“The most vital right is the right to love and be loved.”-Emma Goldman

“I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.”-Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman was born today in 1869 in Lithuania. The quotes above are so relevant to yesterday’s DOMA decision! If there’s a heaven, Emma Goldman is smiling. She worked tirelessly for the rights of ALL people and ALL workers and was labeled an anarchist and considered an undesirable citizen by her adopted country, The U.S.A. and deported to Russia under the 1918 Alien Act. Emma Goldman was NOT an enemy, she was an idealist who believed everyone should be treated fairly and have equal rights. Today, Emma Goldman is admired for her vision, her work, her passion and commitment to equal rights. Emma Goldman believed that: “The idealists and visionaries, foolish enough to throw caution to the winds and express their ardor and faith in some supreme deed, have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.”

“Emma Goldman dedicated her life to the creation of a radically new social order. Convinced that the political and economic organization of modern society was fundamentally unjust, she embraced anarchism for the vision it offered of liberty, harmony and true social justice. For decades, she struggled tirelessly against widespread inequality, repression and exploitation.Goldman’s deep commitment to the ideal of absolute freedom led her to espouse a wide range of controversial causes. A fiery orator and a gifted writer, she became a passionate advocate of freedom of expression, sexual freedom and birth control, equality and independence for women, radical education, union organization and workers’ rights.”-jwa.org *Jewish Womens Archive

 “Emma Goldman, born in Kovno, Lithuania (then Russia) in 1869, came to the United States in 1885 at age 16. By the time of her deportation, she had made a name for herself as a leading anarchist, public speaker, and crusader for free speech, birth control, and workers’ rights.  Goldman first became interested in radical politics in Russia, where she came into contact with populists and political organizers. In the U.S., she was disappointed to learn that instead of streets paved in gold, workers were subject to gross economic inequality and inhumane working conditions. ”-jwa.org This Week in History

How appropriate that her birthday comes at such a momentous time in history!


“I Say Yeh, Yeh! That’s What I Say”-Georgie Fame

“Some people think I’m a rock ‘n’ roll musician and some think I’m a jazz musician but, for me, there is no difference.”Georgie Fame

Oh, how I remember loving “Yeh, Yeh” recorded by British Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. It was a mix of jazz, rythmn and blues and just rocked my 11 year old self! Georgie Fame is alive and kicking and is 70 years old today, Happy Birthday! I just listened to the song 2X and it’s still great!

“The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”-Moses Hadas

This morning I learned about someone I had never heard of before…Moses Hadas, Scholar, former Columbia University Professor, Family Man, Spiritual Leader, Writer, Translator.

Although he was known as a quiet, even shy man, Moses Hadas made his presence felt at the College as a prolific scholar and as one of the College’s truly great teachers. A classicist by training, he began teaching as an instructor in the General Honors course in 1925, and except for brief service in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, he stayed at Columbia for the rest of his career, remaining one of the College’s most sought-after teachers until his death in 1966. Born in Atlanta, Hadas received his bachelor’s degree from Emory University in 1922, and came to Columbia to do advanced work in Greek and Latin literature. Even as his own academic accomplishments mounted, Hadas continued to embrace undergraduate education. After teaching General Honors, he taught the Colloquium on Important Books; he was one of the original teachers of Humanities A and continued to teach it for years. It was said of Hadas that he “always had enough time to discuss anything of humane interest with the demanding young.” Little wonder that, as a teacher, he was often mentioned in the same breath as Mark Van Doren.”Columbia College Faculty Profiles

His daughter, Rachel Hadas, wrote a loving bio on him for Columbia University in 2001 and the information below is from that text:

“Moses Hadas was raised in Atlanta in an Orthodox household by Yiddish-speaking parents and trained as a rabbi (he graduated from Jewish Theological Seminary in 1926 and completed his doctorate in classics in 1930); later in life he continued to fulfill the rabbinical function of performing wedding ceremonies, specializing in marriages, like his own second one, between Jews and Gentiles. Thus not only in his teaching, translating, and scholarship but also in his own life, Hadas was a bridge builder who crossed his own bridges; a mapper of cultures who especially enjoyed seeing where traditions converged. His linguistic talent (Yiddish, German, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and add later some Spanish, Dutch, Modern Greek, and Hebrew as he experienced it spoken in Israel) was mirrored by a remarkable cultural fluency.

Hadas was praised by his colleague Jacques Barzun ’27C ’32SGSAS as belonging “to that ancient time when scholars loved to teach, knew how to write, and developed personalities without effort,” his distinctively multicultural interests and identity make him look, from my perspective now in 2001, more like a man ahead of his time. Hadas was also ahead of his time in his populist instinct. A crucial—perhaps the crucial—theme of his career was the urge to transmit the classical legacy, in the widest sense of the term, to as wide an audience as possible—certainly an audience outside the classrooms of Columbia College. Thus mid–century technology allowed him to reach a television audience; he spoke about the classical legacy on Channel 13 and traveled to Israel with Eric Sevareid in 1965 for a program about the Shrine of the Book. And in 1963, in a pilot program conducted under the auspices of the Ford Foundation, Hadas delivered lectures on classical civilization by telephone to several Southern black colleges, including Grambling State University. (Partial tapes and transcripts of these lectures survive; it is a chapter of his career worth reexploring, and more surprising than the fact that Hadas corresponded with Robert Graves about Greek mythology and with Mary Renault about the way Euripides’ Medea hisses her s’s.)”

Moses Hadas was born today, June 25th in 1900.
















Park Slope’s Own Pete Hamill

“There are 10,000 books in my library, and it will keep growing until I die. This has exasperated my daughters, amused my friends and baffled my accountant. If I had not picked up this habit in the library long ago, I would have more money in the bank today; I would not be richer.”-Pete Hamill, Journalist/Author

 I’m not sure how known Pete Hamill is outside of NYC, but I’ve enjoyed his newspaper columns and books for many years. Like me, Pete Hamill was born in Brooklyn, in the Park Slope section. He may be known in some quarters as a long time paramour of Shirley MacLaine…after reading her daughter’s memoir, I wonder how he lasted so long with Ms MacLaine! He also dated Jacqueline Kennedy. Pete Hamill is a REAL New Yorker…loves baseball…enjoyed a drink and thankfully stopped his drinking life in the 70s. “Alcohol seems always to have played a role in Hamill’s life. Some of his first memories are of his father, Billy Hamill-who lost a leg to gangrene after he was injured in a soccer game-coming home drunk. Or of his father spending time in neighborhood bars and the young Pete thinking, ‘This is where men go. . . . This is what men do.’  At the same time, fascinated by comic books, Hamill recounts how-in a bit of symbolism heavy enough to trip over-he realized that the comic heros got many of their secret powers from drinking secret formulas. ‘The comics taught me . . . that even the weakest human being could take a drink and be magically transformed into someone smarter, bigger, braver.”Interview with Pete Hamill, 2/15/94, Conducted by Janet Cawley, Chicago Tribune

He stopped drinking cold turkey and continued writing. Hamill has written about: baseball, growing up in Brooklyn, art, comic books, and many other subjects. He is also the author of numerous short stories and novels.

Pete Hamill is 78 today, he’s been writing for over 50 years. Read his entire bio here.







“I’m really glad that most of our songs were about love, peace and understanding.”-Paul McCartney

Happy 71st Birthday Paul McCartney!  I remember sitting in my parent’s bedroom and seeing The Beatles make their U.S. debut on the Ed Sullivan show on a little black and white TV, a Philco, I think. It was on my birthday, in 1964 and I just turned 11 years old. We couldn’t get over the girls screaming and crying. The Beatles composed many beautiful songs, some fun songs, some intriguing and thought-provoking songs and were humble enough to thank many of the great rhythm and blues and black rock and roll musicians that came before who influenced them. Such influences included: Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

The impact of the Beatles – not only on rock & roll but on Western culture – is simply incalculable. As musicians, they proved that rock & roll could embrace a limitless variety of harmonies, structures and sounds; virtually every rock experiment has some precedent on Beatle records.”- Rolling Stone Magazine The Beatles were also one of the first bands to actually express their feelingson major world issues. They played in the U.K. originally and then traveled outside to the U.S. and other countries like Mexico and Canada that allowed for them to have a strong influence on the world. They stood up for what they believe in and made music for the things they love. The Beatles have and always will hold astrong influence on the music industry.”-Lina David & Crystal Pike, 2011

Here are some of my favorite tunes by Paul McCartney:

There are so many more favorites! 















“I’ve Photographed Everybody from Matisse to Isamu Noguchi.”-Carl Van Vechten

Bessie Smith Langston Hughes Lady Day

When I began my interest in the Shakers and Movers of the Harlem Renaissance (Post WWI-Early 30s) as a teenager, I was always fascinated by the amount of photographs that were taken by one Carl Van Vechten, born in Iowa on June 17th, 1880. I marveled how close he got to the many writers, musicians, artists, philosophers, dancers that created an era and body of work that stands strong today. Carl Van Vechten was a writer, a patron of the arts and literature and a photographer who loved and knew his music and whenever you read a book on the Harlem Renaissance or someone from that period, you are sure to see Van Vechten’s photos. If there was an event or a party including a “rent” party, Van Vechten was there, here in the U.S.A. and around the world.

Van Vechten was born in 1880 and grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a child of progressively thinking parents — his father operated a lumber mill; his mother was ‘a suffragette who kept company with abolitionists.”Lynell George

In the early 1930s, Miguel Covarrubias introduced Van Vechten to the 35mm Leica camera. He began photographing his large circle of friends and acquaintances. His earlier career as a writer and his wife’s experience as an actress(Fania Marinoff to whom he was married over 50 years) provided him with access to both fledgling artists and the established cultural figures of the time. Some of his subjects from this period include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Alfred A. Knopf, Bessie Smith, and Gertrude Stein.”Library of Congress



“I did take the blows [of life], but I took them with my chin up, in dignity, because I so profoundly love and respect humanity.”-Josephine Baker

I was always fascinated with the life of Josephine Baker; any book that was published about her, I was sure to read. I never did get to the NYC restaurant, Chez Josephine, in the Theater District,  opened up by one of her adopted sons, Jean –Claude Baker (she adopted many children and referred to them as her “Rainbow Tribe”). She really did want to make this world more tolerant and just and thought adopting children of different races and backgrounds was her contribution to this worthy cause. Josephine was loved in France and not as celebrated in the U.S. due to racism. Along with being an entertainer, Ms Baker also did underground work with the French Resistance during WWII. Josephine Baker was born June 3rd, 1906. Take out a book from the public library, her story is worth knowing!