Saturday, December 27, 2014

I have added a couple of observations and responses from the BlueBoard to the Audit! thread.

Is there cooking activity in Berkeley?

The following comes from Tracy Rosenberg's Pacifica in Exile newsletter:

Berkeley-In response to a March 2014 complaint from 8 former board members who served on the Pacifica National Board between 2008 and 2013, the Registry of Charitable Trusts, the division of the California AG that supervises California nonprofit organizations, has launched a comprehensive audit of Pacifica Radio's accounting and compliance functions. The scope of the initial document request is broad and encompasses most financial records from the past five years of operations. (see list below).

The Attorney General defines their charity oversight purpose as: The Attorney General regulates charities and the professional fundraisers who solicit on their behalf. The purpose of this oversight is to protect charitable assets for their intended use and ensure that the charitable donations contributed by Californians are not misapplied and squandered through fraud or other means. 
Here is a list of the 23 sets of documents requested 
by the California Attorney General
1. Articles of Incorporation and any amendments
2. Bylaws, and any amendments
3. Names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of all members of the national board of directors and all corporate officers from January 1, 2010, identifying each by position and term.
4. IRS form 1023 and proof of tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service and CA Franchise Tax Board
5. Complete minutes, including attachments and reports, of all meetings of the board of directors and board committees, including any resolutions passed, from January 1, 2010 to the present.
6. 990 forms from January 1, 2010 to the present.
7. Form RRF-1 and filings with the CA AG from January 1, 2010 to the present
8. Financial statements, including income statements and balance sheets from January 1, 2010 to the present.
9. General ledgers (if maintained electronically, please send electronic files) from January 1, 2010 to the present
10. Bank statements for all checking, savings, and investment accounts from January 1, 2010 to the present.
11. Canceled checks for all checking, savings and investment accounts from January 1, 2010 to the present.
12. Records of all donations and grants received by PFR, including but not limited to donations received via Twitter, Facebook and Pacifica's websites, from January 1, 2010 to the present.
13. Receipts and itemized expenditure journals documenting expenses, from January 1, 2010 to the present
14. All written policies, procedures, internal training manuals and documents related to solicitations including solicitation scripts, question and answer sheets, brochures or promotional materials used in soliciting donations and audio records of fundraising solicitations from January 1, 2010 to the present.
15. Correspondence and documents related to donations from the public, including restrictions on the use of those donations from January 1, 2010 to the present.
16. Identify and produce all complaints and donation cancellation requests along with the name, address, telephone number and email address of the requesting party from Jan 1, 2010 to the present.
17. A list of any loans made by PFR and documents related to those loans, including name, date, amount, purpose, copy of the note, terms of the loan, board minutes detailing the discussion of the loan, and a payment schedule, from January 1, 2010 to the present.
18. A list of any loans made to PFR and documents related to those loans, including name, date, amount, purpose, copy of the note, terms of the loan, board minutes detailing the discussion of the loan, and a payment schedule (from January 1, 2010 to the present). 
19. A list of any self-dealing transactions (transactions in which a member of the board or an employee has a financial interest, with the date, parties, amount and purpose and board minutes of the discussion from inception.
20. W-2 forms of all employees including board officers from January 1, 2010 to the present.
21. A list of employees, consultants, officers and board members and the amount of salary and wages paid to each from Jan 1, 2010 to the present.
22. All policies and procedures related to fiscal controls
23. All policies and procedures related to governance.


I am among those barred from expressing myself on R. Paul Martin's Blueboard, but I can read it. There is very little activity in that once so trafficked forum, but the upcoming Pacifica audit made it in there today (Saturday, Dec. 27), R. Paul is, after all the local WBAI board's Treasurer, and he has been rather outspoken in his criticism of the station's bunker group. Today, Indigopirate offered Mr. Martin this advice:

"You very much need to contact the authorities with respect to your role, and you need to do it now."

Noting that he "may at some point be in touch with them," Martin went on to say, perhaps naïvely, that he expects to be regarded as "just a spectator."

 SDL made the following observation: 
"You can't keep a scam going on forever without pissing off some people who will do something about it. I have a feeling we shall see a snowball effect that will roll over WBAI."
To which R. Paul replied:

"Well, something like this audit was inevitable, IMO. And I do wonder if the California Attorney General's Office is going to look at the content of the premiums. I think that they're mostly going to look at the accounting, including the people who are complaining about not getting the premiums that they'd paid for. I reported about the company that handles WBAI's credit card payments not forwarding the money for the first week or so of the Fall 'thon because of charge backs that resulted from such complaints. That might factor into the AG's audit.

"Anyway, there's a lot to look at throughout Pacifica. And I wonder if the final result of the California Attorney General's Office audit will raise any eyebrows at the FCC? If there's some really bad stuff discovered that would affect Pacifica's relationship with the FCC.

Quite a few people in Pacifica have been behaving as if they didn't have to be concerned about silly things like laws for quite some time. Maybe reality is about to assert itself.

Of course we could also see this entire audit just go away due to some political influence or something. Wouldn't be the first time."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Mitchel Cohen keeps flame of optimism lit...

I also had a question or two for Mitchel:
Does the station have to die completely before you wake up to the fact that Berthold—a man you criticize in asides but basically boost—is bamboozling you with the most obvious lies?

Again. I ask that you think about it… remove those rose-colored glasses, place both feet on the ground and ask yourself why a real estate giant would spend months "negotiating" with a wimp like Berthold, to keep as a tenant the city's least listened-to station, one that has had a foot in the grave for several years?

It simply does not make any sense, which is probably why you get a "trust me" in place of any evidence. This man is a pathological liar—he was one when he sought the job and he continues to be one as he schemes to keep that salary coming.

Frank Lefever and his fellow committee members were fools to recommend and push Berthold Reimers into position, and you are prominent among those who have not caught on to what is being done to WBAI.

Had you any spine and were you sincere about the concern for WBAI that you voice, you would stop posting meaningless "if"s and demand that Berthold Reimers crawl out from under that desk, face reality, and make the real facts and figures known to the sponsors, the people whose money is being misappropriated. 

I am told that the bologna sandwiches they serve on Rikers Island are shunned by the facility's rodents.

Seriously, Mitchel, you need to stop making such a pathetic fool of yourself. Without you lackeys catering to him, Berthold will not even be able to play his charade anymore, so y'all hold the card and the "leaps of imagination" you mention are inside--not out here.  --Chris
Mitchell's response is a bit of a stretch:

There are several very good reasons why the Empire State Building would want to keep WBAI there, due to their implementing of a not-for-profit portion of the ownership corporation in which under the new public offerings and even at a greatly reduced antenna rent, they stand to make more in tax write-offs than they would gain in even the old level of rent payments from WBAI. This aspect to the negotiation is something that I have been pounding away at for the last few years, based on some excellent suggestions from Dan Coughlin (now, do not misread what I am saying here, other than what I have said). 

I have also pointed out that there is in addition a great deal of political pressure to be brought. (I won't go into details on that, but you'll have to trust me on that score. Heh-heh!) In New York City, the giant real estate interests are, unlike elsewhere in the country, mainstays of the Democratic Party (read the late Bob Fitch on this, or Lenni Brenner), whose progressive wing (such as it is) is now running the executive and legislative components of the City government for the first time in decades, and who are friends of WBAI.

Berthold finally took this approach to heart when we had an offer from another virtually equal location at 1/3rd the rent plus incentives, and we were considering (and still may be considering) moving to if we do not have another choice. You could ask the same question: Why would the billionaires who run the new site offer us such a seemingly lovely deal? (Lots of intra-capitalist competition to take advantage, right?) Remember also, we didn't know of that offer for over a year -- it had been sent to the National Office under the previous iED, who apparently never opened that letter (it was discovered by volunteers at WBAI going through papers and contacting everyone in sight). WBAI could have moved there --  but the ESB would  then have sued for the remainder of what we would owe them for several years under the terms of the long-term contract, and we'd be sunk. (Some folks think that we could have gotten out of all of that too, but it would have been a very messy court battle against a major billionaire real estate company. Even if we'd have won, eventually, we would have lost. At any rate, it's a judgment call.)

So what may seem obvious to you at first glance is not so obvious -- in fact, it is likely wrong.

If what Berthold says to be true is so -- and unlike you, Chris, I have no reason to believe he is lying about this -- WBAI can become in much better shape literally overnight, and can shortly be in a position to extend support to our sister stations in need. Clearly, though, the Chair of the LSB, the National Office, and our lawyers must increase their oversight of these negotiations at this point in time, make sure they're on the up-and-up, and set a projected time frame for the negotiations to be concluded. And report openly to the listener-members, to the extent possible.  --Mitchel

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ad libs with a limited vocabulary...

If there were advance announcements of Friday morning's "Report To the Listener," they must have been made during one of WBAI's many presentations of dead air. I heard of it because I happened to tune in the morning tangle of audio gropes and heard the gee whiz kid, Haskins, mention it.

For once, Berthold Reimers was on time, but iPD Mario Murillo spent the hour on the phone from his car, unsuccessfully searching for a parking space. Also  in the cast were Andrea Katz, who has kept a very low profile for the past several months, and a guest of Reimers, the lady who runs CCNY's WHCR-FM. It was she who arranged for WBAI to rent a studio there.

As usual, hardly any concern was shown for the remaining diminish group of WBAI listeners, but compliments and platitudes were exchanged between the participants who, as it turned out, had been singularly dormant. Burning questions, such as where WBAI stands, financially, were not answered, but Haskins injected his false optimism whenever he could.

There were calls, but people obviously hadn't a clue as to what was going on, so they were off topic, asked irrelevant questions and were fluffed off. Murillo tried to bring up the programming work he has been doing and, in all fairness, let me note that he has indeed not sat idle by, but he has a South American agenda which gets  first priority. He apparently likes being heard on the air and it would seem that he doesn't really mind that totally inappropriate, mindless shows continue being aired.

I should add that Murillo has not responded to my question regarding the airing of false, sensationalized "news," such as Geoff Brady wallows in. I sent him an e-mail link, to make it easier, but that is also ignored. In fact, if you go to WBAI's poorly designed, error-ridden web site (mishandled by Andrea Katz's brother, Alan) you will find a curious listing of WBAI's "management" that leaves out the GM as well as the iPD.

Murillo mentioned that Doug Henwood is returning—which I see as a right step--but he gave no indication of who will get the boot—that is worrisome. There also were no updates on the various fundraising projects that have come and gone, such as the Africa Trip and Daultin Anderson's big church bang. Granted, they did say that the church  was "fun" and that some 300 people attended, but Anderson had announced grander expectations: he predicted that over 2000 churchgoers would show up. At one point, he even said that they would be fed. The absence of details and Anderson's own failure to give the event more than a passing mention on his program, the following day, leads to all sorts of speculation that, perhaps, this "lord" did not so readily find a way to heal this dying radio station.

Enough about Anderson's WBAI ministry's weekly two-hours of worship, here's another example of radio at its worst. It's a one hour panel discussion on an artificial subject, seemingly recorded on a not-so-smart phone in need of repairs. There is a hum throughout and the device is equipped with a volume compensator that thrusts the room noise at you whenever there is a moment of silence. One has to strain to hear what is being said, but these are black theater people (real and imagined) who are trying to justify the presentation of inferior productions. The excuse is that white critics don't have a sufficiently clear understanding of black people's problems and psyche to write valid reviews. Of course, they eliminate the fact that many theatrical works created and performed by black have had successful runs, been revived, made into movies, awarded trophies, etc.

These panelists are mostly fringe people whose work has not captured many imaginations, but my point is that the discussion is based upon defensive assumptions and the technical quality is embarrassing. This ought never to have been aired, yet it was heard twice. Listen to this fragment and see if you agree:

Apropos the kind of pap that scares off listeners, we have Kathy Davis, whose homespun sub-Reader's Digest "philosophy" is painful to hear. She has a sweet voice, but there is nothing behind it that warrants a hug. With Robert Knight out of the way, this "charming" lady saw her opportunity to take over the hour and a half he himself had wasted every Thursday at midnight. At first, she veiled it as a tribute, running some of his outdated, seriously biased blather, but that wasn't working, so she opened the mausoleum door ajar and let in one of Knight's companions. That, apparently was not working either, so somebody (Mario or Reimers, or both) told her that the program was too stale to do the station any good... fresh voices and subjects were needed. That also isn't working. This week Knight's friend was on again, interviewing Ray McGovern, a well-known former CIA analyst turned activist. This is a man whose accounts are often outrageous, but probably true—he spent many years on the inside with regular access to the clowns at the very top.

The recently revealed data on U.S. torture activity has brought Mr. McGovern into the spotlight again, so he is much in demand for interviews. Thus, his on-the-phone WBAI appearance was not in any way a scoop. He had interesting things to say, but Pauline, the lady who performed the interview, left important stones unturned. On the fragment that follows, you will hear some follow-up listener calls that drain the sugar out of sweet Ms. Davis. The first one is from a listener who dares to question the one-sidedness of the interview—Kathy rudely gets rid of him and goes on to a call from a lady who lavishes compliments on her, but makes the mistake of mentioning her nemesis, Alton Maddox! That, as we heard the week before, turns Ms. Sweetness sour.... well, listen:

Getting back to stagnation, poor radio, technical embarrassments and mishandling of phone calls, we have Bob Fass, who each week underscored the reason why he ought to have retired from WBAI years ago. The dead air that eventually shocks Bob into consciousness is not fabricated.

Here, too, we listen as callers either drone on with redundancy or arouse Bob's ire. He hates to be told that he is anything but the wonderful legend, as advertised, so when he has made uninformed assertions regarding a fatal Rikers Island incident, he is not at all pleased to hear from a gentleman who wants to set the facts straight. Bear in mind that this caller is courteous and respectful, and that he does not disagree with the outrage generated by this death. He just wants Bob to have the facts and be able to discuss this intelligently.

A one point, Bob tries to tell the man that he is not at all ignorant of the procedures, because—don't you know—he "I played the warden in The Three-Penny Opera."!!! That was over half a century ago, but had it been last week, Bob's use of it would have been just as laughable. Now the question becomes, how much did the late Kurt Weil know about prison regulations, and how do rules differ between London and New York? That fat lady who has started her song... could it be Lotte Lenya? Listen...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A question for Mario Murillo

I'm sure that Mario Murillo, the current Interim Program Director, does not read this blog, but I will send him a link, and perhaps someone who has his ear will tell him that there are questions he needs to answer.

He was brought aboard, presumably by Berthold Reimers, to perform a sorely needed makeover of the program schedule. It is not an easy job, especially given the selfish nature of the ingrained incompetents who claim proprietary rights to air time in perpetuity.

An essential move in restoring WBAI to a station worth listening to—not to mention, sponsoring—is the weeding out of chaff. There is an abundance of that being aired each day, programs that insult even the mildest of intelligence, programs that can be heard nowhere else—not because they contain taboo revelations, but because they are below a standard observed by even the least demanding broadcasting outlets.

One case in point is Geoff Brady's "The Other Side of the News," a weekly parade of paranoid fraudulent fruitcakes like this week's guest, Don Croft, who claims that his Zapper is "routinely" curing "AIDS, malaria, the deadly fevers and infections, dysentery, snakebite and even such conditions as elephantiasis" in East Africa.

This program offers a good example of the kind of fraud WBAI allows opportunists to perpetuate. Geoff Brady's tacit acceptance and, indeed, encouragement of the most outlandish tabloid-like claims indicates that the station's management does not find such pap objectionable. While management is not appalled by such programs, the faithful listeners seem to be. They have abandoned WBAI in droves, reducing the station's listenership to the lowest count in its 54-year history. Only by running dishonest infomercials in almost back-to-back marathon fund drives can WBAI stay on the air, but even its self-generated, dumbed down "community" of gullible now appears to have had enough.

Mario Murillo has had several months in which to cleanse 99.5 of its embarrassing dross, but WBAI still sounds like trailer radio on a bad day, internal moral bankruptcy seeps out over the air, and aural blemishes like Brady, Davis, Haskins, Null, et al persist. Mr. Murillo has his own agenda, which he pushes mostly in the morning, and Berthold Reimers may be off on a cruise, for all we know.

The questions many of us have for Mr. Murillo are as numerous as the excuses they generate, but an honest answer to one of them should give us a much clearer portrait of this man who has chosen to spend his sabbatical in the wreck of WBAI.

Mr. Murillo, please listen to the following  unedited recording of Geoff Brady's "In Other News" and tell us why this lunacy is a weekly feature, decade after decade...


ADDENDUM (Dec. 21, 2014)

This morning I came across "Etheric Warriors", a forum run by Brady's frequent guest, Don Croft. It contains a link to this blog, provided by Croft, who seems to think that it belongs to the station. Brady, who posts to that forum as KSD22, sets him straight, albeit not accurately as to my WBAI background. He calls me "a bloated parasite on the neck of this station," which I think is pretty funny. Here is a link to Croft's forum; the pertinent posts are No.s 7, 8 and 9.

I'll be interested in reading what y'all think of it. :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Houston, you have a new problem...

True to form, Mitchel Cohen, rose-colored glasses in place, emerges from the WBAI bunker doing the Reimers twist.
Hi Richard,

Many of us have taken a "wait-and-see" attitude towards Pacifica nationally, while working to strengthen our local stations -- at least at WBAI, which I know best, of course.

Even though Cerene Roberts announced that Margy was elected as Chair of the PNB almost a year ago, this clearly was a tie vote and should have been decided by a flip of the coin. 
But the minority did not effectively challenge that, and instead even further alienated many of even its supporters by overreaching and throwing the kitchen sink at a very simple, understandable, and flawed decision. Even the minority's own choice for Chair, George Reiter, did not go on to challenge that decision. (We had been previously horrified by many in the minority's attempt to lease out the station.) Why turn every decision into a factional war? Whose interests does that serve?

I and MANY others withdrew from that bureaucratic fight. After all, Margy has been involved with KPFA and has a long history herself in the antiwar and socialist movements, so why not put our swords away and get to work trying to improve things? Which is what we at WBAI have done, despite WBAI's non-representative reps on the PNB.

Despite the badly run PNB officers' election, I don't see that Margy's actions have been any more harmful to the network than anyone else's. And she has been nothing but supportive of WBAI, the way any national officer should be.

In fact, things are looking up at WBAI, despite the naysayers on this listserve. Our programming has vastly improved (thank you Mario Murillo, with the help of many of us). Funding is starting to recover (although all-too-slowly). We NEED those CPB funds, what's the hold-up now?

So my question for you, my friend, is what would you have done differently IN SUBSTANCE (forget the bureaucratic manipulation and maneuverings)?

Would you please make a list of the substantial policies that you and the minority would have enacted had George Reiter won the  Chair that would be different than what has been done this past year? A listing like that would be helpful.


Mr. Uzzell's response is brief and honest:

Hi Mitchel,

I applaud any real effort to strengthen the local stations, and I wish you a great holiday season (for the ones you don't "hate.")


She's warming up...


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Daulton's big do—how big was it?

Fundraising has not been something that earned Daulton Anderson high praise, but to hear him shout over the cacophony that takes up two hours of WBAI's air time each Sunday morning, one would think that his glorification of Jesus reaches into the deep recesses of churches throughout the world. 

We only have Mr. Daulton's word for that, because he did a Reimers and stopped taking phone calls when they panned rather than praised his weekly assault on their ears. His "grab bag" CD premiums, offered during marathons, failed to generate income, so there may well have been grumblings from the Atlantic Avenue bunker, and something had to be done to keep this circus going. Anderson, whose "inspirational music" mainly comprises uninspired second-rate performances, obviously had to do something to justify his WBAI "ministry," so he decided to produce a benefit church concert. It would, in his estimation, attract over 2000 people eager to part with $25 or more. He even said that he would feed them.

Did it work? I tuned in this morning at six, expecting to hear a report on yesterday's big event. As things turned out, it coincided with the massive street protest against police murder, but Daulton's audience marches to a different drummer, as it were. Anyway, it was reasonable to expect a somewhat detailed account, perhaps even an on-the-spot recording or a tally.

The following brief audio clip is all Mr. Anderson had to say about it. That was at the beginning of the show, following the customary, unremarkable rendition of "Blessed Assurance" that he plays every week and seems to have vested interest in. Here, in its entirety is what he had to say about the big concert: 

He promised to say more about this standing room only event, but that's all she wrote. The remainder of his air time was wasted on the usual confused concoction of sounds, unfunny standup comedy and Tom Jones doing his best to capture the spirit of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight's "Didn't It Rain." Not a bad effort by the famously endowed Welshman, but the original recording is far better. In fact, I'll leave you with that (note Rosetta's fine guitar work) as you ponder why Mr. Anderson made no further mention of yesterday's concert.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Davis gets more than she bargained for...

As some of you may have noticed, Kathy Davis was quick to take over Robert Knight's "Earthwatch" program, which had deteriorated long before his death. She turned it into a "Deathwatch" of sorts, playing stale Knight shows that the years had made even more irrelevant. Soon she began to give longer intros, then she brought on Knight's companion as a guest, but the show was still dull and this apparently did not escape Mario Murillo's attention. He has ordered Madame Catherine to remove her Nightgown and do something original.

So, she brought back Knight's lady friend and devoted this week's program to call-ins. This did not result in good radio, but it gave us a better look at Kathy Davis' intellectual shortcomings and intolerance. You see, as the calls came in, she began to small a rat: Alton Maddox. He was the disgraced, opportunistic attorney who, along with his sidekick—the then rotund Al Sharpton—sought the press recognition by participating in and shamelessly embellishing upon the Tawana Brawley I-wuz-assaulted hoax. Maddox lost his license to practice law and continued to seek publicity. One-time FBI informer Sharpton lost his mountainous figure and found a bigger spotlight than he could have dreamt of, one that all but gives him a key to Obama's Whitehouse.

MADdox in disbelief?
Maddox is riding the Africa trolley to nowhere, but his babble has attracted a small following that has much in common with the ever diminishing, dumbed down WBAI listenership. It all came together on Kathy Davis' fickle, ill-gotten show this week, but the Madam was not amused.

Here is an hour's worth of that show. Yes, I know it's long, even after I removed the music, but it gives you a chance to hear her expound on her philosophy and become addled as she slowly begins to sense a caller conspiracy that pushes the Alton Agenda. Once again, free speech gets the old WBAI shove. 

If you recall WBAI in its good days and know why Pacifica was founded, this simpleminded look at life will make you cringe even more.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Draft agenda for Open Session budget proposals...

The following is an extract from the proposed agenda for the December 11, 2014 Open Meeting of the PNB. What is of interest is the WBAI budget submitted for approval, and the provisos attached thereto. Notice that we once again have a call for fundraisers to run until the budgeted goal is reached and that the amount of the goal is no longer to be whatever the GM feels it should be.

I did not record the session's live feed, but hope to be able to capture an archive. That said, I suspect that Berthold Reimers won't like this proposal, nor will he be pleased with the suggested rules of bequest/CPB, etc. disbursement.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How're we doing, hey, hey.......

Here's something Mitchel Cohen, long-time Berthold Reimers supporter, said last August 27th:

"WBAI will not be 'gone soon' -- in fact, we have the possibility of becoming the funding source for the entire network once again (as we had done for years) if we do the proper promotional campaigns that Steve Brown, I, and pretty much everyone else except management has been pushing for (We're finally all united, here), as programming improves (which I think will begin happening in mid-September as Mario Murillo takes over as interim Program Director), and as we kick into gear more internet programming that is not hamstrung by the 168 hours per week limit in over-the-air broadcasting (and as we make the archives sortable by topic, key word, show, guest, etc.). What an opportunity!

Even though the numbers don't show it, we are not far from turning it all around financially. Just one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Have you wondered...

If you ever visit WBAI's hopelessly outdated web site, you might wonder if and how much Andrea Katz's relative (brother?) is being paid for "maintaining" it, but the site poses several other questions, as well.

For example, there is this prominent ad in the opening page slideshow:

If you have tuned in recently, you would have had a hard time avoiding the one-hour infomercial wherein this guy and a California Pacifica program host want you to become a certified hypnotist. Okay, it's another scam, but my question is:

Given the fact that the WBAI "management" is impossible to reach by phone and e-mail is not read, how has the station become aware of a "POPULAR DEMAND"???? Who, other than the architects of yet another failed fundraising marathon, has made such a demand?

While I'm at it, let me point out that the Africa trip offer as is still there, although the booking deadline has come and gone and we still haven't received answers to questions regarding that one. 

If you have burning questions, let's hear them.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Season's Greetings 2014

My family left religious beliefs up to its individual members. We did not call ourselves atheists, but we were realists and on rare occasions when we went to church on Christmas Eve, it was to take in the atmosphere and music. December 24th was also the day on which the main events took place, and we observed the holidays as Danes of a variety of persuasions did, with great food (always a Christmas goose stuffed with fruit), good wine, and practical gifts. The latter tended to be selected with much thought, and never from a catalog. We also had a tree, a real one, lit with real candles, which was dangerous but the only way in those days, and ever so lovely.

I later discovered that several of our friends were Jewish, but I was never aware of that as a young person—coming to live in the U.S. changed that. I worked at a Philadelphia radio station, WHAT, where I was the only non-Jewish white person—I was also the only one who did not feel a need to alter my name. In Denmark, one of our most popular entertainers was Børge Rosenbaum, who had to change his name to Victor Borge when he came here at the outbreak of WWII. I recall him substituting for Jack Paar during a Christmas week and explaining to the Tonight Show audience how "we" celebrate the holiday in Denmark. It can be done just as well without bringing religion into it.

When hand-carried mail was how we communicated our holiday well wishes, I always looked forward to those decorative cards, displayed them for the remainder of the year, and stored them away for future fond remembrances. A few years back, as friends began to depart, all too soon, the cards served well to rekindle those memories. 

I was very fortunate to have worked in a field that generated true friendships, and some of these are reflected in this little video compilation that I put together a few years back. I hope you like it and can forgive a sentimental old fool for lapsing into a sentimental old fool.