Fellow Pisces, friend Mark

comic books

There are very few people for whom I can tell you the date we met. Friend Mark is one of them.

On Sunday, September 12, 1971, my parents dropped me off at the State University College at New Paltz (NY). There was a meal in the basement of Bliss Hall, and I met Mark while standing in line.

We discovered we were both staying at Scudder Hall, he in 110, me in B2. We hung out in each other’s room a lot that year. He would perch on his desk like Snoopy sometimes did on his doghouse, looking like a vulture.

The next night at a mixer, he introduced me to his high school friend, the Okie, who I would marry.

I discovered he collected comic books. For a time, I thought this was strange, but eventually, I started buying my own at the convenience store in nearby Highland. Eventually, we frequented the Crystal Cave, an actual comic book store in downtown New Paltz, where we met future FantaCo dudes Raoul Vezina and Tom Skulan.

In the spring and fall of 1972, he and I went to several antiwar demonstrations in New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, and New York City. He was part of the auto brigade that tried to block the New York State Thruway; I was in his car. He was present when I got arrested in May.

At least once, he tried to teach me to drive on that same Thruway stretch between New Paltz and Kingston, but he said it was a terrifying experience.


He and his then-girlfriend MK52 were in the car on August 22, 1974, when the Okie, by then my wife,  chastised me for the 110 miles (177 km) from New Paltz to the  Saratoga Performing Arts Center when we were going to see Joni Mitchell.

I was the best man at his October 1976 marriage to MK52. When I was adrift in late 1977, I ended up staying at their apartment in Schenectady, NY, from December 1977 to March 1978.

In the early 1980s, Mark worked part-time as a bartender. This helped him to appreciate sports and dance music far more than he did when I first met him.

He, along with his cousin Lawrence, started a Mid-Winter tradition almost every February for decades, usually at Mark’s or his friend Barry’s house. The photo is from an event a few years ago. I’ve been to at least two dozen of them over the years.

Mark was a groomsman in my final marriage in May 1999, despite hating wearing a tux. For the record, he looked nice.

In the buildup to the Iraq war, there were massive antiwar demonstrations in over 600 cities all over the world on February 15, 2003. I came down on a bus from Albany to New York City, where between 100,000 and 500,000 people showed up. Somehow, I ran into Mark and his child, who had come down from the Mid-Hudson.

Friend Mark and I see each other regularly; generally, he drives up to Albany from the Mid-Hudson. We talk and solve the problems of the world in a few hours.

There’s undoubtedly other stuff I’ve either forgotten or do not wish to incriminate one or both of us.

1972: fighting against the war

a near-sighting

The diary discusses fighting against the war. April 22: the Okie, Uthaclena, Fred, Alice, and Fran drive down to NYC. The Okie was a peace/antiwar demonstration virgin. She was annoyed by the various organizations selling or giving away their newspapers. Uthaclena, conversely, enjoyed getting the unsolicited literature.

We started marching and chanting. The crowd yelled to the onlookers to join us. Though some people waved and gave the peace sign, it was understandable that no one wanted to join us in that cold and wet weather. Of course, a lot of police, some on horses, especially around an Armed Forces building. The crowd cheered loudly when our event made the Allied Chemical Building news.

We finally finished the 40-block walk. Walked through a Nedick’s to maybe get a better view of the speakers, but could see nothing, and the others were cold and tired, so we took a couple of subways from 42nd Street to a Woolworth’s, where Fred and Alice bought raincoats. Then we walked the few blocks to the car, except Alice who took the bus to Poughkeepsie for an event.

Back over the George Washington Bridge, we stopped for a bathroom on the Palisades Parkway. We heard on the radio John Lennon and Yoko Ono spoke at the demonstration, estimated to have had 30,000 to 50,000 participants.

The diary gap

As I noted, some of the diaries were destroyed in a flood in an apartment I lived in during the latter 1990s. Unfortunately one covered May 5 through September 6. This covered three of the most significant events in my life. I remember them, of course, but I wanted more details, more context. Ah well.


When Haiphong harbor in Vietnam was mined, announced on Monday, May 8, it was perceived as an escalation of the Vietnam war. One can debate the efficacy of the strategy in retrospect, but few events in the US antiwar movement galvanized so many people.

My recollection is that my professors at SUNY New Paltz, at least, were understanding and some even sympathetic to the cause that got the students to cease attending their classes.

An attempt to stop traffic on the New York State Thruway – I believe I was riding with Uthaclena – ended relatively quickly on Tuesday.

Our appearance at a demonstration at the United Nations on Thursday was stymied by a too-late bus whether this was intentional on the part of the charter bus company, we would never know. Still, some picketed in front of the armed forces recruitment center.

As I said

Much of this I  wrote about a decade ago. “A large demonstration near the draft board in Kingston, NY was held on Friday.” The board closed preemptively. “The following day, the front page of the newspaper, the Kingston Freeman, had a picture of me and a couple of other people sitting in front of the building. The quality (or reproduction) of the photo was so poor, though, that I didn’t even recognize myself.

“The pivotal event that week was a demonstration at IBM Poughkeepsie on Wednesday, May 10, which building something called the IBM 360. In 1972, the idea of computers programmed to help kill people was quite upsetting to many folks; think an early version of today’s drones. In any case, there were about 360 people protesting – I don’t know if that were actually true or apocryphal.”


“At some point, we were warned if we walked past a certain point, we would be arrested. It was almost a dare, in its tone. As it turned out, twelve people were detained that day. One guy was charged with disturbing the peace, and his bail was set at $50. Everyone else was charged with fourth-degree criminal trespass, much to the chagrin of the district attorney, who was seeking a stiffer charge; 10 of the 11 got out on $25 bail. The 11th person, my friend Alice, had been arrested and convicted at a previous event, was fined $48, and had not paid it. Her bail was set at $250, and she opted not to pay it, and stayed in jail until the trial, eight days later.

“Did I mention I was one of those arrested?” In fact, I noticed, in looking at the Freeman in Newspapers.com, that a number were arrested around the area that month in various demonstrations, including a guy I got arrested with named Michael. The Associated Press said that as of May 11, over 250 people had been arrested for antiwar activities.

They drive the conversation


Let me have a go at the question posed by the ever-interesting Kelly Sedinger. BTW, check out his daily poetry posts this month. 

Will the media in this country EVER stop letting the right-wing just define things any way they want and drive the conversation? (Thinking of terror alerts, “family values”, the “immigrant mobs”, CRT)

At a basic level, the media during my lifetime have been fairly conservative. Maybe that’s not the right word. Conventional is the better term. It supported American wars, for instance. I imagine World War II was an easy call. But the technology that brought Vietnam into American homes made the war less defensible. Still, it was a BFD when CBS News’ Walter Cronkite, “the most trusted man in America,” gave the continued presence by the US a thumbs down.

The Shock and Awe was the “brand” for the first Gulf War in the 1990s. Wasn’t stuff blowing up really cool, the audience was supposed to conclude. When the United States fought Saddam Hussein again in 2003, all of America and the world would be behind it, right? Well, yeah, except for the literally millions, including me, who took to the streets, on February 15 of that year to oppose it. Still, Freedom Fries won the narrative war, and the media, by and large, fell in line as cheerleaders until the war wasn’t going so well.

Values voters

I was particularly peeved with ABC News, which suggested back in the early 2000s that “Christian voters” were what some refer to as “fundamentalist.” “Fundamentalist,” I think is a lazy word here. A definition I found: “Fundamentalism is defined as strict adherence to some belief or ideology, especially in a religious context, or a form of Christianity where the Bible is taken literally and obeyed in full.” I believe I try, quite imperfectly, for the former – see Matthew 25: 34-40 And I know that the latter is impossible in this culture because if one started stoning people, they’d run into law enforcement.

Still, let’s go with the term fundamentalists, as I believe most understand it. They thought they elected one of their own George W. Bush. Seeing that political muscle, it must be what most of America wanted, the media in general concluded.


When djt was running for the White House in 2015, he would alternatingly spout some bigoted remarks with language suggesting that he understood the downtrodden, including the fundamentalists, whose values were supposedly being “buried” by the mainstream media.

Since Trump was perceived as “entertaining” – he HAD been a TV star, after all, and he was rich, right?! – the media covered his campaign with kid gloves. He had suggested he was going to run before dropping out in the past, so naturally, he’ll do it again. But what was past was NOT prologue, as he found his message resonating.

Meanwhile, every other week on ABC News’ This Week, one or another pundit would explain that djt had a “ceiling” of about 30% of the Republican voters, almost until March 15, 2016, when he essentially locked up the nomination. Still, he couldn’t really BEAT Hillary Clinton, who was the experienced candidate, so the press – and specifically NBC’s Matt Lauer – pressed on about her damn emails, while asking him either broad policy questions or puff personal biography.

He was elected. The mainstream media waffled trying to show “respect” to a president who clearly had contempt for them. And it wasn’t really until the last year, 2020, with his COVID “misstatements”, the Big Lie about the election, and January 6, 2021, that they really started to push back.

You asked

There are critics of the mainstream media. One was Eric Boehlert, who unfortunately died in a bicycling accident. Mark Evanier linked to Boehlert’s final piece, “Why is the press rooting against Biden?” which you should read.

This may explain why CBS hired djt sycophant Mick Mulvaney. The Democrats are going to lose the 2022 midterms, it is assumed, and the network needs Republican “access.”

The Problem, With Jon Stewart, addressed Where Does Mainstream Media Go Wrong? on the March 18, 2022, episode. Specifically, it’s in part about Critical Race Theory. The short version: a guy goes on Fox News to bemoan CRT. Sixteen days later, then-president djt echoes the message. Of course, when he says it, it’s echo-chambered all over the place.

All the news that fits

Sometimes journalism amplifies and sometimes reflects. An article in Nation Of Change tries to explain “Why conservative parts of the U.S. are so angry. Republican America is poorer, more violent, and less healthy than Democratic America. But Republicans’ blame is misplaced.”

“The right-wing canard that hardworking White people subsidize welfare-grubbing cities is backward. Democrat-voting counties, with 60% of America’s population, generate 67% of the nation’s personal income, 70% of the nation’s GDP, 71% of federal taxes, 73% of charitable contributions, and 75% of state and local taxes.” Tet the narrative remains.

Also, after a couple of years of COVID, with lots of uncertainty, increased violence, and the like, people are unsettled. They like the safe, the familiar, the “normal”. Certainly not the “immigrant mobs”, unless they look like them, or a potential SCOTUS justice who, it is alleged, wants to support criminals over “regular folks”.

Or probably Nixon

But it’s long been the narrative, going back at least to Reagan, about the welfare queen taking all of “OUR” money. “They” are not worthy. And members of the media are after all part of the community. As Kelly noted, America still has issues regarding race. When Black Lives Matter was “hot”, before Chauvin was convicted, some paid at least lip service to it. But as governors come out with their anti-CRT bills, the culture is perceived to have shifted.

For all the success of inclusion and fairness, there is a real pushback against it. A recent headline in one right-wing online publication was TSA to Get Gender Woke, a discussion about gender pronouns. Despite the notion that the media are “liberal” or, laughably, “leftist,” some journalistic platforms go the way the wind blows.

Modern journalism, more than ever, is tied to profit. Outlets often pinch the pennies when it comes to paying their staff, particularly editors, who are needed even MORE in the Internet age. When some push against the powerful, they risk losing access, which of course has long been true. The “noble tradition” of the fourth estate sometimes wins out. But it may be more subject to propaganda because it’s a lot cheaper to repost the press release or note what’s trending on Twitter rather than to push back against the tide.

Am I more or less political?


Someone I knew peripherally three decades ago I got to know much better in 2021. They said he thought I was less political now than I was back in the day. I’m not quite sure about the definition of the word in this context. This, of course, got me thinking about my love/hate thing with all things involving politics.

I grew up in the 1960s and went to some civil rights actions. But from 1968 through 1974 I was more involved in opposition to the war in Vietnam, even getting arrested in 1972.

Meanwhile, I went to college in New Paltz in 1971. I was a political science major, so I’ve always paid attention to politics, sometimes with stunned disbelief. I joined the New Paltz Democratic Club c. 1973. There was an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for the massive reapportioned district of Howard Robison (R-Owego). I described my petitioning here.

I carried petitions again in 1980 for a guy running against a solid incumbent in Albany, which was almost impossible. And I was involved in some social justice activities. I know I went to the anti-nuke rally in June 1982 in NYCNY.

During the 1990s, I befriended my city councilperson and carried petitions. Also, I was involved with some anti-racism activities.

For the six months prior to the water in Iraq in March 2003, I participated in more than two dozen protests, including the big one on 15 February 2003.

Later that decade, I carried petitions for someone I had known for over 25 years. Did I mention that I really HATE carrying petitions, yet I’ve done it at least four times?

Since then, my public participation has been spotty. A rally for freeing falsely imprisoned persons here, a women’s empowerment march there. My daughter was heavily involved in Black Lives Matter rallies in 2020; I went to one, on Juneteenth.

But I do write about it, sometimes

I don’t know if blogging about inequity is DOING anything about it. Regardless, almost every January 15 and April 4 in the past decade, I’ve written about some of the less familiar works of MLK Jr. or tried to recontextualize Martin for the 21st century.

During the orange years, going back at least to 2015, I wrote about him. A LOT, actually, more often than I wanted to because he was so toxic. If you go to my blog and search for trump, you’ll see I probably wrote about him at least 400 times, such as here and here and here and here and here. And those are just some of the ones for 2016. Frankly, I grew tired of even thinking about him. But the process was cathartic, at least for me.

And occasionally, I’ve addressed a wide range of issues from global warming to voting rights.

I write about politics less so now because it’s a more normal, albeit dysfunctional time, your usual sausage-making. But just this summer, I got to suggest to my mayor, who knows me by name, to check out this video about inequality.

So I still pay attention, reading scads of information from differing POVs. If I have something to say, I have the pulpit of my own design. But I’ve never been that motivated to write/talk about politics all the time.

November rambling #2: Narco-a-Lago

“The fish rots from the head”: a historian on unique corruption

What’s killing America’s new mothers?

American hyper-capitalism breeds the lonely, alienated men who become mass killers and Samantha Bee on why “abused women are the canary in the coal mine for mass shootings”

Before Sutherland Springs, the Pulse nightclub and San Bernardino. Before Mother Emanuel church, Sandy Hook, and Aurora. Before Gabby Giffords and Fort Hood, there was Binghamton

A Statistical Companion to “The Vietnam War”

Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit

Walking While Black

Can my child be friends with white people?

“We’re not über-ICE” – Albany, NY mayor Kathy Sheehan, interviewed by Tucker Carlson, discussing Albany’s status as sanctuary city (11/16/2017)

I Forgot My PIN: An Epic Tale of Losing $30,000 in Bitcoin

Apparently, the new Firefox download, Quantum, is a pain. One user wrote: “I had the extensions I needed, the page design I was comfortable with, and working more efficiently and effortlessly than ever. This makeover is terrible.” Also, Finding and fixing a Disqus problem

Economic Development: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

In which John Green is stunned by Kiwi kindness

A five-minute animation about the Dunning-Kruger Effect

10 “Spiritual” Things People Do That Are Total BS

Short film: The journey from underdog to basketball star

Traditional Radio Faces a Grim Future

Sitcoms could be better

Now I Know: Pizza It Forward and When the Government Outlawed Love

The Akond of Swat – Edward Lear

Not me: Eighth-grade teacher Roger Green was heading to the press box back in March to announce the varsity baseball game, but he began to feel achy.


We are reaching Hrench Revolution levels of inequality and injustice

Why billionaires destroy jobs

The Final Victory of JR Ewing

Narco-a-Lago: Making Millions from Panama Development Used to Launder Drug Money

Every scandal plaguing him

“The fish rots from the head”: a historian on unique corruption

Trophies from elephant hunts in Zimbabwe WERE banned in the US

He may be related to 16th-century serial killer ‘Werewolf of Bedburg’

Johnstown Never Believed He Would Help. They Still Love Him Anyway

Tweeting Condolences About The Wrong Mass Shooting

John Oliver Delivers Scathing Review Of Year One

Plus, an oldie (October 2016), but goodie: The growing list of women who have stepped forward to accuse Trump of touching them inappropriately


Thunderstruck – AC/DC

On the Beautiful Blue Danube

Disney medley – Voctave

-ly – Tom Lehrer (Electric Company)

Coverville 1193: Cover Stories for Blue Oyster Cult, Petula Clark and Miley Cyrus (!)

K-Chuck Radio: The Monster Soulful Groove

Stringman – Neil Young


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