Volume 74, Number 51 | April 27 - May 03 , 2005

’BAI benefit at Side Walk

Villager photos by Clayton Patterson
Tuli Kupferberg
Poets, performers and radio-show producers were the attraction at Side Walk on Avenue A last Friday for a fundraiser for WBAI radio. Tuli Kupferberg of Fugs fame and Soho entertained with a “Miscegenation Rap” and some biting anti-Bush verse. Professor Louie did his thing in spoken word about fighting “corporate powers” and remembering the vendor who sells knishes on the boardwalk in Coney Island. Steven Ben Isreal also from Soho did a sketch about people impatiently waiting on line for service at the Canal St. post office and other “groovy,” Living Theater-inspired performance pieces that brought back the spirit — “If I could free your wretched minds” — of the ’60s. WBAI producer Robert Knight bemoaned how he’s getting no respect from the station’s current management. Singer Paula Valstein wowed the crowd with her soulful stylings — which she momentarily interrupted for a few words on Israel, during which Aron “Yippie Pie Man” Kay shouted out if she had a problem with the Israeli security wall then they didn’t have a problem with her. The host of the whole affair was WBAI’s Bob Fass. Despite the good feelings at the benefit, the radio station’s contentious atmosphere was also palpable in the bar. Paul DeRienzo, a WBAI board member who recently lost his show to another producer, vented to The Villager that “a small group of commie fascists,” a faction of the Workers’ World Party, have taken over the station and board. Knight walked by DeRienzo as he was standing near the bar talking to a reporter, greeting DiRienzo in passing. “That’s the first time he’s said anything to me in four years,” DeRienzo said, noting it was probably only because he was “speaking to the press.”

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