Tag Archives: Phil Ochs

COVID Roundup: Racism; Thespians; Oystercatchers; More

Jaclyn Jeffrey writes:

People often talk about a moment in time that marks their life… the before and after.

We have 3 children, all adopted from China. We have lived in this area all of their lives, and have experienced nothing but total acceptance. On Sunday I took 2 of my children to Sherwood Island. We love it there.

It was not very crowded. We sat down a bit more than 6 feet away from a woman with her husband and daughter. As we put the blanket down she started screaming that we needed to be 15 feet from her. Not wanting to deal with her, we moved farther away.

Once we sat down, I Googled. She was correct: That is the current rule for shoreline state parks.

An hour later a couple sat down near her, 6 feet away. She said nothing.

As we were leaving she turned to my children and yelled, “Why don’t you go back to China?” The hatred in her words was palpable. My heart stopped.

Like many around the world I am horrified by the treatment of minorities in this country. The events of the past few weeks are beyond comprehension. I am enraged and heartbroken at what our country has become.

For just a brief moment yesterday at Sherwood Island I was witness to pure, raw, hatred for another because they are not white. As a white woman, I know I am very privileged. This was the first time seeing this up close and personal. I see it on TV, read it in the paper, watch the stories on my various news feeds, but to be in the presence of this evil was something entirely different.

Yesterday, was my before and after.

A good day, spoiled. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Staples graduate/Grammy, Tony and Oscar-winning songwriter Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, The Greatest Showmani) joins his musical partner Benj Pasek — and Tina Fey, Dolly Parton and more –at the first-ever Virtual International Thespian Festival

Set for June 22-26, the online event — originally scheduled to be performed in person — features college and scholarship auditions, the International Thespian Excellence Awards Showcase (“the Thespys”), performances, workshops and master classes.

Pasek and Paul will be interviewed by moderated by their James and the Giant Peach book writer Timothy Allen McDonald. There’s also a keynote address from The Lion King’s Alton Fitzgerald White, and a performance fromRuPaul’s Drag Race star Peppermint.

To register for the festival, click here(Hat tip: David Meth)

Justin Paul (Photo/Dan Woog)

Yesterday, “06880” reported on the hatching of an oystercatcher chick at Compo Beach.

Now there are 2.

Tina Green notes: “Westporters should still give the oystercatchers a wide berth while in the area. The adults and chicks will remain in the area until the young birds are old enough to fly.

“Piping plovers, a federally protected species, are also on their nest. They too should not be disturbed, to insure a positive outcome.”

(Photo/Tina Green)

The pandemic has not been easy for many independent contractors — including photographers.

Yet David Dellinger — a longtime contributor to “06880” — is thinking of others. During this tough time, in an effort to support Black Lives Matter — and encouraging others to contribute too — he’s donating 50% of proceeds from all June photos sessions to the @mnfreedomfund.

In addition, he’s giving 100% from all print sales to other verified organizations that support #blacklivesmatter. Contact info@davedellingerphoto.com.

In 2018, David Dellinger photographed this Cockenoe Island wedding proposal.

And finally … in 1968, Phil Ochs was in the middle of a concert at Coleytown Junior High School. It was a fundraiser for the school’s Peace Corps project.

Someone handed him a note. He told the crowd that Lyndon Johnson just the nation he would not run for another term as president.

As 2020 looks increasingly like 1968, the underappreciated folksinger’s words are more meaningful than ever.

Phil Ochs, LBJ, And A Westport Steakhouse

Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the Twin Towers were struck. Those of a certain age recall exactly how they learned President Kennedy was killed.

A thousand or so Westporters will never forget hearing the news that Lyndon Johnson refused to run for a 2nd term. Phil Ochs told them. The witty, sardonic protest singer was performing in the Staples High School auditorium. Gleefully, he passed the news along. The audience roared its approval.

Phil Ochs

Last month marked the 36th anniversary of Phil Ochs’ suicide. Just 35, he’d grappled with demons so strong they overpowered his prodigious talents, and intense desire to expose hypocrisy and inanity wherever he found it.

That Phil Ochs concert was a marvelous moment. A songwriter who believed LBJ’s Vietnam policy was destroying an America he — Phil — loved informed a crowd of like-minded people that they had won. No one who was there has forgotten that moment.

Long forgotten is another Phil Ochs appearance here more than 3 years earlier.

Emily Roderick Oprea remembers it, though. Her younger sister Judy Roderick — a blues singer — recorded for Vanguard. Time Magazine called her “earthy and hard rocking.”

Judy Roderick

Judy sang at folk festivals, night clubs and coffee houses, from Newport and New York to San Francisco.

But she lived with her parents in Weston. Sometimes she played local gigs.

One was at the Bonanza Sirloin Pit. Founded by Dan Blocker — Hoss on the TV show “Bonanza,” who I actually saw make a (very large) personal appearance here — the Westport steakhouse was, according to Wikipedia, the original in a chain that grew to 600 restaurants by 1989.

Judy played there a few times. So, on February 26 and 27, 1965, did singer/songwriter Ed McCurdy (“Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream”).

And Phil Ochs.

The poster -- including Phil Ochs -- promises "Folk Music at Bonanza, every weekend from 9 p.m. until..."

There was no follow-up story in the Westport News. It’s not listed on a website that chronicles all of Phil’s concerts, from January 1, 1962 through October 23, 1975.

According to the website, the next day — February 28, 1965 — Phil was in Baltimore. There was a benefit for Kentucky coal miners; he wouldn’t miss something like that.

But that Friday and Saturday, he was at a steakhouse in Westport. The Westport News called him a “singing journalist,” and said he’d “comment on the political and social climate of the sixties.”

He did that for as long as he lived. In death, he’s faded from memory — though a recent documentary, “There but for Fortune,” brings his wonderful music back to life.

And on at least 2 occasions he did it in this small suburban town that, back then, was a haven for the topical music Phil Ochs personified.

The Record Hunter

If you grew up in the 1960s, the soundtrack of your life was vinyl. 

And if you grew up in Westport in the 1960s, chances are you heard that soundtrack at the Record Hunter.

The Record Hunter held 2 distinctions that are rare these days:  It was a record store, and it was a small, independently owned business on Main Street. 

What remains today is the left section of Talbots.  The right side was the Remarkable Book Shop — a perfect complement to the Record Hunter.  Both were cozy, warm places where the product was less important than the customer.  Both were run by people who loved what they did, and did what they loved.

The Record Hunter was Jay Flaxman’s baby.  He didn’t just sell albums and 45s.  He sold you on the music, and the musicians. 

Jay was the man who introduced me to Richie Havens, Phil Ochs and Joan Baez.  He was the man who let my friends and me hang out for hours on Saturday mornings, listening to music he thought — no, he knew — we’d like. 

Jay was the man.

Jay Flaxman died Monday.  He was 80 years old.

The Record Hunter comprised only part of his life.  Even in a hip town like Westport, it was hard to make a living selling folk and classical music.  After it closed, he went to work for the Westport Transit District.  I was in college then — no Minnybuses for me — but I heard that in his new job, helping youngsters navigate the streets of Westport, he had as great an influence as he had on me and my musical tastes.

Vinyl is gone.  So is the Record Hunter, and now Jay Flaxman.  But Richie Havens, Phil Ochs and Joan Baez are on my iPod.  I can’t imagine a life without them.

Thanks, Jay, for those formative Saturday mornings so long ago — and for your long-enduring gift of music to me.