The Orange Show Presents ‘Old Weird Houston’

Events include presentation by ‘Rag Blog’ editor Thorne Dreyer.

By Pete Gershon | The Rag Blog | March 17, 2023

HOUSTON — Houston at mid-century was a place where anything seemed possible, from an air-conditioned domed stadium to a monument to the orange to a trip to the moon.

On Saturday, April 1, 2023, organized in collaboration with Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!), the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art presents a local history fair, Old Weird Houston, spotlighting oddball ephemera from collections both public and private. The Orange Show is located at 2401 Munger Street, Houston, Texas 77023.

Throughout the day area archives and individuals from across the Southeast Texas region will showcase the oldest, weirdest curiosities from their collections. Vendors will offer Houston Proud swag, bites, and beverages.

A speaking program explores the writings of hardboiled newspaper columnist Sig Byrd with Robert Kimberley; the rise and fall of counterculture rag Space City News (Space City!) featuring Thorne Dreyer; the rescue and conservation of the Hyde Park Miniature Museum (Pete Gershon); the original story of the Art Car Parade (Rachel Hecker, Susan Theis, and Pete Gershon); and a panel discussion about the Orange Show’s history and the landmark restoration effort that lies ahead (Ty and Ginny Eckley, William Martin, Susanne Theis, Pete Gershon, and Cody Ledvina).

The afternoon concludes with a set by mydolls, their first performance in several years. Take a stroll with us down some of the less-well-traveled alleys and footpaths that branch off from Houston’s memory lane. 

Learn more about architect Jeff McKissack and the Orange show here.

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JONAH RASKIN | THE SIXTIES | Avedon at the Met: the Chicago Seven and the Sixties

‘I wanted to see if I could reinvent what a group photo is,’ Avedon observed.

Section of Richard Avedon’s portrait of the Chicago Seven. Photo by Timothy Volner / Flickr / Creative Commons.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | March 8, 2023

Looking at Richard Avedon’s black-and-white photos of the Chicago Seven which peered out at me in a recent issue of The New Yorker [paywall] felt like seeing the dead. That’s not surprising. With the exception of Lee Weiner, the seven are all dead. Abbie Hoffman is dead, and so are Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Dave Dellinger, Rennie Davis, and John Froines, a chemist and anti-war activist, who died July 13, 2022 at the age of 83 in Santa Monica, California. The photos in The New Yorker and the article about them coincide with an exhibit titled “Richard Avedon: Murals” which opened on January 19, 2023 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where he was born to a middle class Jewish family. The exhibit runs until October 1, 2023.

“I wanted to see if I could reinvent what a group photo is,” Avedon observed in 2002, two years before he died at the age of 81 and after a long career as a photographer for Elle, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. He certainly succeeded with his portraits of the Chicago Seven, who were more than a group, less than a tribe and a kind of family that made its way into American living rooms via television.

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LAMAR HANKINS | ACTIVISM | Rules for troublemakers

My prison experiences caused me to understand how much I had taken on faith about administrators.

Organized troublemakers: When Mano Amiga realized that the disciplinary system for cops in San Marcos did little to protect the public, its leaders studied the deficiencies, analyzed them, and decided how best to explain the deficiencies to the public using this chart, based on an actual case, to drive home their issues. The Hartman Reforms chart explains graphically the major deficiencies in the discipline system. The chart also helped them put together a coalition of individuals, politicians, and groups to accomplish their goals.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | February 24, 2023

At age 78, I continue to see the value in and the importance of being a troublemaker. I did not start out as an effective troublemaker, but I learned as I went along. These are a few of the rules that my experiences over the years have taught me.

Rule #1: Don’t trust people in authority

As a youth in the late 1950s and early 1960s, my social activities were mostly at school and church.  One unsuccessful attempt to address a perceived inequality occurred when I decided that all Methodist youth in my hometown, Port Arthur, Texas, should get together for sharing, learning, and socializing.  All of the predominately white Methodist churches had shared experiences periodically.  We had one or two contacts with the members of the Hispanic Methodist church youth group, but proposing also to join together with the “Negro” Methodist church youth sent shock waves up and down the spines of all the adults to whom I broached the idea — our minister, my parents, and youth leaders in my church.  Maybe Mexican-Americans were okay because our church had a handful of parishioners who were from that heritage, but joining together with “Negro” youth was a step too far.  The adults all said “no.” (“Negro” was the term used back then, before Black and African-American became more common.)

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BRUCE MELTON | CLIMATE CHANGE | Winter storm Texas 2023, and climate change

Ice storm brought down the power lines and it’s cold, cold, cold.

Windmill Run Park. Photos by Bruce Melton

By Bruce Melton | The Rag Blog | February 9, 2023

Bruce Melton will be Thorne Dreyer‘s guest from 2-3 p.m. CST, February 9, 2013, on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin and streamed on They will discuss the recent Central Texas ice storm, especially in the context of climate change.

Texas got it again. This time wasn’t as cold as the unprecedented Winter Storm Uri during Valentines Week 2021, but it was as bad as anything in memory. It was only 66 hours below freezing in 2023, versus 144 hours in 2021. It was bad because it was all freezing rain; freezing rain so heavy it created a major catastrophe west and southwest of Austin, with 358,000 customers without power at one time or another, or at 2.4 person per household average in Austin, 860,000 people without power just in Austin Energy’s service district.

What is going on with this increasing frequency of extreme events? Why did so many lose power and, exactly how is this climate change related?

The author’s home in Oak Hill. There is a back deck beneath the downed limbs.

To start with, extreme cold is certainly a part of global warming because a warmer climate creates more extremes. This means more extreme heat as well as more extreme cold. See this American Association for the Advancement of Science article for more.
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LAMAR HANKINS | SPORTS AND RELIGION | Offering up prayers for Damar Hamlin

When did God start taking sides in football games or bless the performances of various pious athletes?

Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin is removed from Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, in an ambulance. The Buffalo Bills, in white, kneel at the bottom left of the image. Photo by Schetm / Creative Commons.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | February 8, 2023

Prayer seems to me a cry of weakness, and an attempt to avoid, by trickery, the rules of the game as laid down. I do not choose to admit weakness. I accept the challenge of responsibility. Life, as it is, does not frighten me, since I have made my peace with the universe as I find it, and bow to its laws.” — Zora Neale Hurston autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road (1942)

I was one of those millions of viewers who watched Damar Hamlin go into cardiac arrest after what appeared to be a routine tackle during the first quarter of the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals football game on Monday night, January 2.  I think everyone watching the game was shocked by what happened.  We all know that football is a violent game, but we don’t expect the specter of death to attend a game; perhaps sprained ankles, broken body parts, torn ligaments, and traumatic brain injuries, but not the possibility of immediate death.

I watched for about 20 minutes as commentators and announcers struggled with what to say, as they frequently cut to commercials.  I watched as many players on the field offered up prayers for Hamlin’s recovery. From what I saw and from news reports since that night I have learned that people all over the country, on television and off, prayed for Hamlin’s recovery.

If you believe in a God who can cure whatever afflicted Damar Hamlin, you have to believe that same God could have prevented the cause of his affliction, but did not do so.  Why would such a God choose to intervene later?  The truth is that there is no force in the universe that controls what happens every second of every day to 3 billion humans.

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ALLEN YOUNG | DOCUMENTARY FILM | ‘Surviving the Silence’: An upbeat but convoluted story about three strong women

The film compels the viewer to think about the injustice of anti-gay discrimination in the context of military service.

By Allen Young | The Rag Blog | February 5, 2023

The documentary film Surviving the Silence is the intriguing story of three strong women — Pat Thompson, Barbara Brass and Margarethe Cammermeyer. I think viewers will experience it as both entertaining and informative.

 The film compels the viewer to think about the injustice of anti-gay discrimination in the context of military service.

As stated on the film’s website, “Along the way, two of the women candidly revisit their life together and how they found love against a backdrop of impossible choices. By film’s end, they find something even more important and unexpected — their own voices as out and proud lesbians, later-in-life social activists, and dynamic role models for others.” 

Full disclosure: In 2019, when the movie was a work in progress, I had the pleasure of meeting these three women (and the movie’s energetic director, Cindy L. Abel), as we were all participants in a “Pride of the Ocean” cruise devoted to gay and lesbian cinema.

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THORNE DREYER | REMEMBRANCE | Daniel Jay Schacht, July 4, 1945 – December 22, 2022

Danny was involved in a precedent-setting landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Danny Schacht, 2015. Photo by Tim Jones.

By Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | January 24, 2023

With tributes from friends John R. Herrera and Roger Baker

In September 2015, our mutual friend Roger Baker brought Danny Schacht to the KOOP-FM studio in Austin where we were preparing to broadcast a live Rag Radio interview with Austin-based progressive pundit and troublemaker Jim Hightower. Danny sat in the studio with us and then took a terrific photo of Jim and me afterwards. It’s on my wall. It was the first time in many years I had been with my old compatriot and family friend from the ‘60s.

Then I saw Danny again during launch events for Exploring Space City!: Houston’s Historic Underground Newspaper, a book that the New Journalism Project released in 2021. It  was a delight to see him; he was funny and smart and always had that twinkle in his eye!  But that would be the last time I would see him. Longtime Houston activist Daniel Jay Schacht, known to his many friends in the movement and local community as Danny, passed away on December 22, 2022, at the age of 77.

Danny was involved in a precedent-setting landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court after being arrested in September 1969, when he wore a military uniform as part of a street theater action at the Houston draft board. He was convicted for impersonating a military officer, but the Supreme Court reversed the case. We’ll discuss that case – and its significance — in more depth below.
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BOOK TALK | With Thorne Dreyer and Don Carleton

Please join us for a 45-minute visit with Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas, and Thorne Dreyer, author of Making Waves: The Rag Radio Interviews. Making Waves was a selection of the 2022 Texas Book Festival. Click on YouTube link below.

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Remembering Casey Hayden | in her own words

Casey Hayden wrote her own obituary and emailed it to a dear friend with instructions to share it with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).  Casey’s friend gave The Rag Blog permission to post it.

Casey Hayden, New York City, 1965. Photo by D Gorton.

Obituary, written by Casey:

Casey Hayden, one of the few white Southerners to join the anti-segregation movement of the ’60s in the South, and a widely recognized precursor of the women’s liberation movement, died on 1/4/23 with her children holding her hands.

Born Sandra Cason, a name she continued to use legally, she was the child of divorced Texas liberals, William Charles Cason and Eula Weisiger Cason Beams. Raised by her grandparents and her single mother in Victoria, Texas, she was fourth generation, her grandfather the county sheriff. She attended local public schools, Victoria Junior College, and the University of Texas, where she graduated with honors as a member of Mortarboard, the senior women’s honorary society. An activist and a student leader in the Campus YWCA locally and nationally, she was as well a scholar/resident of the radical Christian existentialist Christian Faith and Life Community.

She was swept up into the ’60’s by the student sit-in movement of black college students in the deep South, starting February 1, 1960, which she joined as a graduate student. Following a six-week summer residential training for Southern campus leaders sponsored by the Field Foundation and the United States National Student Association, she spoke for civil disobedience at the National Congress of USNSA, quoting Thoreau and swinging support to the new Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

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ALLEN YOUNG | BOOKS | The Activist’s Media Handbook

David Fenton’s ‘Lessons From Fifty Years as a Progressive Agitator.’

By Allen Young | The Rag Blog | January 14, 2023

Listen to Thorne Dreyer interview David Fenton and Allen Young on Rag Radio Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, from 2-3 p.m. CST on KOOP 91.7-FM and streamed at

For those of us devoted to peace, democracy, social justice, and the survival of our beautiful planet, this “Activist’s Media Handbook” can be very useful and informative.

It is also interesting and entertaining to read.

To me, the word “lessons” in the subtitle is crucial. With the U.S. House of Representatives being controlled by the Republican Party — a party largely overtaken by right-wing extremists — we have a big job to do if we want progress. Therefore, “lessons” — ideas and information and tactics — to help us succeed in that job are much needed.

David Fenton, who offers us these lessons in a large-size book (not really a “handbook”) recounts his evolution as an activist to educate us in the context of real life. Thus, the book is essentially a memoir, too. That might irritate some readers seeking something more universal or generic, but I found it enjoyable because he has a good story to tell.

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ALICE EMBREE | HISTORY | ‘Defending Dissidents: The Austin Law Commune’

They came to the aid of an ever-growing community of dissidents who needed to be defended in courts of law.

From left: Austin Law Commune partner Jim Simons (with radical filmmaker Dave Zeiger), and partners  Cam Cunningham, Brady Coleman, and Bobby Nelson. Photos on left and right by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | November 29, 2022

AUSTIN — In the midst of the national upheaval ignited by the civil rights and antiwar movements, Austin attorneys created a law practice devoted to the needs of the movement.  They defended movement leaders who were harassed on the streets or in their offices; they defended demonstrators when they were arrested, draft resisters facing charges,-and GIs at courts martial.  They came to the aid of an ever-growing community of dissidents who needed to be defended in courts of law.  They worked to create a statewide network with other like-minded attorneys, and they created a unique, collectively-run, model for practicing law.

Jim Simons operated as a sole practitioner taking on movement legal work in 1968.  He represented draft resister Enrique Madrid.  He represented 42 defendants arrested in May 1968 at Don Weedon’s Conoco station in Austin, as they protested a racist assault by the owner.  He also represented Austin SNCC organizer Larry Jackson, a founder of the Community United Front.  And he spent many hours giving legal advice and defending antiwar GIs and Oleo Strut staff in Killeen, Texas, home of the massive army base Fort Hood.  Jim Simons built the foundation for the Austin Law Commune with his movement practice as a sole practitioner.

On October 1, 1969, the Austin Law Commune was born.  First located in a small office on West 24th Street, they moved to an office at West 15th and then, in 1973, to an office on West 12th.  According to Time magazine, it was the third such commune in the country.  The Austin Law Commune closed shop in 1977.

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ALICE EMBREE | REMEMBRANCE | Scott Pittman: March 23, 1940 – July 31, 2022

A former UT-Austin activist, Scott settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he devoted himself to the teaching of Permaculture.

Scott Pittman in the later years. Photographer unknown.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | November 28, 2022

Many people knew Scott Pittman in Austin as a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and contributor to Austin’s underground newspaper, The Rag. We mourn his passing.

Scott grew up in Seminole, Texas, and served in the Air Force in Turkey before he moved to Austin, joining the antiwar and civil rights struggle. In October 1967, he went to the massive Pentagon demonstration in Washington, D.C., and was stabbed in the leg by a soldier with a bayonet on the steps of the Pentagon. In an article in the October 30, 1967 issue of The Rag, Sue Jankovsky reported that Scott “was beat up, bayoneted, and then charged with assaulting a federal officer.”

Scott was arrested after being bayoneted at the Pentagon in 1967. Photo from The Rag.

Scott built a communal life in Arkansas after leaving Austin. Then, settling in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he devoted himself to the teaching of Permaculture, traveling the world. (Permaculture is a movement involving the development of sustainable and self-sufficient agricultural ecosystems.)
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