Sunday, April 20, 2008


As we all know we are living in a different world since September 11, 2001 ---let us forget this 9/11 code word. Slogans relegate things to dustbin of history---Remember The Alamo, 54/40 or fight, Remember the Maine, etc; Say it in its entirety and we will keep in our minds in a more meaningful manner. Which brings me to what this is all about.

So many rules in this nation have changed. One has to question the constitutionality of some and also wonder if, perhaps, we are involved in overkill in others. Here I speak specifically about the visas required of performers to perform in our country---a country that has for some time believed in cultural exchanges. Think ping pong if you will. Think ballet, symphony orchestras to N Korea, Russian Folk Dancers, and more if you will.

Today I find that Eric Bogle will not be returning---ever---to tour in this country. He will be doing a farewell tour in Canada since their visa restrictions for known artists are less draconian than ours.

Sort of a symbolical shot---think you not? Below you will find the comments regarding the reasons he will not be returning. Granted, his age is a factor in stopping long tours but, as he says, he had thought this year would have been his farewell U S Tour---turns out it was the last one.

Basically, no longer can his agent request and receive a visa for him. He now needs an attorney and many other expenses and no guarantee the visa will be approved. Canada does not have this stricture so his farewell tour of Canada is not cancelled. You can read his comments below.

My thoughts go to wondering how many artists will we be deprived of seeing and hearing because they cannot and, frankly, should not have to go to the expense and red tape to come to this country. Illegal immigration seems an easier thing to pursue than legitimate performers going through the visa process due to the Xenophobia that this administration has foisted on the public. The results are, of course, a return to the insularity and closing of cultural interchange that has benefited all sides for many years.

Please read Eric Bogle's own comments on the subject from his web-site ---but an excerpt is below:

I’ve received quite a few e-mails from folks in the USA asking me when I’ll be touring there again. Well, unfortunately, the answer is probably never. And not because I don’t want to, I hasten to add. I’ve enjoyed every tour I’ve ever done there. But changes by the INS service in America have made it extremely difficult and expensive for musicians at my level to obtain a work visa. Previously my agent in America could apply for a visa on my behalf, and to date the visa was always granted. Now, however, to obtain a visa I have to go through a visa attorney or a visa processing firm, my agent can’t apply on my behalf any longer. This option is very expensive, and with no guarantee that a visa would be granted. Also, the U.S. Congress has slashed the number of H1 visas to be issued every year, and now unless you apply well over a year in advance of any proposed tours, your chances are virtually nil. It’s all too hard now, too much hassle, so that’s that I’m afraid. I had hoped to do my (probably) farewell tour of the USA this year, but itlooks like I actually did it in 2005. I blame Osama Bin Laden mostly........and George of course.
However, Canada still has reasonable requirements as far as work visas are concerned, so John and I are still heading over there in November/December to do a tour with John McDermott.

So, there you have it. Dubya would have one believe that unless you agree with his policies and directives the, as he says, terrorists win. One has to wonder.

For the history questionnaire now---can anyone name a more damaging president for this nation in all its history? Question two---does brush clearing on a non- working ranch that is a summer home count as being a great outdoors man---or hype as one? Question three---How does one reconcile the thrill of fighting in Iraq (as he has done for his misguided war) with avoiding Viet Nam. Probably best to ask his VP.

On another note now---SUNDAY SIMCHA for April 27. While it is the end of Passover it is also a few days before Yom Hashoah (5/1) We end Passover with some wonderful pieces by Kim/Reggie Harris, Rabbi Johnathon Kligler, Pete Seeger and a cast of---well, not thousands. Then---you do not want to miss this---a a 13 minute description of Buchenwald by, arguably, the greatest news-person of this or any century---EDWARD R. MURROW in a rare recording of this sad and yet so poignantly described event.

Where else but on WFDU will you find this kind of material?

And so we leave this commentary with a shot of the lady who used to welcome people here---including myself.

Perhaps that time will return once we all find a mature way of dealing with each other---which many writers, singers, artists, and dramatists try to tell us about. It was easier for them to communicate these sentiments prior to the insularity that this administration has foisted on us in the name of national security---a national security they have put in jeopardy with the misguided (to put it kindly) policies of the past 8 years---with Iraq at the top of the list.

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