Baltimore: Break the Code

Twenty-three years ago I told a young friend, “Riots are not good. But someone’s death is a good reason to riot.” Referring, of course, to Latasha Harlins, a young girl shot to death over a bottle of juice; her killer given probation. The Rodney King tape just put the match to the fire.

Putting blind faith in the police and whatever they do is stupid. Insisting “protocol” was followed when an incident occurs (but paying millions of dollars, later) is extremely short-sighted. Holding onto a code of silence isn’t working. Omerta should not be lauded as a social value.

We need to know how Freddie Gray was murdered. All the uniforms in America won’t change that.

Death by Snorkeling: Don’t Take the Bait

Drowning deaths are up in the State of Hawaii. I was there for 8 days, during which 3 people drowned, one at Waipouli, Kauai, near my hotel.

Snorkeling is not strenuous. I’ve done it myself. Strong currents and large waves can kill you, though, and rising sea levels might be contributing to this problem.

The Garden Island newspaper had a very informative article about Kevin Garvey, who almost drowned at Larsen’s Beach. Kevin saw the signs about the dangers, and the 13 recent deaths, but went into the water anyway. He left the shallows and swam into deeper water, when he found he could not get back because the current was against him. Then a large wave hit him and tore off his fins.

His 16-year old son, Taylor, grabbed a Rescue Tube (made available at some beaches), went out, and helped him get back to shore. Without Taylor, Kevin would have died.

Don’t worry about snorkeling, just check out the water conditions. There’s a new campaign in Kauai, “when in doubt, don’t go out.” Mahalo!

Book Review: “Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore” (Walter Mosley, 2014)

Having left behind the carcass of Easy Rawlins, Mosley takes on the voice of Debbie Dare, a busy porn star.

The plot is just as dubious as a porn movie, requiring many suspensions of disbelief. Wedging numerous street stories onto one character results in a Ms. Potato-Head effect. Mosley gives repeated, graphic descriptions of rectum-bashing, to the point where one begins to suspect he is thinking of his own, and not without pleasure.

Debbie receives our sympathy when she expresses her concerns about returning to the straight life, given the permanence of her images, her physical revealment in dozens of porn flicks. The aftermath of crossing socio-sexual boundaries can persist for a long time.

I borrowed the book from the library, and the price was right. If you need to relax, and you’re too tired to watch porno, try it.

Trelfani Michel

GooglePlus asked me for a username a couple of weeks ago. I entered “Trelfani,” a dream name, and my future last name, “Michel.” While researching my family history for my memoir, “No Blue Stones on Mondays,” I found out my genetic grandfather was John W. Arick (not “Wise,” the man my grandmother married before she got pregnant with my father). I’m also learning about the Wallicks on the paternal side, going back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when Hans Michel Walck arrived from Germany in 1732. This is funny, because Ben Franklin was busy at his store, publishing his newspaper and almanac, and Hans may have known of him. Hans quickly moved to York, Pennsylvania in 1733, got married in 1736, and had three sons. His second son, one of many Michael Wallicks, is my ancestor. He and his wife, Charlotte, had twelve children.

I plan to take the old man’s middle name, Michel, as my legal name in a few years, and my next book will be published under the name Marilyn Sue Michel.

Book Review – Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (Wilder, 2013)

Wilder has done an excellent job of tracing the influence and financial contribution of slavery on the elite educational institutions of the United States, back to the colonial era.

The Northern approach to slavery between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War is thoroughly analyzed, in particular, the support for colonization and resistance to abolition among highly respected university presidents and founders. Education and science were perverted to support anti-black prejudices. The North maintained an appearance of opposition to slavery, while collecting large profits from building slave ships and processing slave-grown cotton. It is a shame that traditional history teachings have largely accepted this tacky façade as a substitute for the truth.

This is a good book for anyone who wants to learn more about racial delusions in the North.

Poetry in Motion

On the anniversary of James Baldwin’s death (November 30th), I watched “The James Baldwin Anthology” (presented by Claire Burch). His speech at UC Berkeley in 1979 makes up the greater portion of the film. After a charming introduction by Angela Davis, Baldwin demonstrates his own charm and insight into human nature. Of the Black people, he notes “our presence here in this country terrifies every white man walking.” Alas, all too true.

Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford and Eric Garner – the madness continues.