Web links related to the Back of the Book program of January 11, 2010

It's Saturday night, January 23, 2010, 21:12, and this Web page is finished. I've added more information about a couple of the topics we covered on the air. Previously I'd added the photograph of that cake that we had for the 50th anniversary of WBAI becoming a Pacifica radio station as well as some more text about the history of WBAI. I've also added the bit about what's been done to the fountain in front of the building that the station is in, as I said I would. After the arrow is the original top of this page. ⇒ Tonight we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of WBAI as a Pacifica radio station! We'll get to the below topics, maybe more, and we'll try to get through more of the listener mail. As usual, check back for updates.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of many of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do, and I've recently updated this stuff a tiny bit.

There was a sudden Town Hall meeting held on Monday, April 13, 2009, at 7:00 PM at The Fortune Society, 630 Riverside Drive at 140th St. in Manhattan. Here's a flyer that was passed out at the event.

The next regular WBAI LSB meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 13, 2010, at 7:00 PM at 388 Atlantic Avenue, between Bond and Hoyt streets, in downtown Brooklyn.

Nearest subway is A or C to Hoyt/Schermerhorn (exit station on Bond St. side. Walk two short blocks up Bond to Atlantic, cross Atlantic, 388 is on the right a few doors down.) OR any of the trains at Atlantic/Pacific (N,R,B,Q,D,2,3,4,or 5 train) OR #63 (5th Ave.) bus from Bay Ridge and Park Slope, and turns up Atlantic Ave. OR, by car, BQE to Atlantic Ave., 5 or so blocks down Atlantic (towards Clock Tower), on right. Here's a link to a map.

The first regular meeting of the Fifth WBAI LSB held on Wednesday, December 23, 2009, at 7:00 PM, at 388 Atlantic Ave. in downtown Brooklyn, New York.

Well, the FoBs had lost the election but they came out to disrupt this meeting.

The Fifth WBAI LSB hadn't sat for more than five seconds before one faction operative started to challenge a Staff member who was seated. This involved a Staff member who'd come in as the first runner-up in the Staff election. I had resigned my seat so that I can run again in 2010, Pacifica requires that you be off the LSB for a full year before you're allowed to run again if you've served for a certain amount of time.

Well, the Chair ruled that the Staff member was the one to fill in the seat. The faction, however, wanted the runner-up list from two years ago used. The Chair ruled that the person was legally seated, the faction appealed the ruling of the Chair.

Now this is an interesting situation. How the hell does the LSB start challenging membership like this and base it all on an appeal of the ruling of the Chair? This is sort of a formula for doing all sorts of odd things, maybe even including attempts at reversing elections by appealing the ruling of a Chair!

At sister station KPFA their LSB pulled a fast one by not seating the new LSB! They had the old LSB meet, illegally, and then tried to unseat a continuing member by claiming he'd lost his membership by not attending a meeting that never legally met! You can read a statement from the legal KPFA LSB members here. The folks who did this are west coast allies of the FoBs here in New York. Yeah, wild stuff and games in Pacifica.

So the vote was held and the Chair's ruling over overruled! So the Staff member, who of course was not a faction member, was to be denied the seat.

Seems illegal to me.

Apparently some of the non-faction LSB members variously didn't understand the motion, didn't understand the issue or didn't understand how motions work. Oh well, this has to be cleared up now.

So the faction got all energized from this and they, and their claque, disrupted the meeting.

Officer elections went all right until we got to the vote for Treasurer. The meeting was running late and one of the new independent members just left, saying she had to get up early the next day. And apparently another new independent member apparently voted for a faction operative. The result was that I was not elected Treasurer by one vote. Gosh, it looks like that one vote that was removed made a difference.

The the FoBs made it quite the toxic meeting. They just attacked people, verbally, all night. That idiot faction sycophant I've mentioned before actually sat on the table in front of the Chair for a while just to delay the meeting. That same person also lied about a Treasurer's Report I'd issued last month about embezzlement at WBAI some years ago. The faction doesn't want people to see that report. And so they actively lie about it.

And then one faction operative, who goes by the name Omowale Clay, started insulting Pickles of the North! Well, I suppose that the faction operatives really do want to make things personal this year.

And then the faction brought up a totally absurd motion. They wanted to have the LSB run certain motions past Lynne Stewart, who got elected at the top of the faction's ticket but who is doing time in a federal prison for at least the next couple of years, and let her send in her comments and vote on motions via proxy! This sort of thing is expressly prohibited by both the Pacifica bylaws and Robert's Rules of Order. Luckily, one of the new independent members voted against this and it didn't pass, not that it would have made much difference because it would have been illegal anyway. We observed the treatment that the new LSB member got from the faction operatives after that vote.

And then the meeting broke up, after which I went to the men's room and a couple of faction operatives harassed Pickles of the North while I wasn't around!

It looks like toxicity of a very personal nature is going to be the faction's major tactic this year. The LSB is going to have to deal with that.

At its January 21, 2009, meeting the LSB voted to hold its meetings on the second Wednesday of every month and/or the last Thursday of that month, subject to change by the LSB, which gives us the following schedule:

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 8:28 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.

NOTE: A listener reported that the archive for the January 11, 2010, program was truncated at 91 minutes. So I reported this to the person doing the archives and he fixed it right away. So the archive for this program in intact now. Thanks to Michael for fixing it so soon, and thanks to the listener for pointing it out.

I'm glad to announce that the archives have seen 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!

The Pacifica National Board (PNB) met in New York City from Friday July 23, to Sunday July 26, 2009.

The meeting was held at the Beekman Towers Hotel, 3 Mitchell Place, in Manhattan, a couple of blocks north of the United Nations.

There's an election going on in Pacifica, so there were a few candidates attending and speaking during the public comment sessions. Some disrupted the meeting.

Here's the Web page I did about this PNB meeting and the amazing things that went on at it.

And the PNB has also met in Houston from Friday October 9th, through Sunday October 11th. The official audio archive of that meeting is here. It was not disrupted as the New York meeting was, although some of the same miscreants got out there to say stupid things.

What we saw of the 50th anniversary cake
What we saw of the WBAI 50th anniversary cake.

On this program we celebrated the 50th anniversary of WBAI becoming a Pacifica radio station! We also found the remains of this really great cake that had been brought in for the official on-air celebration Sunday afternoon and night. Well, you can see a photograph of it above in the refrigerator at the station. Yes, I have diabetes. Yes, I shouldn't have had any of that cake. Yes, it was just too good to resist. We overnight denizens of the radio station didn't gobble up all of the cake that you see in the photograph, just a bit was quite enough. That icing was so rich, and thick!

WBAI became a part of the Pacifica network on January 10, 1960. And while this radio program technically aired on January 11th, 2010, we figured that it was still airing within the first 24 hours of the initial sign-on of WBAI as a Pacifica station 50 years ago. So it was still WBAI's 50th anniversary of starting as a Pacifica station.

WBAI's 99.5 frequency started out as an experimental TV station in 1941. In 1945, “General” David Sarnoff of NBC and RCA used his influence to make the U.S. government move the FM band to its current place between 88 MHz and 108 MHz, rendering useless all of the FM radio sets that had been sold by competitor Major Edwin H. Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio. In those early days of FM radio the 99.5 FM slot was allocated to WABF, a classical music station with broadcast studios at the top of the Hotel Pierre in Manhattan.

In the mid-'50s, WABF was sold to World Broadcast Associates Inc., and became WBAI. Then WBAI was sold to millionaire Louis Schweitzer (Louis Schweitzer also founded what became the Vera Institute of Justice). Mr. Schweitzer eventually grew disillusioned with radio and gave WBAI to the Pacifica Foundation, which began broadcasting Pacifica programs on WBAI on January 10, 1960.

Those 7 words
A poster in Master Control

Since WBAI had started as a commercial radio station it was not located in the college and community radio ghetto at the low end of the FM band. In fact 99.5 FM is right in the middle of the FM band as it has existed since 1945. This gave WBAI a reach that few other community radio stations could match.

The WBAI of 1960, would sound pretty tame to a 21st Century listener. But those were different times and WBAI was innovative, and it got a lot of attention for some of the views it allowed on the air.

There were self avowed Communists debating the likes of the right wing's William F. Buckley Jr., and beatniks and then hippies showed up on the air, and every sort of music anyone could make was aired on WBAI. There were readings of books like War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy where the entire book would be read by a relay of readers, some of whom were famous actors, some of whom would become famous actors, and most of whom were as obscure as those of us on this program. And of course what's called “Free Form Live Radio” was invented on WBAI by Bob Fass. This is the format of Back of the Book.

In July 1962, WBAI aired an interview with Randy Wicker. Mr. Wicker was an advocate for homosexuality. This was the first time that an openly gay guest had been interviewed on the radio. While the program was well received by some New York newspapers others denounced WBAI for having someone on the air who said that being homosexual was a good idea and a perfectly reasonable was to live. The Journal-American was especially scathing in its condemnation of this program. There were calls in the press for WBAI's license to be revoked. About a month later Randy Wicker began to produce gay programming on WBAI in a regular time slot. Mr. Wicker produced the program for a few years and then others took over doing gay programming, including Charles Pitts. By the '70s and '80s the number of gay men who acknowledged having been educated about gay male life and issues by Charles Pitts' broadcasts was astounding.

Of course WBAI was the radio station that in 1973, broadcast George Carlin's comedy album that included his monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” A guy claimed that his son had heard this broadcast and he complained to the F.C.C. This eventually led to a lawsuit and it went to the United States Supreme Court where, on July 3, 1978, the court decided against WBAI in the lawsuit Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation. These free speech issues have been a frequent theme at WBAI for decades.

120 Wall St.
The front entrance of 120 Wall St.

Over the years WBAI has led a nomadic existence. On January 10, 1960, the station was allowed to remain at its 39th St. studios where it had been broadcasting, and the station stayed there for some years. Eventually it had to move, some say because it started airing things that pissed off Louis Schweitzer, whose space it was still occupying. The station then moved to a former church on E. 62nd St. where it stayed for years and became really famous as a purveyor of the ideas of the emerging counter culture. But there were legal problems, and attempts by Inner City Broadcasting to acquire the license to the 99.5 FM frequency, and eventually WBAI had to leave “The Church.” Next stop was 505 8th Ave. where WBAI stayed for 20 years. After that the station moved to its current headquarters at 120 Wall St. where its lease will run out on December 31, 2012.

In 1977, there was a major dispute about programming at WBAI, and of course it was all extremely involved and included other issues. This resulted in the 1977, takeover of the transmitter and lockout of Staff. WBAI was off the air for 6 weeks. When the station came back on the air a number of long time programs and producers had been removed. To some people WBAI died in 1977.

One of the programs removed after the 1977, lockout was the regular gay program on WBAI. Someone high up in WBAI came to a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) in the Spring of 1977. I was in the next room when the WBAI representative came to GAA. But after that meeting the new producers of gay programming on WBAI were - the members of the GAA Executive Committee. After a while they founded the Gay Men's Collective and named the regular program Gay Rap.

Celebratory cookie
Back of the Book's official WBAI 50th anniversary celebratory cookie

It was right after this, in 1978, that Uncle Sidney came to WBAI and became a member of the Gay Men's Collective and produced any number of programs on Gay Rap. That's where I first met Sidney.

I had been a guest on the program Gay Rap a number of times when the station was still at the church. I was again a guest a few times after the station moved to 505 8th Ave. In 1979, my lover in those days, referred to as my male ex these days, joined the Gay Men's Collective at WBAI. One prominent member of the Gay Men's Collective, which became the Gay Men's Department in about 1979, was a friend of my lover and me. He and others had invited me to join the collective several times, but I declined because of that particular person's stories of the insane infighting that went on at the station, largely by himself. When that person got tossed out of the station for violating F.C.C. rules by broadcasting a taped program with a lot of prohibited words at 11:00 AM on a Saturday morning, and then lying about it to Management, I was again invited to join the collective. This time I did.

I became the Coordinator of what Management re-designated the Gay Men's Collective right after I got there. I did that thankless job for 25 months. After Larry Gutenberg took over as Coordinator I produced programs on Gay Rap until its final broadcast as part of the Winter 'thon in January 1985, which was WBAI's 25th anniversary. After that I was Executive Producer of the various gay programs which succeeded Gay Rap including Gay New York and The Gay Show. I eventually started doing Back of the Book in September 1986, and had less and less time to devote to the specifically gay programming.

Pickles of the North came to WBAI in 1996, as a producer on the program Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade.

I've been a part of the history of this radio station for more than half its lifetime. Some of the more recent history can be found in the pages of this Web site. I hope that WBAI has many more half centuries ahead of it.

So we see where some right wing Christian fundamentalists went to Uganda and preached anti-gay bigotry to the population. And now there's a movement to establish the death penalty for being gay in Uganda! What the hell?!

The New York Times names the American Christian fundamentalists responsible for this outrage as Scott Lively, a missionary who has written anti-gay books; Caleb Lee Brundidge, who goes around calling himself “a former gay man” and who makes money “healing” gay people; and Don Schmierer, a board member of another oh so religious group dedicated to anti-gay bigotry.

These jerks went to Uganda in March 2009, to preach to thousands of Ugandans, including police and government ministers, about how bad homosexuality was about what they called “the gay agenda,” and to push their own ability to “cure” people of homosexuaility!

Another right wing Christian bigot who went to Uganda was that Rick Warren character whom President Obama had do the invocation at his inaugural in 2009.

So this legislation, called the ANTI HOMOSEXUALITY ACT, 2009 not only calls for the death penalty for homosexual acts, but it also provides for a prison sentence of 7 years for anyone convicted of “promoting homosexuality!” And from my reading of this disgusting piece of legislation anyone from Uganda who engages in same gender sex outside of Uganda, or who “promotes homosexuality” outside of Uganda is liable to extradition to Uganda for trial.

Of course the right wing sky pilots are denying that they had anything to do with this atrocity. What cowards they are, and how dishonest.

Uh oh, is the world really going to end in the maybe not so distant future? From this article you might think that this is the case. I don't think so, but I'm looking into this.

That article refers to a white dwarf star named T Pyxidis which is more than 3,000 light years away. The article says that if it goes supernova at its current distance from the Earth that, “the supernova's gamma rays would completely destroy the ozone layer,” which could cause major problems for all life on the surface of the planet. There is debate about how close a supernova would have to be in order to wipe out life on Earth, but from what I've read that debate is over whether the maximum distance is 30 light years or 100 light years. At over 3,000 light years it sounds like we shouldn't worry about it. And the star T Pyxidis might not pop for tens of thousands of years, or even longer.

In other doomsday news that we don't really have to worry about we chuckled a bit over Anatoly N. Perminov, who's the head of the Russian space agency, grandstanding about how he and his pals will hold a big, closed door meeting to devise a plan to save the entire planet Earth from a collision with the asteroid 99942 Apophis. Magnanimously he says that after they figure out how to save civilization from blazing devastation from outer space they'll let NASA, the China Space Agency and the European Space Agency know the details so they can chip in. Mr. Perminov glorifies his efforts by saying that he's going to save hundreds of thousands of people's lives.

Well, years ago there had been some concern that the asteroid Apophis was going to hit the Earth in 2029, and that would be a major catastrophe because Apophis is about 1,100 feet across and would cause major devastation if it were to hit the Earth. But even then that preliminary estimate gave only a 2.7% chance that the collision would happen. Now, with more observations of Apophis providing more precise data about its orbit, the odds of a collision in 2029, are zero and the odds of a collision in 2036, are one in about 250,000. So there really is nothing to worry about and this appears to just be posturing by this guy, probably to get himself some personal publicity and maybe to get his agency more funding.

At about 1,100 feet across Apophis would not be something you'd want to have hit the Earth. And it does come pretty close at times. So people should keep an eye on it. To this end the Planetary Society has awarded $50,000 to seven winners of their Apophis Mission Design Competition to study the asteroid.

When Apophis does show up in 2029, it will streak by at only about 18,000 miles from the surface of the Earth. It will probably be a pretty interesting naked eye object to watch. There's a good chance I won't be around to see that event, but if I am I'll do what I can to get a look at it. Here's a link to a visual of Apophis.

Fountain at night with cables
Fountain at the ass end of Wall St. rigged against skateboarders

We mentioned on this program that the fountain at the ass end of Wall St. has had cables strung across it. We're guessing that these cables were strung across the fountain in order to prevent people from cavorting with skateboards inside the fountain.

No skateboarding sign
An impotent sign

On this site we have a page about the fountain and the park, officially named Manhattan Park. I did that page almost a year ago. These cables are the biggest change since then.

I've seen the people playing with their skateboards along Manhatta Park, which Pickles of the North and I call the UFO Landing Strip because of how bizarre it looked when they first set it up with the translucent pedestals under the benches all blinking sets of different colored lights and the fountain lit up with its own lights. The skateboarders I've seen are not a bunch of 14 year olds playing around before they have to go home and do their homework. These guys are mostly in their mid-twenties!

Up by Water St. we've seen a bench turned into a ramp by having one of the pedestals holding it up broken. The benches are slabs of polished stone held up by glass cubes which also house the colored lights.

A close up shot of the cables
A close up shot of the cables

The skateboarders, and some in-line skaters who join them, get going as fast as they can and then try to jump up onto the benches that haven't been broken and skate along them. Some entity, I don't know if it's the New York City Parks Dept. or the building owners or managers along the north side of Wall St., have tried to discourage this by variously pasting signs prohibiting skateboarding, locking chains across the width of the benches or installing stainless steel dividers along the benches.

The sign is laughably ineffective. The chains disappeared after a while and the skateboarders have pried the steel dividers off many of the benches. The benches show a lot of scratches on them from the skateboards charging across them.

Well, apparently the aging skateboarders have started playing in the fountain, now that the water's been shut off for the Winter. Stainless steel dividers were installed around the rim of the fountain, and then some of those disappeared.

There are the telltale marks of skateboards having been ridden along the edge of the fountain, scratches and some residue that comes off the wheels of the skateboards. And I suspect that the interior of the fountain, with its curved sides, has also had skateboards riding around in it.

And so we now have these steel cables stretched across the interior of the fountain. The steel dividers hold them in place. Are these dividers better able to resist removal than the others were? Do the steel cables make them more difficult to remove? I don't know. But I do know that the fountain looks bizarre now. I suppose this could be seen as a case study in urban social interactions in early 21st Century lower Manhattan. Not encouraging.

I suppose that besides the annoyance factor of these guys charging around at high speed there's also the consideration that if one of them slips, falls and hurts himself in the fountain that he'll sue either the city or the building that the fountain is in front of, which is 120 Wall St. But I think it's more likely that the skateboarders will hurt someone else by crashing into them.

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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Back to my home page.

The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2010, R. Paul Martin.