I woke today (Wednesday, named for Odin a Norse God) reaching first mentally then physically for my Bevington, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, specifically honing in on “The Merchant of Venice” and that line. What is it:
If you prick me, do I not bleed?
I should back up: I am Jewish, and white. But I am not a racist, and I consider myself an ally of Blacks. I am from the South Side of Chicago where Jewish middle class families often had Black allies (ok, the help. But work with me here. In my case, to my knowledge, Louisa and Ellen love me and my siblings and my grandmother; it was mutual).
My rabbi, Sidney Axelrod, marched with Martin Luther King. Each year at Passover our haggadah emphasizes the point: because we were slaves in the land of Egypt, we fight racism. We side with Blacks in matters of Justice. To be continued. Gladly.
By the time I made it to the stairwell my Bevington was a tower of 18 titles: Shakespeare, Kamala Harris, Ralph Ellison, Willie Mays (with Lou Sahadi), Folger’s Shakespeare; Al Young — he’s from Palo Alto, by the way, or a Palo Altan at least; Eddie S. Gaude, Jr; Marlon James; Don DeLillo White Noise; David W. Blight, Frederick Douglas; Nathaniel Mackey Whatsaid Serif; Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave, Written By Himself; Richard Pryor with intro by Tig Notaro; James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain; Octavia E Butler and a wild card: a cd grabbed randomly from the shelves: TJ Kirk if Four Was One the music of Thelonious Monk James Brown and Roland Rahsaan Kirk.
(In my head, Bob Marley sings “Lively Up Yourself” rather than reaching for a Monk melody…excuse the digression; Did I mention that Plastic Alto is about music chiefly?)
I have an alarm set so this is the speed chess version of The Argument, caveat emptor. My coffee is getting cold, the sip of it that remains. To wit:
Palo Alto should denounce The Beylin Petition as racism. Eric Filseth my neighbor has posted to the Palo Alto Weekly’s online forum three times without saying this. He says its impractical to support the petition. He demonstrates he does not understand the lawsuit. Or what he calls “the Settlement” sic.
The signs in front of Foothill Park (sic) says RESIDENTS ONLY. To Black people, or so they say, this hurts them as if it said WHITES ONLY. Personally, as a white male, even though I may have been taught this by Ellen and Louisa in 1964 and 1965 on the South Side of Chicago, I don’t feel this. But I believe Gwen et al when they tell me they do.
Yes, I need to read more carefully to pass a test of the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment — the Juneteenth Amendment — and this case, but I take it as granted.
If the National Association for The Advancement of Colored (Black) People AND the American Civil Liberties Union, and Judge LaDoris Cordell and nine neighbors say our policy is wrong, I believe them.
On Saturday, June 3, 2020 I was on a bike ride but could not help notice that as I approached Bryant (my street) and University, heading South, there were 5,000 gathered, most carrying signs BLACK LIVES MATTER, and though wearing masks (for the Covid pandemic) seeming to welcome me. I was so far from the podium at City Hall — social distance protest oxymoron — that I could barely hear, let alone see. An ally texted me: THAT’S THE MAYOR, THAT’S THE EPA MAYOR, et cetera.
On June 5, 2020 Reverend Kaloma Smith wrote an opinion piece in the Weekly and online explaining Black Lives Matter, how it applies here, and, first on his list, the need to open Foothills Park. (I call it Foothill Park, however).
On June 6, responding to a note I sent he and another commissioner, HRC member Ryan McCauley, a lawyer and civil servant by trade, sent me a copy of a demand letter co-signed by 100 local leaders, and clergy that said to open the park.
(As an aside, I posted seven times in my enthusiasm various amicus statements about the park and Black Lives Matter here; another reader, anonymously, denounced me for being “rude”, for speaking too many times and for writing about Matthew in verse. That which you’ve done for the last of my brethren and sisters, so have you done for me – -which Christ said, but I namechecked Roger Rabbit and Bugsy Siegal, and then Tim Bluhm and Greg Loicano of the Mother Hips who had appeared at my music series three months prior; notably, Bill Johnson the white supremacist leader of the Palo Alto Weekly first repeated the claim that I post too many times and then, apparently, banned me permanently from future posts; I am CENSORED).
In November, only one candidate I backed, Greer Stone, was elected.
The two incumbents, Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka, were both re-elected despite their flaws; worse, in my opinion they played the racist card and dog whistle, promising to fight the NAACP and ACLU and Ladoris and Gwen and them, either stupidly or disingenuously; Lydia and Greg – -she is Chinese or born in China, he is Japanese American — claim to be fighting the opening for Foothill Park on grounds of proprerty rights. Worse: Lydia and her husband John St. Claire — who is Black, or mixed race, or so it looks — stood by as a vicious asshole attacked candidate Rebecca Eisenberg as she graciously tried to explain a lot of the above to him. (She’s a Stanford grad, Harvard trained lawyer, and got 7,000 votes in her first try). Lydia turned her back on the fight. John St Claire said “it’s a pleasure meeting you” to the asshole. When I chimed in that “pleasure” might not be the word, considering the abuse Rebecca took, he told me not to put words in his mouth. (He’s a ******t, I reckon; maybe he (***** ******) and Lydia with (**** **** **** **** **** , to each his own, except when you are a public figure).
I say there could be an emergency meeting to declare the Beylin Petition racist.
I say we recall Tanaka and Kou for their racist stance and actions.
Oh that this far too solid flesh would melt, not.
Professor L_ informs me, via text, that the people who sign the Beylin Petition will be a public record. we can therefore, for example, send them a questionaire, based, ironically enough of Terman, that measures their intelligence It might have a question based on the supreme court super-precedent — Professor Starzinger is smiling, from on high, that i have continued to learn, or follow the lingo — Brown Vs Board of Education, Topeka KS, 1954 and Tingsley, East Palo Alto, how they might be related even separated geographically by 2,000 or so miles and in time by 20 or so years. Ok, it could be a one question IQ test. People who get it right yet sign the petition are racist. People who get the question wrong are merely stupid. They can be sort of forgiven for signing — they may lose their jobs, their friends, their leases, whatever. Actually, both groups might. Maybe the test can be up to 10 such simple things. The hypothesis is that there is an relationship between intelligence and racism here, the smarter you are, the more racist you are. (The petition challenges the fact that the National Association of Advancement of Colored — meaning Black — People is suing Palo Alto to eliiminate what it says are unconstitutional laws restricting access to a park, the public commons, yet the petitioners are claiming they are not racist just greedy. Sho-nuff).
Eric Filseth a former mayor and current council member has posted eight times now on the Palo alto Weekly comment board, in a thread with 30 other obviously racist comments. He does not say “I condemn this petition as racist — please do not sign it”. I have sent him five messages trying to explain my stance versus his. Here’s another example, of disparate effects: if I make a sign that says FUCK THE POLICE and stand with it at Lytton Plaza I will get some stares, maybe some comments, maybe someone will really get in my face. if the police come, I will say I am a blogger and ran for city council and live in the neighborhood, knew the Chief Dennis Burns fairly well, and was one of 25 Palo Altans to publicly oppose – -fitting here — a measure that tried to limit the police CBA here – -I mean them no actual harm. Sho-nuff, 2.
Then, I will find a confederate, who presents as Black, maybe waiver him, maybe pay him $5,000 and show a letter of credit claiming to have $500,000 for his legal defense, or to pay his widow — maybe the waiver will offer to pay his funeral expenses should he expire within the next 2 years for any reason. What happens if he, a Black man, protests in Lytton Plaza, protected so to speak by the First Amendment but his sign says FUCK THE POLICE? (Ask Albert Hopkins for the answer).
I’m having varying reactions as I continue to listen to Pop Smoke (Bashar Jackson, 2000-2020, RIP) and his Grammy nominated song “Dior”. I saw an article that says it was used as protest music at BLM marches in New York. It’s hook: “Christian Dior, Dior; We up in all the stores”. My first thought was to challenge the author and claim it was not used by protesters it was used by looters. But then I remembered there was a band in San Francisco (which ran a club Komotion) Mat Callahan and The Looters. And a book “Property is Theft”. Whereas I was initially interested or fascinated by the lyrics about sex.
I edited 36 hours later the first version of this which projected my own kinkiness onto John St Claire who, despite running ads in the paper for his real estate practice that feature his likeness and being married to a two-term council member Lydia Kuo, is not a public figure. I may have misunderstood his comments about watching some asshole who lives in Palo Alto Hills (i.e. in a $5m house) say it was his “pleasure” to meet. I’m ok in chess — we watched the new series “Queen’s Gambit’ but have never played speed chess. I’m sure I’d suck. If Lydia signs this petition, she is likely to be recalled both for breach of fiduciary duty, for being a racist or for being stupid.
Othello: tis strange tis passing strange…I suffered all kinds of bullshit and she loved me that I went thru this, my ally (paraphrasing, the way the Duke misremembers Shakespeare in “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.) — published 6 pm Thursday, December 3, 2020 with four long weeks left in this mutha or as a group of kids said “low key fuck you 2020”
outro by Pop Smoke, more than 100 million viewers have seen this first:
edit to add, the next day, or two days from the start or, as Pop Smoke would say, “RRR”:
One part diagnostic suggested to be sent to all consignatories of the Beylin Petition
Brown Vs Board of Education, 1954, is to Topeka Kansas what PAUSD, 1985 East Palo Alto…choose the best response
a. Reverend Don Wildmon and Fred Phelps of Westboro strange bedfellows
b. Rolando Blackman taking it to the hole for the Wildcats, who are up by 6
c. “Sex makes me feel all tingly…”
d. Tinsley Volunteer Transfer Program or TVTP that allows students in an underserved educational community to attend better schools as a matter of equity.
andand: I started with Shakespeare and Shylock and his butt — unless that is Voltaire Candide Chapter 12 — and finish with exotic dancers going clap clap clap, so there is a certain roundedness to my methods, right? Picaresque versus prick. Or piquerism.
andandand, maybe the last word on this thread or post: Albert Hopkins died in 2007 at age 63, so one would not be able to consult him on the topic of racism in Palo Alto. Here is a quote posted from Tom Jacoubowsky who I know so I don’t think he’d mind me using him here thusly:
Albert will be terribly missed by the Gunn community. His reach went far and wide and he made such a difference in the lives of so many at Gunn and elsewhere. On a personal note, he was a friend and a mentor and I will always cherish the many conversations we had. Gunn High School will always remember Albert Hopkins.