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Tag: LA Free Press Archives

Phil Drucker Rants for 4-14-20: “One Flu From Over The Cuckoo’s Nest?”


Let’s get a few things straight and for the record. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 did not originate in a Spanish laboratory as an experimental biological weapon for use against the Germans in World War I. It didn’t even originate in Spain at all. The reason we call it the Spanish Flu is one of calculated perception during wartime and not of any sensible, factual reality.

Spain was a neutral country during WWI. When “la grippe” landed upon Spanish soil near the end of WWI and without any wartime morale to lift, or any military secrets to keep, the Spanish press did what all presses do. Write articles and well, report, widely. When King Alphonso XIII fell gravely ill to the disease, well, the French, English, Belgians and Americans said, “Hey! Don’t look at us! We had nothing to do with it!” But it wasn’t true.

The Allied nations who by this time had been joined by America, all started calling it the “Spanish Lady” or “Spanish Flu”. The Spanish protested vociferously. The headlines of their daily newspapers began shouting out the “French Flu”. But it didn’t take hold. This despite the Spanish Flu was relatively mild, mostly contained and in no reasonable estimation “widespread” throughout the nation. Even after King Alphonso XIII recovered from the virus, it did not change the rest of the world’s commitment to avoid any notoriety or taking reasonable responsibility for their actions, This despite far more incriminating and tangible evidence of their likely culpability
In creating, aiding and abetting the virus. But not Spain.

Our best guess is, as part and parcel of the lack of hygiene and sanitation surrounding the trenches in Western Europe coupled with the general shortages of readily available medicine (and starvation) normally attributable to times of war, the Spanish Flu pandemic probably originated in England (returning soldiers may have brought it with them), France or Belgium. But not Spain.

And then there is America, where the first documented cases (but not reported to the public at the time) of the virus were in a hospital camp in Haskell, Kansas, or possibly, some say, a bit earlier, though in a less well-chronicled outbreak in somewhat nearby but not really Massachusetts. But not Spain.

The Spanish Flu was the first of two deadly pandemics caused by the H1N1 influenza virus. One of the defining characteristics of the H1N1 strain is its ability to be transmitted through birds and pigs. The other H1N1 pandemic? You guessed it. The Swine Flu epidemic of 2009. This time, they blamed the pigs. But not the birds. Strange because you can’t get the disease by eating pork. It was passed mostly through perspiration droplets from humans. At least they didn’t blame Spain. Note: The county of origin was probably Mexico. Why not the Mexican Flu? Probably had a better crisis PR firm.

So, extrapolating out to today’s world of misinformation, disinformation, distraction, gaslighting, infighting and outright lies, there are the 24-hour news cycles whose only mission seems to be making matters worse than they are for higher and ever higher ratings. Are there no government officials who are in fact responsible for protecting us willing to take any responsibility at all (they take none, right?) for their lack of action in the face of an ever-climbing infection and mortality rate? Who I say, who let this contagious cow out of the barn? I was being facetious. DO NOT call it the Cow or Bovian Flu. My money is on the Wuhan or Chinese Flu. COVID-19 just sounds so cold and impersonal. Just like a virus should, you know?

Of course, given my druthers and perchance for historical and social justice, how about the Trumped Up Flu? At the least, a colloquial saying added to the lexicon? “Let them eat Chloroquinine? Anyone? A bit much? Still, it’s a thought.

Did you get your fill of Phil?

Druckerreport.com/blog
@DruckerPhilip
Instagram: Philip_Drucker

EXCLUSIVE: Rap Brown Raps with LA Free Press


Our ’50-Year Throwback Thursday’ is quite a contrast, isn’t it? What with Whites, this week, demanding their Superior Rights vs Blacks fighting just for equality… 50 years ago.  And could the contrast be any sharper than this:  the Black leader, in his fight for his Rights back then in the 1960’s (mind you, that’s NOT the 1860’s), is arrested under the Fugitive Slave Law(!) (in Virginia, of all places), while this year’s White Supremacists (in Virginia, of all places) are expressing their gratitude for their ‘equal’ treatment by the current President of the United States.

Interestingly, we think, the interview reveals that Fake News is not a new phenomenon.  And when you get past that (in the interview) you may be intrigued with Rap’s answer to the question we (the LA FP) posed…. “What about whites who hate America’s racism, who identify with the black revolution, but who have a hard time organizing with other whites? Do you think there are significant numbers of such people and do you see anything that people like that could do in the way of actively participating in the struggle against racism and imperialism?”

And what do you think would have happened… where would we be today… if we followed his prescription:  ”Whites can help us by arming us.” Would White Supremacists be non-existent… or greater in number?

As usual, the LA FP was offering up then what could have led to change now.  We think it’s still worth the read.

And what else is on our mind?
Well, several weeks ago, we heard from RW Klarin… a fellow traveler back in the day, who sojourned in and about educational institutes as a student (Berkeley), an administrator, and a teacher (of history) for 30 (30!) years.  Now retired, he’s visiting the places (people, too), not just to see them, but to re-view how they impacted our lives today.  He put about a year’s worth of his discoveries into a book, quite interesting as it’s in a format that can make your own retirement into a wonder-full experience.  Anyhow…  he sent us his musings about Elysium Fields, we ran it, lots of folks liked it… long story made short, we’ve just posted another piece from him today at the ‘Remembrances’ Tab up above… AND you can trip out with him each Wednesday for the foreseeable future!

Old Songs, Young Souls, & a Final Flight for the Airplane


Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concerts

“Take another whiff of fresh air,” the gray-bearded bear of a man whispered from the stage. An authentic, original San Francisco hippie, David Freiberg (first of Quicksilver Messenger Service) again fronted the 21st century version of a rock institution on a late summer evening in 2015. The usual motley crowd of several hundred free entertainment seekers milled around the Santa Monica Pier, while the classic guitar riffs of an old Jefferson Airplane tune cut through the cacophony of chatter.  Almost 50 years since the Summer of Love in San Francisco, their original incarnation proclaimed, ‘When the truth is found to be lies.’ Well the truth of 2015 is that they are a mere shadow of the Airplane. But those riffs were just enough to provoke grins of recognition between me and an old friend from college days at Berkeley. He made a special pilgrimage to LA to see the last surviving member of the iconic group that epitomized the San Francisco hippie sound in the sixties. Known back in the day under the pseudonym of Jack, he is one of those rare Boomers who, now in our later days,  listens to current music as well as the classics.

Unfortunately, on that balmy Santa Monica night, after two songs the small guy, with wispy blonde hair who played those distinctive licks disappeared from the stage. The music continued, but Paul Kantner couldn’t, he’d made an appearance, but that was about it—a recent heart attack had taken its toll. Sadly, Kantner died in early 2016 at the age of 74 after another heart attack.
After Kantner left, the band consisting of four young musicians and Freiberg, carried on with the classic tunes. Although they were essentially a tribute band, competently covering the old songs, when I closed my eyes I heard Grace Slick singing White Rabbit and Miracles. Those old songs evoked the vibe, like a time-tunnel to the mood, spirit, excitement, and freedom, of the original hippie times. Like an invisible virus, music from our formative years rummages around in the memory banks and finds the young soul that lurks deep within the ever-aging mind and body. A remembrance, more than nostalgia, it’s like a secret, authentic self that is hiding in a closet coming out for a cameo.

Paul Kantner and the Jefferson Starship

Oldies music is not new, but the attitude about it is. In 1969, I attended a concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco, Sha Na Na came on and drove us young hippies wild with their fifties cover songs. In those days, a heavy dose of camp and sarcasm fueled our enthusiasm. We thought we had evolved so much that oldies music from ten years before was corny and hilarious.  That doesn’t happen now with oldies music. Now, even millennials like and respect music from the sixties and seventies. The generation gap that was so glaring back in the day has closed. That night on the Santa Monica Pier all ages swayed to the classic rock of Starship/ Airplane. Cruising through the time-tunnel, I recalled a free concert I saw by Jefferson Airplane at the Los Angeles’ Griffith Park/ Elysian  Park area in 1969. The impromptu show happened because somehow a planned concert at a real venue was cancelled by ‘The Man.’ The word spread through the hippie underground, mostly via the Los Angeles Free Press. A crowd of thousands appeared, peace and love permeated the scene, without a sign of ‘The Man’ seen. Radical politics of the time inspired their new album, Volunteers, and the kids shouted out in unison with lyrics that confronted the ‘System’ like ‘Up against the wall motherfuckers’ and ‘We can be together.’

Grace Slick and Paul Kantner ‘Volunteers’ era

For us Boomers the music was often more than entertainment, our lives organized around it. It was our social media where we shared political views, clothing and artistic styles, in addition to entertainment. Even today, fifty years later, those same performers and songs resuscitate the old spirit of community, justice, and freedom. Well-proven neuro-science states that our minds are still forming into the mid-to late twenties, so it makes sense that the imprints we experience at that age stay with and continue to excite us.

My friends and associates, except for the few hard-core music aficionados like Jack, listen to the old music from our formative twenties. Especially, the original bands like the Who, Stones, or Starship, who replicate the originals with new players. At the 2015 New Orleans Jazz Fest, the Who’s two remaining original members, Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey performed the classics like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again,’ with gusto, but what blew me away was how the replacement drummer (Zake Starkey, son of Ringo Starr) didn’t miss one of Keith Moon’s original licks.

The author catches the Who at New Orleans Jazz Fest, 2015

Experiencing tribute or classic bands (even with one original member like the Starship) opens that deep mine of soul, freedom, and adventure hidden by the passage of the decades. It still resides inside us somewhere and the old music can bust out of the miasma of sameness and into freshness and spontaneity. After getting drunk on this strange elixir from the past, something wakes up in me and I want to ‘bang a gong, get it on.’ Who hasn’t felt that from a cherished oldie? Novelty through discovery and adventure feed the soul, but the old music satisfies in a way that new can’t. Like a fine pair of old jeans and tennis shoes and scratchy 45s, they’re well loved, like an old friend, it awakens the spirit of youth regardless of who is playing it.

Sadly, Paul Kantner didn’t return to the stage that night at the Pier, but his daughter by Grace Slick, China Kantner sang harmony on Somebody to Love. The lineage received due honor. Paul Kantner reportedly never renounced his Summer of Love principles of peace, love, and a positive future. A stalwart icon of the hippie movement, his vision lives on in the music of the Airplane/ Starship and in the souls of the older ‘kids’ who took a breath of that fresh air of a utopian generation.

[Ed.’s Note:  In his first book of essays, Living the Dream Deferred, RW Klarin explored the uncharted domain for Baby Boomers– -retirement. Combining a journalist’s eye for detail with a teacher’s need to learn, he invited readers into the inner and outer journey of his reinvention.
His new project is an exploration of the Sixties counterculture influence on our world. As he visits significant, though not always famous places and persons of that tumultuous period, in this column, each Wednesday, we will join him as he recalls their past in the ‘era of the hippie’, assesses their present state, and talks with us about what it might mean for our future.]