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Ralph Nader to Patti Smith, Union Square Crowd: People Have the Power

.Mary Reinholz

Ralph Nader isn’t on the ballot this year, but the consumer advocate managed to fire up around 350 people, including rocker-writer Patti Smith, at Barnes and Noble in Union Square last night.

Introduced by former public advocate Mark Green, Mr. Nader touched on themes from his new paperback, “The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future,” and recalled how mass movements led by a handful of people produced radical change.

These days, Mr. Nader said, many everyday folks seem to have lost their passion for activism and have become far more narrowly focused – and with lame excuses to justify it. “They’ll tell you,” he said drily, “that they’re too busy changing their profile on Facebook.”

Others, he noted, fear being ostracized or crushed by the powers that be because of their belief that the “the big boys own the system and you can’t control it. There’s been a loss of nerve. But it took six women in 1840 to start the suffrage movement” in New York, he said.  Read more…

Nightclubbing | Dead Kennedys

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library. Today, they look back on the N.Y.C. debut of the Dead Kennedys.

ngt-DK's JelloEmily Armstrong Jello Biafra

For die-hard NYC punks, the West Coast seemed a little daunting. It was so bright! But in the fall of 1979, we went to Los Angeles to be on a panel at an early MTV music video conference. We stayed at the Tropicana Hotel, which was the preferred accommodation for traveling rockers. Jim Morrison and Tom Waits had lived there – on this trip, it was Nina Hagen and The Slits hanging at the pool.

ngt-dead kennedys pat&paulEmily Armstrong Dead Kennedys luggage

After L.A., we headed up to San Francisco to do a Nightclubbing video screening at the Mabuhay Gardens. The club was right in the middle of San Francisco’s red-light district, and our hotel, the Sam Wong, was across the street from Carol Doda’s strip club. The only people who stayed at the Sam Wong were old Chinese men and punk rockers. We paid $21 for a threadbare room that overlooked Carol’s flashing neon breasts.

ngt tropicana

The next night, we caught The Offs and The Nuns at the club, and stayed up all night to catch a 6 a.m. flight home. At airport security, we met the Dead Kennedys as they headed east for their first N.Y.C. show. Airport security was nothing like it is today, but they did have a metal detector and they weren’t letting lead singer Jello Biafra off easy. He drew a crowd as he emptied his chains, rings, studded belt, boots, dog collar, and other metal into a plastic bin. We had found some new friends. Read more…

Interview | Howie Hawkins

Howie HawkinsDeyva Arthur Howie Hawkins.

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor, isn’t bothered by recent polls showing him trailing far behind Andrew Cuomo. His main goal is to help the Greens grab a share of the political spotlight now so that the party’s candidates can be considered viable contenders in future elections. “People can help make that happen and that’ll open up the debate in the elections,” Mr. Hawkins says.

In an interview with The Local, Mr. Hawkins, 57, a UPS truck unloader from Syracuse, discussed his belief that he understands the needs of the working class more than the major candidates. He objects to the recent subway fair hikes – he believes students should ride free – and he’s passionate on environmental issues and educational reform. He also described an unusual experience during an appearance on East Village Radio.
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