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Sun Oct 20, 2019, 12:00 AM

Woody Guthrie lived in a Brooklyn building managed by Fred Trump and wrote a song about how.....

woody guthrie lived in a Brooklyn building managed by fred trump and wrote a song about how much he hated it


A Story About Fred Trump and Woody Guthrie for the Midterm Elections

In 1950, Woody Guthrie moved into an apartment at Beach Haven, a cluster of sixteen residential buildings in Gravesend, Brooklyn, just a few minutes from the creaky boardwalk and frankfurter stands at Coney Island Beach. The complex was owned and operated by Fred Trump, which means that, for the two years Guthrie lived and wrote there, Trump was his landlord. It remains unsettling to accept that their signatures co-exist on the same lease agreement.

In the nineteen-seventies, Fred Trump was accused by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department of creating a “substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity” at Beach Haven; it appeared that he didn’t like to rent apartments to black people. (The case was eventually settled.) The complex’s reputation hasn’t improved much in the intervening decades. In 2016, Beach Haven, which is now operated by Beach Haven Apartments Associates, was fined for dumping two hundred thousand gallons of untreated sewage into Coney Island Creek each day. It is the largest fine that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has ever levied against an apartment building for the mishandling of human waste.

Guthrie didn’t much like the place—he took to calling it “Bitch Havens” in his correspondence—and, in 1954, he wrote a delightfully scornful song about Trump’s discriminatory rental policies. Several handwritten drafts of the lyrics—sometimes titled “Beach Haven Race Hate,” “Beach Haven Ain’t My Home,” and “Old Man Trump”—are presently on display at the Woody Guthrie Center, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Will Kaufman, a professor of American literature and culture at the University of Central Lancashire, in Britain, was the first researcher to discover the lyrics in Guthrie’s considerable archive. (Guthrie never recorded or published the song.) Earlier this week, I went to see them in person. The first verse is explicit in its indictments:

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
He stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line

In his best songs, Guthrie is equally seized by feelings of outrage and hope. Listening to his records is still my favorite way to remember that those feelings can productively and even beneficially co-exist—that the former doesn’t necessarily have to eradicate the latter. Guthrie clung to an optimistic belief in the generosity and decency of all human beings. In the end, he believed, we would surely do right by one another. In 2013, Jay Farrar, Jim James, Will Johnson, and Anders Parker recorded a version of an unfinished Guthrie song called “Hoping Machine,” for a tribute record called “New Multitudes”:

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Reply Woody Guthrie lived in a Brooklyn building managed by Fred Trump and wrote a song about how..... (Original post)
steve2470 Oct 20 OP
crickets Oct 20 #1

Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Sun Oct 20, 2019, 03:19 PM

1. K&R for Woody nt

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