COLUMN FIFTY-NINE, MAY 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)
FROM A STAFF OF ONE. . .
. . .TO A STAFF OF TWO!
It gives me great joy and
pleasure to announce that THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST will no longer have a staff
consisting of just me! Overburdened
and overworked, I have finally found a fellow writer talented, astute and
willing enough to volunteer as my associate editor. He is John Williams of
Liverpool, England, who has already given me input and assistance in giving my
website a face-lift that I have found invaluable and enlightening.
When I asked John for a bio so I could write this announcement, he
I was born between Los Alamos and Hiroshima, twixt Trinity and Hell. Whenever opportunity knocked in the past I was usually slipping out of the back door, but when Al Aronowitz invited me to link to his site I grabbed the chance in both hands.
When I asked him to make
his bio a little longer, he emailed me:
I was born between Los Alamos and Hiroshima, twixt Trinity and Hell. I have been a tailor, an engineer and a sailor, before becoming a teacher of English in Liverpool. I have two children, both boys, who see me as a whetstone to sharpen their wit upon. I also have a wife who has steered my foundering ship through many a maelstrom. In the past, whenever opportunity knocked, I was usually found slipping out of the back door, but when Al Aronowitz invited me to link to his site I grabbed the chance in both hands.
I needed more of a story,
I told him, so then he emailed me 11 paragraphs. But before I tell you what he said, I’d like to explain
that John not only knows his way around computers and the Internet, but he is a very
talented writer with his own website. Click on http://www.thefreeinternet.co.uk/deltadreamer/liverpool/
and you’ll get the inside dope on the city that the Beatles made
famous. In fact, this is a website
that will delight every Beatles fan around the world. The introduction alone
should tempt you to read more:
writings in these pages flow from Liverpool, the city on the river Mersey that
gave to the world the Beatles, football excellence and wit. Liverpool was,
sadly, long ago, the richest port of the slave trade. There is a long history of
Irish, Jewish, African and Asian immigrants who came here for diverse reasons.
Indeed, Liverpool is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe.
names of two of the Beatles, Lennon and McCartney, reflect the influx into
Liverpool of the Irish victims of the famine. In fact, the strength of
Liverpool's Irish population has led to our city being nicknamed the capital of
Ireland. Our cosmopolitan nature is reflected in the mosques, temples and
synagogues that can be found here in Liverpool but we are, in the main,
Catholics and Protestants.
Liverpool is no longer the world's greatest sea port we Scousers still wear the
jeans that were made popular by the transatlantic sailors of the fifties, plying
their trade from a town that was still reeling from the assaults of Hitler's
Luftwaffe. Ironically, before the war, Hitler's half-brother Alois lived in a flat at 102
Upper Stahope Street and 22-year-old Adolf had actually spent six months with
greatest passion is football, and we have three great teams, Liverpool football
club, their reserves and their youth football team! To be absolutely fair
Liverpool is also home to Everton football club, one of the oldest football
clubs in the world. The fact is, Everton football club was the parent of the
breakaway Liverpool football club.
also have two great cathedrals, the Liverpool Metropolitan and the Liverpool
Anglican, one for each of the Catholic and Protestant traditions. Liverpool has
known its share of tragedy. In the year 1900 three cities tragically led the
world league for infant mortality, Dublin, Liverpool and Calcutta, in that
order! For our many immigrant communities the long and winding road ended at a
Liverpool workhouse for the indigent, or a mass grave for the victims of cholera
and Scarlet fever.
the blitz of 1941, when the Luftwaffe pounded Liverpool nightly, as it was the
key to the western approaches of the Atlantic, almost 20,000 people died. In the
Atlantic itself the German U-Boats accounted for thousands of locally born
seamen, including my namesake, whom I never knew. Twenty-five years later four
Liverpool lads would sing 'Give peace a chance’ because they knew
instinctively that all we need is love. The Beatle's song,'Places I remember',
reflects their love of Liverpool.
site, I hope, reflects my own personal love of the city on the Mersey, whose
vitality prompted Carl Gustav Jung, lecturing at Liverpool University, to call
it 'the pool of life'. Somebody else said 'see Naples and die, see Liverpool and
live!' Amen to that, and Amen to Liverpool's resurgence in the 21st century. In
the words of the Beatles, our greatest sons, 'Let it be!'
Of course, Liverpool was
on the map long before the Beatles put it there and if you want to spend a
pleasant read, here’s how a kid grows up to manhood in that famous Mersey
seaport. And how he follows his
hometown trade of sailor to voyages off to far-away places like Japan, Israel
and elsewhere. And how he attains
middle age to teach English to the local Scouser children and, finally, to
writes about it all with the same Liverpudlian humor and whimsy you find in
Beatles songs. You want to know more? Just
click on http://www.thefreeinternet.co.uk/deltadreamer/liverpool/.
There, you’ll find some 60 stories, all of full of Liverpudlian charm, because John, like the Beatles, is a very charming writer and Liverpool, like Ireland across the Irish sea, is a fount
with the Liverpool
of charming storytellers.
Some of John’s tales are more ruminations than narratives, but he’s the kind
of writer who can make even a death notice to read.
Some of the stories will have you on the verge of tears.
And some will make you split your sides.
Such as the one, entitled The Mild Bunch, which tells about a
couple of characters John calls Smash and Grab.
It was with them that John experienced his only run-in with the Liverpool
constabulary. At least John says
it was his only run-in.
As I’ve said, the
stories are told with the same kind of humor you’ll find in Beatles songs and
in the same Liverpudlian accent. If
you didn’t already know, that’s called
Scouse. In John’s stories, Beatle
fans will learn some of what their heroes faced growing up in that Northern
English city on the Irish Sea. Because John William’s tales, although they are
mainly about himself, are also about experiences that any Liverpudlian
kid might have had to go through.
Such as soccer and
sailing and Liverpudlian dating practices.
Such as in a piece entitled You Say Hello, I Say Goodbye.
It all started one summer's night when I met Helen. Just seventeen, she was pretty, completely innocent and entirely without guile. I was nineteen and a battle-hardened veteran of the sexual revolution. I walked her home and despite her undoubted charms I didn't pursue anything other than a half-hearted attempt at making a date for the following week.
it so happens that up until then I had never stood anybody up in my life.
Moreover, I was always the first to arrive on a date because I was too insecure
to imagine that a girl would wait for me for any length of time. However, I
stood Helen up, with more than a touch a twinge of remorse as she was a nice
trusting kind of person.
Well, I don’t want to
spoil the story for you by telling you how it turns out.
But this is one paragraph in it:
One night I called for her to find her in a state of great agitation. She was 'late' and she had already consulted the old wives who told her a tale about the efficacy of something called slippery elm. The 'remedy' failed and it wasn't too long before I was facing the hostile gaze of her clan.
And then there’s
All that remained was to approach our respective Parish priests and obtain permission to marry. Now not many couple get married in November so when we went to see her priest his first question, accompanied by a righteous sneer cast in my direction, was,
" How many months are you?"
John has been around the
world and around the block, as they say. Today,
his wife is named Marian.
Born in Liverpool in
January 1945, John says VJ day “was almost my last because I nearly crawled
into the fire while my mother was in the front garden with her neighbours
celebrating the end of that contradiction in terms, the Pacific war. That moment
of luck, which drew her away from the celebrations in time to prevent my
self-immolation, has stretched to become a lifetime of fortunate escapes and
As John says, Liverpool
had played a vital part in World War II, supplying sailors to man the Atlantic
convoys “and a skilled handling force to unload the ships as they arrived from
the Americas with their precious cargoes.”
John’s own father
sailed in those convoys.
“And his brother John,
a gentle boy by all accounts,” John adds, “was killed in 1943. My
Grandmother once showed me a card he had sent from New York in 1943 bearing the
poignant message, ‘Don't worry Ma, the Ocean won't get me. ‘But it did, just
off Newfoundland. He was only nineteen and the only things he left behind were a
widow and his name, which was bestowed on me. If it had been left to me I would
John grew up listening to
Rock and R/B because, as all Beatle fans have learned, sailors returning to
Liverpool from the United States brought back records not available elsewhere in
England ---everything from R/B to Country.
“I was a teenager when The Beatles erupted,” John says, “and although I was a member of the Cavern Club in 1963 I never saw the Fab Four in the flesh. To this day I still haven't
Because of his love for the seaport on the Mersey, John has never considered leaving that city permanently
seen even one of them. By
default, I used to watch groups like The Hollies and Wayne Fontana and the
Mindbenders, both Manchester-based! Then again, I have never attended the Grand
National Steeplechase, and it's only ten minutes drive away.”
As a sailor, John lived
in Israel for a while.
“But I have never even
considered leaving Liverpool permanently,” he insists. “I love the place too
much. Yet a kind of dislocation did take place when, at 29, I went to
University. I became distanced from the sort of life I had led before. Many of
my friends at the time were antipathetic to education. I suppose they felt that
Tim Leary and Jack Kerouac had told them all they needed to know. I was grateful
for my second chance at education because it fleshed out what had been only
vague suspicions on my part about the world and my place in it, about which my
Catholic education had left me wholly ignorant. Unlike Judaism, which seems to
thrive on argument and disputation, Catholics are simply thrown a catechism and
told, ‘That's the way it is so don't ask any questions!’
“Beauty is truth and
truth is beauty---that's all you need to know on earth. . . But I had lots of
questions and not just about religion.”
John says he has another
reason to be grateful for his education.
“You see, he says,
“I've always had a thing about women who combined beauty with
“Yes, the times they
are a changing and how! I am sitting in Liverpool across the pond from Al
Aronowitz, a man who didn't simply meet The Beatles but helped forge their
immortality, and I am helping him with his site. Technology! Funny, really, 'cos
I never wanted to be a writer, paper back or otherwise.”
John is such a
Liverpudlian that he decorates his website with Liver Birds, which makes me
wonder: were the birds named after the city or vice versa?
Another chicken and egg story? Liver birds don’t lay eggs, because
they’re fictitious. Actually,
John actually has two websites---“one to demonstrate my love for the
city on the Mersey, Liverpool Tales From the Mersey Mouth, and one for
what I laughingly refer to as poetry. Poetry reclaimed.”
For John’s “Poetry reclaimed,” click on http://www.thefreeinternet.co.uk/deltadreamer/liverpool_poetry
I’ve always needed some
help with producing and maintaining my website and when John pitched in to
assist me in giving THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST a badly needed
facelift---something that is ongoing and something that has proved to be a very
labor-intensive task---I asked him to join me as associate editor.
I need somebody to holler at who will holler back at me.
I can’t tell you---but I’m trying---how very pleased and grateful I
am that he has taken the job. In
addition to his editorial contributions, John will also contribute some of his
writings, such as THE GREENING OF LIVERPOOL in SECTION
TWO of this Column, number Fifty-Nine.
The ongoing facelift has
not only occasioned the lateness in publishing Column Fifty-Eight, dated April
1, but it also is the reason why Column Fifty-Nine, dated May 1, is also late
and consequently has had to be abbreviated. Also, all serializations will be
resumed in a future column. Already accomplished, however, is
the installation of codes in each Section that will record every visit by a
reader. As a result, we’ve learned that we’ve been far underestimating the
number of hits THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST has been receiving.
THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST is bookmarked on a growing number of computers
all around the world. And our revised estimate is that as of now we have had
more than 300,000 hits since the inception of the website in September of 1995.
sensational---compared to the millions of hits that NASA’s website
receives---but nothing to sneeze at, either.
We can now boast of a growing cult following---and of two editors!
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THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ