Web links related to the Back of the Book program of March 23, 2009

It's Sunday night, April 5, 2009, 21:01, and this Web page is finished. Well, we had a bunch to talk about on this program, from the very personal to the truly universal. We got to the stuff below and more on this program. Sadly, we are had to memorialize another former WBAI producer on this program. Richie Shulberg, whom most listeners knew as Citizen Kafka, passed away on March 14th.

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 Thursday, March 26, 2009, at 7:00 PM, at the 6th Street Community Center, 638 East 6th St. between Ave. B & C, in Manhattan.

There was a meeting of the WBAI LSB held on Wednesday, February 18, 2009, at the Cathedral Parkway Towers Community Room, 125 W. 109th Street in Manhattan.

A large part of the meeting was taken up with the elections of people to the various committees of the Pacifica National Board (PNB). We also elected four people to the WBAI management Evaluation Committee. If this committee actually functions the WBAI LSB may do its first real evaluation of WBAI in the five years that the LSB has existed. The LSB is supposed to do these evaluations annually. The faction that had been in charge for years faked an evaluation a couple of years ago.

I gave the Treasurer's Report, and things are not looking so good. All around the Pacifica network on-air fund raising goals are being missed by an average of 20%. KPFA reported missing their goal by 15%. WBAI's plan to sub-let half our space and so reduce our rent by half starting in a couple of months looks like it's not going to happen. So we're going to have to raise more money than we'd planned. on behalf of the Finance Committee I brought the following motion to the LSB, “The finance committee recommends that the LSB establish a working group to investigate potential changes to the lease and possible new locations/spaces to move to.” Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we could get to vote on that motion. Next meeting I'm sure we'll pass it though.

The General Manager gave a report and said that the current 'thon was not going so well. Also, WBAI has not paid its January and February rent yet. I asked if this could cause a problem and he said that we're paying soon enough that the landlord isn't going to cause problems over the late rent payments. Well, I guess there are some up sides to a down economy.

Faction operatives fulminated and attacked some of us during the public comment section of the meeting. That faction sycophant whom I've mentioned before was in the midst of another of his vituperative rants against me when the Chair told him that he couldn't be so nasty. This ended up with my defending the faction sycophant's right to say whatever he wanted, within legal limits. in the end I moved to appeal the ruling of the chair and the LSB voted that the Chair couldn't stop this sort of speech. The faction sycophant picked right back up and continued attacking me, of course.

The LSB has 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.

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 9:39 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!

Richie Shulberg
(AKA Citizen Kafka)

Former WBAI producer and old pal Richie Shulberg died this past fortnight. He was best known to the world as Citizen Kafka, a wild and crazy guy who produced uproariously comedic radio programs and music of a similar sort with his band which was usually called The Wretched Refuse String Band, even when it wasn't called that.

Among other things he started a radio program called The Secret Museum of the Air on WBAI and later moved it to WFMU. On WFMU they have an archive of his programs there.

Richie, who was a tremendously creative individual, was born in Canarsie, Brooklyn in 1947. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brooklyn College in 1969. In his life Richie took on all sorts of vocations including driving a taxi, teaching high school, managing restaurants and record stores, and I've read that he'd even prospected for opal and jade in Idaho. I think he'd have made a pretty good archtypal grizzled prospector out there.

I mostly remember Richie's Citizen Kafka Show which aired on WBAI starting in 1979. He had other folks on the program with him, including the future co-star on the Roseanne TV show John Goodman. The Citizen Kafka Show was just nuts most of the time. A bunch of creative talents got together and planned and wrote some of the program and then they'd do improvisational comedy with whatever came into their heads. Characters included Johnny Angry Red Welt, played by John Goodman, and Scary Doody, a character who would be eerily familiar to any baby boomer who'd watched a lot of kid's TV in the '50s. The group also did satirical commercials for products such as “Liquid Load.” I think that my favorite mock commercial that they used to do was the recurring one for “Dr. Otto's Rats' Milk Cheese,” the milk for which came from contented rats.

Richie Shulberg also revived WBAI's Free Music Store for a while.

There is a Citizen Kafka page on Wikipedia. Not a whole lot of WBAI producers have those.

I'd heard a year or so ago that Richie has multiple sclerosis, and that is apparently what finally took this creative crazy man from us.

There's a Facebook page for remembrances of Richie.

Kenny Kosek, a musuician and fellow comedy guy on the program, and Ed Haber, who's a quiet guy whom you'd never think would be associated with the riotous Citizen Kafka Show until you found out that he was their live engineer on the air at WBAI, have set up a MySpace memorial page for Richie.

The Wretched Refuse String Band will play its final gig as a memorial for Richie on May 9.

We have so few free spirits on WBAI, or anywhere else, these days. I'm sad that we've lost one such as Richie.

Pickles of the North's eye
Pickles of the North's eye

Well, we talked about something very personal on this program. On the left you can see a photograph that Pickles of the North took of her eye last week.

Those red spots are the result of a bout of shingles she's going through. Shingles can be called Chickenpox Part II because what happens is that the same virus that causes Chickenpox causes shingles.

Once you've contracted Chickenpox you won't get that again. But the virus never goes away. It stays in your body for the rest of your life, hiding in some of your nerves waiting for a moment when it can come out again.

So Pickles thought she'd scratched her nose one day and was perplexed with how much it hurt. And a couple of days later some red spots showed up around her left eye and they hurt too. And they hurt a lot.

Shingles is a very painful manifestation of the Herpes Zoster virus, which just about all of us who are over a certain age were infected by when we got Chickenpox. The pain is so intense because the virus is attacking a nerve, or more than one nerve. My doctor, after I told him about Pickles having gotten shingles, told us of having had young men in their twenties show up in his emergency room years ago fearing that they were having heart attacks, but what they had was shingles showing up in the chest area. The pain is very intense.

My doctor also got me innoculated with a vacceine which may keep me from getting shingles.

Most of the time shingles is painful but it's usually not too serious a medical problem. There are, however, exceptions to this general rule and unfortunately Pickles had one of the three medically serious forms of shingles. She had it around her eye, which meant that the virus was attacking the Ophthalmic nerve (first division of the trigeminal nerve), which is bad enough but there is also the possibility that in such a case the virus can move on to attack the optic nerve. If the virus attacks the optic nerve the person can be permanently blinded.

So this was a very serious thing, and unfortunately we didn't realize what was happening very early on. We'd thought that Pickles had simply scratched her nose and that the scratch had gotten infected. But after a few days we took her to a hospital emergency room and there they diagnosed the shingles outbreak. We had to spend an enormous amount of money on an anti-viral drug and lesser sums on a bunch of other medications that go directly into Pickles' eye. These latter drugs are to treat her cornea which has a very tiny amount of damage from the virus; the drugs may help to prevent more damage that could impair Pickles' vision. We are also spending a lot of time in the Ophthalmology Clinc at a certain Brooklyn hospital. One visit had us waiting 5 hours for a scheduled appointment to happen. We'll keep you all posted on how Pickles is doing on our next program.

Spring is here! It arrived last Friday, March 20th, at 7:44 AM (ET). We'll be having our usual little ritual around that on this radio program. Here's a link to my chart of the seasons, and sub-seasons.

Pickles of the North talked about seeing the actual wann-be-model stampede that occurred in Manhattan over this previous fortnight. She was going out with some gal pals to buy herself an eye patch and they saw all of these young women lined up to go into a studio in Manhattan for this America's Next Top Model TV program. They heard them all screaming and thought that the show's star had come out to boathe in their adoration. But as it turned out the model wanna-bes were panicking and stampeding over each other.

Pickles and her pals, Ratgirl of the West and Artgirl of the Amazon, also saw a sudden bunch of ambulances and fire trucks charging down the block.

What had happened was that some guys who were among the young women had started threatening each other, probably the typical macho crap, and at least one threatened to use a gun on another. Just then a car came by and something went wrong with its engine. It made a series of loud pops and started to smoke. That's what got a criticval mass of the young women to panic and start the stampeded. Several were hurt.

This open casting call was for shorter young women. Most models are tall and thin. Maybe they wanted the short women there so they could humiliate them on the TV program. Well, Pickles was there and reported what it was like to us all.

The UFO landing strip outside of WBAI

I thought I'd post a photograph that I took just before the March 9th, radio program. I took this one while we were rushing down Wall St. to get to the studio.

Actually our rush wasn't really necessary because we had gotten there well ahead of time. The IRT is being dug up in Brooklyn, I think they're installing new mega-rat feeding stations for the legendarily huge creatures that our own Uncle Sidney Smith has dubbed “track otters,” and we had to leave long before we usually do in order to catch the limited trains they're running and so get to the radio station in time to do the program. So we had plenty of time to take this phtograph.

There used to be just an ordinary sidewalk in front of the buildings on the ass end of Wall St. But after 9/11 all of Wall St. got very paranoid.

Centuries ago there used to be something called the Wall St. slip. This was actually a place where you could park a ship and unload it, or load it. That got filled in at some point and there was a small parking lot sort of thing occupying part of the street down there. I think that some folks got scared that someone might park a truck bomb in that little parking lot and blow up the ass end of Wall St. and so they got rid of the small parking lot and put in this park.

Wall St. Park

To the right is a graphic put out by the city from when they were first putting the park in. It shows the large gap between buildings at Wall St. and South St.

We've posted a Web page about the park itself and especially about that fountain at the end of it. You can hardly see the fountain in the photograph on this page. We rarely get to see the UFO Landing Strip lit up even this much. Oh yes, the fountain's lights used to blink as well.

When the park was sort of completed, except for the fountain, a couple of years ago they had all different colored lights in the bases of the benches. And they blinked different colors! Now they hardly ever turn any of them on and you can see that they're just white lights now.

So I just wanted to show folks what it could look like. Now if only they'd light up and turn on that fountain at the end of the park we could get a good demonstration of urban planning by committee.

There are those who believe that the fountain is actually the UFO, by the way.

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.