Web links related to the Back of the Book program of January 26, 2009

It's Saturday afternoon, February 7, 2009, 16:13, and I've updated this Web page with more about what we did on the radio program plus some additional Coney Island photographs and the information that we're pitching on the next two radio programs! This Web page is finished now. Oh, we have a new president. The world is still falling apart. We got to the below topics and some more mail on this program.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of many of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do.

The next regular WBAI LSB meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 18, 2009, at 7:00 PM, at a location to be announced.

There were meetings of the WBAI Delegates' Assembly and LSB held on Wednesday, January 21, 2009, at the Judson Memorial Church Assembly Room, 239 Thompson Street in Manhattan

The LSB voted to hold the rest of its meetings for 2009, on the following dates:

All of these meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM.

I had all of the faction members sitting next to me during this meeting. They just never shut up! They chatter on all throughout the meeting and make nasty, insulting remarks to and about others. And they just keep this up. I suppose that they're bolstering each others' delusions.

In an amazing move the LSB approved the minutes of the April 23, 2008, LSB meting. This is important because the LSB under that faction, which I'm calling the FoBs completely screwed up the minutes of the meetings. In fact we have yet to see the minutes of the March 16, 2006, LSB meeting! The minutes are important because they're the business records of the LSB. I think that the FoBs are ashamed of what they pulled at that March 16, 2006, LSB meeting and that's why they haven't produced the minutes of it yet.

There are no minutes for most of 2006, no minutes for almost all of 2007, and none at all for the first months of 2008, when the FoBs had the majority on the LSB.

The LSB passed a motion reconstituting the LSB Radio show committee and asking the Program Director and General Manager for air time for it on a monthly basis. There was only one LSB radio show in 2008, far fewer than when the Program Director's faction had the majority on the LSB.

I gave a Treasurer's report. The news is not so great. And we are not sure about what's happening with WBAI's FY09 budget because I'm not getting the information from the Pacifica National Office.

The General Manager wasn't there but he sent along a written report. He talked about the premiums being dealt with. I've also heard from others that folks are coming in to volunteer their labor to get the backlog of premiums out at long last. If you haven't gotten a premium you should contact WBAI Management about this and see if you can get the long delayed premium now.

The Delegates' Assembly elected the following members to the Pacifica National board: Nia Bediako, Carolyn Birden, Kathy Davis and Jamie Ross. These are the same folks elected last April when the FoBs lost the majority on the WBAI LSB.

And this LSB meeting was over before ten o'clock at night! A definite improvement over the last one that went on into the next morning.

WBAI 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.

WBAI has an official Web stream of what's on the air at any time! You can go here and pick which type of stream you want! If this stream isn't working let me know. The stream was working at 11:34 PM last night.

WBAI is archiving the programs! Just go here and you'll be able to listen to the program any time for the next couple of months. When you first go to the Web page you'll only see the WBAI programs for the past 7 days. If you want to see older programs you can click on one of the “See ALL Shows” buttons.

Back of the Book is now one of the programs that you can download, as well as listen to on line.

I'm glad to announce that with a new person doing the archives there have been some positive changes. In the table on that Web page Back of the Book and Carrier Wave are both in the Show column. The “Date and Category” column shows the date of the program. After the program I go in and write the details of the program and say which program it is. Of course I'd recommend that you just listen to both programs in this time slot!

We've been informed that we'll be pitching on the next program on February 8/9. We've also been told that we're pitching again on February 22/23! Well, WBAI needs to pay the rent. And with changes on the PNB and in Pacifica Management things may be looking up.

We hope that you'll pledge to WBAI while Back of the Book is on at that time.

If you listen to the radio program on tape or via the archives you probably won't be able to pledge during the program, but you can send us a check ahead of time. A regular one year membership is $25. So, if you can, please send a check made payable to “Pacifica/WBAI” and send it to:

R. Paul Martin
120 Wall St. 10th floor
New York, NY 10005

We are only a few months from the start of the next WBAI LSB election process. I hope that all of you will join WBAI as members and be not only eligible vote in those elections but be able to run as candidates for the LSB. And I hope that none of you votes for any of the crumbbums who will run on the so called “Justice & Unity” slate.

And we hope that everyone who listens pledges or sends in a check.

I should also point out that we'll need help answering the phones. In order to answer the phones you'll have to get into the building. The building Management now requires that you get your name added to a list so you can enter 120 Wall St. So if you want to volunteer to answer phones for this 'thon you should call the WBAI switchboard at 1-212-209-2800 during business hours and let the folks in charge know you want to volunteer so they can put your name on the list. We always need more folks to answer the phones so if you want to volunteer to answer the phones for another program during this 'thon the above procedure is the way to do it.

Coney Island Boardwalk after a snow storm

Pickles of the North and I went to Coney Island after having made another, more serious, visit elsewhere on Friday, January 30th. Wow, did the Boardwalk ever look bleak.

We could say that it was just a Winter scene at a beach amusement area. They must all look pretty bleak in January. But there was the pervading knowledge that Coney Island is being dismantled by “developers” whose real intentions are open to question but whose obvious effects on the Coney Island amusement area are clearly detrimental.

Astroland without its rocket
The Boardwalk side of Astroland no longer sports a rocket

And it was even more bleak when we got to where Astroland used to be! The famous Astroland rocket no longer adorns the Gregory & Paul's fast food joint.

A developer named Joe Sitt, through his company Thor Equities, has bought up a lot of the land in the amusement park area of Coney island. Over the past few years he has variously claimed that he was going to completely revitalize the amusement park attractions and he's also claimed that he was going to build luxury condominiums on the same land. He's even said that he wanted to build those luxury condos among the amusement park rides. As if that were a realistic idea. I can really see the wealthy owners of those luxury condos being glad to have the hoi polloi of Brooklyn streaming through “their” neighborhood until the wee hours of every Summer night.

Astroland in 2008
Astroland in 2008, when it still had the rocket

What Mr. Sitt has a track record of doing is “flipping” properties. He has bought properties, made lots of attractive promises about what he was going to do with them and then he's just held onto them until he could sell them to another “developer” for a huge profit.

What Mr. Sitt has brought to Coney Island so far has been blight.

We've talked before about Mr. Sitt's Thor Equities company buying up the land that some attractions were on and then obliterating them. The miniature golf range and the long established batting cages and go cart rides along Stillwell Ave. are an example of this practice. After he bought up the land along both sides of Stillwell Ave. he evicted the tenants and just bulldozed everything.

The Astroland Rocket
The Astroland rocket awaiting removal

In the Summer of 2008, he replaced the former Stillwell Ave. amusements with an open air bar called “Beer Island” and a joint that sold fast food chicken out of a dilapidated shack. The chicken joint was closed down by order of the New York City Board of Health!

He also claimed to be bringing in amusement park rides last summer, but this turned out to be a traveling carnival that, for whatever reason, struck their rickety looking rides and left after a very few weeks.

After a little looking around we found the Astroland rocket grounded on the land that was formerly Astroland. I'm told that the lease for that land expires on January 31, so the rocket has to be moved by then.

Pickles of the North noticed that the hatch to the rocket is open. The rocket has been sealed for decades but now it's open and Pickles says that by the time this photograph had been taken it had been sitting there in the wind driven rain and snow storms for days. We're hoping that the interior of the old rocket doesn't get damaged or rusted or anything.

The rocket came down because Astroland is no more. The folks who owned Astroland sold out to Thor Equities and then leased the land from that company. The 2008, season was actually an extra season that they were able to operate. Thor Equities had originally planned to get rid of Astroland as a tenant a year earlier. But there was no reprieve for 2009, and so the Astroland lease was not renewed.

The family that had operated Astroland will continue to operate the Cyclone, the 85 year old wooden roller coaster that stands across West 10th St. from the former Astroland Park. The Cyclone is landmarked and can't be touched by the greedy “developers.”

Below are some photographs of the remains of Astroland, including the fence, and former Boardwalk entrance, with one of the remaining bouquets of flowers that mourners of Coney Island in general and Astroland in particular had left.

Ruins of Astroland January 23, 2009

All of the rides have been dismantled and carted away. Only the skeleton of the water ride remains to be demolished.

Everything in Astroland is gone or wrecked

The rides that made Astroland are gone, all that's left are the light poles and some wreckage.

Flowers left in mourning for the late Astroland

There had been a lot more flowers left here at what used to be the Boardwalk entrance to Astroland, but this was all that was left when we got there. What will become of the 3.1 acres that Astroland used to occupy?

So the infamous Proposition 8 passed in California and banned same gender marriages. So the people who supported Proposition 8 should be all glad about that and even proud of what they've done, right? Well, not quite. It seems that when some supporters of same gender marriage posted a Google Maps search that shows who gave more than $100 to support Proposition 8, and included tags that showed where they live the supporters of Proposition 8 displayed something less than pride in what they'd done.

California law requires that anyone contributing more than $100 to a campaign has to be listed publicly. so folks got that list and have used Google Maps to pinpoint them. Ironically, the Proposition 8 supporters are complaining now that this shouldn't happen, even though the law that has outed them was passed by the same mechanism as Proposition 8 used!

Here's the Web site with the maps on it. Make sure that you allow javascript for both the maps and the pointers. This means that you'll need to allow javascript for both google.com and googlecode.com.

We're in mid-Winter now. For those of you who want to know exactly when we're half way through Winter, that will occur on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009, at 6:54 PM (ET). For more look here.

Pickles of the North reported on a federally funded study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that says that the average American's life span has increased by 4.8 months over the past couple of decades due to the air being cleaner. The main difference is that there's less grit, or particulate matter, in the air now and so our lungs are less stressed.

She also reported that while humans are doing better because of the less polluted air trees in the western United States and Canada are dying twice as quickly as they did just 30 years ago, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey. They think that the most likely reason for this accelerated die off rate is global warming which allows some insects that harm trees to stick around longer, and which makes droughts worse. The thinning forests in turn help to increase local warming. So there's a terrible feedback loop going on, and nobody has a solution to this problem.

I talked a little bit about the discovery that the Ebola virus has jumped from an infected pig to a human being in the Philippines. The concern that this raises is that a lot more people are exposed to pigs than are exposed to the other known vectors of Ebola such as gorillas and bats. The strain that was communicated from the pig to the human was the Ebola Reston virus, which luckily has only been shown to cause the symptoms of a mild flu.

Scientists and public health officials have been concerned for years that if one of the more virulent strains of Ebola, such as the Zaire strain, were to get loose in a densely populated area it could cause a major epidemic of hemorrhagic fever that could potentially kill huge numbers of people in a short time. The virulent strains in Africa have been known to decimate entire villages. If the same strains got loose in a large city not only would that city's population suffer tremendously but infected people leaving that city by air could quickly spread the disease to other large population centers causing an epidemic or even a pandemic of the disease.

By happenstance a lot of the areas in Africa where the most virulent Ebola strains are known to be endemic are occupied by Muslims, and they don't keep pigs.

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. UPDATE: The bleepin' blue board has had to add a step for folks to get onto it because it's under attack by spambots. When you click on the above link you may be asked for a username and password. Type in Username: poster Password: enternow

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

Our very own Uncle Sidney Smith, whose program Carrier Wave alternates with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

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

You can also send me E-mail.

WBAI related links

WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2009, R. Paul Martin.