The (soon-to-be-Pulitzer-Prize-winning) photo from Ferguson by Whitney Curtis for the New York Times is worth 1,000 words.
Light content as I work on a couple of stories for the ol' newspaper.
It's hard to beleive, but I'm coming up later this month on my 12th anniversery as a blogger -- dating to August 2004. My first 'blog" (the term is short for "Internet blog") was called Campaign Extra! and it was strictley devoted to politics, so the first few posts captured all the excitement of that summer's Democratic convention in Kansas City, where the party nominated Michael Dukakis to run against the eventually winner, George Wilson Bush, or, as most Americans came to know him, "G."
The following year, 2006, came this blog, Attywood. The rooster of subjects expanded, but as Lead Zeppelin famously sang, the song stayed pretty much the same. The goal was still to get the news and unbiased commentary to you, the utilizer of news, as rapidly as possible -- without the interruption of flow caused by editers. I quickly learnt that nothing was lost by elminating the centerman, as they say in the business world, and something important was gained: Fastness.
Freed from the messy act of intercourse with my editors, who waste literally years with their insistance on dotting every "t" and crossing every "i" meant that I had more time to write about more things -- some of which I knew a lot about and some of which about I literally knew nothing at all. It was a win-victory situation for everyone! And if I made the occasional act of not getting something right (like, apparently our 37th president, George Herman Wilson Bush, was not an original cast member of "Our Gang," although I still haven't had time to double-check that on Wikipedia), you the consumerist will let me know!
I contend that the cry of "black power" is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we've got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.
Unfortunately I can't embed it, but the entire interview with CBS' Mike Wallace is fascinating. Watch it here.
It didn't take long for the gunmen to return to the scene of the crime. And when they came back, to say they were armed to the teeth would be an understatement. Some rolled through the streets of a working-class American suburb in an armored personnel carrier, while others clutched onto to ferocious dogs that kept the citizens of the town at bay. The images were frightening -- as if Bull Connor's henchmen in Birmingham's civil rights struggles of 1963 had been dropped into the geographic center of America 51 years later -- but the militarized cops of Ferguson, Mo., accomplished their mission.
They kept the public from getting the answers they need, the answers they deserve.
Why was yet another unarmed young black man -- this one just 18 -- shot and killed? Why did it have to be a solid kid like Mike Brown, a young man who made it through high school and was supposed to start his college classes tomorrow morning? When is excessive police force in this country -- which is clearly unchecked and out-of-control -- finally going to be reigned in, in a land that pledges allegiance to liberty and justice for all?
...of life if you're the president of the United States, apparently. I guess we still are the world's policeman.
More to come on the police...soon.
Forty years ago this Friday, President Richard Nixon resigned...in black and white.
At least, he did in my house in Don Draper's old stomping grounds of Chilmark, on a small, fuzzy black and white TV set that we propped up on the big living room windowsill. We actually had a color TV down in the family room -- it was where I saw the Mets win the '69 World Series and hippies get beat up by cops in '68 (I still root for the hippies, even as I abandoned the Mets years ago) -- but it hadn't worked for a couple of years, as my parents were either too stretched for cash or too preoccupied with the Updikian suburban angst of the early 1970s to fix it.
1974 was like that. It was the most apocalyptic year I have ever lived through. The high crimes and misdemeanors of the Watergate scandal and the looming implosion of the 37th American presidency was something of a dark abyss, just like the Sunday about nine months earlier when my dad and I drove into the center of Briarcliff Manor and sat, about 20th or so, in a long line of cars desperate for just a few gallons of gasoline. No one knew what was on the other side of the precipice. I was only 15 and the America I'd been born into -- the nation that my grade-school textbook depicted as a friendly beat cop, "the world's policeman" -- was now broken and for a time seemed no closer to the cosmic repair shop than our white-elephant color TV downstairs.
It's caused a minor stir in local media circles, but since the odds are that you aren't in local media circles, you may not be aware of the new rival news website now in the works for Philadelphia. It's run by some of the sharper minds in online news, including Jim Brady, who helped get the Washington Post's website off the ground back in the day when newspapers needed someone to get their websites off the ground. And -- like the singing bird and the croaking toad -- it had a name:
You get it, right? You know...The City of Brotherly Love. Why shouldn't that be Philadelphia's nickname? After all, translated from Greek, Philadelphia literally means, "city of goop-laden, overstuffed cheesesteaks" "city of brotherly love." Brady reports that he loved the name "brother.ly" and so did everyone he told about it...in New York! Philadelphians, it turned out, not so much.
Recently, Daniel Denvir and Ryan Briggs of the City Paper published an in-depth look at the thorny issues surrounding so-called "broken windows" policing in some of the Philadelphia's neighborhoods. That refers to aggressive enforcement of low-level, so-called "quality-of-life" offenses, seen as a way to curb more serious violent crime. Increasingly, critics say the policy is breeding neighborhood mistrust, abuses of police power, and is simply locking up too many folks, with negative long-term consequences.
Here's a slice of what they found:
Philadelphia Municipal Court processes summary citations issued by the police and, last week, room 404 was so packed with small-time offenders that a line had formed in the hallway outside. One young man from Kensington lamented that it was the second time he and a friend had to go to court for sitting on the steps of an abandoned house...