February 2nd, 2005


The Weather Underground

Jet lag has me. In this case, I'm tired but not nearly as tired as 2:39 A.M. should indicate. My internal clock has me at 11:39 P.M. I haven't gotten jet lag on my previous trips around the world, but I believe that's because there's a much bigger time difference. I get no sleep on the trip, hold myself awake until the appointed hour in the local time zone, and then slumber. With only three hours difference and lots of dozing on the planes, I'm not switching over quite as well. Gonna be interesting when I come back, just get adjusted again, and then fly back to the eastern time zone next week as well.

In my insomnia, I watched The Weather Underground a documentary on the militant group that had its eyday in the early 70s. Having been but a small child during those years, I know very little about the group. I'd heard of them, of course. But my impression had always been that they bombed a few buildings and disappeared without doing much. In the end, they weren't much more relevant than my impression. But they managed to scare people and destroy a lot more property than I ever knew.

What makes the documentary is the extensive interviews with the former members of the Weather Underground. Most of them not so radical as they used to me, the viewer hears from them both what they thought at the time as well as what they think about that period now. Contrary to the picture of 60s hippies becoming 80s greed is good crowd, none of them veered from being firmly emplanted on the left. Many followed up their participation in the Weather Underground with equally militant undertakings. Others couldn't hack the underground life as they got older, but they continue to be activists for various leftist causes.

The feeling in myself while watching the film is one of admiration. The film reflects a lot on the Weathermen's regret at justifying their militant means. Several of them now believe their methods were not much better than those they opposed. What I admire is not the means which went beyond the pale, but instead their dedication. I've made no secret of the fact that I do not admire our pampered American lives. These people gave up nearly everything for what they believed. That kind of principle, however misguided, inspires me. Whether on the right or on the left, it always inspires me. Iraqis voting this weekend. Ukrainians filling the streets of Kiev. The hundreds of activist undertakings of the civil rights movement. Those in the anti-abortion movement who give up their lives to protect unborn lives. These people have passion. Not always a lot of sense. And they are sometimes wrong, in the ends, and in the means. But I admire the passion.


Queer Street

Queer Street
Curt Colbert
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I did not finish a single book during January 2005. That is about the most shameful thing I think I'll write about myself this week.

I tend to read a lot when on the road. So I have now finished Queer Street, the latest Jake Rossiter and Miss Jenkins mystery novel written by Curt Colbert and published by Uglytown. As always, a little too much going on. Colbert needs to simplify these stories a bit. And I hate the ending.

In reading the ending, I feel like the boy in Princess Bride who has so much invested in the story that he yells at his grandfather that it can't be right. This ending can't be right. Even if Colbert is just setting up the 4th book in the series, it still pisses me off. Or perhaps he's taking to heart the admonition in professional wrestling, that there's more money to be made by letting the bad guy win and having the good guy chase him around than there is in the reverse situation. You keep tuning in hoping to finally see the bad guy get his. So I'll dutifully by the next book. But, and let this be a warning to Mr. Colbert, there's only so far I'll go watching this turn of events before it'll just irritate me too much and I'll stop buying the books. The good guy has to get some of his heat back sometime.

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