Blues for the Bagman


Boston lost one of its best and most underrated lecturers last week.

A dedicated environmentalist, Robert Karl Deger often left his audiences off-balance and wide-eyed with his openness and ability to stop you right in your tracks with his wit. Yet when he took time to lecture groups of Harvard students, Deger never got the attention he deserved.

His exhortations about the environment and corruption in our society were at least as true and relevant as any uttered by Ralph Nader or Euell Gibbons, yet he was often sneered or laughted at.

It just goes to prove that some of the most sincere and useful lectures to be heard around Boston are not always given by Harvard professors or Washington hucksters. Deger, better known as Bob the Bagman by those who frequent the Boston Commons or the Stone Soup Gallery in Boston's West End, was at one time a nuclear engineer for the federal government. Last week he died, 55 years old and homeless after roaming Boston for five years as a "street bum."

Most of us try to dodge these "Shopping Bag Preachers" who spice the Squares of Boston and Cambridge. They are often spooky looking old men and we are afraid they will ask us for money or ask us to return to Jesus. But often the most disenchanted with society and isolated from the "Reality" we live have a lot to say. Bob the Bagman sure did. Stop and listen some time--hell, its cheaper than the Law Forum.

As for campus and Cambridge lectures for the rest of this month, there really isn't much to be done.

A lecture tomorrow at the Harvard Med School will give you a great chance to brush up on bestiality at a seminar on "Courtship Behavior in Different Species," featuring Dr. Antonio Asturias, Professor of Sex Education (no lie), at the U. of San Carlos, Guatemala City, Guatemala. Go to 45 Shattuck St. and moon a monkey for me.

Probably related to this lecture in some perverse sense is a Surgical Research Conference seminar Monday, Jan. 16 on "Hazards in the Use of PEEP." You can get a peep at PEEP in Room A of the Grossberg Building at Beth Israel Hospital at a quarter of five that last day of reading period.

And finally, the only serious item (to me) among these listings. The Cambridge Forum will continue their "America in the Year 2000" series each Wednesday this month and next with a lecture Jan. 18 on "The Arts in the Year 2000" at the First Parish in Cambridge, at 3 Church Street.

Happy finals and don't let your PEEP poop.