The following game was contested at the venerable Mechanic’s Institute Chess Room, and can be found annotated by GM Nick DeFirmian at the Mechanic’s Institute Newsletter (https://www.milibrary.org/chess-newsletters/1006). I had every intention of presenting the game until seeing it annotated by Nick and, not wanting to step on the Grandmaster’s toes, decided to not publish the game. For various reasons, as Bob Dylan sang:
1.e4 e6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 (The ChessBaseDataBase contains 507 games in which the game move has been played. It has scored 53% against an ELO average opponent rated 2366. The next most often played move has been 3 exd5. In 7 games against an ELO average opponent rated only 2272, it has scored an abysmal 43%. Deep Fritz and Stockfish 11 both play the move played in the game. Nevertheless, Stockfish 14.1 @depth 48 will play 3 exd5!! Where is Leela Zero when you need her?) 3…dxe4 (There are 258 games in the CBDB in which this move has been made, showing a 56% score against 2361 opposition; 3…Nf6 has been seen in 184 games, scoring 49% versus a mythical player rated 2383; 3…c5 has only been seen in 52 games while scoring 58%, the highest of all games showing double digit moves. Then there is 3…Nc6…The move has been attempted on 11 occasions in which it has ‘scored’ every bit of 27% facing that composite player rated 2358. “Why is the AW wasting his time and mine informing me of that last factoid?” you ask?) Because Stockfish 14.1 @depth 52 will play…drum roll please…3…Nc6!!!!!!!!!) 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2! (If you do not know why the inclusion of the exclamation mark you have not read anywhere near enough of the AW) 5…Nc6 (Stockfish 14.1 @depth 48 will play 5…Bb4) 6.Nxe4 (Three different Stockfish programs would 0-0-0, and so should you) 6…Be7 (Fritz and Deep Hiarcs prefer the move played in the game move, but SF 11 will take the Knight with 6…Nxe4)
7.0-0-0 (SF 14 plays 7 Nf3) 7…0-0 (Stockfish 13 & 14 prefer 7…a5. See Fylypiu vs Sanchis Gil below) 8.Nf3 a5 9.a4 (Komodo and Deep Fritz play 9 Nxf6, but the ol’ Fish will play 9 a3) 9…Nb4 (Deep Fritz plays this move, but Stockfish 13 and Komodo will play 9…b6) 10.d4 (The Fish and the Dragon both play 10 Nxf6+. Therefore the move played in the game is a Theoretical Novelty!)
In 50 B.C.E. the Senate announced that Caesar’s term as a governor had ended and demanded that he disband his army and return to Rome. According to Roman law, if a general was accompanied by a standing army when he entered the official Roman Republic from one of the Roman provinces he would be considered a traitor. Caesar was afraid that if he obeyed Pompey’s orders and disbanded his army he would be prosecuted by the Senate for abusing power in the past and would have no one to defend him.
The Rubicon River formed the border between Gaul and the Roman Republic. According to legend, even when Caesar got to the river with his army, he had still not made up his mind about what he would do. With the famous phrase Alea iacta est, or “the die is cast,” he decided to cross.
With Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, the Roman Republic was thrown into civil war. Eventually, Caesar defeated Pompey and his allies and emerged as the winner. As emperor, he made some radical changes in government. He decreased the power of the provinces and centralized power in Rome. He eliminated much of the government’s debt, disbanded powerful guilds, and rewarded people for having children in an effort to increase Rome’s population. He set a term limit on governors, launched a huge rebuilding effort, established a police force, and modified the calendar. He made himself incredibly powerful and demanded that everyone revere him as part-deity.
Despite all he did and his huge legacy, Caesar’s reign as emperor was short. He crossed the Rubicon in 49 B.C.E. and he was assassinated in 44 B.C.E.
It’s the birthday of American novelist and historian Shelby Foote
(books by this author), born in Greenville, Mississippi (1916). He had already published several novels, including Tournament (1949), Follow Me Down (1950), and Love in a Dry Season (1951), when in 1952, an editor asked Foote if he would try writing a narrative history of the Civil War. Foote said he thought it would take about four years, but it wound up taking two decades, and the result was three volumes, more than 1.6 million words and almost 3,000 pages long when published. Foote later compared the project to swallowing a cannonball.
Near the end of the third volume, Foote wrote a letter to his best friend, the novelist Walker Percy: “Dear Walker, I killed Lincoln last week. Saturday, at noon. While I was doing it — he had his chest arched up holding his last breath to let it out — some […] doctor came to the door with volumes 1 and 2 under his arm, wanting me to autograph them for his son for Christmas. I was in such a state of shock, I not only let him in, I even signed the […] books, a thing I seldom do. Then I turned back and killed [Lincoln] and had Stanton say, ‘Now he belongs to the ages.’ A strange feeling though. I have another seventy-odd pages to go, and I have a feeling it’ll be like Hamlet with Hamlet left out.”
Shelby Foote was one of the only writers so old-fashioned that he wrote all his books with an antique pen that had to be dipped in ink after every three or four words.
Over the decades I have recommended, and will continue to recommend anyone interested in what I have come to think of as the “War of Northern Aggression” begin their journey toward understanding by reading the the Civil War trilogy by Mr. Foote. For some readers, maybe most, the three books will be all you need to know about the conflict. For others the books will set the stage for all the other books to come, because they are magnificently written by one of the best writer’s produced by America.
It has been my experience that one cannot discuss the Civil War (about which Shelby Foote famously said, “There was nothing civil about that war.”) objectively because after over a century and a half passions still run deep. Then there is the fact that most Americans know very little about the War of Northern Aggression. If one becomes interested enough to read further than what is taught in school then you will usually read a hagiography. For instance, during a Civil War Roundtable discussion in Louisville, Kentucky, at a Barnes & Noble Bookstore after this book had been published, and read:
I discussed some of what was included and one older, unfortunate Lincoln apologist stood up with a red face and fire in his eyes, said, “HOW DARE YOU!” before falling onto the floor. He was taken to the hospital as soon as an ambulance arrived. We later learned he survived…
Kentucky was a conflicted state before, during, and after the War of Northern Aggression. During the WONA Lincoln famously said, probably to anyone who listened
My knowledge of Kentucky stems from time spent in Louisville. I recall having lunch at a Greek restaurant on Bardstown Road when there was some kind of uproar. An older couple took exception to the “CSA” belt buckle worn by the waitress. They left without leaving a tip. We talked briefly and I learned her name while leaving a generous tip, for which she thanked me profusely. A few days later I was at Highland Coffee, where Chess players met weekly, sitting outside talking with others, and I mentioned the scene at the Greek place. As we talked about the Civil War and how conflicted was Louisville (and Kentucky in general) a young man at the next table stood up, looked down at me, and said, “That ‘attractive young lady,’ as you put it, is my sister. Here’s the deal, mister, we won; you lost; GET…OV..VER…IT!” Then he walked away into the sunset, just like a movie…
‘Cross the Green Mountain Written by: Bob Dylan
I crossed the green mountain, I slept by the stream
Heaven blazin’ in my head, I dreamt a monstrous dream
Something came up out of the sea
Swept through the land of the rich and the free
I look into the eyes of my merciful friend
And then I ask myself, is this the end?
Memories linger, sad yet sweet
And I think of the souls in heaven who will meet
Altars are burning with flames falling wide
The foe has crossed over from the other side
They tip their caps from the top of the hill
You can feel them come, more brave blood to spill
Along the dim Atlantic line
The ravaged land lies for miles behind
The light’s comin’ forward and the streets are broad
All must yield to the avenging God
The world is old, the world is gray
Lessons of life can’t be learned in a day
I watch and I wait and I listen while I stand
To the music that comes from a far better land
Close the eyes of our Captain, peace may he know
His long night is done, the great leader is laid low
He was ready to fall, he was quick to defend
Killed outright he was by his own men
It’s the last day’s last hour of the last happy year
I feel that the unknown world is so near
Pride will vanish and glory will rot
But virtue lives and cannot be forgot
The bells of evening have rung
There’s blasphemy on every tongue
Let them say that I walked in fair nature’s light
And that I was loyal to truth and to right
Serve God and be cheerful, look upward beyond
Beyond the darkness that masks the surprises of dawn
In the deep green grasses of the blood stained wood
They never dreamed of surrendering. They fell where they stood
Stars fell over Alabama, I saw each star
You’re walkin’ in dreams whoever you are
Chilled are the skies, keen is the frost
The ground’s froze hard and the morning is lost
A letter to mother came today
Gunshot wound to the breast is what it did say
But he’ll be better soon he’s in a hospital bed
But he’ll never be better, he’s already dead
I’m ten miles outside the city and I’m lifted away
In an ancient light that is not of day
They were calm, they were blunt, we knew ’em all too well
We loved each other more than we ever dared to tell
On October 27th, 1962, “The U.S. side had just received two conflicting messages from Moscow about how to resolve the crisis, and did not know which one to accept. Ultimately, President Kennedy decided to respond only to the first one, with the most favorable terms for our side, namely: removal of all the missiles and nuclear weapons in exchange for a no-invasion pledge and (eventual) removal from Turkey ) the USSR’s immediate neighbor) of the 15 U.S. IRBMs stationed there. But communications were very slow on both sides, and no response had been received from the USSR by late Saturday night.”
“President Kennedy decided…” When what has become known as the “911” crisis occurred and POTUS George Dubya Bush
infamously said, “I am the decider,” chills ran up and down my spine. It has never been explained how a group of rag-headed Muslims could thwart the defenses of the United States of America and allegedly bring down several massive steel beamed buildings with a couple of airplanes…Dubya wanted to be the commissioner of Major League Baseball but lost out to Bud Selig,
the man who is responsible for the 1994 strike and the later ‘Ragin ‘Roids era., and the man who enriched himself and his family at the expense of the great game of Baseball.
POTUS John F. Kennedy made many decisions during the Cuban Missile Crisis and evidently all of them were good because you are here to read these words. If the leaders of the powerful military had made the decisions there would be no humans left alive on the planet because, “…the most dangerous miscalculation of all was everyone’s ignorance of (in 1962) of the concept of “nuclear winter,” what most scientists now acknowledge would be the inevitable result of a full scale nuclear exchange on the earth’s climate. A hypothesis first introduced in the early 1980s, nuclear winter posits that even a limited nuclear conflict (and certainly a large one) would so befoul the earth’s atmosphere with smoke and dust from the massive firestorms around cities produced by strategic nuclear weapons, that the result would be cataclysmic climate change – a significant reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface, and a reduction lowering of the earth’s temperature for years – causing loss of most plant life in the absence of sunlight, the resulting failure of agriculture, and the collapse of the food chain. Without even considering the inevitable and poisonous results of nuclear fallout on animal life, the sure result of nuclear winter alone would have been mass starvation.” (pg. 117)
“Initial reactions by virtually everyone (except Adlai Stevenson) were that a massive air strike would be necessary to destroy the Soviet missiles…” (pg. 101) Only three people in the United States government were against blasting the hell outta the Russians. Fortunately, one of those people was the President of the United States. The other two were his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, and UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. Those three gentlemen were all that stood between the human race and oblivion.
“We avoided nuclear war in 1962 only because the 35th President of the United States possessed a farsighted view of the global chessboard in the Cold War, rather than a myopic one; and because JFK believed “a primary responsibility of a President – indeed, the primary responsibility of a President” (as McNamara said in the documentary The Fog of War was “to keep the nation out of war, if at all possible.” [This is one of the principal differences between President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and both Bush presidents; and is one of the reason JFK’s approval rating is now at an astounding 85% in the minds of the American people.]”
How close were we humans to oblivion when JFK and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev were “eyeball to eyeball”?
“First, there was considerable harassment by the U.S. Navy of the 4 Soviet diesel-electric submarines escorting several of the Soviet ships. Unknown to President Kennedy or to anyone else on the U.S. side that day, on one of these subs, the Captain – stressed out by a multi-hour barrage of under water explosive charges from U.S. Navy ships above, designed to get him to the surface and give away his position – ordered the one torpedo he had onboard with a nuclear warhead – a relatively small 10 kiloton device – to be loaded into its torpedo tube; he then gave the order to fire the torpedo at the harassing U.S. Navy ships on the surface. Only the bold refusal of the political commissar on this submarine to confirm the order to fire [the Soviets had a two-man consent system in place] prevented the launching of this nuclear torpedo against U.S. warships. If this device ( or any other nuclear device) had been required to retaliate with nuclear weapons against the forces of the Soviet Union, somewhere and in some way – and “the balloon would have gone up.” (pg 106)
“Second, as revealed by Richard Rhodes in Dark Sun,
at the height of the crisis, according to a retired SAC wing commander, SAC airborne alert bombers deliberately flew past their turnaround points [popularly known as “Fail Safe” points, after the 1964 film of the same name] toward Soviet airspace, an unambiguous threat which Soviet radar operators would certainly have recognized and reported. “I know what my target was,” the SAC general adds: “Leningrad.” The bombers turned around only when the Soviet freighters carrying missiles to Cuba stopped dead in the Atlantic. No SAC wing commander would have performed this action on his own authority, since it risked nuclear war. This order could only have come from the head of SAC, General Thomas Power – a man considered a “sadist” by Curtis LeMay himself, and considered unstable by others who worked under him.”
General Curtis LeMay saying General Thomas Power was a “sadist” is like the kettle calling the pot black. During “JFK’s Meeting With the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Friday, November 19th, 1962” (pg.119) the following exchange took place between the POTUS and the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General Curtis Emerson LeMay.
General LeMay: …And you [addressing President Kennedy] have made some pretty strong statements…that we would take action against offensive weapons. I think that a blockade and political talk would be considered by a lot of our friends and neutrals as being a pretty weak response to this. And I’m sure a lot of our own citizens would feel that way, too. In other words, you’re in a pretty bad fix at the present time.
President Kennedy: What did you say?
General LeMay: You’re in a pretty bad fix.
President Kennedy: You’re in there with me. [An outburst of forced laughter can be heard in the background] Personally.
(Note; LeMay’s presumption in lecturing the President on domeastic and international political considerations – and in such a gloating manner – is stunning, even 51 years later.] (pg 130)
Who was General Curtis LeMay?
After retiring from the Air Force in 1965, LeMay agreed to serve as Democratic Governor George Wallace’s running mate in the 1968 United States presidential election. For the 1968 presidential election, LeMay originally supported former Republican Vice President Richard Nixon; he turned down two requests by former Alabama Governor George Wallace
to join his newly formed American Independent Party, that year, on the grounds that a third-party candidacy might hurt Nixon’s chances at the polls. (By coincidence, Wallace had served as a sergeant in a unit commanded by LeMay during World War II before LeMay had Wallace transferred to the 477th Bombardment Group.) Subsequently LeMay, while being fully aware of Wallace’s segregationist platform, decided to throw his support to Wallace and eventually became Wallace’s running mate. Wallace’s staff began to consider LeMay to be “politically tone-deaf” and the former Air Force General did nothing to diminish the perception of extremism that some American voters had of the Wallace-LeMay ticket. The “bomb them back to the stone age” comment received significant publicity but LeMay disclaimed the comment, saying in a later interview: “I never said we should bomb them back to the Stone Age. I said we had the capability to do it”. The Wallace-LeMay AIP ticket received 13.5% of the popular vote, higher than most third party candidacies in the US, and carried five states for a total of 46 electoral votes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_LeMay#Vice_presidential_candidacy,_1968
From page 121 of JFK’s War it is written, “I have already written much, in the previous essays in this book, about General Curtis LeMay, the Air Force Chief of Staff. Dino Brugioni wrote that LeMay “was characterized by one observer as always interjecting himself into situations ‘like a rogue elephant barging our of the forest.” Brugioni wrote in Eyeball to Eyeball “Petulant and often childish when he didn’t get his way, LeMay would light a cigar and blow smoke in the direction of anyone challenging his position.” LeMay, a combat aviator, was uneasy in Washington. Brugioni continued: :He saw himself as an outsider, yet continually prided himself as the only authority on warfare available to the JCS. Most of all, he felt that the Joint Chiefs of Staff dallied over vital decisions and were not responsive.” General Taylor told Brugioni that “as a bomber commander there was none finer….But a good bomber commander doesn’t automatically make a good Chief of Staff, and appointing Curtis LeMay as Chief of Staff of the Air Force was a big mistake…LeMay would ‘jam that damn cigar in his mouth and place a chip on his shoulder and parade through the Pentagon looking for a fight.”
Third, concurrent with the implementation of the naval quarantine that morning, on October 24th, General Thomas Power, LeMay’s hand-picked head of the Strategic Air Command, on his own authority, placed all of SAC (all Air Force nuclear bombers and all of our ICBMs) at DEFCON-2. This was only one step away from nuclear war, and he did this without consulting President Kennedy or obtaining his permission. General Power – apparently intent not only upon frightening the Soviet Union into submission, but perhaps equally desirous of stimulating a Soviet response that might have given him an excuse to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack – sent out not only the usual unencrypted SAC telegram to all units, but ALSO sent a follow-on, plain-English voice transmission (both surely monitored by the USSR) announcing the upgrade in posture to DEFCON-2, which dramatically began, “This is General Power…”
There is another paragraph here but because this is a blog post it must be skipped. Please read the book!
“President Kennedy was furious, for Powers’ actions could have signaled to the USSR that the U.S. was about to launch the long-dreaded first-strike on the USSR; if they had been so persuaded, JFK knew that the Soviets themselves might have pre-emptied what they thought was coming with their own first-strike on the United States.. or they might have reacted precipitately in Berlin. Fortunately, instead, the Soviet Union grounded its own long-range bomber force throughout the remainder of the Cuban Missile Crisis to ensure that they did not give the U.S. an excuse for a pre-emptive first-strike.”
From what you have read of what I have written certainly you can understand why it is a miracle you are reading these words. As the two nuclear armed nations stood “eyeball to eyeball” any of a number of things could have happened to precipitate a full scale nuclear war. For example, “Furthermore, on October 27th, Soviet missile troops, egged-on by their Cuban comrades and unable to reach their commander for instructions, decided on their own authority to launch SA-2 missiles and shoot down an American U-2 surveillance flight. this was supposed to trigger automatic retaliatory airstrikes by the U.S. side the next day, but JFK refused to do, fearing that the chain of escalation, the inevitable strike-counterstrike syndrome, would lead to nuclear conflict. His refusal to launch the previously agreed-upon retaliatory strike greatly angered the Pentagon.”
“On this same day another American U-2 which was aloft near Siberia, sampling the atmosphere for any evidence of Soviet nuclear testing, got lost and strayed into Soviet airspace, triggering an attempt by several Soviet fighter planes to shoot him down. He eventually made it home to Alaska safely, but JFK and his advisors feared that the Soviets interpret this incursion of their airspace as the prelude to a U.S. nuclear strike.”
October 28th: “The thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis came to an end on Sunday, with the public and private assurances of Moscow that the nuclear missiles and their warheads would all be withdrawn from Cuba, in exchange for a no-invasion pledge.”
The powerful military men did not care for JFK for many reasons, one of which was that they were trained to fight and make war. To some powerful military men the problem was with civilian control of the government. To them JFK was a failed PT Boat commander, the only Captain of a PT Boat to have had his ship hit and destroyed by a much larger vessel. Some laughed at the story written about JFK being a “hero” by swimming to shore with a wounded sailor attached to his back. JFK had a bad back that had put him into the hospital on many occasions, and myriad other heath problems that should have kept him out of the service, but his father, the former bootlegger turned Ambassador managed to get his son into the Navy even though there was no way he could ever pass physical exam. The hero was his older brother, Joe,
who volunteered for a suicide mission and unsurprisingly, died. Joe was to become a politician; Jack wanted to be a writer.
During the course of my life there has been a concerted effort by those responsible for the death of JFK to malign and disparage his name and reputation. The media has done a hatchet job on JFK for decades. They have their reasons. Still, the fact remains that you are here reading these words only because of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who may have had a weak body, but fortunately for us, he had an extremely strong mind. JFK is the best and brightest POTUS in the history of the United States of America. Everyone alive should thank their lucky stars that JFK was sitting in the Oval Office during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Over the course of my life I have read an astounding number of books on the assassination of JFK. A friend, a Democrat and very much a part of the establishment, would smirk at my spending so much time reading so many books about the subject. As far as Mike was concerned it happened just like the government said. On one visit I was surprised to see this book on the shelf in the library:
It was the only JFK book I had ever seen in his house. He refused to discuss it and we never, ever spoke of the assassination again.
When reading the very first book about the assassination of JFK there was only one question on my mind. Why was JFK killed? The answer is contained in the book upon which these two posts are based. If you have any interest in why a POTUS was so brutally slain in the company of HIS WIFE, (Mob hits do not take place around family; there is a reason), then I urge you to read the book and EVERYTHING Douglas P. Horne has written. There was a driving force behind the cold blooded murder of the President of the United States of America that irrevocably altered the course of world affairs. Those responsible for the coup d’état on November 23, 1963 have thus far gotten away with murder, but those of us who have devoted so much time to reading about one of the most, if not the worst moments in our history know there was a driving force behind the brutal, cold blooded MURDER MOST FOUL of POTUS John F. Kennedy that day. If you have limited time, then please read the last volume of the five volume set and you, too, will know who was that driving force:
French President Charles de Gaulle
had some strong words about the assassination of JFK. It is in my memory that he said something about, “His security was compromised.” The best evidence of that fact can be found in this book:
Fifty nine years ago today President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
were “eyeball to eyeball” over the missiles earlier placed in Cuba by the Soviet leader. “This was the day recalled by almost everyone in ExComm as “doomsday Saturday,” and seemed to all involved to be the immediate prelude to a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.” That, and much of what follows was taken from the magnificent book:
It begins: October 14th, 1962: A U-2 flight over Cuba photographs many of the 36 MRBMs and their mobile launchers at multiple sites.
October 15th: The CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) in Washington, D.C. develops the film and interprets the images; this is the day that the missiles were discovered.
October 16th: President Kennedy is informed, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, as it is defined by historians, begins; this is the first day of thee harrowing “thirteen days,” to use Robert F. Kennedy’s terminology from his book about the event.
October 18th: President Kennedy kept a long-standing date with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and Soviet Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Dobrynin in the White House. At that meeting, Gromyko lied to JFK and denied that any offensive weapons wee being placed in Cuba. The public still did not know about the missiles, and the Soviets still did not know that we knew.
October 19th: President Kennedy met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a body to receive their advice, and was severely pressured to adopt massive air strikes and a full invasion as his response the the Missile Crisis. The Chiefs unanimously pressured JFK to bomb and then invade Cuba, and Air Force Chief of Staff LeMay’s exchange with JFK was unusually blunt, rude, and provocative. [Specifics to come later in this essay.]
October 20th-22nd: It had proven difficult, but by Saturday, October 20th, after four days of back and forth in multiple meetings every day, Bobby Kennedy had built a narrow consensus within ExComm for a blockade as an initial response to the crisis, with an air strike and invasion a future options, or course, if a blockade did not work.
JFK met with the hastily recalled Congressional leadership early on the evening of Monday, October 22nd. It was a stormy session, with most of the leadership declaring they were against the blockade option and in favor of military action. President Kennedy then gave his nationally televised address that evening,
and the Cuban Missile Crisis then moved into its public phase, (lasting from October 23 through 28th). In his speech, JFK announced the blockade option (a “quarantine” of any offensive weapons headed to Cuba, since a blockade was technically an act of war), and threatened that the launch of any nuclear missile from Cuba against any nation in the western Hemisphere would result in a full-scale nuclear attack upon the Soviet Union by the United States. President Kennedy also moved the American armed forces from DEFCON-5 to DEFCON-3 just prior to the speech. (Defense condition 5 was peacetime deployment, and at the other extreme on that scales of readiness, defense condition 1 was “nuclear war.”)
October 23rd: The United States successfully engineered a 19-0 vote in favor of the Cuban blockade option by the Organization of American States (with Cuba abstaining).
October 24th: On this day the naval “quarantine” of Cuba was initiated.
Let us pause for a brief break in the action for personal recollections. This writer was in the seventh grade having turned twelve at the end of August, just before school began after Labor Day.
The earliest memory I have of my father, a deeply religious man, is of being in church and looking up at him holding a Bible in his hand while singing this song:
There was a gentleman in the neighborhood who had a small barber shop located in his back yard, which is where my hair was cut for many years. Like most of the men in the neighborhood he had served in the military during World War II. Some of the men would come there to talk and smoke cigarettes, and to get away from the wife for a time. I recall being there with my father during the Cuban Missile Crisis when he was asked if he thought it a good idea for me to be listening to their conversation. “The boy has got to grow up some day. Might as well be now,” replied my father. All the men were Republicans and Baptists and loathed and detested JFK. Those men were what became known as “Goldwater Republicans.” They did not care for change and especially when it came from a Yankee, Catholic, POTUS. They hated Communists and were ready for war at any cost. My father was a radioman with the Navy during “The Big One” and must have been very good at what he did because he was assigned to the Pacific Task Force and was in many, if not all of the major battles about which movies have been made. After the war he had what has come to be known as PTSD. Sloppy Floyd Bailey, who proudly called himself an old “Jarhead,” made fun of my father, saying he had “spastic colon disease.” My father never talked about the war until we were watching the Braves play in the World Series and the flood gates opened wide; did they ever…My father was opposed to war, especially nuclear war, because he had experienced enough of it to last a lifetime. The men at the Barber Shop were full of bluster, but I could sense they were scared and afraid of what the future might bring. They attempted to act like macho men around the other men but when I overheard some of them at the Boys Club they were filled with a palpable fear of the future. My father told me to say nothing about what I had heard to the other members of our family. Other members of the family, aunts,uncles and cousins, would come over and sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes while talking in hushed tones so my sisters and I could not hear them. It did not work. Everyone was on edge; you could feel the vibes. At school we were told to not discuss anything about what we had seen and heard about the “Crisis.” This was while being made to prepare for War by learning how to “Duck and Cover.”
Everyone old enough to be aware was on edge, and even those too young to understand knew something was happening even if they did not know what it was, Mr. Jones.
It was around this time that something major happened that altered the course of my life, and I have always wondered what, if any, part the Cuban Missile Crisis played in how my life developed…
October 25th: On Thursday, U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson debated the ill-informed and hung-out-to-dry Soviet Ambassador Zorin on television at the televised U.N. Security Council meeting over the missiles in Cuba. Confronted with Soviet denials and stonewalling, Stevenson and his team produced for public consumption undeniable evidence of the Soviet missiles in Cuba on several large photographic briefing boards prepared for this purpose by the CIA’s NPIC in Washington, D.C.
October 26th: As a symbolic act meant purely to demonstrate that the U.S. blockade had teeth, on Friday, October 26th the U.S. Navy stopped and boarded a harmless Soviet-chartered Lebanese freighter manned by a Greek crew, which was known to be carrying innocuous cargo. The blockade had accomplished its goal of preventing the introduction of any more offensive weapons into Cuba, and stopping this ship was intended as proof that America was not afraid to stop ships n the high seas.
Unfortunately, this was also the date that ExComm informed JFK that the MRBMs in Cuba were probably now operational. (This was a remarkably accurate estimate; the Soviet Commander in Cuba confirmed readiness to fire the 36 MRBMs the next day, on October 27th, by cable.)
Low-level reconnaissance flights, which had been taking place twice per day since Tuesday, were accelerated to once every two hours on Friday to increase the psychological pressure on the Soviet Union, and to provide as much up-to-date information as possible to Ex Comm and the U.S. military. On this date Castro ordered his anti-aircraft gunners to begin firing on all low-flying U.S. aircraft.
On this date, we now know, the Soviet missile commander, General Prilyev, moved the nuclear warheads for his 35 MRBMs (in their mobile vans) from the nuclear bunker sites (under construction), to the field sites where the mobile launchers and the missiles were located.
October 27th: This was the day recalled by almost everyone in ExComm as “doomsday Saturday,” and seemed to all involved to be the immediate prelude to a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Decades ago a Gentleman by the name of Jim made a cassette tape for me which contained songs he thought I might like, and did it ever! I played that tape as much as if not more than any other tape I ever owned. After it broke I was in a state of shock for more than a little while…A lady friend thought I was making a mountain out of a molehill. “It was just a tape,” she said. “Woman,” I began, “you saying that tape was ‘just a tape’ is akin to my saying ‘Your daughter is just a girl'”! I will never forget the look on her face…
That tape had become a part of me. I may have had the last music box that contained a cassette player. In addition, the box had a CD player, but it is, like the tape, gone with the wind…Every song on the tape was excellent, like the following song heard for the first time:
But there was one song that completely blew me away, a song with which I was unfamiliar. It is quite a departure from the version with which I was familiar:
The song immediately went to the top of the list of all-time Bob Dylan covers, and was the main reason the tape came undone.
This is mentioned because a live version was discovered and it reminded me of the aforementioned cassette tape put together by Gentleman Jim.
But wait, there’s MORE!
That’s not all, folks! While putting this post together I found another version by another artist with whom I was unfamiliar and the video you are about to see and hear has been seen and heard by almost THREE AND A HALF MILLION VIEWERS!
Dedicated to Gentleman Jim Kraft
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
Written by: Bob Dylan
When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez And it’s Eastertime too And your gravity fails And negativity don’t pull you through Don’t put on any airs When you’re down on Rue Morgue Avenue They got some hungry women there And they really make a mess outta you
Now if you see Saint Annie Please tell her thanks a lot I cannot move My fingers are all in a knot I don’t have the strength To get up and take another shot And my best friend, my doctor Won’t even say what it is I’ve got
Sweet Melinda The peasants call her the goddess of gloom She speaks good English And she invites you up into her room And you’re so kind And careful not to go to her too soon And she takes your voice And leaves you howling at the moon
Up on Housing Project Hill It’s either fortune or fame You must pick up one or the other Though neither of them are to be what they claim If you’re lookin’ to get silly You better go back to from where you came Because the cops don’t need you And man they expect the same
Now all the authorities They just stand around and boast How they blackmailed the sergeant-at-arms Into leaving his post And picking up Angel who Just arrived here from the coast Who looked so fine at first But left looking just like a ghost
I started out on burgundy But soon hit the harder stuff Everybody said they’d stand behind me When the game got rough But the joke was on me There was nobody even there to call my bluff I’m going back to New York City I do believe I’ve had enough
The following notice is on the website of the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy:
NOTICE: Per yesterday’s CDC announcement and rise of COVID cases, this event will now require masks in the tournament hall. (https://www.charlottechesscenter.org/norm) Unfortunately it is not shown on the main page, but can be located at the GM/IM NORM INVITATIONAL- SUMMER page after clicking on “events” at the home page. Nevertheless, I applaud those enlightened people at the CCCSA for making such an OUTSTANDING MOVE, on the Chessboard of life.
The Great State of North Carolina is one of the Southern states. It, along with the Great State of Georgia, my home state, are also considered to be part of the “Southeast.” After checking the latest Covid statistics I learned that Georgia is tenth in the USA with nine deaths per day on a seven day moving average (https://usafacts.org/visualizations/coronavirus-covid-19-spread-map/). North Carolina is right below, tied with Arizona with a seven day moving average of eight deaths. When it comes to cases North Carolina is seventh, showing 1926. Georgia is tenth with 1675 cases on a seven day moving average. When it comes to total cases thus far in the pandemic, NC is eighth in the nation with 1,041,620; Georgia is eleventh with a total of 926,707 cases. Unfortunately for my state, 21,654 have died of the virus, which is eight in the nation, compared with the 13,606 humans who have died, ranking NC fourteenth in the country.
When it comes to illness and death being ranked in, or near the top ten is not good. It is a fact that Republican states lead the USA in both cases and deaths. Our country at this time needs to become more UNITED and less STATE. It is extremely difficult to go against the grain and buck the norm, especially in the South. Unfortunately, what should be a normal and natural thing that has been done at the CCCSA could be condemned by some members of the community. I commend FM Peter Giannatos,
the Executive Director and Founder, and Grant Oen,
the Assistant Director/Events Manager, of the CCCSA, and everyone at the CCCSA for taking a stand for We The People!
I do this because just a few days ago I watched a man in a hospital bed, with hoses attached to his nose and other places, who had Covid, but was still defiant, claiming he had a “right” to not take the possibly life saving vaccine if he did not want to take it, even if it killed him. He was a “good ol’ boy” from the South, and did not want anyone telling him what to do. The interviewer asked the man if he thought he had a duty to his fellow humans to take the vaccine in order to not give the virus to anyone. “Hell no!” he replied. “We’re all in this alone.”
The following day there was another gentleman on the television all hooked up to tubes in a hospital bed, and he was being interviewed. He was from Arizona, and did not have any particular reason for not taking the possibly life saving vaccine, but said, “Sure wished I had.” The interviewer asked, “Why didn’t you take it?” He said, “I dunno…didn’t have any reason for not taking it, I guess. I mean, it’s like getting the virus was like what was happening to other people, not to me.”
I know people like both of these two individuals. They are both playing Russian roulette with their lives, and the LIVES OF THOSE WITH WHOM THEY COME IN CONTACT! Both are members of the Chess community. With one old, ornery, and cantankerously recalcitrant Chess coach almost everyone with whom he comes in contact has been vaccinated, yet he refuses to take the vaccine, so its not like there is peer pressure for him to not take the shot. The other is a Grandmaster who writes a blog replete with anti-vax madness. He has obviously become a strident right (wrong) winger as he has aged. Many people fear the government. While running for the office of POTUS the former actor Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” The line elicited a big laugh, and has been repeated endlessly by Republicans running for office ever since. It is, arguably, the most famous thing the man said during his entire life that was not a line from a movie.
It caused me to think, “Why would anyone in their right mind say such a thing if he wants to lead the government?” Think about it…The thought that followed was a line from a Bob Dylan song: “Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters.” (https://www.bobdylan.com/songs/subterranean-homesick-blues/)
If— Rudyard Kipling – 1865-1936
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run— Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! https://poets.org/poem/if
It’s the birthday of the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, born in Brookline, Massachusetts (1917), who said in one of his last major public speeches, “When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations.”
Bob Dylan Has His First No. 1 Song On Any Billboard Charts – No, Really
By Bruce Haring
April 9, 2020 9:03pm
He’s survived punk, disco, a deep dive into religion, the rise of boy bands and electronica, Soy Bomb and going electric. Now, 78-year-old Bob Dylan has again shown the young kids how it’s done, scoring his first No. 1 on any Billboard chart with his 17-minute song, “Murder Most Foul.”
As hard as it is to believe, the Voice of a Generation never had a No. 1 on the Billboard charts under his own name. This time, in the increasingly fractured chart world, his musical examination of the JFK murder tops the Rock Digital Song Sales category, selling 10,000 downloads.
Dylan has hits he has written rise to No.1. His “Blowin’ in the Wind” was taken to No. 1 in 1963 by Peter, Paul and Mary, and the Byrds’ scored the top slot with his “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1965. As strange as it seems, such classics as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” were caught short of the fence, stopping at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Lay Lady Lay” hit No. 7 in 1969.
Dylan remains a road warhorse, doing more than 60 dates per year after years of doing more than 100 per year on his Never-Ending Tour.
devoted an entire two hour program, which aired April 2, 2020, to Dylan’s new song. Bill Kelly, Dave Ratcliffe, and the irrepressible Jim DiEugenio, were exuberantly interviewed by the host, Canadian Len Osanic. While listening one can click on the numerous links which will direct a reader to numerous websites, such as Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs at Dealey Plaza. The articles to which you will be linked provide many other links, to which much time has been devoted recently by this writer. (https://blackopradio.com/archives2020.html)
A good starting point is this excellent article from which excerpts are taken.
Beyond JFK: 20 Historical References in Bob Dylan’s ‘Murder Most Foul’
The 17-minute epic touches upon obscure Civil War ballads, classic movies, and even songs by the Who, the Animals, and Billy Joel
By Andy Greene
Bob Dylan fans woke up this morning to the stunning news that the songwriter had released a 17-minute epic titled “Murder Most Foul.” “Greetings to my fans and followers, with gratitude for all your support and loyalty over the years,” Dylan wrote. “This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant, and may God be with you.”
It’s his first original song since 2012’s Tempest, though he has released three albums of cover songs associated with Frank Sinatra since then. The closest analogue to “Murder Most Foul” in Dylan’s vast catalog is Tempest’s title track, a 14-minute song about the Titanic.
“Murder Most Foul” centers around another historic tragedy: the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It’s packed with references only JFK buffs will likely recognize, like the “triple underpass” near Dealey Plaza, the removal of his brain during the autopsy, and the “three bums comin’ all dressed in rags” captured on the Zapruder film that conspiracy theorists have been obsessing over for decades. Clearly, Dylan has spent a lot of time reading books and watching documentaries about this.
As the song goes on, however, it veers away from JFK and touches upon several other historic events of the era. It’s sort of like Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” mashed up with the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Dylan fans will be picking this one apart for years, but here are 20 non-JFK references in the song.