a podcast... and weblog section for folk music and online folklore (see the weblog front page for Bob's "Other Journalism")... and, no, this isn't about "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," unless as pod-folklore.
Friday, February 22, 2008

A picture named allthenews.jpg When I was in high school, Phil Ochs' album "All the News that's Fit to Sing" convinced me that I needed a better guitar case than my crushable cardboard one... and a subscription to The New York Times. It also had a song that began, "It's of a bold reporter whose story I will tell..."

Maybe that album helped plant the seeds for my eventual career, one that didn't require rhyming or hitting notes above B-flat.

Journalist turned private investigator Larry Lopez just reminded me of that album and song by sending along this Boston Globe clip about a neighbor, William Worthy, the "bold reporter" Ochs sang about...

William Worthy isn't worthy to enter our door,
He went down to Cuba, he's not American any more.
But somehow it is strange to hear the State Department say,
'You are living in the free world, in the free world you must stay.'

--Phil Ochs

Unlike most folks immortalized in song, Mr. Worthy is still alive, but suffering from Alzheimer's disease. At least he's back on the radar of those who want to give him some overdue recognition, including Harvard's Nieman Foundation.

As the Nieman site notes, "Worthy traveled to both China (1956-57) and later to Cuba (1961) in violation of U.S. travel restrictions. The United States subsequently tried and sentenced him to jail. A federal appeals court overturned that conviction in 1964, ruling that the travel bans were unconstitutional. Worthy continued to report from overseas, visiting North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia."

Without any folksingers to consult for more details, I resorted to Google, which hooked me up with this profile in a Bates College alumni magazine, an additional account from Bates of Worthy's 1981 confrontation with the CIA, a testimonial at Cuba-watcher Walter Lippmann's site,  the full lyrics to Ochs's song, the recording itself at Rhapsody, and an ironies-of-media-history tidbit: One liberal daily Worthy wrote for in the 1950s was, according to the accounts above... the New York Post.

12:24:57 PM    

© 2009 Bob Stepno
Last Update: 7/27/09; 3:56:37 AM

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