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Click Here for Early Reviews of My Book--and My New Blog

Saturday, November 19, 2016

When Cohen Did Austin

The gang at Austin City Limits just posted this entire show from 1989, calling it a "classic," that captured Leonard Cohen during his (first) comeback tour at a time when he had been largely forgotten in USA, but new albums would change that.  They say he and band flew in from LA on red eye, barely made rehearsal, he never changed clothes but was fortified by tequila...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Bruce Meets Leonard Cohen

Amazing rarity, Springsteen and band cover live in 1967 Leonard's "Suzanne" in a rock version, actually quite terrific.  Bruce already with his "Backstreets" voice--or it's the recording.

Friday, November 11, 2016

When Barry Met Silly

Harry Shearer imagines this week Obama-Trump meeting....

Leonard Cohen,"In Flanders Fields"

One of the greatest poets, rest in peace, recites an earlier classic.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

When We Followed Bob and the Boys Down

There is, believe it or not, a new 36-CD  treasury of Dylan's shows abroad in 1966 (I attended a show in Buffalo in late 1965).  NPR has chosen a few highlights for you free, but this song (later re-done with The Band/Hawks in "The Last Waltz") shows that the Hawks were the best rock 'n roll  and in the world that year, not the Stones or Beatles. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Click Here for Early Reviews of My Book--and My New Blog

Just a reminder that Crown has launched a cool site devoted to my upcoming book The Tunnels, and I have been blogging there, related to that, while continuing on other subjects here.  It includes videos, photos, excerpts from the book and posts derived from it (including U2 and Springsteen and an MGM drama), and naturally the latest early acclaim for the book and blurbs from well-known writers.   So far there's praise from the Washington Post, The Guardian and Christian Science Monitor, a "starred" review from Publishers Weekly, a rave from Kirkus, and blurbs from Bill Moyers, Alan Furst, Frederick Forsyth and others.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Samurai, I Am

New film out next month on one of the true greats, Toshiro Mifune, who needs no introduction here, I hope.  I met him very briefly once at the Japan Society in NYC, about the time I got one of the rare U.S. interviews in that era (1970s-1980s) with my hero, Akira Kurosawa.  Here is the trailer:

Tom Hayden and The Chicago 'Police Riot'

Tom Hayden, who helped create SDS and other 1960s political movements, married Jane Fonda, served many years in the California state legislature, and wrote numerous books, has died after a long illness.  You will see many obits and personal reflections today.  Here is one at the New York Times.  I only met Tom a couple of times, although I did interview him for a New York Times Sunday Magazine piece, chatted with Jane Fonda when they were together, and assigned and edited a lengthy feature for Crawdaddy by his old pal Stew Albert when Tom ran for the U.S. Senate against John Tunney in 1976 (he lost).

But our closest association, you might say, came at the 1968 protests and police riot in Chicago for the Democratic Convention, which he helped organize (and for which he famously faced trial).  I happened to be there at the age of twenty.   Here's a post, below, I wrote not long along ago about how I witnessed that at close hand.  I've also posted a piece at the blog for my new book The Tunnels--which covers escapes under the Berlin Wall and JFK's suppression of CBS and NBC media coverage--re: Tom's view of the coming of the Wall in his famous 1962 "Port Huron Statement."
Forty-eight years ago my trip to Chicago for the Democratic National Convention would culminate in the crushing of Sen. Eugene McCarthy's anti-Vietnam crusade inside the convention hall and the cracking of peacenik skulls by Mayor Richard Daley's police in the streets. Together, this doomed Hubert Humphrey to defeat in November at the hands of Richard Nixon.

I'd been a political-campaign junkie all my life. At the age of 8, I paraded in front of my boyhood home in Niagara Falls, N.Y., waving an "I Like Ike" sign. In 1968 I got to cover my first presidential campaign when one of Sen. McCarthy's nephews came to town, before the state primary, and I interviewed him for the Niagara Falls Gazette, where I worked as a summer reporter during college. I had been chair of the McCarthy campaign at my college. So much for non-biased reporting!

My mentor at the Gazette was a young, irreverent City Hall reporter named John Hanchette. He went on to an illustrious career at other papers, and as a Pulitzer Prize-winning national correspondent. Hanchette was in Chicago that week to cover party politics as a Gazette reporter and contributor to the Gannett News Service. I was to hang out with the young McCarthyites and the anti-war protesters and Yippies. To get to Chicago I took my first ride on a jetliner.

To make a long story short: On the climactic night of Aug. 28, 1968, Hanchette and I ended up just floors apart in the same building: the Conrad Hilton Hotel in downtown Chicago.    I'd been out among the protests earlier that week, which had already turned bloody, but avoided any harm to myself, which was my way.  Just after the peace plank to the DNC platform was defeated that evening,  and with many of those around me in tears, TV coverage switched to shocking scenes of young folks getting beaten with nightsticks on the streets of Chicago, but we didn't know where.  Then we smelled tear gas and someone  the curtains along a wall of windows and we looked out  to see police savagely attacking protesters with nightsticks at the intersection directly below.

Soon I headed for the streets. By that time, the peak violence had passed, but cops were still pushing reporters and other innocent bystanders through plate glass windows at the front of the hotel, so the danger was still real. I held back in the lobby, where someone had set off a stink bomb. Some Democrats started returning from the convention hall -- after giving Humphrey the nomination even though McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy won most of the primaries -- as protesters inside the Hilton chanted, "You killed the party! You killed the party!"  And: "You killed the country." And, of course, "Dump the Hump!"

Finally, I screwed up my courage and crossed to Grant Park where the angry protest crowd gathered, with military troops in jeeps with machine guns pointed directly at us. And there I stayed all night, as the crowd and chants of "pig" directed at the cops increased. Many in the crowd wore bandages of had fresh blood on their faces. Phil Ochs (later a friend)  arrived and sang, along with other notables, including some of the peacenik delegates and a famous writer or two.  This was Zuccotti Park but with heavily armed soldiers ready to swoop in, not simply NYC cops. Somehow we survived the night. 

When I returned to Niagara Falls that Friday, I wrote a column for that Sunday's paper. I described the eerie feeling of sitting in Grant Park, and thousands around me yelling at the soldiers and the media, "The whole world is watching!" -- and knowing that, for once, it was true.  Months later organizers of the protest such as Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, faced charges at the notorious trial of the Chicago 8.   Abbie and the attorney, Bill Kunstler, later became regular writers for me at Crawdaddy.  I interviewed Tom for a New York Times Magazine piece and edited a major feature on him at Crawdaddy when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 1976 (he lost but later served many years in the California state legislature).

More than 35 years later, after I had written two books on other infamous political campaigns, I returned to Chicago for a staged performance of a musical based on one of them. As I got out of a cab to make my way to the theater, I had an eerie feeling and, sure enough, looking up the street I noticed Grant Park a block away -- and the very intersection in front of the Hilton where skulls were cracked that night in 1968.

P.S. Norman Mailer's terrific book, Miami and the Siege of Chicago, is still in print.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dancing in the Dark, With Leonard

As I've mentioned two or three times before, Leonard Cohen at 82 has a new album, just out this week, and now there's a highly pro but highly odd dance re-mix of the single that's been out for awhile.   Not my cup of tea but kind of works, with the chorus adding haunting angle.

Friday, October 21, 2016

New Poll Finds Half Trump Supporters Say He Should 'Not Accept' Results

The first full national poll after the third presidential debate from Politico/Morning Consult joins all the others in finding Clinton the winner and also gives here a 6% national lead.  But it again finds that virtually half of all Trump supporters seems to agree with him that he should be ready and willing to challenge the results.   Here from their release just sent:
  • 68% of Voters Say Losing Candidate Should Accept Results: Just 14% said the losing candidate should challenge them. Almost nine in 10 (87%) of the Clinton's supporters said the loser should accept the result, compared with just under half (49%) of Trump voters. (Graphic Below)
  • Clinton Remains +6 Over Trump: Clinton's lead over Trump remains unchanged from the previous POLITICO/Morning Consult survey, with Clinton at 42% and Trump at 36%. Gary Johnson takes 9% and Jill Stein comes in at 4%. (Graphic Below)
  • Clinton Wins Third Debate In A Row: 43% of registered voters said Clinton won, compared with 26% who opted for Trump.
  • The Chris Wallace Moment: 50% of voters believed Fox News' Chris Wallace fair and impartial. That's several points higher than CNN's Anderson Cooper (43%) or ABC News' Martha Raddatz and CBS' Lester Holt (40% each, respectively). (Graphic Below)
  • 46% of Voters Are Concerned About Voter Fraud. Here's How They Think It Might Happen:
    • 47% - Voter intimidation by groups or individuals
    • 41% - Individuals voting at the wrong voting precincts
    • 39% - Non-citizens voting
    • 37% - Individuals casting ballots on behalf of dead or deceased people
    • 36% - Misreporting of votes by state or local officials
    • 35% - Computer hackers tampering with voting machines
    • 33% - Individuals impersonating other individuals at the polling place
    • 32% - Throwing away or destroying ballots by state or local officials
    • 31% - People voting multiple times