Broken Turtle Blog

Broken Turtle Blog

Monday, January 14, 2019

Eulogy for Vic Sadot
Presented at his Celebration of Life
Ashland Nature Center
Hockessin, Delaware
January 13, 2019
by Phillip Bannowsky
Vic Sadot
July 21, 1947-October 6, 2018

Vic Sadot’s musical career is charted beautifully by his brother Rob in his remarks and obituary, from Vic’s founding of the Americana and folk-rock Crazy Planet Band to its re-incarnation as the Cajun-Zydeco Planete Folle, and we learn how Vic so often performed at events in the struggle for peace and social justice. I’d like to fill in a little with what I know about the political activism integral to his musical career. When I’m done, we’d like anyone else who has something to share about any aspect or incident in Vic’s life to come forward.
Victor Rene Sadot. “Vic,” was a musician, writer, publisher, social worker, disc-jockey, autoworker, and above all a revolutionary patriot. A son of an autoworker who had come to America after his French home had been force to quarter Nazi soldiers, Vic shared his father’s love for his adopted home, in spite of the economic insecurities of working class life. It is rumored (and now verified by his brother Rob) that he even led the Young Republicans at the University of Delaware. However, like so many of us from of that era, he was badly disillusioned as the truth about America’s aggression in Viet Nam came to light and as peace and black liberation struggles met with repression, but he was inspired by the protest, folk, and rock music of the era and by the first principles of America’s founding mothers and fathers. A 1968 article in The Review, official student newspaper at the university, lists Vic Sadot as a speaker at a rally opposing the firing of Professors Rob Bresler and Al Myers. A year later, Vic was named “Outstanding Senior” at a Student Government Association banquet where then Governor Russell Peterson castigated students who disrupted classes. Inside scoop: Peterson’s son was a conscientious objector and member of Students for a Democratic Society.
I remember really getting to know Vic in Washington DC at a peace demonstration in the early seventies. Around that time Vic and his brothers Joe and Rob had been arrested at the Fort Belvoir Army base in Virginia for leafleting the troops during an Armed Forces “Open to the Public Day.” He was the public, an American citizen, and whether they liked it or not he was going to act in the spirit of the nation’s founders. Joe, by the way, used to publish a satirical newsletter called The Crazy Planet, hence the name of Vic’s band.
Back to what the founders had to say, their words inspired Vic to become an organizer for the Delaware People’s Bicentennial Commission, a group founded by Jeremy Rifkin that crashed various official parties put on in 1975 and 1976 and applied what founding patriots like Thomas Paine said about King George to the corporate kings who had taken over. Vic recruited me and about a dozen others to shake thinks up in the Company State. Once, the city of Newark held a public bicentennial-slash-renaissance fair celebration, and of course Vic and the rest of us showed up to exercise our free-speech rights, but they tried to kick us out, trying to claim it was actually private. The brouhaha revealed that one of the City Council members had a financial interest in the event, even though she hoped that news would not be made public, but that’s your corporate Queens for you. We had a lot of fun in PBC, a somewhat gonzo operation in Delaware, where Vic set the tone.
Ovelapping somewhat with these activities, Vic began working for Chrysler in Newark and was one of the founding members of what we called the Progressive Movement, a rank-and-file faction of the United Automobile Workers Local 1183 that agitated for civil rights, women’s rights, safety, union democracy, and a return to the union’s first principles.  In fact, Vic inspired one of our first campaigns, the distribution of Labor’s Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais. Vic wrote a review in the Progressive Movement’s newsletter, and we managed to sell maybe a dozen copies. These stories of radical agitators who built the labor movement had a positive influence on the political environment at Newark Assembly where several of us eventually won union office, although after Vic left.
One day while we were passing out our newsletter at the front gate, a couple of guys from the leading faction showed up, clearly looking for trouble, but we can’t completely blame them for what happened. We had been on a short strike a couple weeks before and Lyndon Larouche’s phony U.S. labor party showed up claiming that the strike was a plot by the C.I.A., that they were members of the University’s SDS chapterthey were not—that they had many of their members in the plantthey did notand they were taking over. Long story short, these two union guys tried to tear the flyers out of Vic’s hands and throw him over the rail, where most certainly he would have broken some bones. Vic pulled away, fortunately, and started explaining to the guy rationally how we were union brothers simply expressing our opinions blah blah, but these guys had got themselves good and drunk to elevate their courage and suppress their rational thinking. In 1979, Vic expanded into publishing. Carrying on the tradition begun by the late 60s Heterodoxical Voice and the early 70s Purgatory Swamp Press, in 1979 Vic founded the Delaware Free Press, changed to Delaware Alternative Press after the first issue was hit with a cease and desist. Somebody had already trademarked the name.
Soon after that, Vic joined the editorial board for the historic BroadsideSing Out Magazine, the famous mimeographed music mag from New York that printed words and music by topical singers from Woody Guthrie to Steve Forbert to Phil Ochs. In 1982, Vic republished in Broadside an article he wrote for the Delaware Alternative Press called “Phil Ochs’ FBI File.”
Vic was the ideal musicologist to host the “Freewheeling Roots Show” on the University of Delaware’s radio station in the early nineties. He brought the spirit of Phil Ochs to Delaware’s airwaves, the spirit of “The Broadside Balladeer,” to quote the title of Vic’s tribute song to Phil.
Over the years Vic contributed his music, analysis, and activism to numerous environmental and social justice issues, from the campaign to “Save White Clay CreekDon’t Dam it” to the struggle against the suppression of Dupont: Behinnd the Nylon Curtain, by Gerald Colby Zilg, to intervening to help fellow workers at the Newark Food Coop, to the struggle for Democracy and Independence in Haiti, to Save the Whales and to the dangers of Fukushima.
Vic saw countless deceptions and outrages emanating from the national security state that ruled the country he loved, from the assassination of JFK to Gulf of Tonkin incident to the Saddam’s missing weapons of mass destruction. Accordingly, Vic took on the mantle of “the Truth Troubadour” on behalf of the 9-11 truth movement, which holds that the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon was a false flag operation. He composed and recorded dozens of songs on the topic such as “The Ballad of Pat Tillman,” “Cheney’s in the Bunker,” and “Trouble in the Rubble.” These songs can all be found under Vic Sadot on YouTube.
We lost touch somewhat after he moved to California in 2008, but his name was always coming up in reports from the barricades. Vic had always kept up the struggle, even when he was struggling with his own troubles. Who knew he’d find peace in Berzerkely?
I recently learned that Vic had joined the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, where he of course became chair of their social justice committee. I had always known him as a non-believer in religious mythology. We had been business partners painting houses in one period and roommates in another, and we had many discussions about science, politics, and free-thinking. Still, I think how Vic felt can be described in the words he applied to his brother Joe Sadot, who died in 1978 at the age of 26. In Vic’s introduction to Green Leaves, the collected literary and sketch work of Joe’s, Vic wrote:  “He rejected supernatural spiritualism, but he embraced the natural spiritualism of awe and reverence for the mysteries of life and the intimacies of love and comradery.”
Before I call on friends and family to share their memories, I’d like us all to remember Vic and those of his family who have passed on in the tradition practiced by South American revolutionaries who would call roll for their fallen comrades. After each name, all assembled would call out “presente,” meaning the fallen are still present in their works and in our hearts. Let’s try it first with Phil Ochs. I say his name and you say “Presente! loud.”
Phil Ochs: Presente!
We’ll begin with Vic’s father, then his mother, his brother, and himself.
Jean Sadot: Presente!
Eleanor Sadot: Presente!
Joe Sadot: Presente!
Vic Sadot: Presente!


1 comment:

  1. I knew who Vic was at the University of Delaware, as he had gotten himself elected to student government, so he was a "big man on campus." Initially a member of a conservative [Republican] student group called Young Americans for Freedom, he became a liberal/progressive after realizing that USA gov't was lying about the Vietnam War. All the SDSers [radical leftists] heard about it: we were, (like), hey, Vic is on OUR side now !!

    As he told it, "the lies have never stopped" since that time until now.

    Though I didn't know him personally at UDel, we became best buddies after he moved to Berkeley, CA, in 2008. Sad that he is no longer with us.

    Best, Charles Mark [Creek-water] Dorazio, former Delaware resident.