»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, September 22nd, 2017

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your eschatologically genial host John Derbyshire, here with VDARE.com's roundup of the week's news.

Possibly the last week's ever. Yes, listeners, Gaia is angry: hurricanes and floods in the Caribbean, earthquakes in Mexico, Japan, and New Zealand, and Popocatepetl erupting. Popocatepetl, for those of you who slept through ninth grade geography, is a volcano, also in Mexico. Popocatepetl … much too pretty a name for a volcano.

And now I'm reading that tomorrow, Saturday, may see the End of the World. Hey ho: Four billion years was a pretty good run.

No doubt these calamities are connected somehow with the activities of the Trump administration. Don't laugh: It was an article of faith in imperial China that natural disasters were a reflection, or a warning, of disorder in the human world. Those of you who have read the greatest novel ever written about China, Tibet, Wall Street, Buddhism, and Italian Opera will know that this belief can by no means be dismissed as a mere archaic superstition.

But enough of this self-advertisement. Let's see what's been going on in these last few days before the Apocalypse.

02 — Three beautiful pillars of peace.     The week's biggest political event was President Trump's address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

Trump opened with a gracious tribute to those foreign leaders who had offered help with the recent hurricane and flood disasters. Then, in a 45-minute address, he gave a comprehensive survey of the foreign-policy topics currently engaging his administration's attention.

I was surprised to find that my own response to the speech was less negative than most. I was inclined to negativity even before the thing started, being a U.N.-hater. My ideal of a speech by a U.S. President to the U.N. would be one announcing, in as few words as possible, our withdrawal from the whole U.N. circus and the revocation of all diplomatic privileges for U.N. employees, with those who are not U.S. citizens being placed under 24-hour deportation orders.

The U.N. is an archaism. It accomplishes nothing that could not be done just as well with traditional diplomacy, brought up-to-date by online conferencing services.

The five permanent members of the Security Council, the ones with veto powers, include two — Britain and France — that are inconsequential in 2017, one — China — that has undergone a dramatic revolution, and one — the U.S.S.R. — that no longer exists.

The typical U.N. functionary is the nephew or mistress of some banana republic dictator-of-the-week, with a high school education and a lavish expense account. These people do nothing useful. To the contrary, they are a nuisance to the inhabitants of Manhattan.

The whole thing needs to be scrapped, or at least moved to some location where its pointlessness is more in concord with its immediate surroundings: Haiti, perhaps, or Brussels, alongside the European Union headquarters.

So, yes, negativity from me even before our President opened his mouth. I'm a radical, though; and I've come to terms with the fact that Trump isn't. He's not going to kick out the U.N., any more than he's going to deport all the illegal aliens, or have a moratorium on legal immigration, or challenge birthright citizenship, or pull us out of NATO, or end affirmative action, or close down the Department of Education, or ban public-sector unions.

I wish he'd do all those things; but I'm a radical and he's not. I'll take what I can get.

I thus came to the speech with low expectations, and found myself quite pleasantly surprised.

Best of all, for a National Conservative, were the repeated emphases on what Trump called "those three beautiful pillars … of peace," which are: sovereignty, security, and prosperity. The word "sovereignty" showed up ten times in the speech, and "sovereign" by itself another twelve times — you could almost call it the keynote of Trump's address.

Globalists of both the right and left were horrified by this. Neocon invade-the-world / invite-the-world fanatic Max Boot, writing in USA Today, thundered that, quote:

[Harry] Truman and his aides would have been appalled if they had lived long enough to see Trump preening before the U.N. General Assembly, praising national sovereignty as the greatest good in the world.

How people do get stuck in the past! I've sometimes mocked the pampered, petted, affirmative-actioned, endlessly-deferred-to black activists of today by saying that for them, it's always 1965. For Max Boot, it's always 1948. There have been no new developments in international affairs, nothing that needs changing, no balances out of kilter that need correcting — the one between nationalism and globalism, for example.

Everything is just as it was in our hour of glory, when the whole world but for America lay in ruins, and only our leadership could get the wheels of prosperity turning again. Great days … seventy years ago.

The globalist left was just as horrified by Trump's speech as the globalist right. Not for the first time, I found myself wondering if they are really two different things.

MSNBC airhead Brian Williams, commenting on the U.N. speech, wondered aloud whether the President's repeated use of the word "sovereignty" was a, quote, "dog whistle" to his base — you know, those knuckle-dragging racist Nazi KKK white-supremacist bigots over in the West Virginia hollows.

Brian Williams' guest, some lefty bimbo, went right along with this dog-whistle theory. Using the words "sovereign" and "sovereignty" that many times, she said, undermined international bodies like the U.N. Well, I certainly hope so.

What I saw in the speech was a long-overdue redressing of the balance. Of course nationalism is not an unqualified good; of course nationalism has its pathologies. You can say the same of globalism.

One thing Donald Trump's election victory last year demonstrated is that many of us think globalism has gone too far, has over-reached, especially in the absurd and nation-destroying doctrine of open borders. We want to redress the balance. The good thing about Trump's speech is, it sounds as though he wants to redress that balance, too.

Here was the lefty bimbo on Brian Williams' show, further pursuing her thoughts about why Trump used the words "sovereign" and "sovereignty" so much, quote from her:

It just means what he was talking about from the beginning, which is "America first, we're going to go it alone."

End quote. Does it? Here's the relevant passage from Trump's U.N. speech, quote:

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

Is what he said the same as what she said he said? Judge for yourself.

03 — Settling for George W. Trump.     My own reaction to Trump's speech was mild by Alt Right standards, leaving me wondering if my heart was too soon made glad, whether perhaps I'd lowered my expectations of Trump too far.

The fiercer types, like Hunter Wallace over at Occidental Dissent, were denouncing the speech as pure neoconnery. The expression "George W. Trump" was getting new currency. Be interesting to see Hunter Wallace in debate with Max Boot.

Daniel Larison was in a similar frame of mind over at American Conservative. Sample quote from him, quote:

All of this belligerent and confrontational rhetoric just raises tensions in several different parts of the world, and it appears to commit the U.S. to more meddling around the world and potentially risks getting the U.S. into more avoidable wars. None of that has anything to do with putting American interests first.

Well, yeah. I'd be a happier guy, too, if we left the Afghans to their own devices (or livestock), told Northeast Asia to deal with its own regional problems, and let Venezuela revert to cannibalism, so long as they didn't try to make an export industry out of it.

I'll be glad for what I can get, though. When did we last hear a President say things like, actual quotes from Trump's speech:

  • The nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.
  • Uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.
  • We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation.
  • We support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible.
  • We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.
  • In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens — to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

End quotes. Yeah, sure, that was all mixed in with neoconnish bluster about confronting evil and "funding AIDS relief" and "empowering women all across the globe."

It's a question of how much you mind the bluster. "George W. Trump" is not a bad descriptor. I'm not crazy about the "George W." part. Still, "George W. Trump" beats "George W. Bush" in my book; and either of them is a cosmic improvement on Barack Obama's anti-white radicalism.

04 — Refugees: let the ceiling meet the floor.     Ann Coulter, responding on the Mark Simone radio show to Trump's speech, was of course more negative than me; but even Ann allowed that she liked the bit about refugees:

[Clip:  The part I liked was a little-noticed sentence or two on our refugee policy, saying we have a lot of experience with the migration of, you know, displaced, poverty-stricken people, and we see that it doesn't help us and it doesn't help them. They need to stay in their countries. They need to put pressure, for one thing, to help them out, pressure for any economic changes, and he said for the cost of resettling one refugee in this country we can help ten potential refugees in their own countries. I've never understood that. Why do they have to come here? Why can't we help them where they are …]

I have the advantage of Ann here, apparently. I do understand why we bring refugees here and give them permanent settlement. Around ninety percent of the answer in encompassed by the words "cheap labor," like ninety percent of all U.S. immigration policy.

The balance is pressure from the refugee-resettlement rackets, which the indefatigable Ann Corcoran has been documenting for years over at her Refugee Resettlement Watch website.

Tuesday this week Ann published extracts from the audited financial reports for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. They got nearly a hundred million dollars in federal grants last year, up eighteen percent on the previous year.

And the Catholic Bishops Conference is just one of the nine refugee contracting agencies, most with reassuringly churchy-sounding names, with their snouts in the federal trough. It's not even the one with their snouts deepest in the trough, either. That would be Episcopal Migration Ministries, which is 99.5 percent funded by taxpayer dollars!

That's something to bear in mind when you read stories like the one from earlier this month about Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan attacking Steve Bannon. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Bannon had said that the Catholic Church has, quote, "an economic interest in … unlimited illegal immigration." That, said Cardinal Dolan, was, quote, "so ridiculous that it doesn't merit a comment."

Possibly so: but as Michael Patrick Leahy pointed out when reporting the Dolan-Bannon kerfuffle at Breitbart.com, those dollar figures on the government grants the Church is getting for refugee resettlement show very clearly that whatever the case is with illegal immigration, where refugee resettlement is concerned, the Church has a big fat economic interest in that aspect of legal immigration.

I'll admit I have a particular loathing for Cardinal Dolan because of the way he treated Frank Borzellieri, the New York City educator and devout Catholic who was hate-bombed by the CultMarx mob for some mildly race-realist things he'd written, and who received no support whatever from the Church he'd served faithfully for many years. Far as I'm concerned, Dolan's spiritual standing would be improved if he were to undergo one of the grislier styles of martyrdom.

The other religious agencies are just as bad, though. They've all got their snouts in the trough: Church World Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services … Ann Corcoran has documented it all in detail.

And this is especially relevant today because we are coming to the end of the federal government's Fiscal Year 2017. Ten days from now, October 1st, we enter Fiscal Year 2018. Before that happens President Trump is required to submit his number for a refugee ceiling in the coming year.

The benchmark number here is fifty thousand. That's the number Trump has mentioned in this context: far below the 85 thousand admitted in the current fiscal year, which in turn is below the 110 thousand Barack Obama wanted admitted when he set the ceiling last year.

Now we're hearing that there is pressure on Trump from his advisors, especially Stephen Miller — who by the way is believed to have written the U.N. speech — and the Department of Homeland Security, pressure to lower the ceiling number even further.

As Ann Corcoran has proposed, and we have seconded, the correct ceiling number for refugees getting permanent resettlement in the U.S.A. during Fiscal Year 2018 is zero.

That will mean an empty trough for Cardinal Dolan and the other refugee racketeers; but it will be in concord with the remarks on the subject in Trump's U.N. speech, and with the national interests of the United States.

05 — Kim tests a d-bomb.     One more reaction here to President Trump's U.N. speech: the reaction from Kim Jong Un.

Well … Kim's reaction itself was not particularly interesting, not to me anyway. He blustered right back at Trump's bluster. At this point I'm getting bluster fatigue, wishing we could get back somehow to Teddy Roosevelt's policy of speaking softly while carrying a big stick. That doesn't seem to be Trump's style, though; and it sure as hell isn't Kim's.

So I'm going to focus not on Kim's reaction to the Trump speech, nor to stateside reaction to Kim's entire reaction, but just to stateside reaction to one word of Kim's reaction. You with me? I hope so.

If you make your living putting words together you are more than normally attentive to linguistic issues that occasionally turn up in the news. Here's one of those from Kim's address Thursday on North Korean TV, responding to Trump at the U.N.

The official translation of Kim's speech had him twice using the word "dotard." Quote from Kim:

Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.

End quote; and then, the closing flourish, quote:

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.

End quote. Well, that word "dotard" had the commentariat scratching their heads and reaching for their dictionaries. Juan Williams, on Fox News, confessed he'd never heard the word before, and his four co-panelists on The Five seemed equally lost.

That was depressing. All right, "dotard" isn't an everyday word, but it's one that a decently well-read person, such as I take Juan Williams to be, ought to know. It shows up four times in Shakespeare.

Scanning my online archives, I seem not to have used it myself, but there are two instances in material I've quoted on my Readings pages, one from Dryden and one from Dr Johnson.

Both quotes relate to how, in old age, our interest in worldly things ebbs away, and our desires likewise; both derive ultimately in fact from Juvenal's Tenth Satire on the human condition. Johnson:

With listless Eyes the Dotard views the Store,
He views, and wonders that they please no more.

Johnson, writing in the 1740s, was fairly prudish. Dryden, writing fifty years earlier, was more frank about the sexual aspect:

The limber nerve, in vain provok'd to rise,
Inglorious from the field of battle flies:
Poor feeble dotard, how could he advance
With his blue head-piece, and his broken lance?

Oh dear … Although even Dryden wasn't as frank as Juvenal's original Latin, which I leave you to explore for yourself.

The etymology of "dotard" is straightforward. The "dot-" is from an old root meaning "silly" or "feeble-minded," as in the verb "to dote."

The "-ard" suffix is a common way to form a mild pejorative in English, deriving from a root meaning tough or unrefined, same root as the English word "hard."

So we have "bastard," "coward," "drunkard," "laggard," "retard," "sluggard," "braggart" (with a slight change of consonant), and of course "niggard."

So, all right, not an everyday word; but not one that you'd expect to be out of sight below the linguistic horizon for educated Americans, especially for those educated in the Humanities, as I'd suppose is the case for front-rank TV journalists.

As a fellow dotard is wont to say to me over a game of cribbage at the Senior Center: "Nobody know anything any more."

06 — Homonationalism.     There's an election coming up in Germany this Sunday, September 24th. We should have a clear result by breakfast time Monday here in the U.S.A.

These are elections for the Bundestag, the national legislature, elections held on a four-year cycle. So this is the first election since Angela Merkel opened Germany's borders to a million Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa.

The two big takeaways from the late polls are, one, that Mrs Merkel's party will win a plurality of the votes, around 36 percent, so that she herself will go on being Chancellor after some horse-trading to form a coalition; and two, that the AfD National Conservative, immigration-restrictionist party will get seats in the Bundestag for the first time. They're polling around ten percent.

For outside observers, especially for us of a Dissident Right disposition, it seems astonishing that after that crazy decision two years ago to open the borders to a million Muslims, Mrs Merkel could still win any votes at all. What explains that?

The short answer is that the Germans don't actually do much politics. The kinds of features that add zip and zest to politics elsewhere — class divisions, red-state / blue-state sectionalism, historical grievances — are all at a pretty low key. They're present — notably the east-west divide, still a factor — but they don't have much valence. German politics is boring, and Germans like it that way.

Modern Germany is also a successful country, socially and economically. It was the Germans who first invented the modern welfare state, remember, and still today Germany's works better than most. Wages are good, inequality and unemployment are low, so what's to get excited about? Exports are booming, so what's wrong with globalization?

You'll hear it said that political correctness has a firmer grip on Germans than elsewhere, that there are no First Amendment protections for dissent, and so on. There's probably something to that, but not a whole lot. Thilo Sarrazin's 2010 immigration-restrictionist book Germany Destroys Itself was a huge bestseller. Last time I checked Herr Sarrazin was still not in jail.

That same year, 2010, Angela Merkel herself told a gathering of her party that, quote, Multikulti ist gescheitert — "Mulitculturalism has failed" — and they applauded her for it.

So the boundaries of public discussion over there aren't so narrow. I doubt a First Amendment would make much difference.

It may be, though, that there is something in the national character of the Germans that damps down, more than elsewhere, people's willingness to be open about their discontents.

We'll get a test of that theory on Sunday, when we either see or don't see a Dinkins-Bradley effect. It's a Dinkins effect in New York, a Bradley effect in Los Angeles, but the idea is the same. When this effect is in play, people tell pollsters they'll vote for the politically correct candidate — Tom Bradley for Mayor of L.A. in 1982, David Dinkins for Mayor of New York in 1989 — but then, in the actual voting booth, a significant number do otherwise.

If AfD gets a bigger vote share than the nine or ten percent they're showing in the pre-election polls, that'll be a Dinkins-Bradley effect.

Another thing we're seeing in the German election is the rise of a Gay Right. Homosexuals are waking up to the fact that mass immigration of Muslims is not a thing they should support.

The AfD party got wise to this and has put forward a lesbian, Alice Weidel, as joint party leader. The lady is fiercely anti-Muslim, leading to the coining of a new political term: "homonationalism." Support among homosexuals for the AfD is now higher than among Germans at large.

So much for the Coalition of the Fringes. Progressives in Germany — and elsewhere in Europe, and presumably sooner or later in the U.S.A. — are going to have to decide which is more obnoxious to them: homophobia or Islamophobia. "Two four six eight, which one should we rather hate …"

07 — An American original.     Here's a guy who won't be signing on to homonationalism any time soon: Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of Alabama, and a candidate for election Tuesday in that state.

Tuesday's election is a Republican Party primary. You'll recall that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was junior senator from Alabama until being plucked from that position to be Trump's A-G in February this year. That left an empty seat in the Senate, so Alabama's then-Governor appointed his state A-G, Luther Strange, to fill the seat.

Jeff Sessions's Senate term ran to January 2021, though. Four years is a long time for Mr Strange to sit in the Senate without having been elected, so there'll be an election for this Senate seat December 12th.

So far, so good: a special election for this Senate seat in December, so the parties need candidates to run in that election, one Democrat and one Republican.

There were primaries last month to decide the candidates. A chap named Doug Jones, a bland center-left type, won the Democrat primary. For the Republicans there's to be a runoff between two guys: that's the election next Tuesday, a runoff primary to decide the GOP candidate.

Luther Strange, the current Senator, is of course one of the candidates. The other is the aforementioned Roy Moore, the one I started off by saying will never be described as a homonationalist.

Moore is a piece of work, a little bit of Americana. His moment of fame — his aristeia, the Greeks would have said — came in November 2003, when he was Chief Justice of the Alabama state Supreme Court. He had installed a massive granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments in the state judicial building in Montgomery. A federal judge ordered him to remove it. Moore refused, and was himself removed from office.

Moore got himself elected back to the Supreme Court, then got himself suspended last year for obstructing issuance of licenses for homosexual marriages, which he hotly opposes. April this year he resigned from the court to run in this primary.

In the first round of primary voting, last month, Moore beat Strange by 39 percent to 33. If he beats him in the runoff this week he'll be the Republican candidate against Democrat Doug Jones, and likely the next Senator — Alabama is strong for the GOP.

Roy Moore concedes nothing to political correctness. He is, as I said, a gem of pure Americana. They don't make his type anywhere else. Intensely Christian and a Bible literalist, he thinks that evolution is nonsense, homosexual behavior should be illegal, and Islam is a false religion not protected by the First Amendment.

I don't myself agree with him on any of those points, but I hope he wins Tuesday's primary none the less. He may not be a homo-nationalist, but he's definitely a nationalist — American all the way through. If there isn't room in the U.S. Senate for a few eccentrics like Moore, I don't see the point of the place.

Moore has some big names on his side, who I presume feel the same way I do: Steve Bannon, former chief Strategist to Donald Trump, and Sarah Palin, John McCain's VP candidate in 2008.

Luther Strange, his opponent on Tuesday, is very much the GOP establishment candidate. He has the backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; you can't get more establishment than that. As a person who would like to see the entire GOP establishment roasting slowly in Hell, this only fortifies my support for Roy Moore.

My support was further fortified by a hit piece on Moore in Yahoo News today, written by homosexual supremacist Michelangelo Signorile, who is to homosexuals what Ta-nehisi Coates is to blacks. Quote from him:

If elected, this guy [i.e. Roy Moore] will be the kookiest, most dangerous man to serve in the U.S. Senate in many years, not to mention that he'd consistently cause embarrassing media spectacles, as if we don't have enough of that.

End quote. Hey: embarrassing media spectacles are my bread and butter — what, you think I want to write about German elections all day long? — and I can't see that wanting the U.S.A. to be a Christian nation is any kookier than buggering other men and writing about it at endless length. To be perfectly frank, it strikes me as less kooky.

Sad to report, President Trump has been persuaded to throw his own support behind Luther Strange, apparently believing, or having been persuaded, that the GOP doesn't have enough Chambers of Commerce cheap-labor front men, Mitch McConnell / Paul Ryan clones in Congress, jogging along a year or two behind the Progressive agenda.

I disagree, and I urge the Republican primary voters of Alabama to vote for Roy Moore on Tuesday. Let's get an American original in the Senate, not just another globalist drone.

08 — Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Imprimis:  Heartwarming political spectacle of the week was undoubtedly Nancy Pelosi being surrounded and shouted down by illegal aliens at a San Francisco news conference.

The punchline here is that Pelosi was holding the conference in support of the illegals. They shouted her down none the less, and called her a liar, apparently thinking she was in cahoots with President Trump to rescind the DACA program.

That was on Monday. On Wednesday, back in Washington, D.C. now, Pelosi told reporters at her weekly congressional press conference that illegal alien adult parents who brought their children to the U.S.A. in defiance of the law, quote, "did a great thing," end quote.

Well, the parents who brought those Monday demonstrators sure did. Their kids, now of course no longer kids, made Nancy Pelosi look like the blathering fool that she is.

Thanks, guys and gals. Now go back to your home countries.

Item:  Still on the immigration thread: Why don't we have any movement on birthright citizenship?

This is another of those issues that Donald Trump spoke refreshing good sense about on the campaign trail, but has been unaccountably silent about since gaining office.

Daniel Sobieski had a good reminder piece over at American Thinker on Thursday. Getting rid of this massively expensive, demography-transforming anachronism may involve a Constitutional change; the only way to find out is to get the challenge started and see what the courts say.

So … let's get started. Hello, Mr President?

Item:  Finally, on the science beat, the Royal Society has been in the news.

That's Britain's most prestigious scientific body — and its oldest, going back 350 years. The Society's motto is Nullius in verba, meaning "on nobody's word." Don't take anything on trust from authority figures; check against the facts, against observation and experiment.

Well, the Royal Society votes a Science Book of the Year. This year's award goes to a book titled Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds by a female psychologist, Cordelia Fine. I haven't read the book but I've read several reviews, and it seems to be just what it sounds like: a work of sex denialism.

Actual quote from Ms Fine — and this is from a friendly review — quote:

There are no essential male or female characteristics — not even when it comes to risk-taking and competitiveness, the traits so often called on to explain why men are more likely to rise to the top.

Uh-huh. In case you still haven't gotten the message, after having had it blasted at you from every point of the compass for forty years: In the human world, everything is equal to everything else. Race, sex, sexual orientation — all figments of your imagination.

Inequalities only appear when reality is manipulated by evil people clinging to their privilege: men forcing little girls to play with dolls instead of tanks, fire departments twisting their entrance exams so blacks will fail, homosexuals disproportionately getting AIDS because government didn't spend enough money on them.

I was a bit shocked to see the Royal Society giving its imprimatur to this gibberish. Then, drilling down, I see that the five-person panel of judges for this award contains only one actual scientist — a paleontologist. One of the others has a Ph.D. in psychology; the other three are nonscientist media types. It still reflects badly on the RS that they don't have a full panel of real scientists judging science books.

For a withering review of Testosterone Rex, see Greg Cochran's website — google "west hunter."

09 — Signoff.     That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; and may you all be here still, on an intact planet, to listen again next week, while the sad augurs mock their own presage.

Wednesday this week was September 20th, and longtime Radio Derb listeners know what that means to me personally, musically. For those who don't, here's the story once again in executive summary.

I first arrived on these shores August 4th 1973, a Saturday as I recall. Back then the British border authorities actually wrote in your British passport as you left the country how much cash you were taking with you. I was carrying £143 — $346 in those halcyon days.

It didn't last long. Remember those stories you hear about someone's grandfather arriving here off the boat in 1900 with $20 in his pocket? Allowing for inflation, that's about where I was in 1973. By the end of August I was broke.

I didn't have a return ticket and I didn't have a work permit; so to avoid the inconveniences of starvation and/or deportation I settled in to the lowest kinds of work New York City had to offer: washing dishes or pushing brooms for $1.85 an hour plus subway tokens.

It was a phase in my life, those few months of late '73 and early '74, that I remember with mixed feelings, the way you do about youthful follies.

On the plus side of the mixed feelings was, that being down and out in that particular time and place had musical consolations. We dishwashers, broom-pushers, and workers at the car wash had a pop-music troubadour singing for us — singing songs about the crappy jobs we did and the scuzzy bars we frequented after work.

I think I can still sing all his songs. By the time I got to know them, though, Jim Croce had been taken away from us — killed in a private-plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana, September 20th 1973, forty-four years ago this week, seven weeks into my American sojourn.

Jim Croce's been pretty much forgotten now, but those songs are still powerfully evocative for me. Here's one of my favorites, a small masterpiece of Northern White Prole songwriting and delivery: the Roller Derby Queen, down in the arena.

There'll be more from Radio Derb next week … if there is a next week …

[Music clip: Jim Croce, "Roller Derby Queen."]