Monday, January 24, 2005


As the headfixing industry goes on and on about Johnny Carson, a man who avoided politics like the plague, let's take a look back at some true giants whose passing was only a blip on the media screen.

GARY WEBB 1955-2004
In August, 1996, when he worked at the San José Mercury News, Webb disclosed how the CIA sold tons of crack in Los Angeles neighborhoods and afterwards used the money from this trafficking to finance the operations of the Nicaraguan Contras who were then trying to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

JAMES FORMAN 1928-2005
While registering voters and organizing protests in the South he was repeatedly harassed, beaten and jailed. He once wrote "Accumulating experiences with Southern 'law and order' were turning me into a full-fledged revolutionary."

SUSAN SONTAG 1933-2004
Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes once compared Sontag to the Renaissance humanist Erasmus. Fuentes said QUOTE "Erasmus traveled with 32 volumes, which contained all the knowledge worth knowing. Susan Sontag carries it in her brain! I know of no other intellectual who is so clear-minded, with a capacity to link, to connect, to relate. She is unique."

Shirley Chisholm was a leading advocate for civil liberties and the rights of working people, in Congress. She worked to end the draft and to repeal the Internal Security Act of 1950, which even in the late 1960's allowed for suspected subversives to be detained in emergency detention camps.

JOHN HESS 1917-2005
In 1977, he co-wrote a book with his wife Karen Hess titled "The Taste of America." In it they wrote "How shall we tell our fellow Americans that our palates have been ravaged, that our food is awful, and that our most respected authorities on cookery are poseurs?"

ARTIE SHAW 1910-2004
Despite Jim Crow segregation, which made touring with racially integrated bands practically impossible, Shaw courageously took his band on the road with Billie Holiday as his female vocalist. Unfortunately, the results were often highly unpleasant, as this giant of American song was forced to eat her meals on the bus while the other musicians enjoyed a restaurant, and she frequently lodged in someone’s home while the rest of the band stayed in a hotel.