childhood heroines


At the Elks Lodge police riot, at which L.A.P.D. stormtroopers launched a violent and unprovoked surprise attack upon an actually placid punk rock audience…Barb flattened 10 L.A.P.D. officers simultaneously with an uprooted ‘No Parking’ sign. They had hurt her sister. She got arrested. In court, when the judge asked to see the ‘weapon’ used to assault the police officers, this 12 foot long ‘No Parking’ sign was carried in, as the judge gazed at skinny alone blond Barbara and formed a mental picture of the 10 officers eating dirt. Do you have to ask if this girl can sing?

more at Alice Bag and her blog, Diary of a Bad Housewife.

Westwood Memory (I may have posted this before)

Some time in the late 1980s I was in Westwood Village, which is the part of L.A. just south of UCLA. It had been a big entertainment district, the place to be on Friday and Saturday Night, but was in a steep decline. Most of the fancy stores and restaurants had gone, things were dirty, and most of the pedestrians were lost souls. I was among them, since I was taking the bus from my unsuccessful psychotherapist back to my grimy Hollywood apartment.

It was maybe 9 pm, cold and blustery, and the first drops of rain were moistening the blowing trash so it stuck to people and objects unpleasantly. Coming up towards the bus stop, I came upon this scene:

In the doorway to an office building, one of the local homeless poor had set up camp. He was about 35, dressed in what had once been a decent suit which was torn and stained and shedding buttons. He himself had a mop of blonde hair and a dirty face wreathed in a joyous smile. He had a boom box going full blast and was singing along lustily, with a cap on the ground in hopes that someone would reward this piece of impromptu street karaoke.

The song he was performing? Barry Manilow’s 1976 hit “Looks Like We Made It“.

I still wonder about that guy. He certainly wasn’t seeing the dingy, damp, urban failure in front of him, or the RTD bus or the other bums or me in my jeans & jacket & backpack looking at him in horror. He was in heaven, maybe onstage in Vegas. Maybe he even was Barry. Looks like we maaaaaaaade it! I wonder what happened to him?

White people are weird.

I made the mistake of clicking on a weird looking ad link in the Mark Morford column email from and ended up in this pavilion of what. I spent a good half hour trying to figure out if there was anything going on there.

It is not clear that they have ever done anything.

Looking at the self-submitted biographies of their founders, staff members, employees, and “conversation hosts” reveals that they are all wealthy well-educated Bay Area white people. They take care to mention that they have been to other countries for months or even years and that they speak foreign languages, and that they ride bicycles and use solar and hybrid power. They’re all well-off, cheerful, and in fine physical shape.

Anyway they’re going to save the world by talking about saving the world. I think technology is involved, and there are certainly oboes and wide, beardy grins. The stages are apparently 1) noticing that history and biology have happened 2) meditating and making your own brain better and ready to evolvulate and conversatify and 3) something they’re putting on the web site Real Soon Now that will be a social network.

I’ve got a better idea. How about all of them stop with the website and the neurocosmology and the self-improving oneness of spirit exercises and just make sandwiches, say, 20 a week, all at once, on Saturday. They all have lots of time and money, so this isn’t a big deal. Then, take the sandwiches to a church in a really poor neighborhood and give them a cooler full, and say “Hey, give these sandwiches to people who don’t have anything to eat, okay?”

If they want to Create a Space to be Thoughtfully Open or work on their Epic Journeys, that’s cool too, but not until the 20 sandwiches are delivered. Deal?

Beep! click click click

ch linked me to this marvelous antidrug filmstrip from the 1970s. I have so many memories of filmstrips from my grammar school education.

To start with they were the bastard stepchild of movies, which we all loved. On a Friday afternoon we’d hope for a movie. At a minimum there would be entertaining footage of animals or cool science stuff, and if we were lucky we’d convince the teacher to play the movie backwards when it was done for double the movie time and the unstoppable belly laughs we got from watching birds walk in reverse, etc. But if the filmstrip projector came out, we were getting second best. Someone would have to thread the filmstrip into the machine and then help out by pressing the advance button.

Filmstrips were always about the most boring topic available. I remember seeing one about Where Borax Comes From, several detailing How the Indians Ground Up Corn With Rocks, a whole series on How Erosion and Silt Change Our World, and maybe fifty different social science filmstrips about How Some People Live in Big Buildings and Others In Little Huts and related topics.

But the most frequent use of filmstrips was to tell us things the teachers didn’t want to discuss. The nearest we got to sex education, for example, was an extremely medical strip about How Your Bodies Are Changing Now That You’re 12 Or So, with terrifying closeups of peach fuzz stubble and line art of Your Head With Squiggly Red Lines Signifying Emotional Stress. There were separate filmstrips for girls and boys. It was incomprehensible. And of course the drugs ones. I’m not sure I saw this particular drug filmstrip, but we had several on Not Taking Stuff From Big Kids Because It Makes Question Marks Fly Out Your Nose, also known as If You Light Something On Fire and Put It In Your Mouth, You’ll Grow a Leather Jacket and Die in a Car Crash.

I think nowadays teachers put in a videotape and dive under their desks when bad topics arise. But to this day when I hear an old antidrug speech I immediately go to that crappy narrator voice wobbling along with the tape, the piercing beep, and the hum of the fan on the filmstrip machine.

One day the teacher left it on too long on one frame while she explained something and the film caught fire. We all had to go outside while the Fire Department came to check it out. I got a face full of burning plastic film smoke and I was light headed for the rest of the day. Drugs are bad!