Selected ShortsPosted: September 20, 2014
Let’s Be Clear
FACT: LET ME CLEAR ABOUT THIS.
If you work for someone:
You are not their ASSOCIATE
You are not their PARTNER
You are not their COLLEAGUE
You are not even a TEAM MEMBER
You are their WORKER
You are a RESOURCE for your EMPLOYER whose wealth is created through your WORK.
Professor Irwin Corey
July 29th marked the 100th birthday of the great left wing comic Professor Irwin Corey.
Billed as “The World’s Foremost Authority,” Corey introduced unscripted, improvisational comedy to American audiences in an era of mass conformity, cold war hysteria, and corporate allegiance. Corey was blacklisted in the early 50’s. His show business career began in the 1930’s; performing in the popular Broadway musical “Pins & Needles.” Ironically, he was fired from this pro-labor show for organizing a union!
He met his wife of 71 years, Francis Berman, who lived near Binghamton, at a communist summer camp, Camp Unity in the Berkshires. Fran, an artist, passed in 2011. Corey performed in many Broadway and Off Broadway Theater productions, reviews and clubs, including “New Faces of 1943.” He was also expelled from the Communist Party – “They said I was an anarchist!”
His anti-Authoritarian comedy influenced Lenny Bruce, Tom Smothers and George Carlin, to name just a few. It also influenced Mad Magazine’s early rebelliousness. In 1959 he ran on the Playboy Party ticket, satirizing dour cold warriors and political windbags (Nixon and Kennedy) with slogans such as “Vote for Irwin & get on the dole” and “I’ll run for any party-with a bottle in my hand!”
As the blacklist eased “slightly” he made numerous appearances on TV talk and variety shows. He was also a “regular” at various left wing gatherings, not only physically, but financially as well.
In 1974 he accepted the National Book Award for Fiction on behalf of publicity shy, Thomas Pynchon for Gravity’s Rainbow, a masterwork of skewering the pomposity and arrogance of capitalist profit driven “culture.”
His performances were never limited to the “set” stage. After his wife, Fran died in 2011, he began “selling” free newspapers to Manhattan motorists near his $3.5 million home. The motorists, assuming he was homeless, helped him collect over $40,000 for Cuban medical relief!
In 2009, at his friend Soupy Sales’s funeral he caused a media storm by saying that Soupy, along with many of Corey’s celebrity friends, died before their time due to lack of single payer healthcare.
Trying to simply record Prof. Corey’s life, someone once described as, “trying to lasso a tornado”. This year at the Professor’s birthday he said, “10 years ago we had Steve Jobs, Johnny Cash and Bob Hope – Now we are jobless, cashless, and hopeless!”
WE must respectfully disagree, Professor. As long as you’re alive – there’s always a little hope.
Readers are encouraged to visit Prof. Corey’s website www.irwincorey.org There is a lovely little film, “Irwin & Fran.com, narrated by Susan Sarandon about their life together.
July, 2014 marked the passing of jazz bassist, Charlie Hayden. Hayden, along with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry and Billy Higgins, electrified the music world in 1959 with the album, The Shape of Jazz to Come, and the birth of free jazz.
Hayden was not only a musical radical but a political one as well. In 1969, as bandleader of the Liberation Music Orchestra, he played music that ranged from Bertolt Brecht to Spanish Civil War songs. In 1971 Hayden was jailed in Portugal after dedicating his own composition “Song for Che,” to the liberation movements in Angola and Mozambique. His later work with Keith Jarrett and Pat Methaney demonstrated Hayden’s masterful abilities with duet – filling huge musical space without an overabundance of notes. You hear how he maintains harmony and rhythm without full orchestra.
He was a strong supporter of the Cuban Revolution and good friends with the late radical filmmaker, Saul Landau. Hayden often spoke at his concerts and later twittered on the Sandistas, the Zapatistas of Mexico, against fracking and the Washington capitalist Duopoly.
Thanks, Charlie, for keeping a song in our hearts and a smile on our lips.