It’s been good to know you

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I’d like to live in a world where Toys ‘R’ Us has a Pete Seeger action figure.

Because our kids need better role models.

This was an American who served in the Armed Forces and stared down McCarthyism.

This was an American who was blacklisted for his politics and then, in the middle of the Vietnam War, when finally allowed back on television, proceeded to sing “We’re waist-deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on.”

This was an American who saw what had become of the mighty Hudson River and proceeded to  head an organization that built a magnificent sloop, the Clearwater, which still travels up and down the river in a campaign to keep it clean.

This was an American who, in 1955, when summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee, said:

“I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature…. I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

This was an American who was denied a chance to appear on a TV show called “Hootenanny,” because he refused to sign a loyalty oath.

This was the American who wrote “How to Play the Five-String Banjo,” still the premier primer on the subject, and a book I plan to study closely when I take up the instrument. When I retire. If I live to be 94, as Pete did, I should have time to master it.

This was an American who sang and played with Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Turn, Turn, Turn, Goodnight Irene, If I Had a Hammer, So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You . . .

We Shall Overcome.

To everything, there is a season.

R.I.P., Pete. We need more like you.

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The worst New Year

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Journalists have to work on holidays, because cops and firefighters and doctors and nurses and EMTs and soldiers work on holidays, and someone has to report on what the heroes are up to while the rest of us are drinking ourselves silly.

And that’s why I always worked on Christmas. It’s not my holiday, so to do otherwise would be selfish.

But because I always worked Christmas, I always had off on New Year’s Eve. Quid pro quo, and all that.

Except for New Year’s Eve 2000, a night of work that still infuriates me, 14 years later. Continue reading