Web links related to the Back of the Book program of September 29, 2003

It's Sunday evening 10/12/2003 19:57:00 and this page is done. This program featured our first ever live remote from Wall St. itself at the top of the program. Besides computer disasters before the program I also had some hypoglycemia on the air. What fun. I covered the topics below, especially the one about my elementary school. Unfortunately, we never got to the mail on the program, so no E-mails are on this page.

Here is the latest on the saga of Pacifica. The big meeting of the interim Pacifica National Board (iPNB) took place in New York City, September 19-21, 2003, at The Synod House of The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue (at 110th Street), New York, NY 10025, moved from its previous location of a hotel in midtown.

Mr. Roger Manning from the listener group Coalition for a democratic Pacifica New York (CdPNY) attended and has posted his notes from the meetings, along with other documents on the group's Web site.

As of September 15, 2003, the Pacifica Foundation has new bylaws! More about that here.

WBAI now has a program schedule up on its Web site. The site has gotten many of the individual program pages together to provide links and such, so check it out. Here's a schedule made by a listener who has Web links for various programs and producers.

Our colleagues from Off the Hook now have both a RealAudio streaming web cast operating, and a new MP3 stream. The MP3 feed is now the preferred feed.

The Pacifica Foundation, which owns WBAI, has revamped its Web site and now has something called the Pacifica Lounge where you can post messages about Pacifica, WBAI and other Pacifica radio stations. This may be a good thing, and of course there are other, long term fora in which to participate.

WBAI also has a forum on its Web site now. You have to register to post messages, but anyone may read the messages.

We touched on the situation in the Biloxi, Mississippi school system where they have digital cameras not only in every hallway but in every single classroom in the city!One of the 8 spy cameras watching WBAI at all times

This is so amazingly intrusive! The school administrators love it, of course, and the kids are learning to live with Big Brother looking at them all day long. The school administrators get to have absolute proof of who pinched whom first and of who the dastardly spitball perpetrator was, but at what cost? I think that these kids' psyches are going to be permanently shaped by this experience. This is a bad thing.

Of course WBAI Management occupies the moral low ground in terms of this intrusive sort of thing. WBAI has 8 spy cameras operating 24 hours a day recording everything that goes on in the hallways of WBAI on a digital recording device that retains its video images for two weeks. One of these spy cameras is pictured here.

In addition to being intrusive these spy cameras at WBAI cost us money and are really nothing more than subpoena machines for any entity that would like to see who went where to say what. Whistle blowers beware before coming into the WBAI studios!

Maybe the kids from the Biloxi school system are being groomed to work at all spy cameras WBAI at some point in the future.

The death toll in France for their big heat wave turns out to be 14,802! It's amazingly callous for folks to just leave their elderly relatives at home to die in a heat to which they're unaccustomed. Maybe this is just the French way of dealing with older folks whom they don't value.

I went over some of the highlights of September 1953, on the program. One of these, from the book The Unicorn Book of 1953 © 1954, Unicorn Books, Inc., was the following, “In Salina, Utah, Communism-conscious residents took a close look at an old sign outside of town — ‘ Welcome Fellow Travelers ’ — and prudently erased its middle word.”

This is a book my parents subscribed to because they'd entered one of those contests where you solve puzzles to win a prize. They never won a prize, but they kept the yearly books, which I now have. It's good to look at how things were half a century ago.

These items led to the next one.

On this program I talked about having first gone to elementary school fifty years ago.St. Francis Xavier's School in Brooklyn

I went to St. Francis Xavier's School on President St. in Brooklyn. It was, and still is, a Catholic school of the Archdiocese of Brooklyn. It's where I first learned to read and write, and found out about adults who weren't relatives who hit kids.

I found arithmetic and religion, music and bullies at that place.

I almost didn't get in. I recall my mother taking me to the school in the Summer of 1953. Brother Denis, the principal, informed my mother that we were too late and that I couldn't be registered for the Fall term. Brother Denis also made a big deal about my not being baptized right after having been born. I was born on August 30, 1947, but only baptized on September 21, 1947.

I was there for the entire event, but I don't recall much more about it, other than the fact that he obviously relented at some point and allowed me to be registered.

At least I didn't come into the class after the term had already started as had happened with kindergarten.

Fifty years ago I was in the First Grade - the 1A as it was called in Saint Francis Xavier's. The teacher, Miss Donnelly, had a pecking order. The rows went from her left to her right, as she faced the class, in descending order of merit. Each individual row went from front to back in descending order of merit.

The first seat in the first row was the highest honor one could have in her class. The last seat in the last row was where the boy who was the stupidest and/or most disapproved of sat.R. Paul Martin in the 1A's class photograph 1953.

Seating was not permanent. It was changed frequently to reflect test scores or changes of Miss Donnelly's opinion of you.

I think that once or twice I was put into the first or second seat in the first row. But I moved around a lot.

We learned very basic things in the 1A. We learned the months, the days of the week and what year it was. We had to put the date on our homework and on tests and things. It was the first time I'd really run into that.

We learned the alphabet and the alphabet song. We'd have to sing it every so often. There was a great deal of repetition in that class. Long after I'd “gotten” something we'd still be repeating it aloud as a class. And the reason why was that there were slower kids in the class who had a hard time learning.

During the endless repetitions some kids would still be stumbling through everything. And some would not be able to repeat it all after we'd done a whole lot of repetitions as a class. This was when I began to get bored with school.

The first three years at Saint Francis Xavier's had only half days of school. The “A” class met in the morning and the “B” class met in the afternoon.

The 1A started somewhere between 8 and 9 AM and went until about noon or 12:30 or so, maybe till 1:00 PM. I don't really recall. I think that the “B” class may have gotten out of school at something like 3:30 or 4:00 PM.

The 1B would assemble at the west side of The Auditorium and wait until Miss Jones would bring them into the classroom. The 1A and 1B used the same classroom.

I remember one day as Miss Donnelly led us out through the corridor that the doors to The Auditorium opened and some 1B boys began pointing at us and chanting “One A babies!” over and over again. It was a bit shaking. There was obvious hostility coming from them. And of course it is quite ridiculous for 6½ year olds to be flaunting their advanced age over 6 year olds.

About six months later, when my 1A class became the 1B, my class repeated the incident of shouting “One A babies!” at the 1A as they left the building. I didn't participate in that, and was crushed by classmates having done that. I felt a real loss of the moral high ground. I think this may have been the first time I experienced the phenomenon of group guilt. Miss Jones, the 1B teacher, meted out some punishment. I don't recall what the punishment was, but I bet no one from my class is taunting 6 year olds even fifty years later!Title page of the 1912 catechism we used in 1A

We also had religion in the 1A. That's when Miss Donnelly took our catechisms, which had a copyright date of 1912, and marked them up for all of us so that we would only memorize the important parts. So all of that Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur crap from the Archbishop of Brooklyn on down, which was printed at the front of the catechism, got kicked to the curb by a few strokes of Miss Donnelly's pencil.

We learned to read and write in the 1A, or at least we started to. I was able to read and write pretty easily and soon. I think it was in the 1B that I got my first library card and borrowed my first book.

We used pencils, of course, in the 1A. We didn't use pens until about the 3rd Grade, I think. And those were fountain pens.

Our writing was all printing at first, of course. I don't think we did cursive writing in the 1A. I do recall the exercises in the special book that had special lines so we'd learn to make a difference between upper case and lower case letters. Ah, the exercises of penciling tight spirals that just touched the lines above and below.

Miss Hessian was music teacher, she was ancient in 1953. So we were learning music as well in the 1A. We learned the scales, and had to sing them back to Miss Hessian. I can still remember the scales, do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do, but I can't do them backwards as we could do back in the 1A.

Mr. Murphy was the custodian. He had a door in the school yard he could go into that none of us could ever enter. He had mysterious access to all parts of the building.

Saint Francis Xavier's was also segregated by gender, unlike kindergarten. We learned that we could never go to the girls' side of the building.

I think we got recess in 1A, but we didn't get it when everybody else in the school did because we were on a different schedule. We would be marched out into the huge school yard where we would not be allowed to run around.

That was the grade in which I learned my full name, and learned to write it, or at least print it out.

I had to carry a school bag for the first time in the 1A.

I had never been exposed to all that religion before, only a vague mention of a god now and again.

They also made us go to Mass on Sundays in 1A. It was then that I saw a Catholic Mass that I could begin to understand for the first time and found it confusing. I noticed that at one point people walked up to the front, knelt down and were given something to eat while the priest seemed to say, “Ketticaw went on vacation.” I thought it related to a Summer vacation these people had been on! What he was really saying, in Latin, was “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam.”

This mumbo jumbo translates to, “The body of our Lord Jesus (H.) Christ preserve thy soul unto life everlasting.” Well, I did add the “(H.)” part.

At a previous Mass when I was quite small back at St. Augustine's, which I'd attended with my mother, I couldn't even see what was going on.

My mother used to walk me to school in the early grades, especially the 1A. I remember that the mothers would wait for us up on the Avenues after school. They weren't allowed to come down the street to collect their kids. I remember them waiting for us up on 7th Ave. & President St. one time when I was running up President St. hollering that I'd gotten 100% and a gold star on something. I guess it was a test.

Besides your grade you might also get a star of some color on your paper. 100% and a gold star was the absolutely highest result you could get in the 1A.

The idea of getting graded was also new to me in the 1A. I guess that I adapted to it relatively rapidly though.

We used composition books with the marble covers in 1A, that was the first time that I'd ever had anything to do with those too.

We could hear the rest of the school having recess, and maybe lunch, out in the school yard in the 1A.

I don't really recall if we had corporal punishment in the 1A.

The boys' room in the basement was a trip. They hadn't opened the door to the girls' side yet so there was nothing in front of the urinals. You could stand in the basement and see right in to the lavatory. The drains of the urinals were sunk below the level of the black concrete floor, so they also served to drain any other liquids in the area.

In the 1A the kids hadn't been “trained” yet so you could raise you hand and ask to go to the boys' room. By the next grade the teachers began to use shame to get kids to not go to the can whenever they felt like it.

The Jesuits have a saying that goes something like, “Give us the boy until he's seven and we'll have the man.” Well, they had me until way past seven, and they started in the 1A, but they sure never had the man. How odd to be sentimental about the beginning of an excruciating process.

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even now that the gag rule has been lifted. However, there is the Internet! There are mailing lists which you can subscribe to and Web based message boards devoted to WBAI and Pacifica issues. Many controversial WBAI/Pacifica issues are discussed on these lists.

Probably the most popular list that's sprung up is the “NewPacifica” mailing list. This one is very lively and currently includes over 400 subscribers coast to coast.

Being lively, of course, it sometimes also gets a bit nasty. All sorts of things are happening on this list and official announcements are frequently posted there.

You can look at the NewPacifica list here, and you can join the list from that Web page too. If you subscribe to the “NewPacifica” mailing list you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list.

There is the option to receive a “digest” version of the list, which means that a bunch of messages are bundled into one E-mail and sent to you at regular intervals, this cuts down on the number of E-mails you get from the list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.

This list also has a Web based interface where you can read messages and from which you can post your own messages.

There is also the more WBAI specific “Goodlight” Web based message board. It is sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as “the bleepin' blue board,” owing to the blue background used on its Web pages. This one has many people posting anonymously and there's also an ancillary “WBAI people” board that's just totally out of hand.

When the computer in Master Control is working we sometimes have live interaction with people posting on the “Goodlight Board” during the program.

And then there is the historic “Free Pacifica!” list, which has been used to help organize resistance to Pacifica Management hijackers since the mid-90s. It's become a low volume mailing list because it's been eclipsed by some of the newer, more technologically advanced, lists. Just click on this link and follow the instructions, and you'll be subscribed. This is a mailing list only, it doesn't have a digest option nor does it have a web interface.

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

You can also send me E-mail.

WBAI related links

Free Pacifica Web site

WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2003, R. Paul Martin.