MLK’s other March on Washington

Much hoopla has surrounded the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, so much of it reveling in the historic words of Martin Luther King Jr. MLK Washington SpeechAnd yet, as iconic as those words and images have become, there must remain a distinct bitterness not only because a second march on Washington, The Poor People’s March of 1968, failed, but because deep-seated racism – the economic and back room sort – has remained as strong as ever. queue_21938aMartin Luther King Jr. made a most remarkable speech the night before his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, remarkable not only for its eloquence and intelligence but for his understanding of what lay ahead. MLK Memphis Speech“(W)e are asking you tonight to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola…not to buy Sealtest milk…not to buy Wonder Bread. (W)e must kind of redistribute that pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven’t been fair in their hiring policies…Now not only that, we’ve got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis.”

Occupy Wall Street's failure is nothing new.

Occupy Wall Street’s failure is nothing new.

The problem is that people – that’s you and me – just don’t care that much about helping each other, that action is only galvanized by violent images of oppression, never by the root of the cause.

The violent imagery from Birmingham (1963) that helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement.

The violent imagery from Birmingham (1963) that helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement.

“And so just as I say we aren’t going to let any dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around.” The sad thing is that Martin Luther King Jr. was wrong about that; injunctions do turn everyone around because the enemy isn’t the physical acts of oppression but the insidious inaction of indifference.IMAG1624

 

Apollo Film, Scene 3 (Part Two)

Part two of another potential Apollo film: Dee stays at her sister Crystal’s apartment where Crystal’s boyfriend, Derek, is over for dinner. DEE goes into the bedroom after APOLLO.

CRYSTAL: Don’t let him back out! Don’t.

DEE: We’ll go for a walk in a minute.

CRYSTAL (Staring out the window): What makes fire fighters so full of shit? nyc windowDEREK: The witching hour is upon us.

CRYSTAL: I couldn’t hear you. Too much cackling.

DERK: (Turning on the television): Have another glass. metsCRYSTAL: Like I need your permission.

DEREK: What about not getting totally fucked up?

DEE: (To CRYSTAL): Walk Apollo with me.

CRYSTAL: I can get as fucked up as I want, baby, because I know you and your friends are here to make the save.

DEE: (Standing): Come on. Let’s go.stock-footage-hand-pouring-a-bottle-of-white-wine-in-a-wine-glass-on-a-table-at-homeCRYSTAL: (Refilling her glass, looking into it and then drinking everything): Acting like you’re at the center of the universe when you’re just a fat old woman watching it on TV.

DEREK: Ease up, will you?

CRYSTAL: My mother, that’s who you remind me of, my fucking mother, staring at the fucking TV, not shutting up, blah, blah, fucking blah.

DEE gets Apollo out of the bedroom and goes down the hall after him. calvesCRYSTAL (Walking behind her): Your legs look good.

DEE (Letting APOLLO out): Thanks..

CRYSTAL: You working out?

DEE: Where are your shoes?

CRYSTAL checks her phone for messages. phoneDEE: Hey, is everything okay?

CRYSTAL: (Not looking up):Super duper.

DEE: You’re sure you’re all right with me being in your place?

CRYSTAL: I don’t like it when you get passive on me. It’s not cool.

DEE: I don’t want to get in your space.

CRYSTAL: You were born in my space. I have to live with that. (Looking up, snapping her phone closed) You have to live with that too.

DEE: I know Apollo can be a pain.

CRYSTAL: I don’t give a shit about the dog. Why would I give a shit about the dog, except that it smells and pisses on the floor?

DEE: I’ll move as soon as I can find a place.

CRYSTAL gets her phone out again and struggles to focus on the screen. She laughs to herself and sends a reply.

DEE: What was that about mom?

CRYSTAL (Yelling back to DEREK): You passed out, baby?

DEE: What did you mean?

CRYSTAL (Looking back blankly): What?

DEE: You said something about mom. passed outCRYSTAL: Mother?

DEE: You think about her like that?

CRYSTAL (Pushing DEE out and closing the door).: Try not to get raped, okay?

Apollo Film, Scene 3 (Part One)

Another potential Apollo film: Dee stays at her sister Crystal’s apartment where Crystal’s boyfriend, Derek, is over for dinner.

DEREK: Want to hear my cop down story? (Puts down his hamburger): I mean, just seeing a cop on his little bicycle is enough, isn’t it? hamburgerAnyway, he’s going along, Dum de dum, right? And he sees something up ahead, and this car door opens up right in front of him. Bam! Cop goes flying, head over heels, and lands right on his ass. (Laughs, food coming out of his mouth) He’s just lying there and the guy in the car is looking down at him like he’s committed assault, right? multi car crashHe’s thinking he’s going to jail, and the cop pulls the radio off his shoulder and yells, ‘Officer down! Officer down!’ The driver jumps back like this, right? He looks like he’s going to take off now. Holy shit, I couldn’t stop laughing. Those guys are fucking babies.

CRYSTAL: You’re such a pig. (She suddenly gets up, goes through the piles of papers and garbage on the table and television, and opens a fresh packet of cigarettes.) A woman smokes a cigarette indoors in an undated file photoDEREK He had his little ticket book out before he was even off the ground. That’s fucking New York.

CRYSTAL: New Yorkers are so full of shit. If you tell them to beat somebody, they’d do it. Everyone will. They’ll say they do it because they’re afraid. That’s bullshit. beatenupThey do it because they have the permission. They want to. They want to do it before it’s done to them.

DEREK: Be good, babe. (He picks at a scar on the back of his bicep and shrugs at DEE when he catches her looking) It’s just an old burn.

DEE: I couldn’t do that.

DEREK: What?

DEE: Be a fireman.

DEREK: Fire fighter. We fight them. We don’t make them.

DEE: Fire fighter then.

DEREK: It’s not for women. femalefire CRYSTAL: Only misogynists.

DEREK (Answers his phone) Yeah? (Pause) Who? (Pause) No. (Pause) Where? Where you at? (Pause) Call Ricky. He’ll get you. (Nodding anxiously) Yeah, call Ricky. He’ll be there.

CRYSTAL: Missing a party?

DEREK: A couple of the boys got off the wagon. (Scrolls through his messages) They’re good.

CRYSTAL: My fire fighter hero.

DEREK: Let me tell you something…there is nothing like making a save. Nothing in this life, there is nothing like that.

CRYSTAL: So you’ve said.

DEREK: You go into a place where people die. You bring them out of that. It’s the best thing a man can do.

DEREK throws the empty ketchup packets at the garbage and misses. APOLLO jumps after them, banging into Crystal’s legs. IMAG2381CRYSTAL: Fucking dog! (Kicks at him) Move! Fucking move!

APOLLO jumps back and darts into the bedroom.

CRYSTAL: That thing belongs in the zoo.

DEE: He was just playing.

DEREK: You know who the boys ran into? Fucking Stevie Wright.

CRYSTAL: Who’s fucking Stevie Wright?

DEREK: From Woodside. Spring Match.

CRYSTAL: The guy you beat up?

DEREK: It’s boxing, babe. I didn’t beat anyone up.

CRYSTAL (To DEE) It’s the annual punch-up between the police and fire departments. Real high-brow stuff. Derek won last year. US-BATTLE OF THE BADGESDEREK: Beat the crap out of him.

CRYSTAL (Pulls her sweater sleeves over her palms, spreading them out): But you love making the saves, right, baby?

DEREK: Don’t get all pissy because of a fucking dog.

What if the NRA was the NCWA?

As much as the people of the United States might like to focus on their guns, let’s not forget that chemical weapons are also part of an historic past. smallpox blanketsSmallpox-infected blankets were given to Native Americans as part of a virtual genocide in the 18th century. The U.S. government is also known to have used chemical weapons in World War I, developed a biological weapons project under Franklin D Roosevelt and doused pretty much all of Vietnam with Agent Orange. And then of course there’s the use of nuclear weapons.

And so…what if the United States government had decided that chemical weapons were worth the amendment, and not guns, in 1791? A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear chemical weapons shall not be infringed. second amendmentIs this what they would be fighting for now? Would it be the National Chemical Weapons Associations (NCWA) rather than the National Rifle Association (NRA)? dont dialWould mentally crazed individuals be running through campuses spraying nerve gas? Would so many others be collecting various strains and keep them loosely locked in bedroom closets? And would the U.S. government send aid to Syria, in the form of canisters, when people were killed by gunfire instead?0222-syria_full_600

Henry Miller on Writing

One hopes and prays and bashes his head against the wall. But it knows. It can bide its time. It knows that all the errors, all the detours, all the failures and frustrations will be turned to account. IMAG3113To be born a writer, one must learn to live privation, suffering, humiliation. Above all, one must live apart. The writer clings to his limb while beneath him life surges by steady, persistent, tumultuous. (Henry Miller on Writing, 73)

The Arduous Task of Reading Science Fiction

What is it with science fiction writing? Why does the writing have to be so bad? This is not to say the premises aren’t compelling, just the writing. I-ROBOTWilliam Gibson, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury start their stories well enough, but then there’s a problem with the prose. It just plods on, as if science fiction publishers and readers only care about the premise and sleep through the rest. Many of the vaunted greats of the genre – Frank Herbert’s Dune, Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – all fall into the same black hole.doandroidsSome books do have decent literary moments, such as Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris or Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. lefthandHowever it remains a struggle to get through all of the background science stuff – histories of planets, theories of evolution – all of it jammed in like a manual. Science fiction, it would seem, is like sports: a lot of frightfully dull banter, and only every once in a while worth the wait.