• About Shaun Richman


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

    by  • 6 Jun ’17 • the labor movement, the nation • 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...

    Read more →

    Republicans Will Turn the NLRB into a Force for Union Busting. We Can Turn It Back.

    by  • 17 May ’17 • the labor movement • 0 Comments

    Here comes the anti-union crackdown. According to a recent Bloomberg report, Donald Trump has submitted the names of two anti-union lawyers to the FBI for vetting. This is a precursor to nominating them to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by June to cement a Republican majority that will reverse many of the pro-worker...

    Read more →

    What the Big May Day Strike in a Small Pennsylvania City Teaches Us About Organizing

    by  • 5 May ’17 • the labor movement, the nation • 0 Comments

    The first May Day of the Trump era saw scores of major actions in cities across the United States, but perhaps the most impressive demonstration of worker power took place in the small city of Reading, Pennsylvania. There, 127 stores—about three-quarters of the businesses in the city—shut down in protest, and an additional 500...

    Read more →

    Unions Are at Their Lowest Levels in Decades—To Gain Power We Must Stop Following the Rules

    by  • 1 Feb ’17 • the labor movement • 0 Comments

    If Donald Trump’s first week as president wasn’t depressing enough, Thursday brought a report that showed union membership fell in 2016. Union members are now just 10.7% of the overall workforce and only 6.7% of the private sector. Those are the lowest levels since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began tracking them in...

    Read more →

    From Company Town to Rebel City: Richmond, California Shows How Progressives Can Win

    by  • 11 Jan ’17 • the labor movement, the nation • 1 Comment

    Rebel cities have long been laboratories for progressive policy experimentation. Specifically, the small Bay Area city of Richmond, California has stood out for its boldness. It’s now the subject of a new book by Steve Early, Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City, set to be released next...

    Read more →

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

    by  • 17 Nov ’16 • the nation • 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,...

    Read more →

    The Two-Tier Provision in the Chicago Teachers Union’s Tentative Agreement, Explained

    by  • 18 Oct ’16 • school, the labor movement • 0 Comments

    The tentative agreement that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) struck with district management less than an hour before a midnight October 10 strike deadline has been hailed by many as a victory. Facing another round of concessionary demands, the union managed to extract $88 million from the mayor’s corporate slush fund to restore some...

    Read more →

    The Other Chicago Teachers’ Strike

    by  • 7 Oct ’16 • school, the labor movement • 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...

    Read more →

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

    by  • 15 Sep ’16 • rock and roll • 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.”