wmtc: fidel castro, 1926-2016

More than any ruler I can think of, Fidel Castro defies our insistence on seeing leaders as solely either good or evil. As this excellent assessment in Social Worker (UK) puts it, “History must judge him both as the freedom fighter whose defiance humiliated US imperialism and as the ruler of a repressive, unequal society.” ...

wmtc: the greatest, forever. rest in power muhammad ali.

Revolutionary thought of the day, from a revolutionary American. Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I am not ...

wmtc: rest in power, daniel berrigan and michael ratner

The world lost two great fighters for peace and justice this past week. Daniel Berrigan was a lifelong peace activist, a man who was ready and willing to put his body and soul on the line. He was a writer, a thinker, a pacifist, an idealist, a pragmatist, and a priest. Berrigan was also a ...

wmtc: in which the death of a rock legend makes me think about how our world has changed

When this came out, I hung the cover on my bedroom wall.  Sharing memories of David Bowie, as so many of us were after his too-early death this week, led me to think a lot about the world I lived in when I was a big Bowie fan. My world then I saw Bowie in ...

wmtc: thoughts arising from the death of a defender of free speech

This week’s obituaries included the last living link to two landmark moments in the history of freedom of expression. Al Bendich was just two years out of law school when he wrote the brief that is credited with the victory in the famous “Howl” obscenity case. In 1957, Lawrence Ferlinghetti published Allen Ginsberg’s masterpiece “Howl” ...

wmtc: bobby keys, 1943-2014

Terrible news for the music world this week, and for the world of unabashed, unrepentant, hard partying rock-and-roll. I have loved Bobby Keys for as long as I’ve known of his existence, which is to say a very long time. If you read Life, Keith Richards’ memoirs, you know a few good Bobby Keys stories. ...

wmtc: rest in peace, canine with a brave rebel heart

When I blogged about him a few years back, he was called Kanellos, the Greek rebel dog. Somewhere along the way, English-language media dubbed him Riot Dog. He was also called Louk, short for Loukanikos. Louk, Kanellos, and also Thodoris may or may not have been the same dog. Whatever his name, he was brave, ...

wmtc: thank you, charley richardson! your legacy lives on

On Labour Day, I happened to see this on Twitter: I am on my union’s labour-management committee, the group that meets monthly with management to discuss members’ concerns and try to resolve issues. I was intrigued and followed the link that Rank and File had posted. To my surprise, the original “how to” advice was ...

wmtc: depression is to sad as cancer is to pimple (a few thoughts after the death of robin williams)

Reading a news story about Robin Williams’ death, I saw a tweet from Jimmy Kimmel. It said, in part: “If you’re sad, tell someone.” Depression is “you’re sad” the way cancer is a pimple. And telling someone doesn’t make it go away. For severe depression telling someone is… well, it’s nothing. I’m assuming Kimmel meant, ...

wmtc: nadine gordimer, 1923-2014

Nadine Gordimer was a great writer, and a steadfast voice for justice. Gordimer, a white South African, was a member of the African National Congress when the organization itself was illegal. Several of her novels, which explored the affects of apartheid on those who lived it, were similarly banned. Gordimer was a courageous woman, an ...

wmtc: tommy ramone, and how can it be the ramones are gone from this world?

Back-to-back obituaries again. Obits are taking up a large percentage of wmtc real estate these days, yet another indication of how little I’m writing. The passing of Thomas Erdelyi this week, better known as Tommy Ramone, brings an uncomfortable reminder of mortality for people my age and younger: the last surviving original Ramone. Like a ...

wmtc: charles barsotti, 1933-2014

Two obituary posts in a row, and I didn’t even mention Tony Gwynn. My favourite cartoonist, Charles Barsotti, has died from cancer at the age of 80. My favourite Barsotti character is, of course, The Pup. The Pup often saw his therapist. And sometimes lawyers were involved. But Barsotti had a political side, too. This ...

wmtc: ruby dee, 1922-2014

Ruby Dee was a towering figure in the American theatre. She was a great actor, a poet, playwright, and screenwriter, and a steadfast voice for equality. Along with the actor Ossie Davis, her husband of nearly 60 years, Dee never stopped campaigning for full civil rights for all people. Dee and Davis’ marriage was something ...

wmtc: shirley temple black, breast cancer activist, former child star, 1928-2014

Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson Growing up watching old movies, I was a big fan of Shirley Temple, whose dimples, singing, and tap-dancing charmed my parents’ generation. Temple danced with some of the tap greats, African-American men who Hollywood cast as servants, yassuh-ing their way into the dance scenes. The popularity of the adorable ...

wmtc: philip seymour hoffman, 1967-2014

If you care about independent film, you’ve been following the career of Philip Seymour Hoffman since the early 1990s. For a while, he was nearly ubiquitous, appearing in one brilliant small role after the next. When PSH achieved star recognition, it was as if a well-kept secret had been discovered, like hearing a song by ...

wmtc: thank you, pete seeger. how could we ever thank you enough?

Pete Seeger, 1919-2014Musician, Activist, Environmentalist. Socialist.

wmtc: nelson mandela, 1918-2013

“The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices – submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our ...

wmtc: you know her life was saved by rock and roll: lou reed, 1942-2013

Lou Reed, 1942-2013Songwriter, Musician, New Yorker “One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” – Lou Reed “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 30,000 copies, but everyone who bought it started a band.” – possibly Brian Eno I was shocked and very saddened to learn of the ...

wmtc: helen thomas, 1920-2013

A journalist, a pioneer, a feminist. An asker of questions. New York Times obituary here.

wmtc: thank you, jean stapleton

She was a great actor, a brilliant comedian, and the warm heart of one of the most memorable television shows of all time. “All in the Family” was a pioneering show, and she was an integral part of what it made it shine. She created a character that entire generations will never forget. The New ...

wmtc: thank you, dr. henry morgentaler

Canada lost a true hero today, someone who spent the better part of his life defending the rights and freedoms of others. From the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision: Jillian Bardsley, Medical Students for Choice, Toronto Chapter, on Canada’s lack of abortion providers, and what students are doing about it Michele ...

wmtc: roger ebert, 1942-2013

Who would have thought a movie critic could be so loved, and so missed? Of course, Roger Ebert was so much more than a critic. He was a model for the potential of criticism as an important contribution to art and entertainment. He helped audiences discover art and helped artists connect with audiences. He reviewed ...

wmtc: hugo chavez 1954-2013

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, July 28, 1954 – March 5, 2013.From Derrick O’Keefe at Rabble: Hugo Chavez has died — undefeated. Yes, undefeated. Chavez, no matter how many times the corporate media and the cheerleaders of the status quo call him a dictator, was elected repeatedly with overwhelming majorities. No matter how many times this ...

wmtc: walmart workers, marvin miller, rob ford: important stuff that happened while i wasn’t blogging

As the title says, here are some things I thought about while I was taking a blogging break. ● Marvin Miller died. Miller should be a hero of both the labour movement and baseball history. He should also be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Anyone interested in the intersection of sports and politics ...

wmtc: we should all miss gore vidal

I’ve been looking for some fitting tribute to Gore Vidal, who died last week at age 86, to post here. The internet is full of Vidal’s aphorisms and his cutting wit, but those are the easiest and least meaningful tributes. Vidal was a great thinker, and a great writer, with a ceaselessly open and curious ...