Hats Off to Maurice Gibb, 1949-2003

Everybody talks about the Bee Gees and how they were huge stars during the disco era of the late 1970s. Indeed, they were, but I flipped over the Brothers Gibb earlier than that — in the late ’60s and early ’70s, when the British-born, Australian-bred trio first won the hearts of fans with their stunning, often heartbreaking harmonies on hits like “Massachusetts,” “Holiday,” “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” “I Started a Joke,” “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”… I could go on all night (and probably will, because after I get off of here I am going to grab my old vinyl, listen, remember, and sob).

I am becoming weepy and maudlin because the news just arrived that Maurice Gibb, younger brother to Barry, twin to Robin, has just passed away. Only 53 years old. Older than little brother Andy Gibb, who died tragically in 1988 at age 29, but still, so young, too young…

People recall Barry and Robin as the primary vocalists of the trio; they remember Maurice for his ubiquitous hats. (By the way, his name is pronounced “Morris”; if I hear one more newscaster mangle it, I will so go off… And don’t get me started on those so-called journalists who label the Bee Gees a “disco band”). But if you listen carefully, you can hear Maurice’s beautiful background harmony vocals. By every account I have heard and seen, Maurice Gibb was a fine man, devoted to his family and to music. And the magic he made with his brothers — including the late ’70s fare and beyond — will live on for a long time.

Thanks for the music and memories, Maurice. Rest in peace. Deepest condolences to Robin, Barry, and all of the Gibbs.


I probably don’t mention this enough, but we have free goodies for your Web site, if you have one. The newest item is a syndicated version of the quotable quotes we present on the left side of the page, our WORDS TO DO JUSTICE BY. Take a gander at the offering, along with some progressive-themed graphics lovingly created by Grateful Dread Design. They’re free, so check it all out and help yourself to some great site enhancements. And be sure to send us your site info so we can say thanks by posting your URL for all to see.

Now, if you want to spend money, the Armchair Activist effort can always use your support. Check out the Armact Shop or the support page.

Short Takes for a Saturday

My new year’s resolution — yeah, I broke down and made one — was to take weekends off. Guess that’s out the window…

Moratorium and then some in Illinois: With two days left in his term, IL Gov. George Ryan — a Republican — commutes sentences of every death-row inmate in his state and calls capital punishment “immoral.”(Interestingly, incoming Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich is ticked off about the decision.) Way to go, George! Paying attention, Bob “Hang ‘Em High” Ehrlich? Oh — Parris Glendening: Your term as Maryland’s governor ends soon… Why not make a memorable exit and give Bobby an example of the good politicians can do?

Major setback for GLBT people and their justice-loving supporters: University of North Carolina rules that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity is merely the legally protected exercise of freedom of religion. If you went to UNC or support the school in some way, please communicate to the institution that this is totally unjust. Can a white supremacist who calls his or her group a “church” get away with discriminating against African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics? Uh, no.

The softer side of Sears: The department-store chain, according to Sled Dog Action Coalition, has finally agreed to give up its sponsorship of the cruel and dangerous Iditarod sled-dog race. Kudos to Sears, Roebuck & Co. — if you want to thank the retailer for finally giving a damn about the dogs, drop a line to CEO Alan Lacy.

Another reason NOT to go to war (if you need one beyond war being immoral): Today’s Times of Malta offers a fascinatingly disturbing piece on the dangers of depleted uranium and war on Iraq.

The UK’s Guardian reports that oil companies, like normal people, don’t want another Gulf war. I guess that means that this Iraq war business is being championed by Dubya, Dick Cheney, and their henchpersons not to fill oil firms’ pockets but for geopolitical power and global domination. (Can you say Pax Americana?)

Why is the US sending e-mail to Iraqis?

Massive Catholic Heartbreak: The New York Times reports that the Roman Catholic Church child-abuse scandal of 2002 touches nearly every American diocese and involves more than 1,200 priests. Not surprisingly, a new Gallup poll shows that public confidence in organized religion has fallen to its lowest level in six decades — and the drop didn’t happen because of the Protestants.

Radio Heads-up: Diane Rehm’s National Public Radio talk show will feature scheduled a program on “the anti-war movement and the press” on Monday, Jan. 13. Guests on this sure-to-be-fascinating show include Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, David Corn of The Nation, and Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. Be sure to listen in, either via radio or via the Internet, and if you wish to share your two cents, you can call in at 1-800-433-8850. (The show airs at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time.) A little afraid to go on the air live? Ring up her producer at 202-885-1230 (Washington, DC, is the location — you’ll get a taped message that allows you to leave your own recorded message). And you can e-mail the reboutable Ms. Rehm at drshow@wamu.org.

Meanwhile, it’s the weekend; let’s have some fun: NPR’s site also presents a special feature by Scott Simon, who talks with the Grateful Dead’s former PR guy Dennis McNally, the author of A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. An excerpt of the book is online, as is a groovy photo gallery.

Recipe Rerun

I was asked to rerun my recipe for vegan guacamole, and there turned out to be room on the page, so here goes:

Nat’s Chunky Vegan Guac


2 avocados, get ’em ripe (meaning, dark green and slightly mushy)

2 vine-ripened tomatoes (use good stuff and you’ll have good, tasty results!)

2 cloves garlic, the fresher the better

1/2 tsp. chili powder (if you want it milder, use less; hotter, use more)

1 lemon or lime, whichever you prefer

1 small onion, diced finely

1 red pepper, diced finely

1 green pepper, diced finely

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: First, knife work — peel the avocados (if that’s too difficult, it’s OK instead to cut them in half, remove the pits and put them to the side for discarding or growing new avocados, and scoop out the glorious green flesh with a spoon). I like to chop the ‘cados into large chunks, but you don’t have to do that — for me, it makes the eventual mashing easier. Place the avocado pieces in a medium-size bowl. Peel and crush the garlic and put the crushed garlic in with the avocados. Squeeze the juice from the lemon or lime, strain out the seeds, and put the juice into the avocado bowl. Chop the tomatoes, mince the onion, and dice (if you haven’t already) the peppers. Back to the ‘cados: With a potato masher, squash the suckers — the texture to shoot for depends on what you like. Then stir the other ingredients into the avocado-garlic mixture until everything is well-blended. And you’re done! Refrigerate the guacamole for an hour to allow the flavors to merge. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, if you desire. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy! (The recipe makes about two cups.)


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