Just to let you all know: The Raw Story, the very major online newspaper which focuses on political news, ran a link on May 22 to the Group News Blog feature of my post on the White Night Riot. It's now in their archives for that date at 8:48 a.m., listed as "White Night riot, lesbians vs. cops" (LOVE it!)
Since then, my story was also linked to by Edge of the American West at Milk and Twinkies (brilliant title, that). Edge of the American West is a stunningly written history blog that I read daily, so I'm duly honored.
Thanks to all who were involved in this. The word is out.
(Cicada 17, poster by Jay Ryan)
Saturday, May 24, 2008
(Young women roofing the hotel of the Llano del Rio Cooperative Colony, Antelope Valley, California, circa 1914)
Here's another slightly out of sequence segment of my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. Following my last post 19 May, the action would include Myra seeing Nancy and having a talk with Chris. The following section takes place two days after that, but before she and Myra go to Olympia to visit Gillam and Carly.
If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, fifth item down, to get caught up.
When Myra got up, Ginny was in the kitchen pulling out a first batch of yogurt. A jug of cold hibiscus tea was leaving puddles on a plate in the middle of the dining table, and Myra sat down on her chair, poured a glass, and looked out at the drenching rain blearily. She had been up until 2:00 trying to perfect a poem for a themed anthology, and this morning she felt like she had butchered it beyond salvation. She wasn't going to try re-reading it until she wasn't so sour.
Ginny carried over a bowl of warm yogurt and chilled fruit salad, along with an oval-shaped pancake six inches in diameter. When Ginny made pancakes, they tended to come out oval.
"What's this batter?" asked Myra, assembling a stack of fruit and yogurt on top of the cakes.
"Whole wheat, buckwheat, wheat germ, Hain's version of grapenuts, and chopped walnuts" said Ginny. Her experiments were usually bulky but worked, somehow. After a bite, Myra decided not to ask for syrup; these would do. After another bite, Myra noticed that Ginny had on clothes.
Overalls, to be exact. A pair of white cotton ones that long ago she had dyed deep brown and which were now faded to a soft color Myra thought might be called sienna. The ass and belly of the garment had assumed Ginny's shape. The legs were too long and her heel was treading on the back cuff, the front part of the leg coming down the instep of her bare feet.
She had on a shirt, too, a men's sleeveless undergarment she had dyed teal. Ginny loved to dye things. The two hues, as usual, were having an interesting conversation with each other. Ginny's hair, shot through with grey that she complained about because it was coarser than her soft mahogany had been, was in a fresh cut which showed the new white streak at her right forehead even more clearly. As she prepared a second batch of yogurt to sit in the warm oven, she was singing one of the cuts from the album Myra had been playing last night:
Each of us has a set of rules that she would live by
That she has gathered as a child, and still along the way
Each lesson, each vision, leaves buried in our hearts and minds
Undiscovered obstacles to freedom
That she must cast away, cast away...
Ginny trailed off and said "Next time you go to Pike, if it's before I do, we're out of turbinado."
Myra tried to puzzle out the train of thought that would have taken Ginny from casting away to turbinado sugar. She was wolfing her breakfast -- the pancake was extremely satisfying, actually -- and her sense of not having enough rest was lifting, as it tended to do once she was fully awake. If Ginny had not been an easy riser, if they'd not had a nanny, Myra would have growled at her children each morning, she thought with a pang of guilt.
When Myra was done, she rinsed her dishes and put them in the sink. Ginny was back in her studio, standing with one hip jutted out to the side, staring at something through the glass wall. Myra walked toward her and said "What do you see?"
"It's been years since the last time we -- well, you, actually -- washed these windows. I think that's going to be my morning project" said Ginny.
Myra moved close behind her and said "You'll ask me if you need a spotter on the stepladder, yes?"
Ginny leaned against her lightly and said "Mm-hm." The smell of her hair and her sudden warmth in Myra's orbit moved Myra forward another fraction. She slid her hands inside Ginny's overalls, unbuttoned already at the sides, and cupped Ginny's stomach in her palms. Since Gillam's birth, Ginny had been a bit pudding-y in the abdomen, with silky stretch marks. Myra adored the feel of her -- what was that line, from Ferron, maybe? Something about a belly and a bowl?
Ginny turned her head so she could partially eye Myra and said "Are you helping me get flexible for my imminent physical exertion?" There was humor and invitation in her voice.
Myra realized they had not made love since before her flight to Anacortes. She wet her lips and slightly pushed her mouth against Ginny's ear, the very tip of her tongue protruding enough to brush against the inner curves. Ginny liked subtlety -- until the point when she opened the floodgates.
Ginny crowed, there was no other word for it, and moved to turn around in Myra's arms, but Myra clamped her forearms tight and resisted Ginny facing her. She rubbed the flat of her nose against Ginny's downy hair before her ears, and bent down a little at the knees to place each of her feet flat on the floor inside of Ginny's. As Ginny swallowed audibly and pushed back even more against her, Myra slid her hands up to Ginny's breasts, which were now rimpled like orange skin, her nipples swollen and, she knew without looking, a dark maroon.
Myra talked during sex, a stream of consciousness that eventually tapered to two or three words. If she didn't, Ginny prompted her. Myra began saying "Oh, my delicious Ginny, the sounds that come out of you, I never hear them any other time. I like to think I'm the only woman on the planet who's ever heard the kind of sighs and cries you make. Don't answer that, it's not a question. In the spring, when the tomatoes first blossom and you walk out and discover them, you call out with joy, and that's similar but it's definitely not the kind of call you make when we start exploring each other, once again. I know you better than I know anything else, and still it's just as blood-stirring as the first time, how can that be? You like that spot, eh?"
Ginny's reply was hoarse and had no consonants. Myra was tracing Ginny's ribs like a switchback path up her chest, from the side to the sternum and back, until she reached each breast and could cup it in her hands, teasing at Ginny's areola with her thumb, before returning to her point of origin. On the second survey, she kept going, sliding her hands down Ginny's thigh folds on either side and pulling Ginny's lips gently apart, but not visiting the territory she exposed.
Ginny's ass, and most of her weight, was increasingly resting on Myra's thighs. Myra's quadriceps were beginning to tingle. Myra tilted them both forward, to keep her balance, and Ginny pushed her cheek against the glass wall, her breath making a shape like a cartoon speech balloon in front of her. She slid her own hands into her overalls, resting them on Myra's wrists, where they trembled, at times squeezing the back of Myra's hands.
Myra now put both of her hands into Ginny's drenched thatch, moving up and down slowly and confidently. Ginny yelled something incoherent and rested her forehead against the glass wall. Myra's left quadriceps was beginning to burn from the strain. She refused to let it alter their timetable, Ginny's current. She missed seeing Ginny's face, but every other part of Ginny's body was conveying information to her, she felt. She kept them tilted forward to rest against the wall and added her thumb to the movement of her fingers.
Ginny came a minute later, her thighs convulsing over Myra's as a brief warning before the shift in her cries, now guttural and imploring. Myra was becoming a little dizzy from the mixture of muscle strain and her desire. When Ginny removed her own hands from the overalls and pushed them flat against the glass, trying to regain her footing, Myra allowed her, moving back and upright in a motion which revealed her knees were spasming.
Ginny turned around and began kissing her passionately. Myra kept her eyes open -- if she closed them, she was afraid she'd fall. Ginny lifted Myra's right hand and sucked her first two fingers clean, her eyes almost indigo, her grin heart-stopping. She unfastened the bib of her overalls and stepped out of them. "Lie down on my daybed" she said to Myra. Myra was thrilled to comply.
Later, as they lay cuddling under the quilt, Myra waiting for her breath to even out, she said "Well...You should wash windows more often, if that's the outfit you choose to wear for it."
Ginny smiled but didn't laugh. After a pause, she said "I have a confession to make. I put this on deliberately."
"What do you mean?"
"You always react to me in overalls. I was -- ready."
Myra pulled back to focus on her, grinning. "You didn't think you could just ask?"
"This was asking, I think we can agree on that. Only, a festive version of posing the question." They began laughing, and thus didn't hear the call of "Hello?" from Sima until she was in the study.
Myra jerked up the quilt. Ginny, at least, still had on her undershirt. Ginny said "We're in here" just as Sima came around the corner. Sima's smile crashed and she instantly looked down at the floor, which displayed Ginny's overalls. She turned and stared into the kitchen, her cheeks going red.
"Oh god, I'm sorry, I didn't think -- "
"Never mind, Sima, we're done." Ginny extricated herself from the quilt as Myra clutched it tightly and walked nonchalantly to her overalls. Stepping back into them, she clicked one shoulder strap shut and said "Let's go in the kitchen, shall we?"
Once they were clear of the room, Myra sat up and began collecting her clothes, still draped in the quilt. Then she realized she wanted to sit in the hot tub for a bit, and set her clothes back on the daybed. Oh, well, Sima had certainly seen her naked before. Just not -- Myra checked her thighs, to make sure there weren't any bite marks. Clear. She went awkwardly to the side door and into the hot tub.
When she got out, she was serene. She grabbed a towel from her study bathroom, dried off, and dressed again. Sima and Ginny were at the dining table, looking at slides of Sima's jewelry and discussing which ones would print best in an forthcoming group artist catalogue. Myra got another glass of hibiscus tea and went to her desk.
A couple of hours later, she returned to the kitchen and interrupted them, asking Sima if she was staying for lunch.
"No, I took the morning off so I could get this ready for the printers, but I have to go back in, I'll grab something on the way" said Sima.
"Before you leave: I've realized I really can rearrange my time, now that parenting is a dwindling demand. I'd like to have a regular date with you, just me and you" said Myra. "I mean, if you're interested."
Sima looked a little wary. "Is there an agenda to this? Do you need to talk about Chris?"
"No. I miss you, is all" said Myra. "At your discretion, pal. Let me know what works for you."
Sima smiled broadly and said "All right. Not every week, but -- I'll call you when I get to the office and can look at my book there."
"Cool" said Myra. Ginny had a thoughtful expression on her face. She jumped in and said "That's a crackin' idea, as Wallace would say. Can you and I return to a more regular connection with each other, too?"
Sima nodded happily. She gathered her albums and papers into her carryall and said "Gotta run. Have run, you two. Or, more fun, I guess I should say."
After she left, Ginny joined Myra in the kitchen and said "What's for lunch?"
"Sandwich for me, I'm going back to my desk. I'm on a streak" said Myra, pulling out bread.
"Maybe you can arrange your times to see Chris for the nights I'm seeing Sima" said Ginny, bending to the vegetable crisper.
"It's up to Chris. Her schedule is tighter than mine."
"She still mad at you?"
"I think so" said Myra, deciding against cheese because she'd had yogurt at breakfast.
"Care to share with me what all is up with you two, or is that privileged information?"
"Privileged" said Myra, distracted by discovering they were almost out of mayonnaise, trying to decide if she could get by on two light swipes or if she wanted to take the time to make more.
Ginny kept slicing tomatoes, offering some to Myra who took it and put it on her barely moist-enough bread. As Myra shredded turkey breast onto the tomato and, with a sigh, reached for Ginny's vinaigrette -- the turkey would be too dry without it -- Ginny put down her knife and said seriously "Myra, do I have anything to worry about?"
"What do you mean?" Myra finally focused on Ginny. "What, Chris? Fuck, not about me and Chris?"
Ginny just looked at her steadily. Myra returned the gaze and said, as calmly as she could, "Ginny Bates, I'm beginning to wonder what it's going to take for you to believe I'm not looking elsewhere, never have, never will."
"Is there a problem with me seeking reassurance?" returned Ginny.
"Honestly...there's beginning to be" said Myra.
The silence between them seemed to throb inside Myra's head. After a minute, Ginny said "I'll take it to Nancy."
"I'd appreciate that" said Myra. She stepped over and kissed Ginny's cheek. "I can't show you any more than I already do."
"Okay, I get it" said Ginny, returning to her salad making with imperceptibly louder whacks of her knife on the cutting board. Myra stole a few leaves of lettuce for her sandwich, refilled her glass of tea, and walked back to her desk.
© 2008 Maggie Jochild
Friday, May 23, 2008
(Planet Earth Inversed, from VladStudio -- click on image to reveal a larger version with all the interesting detail)
In the year following my knee replacement surgery and subsequent cognitive insult, I discovered (and derived a sense of balance from) The Miniature Earth, a webmovie which begins with the "idea of reducing the world’s population to a community of only 100 people" and providing a snapshot of who would live in that village. Perhaps all of you are familiar with it, but in case you are not: It has been updated since the original creation by Donella Meadows, and since her death, Sustainability Institute has carried on her vision and work.
Clicking on the link below will allow you to view the third version of The Miniature Earth. It's an invaluable source of perspective. I especially recommend viewing it with children, allowing them to ask questions and brainstorm afterward.
If you want to see Donella's original version (just a list, not the movie) while she was adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College, go to State of the Village Report.
You can also download a copy for your own PC for $5, the proceeds from which will be used to fund a social project.
For those of you without bandwidth or who for other reasons cannot view the webmovie, I'm transcribing the text after the fold.
THE MINIATURE EARTH
If we could turn the population of the earth into a small community of 100 people, keeping the same proportions we have today, it would be something like this...
8 North Americans
5 South Americans and the Caribbean
1 from Oceania
47 live in an urban area
9 are disabled
33 are Christian (Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Anglicans and other Christians)
18 are Muslims
14 are Hindus
16 are non-religious
6 are Buddhists
13 practice other religions
43 live without basic sanitation
18 live without an improved water source
6 people own 59% of the entire wealth of the community
13 are hungry or malnourished
14 can't read
only 7 are educated at a secondary level
only 12 have a computer
only 3 have an internet connection
1 adult aged 15-49 has HIV/AIDS
The village spends more than $1.12 trillion on military expenditures
and only $100 billion on development aid
If you keep your food in a refrigerator
your clothes in a closet
if you have a bed to sleep in
And a roof over your head
You are richer than 75% of the entire world population
If you have a bank account
You're one of the 30 wealthiest people in the world
18 struggle to live on $1.00 per day or less
53 struggle to live on $2.00 per day or less
Appreciate what you have
And do your best for a better world.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
It may seem like a small contribution, but you can start doing your part by visiting the following websites:
Make Poverty History
(Lino-block print by Liam Holiday)
Mahatma Gandhi said the roots of violence are:
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Commerce without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice
Politics without principles”
SPOILER ALERT: If you've not yet watched the season finale of Grey's Anatomy, do not jump to after the fold.
Turbulence and 'tude.
More passionate, reciprocal, full-out woman on woman mouth kissing between two surgeons. Headin' for bed.
MAJOR plotline involving MAJOR characters on a MAJOR series. Choke on it, Buchanan.
Okay, being a dyke-feminist, I have to point out a few things:
(1) They were given the "male stamp of approval" by McSteamy the Man Whore, who even gave Callie the final push. Yeah, like that's SO going to happen. I mean, I believe more than most in the power of redemption, recovery, and utter change, even for sexual compulsives (hello?), even for men conditioned to think that's their only hope for human connection. But it takes more than a week. More than a year, to be honest.
(2) It was sandwiched in between several descents into less than rational lust, which of course is Grey's stock in trade, not arguing that. But they could not let it stand on its own.
(3) We had to have Erica dressed down publicly by the Chief first, so she wasn't her completely full of piss and power self.
Still -- it was an intelligent lead-in with the comparison to the adolescent pressure situation and the admonition about "hating yourself if you don't do what you know is right for you". Making it a choice, and a self-loving one.
Here's my predictions:
(a) If they are going to retire the character of Erica Hahn, they'll use the Chief's shape up or ship out lecture as a pretext why -- i.e., she wants to cut into hearts, not teach the Yangs of the world.
(b) Christina and Meredith will have some lesbian panic of their own when they find out, wondering if their closeness will be misconstrued by the testosteroni-treat hunks around them.
(c) Unless T.R. McKnight puts his foot down, firmly (don't whine about this one, kiddo, insist on your due as an actor), they'll have George O'Malley react by doing something stupid. Like hopping into the sack with Lexie. Another rebound.
And, here's another interesting note. It's about four hours since this episode aired, and I've been fishing through Google images, other search engines, and YouTube for either a still or a clip of the two of them together. Nada. I find this very unusual.
Despite all the above, I have to say, my favorite character remains Miranda Bailey. Her going home with her baby boy really got to me. She's the strongest, most complicated, intelligent, responsible woman character we've seen in eons on a drama, they need to give her more room, even in that hothouse cast. It's her turn for an Emmy.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I've given up on Daily Kos, where woman-hating earns you snickers and advancement, except for stopping by twice a week to read Bill in Portland Maine (start your own blog, Bill, and get us all off the hook.) However, in my skip down the page yesterday, I noticed a poll posted by Meteor Blades which asked: Who do you assign the title of Worst President Ever?
Of the 15 choices offered (including "Other"), guess who was not on the list?
Kos's HERO in the 80s, Ronald Reagan. The architect of scorched earth neoconservatism from which Dubya was spawned.
So much for learning from the past, eh, folks? And yeah, tell me again why I should trust your slobbering enthusiasm for a new "He will show us the way" candidate?
They've jumped the shark. I'd say remember, you heard it here first, but I'm not the first, it's being said quietly many places.
(The steps of San Francisco’s City Hall the day after Valentine’s Day and during the first week that San Francisco started issuing same-sex marriage licenses)
I just dug out a poem I wrote four years ago that's an interesting synthesis of two of my recent posts and the fulcrum -- San Francisco City Hall -- between them. In February of 2004 two of my friends here, Jen and Jackie, flew to California to get married. I read this poem at their celebration party afterward.
21 MAY 1979
Tear gas hangs in the air
A just-visible cloud
You can thread your way around it
We went up the alley beside AAA
and rode the Market Street trolley
down to Noe Valley, where we'd
left our cars going to a rally
Getting on after
the riot had hit the news was
my first taste of accepting their
fear in lieu of respect
Eleven of us filed up
the narrow stairs, paid fares
Booted, wet bandanas at our necks
Loose clothes, buzzed hair
Everybody on the car went not just
silent, but still. Not even nudges
Here's a bit of trivia you might not know
When a police car burns, at some point
the siren goes off and doesn't cease
until the car is almost gutted
In a city plaza Stonehenge-stelaed
by massive government buildings
this wail is contained, bounced back and forth
We burned eleven cop cars that night
I remember how the fags would
muscle slam a parking meter
until it shifted from the concrete
three or four of them on a side, boys
in leather chaps, sissies grown up
Grunting, laughing, until it moved
like a molar come loose, and
they could rip it from the sidewalk
Sakrete bulbous root at one end,
the other a metal lozenge with
EXPIRED showing through the window
They'd lay it in their arms and heave
it back and forth, like someone in
a sling, until with their cheer, it launched
in an arc flicker-lit by burning cars
Carried up by sirens, exploding
through the filigreed windows of
that City Hall where Milk and Moscone
had been gunned down by the
cops' chosen boy, using his
never-turned-in service revolver
The next day on my delivery route
I made a point of swinging by
Every window on the front was
boarded up with raw plywood
Car-sized scorch marks on the
streets around the square
Crowds of people on the sidewalk
stood shocked and silent in the
steady light of midday. Suddenly they
knew, and we knew, we could be
pushed too far. Cops rode three to
a patrol car that day, and I got
four tickets for made-up violations
before, with gritted teeth, I scraped
off my delivery car the sticker I'd
pasted on the bumper that morning:
IF YOU'RE WHITE IT'S NOT CALLED MURDER
That City Hall are the steps you climbed
to be married, to get a piece of paper
I would never have believed could
carry our names. I can hear the wheel
clanking to the end of its circuit, and
the whir as it rests a moment before
starting round again. Here you go
© Maggie Jochild
10 March 2004, 1:53 p.m.
(Downed 250-year-old live oak tree, Texas State Capitol Grounds, Austin)
While the rest of the country is having unseasonably cool weather, here in Texas we're breaking daily heat records (101 in Austin yesterday). This is after a week of horrific storms that smashed windows in the dome of the capitol building here, tore up trees all over this tree-filled city, and left 39,000 Austinites without power for a few days. It isn't enough to say "global warning" with a wry grin and turn up the AC (if you have AC). The real impact the shift in weather patterns is having, will increasingly continue to have, is on farmers. Those who provide food for the rest of us, and, especially, those billions around the globe who subsist solely from what they can grow. Interrupt that cycle, and they starve to death.
It isn't going to be enough for us to pay more at the store for our food, either, although that is a change which has been long overdue. The increased costs are not necessarily going to organic or family farms, for one thing. For another, U.S. governmental subsidies are still keeping the cost of certain Big Ag crops artificially low and destroying a "free market" internationally. Removing those subsidies will, we think, restore some international equilibrium, remove corporate interest in certain crops at the expense of others who are far healthier for us (junk food depends on the subsidized crops), and with the return of real competition, increase crop diversity and rescue of strains headed for market extinction but whose use to us could be potentially life-saving.
Beyond that, we need to return to our foreign policy the simple comprehension that starvation or living on the edge is what creates most war and violence. Especially violence against women and children. If you call yourself a feminist, you must actively support programs which will remove women and children from the categories of "commodity" or "expendable" in times of scarce resources. In terms of numbers affected, it's far more important than other so-called gender issues.
So, support your local non-corporate food production and distribution networks, but also keep pressure on your elected officials to help us feed the world. Our national image has been covered with feces by the actions of the current government. We have a shot at cleaning it off and redeeming ourselves (the real path to ending terrorism).
And, to give you a farmer's perspective, here's an excerpt from this week's newsletter from Boggy Creek's, Austin's beloved urban organic farm which sits in a working class, people of color neighborhood, providing enduring sustenance to our community in multiple ways. Read the words of farm owner Carol Ann Sayle and marvel at her perspective.
In general, five or six trees down is nothing, considering that damage to our crops from the one-minute golf-ball-size hail storm was minimal. I had awakened, like many citizens, at just past midnight to the pow-pow-pow sounds of big hail, and, flashlight in hand (for there was no power), I ran to the back door, opened it, then pressed it closed against the 65 mph winds, and counted the seconds in my mind as the hail pummeled the back yard. One minute, and one minute only. And I could hear myself think.
One minute. The crops would survive that. It was no tornado. If it was, the sound of it would have been deafening. I know. I remember 11.15.2001 -- a sound so huge that it was hard to hear the prayers in my head. A wind more than fifty percent greater than this one. An F-1 tornado. (A sprained ankle.)
This night, it was all ok. We were blessed.
The largest fig tree, in the front orchard (a sudden hole in a shoe's sole) was not ok. The next day, I ran my hand over one of its many large limbs, mourning it, thanking it for its gifts over the years. The trunk, gigantic by any fig tree standards, lay splayed open, severed in half, cut asunder to the ground. A thousand little figs still looked perky on the branches that fanned out around the tree like a prostrate Garden of Eden, but they would be limp by the time we cut up the tree and hauled the tragic bounty to the curb.
David brought his chain saw and even after cutting up a couple of other trees, we still had the energy to take care of this one, for, almost always, a Texas storm is followed the next day by weather that makes you glad to be alive. A day so bright, so crystal clear, that the devastation looks almost abnormal. How could it have been?
Farmers are not exempt from feeling sorry for themselves. We are human. It's the nature of humanity. We gripe, we moan, we count off failed crops. And then we realize, tomorrow will be beautiful and worth starting over, trying it again, living for the next season, the next crop. What we went through wasn't so bad after all.
Considering dire conditions. Considering real tragedy....
(First of the green beans and cucumbers at Boggy Creek)
Note: This week Boggy Creek's market tables will offer: Just-dug New Red and White Potatoes; Cucumbers (2 great-tasting varieties); Green Beans; Summer Squash (7 varieties! -- Costata Romanesco Zucchini, Elite Zucchini, Raven Zucchini, Flying Saucer, SunRay Yellow, Zephyr, & Sunburst Scallop); Fresh Beets; Table Gold Acorn Squash; Delicata Squash; Spring Onions (white); Bulk Red Onions; Heirloom Garlic; Salads (Baby Lettuces, Baby Chards for braising or salad, Chicory Salad, Baby Arugula); Dandelion Greens; Culinary Herbs & Chives; Brussels Greens; Bunch Arugula; French Sorrel; and Sun Flower and Zinnia Bouquets... Tomatoes: 10 days or sooner! (A few reds are trickling in now....) Early June for Sweet Corn!
Local Dairies' (Pure Luck, Wateroak and Thunderheart Bison, Loncito's Lamb); Fresh Eggs (BCF Hen House Eggs & Louis Young's free-range eggs); Local Miles of Chocolate; Aunt Penny's organic cotton t-shirts and tote bags, small organic cotton produce bags, plus the farm books (Eating in Season: Recipes from BCF and Stories from the Hen House).
(Aunt Penny out for a spring stroll among the dianthus at Boggy Creek) Farms)
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
(Flyer created and distributed by Lesbians Against Police Violence and The Stonewall Coalition [mixed-gender lesbian/gay organization allied with LAPV] in summer 1979 in the aftermath of the White Night Riots; I'm pretty sure the graphic was drawn by Emily Siegel)
[Just to let you all know: The Raw Story, the very major online newspaper which focuses on political news, ran a link on May 22 to the Group News Blog feature of my post on the White Night Riot. It's now in their archives for that date at 8:48 a.m., listed as "White Night riot, lesbians vs. cops" (LOVE it!)
Since then, my story was also linked to by Edge of the American West at Milk and Twinkies (brilliant title, that). Edge of the American West is a stunningly written history blog that I read daily, so I'm duly honored.]
Today is the 29th anniversary of the largest lesbian and gay riot in the history of the world. Not only was I there, I was one of the women in Lesbians Against Police Violence responsible for the rally from which it arose.
I've written about LAPV in other posts, such as Tania: 33 Years Later. In one, Dianne Feinstein, Opportunist, I give a good brief history of the events leading up to Dan White's cold-blooded assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk. I refer you to that for background.
Another excellent source is an article by LAPV members and women I worked closely with, Pam David and Lois Helmbold, in Radical America, Vol 13, no.4 July- August 1979, found online at Sexuality and the State: The Defeat of the Briggs Initiative and Beyond (scroll down about 2/5 of the document to find the pertinent Radical America extract).
And from YouTube, here's some contemporary news video from 1978-79:
NBC News Footage on the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, and Supervisor Harvey Milk. The footage covers suspect Dan White's arrest, and a brief history of everyone. Also mentioned is Moscone's connection to Reverend Jim Jones' Peoples Temple, and the appointment of Jim Jones to head of the Housing Commission. Video ends abruptly.
LAPV stood in radical opposition to police harassment of minority communities. We saw Dan White's assassination as a rage reprisal by a former cop against progressive forces (not just gay) and linked it to the larger picture of male and white domination. I think it's critical to remember that the riot which came from our agitation was the result of revolutionary lesbians speaking out against the ultimate forces of power in our society, not a bunch of "gays" upset about a verdict.
Several years ago I wrote my own memoir of the event. I'm going to include that below. Not long afterward, I was interviewed by Christina B. Hanhardt, who was writing a doctoral thesis in American Studies at New York University on "Butterflies, Whistles, and Fists: Safe Streets Patrols and the ‘New’ Gay Ghetto". Her interview with me and other LAPVers, as well as review of primary source documents (mostly from the papers I donated to the Meg Barnett Papers in the Queer Nation Collection at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Historical Society in San Francisco) formed Chapter Two of her thesis, "Safe Space: Sexual Minorities, Uneven Urban Development, and the Politics of Violence". At a later date, I will include this chapter in a post covering LAPV in more historical depth.
(March to City Hall just beginning, near 18th and Castro; perhaps an hour before all-out White Night Riot in San Francisco, 21 May 1979. Mount Sutro tower visible in background; buses are already being stopped. Photo courtesy of Don Eckert/Uncle Donald.)
THE WHITE NIGHT RIOT
© 2008 by Maggie Jochild
The day after the riot, my feelings about it began to change. I was driving a morning route then, delivering something called Veggie Rolls to natural foods store in San Francisco. There were dozens of such stores in 1979. I had arranged my route to go through the Mission, Noe Valley, Bernal and Potrero Hill neighborhoods first, hit SoMa and downtown during the mid morning lull, then head out to the Haight and the Avenues, ending up at Ocean Beach in the afternoon, where I fed the day-old rolls to a keening flock of gulls. On the morning of May 22, however, I began my day by driving past City Hall on the way to Polk Gulch.
I approached it from an indirect route so I could look across the square first and see if cops were there. There were scorched places near curbs here and there, but the burned-out police cars had already been towed away. There was a knot of 20-30 people standing on the sidewalk across from City Hall, standing with their arms at their sides, staring, not talking to each other. Every window on the front facade of the block-long building was covered with plywood, raw and bright in the morning light. There were no parking meters left on that block. I stopped and watched the people for a minute. They seemed to be in shock. I felt a thrill go through me.
While I chatted daily with the managers of the stores where I delivered, and with a few of them I actually conversed (mostly the dykes in the Coop system), the majority of the stores were owned by either white boy hippies or what would soon be called yuppies, and my interest in what they had to say was limited. I knew I was identified as a lesbian by them because one of them had refused to let me help distribute his products, saying I was too “rough looking” for his clientele. I surely hated that man from then on.
On this day, however, there was something new. It mostly took the form of a second look, after the initial glance of recognition. It was as if a new dimension had suddenly been added to my identity as queer, as if they had overnight found out it also meant I could fly, or was immortal. They looked at me in such a speculative way, I wanted to say to every one of them, “Yeah, I was there. Next time we might come for YOU.” I could smell the fear on them, and I liked it. It was as close to respect as I had ever gotten from the straight world.
One of the women at the Haight Store told me some of the members of People’s Bakery had been at the riot and had been badly hurt. After I was done with work, I stopped by the collective on the pretext of buying some onion rolls. The quiet butch who brought me fresh rolls from the back had a black eye and a bandage on the side of her face. She didn’t much want to talk about it. She said the cops had cornered her and another coworker in an alley off Mission, after they had left the Civic Center area. They left before things got really rough. The cop who beat her up had taken off his badge, so she didn’t get his number. When I asked her if she was going to file a complaint, she smiled bitterly and shook her head.
We later found out that of the 60-something people injured by the cops that night, a huge majority of them were women and/or people of color. The cops, as usual, targeted those who were not male or not white, especially if they were single or just two people trying to get home safely. Several of the people attacked by the cops, away from the riot itself, had been rammed against walls by the cops' three-wheel motorbikes.
We of LAPV had an emergency meeting that night. We knew public outrage was going to demand appeasement, and we knew we were the best target. We had been visibly agitating against the police for several months, one time holding a demonstration in front of Police Headquarters on 6th. A man in a cheap green suit had ostentatiously taken photos of every one of us at that demonstration. We were not advocating citizen review boards, more queer presence on the police force, or sensitivity training for police recruits. Our position was that the police force itself was an institution born out of racism and whose primary purpose was to maintain the status quo of the privileged by means of violence. We relentlessly argued that Dan White’s actions were the natural byproduct of his training as a cop. We said lesbians, gays, progressives, working people and people of color would always be targets of police repression as long as police existed; therefore, we advocated abolition of any legalized armed force in our society. We knew the cops would be thrilled to blame the riot on us.
Furthermore, there was a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing to us as instigators. We certainly had helped to identify the police and the politicians who controlled them as our enemies (although the main reason for this identification must, of course, fall on those who behaved as our enemies). We had called the rally at Castro Street that evening because we knew the jury’s verdict about Dan White would be in, and, guessing that justice would not be fully served, we wanted to capitalize on people’s anger for our own purposes. My roommate Sharon and I had made the signs announcing the rally and put them around the Mission and Castro Street.
We heard about the verdict, Dan White being convicted only of manslaughter, late in the afternoon. By the time we got to 18th and Castro at 6:00 p.m., there was a crowd already waiting on us. We were disappointed at how few women had turned out, but not terribly surprised. Harvey Milk had never been a key figure in the political lesbian community. I had seen him speak a few times and not been overly impressed; he was far too mainstream for us. He was one of the white boys. I sometimes felt more represented by George Moscone than Harvey Milk. I realize it is heresy to admit this, now that Harvey has achieved the mythical status awarded all our assassinated dead, but it is the truth, and I know most of the women who were my friends felt the same way at that point in time.
We worked our way to the fence over the stairs going down to BART, stood up on the edge or on other elevations, and tried to get the attention of the crowd. I say “we”--I don’t think I did any speaking, not yet. I remember my roommate Sharon Sapphora had brought her bullhorn from home. I think she did some shouting into it. She was pretty good at off-the-cuff speechmaking, adept in street vernacular and ironic anger. But she wasn’t making much of an impression that night. Later she walked around shouting "Out of the bars and into the streets!"
I noticed a gay man, Howard Wallace, at the front of the crowd. He was a faggot who always struck me as looking less like a faggot than any man I knew. He was a die-hard leftie, unusual among the gay men in San Francisco at that time, and a clear, interesting speaker. I don’t remember who began yelling for us to march somewhere and make our feelings known, but I want to say it was Howard. We began feeling pressure to respond to the crowd or lose them altogether. I would say this was the first sign of danger that we ignored.
We had a hasty conference about where to go. Our first choice was to go to the police station on 6th. I shudder to think what might have occurred if we had stuck with that decision; certainly some of us would have been killed. Someone argued that City Hall was closer and had more room to spread out. We bunched up and began marching down Market Street.
We immediately got more omens of what was to come. Every time we passed a streetcar in the middle of Market, the bar holding it to the overhead electrical line would be jerked loose by one of the men, and some of them were pounding on the windows, screaming at the terrified passengers inside. At first, I laughed at this, thought it was great the boys were finally showing a little political heat. Every time we passed a men’s bar or cafe (and in those days, it seemed like Market Street was lined with faggot hangouts all the way from Castro to Duboce--maybe it still is, I don’t know), all the men inside would pour out and join the march. It was like the gay pride parades I had read about, where people lining the route spontaneously came out. I noticed most of the men had on at least one leather garment. I had never seen these men at any sort of gay event.
(March to City Hall in progress along Market Street, San Francisco, 21 May 1979, on our way to White Night Riot; in far background, middle right, is Mount Sutro tower, so this is between 18th Street and South Van Ness. Most of front line of marchers shown here are dykes from Lesbians Against Police Violence. I'm somewhere in the middle of the front row. Photo courtesy of Don Eckert/Uncle Donald.)
By the time we got to Church Street, we were having to run to keep ahead of the crowd. We had been trying to lead chants up to that point, strung out in a single line across the several lanes of Market. We had also been laughing with each other, excited by the success of our rally. But the effort of our rapid push and the increasing tension of the people on our heels sobered us, and I don’t remember much of anything the last few blocks except trying to keep up.
When we got to City Hall, we in LAPV regrouped on the steps out front and began trying to lead chants again. We couldn’t understand why this wasn’t working. The crowd was huge, and clearly wanted something from us, but they wouldn’t chant. After a few dismal efforts, Sharon began talking into her bullhorn again, saying something about the connection between Dan White getting off and how the police are allowed to run rampant in minority communities. We were the only ones listening to her. Men were shouting from everywhere, saying we should storm City Hall, go out and exact revenge for Harvey Milk, and other things which sounded absolutely crazy to us. It is at this point that I remember starting to be afraid.
We were close enough to the front doors of City Hall to see through the ornate grillwork covering the glass. There were dozens of cops in full stormtrooper gear massed there. I knew what would happen if we tried to force our way in. We linked arms across the stairs and began chanting something like “Violence is not the answer.” A few voices here and there in the crowd joined in with us. It was getting dark fast. I couldn’t figure out what to do, except to keep bloodshed from happening.
I know a few people were shouting out lines and speeches. I don’t remember any of them except Amber Hollibaugh. I have heard that Cleve Jones was one of the men who spoke, and I have heard opposite versions of what he said--that he tried to calm people down, and that he urged them to riot. Maybe he did both, I don’t know. But I remember Amber.
I remember being relieved to see a woman climb up on the wide railing beside the stairs and face the crowd. I had seen her around here and there, and while she had bleach-blonde hair, clearly removing her from the ranks of what I knew of political dykes, she looked to be working class and clear-headed. She kept motioning for Sharon to give her the bullhorn, and Sharon did because she shared my impression of Amber. We thought she might take charge.
Well, she did. She gave one hell of a speech. I remember standing below her, trying to see her expression in the dark. The gist of it was that our anger was beautiful and justified, and it was about time we showed those in power how stupid it was to push us around. The men loved her, and by the time she was done, there was no hope of calming anyone down. It hit us all at about the same time that we were standing between a mob and a battalion of cops. We grabbed each other and snaked our way off the steps.
We went to the corner of Grove and Polk, and stood on the sidewalk in front of the Health Department. We felt safe enough to stop there. and we could talk without shouting. We separated into groups of four to six, and promised to stay with our little group all the way home, no matter what. This was a tactic some women in the group had learned from peace movement days, and it was a brilliant move on our part. Folks who left the riot alone or in pairs were targeted by cops, especially if they were women or non-white: Of the 60+ people seeking medical attention that night, most of them were attacked by the cops on their way home.
Some of the members of LAPV wanted to go back into the action. We couldn’t see or hear much of what was going on up at the steps. I was left on the corner with my group, which included my lover, Marcie, and our friend Kata. There were at least two other women in our group, but I’m not sure who they were now--I think maybe a couple named Eileen and Char.
When Carol Ruth Silver came out on the balcony, it took us a while to figure out who she was because it was so dark. She was a San Francisco city councilwoman who was straight but considered to have solid support in the gay community. She thought she could talk to the crowd and get their attention. Unknown to us, the newly sworn-in Mayor Feinstein and a lot of other important people had been meeting in City Hall that night, and as the riot progressed, they hunkered down in the basement under police guard. They were terrified. I admire Carol Ruth Silver’s guts for coming out on that balcony, but she really didn’t know her constituency. Not only did they refuse to listen to her, they threw rocks and chunks of concrete at her. One of them hit her in the head, and she went back inside.
I remember being fascinated with how these muscular men in leather chaps were ripping parking meters out of the sidewalk. They would being by clustering two or three on either side of the meter, getting a good grip, and then shoving back and forth with all their might. Within seconds, there would be a noticeable wobble of the meter. I remember the rhythmic deep grunts they made as they continued hitting the meter with their bodies on alternate sides. When the meter finally broke free from the pavement, carrying a big cluster ofconcrete roots around the base, they would give an indescribable cheer. There were be no hesitation as two or three of them hoisted the meter up to their shoulders and ran at City Hill with it like a battering ram, at the last minute hurling it up in an impossible arc through one of the big windows high up on the wall. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have thought it possible.
Video footage (fragmentary) of the White Night Riot. From YouTube, copied from www.shapingsf.org, shared under the following Creative Commons licensing: Creative Commons
I don’t know who started torching police cars, or how they did it, although I know I’ve read it since. I remember the one closest to us, in front of the auditorium, going up with a whoosh. I was a little scared it would explode when the flames reached the gas tank, but none of us moved away. As they burned, their sirens would go off and shriek insanely like someone dying until finally the voice of it was burned out. Eleven squad cars bit the dust that night. For weeks afterward, we’d see three cops to a patrol car instead of the usual one or two.
(White Night Riot protesters burned police cars in front of City Hall, San Francisco; SF Chronicle photo by John Storey, 1979)
The most extraordinary sight I witnessed that night I’ve never seen anyone else write about, although it had to involve dozens of queers. If you were one of those I’m about to describe, please write me and tell me your story. As I said earlier, we were on the corner of Polk, which ran in front of City Hall, and Grove, which paralleled the south side of City Hall. Both streets were deserted; I guess traffic was being diverted somewhere. (What did the cops do, put up “Riot in Progress, Please Observe Detour” signs?) Anyhow, we kept hearing activity in the darkness down Polk Street behind us, and one or the other of us would turn around periodically and look. It wasn’t me, but some one of us said, “Oh, my God” and we all looked where she was pointing. A solid flank of motorcycle cops were emerging slowly out of the dark street. They were on those three-wheeled bikes that the meter cops used, and despite my immediate panic, I remember noticing they had removed their license tags and identifying numbers from the bikes. They had on shiny black boots stretching up their calves, and I stepped back behind one of my companions: My first thought was that they were going to turn and ride through us.
This was a sound impulse. A lot of women who were attacked by cops after leaving the riot were run down against building walls by cops on motorbikes. However, I quickly realized the focus of this squad was on the crowd in front of City Hall. They sat there, talking among themselves, apparently waiting for a signal before charging into the unsuspecting masses in front of them. I could feel their hatred as if it were a change in temperature. They all had on helmets with visors and protective vests, and wore black billy clubs.
We began whispering frantically to each other. Our friends were in that crowd, and we had to warn them--but if we went after them, we could get run down ourselves. Shouting was out of the question: Not only was the racket around us too loud to allow us to be heard, but drawing attention to ourselves seemed like a really bad idea. My lover was tugging at my arm, insisting we go across the street and into the crowd, and I was frankly too afraid to respond, when we heard another sound.
We turned and looked to our left, down Grove Street toward Van Ness. Creeping forward were literally dozens of dykes and faggots on the big motorcycles they rode in every Freedom Day Parade. Most of these queers were big, especially the women; most of them had on leather. They were a solid unit, and when they got about 10’ from the intersection, they stopped and sat astride their bikes, looking at the cops. Then they all began revving their engines.
I remember being frozen in admiration. My eyes were so full of those brave queers, I don’t think I looked at how the cops reacted. It seems like the stand-off continued for several minutes. I think Kata had to tell me the cops were turning around and going back the way they had come. I did turn and look then because I could hardly believe it. What I’d like to know is who were those folks protecting the crowd, and how did they get there? I’ve often wondered if I just imagined this whole episode; fortunately, I had companions with me who saw the same thing.
Not long after this, we smelled something we thought might be tear gas, and since two of us had asthma, we left. We walked down Grove to Larkin, turned right on Larkin and went to Market. It looked like streetcars weren’t running on Market, so we went on another block to Mission to get a bus. On the way, a lone woman approached us out of the darkness on Grove and asked if she could walk with us. We had all been holding hands, and we just took her into our line. We caught a bus on Mission and rode it down to 14th. From there, Marcie and I peeled off to go to my house on Brosnan, and the rest went on in the direction of Army. The entire evening, I kept thinking the riot was just going to make people hate us and set us way back in our quest for equal rights. I was heartsick.
Marcie kept calling her mother’s house and getting no answer. Her mother was also a dyke and lived just off Castro Street. Marcie was sure she would have gone to the rally. Marcie was right; her mom, a S/M leather dyke, was on the McAllister Street side of the riot and watched from the edges. We later found out her mother was grabbed by some cops from behind and drug backwards over the broken off stem of a parking meter pole sticking up from the concrete. They didn’t arrest her, just threw her down a block away. She crawled to some gay men who took her to the hospital, where she got a huge number of stitches in her thigh.
At the LAPV meeting the following evening, we talked for hours about what we had seen and what it all meant. We agreed we were the inevitable target of any investigation--no one would believe we had tried to stop the riot, and by this time it wasn’t even a claim we wanted to make. We knew the first attack would come in the form of a grand jury. Enough of us had read Grand Jury Comix and followed the Susan Saxe case to know our greatest threat came if we refused to testify. But there was no way we were going to testify. If you refuse to testify to a grand jury, you do not have the right to claim the fifth amendment. Instead, you are granted immunity (meaning your testimony cannot be used to directly incriminate you) and if you still refuse to testify, you are declared in contempt of the court and thrown into jail. You can be kept in jail without recourse for the length of the grand jury, and if the grand jury reconvenes, you can be sent back to jail over and over again--no trial, no due process of law. It’s an excellent tool of reprisal used in this country against political dissidents.
There were around 30 of us involved in LAPV at that time. We sat in a big living room, most of us on the floor, and someone kept detailed minutes. One by one, we each talked about what we stood to lose personally by going to jail, and what we’d like to have done for us by the rest to keep our lives intact until the boys gave up and let us out of jail. Two of us were parents; after a long discussion, it was agreed that if, at all possible, we two would avoid grand jury summons, leaving town if necessary. Women talked about their jobs, their pets, their leases, their houseplants, and their bills. At every turn, one or more of us volunteered to cover for her if she was jailed, with no time limit. By the end of the night, we had a solid contingency plan, a sworn commitment to never break silence, and enough resources to cover the jailing of several (though not all) of us. I don’t know what would have happened to us if we had been sorely tried, but I remember believing every woman in the group with all my heart, and feeling ready to go down fighting for any one of us.
Most of the women in LAPV had known each other first in either Lesbian Schoolworkers or the No on 6 Campaign. Some of them had known each other even before that. I joined Lesbian Schoolworkers as soon as I arrived in the Bay Area in 1978; I also joined Lesbians Under 21 (I was 22, but my lover was 17) and attended a few Prairie Fire meetings. The defeat of the Briggs Initiative was a glorious victory, but I wasn’t sure what to do afterwards. In the first week of February, 1979, Sharon brought home a flyer she’d picked up at the Artemis announcing a lesbian community meeting on the 4th at the Women’s Building about a police attack on two dykes as they were leaving Amelia’s the week before. My entire household went, and so did over a hundred other women. Out of that meeting developed LAPV.
LAPV provided my political education. I was one of the least experienced women there, despite some involvement with gay and feminist politics in Texas and my sojourn in a Colorado separatist land collective before moving to San Fran. Many of the other women in LAPV had years of leftie background, some of them going back to civil rights days. More than half of them were Jewish. They had acute race and class consciousness, and if not overtly separatist, at least preferred to work with women only.
They were extremely kind to me. I remember the silence that fell over one meeting when I asked, “Just what are dialectics?”, but after they pushed closed their gaping jaws, a couple of them explained it to me without condescension or hurry. We all read The Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove together, a history of police repression in America, and we used Constructive Criticism by Gracie Lyons to run our meetings. My Jewish sisters also shared their heritage with us in an open-handed and noncritical way, and made a devoted ally of me for life.
(Burning cop car in front of City Hall, San Francisco, 21 May 1979)
From Shaping SF
"Within a day or two of the White Night Riot, flyers appeared throughout the Castro and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods advising everyone to keep quiet. The text of this warning flyer follows:
We may end up doing more time for our rage at the Civic Center than Dan White will do for killing Harvey unless we KEEP QUIET. If you male-ego-trip in a bar, and the wrong person hears you, the cops will know what face to look for in the photos, and where that face hangs out. DON'T TALK. Even if you didn't trash, there's a possibility of a grand jury and a conspiracy indictment, just for being angry enough to think about it. BE QUIET. If you want to file a police brutality suit, get some legal advice first. The National Lawyers' Guild is a good legal resource. They'll say they want to investigate the attack on the Elephant Walk [at 18th & Castro]. But giving info to the cops is like spreading the crabs. Once you begin you can't stop without kwell. And our kwell is SILENCE. We've seen what happens when the D.A. tries an ex-cop--he throws the case, cause he needs the cops to win any case in the future. All he needs us for is defendants. Our defense against the police is each other, our strength is our silence. DON'T COLLABORATE."
[Note: These flyers were created and distributed by LAPV and the Stonewall Coalition. We were particularly concerned about the appeasement faction of the gay male community, i.e., Cleve Jones who we had already heard intended to testify before the Grand Jury fully. This was in part because he had gone around bragging that it was him who had called the rally which led to the riot -- once he got incorrectly targeted for that, the rumors were that he was in panic to obtain immunity. The fact is, anyone knowledgeable about his politics would know he had nothing to do with an event like this.]
LAPV wrote a musical skit about keeping quiet and not collaborating with a possible grand jury, the script of which is in the above-mentioned Meg Barnett Papers. I acted often in this skit, sometimes as the main character, Deborah Dyke. I remember one of the songs I performed, to the tune of a Beatles' song:
You think you are safe here
But it's just not true
Others are in danger
Soon it could be you
Remember the White Riot
Elephant Walk and Peg's Place too
Some vict'ries we've accomplished
But our struggle's far from through
[Note: I remember these and all our wonderful lyrics as being written by Joan Annsfire and Joan Bobkoff.]
The Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parade after the riot drew 250,000 to 300,000 marchers, according to later official reports. The mainstream element of the gay community wanted desperately to prove that we were "just like everyone else" and extreme influence was exerted to keep any kind of effective protesting from taking place during the march and rally. Below are two news video compilations from the SF Bay area in June 1979:
SAN FRANCISCO LESBIAN/GAY FREEDOM DAY, 1979 -- PART ONE
June 24, 1979. Here is Bay Area television news coverage of the eighth annual "Gay Freedom Day Parade And Celebration" on Market Street, San Francisco. Coverage begins with film (not video, remember) of Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps, led by Jon Simms. Also seen and/or heard is future S.F. Mayor the Hon. Willie Brown, Jr., City Attorney Louise H. Renne, and Supervisor Harry Britt. Seen: Lesbian Nurses, Lesbian Chorus, Gay Fathers, Harvey Milk Gay Democratic Club, and Bay Area Physicians For Human Rights. There is also a rally celebrating the recently murdered Supervisor Harvey Milk. A strange offshoot of one newscast featured a bitter young boxer named Mick Kowalski, who traveled to the parade in hopes of understanding why his wife left him for another woman.
SAN FRANCISCO LESBIAN/GAY FREEDOM DAY, 1979 -- PART TWO
At 0:014 you'll see the banner for the Stonewall Coalition, at first just the top of it behind a sign reading "Gay and Angry", then the banner and the right end of it being carried by Amber Hollibaugh.
Here's a photo of our contingent during that parade:
(Lesbians Against Police Violence marching in Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parade, June 24, 1979, San Francisco -- I helped make this banner. Dyke on left end of banner is Sharon Sapphora, my roommate.)
LAPV continued to do activism until 1981. Here's another photo of us during a march that year.
(Lesbians Against Police Violence banner heading for a community march in February 1981. I helped make this banner as well.)
(Burning police cars near Opera Building, San Francisco, 21 May 1979)
The White Night Riot and Harvey Milk's Birthday Party from Uncle Donald's Castro Street
The White Night Riot as remembered by Leland Frances from Uncle Donald's Castro Street
The White Night Riot personal account by Chris Carlsson
The 'White Night' Riot from Guided By History
The White Night Riots from Wikipedia
Elephant Walk and the White Night, account by Fred Rogers, owner of the Elephant Walk
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
(Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, pioneers of lesbian liberation; photo by Jill Posener)
I don't usually do pop culture on this blog, unless it's got a political connection, and the love scandals of sapphic celebrities do not count as lesbian liberation news. But I've had more down-time than usual and have watched some trash TV, so guess what: I'm going to share!
Ellen Degeneres announces on her show that she and Portia di Rossi are going to get married. She got a standing ovation. I watched it, and got verklempt.
Anne Heche pleads to the divorce court that she cannot afford $15,000 monthly spousal and child support to the guy she dumped Ellen for, because her series Men In Trees got cancelled. No comment.
According to reports, actress Jodie Foster and her longtime partner Cydney Bernard have called it quits. Foster and Bernard began dating in 1993 after meeting on the set of Sommersby. The pair have been together for 14 years and have two children; 9-year-old Charlie and 6-year-old Kit.
Erica Hahn and Callie Torres kiss on Grey's Anatomy. Mostly this seems to just be appealing to the twisted het version of what lesbians are (secretly wanting to be with men). But the kiss is good, Erica has a good chance of being a REAL dyke trying to deal with Callie's lesbo panic, and Callie -- well, she felt that kiss, kids.
Oprah Winfrey recreates the office and apartments sets for the Mary Tyler Moore Show and the entire cast (minus Ted Knight, who died in 1989) reunites so Oprah can gush on about how much Mary meant to her. Well, Mary gave a LOT of us permission to stay home on Saturday nights, and a reference to her influence appears in at least one dykiest of dykes songs. Five points to anyone who can make the lyric connection. (Not you, Liza, for obvious reasons.)
When I used to do radio, I made it a habit to play Joan Jett's rendition of the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme, "Love is All Around". Here's a YouTube version with a montage of Joan and Mary pix. You can never get too much Joan Jett.
CROSSING THE BEARDMORE
We're drawn to the stories whose characters
are unmistakably heroes, no snarky take-down
will be done of them in revisionist history
We know the phrases, even if we've never
left home: South Col, rounding the Cape,
Donner Pass, crossing the Ohio
We can hear the screams of drowning mares
in the horse latitudes. We finger our gums
and eat an orange. We tell our children about
the Latin phrase on the collar of a dog
found with his boy in the ruins of Pompeii
We cry for those who died in a blizzard.
Run down by a wave. Choking on Zyklon B
We cry because we can, it is enough
to cry. We find room in our lungs for breath
after we grieve. Room in our minds
to think of other things.
While all around us are legends
Too close to leave us room
The woman in a wheelchair whose hands
cannot push her forward, so she smiles
and waits, says "Thank you" with emphasis
for the 3000th time.
The paramedic who leaves crying children
with a frightened mother because they've
survived the main tremor, but the freeway
has collapsed. He will not come home until
he's pulled too many bodies to count
from cars crushed like beer cans.
She'll divorce him because he can't talk
about what's inside, because he isn't
The mother serving bare macaroni with salt
and a little tabasco. For dessert last summer's
red plum jam. She tells stories about the
Superstition Mine and Jim Bowie, tomorrow
at school they will have a full tray, maybe
she can borrow from a neighbor again.
We believe what we are taught when argument
can mean shunning or death:
Raping a baby brings good fortune
PTSD is the refuge of a sissy
An unwitnessed rape means death by stoning
Homeless people are addicts who wouldn't stop
A woman who dresses like a man just wants
a dick, one way or another
Hard work always pays off
Changing your mind means you were wrong
to begin with, why should we trust you again
We pull out the worn wooden box and sort
one more time. It's late.
The pain med is not kicking in.
What was I born for, again? Oh, yeah
Fake it until we have another minute
of pure belief. Sometimes
as good as it gets is
as good as it gets.
© Maggie Jochild, 19 May 2008, 7:37 p.m.
Monday, May 19, 2008
(Caroline Atwater standing in the kitchen doorway of double one and a half story log house, North Carolina, July 1939; photograph by Dorothea Lange)
The Writer's Almanac poem for Sunday, May 18th was an evocative and sharp piece about class. I'm going to reprint it here:
by Jim Harrison
On Easter morning all over America
the peasants are frying potatoes in bacon grease.
We're not supposed to have "peasants"
but there are tens of millions of them
frying potatoes on Easter morning,
cheap and delicious with catsup.
If Jesus were here this morning he might
be eating fried potatoes with my friend
who has a '51 Dodge and a '72 Pontiac.
When his kids ask why they don't have
a new car he says, "these cars were new once
and now they are experienced."
He can fix anything and when rich folks
call to get a toilet repaired he pauses
extra hours so that they can further
learn what we're made of.
I told him that in Mexico the poor say
that when there's lightning the rich
think that God is taking their picture.
Like peasants everywhere in the history
of the world ours can't figure out why
they're getting poorer. Their sons join
the army to get work being shot at.
Your ideals are invisible clouds
so try not to suffocate the poor,
the peasants, with your sympathies.
They know that you're staring at them.
I have two shelves of cookbooks, but one of the three* I prize the most is White Trash Cooking. Click on the link for a marvelous article about the book and its "aristo-dixie-queer" author, Ernest Matthew Mickler. And, in honor of the book and the poem, here's a popular recipe from the book:
TUTTI'S FRUITED PORKETTES
1 pound sweet potatoes
12 slices canned pineapple
6 slices bacon, cut into halves
6 tender pork chops (or, as my Daddy's family called 'em, 'poke chops')
6 tablespoons brown sugar
Select sweet potatoes to makes slices a bit smaller than pineapple slices. Cut into slices one inch thick. Parboil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes. Place each chop between two slices of pineapple. Place slice of sweet potato on top of each pork-pineapple stack. Sprinkle each porkette with one tablespoon of brown sugar. Place bacon criss-cross on top. Place porkettes in open casserole. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour or longer, depending on thickness of chops.
Tutti, Petie's grandma, said "she learned to make porkettes by using a Hawaiian recipe combined with Southern ingredient. You cain't git trashier than that."
*Besides White Trash Cooking, The other two are The Joy of Cooking my Mama gave me when I first moved out on my own, now with stained pages and a broken binding, and Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home.
ADDENDUM: No post on white trash or po' folks regional cooking in this country would be complete without a mention of Jello, that "other vegetable". And there's a fabulous exploration of Jello ephemera, imagery and meaning on Liza Cowan's blog, See Saw, that makes me crave cold, slippery, black cherry Jello every time I go there. Check it out at More Jello Images.