Saturday, 29 January 2011

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune - Movie Review

by Chris Barsanti

Bob Dylan, or at least the idea of him, is the lurking, mocking background chorus in this beautiful, bittersweet look at postwar America's foremost agitprop singer/songwriter. For all that Phil Ochs could have achieved in his lauded but still overshadowed career, there stands Dylan, the one who came up through the same West Village coffeehouse folk scene but who had no problem jettisoning its politics once he realized that greater commercial reward was there for the taking without the encumbrance of protest. As Christopher Hitchens points out in the film, there was a difference between those who liked Dylan and those who even knew about Ochs -- anybody could be into Dylan, Ochs's songs were for those who cared.
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Thursday, 27 January 2011

Ohio Students Join Inaugural Protest

January 20, 1969

Editors note: This story was written by Louis Heldman, Lantern Special Writer, and supplemented by information from wire services.

About 450 Ohio college students, including many from Ohio State, joined in Washington Sunday under the banners of Ohio Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to participate in the counter-inaugural parade.

The parade, sponsored by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE), attracted students from the Ohio colleges of: Cuyahoga Community College, Kent State University, Oberlin College, Otterbein College, Ohio University, and the University of Cincinnati.

Members of the Ohio State SDS chapter estimated that 250 of the students were from USO. About 100 Ohio State students were housed in the Ohio Movement Center, at the Brightwood Park Methodist Church in suburban Washington, Saturday night.

A discussion at the Brightwood Park Church Saturday night, attended by about 50 members of the Ohio State delegation, revealed that many students were reluctant to engage in any activities that might lead to violence. Speakers said they were willing to show their anger against "the System," but not by violence means.

Washington police estimated the number participating in the counter inaugural parade Sunday was 5,000.

The march formed at 15th and Pennsylvania Avenues, within the shadow of the Washington monument. The march proceeded down Pennsylvania Ave. in the opposite direction of the inaugural parade tomorrow. There were minor incidents along the way.

Most violent were the fight outside the gleaming white marble Science and Technology Building after the march was over and a brief flareup at the foot of Capitol Hill about an hour earlier.

Mounted policemen rode into the disheveled throng to drive it back from a Smithsonian Institution building after stones had been thrown toward a dozen dignitaries arriving for a reception for Vice President-elect Spiro T. Agnew.

While invited guests in evening clothes entered the Smithsonian building, protesters battled officers with bottles, rocks, sticks, mud and oak slats torn from large litter baskets.

Police said they could not determine immediately how many demonstrators were arrested, but estimated the total at about two dozen. Park police said two officers had been hospitalized, but no details were available.

Agnew arrived at a side entrance and eluded the demonstrators who had gathered to jeer him.

Eight mounted policemen, with nightsticks upraised, drove the demonstrators back after the rock-throwing started. Apparently the sticks were not used and no injuries were reported by guests or protesters.

When the parade ended at the foot of Capitol Hill, some of the protest leaders urged the crowd to move on but others linked arms and refused to move. That brought on the first confrontation of the day.

"Most of them were charged with failure to move on," Assistant Chief of Police Jerry V. Wilson said, "but some of them are being held for assault on policemen and disorderly conduct."

Some youths in the throng tried to rip down an American flag flying in front of the NASA building within sight of the Capitol.

However, a band of fellow marchers ringed the flagpole and turned back their colleagues after a spirited shoving match.

Police moved in to take over afterwards without further incident.

A counter-inaugural ball was held on a mall between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. The Mobilization committee had announced the ball's featured performers as singers Judy Collins, Phil Ochs, Janis Joplin, and the Fugs. Ochs, a former Ohio State student, performed early in the afternoon in a rally before the march.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Phil Ochs in the News

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune – Movie Review
Monsters and
By Ron Wilkinson
A touching look at a great American performer with a moral about ambition as well.

A Dad’s Point-of-View: Change Is Good
Huntington News
By Bruce Sallan
When we got out of the car, he asked me to hand him his songbook. I looked at him, puzzled, and asked, “Heck, why do you need it, you wrote all the songs?” to which he replied, “Sometimes the words don’t come to me anymore.”

Saturday, 22 January 2011

There But for Fortune: Phil Ochs's Tragedy and Our Own

Thanks to Ken Bowser’s new documentary film Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune, the erasure of Phil Ochs from this country’s collective historical memory has just suffered from a well-deserved and hopefully irreversible blow. A labor of love many years in the making, There But For Fortune premiered in New York City in early January and will open elsewhere nationwide throughout the year.
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Thursday, 20 January 2011

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune - Entertainment Weekly Movie Review

The late folksinger Phil Ochs burned bright in the 1960s, on fire with songs of protest while his competitor, Bob Dylan, sang of attitudes blowin' in the wind.

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'Fundamentalists' Known by 5 Characteristics

January 11, 1965

(Last part of an interpretive series based on "The Radical Right" essays edited by Daniel Bell; Doubleday Anchor Book; 1964.)


When a Billy Hargis Crusade representative told Columbus high school students several months ago that the Beatles were part of the Red plot to dominate America, many might have laughed.

Some fundamentalists, however, take this quite seriously. Located between the disrespectable right (say, the American Nazi Party) and the semi-respectable right (say, the D.A.R.), these fundamentalists are usually identifiable by five characteristics as listed by Alan F. Westin:

(1.) "They assume that there are always solutions capable of producing international victories and of resolving social problems." Failure is attributed "to conspiracies led by evil men and their dupes."

(2.) Leaders of major social and economic groups are regarded as "Communist-minded." Robert Welch of the John Birch Society has pointed the finger at the A.M.A. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others.


(3.) They reject the American political system as being unreliable.

(4.) "They reject those programs for dealing with social, economic and international problems that liberals and conservatives agree upon as minimal foundations. In their place, (they) propose drastic panaceas requiring major social change."

(5.) Finally, they advocate both "direct action" and "dirty tactics" to "break the grip of the Communist conspiracy."

Pressure Campaigns

Thus the fundamentalists might pressure against the selling of UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Educational Fund) Christmas cards, as they did last month in California, or "unknowns" might make threatening phone calls to the families of civics teachers using textbooks explaining the U.N.--harassing him until he leaves town, as they did to Dan O'Brian at Washington Court House. (The WRFD Commentator, Sept. 24, 1964.)

These "dirty tactics" and the "conspiracy paranoia" are psychologically related. To summarize (although poorly), Daniel Bell's explanation of Leon Festinger's psychological studies, the radical rightist is unwilling to see Russia's military strength "as a prime factor in the balance of terror." Nevertheless, the threat produces fear and he needs a justification for it. So he builds up an internal threat to take the place of the external realities he has denied (few are concerned with international politics).

By making his enemy the "soft underbelly of democracy," as Westin phrases it, he can both justify his fears and do something about them. Thus he agitates "where a minimum of pressure can often produce maximum terror and restrictive responses."

Martyr Appeal

As the fundamentalist sees communism as his enemy he can interpret frustrating realities as part of a Communist plot. Similarly, he can insulate himself from criticism by seeing himself as a martyr to a righteous and misunderstood cause. He can mix fantastic allegations with reasonableness and be convinced by the "reasonableness" that the allegations must also be true.

He is probably convinced of his Americanism as portrayed in public relations magazines picturing families saluting the flag.

Like The Communist

But, like the Communists, this same flag-saluting organization might use fronts, authoritarian leadership, secret membership and "dirty tactics." Its "preservation of America" might be by lessening individual liberties and by restricting the rights to assemble, petition, associate, teach, travel, speak or conduct research without having to conform to political tests.

They have yet to learn the truism that has allowed their presence: that freedom must extend to those with whom one disagrees.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune

More screening dates for the documentary film have been added.

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune - Film Review
By Cynthia Fuchs
The documentary is alternately illuminating and sketchy, using Ochs to reveal the decade.

Phil and Alice Ochs' Wedding

By Suze Rotolo

When Phil and Alice got married I was a witness at their wedding. By then Alice was visibly pregnant, and both of them were very nervous and giddy. During the ceremony at City Hall, we tried to stifle our giggles. The justice of the peace had to interrupt the proceedings to chastise us for not taking the situation seriously. No one was more serious about what they were doing than Alice and Phil. But that is precisely why it struck all of us as so funny.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Phil Ochs in the News

There But for Fortune: Gift of Phil Ochs to the Future
by Paul Levinson
This documentary about the life and times of Phil Ochs merits repeated viewing.

Trailer Park: “Season Of The Witch,” “The Absent,” “Phil Ochs: There But Of Fortune”
by Olivia Allin
The Hitch: I’m actually very excited for this movie because Phil Ochs hasn’t gotten the kind of attention he deserves. He is a brilliant songwriter and one of my favorite musicians...

Paltrow’s Boozy Singer Tries Comeback; Cage’s Witch Hunt: Film
by Rick Warner
Now largely forgotten, the singer gets a postmortem boost from a clear-eyed documentary titled “Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune.” Written and directed by Kenneth Bowser, it restores Ochs’s rightful place in the social history of one of the most tumultuous decades in U.S. history.

'Season Of The Witch' Finds An Evil Mood With Usher, Bloc Party
by Kyle Anderson
If you prefer your music films a little more political, this week also marks the release of "Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune," a sharp documentary about the extremely popular and influential protest singer.

Phil Ochs, Folkie, Back Home in the Village
by Melissa Anderson
The Village Voice
Bowser’s film is densely researched enough to yield insights not just into its overlooked subject, but also into his overly analyzed era.

Reel Music Festival 2011: Phil Ochs: ‘There But For Fortune’ — Rise and fall of a political troubador – Sunday
by Tom D'Antoni
Oregon Music News
Appearing in the doc are Joan Baez, Tom Hayden, Pete Seeger, Sean Penn, Peter Yarrow, Christopher Hitchens and Ed Sanders, but the key interview is with Ochs’ brother Michael. He is the thread, brutally honest in the most brotherly, thoughtful loving way.

‘Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune’ movie review and trailer
by Miriam Rinn
A star of the folk/protest song movement of the early sixties, the handsome Ochs was overshadowed by his friend and rival Bob Dylan, and overtaken by the rapid societal shift from the idealism of the Kennedy election to the disillusionment and cynicism of the Nixon regime just ten years later. He also was haunted by worsening mental illness, which drove him to suicide at the age of 35.

NY1 Movie Review: "Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune"
by Neil Rosen
NY1 News
This film, which shows Ochs' life -- flaws and all -- offers up a history lesson to those who are not that familiar with his musical work and societal contributions, and for Phil Ochs it provides some overdue recognition.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Phil Ochs in the News

Review: Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune
by Jurgen Fauth
Phil Ochs' first album was called "All the News That's Fit to Sing," and ... Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune is now playing at the IFC Center in New York. ...

HuffPost Review: Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune
by Marshall Fine
Huffington Post
But Phil Ochs is a tragic case of someone who had it and lost it - and then succumbed to demons that were bigger than he was. As Phil Ochs: There But For ...

Phil Ochs, a Musical American Hero
by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
An interview with Kenneth Bowser, director of the new documentary, 'Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune.' Phil Ochs. Still from There But for Fortune. ...

Phil Ochs: The Life and Legacy of a Legendary American Folk Singer
Democracy Now!
The legendary American folk singer Phil Ochs is widely regarded as one of the world's most influential political musicians. Rising to fame in the 1960s, Ochs used his music to both chronicle and help mobilize the labor rights, ...

Review: keeping the beat with 'Reel Music 28'
by Shawn Levy
(86 mins.; 4:30 pm Sunday) Grade: A-minus (SH) “Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune” Phil Ochs wanted to be as tough as Gary Cooper and as famous as Elvis ...

Variety Reviews - Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune - Film Reviews
by John Anderson
A warts-and-all portrait of a singer and his celebrity, "Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune" is an overdue look at the '60s folk movement's anti-Dylan.

Bob Dylan, Mrs. King Get Special Degree

June 10, 1970

PRINCETON, N. J. (AP) -- Princeton University awarded honorary degrees Tuesday to singer Bob Dylan, Mrs. Martin Luther King Jr. and seven others reflecting the 1970 campus interest in peace, civil rights and the environment.

For the first time, graduates broke tradition and shunned black caps and gowns in favor of business suits and white armbands carrying the slogan: "Together for Peace, 1970."

Also for the first time, eight women received Princeton degrees. Neither Dylan nor Mrs. King, widow of the slain civil rights leader, spoke.

The decision to shun traditional robes was made by the 223rd graduating class last month, when President Nixon sent U.S. troops into Cambodia, sparking a wave of protests on college campuses. About 80 per cent of the 1,223 graduates wore armbands.

Money which would have been spent to rent robes was donated to the Princeton Community Fund, a local organization which supports antiwar and antidraft activities.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Phil Ochs in the News

A Voice Echoes in the Village
by Martin Johnson
The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Ochs is the subject of a new documentary, "Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune," which opens Wednesday at the IFC Center. Effective and compelling, the film chronicles the highs and lows of the musician's life.

Aspiring to Musical Power and Glory
by Stephen Holden
The New York Times
To say that the 1960s folk singer Phil Ochs dreamed big is to understate the huge scope of his ambition. As recalled in Kenneth Bowser’s respectful, nonmaudlin documentary portrait, “Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune,” Ochs moved to New York in the early ’60s intending to be the best songwriter in the country. After meeting Bob Dylan, Ochs was forced to revise his opinion of his own potential to “second best.”

Monday, 3 January 2011

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune Documentary Film - Opens January 5 & 6, 2011 at the IFC Center in New York City, NY

Tickets are on sale now for the screenings to be held on January 5th and 6th at the IFC Center in New York City. Q&As with director Kenneth Bowser and Michael Ochs are to occur on Wednesday and Thursday at the 7:20 shows (and possibly after the 9:30 showings).

Phil Ochs in the News

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune -- Film Review
by David Rooney
The Hollywood Reporter
Kenneth Bowser's terrific documentary is a poignant portrait of an uncompromising artist who, despite a struggle with depression that eventually led to his suicide at age 35, believed in the power of music as a tool for social and political change.

Phil Ochs Lives!
by Michael Simmons
The Huffington Post
The late Phil Ochs, one of the greatest singer/songwriters of the 1960s on a rarified perch with Dylan, Joni and Cohen, wasn't a household name but he was big enough to have affected a lot of people. Director/writer Kenneth Bowser's powerful documentary of his life is called Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune and it'll tweak your empathy gland while breaking your heart.

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune | Film Review
by Joseph Jon Lanthier
Slant Magazine
Nearly 50 years on, the relegation of folk-pop recording artist Phil Ochs to the turgid second rung of 1960s protest singers seems more an act of twisted fate than an informed critical judgment.

Preview of New Film on Phil Ochs, Opening This Week
by Greg Mitchell
The Nation
This Wednesday, in New York at the IFC theater, a new documentary about folk singer / political activist will open. Direced by Kenneth Bowser, it's titled, after one of his greatest songs, "Phil Ochs: There But For Forture, and it will debut in at last nine other cities between now and March. I've screened it, and it's quite excellent, with commentary by, among others, Sean Penn, Tom Hayden, Joan Baez, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Bragg, Paul Krassner and Peter Yarrow.