Connect with us
March 2023
Vol. 22, No. 6
32nd Annual San Diego Music Awards

Recordially, Lou Curtiss

Lou Gets Political

by Lou CurtissNovember 2012

I’ve tried to keep politics out of these columns but if you knew something about my background, you’d know that isn’t always possible. At any rate, these words are mine alone and not necessarily the views of this publication (although if they had good sense they would be). My grandfather, George Sprey Curtiss was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies, the IWW) and he worked as a union organizer in the sawmills between Everett and Marysville, Washington. He was murdered by sawmill gun thugs as part of the Everett massacre killings (look it up). My grandad knew Joe Hill and Harry MacClintock and played on the streets with them (he played mandolin and guitar). I never knew my Grandfather as he departed the scene here before I arrived. My dad, George Sherwood Curtiss, was also a Union organizer for the CIO in the 1930s (also in the sawmills). He went into electrical work and was involved in the Electrical Workers Union in the 1940s, worked for the Henry Wallace for president campaign in 1948 (when I was nine years old; I remember handing out Wallace and Taylor buttons at union hall meetings. One of my Dad’s organizations was the Greater Commonwealth Federation of Washington State. They were the ones who came up with the term Hootenanny to describe a gathering of folksingers (mostly singing protest-type songs). After the word got so commercialized during the Great Folk Scare of the ’50s and ’60s my Dad always claimed he had voted to call them Wing Dings and that term came in second. Dad played the harmonica and collected old time country records. In the early ’50s me, my dad and mom, and two sisters came to California. I got involved in politics in 1958 working for a Democrat running for assembly in the South Bay. After some time in New York (where I ran away to become a folksinger in early 1959 and was getting exposed to New York leftie politics, mostly from Israel Young and Dave Van Ronk) I arrived in San Diego in the spring of 1960 and became involved with the John Kennedy campaign (Young Democrats, Youth for Kennedy, etc.). I quit the party (the Democrats) in the Johnson years over the Vietnam war. I spent some time in the South as a civil rights worker (with the Student Nonviolent Coördinating Committee) and back in San Diego with the Students for a Democratic Society. I opened Folk Arts Rare Records in July 1967 and sort of drifted back into the Democratic Party and that’s where I am today — on the left fringe of the Democrats to be sure but still a Democrat (if you need anymore on my politics check out the Louis F Curtiss Facebook page and the various comments I’ve made there). Saying all the above, there are a few candidates I want to talk about and give you my side of the story.

First, if you haven’t already voted, get off your collective BUTTS and get to the polls. And while you are at it, vote a straight Democratic ballot. Most of the candidates running I don’t have to talk about. Yeah, in some cases it’s the lesser of two evils, but in most every case in our area, the right-wing jerk is mostly the Republican and the person with a head on their shoulders is the Democrat. The person who wants to take away funding for the Arts is always the Republican and if you want someone to pay attention it’s always the Democrat.

From age 12 I grew up in Imperial Beach and so did the Brian Bilbray family. They all were surfer bums and not even classy ones (the word was out that if you wanted somewhat questionable chemical enlightenment you went to a Bilbray). Brian got into politics about the same time I was somewhat involved and from the start I thought he was a jerk. (I’m not sure if he is, but I thought he was.) He’s bounced in and out of various offices, and jobs as lobbyist for some very sleazy businesses (when he’s in office he votes the sleazy business’s agenda, certainly not the people’s). My aunt used to say she was a Republican because only the class were Republicans. I used to tell her, “Yeah, sore whores are classier than others.” Brian Bilbray is one of those who tries to be a classy whore, but it’s the people in his district who are getting screwed.

Now to the mayors race. I’ve known Bob Filner since his days at San Diego State. He’s a good Progressive Liberal and will be a great mayor. This DeMaio guy is just so much of what the bull left after lunch. His 401K plan to replace pensions leaves lots of folks who have retired with the chance that the plan will go bust and so will they. A pension guarantees a regular paycheck coming in. There are no guarantees with a 401K.
Even you folks in overwhelming Republican districts should put a Democratic bug up the rear of guys like Issa, and Hunter to keep them as honest as it is possible for a Republican to be. That’s not too honest but what can you do?

I’m still looking over the ballot propositions. I do know the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove put over four million in to the Yes on Prop 32 union-busting measure. It would be a sad day for working people and Democrats if that passed. Prop 30 seems to have the best interests of schools in mind and that’s good. We certainly need more arts and music in our schools and this would cover some of that.

So that’s it. Get out and vote if you haven’t already cast an absentee ballot. I’ll see you at the polls.

Lou Curtiss

Continue Reading