Category Archives: Bull Connor

Hot Air

Abbie Hoffman: An Oldie But Goodie

I thought I’d run an old chestnut from my days as a keyboard clacker for The Third City this AM. I’m doing this because I feel lazy as hell and I’ve got about 2300 other things to do. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past.

[Originally published in The Third City, February 2nd, 2010.]

Big Mike: Fight The Power(less)

I knew I was a liberal after watching Bull Connor’s thugs knock the crap out of civil rights protesters in Selma, Alabama in 1963. I was seven years old at the time. I knew I was a rebel after reading Mad magazine a few years later when I was ten. I knew where my sympathies lay after Martin Luther King was bumped off and and West Siders tried to light their shitty ghetto on fire in response. I knew whose side I was on when Chicago cops were fracturing skulls in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel.

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The 1968 Democratic Convention In Chicago

So I’ve known from the earliest age that I’d never, ever want to be part of the bully crowd, the gang with badges and guns and respectability, pillars of the community, the backbone, the bedrock, the silent majority of this holy land. From all I could see, those people could turn into mean bastards in the snap of a finger when, in their fever dreams, they saw niggers, broads, queers, and pinkos plotting to sap and impurify all their precious bodily fluids.

From the age of nine on, I knew that those in power had to be defied, ridiculed and distrusted. For my money, it was better to piss all over their shoes than to shine them. When I was fourteen years old, I found a voice and a face for my nascent philosophy. His name was Abbot Howard Hoffman of Worcester, Massachusetts. The world knew him as Abbie.

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Abbie

He was the fun guy, the sex symbol some said, of the Chicago Eight. The Big Boys in in Washington and Chicago (appropriately enough, led by a couple of Dicks — Nixon and Daley) needed to string some people up for wrecking the Democrats’ bash in ’68 and for saying what pretty much everyone else with a cerebrum knew: that the Vietnam War was nuts. So US Attorneys threw darts at a list of radicals and came up with eight names to persecute and prosecute. Abbie was the star of that cast.

The war, segregation, corporate oligarchies and the rest might have pissed him off, but Abbie rarely lost his mischievous grin. Once, standing before a mass march of some 50,000 anti-war protesters outside the Pentagon, he directed them to marshal all their “psychic energy” to levitate the building. It didn’t work but he gave it a good try. Later, he and some cohorts stood in the visitors’ gallery above the New York Stock Exchange and tossed handfuls of cash on the trading floor, causing a mini riot as people scrambled to grab the fluttering dough.

During the Democratic convention protests, he and Jerry Rubin nominated a pig — whom they’d named Pigasus — for president. The pig lost. I think.

J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI file on Abbie ran to 13,262 pages.

Abbie mixed a joie with his rage. He was my hero. I even gave myself the nickname Abbey (yeah, I inadvertently misspelled it — sue me, I was 14.) I tried to grow my hair out like his — tough to do while trying to remain within the confines of a suburban, Catholic, college prep school appearance code. Had I been able to find an American flag shirt, I’d have worn it; of course, this was before wearing an American flag shirt became a statement for the entirely opposite reason.

When Abbie was found dead of a phenobarbitol overdose (he battled bipolar disorder) I mourned. The rabbi at his funeral said Abbie’s life’s work was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

That’s why some recent news has made my ears turn red. A quartet of little masturbation artists was busted down in New Orleans for impersonating telephone repairmen and sneaking into Sen. Mary Landrieu‘s office. They wanted to tap into her phone system illegally. They say their little prank was justified for moral and ethical reasons. Landrieu’s sin? She supports health care reform.

The four are part of a burgeoning movement of right wing college students who employ capers, hijinks, dirty tricks, entrapment, and guerrilla journalism to fight the forces who are destroying this holy nation. You know, those who push for universal health care, speak out against racism and sexism, and community organizers — terrorists of the worst sort.

You may recall one of the four as the guy who dressed up as a pimp and entered an ACORN office, phony street hooker in tow, looking for a small business grant. The ACORN representative, unwittingly (and suspiciously stupidly), went along with the scam. The right wing world, naturally, saw the isolated incident as a broad indictment of.., um…, I guess community organizations. You know, groups that try to help the little guy, the bastards.

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James O’Keefe And Accomplice

Anyway, the financier behind this homunculus’s campaigns, a wealthy right winger, has compared his work to that of Abbie Hoffman.

Those are fighting words. Look at the mugshots of the four and you’ll see the faces of privilege. They’re well-fed, smug, and awfully pale. They’ve gone to to best schools. They have bright futures in the corporate world — even if they now carry felony raps. They have as much to do with Abbie Hoffman as they do with Moe, Larry and Shemp (who, I recall, also impersonated telephone repairmen in one of their shorts.)

They’re fighting for the bullies of this world, which in my book makes them uber-bullies. They afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable. I hope they enjoy their stay in state prison.

I’m still an Abbie guy, even if hyenas like the New Orleans four try to hijack his legacy.

At the ripe old age of 52, last year, as Barack Obama was being sworn in as 44th President of the United States, I realized I still walked the path with my old idol.

My feelings were mixed as I watched the inauguration. I was giddy that a brown human being had reached the White House. But I was also scared to death that some member of this nation’s racial majority, some lover of status quo, some idolator of guns and badges, certain that pillars of the community and its leaders should have pale skin, would aim a rifle at Obama. If anybody bumps this guy off, I swore to myself, I’m gonna go out with a baseball bat and make some fuckers pay.

It’s what Abbot Hoffman would have thought. Radical? Sure. Unreasonable? Hell no. Thanks Abbie.

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Sunday Morning Hot Air

Hit Or Myth?

The brutal murder of Matthew Shepard back in 1998 really kicked Americans into high gear to begin accepting gay people.

Shepard

Matthew Shepard

Before Matthew Shepard, most straight people in this holy land (that is, pretty much most people) shrugged when the issue of gay rights came up. After Matthew, only hard-core haters and fundamentalist zombies found it acceptable to heap scorn upon homosexuals. Without Matthew Shepard, gay marriage probably would have been an easy ten years down the road rather than the expanding right it is today.

The young University of Wyoming student’s execution was the equivalent of Bull Connor’s police dogs and fire hoses being used against black civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama in May 1963.

Shepard Fence

Crime Scene

The kid’s death became a touchstone for anyone who wanted to declare her- or himself a supporter of GLBTQ concerns or, for that matter, any minority group. Just saying the name Matthew Shepard and shaking your head sadly communicated to one and all where you stood on a huge variety of issues.

If ever there was a martyr, it was Matthew Shepard.

Now comes a book that portrays Shepard’s killing as revenge for a drug deal gone bad.

The Book of Matt posits that Shepard was a meth user and a mule. The author suggests he’d screwed up an associate’s deal and was whacked for it.

Sounds like a history-jumbling invention by some holy roller who is certain homosexuality will be the downfall of Murrica. The book could have been written by one of the thankfully dead Andrew Breitbart’s apostles or Jerome Corsi or some paranoiac loon from World Net Daily.

Google the words matthew shepard book and take a wild guess what comes up first (below the obligatory ad for several such tomes). Yep, a Fox news headline about Shepard’s purported drug involvement:

From Google

Despite the current general distaste for homophobia, there are still enough dopes out there who are so petrified of catching gay cooties that they gaze fixedly at Fox News for warnings that compulsory sodomy is just around the corner. Oh, and that gay people are really nothing more than meth heads.

The whole thing is creating yet another new brand of Truther-ism, whose goal is to skewer the “gay grievance industry.”

Surprise: Author Stephen Jimenez is gay.

Jimenez

Who Is This Man?

Already, folks are jumping with both feet on Jimenez’s methodology, research, and conclusions. At best, Jimenez is a courageous defender of the truth, at worst a gay analog to the self-hating Jew.

Me? I don’t care what Stephen Jimenez is. For that matter, I don’t care what Matthew Shepard was. I didn’t need the story of his murder — true or not — to be on the side of humanity. All humanity.

It’s a damned shame America needed such a gory story to kick it over to the right side of history and morality.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“As people do better, they start voting like Republicans — unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.” — Karl Rove

LAST TWO DAYS

You can vote this morning at The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St. from 8am-noon.

Tomorrow is Election Day. Vote at The Curry Building or your local polling place.

Oh, and do me a big favor — vote for Barack Obama, okay?

MONEY FOR RIGHTS

No matter who wins the presidential race tomorrow, the American Civil Liberties Union comes out ahead.

I’ve bet a C-note with the radical Chicago lawyer Jerry Boyle on the outcome. He’s certain Willard’s going to take the prize tomorrow and I’ve never wavered in my certainty that Barack Obama will be reelected. If Jerry’s guy wins, I cut a check to the ACLU. If Barack Obama wins — I mean, when Barack Obama wins — Jerry Boyle throws his wallet open.

Click For ACLU Online

Book it, if you think the ACLU is a danger to this holy land, you and I disagree profoundly about the meaning of freedom.

THE END OF AN ERA

Tomorrow will mark the end of national elections as we’ve known them since Dick Nixon foisted the Southern Strategy upon us in 1968.

That’s right, it’s been 44 years since Nixon and his gang of furry little mammals realized that the segregationist Democrats of the South and the blue-collar whites of the North could constitute a mighty, dependable bloc of voters for the GOP.

Nixon & His Southern Point Man, Strom Thurmond

Nixon was a clever man. He realized that the southern Democrats had no interest in being Democrats anymore. He also realized that even though many northern whites were nauseated by Bull Connor and his fire hoses and snarling dogs, they had zero interest in living next door to black families. More important, Nixon knew northern white daddy-os, by and large, were terrified by the prospect of their daughters sitting next to black teenaged boys in high school civics classes.

Sickening — From A Distance

Playing on these visceral racial fears, Nixon enticed millions of whites in this nation to vote for the man who, they were certain, would protect them from black people.

At the time, white people constituted nearly 80 percent of the electorate.

Since then, fear of a a black planet has been perhaps the single most important underpinning of Republican strategy in every national election. Willie Horton, anybody?

Even the hysterical aversion of certain pan-troglodytes within the GOP to the idea of a Barack Obama presidency in 2008 indicated that Nixon’s simple formula was falling apart. That year, it was not enough to simply point out that Obama was brown. No, the operative canard used against him was that he was a secret Muslim, an Ay-rab, a mole who’d give his terrorist brethren the high sign that they could now fly airplanes into every skyscraper in every big city in the United States.

…And He’s An Ayatollah!

Unfortunately for the antediluvian GOP, there are no longer enough southern segregationists and northern racists to swing an election. How many white families can you name that don’t include a brown member by marriage or birth?

Sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with a brown niece or a black brother-in-law tends to change one’s outlook on things.

The terror is dissipating.

The numbers are working against that old guard Republicanism.

The US Census Bureau announced in May that minority babies accounted for more than half of all births in the United States in 2011.

That 80 percent is no more. Soon, it’ll be less than half.

If the Republican Party is to survive, it’ll not only drop the fear appeal but it’ll have to draw blacks and browns into its ranks. That’ll be a good thing.

YOU DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ VOTE

Meanwhile, the old GOP dogs are trying desperately to hold on.

Realizing the numbers are working against them, Republican strategists have been trying to quash the vote.

Take Florida, where the Republican-dominated state legislature last year reduced the number of early voting days by nearly half. Again, the GOP is being clever. They know that most early voters are Dems and minorities.

It must frustrate the GOP that many Floridians are lining up for six to eight hours at a time to cast their ballots.

Miami Voters On Saturday

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.


Monday, November 5th, 2012

VOTE ◗ The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-Noon

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Adam Karfeld on viola; 5pm

CLASS ◗ Sweet Claire Gourmet BakeryBread for the Holidays, Learn to make rosca de reyes, stollen, sweet breads, etc.; 6-8pm

VARIETY ◗ Cafe DjangoBloomington Short List, 10-minute acts, Hosted by Taylor McNeeley; 7-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center, Recital HallDoctoral Recital: Miji Chae on violin; 7pm

BOOKS ◗ Boxcar BooksCyberpunk Apocalypse Comix Reading, Presented by Nate McDonough & Dabiel McCloskey; 7-9pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “I Can’t Sleep“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallPiano Student Recital: Students of Lee Phillips; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Justin Bartlett on piano; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopDJ Jeremy Brightbill; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallStudent Recital: Kevyn Bailey & Sammy Johnson on clarinets; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdWhite Denim; 9pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

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