The Pencil took a few days off — well, okay, I took a few days off — so I missed the chance to note the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death.
What must it have been like to know that hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of people are gunning for you, that at any moment the crack of a rifle shot might be the last sound you’d ever hear?
Then again, MLK prob. never heard the crack of James Earl Ray’s rifle. The bullet traveled from Ray’s flophouse bathroom window to the Lorraine Motel balcony faster than the speed of sound. One moment King was vibrant, alive, wondering what that local minister’s wife might serve for dinner that evening and the next, he was bleeding to death from a hole on the side of his face and neck the size of a fist. King in a fraction of a second was transmuted from a Nobel Peace Prize winner, the world’s foremost advocate of nonviolent resistance, a loud critic of the Vietnam War, a fighter for justice, wealth redistribution, and organized labor to the toothless, innocuous, marketable symbol of faux-kumbaya we insist on seeing him as today.
Unarmed And Dangerous
Whoever wanted King dead — and a good goddamned many did — got precisely what they wanted.
Faces Made For Radio
You should know by now that Bloomington’s community radio station, WFHB, has been a nursery for many voice and journalistic talents who’ve gone on to make honest dough at public radio stations. Our own WFIU features, for instance, Drew Daudelin doing local news breaks during each weekday’s Morning Edition program. Daudelin used to edit my copy when I wrote for the Daily Local News at ‘FHB.
And don’t forget Alycin Bektesh — News Editor Emeritus (Emerita?) — who’s doing freelance work for public radio stations out west now that she’s ditched us for the climes of Colorado and beyond.
Another great colleague from ‘FHB, Ryan Dawes, is doing scads of work for community radio in Minnesota. He oriented me the first day I reported for a shift at ‘FHB back in late 2009. He quit his gig as WFHB’s Assistant News Director, got himself hitched, and moved to Minn. a couple of years ago. Too bad for us. But we can still hear him thanks to the magic of radio — and the interwebs.
Here are some SoundCloud links to his recent projects:
- A feature on moonshiners during Prohibition, featuring vintage recordings of Minnesoat still operators
- A report on Ojibwe hip hop artists; they live in a remote part of Minnesota and must endure racism as well as try to find sound recording facilities — but they still get their music out
- Skijoring — a winter sport wherein people on skis are pulled by a horse, dogs, or a snow vehicle
- Canoes made from birch bark
- “My nerdiest project, about devout fans of Sherlock Holmes“
- Upcoming — “I’m going to produce projects on the Minnesota Conservation Corps (an extension of the New Deal’s CCC), Prairie For Lady Choir, and one about the organist for the Minnesota Twins.”
Radio, my good friends, is decidedly not dead.
Okay, who’s with me? Let’s start a business, proclaim publicly we won’t serve same-sex couples who want to get married, and then rake in the tens of thousands of dollars bigots’ll surely donate to our crowd-funding site. Seems simple enough. Look how many businesses this has worked for in recent days.
Anyway, let’s say our business would be selling something weirdly obscure, for instance, Leopard Pop Phone Handsets — they do exist: check out Real Simple‘s “13 Unique Bridesmaid Gift Ideas, item no. 13.” We stock, say, a half-dozen of them so the start-up costs won’t be too much. We print up a few business cards, crank up an eBay account, start a Facebook page, sell one or two to a friend or a cousin, just to show we’re a going concern, and then — ba-da-boom! — we announce our deeply-held religious objection to sodomy and forbidden lifestyles and all the other holy horseshit all these pizza restaurants and cake bakers have been shoveling. We wait a couple of days and then cry that our business has fallen off the table and we’re being forced to shut down because of all the pressure from “the gays.”
Next thing you know, we’re dumping bushels-full of cash over our heads in celebration!
Alright, alright, you’re shaking your head because — I know — ill-gotten gains and all that. So fine, we donate half our profits to the Human Rights Campaign or the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission and keep the rest. We still make out like bandits.
Emphasis on the word bandits.