• How Union-Busting Bosses Propel the Right Wing to Power

    by  • 23 Jun ’17 • 0 Comments

    U.S. bosses fight unions with a ferocity that is unmatched in the so-called free world. In the early days of the republic, master craftsmen prosecuted fledgling unions as criminal conspiracies that aimed to block their consolidation of wealth and property. During modern times, corporations threaten the jobs of pro-union workers in over half of...

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    Trump Wants To Privatize Air Traffic Control. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

    by  • 6 Jun ’17 • 0 Comments

    Promising “cheaper, faster and safer travel,” the Trump administration announced a plan this week to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. The announcement Monday marked the first day of the administration’s “infrastructure week,” a series of publicity events around one of the only areas of the president’s agenda that has intrigued some union...

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    When Labor Fought Rock-and-Roll

    by  • 14 Apr ’17 • 0 Comments

    Facing the world ain’t easy when there isn’t anything going Standing at the corner waiting watching time go by Will I go to work today or shall I bide my time So begins the Kinks’ song, “Get Back in Line,” one of the most hauntingly beautiful paeans to the forced idleness and stress of...

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    Fighting Trump Isn’t Enough—We Must Also Wage War Within the Democratic Party

    by  • 17 Nov ’16 • 0 Comments

    What reasonable American does not feel some amount of bitterness about the stunning election win of the short-fingered vulgarian scion of an outer borough slumlord, who squandered a billion-dollar casino fortune, and reinvented himself as a reality TV star and racist demagogue? There’s plenty of acrimony to go around. The cadre of technocratic campaigners,...

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    The Other Chicago Teachers’ Strike

    by  • 7 Oct ’16 • 0 Comments

    As the countdown to the Chicago Teachers Union’s October 11 strike deadline approaches, another teachers’ union in Chicago has voted to authorize a strike as their own contract negotiations have dragged on over strikingly similar disagreements. The teachers and staff at the fifteen-campus UNO Charter School Network (UCSN) have spent seven months bargaining for...

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    “I’ll miss you when you’re gone away forever.”

    by  • 15 Sep ’16 • 0 Comments

    I finally listened to Nick Cave’s new record, Skeleton Tree, on Spotify. It’s good. Really good. I hesitated because all the reviews I read had these lump-in-the-throat moments when the writers recounted the horrific death of his teenage son last summer and how the family is coping. That sort of thing didn’t really affect me until I became a dad. Now, it’s devastating.

    I think because the lyrics were completed before his tragic loss, listening only to the record is not as difficult an experience as I had been dreading. Yes, there are all kinds of eery coincidences (The record opens with the couplet “You fell from the sky / Crash landed in a field;” his son died when he fell from a cliff), but one is bound to see such coincidences when the modern master of the murder ballad experiences a violent loss of a loved one.

    But the final records by David Bowie and Warren Zevon, so assured that they were in fact living on borrowed time, offer much more difficult lyrical observations. And Lou Reed’s Magic and Loss and Songs for Drella (mourning the deaths of mentors Doc Pomus and Andy Warhol) and eels’ Electro-Shock Blues (initially about leader Mark Oliver Everett’s sister’s suicide…until his mom got diagnosed with terminal cancer, giving the record a somehow darker B-side) have far more specific and uncomfortable notes of regret and mourning.

    But then I saw the video for “I Need You.” If Skeleton Tree has a stand-out track, it is “I Need You.” It’s more droning and meditative than your usual Nick Cave song, and it has a hypnotic quality that is hard to get past.

    But the video…the video is devastating. I realize now that most of the early reviews of Skeleton Tree are responding more to the accompanying documentary than to the record itself. To cope with his son’s death, Cave rushed ino the studio to record the material he had been working on, and invited a documentary crew to record this train wreck as some sort of exercise in artistic self-flagellation.

    I doubt that the Skeleton Tree will ever leave medium-to-heavy rotation in my record collection (as soon as I find myself at an actual brick-and-mortar record store to buy the thing), but I doubt I can ever bring myself to watch the video of a slightly ragged and out-of-tune formerly-smooth crooner who just lost his son wail, “I’ll miss you when you’re gone away forever.”