Inside— John Callahan Melissa Laird Marnie Mueller Rick Rubin Rob Nixon Paul Loeb and more
THE07 NEW Carbone 14 MONTREAL H - 1 4 0 Vertigo Danse O c t o b e r 2-S PaulDresher Ensemble TWMWC.SCO ^ c ^o ^ e r 3Q _ ^ | o v e m | j e | Robert Davidson Perrv Hoberman/Bill Obreehtc Paul Zaloom/Paul Krassnertsn-runiM >.7* m cg Susan Marshall and Company A p m NEW VOWK CITV J J SUBSCRIPTIONS AVAILABLE NOW THE GROUP THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS GARRY TRUDEAU’S Hilarious Musical Revue AT THE WASHINGTON HALL PERFORMANCE GALLERY 153 14TH AVENUE 543-4327 At The Center House Theatre "Unrelenting satire with a moral component . . . ingenious lyrics, bristling polemic wisecracks." CALL 325-7901. IIMIPROVIS/KTIONAL TH EA TRE PERFORMED AS A SPORT WITH TEAMS OF ACTORS CON4FETING FOR POINTS Tth® Tthiasthr1® "" Fridays at 10^30 pm 3940 Brooklyn Ave. N.E. ©^SlnKnlD®0© ©©(nn)®^ fvlondays at 9:00 pm 222 South N4ain Street TICKETS AT THE DOOR $4.00 STUDENTS WITH I.D. $3.00 UNDER TWELVE $2.00 2 Clinton St. Quarterly w i l l ? i. r +!•*■ ** +-A. ‘WAJX */• or-f THE NEW CITY THEATER 1634 11th Avenue 323-6800
Clinton St. VOL. 8, NO. 3 Q u arterly FALL 1986 STAFF Creditors David Milholland Lenny Dee Associate Editors Jim Blashfield, Michael Helm, Paul Loeb Washington State Coordinator Judy Bevis Art Direction David Milholland Design Tim Braun Guest Designers Candace Bieneman, Reed Darmon Production > Laura Di Trapani Cover Preparation Sharon Niemczyk Ad Sales Manager—Washington Judy Bevis Ad Sales—Oregon Dru Duniway, Sandy Wallsmith Ad Production Coordinator Stacey Fletcher Ad Production Jane Jovett, Joyce Fletcher Camerawork Laura Di Trapani, Tim Braun Typesetting Archetype, Harrison Typesetting, Inc., Marmilmar, Sherry Swain, Lee Emmett Proofreading Steve Cackley, Betty Smith Office Assistant Michele Hall Contributing Artists Tim Braun, John Callahan Claudia Cave, Fay Jones Peter Najarian, Louise Williams Robert Williamson Printing Tualatin-Yamhill Press Thanks Dave Ball, Rachel Bishop, Edward/Natalie Diener, Jeannine Edelblut, Steve Hood, Craig Karp, Deborah Levin, Peggy Lindquist, Theresa Marquez, Melissa Marsland, Doug Milholland, Kevin Mulligan, Bill Nagel, Jan Micholson, John Pickett, Stefanie Styskel, Laura Vernum, John Wanberg, Lou/Rosa Weinstock, The Clinton 500. Marketing Andy Allen & Associates, OMNI RESEARCH The Clinton St. Quarterly is published in both Washington and Oregon editions by CSQ—A Project of Out of the Ashes Press. Washington Address: 1520 Western Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 682-2404; Oregon address: P.O. Box 3588, Portland, OR 97208, (503) 222-6039. Unless otherwise noted, all contents copyright ®1986 Clinton St. Quarterly. EDITORIAL Driving south from Seattle this summer, I passed a car with that famous bumper sticker "America- Love It or Leave It!” 1did a double take when I saw the passengers were all, at least to my untrained eye, recently arrived immigrt i it moment set off lots of reflection. This nation still represents the dream of prosperity without oppression to many around the world. The current administration is doing everything possible to corral pat |ht) while attempting to polarize us all. That effort is obviously successful with a lot of folks out there. Too often, progressive-minded citizens of this country find themselves on the outside looking in, reacting a bit too late to themes developed by those who’ve staked out power. For many of us It’s an easy role—that of critic, outsider, the permanent opposition to a status quo we suspect we’ll never see toppled. And while many work hard for issues of concern and candidates which represent our sincerest aspirations, the overall thrust of the left has been negative, more wait-and-see than a wholehearted effort to seize the reins of power and make our own dreams the agenda. Part of the problem has been the scale on which those with wealth and power operate. Capital knows no boundaries. It has left our regional economy in tatters (overcut, overfished, undernourished) and set off for greener pastures. We must stake out a pragmatic, long-run position of rebuilding and revitalizing our lands and human resources, or what prosperity we continue to harbor will slowly leak away from us. A comprehensive, workable, hopeful scenario must be developed that can be “sold” to those presently convinced the Reagan/Big Business model is i Travelling throughout the Northwest and Lower British Columbia this summer, I sensed a critical mass being reached that could bring our unique corner of the universe into its own. We share a true genius of place that has adapted remarkably to this hour. clime. A genuine culture has grown up that is at clear odds with much of what is portrayed as the U.S. reality elsewhere. What I saw was the beginning of community-based development outside the high-energy, overly capitalized model we re told is the American way.” Few hereabouts seemed in ening in other lands. ■ Subscribe Now! Subscriptions are $16 for two years. Attractive postcards will be sent to all those on your list. 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WA 98101-1522 ■ . . • • CONTENTS ^ o v e r Roger Shimomura Coyote and Monkey in Bali Rick Rubin...............................................4 Hope in Hard Times Paul Loeb ...............................................8 Return of the Skunk Melissa Laird.......................................14 NUNS John Callahan......................................20 Hard Seat Through China John Boylan ..................................... 23 First Class: How I Went on my Summer Vacation Lisa Kinoshita...........................................27 Luna de Miel Marnie Mueller .................................. . 3 0 Daughters of Memory Peter Najarian.......................................36 Ad Index....................................................... 39 Loving America, which is all of this immense continent, will require more of us than we’re accustomed to giving. It asks each of us to care enough to begin truly taking control of our lives and our place on the planet. Truly Am tavior will require a moral standard far beyond that currently exposed in our nation's shaky, exploitative relations with the Third World. We can make our region, nation and continent the home of liberty and justice for all only if we reapply the resources we currently squander. To do less would be truly un-American and hazards consequences too staggering to be imagined. DM Clinton St. Quarterly
4 Clinton St. Quarterly
When Sparrow can’t talk Monkey into walking 10 miles up the beach to Tanah Lot, Coyote accompanies her. Actually, they only make it a mile, to a fancy hotel in Legian. They pretend to be rich tourists and rent a room, in which they romp away good-hearted evasions. Sparrow becomes a bird of gaudier plumage, hennaing her hair red. Coyote is twice her age, but kisses her anyhow, when Monkey isn’t looking. Together, the three eat at Kuta’s street stalls, sit on the beach, watch Balinese dances. Coyote is particularly delighted by the story of witch Ragonda, a child-gobbler with sagging breasts and lolling tongue. Coyote and Monkey eat magic mushrooms, at one of the warungs—cheap eating stalls—where “blue meanies" are served. Coyote and Monkey have strolled two blocks when the psilocybin hits. They collapse in a streetside Hindu-Buddhist shrine, erupting cosmic laughter. Coyote goggles the passing throng, more vibrant and colorful than ever. Turning to say something to Monkey he finds a furry Asian simian, laughing through sharp teeth. Coyote throws back his head and howls, displaying his canines. Hours later the high runs out as the last light drains from a crimson-saffron sunset into the Indian Ocean. tan Australia. Bamboo huts hide among the palms, strollers wear colorful sarongs, sculptured gods guard bridges and temples, banana plants and water buffalo are everywhere. The bemo driver parks and leads them down a path to a losman—a cheap lodging house—off in the trees about a mile from Kuta. Coyote rents a small room with two beds, a wardrobe, table and kerosene lamp. Out on the covered porch are chairs and a table for morning bananas and tea. Monkey and Sparrow settle in next door. Coyote listens to Monkey and Sparrow at play, through the woven- frond wall. Sparrow’s passionate chirps excite him. Coyote had spotted Monkey for the shaman-joker of Asia right off. Monkey has come out to meet the trickster-hero from North America. “Funny, you don’t look Chinese,” Coyote jokes. “No more than you look Chinook,” laughs Monkey. Coyote teases Sparrow mercilessly, breaking down her English reserve. He tickles her despite her girlish giggles and ------oyote had spotted Monkey for the shaman-joker of Asia right off. Monkey has come out to meet the trickster-hero from North America. "Funny you don't look Chinese," Coyote '-----------------jokes. "No more than \ you look Chinook," laughs Monkey. on his invisible sky-rope. They disembark in Bali to the clamor, scents and babble of countless dapper guides. Blond-maned Monkey, all shoulders and calves, hails a bemo, the long-bed pickup truck with roof and benches down the side that is the local cheap transport. He orders the driver to speed them to Kuta, where the shirtsleeve cosmopolites are kicking- back cheap this year. Skinny grey Coyote eyes English Sparrow, a slim pink morsel with fine high breasts, sombre in greys and browns. Monkey and Sparrow have been hitchhiking around Australia together. Coyote recalls his fondness for nibbling small birds. Green-gold Bali is splendid after greyrom the dank tropical edge of the arid Australian dreamscape, a single jetplane arrows eastward once each Thursday to Bali, isle of heavenly delights. American Coyote, Golden Monkey and English Sparrow board in Darwin, its palm-lined square clotted with spaced-out dirtbaggers, its scorched-earth suburbs deadly with lank philistines. Coyote trots aboard, Clinton St. Quarterly 5
seen uncovered. This girl refuses to admit she is pubescent, though her breasts are ripe pears the afternoon. Sparrow later tells Monkey that Coyote is wealthier than he lets on, neglecting to mention how she knows. Bali shimmers in the heat, awaiting monsoon rains. The rice paddies shrivel yellow. A farmer carries green forage to his buffalo, tethered to a palm. One day when Monkey returns from the beach he finds Sparrow’s pack gone. He questions broad, bovine Water Buffalo, who runs the losman, and learns that Coyote has lugged English Sparrow’s backpack away, Sparrow flitting at his side. “Foreign people come, foreign paddies are brown and bare, the sere earth thirsting for the long-delayed monsoon.^ Only 2,000-foot walls remain of Mt. Batur, which blew its top and collapsed inward. In the caldera, Siamese-twin cinder cones poke jaggedly up, and on their flank a new crater smokes ominously. The lake is five miles long and two wide, but looks no more than a crescent-shaped mud-puddle at one edge of the vast pit. Coyote and Monkey hike down into the depths, under a burning sun. As they JL hose miserable prudes the Javanese made the Balinese women cover their breasts decades ago. Only girls before puberty and old women people go,” Water Buffalo comments disapprovingly. “Prolly go ‘nothah losman." Monkey is thoroughly annoyed by this perfidy. When next he sees Coyote, he raves long and loud. “Don’t be silly, Monkey,” Coyote replies, "Sparrow is a bird of passage; you could never have hoped to keep her.” _l^^^Zuta is small. They keep meeting. Encountered alone, Coyote almost apologizes. “English Sparrow begged me to carry her away,” he tells Monkey. “I’d never set out to pinch a fellow traveler’s baggage. But you have to admit that only a fool would turn down such a well-feathered creature. Didn’t vou yourself pry Sparrow loose from a Kiwi in Adelaide?” Monkey visits them at their new losman, closer to the sea. Lusa Losman is a traditional compound of bamboo and banana fronds, 14 rooms around a courtyard exploding with scent-rich blossoms. Monkey takes a room. He waves to the lovers from his morning bananas and tea. Sparrow is painting her toenails crimson to match her new scarlet sarong. The happy couple go off to Ubud, the artists’ town, intending to continue to Mt. Agung, a vast volcano the Balinese claim is the navel of the world. Several days later Coyote returns alone. As Coyote tells it, they argued about nothing at all, and Sparrow disappeared with doltish Ox, who’d been mooing his devotion through the alleys and galleries of Ubud. When Coyote returns to Lusa Losman all the rooms are taken. He persuades Monkey to let him use the other bed in his room. At night they hear melodious wooden cow bells. The gekko calls “gekko, gekko, gekko.” In the distance, dogs bark. Monkey and Coyote cautiously become friends again. They decide to go back up to Ubud, to buy art and view volcanoes and continue on to the north coast. But before they depart, Monkey turns haggard and sweaty. They have seen other travelers sicken. It is dengue fever, also called breakbone. The victim squirms and sweats, too weak to move, too pained to lie still. After five days the attack passes. Travelers who consult a doctor are given aspirin and sent to rest in bed. Pain wracked and gushing sweat, Monkey sits up wide-eyed and begs Coyote not to leave him. “I know you want to get to the mountains,” he groans, “but stay with me until I get on my feet again. Don’t leave me alone here.” Eight thousand miles from home, and still feeling vaguely guilty, how could Coyote leave? He brings Monkey pitchers of water and changes the sopping towels, fetches soda-pop from the nearby warung, finds aspirin, and walks clear into Kuta seeking milk. Monkey babbles and writhes in fever dreams. Coyote mops his brow. Coyote preaches himself a sermon about doing good without expecting a reward. He forgets his trickster ways and plays the hero full time. After five days Monkey sits up from damp twisted sheets, smiles wanly. He takes a cool shower. Later that day he toddles to the warung for orange soda and a grilled cheese sandwich. Soon he is well enough to travel and they zoom up to Ubud. There they meet English Sparrow on the street, wearing a stunning new purple dress barely held up by spaghetti straps, her toenails sparkling gold. Sparrow walks beside a tall, dark-haired Frog, practicing her French. Coyote rolls his eyes and licks his chops theatrically. “I’d take you back anytime,” he tells her. “I’m having a lovely time flitting about,” Sparrow replies. ^^-ZZZoyote and Monkey head toward Mt. Batur, a huge crater lake up- country. They climb toward Penelokan, high on the rim of the volcano. The rice descend the world turns grey, charcoal and black, under an indigo sky. There is only a little scrub vegetation and the heat reflects in shimmering waves from the encircling walls. Coyote and Monkey begin to argue. How fast should they go and which direction; should they take a canoe or a motorboat? Visiting an aboriginal village on the lake, Monkey disappears for an hour, while Coyote frets. When Monkey returns he borrows dollars from Coyote for a mysterious deal. The natives stare at Coyote. Their dead ancestors rot in bamboo cages at the nearby cemetery. Monkey returns, laughing and scratching. He claims he will share his good trade on money with Coyote. “Why are you sulking, Coyote?” he wants to know. After bitter argument they finally direct the canoeman across the hammered- pewter lake to Toyabungkah village. Girls come to the school there to learn the Legong Dance, most graceful and feminine of the Balinese dances, performed exclusively by young girls. From up the hill Coyote and Monkey hear gamelan music. But they are hot and tired, and there is a hotspring pool at the edge of the lake. They will bathe first. As they recline in steaming water, a bare-breasted girl comes down. Those miserable prudes the Javanese made the Balinese women cover their breasts decades ago. Only Clinton St. Quarterly
— t dawn, Coyote is sweating mightily. He feels lousy. “I’ve got dengue fever,” he tells Monkey, who lays his hand on Coyote’s forehead. “Naw,” Monkey regirls before puberty and old women with withered dugs are occasionally seen uncovered, not counting the foreign girls on Kuta beach. This girl refuses to admit she is pubescent, though her breasts are ripe pears. Monkey views her coolly; Coyote becomes feverishly agitated. She is for an instant a naked brown sprite as her red- orange sarong floats free and she slips into the water. Coyote clears his throat loudly and sidles resolutely toward her. The girl casts apprehensive looks, but Coyote refuses to notice. He tries to start a conversation with his 12 words of Indonesian. Monkey whispers a warning, but Coyote is beyond reason. He floats closer, until the child covers herself and flees. Monkey snarls. Coyote growls. They sit a long time, sweating in hot water. “Well,” Coyote defends himself, “she needed to learn that she has to watch out for men like me.” Renting a room Monkey is dismayed to discover that the wad of Indonesian money he’s bought is mostly cut-up newspaper. This doesn’t improve their dispositions a bit. They go up to the school in the center of the village. Craning their necks around a partly open door, they watch girls practice the dance. Later, eating dinner, Coyote chats with Binturong, the foxfaced matron who runstheir/osman. Binturong’s daughter Martin flits past, a shapely bird, exquisitely-proportioned. All these beautiful girls are driving Coyote wild. Monkey goes off to bed. In the morning he will climb the taller ofthe cinder cones that jut above the town. Coyote declines this useless exertion under the tropical sun. He has been hanging around with Monkey too much. Two men together can be a bore. assures him, “nothing to speak of. Probably just Binturong’s cooking.” Monkey will return after his climb, and they will “get out of this hole.” By evening Coyote is flat on his back. Dengue is a fire in the marrow of his bones and boiling lead in his joints. Sweat runs from every pore and there is no comfortable way to lie. Breakbone is steady, unrelenting pain. Monkey has carried off the aspirin. Nor does Monkey return at nightfall. Coyote writhes and sleeps, groans and dozes. Staggering to the toilet next morning, Coyote finds himself in a grey emptiness under a burning cobalt sky. Coyote memorizes the cracks in the ceiling. He is alone on the floor of a volcano and the hours pass slowly. He reflects on his errors. He dreams of naked little girls with tiny breasts that swell, then sag into the witch Ragonda’s pendulous boobs. He hears Monkey’s raucous laughter, and sees pillars of smoke and strange deities in forms of fantasy and horror. When will Monkey return? He dreams monsters. The earth swallows him, blood red lava flows. The vast pit is carmine. Mt. Baturis the vulva ofthe world and Coyote is trapped inside. He realizes that Monkey will never return, and he will never get out. This is Earth’s punishment for his lifelong lasciviousness; for lubricity, lust and or- ality. For peeking through knotholes, for treating women as objects, for masturbation, fornication, seduction, and salacious fascination. The world's womb has swallowed him, and will cook his meat forever. The third day thunderheads tower high above. In lucid moments Coyote chuckles that Monkey hasn’t returned. Who would have guessed that the very person he nursed would abandon him? He hopes the bastard fell into the crater. All Coyote has had is trouble since he met that blond-haired devil. Coyote wonders if this is really dengue, or some other, deadlier fever. There is no respite from pain. ' J_ his is Earth's punishment for his lifelong lasciviousness; for lubricity, lust and orality; for masturbation, fornication, seduction, and salacious fascination. The world's womb has swallowed him, and will cook his meat forever. In dreams the cinder cones are Earth’s clitoris, and Monkey rubs himself against it. Steam and smoke pour from the active crater, Monkey dives in. Barely nubile Balinese dancers surround Coyote. They bare their tiny slim bodies, stroke their own breasts and smile enticingly. Monkey comes up through the floor laughing and capering, he handles and caresses the girls, waves his cock, waves Coyote’s cock. Coyote sits up to make him stop but finds his own hand there, and himself alone in a dusty-white room, clothes and gear slung all across the floor and beds. He staggers to the stinking squat toilet, but nothing comes. Low dark clouds obscure the sky. Thunder roars above the mountains. He laughs at Monkey’s treachery. It is a good lesson which he will never forget. If he lives. The volcano erupts. This must be the end. The great blown-out, burning cunt of the world is giving birth. Her water breaks! He hears it roar on the roof. Water gurgles and splashes everywhere. He rises and staggering weakly to the door, he looks out. Water pours down the slope into the lake, rain pounds the roof, huge drops dapple the ground, water is everywhere. The monsoon has reached Bali at last. Coyote realizes he no longer hurts. • ■ a M he fever departs as swiftly as it came. When he goes to pay the bill he finds that without what Monkey borrowed he hasn’t enough. He trades Binturong the gear Monkey left plus his own black folding umbrella. A day later, safe in decadent Kuta, a room is vacant at Lusa Losman. He can rest at last. English Sparrow is staying at Lusa Losman with Sandpiper, a tall, lisping chap. She says they are “just like sisters.” Sparrow has cut and spiked her hair now and and wears three earrings in each lobe. She proposes that she, Sandpiper and Coyote become a trio; Coyote in the middle. She seems genuinely surprised when he refuses. Something burned away in the fiery pit. English Sparrow seems dangerously flighty to entrust with so fragile a part of his body. Coyote sees Monkey one more time. At the post office Coyote is surprised to hear that familiar maniacal laugh, and turns to see Monkey approaching, his mouth full of teeth. Monkey greets him cordially, as a long lost friend. "I had dengue,” Coyote reproaches him. “Why the hell didn’t you come back?” “Oh, it was too hot in there. I couldn’t stand it any longer. You say you had dengue, but it was probably just the heat of all those girls around you, Coyote. Did you bring my gear out?” “Damn your gear,” Coyote shouts. “You lost my money and abandoned me when I was sick, you bastard.” “Ha, ha, Coyote, you’re getting old and crotchety,” Monkey says.”l didn’t take your money, I got gypped out of money myself. I was curing you all right, but the disease was chasing little birds. Ha, ha, ha.” “You damn primate!” Coyote rages, but Monkey dances off, past Balinese in business suits and travelers in drawstring trousers, airline captains, Iowa dentists, brown boys in tailored shirts and old women in black. Monkey turns and laughs, all teeth and testicles, then vaults by his invisible skyrope up toward the ceiling, his tail flapping out behind. He disappears entirely, in the general direction of Asia. Rick Rubin lives in Portland and writes for numerous national, regional and neighborhood publications. His last story for CSQ was on Portland Mayor Bud Clark. Artist Tim Braun lives in Portland. He regularly illustrates and designs for CSQ.
HOPE IN Clinton St. Quarterly South Carolina: Baptists By Paul Loeb Illustration by Robert Williamson Although Florence could be said to have a particular relationship to the time we’ve fairly casually termed “the nuclear age,” otherwise it differed little from its quiet rural neighbors. The bomb came, went, and was largely forgotten. Situated 110 miles up-country from Charleston and eighty east of the state capital in Columbia, this community of 30,000 went about its ordinary way, paying scant attention to grand and distant global issues. Its citizens paid the resulting costs, accepted the resulting consequences, and fell into line with the rest of the culture. Dissenters only appeared as exotic fodder for TV news. Therefore, it was unexpected when sixty respectable local residents engaged in a “protest march”—a fundraising walk for the national Freeze campaign. In all, 200 people participated by marching or signing pledges, contacting the press, baking cookies, serving ice tea, or performing the myriad other tasks that made the walk successful. Starting out on a clear October Saturday from Poyner, a former high school now used as an adult education center, they headed east out of town, past the black neighborhood’s crumbling porches, rusting tin roofs, and glass-littered ground. They reached the pale stucco courts and dried-up swimming pools of motels left behind when a new interstate bypassed Florence: the Treasure City Bingo Jamboree, a’parlor as large as a Safeway store, promising $400,000 jackpots beneath an Imperial Margarine crown; and then the Florence Air and Missile Museum, where Saber jets, Titan missiles and B-17s stood sentinel on cylindrical posts. Quaintly obsolete, no longer up to high-tech standards, they cast echoes of past military glories on walkers carrying signs reading: “No Winners Nuclear War,” “End The Arms Race,” and" ‘Come Now, Let Us Reason Together’”—this last with chapter and verse citation from Isaiah. Another sign began “Blessed Are The Peace Wishers,” with “Wishers” crossed out to “Thinkers,” and finally changed to “Blessed Are The Peace Makers.” The six-mile march was to end at the atomic bomb site. But the property owners backed out after receiving threatening phone calls. The marchers walked as close as they could—to the campus of the 3,000-student Francis Marion College, a commuter school named after the Swamp Fox of the American Revolution. For the marchers and for the town, such public dissent was a first. For almost everyone involved, this day marked entry into a country of new vulnerability and exposure. SoTn^walked past oaks, pines, and popTSre,' lightly timid but proud, while neighbors watched from the Midas Muffler shop, Piggly Wiggly superf wenty-five years after an atomic bomb fell just outside J- its city limits, Florence, South Carolina had a peace march. A B-47 lost the weapon in 1958 when a lock broke on it bay doors, and the bomb dropped 15,000 feet before landing outside a modest farmhouse. Fortunately, the plutonium and uranium did not go critical. Three years later, two more bombs fell 130 miles away in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and an atomic blast was prevented only when, after five safety devices failed, the final one held. Instead, the first bomb’s TNT trigger, detonating on impact, dug a hole 100 feet across and thirty-five feet deep, sheared off surrounding trees, and caved in the adjacent house as if a giant had kicked in its side. The blast wounded three children playing in the yard. The family fought for years before getting the barest of settlements.
HARD TIMES s Among those walking for the first time was Southern Baptist minister Bill Cusak. Bill proudly wore a square sign, reading ‘Peace Now’ on all four sides, above a straw hat on his bald head. It could be seen unmistakably from any direction. The sign did make Bill look a little odd; his wife thought he resembled Carmen Miranda carrying pineapples. But he liked its visibility and stood fast on local roots, dating back to before the British shot his ancestor, Adam Cusak, for refusing to let them use his ferry to cross the nearby Pee Dee River. Bill’s concern began after the initial Hiroshima bomb, while he was still a young seminary student at Georgia Tech. The knowledge of what had occurred and might occur again frightened and pained him. But since no one seemed to share his apprehensions, he placed them on a back shelf until, in early 1982, he heard a group of British and American scientists—including several who had worked on the original bomb—express fear that an atomic war was entirely likely by the year 2,000. Bill’s first grand-daughter was two at the time. He couldn’t think of her and remain silent. It was his phone call to a Francis Marion biologist that led, nearly two years later, to this march. The day almost had the air of a Sunday school picnic—men and women in jeans and walking shorts, clean-cut teenagers in Black Sabbath t-shirts. Although the surrounding culture ceded these teachers and nurses, ministers, counselors, and other respectable professionals far greater right to question than it did the men and women who worked in the surrounding farms and mills, they wondered where challenging government leaders might lead. Their actions suggested that the world was gravely threatened, not only by external barbarians, but by our own society’s actions and choices. Some were jittery, like the young Methodist min- J ister who nearly cracked up his blue Dodge pickup while driving over from a small town forty miles away. Others took heart because everyone seemed so wholesome and ordinary. A pastoral assistant who was here at the request of a daughter dying of Hodgkin’s disease, said, “I guess blacks started this marching—I realize they went through a lot worse.” A young social worker marched with a Sony Walkman and a sign, made jointly with a mildly retarded client, depicting a soccer-ball planet, colored in oblong continents of orange, yellow, blue and green, and the words “Save The Earth, Stop The Bombs” in strong black letters. Most nursed tired feet, chatted with neighbors and friends, and hoped they would be heard. As Episcopal minister Ingram Parmellysaid, “now they know there are others who care as well.” At the end-point rally, a rabbi led an ecumenical prayer and a local historian recalled the day the bomb fell. Ingram, who also taught sociology at Francis Marion, filled in for a hoped-for congressman-salving possible disappointment by saying this was a movement determined not by star speakers but by ordinary citizens, “insisting that we don’t wish our children incinerated.” He ended by quoting Isaiah, promising a day “when nation shall not lift up sword against nation.” They all knew the quotation. They’d learned it in fourth-grade Bible school, then consigned it to the domain of ideals or distant futures. But given that the marchers feared being tarred as pawns of evil empires, it rooted them in familiar traditions. The bomb's TNT trigger, detonating on impact, dug a hole 100feet across and! thirty-five feet deep, sheared off surroundi trees, and caved in the adjacent house as if a giant had kicked in its side. The blast wounded three children playing in the yard 1—1 ow is a movement born in a place J. JL where none existed before? How does a community of conscience oppose a once-accepted culture? A year and a half before the October 1983 march, Florence had no peace movement. Fears of the atomic arms race remained mute. Then a Francis Marion biologist named Jack Boyce got a Common Cause mailing detailing the consequences of a nuclear war, the developing weapons buildup, and suggestions for citizen action. Boyce began researching the issue In books, ■................ .... .. ' and-publications like 77K Atomic Scientists. He wrote lette of the local paper on the MX vote, the chances of surviving an atomic blast, and the escalating global crisis. Around this time, Bill Cusak saw the scientists speaking on nuclear war. It was an hour-long public TV discussion filmed by the British, and it stirred him to consider the almost incomprehensible possibilities they discussed. Remembering a few of Boyce’s letters in the paper, he decided to call Jack to talk. Although the two had not spoken previously, they began meeting Thursday mornings from 7:30 to 9:00 at the office where Bill did religious-based counseling. Bill also invited the educational minister of a rural Baptist church, and Jack brought his Methodist minister and a Francis Marion drama teacher. Bill got thirty people at his church to view a Physicians for Social Responsibility film, The Last Epidemic, which counterposed Hiroshima footage with testimony on the consequences of a nuclear war presented by doctors, scientists, statesmen, and even a former admiral. Clinton St. Quarterly 9
Bill joined with the others to buy a $350 print and book it, free of charge, to churches schools, Rotary Clubs, nurses' associations, community centers, and whoever would let them show it. As the group’s initial participants began to speak before different organizations and to invite others to help, they drew on the morning meetings for emotional sustenance. Support also came from other activists in nearby communities. In Charleston, the Freeze campaign joined with a small, largely black local of the United Electrical Workers to hold a 150-person peace march—despite freezing rain. In Columbia, the Carolina Peace Resource Center provided the Florence and other groups with information, films, slide shows, and a calendar of statewide activities. And in June 1983, the state’s Methodist ministers endorsed the Freeze. But until the walk, Florence citizens had no public vehicle for expressing their sense of community. Just as different local groups inspired each other, so efforts like that of Florence made it possible for the national Freeze campaign to coordinate coast-to-coast “walk-a-thons" that October. A California office provided posters, advice, and general know-how, and the marches passed on part of the money they received. The actions built each organization as well as a broader movement. The Florence group now called itself the Pee Dee Nuclear Freeze Campaign, named for the nearby river. Participants joined by twos and threes as the mailing list grew from thirty to eighty to 150. Jack Boyce, however, had now retired to North Carolina. The Methodist minister rotated 180 miles west to Greenville. But new people filled the gap. Drama teacher Denny Sanderson became the organizational hub: carrying the campaign office in his briefcase, sandwiching march logistics between endless rehearsals of the student play, and using his broadcasting experience to prime advantage on the Florence TV show, “Pee Dee People.” A cost. Others gathered pledges, called local printer ran off mailings and fliers at various media, and helped in whatever ways they could. Of course the walk encountered resistance. Letters to the paper talked of the “darkness of Communist hell” and said ministers should not “promote moral causes,” but rather “preach salvation only by Jesus’s love for sinner and hatred for sin.” Police were urged to revoke the march permit. A prominent Presbyterian berated his pastor for participating. I caught an echo of this backlash when I went, along with Bill Cusak and Ingram Parmelly, to view the site where the Air Force bomb had fallen in 1958. We walked past a low barricade of branches and broken TV antennas that Bill Gregg—the man whose home was destroyed—had erected to keep out the marchers. Ingram said he understood why—given the draining fight the Greggs went through—they shied away from inviting further controversy by offering their land. The house was gone, marked only by wooden posts, a broken flower pot, sheets of crumpled tin, and thin young pines struggling to reclaim the site as forest. The hole held stagnant water, surrounded by red and blue shotgun casings and the perforated Budweiser cans of their owners. A stove, an old sink, and sheets of rusted metal rose jaggedly from the water, folding back Ijke crumpled insect wings. Six months earlier, the local radio station played their twenty-five-year-ofd tape of the accident report with great fanfare. But when Denny asked to use the tape at the rally, the station manager (whose anticommunist rhetoric would have warmed the heart of J. Edgar Hoover) said it was lost and unavailable. Bill and Ingram discussed buying the bomb site and a narrow access corridor, so citizens could gather without triggering the Greggs’ harassment. We sat quietly, thinking of how apoc- alypse had so discreetly grazed this modest community. Ingram—not a lace-curtain Episcopalian but a husky coal miner’s son—recalled growing up in The South's oldest newspaper, the Augusta Chronicle, described protestors as "shiftless failures as human beings," who were either "knowingly helping America's enemies," or "venting their spleen on an orderly society with which they cannot cope Tracy City, East Tennessee. His father died in the mines, and Ingram said he might be alive today had the company cared as much about safety as it did about profits, or had the union stood up to them as they should have. He thought the real betrayal of the South had come “when they convinced the poor whites that blacks were their natural enemies, that everyone in the Confederate Army was an aristocratic officer, and that when your grandaddy fought with Robert E. Lee he rode side by side instead of following with the shovel for manure.” As a butterfly skimmed the water to alight on a twig, shouts came from the road, kids yelling “Eat shit.. .goddamn Communists.. .eat shit!” We saw a flash of them running through the woods. “I wish they’d hang around to let us talk to them,” said Bill, then he decided to check the cars. After Bill left and walked slowly down the pine needle path, Ingram told me, “One of the things that happens with people shouting at us as they drive by, and kids yelling ‘goddamn Communists,’ is that there’s a recognition that things aren’t quite right, but a real uncertainty about what to do about it. The verities of land and property, home and hearth have been so clear here for so long. And we still remember losing a war.” He said the march would bring out support and make people listen, but that the group would also “catch a little hell before this is over.” He remembered when Vietnam was at its height, and he was dean of men at a small college near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Visiting generals paraded through explaining “how God and Lyndon Johnson wanted America to kick ass in Vietnam.” Finally a student CALL 4B7-6COO! "BOOKED SOLUKa.k.a. books 5241 U.Way N.E. 522-8864 Left Bank Books 92-Pike 622-0195 10 Clinton St. Quarterly
asked Ingram to sponsor a speaker for the other side. The speaker came, and the letters columns filled with talk of Ingram’s communism. Most marchers, Ingram thought, had little “real perception of what could be awaiting them—that they could suffer some ostracism, coolness, or be tagged crazy. Or worse yet be the victims of some violence, however minor.” But individuals had to find their own understandings of the risk, and realize that “if people survived marching on Selma and on the Pentagon, they ought to survive a march from Poynerto Francis Marion College.” Then Ingram smiled behind his salt and pepper beard. “Do you know what it means for a bunch of Baptists to sit respectfully silent in the presence of a rabbi leading them in prayer in Florence, South Carolina, the by-God buckle of the Bible Belt?" He said having the rabbi was a deliberate statement, “because this thing not only transcends our faith and our particular sectarianism, it transcends our very humanity.” f f this was a time when the efforts of Xordinary humans might well determine whether or not the species continued, these efforts were not without their cost. One hundred and thirty miles from Florence, the South’s oldest newspaper, the Augusta Chronicle, described protestors at a planned rally and civil disobedience action at the Savannah River Plant, South Carolina’s plutonium production facility, as “shiftless failures as human beings,” who were either “knowingly helping America's enemies,” or “venting their spleen on an orderly society with which they cannot cope.” Here, however, the Florence Morning News supported the walk with an editorial explaining that because of the “insanity of the expanding nuclear arsenals,” it was appropriate for “upstanding citizens and loyal Americans” to “ have decided for the first time in their lives that the cause compels them to be activists.” Yet, even with an unusually sympathetic local paper, involvement in the issue raised fears. In part this was related to the ultimate stakes. But citizens were also attempting to reclaim a sovereignty over choices they’d been conditioned to believe were not theirs to address. As political scientist Richard Falk explains, we have been living since Hiroshima under what is in a sense a “permanent emergency,” where an implicit state of war concentrates power in the executive branch, and critical national decisions are kept secret in the name of national security.. Although the Constitution mandates Congress with clear responsibility for the declaration of war, the legislative branch now attempts vainly to rein in military actions unilaterally initiated by the president. Following our Lebanese intervention, Ronald Reagan denounced even congressional discussion as having increased American casualties. For the Florence marchers to take on the nuclear issue was thus to challenge significant aspects of this political order—and the vested interests of all who feed off the weapons economy or perceive it as a necessity. They faced as well, a national heritage of tarring dissenting movements as beyond the pale; a heritage extending from the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts and the jailing of those who spoke against World War I, to Mc- Carthy-era blacklisting and Nixon’s Coin- telpro burglaries, IRS investigations and use of violent provocateurs. Even as the marchers were given legitimacy by respectable scientists, clergy, and breakaway policymakers (like former Ambassador to the Soviet Union George Kennan), and even as most sought a very modest utopia—of merely preserving home and hearth—it is understandable that many feared being branded and shunned. For some, these fears centered around the same intimate community that could also give nurturing sustenance. A Florence counselor who coordinated peace walk pledges remembered how, when she was a high school student in Montgomery, Alabama, her parents received threats for discussing racial relations with black activists. The paper of the local White Citizen’s Council published their names and the license number of their car. The midnight phone calls rang endlessly. She retreated, frightened of judgment by peers, and of becoming marked for the crimes of those who did not know their place. And she watched in silence until Bill Cusak drew her in, twenty years later, saying, “There’s going to be a nuclear film shown at the Baptist church. Sure think y’all would enjoy seeing it.” The counselor ended up meeting a young nurse who was part of the Ebenezer Baptist congregation, who had done nothing more controversial than wear a POW/MIA bracelet her freshman year at Clemson. Together they formed a chapter of Peace Links (the women’s disarmament organization founded by the wife of Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers), brought in a dozen other members, and began to show their own film—on nuclear weapons and children—to groups culled from a Chamber of Commerce list. But activists’ apprehensions extended beyond the potential reactions of friends and peers, employers, agencies of state, and others wielding institutional power. They touched as well on the paths they might be led to follow. Participation in even the Freeze walk, or any other mild initial step, marked a point of departure from a stance in which critical decisions were automatically left to sanctified experts: politicians in Washington, D.C., or the Carolina State House, executives running the local textile mills, heads of distant oil companies and banks. Finding an alternative to compliance began with the insistence that ordinary citizens should judge these matters that so affect their future. And it meant perhaps following their judgments into whatever harsh and winding night they might lead. The town of Florence had long been isolated and innocent. A Francis Marion administrator recalled the student body president’s polite reaction to her shock at Kent State; he could have been consoling her at the death of some distant aunt. But with the development of the college and with new industry the community changed. It helped that the newspaper was sympathetic and the economy rested on tobacco, soybeans, a PepsiCola plant, General Electric, and Union Carbide, and not on the military. Yet the peace effort grew primarily from chains of individuals overcoming their own hesitancy and uncertainty to stake integrity and reputation on the simple belief that the atomic arms issue must be addressed. Again, small town visibility could personalize resistance as well as support. Yet those who marched in Florence addressed a community more intimate and perhaps less jaded than an urban metropolis, and risked far less the pride and factionalism that often accompanies beliefs that one’s actions matter more when located in a center of wealth and power. And like their compatriots in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, they began with the risk of discussing what had been unmentionable. If our present crisis is propelled not only by blind trust, but also by cynical acquiescence, it is appropriate that those who choose to grapple with these issues do it in part for the hope they consequently find. Though this gain need not be sanctimonious, it does involve a sense of linkage to some larger context. In the words of another marcher, a big bear of a college-educated Navy vet, and a sometime truck driver: “I like being serious about the walk or a Sierra Club meeting, but when it’s over I like being able to watch Carolina football, drink a half dozen beers and cuss out Southern Cal or whoever they’re playing. If there is a God, I’d like to be able to say, ‘Yeah I drank a lot of Coors, but I cared’.” Writer Paul Loeb lives in Seattle. An Associate Editor of CSQ, his book Nuclear Culture was just re-released by New Society Publishers. 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