Friday, August 1, 2014

Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America

Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira

        Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America by Joseph Tirella. Published by Lyons Press An Imprint of Globe Pequot Press Guilford, Connecticut.
        This book is going to upset a lot of people. (And it's just as well.) In particular, the creators involved in, and the beneficiaries of, the so called 'Reagan Revolution' of the early 1980s; part of whose policy was to encourage a climate of 'dumbing down' at the Television News Networks, of (what should have been at that crucial moment in time), nightly educational installments set aside to explain how historically the United States of America had gotten to the point in history it reached in 1981, from the previous 25-30 years of hard won struggle. All of the Networks did have extensive News Archives, that (with a little effort and All-American Work Ethic and ingenuity), could have been put to good use.
        As an entirely new generation of little children were coming of age, it was a duty to start educating them right then, instead of encouraging an atmosphere of 'ignorance is bliss'. (If you remember the late Edward R. Murrow's speech inaugurating Public Television when it went on the air  , and/or Howard Beale's wild (but not far off the mark) Television commentary in the movie, 'Network'  , you know what I'm talking about.)
        At present time, what we now have are a sizeable portion of the population that has no interest in anything other than their own self aggrandizement. This book explains in detail what Reagan and Co. were so uneasy about, and dead set against those children of 1981-onward, learning about their own past American History. And many of those who constructed this plan, were some of the same culprits whose names would have poured out into the light, along with their own guilty past deeds.   Yuppies and Gangster Rappers would be a perfect audience for this book.
        As someone who actually attended the 1964-65 World's Fair, a couple of times, it was a remarkable event to see and experience during that time period. And Joseph Tirella brings back the memories vividly in his book. He also addresses the groundbreaking societal changes that were finally forced down the throat of a backward thinking United States, as it's time had finally come.
        One thing not addressed in Tomorrow-Land, which should have been, was the racial conflict taking place in the world of Art during that time. There was a very ugly situation centered in New York that shed light on the climate of exclusion of Black Artists from major gallery's showings in the city, that resulted in heated demonstrations. Check the article, 'You Wouldn't Know About Bill Dixon, Unless...' Soul Patrol Digest: as well as
        Additionally, there was the strange dichotomy in the thinking of people like World's Fair President Robert Moses (and strongly evident in the American Government) in which newly liberated African countries were made welcome, while Black Americans were battling to finally free themselves of racist policies and laws within the United States. And anyone who reached out through and past this very present dichotomy (a glaring case and point is the career of Miriam Makeba) caught hell. The late Gil Noble  , who hosted 'Like It Is' here in New York for over four decades on the ABC Network   , once had a very revealing interview with a former employee of the CIA, named John Stockwell; who talked at length and in much detail, about this African/African American dichotomy, prevalent during the 1960s era. (And Noble also conducted another eye opening and shocking interview with a detestable individual named D'Arthard Perry, who was a former FBI Informant. At the time of his interview (which turned into a confession for redemption) Perry, whose informant code name was 'Othello', spilled his guts about his participation in Cointelpro; as he found himself in a Post-Watergate and Post-Hoover America, running for his now expendable life. And interestingly, as he told Gil Noble, 'nobody wanted to use his offered testimony during the Watergate Trials'.)  But Joseph Tirella covers all the important areas from Politics to Religion to International Relations to Music and Art. Just about every one of the important people who made history are here (one of the surprising omissions is Adam Clayton Powell), from John F. Kennedy to Lyndon B. Johnson, from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Attorney General Robert F. 'Bobby' Kennedy, from Governor George C. Wallace, Commissioner of 'Public Safely' Eugene "Bull" Conner, Sheriff Jim Clark to Civil Rights Workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, from Martin Luther King's prophetic speech 'I Have A Dream' at the 1963 March On Washington {which would be followed years later and shortly before his murder, by his other prophetic speech 'Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam'} to Malcom X' equally prophetic speech 'The Ballot or the Bullet', to the tragic case of Catherine 'Kitty' Genovese, from Joan Baez and Bob Dylan to The Beatles (including the night The Beatles played their sold out concert at Shea Stadium, which was right next to the World's Fair), Andy Warhol, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Dick Gregory, Alan Ginsberg etc... {For a more expansive and detailed version of what went on at the Tom Paine Awards, from Dylan's point of view, read his interview with Nat Hentoff for the New Yorker, 'The Crackin', Shakin', Breakin' Sounds'; reprinted in the book Bob Dylan: A Retrospective Edited by Craig McGregor Published by Morrow Paperback Editions-An Imprint of William Morrow & Company Inc. New York.   For the entire article, The Menace of Beatlism by British Journalist Paul Johnson (remarkable reading, as it was so out of touch with reality), check out The Beatles Paperback Writer: 40 years of classic writing- Edited by Mike Evans Published by Plexus Publishing Limited London.   For an additional wealth of related photographs, check out the book: I Want To Take You Higher-The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Published by Chronicle Books San Francisco In association with Sarah Lazin Books and Alexander Isley, Inc.   And of course Robert Moses aka 'The Master Builder'; who was responsible for the 1964-65 World's Fair. How the whole idea of the World's Fair was co-opted from Real Estate Lawyer Robert Kopple by Robert Moses, is quite a story in itself, and makes fascinating reading; as well as the fact that Moses, though of the Jewish faith, was the Jewish equivalent of what Blacks back then (in early 1900s America) termed as 'passing', which referred to a certain type of very fair skinned black - or non-white hispanic (who was able to get away with it, if they could) who took on a WASP identity, which included their views on racial matters.
        Author Joseph Tirella writes with much passion and attention to intricate detail, to recreate for us an America that WAS, so we can understand the America that IS. Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America, is a monumental historical work, that at this point in time, YOU CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO READ.

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