Category Archives: RagBlog

Judy Gumbo Albert :
A ‘Yippie original’ remembers ‘Realist’ editor Paul Krassner

Paul became what he called an ‘underground abortion referral service.’

From left, Stew Albert, Judy Gumbo Albert, and Paul Krassner.

By Judy Gumbo Albert | The Rag Blog | August 5, 2019


[Paul Krassner, legendary social satirist, editor of The Realist, and a founder of the Yippies, died July 21, 2019, in Desert Hot Springs, California, at the age of 87.]

I first met Paul at Anita and Abbie Hoffman’s apartment on St. Mark’s Place in April or May of 1968. I ingested Paul’s honey in Lincoln Park right before Yippies were gassed and beaten protesting the Vietnam War at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, and I was there for Paul’s abbreviated testimony at the Chicago Conspiracy Trial in 1969. Paul, my husband Stew, and I remained friends from then on, through Stew’s death in 2006 until today.

Of all the memories I have of Paul, perhaps the most vivid is of a conversation we had about 1962 — before he and I ever met. Paul told me how he helped women obtain abortions. He had written an article in The Realist about a sympathetic physician in Ashland, Pennsylvania, who provided abortion care to women. Abortion was illegal at the time. Paul did not publish the physician’s name.
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Anne Lewis :
STORY & VIDEO PODCAST | Asylum, terror, and the future #6: Nazis among us

Based on case stories by Jennifer Harbury…

Asylum, Terror, and the Future #6 Nazis among us based on case stories of Jennifer Harbury from Anne Lewis on Vimeo.

By Anne Lewis | The Rag Blog | August 4, 2019

I remember the slogan during Vietnam anti-war protests, “Fascism is imperialism turned inwards.” We took that to mean that once we had forced an end to the war (along with the North Vietnamese), the ruling class would turn on U.S. workers for exploitation and profit instead of relatively privileging them.

We now know that it is entirely possible to have both fascism and imperialism at the same time. The slogan was probably based on Lenin’s definition of both imperialism and fascism as embodied in “decaying capitalism.” We also had the illusion that capitalism would collapse in on itself (perhaps as early as 1974) giving us the opportunity to build a better world.
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Bruce Melton :
Yosemite National Park: Climate Change is here, and it’s bad

We are documenting what no others are documenting.

Yosemite National Park, El Capitan, and bark beetle kill. Photo by Bruce Melton / The Rag Blog.

By Bruce Melton | The Rag Blog | July 31, 2019

Bruce Melton will discuss his recent environmental expedition to Yosemite National Park at Thorne Dreyer’s 74th Birthday Bash, a benefit for the New Journalism Project which takes place this Thursday, August 1, 6-9:30 p.m., at The High Road on Dawson. Bruce and his Climate Change Band will perform at the event, as will jazz singer Sarah Sharp.

As of 2017, 2.4 million trees have been killed by bark beetles in Yosemite National Park.

Some say it’s a natural occurrence, and it is. It happens every time our climate changes abruptly.

This story is a part of Climate Change Across America, an epic filmmaking effort to document the ongoing extreme impacts of climate change already happening across North America. This is our fifth year of production and we have driven 52,500 miles in our quest so far, from Brownsville to the North Slope of Alaska, short on money, camping almost always. (See Beach Report 2019, 2018 Photo Tour, 2018 Trip Log, 2018 Instagram, Permafrost 2018, Beach Report 2017, The Desert 2017, The Beetles 2016, and more at
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Shepherd Bliss :
In praise of honeybees

We two-footeds can learn much from the winged honeybees.

“Life vs Monsanto,” gouache on paper. © Cecilia Colomé.

By Shepherd Bliss | The Rag Blog | July 30, 2019

SEBASTOPOL, California — I attended a honeybee gathering recently at a wild place in rural Sebastopol. During my nearly 30 years of organic farming here, I have usually had honeybee hives on my farm. The berries need their pollination.

We two-footeds can learn much from the winged honeybees, especially during this time of international crises. Such bees can help us at this time, which some describe as possibly the final days for humanity, as we move toward a possible exchange of nuclear weapons and the mounting climate change. Fortunately, people in Peru, Scotland, India, and elsewhere honor and pay tribute to honey bees.

“Bees are our family members,” one person at the gathering said. “We honor and pay tribute to this ancient ally of humans. They know the way,” bee whisper host Michael said. “Honeybees call us to awareness. If you are angry or aggressive, the bees feel it.” “How can we transform our anger?” Gary Pace, M.D. asked.
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Jonah Raskin :
Paul Krassner, 1932-2019: American satirist

Krassner, who edited ‘The Realist,’ took up where Lenny Bruce left off.

Paul Krassner at City Lights Bookstore, 2009. Photo by Heidi De Vries / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | July 29, 2019


“He’s gone. Feel free to spread the word,” Michael Simmons said in an email that went out to a few dozen or so of the usual suspects, including Wavy Gravy, Judy Gumbo, Larry (Ratzo) Sloman, Jim Fouratt, Rex Weiner, Aron Kay, Kate Coleman, Jeffrey St. Clair, and Barbara Garson, some of whom had been Yippies, Zippies and their fellow travelers.

“He,” who was now gone at the age of 87, was Paul Krassner, who took up where Lenny Bruce left off, edited The Realist, helped found the Yippies, reinvigorated satire, defended free speech at every opportunity, and who lived at the end of his life in Desert Hot Springs, California, in part because of the climate and also because he could afford to live there.
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Anne Lewis :
STORY & VIDEO PODCAST | Asylum, terror, and the future #5: From military officer to drug lord

Based on case stories by Jennifer Harbury…

Asylum, Terror, and the Future #5 from military officer to drug lord Based on case stories of Jennifer Harbury from Anne Lewis on Vimeo.

By Anne Lewis | The Rag Blog | July 27, 2019

When people say that the current removals of workers and families, use of military force, concentration camps, denial of entrance for refugees, snatching of children from the arms of their mothers and fathers are new under the Trump Administration, they have little understanding of our history. It’s easy to find examples of all of these — based in the pervasive belief that white America is racially, ethically, and politically superior to other nations and peoples, both within our national boundaries and without.

This podcast explores with Jennifer Harbury why it is that so many refugees flee from Central America even though they know full well the danger of the journey with kidnapping, rape, and physical torment, and the potential for torture, imprisonment, and deportation across our border.

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Ivan Koop Kuper :
A candid portrait of Daniel DeWitt
Thomas, Part 1

The making of the 13th Floor Elevators’ album, ‘Easter Everywhere.’

The Elevators’ Danny Thomas (below, on drums) and
Stacy Sutherland.

By Ivan Koop Kuper | The Rag Blog | July 24, 2019

HOUSTON — Danny Thomas, a former drummer-turned-author and a native son of North Carolina, celebrated his 71st birthday last January 15 in his hometown of Charlotte. Thomas, now semi-retired, is at that point in his life where he can stop and reflect back on the turbulent times of his youth and the happenstance chain of events that placed him on a fast-paced, roller coaster ride of both musical and chemical experimentation.

The direction of Thomas’ life would be one of transformation when he accepted the position as the replacement drummer of the Texas psych-rock band known as the 13th Floor Elevators.

Daniel DeWitt Thomas was born into a very old aristocratic East Coast family. His father’s “Pennsylvania Dutch” roots can not only be traced back to pre-Revolutionary War America, but his family was among the first settlers in the Carolinas. His mother’s family lineage equals that of her husband’s and can be linked to the original founding fathers of New Amsterdam, later to be renamed The City of New York by the British.
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Joshua Brown :
POLITICAL CARTOON | Happy Fourth of July

Previous installments are archived at

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Anne Lewis :
STORY & VIDEO PODCAST | Asylum, terror, and the future #4: ‘Hieleras’

Based on case stories by Jennifer Harbury…

Asylum, Terror, and the Future #4 Hieleras from Anne Lewis on Vimeo.

By Anne Lewis | The Rag Blog | July 3, 2019

“The hielera was freezing cold. It was so cold that my son’s lips began to chap. His lips were so chapped that they burst and his lips were bleeding.”

“I was held with a woman who had an 8-day-old baby. The baby was screaming and crying because it was so cold. The little baby was forced to lie on the cement floor because there were no beds. The women all begged CBP to do something to help this baby—to give it a blanket, give the nursing mother extra food, or let the baby’s mother be processed first so that the baby could leave, but CBP refused.”

Special Report, American Immigration Council, December 2015

A class action case filed in June 2015 alleges “freezing, overcrowded, and filthy cells in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the agencies’ own policies.” Photographs unsealed in 2016 remain some of the few pieces of visual documentation.

This short video contains descriptions of conditions from Jennifer Harbury. We see refugees on the bridge in Matamoros, Mexico. They wear warm clothing in 90 degree heat, knowing that they are close to the head of the line and will be taken directly to hieleras. A refugee notices the sun and shares her umbrella with an aide.
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Steve Rossignol :
‘Operative 100’: The snitch who maimed Texas socialism

It was a conscious effort initialized and orchestrated by corporate interests.

Waco Times Herald, May 20, 1917.

By Steve Rossignol | The Rag Blog | July 3, 2019

It is no secret that throughout American history the labor movement has been infiltrated by government and corporations. This private spying business had its roots with the Pinkerton private detective agency, which after the Civil War earned the reputation as a paid strike breaker and union buster.

The Pinkerton business model soon led to a proliferation of private detective agencies dedicated to the same goal of destruction of the organized labor movement. American industrialists employed them in the quest for profit and at the expense of its workforce as the struggle between labor and capital intensified into sometimes bloody conflicts. And it should be noted that the information provided by those agencies and agents many times proved to be full of misinformation.
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Steve Russell :
In the aftermath of ‘The Photo’

Is the United States becoming a rogue nation?

Rio Grande river. Creative Commons photo by Ryan Moehring /
USFWS / Flickr.

By Steve Russell | The Rag Blog | June 27, 2019

Unless you live under a rock, you saw the photo— the same one I saw, the one that set my stomach churning even worse than those of the filthy conditions in our kiddie jails, yours and mine. We also own that picture: Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his almost two year old daughter, Valeria, face down where their bodies washed up. In death, the baby’s arm was still around her father.

I would show you the photo if the copyright laws allowed it. It’s all over Fake News: CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times. You can bet it’s all over Europe as well, and the countries that mean us ill will keep it around to illustrate our president’s crazed tweets on immigration. Remember the “caravans” that required a military response the day before the election and evaporated as the votes were being counted?

Those who accept the task of apologizing for the photo will claim the fault lies with the dead man who fled El Salvador with his family and chose to die in the river between Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and Brownsville, Texas. He died trying to break U.S. law.
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Jonah Raskin :
BOOKS | ‘In the Company of Rebels’

Jonah reviews Chellis Glendinning’s memoir about her friends, lovers, and comrades.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | June 26, 2019

At the very start of her new heartfelt book — In the Company of Rebels: A Generational Memoir of Bohemians, Deep Heads, and History Makers ($24.95, New Village Press) — about her friends, lovers, and comrades, Chellis Glendinning asks why one should bother to learn about “other generations’ attempts to bring justice, peace and beauty into this tattered world.”

Her answer a few paragraphs later is expressed in two words, “History rocks,” which might satisfy the needs of rock ‘n’ rollers and their ilk but probably won’t appeal to historians and scholars.

Imbued with the idea that her contemporaries — the rebels of the last 50 or so years — “have been sturdy, creative, courageous catalysts” Glendinning recounts some of the key movements of contemporary history and offers compact and compelling biographies of 46 individuals, some of them household names in lefty homes and others hardly known at all, or mostly forgotten.
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