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June 10, 2005

One life
Posted by Patrick at 07:51 AM * 11 comments

Via Jim Henley, an affecting eulogy that braids its way through the multiverse of American demimondes in surprising ways. For instance:

And so it was that the nation’s most militant labor organization, the brotherhood of Big Bill Haywood and Joe Hill, came to publish the lyrics of “Run, Cthulhu, Run,” a Lovecraftian parody of the bluegrass standard “Molly and Tenbrooks.”

Real life: far more complicated than any description of it.

Comments on One life:
#1 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 09:49 AM:

For a second, it felt like I was there, instead of snug and safe at home the whole time -- first fashionably hip, then fashionably selfish. I don't know where I am now, but I hope I'm not fashionable. Thanks for the peek at another fascinating person I'll never know.

#2 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 10:20 AM:

I never met Mary Frohman, but I knew Leslie Fish quite well back in the early 80's; Teri Lee and I were the ones who first got her out to the SF Bay Area, as the GOH for the first Bay Area filk convention. She decided she liked the place, and moved out not long after. So it's interesting to read of a woman I never met, but whose life and mine nonetheless affected each other.

The DeHorn Crew's two vinyl albums have been reissued on a single CD, as Folk Songs For Solar Sailors, by Random Factors.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 10:25 AM:

Meanwhile, some scientists appear to have way too much time on their hands, according to www.physicssongs.org. There you'll find a physicist's take on "my favorite things". Picture Julie Andrews singing the following:

Metals and alloys and things electronic,
High-ech ceramics whose bonds are ionic,
Polymer structures with long carbon strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Superconductors and metallic glasses,
Semiconductors and bronzes and brasses,
Fiber composites for strong airplane wings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

#4 ::: Tracie Brown ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 10:32 AM:

Thinking of Mary always brings me a smile because I remember how I met her. She and Leslie arrived on my doorstep in East Lansing, looking for crash space while they hid out for a while. Why me? Because legendary East Lansing anarchist Steve Crocker told them that "they" [fill in your choice of oppressive authorities] would never imagine them hiding out with *me*! (He was right.) Mary disguised herself as a nun -- I'm grinning just remembering it -- in a modern habit of white blouse, dark blue polyester skirt and a modest head covering, also of dark blue poly. Pretty convincing, it was. I actually didn't think anyone was really out to get them, but you never can tell. I know now she never lost her fight; I hope she never lost her sense of humor.

#5 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 10:46 AM:

I met Leslie Fish once, when she was music guest of honor at a Minicon. Despite the pretty much permanent tension between the "filk" world and "Minneapolis music" (don't ask) she actually showed up to one of the late-night music circles, and performed some impressive stuff. I remember that one of the songs I played was Richard Thompson's "Pharaoh," which she liked enough to ask for more information about its provenance. I was vaguely aware that she had roots in radical politics; it's interesting to find out more about that, from a very different subcultural perspective.

#6 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 11:03 AM:

Leslie also lived in Don Simpson's house for a while (where I had lived about 20 years earlier).

#7 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 11:40 AM:

Jordin Kare:

As you recall, I used to filk my original songs, accompanying myself on a Brazillian classical guitar, at events where Leslie Fish was the Big Wheel. I have several of her audiotapes, and found her to be expert in Opera as well. Once I discussed politics with her, trying to find common ground between Heinlein and the National Writers Union. She certainly knew politics of The Left. Now, IF H. P. Loevecraft had written Joe Hill, it would be Joe Eldrich, for a start... or Innmouth Hill, or something...

Bob Dylan sang:

"I used to live at Montague Street
in a basement down the stairs.
There was music in the cafes at night
and revolution in the air."

He sang of Brooklyn Heights (and the street where I grew up) where there was indeed several generations of Old Left powerbrokers and theorists. It intertwines with poetry and fiction in unexpected ways.

Touching eulogy, though. I do not mean to make light of the loss.

#8 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 07:28 PM:

Serge: Bolcom & Morris have been known to perform the original words bent to fit "Pirate Jenny's Song" from Three-Penny Opera. Now \that/'s filk!

#9 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 07:32 PM:

Interesting article. Sorry I never met the woman.

I used to know some people in Seattle who were in the IWW; they had a chapter in a small café, now long gone. One of them said something about it that's always stayed with me: that if you join the IWW, you immediately get put on various lists at various government agencies as a member of a "known subversive organization," since no one has bothered to revise the IWW's status probably since the days of the Palmer raids. To her, that was a badge of honor. I find myself thinking about it all the more nowadays.

the pretty much permanent tension between the "filk" world and "Minneapolis music" (don't ask)

//shudder//

#10 ::: Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 03:56 PM:

In Mary's obit, there's a passing mention of an anarchist discussion group in the early 70's . . .
That's "The Nameless Anarchist Horde", which, in addition to discussing, partied, picniced, lived together in various combinations, partied, and seemed to have only one consistent policy: a new name was invented for the group for each action (to see how many files we could get the Red Squad to open on us). (The most longlasting activity was arguing about what to call the group, which never was settled, thus the Nameless &c. (some of which was later plagiarized by Bob Asprin, but that's other stories).) Leafleting the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade was the James Connolly Connection; marching in Evanston's Fourth of July Parade was the St. Macchabeus Society. Shea mailed out the "Nameless Newsletter" of what was going on, or going to go on . . .
That's where I found anarchists, and most of the group are in Illuminatus! in one degree of disguise or another. (Including the kittens Clitoris, Penis, and Fred, who also were real.)

#11 ::: Charlie Frohman ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 06:08 PM:

I really enjoyed the eulogy of my older sister. Between 1969 and 1999 I never saw her, or heard from her. My brother finally figured out where she was and we got back together again.

I never knew what part of her stories were true and what part were made up. Actually, I could tell the really far out stuff was made up, and the stuff I had seen first hand was true. It was everything in between. It didn't really bother me though, because I loved to hear her talk and sing.

She was quirky, loud, emotional, flghty and dependable. I will miss her always.

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