Tag Archives: american studies

Fanzine Publishes Parks on Strawberry

In the late summer of 2005 I met Casey McKinney, a quietly bruised character at Maxfield’s coffee house on Dolores in San Francisco.  We drove up to Muir Woods in a 1990 325i and stood in the fog and talked about my moving to the Bay Area and his potential escape to Europe and possibly New York City.  I wasn’t sure what to think.  But McKinney did it, and in doing so created the Fanzine; an everything and everyman culture magazine, which allows, or rather encourages, longer form writing that blurs the boundaries of fiction/non-fiction and every other genre encapsulation to which we might confine prose.

Today on the Fanzine, McKinney published a piece of writing that perfectly fits the bill of the Fanzine’s mission.  In “Strawberry Jamming: Darryl’s Dodger Days, Memories of a Young Fan,” Richard Parks laces together the narrative of Darryl Strawberry’s self-destruction with urban malaise and tragedy of Los Angeles in the early 1990’s, all told (both) through the large innocent eyes of a nine-year-old fan and a 20-something’s hindsight.

It would behoove you to read it, in toto.  You can let me know what you think.

darryl

Image from dingedcorners.com

Like all great arts organizations, the Fanzine is struggling right now.  You can help by sponsoring them.  Click here for more information.

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Memorial Day

Most of you NPR listeners have probably already heard of StoryCorps.  If you haven’t, this is it:

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.

By recording the stories of our lives with the people we care about, we experience our history, hopes, and humanity. Since 2003, tens of thousands of everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home and share, and is archived for generations to come at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to our award-winning broadcasts on public radio and the Internet. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, creating a growing portrait of who we really are as Americans.

I’d like to share Allen Hoe’s story, which is one of the featured stories for Memorial Day.  Click here to listen to Mr. Hoe’s story.  It’s a great memorial.

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What’s Up With Black History Month

I’ve been thinking about BHM, and wanted to say something about it on ARL, so I did a little digging.  The first thing I came up with was Cynthia Tucker’s article that was published locally in the Chronicle on 2/9/09.  I think Tucker did a brilliant job elucidating the issues around keeping up the tradition, while simultaneously looking forward to better days.  I hope to share this with my students.  Let’s hear your thoughts.  

Black history is the nation’s history by Cynthia Tucker via the San Francisco Chronicle

douglass

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Petty Business

If Petty Business is convinced to have sympathy for Norman Mailer, should we too?  I must admit, I can (could) hardly bear him, but I’m a woman.  I never thought about how much power NM had to piss off the universe, but I think he succeeded. Petty Business

Apparently his letters are a good read.  While I’m at it I might subscribe to the electronic version of the New York Review of Books.  In the mean time I had no idea that so much content was available gratis from the NYRB online.  Thanks you PB.  

A link to Mailer’s letters on the NYRB website.

norman_mailer_web

The eyebrows in this pic do make him a bit sympathetic.  Note to self: whenever reading an essay by Norman Mailer keep a picture of him with sympathetic eyebrows near by so you don’t punch your fist through a wall. 

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Thoughts On Civil Rights

As you’ve noticed, MLK Day and President Obama’s inauguration have given me pause to reflect on the state of civil rights in our country.  Today I heard an interesting perspective and some disturbing facts regarding the subprime mortgage market crash and the affects it has had on black homeowners.  The report comes from commentator Amelia Tyagi on American Public Media’s Marketplace:

 

Amid hope, black homeowners struggle

As African Americans celebrate President Obama’s inauguration, a disproportionate number of them are struggling to avoid foreclosures on their homes. Commentator Amelia Tyagi says we should examine the practices that led many of them into this situation.

 

Listen to the January 20, 2009 Marketplace here or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.  Tyagi’s piece appears at approximately the 14:42 mark.  

African Americans are two and a half times more likely to be in foreclosure than their white counterparts.  

Early in the 2008 race for the presidency, prior to Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s speeches on race, I was very concerned that we would have a popular black leader who only wanted everyone to forget that he is black.  My fears were in error.  Yet I don’t expect President Obama to be a civil rights leader.  I expect him to support a fight for expanded civil rights, I expect him to facilitate the movement, but not to lead it.  President Obama, a popularly elected executive of a democratic republic must unite.  Like he has said, his task is diplomacy, and appropriately so.

Now, as the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King urged us in “A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations,” we must celebrate our progress, but we must also never be satisfied with less than the total equality that we all share in God’s eyes.  

We need leaders to lead this fight; a fight that must take place in order for true equality to be achieved.  To fuel our mission we need writers to write these stories.  We need people to talk about the fight for civil rights that is happening now.  We need take the issue of civil rights out of history books (as if it were some static era that sprang up and then disappeared)  and put it back where it belongs–in 2009.

President Obama, will you help us?  

Let’s take the responsibility, let’s do our part.  We have a president who’ll support us if we make this our issue.  Let’s take this opportunity.

“…nobody thinks of [the foreclosures on black homeowners] as a civil rights issue, but maybe they should.”

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Dinwiddie Pearl, Hang Ten

Van Dyke Parks, Sunset Boulevard, 1976

Fashion: “Sandman” airbrushed tank designed by Sara Rightor Parks for Harry Nilsson’s album of the same name

I just couldn’t resist.

The original context.

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This Is Just To Say

I have not

written the warm up

that the children

should do today in class

 

and which

you were counting on

using

for today.

 

Forgive me

dinner was delicious;

pumpkin pasta

and fresh salad.

After William Carlos Williams

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