Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Writers Guild Office Boy 1971 (xix)

In early 1971, the only woman Writers Guild member who worked at the networks that I delivered contest scripts to judge who wore pants and dressed like a liberated woman was Marlene Sanders. In early 1971, Marlene Sanders was a writer in the ABC television news department at the ABC studios on West 66th Street and, when I delivered the contest scripts to her office there, she looked like a slightly older Newsreel/Movement white woman, although she wore more make-up and lipstick than most white Movement women at that time.

Sanders seemed to be in her late 30s or early 40s in early 1971 and looked like she would be considered attractive by most men of that time—unless they had been conditioned to reject women who wore pants to the office in early 1971, instead of dresses or skirts which enabled them to show off their legs. But Sanders also seemed to be under a lot of stress and pressure when I delivered the contest scripts to her. Although she was polite to me, you got the sense that Sanders felt somewhat alienated from having to work within such a male chauvinist-dominated institution as ABC’s television network was under Leonard Goldenson’s control during the early 1970s.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Writers Guild Office Boy 1971 (xviii)

The other person I met from Columbia in Midtown Manhattan in early 1971 while on the street delivering scripts for the Writers Guild-East Script awards contest was a tall, good-looking former African-American Columbia student named Frank. Although Frank was an African-American, prior to April 1968 at Columbia he seemed to have absolutely no interest in Black Liberation Movement politics, New Left SDS politics or U.S. anti-war movement politics.

In the two years before April 1968, Frank worked at the front desk in the lobby of Carmen Hall each weekday evening and he always wore a tweed suit and dressed like a white prep school student. In addition, whenever any Columbia SDS activist would be handing out leaflets in Carmen Hall, putting leaflets under dorm room doors or posting SDS leaflets on floor bulletin boards in Carmen Hall, Frank would often ridicule the SDS activist in a friendly, but supercilious, preppie way. And before April 1968, if you attempted to discuss issues like IDA, the war, or Columbia University complicity with the Pentagon with Frank, he would just seem to scoff at you in a condescending way, as if any Columbia student who was interested in those kinds of issues must be just some kind of weirdo.

But after observing the first police invasion of Columbia’s campus on April 30, 1968 and apparently observing how the New York City cops brutalized people indiscriminately in Carmen Hall where Frank worked at the dormitory front desk, Frank suddenly began identifying himself as a political radical. And between May 1968 and September 1968, Frank no longer dressed in a tweed, preppie way and devoted nearly all his spare time assisting National Lawyers Guild lawyers with all the legal work and legal details that had to be attended to in representing the 700-plus people arrested at Columbia, whose criminal trespass cases were now being processed daily at the Centre Street Courthouse in Manhattan. And being down in court so often around the Columbia Student Revolt preliminary hearings during the summer of 1968 seemed to further radicalize Frank.

But by the time I bumped into Frank on the Midtown Manhattan street in early 1971, Frank—although still identifying himself as a political radical—no longer was into any kind of left legal activism on a day-to-day level and had lost faith in the possibility of there being a Revolution in the USA in the 1970s.

When I explained to Frank my then-current, early 1971 social change theory, which predicted that a revolutionary feminist-led women’s liberation movement, supported by their male left lovers and male left political allies would soon make the Revolution in the 1970s by first taking over the U.S. mass media studios, Frank was skeptical.

“Most women workers in the 9-to-5 office world that I meet are still mindless and politically unconscious. Most women office workers in the 9-to-5 world will never follow any women’s lib leadership that calls for a Revolution now in the United States,” said Frank.

In retrospect, Frank underestimated the degree to which large numbers of women office workers would eventually become more politically conscious, increasingly college-educated and intellectual, less anti-feminist and less traditionalist during the 1970s and 1980s. But, in retrospect, Frank also did prove to be more accurate than was I in estimating how likely it was that a revolutionary feminist-led women’s liberation movement, supported by male left lovers and male left political allies, would be able to create a matriarchal socialist society in the United States before the 21st century.

And after bumping into Frank on the street in Midtown Manhattan in early 1971, I never heard what happened to him. Presumably, he just ended up spending much of his life as some lawyer for some corporate law firm in Manhattan or elsewhere, trying to earn as much money as he could, in order to personally escape, as much as possible, from being born African-American in an institutionally racist white capitalist and imperialist U.S. society.