Flashbacks: The frightening truth about the American space program, swimming the Charles River, and the emergence of Boston’s “Juice Bars”


5 Years Ago

August 1, 2003 | Jess Kilby interviewed Bruce Gagnon, of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, about the imperialistic aims of our space program.

Phoenix: Can you tell me a little bit about your organization?

Bruce Gagnon: It was created in 1992, to essentially build a global constituency around the space issue. Most people haven't been and still aren't aware of how space has really become the linchpin of all warfare on earth . . . The recent Iraq war was all coordinated with space technology.

And then, more importantly, [we're concerned with] the plans for putting weapons in space -- and having the US ‘control and dominate’ space is really the agenda of the future.

Q: It’s my understanding that your organization views both the mining and the weaponization of space as harmful things. Are there any uses of space that you advocate, or that you're okay with?

A: Well, actually, there are quite a number of our members around the world who are very much interested in space. Some of them have actually worked in the space industry, at one time or the other. So we're really not opposed to the exploration of space. But our clear position is that, right now, the military industrial complex has taken over the space industry.

If you listen to the new director [of NASA] under Bush, Shawn O'Keefe...he said everything we do at NASA from now on will be dual use meaning every single mission will be both military and civilian at the same time. Because all space technology now really is dual use. So there really is no separation any more between civilian and military. And so to say, ‘Well, we support civilian [uses], but we don't support the military,’ is almost impossible anymore. Because it's all the same thing.


25 Years Ago

August 2, 1983 | Renee Loth swam the Charles River and lived to tell the tale.

"And last Tuesday at about 1 p.m., at least, the water from Forest Grove to Fox Island...was cool, placid -- and delightful. It did not smell. It did not cling to my skin after I climbed out at Fox Island. It did not, to my knowledge, inflict upon me rare jungle diseases or discoloration of my fingernails. It was rather like swimming in a leafy country pond, with the lilies and ducklings and all, except for the everpresent knowledge that my idyll was just a few miles away from an outflow that last year dumped six billion gallons of raw sewage into Boston Harbor. A few miles upstream, of course."


30 Years Ago

August 1, 1978 | At 3:30 on a Saturday morning, Dave O’Brian was sipping on a beer he brought to The Other Side (no relation to the current Newbury Street café), a disco which was operating as a nonalcoholic "juice bar" in order get around closing ordinances.

"...Boston bars are not supposed to be open all night. But the rules that require 2 a.m. closings have specifically to do with the serving of alcoholic beverages, and since June 16 The Other Side has been operating as a non-alcoholic ‘juice bar,’ a type of establishment that is entirely new to the Boston nightclub scene. And while clubowners and licensing authorities differ over whether such clubs can or should adhere to the same rules that govern taverns, The Other Side and an adjacent, smaller room called Penny’s Arcade have been operating under an obscure state statute controlling dance halls. And the only thing that that law prohibits is admitting kids under age 15 if they are not accompanied by adults."


35 Years Ago

July 31, 1973 | With attacks on gay men in Boston on the rise in the summer of ‘73, Charley Lerrigo talked to local gay activist Charles Shively about why so many these crimes were going unreported.

"For Shively, there is an unwritten gay law not to report beatings and robberies. ‘First of all,’ he said, ‘the police aren’t going to do anything except maybe beat you up or hassle you. Secondly, even if the attacker could be found, it’s your word against his, and he can always say you solicited or molested him and he was only defending his manhood.’

"Also, Shively noted that reporting the place of a beating or robbery--if it’s the Block, Fenway, the Other Side, or Esplanade--can result in getting the place closed down. The apparent consensus within the gay community is that while the bar and open-air cruising aren’t the ultimate possibilities for making contact, they’re what does exist, and for the interim, are necessary for the gay life.

" ‘It’s very much like the rape ‘problem,’ ‘ Shively commented. ‘Men have assumed that the best way to prevent rape is by locking women up and have concluded that any woman assaulted is at fault if she isn’t accompanied by a guard or locked up. With faggots, the assumption is first that we are not daily threatened with assault and murder. Secondly, that if we are, it’s our own fault.’ "


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