Deacons for Defense: Black Armed Resistance

This week marks the 50th anniversary of “Freedom Summer” and the murder by Mississippi Ku Kluxers of three young civil rights volunteers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and “Mickey” Schwerner. The triple killing was world news mainly because Goodman and Schwerner were white Jewish New Yorkers. If it had been only the African American Chaney, nobody […]

GM & The 1.6 Millimeter Solution

You’re driving at night in a General Motors compact car, a Cobalt or Cruze or Ion, and without warning the brakes, gas pedal and airbag suddenly give out. You hurtle into a tree and kill yourself. The police and forensic experts are in the dark about what happened and why. Your family asks questions, the […]

The Afterlife Of Mario Savio

Veterans of the 1964 Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, California, an event that electrified young men and women world over, will return to campus for the fiftieth anniversary reunion this October. (If interested e-mail FSM50th@gmail.com.) FSM’s most famous leader, Mario Savio, won’t be there because he died in 1996. I’m intensely interested in the personal […]

Bright Eyes, Good Brain

It’s said that Shirley Temple is responsible for one of Graham Greene’s least good but most Catholic novels The Power & The Glory. In the late 1930s an impoverished Greene, scrounging for rent money, became the film critic of a small London-based cineaste magazine Night and Day. He was a pretty good reviewer. He was also […]

The Invisible Americans

In my neighborhood I’m surrounded by Spanish speaking Latinos who work as gardeners, maids, dry wall and bulldozing construction, nannies of Anglo children and checkers in my local Ralphs market. Only on Cinco de Mayo or when my attention is drawn to a rash of gang killings are they truly visible to me.

The Doris Lessing I Knew

From her obituaries, and the serious critical assess­ments of her work, I hardly recognize the Doris Lessing I knew. I don’t fault the obit writers (I used to be one) or critics and admirers for attempting the tricky job of col­lating into a coherent narrative the Bunyanesque epi­sodes and human contradictions in Lessing’s life and […]

Single-Payer Works

Obamacare, ACA, health exchanges, bronze silver gold and platinum levels. Oy! It’s complicated! Does it have to be? “Do you really want the state to be your doctor?” the British Medical Association of medical professionals trumpeted in nationwide ads when England’s current National Health System was first being debated in 1948. Doctors and conservatives furiously […]

Hysteria, Madness & The Forgotten War

Sixty years ago this week the “forgotten war” came to an inconclusive end.  The Korean war was perfectly mistimed for me. On 25 June 1950, the day I graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles as a GI Bill student, North Korean troops in their Soviet-made tanks smashed across the 38th Parallel that was […]

Starving For Change

In the past few days, in the largest prison protest in California’s history, nearly 30,000 inmates have gone on hunger strike in the country’s largest prison system. Such near-insurrections are not unusual in America’s prison-industrial complex.

Hello Baseball, Goodbye Brain

The opening day of the major league baseball season is when I start to live again until October when pro basketball and NFL football take over and the fan in me goes into a long winter sleep. I’m not a full-time fan of anything I haven’t tried to play. (Hence no ice hockey or lacrosse.) […]