Sunday, May 07, 2006
Still on the path...slightly distracted..
While waiting on the release of a major article in a big time Chicago paper about Dante yet another mysterious character has reared his ghostly head as a result of my research. He is a ghost from my personal political past, Chairman Bob Avakian, my favorite Armenian-American revolutionary. But Bob is not dead, he is, like the truth, out there somewhere. In case you do not know who he is, think Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). Oh yeah! I guess my visibility as an intelligence risk just went up 250%. LOL
Bob lived up the street from me. He took over the house from a few others I knew and worked with as part of my political activity when I was in high school. Bob was almost as shadowy a figure to me as John Keehan. The house he lived in stopped being the welcoming folksy atmosphere it was before he came to town. Things changed upon his arrival. The organization was called Revolutionary Union (RU) before I knew Bob. I worked on The People's Voice newspaper at the same time I worked on Gideon's Babble, my high school underground paper.
Bob was always intense but funny. I remember him yelling at me from a passing car more than once. He was fun to talk with and fun to party with, which I think I did once, when he first moved to Maywood. Our contact tended to be sporadic. I was never a member, I guess I could be called a "fellow traveler" if someone was hard pressed to prosecute me for my associations.
I got involved with RU because it was a sign of the times. My mom was in UAW at a factory called Standard Screw Company. Yes, that was the real name. I also worked there and became a member of the Union. They were being true to the name of the company. I believed then as well as now, resistance is not futile and that it is part of our duty and obligation as patriotic American citizens to effect change and course correction when our leadership goes astray, afoul of the Constitution, or get just plain flat out corrupt. When we stop doing that, we turn into a very large banana republic.
I like to think I was developing a better worldview through my exposure to all of these different organizations. During my teen years it was almost essential for a thinking person to be involved in something. I was also part of 4H at some point; I was a Boy Scout; Explorer Scout was even in some kind of weird social organization in Maywood that I am still trying to decipher, it was that bad.
I was an Explorer Scout one year, and then a member of some underground cell of ineffectual intellectuals not associated with any of these high profile groups the next. Ain't that America?
We studied and debated a lot. I appreciated all this a lot more when I started traveling. I had a preparatory intellectual experience, a place of analysis in my head so I would not freak out at some of the things I would see and experience when I was in foreign climes, in different cultures. I had enough social and political history of these places to prepare me for the social contradictions I would encounter. So I did not freak out and demand ice where there was none. Cryptic? I guess. Surprisingly it was the only thing I ever joined. I ain't naming names...so don't ask. The world was my oyster and Malcolm had already told me travel would "broaden my scope."
In my mind they all of these experiences were related to navigating life and reality. 4H, Young Entrepreneurs, Boy Scouts, Explorers, martial arts training, team sports, all part of growing up. Are you wanting to ask me what I think and feel now??? Go ahead.... I might even answer.
I still like ole Chairman Bob. Reading his autobiography I saw a picture of the house he lived in, my mom still lives around there, same street. I got a feeling I will see him again one day. I did not and still do not disagree with Bob; he is anti-racist, anti-poverty, and anti-economic domination by a few at the expense of the many. So how is he that different from the founding fathers? Patriotism is not about kissing ass and Bob is a real patriot. Patriotism is about making where you live a better place dealing with the social contradictions and reconciling the idea of what it means to be a revolutionary country. That is what we were once upon a time. America was about hope even with all of its incredible contradictions so visible like festering sores. Bob is the patriot no one invites to dinner. I appreciate him aside from whatever flaws he has I might feel irked about. And it has nothing to do with him being short.
Where did I get the time? There was also flute playing, hanging out at the North Park Hotel on Sundays to see Yuseef Lateef or Roland Kirk, working for Sears, going to the Japanese Cinema Series at Francis Parker Auditorium, hitch-hiking, working out, late late nights at the Brown Shoe on Wells Street, and women, women, women(I was young, remember that)...and then I left the country. During this period I had lost contact with Dante. I think I saw him a few times in 1969 on the street downtown, up north or something. I was deep into my own life. In 1970 when the dojo war was in the news he dropped off the circuit, understandably.
How does a person got from trying to be on a path to West Point in Fort Benning, Ga in one year and then working out with young members of the ANC in Dar Es Salaam on the beach in 5 years? Now a lot of people have accused me of working for "duh man," the FBI/CIA/NSA. And they say it with enough authority to make ME believe it. I guess the idea of a Black bohemian vagabond of dubious and unpin able ideology from Mississippi is just not possible in the minds of some. I cannot dare to be free and live as a freethinking person without the aid of Government institutions. It all the fault of them damn liberals I guess.
Looking back, it is pretty amazing. I have never put a chronology to my life until I started working on this project. It just goes to show how our whole being comes into play during the creative process.
I need to show my appreciation. The internet has been a great boon to my research I am forever grateful to the people who are sending me articles that are hard to get, information, and phone numbers. I have made a special credit category for the film, Internet Research Associates. They deserve it for making my job easier and making the film better by increasing the data pool.