Note from the Editor

Let's begin with something special, shall we? Curious about "Yiddishkayt?" Interested in the connection between Jewish popular culture and the American Left? Fascinated by the urban Jewish milieu of New York City's lower east side as it "wends its way from Vaudeville to contemporary television?" Want to learn more? Then you must read Louis Proyect's superb review of the latest book written by his friend Paul Buhle, From the Lower East Side to Hollywood. Louis, who's both Jewish and Marxist, weaving his web around Buhle, himself not Jewish but fluent in Yiddish, makes for a fascinating read! Not to be missed; it's one of Proyect's very best reviews.

Elsewhere, in the skunk-stinking trenches of US politics, the Bush cabal now finds itself defending its war on Iraq with an "it depends on what the definition of 'collaborator' is" strategy for damage control, thus ironically emulating the Clintonesque approach to debating the meaning of "is." With Bush's poll ratings heading steadily south, the ABBers are waiting, no, hoping, no, praying for Kerry to exhibit something, anything, they can wrap their arms around should he get elected. First-time Swans contributor Bill Eger provides an insightful analysis of our one-sided "democracy" in which voters have no power over candidates once they are elected, and the political parties hold no accountability to the candidates or the people. The speculation of a Kerry-McCain ticket has been firmly squashed -- but what of a McCain VERSUS Kerry strategy for the Republicans? Could Kerry defeat McCain? asks Manuel García. John Blunt has some suggestions for Mr. Kerry should he want to be a "true" leader; and wise Milo Clark, examining the nature of progress and "progressives," takes a simpler, down-to-earth approach: clear out Washington so we can get on with it. (In the next few issues, we'll keep providing a series of opinions on the coming US presidential election.)

Now, imagine all our "great leaders," deep down in hell's inferno, defending themselves to the devil... Phil Rockstroh does just that with a "heated" exchange between Ronnie and Satan -- and it's no surprise whose logic prevails. Richard Macintosh, incensed by the utter immorality of the US war machine, muses over the fragility of the whole edifice and utilizes logic to debunk the imperial agenda, represented in Philip Greenspan's construct of Uncle Sam as "Bullshit Virtuoso."

Even worse, we had to suffer the unbearable loss of The Genius, Ray Charles. He was only 73 and we had all long been lulled into believing, hoping, he was as timeless and immortal as his music (it's the wrong dude who died at 93 the other day...). So here is another special: Thanks to the generosity of Bruce Anderson and the Anderson Valley Advertiser, we are publishing three of their odes to Ray; along with one of our own, which explores a few memories regarding Mr. Charles and American music, as well as Americana and a week of encomia for a cold and fake president.

Letters to a Young Poet and more Letters to the Editor round out this issue. As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans.


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Louis Proyect:  Paul Buhle's From the Lower East Side to Hollywood

Although Paul Buhle enjoys a high profile as chronicler of the American left, he is also one of our foremost scholars of Jewish popular culture.   More...


Count Down to 2004

Bill Eger:  Reviving Political Parties: The Last Chance For Democracy

American citizens are wrongly blamed as either uninterested or disdainful of 'politics,' a common refrain, usually excusing low voter turnout or the quality of our bodies politic, small and large, throughout the land.   More...


Manuel García, Jr.:  McCain Versus Kerry?

If "The Board" decides that the Bush team cannot lead the Republicans to victory in November, will they substitute a new team under a new CEO, say McCain, and then transfer the Bush campaign funds to that purpose?   More...


John Blunt:  Letter To John Kerry

Dear Mr. Kerry, I was a Democrat once. My mother made me one by dragging my brother and I around door to door through the precincts of Springfield, Oregon when we were very little, drumming support for the party ticket.   More...


Milo Clark:  The Bankruptcy Of Progress: The Challenge Of Today

It is ironic that those who would counter present political trends and processes call themselves "Progressive." "Progress," the great drive toward extinction now dominating the earth, is killing us all and taking everything with it.   More...


America: Myths and Realities

Phil Rockstroh:  Ronald Reagan Receives Sympathy From The Devil

I, sometimes, find myself wishing that the Christian fundamentalists' fantasies of Hell were actually true -- because, in the afterlife, Hell is precisely where they would find themselves... and the most recent soul to be cast down into its fiery pit of eternal torment...would be Ronald Reagan.   More...


Richard Macintosh:  Fragile

There are times when I wonder at how fragile all of this is -- a world populated by life destined to die and the solar system itself a speck in the universe beyond.   More...


Philip Greenspan:  Uncle Sam, The Bullshit Virtuoso

Uncle Sam has been spouting humanitarian bullshit from his earliest days.   More...




Chili Bill:  Remembering Ray

I'll never forget the one and only time I saw Ray Charles live. This was about 1962, in Kansas City.   More...


Garry Goodrow:  Not Joe Isuzu; Not Mr. Whipple: The Greatest Republican

Ray Charles was the greatest rock'n'roll singer; in fact, he was in some ways the inventor of the category.   More...


Tom Reier:  Goodbye, Ray

Around noon today, Thursday, June tenth, I heard the radio in my home office state that Ray Charles had died.   More...


On my Mind

Gilles d'Aymery:  Ron And Ray

Talk about sheer luck: I missed the panegyrical pandemonium, the official week of mourning, the encomia, the fables and other myth-making tales surrounding the decease of the "greatest US president since god created the United States of America."   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Milo Clark:  Final EIS For SBCT Transformation In Hawai'i

I have the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Transformation of the 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light) to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) in Hawai'i.   More...



Rainer Maria Rilke:  Letters to a Young Poet (Letter Eight)

I want to talk to you again for a little while, dear Mr. Kappus, although there is almost nothing I can say that will help you, and I can hardly find one useful word.   More...


Letters to the Editor


Even John Steppling has a word or two about Reagan in his review of Swans' past edition, forgetting that we are a bi-weekly and cannot follow the daily news; but, then again, how long will we hear about Reagan? Not long...the news cycle and the advertising industry need new stories... Ask The New York Times. (Message to John: Ochkam razor, man, Ochkam razor...) Wahabism and Milo Clark get more attention; as does the usual cast of characters, and even a few more out of the blue...   More...



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Created: June 25, 2004