Back of the Book — June 26, 2021

It's Sunday night, June 27, 2021, 21:26, and this Web page is finished. I've put in the link to the archive of this program, and I've added the other things we talked about. The original top of this page follows the arrow. This was our annual Christopher Street liberation Day program. We did other things on the program, but R. Paul's story of what was happening 50 years ago took up most of the time. We played In My Life by The Beatles, a tradition going back to when this program started.

You can now listen to this program on the official WBAI Archive.

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 posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee on this Web site. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next WBAI LSB meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, it will probably be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 18 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

The LSB meeting didn't have much drama this time, that was good. Ahem.

Before the meeting I had put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read.

Some years ago the WBAI LSB voted to hold its regular meetings on the second Wednesday of every 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.

Here is WBAI's current Internet stream. We can no longer tell if the stream is working without testing every possible stream. Good luck.

WBAI is archiving the programs! WBAI has permanently switched to yet another new archive Web page! This one is more baffling than the previous one. For some time I was unable to post archive blurbs, then I could, and then I couldn't again. You can take a look at it and see if I've been able to post anything on it lately. There are still some limitations, but I am assured that I can plug in the archive blurbs that were lost in the latest upgrade.

This is a link to the latest version of the official WBAI archive. The archiving software appears to have been at least partially fixed. To get to the archive of this program you can use the usual method: you'll have to click on the drop-down menu, which says Display, and find Back of the Book on that menu. We're pretty early in the list, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Once you find the program name click GO and you'll see only this Back of the Book program. Management has fixed some problems that we'd been having with the archives.

For programs before March 23, 2019, we're all out of luck. The changes that took place once WBAI Management took control of the WBAI archives seems to have wiped out all access to anything before that date in March. You'll have to click on the same drop-down menu as above, which says Display, and find Specify Date, it's the second choice from the top. You are then given a little pop-up calendar and you can choose the date of the program there. Then click GO and you'll see a list of programs that aired on that date. For those previous programs you can get the audio, but nothing else, since I can't post anything to those pages anymore. Yeah, it looks like they'll have some alternating program's name prominently there, but if you have the right date it'll be our program. Good luck.

Since the General Manager has banned Sidney Smith from WBAI he's not alternating with us on the air. As of November 2020, Back of the Book airs weekly.

Bring Back Uncle Sidney!

Our friend, fellow WBAI producer and Saddle Pal Uncle Sidney Smith has been banned from WBAI by General Manager Berthold Reimers. The General Manager will not say why. He won't even tell Sidney why he's banned! This is grossly unfair to Sidney and constitutes abuse of Staff. Why did Berthold ban Sidney?

Rainbow Heart
Yeah, It's That Time Again!

This was our annual Christopher Street Liberation Day/Pride Day program.

We started off this segment of the program by explaining our yearly opening of this particular program being Freaking Fag Revolutionary radio. From what I was told, by a number of people in the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) and the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) these words were used by the prosecution at the Chicago 7 trial. Well, in the early '70s those words got used by many of us who were a part of the gay liberation movement.

I mostly talked about the events of June 25, 1971, exactly 50 years before the day we recorded this program, and 50 years and one day before this program aired.

I told about how 50 years ago we were preparing for the second Christopher Street Liberation Day March and rally. I told about a gay, back room bar called The Exile and how they let members of GAA in for free. Yeah, I used to enjoy that back room. I told about the final time I was there, when two cops showed up and shut the place down, and how I watched as the Manager of the bar, and his assistant, hand the cops something that seemed an awful lot like money when they thought that they were out of sight of everyone else. Yeah, that was the sort of thing that happened with gay bars back then.

My second gay power button
My Second Gay Power Button

In those days things were about to change a lot for me. By this time 50 years ago I was considered a long-time veteran gay activist. I'd been in GAA for 15 months, and I'd been to a lot of demos and zaps. But I hadn't formally come out to my parents. One day early in June 1971, my mother came to me and asked if this was mine. She had found a Gay Power button still pinned to my shirt. I said it was and took it back. The button wasn't exactly like the image on this page. The button on this page was one that I'd gotten a couple of yeas later. Unfortunately, we can't find any of the original Gay Power buttons, so this one will have to do, for now. My mother must have been suspecting something about me at that point, but a button was not conclusive evidence.

Members of the Gay Activists Alliance had written the first gay rights bill in 1970. It had actually been introduced in the New York City Council as Intro 475. In GAA we were eager to get this bill passed into law so that more people could participate in things like the Christopher Street Liberation Day March without being concerned about being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartments if an employer or landlord saw them. In order for a bill to be passed it first had to have a hearing. So we wanted a hearing. That became quite a sticking point.

The Majority Leader of the New York City Council at that time was one Thomas J. Cuite (pronounced the same as the word cute). This guy was extremely tied to the Catholic Church. He did not want a bill regarding gay civil rights to be passed, he didn't want it voted on and he did not want hearings on such a bill. The membership of GAA, of course really wanted all of those things to happen. The first thing we were told that had to happen was a hearing on the bill. We tried to get one. There was a lot of resistance, mostly centered on Ton Cuite asserting his political influence. We wanted to talk to him to see if we could come to an agreement on the hearings.

On June 25, 1971, we were supposed to have a meeting with Tom Cuite. We wanted a hearing on the bill, he didn't. But after some months of pressing for the hearings GAA members were going to meet with him. Turned out he didn't want to meet with us. People had been under the impression that he'd agreed to meet with us, but when we got to City Hall we were refused entry. Other people were allowed to go in and out but we weren't. Voices were raised on the steps of City Hall.

Lambda button
I Also Wore A Lambda Button Back Then

All of a sudden cops come charging out of the front doors to City Hall and they began to push us off the steps. We had a small battle of pushing and shoving. The cops shoved us down the steps and we walked up the steps. I should note that GAA was a non-violent organization, except in self-defense. We were getting shoved down the steps, and then we found that more cops were swarming around from the sides of the City Hall building. Mounted police were called in. We were outnumbered by cops and were pushed off the steps of City Hall and into the parking lot they had there at that time. Some people were arrested amid the assaults from the police. Even that wasn't enough. The cops, both on foot and riding horses, kept pushing, and they also started hitting people with their night sticks. The mounted cops had an easy time hitting people from the back of a horse. Another trick they liked was to find someone who didn't weigh too much, pick him or her up by the shirt collar and rush the horse forward, and then let go. This resulted in the person getting thrown to the ground with some force. It was officially a police riot at that point.

Most reporters in the Press Room at City Hall just laughed, we were later told, and didn't care that there was a full fledged police riot going on right in front of the building. But Channel 7 Eyewitness News had a reporter named Milton Lewis at City Hall. Mr. Lewis was not a friend of gay people. Still, with a full fledged police riot going on right outside City Hall he rushed out to cover the story. One thing about Milton Lewis that was different from a lot of other reporters, especially TV news reporters, was that he was short. Was he 5' 5" or 5' 6"? I don't know for sure, but his height resulted in his having a rarity among TV news reporters, a short cameraman. Most TV news cameramen were tall, which gave them an advantage. They could shoot film or video over crowds. Milton Lewis needed a short cameraman because otherwise all of his stand-up pieces would have resulted in video of him looking up at the cameraman.

Well, Milton Lewis got to the riot as it was progressing through the parking lot in front of City Hall. The police used the tactic of having horses form a sort of overlapping wall. They then had the horses walk sideways. This resulted in horses taking up maybe twenty feet of space and being able to push people on foot pretty easily. Milton Lewis, and his short cameraman, were behind the horses. Gay activists were in front of the horses. But between the heads of two horses there was a small gap. Milton Lewis had his cameraman shoot us through that gap. And we shouted at him. He asked us why we were doing this and we told him about Tom Cuite and Intro 475. As it happened most people got shoved pretty far away. A gay activist named Bobby Rucker and I were short enough, however, that just stooping down a little kept us from easily getting shoved by the horses. Bobby Rucker and I were each about 5' 2". Were on eye level with Milton Lewis and his cameraman. The result was that we were the only people who were clearly visible to the camera and our voices were the only ones that were clear amid the din of the riot.

That night I got on TV. My parents watched Channel 7 Eyewitness news every night. They saw this riot, they clearly saw and heard me filling their screen, and they were not pleased. Later I learned that other relatives had seen it too. During the broadcast, news anchor Roger Grimsby ended the piece by saying, If I were cute I wouldn't show up either, with a smirk. Yeah, another person who was not our friend.

When I got home my parents were beside themselves. The next day they left the country, they didn't tell me anything about where they were going, they just left. They came back in the middle of July. Things in the house were not so good after that.

While they were away I figured I had better move more quickly than I had previously done on getting a job. So I got my long hair cut.

A slightly modified civil rights bill based on the one that GAA had introduced to the New York City Council got passed in 1986, after Tom Cuite had retired.

After my parents came back to Brooklyn that July they essentially disowned me, and I was told to leave. I did eventually get a crummy job. I didn't make enough to get my own apartment though, and I didn't want to become homeless. So for quite some time we had a very tense house that we all lived in. Eventually I met my gay male lover and left my parents house. But that's another story.

The sars_cov-2 virus.
It's Still A Pandemic

Of course we talked about the pandemic. It's still going on. In America the number of deaths is way down compared to what it had been mere months ago, but there are still over 2,000 people dying in America every week from Covid-19.

We include below the statistics for India over the past week because India is rapidly catching up to the United States. I think that both countries, and other countries too, are concealing the real death tolls from this disease for political reasons. Anyway, here are the statistics as of Friday afternoon, June 25, 2021, when we recorded this radio program.

A tooth
No Cavities!

This past week Pickles of the North and I went out together. This has been a rarity for the past 15 months of the pandemic and lockdown.

We went out on Monday, June 21st, the first full day of Summer. We went out but unfortunately we didn't go out to have fun or anything like that. Oh no, we had a mission. The mission was to go see the dentist for the first time in a year and a half.

Our dentist is quite good and we want to keep going to him. He was moving around Brooklyn for a few years though. He has now landed at a place where he owns the space he's in. We're glad about that because it means he's in that place to stay.

I was quite surprised that out checkups were all right. The dentist just did the usual cleaning and that was it. He said there were no problems with my teeth, including the permanent-temporary tooth I have way in the back of my mouth. It had broken early in the lockdown. Turns out it's just chipped a bit. It feels like half the tooth is gone though. Well, I was lucky there, too.

We had thought to go to Coney island after the visit to the dentist's office, but it was overcast when we left the house and there was rain in the forecast. We hadn't visited Coney Island since March 4, 2020, but we didn't want to just go there to get caught in a rain storm, so we decided to put off our first post-lockdown visit to Coney Island till a better day.

When we got out of the dentist's office it was sunny and nice! Well, I was tired anyway, so Coney Island might not have been a good time for me in any event.

We do plan to go to Coney Island again pretty soon. This Summer we plan to get out into the season!

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 open list that no longer exists was the WBAI specific Goodlight Web based message board. It was sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as the bleepin' blue board, owing to the blue background that was used on its Web pages. This one had many people posting anonymously and there was also an ancillary WBAI people board that was just totally out of hand.

In June 2012, I ended up having to salvage the bleepin' blue board, and so I was the moderator on it for its last seven years, until it got too expensive.

Sometimes we used to 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 used to alternate with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

There used to be a number of mailing lists related to Pacifica and WBAI. Unfortunately, they were all located on Yahoo! Groups. When Yahoo! Groups was totally shut down in December 2020, all of those mailing lists ceased to exist. One year earlier their file sections and archives of E-mails, had been excised leaving only the ability to send E-mails back and forth among the members. Now it's all gone. Older Back of the Book program Web pages tell a little more about those lists.

We like to stay interactive with our listeners. Here are the various options for you to get in touch with us.

You can also send me E-mail.

And now you can even reach me on Twitter Twitter logo

WBAI related links

A WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2021, R. Paul Martin.