Category Archives: Remembrance

Song of the Day #1893

Song of the Day: Anything Goes is the title song of the 1934 Broadway musical penned by the great Cole Porter. So many wonderful versions of this song have been recorded through the years, but today, I feature a rendition found on the Nelson Riddle-arranged 1956 album, “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers,” by Frank Sinatra, who was born on this date in 1915. Check it out here (below). And check out the new statue of Ol’ Blue Eyes unveiled today in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Facebook: Philosophers as Profile Month 2021 (I)

Philosophers as Profile Pictures Month is an annual event in which we get to show off all the useless knowledge we gained through our humanities education. It’s also a chance to introduce people to lesser known philosophers/quotes and spur discussion! Participate by changing your profile picture to a philosopher (and one of their quotes) you especially like and post the photo/quote here in the event. Feel free to change your philosopher as many times as you want for the month of December!”

For my first profile pic of December 2021, I have chosen Don Lavoie (1951-2001).

Don Lavoie

There are important lessons … to be learned from both the successes and the failures of the twentieth century’s revolutionary movements. The triumphs of these popular revolutions seem … to be evidence of the power of ideology, while the reversals are evidence of the weakness of most of the particular ideologies that have driven these revolutions. They have generally striven to drive the current oppressors out of power, only to replace them with new rulers. If an ideology is found … that can transcend this mere replacement of rulers, aiming instead at a society without need for rule of some of its members by others, but in which, in some sense, the people can democratically rule themselves, then the triumph might be secured.

— Don Lavoie, National Economic Planning: What is Left? (1985, pp. 233-34)

In the Facebook discussions that followed, I added the following:

Don was one of my very dearest friends and one of the most intellectually challenging people I’ve ever met. We followed parallel trajectories in many ways: He had an Austrian-school advisor (Israel Kirzner) and a Marxist economist (James Becker) on his dissertation committee; I had a Marxist advisor (Bertell Ollman) and an Austrian economist (Mario Rizzo) on my dissertation committee.

On a personal level, Don was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of my work on the integration of dialectical method and libertarian social analysis. He was also the first professor to integrate one of my books (Marx, Hayek, and Utopia) into his curriculum (his course “Comparative Socio-Economic Systems”, in 1999).

I look forward to digitizing and uploading onto my YouTube channel some of his many lectures given before the NYU chapter of Students for a Libertarian Society. The lectures are on immigration, US Foreign Policy, and a discussion on Marxism vs. anarcho-libertarianism with Bertell Ollman (my mentor), all having taken place at New York University.

Song of the Day #1892

Song of the Day: You Rascal You was composed by Sam Theard in 1929, under the less diplomatic, original title, “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead“. It has been recorded by many artists throughout the years, including Louis Armstrong [YouTube link]. Today, however, I feature an equally hilarious version by the late Louis Prima, who was born on this day in 1910, long before it was “a date which will live in infamy.” Deeply influenced by Satchmo, Prima changes up the lyrics with Sicilian flair—with references to ravioli and meatballs! The track is a highlight of his album, “The Wildest!“, with its eclectic mix of early rock and roll, jump blues, jazz, and off-the-wall humor. Check out this swinging version here (see below), which features the birthday boy on trumpet, Sam Butera on tenor saxophone, and James Blount, Jr. on trombone.

Song of the Day #1890

Song of the Day: Not a Day Goes, words and music by Stephen Sondheim, is one of the highlights from the 1981 Broadway musical, “Merrily We Roll Along.” Today, Sondheim died at the age of 91. He leaves behind a vast musical legacy. This is only one of so many Sondheim songs I’ve featured through the years. In the original Broadway production, it was performed by Jim Walton [YouTube link]. But the song was recorded subsequently by singers as diverse as Carly Simon, Patti LuPone, Barbra Streisand, and Bernadette Peters (below) [YouTube links]. RIP, Sondheim.

Song of the Day #1888

Song of the Day: Thankful features the words and music of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Harvey Mason, Jr., Damon Thomas, and Kelly Clarkson, who sings this song with a jolt of soul. It is the title track from Clarkson’s 2003 debut album. This song expresses the kind of thanks you feel when you’re blessed enough to have special people in your life—those who bring you joy, visibility, support, and love. Check out the album version below. And a Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Uncle Nick, Godfather: RIP

On Thursday, November 11, 2021, my Uncle Nick Michalopoulos died at the age of 91, after several years of battling serious health issues. He was my mother’s brother.

My relationship with Uncle Nick was blessed quite literally from the very beginning. As my godfather, he held me in his arms when I was baptized on June 11, 1961 at the Three Hierarchs Church in Brooklyn (the church whose first pastor was my grandfather, Vasilios P. Michalopoulos, and my mom was his sister).

Born on June 14, 1930, Uncle Nick would go on to serve in the medical unit of the Navy during the Korean War. Thereafter, he worked thirty years at Western Electric. He was the only one of eight siblings to go on to attend college—Brooklyn College, to be precise. (My sister would follow in his footsteps, becoming the first in our extended family to graduate from Brooklyn College some years later.)

Throughout his life, Uncle Nick exhibited a remarkable range of wonderful talents—from singing to athletics, crafts to parenting. Indeed, he and my godmother, Aunt Vina, raised three children—my first cousins—to whom they have passed on their loving gifts: Will, Marie, and Christine. Add to that seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. In his retirement years, Uncle Nick enjoyed golfing and traveling, and was very handy, even crafting golf clubs and pitching-in with the church here in Brooklyn and out on Long Island, a testament to his strong Greek Orthodox faith.

Over the years, as I truly got to know my godfather, I saw that he had a sweet sense of life and a wonderfully dry sense of humor. Because he lived out on the island, we didn’t see each other as much as we would have liked, but we spoke regularly. I never missed a birthday, a holiday, or a Father’s Day wish.

I am deeply saddened by his passing. And I will carry his love in my heart forever. Rest in Peace, Uncle Nick.

Aunt Vina (l) and Uncle Nick (r)

Honoring John Hospers

This Sunday, October 10, 2021, Jameson Books is publishing a wonderful collection in honor of philosopher John Hospers entitled Libertarianism: John Hospers, The Libertarian Party’s 50th Anniversary, and Beyond, edited by C. Ronald Kimberling and Stan Oliver. As Tom Palmer writes in his Foreword to the book:

John Hospers was a memorable man, with an influence far greater than his current renown. It’s thus an honor to advance this collection, as well as to contribute to it. His ideas, his encouragement of his students, his friendship, and his scholarship are explored by the numerous articles and essays in this volume, which also provides primary documents for those interested in the growth of the libertarian political movement in the United States. It’s a valuable resource for historians of ideas, for political junkies, and for anyone interested in the revival of libertarian thought in the United States—a revival in which John Hospers played an important role. That preference for liberty, for escaping the cages of “left” and “right” that have so warped and degraded American political practice, is now a part of the American political scene.

The 400-page book includes more than 30 essays by a wide variety of writers, including yours truly. In my own essay, “John Hospers: A Remembrance,” I reflect on my discovery of John’s work and my friendship with this gentle man with a remarkable intellect and wonderful sense of life. As I state in the essay:

I had heard of John Hospers years earlier, when I was twelve years old. He was, after all, the first presidential candidate of the newly formed Libertarian Party. In 1972, he received, along with Tonie Nathan, his vice presidential running mate, one electoral vote, which was one less for Richard M. Nixon. Nathan became the first woman and the first Jewish candidate to receive an electoral vote in any US presidential election.

But it wasn’t until years later, when I read “Libertarianism“, that I came to appreciate the true significance of John Hospers, philosopher. This work revealed the remarkable breadth of the libertarian vision. Within it, I found a logically arranged, eminently readable introduction to all of the core issues with regard to economic and political liberty, both at home and abroad, the dangers of the interventionist state, and even a discussion of the debate between the advocates of minimal government and the anarcho-capitalists. Hospers’s 1971 opus preceded Robert Nozick’s seminal “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” by three years and introduced a young generation to a genuine “philosophy for tomorrow.” It was, in fact, one of the founding “manifestos” of an
intellectual revolution in twentieth-century thought, deeply rooted in the ideals of classical liberalism adopted for a new age.

As the years passed, I made that new libertarian vision my guiding intellectual pursuit, and as I learned more, it seemed as if John Hospers was always a presence somewhere in that learning process. I discovered other works of his, and then, eventually, I had the courage to send him a copy of the working manuscript for my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, seeking his feedback. With grace, he accepted the task of a critical reading of the manuscript and provided me with meticulous, insightful, and thought-provoking comments; whenever critical, they were constructively so, whether they were conveyed on the phone or in correspondence. There is no doubt that his input immeasurably improved the final product, for which I remain eternally grateful. In the end, his support of my work on Rand led him to provide a generous blurb that appeared in the first printing of its first edition.

I finally met John at a Liberty conference in 1996, where I appeared on a panel with him and Barbara Branden to discuss the contributions of Ayn Rand. Three years later, he became one of the original founding advisory board members to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. When he passed away on June 12, 2011, the world lost a marvelous thinker; I lost a dear friend. This book includes essays coming from a variety of perspectives—including some with which I disagree. But it remains an inspiring memorial to John’s humanity and legacy.

Celebrating John Hospers

Postscript – On Facebook, some folks, who disagreed with John Hospers on many issues, found it odd that anyone would contribute to a book that would deify him. I replied:

Let me make one thing clear: I contributed to this anthology not as a means of deifying the man, but as a means of recognizing his larger legacy, which has been underappreciated. I approach all learning the same way: I have drawn lessons from thinkers all over the intellectual map—from Aristotle to Hegel, from Ayn Rand to Karl Marx. I do not believe in the deification of any of these figures, but I give credit where credit is due, criticize that with which I disagree, and move on.

The Marxist scholar Bertell Ollman, my doctoral dissertation advisor and mentor, remains one of the most important influences on my intellectual development; I would contribute to any anthology recognizing his contributions in the same way I have done for John Hospers. Both men had an immense impact on my growth, in addition to being remarkably generous, kind souls.

By no means did I agree with John on issues like abortion or the Iraq war, but heck, I have had major disagreements with thinkers inside and outside of libertarianism my whole life on issues across the board. Still. I have learned from so many, and I think it is important to recognize this. We never stop learning—well, at least we never should stop learning—and it’s a good thing to be able to acknowledge those who have taught us. And I’d like to think that I pass this legacy onto those who have learned from me.

Another exchange on Facebook raised the issue of whether John Hospers would have supported civil disobedience, given his focus on the “rule of law”. I replied:

The problem you raise is one that all folks—who believe in any radical shift away from the status quo—must face. As Rand once said, it’s the problem of how to live a ‘rational’ life in an ‘irrational’ society. It is the problem of trying to change a society given the conditions that exist. In Libertarianism, the book published 50 years ago (in 1971), Hospers suggests that armed revolution against unjust laws would most likely lead to enormous loss of life and property and would not change things fundamentally. He also argued that the refusal to obey unjust laws could have a monumental effect—but only if “very large numbers of dissenters” joined in the civil disobedience, say “fifty million people” refusing to pay their taxes or to be subject to military conscription.

Hospers cites Albert Jay Nock, who wrote: “Inaction is better than wrong action or premature right action and effective right action can only follow right thinking” (quoted by Hospers on p. 462 of Libertarianism). So for Hospers, the surest way to affect a change in laws was by a cultural shift in ideas through an educational process.

Given some of the conversations I had with him, I suspect he would have still left it to individuals to engage in resistance to unjust laws; respecting the rule of law is not the same thing as respecting the rule of laws that by their very nature coerce and oppress.


Happy Anniversary, Bro and Wan!

Just wanted to give a shout-out to my brother, Carl Barry and my sister-in-law, Joanne Barry—they are children of the stage, after all, as wonderful jazz musicians—for a Happy Anniversary. Yes, I call my brother “Bro” and my sister-in-law “Wan”, and it’s their $#-th wedding anniversary, and I would have put up this as a “Song of the Day”, except I did so on this date back in 2005! “Do you remember the 21st night of September?” I sure do! Many more happy and healthy returns, with much love, always!

September” also happens to be one of my all-time favorite Earth, Wind & Fire hits, with a wonderful lead vocal by the late, great Maurice White. Below is the group performing the song, but also check out an all-star performance of it at the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors [YouTube link].

WTC Remembrance: Tribute in Light Continues …

This week I published my essay, “Twenty Years Later: Remembrance and Rebirth“, which marks the twentieth anniversary, today, of the events of September 11, 2001.

In 2012, I published photos I had taken on the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, including the one below. The Tribute in Light has always been a poignant reminder of what happened on that date, “two beams, symbolic of Twin Towers, that have shown up every September 11th. In cloud cover, it appears like … a ghostly glow beamed upward toward the heavens from what was once called Ground Zero, a dual-apparition of the Twin Towers of memory, powered by the nearly 3,000 souls who lost their lives on that horrific day.”

The Tribute in Light continues tonight, to mark the twentieth anniversary. If you’re in or near NYC, it’s worth a look …


The World Trade Center Site:  A Tribute in Light.  At Night, 9-11-11.

And this year (courtesy of EarthCam):

September 11, 2021

Never forget. ❤