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Happenings in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

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"There's something happening here/What it is ain't exactly clear."

- Buffalo Springfield

By Edward Curtin

The Sunday newspaper had been left on the park bench. Its book page had lists of best-sellers, as if numbers two through ten could be the "best" along with number one. Absurdities were everywhere for the taking. On the Non-Fiction Hardcover list, numbers 3, 5, and 10 each had the word f*ck in the title. The books were published by two old and respected publishing houses: Harper and Little Brown. However, something was odd, for the word f*ck was spelled f*ck. These books were about hope, acceptance, and living the good life, cliche' topics in a feel-good culture: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Everything is F*cked, and Calm the F*ck Down. It seemed you had to be fucked first before you could accept the hope that the good life was coming your way. He wondered if these publishing houses thought that by eliminating the "u" they kept their hands clean and were not descending into the gutter with hoi polloi, while simultaneously titillating potential readers. Did they think readers would be offended by the word f*ck, but would not be by f*ck? Then it occurred to him that he didn't know what the f*ck non-fiction books were anyway. Maybe he had been wrong all his life and the opposite of up was non-up, not down.

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***

On every table in the seaside resort's breakfast room there was a brightly colored flower in a clear watered vase. When he picked it up to smell the orange blossom, there was no smell and the water didn't move. He imagined an ersatz form of plastic happiness, a conjurer's delight, where everything was a trick, nothing moved, not even water.

***

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Leaving the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in southern California where white and black Marines were regularly fighting and there were even some killings never reported by the press, the two young Marines escaped the tense and claustrophobic atmosphere on a weekend pass. It was early February 1967, and they took an overnight bus up the coast to San Francisco where they wandered around and found a breakfast restaurant near Union Square. There they read in the newspaper that for the week of January 12-19 the U.S. military had suffered its highest casualty count so far in Vietnam: 144 killed, 1, 044 wounded, and 6 missing-in-action. It jolted them awake more than the coffee. Later that afternoon, the two naifs wandered into the Haight-Ashbury district were they were startled by the first waves of acid-dazed hippies, who would soon arrive in hoards for the "summer of love." In the evening when they visited a bar for some beers, the waitress who delivered their drinks was topless. While they regarded this slight anomaly with manly indifference, she must have noticed their military haircuts that stood out among the longhairs, and so she served them buttons with their beers. The buttons read: Vietnam Love It Or Leave It. Heading back to the base, they knew where they didn't want to go.

***

The young man was studying for a PhD. He was intent on learning what made the world and people tick. He was attending a small seminar at the home of his professor, a famous German emigre who had worked for the Rand Corporation and U.S. Intelligence. Each of the five students was to give a short presentation on the subject of fake news and the issue of knowledge, since the course concerned the sociology of knowledge. The student began his presentation by quoting a famous philosopher's words: "In formulating any philosophy, the first consideration must always be: What can we know? That is, what can we be sure we know, or sure that we know we knew it, if indeed it is all knowable. Or have we simply forgotten it and are too embarrassed to say anything? Descartes hinted at the problem when he wrote, 'My mind can never know my body, although it has become quite friendly with my legs.' By "knowable," incidentally, I do not mean that which can be known by perception of the senses, or that which can be grasped by the mind, but more that which can be said to be Known or to possess a Knownness or Knowability, or at least something you can mention to a friend." The student paused and the eminent professor said, "So very interesting. Who is that philosopher?" The student replied, "Woody Allen." "He is very perceptive," said the professor, "and yet I have never heard of him. I will have to read his work." The student realized he was in good hands with such U.S. intelligence and Rand Corporation experts, so he asked the professor's wife for another glass of the German wine she was serving and toasted his good fortune with a wry grin. None of the other students got the joke.

***

A young man was reading a book that he highly recommended to his uncle. Leafing through it, the older man came upon this passage: "the free individual is just a fictional tale concocted by an assembly of biochemical algorithms." So what was the point of reading such a book, he wondered, since doing so was an exercise in pre-programmed absurdity since there was no freedom.

***

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You have probably seen the bumper sticker that says: "sh*t Happens." Some people are just lucky, I suppose, and odd coincidences mark their lives. When he was just out of Columbia College and working for a reputed CIA front company, Business International Corporation, Barack Obama had a chance encounter with a young woman, Genevieve Cook, with whom he had a 1-2 year relationship. Like Obama and at about the same time, Cook just happened to have lived in Indonesia with her father, Michael Cook, who just happened to become Australia's top spook, the director-general of the Office of National Assessments, and also the Ambassador to Washington. Of course, Obama's mother, as is well-known, just happened to be living in Indonesia with Barack and Obama's step-father, Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian military officer, who had been called back to Indonesia by the CIA supported General Suharto three months before the CIA coup against President Sukarno. Suharto subsequently slaughtered over a million Indonesian Communists and Indonesian-Chinese. As is also well-known, it just so happened that Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, trained in the Russian language, after teaching English in the US Embassy in Jakarta that housed one of the largest CIA stations in Asia, did her "anthropological" work in Indonesia and Southeast Asia financed by the well-known CIA conduits, USAID and the Ford Foundation. Then there is Cook's stepfather, Philip C. Jessup, who just happened to be in Indonesia at the same time, doing nickel-mining deals with the genocidal Suharto government. Anyway, "sh*t happens." You never know whom you might meet along the way of life.

***

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Edward Curtin writes, and his work has appeared widely.

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8 people are discussing this page, with 13 comments


Leslie Johnson

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  New Content
2019 edition of the World Happiness Report,


...if you scroll down some you can find "the greatest country" in the world.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019 at 3:12:47 PM

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David Watts

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Reply to Leslie Johnson:   New Content

Was our place on the list before or after we made America great again? :)

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019 at 4:09:36 PM

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Daniel Geery

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!#¿%¥Г~#! me!

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019 at 3:44:28 PM

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David Watts

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Reply to Daniel Geery:   New Content

I understand but I would not have spelled it that way. :)

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019 at 4:12:34 PM

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Edward Curtin

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Reply to Daniel Geery:   New Content

Daniel - It's good we aren't in a spelling bee - Ha!

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019 at 5:52:45 PM

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Devil's Advocate

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I've always been amused at how so many people think that censoring a letter or two in a word somehow makes that word more "palatable". To me, it's beyond stupid.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019 at 7:13:18 PM

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Reply to Devil's Advocate:   New Content

You're f-in-A right, DA.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019 at 9:44:10 PM

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Janet Supriano

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We're being led to slaughter by a nosering we think is prettier and better than anybody's else nosering.

I think ordinary people keep trying, but are headed off at the pass every damn time by expert bamboozlers.

It's all by design and I do believe we're f*cked.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 3, 2019 at 12:37:39 AM

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Charlie Manson Played at West Point?!


Holy Crap, Batman!

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 3, 2019 at 1:14:13 AM

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Reply to Jim Glover:   New Content

Jim, I know Janet and Leslie, who have commented above on this article, will be interested to know that you knew Phil Ochs. You met him in 1960 and introduced Ochs to folk music, leftists politics, and taught him how to play guitar. Thanks.

Because of her upbringing, Janet especially likes Phil Ochs' song, Canons of Christianity.

Jim, I found this song of you and Jean singing the song "Crucifixion" at the Phil Ochs Memorial Concert at Felt Forum in NYC in 1976, a month after Phil's death.

"Crucifixion"

And the night comes again to the circle studded sky. The stars settle slowly, in loneliness they lie Till the universe explodes as a falling star is raised Planets are paralyzed, the mountains are amazed But they all glow brighter from the brilliance of the blaze With the speed of insanity, then he dies

In the green fields a-turning, a baby is born
His cries crease the wind and mingle with the morn
An assault upon the order, the changing of the guard
Chosen for a challenge that is hopelessly hard
And the only single sighing is the sighing of the stars
But to the silence of distance they are sworn

So dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance
'Cause we love you

Images of innocence charge him to go on
But the decadence of destiny is looking for a pawn
To a nightmare of knowledge he opens up the gate
A blinding revelation is served upon his plate
That beneath the greatest love there is a hurricane of hate
And God help the critic of the dawn

So he stands on the sea and he shouts to the shore
But the louder that he screams the longer he's ignored
For the wine of oblivion is drunk to the dregs
The merchants of the masses almost have to be begged
Till the giant is aware that someone's pulling at his leg
And someone is tapping at the door

To dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance
'Cause we love you

Then his message gathers meaning and it spreads across the land
The rewarding of the fame is the falling of the man
For ignorance is everywhere and people have their way
Success is an enemy to the losers of the day
In the shadows of the churches, who knows what they pray
And blood is the language of the band

The Spanish bulls are beaten, the crowd is soon beguiled
The matador is beautiful, a symphony of style
The excitement is estatic, passion places bets
Gracefully he bows to the ovations that he gets
But the hands that are applauding him are slippery with sweat
And saliva is falling from their smiles

So dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance
'Cause we love you

Then this overflow of life is crushed into a lyre
The gentle soul is ripped apart and tossed into the fire
It's the death of beauty, the victory of night
Truth becomes a tragedy limping from the light
All the heavens are horrified, they stagger at the sight
And the cross is trembling with desire

They say they can't believe it, it's a sacrilegious shame
Now, who would want to hurt such a hero of the game?
But you know I predicted it, I knew he had to fall
How did it happen? I hope his suffering was small
Tell me every detail, I've got to know it all
And do you have a picture of the pain?

So dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance
'Cause we love you

Time takes a toll and the memory fades
But his glory is growing in the magic that he made
Reality is ruined, there's nothing more to fear
The drama is distorted into what they want to hear
Swimming in their sorrow, in the twisting of a tear
As they wait for the new thrill parade

The eyes of the rebel have been branded by the blind
To the safety of sterility the threat has been refined
The child was created, to the slaughterhouse he's led
So good to be alive when the eulogy is read
The climax of emotion, the worship of the dead
As the cycle of sacrifice unwinds

So dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance
'Cause we love you

And the night comes again to the circle studded sky
The stars settle slowly, in loneliness they lie
Till the universe expodes as a falling star is raised
Planets are paralyzed, mountains are amazed
But they all glow brighter from the brilliance of the blaze
With the speed of insanity, then he dies


Jim & Jean - Crucifixion (Live at the Phil Ochs Memorial Concert, 1976) This is the video footage of Jim Glover and Jean Ray singing .Crucifixion. at the Phil Ochs Memorial Concert at Felt Forum in NYC in 1976, a month after Phil's ...
(Image by YouTube, Channel: Boot Leg)
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Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 3, 2019 at 3:38:56 AM

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Janet Supriano

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Reply to David Watts:   New Content

Absolutely mezmerizing rendition.

I'm crying. (natural response, I imagine)

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 3, 2019 at 3:56:33 AM

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Reply to Janet Supriano:   New Content

I am sorry it made you cry. ;(

Below is Phil Ochs singing his song Crucifixtion. He has such a neat voice.... I love listening to him sing.

And I found a another very interesting article by Edward Curtin. Very interesting.

Phil Ochs and the Crucifixion of President John F. Kennedy by Edward Curtin / November 16th, 2018.

click here


Phil Ochs - Crucifixion Live Phil Ochs singing Crucifixion live!
(Image by YouTube, Channel: EOCUnholy1)
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Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 3, 2019 at 5:10:20 AM

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Edward Curtin

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Reply to Jim Glover:   New Content

Jim,


Manson didn't play at West Point. What I wrote --- "their other mutual bud, Charlie Manson, stayed out west presumably to work on his craft" --- was meant to say they were friends, that Manson was part of the Laurel Canyon scene, and that he made a record with one of the Beach Boys. By "craft" I was being ironic. Strange connections, for sure. Ed

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 3, 2019 at 9:08:03 AM

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