Booker T. Washington , Dubois and Wotan’s Farewell.

Wagner-Die Walkure-“Leb wohl,du kunhes, herrliches Kind!”

Thomas Munro jr (1915-2003) in 1937 upon graduation from Brooklyn College

I have studied Booker T. Washington and Dubois. Both had a case but it all depends on where you are in your life and who you are. I think Dubois is a rather tragic figure. Let us not forget he left the USA to live in Africa and became a Communist by the end of life. By many measures, Booker T. Washington was a happier and more successul figure in America as an American. Washington adapted to the world in which he lived; I think he accepted the fact that progress in racial relations would take generations. But in the mean time, Washington thought, African Americans have to take personal responsiblity for their education and training and their habits and be economically stable and successful. With economic success other opportunties would come.

Thomas Munro, Jr. as a 1st Lt in Manila during WW2 while serving with the US Army (the Transportation Corps)

My father worked in a slaughter house at night when he was in high school. To do so he had to sacrifice any social life or any sports (even though he had been a soccer star in his native land). This experience had a strong influence on his entire life. He learned to be almost completely self-sufficient and I would say socially isolated.

For example, he chose to have no friendships or social relationships with the workers at the slaughter house with the exception of some older workers who befriended him and looked after him while he slept returning home on the Manhattan to Brooklyn subway at 3AM. He was lucky in that his mother and sister fed him, shopped for any sundries he needed and washed and ironed his clothes. My father turned over HIS ENTIRE paycheck to his mother. She would give him $1.50 so he could see movies and have a small snack.

My father’s chief relaxations were reading, Saturday movies and Sunday baseball games with his father. He usually went alone to the movies. I don’t remember him ever saying he went to baseball games with his friends or alone. He had a few American acquaintences but really he had no intimate friends. This was big change from his early life when he was a popular athlete and had many many close friends. Sadly, he was separated by emigration from most of his close friends and many were killed in WW2. My father’s early life from age 12 was focused almost completely on working to support his family as his father had lost his job in 1932 and did not go back to work until 1937. My father continued his industriousness after high school and studied at Brooklyn College where he graduated in 1937. Soon the war came and but my father continued in his pattern of perseverence. He began miltary service as a E-1 private and worked his way up to corporal and finally an NCO in the MPs. From there he went to OCS and became a 2nd Lt. He went overseas in 1943-46 and rose in rank to 1st Lt. After the war he went to NYU on the GI bill and had a career in business in which he was reasonably successful in achievement a stable career. I think he could have advanced economically much more if he had sacrificed his family life and intellectual life. But he chose to focus on his private family life and his private intellectual life. Others would bar hop or play golf on business trips. My father would read Homer in the original Greek in his hotel rooms in Atlanta. His chief hobbies were opera (listening and collected historial recordings), literature, languages, classic movies, plays and baseball. I think my father was somewhat lonely except for the close friendship with my mother and her friends. In someways he lived the solitary isolated life of a prisoner but he was never bored and I think he was happiest when he escaped into his music and books. We are shaped by our environment and its challenges but we also are shaped by individual choices in how we respond to those challenges. I never once saw my father inebriated. He drank beer and wine but not spirits. He believed in moderation. He smoked cigarettes for about 25 years but quit in his 40s and smoked only cigars. He loved smoking cigars. But on the advice of his doctor he quit cigars also in his 50s. He lived a reasonably long life and a very healthy one until he was 87 when he fell and broke his hip. Thereafter he declined physically but remained mentally sharp until the very end. His very last words were “I think this is the best breakfast I have ever had.” He suffered a stroke and lingered a few days in the hospital. He was listening to Wotan’s farewell (Lieb wohl) in the hospital. I was not present but my sister said he reacted and there were tears falling from his eyes. My father’s last lesson to me is that there is such a thing a a Good Death. If one can say goodbye to one’s loved ones and die without pain and suffering in bed surrounded by loved ones and beautiful music then one can say one has experieced a Good Death.

“Perhaps Washington and DuBois were both right — whether someone chooses education or commerce, the important thing is that there is opportunity in both for anyone willing to put in the hard work to find it.” It all depends on the situation one finds oneself in. As a man who was in his youth a soldier and construction worker paid by the piece and later as a teacher. I found necessity meant I had to get a reasonably paying job immediately. So there are times you have to cast the bucket down where you are. Once I had some savings and had established my credit and had a free and clear car I felt the confidence to make gradual career changes. I took a pay cut to work at a bank. I remember I earned only $7.23 an hour! But the bank meant REGULAR HOURS and FLEX TIME and was across the street from a university. I then spent five years at the bank and had as a goal going back to school for an advanced degree. At first I thought I would get an MBA but then I realized I would prefer something where I could use my love of languages, literature and history. So I got a 5th Year Certification as a k-12 teacher. I was certified in English, Spanish and Social Studies. I thought my multiple certificaiton would make my job transition easier but in fact I had almost no job offers. So I considered job offers ANYWHERE -Alaska, Texas, California and even Australia. And by being open to emigration to a new location I was able to get a steady job. It is all about CHALLENGES and RESPONSE. I could not have made the change WITHOUT having sacrificed and made an investment in my PAPER CREDENTIALS. Of course I could have expanded my paper credentials even more but I had to consider the economic return on investment.

Thomas Munro in retirement later in life circa 1978 aged 63

R.I.P. Vangelis

A giant of electronic/space/soundtrack music has passed away: Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, better known as Vangelis. His music for the movie Chariots of Fire won an Academy Award for Best Score in 1981 (back when Oscars reflected both artistic excellence and popularity).


His first solo album, Earth, was released in 1973, just before his soundtrack to the Frederic Rossif film, L‘Apocalypse Des Animaux. He continued to release solo albums and soundtracks at a regular pace until 2021.

I first became aware of Vangelis via his extraordinary soundtrack to one of my all-time favorite movies, Blade Runner. Rarely has the music matched the visual landscape the way his did for that movie. Set in a dystopian Los Angeles, Vangelis’s themes are a perfect complement to the many moods Ridley Scott evoked in that masterpiece. Unfortunately, his actual soundscapes for the film were never officially released. Curious listeners should seek out a bootleg album called “Blade Runner: Esper Edition“, which compiles all of Vangelis’s music directly from the film.

Another excellent example of his empathetic soundtrack composing talent is Antarctica. His music for Koreyoshi Kurahara’s film is an incredible evocation of snowbound wastes, adventure, open spaces, and timelessness. His compilation album, Themes, is a nice introduction to Vangelis’s best soundtrack work of the 80’s.


One of his best solo albums is El Greco, which is dedicated to the Greek artist who lived and worked in Spain in the late 16th – early 17th centuries. That, and 1984’s Soil Festivities, are masterpieces of melodic electronic music. Vangelis’s gift was to take electronic music and make it sound warm and organic, and both the aforementioned albums are prime examples of that.

El Greco

He could also compose and record very challenging music. His sole album for the Deutsche Grammaphon label, Invisible Connections, is a melding of Anton Weber-like atonality with Tangerine Dream rhythmic drive. His 2001 album, Mythodea, is dedicated to NASA’s Mars Odyssey mission. Scored for a full chorus and orchestra, it is a massive work that, frankly, I find exhausting.

Much more accessible is his final trio of albums, Rosetta, Nocturne, and Juno to Jupiter. Rosetta is dedicated to the European Space Agency’s mission to the Rosetta comet, and it has some of the most moving music he ever composed. Nocturne is a delight – Vangelis revisits some of his most memorable songs and plays them on acoustic piano. Juno to Jupiter is dedicated to the NASA mission of the same name. It features the outstanding vocals of soprano Angela Gheorghiu, and is a terrific summation of all Vangelis has done in his career. Whether intentional or not, it is a perfect final solo album.

Vangelis Trilogy

Finally, we have to acknowledge Vangelis’s most popular music – the albums he recorded with Jon Anderson of Yes. Short Stories, The Friends of Mr. Cairo, and Private Collection are all wonderful examples of prog/space/ambient music. I’ll Find My Way Home from The Friends of Mr. Cairo was a big hit in the U.S. in 1981, but for me, Private Collection is far and away the best music of this fruitful partnership. Every song is a timeless classic, with the epic Horizon closing things out on an incredibly majestic note.

If you aren’t familiar with Vangelis’s music, I hope this post has piqued your interest. He was a towering talent in electronic music and composition, and he will be missed. R.I.P. Vangelis Papathanassíou.

SOC Progcast #2

Hello everyone, welcome to the Spirit of Cecilia Progcast #2. Tad Wert and I host, and we’re thrilled to feature music by The Flower Kings, IZZ, Lifesigns, Tin Spirits, Kevin McCormick, The Tangent, Nosound, NAO, and Airbag. Enjoy!


by Richard K. Munro

I learned a lot about White Privilege from my father an immigrant who worked NIGHTS in the slaughterhouses of NYC where the UN is now.  

 My father worked five nights a week while he was in high school. He wasn’t able to do any activities at school -even date girls- or play sports (he had been a star soccer player in his home country). He did at times fall asleep in Mr. Sullivans 11th grade English class 7th period.  But he never was late to school or missed a single day.  At one time (during the Great Depression) he was the only person working in his household his father having been laid off in 1932.

There were many of his classmates and neighbors who worked in the slaughter houses.  It wore them down and they slept in and missed many classes. Most dropped out.  

Once my father turned in an essay with dark stains on it.  Mr. Sullivan was very angry until to his shock he realized the spots were blood stains from the slaughter house and my father had finished the essay on his break at 100 AM.

My father endured and suffered and worked because

1) he had a loving mother who helped keep him feed and in clean clothes  2) some older men who were co-workers who looked after my father and let him sleep on the subway on the way home at 4AM. 

 My father never asked for any favors. He turned his entire paycheck 1932-1937 to his mother.   He had one advantage -he studied in a Jesuit run k-6 school in Glasgow, Scotland and so learned to read and write in standard English (though English was not his native language) reasonably well.   In Scotland the Headmaster said there were only two choices for him -the Army or the docks.  At that time there was only one Catholic HS in Glasgow. Only the top students and those who studied for the priesthood were admitted.  My grandmother said, “Och no, there’s a third choice. AMERRRICA.”   The reason they came to America was so my father could have a CHANCE at an education.

Class prejudice.   Religious prejudice.   Ethnic prejudice were all things endured by my father -he was from the lowest orders of society Teuchters (Gaelic speaking Highlanders) and Joad-flittin hairstfolk (Migrant Irish farm workers). In addition to that his family was impoverished and forced into emigration to the four winds.   His mother MARY MUNRO lost two brothers, a brother in law, and seven nephews and cousins killed in the Great War.  As a small boy my father visited limbless veterans who were relatives or neighbors.  The died one by one from 1919-1935.

There is a thing called CLASS PRIVILEGE (something Mr Obama had in abundance most of his life) and I suppose there is an advantage to be stubborn and  healthy.   I would prefer to have money and connections over any so-called “WHITE PRIVILEGE” anyday.

But my father was the only person in his family to graduate from high school (Manual Training High School in Brooklyn). and then kept on working and graduated from Brooklyn College.  He enlisted in the US Army in Dec 1941 as a e-1 private.  He worked his way up to E-5 Sergeant in the MPs 1941-1943 then was picked to attend OCS where he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt.  He rose to the rank of 1st Lt (the only officer in the history of our family by the way) and at the end General Sutherland on the recommendation of Gen MacArthur offered him a regular commission as a Captain in the US Army. He often said that if he had been in India in 1890 he would have accepted but he had not seen my mother for almost five years (they were married June 14, 1941).   She did not want to live in a tent in Manila and after all she was already 30 years old in 1946.   My father came home and went to night school at NYU on the GI Bill.  He remained is the US Army Reserve until July 1953.

My father was never a millionaire or an influential person but he was a good father and husband (that was the biggest advantage I had a solid loving family life).  He played ball with me and taught me how to keep score at baseball games,  He never played golf or activities that would keep him from his family. Almost all of our modest vacations were family vacations though I remember once we stayed at my grandmother’s apartment when they went on a cruise to Bermuda in 1962.  He was a remarkable autodidact. He taught himself ANCIENT GREEK, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN.  In high school in NY he studied FRENCH,  GERMAN and LATIN. He read all the great Italian authors, Greek authors, German authors, Latin authors, French authors in the original.  He had an advantage because his Scots dialect helped him with German and his Gaelic helped him with French.  During WW2 he was stationed in Puerto Rico, Lousiana and Texas.    He taught himself Spanish. He was then sent to the Pacific Theater and 1944 -1946 was in the Phillippines in the Transporation Corps.  He commanded a company of US soldiers and a batallion of Pinoy (Filipino) cargadores who only spoke Tagalog so he learned Tagalog.  They called him  Mbuti Teniente the Good Lieutenant. One of the things his did was make sure the workers got ice cold Coca Cola at least once a week and he would never drink his until each man had got his drink.  Then he would take a break and joke and talk to the cargadores or sometimes the local priests (one who was Irish from Glasgow and the other was Spanish). 

While in the army my father, who was a natural teacher, tutored African-American soldiers with the help of an Irish-American chaplain and a local African-American minister and his wife. My father believed if given a chance those men could improve and learn.  Many of his men later became NCOs some became ministers!  He risked his commission but the Commanding officer , the Chaplain and the local community backed him up and he was given a recommendation at the end.  The men were very grateful. When he was overseas from time to time some of his former soldiers would vist him if they happened to be in the area.  Challenge and response. An individual choice to help others and individual choice to take advantage to improve oneself. Most progressed but my father said some used the free time to goof off. That’s human nature.

My father was the Entertainment officer for his Batallion and so he would pick the movies so one of his things he would do would invite people to see his movies.    One of the persons who saw movies with him was ROBERT MONTGOMERY whom he knew in the war.  My father had a signed picture of Montgomery which said TO MY FRIEND TOM MUNRO FROM BOB MONTGOMERY.  My father also arranged for General MacArthur to see Laurence Oliver’s HENRY V in technicolor.  My father had the only technicolor copy in the Pacific (Eisenhower saw it in Black and White by the way).   

So my father briefly met Generall MacArthur and used to tell some stories about him.   MacArthur, after inspecting his base said to my father, “MUNRO that’s a fine old Scotch name isn’t it?  It isn’t Italian!”  My father saluted and said, “NOT AS OLD AND DISTINGUISHED as the NAME MACARTHUR”.  Old Mac cracked a smile.

 My father taught me that to be happy and successful

#1 thing is working hard consistently while being on time and reliable 

#2 try to get along with people . Be polite and not too sensitive.

#3 treat all people with respect ESPECIALLY the poor, women and children. My father also said “never date a girl who wouldn’t be a good mate.” My father said one of the most important decisions in you life is choosing a good life partner. If you are lucky you can have a nice family and many years of trust and companionship. My father and mother were married for 59 1/2 years and separated only by war and death.

#4 never seek a fight but don’t shun it if it is forced on you.  Some people want to fight or steal and so sometimes you have to fight back. You might not always win but you will make the bad guy think twice about tangling with you. Keep your doors and windows locked at night and have a plan if someone breaks in.

#5 live your life with honor. He often said, “this is the only life you have this side of paradise so don’t be an SOB.” 

 #6 ifyou drink alcohol drink in moderation -booze can destroy your mind, your character and your health. I never saw my father drunk at anytime.   At ball games he NEVER had even one beer if he had to drive.  He liked coffee and cokes.  He bought me my first drink when I was 18 (a whisky sour).  He told me “don’t like it too much and have only one now and again.”    MODERATION.

#7 ECONOMICS: primary rule of economics is SCARCITY. You have only a limited about of time and money. Spend both wisely. SHARE (Charity) SPEND and SAVE.  Be generous but never spend your bottom dollar.  He gave to educational and religious charities.  He often gave people magazines and used books (paperbacks) to read (especially children).  I am very glad I grew up with books. Gilbert Highet was not on any college reading list but I read many books he passed on to me. He never denigrated my love for baseball books. He said you should read serious books and also light books for fun. He had a 1954 Ford (free and clear for over 20 years) .  He never spent money on fancy cars.  I think the fanciest car he ever had was a 1972 Chrysler New Yorker.  It was still running in 1988 and had over 200,000 miles. 

#8 My father was interested in societal problems. In the late 1950s there were some people who did not want to sell homes to non-White families. My father said: “I would not want just anybody to live in my neighborhood either. But anyone who could afford to pay rent or pay for a mortgage in this town is welcome to me.”   My father was convinced the number one reason for increased black poverty and educational gaps was due to an enormous rise of black single-mother families (25% circa 1965 and today over 70%) and  a destructive chaotic vein of ghetto culture. A lack of a strong family structure, a lack of discipline and moderation made the education of many youths problematic and at risk. My father did not have all the answers. He said some things cannot be known and some problems are endemic and can never be completely solved. But he did believe children need to have a safe and orderly home life and school.   Our home was always a remanso de paz -a haven of peace full of music, books and some beautiful objects (mostly reproductions) but some original art or handcrafts. We never had more than one television and my wife and I have followed that. The difference is that today everyone has a laptop and phone. But still we all watch certain things together such as the CBS news TVE news (Spain) and Jeopardy. We share the TV. In my library I listen to the radio (mostly ballgames)or podcasts.

All his life my father was worried about

1) being jobless 2) not having enough to eat 3) being homeless. He knew comrades of my grandfather (from the Great War) who never got their lives together and who would have been homeless without my grandfather’s help and generosity. One was his nephew Jimmy Quiqley. Jimmy (whom my father and first cousin knew well) was 16 when he enlisted in 1914. He served the entire war in the infantry and saw hundreds of days of heavy combat. He saw friends killed. He killed. He was buried alive at one point. During the war he began to drink and smoke. It is sad. He survived the war but never had a steady job and never married. He died in the early 1950s in New York and was buried in Long Island near his aunt my grandmother.

My father never cooked in his entire life EXCEPT he knew how to make 1) a pot of fresh coffee or tea (very hot) 2) how to open a can of tomato soup 3) he knew how to make  toasted cheese sandwich with sliced tomato. 4) he knew how to make a toasted English muffin with butter and marmalade.  He used to do those things if his mother, sister or my mother were out shopping.  Otherwise he never went to the refrignerator or kitchen.  He did not like to waste food.  Sometimes he brought home food from business lunches or business parties.  He brought home the high quality plastic forks and knives and washed them for his personal use at home.  He always washed his own dishes and if necessary his own clothes.  He vacuumed the house on the weekend and thought nothing of moping the floor and helping out in the garden and taking out the garbage. But I did learn to cook a little from my mother and this helped me be independent. But my father never had a barbecue and rarely camped out. He did rent cabins for vacations in the 1950s and 1960s. But the only picnics he ever went on with his father were hotdogs at Ebbets field or Yankee stadium with his father.

I used to call my father on the phone 1973-1992 and the first thing he said was “HOW’S YOUR WEE JO-AB (job).” 

He figured if I was still working I would be in good health and things couldn’t be so bad”

I would pay a million dollars if I could talk to him now only for five minutes. But I have no regrets my father and I corresponded for years and talked on the phone or in person thousands of times. I still enjoy reading his comments in some of books and the occasional letter I find in a book. I have been retired now for almost a year. My father would be proud of me because I am reading Latin every day and studying Modern Greek about one hour a day every day via Duolingo. I have learned the Greek alphabet and have the goal of studying ancient Greek so I can read Homer and the New Testament. I have a small Greek library I inherited from my father upon his passing in 2003 (including an interlinear NT) and I preserved them for some future ocassion. My father said “Greek is a door that opens straight to paradise. ”  Sophocles wrote “For these things live not today or yesterday, but for all time.” I do find study of ancient literature a sweet distraction.

The other day my son called me and said how lucky he was to have a good role model in me and the older he got the more he appreciated the sacrifices I made for his education but especially the example of always loving and respecting and cherisihng his mother. I didn’t say anything but I knew my father who lived to see my son graduate from ASU would be very proud of his grandson as I am. It is good to know someone of our splendid ancient heritage has been passed on to a new generation

My father felt prejudices and racism were part of the human condition. He felt, however, they could be palliated if not ended gradually via intermarriage and societial integration and assimilation.   So he was reasonably optimistic about the future of America.

But my father also said said people will ALWAYS be prejudiced in favor of  BEAUTIFUL, YOUNG SLIM and RICH PEOPLE over ugly fat  old and poor  people.   

Some people will always have insider advantage and privileges.  That’s life.  RANK HATHS ITS PRIVILEGES.  Officers will have it better than enlisted.  College professors have it easier over k-12 teachers.

Some people will always hate and resent Jews or some other groups

The best we can hope for my father said is like the ancient Roman Coin CONCORDIA et PAX  Harmony of peoples and peace.

The best we can hope for is  Honoring citizens OB CIVES SERVATOS For Saving the Citizens)

All people could become citizens of Rome even Africans Jews, Greeks or Galatians.  There are many questions that can never be solved.

Some things can be cured but instead must be endured.   But one must guard one’s health and cultivate one’s own garden. With luck one can find some tranquility and happiness.

Gazpacho’s Fireworking at St. Croix

The deluxe edition available from

The trajectory (that is, the insanity) went something like this. 

I bought the Gazpacho cd, Fireworking at St. Croix, and I was so taken with it, I ordered the blu-ray of the same title, which also includes a Soyuz (previous album) concert, three interviews, and some extras.  This wasn’t enough, however.  I was so taken with the blu-ray that I ordered the deluxe edition earbook which includes the CD (now expanded to two discs), the DVD, the blu-ray, all in a specially-packaged hardback book. 

Ok, let me be totally honest.  To be sure, the trajectory didn’t go just “something like this,” it went exactly like this.  Now, I proudly own three versions of the same release.  My home office just reeks of Fireworking at St. Croix!

My Gazpacho intensity actually goes back to 2007 when the band released one of the most epic of all third-wave prog releases, Night.  I have no idea how many times I’ve listened to Night.  It numbers well into the 100s, ranking up there with listens of Talk Talk, Big Big Train, and Rush.  Since 2007, I have happily bought and collected every single Gazpacho album, studio as well as live, past, present, and, it seems, future.

I’ve listened to each album multiple times—too many to be counted, really—and I’ve somehow absorbed this Norwegian art-rock band into my very self.  They actually refer to themselves as an anti-band, but, nonetheless, a band they are.

As it turns out—as I learned from the interviews on Fireworking at St. Croix—the band sees all of its release since Night as a single whole, each a part of a connected universe, a “Gazpacho-verse.”  Combining Christian, pagan, and Darwinian imaginary and themes, the band seems to revel in a sort of mystic Gnosticism (lyrically speaking) and delightfully complex musical structures.

Fireworker (the studio album) and its live release, Fireworking at St. Croix, follow the story of the Fireworker, a sort of demon that both animates and dominates man.  He, the Fireworker, is a sort of parasite as well as a lifeforce, guiding as well as riding evolution. 

As noted above, the band’s lyrics tend to be rather Gnostic (but in a fun way).  They’re also always mythic and thoughtful.

I’ve had Fireworking at St. Croix (in one form or another) since its release in the U.S., and I’ve been listening and watching it almost non-stop.  There is a lot of great music out there, but this is really some of the best of the best.

Now, if I can only get to Europe and watch the band live. . .

To order the deluxe version, go to