Friday, August 22, 2014

Eye opener

Aha. Book to be written:  Books I read very differently once I recognized their anti-fat bias. Needs a title!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

To Name and Name Not, To Name or Not to Name

Book to be written:  To Name and Name Not:   How and Why Two Cousins Did and Did Not Name Names during the HUAC Hearings

I think it is probably true to say that very few people in the USA have the questionable distinction of having had two relatives come before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee during the McCarthy era, one who "named names" and one who didn't.

The one who didn't name names is mentioned in the book entitled "Naming Names," by Victor Navasky. Only one problem:  Navasky got his Communist name wrong. It was "Jim Casey," not "Jack Casey." As a baby and a toddler, my mom was called "Baby Casey." The real last name was "Glaser."

The one who did name names was rather famous, in his way. He was a third cousin, same side of the family as "Jim Casey." His name was David Raksin. He did the music for many movies in the forties and fifties. His most famous movie music was that of "Laura." He was president of ASCAP for years. From wiki:  "With over 100 film scores and 300 television scores to his credit, he became known as the "Grandfather of Film Music."

Raksin named names because he feared for his career in Hollywood. My grandfather didn't name names because the owner of the New York Post, where he worked as a copy editor at the time, was extremely liberal and sent her own lawyer to the hearings. Thus he was not roughed up and threatened the way most of the media and arts people were when they came before HUAC.

I don't hate Raksin for naming names. I am, however, proud that my grandfather didn't.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Was reading an essay about the book The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon. A heated argument ensued after the book was published as to whether he had been respectful or disrespectful toward the book Say It In Yiddish, published 1958. He had stated previously that he did not know of any place where this book would be relevant, so he imagined Yiddishland, perhaps in Alaska, perhaps called Alyeska, where Jews escaping from various places in Europe wore fur coats and were active in the salmon industry.

After Chabon's book came out, various Jewish Yiddish-celebratory groups and organizations held "Yiddishland" retreats and conferences at which one could indeed use the phrases from Say It In Yiddish, and many other phrases in Yiddish.

I find myself wishing fervently now that such a place existed. We would talk in Yiddish and sometimes English, wear warm clothing (depending on where we lived), we would be extremely liberal/progressive and peaceloving...

Oh, wait a minute. Such a place did exist once. It was called The Amalgmated Clothing Workers' Union Houses, The Amalgamated for short..And it was part of a number of coops built by American Jews in the Bronx, NY, any of which could also claim to be part of Yiddishland.

With my propensity for imagining utopias, I envision such a place in the future. But this time we must be sure that other groups don't live on it, even under absentee landlords who don't care about the others living on it.

Or would the fact that it would be Jewish cause others to object to it for any number of drummed-up, unsupportable but financeable reasons?