A couple of years ago I was in line to pay for some photocopies in Berkeley
when Bob Dylan's classic from "Blonde on Blonde" was playing through the
muzak system. The couple ahead of me (appearing to be in their twenties)
were discussing where they had heard the music before. I politely
explained it was Bob Dylan, "Blonde on Blonde" album. The male thought for
a moment, and said: "DYlan, yes, I think my dad used to like him."
Along with that I would like to say that all the way through college, I
considered myself a baby-boomer (from the definition of a child conceived
because of the war--my mother said she got pregnant because my father was
shipping out to the pacific and she wanted to have his child in case he
never returned.), but lately, I've discovered that I am a pre-boomer
because I was born in 1944. I've always figured this was arbitrary
periodization, because the surge in babies engendered specifically by the
war was already underway prior to either VJ or VE day.
Regarding the Panthers, I had very little contact. My then wife worked
with an associate of Kathleen Cleaver, and we were invited to a Black
Panther party in Oakland (I don't remember the year). What I remember was
that Ms. Cleaver spent the whole evening in kvetching about her husband and
stolen clothing (jeans, mainly) were being openly sold in the kitchen. I
was not shocked at the drug taking or sexual infidelities, but I was
shocked at the fencing of stolen goods. As a result, I shied away from
further personal contact with the Panthers.
On a positive note, I noticed that a number of black associates expressed
admiration for what the Panthers were doing--that the Panthers showed pride
and refused to bend a knee to "whitey."
The evaluation of the Panther's reminds me of a quote about the Hell's
Angels in Peter Coyote's book SLEEPING WHERE I FALL: Pete Knell, president
of the San Francisco chapter of the Hell's Angels: "If you wanna know
anything about America, look at the club. It's a reflection of America on
all levels: high idealism and murder."
Just a few random thoughts.
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