Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ian Mackaye and the New White Order...

First off I will start with this statement: I am not claiming Ian Mackaye is racist.   I just like how the title rings and when we dig in we will see some  "racist" elements.  I'll be going over the band Minor Threat with a light hearted breakdown of the members.

I took the time to update wikipedia with some strange nuggets and it seems they have NOT been deleted or edited so lets take a look....footnote [5]


Ian Thomas Garner MacKaye (/məˈk/;[1] born April 16, 1962) is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, musician, record label owner and producer. Active since 1979, MacKaye is best known as the co-founder and owner of Dischord Records, a Washington, D.C.-based independent record label and the frontman of the influential hardcore punk band Minor Threat and the post-hardcore band Fugazi. MacKaye was also the frontman for the short lived bands The Teen IdlesEmbrace and Pailhead, a collaboration with the band Ministry. MacKaye is a member of The Evens, a two-piece indie rock group he formed with his wife Amy Farina in 2001.[2]
Along with his seminal band Minor Threat, he is credited with coining the term "straight edge"[2] to describe a personal ideology that promotes independence by countering the popular appeal of drug and alcohol abuse, though MacKaye has stated that he did not intend to turn it into a movement.
A key figure in the development of hardcore punk and an independent-minded, do-it-yourself punk ethic, MacKaye has produced releases by Q and Not UJohn Frusciante7 SecondsNation of UlyssesBikini KillRites of SpringDag Nasty and Rollins Band.

Ian MacKaye was born in Washington D.C. on April 16, 1962, and grew up in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington D.C. His father was a writer for the Washington Post, first as a White House reporter, then as a religion specialist; the senior MacKaye remains active with the socially progressive St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.[3] In his capacities as a journalist in the White House Press Corps, MacKaye's father was in the presidential motorcade when John F. Kennedy was killed in 1963.[4] Ian Mackaye's Grandmother on his fathers side was Dorothy Cameron Disney Mackaye. She worked with Paul Popenoe on marriage advice columns . She was a member of the Cosmopolitan Club. His Grandfather was Milton MacKaye, also a magazine writer, and he was an executive with the Office of War Information.[5]According to MacKaye's longtime friend, singer Henry Rollins, MacKaye's parents "raised their kids in a tolerant, super-intellectual, open-minded atmosphere."[6]
MacKaye first learned to play piano as a child. He eventually took lessons, but quit when his mother placed him in a more academic environment to continue his instrument. He first attempted guitar at around ten due to inspirations such as Jimi Hendrix, but again he quit when he was unable to understand the connection between piano and guitar.[7]
MacKaye listened to many types of music, but was especially fond of mainstream hard rock like Ted Nugent and Queen before discovering punk music in 1979[8] when he saw The Cramps perform at nearby Georgetown University.[9] He was particularly influenced by the California hardcore scene. MacKaye looked up to hardcore bands like Bad Brains[9] and Black Flag and was childhood friends with Henry Garfield, who later changed his name to Henry Rollins.

Ian grew up in the Glover Park neighborhood of D.C.   To get this conspiroball rolling full steam ahead we can see that Glover Park is the neighborhood the infamous group called the Finders hailed.   Here's a link to a story from 1996 about the Finders where they discuss a raid on the Finders duplex...
I have heard a few disturbing tales about this infamous group.   All stories point to some pretty suspect shit.   Hans Utter and Tim Kelly bring the Finders up briefly in this podcast...


For a public school it seems to have it's very fair share of "famous" alumni.
I say surprisingly because both of his parents attended the very elite Sidwell Friends School.
  • Sidwell Friends School is a highly selective Quaker school located in Bethesda, Maryland and Washington, D.C., offering pre-kindergarten through secondary school classes. Founded in 1883 by Thomas Sidwell, its motto is "Eluceat omnibus lux" (English: Let the light shine out from all), alluding to the Quaker concept of inner light. All Sidwell Friends students attend Quaker meeting for worship weekly, and middle school students begin every day with five minutes of silence.
 Ian's father even wrote a book about prestigious Sidwell Friends...
https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Sidwells-School-centennial-1883-1983/dp/B0006YAJNS

As we read in the wiki data, Ian Mackay's father was coincidentally in the...JFK MOTORCADE during the assassination.   He was on assignment from Washington and was in the press bus...
Harvard educated William is listed in the third sentence.  Nice witness list.

Mr. Bills parents are quite a couple.   To start with, Ian's grandfather (Williams father) was a gentleman named Milton Angus Mackaye...
We are going to kill two birds with one stone thanks to this Washington Poost obituary...(Ian calls it click bait so I'll call it poo.)

Sept. 27 1992
Dorothy Disney MacKaye, 88, the creator of the modern marriage advice column, died Sept. 5 of a heart attack at her summer residence in Guilford, Conn. She lived in Washington.
Mrs. MacKaye, who was known professionally as Dorothy Cameron Disney, developed her column -- "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" -- for the Ladies Home Journal in the 1950s and continued to write it for nearly 30 years.
In the first years of the column she collaborated with Paul Popenoe, founder of the American Institute of Family Relations in Hollywood, Calif., one of the first marriage counseling agencies, and she drew all of her cases from among the institute's clients. The columns were distilled from the experiences of real people, with biographical details altered to disguise their identities; in later years Mrs. MacKaye drew her couples from counseling agencies across the country.
Part of the column's distinctiveness and impact arose from Mrs. MacKaye's formula of presenting the case entirely in the voices of the participants, usually in the sequence: "She said," "He said," and, "The counselor said."
Before beginning her marriage column, she was well-known as a magazine journalist and as a mystery novelist. Perhaps her best-known novel was "Explosion," a who-done-it set in Washington that was based on a real-life incident in which a row house was leveled by a gas explosion.
Mrs. MacKaye had lived in the capital off and on over many years, starting with her college days at George Washington University and resuming during World War II, when her husband, Milton MacKaye, also a magazine writer, was an executive with the Office of War Information. She was a war correspondent in Europe for Reader's Digest and the Woman's Home Companion
She was born in Atoka, Indian Territory, an area that became part of the state of Oklahoma, and grew up in Muskogee. Her father, Loren G. Disney, was a lawyer and politician and one of the founders of the Republican Party in Oklahoma. In addition to GWU, Mrs. MacKaye attended Washburn and Barnard colleges and Cornell University.
She was a past member of the National Press Club, the Press Club of Washington, the Army & Navy Club and the Cosmopolitan Club in New York.
Lets start with the co-creator of marriage advice columns.   It had to start somewhere.   The funny thing is the character Paul Popenoe...
                                                  
Paul Bowman Popenoe (October 16, 1888 – June 19, 1979) was an American agricultural explorer, eugenicist, influential advocate of the compulsory sterilization of the mentally ill and the mentally disabled, and the father of marriage counseling in the United States.

RED ALERT!!!  EUGENICIST ON THE LOOSE!!!    Was he one of the good guy eugenicists like Margaret Sanger or was he one of those bad types?   Lets see....


Born Paul Bowman Popenoe in Topeka, Kansas in 1888, he was the son of Marion Bowman Popenoe and Frederick Oliver Popenoe, a pioneer of the avocado industry. (Popenoe dropped his middle name early in life.) He moved to California as a teen. After attending Occidental College for two years and Stanford University for his Junior year (Majoring in English with coursework in biology), Popenoe left school to care for his father and worked for several years as a newspaper editor. He then worked briefly as an agricultural explorer collecting date specimens in Western Asia and Northern Africa for his father's nursery in California, along with his younger brother Wilson Popenoe, a horticulturist. These travels received considerable support and interest from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.[1]Paul Popenoe published his first book Date Growing in the Old World and the New in 1913.
In the mid-1910s Popenoe became interested in human breeding, editing the Journal of Heredity from 1913 until 1917, with a special attention to eugenics and social hygiene.
By 1918, Popenoe had become well-established enough to co-author (with Roswell Hill Johnson) a popular college textbook on eugenics (Applied Eugenics), which outlined his vision of a eugenics program that primarily relied on the segregation of "waste humanity" into rural institutions where they would perform manual labour to offset the cost of their institutionalization. Eugenics contains a chapter expounding on Popenoe's belief in the racial inferiority of Negros.
During World War I Popenoe was inducted into the officer corps of the United States Army. Under the War Department Commission on Training Camp Activities, he was charged with rooting out liquor and prostitution in an effort to reduce the high incidence of venereal disease amongst U.S. troops.[3]
Paul Popenoe married Betty Stankowitch in New York on 23 August 1920. They remained married until her death on 26 June 1978.
In the mid-1920s, Popenoe began working with E.S. Gosney, a wealthy California financier, and the Human Betterment Foundation to promote eugenic policies in the state of California. In 1909, California had enacted its first compulsory sterilization law which allowed for sterilization of the mentally ill and mentally retarded in its state psychiatric hospitals. With Popenoe as his scientific workhorse, Gosney intended to study the sterilization work being done in California and use it to advocate sterilization in other parts of the country and in the world at large. This would culminate in a number of works, most prominently their joint-authored Sterilization for Human Betterment: A Summary of Results of 6,000 Operations in California, 1909-1929 in 1929. This work would become a popular text for the advocacy of sterilization, as it purported to be an objective study of the operations in the state and concluded, not surprisingly, that rigorous programs for the sterilization of the "unfit" were beneficial to all involved, including the sterilized patients. During the 1930s he served as a member of the American Eugenics Society's board of directors along with Charles B. DavenportHenry H. GoddardMadison GrantHarry H. Laughlin, and Gosney, among others.
In 1929 he received an honorary Sc.D. degree from Occidental College, which he previously attended. Thenceforth, he commonly referred to himself as "Dr. Popenoe".
Along with his advocacy of sterilization programs, Popenoe was also interested in using the principles of German and Austrian marriage-consultation services for eugenic purposes. Aghast at the divorce rate in US society, Popenoe came to the conclusion that "unfit" families would reproduce out of wedlock, but truly "fit" families would need to be married to reproduce. With financial help from Gosney, he opened the American Institute of Family Relations in Los Angeles in 1930. The Institute was described in 1960 as "the world's largest and best known marriage-counseling center" with a staff of seventy.[4]
For a while, Popenoe's two major interests, eugenics and marriage counseling, ran parallel, and he published extensively on both topics. As public interest in eugenics waned, Popenoe focused more of his energies into marriage counseling, and by the time of the public rejection of eugenics at the end of World War II, with the revelation of the Nazi Holocaust atrocities, Popenoe had thoroughly redefined himself as primarily a marriage counselor (which by that time had lost most of its explicit eugenic overtones). Over time he became more prominent in the field of counseling.
Popenoe favored a popular—rather than academic—approach. In this vein, he appeared on the Art Linkletter television show for over a decade, and he regularly gave lectures and wrote mainstream articles for the general public. For many years he had a nationally syndicated newspaper column promoting marriage and family life. As presented in a 1960 biography, the focus areas of his counseling approach (and the American Institute of Family Relations) included couples' attitudes towards marriage, preparation (including sexuality education), moral values, a focus on action, and mutual understanding between the sexes.[4]
At the peak of his career, he co-founded and edited Ladies' Home Journal's most popular column of all time, "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" In 1960, he co-authored (with Dorothy Disney) the book of the same name. His introduction to the book catalogued some of the statistics of the American Institute of Family Relations over its first 30 years. Under his direction, the Institute gave intensive training to over 300 marriage counselors and shorter courses around the U.S. to over 1500 other people. The case load at that time averaged about 15,000 consultations per year. From the files of these numerous cases came the material for the "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" book and serial. The Institute published a bulletin entitled "Family Life" monthly or bimonthly for decades.[6]
Given the role of clergy in responding to crisis in families, Popenoe increased focus in training the clergy over many years. This culminated in 1978 with the American Institute of Family Relations creating the Pastoral Psychotherapy Training Program, which offered the Master of Arts in Pastoral Psychotherapy. This was the second offering of a master's degree by the Institute.[7]
As Popenoe maintained his traditional values (e.g., chastity before marriage), changes in popular culture such as feminism and sexual revolution challenged his approach. At the same time, thought leaders in the helping professions tended more and more to favor self-fulfilment over preservation of the family. This led Popenoe to ally increasingly with religious conservatives—even though he was not religious himself. For example, one of his assistants was James Dobson, who founded Focus on the Family in 1977. In contemporary US society of the third millennium, the approach Popenoe developed to marriage counseling—educational and directive rather than medical or psychological—is coming back into fashion.[3] In the end, the American Institute of Family Relations turned out to be highly dependent on Popenoe's leadership. It closed in the 1980s, not long after Paul Popenoe's death.
Popenoe died 19 June 1979 in Miami, Florida.

Gosney and Popenoe's book was specifically referenced by officials in Nazi Germany in the creation of their own sterilization legislation in 1933 as having provided them with proof that sterilization programs could be safe and effective. According to a U.S. health official at the time who had just returned from a trip to Germany, "the leaders in the German sterilization movement state repeatedly that their legislation was formulated only after careful study of the California experiment." (quoted in Kühl 1994, p. 42-43) Gosney and Popenoe believed the population of mentally ill in the United States could be reduced by half in "three or four generations." The Sacramento philanthropist/eugenicist Charles Goethe wrote to Gosney in a letter from 1934:
You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people. (quoted in Black 2003)
A follow-up study, Twenty-eight Years of Sterilization in California was published by the pair in 1938 (the American Journal of Sociology reviewed it with a single sentence: "An awkward attempt to popularize the practice of sterilizing defectives"). The state of California would eventually sterilize over 20,000 patients in state-run hospitals under its eugenic laws; Nazi Germany would sterilize over 400,000.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_California

Well then, you be the judge.   I'm just showing you the pieces....

Grandma Mackaye was the "mother" of advice columns with Paul Popenoe "father".   AND The Nazi's really dug his work...    Grandma Mackaye was also entrenched in "high society".   A quick look at the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmopolitan_Club_(New_York) we see some big names and some big folks...

Cosmopolitan Club is a private social club on the Upper East Side of ManhattanNew York CityNew YorkUSA. Located at 122 East 66th Street, east of Park Avenue, it was founded as a women's club and remains a club exclusively for women to this day. Members have included Willa CatherEllen GlasgowEleanor RooseveltJean StaffordHelen HayesPearl BuckMarian AndersonMargaret Mead, and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.

Just to close things up on this piece of the puzzle, I would like to remind you that
 "husband, Milton MacKaye, also a magazine writer, was an executive with the Office of War Information. She was a war correspondent in Europe for Reader's Digest and the Woman's Home Companion"
 The United States Office of War Information (OWI) was a United States government agency created during World War II to consolidate existing government information services and deliver propaganda both at home and abroad. OWI operated from June 1942 until September 1945. Through radio broadcasts, newspapers, posters, photographs, films and other forms of media, the OWI was the connection between the battlefront and civilian communities. The office also established several overseas branches, which launched a large-scale information and propaganda campaign abroad.


More to come...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Did Talking Head’s Founder David Byrne Fabricate a Connection with the Berrigan Brothers? - By Shawn F. Peters


Do you remember anyone here? No, you don't remember anything at all. — Talking Heads, “Memories Can’t Wait” (1979)
In recent weeks, dozens of admirers have offered reflections on the life of Daniel Berrigan, the radical Catholic priest and social justice activist who died on April 30 at the age of 94. (I did this myself for The Progressive on May 6.)  Among those praising Berrigan’s life and legacy were the actor Martin Sheen and David Byrne, the musician best known as the leader of the seminal post-punk band Talking Heads.
Byrne was so moved by Berrigan’s passing that he penned an article for The Guardian entitled, “The Activist Who Saved My Life, and Other Contrarians.”  In it, Byrne recounted his very personal connection to Berrigan’s activism. The musician had spent his formative years in Lansdowne and Arbutus, small towns located near Catonsville, Maryland, the site of Berrigan’s signature protest: the seizure and burning of more than 300 draft records on May 17, 1968. Byrne wrote in The Guardian that the actions of Berrigan and his accomplices in the Catonsville Nine had in effect saved his life because one of the draft records destroyed that day had been his own.
“My records were among those burned. Were it not for Father Berrigan, the odds were very good my life would have taken a different path,” Byrne wrote. “The actions of those soon dubbed the Catonsville Nine gave me a reprieve until the draft lottery was instituted a number of years later, and my number was sufficiently high that I knew they would never get that far.”
I read Byrne’s article with great interest. First, I am a huge fan of his work with Talking Heads, an important band that enormously influenced American music in the 1970s and 1980s. His lesser-known work is compelling as well. I teach a course entitled “Remix and Appropriation in the Western Tradition” in the Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS) Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in it we spend a fair amount of time listening to and discussing My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Byrne’s brilliantly eccentric 1981 sound collage collaboration with Brian Eno.
Second, I am a native of Catonsville, Maryland, and wrote a book about the Catonsville Nine. Oxford University Press published the book a couple of years ago, but I still maintain an intense interest in the topic. My eyes grow wide whenever I read something new about the protest and its significance.
And so Byrne’s story for The Guardian took me by surprise. I had spent many years following the musician’s career and collecting stories about the Catonsville Nine, but I’d never heard anything about a possible connection between the two. I immediately felt slightly embarrassed at having somehow failed to include such a potentially juicy tidbit on my book on Dan Berrigan and his confederates.  I was supposed to know everything about the Catonsville Nine, but I apparently didn’t know that they had changed the life of the guy who sang “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down the House.”
However, I also was slightly wary. In my many years of researching the story of the Catonsville Nine, I had heard dozens of people claim to have witnessed the protest first-hand or, as Byrne had done, assert that their draft file had been among those destroyed on that May afternoon. If all of these recollections were accurate, the Catonsville Nine would have incinerated a small mountain of draft records in front a massive throng of people -- and that simply hadn’t been the case.  (One is reminded of the millions of people who claim to have attended Woodstock, the famous 1969 music festival that drew a few hundred thousand spectators.)
So Byrne’s account of the destruction of his draft record in Catonsville was, in a strange way, both fresh and disturbingly familiar. I’d heard it many times before, but never from him.
Both intrigued and also suspicious, I did what historians do: I started digging. I didn’t care about the information that would concern most fans – Byrne’s musical influences, the formation of Talking Heads, their successes and break up, his variegated solo work -- but rather the details of his upbringing. I wound up uncovering some unexpected congruities to my own life.  I also discovered strong evidence indicating that he had offered an erroneous account in The Guardian of his connection to the Catonsville Nine.
Byrne was born in Dumbarton, Scotland, in the early 1950s. His father, an electrical engineer who had served in the Royal Navy in World War II, first moved the family to Canada and then to Maryland, where he worked for Westinghouse at its Lansdowne facility. While Thomas Byrne held this position, the family lived in Lansdowne and neighboring Arbutus, hardscrabble communities located just to the southwest of downtown Baltimore. David Byrne wound up attending and graduating from Lansdowne High School before heading off to art school and fame as a musician.

My family’s story has some strikingly close parallels to Byrne’s. My father, the son of a steelworker, grew up in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio before finding a job with Westinghouse in the 1950s. Gene Peters then moved south to the Baltimore area in order to work in Westinghouse’s plant in Lansdowne. Thanks to the GI Bill, he bounced around various night schools for many years before eventually earning an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Johns Hopkins in the mid-1960s.
My dad passed away a few years ago, so I have no way of knowing if he knew or worked with David Byrne’s father, but it seems likely that -- as electrical engineers working in the same facility at the same time -- they were at least acquainted with one another in some way.
As I looked into Byrne’s life after his father moved the family to the Baltimore area, I found some fleeting references to his draft status during the Vietnam era. David Bowman’s 2001 book on Talking Heads, This Must Be The Place, discusses Byrne’s eligibility for the draft but merely explains that he “didn’t go to Vietnam” and instead headed to the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
For me, this account was striking for what it didn’t mention. There was no reference to Byrne’s draft records being burned by the Catonsville Nine, no discussion of the reprieve from military service he had gotten as a result. That seemed like the kind of tidbit that most biographers would seize upon -- especially when discussing an artist who famously recorded a song called “Life During Wartime.”
However, none of this directly undermined Byrne’s claim that Daniel Berrigan and the Catonsville Nine had destroyed his draft record. He might have failed to mention the matter to David Bowman, or the author simply might have chosen not to include the anecdote in the book.
But Byrne’s story about the Catonsville Nine eventually did fall apart.  All it took was some simple math.
.
David Byrne’s date of birth is listed in numerous published accounts as May 14, 1952.  This would have made him sixteen years old -- and just barely that -- when the Catonsville Nine struck the nearby draft board on May 17, 1968. Generally speaking, young men in the Vietnam era were required to register for the draft within 30 days of their eighteenth birthdays.  But Byrne’s eighteenth birthday did not come around until May of 1970 -- almost two years after the Catonsville protest.
David Byrne was simply too young to have been saved by Daniel Berrigan and the Catonsville Nine in May of 1968, as he claimed. He didn’t yet have a draft record.
I reached out to The Guardian to see if it had any response to my suspicions about the potential inaccuracies Byrne’s story. To his credit, opinions editor David Shariatmadari responded quickly and candidly. He told me that he had contacted Byrne’s representatives and learned that the musician was “mortified that a story he has long accepted as part of his autobiographical memory may in fact not be accurate.” A correction or clarification would be forthcoming, Shariatmadari told me. (I also heard something similar from Byrne’s management team.)
As promised, Byrne quickly added a mea culpa to his story.  “I’m somewhat ashamed and embarrassed,” he wrote in a correction for The Guardian. “It has been pointed out to me that contrary to my memory and the story [I published], I could not have been called up for the draft when Daniel Berrigan burned the local draft board records; I was two years too young.”
Byrne went on to explain that he was currently “working on a neuroscience project that includes evidence of how faulty and malleable our memories are.” He had learned from experts such as Elizabeth Loftus, an authority on false memories, at “the more we recall something, the more we ‘reconstruct’ a memory, and the more inaccurate it tends to be, even as it becomes more deeply embedded.”
Ironically, Byrne himself had fallen victim to this phenomenon. “I guess I’m not an exception,” he wrote. “I erroneously actually believed being saved from Vietnam by Berrigan and his colleagues.”
I admired Byrne for his forthrightness in so quickly and so publicly admitting his mistake. We probably have to take it at face value when he says it was simply a matter of a false memory and not an intentional misrepresentation or stretch of the truth.
However, as an historian, I found myself feeling – somewhat guiltily, given how quickly and publicly he had confessed his error – unsatisfied by Byrne’s explanation. For one thing, we live in an age where public figures do in fact knowingly fib about or inflate their experiences in order to enhance their stature. Journalists concoct stories about having reported from war zones; men lie about their military service; college coaches claim to possess degrees that they never earned. Even comedians get into the act: one falsely claimed to have narrowly escaped with his life from the World Trade Center on 9/11.  David Byrne certainly would not have been the first celebrity to knowingly tell a tall tale about this past.
And then there was Byrne’s explanation. He seemed to be saying that his confusion over his connection to the Catonsville Nine was just a garden-variety example of how everyone’s memories get tangled up over time – neuroscience gone wrong, if you will. We all rely on imperfect and ever-shifting recollections in order to create coherent narratives and thereby make meaning of past events. And yet those foundations can be extremely shaky. In this case, Byrne’s brain, like everyone’s, simply had failed him.
I was curious to know why this particular memory – one that tied Byrne to one of the most famous antiwar demonstrations in American history – had become so distorted. Why had he mistakenly linked himself to this especially dramatic and compelling story, and not another, more prosaic one?  
In his original piece for The Guardian, Byrne mentioned his late mother, who had been an indomitable peace activist in her later years. In a remembrance written on the occasion of her death in 2014, Byrne and his sister noted Emma Byrne’s “work in the community for peace and social justice. Her activism never ceased – she was one strong-willed, protesting granny.” Such was her commitment to these activities that she once had been assaulted at a demonstration protesting the run-up to the war Iraq.  At the time, she was carrying a sign proclaiming, “War is not the Answer.”
Given Emma Byrne’s passionate commitment to peace and social justice, one can imagine the pull that the Catonsville Nine story must have had on her son. And, likewise, it’s easy to understand why he did not mention his father’s work for Westinghouse in his encomium for Daniel Berrigan. For me, this turned out to be the most interesting part of the story -- not the falsehood that was published in The Guardian, but the complicated and perhaps uncomfortable truth that was left out.
Most of us now think of Westinghouse as a producer of innocuous home appliances, but in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s it was a vital cog in the American military-industrial complex. Throughout the Cold War, it employed a small army of engineers and technicians to supply sophisticated electronics to the Pentagon.  Westinghouse was deeply involved in the weapons business.
As a 1991 article in The Baltimore Sun noted, “In the past 50 years, Westinghouse has grown into Maryland's largest manufacturing employer with more than 15,000 workers. And while the products have changed, the customer has remained essentially the same: the Department of Defense.” In 1968, the year that Daniel Berrigan and his friends struck against militarism in Catonsville, Westinghouse’s aerospace and defense equipment sales totaled a staggering $561 million (almost $4 billion in today’s dollars).

My brother Mike memorably told me that the men employed in Westinghouse’s defense work  -- including Byrne’s father and our own -- worked for a company “that made guidance systems and radars for torpedoes, missiles and jet fighters and bombers and other weapons of unjust war, oppression and death (not to put too fine a point on it).”  Among the pieces of military hardware developed by Westinghouse engineers in the Baltimore area was the AWACS command and control aircraft, which my brother described as “the granddaddy of worldwide electronic surveillance hardware.”
AWACS epitomized Westinghouse’s global reach. The Pentagon bought the aircraft (a Boeing 707 outfitted with state-of-the-art electronic surveillance equipment) by the dozen and then resold many of them to American client states, including the infamously repressive regime of the Shah of Iran. The Carter administration, after a contentious debate in Congress, sold seven AWACS planes to the Shah in 1977. (They evidently did the Shah little good: just two years later, Islamic revolutionaries overthrew him.)
As the lynchpin of the corporation’s underseas defense unit, the Westinghouse plant in Lansdowne was front and center in these defense efforts. The Sun, in a 1970 headline, referred to it bluntly as an “arms plant.” In his years there with Westinghouse, my father worked on myriad pieces of military hardware. (He eventually focused his efforts above the water line and chipped in on AWACS and various aerospace projects, too) In 1963, for instance, he and a colleague earned a patent for improvements in electrical contactors in torpedoes. This kind of work -- aimed at making more effective weapons that could be marketed around the world -- was his professional bread and butter for many years.
And he was proud of it. My father would bring home torpedo-shaped tie clips and stickers cartoonishly depicting various armaments destroying America’s Cold War foes. The stickers were so gruesomely comical that my brother and I avidly collected them. One showed an animated F-4 aircraft with a Russian jet clenched in its jaws. The lifeless Russian plane was dripping oil, as if it was bleeding to death.
David Byrne hasn’t said or written much publicly about the specifics of his father’s work for Westinghouse, and it’s certainly possible that he never knew or cared much about it. There are, however, some hints in the public record suggesting that Tom Byrne was engaged in the same kind of defense work that occupied my father.
For instance, in the fall of 1986, when his film True Stories was released, David Byrne landed on the cover of Time magazine. Its lengthy profile said of his father, “Tom Byrne seemed to . . . be just the kind of mildly eccentric technowhiz who really could, as family legend insists, have once fixed a submarine with a coat hanger.” It’s hard to believe that the elder Byrne, a veteran of World War II, gained such a mythical reputation for fixing submarines by doing anything other than defense work.
I also should note that my father’s defense work did not necessarily shape his overall political and social outlook. His loyalties cemented by direct impact of the New Deal on his family (his father found work for the WPA during the Depression), he was a life-long Democrat. He famously forced us to watch the Watergate hearings during a rainy vacation in 1973, and he thought the saber-rattling Ronald Reagan was a buffoon. (Ditto for George H.W. Bush and his son.) I never got the impression that he was a “hawk” on defense.
Tom Byrne was, if anything, even more politically liberal than my father.  After he and his wife Emma moved to Columbia, Maryland, in 1970 -- around the time that David left home and the Westinghouse facility in Lansdowne was closed down -- they began attending the Sandy Spring Friends Meeting. They were drawn in part by the Quakers’ long and commendable history of pacifism and peace-making. I suppose that he, like my like my father, compartmentalized, distinguishing his work for Westinghouse from his broader view of the world and America’s role in it.
Of course, from the relative safety of the ivory tower, it is easy for me to lament the explosive growth of the American military-industrial complex since World War II, and I’ve done so many times. But the uncomfortable truth is that this expansion made it possible for my family to gain a foothold in the middle class in the 1960s and 1970s. My father -- a man who was born a month after the stock market crash in 1929 and then grew up poor in the Great Depression – probably could not have supported our family so comfortably if Westinghouse hadn’t been so deeply involved in defense contracting. Those AWACS planes that were sold to the Shah?  I hate to admit it, but the proceeds helped to pay for my college education.
Which brings us back to David Byrne, another child of the Cold War military-industrial complex. Whatever his links (real or imagined) to the peace-making activities of the Catonsville Nine, he probably also has -- if his father’s work at Westinghouse was anything like my dad’s -- an enduring connection to the devastating and global war-making activities of the American military.
In academic and artistic circles, there is little glory in admitting this dimension one’s autobiography. It’s far better to claim a link to radical crusaders for peace and social justice like the Catonsville Nine, as both David Byrne and I have done. In my book on the Nine, I made a point of mentioning that I was from Catonsville and had attended a Catholic school located just around the corner from the site of their protest. None of this necessarily made me an authority on the event (which occurred when I was a toddler), but I thought that it established a kind of closeness to who they were and what they stood for. 
But am I really like Daniel Berrigan, an iconoclastic Jesuit priest who wrote poetry, selflessly tended to AIDS patients, and spent time in prison for protesting war and inhumanity? Not so much, really. I’m far more like my father, whose life profoundly shaped my own. The same probably could be said of David Byrne.

David Bowie: Charles Manson & The Real Major Tom

Tom V Ayres was born and was raised in Oil City, LA, in the Sabine Parish. Tom recieved in 1955 an Honorable Discharge from U.S. Army-S...