money.



Regular listeners will remember that I messed up the order of the E-mails I'd received a few weeks back. The result is that some E-mails that I'm getting to, like the two below, are even older than the ones above. But I've got to be fair, so here they are; after all, they were read on the air.

Subject: Back of the Book
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 04:05:11 EST
From: MaridonAD
To: rpm@glib.com


Caught your show tonight for the first time in a few years. (No, that's not your fault. First, I'm on the edge of the BAI signal so pulling in the station has always had problems, and they seemed to increase a few years ago. Second, and mainly, the deterioration of general program quality at the station kept me listening to it less and less until I pretty much forgot about it. I liked the days of the eclectic hosts: Margot Adler, James Irsay, Citizen Kafka, etc., when BAI seemed filled with people of open mind (well, some of them anyway) and wide-ranging interest. The movement to special-interest, narrow focus shows I found boring and truly expected to end in "The Left-Handed Cuban Lesbian Alto Choir Sings Songs of the Revolution Hour" or something like it. After almost a decade of listening to BAI up to 12 hours a day (I tended to work at home, all night, when the best programs were on) I found the shows I liked gone with the exception of yourself, Max Schmidt, and Tom Wisker. And I guess I just lost the habit of remembering to tune in for those few hours a week.

Anyway, it was good to hear that your still on and untamed, and that the “Spring Offensive” had positive results. I wonder though, did you ever pick up the books from the collapsed bookshelf and did you ever finish that letter to whoever it was in Long Island? (Least I think it was Long Island.)

Re tonight's show, it was interesting as always. I have no idea who is correct about the extraterrestrial life thing, but like you say, chances are it will never have an effect on us no matter what the answer is. (But then again, just because the chances against two intelligent species meeting are billions to one against, there is still that one chance, so who knows?) But I do think your criticism of science fiction misses the whole point of the genre for most of us: it's no different than fairy tales or fantasy fiction, etc. It's allegory, nothing more. Some of it may be based in a realistic vision of future scientific development, but that's the least interesting part, and I've always found "hard" science fiction the most boring segment of the genre.

Your comments reminded me a bit of the people who bitch about Star Trek and all the aliens who look like people except for bumpy noses, or corrugated foreheads, or pointy ears, and go into long discussions why chances are alien life would be different from us. The real point is simple: it's cheaper to stick some silly putty on an actor than try to create a true alien. And of course it's easier to create empathy for a character that has visual cues we can identify with on an instinctive/emotional level. It's allegory, it's fun, and it just might make us think with slightly wider horizons.

Anyway, again, it was good to hear the show and to know that at least you're still there, even if BAI is evidently headed downhill.


Subject: Hi R. Paul
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:14:29 -0500
From: Susan (not from Long Island)
To: rpm@glib.com

I don't know if it's your mis-calculation, Pacifica's figures or those non-existent overnight Arbitron ratings, but I know for a fact that last night you had at least two Internet listeners.

We really liked your show. I do tend to agree with what my girlfriend kept on telling me all last week though. This Eros asteroid does look like a giant potato.

<< Stuff we couldn't discuss on the air and which is not really relevant here >>

You are right you know. Being alone is not a good thing. At least it wasn't at all good for me.

Take Care,


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.

My voice mail number at WBAI is 212-209-2996. Leave a message.

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