Back of the Book — July 6, 2013

It's Friday night, September 13, 2013, 23:40, and I've put in the segment here about the AstroTower being demolished just before this radio program. I hope there's more to come. The original top of this page follows the arrow. ⇒ This is our annual Christopher St. Liberation Day March program. Yeah, LGBT Pride is a recent name for it all. I plan to get into this a bit tonight. Pickles of the North is at the North Pole on assignment for this program. So I'll be shooting my mouth off non-stop for the entire hour. I'll be getting to more than just the March and all on this program. And I'll probably update this Web page some time before the end of the universe. So check in for the possibility of updates.

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

I have also just posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next regular WBAI LSB meeting is scheduled to happen on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, at 7:00 PM at a location to be announced.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, June 12, 2013, at Alwan-for-the-arts, 16 Beaver Street, 4th floor, in downtown Manhattan.

We didn't get to a Treasurer's Report at this meeting but I had posted a written Treasurer's Report the night before.

The LSB rescinded a badly worded and ill considered motion to set up a Program Director Search Committee, which had been passed at a previous meeting. The station can't afford to hire a Program Director at this point anyway.

The LSB had a report from the General Manager on the state of some things, and then LSB went into executive session for a while. The official report out of that executive session is that, “The WBAI LSB met in executive session to discuss personnel, financial and operational issues in relation to the PNB mandate.”

At a previous meeting the WBAI 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 newly revamped Web site. The site has gotten many of the individual program pages together to provide links and such, so check it out.

Because WBAI was forced out of its studios by the flood waters' destruction of the building's electrical system we still have this alternate, temporary stream for the radio station! I do not know how long this emergency stream will be up for. If this stream isn't working let me know.

New WBAI stream! WBAI has put up an experimental stream for the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. This is a brand new, experimental stream. So if you have one of those devices you might try the link out. And let us know how it works for you one way or the other. That way the folks implementing it can iron out any kinks in the system.

WBAI is archiving the programs! Just go here and you'll be able to listen to this program any time for the next couple of months. You may need to scroll up one line to see the audio archive. Let me know if you find this feature useful. There is also another version of the archive here.

If you want to listen to any part of the WBAI archive click here to go right to the archives. 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. Or to see only the two shows in this time slot click here.

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

In the table on the archive Web page Back of the Book and Saturday Morning With the Radio On 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!

In the Summer of 2009, there was a Pacifica National Board meeting held in New York. 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, 2009. 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.

The Pacifica National Board (PNB) met in Manhattan the weekend of October 1-3, 2010. The audio has been posted for the first day of the meeting, the second day of the meeting and the third day of the meeting.

Staging area
Our Crowded Staging Area on E. 40th St.

So Pickles of the North and I went to the annual Christopher St. Liberation Day March again this year.

The staging area the bisexual contingent was in, on E. 40th St, between Madison and 5th Aves., was jam packed when we got there, and we got there a good 20 plus minutes before the march was scheduled to kick off. Usually it's pretty roomy in the staging area, even right before the step-off time.

Pickles speculated that there was a larger crowd this year because of the Supreme Court decisions that struck down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and California's infamous Proposition 8. That's probably true. I remember that in 1977, the march suddenly got larger because Anita Bryant had gotten the gay civil rights law overturned in Broward country, Florida not long before the march date.

I plan on posting some more photographs, and commentary, on this year's march after the program. And of course I'll go on and on during the program, as usual. Yeah, prepare to hear some kvetching.

The Wonderwheel, AstroTower and the Cyclone
The Wonder Wheel and the AstroTower in 2011

Astroland used to be a big, important part of the Coney Island amusement area, before it got bought out by a certain nefarious business interest. Astroland Park featured all sorts of rides and attractions. One of the rides was the AstroTower, which the owners of Astroland erected in the middle '60s.

The AstroTower was basically a steel doughnut with windows that you got in and rode up to the top of the AstroTower's shaft, where the doughnut would rotate for a while. There you got to look out over quite a panorama, I'm told. I never went on that ride, mostly because it came along at a time when I was not going to Coney Island much. And later in life, when I was more likely to go to Coney Island, it cost too much for me.

the AstroTower 20120906
The AstroTower as it was in 2012

Astroland shut down on September 7, 2008. the area was pretty much vacant for a year or more. We talked on the air about how the evisceration of Astroland was a part of greedy people destroying something that had functioned well before they bullied their way into possession of it. For a while the land that had been occupied by Astroland was just abandoned looking, and it was pretty effectively abandoned. Most of the rides were sold before the new owner took possession of the property. Not everything could be moved though. The AstroTower was just too huge to be demolished cheaply.

The first photograph here shows the AstroTower, the Wonderwheel and The Cyclone. You can form a guess about how tall the AstroTower was by realizing that the AstroTower is closer to the Cyclone than it is to the Wonderwheel in this photograph.

astrotower_20130530 (18K)
A Long View of the AstroTower

Flash forward to this past Tuesday afternoon, July 2. Some yuppies brought their brat to Coney Island, and the brat started complaining that the AstroTower was swaying a bit in the wind. The yuppies raised an alarm. The regular visitors to Coney Island and the people who work there said, “Yeah, so what?” In the right wind the AstroTower will sway a little bit. In most other wind conditions it sings. You can hear it's wind tone all over the neighborhood on those days. Pickles of the North and I have seen it sway a bit in the wind before. And we've frequently heard that tone it makes when the wind is blowing the right way. It's been doing that for years.

Well, if there's one thing you can't get away with these days it's frightening a yuppie brat. The yuppie parents knew they and their brat were privileged people and so they called 911 to report this dangerous situation.

This brought the NYPD, FDNY and building inspectors to the amusement area. They shut down the entire amusement area while they inspected the tower. The local cops and fire persons probably already new that there was nothing wrong with the AstroTower as soon as they got there. The building inspectors didn't see anything obviously wrong, but they had to perform a full inspection.

Well, this was not a short inspection. It was a very public spectacle, it had made the TV news and it may have even made news in other parts of the country.

So the inspection was thorough, which meant that it took hours and hours. All the while the entire amusement area was shut down. Not just the new Luna Park, operated by Zamperla, a multinational corporation that currently owns the concession to run the rides in the former Astroland Amusement Park, but Deno's Wonderwheel Park, next door, was also shut down! All this on the start of the long Fourth of July weekend!

What's left of the AstroTower
The Stump of the AstroTower

The people running these amusement parks, and the concessionaires, all together lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in business that they could never get back due to everything being shut down.

The building inspectors finished their inspections and declared the AstroTower to be stable, no danger to anyone. And so the amusement areas were cleared to reopen.

But, not so fast.

It turns out that Zamperla had already been looking for an excuse to tear down that tall reminder of the previous folks who had run things in that space. And so they prolonged the evacuation order by starting the tearing down of the AstroTower in the middle of the night. Quite a number of demolition adventures seem to happen in the middle of the night at Coney Island these days. The result is that the AstroTower was cut down to a shaft pretty much half its original height over the course of a night and a day. Shortly thereafter the remainder of the AstroTower was demolished, leaving only the bare stump that I show in the final photograph on this part of the page.

This is sad stuff. I was not one of the great afficianadoes of the AstroTower, but it was a part of Coney Island. And how ironic that it was demolished on a Fourth of July holiday.

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even though the gag rule was lifted in 2002. 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.

One popular list the “NewPacifica” mailing list. Founded October 31, 2000, this list is sometimes lively and as of mid-2013, has 691 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 Saturday Morning With the Radio On alternates with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

My voice mail number at WBAI is no longer functional. This is probably a permanent situation. It was nice while it lasted.

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 © 2013, R. Paul Martin.