LA Burning: The City's Finest Hour | Miscellany | Chicago Reader

LA Burning: The City's Finest Hour 

Diary of a Mad Whiteboy

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LA, April 30

What it's all about--pure and simple--is white man's inhumanity to man.

All I see is a noose tightening tightening tightening on the neck of Black Underclass America . . . of Black America, period.

LA, May 1

I've lived here, in this idiot airless town, for 17 years and have never for a moment felt the slightest stirring of anything you might call civic pride. Through the goddam Olympics, through winning Laker and Dodger seasons, through all these superimposed film and arts festivals: nothing, never, far from it. Not until yesterday, that is, the second day of the uprising, the "riot," when suddenly like lightning it hit me: this was its finest hour! The heroes, the martyrs, trashing and torching the town!--taking their wrath beyond the ghetto, from Bullock's Wilshire to the Farmer's Market to Beverly Center to Frederick's of fucking Hollywood, saying loudly, clearly not even just No (which itself would have been a monumental achievement), but a very unambiguous Something: the system doesn't work . . . even the system of oppression doesn't--can't--always do it. Against super-daunting odds: their finest hour. If I had photos of every black and Latino martyr killed by cops, by soon-to-arrive feds, I would put 'em on a T-shirt and wear it every day of my life.

Somewhere in the course of the night, the torch came within a block of my apartment house in a rare integrated neighborhood considerably north of South-Central. I'm not sure when it happened--the view out my window is just another building, and the shriek of sirens, the ratty whir of copters, the thick pinch of smoke, from blazes far as well as near, were constant round the clock. Sure I felt fear--hey, I don't wanna die, I don't even want all my silly stacks of paper especially messed with--but the fear was overwhelmed by a total sense of rage, so throbbing in my gut, my face, my chest, that if they'd gotten my street I'd've felt no additional anger, certainly none directed at THEM: if their ass, as the Simi Valley verdicts proclaimed, wasn't worth a dime, then nobody's ass was worth a dime. My rage was their rage.

Their grief, their rage is my grief, my rage.

LA, May 3

LA TV's vilest hour (every channel, every newsperson, no exceptions): from naked live to edited fake in no time flat . . . from real-time interviews with anyone and everyone (an enraged Hispanic woman calling for the head of "that motherfucker" Daryl Gates . . . Ice-T before a monitor image of a burning warehouse: "What they really wanna be venting their anger on is cops") to canned Q & As with acceptable "voices of reason" . . . running bullshit graphics like "The LA Riots" and "Violence in the Streets"--instead of "Travesty of Justice" or "Racism '92" or "Gates's Grim Harvest" . . . airing The Cosby Show for ratings and social control.

The racism continues--how nasty can these news cretins get?: insulting without letup the ongoing casualties of injustice . . . characterizing the participants as thugs, hooligans, hoodlums, anarchists, animals, bad people--not even, y'know, "suspected bad people"--purveyors of ugliness . . . calling the rebellion "senseless," i.e., lacking sense (when what could make more sense?), pretending not to understand Why, not even copping to the fact that if you treat people like dogs they eventually BITE--this from the medium, the industry, that gave the world Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

The mind reels: that they could designate as a hero a black guy who rescued a white guy, then another who rescued an Asian--which is fine, dandy, swell of course (credits to their, um, race)--but at no time, not even for the sake of symmetry, a black (or even a white!) who rescued a black! Black life still not apparently being life that officially counts . . . infuckingcredible. (How dare they insult people so!) Hey: in my experience at least, blacks have always been the likeliest Samaritans.

And reels: edited shots of the South-Central cleanup before some whites joined in to "help speed the healing process." Over images of black men and women sweeping up, performing a historically familiar menial task, a white voice speaks approvingly of the "good people of South-Central" . . . time for a rerun of Beulah.

And reels: barely a mention of Latasha Harlins, whose unredeemed death could easily itself have been the straw that etc but wasn't (how supremely patient these people really are), dealing with racial persecution solely in terms of Rodney King (i.e., something isolated, something new), playing timorous voice-overs by Simi Valley jurors and concluding: "See, it wasn't racist, it wasn't w/out, well, deliberation." If they say it, it's so.

A really sick line from channel nine: "At this point, thousands of arsonists are clogging up the criminal courts system"--get fucked.

But maybe toughest to swallow was this: that none of these jackjills, opportunity knocking like a migraine from hell, expressed a dust mote of outrage that a document from their own merry medium, an 81-second unfunniest home video--and one unedited at that--I'm talking Rodney and the cops--could have been so discredited as to evidentiary oompah, self-evidence, Truth . . . that, this video's brutality forever logged in their crania, they could then show a white trucker getting stomped and not utter--scream--the phrase deja vu.

Consider: the thoroughly OBSCENE prospect of TV footage being used to identify and convict looters, trashers, bashers, bystanders, etc (and thus once again underscore whom--and at penalty to whom else--the system truly "protects and serves").

RODNEY KING THE MAN: the vulnerability, the humanity, of this person . . . as seemingly overwhelmed by events of the previous couple days as by his own beating . . . what courage in appearing at all--Jesus! . . . prob'ly the first guy on TV to that point to evince genuine unrehearsed pain for the dead. Young, shy (which I can relate to, being shy--and once young--myself): shy 25-year-olds have reason to occasionally take drink. Switching channels Friday afternoon, I missed the intro the first time he was on and didn't even know it was HIM, and yet everything about him, his words, face, bearing, BEING, turned my eyes to fucking oceans. The destruction, the dismantlement, of a human life: Jesus god . . .

And to then trivialize and exploit even this footage of the man by playing it every hour in a cheap appeal to "cool tensions" . . . what ruthless fucking shit.

LA, May 7

We've heard quite enough by now, thanks, about "our courageous police officers"--these bastards who (even if on orders, and even if the orders arose from a collective fear of death) (why do you think they get such fantastic pensions, huh?--if they don't risk death, if that's not what they're in fact THERE FOR, who needs their bullyswagger shit?) did nothing for the first two--the first 24--hours. It wasn't till it all came north and west to the white neighborhoods that the response was worth a hill of beans. Even just judging from TV, every channel zooming hither and yon to get the latest-greatest helicopter shot, you couldn't miss nohow the LAPD's abject refusal to come and "aid" the ghetto the first night, and its piss-in-pants rush to secure white districts throughout the second.

"New tape" from Normandie near Florence, what a sight: 30 armed cops fleeing 50 civilians in the opening moments of the rebellion. Any shrink'll tell you: bullies are cowards.

I've seen the LAPD bust rock bands for the crime of plugging in, harass white seniors for slumping on a bench in 100-degree heat. Every couple years they shoot and kill a naked person--no weapons, dig--for "striking a martial arts pose." Given sufficient time, cops in this city would kill anybody (everybody!) for spitting on the sidewalk. But in the short run they're fifty times, a hundred times, likelier to do it if you're African American, Hispanic, Samoan, anybody dark-skinned, whatever.

All that is likely to follow on the "police reform" front is more mean, ill-tempered cops, more repression.

"More crime" too (after the "recovery")? Sure, since the poor will have only gotten poorer, the angry angrier, the desperate desperater--and with it a police state to end all police states (but "American style," natch--with its predictable mini-quota of permissible freedom, allowable dissent).

The force the swine used on Rodney King would have been excessive if he'd killed their mothers with them as witnesses. Denial of due process is denial of due process--even criminals are protected by the Constitution. Most of the framers had been designated criminals themselves, remember?

LA, May 12

The notion some share that "good will come of this" in the form of "increased sensitivity to racial issues" is hogwash: somewhere else, maybe, but in LA it can't and won't last more than five minutes. No memory and no mercy, LA is, and for a long, long time now has been, in terms of implementation and influence, the most rightwing major town in America--the goddam Bible Belt has nothing on this place. Not only does it rob from the poor and give to the rich for breakfast, zone, segregate, and isolate its minority neighborhoods like South African townships, preach money-worship like you wouldn't find even in Vegas, treat labor like so many underfoot insects, aerial-bugspray its own urban residents, little things like that: its most widely disseminated homegrown product--film--has been churning up and exporting racial intolerance, revising racial history, creating and perpetuating noxious stereotypes for over three-quarters of a century.

This is where the biz made Griffith's tribute to the Klan, Birth of a Nation, 30s blaxploitation forerunner Harlem on the Prairie, and Charlie Chan in Egypt (in which Stepin Fetchit plays three castes down, at least, from a Chinese and an Egyptian--both caricatured by whites), and this is where they make 'em still. Though these days Hollywood seems to be picking more on Asians and gays, and though some black directors like Spike Lee, John Singleton et al have been getting budgets, some control and whatnot, it hasn't stopped pumping out loathsome claptrap like Mississippi Burning (wherein a gallant FBI--in what world was this?--takes up the proud sword of Civil Rights), Driving Miss Daisy (once again: the slavish fidelity of an honorable black man to White Destiny) (and yet another "meaningful role" for an underworked black actor--black actors gotta work, and most Hollywood roles, for anyone, are demeaning, but c'mon), Weird Science (for nonironic comedic purpose, surly white kids mock out the patrons of a black bar).

Do I even need to mention all the GOOD COP movies released annually? War enlistment adverts like Top Gun? Smarmy hokum like Pacific Heights (tenants as criminals, landlords as saints)? When was the last love story made here that cursed demographics to endure the cold fires of "truth"? Blah blah blah--what was I getting at?--oh, right: Hollywood rules the hearts and minds of locals at least as severely (and cavalierly) as it does those of hicks from some theoretical sticks. And after the de rigueur five minutes of topical "race-sensitive," "poverty-sensitive" films, I can't see it giving a rat's ass on Mars about the fate of the black man, the poor man, any man (qua man). When a major studio funds a black LA-based Battle of Algiers, then I'll stand corrected. The only conceivable role for Hollywood through the coming "renewal process" will be to help LA LIE ANEW TO ITSELF.

And that lie will be next year's (next Tuesday's) breakfast food.

LA, May 14

Racism at large (example 552): white drivers in LA are a good deal less likely to stop at crosswalks for black pedestrians, Latino, virtually anyone of color. My own observation is they usually don't.

LA, May 16

Violence? Violence as an issue? After Bush blows the breath out of 200,000 Iraqis? The entire history of this country is built on violence--we erect statues to killers, we put 'em on stamps--starting with George fucking Washington, that slave-owning, pot-smoking "thug." The language of this country is BLOOD. In the last five years, more blacks have been killed by American authorities than the total of all Americans killed in Indochina.

"Looting"? Our Euro predecessors looted this land from the Indians, looted human lives from African soil to work it . . . when, I ask (I might've missed it), did they or their descendants ever settle either of those accounts?

Robin Hood (and I don't mean Kevin Costner) was a "good" looter--remember?

Hey! We're talking about people who with whips to their back, guns to their head, have built this country, clothed and fed it, cleaned its toilets, raised its children, suffered its directed sadism and degradation, given it the only indigenous (post-pre-Columbian) arts it's ever had, jazz and rock (only to see others reap the lion's share of profits and praise), bestowed upon every sport they've touched its essence-flaunting power chord and grace note, its utter crowning Americanness (ditto), given us "hot," "cool," taught us more about "style" than a billion Parisians, been the republic's moral barometer through all weathers, all seasons, its only true pillar of even conventional virtue . . . these are generous people, Jack! . . . to have, for the past 400 years, endured slavery, wage-slavery, rape, pillage, lynching, and myriad baroque forms of abasement and discrimination, to have expended so many unrewarded lifetimes, so much perpetual energy, in the service of those who would in turn characterize them as "shiftless," "lazy"--building the pyramids was easier than what they've had to endure . . . and after how many times? how many times? how many endless cycles of frustration, despair, waiting for payback, never a payback, never a break-even, economic injustice, social injustice, political injustice, judicial injustice, they're lucky if they've got an asshole left to shit with . . . after all THIS, and more, this event you call a "riot" remains hard to comprehend???

Violence "against one's own community"? When there's no way out! no way out!, what the bloody deuce do you do? Haven't you ever, when emotionally cornered, dug your nails into your wrist, slapped yourself in the ear, smashed a favorite cup against the wall, lashed out at those you truly love? Y'know: spontaneously done "something self-destructive"? Never, you say? Well, you're lying. (Or have so submerged the role of feeling in your life that you're ice on ice--in a vault--at the bottom of the sea.)

"American family values"? 70 percent of all violent crime, 80 percent, some such number, is committed in the family. The American family--the white American family--is a nest of coiled serpents, a den of rabid wolverines.

This is a city so culturally without a clue that even graffiti is considered an act of violence.

LA, May 21

From the White House, from the corporate boardrooms on down, this country cares about NO ONE: racial minorities, religious minorities, women, children, gay people, old people, poor people, working people, the unemployed, the uneducated, the educated, the handicapped, the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated, the artistically creative, veterans of its own goddam wars--anyone without a white face, a home in the suburbs, $75,000-plus a year, and a job that brings death to the planet.

A class war in general; a race war in particular. MANY of us are leaves in the American wind; those of us with melanin to boot are dry leaves in the fury of Hurricane Georgie. Come boom, bust, heck or high water, blacks as a group will always be the first ones inched, urged, shoved off the raft.

A recent study shows black college graduates as having roughly ONE-SEVENTH the chance of equally skilled white applicants of being hired for a cross-section of given vocations . . . so what chance for the underskilled, the systematically underschooled?

Job market for LA blacks: soldier, cop ("trades" that seek to tap--and encourage--their alleged violent tendencies), guy who has to take three buses twice a day to change the grease at McDonald's.

The Reagan-Bush feeding frenzy--greed greed greed!--the rich get richer, the poor get even poorer, lock the safe and throw away the key--never in a million repeats of this sordid dance will anything worth mentioning "trickle down"--so what's a little petty greed (looters getting, say, a nonessential couch in addition to quite essential groceries and Pampers and shoes) compared to that? I am sick of all this compassionless tripe about people on welfare. Where the hell do you think welfare dollars ultimately go if not deep into the coffers of American business--agribusiness, petrobusiness, the jean and sneaker business, etc? Food, rent, utilities, clothing, transportation, medicine--"recipients" don't get to keep it!

In this country right now, the top 1 percent have 65 percent of the wealth: grab them by the heels and shake them. How can those who own America see any other writing on the wall?: redistribute the wealth, the power, the opportunity, or rot in everlasting hells beyond imagining. Anyone who has been a billionaire--a millionaire--a minute has been one long enough. No one is chronically rich without exploiting unto death the chronically less-so. Tapping the "private sector": take the first 30 billionaires in the phone book and pick every pocket in their closet of 10,000 suits. Tax their dicks, their eyes, their livers, their shit. Trade their Rembrandts, their Rollses, their wine cellars for ten million units of quality low-income housing. When Ross Perot liquidates everything, gives every penny to the inner city, and dresses like Gandhi--then maybe he can run for dogcatcher.

Tapping the public: scrap the fucking space shuttle . . . the White House Christmas tree . . . let the prez and his missus make their own beds . . . call Super Bowl winners at their own expense . . . pay for their own security . . . no more genocidal wars against Third World countries (the last of which cost us 42 billion) . . . eat the B-2 . . . stop underwriting the Army-Navy Game . . . REINSTITUTE GRADUATED INCOME TAX . . .

Every winter we're tube-fed our annual dose of A Christmas Carol. This film version and that. If the Ruling Class can't face its ghost of Christmas past/present/future and cop at last to being Scrooge incarnate, it's time they shelved all versions right along with Ishtar and the made-for-TV Karen Carpenter film.

When was the last movie these cocksuckers "took to heart," Patton?

LA, May 27

Bush's War on Drugs. What war on drugs? All it is is a war on the poor, a war on civil liberties. By no stretch of the imagination can the federal government, can the collective governments of this country, even hypothetically want drugs out of the ghetto. A drug-free ghetto means open rebellion every day, an ongoing War Against Oppression.

Besides: people take drugs because life needs to be altered. Do you know anybody who hasn't taken drugs? I sure don't.

There is no drug as harmful--as lethal--as television. Betcha California's next scheduled execution of a black man gets televised. Or if not very next, soon, eventually.

LA, May 28

Capital punishment as cruel & unusual punishment? For America's young black men, a quarter of whom live life-as-dealt behind actual bars, whose tax for being is being confined, IMPRISONMENT is cruel & unusual punishment.

In 1974, in the aftermath of Nelson Rockefeller's Attica massacre, Charles Mingus recorded "Free Cell Block F, 'Tis Nazi U.S.A.": well it certainly does right now seem to be. And I don't even mean metaphorically. I'm talking real, total, no-joke capital-F fascism. Genocidal fascism. There are differences of course, just as there are differences between our current state and the one coloring-booked in 1984. Big Brother, for inst, doesn't always watch you. Instead, you servilely watch him on a monitor you pay for--more cost-effective, and ultimately more effective. Likewise, without even constructing ovens, African Americans do appear earmarked for extermination. Without government spending an additional cent--and isn't that the point?--black life is being systematically--acceleratedly--marginalized, cheapened, removed from the drawing board, starved to extinction. A disposable underclass, more disposable than ever, access denied to all viable means of survival. As the profit margin from capitalism-as-usual goes down, eliminate the minimum wage. New jails an extravagance? Just pack 'em with a shoehorn in existing dungeons. They want justice? Give them Clarence Thomas, who can help overturn Brown v. Board of Education--how many weeks away is that? Separate but equal . . . then separate and unequal . . . finally separate and nothing: why expect the continuation of free public schools? Or of nominally free two-steps-up-from-a-butcher (and lucky-if-you-can-get-it) emergency medical care? Or of any form of public assistance whatsoever--'cept for defense contractors and savings & loans? Acknowledgeable problems will soon have only law-and-order solutions. The only affirmative action will be more black police--beat on your brother or perish. The physical ghetto will be further ghettoized, turned into reservations--until the developers need new turf to gentrify, and then . . .

Is this Germany 1933--the stage we're up to? '38? Dunno. But if Bush isn't Hitler, if Reagan wasn't Hitler, then Hitler wasn't Hitler. (Unlike the setup with Hitler, however, Reagan/Bush's court lackeys will carry on an American Reich program long after its authors are dust.)

To American whites: either identify and withdraw your complicity, refuse with every sinew to cooperate, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, or go down with Hitler.

LA, May 30

The bulk of these remarks are for white people, obviously. Black people have known all this garbage for years--and don't need to hear my whining anyway.

"White fear"?: then how 'bout some white remorse? If Germany can apologize for the Holocaust--little or nothing that it means--white America can confess, concede, acknowledge, repent, and make nonstop restitution--economic, social, political, you name it--its priority for the next 400 years . . . short of that, fuck white fear.

And oh yeah--what to immediately "do about it," the fear. Simple: give THEM, those you fear, everything they want, everything they currently need, desire, ask for--in their terms--everything. HELP them with fervor to squeeze the rich dry. If you're rich, you know easy all you haven't done--do it. Get the scum who represent you in government to dismantle the system--all systems--that create, shape, condone, maintain any and all forms of inequity; vote out the scum who don't or won't. Boycott, divest from all businesses and organizations unwilling to voluntarily facilitate a reversal of ghetto fortunes NOW. And by all means, stop watching television. Could anything be simpler?

And what about black people's fear? The fear (for starters) that in the wake of The Verdict individual cops, all individual cops--independent of any "game plan"--have now been given a warrant to murder, maul, or at the very least humiliate them with absolute impunity.

A month ago to the day, outside a bank near my street, I saw an uppermiddleclass white woman make a four-year-old middleclass black child cry. The woman, maybe 50, well dressed, got so lathered over the bank being unexpectedly closed she threw a fit. Even without racial content, her craziness was upsetting. To the little girl, after two days of race-specific horror, she must've seemed a white monster. At the bus stop where they both stood, her mother hugged her and shielded her from the sight.

White people wanting sympathy, pissed about any inconvenience: aw, gee.

Those still-reviled few nights of curfew? Every night, in too many white LA 'hoods, is curfew time for blacks (of any class). Drive too groovy a car, behave as freely as an extroverted white person, and the protect-&-serve boys will find an excuse and occasion to draw guns, instill abject terror, slap the cuffs on.

LA, June 2

Oh boy oh boy--Charter Amendment F got passed. Which, shoot, puts one civilian on a police misconduct review board. That oughta be enough to save us .000000000002 percent of the time.

LA, June 8

Don't know 'bout you, but one thing amazing to me is that in the immediate wash of Simi they couldn't--in the name of "public safety," as a token of mercy to an afflicted community--sacrifice even this one wretched piece of pus, Daryl Gates. At a cocktail fund-raiser against Charter Amendment F, he skipped the first couple hours of action, BY DESIGN letting the ghetto burn, then showed up in a uniform like Ollie fugging North to hurl insults at its inhabitants, babbling about their "agenda of ten fires an hour," blaming a "Mexican criminal element." Mayor Bradley, the city council, the police commission--why couldn't they have just cornered him and said: "Resign, you evil beast, or we'll rip the nose off your face"? Not even this small crumb (qua crumb) tossed to people of color . . . to people other than the families of cops.

And here he is now REFUSING TO RETIRE . . . and they still let him keep his face. (Fuggaduck.)

Time marches, but nothing changes: the mass suspension of civil liberties "required" to process 15,000 (16,000?) (17,000?) arrests . . . the roundup and deportation of Central American nationals by LAPD/INS sweep squads . . . Ira Reiner's sweaty overprosecution of black suspects in the Reginald Denny case . . . the harassment of Al Joyner . . . LAPD disrupts a Crips-Bloods truce party (hoping to disrupt the truce) . . . Compton cop who killed two unarmed Samoans (with 18 bullets) won't be retried . . . Stacy Koon's Mandingo memoirs . . . the exclusion of black contractors from LA rebuilding projects . . . Peter Ueberroth's Orange County contempt . . . Dan Quayle insults schoolchildren's moms . . .

One thing all too clear is that the cretins, 'scuse me, "public servants" whose policies, whose pathological indifference, whose continuing deeds most conspicuously fueled, kindled, and further enflamed this thing--and will inevitably (if they're still around) fuel/etc the next--don't even mind being hated. Powerful and privileged the OLD-FASHIONED WAY, they don't care dick if they're loathed: Gates, County Sheriff Sherman Block, Pete Wilson, Bush (and standing in the wings cheerleading, senatorial candidate Bruce "Not a Penny to Those @#$&ing Felons" Herschensohn, Patrick Buchanan).

After Grenada, Libya, Panama, Iraq, how many years can it be before the entire non-U.S. world returns the favor?

LA, June 10

Look: maybe I'm just a silly, fatuous (and ultimately presumptuous) whiteboy like all the rest, but my shame as a white man, my shame at being a white person, knows no bounds right now. I realize I'm prob'ly no better, no worse, for all that, than a "well-intentioned" white in South Africa: an outsider looking in, even if with a shitload of "compassion"--my commiseration, my pain, can't mean squat to anyone experiencing--directly--the full-throttle malignity of white-supremacist barbarity. If you're black and reading this and I'm talking nuts, please tell me and I'll shut the fuck up, never say so much stupid stuff again, but I don't feel right now it'd be a significant loss if, at the finger-snap of some suddenly vengeful or impatient (or merely whimsical) god, the white race and its entire history were erased from the human record. Homer along with Mussolini, Jackson Pollock along with Margaret Thatcher, Shakespeare along with Daryl Gates--there is simply, all told, not enough approximate Good to outweigh the Evil; all the alleged former put together will no longer outweigh the single massive white cleated boot in fearsome current dominance of our land: to erase the whole damn slate as if it had never been a shimmer, a glimmer--poof!--a longshot solution if ever there was one.

By which I'm not talking, not suggesting--oh, wipe 'em out, wipe us out, any of that . . . I'm merely thinking/saying on my feet that I've had enough pain even thinking about white plunder and blunder. For half a millennium now, the "white menace" has lain waste to entire continents, cultures, systems and icons of wisdom and belief, animal, vegetable and human totalities, you know the story, and it's just simply time someone else ran the show. Let 'em even run it wrong, let 'em do the wrong thing from here to eternity, and that would be just fine with me. It's simply THEIR TURN . . . their turn for everything . . . their turn to have their self-interest dominate, to never again have to talk like, dress like, act like their oppressors . . . their turn, even, to have their lies (should there be lies) believed, or if not believed, then to have their lies rule. Hey--I'm no utopian: when black lies are as cogent as white lies, that I'd be willing to accept as justice.

It is their turn, if that be the number, to have absolute power, and be absolutely corrupted by it. The damage inflicted could be no worse than ours.

In the meantime, and in any event, African Americans have retained far more of the courage, far more of the goodness and wisdom, of their ancestors than we as Euro-Americans have retained of ours (if they ever had it). Let's grant that maybe Socrates had it (y'know, maybe) and if so follow his opening tack (in The Apology) after being tried and convicted of thought crimes against the Athenian state. Given the option of selecting his own punishment, he says, "OK, give me a pension"--or maybe it was a new school, whatever--to which they shake their heads, come back with: "How 'bout ostracism?" (No go, he finally chooses hemlock.) Anyway, my proposal is this: Give those citizens and subjects of LA who actually Did This, rose up in courage on April 29, 30, May 1 and beyond, those still living, those caught, when they come to trial and ineluctably get nailed; give them as their punishment (and directly to them, not to some handpicked coalition of uppermiddleclass black and Chicano Republicans) at least the following: Beverly Hills, Bank of America, two of the four TV networks, controlling interest in CNN, chancellorship of the U. of Cal system, complete control of the LA Unified School District . . . that's just for instance. That would be a penalty to fit the crime.

LA, Chicago, June 15

If an episode of Murphy Brown can be causally linked to whatever the poot it was, why not the loss to the Lakers of Magic Johnson (James Worthy, Sam Perkins)? If the team hadn't been so lousy all season, if they'd been in contention for anything but a first-round playoff date with Portland, "tensions" in LA might've catalyzed into something less. Not into nothing, but less. Sports are big purveyors of social control in some locales. "YOUR Los Angeles Lakers"--aren't we democratic! Throw in the Dodgers playing awful too and, um, well . . . got it.

So then the Bulls repeat as champs and "violence and looting" rock Chicago. Proof that in some towns, perhaps, sports are not socially controlling. Not as. Or that victory is as likely to trigger this/that as defeat. Detroit, certain European soccer venues, Philly (I seem to remember) after the Flyers won, now Chicago . . . you figure it.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Will Northerner.

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