Tag Archives: PM Press

PM, the Tucson Book Festival, & conspiracy theories

It makes me so happy that my hometown had its first annual book festival this weekend, hurrah for the Tucson Book Festival. And to be there with a table full of books and cds and dvds I can be proud of? Even better.

The PM table was busy, very busy, and I am thoroughly exhausted, but in that satisfied job well done sort of way. Yesterday was much busier. The highlights were the elder from the Sioux Nation who broke down for my dad the racism of the courts and the struggle to reclaim their original treaty lands from the US government, stolen after gold was discovered in the Black Hills. She was awesome. There was an older guy with polished and coiffed white hair, khakis, smart blazer. Mirrorish sunglasses. He looked at the Angola 3 video, and told me he had been imprisoned in Angola (the country), by the Cubans (who ran the country at the time). I almost asked him if he had met Che then, but didn’t. I never know if those guys are being serious, I met another old guy who told me once in a bar that he had been in Laos for years, back when he worked for the government, back when he didn’t exist. Whether or not these guys were black ops, they give me the creeps. Somehow I believe them, because they could say such things to thousands of  American who would never know what they were talking about.

Dad manned the booth with me yesterday, and was incredibly helpful in many ways. He claims that his role was to distract the big talkers with big theories and allow me time to talk to other people. My feeling is that he did that to some extent, but also ensured they spent an extra 20 minutes in the booth that I could have prevented. Like today, when I learned a great deal about the connections between the Rothschilds and England’s Royal family and how they run the world. And none of the big talkers bought anything. And many of them are emailing me in the next few days.

All of the conversations were interesting though, and I did enjoy them all. Here’s an excerpt from some of the leaflets I picked up:

“I am now a FELON because I attempted to protect my mother, a victim of Alzheimer’s, from a herd of wild cattle (including bulls) on our own private FENCED property near Snowflake, AZ.

The rancher refused to remove them, so I tried to scare the 30-40 cattle back through our gate with the noise from a .22 rifle and in the process one was killed. It must have been a ricochet since I know that I did not try to hit one.

The rancher (Dee Johnson), has 60 FELONIES against him for CATTLE RUSTLING. He is a cousin to both Jake Flake and Jeff Flake, in the AZ Legislature and US Congress respectively. Is it possible that politics has something to do with this?

you can read more at www.cowcrap.org.

Cattle rustling! God Damn! Oh the good times we had I can tell you! And of course maybe they’re not from the town, but I find mention of the Flake family of Snowflake, Arizona somewhat amusing. If they weren’t connected to cattle rustlers reminiscent of Clint Eastwood films that they seem to be, they would be a Christmas special.

Today was slower, and both parents came along making it a family affair. And Gary was around, speaking on a panel on noir and politics with Kent Harrington, and that was great. He came by the booth of course, even though the printers have yet to find a paper that works for the Jook’s cover flaps so the books didn’t arrive in time, and the book signing that should have taken place didn’t. The biggest disappointment. But here we are, with new our new friend Joy from Revolutionary Grounds.


You should definitely head on down there if you’re in Tucson, and often. Not just because they are stocking many of our books, but also because they are a great space on 4th ave to hang out, talk, eat well and drink Zapatista coffe.

And amazing, I ran into three different families I haven’t seen in 10-15 years, maybe more. The Seoldos and Sharon who used to go to our old church down off of Valencia and 12th, and the Leons. Roy used to be the assistant coach for my brother Dan’s soccer team (good old Santa Cruz, ah I remember the days, I saw them every Saturday for much of my childhood)…it is lovely to run into folks from the old days.

It was a very long, but very nice weekend, full of so many great conversations that I can’t mention them all! Folks here are fantastic. Of course.

Save

Robert King in L.A. and San Diego

I had the honor to drive Robert King around Southern California this past weekend to a handful of events centered on the Angola 3 campaign and his new book From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of ex Black Panther Robert Hillary King.

It’s an incredible story of what it means to be Black in this country; beautifully written and deep and it made me cry at two different points. And never fear, it has an inspiring ending.

I learned that I actually eat more than King, I wake up MUCH later, and that      there were possibly a few too many things edited out of the book (which I take responsibility for, though all complaints should be sent to my colleague ramsey). And a lot of really great stories that should have been in there but somehow never made it. Like the exact plan of how he escaped from Angola, and climbed walls using rope made out of the ticking from the mattresses and stepped on someone’s face and heard one of the women yell hey Tarzan, take me, it’s Jane…Which is why you have to hear him speak. But we were there to educate, not just tell stories, so I’ll be serious for a moment.

Slavery has continued in this country under the guise of prisons. There are now approximately 2.3 million people in prison, another 5 to 6 million people are on some kind of parole or probation, and 1 in 9 black men between the ages of 21 and 29 are incarcerated…

And there is a vast amount of money to be made on prisoners. The prisons get money for housing and feeding prisoners, and money for transporting them. They get money for the work that prisoners do while in prison. Prisons form the entire economic base and are the principal employer in many a small town. In Angola, Louisiana the 5,000 prisoners are counted in the town census as citizens allowing the town to receive additional federal benefits. Angola is 18,000 acres that went from plantation to prison with no break in between, even maintaining the sugar cane and cotton fields. Prisoners are guaranteed no rights in the constitution that supposedly abolished slavery. Here is a view of the place from the book:

So Robert Hillary King. He joined the Black Panther party in a Louisiana prison and worked to organize prisoners to protest the terror of the conditions they lived in. He, along with compañeros Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were actually succeeding in some things, like getting holes cut in the cell bars so that their food no longer had to scrape along the bottom of their doors when it was shoved underneath. They held classes in literacy and political education. They protested and worked to end the physical and mental abuse of prisoners, the constant invasive strip searches, and the prevalence of rape. They were reaching out to white prisoners. And so they were stopped.

King was framed in the murder of another inmate on his tier, found guilty though the man who had killed testified it had been in self-defense and that he had acted alone. Albert and Herman were framed in the murder of a prison guard (based on the testimony of seven eye witnesses – each of whom claimed they were the only ones at the scene besides the murderers! One of whom was shortly released on furlough due to his blindness. All of whom received incredible treatment from that day on, in spite of testimony that was hopelessly contradictory). King, although he was not in Angola at the time, was put under investigation as an accomplice, and was held in solitary for 29 years on that ground.

King fought his case over the years, and walked free in 2001. He said that he might be free of Angola, but Angola would never be free of him. He has kept that promise. Herman and Albert continue in prison, though Albert’s conviction has been overturned. The State has appealed the decision, and are resorting to character assassination in their attempt to ensure that both Herman and Albert remain safe and sound behind bars until they die.

So we started with an event sponsored by the Southern California Library at the L.A. Grand Theatre, a showing of the documentary on the Angola 3 (could use a bit more editing but is really a great documentary) with King speaking after. We had dinner with Gary Phillips and Gilda Haas (both future PM authors), then drove down to Whittier to stay with the Cambrons. It was a weekend of brilliant people and great hospitality I have to say! Then on Saturday we drove down to San Diego, where we stayed with Dennis Childs and his wife Saranella, both of them beautiful in every sense of the word. That day’s event was at the Malcolm X library, and the following day at UCSD.  Here he is at the Library:

And here are King and Dennis at UCSD:

And of course, we were traveling in style in the rented red mustang, here are King, Saranella and I, it has been extraordinarily hot here as you can see:

A brilliantly intense weekend, though I’ll admit my thoughts had a certain tendency to stretch somewhere rather different in a smiley day-dreamy sort of way. And it was an exhausting though rewarding trip, so happy reverie came as some relief in the rare downtime. I don’t think that’s why I did my best to make King miss his flight up to the Bay by jumping on the 605 North rather than South in rush hour traffic after a last lovely night in Whittier, it’s the fact I’ve yet to try my bike on the freeways I believe! Or that I don’t know Whittier. Or that I forgot to clarify the direction with Arturo before leaving. But everything worked out all right in the end…

There is much to be done on the campaign to free the remaining two of the Angola three. For more information on how to get involved, go to www.angola3grassroots.org, and for the book or dvd, click on the images above or go to www.pmpress.org.

Save