Friday, August 30, 2013

A Friend's Memory of the March 50 Years Ago

An  eloquent piece by my old friend Elliot Linzer about his part in the original MLK march on Washington [posted with his  permission]

March on Washington, Fifty Years Later

For many weeks I have been thinking about what I wanted to write today. After seeing much the coverage in the media of both the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and of last Saturday's March, I think that the less I say now the better. You have all been reading and seeing too many words and too many photographs.
As most of you know, I served as a volunteer on the national staff of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, under Bayard Rustin, during the summer of 1963. I spent every day for six weeks working in the national office. At one point, a few years ago, I thought that I may be the last survivor of the national staff of the March. Fortunately, I am not.
It is no surprise to see that almost all the media is saying that this is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream Speech,” ignoring the complete political and organizational context of that speech and that event. Rep. John Lewis is the only one of the speakers at the podium that day still living. While I see frequent references to Lewis being pressured to change the text of his speech, most of these accounts exaggerate the changes he made and extent of the of the differences. Lewis made two minimal changes to his speech and the leadership of the civil rights coalition sponsoring the March were largely unified behind him. I should know: I was the person who ran the mimeograph machine printing up Lewis's speech several days before the March. I was one of the first people to read it.
While Lewis's picture is seen often now, and his name appears in almost all the current accounts of the March, I have not seen other names that I had expected to see, specifically A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin. I knew Rustin from the War Resisters League and Liberation magazine for about two years before the March. Others on the March staff, including, Rachelle Horowitz, Tom Kahn, Penn Kemble, Peter Graham, I knew from the Young People's Socialist League (YPSL). Norman and Velma Hill I knew from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
The Hills, Horowitz and Eleanor Holmes Norton (who I did not know before the March) are very much still alive. Have you seen any interviews with them recently? I certainly have not. This is especially odd in view of Norton now being the District of Columbia's nonvoting representative in Congress.

Very few of the articles I've seen lately mention any of the original demands of the March, especially the economic demands. Do you remember what the very first demand was? It was for a minimum wage of $2 per hour. The March on Washington really was for jobs and freedom, not just for procedural rights. While the right to vote was certainly important, and an end to discrimination in public accommodations and education was important, they were subservient to the demands for economic equality. All the civil rights leadership agreed on that.
I started this with “the less I say now the better,” so I'll stop now.
I'm looking forward to seeing your comments.

Elliot Linzer

Elliot Linzer commented on a link you shared.  ---a p.s. from elliot....
Elliot wrote: "I am happy to make a correction to what I wrote. Eleanor Holmes Norton was interviewed several times, including on MSNBC. Rachelle Horowitz was on a CNN documentary, and I think that Norman Hill was interviewed somewhere, at least that's what I've been told. The reference to the $2 minimum wage demand in 1963 was repeated in a story on NY1 (local Time-Warner all news cable channel) not about the March, but one on the one-day strike of fast food workers, demanding a $15/ hour wage. Two dollars in 1963 is the equivalent of $15 dollars today. I felt some satisfaction seeing that story."

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Covert Affairs, or Simply Confusion ?

Covert Affairs is one of my favorite TV shows to watch.  One of the summer cable shows, it's not especially great and has no deep messages, but it's a fun spy show with compelling characters fighting evil in several exotic foreign locales.  its chief protagonist is glamorous Annie, whose spike heels are taller than she is but who nonetheless can karate kick the hell out of bad guy in flat male shoes. the second most important character (and  to me a somewhat more interesting one) is   Auggie, a handsome, blind tech genius who has had a flirtatious relationship with Annie since the show's beginning, culminating finally in last season's obligatory but well done Hot Kiss.  Fans have been waiting for this season's follow-through all year, and it first, it looked pretty good.  One nice minute-or-so of them being sexy in bed (or rather the camera sinuously moving around them while they snuggled lustfully with each other) and the rest, their adventures caught up in spy-stuff that hits closer to home than they have expected.  I have enjoyed how their affection has played out in tender smiles, hand-holding, arm-caresses, focusing less on their affair than on the dangers to it from hyper villain Henry, out to avenge his son's death and to generally cause chaos to the free world.  fan mail has been fun to read, with the ranges of opinion all over the place.  A&A a good couple, or a chemistry-challenged mistake?  Too much Henry; too little Henry? the usual fan fun.

but this past Tuesday's episode has me pissed. various secrets of various characters have emerged, including Auggie's long-dead spy-wife who is still a spy but no longer dead.  (No, Auggie didn't know she was alive.) This causes some strain between the new couple, but nothing that overwhelming, until  they are sitting together, wondering where their relationship is going, and suddenly, because they never have time to talk about it (spy life being as chaotic as it is), they decide to break up.

Say what?  Auggie bemoans that this time issue means they'll never be a normal couple.  Now each of them has had numerous serious affairs over the years: she with another CIA spy and a Russian spy; he with 2 spies and a Peace Core worker in one of the most dangerous spots in the world.  And both our heroes have both been guided by an older married spy couple whose relationship, though tumultuous, has survived.  So has Auggie been expecting that he and Annie would turn into Ozzie and Harriet? The breakup was well acted, each of them in obvious pain.  but you do wonder why one of them doesn't stop and say, ''umm, what is this about again?'' With all the build-up and hype for the past two seasons, if this couple breaks up, it would require something huge to make any sense at all, and that something hasn't emerged.

My hope is that the breakup turns out to be an elaborate hoax to convince Henry to trust Annie and then be caught finally by the good guys.  If not, and A&A are no longer together, i am going to break up with both of them, and find me a more reliable spy couple.  Pity "Burn Notice" is going off the air--it was never one of my favorites, but their tormented lovers stayed together/apart in their various ways for awhile.  and NCIS Los Angeles has no interesting couples, but it does have the magnificent Linda Hunt at its core.  Yeah, for Linda Hunt, i might be willing to give up on love in the spy world....

Sunday, August 4, 2013

great line on a great show

i've been watching the entire 'judging amy' show, 4 seasons, and coming to the end. maxine is going through a heavy depression. when her son asks an elderly friend what's happening, the friend shrugs and says 'she's reached that point.'

what point? asks the son.

'the point when the pain of the past meets the fear of the future.'

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Babbling so You Know I'm Alive

not much to say; summer class half done already.  going better than i thought i would, but what i'm using requires more technology, and half of every class ends up being setting up the computer [from the media lab] with help from the students. finally got into a great room with everything i need there. learned that everything i put on the thumb thing earlier this summer is pretty much useless, except i was able to transfer it to a dvd, which won't work on the dvd player which only likes already bought dvd's, but found out i can play the dvd's on the computer if it's a mac, so that helps sort of....

only one, maybe 2 classes in fall, meaning at most 1/2 this summer work, and by then i'll have the nasty new class under my belt a bit. played a whole film in the new class on thursday--'ma vie en rose' which the class seemed to like and i like and what a relief.  anyway that's why i'm not here and why i'm likely to be again soon.

for the class i bought on sale all 4 seasons of the early century  'judging amy,' and have treated myself to an episode a day when there isn't much else on i like to watch. what a treat--what an amazing show that was!