Friday, December 29, 2006

Where is Winter

Where is winter?? It was 54 degrees today. The picture was taken when I was a teenager in my hometown of Far Rockaway, LI, NY. I remember those winters with much fondness. Tons of snow and tons of fun. All day snowball fights and hot chocolate afterwards. We would spray water all over Granada Place hill and spent a lot of time on our Flexible Flyer Sleds. Goddess, how I miss those days.

Highway Invocation by Jorn David Hall

It seems the Highway's
always been there Joe.
It's taken us across the country,
coast to coast.
sometimes it's just a metaphor,
sometimes we're stuck
waiting for a ride
trying to get out of Redwood, California
in nineteen sixty eight
with hippie wife and child
trying to hitch a ride
Sometimes the highway takes us up
like driving from Gallup to Flagstaff,
when you leave
the shimmering desert,
the brown scrub brush
for the mountain air, Joe
holy mountain air,
sacred shade of cool pine trees.
What a Change,
You know what I'm talking about.

Look over there,
over the edge of the mountains.
Check out the clouds
they look like people.
Look like Gods to me.
Isis is coming towards us
her breasts are full,
she's fertile as the Nile.

And there's Odin,
with his two ravens,
two ravens he named
Thought and Memory.
The story is he hung on a tree,
sacrificed himself to himself,
he lost an eye to bring back the runes,
to bring back the northern alphabet.

And it looks like Siddhartha coming.
Dig it,
Serenity, peace, courageous acceptance.
He's laying it out for all to see.
what about that Hebrew?
Yeshua was his name,
the Greeks call him Christo.
Love, forgiveness, making choices
are the kinds of things he said.
They Crucified him for the things he said,
ah, the price of freedom

Look here comes a lean and hungry one
the jackal-headed one,
oh yeh, its Anabas,
god of the dead. We'll all hear his bark,
ain't none of us going to escape
his bark.

What's all that turbulence,
Oh, now I see its Aphrodite.
Aphrodite, what loveliness to look at,
what loveliness to hold.
I can't tell who's she's with
but they're getting it on,
everybody's got to check it out.
The other cloud, it's twisting
like a tower of smoke, a pillar of fire-
Yahweh, some call him Allah,
you know it's all the same;
we're talking righteousness and vengeance.
This could get serious.

All these people, gods, myths and
archetypes of thought
they're here to show us something.
Joe, lets hit this road of poems
and find out what
the highway is all about.

Thinking of Jorn, Blood Brother

Jorn David Hall Died early in the morning, Monday December 7 1998 Of brain cancer. He tried to warn me during his last call: "Artie, the operation was a success but they didn't get it all." From the time we first met till his death we shared a deep soul brother relationship. We shared many phone calls and e-mails during the last years of his life.

I think a little history is needed here.
I first met Jorn on "Junkie Row" in Washington Square, NYC late 1965 after I moved in to my 5th floor walk up apt. on St. Marks Place. He was sitting there with his soon to be wife and much later on ex-wife Cher. We hit if off right away, talking about our love of beat poets and the folk music scene. A few weeks later Jorn and Cher got evicted from their apartment and I took them in. Our friendship grew even stronger till one day we slashed our palms, clasped hands together and forever became blood brothers.

At the time I was working as a commercial photographer making lots of money. We made other friends that I invited to move in with us, "Folk Rock" Bob, Squirrel, Runaway Lee. Jerry, Mick and Tony would stop by; we formed a blues band called The Surviving Few. Jorn was a great rhythm guitar player and I played blues harp. Part of this story can be found in my poem "Flashback" that is posted earlier on the blog.

To go into more detail of all the things we lived through during that time would take more space than I wish to write about now. My friends of today are always on my case to write a book of my travels through the 60s and perhaps someday I will. Let me end this part of the village chapter for now by leaving it with the break up of the St. Marks Commune.

Jorn and Cher left before I did, seems Jorn got Cher pregnant and left to live in Greenville Pa after Jorn's Mom, Maude came and talked Jorn into marrying Cher. I had heard about what was happening out west in San Francisco and Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" influence on my life was pulling me hard to take to the road. So one day after leaving my cat, Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues (we called him Tom for short), with Squirrel, I hit the road west.

Skipping a head again because my travels on the road would take up many pages. I ran in to Jorn and Cher in Height Asbury and stayed with them for a short while before I took off to Morningstar Ranch. Though my time at Morningstar was a great experience I'll skip it for now.

Leaving Morningstar
When you live in the woods for a while you tend to get yourself together and life can be come stagnant. I was feeling this way when Doc (A Hells Angel) drove up in his Chevy and offered to drop me off in NYC. I jumped at the chance and was on the road again.

We took a detour and made a stop in Greenville PA at Jorn and Chers.
Jorn was really happy to see me being that he was the only long haired freak in town. Jorn invited me to stay, I promised I would come back, and I did after a brief stay in NYC.

We lived in his dad's big house, got mail addressed to The Fools on the Hill from our friends. I got married (it lasted 11 years) and Jorn added another child to his family. My wife and I eventually took off for NYC.

Jorn left Cher and took the kids with him when he went to study film at Penn State. Movie making was in his blood since he was a kid. His influences were Davey Crockett (he had a coonskin cap till he died), horror movies and Ingmar Bergman. I remember watching his "home movies” made with a super 8mm camera. His sisters and mom starred in his vampire movie as well as his beatnik club movie. He made a great western called Shootout, filmed in the woods of northwestern PA. Jorn was always writing horror movie scripts but never had any luck, always getting rejection notices

While at Penn State he got a chance to be 3rd editor on the Tom Cruise movie "All the Right Moves", later on after he moved to Nashville he got to work on some of the Ernest Movies. Eventually Jorn became the producer, director and star of Nashville’s Homework Helpers for school kid’s show on Nashville TV.

Jorn's spiritual life went from beatnik, hippie, born again Christian to Buddhist. I was with him for much of it except I turned out Pagan. Although his death was a shocker and unexpected I live with his influences on my life and great memories. I miss you Bro.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Quinn VS Wolfe Part 2

A friend asked me to do a follow up on Quinn VS Wolfe. Let me start with this Playboy Interview with Sol Alinsky Interview from 1972.

My 1st Question:
1. You seem to think that every one who disagrees with you is a Commie or a Marxist. Do you know the meaning of those words? Red Baiting went out in the 60's. I call myself a Sol Alinsky Leftist and never have and never will join any political party. I remember the 50s all to well.

Qunns answer to this question puts everything I've said about him (Quinn) in perspective. After he defends McCarthy as being a little "rough edged in his approach but was basically right" and then laughs as he tells me I need to know a little history about Sol Alinsky, that Alinsky was a "Freakin Communist". Quinn just loves to Red Bait. I'll let Sol answer this in his own words:

PLAYBOY: Did you consider becoming a party member prior to the Nazi-Soviet Pact?

ALINSKY: Not at any time. I've never joined any organization -- not even the ones I've organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it's Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what judge Learned Hand described as "that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you're right." If you don't have that, if you think you've got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide. The great atomic physicist Niels Bohr summed it up pretty well when he said, "Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question." Nobody owns the truth, and dogma, whatever form it takes, is the ultimate enemy of human freedom.

I could go on from there and respond to the rest of Quinns Rhetoric but I think I've made my point.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Cat Blogging on Xmas

Pook was happy he got a new toy for Yule. He lost it before Xmas.
Ok Dad, where did you hide my new toy?

RIP James Brown, Godfather of Soul

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wolfe VS Quinn

Some time ago I e-mailed Jim Quinn the following letter. I was
surprised that he took the time on his radio show, The Warroom
answering it. Yes I listen to right wing radio, got to know
what BS they are spouting. Quinn and his partner Rose are
as right wing as you can get. From the very start Quinn
makes fun of my Pagan name and goes down hill from there.
The file that follows this post is his answer to my e-mail.
Judge for yourself who is being hateful.

I have e-mailed you a few times before. I was the one who told you about the song, Love me I'm a Liberal. I also must remind you that I am a Vietnam Vet and was against that war when I came home as I am against this one.

Things that bug me about your program and the right wing in general.

1. You seem to think that every one who disagrees with you is a Commie or a Marxist. Do you know the meaning of those words? Red Baiting went out in the 60's. I call myself a Sol Alinsky Leftist and never have and never will join any political party. I remember the 50s all to well.

2. You also seem to think that everyone who does not support this president is a traitor to our county. What happened to the right to protest? However Mr. Bush said " If your not with us your against us", so I can see where you got that information.

3. You go along with your party line that killing Terrorists in Iraq will make the world safe from terrorism. How can you say that? Can't you see what’s happening around the world? London being the last attack, Guess you might change your tune if we get attacked again, who will you blame then?

4. Bitch in a Ditch????????? How very Christian of you.

5. Always downing the ACLU. How come you never say anything about your good buddy Bob Barr? Who is working with them on the Patriot Act? But wait it was Bob Barr who wrote and attempted to pass a bill that will take all Pagans out of the Military, so much for 1st amendment rights.
By The way... If you had the facts about the ACLU you would know they don't support pedophilla, but supported their right to have a web page, just like the KKK and Stormfront.

6. George Soros, Move On, org... Have you ever researched Richard Mellon Scafe, The Heritage and Hoover Foundations, The Seven Texan friends of Carl Rove who funded Viet Nam Vets Against the war and Last but not least the Coors (the Beer People)?

7. The Moral Issue.. Do you think that people who are not Christians are not moral people? What gives anyone the right to say because they do not believe in God they way they do is a bad person? I don't usually talk my religion; I walk the talk and am tired, so very tired of being told that I am not moral. I guess I was once moral enough to go to war and kill people.

8. Islam.. All Muslims are not Terrorists, All Muslims do not want to take down the USA, Islam is not a terrorist religion and I can point out things in the Bible as well as the Quran that makes Killing in the name of God good.

9. Clinton is no longer president... Wasn't eight years of trashing him and calling him names enough? Then you turn around and get mad because people trash Bush, guess they learned it from people like you?

10. Finally... I must remind you that I am an American as well as everyone who disagrees with this administration and is a US Citizen. I love my country as does anyone who values the right to dissent, because we know if we lived almost anyplace else they could come and take us away. Yet there is so much hatred towards us because we value our rights and love our country just as much as you or any one of your listeners.

Quinn VS Wolfe

Here it is folks, Quinn answering my e-mail on his radio show

Monday, December 18, 2006

Karma in a Chat Room, Rant

so I'm sitting in this chat room on the Internet (Political Junction thinkin I spend way too much time in this room but I have friends here and most of my free time is hanging out talking politics with these folks that I have known for years

However there are some others that just rub me the wrong way, you know the kind, the ones who glorify Bush and his administration, that will call you many names using words and spin they've heard on talk radio and/or fox news, words like communist, traitor, fascist (not knowing the meaning of the word), faggot, Nazi and so forth, proudly telling everyone when I disagree with them that I'm a crack smoking, heroin shooting, gay drunk Muslim Zionist with AIDS and HIV.

These same folks call themselves patriots and true Americans
yet they forget about the 1st amendment and the rest of the constitution. They tell you America love it or leave it (not again, sigh!) and our forefathers made this a christian nation, your religion, your party and you don't count, forgetting once again where it says, freedom of all religions or from religion ( what part of ALL don't you understand).

and these same folks can't seem to understand that terrorism isn't
new in this land, go back to 1492 cause some of my native friends
families have been fighting terrorism since then.

While I listen to their bullshit when they get on mic or read it in txt. I smile to myself and breathe the word KARMA. A christian would call it sins of our forefathers. That's right folks, that's the reason the good olde US of A is in trouble

I tell them about:
small pox blankets
genocide of the tribes
slavery of African Americans
atomic bombs
unconditional support of Israel
CIA in, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile
FBI crimes against the black panthers
ruby ridge
framing of Peltier
the lies of WMD
I know I left some out, forgive me

it all adds up to Karma and 9 11
my country tis of thee
your dying

Here's to the State of George W Bush, More

I didn't know that Pearl Jam did a version of the Phil Ochs song till I was searching for a video of Phil's song on You Tube, so here it is, mine and Phil's follow this Video.

Here's to the State of George W Bush

I lived in the East Village back in the 60s, played blues harp in some of those tourist trap coffee houses over in the West Village. Music and Revolution was in the air. Notably singers like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs were at the forefront of that music revolution. The other day as I was reading the lyrics of one of Phil's songs I notice how they still apply to whats happening in the world today. So Here's to the State of George W Bush with apology's to Phil Ochs and his song Here's to the State of Richard Nixon that follows this post.

Here's to the State of George W Bush
For underneath his borders the devil draws no line
If you drag his muddy rivers nameless bodies you will find
And the fat trees of the forest have hid a thousand crimes
And the calender is lyin' when it reads the present time
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
George W Bush find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the schools George W Bush
Where they're teaching all the children they don't have to care
All the rudiments of hatred are present everywhere
And every single classroom is a factory of despair
Oh, there's nobody learnin' such as foreign word as fair
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
George W Bush find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the laws George W Bush
Where the wars are fought in secret, 9 11 every day
He punishes with income tax that he don't have to pay
And he's tapping his own brother just to here what he would say
But corruption can be classic in the George W Bush way
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
George W Bush find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the churches George W Bush and Jerry Falwell
Where the cross, once made of silver, now is caked with rust
And the Sunday mornin sermons pander to their lust
All the fallen face of Jesus is chokin' in the dust
And Heaven only knows in which God they can trust
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
George W Bush find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the government George W Bush
In the swamp of their bureaucracy their always boggin' down
And criminals are posing as advisors to the crown
And they hope that no one sees the sights and no one hears the sound
And the speeches of the President are the ravings of a clown
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
George W Bush find yourself another country to be part of

Phil Ochs - Here's to the State of Richard Nixon

Thursday, December 14, 2006


A little poem written while I was thinking about some really good times!

to the winter of Blonde on Blonde
Walkn' down St. Marks Place
with our Pea Coats on
an long paisley scarf's
wrapped around our necks
to protect us from
the winter cold.

98 St. Marks Place
5th floor walk up
had a whole crew live'n with me
in a 3 room flat
called ourselves the Surviving Few
I worked as photographer
paid the rent
scored the drugs for everyone

Visions of Johanna played softly
on the beat up victrola
Sandy sleeping soundly
lying next to me
while Jorn and Cher made
love in the other room
and me being wide awake
listening to the steam pipes cough
Little runaway Lee
13 year old speed freak junky
warn'n me not to
mess with those Black Beauties
and it was much later
that I learned the lesson
of The Needle and the Damage Done

Tangled Up In Blue

Street Rant

Here's another old one from the time machine. I wrote this when I was involved in a Flame War on a local BBS. The Neo-Cons just wouldn't let up and at the time I felt this was a great answer.

At a Trail in Chicago Abbie Hoffman Said:
I am an orphan of Amerika.
I live in Woodstock Nation.
It is a Nation of Alienated Young People.
We carry it around with us as a state of mind, in the same way the
Sioux Indians carried the Sioux nation with them. It is a nation of
cooperation versus competition. It is in my mind as well as the
minds of my brothers and sisters.
I am a child of the 60s.
I was born psychologically, 1960.
I am a cultural revolutionary.

At the same Trail Jerry Rubin said:
A father tells his son, Respect me or else. That's what Amerika told
its youth, Respect us or else.
The kids grow up saying, I'm not going to Respect you or else.
When you go around killing black people.
I am not going to Respect You!

Bob Dylan once said "your sons and your daughters are beyond your

Those were trying times. Abbie is Dead and Jerry sold out. I stood
beside those men, many times on the streets of NYC. I have not
forgotten where I was and where I have been. My mind will never let
me forget the abuses and death I have seen. Weather it was in Nam,
in Amerika or in the streets today.
I also have not forgotten where I am going.

As Abbie said, I live in Woodstock Nation.
I do not have time for your put downs, your name calling and your
lies. Look for me on the street helping to start a revolution, to
overthrow pigs like you, you who can never understand what is like
to be poor or be of another race or color.
You who Rant on and on about how bad things are, but do nothing
about it.
And when the Revolution comes and you lose everything you have,
you'll be there asking for help from those same folks you put down.
Don't expect it and don't say I didn't warn you.
So go a head, make fun, tell your lies
Theres revolution in the air.....

Willie Nelson & Sinead O'Connor - Dont Give Up

My Favorite Christmas Song

Wonder what Bill O'Rilley thinks of this one?

The Pogues with Kirsty McColl / Fairytale of New York

Blessed Yule To All

Jethro Tull - Ring Out Solstice Bells

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Riding The Lightning

I didn't hear Metallic's song of the same name till many years after I wrote this. This is a poem about Shock Treatment and this is why I am working to see that this treatment and others like it are outlawed.

Rode the lightning back in
the spring of 87
Let me tell you
Brothers and Sisters
The shrinks promised me heaven
but in reality
it was a ride thru

Electric impulses that
jolted in my brain
took my mind
through passages of pain

My mind became clouded
with shadows
after they turned up the juice
I still wasn't there
in the recovery room
with the curtains all drawn
and me in my tomb

Fell outa bed
clutching my head
roommate ran for
a nurse
He Ain't doing to good

11x750 volts
That means I got
quite a jolt
Took six months to recover
but I'm still not here
Was the fear and pain
worth the ride?
What have they done
to my brain?

No matter how hard I try
I still can't remember
and some pieces of my life
Have been lost
The lightning to my mind for a ride
The shrinks promised me
it would help

On Electroshock: Artaud, 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'


I've lost my muse for the moment, I wonder if she remembers this one?

Softly, I slip into Dreamland
Stone Circle surrounded by Mother Oak
Fields of Purple heather
Beneath a sky of Azure Blue
A Crystalline Cottage
An Emerald Vision of You
Goddess of Dreams
Worker of Light
We Lie together in a Magickal Mist
Encircled by Fae
Who look the other way
While we perform
The Great Rite

Moody Blues - In Your Wildest Dreams

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Dedicated to Pittsburgh's Homeless folks. I have been homeless a number of times in my life. During the 60's by choice and 80's by Ray-Gun. Remember that you might be one pay-check away from being homeless the next time you pass one of us on the street. In case you don't know me, I work for Operation Safety Net as a Homeless Out Reach Worker.

Who are they?
These people in suits
are they as stable as me?
After all, I'm the one who is labeled

Do they ever stop to think
of anyone but themselves?
They work in towers of glass and iron
Eat serf and turf almost every nite
There is a darkness in their eyes
that reflects the smallness of their lives
Maybe, the way I look at suits is the way they look at me?

But I know I don't want to be a suit
I just can't act my age
and I know there's more to life
....Than a Wife
and ....a Red Power Tie

These people in towers of glass and iron
can never touch mother earth
Their heads are too damm high in the clouds
On the street you can get your moneys worth
You look at us like we are trash
You think that living on the street is one big bash
You say we are leaches on society
and have no sobriety
You do more coke and crack than
I've ever seen
You go to clinics to get sober
While I rot away in jail
The judge never gave me that chance
You might have to make it someday
When your towers all crumble
and your bosses will laugh
at your....RED POWER TIE
When your out on the street...Like Me

You could always use your RED POWER TIE
to wipe your lips, after eating your
only meal of the day
at the end of the Rainbow Soup Kitchen line
Your towers will crumble and fall
The future is never guaranteed


TV News

I originally wrote this short meaningful poem about the Oklahoma bombing where 19 children died but as time goes on you can substitute the word Oklahoma for places like Dufar, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, and Iraq or any place where innocent Children Die.

TV News
covers the war
Bloody Burnt Babies Bodies
Flash across my screen
Making my flesh crawl
Making me think about their families
Babies, That never had a chance to grow up
Making me sadder and sadder everyday

However, Life goes on
here in the un torn land
away from all that kind of strife
unless you live in Oklahoma that is
I'll cry for those dead Babies
as I try and put an end to war

Guess I'll get up now
and change the channel
Watch a cartoon or
something funny
So I won't have to cry
About Dead Babies

In Your Eyes Only Sadness

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Stranger

As I walk this city as a stranger in a strange land
as sidewalks crumble beneath my feet as buildings blaze in the
bright afternoon sunlight
as people scurry about like robots out of control
I have no time to worry or question
What I'm doing here?

A spirit of the mist and mountain
lost among these archaic ruins
of human toil and trouble
I came in search of peace
and found a land lost
in suffering, strife and war

You who destroy with your weapons of mysterious might
You who destroy with chemicals
that pray on the poor and forsaken
as you sit by and watch
and you don't give a damm
as you fail to inspire hope
in the so called lower class
Its so easy for you to place the blame
Its so easy for you to look into faces with no names
Its so easy for you as you while away in your riches
and its so easy for you not to care
as you destroy, plunder and rape
these people, these lands, this earth
As you sit back and throw your
castoff crumbs at humanity

I am a spirit of the mist and mountain
I have no time for your games of war
destruction and inhumanity
I can only hope and pray that someday
(and pray that it comes soon)
Your time will come to and end
and the people will rise up
to take back their plundered land
to awake to a new hope
So I nevermore have to be
A stranger in a strange land

Bring Them Home

Monday, November 27, 2006

War Machine

I can’t stand another day of this administration
Tired of dealing with their lies and degradation
Deception and social regulation rule the day

War machine
Rich boy toy machine
gonna make you into a
mean and lean
fighting machine

Welcome to the machine
my friends to a war
that never ends

a war that never ends
kill kill for peace
Kill children
Kill mothers and fathers
kill grandfathers and grandmothers
in some foreign land

who is the enemy
who is the foe
watch our freedom slowly dissipate
can you relate
all in the name of democracy
This illegal war is an atrocity

I can’t stand another day of this administration
tired of dealing with their lies and degradation
Deception and social regulation rule the day

Enemy Of The State

Mario Savio

"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

Big Gray Ugly

The Homestead Steel Works early 1900's Homestead, PA

A Steel Workers Tale

This poem is dedicated to the men and women that I worked along side of at US Steel's Homestead Works, Homestead, PA. For 10 years I walked through The Hole In The Wall Gate in that dirty old mill that I came to love and respect. You had to respect her; cause if you didn't you might have gotten injured or even died. I worked along side of Old Timers that had plenty of stories to spin, of fighting for the Union or when there was no Union at all. I worked along side of Summer Rookies that had PHD's after their names; Cause Daddy was a big shot down town and wanted his kid to get a taste of Sweat and Steel. When they closed The Big Gray Ugly, many people lost everything they owned. We became a statistics on unemployment lists, Foreclosure lists, Suicide Lists. Families disintegrated. People left town to find work, as The Steel Valley became The Rust Bowl. This poem is a tale of those times.

The Big Gray Ugly
by Arthur Wolfe

The Big Gray Ugly
Down and dirty
Stands empty, quiet
and alone

It's buildings melting into the ground
as they turn to rust
The ones still standing that is
While others are striped
from the inside out
by the some of the same folk
who worked in them
they packed the machinery
loaded it on barges to send down river
to some non-union town or country

It was proud folks who worked there
that poured the iron and made the steel
before the fire went out
The big gray ugly
was once the pride of Homestead
Pride of the Valley
Pride of the industry

In the early days
many men and even boys
gave their lives
every time a heat was tapped
making steel was very dangerous
Even more so at 25 cents an hour

The company owned the town
The streets, the stores,
company houses, company food
It all came out those
proud folks pockets

If you were lucky and got picked
to work in the shape up
It probably meant that the foreman
was sleeping with your wife
or girlfriend
but she wouldn't tell ya
cause she was happy that you made
$4 for a 16 hour day
and you made it home safe and sound

The Big Gray Ugly
Withstood it all
Through the strike of 1892
Pinkertons, Frick,
Carnegie with his library on the hill
Making steel for armor, tanks, shells
Battleships and Carriers
WWI, WWII, Korea, Nam
Pumping Iron, Making Steel
Empire State and US Steel Buildings
Locks for the Panama Canal
The Brooklyn and Verrazanno bridges
You name it
all that steel came from
The Big Ugly

The Union made its mark with blood and guts
You folks who never worked The Big Gray Ugly
could never understand
that 25 cents an hour as you put
your life on the line every day
was not worth it if something bad happened
like loss of limb or even life
That the nice foreman who slept with
your wife
Wouldn't take care of her or your kids

It was a hot summer day in 1972
That I first walked through
The Hole In The Wall Gate
Wearing my new hard toed shoes
and orange rookie hard hat
The Wandering Hippie Pagan
Meets the Big Gray Ugly

And I felt I had something to prove
After all (I was questioned every day)
What's a nice Pagan kid like you
doing in a hellhole like this?
Digging ditches, Spiking Rails
Just like you!
Track Gang, one step above the Labor Gang
I knew I had something to prove
and then one day I found my niche
They put a torch in my hands
as I cut all the rails
for the central wharf
I felt the history of the Big Gray Ugly
surge through my hands
As I saw the fire of ancient mill workers
pass through my eyes
The spark was lit

Back in 72 we had a company union
that took our dues
and never fought our fights for us
but soon we got together
with folks like
Michelle (Who published the Locals Newspaper)
and took back our union
Gave warning to the Company and the USWA
That Local 1397 was now Rank and File

And as the years went on
And I moved up
now a Forge Craneman
the fire stared to fade
the company's plan became very clear
to one and all
Stockpile, Layoff call em back and then lay em off again
Till the fire became very dim

Man we tried to save our jobs
To save our History
To save our Valley
To Save our Homes
and Families
But US Steal held all the cards
and our history didn't mean shit to them!
after all Mr. Rodrick said
"We're in business to make money"
so on one cold Thanksgiving Day
our sister plant in Youngstown
closed down with out a warning
as most of its workers
got the news on their car radios
while driving to work that day

All the Rank and File locals
pulled together
stormed the US Steal Building
(that was made with our blood)
Protested in DC
But Big Business Bucks Buy Votes
As congress became blind to our pain
It took two years to get
a plant closing bill through
and after all that it was only
a 60 days warning notification
60 days to watch your life go down the tubes

The next Thanksgiving found
the locals unemployed committee
at the mill gates begging money
from those who still worked
so we could have food
on our plates and our kids
have full tummies
But ones days money was not enough
more people kept getting laid off
So we had us a big rock concert
with local bands
Iron City House Rockers
Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band
Rare Experience
Made 15g and opened a food bank
Kept it going with more benefits
Bruce Springsteen came to town
helped out a whole lot

But food banks are Band-Aids
and the real banks became
land grabbers as they scarfed
up our houses because of back taxes
and overdue mortgages

We all pulled together
The Local Unions
Homestead Unemployed Committee
Mon-Valley Unemployed Committee
Tri-State Conference on Steel
We protested, we picketed
We Lobbied, We Tried
and then one day I shall call
the beginning of the end
Came a group of misguided Ministers
who called themselves DMS
who told the union worker
that churches founded the 1st unions
(can you believe that shit?)
and they were there to help

So they misled some of us
and twisted the rest
If your not for us
your against us was their cry
and soon we were split
as the good we were doing
became undone
by their raids on Rich Churches
and Skunk Oil in Banks
as well as little rich kids at parties

We all screamed with rage
as this stuff got the front page
and the company ate it all up
See, we told you their all
Lazy, Radical Bums, we know what we are doing
After all they made too much money
That's why we are opening new mills
in Mexico and paying the workers
1.25 a day as well as closing
13 mills and using the tax break
to buy Marathon Oil

I was on the HighLevel Bridge
That goes across the Mon River
and over The Big Gray Ugly
the night the fire went out
in Open Hearth 5 (OH5)
I had just gotten back
from Youngstown
A Memorial Service
for a fallen brother that day
So I stood there with tears
in my eyes as I thought
of the history and lives
of the ancient mill workers
of the ones who came after
and the kids yet unborn
would never have a chance
to work in The Big Ugly

It was two years later
as I stood on that same spot
Ready to jump, burned out from exhaustion,
depressed by the sight
The Big Ugly was gone
I knew I had done my best to save her