Strange Fruit & stranger days @ WTF 1/4

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Strange fruit… stranger days…  and that’s just the start for the new year and the living it up in the trumpland…

Strange Fruit

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Ya’ll may have heard that the Trumpty peeps been having a hard time coming up with entertainers to perform at the upcoming inauguration festivities.

Singer Rebecca Ferguson recently said she would perform… on one condition… she is to be allowed to sing a song of her choosing. That song… is “Strange Fruit.”

“Strange Fruit” is a song that was once was at one time blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial. Too controversial for insulting the racial sensitivities of white America.

Rebecca Ferguson
Rebecca Ferguson

For those who have no knowledge of this song… which was originally a poem… it is in Rebecca words… “A song that speaks to all the disregarded and downtrodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington.”

“Strange Fruit” was originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 and covered by Nina Simon in 1965. It has been performed and recorded multiple times over and musicians including Herbie Hancock And Marcus Miller have done instrumental renditions of the song. And, was covered recently by Ferguson on a recent album.

In 1999, Time magazine named “Strange Fruit” the “song of the century.”

Marcus Miller has said he was a tad taken back yet pleasantly surprised to hear that the song was written by a white Jewish guy from the Bronx. (No, it wasn’t Bernie!) Miller says considering the times that it took “extraordinary courage” for some one write the song and then for someone else to perform it.  both for Meeropol to write and for Holiday to sing. He says, “The ’60s hadn’t happened yet. Things like that weren’t talked about. They certainly weren’t sung about.”

The song originally came to be in 1937 because of Abel Meeropol, a Jewish English teacher who was also a dabbler in poetry and composing.

Meeropol, Holiday & the photo that inspired it all
Meeropol, Holiday & the photo that inspired it all

The reason the song was originally created because Meeropol saw a 1930 photograph of an Indiana lynching of two black men… Thomas Shipp and Abraham Smith…  that stayed hauntingly with his memories for days on end. He eventually put his thoughts into a poem which was then printed in a teacher’s union publication… and… being an amateur composer he decided to accompany his words with music. He eventually played the song for a New York club owner who introduced it to Billie Holiday and the rest, as is so often said, was history.

The song never explicitly mentions any specifics about hanging but it is in its essence the epitome of what poetry is supposed to be… imagery that depicts a reality whether beautiful or dark and sinister.

To me it is a very powerful and darkly beautiful poem as well as a song.

Judge for yourself…

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Every picture tells a story…

Gotta say good old Trumpty Dumpty sure does know how to make an entrance on the evening of the dawning of a new year… there he was declaring to in all in attendance as his fist were pumping wildly… “The taxes are coming down, regulations are coming off, we’re going to get rid of Obamacare.”

Right next to “Joey No Socks” Cinque. Who happens to be a convicted felon with ties to deceased Gambino crime family boss John Gotti.

Trump & Joey No Socks
Trump & Joey No Socks

Cinque has a 1989 felony conviction for possessing nearly $100,000 worth of stolen artwork and according to a New York Magazine profile from 1995 he was a friend of Gotti.

Trumpty’s connections with Cinque goes back to at least 2009.  Earlier in 2016 an Associated Press report showed that a company owned and operated by Cinque, the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, listed as its “ambassador extraordinaire,” and that he was in a video that was made about Cinque in which he said, “There’s nobody like him. He’s a special guy.”

The same AP report reported that about half of the people listed as “trustees” to the company are either Trump friends or business associates.

In May, when various media peeps brought up Cinque’s name, Trumpty denied knowing anything about him or his criminal past.

This wouldn’t be the first time a mob associate, or, at the minimum, a person with some sort of mob connections, was seen in photo with some high ranking politico… and although I don’t know of any past president in any photos there were certainly rumors of past presidents who had some sort of an association with various mob figures including John Kennedy, Ronnie Raygun and Tricky Dicky Nixon.

But this is nothing new for Trumpty. In September 2016, the Wall Street Journal wrote a piece that delineated Trumpty’s past and how he dealt with people who had ties to organized crime.

Among these people were Kenneth Shapiro, who was identified by law enforcement as an agent of Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo; Robert LiButti, a gambler convicted of tax fraud who was banned from New York racetracks and who in 1991 was recorded frequently stating that Gotti was his boss and John Cody, a union leader found guilty of racketeering.

Trump and Libutti in September 1994
Trump and Libutti in September 1994

Trumpty denies ever really having any dealings with LiButti reputable sources have said that he indeed did “spend time” and even attended his daughter’s birthday party. Edith LiButti confirmed to the Journal that Trump attended her party.

According to the book “The Making of Donald Trump” by journalist David Cay Johnston he went much further than just attending Edith LiButti’s birthday party and says in the book that Trumpty threw a very expensive and opulent party for Edith’s 35th birthday that included a professionally created video tribute. The book further alleges that Trumpty presented her with a birthday gift of a Mercedes-Benz. And beyond throwing the party and bestowing gifts upon Edith, Trumpty was said to have tried to woo Edith into his bed but when dear old dad caught wind of his attempts he told Trumpty… “Donald, I’ll fucking pull your balls from your legs.”

End of the attempted tryst. But not the end of his continued ties with organized crime peeps.

The Journal claims that “… regulators, in a ruling that didn’t cite Mr. Trump personally, fined Trump Plaza for funneling Mr. LiButti $1.65 million via gifts of expensive cars quickly converted into cash.”

When Trumpty built the Trump Tower he used ready-mix concrete which while very costly to use but it also sped up the construction of the building. The ready-mix business was controlled by a firm called S & A Concrete. S&A was controlled behind the scenes by Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno who was an underboss of the Genovese crime family and Paul Castellano who was the head of the Gambino crime family.

Salerno and Castellano also controlled the unions that were involved in delivering and pouring the concrete through their connections with John Cody, a Teamsters official.

When Fat Tony was eventually convicted and sent to prison the $8 million S&A contract for concrete at Trump Plaza was part of the evidence that was key to proving the prosecution’s case.

The bottom line… while it may seem an innocuous thing that he was at a New Year Eve party shoulder to shoulder with another convicted felon who has organized crime associations maybe it really isn’t.

And, maybe a man who is the fucking president-elect of the damn country might wanna think twice about who he is seen hobgoblin round with for a lot of different reasons… mostly because this game of politics is some serious shit.

Just ask John and Bobby Kennedy about it.

Where’s all this hopey-changey business?

On or about December 7, 2016 Democracy Now! aired a show that celebrated the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now! The show was taped on Monday (12/5) and over 2,000 people packed into Riverside Church in Manhattan to that hear the featured guest Noam Chomsky and Harry Belafonte on stage together in conversation.

Harry Belafonte (center) with Martin Luther King Jr.
Harry Belafonte (center) with Martin Luther King Jr.

The two men have been longtime champions of social justice. Chomsky is a world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author who gained fame in the 1960s for his critique of the Vietnam War and U.S. imperialism. He is presently an institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for more than 50 years.

Harry Belafonte is a longtime civil rights activist who was and is an immensely popular and successful singer and actor. He was one of Martin Luther King’s closest confidants and helped organize the March on Washington in 1963.

The Show was Hosted by Amy Goodman who was also joined on stage with another Democracy Now! reporter/interviewer Juan González. While the entire show was memorable in speaking to recent American history and the Trumpty Dumpty electoral college win and its possible meanings for America and its immediate future it was a question by González that sparked a very interesting and quite adroit statement from Chomsky

Juan González: … there’s been a lot of discussion in recent weeks about the role of workers, of the working class, in this election, of Trump’s supposed appeal to white workers. And, Harry, you know that the civil rights movement, as it was… as it was growing and developing, needed and was fueled, as well, by progressive unions, like 1199 and the auto workers and others, that gave it strength and organization and resources. I’m wondering how you’re looking at this issue, because, Noam, as you mentioned all the young people, the problem is that the young people, the so-called creative classes, are increasingly concentrating in the big cities. They’re in Seattle, and they’re in Chicago, and they’re in New York. And then the issue then is what happens in rest of country. You know, back in the ’60s and ’70s, we used to say you’ve got to go back out and organize, organize in the communities from which you came from. How do you see this whole analysis of the, quote, “loss” of working class to sort of progressive politics that we’re hearing in the commercial and the corporate press?

Noam Chomsky: Well, take a look again at the last few elections. Many of the Trump voters

Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky

among the white working class voted for Obama. They were deluded by the slogans of the campaign. You may recall that the 2008 campaign was based on the slogan “hope and change.” Well, many people voted, rightly, for hope and change. The working class has suffered, not disastrously, but severely, from the neoliberal policies of the past generation, pretty much from 1979. So if you look, say… just take the 2007, the peak of what economists were calling the economic miracle, right before the crash. 2007, American workers had real wages, lower, considerably lower, than in 1979, before these policies were instituted. They lost.

Listen to Alan Greenspan, who, during the height of the euphoria over the economy, was called Saint Alan, you know, the greatest economist of all time. He testified to Congress explaining the basis for the success of the economy that he was running. He said it was based on growing worker insecurity… growing worker insecurity, meaning if workers are beaten down enough and intimidated enough, and if their organizations, their unions, are sufficiently destroyed that they can’t ask for higher wages and for decent benefits, then it’s good for the economy, creates a healthy economy, by some measure. We know the measure. (WTF’s italics)

Well, all of this has happened, and the working class has suffered from it. They had a real need for hope and change. Well, they didn’t get hope, and they didn’t get change. I don’t usually agree with Sarah Palin, but I think she nailed it when she asked at one point, “Where’s all this hopey-changey business?” Well, you know, there wasn’t any. So, no hope, no change. Already… it showed very quickly in midterm and future elections.

This election, a con man came along and is offering hope and change, and they’re voting for it. Suppose that people like you, the people who formed the Sanders movement, would present an authentic, constructive program for real hope and change. It would win these people back. I think many of the Trump voters… many of the Trump voters could have voted for Sanders, if there had been the right… the right kind of activism and organization. And those are possibilities. It’s been done in the past under much harsher circumstances. Organizing white working people in Indiana is a lot easier than what the Freedom Riders tried to do in the South 60 years ago. Much easier. Takes work, but it can be done.

And my feeling is that a core part of a progressive program is to rebuild the organized structure of the labor movement, which throughout modern history has been in the forefront of progressive change. And that’s not impossible either. It’s been beaten down pretty severely in past generation, but it’s been worse before. If you go back to the 1920s, a period which is not unlike today in many ways, the Gilded Age, you know, the labor movement was virtually destroyed. Woodrow Wilson’s red scare practically wiped it out. There had been a militant, activist labor movement. There was almost nothing left of it in the 1920s. By the 1930s, it revived. A militant labor action, organization of the CIO, overcame racist conflicts, laid the basis for the New Deal programs, which were highly beneficial. To the extent that they remain, they remain beneficial. That can happen again. No reason why it can’t.

Will history repeat?
Will history repeat?

I got nothing to add except this… anyone who believes there can still be hope and there can still be change must be ever vigilant and ready to do whatever is necessary to speak out against all forms of discrimination… racism, anti LGBT, anti-immigration rights, anti-health care, anti-social security, anti-Medicare, anti-union… well… hopefully ya’ll get the idea.

The next four years (hopefully not eight!) may be as tough as any that America has faced since maybe the Nixonian presidency but it is a period that can be lived through just as Tricky Dicky’s was.

BUT… to protect people’s rights… our rights, our personal welfare and well-being…  we must never forget that its is we the people who must be vigilant and hold a torch to the feet of those that would do us the most harm. Be they elephants in power or the donkeys trying to disguise themselves as friends of the working and middle classes.

Some shit never changes…

rolesville4n-2-webAn 8-second body camera video making the rounds shows a school cop at Rolesville High School, near Raleigh (NC), lifting up a young female student and then throwing down to the ground.

While it isn’t clear why this incident happened, school officials and the Rolesville Police Department say they are investigating.

WNCN reports that a witness is saying the girl that got thrown to the ground was “trying to defend her sister” in a fight.

To be clear all the evidence and details of what went down aren’t clear yet… BUT… you mean to tell me that the only way to stop this disturbance and this teenager’s involvement was to pick her up and then slam her ass down to the ground?

I mean was it possible that the cop could have grabbed her and then pulled her from the fight?

Just asking is all…

Another thousand words…

Green Monkey

This weeks gratuitous pictures…

 

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Jaimie Alexander (32) is an American actress

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