Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Marx, Che, Eldridge, and Seale at the Oklahoma Tire and Supply, Fayetteville (Arkansas) Square, 1970

The photographs below show a strange little march held on the Fayetteville (Arkansas) square. It took place, I think, on July 4, 1970. However, I have found nothing in the local newspaper to verify that date or any other one.

The most striking visual impression of the photos is the juxtaposition of the familiar Oklahoma Tire and Supply and Campbell-Bell signs with jolting images of Che Guevara, Karl Marx, Bobby Seale, and Arkansan Eldridge Cleaver, plus a couple of Vietcong flags. That combination of images was rarely seen on the square. 

This small march was one of many protests in Fayetteville during the last part of 1969 and the first half of 1970. On October 1969, the anti-Vietnam War Moratorium March was held with about 600 participants (according to the local paper). On May 8, 1970, another large anti-war march was held, with 750 protesters (according to the local paper) walking from the University of Arkansas campus to the Fayetteville square. At the end of the march, 57 people were arrested when they refused to move from the entrance of the Selective Service office. This march came not long after the shooting of students at Kent State University.

On July 4, 1970, I just happened to be on the square on a hot Saturday morning when the pictured protest took place. And I just happened to have a camera with a telephoto lens with me. I am not sure how many pictures I took, but I can find only these three slides of the march.  

The young people shown marching were among a handful of people, found in most towns with large universities, who were radicalized in their opposition to the Vietnam War and to racism and to capitalism. No doubt some of the marchers considered themselves communists and/or revolutionaries. Most of them were students at the University.

People with radical views were not very popular in Northwest Arkansas and even less popular elsewhere in the state. Likely if such a demonstration had been held in Fayetteville in the early 1960s, or in any other Arkansas city except Fayetteville or Little Rock, it would not have passed unnoticed, without condemnation, or, maybe, without violence, in reaction to the symbols carried by the marchers. However, by 1970 such a march attracted little attention in Fayetteville.

I do not recognize most folks in the picture, but I did know the guy in the second picture who is dressed in white and is carrying a flag at the head of the procession. I think I recall his name, but will not give it here in case I am mistaken. I also remember seeing some of the guys wearing berets around the U of A campus.  

I have to wonder where the folks who took part in the march are now and what political beliefs they have. 


Monday, January 27, 2014

Easy Peasy and Other Breezy and Cheesy Words

A couple of months ago, I heard the words “easy peasy” in a commercial warning people about identify theft. In the ad, a smarmy thief described how he had stolen the identity of an unsuspecting young woman, then he flashed his yellow front teeth at the camera and said with a sinister sneer, “easy peasy.” 

This two-word phrase sounded familiar, but I could not recall when I had heard it previously. For some reason, it wormed its way into my brain. The meaning of “easy peasy” is immediately obvious: the word “peasy” amplifies “easy,” even though the literal meaning of “peasy” is “the disagreeable taste of very fresh green peas.” The word is not used for its literal meaning, but simply because it rhymes comfortably with easy and gives it a new implied meaning. The two words together are, when first heard, a breezy (light, fresh, informal) way of saying something is more than just easy. We might say the two words together are “super duper,” a similar construction of two words.

Of course, when the two-word phrase wormed its way into my consciousness, I started hearing it more often. Apparently the two words have caught the attention of advertising writers. Last week when watching the Seattle-San Francisco football game, I heard the words “easy peasy” in three different commercials, including in a song sung by a postman happily delivering priority mail, which is, as we all now know, the “easy peasy” way to return gifts we do not want.

When I started looking around more carefully, I was surprised at how widespread the phrase is used commercially. There are easy peasy barbecue sauces 
(http://www.easypeasyfoods.com/ ), easy peasy shoes (http://www.easypeasy.fr/uk/index.php), and several easy peasy blogs. Also there are many easy peasy diets, including an easy peasy paleo diet (http://easypeasypaleo.net/). There is an easy peasy computer operating system (http://www.geteasypeasy.com/). And you can even buy an easy peasy pea from Burpee. 

O.K., I admit that I missed the easy peasy phenomenon until it came to television. Given the evident trend in the use of the phrase, I suspect that it will not be long before we are inundated with commercials showing attractive young people dancing frenetically as an announcer or a song repeatedly tells us how “easy peasy” a product is. At that point, if it has not already, “easy peasy” will cross from being breezy to being cheesy. It will be so trite, dull, and tired that people will cringe when they hear the phrase.

Just sayin’.

Yes, just as “just sayin’” quickly crossed from breezy to cheesy a couple of years ago, the same is happening to “easy peasy” because of its overuse.  

My experience with easy peasy reminds me that our brain’s relationship with words is a strange one. We hear and speak words in our vocabulary with great ease, rarely noticing them as individual entities. Then, we encounter a new word or phrase that surprises us or catches our imagination. We often incorporate it into our conversation, as do countless others, showing how hep or tuned in or cool we are; then the word or phrase quickly becomes cheesy through repetition. When we use it, and people hear it for the 1000th time, we catch a scent of scorn or sympathy from them. Hey, “what happens in Easy Peasy land, stays in Easy Peasy Land”: such phrases quickly lose their freshness.

Sometime a word can do more than worm its way into our consciousness: it can scare us when it keeps popping up in unexpected places. I call this the “Olsen Effect.” You have probably experienced it.  It goes like this:  you hear a worm word or phrase  one that penetrates your consciousness  and then in a short time, you hear it, read it, and see it repeatedly, as if it were stalking you. 

My defining experience with the “Olsen Effect” came shortly after I moved to Birch Bay.  I was looking for the quickest route from Birch Bay to the town of Ferndale and soon found that it was “Olsen Road.” Right after that discovery, I and my fellow traveler, Natalia, started noticing the word “Olsen” everywhere we turned. We passed the Olsen Realty company. an Olsen yard sign was in most yards to promote a man running for a county office. A man named Olsen was heralded in the headlines in the local newspaper for his civic actions. A young Olsen hit a home run to lead his high school team to victory. On it went, day after day: Natalia and I would encounter an Olsen in the most unlikely places at the most unlikely times.

O.K., you might say, Northwest Washington was settled by Scandinavians, and Olsen is a common Scandinavian name. So, being “Olsenized” should not have been a big surprise. True, maybe. But what about this:  in the midst of the Olsen phenomenon, Natalia and I traveled to Vienna, Austria. After a few days there, we did some shopping and she, after substantial searching, found a sweater she liked at the Steffl department store on Kärnterstrasse. Taking it to the cash register, we glanced at the label and both of us noticed at the same time that it said “Olsen.” We had to muffle our screams to avoid getting kicked out of the store.

By that time, “Olsen” had changed from a breezy word to a cheesy one. We had had enough of it.

Another, but lesser example of the Olsen Effect is a word I noticed late last year in a short story by Dorothy Thompson, the journalist who was the second most famous woman in the United States in the 1930s (behind Eleanor Roosevelt). Researching her years in Vienna from 1921 to 1925, I ran across an unpublished short story she wrote in 1922 or 1923. In it, she described a very attractive woman character as a “light-o’love.” I had never read or heard this phrase before. Consulting a dictionary, I learned that the word was first used in 1589 and was in more common use in the 19th century. Its meaning is (1) prostitute or (2) lover, paramour. 

Viennese Light-o'-Love
Only a couple of days later, I encountered the phrase a second time in a book with the title, The Viennese: Splendor, Twilight, Exile by Paul Hofmann. According to this book, Arthur Schnitzler was 32 years old when the Burgtheater, the most prestigious theater in Vienna, accepted for production one of his plays. Its German name was Liebelei but in English it was usually called “Light o’ Love or Game of Love.”   

Since this second meeting with this word, I have run across it three or four other times. In each case, the word was used in a discussion of Schnitzler and his plays.  I think that if I use the word in some discussion, it will still be a breezy, not a cheesy, word. It still has the power of freshness.

Another note on words, Olsens, and brains. A few months ago, I was reading Barry Schweitzer’s autobiography, Bootlegger’s Son, when I stumbled upon an intriguing, unfamiliar word. I was reading the book mainly to find out more about Switzer’s upbringing in Arkansas. He had a rough childhood in Crossett before playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks and then becoming one of the most successful, and disliked, football coaches in history.

In describing his childhood, Switzer described his father as a “rounder.”  I did not know the meaning of the word (and did not recall seeing it previously), but knew it was not a compliment. The dictionary told me that it has a very specific meaning: someone who frequents bars and is often drunk. Good word, I thought, though I do not know any rounders.

I found out a couple of days later that I did, in fact, have a rounder in my life. Trying to find a book, I searched my shelves and accidentally ran across this one:

Fortunately, I have found no other rounders around me and the word is still a fresh one in my vocabulary. I look forward to using it in a conversation some day soon.

Here is one other phrase – in this case a colorful, descriptive phase – that recently wormed its way into my brain, then started regularly appearing in the books I was reading. In an e-mail communication from a man who lived in a Vienna as a child in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he described a building as being “without eyebrows.” The phrase struck me as a vivid description of an unadorned building. In Vienna, a building “without eyebrows” would differ from the ubiquitous baroque-influenced buildings that most certainly are decorated around the windows.
House with eyebrows on Michaeler Platz
Not long after the email, I read (again in Hofmann’s The Viennese) about the famous “house without eyebrows” designed by architect Adolf Loos, who hated superfluous ornamentation of buildings. This multi-story building, was erected on Michaeler Platz, which lies at an entrance to the huge Hapsburg castle complex. When someone exited the complex into the inner city, the building was in the line of sight. 
Loos House without eyebrows. It is across a road
from the building shown above
Hofmann wrote about the building:

Erected between 1909 and 1912 for the tailoring firm Goldman & Salatsch, the building caused a sensation that we have difficulty nowadays to understand. The “Loos House,” with its plain walls and windows without any decoration, stares at the neo-Baroque façade of the Michaelertrakt of the Hofburg and its heroic statuary, put up only twenty years earlier, as if in defiance.

After reading about the “house without eyebrows” in Hofmann’s book, the term kept popping up in other books that I was reading, admittedly about fin de siècle Vienna and the Austrian First Republic. In the other books, I learned that Emperor Franz Joseph had been outraged by this building, a “modernist monstrosity.” Reportedly, the old man refused to ever use the Michaelerplatz entry gate again. 

I am not sure if the author of one book about architecture in Vienna was accurately describing the events leading up to the construction of the Loos House, but according to him, when the owner of the Goldman & Salatsch company told Loos – who had lived three years in the United States – that they wanted him to design a building that would make them famous, he replied with a breezy smile. “Easy peasy,” he said.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Celebrating Ukraine's Orange Revolution: Photos of Inauguration Day, Kiev, January 23, 2005

With daily reports about the present political turmoil in Ukraine, it is difficult to recall the optimism that prevailed in Kiev on Sunday, January 23, 2005. On that day, two hundred thousand or so Ukrainians crowded into the city's Independence Square to celebrate the success of the Orange Revolution and the inauguration of a new president. Smiles and proud faces could be seen all around the Square.

A huge crowd at Independence Square: January 23, 2005

The presidential inauguration marked the success of non-violent people power that had helped render null a stolen election. It also celebrated the beginning of the work of a new leader, Viktor Yushchenko, who had won the office in an honest election.

Likely, the people on Independence Square thought that Ukraine would be heading in a new direction that would make life “normal” for them and their families. They expected that pervasive corruption would be swept away, along with a system that enriched people in power, as well as their families and friends. They hoped that the cynical politicians schooled in the ways of the Soviet Union would finally disappear.

Events Leading to Inauguration Day

The man inaugurated as president on January 23 was Viktor Yushchenko. With the help of several political allies and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, he had prevailed in a challenge to the ruling clique. Before 2004, Yushchenko had established himself as a competent administrator as head of the Ukrainian national bank and as prime minister (1999-2001). He had become a popular figure in Ukraine, but was not the choice of the country's rulers to be the next president. Perhaps because he threatened their hold on power, early in the 2004 president campaign he was poisoned with dioxin, apparently an  assassination attempt. The poison disfigured his face with severe pockmarking and slowed his campaign. 

Television in the Square shows the Yushchenko Swearing-In Ceremony at the Ukrainian Parliament; later he came to the Square

The first vote for president was held on October 31, 2004. Yushchenko received 39.3% of the vote and his chief opponent, Viktor Yanukovich, the handpicked candidate of the regime, received 39.9%. In the runoff held on November 21, 2004, Yanukovich won by a margin of three percent, though exit polls showed Yushchenko with an 11-percent margin.

Protest camp on Khreshchatyk Ave. near Independence Square

Protests against election fraud began on the day of the election. They started at and around Kiev’s Independence Square, and massive rallies continued there as a nearby tent city was erected. Also, protests were held in most of Ukraine’s other larger cities. The protests, which became the core of the Orange Revolution, attracted the most participants in Western Ukraine. They were widely opposed in much of Eastern Ukraine, which had voted overwhelmingly for Yanukovich. (The “Orange” in “Orange Revolution” came from the color used by the Yushchenko campaign for its various election materials, such as signs, billboards, brochures, etc.).

Protester holding an orange with needles stuck in it; according to the police, all of the protestors were high on drugs supplied by the U.S.

Apparently a critical point in the protests came on November 28th. With large numbers of people on Independence Square and a growing tent city, the head of the country’s interior ministry stationed 10,000 troops near the Square with a plan to expel the protestors. This plan was opposed by the Ukrainian Security Service (the former KGB) and others in power, and the forcible removal of the protesters was canceled. Because of this, the Orange Revolution avoided bloodshed: the only related fatality was a man who died of a heart attack at one of the protests.

Protester tent

With the wide-spread protests, which were led by a group named Pora! (It’s Time!), and substantial evidence of election fraud, the Ukrainian Supreme Court ordered a new presidential election. It was held on December 26, 2004. Yushchenko won that election with 52% of the vote, compared to 44% for Yanukovich. 

Attending the Inauguration

I was in Kiev on January 23, 2005 as part of my work heading the University of Georgia’s International Center for Democratic Governance. We were assisting the US-Ukraine Foundation with a train-the-trainer’s program. My colleague Sherri Lawless, a Vinson Institute faculty member who is a terrific trainer, was doing most of the work.The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation was a great partner to work with.

On the Sunday of the inauguration, I went early to Independence Square with my camera. (I took all of the pictures in this blog, except the one with me in it.) As I arrived, the dismantling of the tent city on Khreshchatyk Ave. was under way. The protesters had vowed to stay put until a new president was in power. By late morning of January 23rd, all evidence of the tents were gone.

Arriving for the inauguration celebration; note orange clothing items

As the Square filled, I enjoyed watching the crowd streaming in. It was a very cold day and snow was still on the ground. Many entering the Square wrote orange articles of clothing such as gloves,coats, scarves, and hats. Several carried signs, banners, and flags. Lots of parents brought their kids to take part in this historic event. 

Mother and child arrive for the celebration

As the time of the inauguration approached, the square became jam packed. A few people climbed into trees for a better view. In fact, this crowd was the largest that I have ever been in. At the end of the assembly, as the crowd exited the square, I found myself being carried involuntarily with the flow of the pedestrian traffic. The experience was a bit scary, and I exited from the swollen river of people as quickly as I could find a way to do it.  

Sleepy in the crowd

The actual inauguration – the official swearing-in ceremony --  was held in the Ukrainian parliament building. That ceremony was televised on a huge television that had been set up so that the Independence Square crowd could watch events

Yushchenko at Independence Square addressing the crowd (see television to the right)

After that, Yushchenko came to the square, accompanied by Yulia Tymoshenko, his ally and another of the leaders of the Orange Revolution, and others involved in it. There he gave a speech to the festive and good-humored crowd.

Trying to get a good view among a huge crowd

My main impression, as an outside observer, was that the people in the Square viewed the day as an important historic occasion. Most were celebrating the victory of a Revolution that had the potential for making big changes in the country. I was touched by the cheerful, optimist spirit of the people on the square as I had been impressed by the courage of the Ukrainians who had made sacrifices for the Orange Revolution, many putting their lives on the line.

Me (center) with Valentina Pidlisnyuk, who was a visiting scholar the University of Georgia several times. A university colleague of hers is standing to the left

Periodically, I had to remind myself that not all Ukrainians were pleased with the success of the Orange Revolution. Almost every Ukrainian I knew had supported it, but a large percentage of people living in Eastern Ukraine -- which I had never visited -- did not. 

Although most supporters of the Orange Revolution and of Yushchenko would later be disappointed with both, on January 23, 2005 the people at Independence Square in Kiev had reasons to be proud of themselves and their country. As for me, I was glad to have a chance to see this important event in Ukrainian history.

As the Orange Revolution showed, and the present resistance to a thuggish regime continues to show, many Ukrainians are willing to stand up for a better life and to put their lives in danger to thwart a regime that wants to revert to an authoritarian past. At the same time, many other Ukrainians are willing to acquiesce to the powerful as long as they are left alone. We will see in the not-distance future which group is on the right side of history.  

Other Pictures on Independence Square:

Some people dressed strangely for this gathering. The guy with the sign came from Ternopil

"Tak" means "yes"; many at the Square carried orange banners and Ukrainian flags (light blue and yellow)

Eating a bit before the ceremonies

A family waits patiently

Three wise men watch themselves on the big television in the Square

Flags, flags, banners, and trees
A folk group entertains with music
Graffiti on a wall at Independence Square


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Marching for War, Little Rock, June 6, 1970

I spent the Summer of 1970 in Little Rock working as an intern at the Personnel Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. This division was a lousy place to hang out, but I learned about organizational dysfunction and how jaded employees can torpedo a weak manager. Also, I learned and wrote quite a bit about public employee unions, a topic of absolutely no interest to state policy makers. Whatever the deficiencies of the internship, completing it was one of the requirements of the University of Arkansas Master of Public Administration (MPA) program and the pay was not bad.

Because I was doing this internship, I was in Little Rock when a pro-war, anti-Fulbright march was held on Saturday, June 6, 1970 in front of the state capitol. I was curious about what would happen and who would attend. Also, my 35 mm Yashika camera had just been fixed, and I had a telephoto lens that I wanted to test.  So, I showed up for the march and took a bunch of pictures.

When I recently ran across some of these pictures, I could not remember much about the march, so I looked up the Arkansas Gazette story reporting it. It was written by Ernie Dumas and was front-page center, with several pictures. Reading it reminded me of what a fabulous reporter Dumas was. In the first three paragraphs, he made it clear that not very many people showed up for the rally, half of those there came from outside Arkansas, and Rev. Carl McIntire -- who was leading the march -- was a liar ("McIntire told his radio audience...that it appeared that the crowd would be the largest ever assembled at the Arkansas Capitol.") Then, he painted short, colorful word pictures of various people at the march. The story is a delight to read.

This march was one several pro-war marches held in 1970 by McIntire (1906 - 2002), a fundamentalist minister who had been expelled from the Presbyterian Church in 1936 and had been minister of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Collingwood N.J. since 1937 (two good sources that provide information about his life and career are:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_McIntire and http://www.carlmcintire.org/  ). 

One of the causes promoted by the march was the collection of signatures for a vote on a state constitutional amendment authorizing recall of Senators and Congressmen in Arkansas. The measure was aimed at Sen. J.W. Fulbright, and the signature drive was headed by Jim Johnson, who had challenged Fulbright in the 1968 Democratic primary, but had lost.  A few days after the march, Johnson announced that he had not collected enough signatures to get his measure on the state ballot.
Below is a long excerpt from the Dumas' story about the march, plus some of the pictures that I took of it.


1000 at “Victory March” Chant “Fulbright Must Go”

Arkansas Gazette
June 7, 1970, p. 1A, 2A, and 4A.

By Ernest Dumas

About 1000 persons, half or more of them from other states, listened to a group of fundamentalist ministers inveigh against Senator J. William Fulbright Saturday on the state Capitol steps and followed one of them in chanting “Fulbright must go.”

Men and women plastered with stickers and waving signs and flags marched three blocks down Capitol Avenue and back and then stood in the sun or under a magnolia tree on the Capitol lawn for three hours of speaking, singing and praying. They came for the “March for Victory in Vietnam,” which was organized by Rev. Carl McIntire of Collingwood, N.J., a radio evangelist.

Rev. Carl McIntire (with Bible) leads the pro-war march
The crowd obviously was below the leaders expectations. McIntire told his radio audience from a telephone in the Arkansas Education Association Building a few minutes before the march began that it appeared that the crowd would be the largest ever assembled at the Arkansas Capitol.

McIntire and Rev. M. L. Moser Jr of Little Rock, pastor of Central Baptist Church, had said the march was organized to show the world that Arkansas people repudiated Fulbright’s stand against the expanding war in Southeast Asia. Fulbright came under wrathful attacks from the ministers.

Speeches at the rally were made from the steps of the Arkansas Capitol
“He is now the chief Communist spokesman in the United States,” Moser shouted. “He has joined forces with the enemies of the United States. Moser prefaced this by saying that he did not hate the senator.

He said he was praying that “God will change you [Fulbright] and that you will become a child of God and a 100 per cent American.”

McIntire called Fulbright “the senator of surrender.”

Crowd listening to speeches
Jim Johnson …told the crowd that it was probably more difficult to obtain a crowd in Arkansas than in any state. However, he said, for every Arkansan at the rally, 100 persons back at home were with them in their hearts.

Jim Johnson at the pro-war rally
A dozen or so young persons carrying signs calling for peace mingled in the crowd. Little clusters of sign waving supporters of the war gathered around them to shield the peace signs from view. The noise from taunts or arguments with the peace supporters at times competed with the loud speakers on the steps.

“Filth, filth, filth,” chanted a heavy man in a black suit, who identified himself as Rev. W. L. Smith of Perry, FLA., a primitive Baptist minister.

Gary Woods, who edits a peace newspaper at Little Rock, sat quietly on the balustrade near the speakers wearing a floppy little hat. He said he was surprised at the crowd. More people show up at local peace rallies, he said.

McIntire had brought 2,500 signs with him, but not all of them were used.

He told his radio audience in a broadcast before noon that the march effort had to overcome opposition from the two Little Rock newspapers. The people here are certainly conditioned – you might even say brainwashed,” he said.
McIntire began his first speech by leading the crowd in chanting: “We want victory. Fulbright must go. Go to Hanoi. You’ve become their vote in the United States Senate. Praise the Lord, Hallelujah.”

Arkansas has the plague of a Fulbright and a controlled press,” he declared.

Banner says, "Back Our Boys, Fulbright Won't"
Elderly men and women were in abundance, carrying flags, signs and Bibles. One woman was dressed in clothing resembling an American flag and carried a huge sign that was in the shape of a liberty bell.

Liberty Bell woman in a dress like a flag
The signs brought by McIntire said, “In God we Trust,” “Win the War,” “Why Lose When We Can Win?” and “Bring Home the POWs First.”

Other persons carried home-made signs. One man wave one that read: “Mr. Nickson, America Will Accept Nothing Less Than Military Victory For Our Men in Viet Nam – Let Them Come With Honor.”

Norman Warnock of Camden, a leader of the American Party in Arkansas, held up one end of a huge banner that said, “W-A-L-L-A-C-E.”

Col. Norman Warnock, a leading segregationist in Arkansas
Nguyen Hoan, representing the South Vietnamese Embassy at Washington, read a statement in which he said the war was essentially a Vietnamese war but that his people welcomed Americans because “there is no room for another Munich in Asia.” He did not mention Fulbright.
What's a pro-war rally without a Confederate battle flag?
A youth who identified himself as Mike Sparr, 17, of North Little Rock, state vice-president of the Young Arkansas Conservatives and a companion with long hair, burned a red flag, which Sparr said represented the Viet Cong flag, on the Capitol steps. Sparr’s companion was grabbed briefly by a man who stamped out the fire and called the two hippies.

Midway in the rally, McIntire’s aides circulated through the crowd taking collection in little buckets. McIntire urged the people to give whatever they had with them or write a check.

Collecting donations
“We spent a lot of money in here believing that you people would make it possible and give use a very fine offering,” McIntire said.

Other Photos:



"Crush Satan's Tools"

"American Sold Out by Brother Bill"