Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sundown Towns

Heard this interview on Pacifica radio Monday morning with James Loewen, the author of "Sundown Towns: a Hidden Dimension of Racism in America", a book about "sundown towns", wherein the policy was or is to keep non-whites of various or all sorts from staying after dark, overnight, or at least from living there. I used to be amazed at what a high percentage of cacausian people some of those Sonoma County towns I grew up in had, but figured twas ever thus, kind of a historical thing. I remember hearing about the Marin court cases in the late '60s or early '70s where some towns had to take out the "don't rent or sell to negroes" covenants or somesuch thing. Robin Williams had a schtick about it where he made his voice sound like a Marin Co. sheriff speaking into a walkie-talkie "We have two negroes entering the county, just make sure they pass on through". Rumor had it in Sonoma Co. that the Cotati Rod & Gun Club was the local front for the KKK and was one of their first West Coast strongholds, closely connected to the Marin Rod & Gun Club. Supposedly that's why Sonoma and Marin backed out of the BART plan at the last minute, it was supposed to run all the way to Santa Rosa. Not a lot of records kept of course, same as for the towns in the book. In Berkeley the line was MLK, no blacks, chinese, etc. east of there. The facts and theories stated so far didn't really raise my eyebrows, figuring that xenophobia tastes similar to Hostess apple pie, and what with the danger to the women and all, it would have been expected (in my sick mind) to exclude non-whites if you could. One of my high school girlfriend's parents forbade her to see me because of my heritage, family tradition in Sonoma Co. perhaps, or maybe I'm still a little naive. Girl missed a lot of tennis practice and went to the library tons, but it still pisses me off those assholes did that, and her mom was always so nice on the phone, two-faced bigot, or maybe she was just going along with the dad (silencio=muerte), he was a dick on the phone. On the white side of my family my mom's dad used to call my mom's mom a nigger lover (Loewen mentions the term as a key slogan in sundown town story) for various perceived offenses; maybe that's why I have a non-white side of the family. But Loewen went on, more to the story. He spoke about a movement from 1890-1930 to drive the non-whites that were already living in most every town and county the fuck out, a kind of "pump up the racism campaign". Hearst & the media of the time must have played a major role. My maternal grandfather, being born in 1918 in Canada was likely to have experienced this northen phenomenon (sundown towns were almost non-existent south of the Mason-Dixon line, gotta have a [wage]slave after all). Meanwhile, during the same period, my paternal grandmother, a black woman, moved "back to Africa" as part of Marcus Garvey's movement. Loewen mentions Darien, CT for it's policy of not selling to Jews (I don't think renting is allowed at all). One of my mom's sisters used to live there, and before my wife & I left our friend Kibi in Boston to go there Kibi made a quip about the Aryans from Darien, but I had no idea how current the policies were, very recent in many instances. Similar deal in La Jolla, which just happens to be where we were married. For me this book is a must read, eventually; the list is long.


Me & my son, May 2005, Finegold, CA Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Saturday Night on The Town

One by one the pre-designated companions called in to say sorry, another time, so Club 6 and KRS-1 made do without my groove thing. Instead I went to a potluck dinner party in East Oakland with my buddy Maira. There was a slight misremembrance of location and then a misremembrance of which direction the street numbers increased in, which delayed our arrival to the point that only four people and a ~5 month old black dog recently sprung from the pound remained. The four people were all guys I had never met before but they were funny and cool enough. One told a good story about going deaf while working as a soundman at the Starry Plough. The last show he did he couldn't hear the mic feedback so everyone was frowning at him. So painful, so funny, you know you're a rocker when you're deaf. After awhile we went upstairs to the host's makeshift studio. They had three guitars, a bass, three amps, and about 20 tricked out peddles. Not feeling confident enought on the guitar to join in, I sang without a mic until they busted one out, my medley of Bob Dylan, Nillson, Alan Jackson, Lucinda Williams, and Jefferson Airplane songs with some freestyles thrown in. The first and best freestyle was about a fantasy place deep in the woods by the creek where I'd go to get away. Soothing visuals, for me anyway. The arrival of two more guests broke up the session and we drove back to Maira's place. She has a wonderful backyard lined with flowers and a wide variety of sculptures. The one we played with was funnest though, an old heating oil tank or somesuch 7' tall capsule shaped piece of steel stood on it's end. Some joyous soul torched out a bunch of shapes and put in a door with hinges so that it's kind of an outdoor woodstove. Four warped L-shaped smokestacks, like on a ship, are on top. They spewed flames once it got good and going, the big dipper as a backdrop from where I sat, got to feeling it. The radiant warmth hit my face, neck & chest, jacket zipper came down. The air being crispy and me being a died in the wool fire lover, twas quite a pleasant sculpture. Enjoyed the smell of woodsmoke in my coat all the way home, and upon arrival found that Jack Frost had visited. Ran one hand along the ice covered hood of my wife's car to savor the relatively rare East Bay crystals before braving the end of the night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Feet Wetting Post

Ha, ha ha haHAA in a booming voice, my very own blog with a shorter set-up time than I would have guessed. Listening to Al Anthony, drinking dragonwell tea, just like I always imagined the writer's setting. Welcome to my experiment in sharing. Had molar #14 out yesterday morning so this is all pain tainted. Tried to wait until after Thanksgiving but the tooth said no way. I keep thinking about this between cartoon public service type of short cartoon about dental care that aired in the '70s, similar to Schoolhouse Rock but got less air play. The setting was the old west and some cowboy had to get his chompers to last a lifetime, used to scare me. Now I know why - this this the second molar I've had removed, and another one's probably not long for this world. I am 35 by the way. Public service cartoons weren't enough I guess.

KRS-1 at Club 6 in SF Saturday. Someone told me he's become ultra-religious but I'm just trying to have a good time and leave my preconceptions at home, especially because I've never seen him. This is enough for a feet wetter.