The complete living history of Bill Lichtenstein’s WBCN radio station, “WBCN and the American Revolution: How One Radio Station Defined Politics, Counterculture, and Rock and Roll(MIT) begins in the tense moment before the countercultural revolution reached Boston from the West Coast, and takes off showing how the station avoided fake Top 40 acclaim and played the music, and spoke the words , who drove the energy of the city’s youth. Lichtenstein was in 9th grade when he got a job answering crisis line calls. It left him with “a strong sense of belief in the power of media – especially radio – to create and fuel political, social, and cultural change” as well as “give voice to the voiceless”. Lichtenstein writes of the Boston Tea Party, calling it ” East Coast’s premier rock venue,” featuring Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, the Grateful Dead, among others, and the trippy, drugged music scene. The station moves from the digs ratty atop the Prudential Building, signaling to q How much her rising popularity meant the entry into the sleek corporate world she had so vehemently rejected. Loaded with archival photos of concerts, rock stars and radio celebrities, the book is a portrait of the city, a moment, its music and a radio station that helped define it all. . It is also accompanied by a documentary directed by Lichtenstein broadcast on WGBH.
A new point of view
“America is a nation of immigrants,” says the feel-good refrain, the embodiment of the American ideal, meant to be a balm against xenophobia, meant to remind citizens that everyone came from somewhere else at one point. But, as award-winning author and historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz argues in her clever and compelling book “Not “a nation of immigrants”: settler colonialism, white supremacy and a history of erasure and exclusion(Beacon), this phrase obscures more than it reveals, oversimplifying the story at the expense of native and enslaved people. The rhetoric ignores the genocide and slavery on which the nation was founded and it “continues to mask the colonial violence that established and maintained the United States and turned immigrants into settlers.” Dunbar-Ortiz questions the rise of this mentality in the mid-twentieth century and brings to light much more complicated, even horrifying truths. It examines the history of slavery; European immigrants considered “not quite white”; the border with Mexico; Irish immigration following the English colonization of Ireland; and in doing so, it asks us to rethink the history of the United States.
The parentheses of death loom in Vermont poet John Skoyles’ seventh collection, “Yes and no(Carnegie Melon University), and mirrors ask more questions than they answer. The reflections give both/and, a gray area, once the sense of passing time. “The old dog has lost / his hearing,” he wrote, and the old dog is not the only one. Here, a man confronts “the tail of manhood” and “the freight / of an old self”. And it also requires mingling with the ghosts and loves of the past, the intimate encounters and relationships that live in the spirit with the warmth of life. “How quickly / common things trigger / a roll call from those who / have entered this closed quarter / called the underworld.” There is a vulnerable focus on what is happening and what has already happened. “I was living in the past, so the present/was my future,” he wrote. They are poems of a still-beating heart, of the seductive edge of the bridge, and of those moments “in that impasse / where the past and the future / cross swords – / a shining moment / called the pious present”.
To go out
“white on white” by Aysegül Savas (River)
“The beasts of a small country” by Juhea Kim (Eco)
“Medusa Ankles” by AS Byatt (Knopf)
Choice of the week
Yu-Mei Balasingamchow of Papercuts Bookshop in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, recommends “The Memory Policeby Yoko Ogawa, translated from Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Vintage): “A woman writer lives in a town where things disappear unexpectedly – and the memory police keep them forgotten. People who try to remember are taken away, so to protect her editor, she hides him in her house. Little written but so haunting, as everyone struggles to cling to what has meaning in their lives.
Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “alarm clock, siren.” She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.