That Racial Nirvana — Georgia In The ’60s
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The other is Justice Thomas’s status as spokestool for the plutocracy.
The Bushes; the gift that keeps on giving.
The other is Justice Thomas’s status as spokestool for the plutocracy.
The Bushes; the gift that keeps on giving.
The nuclear bombings of two cities in Japan were the logical coda of the single most brutal enterprise the species Homo Sapiens sapiens has ever undertaken — and if we’re very, very, very lucky, will ever undertake.
World War II claimed anywhere from 60-100 million lives. It doesn’t matter how they died; only that the people of this mad planet wanted them dead.
BTW: Shoot over to Neil Steinberg’s blog post today about the excruciatingly unlucky few who survived both bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. True story.
Here’s Mike Royko writing Richard M. Nixon’s political eulogy in the Chicago Sun-Times the day after the president quit:
My personal reason for not wanting Mr. Nixon prosecuted is that he really didn’t betray the nation’s trust all that badly.
The country knew what it was getting when it made him president. He was elected by the darker side of the American conscience. His job was to put the brakes on the changes of the 1960s — the growing belief in individual liberties, the push forward by minority groups. He campaigned by appealing to prejudice and suspicion. What he and his followers meant by law and order was “shut up.”
So whose trust he did he betray? Not that of those who thought he was the answer. He was, indeed, their answer.
Ukulele savant Susan Sandberg points out this timeless observation by Lyndon Baines Johnson:
If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him someone to look down on and he’ll empty his pockets for you.
Speaking of the 1960s, I just finished reading a biography of Vince Lombardi entitled When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss.
Lombardi was often portrayed as a brutal, tyrannical leader who’d have steamrolled his grandmother to win a football game. Many people felt he was a man without conscience or sensitivity toward his fellow man. As such, some figured he’d be a great political leader for the turbulent ’60s. In fact, soon after Nixon secured the Republican nomination for president 45 years ago this week, the candidate floated the idea of approaching Lombardi to be his running mate. Nixon’s aides took him seriously and looked into Lombardi’s background. What they found surprised them: The iconic Green Bay Packers coached turned out to be a lifelong Democrat who was particularly close to Bobby Kennedy and the slain senator’s family.
Anyway, the coach’s views on civil rights surely would have sunk a Nixon/Lombardi ticket. Here’s an anecdote. Early on in his term as boss of the Pack, Lombardi and his team traveled into the South for an exhibition game. They went to a large restaurant for a meal. Lombardi was told the black players on the team — only a couple of guys, really, in those days — would not be allowed to enter the place through the front door. They’d have to come in through the back door and eat in a special room for blacks just off the kitchen.
Lombardi was incensed. He realized, though, he couldn’t smash Jim Crow all by himself that day so he did the next best thing. He directed his entire team to enter through the back door and eat their meal in the back room reserved for blacks.
Pretty cool, eh?
Add to that the fact that Lombardi had at least one player on his team whom he knew was gay. The coach said to his assistants, If I hear one insult or snide remark coming out of your mouths you’ll be fired before your ass hits the floor.
Vince Lombardi was no Spiro Agnew.
“Since the nation’s founding, African Americans repeatedly have been controlled through institutions such as slavery and Jim Crow, which appear to die but then are reborn in new form, tailored to the needs and constraints of the time.” — Michelle Alexander
Only three days left for early voting at The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St. Here are hours for voting there:
If you’re a traditionalist (or a procrastinator) who won’t vote until Tuesday and still don’t know where your local polling place is, go here.
Trojan horses aren’t just for computers.
The Republicans of Alabama have built a beauty, ready to disgorge its anti-public education cargo on Election Day.
The GOP has devised an amendment, to be voted on by the people Tuesday, that purportedly brings Alabama into the civilized world. Alabamans will decide on the question of whether to send the amendment to the legislature for final approval.
The whole thing at first sounds so enlightened: “This bill proposes an amendment to delete those remaining ‘Jim Crow’ provisions of the Constitution of Alabama which have not been expressly repealed by vote of the people.”
Alabama’s Republicans are running around bleating that the Alabama Segregated Reference Ban Amendment will at last cleanse the state constitution of words like “colored” and language that that relegated blacks and the poor to second class status. The state’s governor and other Republicans are patting themselves on the back for being so broadminded.
Noble of them, huh?
The proposed change to the constitution, AKA Amendment 4, contains this surprise: It frees the state from “recognizing any right to education or training at public expense.”
In other words, if we don’t feel like paying for public schools, we won’t.
That’s the flag of the State of Alabama, above. It’s fitting, I’d say, for a populace that soon may be mainly illiterate.
Michael Bloomberg backs Barack Obama?
The only events listings you need in Bloomington.
VOTE ◗ The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm
EXHIBIT ◗ IU Center for the Study of Global Change, Seminar Room, 201 N. Indiana Ave. — Japan’s Animal Kingdom: Animals and Civilization in the Japanese Enlightenment; Noon
MUSIC ◗ IU Memorial Union, Dunn Meadow Cafe — Friday Noon Concert Series: Brazil Pandeiro; Noon
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ◗ IU Asian Culture Center Lounge, 807 E. 10th St. — Luncheon Talk Series: “The Secrets of the Gangnam Style“; Noon-1pm
FEST ◗ IU Auditorium — 6th Annual IU World’s Fare, 20+ international student groups showcase their home countries with cultural displays, food, and performance, Open to the public; 5-8pm
CULTURE ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Community Altar Closing Reception, For Dia de los Muertos; 5-8pm
MUSIC ◗ IU Auer Hall — Student Recital: Barkada Saxophone Quartet; 5pm
DEMONSTRATION ◗ WonderLab — The Science of Art: Making Music, Charlie Jesseph demonstrates the physics of sound using percussion instruments; 5-8:30pm
CRAFT ◗ By Hand Gallery — How to Make Art Dolls, Presented by Wendy Bethel; 5-8pm
ART ◗ Pictura Gallery — Opening reception for the exhibit: Adam Thorman & Laura Plageman; 5-8pm
MIXER ◗ The Player’s Pub — Atheist Happy Hour; 5:30pm
ART ◗ The Venue Fine Art & Gifts — Opening reception for the exhibit: Bryan Gordy Watercolors; 6pm
ART ◗ Bloomington Clay Studio — 4th Annual Devotion Group Art Show, Plus films and live music, One night only; 6pm-Midnight
STAGE ◗ WonderLab — Family musical, “Captain Louie,” Presented by the University Players; 6pm
BENEFIT ◗ Bloomington Convention Center — 2012 Sycamore Land Trust Annual Celebration, Including photo exhibit, dinner, silent auction; 6-9pm
FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Ornette: Made in America“; 6:30pm
FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts Theater — Ryder Film Series: “Two Angry Moms“; 6:45pm
STAGE ◗ Bloomington Playwrights Project — “Maniobras Traviesas“; 7pm
MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford Hall — Junior Recital: Cornelia Louise Sommer on bassoon; 7pm
FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall Theater — Ryder Film Series: “All Together“; 7:15pm
STAGE ◗ IU Halls Theatre — Drama, “Spring Awakening“; 7:30pm
STAGE ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, Auditorium — Comedy, “Hitchcock’s 39 Steps“; 7:30pm
COMEDY ◗ The Comedy Attic — Myq Kaplan; 8pm
MUSIC ◗ IU Auer Hall — Pro Arte Singers & Chamber Orchestra perform Haydn’s “Die Schöpfung (The Creation),” William Jon Gray, conductor; 8pm
MUSIC ◗ Cafe Django — Jazz Fables Quintet, Tribute to John Coltrane; 8-10pm
MUSIC ◗ Chateau Thomas Wine Bar, 118 N. Walnut St. — Dylan Carroll; 8-10pm
MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s Cafe — Chris Wilson & Planet Earth, Jesse Lacy, Joe Donnelly (of Joe Donnelly & the Indulgences); 8-10pm
FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts Theater — Ryder Film Series: “Keep the Lights On“; 8:15pm
MUSIC ◗ The Bluebird — Adventure Club; 9pm
MUSIC ◗ Max’s Place — Lexi Minich; 9pm
FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall Theater — Ryder Film Series: “Side by Side“; 9pm
FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World“; 9:30pm
COMEDY ◗ The Comedy Attic — Myq Kaplan; 10:30pm
MUSIC ◗ Bear’s Place — Bonfire, John Daymoths; 11pm
MUSIC ◗ The Bishop — The Darned, The Wild Dicks; Midnight
ART ◗ IU Art Museum — Exhibits:
ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center — Exhibits through December 1st:
ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald Gallery — Exhibits through November 16th:
ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery — Exhibits through December 20th:
ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Exhibits:
BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly Library — Exhibits:
ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History Center — Exhibits:
“I’m a real rebel with a cause.” — Nina Simone
We consider ourselves free in this holy land, and I suppose we are when compared to the rest of the world.
But there is no freedom without bondage. The old baseball manager Earl Weaver once said you can’t be a true rebel unless you’ve lived under the yoke of one kind of imposed order or another.
We profess to have loathed the tyranny of the British Empire when in reality the yoke we bore back in the 18th Century was that of King George III’s mental illness. It can be argued we really had no profound disagreement with the British and regarding the concept of freedom.
We wrote “… that all men are created equal.”
Yes, men. They’re all that counted when our Articles of Confederation, our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution were written. White Men. White men who owned land.
The British themselves were slowly but surely coming around to the idea that male landowners ought to be able to govern themselves. We were just in a little bit more of a hurry about it all.
That was an amazing concept for the times. If we think it’s rather quaint — what about women and blacks and homosexuals and everybody else who isn’t Anglo, pale-skinned, and carrying X and Y chromosomes in their cells? — we have to remember that we’ve come a long way.
“It is possible,” Molly Ivins wrote, “to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”
We’re still struggling. But, again, there is no freedom without bondage.
… and freedom tastes of reality.
People talk about The American Dream as if there is such a thing; that is, one shared aspiration among our 300-plus million citizens and the countless others around the world who want to get in on our good thing.
I’ve met enough disparate people to know there are almost as many American Dreams as there are Americans.
Still, the mythmakers may be right. There is one overriding American Dream that supersedes all those other, idiosyncratic dreams.
For all the people who laugh at Donald Trump — his hair, his bombast, his “Hey Ma, look at me!” persona — virtually every one of them wants to be him.
That’s the true American Dream. To be rich. To be so rich you can tell the world to fk off.
To be so rich you’ll never have to work another day in your life.
To be so rich that when the cable goes out you can bully the customer service rep on the phone and get someone out to fix it even on Christmas Day.
To be so rich you don’t even have to vote.
To be so rich beautiful young women or men (whichever you prefer) will be willing to see you naked despite the ravages of time on your body.
I saw a black guy once on the Fourth of July all decked out in red, white, and blue, his car festooned with American flag decals and the insignias of the unit he served in Vietnam with.
I was tempted to ask him why he was so demonstrably in love with this country. After all, he was old enough to remember when it was illegal in many states for him to have sex with a white woman. Illegal!
He was old enough to have seen Lyndon Johnson sign the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts in 1964 and ’65, laws that essentially recognized him as a human being — something this holy land had not done without reservation since its inception.
How in the world could a man who’d experienced so much insult, both institutionally and from his individual countrymen, be loyal to the state that made all that insult possible?
What is it that he sees in the United States of America? What would make him put his life on the line to prop up a corrupt little nation in Southeast Asia — one he’d probably rarely heard of before he was shipped out there — just because American politicians told him he ought to?
Why was he willing to dress up in that land’s colors?
We were at a gas station in Louisville, Kentucky at the time. He jumped in his car and drove away before I could talk myself into querying him. Too bad.
And even if I had asked him all those questions, would he have answered truthfully? Would he toss around catchwords like freedom, independence, and liberty?
Maybe, just maybe, he loves America because he dreams that here he can become a rich man.
My dream? Only that we dream of something more.
YOU DREAMER, YOU
Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.
◗ Downtown Bloomington and around Courthouse Square — 4th of July Parade; 10am
◗ Courthouse Lawn — Independence Day concert, Bloomington Community Band; 11:30am
◗ The Bishop — America, Fk Yeah: A Night of America, For America; 4pm — patriotic films, “Red Dawn”; 8pm — “Rocky IV”; 10pm — “Team America: World Police”; midnight
◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center — Exhibit, “I’m Too Young For This @#!%” by John D. Shearer; through July 30th
◗ IU Art Museum — Exhibit, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts by Qiao Xiaoguang; through August 12th — Exhibit, wildlife artist William Zimmerman; through September 9th — Exhibit, David Hockney, new acquisitions; through October 21st
◗ IU SoFA Grunwald Gallery — Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st, 11am
◗ Monroe County History Center — Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th
“If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.” — Thomas Merton
ONE OF A KIND
Drop everything you’re doing this instant. Go out and buy Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts.”
Larson hit it big with his “Devil in the White City” a few years ago. His latest is even better than The Devil. The best way to describe Larson’s books is to call them “fact novels.” They’re not historical fiction in the sense that we understand some of Gore Vidal‘s works or even Philippa Gregory‘s. He’s a straight historian who tells his true stories with the care, craftsmanship, and imagination of the novelist.
I copped In the Garden a couple of days before The Loved One and I drove off to Florida last week. I couldn’t put the book down throughout our stay. Here’s a sure sign that I love a book: when I near the end, I intentionally slow myself down so as not to finish the thing. When I read the last sentence of In the Garden, I felt a sense of loss and emptiness.
Anyway, In the Garden tells the story of William Dodd and his family who moved to Berlin in 1933 when Dodd was named US Ambassador to Hitler’s Germany.
The Dodds About To Board An Ocean Liner For Germany
Larson follows in detail the lives of Dodd and his daughter Martha, a flighty narcissist who had passionate affairs with a Russian diplomat who turned out to be a spy, a Gestapo big shot, a World War I flying ace, and other dashing but morally iffy swains. Martha, who viewed herself as a literary figure and an adventuress, previously had carried on flings with the likes of Carl Sandburg and was ardently devoted to Thornton Wilder, although she and he did not play on the same team, before her family set out for Germany.
Gestapo Strongman and Martha Dodd Paramour Rudolf Diels
Ambassador Dodd was among the first to recognize the coming horrors of the Nazi regime. This despite the fact that, like most Gentile Americans, he harbored at least a hint of anti-Semitism.
For her part, Martha at first embraced the Nazis, with their sharp uniforms and their hordes of tall, hunky, blond, young men marching through the streets of Berlin at any given moment.
A striking aspect of Larson’s description of 1930s Berlin is the sense of peace and serenity which imbues the city despite the recurring ugliness.
And why didn’t the United States government raise a bigger kick in protest against the Nazis? One big reason was the fear of being labeled hypocrites: this holy land treated blacks pretty much the same way the Nazis treated Jews.
The whole thing reminds me of many of my lefty confreres who seem convinced that these Great United States, Inc. today are merely a rerun of Springtime for Hitler. Come to think of it, tons of right wing whacks think Obama nation is Reich redux as well.
All I have to say about it is, read In the Garden and you’ll know that the real Nazis were sine qua non.
Our daily events listings are back. Click on the logo and… go.
“To me, if a heterosexual has the right to do it, then I have the right to do it.” — Harvey Fierstein
Personal to Barack Obama: Well done sir!
It’s about time a president came out in support of gay rights.
The President Comes Out
Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage was a watershed event in LGBTQIA history. It’s like Hubert Humphrey simultaneously electrifying and appalling the 1948 Democratic National Convention with his “bright sunshine” civil rights speech.
Oh hell, here’s the meaty paragraph of Humphrey’s thunderous call for equality for the nation’s blacks:
“To those who say, my friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years too late! To those who say this civil rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights!”
Humphrey Comes Out
Humphrey’s passionate speech is credited with pushing enough fence sitters over to the civil rights side of the argument that had been raging within the party. After black soldiers fought and died for the US in World War II, the call began to go up for equality on the homefront. Black activists, northern urban bosses, and liberals beat the drum for civil rights. Most southern Dems at the time were racist white men to whom the ideas of integration and voting rights for blacks were as horrifying as, well, the idea of two men or two women marrying are today to most Republicans.
Political insiders thought the Dems would never accept a civil rights platform in ’48 but after Humphrey’s heartfelt, courageous plea, the party did.
Humphrey took a huge chance, going up to the dais and arguing the case for dark skinned Americans. He gambled with his political career. He gambled as well with the future of the Democratic Party. The southerners soon thereafter began to drift away from the Dems. Strom Thurmond got so huffy that he cranked up his own party, the short lived Dixiecrats, dedicated to segregation, Jim Crow laws, and those euphemistic “states’ rights.” The “Solid South” eventually took up permanent residence within the GOP.
Obama’s statement the other day isn’t as dramatic as Humphrey’s was. Still, it’s in the ballpark. A politician — a being traditionally loath to alienating even a sliver of the electorate — steps up and says To hell with it all: I have to say what needs to be said.
Of course, the argument can be made that Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage will alienate no one — those who are sickened by the idea of gay marriage likely wouldn’t have voted for him anyway. And the endorsement now probably will energize his base.
My take is Obama always was in favor of gay marriage all along but was hesitant to say so for fear of teeing off the black Christian community. His advisers probably told him those folks weren’t going to vote for the GOP ticket no matter what he said.
A STAND AGAINST MURDEROUS HATE
So it’s a fortuitous coincidence that I’m in the middle of re-reading Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk in the Woods.” In it, he describes his attempt to hike the 2000-mile-plus Appalachian Trail.
When he hits the Pennsylvania leg of his journey he mentions a terribly tragic tale of murder on that part of the trail.
I did a little research and now will flesh out the story of Claudia Brenner and Rebecca Wight. In 1988, the two young women were hiking the AT. They happened to be a couple. A 29-year-old man who essentially lived on the trail encountered them and, apparently suspicious, tailed them. It seems he saw the two exchanging words and gestures that proved they were lesbians. He didn’t care much for the notion; he also carried a .22-caliber rifle.
He Carried A Rifle
Claudia and Rebecca were spooked by the guy but eventually lost sight of him as they hiked. By late afternoon, they’d found a nice clearing in which to set up their camp for the night. They looked around and determined that they were alone. With nightfall approaching, they also figured any other hikers would be setting up camp as well so they believed they had enough privacy to engage in a bit of au naturel lovemaking.
Now, this was a scene that might inspire poets and painters. Certainly Sappho made a name for herself describing such encounters. Who among us, after all, hasn’t fantasized partaking of a “refreshment” (h/t to Mark Twain) in such an edenic setting?
What with the gentle breeze, the setting sun, the chirp of birds, the buzz of bees (hopefully far off), and the soft blanket of clover underneath them, Claudia and Rebecca were surely in a state of near-ecstasy when eight shots rang out.
One shot hit Claudia in the arm, another in the face. Three more shots peppered her head and neck. A shot also hit Rebecca in the head; a second entered her back and exploded her liver. One of the shots missed. The two tried to flee but Rebecca’s injuries were far too severe for her to get far. She directed Claudia to go for the police while she lay in the forest. Claudia did everything she could to stanch her partner’s bleeding before she left.
Claudia stumbled through the woods for four miles and finally reached a road. She tried to flag down a ride but, partially dressed and covered in blood, she apparently freaked out the occupants of the first car that came along and it sped past her. A second car stopped and raced her to the nearest town. The cops dashed off to where Claudia said her mate was waiting. Claudia was taken to the hospital.
While in the hospital, Claudia learned Rebecca had been found dead. The cops also found a knit cap, 25 bullets, and the rifle in a spot 82 feet from where the two women had been making love. The items belonged to a man named Stephen Carr.
Carr was found a week and a half later hiding out in a Mennonite community. He told police he’d come north from Florida, which he left because he was sickened by the sight of men kissing in public there. At his trial, Carr claimed the sight of the two women making love turned him mad with rage. He also claimed to have been raped as a child as well as in prison before the shooting. Carr’s attorney eventually agreed to enter a guilty plea on his behalf in exchange for life without parole.
Brenner wrote a book, “Eight Bullets: One Woman’s Story of Surviving Anti-Gay Violence.” She went on to become an activist against gay-bashing.
One more thing: Claudia and Rebecca had driven to Pennsylvania for their leisurely hike. They’d parked their car in a lot at Dead Woman Hollow.
The growing acceptance of LGBTQIA people, punctuated by Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage, certainly won’t stop lunatics like Stephen Carr from hating queers. But at least they know now that the person in the White House isn’t on their side.
Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Exhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st
◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery — Exhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th
◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center — Exhibits at various galleries: Angela Hendrix-Petry, Benjamin Pines, Nate Johnson, and Yang Chen; all through May 29th
◗ Trinity Episcopal Church — Art exhibit, “Creation,” collaborative mosaic tile project; through May 31st
◗ Monroe County Public Library — Art exhibit, “Muse Whisperings,” water color paintings by residents of Sterling House; through May 31st
◗ Monroe County History Center — Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th
◗ Buskirk-Chumley Theater — Cardinal Stage Company presents “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”; 2 & 7pm
◗ IU Cinema — Film, “The Kid with a Bike”; 6:30pm
◗ Bear’s Place — Ryder Film Series, “Keyhole”; 7pm — “444 The Last Day on Earth”; 7:45pm