Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (xv)

The only other significant thing I remember about December 1970 (after concluding in that month that an anti-imperialist matriarchal socialist society needed to be established in the United States) was being involved in celebrating Christmas at both a Writers Guild office Christmas party and a Christmas party at Sylvia’s apartment in Brooklyn, to which she invited her fellow workers from the Guild office.

At the Writers Guild union office, Pat told the rest of the union office workers in advance that she couldn’t afford to buy any Christmas presents for the rest of us; and that, therefore, we all shouldn’t buy any presents to give to her at the office Christmas party. The rest of the union office workers, however, each bought Christmas presents for each other, which we exchanged at the office Christmas party on the day before Christmas Eve.

I can’t remember what kind of Christmas presents I received from my office mates, because they were not things I really wanted or needed much. Maybe a pen or knick-knack or gloves or scarf or sweater might have been among the gifts I received.

Ms. Burkey, however, proved to be a generous Writers Guild Executive Director when it came time to give Christmas bonuses. Every office worker in the Writers Guild union office got a Christmas bonus equal to 4 weeks worth of salary in late December 1970. And even though Maria and I had only started working there in September 1970 and had worked at the Writers Guild office for only just about 4 months, we still were given the same 4 weeks worth of salary Christmas bonus that the Guild office workers who had been working there for years received.

Having received such an unexpectedly large Christmas bonus from the Writers Guild, I spent more money and time on buying Christmas presents for my fellow workers in Christmas 1970 than I would generally do in future Christmases in the 1970s and 1980s--when my future employers generally did not give their employees any Christmas bonus.

I gave Joe a copy of Robin Morgan’s Sisterhood Is Powerful anthology book, hoping to encourage Joe to become more supportive of radical feminism; and, hoping to also radicalize Eli the bookkeeper, I gave Eli a copy of the Phil Ochs In Concert vinyl record album.

For Sylvia’s Christmas present, I gave her a copy of Joan Baez’s Farewell Angelina vinyl album, while I gave Shirley a copy of a book about U.S. war crimes in Viet Nam for her Christmas gift, in order to encourage her anti-war sentiments. A copy of Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited vinyl album was my gift to Maria; and I gave the college student who worked part-time at the Writers Guild office, Rosemary, a copy of Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home vinyl album.

Because Rosemary, being just a part-time worker at the union office, had not given me or any of the other Writers Guild office workers any Christmas gifts, she was apparently surprised and touched that I thought enough of her to go out and buy her the Dylan record, which seemed to interest her. So after Rosemary unwrapped my gift to her, she spontaneously gave me an affectionate kiss for the first time, which surprised me somewhat. But despite her office Christmas party kiss, Rosemary was apparently still too involved with her steady boyfriend from her own neighborhood in Queens and wanting to prepare for a conventional straight working-class or straight middle-class life after college, to ever approach me in more than a formal business-like way after kissing me at the Christmas Party, during the rest of the time I worked as the Writers Guild office boy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (xiv)

By early December 1970, I had finished reading Robin Morgan’s Sisterhood Is Powerful anthology of essays by a new wave of radical feminist intellectuals and activists and a pamphlet of articles that were being distributed by the Redstockings’ radical feminist group around this time. I also usually bought a copy regularly of the Lower East Side’s weekly underground newspaper Rat, which in late 1970 was now under the control of a collective of anti-imperialist revolutionary feminist women activists.

So,not surprisingly, I had begun to feel by December 1970 that, within the United States, the agent of anti-imperialist revolutionary change during the 1970s was going to be the then-politically powerless oppressed caste of U.S. women of all classes and racial backgrounds, who made up the majority of the population in the U.S.A..

In retrospect, I overestimated the revolutionary potential of U.S. women.
I was mistaken in my early 1970s belief that U.S. women alone—if united as a caste under the leadership of revolutionary feminist women—would be able to make the Revolution, regardless of whether or not U.S. men (other than their leftist boyfriends) supported them politically. Yet in early December 1970, the “Sex War Alone Theory of Revolutionary Social Change” that I had developed seemed a plausible one to me.

The political strategic approach I had come to believe would lead to an anti-imperialist Revolution in the United States which eliminated imperialism, racism, capitalism, sexism, heterosexism and classism all at the same time by the middle of the 1970s reflected the following early 1970s historical and strategic assumptions:

1. A mass-based anti-imperialist revolutionary feminist-led movement of liberated women and their leftist male lovers and political allies would non-violently occupy the U.S. network television studios in the 1970s and demand an immediate end to institutionalized male supremacy, militarism, racism, classism and heterosexism in the U.S.A..

2. Once control of the U.S. mass media television studios was non-violently seized by a mass-based revolutionary feminist-led movement, Movement women would use then their newly-obtained mass media power, as well as their control over other U.S. socializing institutions, to socialize U.S. women to become revolutionary feminist in their political consciousness and U.S. men to become non-sexist and revolutionary male feminist in their political consciousness.

3. Because the majority of people in the U.S.A. were women, women alone—if united as a revolutionary caste—possessed the political capability of overthrowing the oppressive U.S. social system of patriarchal capitalism, patriarchal imperialism, patriarchal racism, patriarchal sexism and patriarchal heterosexism.

4. Large numbers of politically left-oriented anti-war hip men who were involved in love relationships with feminist women would politically support a revolutionary feminist takeover of the U.S. mass media and the patriarchal U.S. corporate state if Movement people collectively organized around the “All Power To Our Sisters!” and “Seize Their TV, Then Speak Freely” strategy that I proposed in my December 1970 position paper.

By the mid-1970s, of course, the patriarchal corporate male-backed upper middle-class corporate and cultural feminist white liberals had pretty much taken control over the strategic direction of the post-1970s women’s liberation movement. And these upper middle-class, white “bourgeois feminist” liberals seemed to have been successful at converting the U.S. women’s liberation movement against male supremacy into a reformist "women's movement", not a revolutionary movement, that seemed to get co-opted by the patriarchal capitalist system in the United States. But in December 1970, large numbers of U.S. women still appeared to me to possess the kind of revolutionary rage that made me feel that U.S. women alone would be able to bring the Monster System down in the United States and free us all from 9-to-5 wage slavery, once and for all.

And when I dropped some mescaline in my Bronx slum apartment on Christmas Eve 1970, “the seize their TV, then speak freely” strategic notion came to me that, if the Movement in the U.S.A. non-violently occupied the U.S. network television studios in 1971 (in the same way Movement activists had occupied the buildings of Columbia University’s campus in April 1968) a Revolution in the U.S.A. could potentially happen before I was 30 years old. But, like I’ve previously indicated, I overestimated the long-term, long-haul revolutionary potential of the early 1970s women’s liberation movement.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (xiii)

As the Writers Guild office boy, I also sometimes delivered union contract negotiating proposals and counter-proposals in manila envelopes to television network executives like Robert Northshield in their plush network television corporate offices. So by December 1970, walking around the Big Media network newsrooms, studios and executive offices during the workday seemed like no big deal anymore and just reconfirmed my original impression that the folks who worked at the U.S. corporate television networks weren’t yet hip to the mass consciousness changes that had developed among U.S. youth between 1964 and 1970.

Besides giving me the opportunity to walk in-and-out of the television and radio network offices and studios frequently, delivering documents for the Writers Guild as its office boy also gave me a good excuse for getting out of the union office during the workday longer than for just a lunch hour. And sometimes, while on the way to deliver or to pick up union documents from the CBS, ABC, NBC or WNEW studios or offices, I would bump into people on the street whom I had known from my pre-1970 years as an SDS anti-war activist.

I bumped into the former head of the Staten Island Black Panther Party chapter, Neal, for example, on the street in front of the CBS Building one day in late November 1970. By then, Neal was no longer active in the Black Panther Party because of the COINTELPRO-encouraged faction-fighting. But, as an individual, Neal still hoped that there would be some kind of Revolution in the 1970s.

Yet by late 1970, Neal had become skeptical that African-American people were going to rise up in the short-run and make the Revolution in the short-run.

“How Black people can still let Nixon continue to rule over them is beyond me?” Neal said with a shrug, after we embraced on the street and explained what we had been up to since we had last talked with each other on Staten Island in early May of 1969. And before we each went on our way, Neal wrote his phone number for me on a piece of paper which he gave me.

A few weeks later, in early December 1970, Neal and his latest white womanfriend, then visited me in my Bronx slum apartment and spent a Saturday night getting high together, laughing, listening to music and recalling our year of 1968-1969 revolutionary activism together on Staten Island. But since both of us no longer had any anti-war left group like either Richmond College SDS or the Staten Island Black Panther Party chapter for whom we were a spokesperson or organizer, there no longer seemed much of a political or personal basis for us getting together again. And we vanished from each other’s lives.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (xii)

At the NBC television studios in the Fall of 1970, I would frequently deliver union checks for an NBC newswriter, who had agreed to be the talent union’s treasurer, named Benson to sign in his office, which was only a few yards away from where the television cameras were. Benson was polite, but less friendly and more reserved than was Osgood at CBS News. Yet like Osgood with respect to CBS News, Benson seemed unaware of how distorted a picture of social reality was being given to the people of the United States by the NBC News department for whom he wrote news copy.

At ABC, the Writers Guild members who worked as newswriters for its hourly radio reports were cramped together in a small room with A.P. and U.P.I. wire service machines automatically ticking away and printing out the latest news bulletins on the ticker tape. The Guild members there, who included a writer who used to work at CBS with Edward R. Murrow during the 1950s, apparently would then rewrite the A.P. and U.P.I. copy in a more concise way for the ABC radio news announcer to read over the radio on ABC Radio’s news on the hour update.

At Metromedia’s WNEW-FM radio station, the sound of the rock music playing on the station’s airwaves could be heard whenever I brought union documents to be signed there by a white man in WNEW-FM's one-person newsroom who seemed to be in his late 40s or fifties, had short hair and seemed a little more hip than the Guild union members who worked for the three major networks. But the Writers Guild shop steward at WNEW-FM still seemed too busy to even consider taking time out to converse with me about either the union or what kind of actual writing he actually did inside the WNEW-FM one-person newsroom.