Thursday, April 27, 2023

Harry Belafonte 1927-2023

One of my earliest memories regarding recorded sound was of my father playing a reel-to-reel tape called "Belafonte At Carnegie Hall", recorded in 1959. Back in those days record companies would release popular albums on reel tape with the LP's cover printed on the box. I was about five-years-old when I discovered the magic of the art of Harry Belafonte. To this day, I consider that record to be the greatest Live album ever recorded. The RCA Victor engineers sent their finest, state-of-the-art studio equipment into Carnegie to ensure the best quality sound. If you listen to it with the headphones on and close yout eyes, it's like you're sitting in a front row seat sixty-fout years ago. Listen to it online if you think I exaggerate.

It was with indescribable sadness that I learned of the passing of this great and good man on Tuesday morning. He was ninety-six years old. Someone once said, "Old people die - that's their job!" Yeah, yeah, I get it. But still, it's going to be hard for me to adjust to the idea of a world without Harry Belafonte in it.

In spite of his success as a recording artist and actor, Harry's first love in life was being an activist in service of the downtrodden. He was one of the last survivors in the pantheon of great civil rights leaders who moved this country in the only direction it could possibly go seventy years ago. Only Andy Young survives him. He marched with Dr. King in the heat of it, and his career took a decided hit for his efforts. There would be today many more films and records bearing his name had it not been for his dedication to righteousness. His was a noble life, well and bravely lived. Don't hold your breath waiting for the likes of Harry Belafonte to be passing this way anytime soon.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Here is a link to purchase the aforementioned Belafonte at Carnegie Hall on CD:

You will not be disappointed.


The Marching Saints (from Belafonte at Carnegie Hall)\

From that same LP, here Harry and the band perform a stunning rendition of the old Jazz standard, "When The Saints Go Marching in". He imagines what the song would have sounded like if it had originated, not in 20th Century New Orleans, but in 19th Century England. This one is worth the price of the ticket!

Sleep well, Harry.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Of Mouse and Moron


Ron DeSantis is getting his butt kicked by a mouse. Aren't these interesting times to be alive?

When Walt Disney first proposed Florida's Disney World in the early 1960s, the deal was that the site would be totally self governing - with zero interference from the state of Florida. It was a pretty sweet deal for all parties. The Disney people would have their kingdom, and Florida would rake in all of the cash that would come in from the wallets and purses of the tourists. Governor Ron is trying to change all that. It seems that he is trying to take the operation over. Disney is resisting and Ron has threatened (among other nefarious things) to build a prison right next to the joint. Would DeSantis actually stoop so low? Yes, I believe he would. This jackass is as dangerously contemptible as any politician I've come across in my entire life. I have a feeling that this hideous freak might very well have us all nostalgic for Donald Trump in a matter of time. If either man is sent to the White House next year, this country is finished. Mark my words.

When you wish upon a star....

Uncle Walt

Ron's loudest complaint about the Disney folks is that they are too (GET READY FOR IT) "woke". Can you believe that? He has stated too many times that "Florida is where woke comes to die". When he says moronic things like that, what he is saying is that he is in favor of killing compassion, empathy and racial tolerance - which is essentially what woke means. It also drives him bat-shit crazy that the Disney company is officially in favor of gay rights. According to Ron, Walt Disney would never have promoted equal rights for homosexuals = and he's probably correct in that assumption. Uncle Walt died in 1966, and he was a man of his times; but as everyone with even a cursory understanding of his biography understands, Walt was a man with an almost super-human capacity to change with the times. Had he somehow managed to live to see the year 2023 it's a certainty that he would be an advocate for equal rights for gays and lesbians. Anyway, isn't that (at least partially) what the Disney/Epcot Center is all about? Changing times and a brave neo world. Twenty years ago I was against even the concept of gay marriage. Today I'm perfectly okay with it. I've changed with the times. Why do so many conservatives have such a difficult time with this simple idea? What is Ron DeSantis' problem?

As I've said before, what bugs me the most about DeSantis is his age. He was born a month after my twentieth birthday in 1978.  How is it possible for someone to become such a bitter old man in a mere forty-five years? It's generally not a particularly good idea to pick a squabble with the most recognized cultural icon of the last century, even if that icon's name is Mickey Mouse.

Thank goodness for the unintentional comedians. They make my life so interesting.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY



How Disney Outsmarted Ron DeSantis

An interesting (and funny) essay on this whole stupid situation.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

A Pox Upon your Fox

The Germans have a word for it: 
Schaudenfreude. It means "shameful glee". That's a pretty good translation of how I'm feeling on this glorious afternoon of April 20, 2023. as a matter of fact, I'm danged near giddy bearing witness to what is happening to Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-born owner of a publishing empire who has done more damage to the United States than probably any other "human being" in the history of the nation. That his organized criminal enterprise (Fox Noooz) is facing many billions of dollars in lawsuits that may very well put it out of business forever is a dream come true. Somebody pinch me please.

Here's a clip from a piece I wrote sixteen years ago (the first of many) about Murdoch's dreadful "news" organization:

"It was not like this in our parent's day. In that bygone, lost era, before the "Triumph of Mediocrity" (as Norman Corwin put it twenty years ago in the subtitle of his well-written book "Trivializing America" ), the greatest generation went to the polls with - at the very least - a remedial knowledge of the issues important to their country. Today we are so susceptible to political propaganda and corporate media influence, the main talking point of the last presidential campaign was John Kerry's innocent gaffe during the primary season: "I voted for the eighty-seven billion before I voted against it". A statement as innocuous as that one would not have made so much as a blip on the political radar screens of 1960 or 1972 or even 1984 for that matter. Mah! Mah! The ol' plantation sho' has changed!"

After spending almost two years trashing a voting machine company called Dominion, they blasted Fox with a 1.5 billion dollar lawsuit. Two days ago, Murdoch and his right wing SCREAM machine were forced to settle the case for over seven-hundred and eighty-million dollars (only slightly over seven-hundred and eighty million dollars, mind you). They are also being sued by another voting machine company out of merrie olde England called "Smartmatic". This time the suit is for 2.5 billion dollars. The nice folks over at Smartmatic give every indication that they have no intention of settling with the hideous swine. A spokesman for the company has said that everything that wasn't revealed in the Dominion case will be revealed in this one. In a posting on the Fox website yesterday (and what has to be seen as a masterpiece of nonsense and stupidity) some silly bastard stated that the very fact that Fox settled the lawsuit for over three-quarters of a billion dollars is proof of their integrity and "high standards of journalism". As Jack Parr liked to say in his day: "I kid you not".

It all boils down to one sentence: Rupert Murdoch is in a boat-load of trouble.

While Donald Trump spent the final year of his disastrous presidency downplaying the dangers of the most devastating pandemic since 1918, Fox Noise (for reasons only they know) felt compelled to parrot The Donald's talking points on their evening talk shows. Since Fox (at that time anyway) had the highest ratings of any other cable news outlet, many Americans were tragically naive enough to innocently take those talking points at face value. A lot of those same Americans lost their lives. I long ago lost count of the exact number, but I know that it is
well over a million souls. Although the research has yet to be done on the subject, I'd be willing to bet everything I own on my assumption that most of those one-million-plus casualties were habitual viewers of Fox.

Call it a hunch.

If you have been a dedicated viewer of Fox Noise since it's inception, I am here to cheerfully inform you that you have wasted the last quarter century of your life. You're welcome.

In addition to the Dominion and Smartmatic suits, Fox is facing legal action from other firms (and even their own shareholders) seeking many more billions of dollars in damages. I would hope that cable television companies across the nation would finally see this mediocre misinformation provider for what it is and remove it from their rosters. Were you aware that Fox charges everyone $2.50 a month through their cable companies? You may not watch it but - if you have cable TV in your home - you're paying Rupert Murdoch thirty bucks a year. Stew on that for a while.

Ed Murrow
And finally, a quote from the legendary broadcast Journalist, Edward R. Murrow, from a speech he gave at a broadcasters convention in Chicago on October 28, 1958:

"This instrument [television] can teach, it can entertain, yes it can even inspire. But it can do those things only to the extent that men and women are determined to use it to those ends - otherwise, it's nothing more than wires and lights in a box."

Fox Nooz: "Wires and lights in a box".

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Carol Swanwick

I must take note of the passing of Carol Swanwick, a beloved, life-long friend and the mother of my old chum and traveling companion, Kevin. She was one of the kindest and loveliest people it has ever been my joy to know. A number of years ago I transferred all of her 8mm films to videotape. I was completely blown away by what a stunningly beautiful 1950s bride she was - with a smile that an entire school for the blind could read at midnight by. I am a better human being for having known this gentle angel who walked among us.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Beneath Contempt


To be brutally truthful with you, it's hard not to waste a lot of time thinking about Judge Clarence Thomas. I find it painfully ironic that only the second African American Justice in American history is the most blatantly corrupt member of that body -
at least in my lifetime. What has always amused me more than anything about Judge Thomas is his positive revulsion against the very existence of Affirmative Action. I need to repeat something I wrote on this site over a decade ago. I need to repeat it here:

"According to Uncle Thomas in his recently published memoir, My Grandfather's Son, when he received his diploma from Yale Law School, he put a "fifteen cents" sticker on it and relegated it to the basement of his home. You see, Clarence Thomas believes that it was the very existence of affirmative action that made his law degree all-but-worthless. To his way of thinking, he would have been much better off had he just pursued his dream of becoming a lawyer only on the merits of his talent and abilities and not relied on the good intentions of all those evil, white, liberal, do-gooders. In his mind, his place on the Supreme Court would today be all-the-more significant and he would be sitting on that revered bench free of the guilty conscience that obviously torments him to this very day. His place in the halls of justice would have meant so much more had all of those silly and stupid Great Society types not interfered with his ambitions.
Question: Just where do you think Clarence Thomas would be today had it not been for affirmative action?
Answer: He would be mounted on the front lawn of some beer distributor's home in Albany, Georgia, wearing a jockey uniform and holding a lamp."


Back in the 1960s, Justice Abe Fortes was force dto resign in disgrace when it was revealed that he had received $20,000 from a businessman. Thomas has been caught red-handed accepting private luxury transportation and vacations worth half a million dollars for himself and his wife, extreme right wing activist GinnyThomas. In recent years Thomas has ruled on cases involving his wife that he should have recused himself from. In one particularly glaring case, Thomas was only one of nine justices who voted in favor of Ginny's case. This is the worst example of judicial corruption that I am aware of in history.

Malcolm X had a term for black men like Clarence Thomas. He called them "House Niggers",  Black men who would pull up the ladder that they themselves took advantage of to prevent those of their own race from taking advantage of the societal programs that allowed those very same people from moving forward. 

He's beneath contempt.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

AFTERTHOUGHT: 4/18/23 - 

He needs to resign. This corrupt Uncle Tom can no longer be allowed to be passing judgement on the rest of us.