Saturday, June 01, 2013

From Afghanistan: Thank you Bradley Manning

By Kathy Kelly. May 31, 2013.
Afghan Peace Volunteers with a sign that thanks Bradley Manning (Photo credit: Hakim)
Afghan Peace Volunteers with a sign that thanks Bradley Manning (Photo credit: Hakim)
A few evenings ago, as the sky began to darken here in Kabul, Afghanistan, a small group of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APVs), gathered for an informal presentation about WikiLeaks, its chief editor Julian Assange, and its most prominent contributor, Bradley Manning. Basir Bita, a regular visitor to the APV household, began the evening’s discussion noting that June 1st will mark the beginning of Bradley Manning’s fourth year in prison. Two days later his trial will begin, a trial which could sadly result in his imprisonment for a life sentence. June 1st also begins an international week of support and solidarity, aimed at thanking Bradley Manning. #ThankManning!
Basir believes that the vast majority of Afghans are among myriads world-wide who have Manning to thank for information they will need in struggles for freedom, security, and peace. He wishes that more people would find the courage to stand up to military and government forces, especially their own, and act as “whistle-blowers.”
I often hear Afghan individuals and groups express longing for a far more democratic process than is allowed them in a country dominated by warlords, the U.S./NATO militaries, and their commanders. In the U.S., a lack of crucial information increasingly threatens democratic processes. How can people make informed choices if their leaders deliberately withhold crucial information from them? Manning’s disclosures have brought desperately needed light to the U.S. and to countries around the world, including struggling countries like Afghanistan.
Hakim, who mentors the Afghan Peace Volunteers, recalled that Bradley Manning passed on documents that record 91,730 “Significant Actions,” or “SIGACTS” undertaken here by the U.S. /ISAF forces, of which 75,000 were released by WikiLeaks.
These SIGACTS include attacks by drones, sometimes invisible drones, and night raids.
Our group turned to discussing the history of WikiLeaks, how it formed and how it now functions. Those most familiar with computers and internet explained the process of disclosing information by anonymously following a computerized route to a “dropbox.”
In fact, the Afghan Peace Volunteers themselves have been communicating with Julian Assange.
Last winter, Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire had stayed with them shortly before she traveled to London for a visit to Julian Assange. Through Mairead, they had sent Assange a letter of solidarity.
The APVs heard that Manning has been more isolated than Assange; they all shook their heads when Basir reminded them that Bradley Manning was initially in solitary confinement for eleven months.
Ghulamai thought through the ironic process of how governments designate some documents ‘secret,’ and how he would presume that the person who shares those secrets was a ‘criminal.’ But Ali said that governments chiefly hide ‘secrets’ from the public to maintain power. Hakim asked Abdulhai to imagine himself as the head of a government or of a large family. “If you are working for the good of the family or the state, would you need to do things secretly?” he asked.
“No,” Abdulhai replied. “If I have power, and I am truly working for the best interests of my people, I will not need to do things in secret.”
There was a keen conversation about who Bradley Manning was and what he did. Bradley Manning’s own words, which journalists had to actually smuggle out of his pre-trial hearing, described how Bradley’s mind had largely been made up by watching the secret video that he would come to release under the title “Collateral Murder:”
They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there’s an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.
While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew– as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.
Together, the APVs watched the deeply disturbing “Collateral Damage” video itself. They were avid to learn what they could do to support and thank Bradley Manning. Yet they’re aware of the risks faced by people who organize public demonstrations in Afghanistan.
It’s far easier to stand up for Bradley where I live, back in the U.S. I hope many more of us will devote the time and energy we owe this young man for risking everything, as he did, to enlighten us and the world.
The Afghan Peace Volunteers are eager for ways to link with others worldwide to express thanks and concern for a remarkably brave and conscience-driven 25-year old man whose courage and whose light is so acutely needed in this darkening time. I’ve seen the fierce light of these young people and, knowing them, I’m certain that others will be seeing it too in the years ahead. Are we readying signals with which to answer them, are we preparing ways to show people like them, and like Julian Assange, and like Bradley Manning, that they are not alone?
and get ready to
March Together in the DORCHESTER DAY PARADE!
Sunday, June 2

Dorchester People for Peace will be marching again this year in the Dorchester Day Parade on June 2 along with our friends and allied organizations. Every year Dorchester People for Peace reserves a place in the parade, then invites our friends. Together we bring our vision and our values to thousands of people along the four-mile route. Join us this year!

Our message will focus on ending the war in Afghanistan and opposing any new military intervention in Iran or Syria; reducing the military budget; and funding urgent needs at home in our neighborhoods and communities. Thousands of marchers and parade watchers will see our banners and get our anti-war flyers!

Marchers will gather around Noon in Dorchester Lower Mills (Richmond St.) with the parade kick-off about 1pm. We’ll have our after-Parade barbeque and celebration at Jeff Klein’s house, 123 Cushing Ave. from about 3:30pm. More details as we get them.

WHERE: Lower Mills, Dorchester

Richmond Street between Dorchester Ave and Adams Street
Look for the Dorchester People for Peace van
You can’t drive or park anywhere near there on Dorchester Day, so travel early and travel by T (to Ashmont Station on the Red Line, Butler or Milton on the Mattapan trolley) …. Or park a ways away and walk.
Please let us know if you can make it by responding to this email, writing to
or phoning 617-288-4578

BRING: A sun hat, comfortable walking shoes (it’s four miles), water. You can bring a banner for your organization if you have the people to carry it.

COOKOUT: After the parade at Jeff Klein’s, 123 Cushing Ave (near the end of the parade and near Savin Hill T station)

Dorchester People for Peace
works to end the wars; to build a multi-racial peace movement against violence and militarism at home and abroad; to oppose budget cuts, racism and political repression.
617-282-3783 *

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June Is International Political Prisoners Month

Freedom for Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3, After 40 Years in Solitary Confinement?
05 Feb 2013
After four decades of solitary confinement in the nation's most populated maximum-security prison -- and one of its most historically brutal -- a member of the internationally known "Angola 3" has reasonable cause to expect that he will soon be released, his attorneys and supporters say. The request to set free Albert Woodfox, 65, is being heard by the same federal judge who in 2008 ordered that Woodfox be released, a ruling that Louisiana prosecutors successfully appealed and blocked.
View photos and embedded links here:

Albert Woodfox: Freedom After 40 Years in Solitary?
--Supporters of one of the Angola 3 tell The Root why he might be released this time.
(The first of two parts)

by Katti Gray

(This article was originally published by The Root on January 29, 2013, and is being reprinted here by Angola 3 News with permission from the author. Special thanks to Katti Gray, whose articles for The Root are archived here.)

After four decades of solitary confinement in the nation's most populated maximum-security prison -- and one of its most historically brutal -- a member of the internationally known "Angola 3" has reasonable cause to expect that he will soon be released, his attorneys and supporters say. The request to set free Albert Woodfox, 65, is being heard by the same federal judge who in 2008 ordered that Woodfox be released, a ruling that Louisiana prosecutors successfully appealed and blocked.

Woodfox and Herman Wallace, now 71, were placed in solitary confinement in 1972 -- theirs is the longest-running solo detention of which human rights group Amnesty International is aware -- after being convicted of killing a white guard at Angola prison, the slave plantation-turned-Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Both men have consistently said that they were falsely accused and that their conviction was the means by which prison officials punished the Angola 3 for their membership in the Black Panther Party. Also a member of that trio is Robert Hillary King, now 69, who was released in 2001 after plea-bargaining to a crime unrelated to the murder, a crime for which he was never officially charged, although prison officials insisted that he was involved.

As prison activists, the Angola 3 had challenged ongoing, unpunished rape of inmates -- including a system of "sexual slavery" that prison officials eventually acknowledged -- racial segregation and other adverse prison conditions. The three, who did not know one another before landing at the 18,000-acre prison farm -- named for the town where it is located, roughly an hour's drive from Baton Rouge -- initially were convicted in the 1960s of assorted robbery charges that they do not contest.

Concerning Woodfox, his lawyers say that this time around, they believe they have unequivocally affirmed several points favoring their client:

* An all-white, all-male jury -- seated in a jurisdiction where almost half the residents are black -- was wholly disinclined to consider that the Angola 3, who are black men, were innocent of killing a white prison guard, 23-year-old Brent Miller.

* State prosecutors bribed the sole, alleged witness to the killing with a weekly pack of cigarettes and better living quarters in exchange for reversing his initial claim that none of the three was at the crime scene. Prosecutors and prison officials withheld details of that bribe and other essential information during the trial; have since contended that they lost evidence, including scrapings from the dead guard's fingernails; and refused to release inmate fingerprints to compare with fingerprints left near Miller's corpse that the Angola 3's lawyers obtained.

* Subsequent court proceedings, including Woodfox's 1993 retrial, were tainted by a pattern of excluding blacks from juries and of judges exclusively choosing whites as foremen of grand juries that decide whom to indict for trial. For that 1993 retrial, a white grand jury foreman with a high school diploma was chosen over a black candidate who had a college degree.

Racism's Pervasive Influence
"We had a jury of angry white men in 1972," Nicholas Trenticosta, a lawyer from New Orleans who mostly handles death-penalty cases and is representing Woodfox, told The Root. " ... Pure, flat-out racism is driving this train."
To amplify what the Angola 3's supporters say was the prevailing racial climate at the prison, they point to a 2008 court hearing during which Trenticosta questioned Burl Cain, installed in 1995 as Angola's warden and widely viewed as a prison reformer who has overseen a decline in violence at Angola.

(Transcript begins)
Trenticosta: OK. What is it about Albert Woodfox that gives you such concern?

Cain: The thing about him is that he wants to demonstrate. He wants to organize. He wants to be defiant.

Trenticosta: Well, let me ask you this. Let's just, for the sake of argument, assume, if you can, that he is not guilty of the murder of [officer] Brent Miller.

Cain: OK. I would still keep him in [solitary]. I still know he has a propensity for violence. I still know that he is still trying to practice Black Pantherism, and I still would not want him walking around my prison because he would organize the young new inmates. I would have me all kind of problems, more than I could stand. And I would have the [whites] chasing after them. I would have chaos and conflict, and I believe that. He has to stay in a cell while he's at Angola.
(transcript ends)

While Judge James Brady of U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, where Woodfox's request for release is on the docket, is prohibited from commenting on cases before him, court watchers say that he is keenly aware of the racial dynamics of the Angola 3's case and the constitutional issues it raises. (Brady issued the 2008 order for Woodfox's release.)

"In 2008 Judge Brady ruled they should release [Woodfox]. I have no reason to believe Judge Brady will not rule the same way today as he did back then," said attorney Angela Allen-Bell of Baton Rouge's Southern University Law Center, a member of Free the Angola 3, a coalition of human rights groups -- including Amnesty International -- corporate moguls, philanthropists, grassroots activists and others who are helping to pay legal fees related to their cause.

If Woodfox wins his petition for writ of habeas corpus -- Latin for "free the body," a maneuver that does not address the question of innocence or guilt -- he could be retried. Or, as his lawyers are banking on, he could reach a settlement with state prosecutors, who retained a private New Orleans firm to handle the case, that would permanently end his incarceration.

The office of Louisiana Attorney General James D. "Buddy" Caldwell would not comment for this article.

The Cruelty of Solitary Confinement

As much as the Angola 3's case spotlights such concerns as racial bias in jury selection, it brings to the fore the broad subject of solitary confinement in a nation that, according to 2005 U.S. Department of Justice data -- the latest federal tally available -- holds 80,000 prisoners under such terms on any given day.

"We're asking the federal court to consider what's taken place in the state, to consider that what happened with the jury is a constitutional violation and to set Woodfox free," said Allen-Bell, author of the article "Perception Profiling & Prolonged Solitary Confinement Viewed Through the Lens of the Angola 3 Case." "We're also pushing to change the status quo."

Published in the summer 2012 edition of the University of California's Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, that research takes aim at what Allen-Bell and others contend is the arbitrary choosing of whom to remand to solitary confinement in prisons across the United States, a process that lacks streamlined criteria for such decisions and places no limits on the duration of confinement.

That, said Amnesty International spokeswoman Suzanne Trimel, is blatant hypocrisy: "The 40-year isolated incarceration of [Woodfox and Wallace] ... is a scandal that pushes the boundaries of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and flies in the face of international standards to which the United States is a party."

Being constrained in a 6-by-9-by-12-foot, windowless cell was inexpressibly difficult, Angola 3's King, who spent 29 years in solitary confinement, told The Root. "You've got an iron bunk, suspended on the wall, and an iron bench, a small table, a commode and a sink," said King, whose jailhouse lawyering, alongside that of Woodfox and Wallace, did eventually result in Louisiana's solitarily confined inmates being allowed one hour, thrice weekly, in the prison yard.

Staying Strong in Isolation

Assuming that Woodfox is released, that leaves behind bars, at least for now, Wallace. His attorneys are also preparing to request his release.

Roughly a year ago, Woodfox and Wallace were transferred to separate Louisiana prisons, where they remain in solitary confinement and under conditions, King says, that are harsher than those at Angola. April 2013 will mark Woodfox and Wallace's 41st year in solitary confinement.

"There were some things in Angola that they don't practice at Wade Correctional Facility, where [Woodfox] is now," said King, now an Austin, Texas-based, world-traveling prison reformer and author of From the Bottom of the Heap, a 2008 memoir that has been revised and expanded. "He says the food at Angola was better -- though food is generally bad in any prison -- and the condition of the yard at Angola was better.

"He is separated from people with whom he was familiar," King continued. "And he is 70 miles farther away from his brother, who he can see now only while shackled and handcuffed. There are no contact visits like what he had in Angola. So of course, Albert feels these are added punishments."

Until the mid-1990s -- when the Angola 3 drew moral and financial support from a wide swath of people, including global activist Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop -- the men represented themselves in court matters involving conditions at Angola and other concerns.

"We were motivated by what had us in confinement," King said, "and under those conditions, we had become politically aware and politically conscious of what was going on. We operated out of a sense of consciousness and the reality that there are flaws in this system that need to be fixed."

Their activism, he added, helped them maintain their sanity and focus.

"After being in there for so long, you're not desensitized to the situation, but you build up a resistance, so to speak, against the wear and tear. You're in there ... so you have to become inured to being in there," said King, who, postprison, has lectured and lobbied globally against solitary confinement, conferring with former South African President Nelson Mandela and actor-activist Harry Belafonte, among others.

According to King, who recently spoke by telephone with Woodfox, his friend's optimism regarding his pending court case is clear. "His spirits -- notwithstanding the pressures of all this -- seem pretty uplifted," said King. "He read the argument. He read the brief, both sides. He imagines that the lawyers did a good job. His expectation is high. Ask him if he'll be coming home and he tells you, straight up, 'Yes.' "

Even amid that hopefulness, there's reason for caution.

Californian Marina Drummer -- a Bay Area nonprofit executive, coordinator of the Free Angola 3 campaign and co-founder of Solitary Watch -- said: "I can't say I'm [unequivocally] optimistic. We're dealing with the state of Louisiana ... It seems as if they'll do anything to cover their tracks. If we were going on the issue of justice, they'd all be out by now."

The state could, as it did previously, appeal to have a ruling in Woodfox's favor overturned, says attorney Allen-Bell.

After her own recent visit with Woodfox, Allen-Bell had this observation: "What I do not hear from [him] is anger or bitterness. I see them as civil rights icons, which they're very humble about ... They don't see themselves as anyone special. They were doing the human work that humanitarians do." She quotes Woodfox: " 'We were doing what Panthers do. This is the penalty you pay for doing this kind of stuff.' "

--Freelancer Katti Gray specializes in covering criminal justice, health care, higher education and human resources. She is a contributing editor at the Center on Media, Crime and Justice in New York City.

--Angola 3 News is a project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our website is where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. We are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more.
See also:
From The Boston Bradley Manning Support Committee Archives (March 2012)

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin- The People Are War-Weary, Very War Weary Although There Is No End In Sight- Five-Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops From Afghanistan!-President Obama Pardon Private Bradley Manning!

Joshua Lawrence Breslin comment:

Recently my old back in the 1960s days friend, Peter Paul Markin, himself a war veteran, were comparing notes about the virtual “under the radar” place that American imperial war policies (there is no other name for it with over 1000 bases in the world and over 700 billion plus dollars eaten up by the war budget each year) has taken in this year’s presidential campaign. And, additionally, the almost total lack of organized public outcry about those policies, most notably the lingering death sore of Afghanistan. That despite the fact that some far-sighted, hell, even some jaded bourgeois commentators have placed the odds of civil war in that benighted country (I will not even dignify such a war lord and mercenaries run place as a state) after the alleged American troop draw down scheduled now for 2014 at two to one in favor of civil war. Even by the American government’s own self-serving estimates the forecast is almost as grim. I ask; what gives? Where are the mass rallies against the beast?

The reason for Peter Paul and me comparing notes on this subject was simple enough. Between the two of us we have attended over the past several months in various capacities a whole series of parades and marches only one of which I will mention more on later that was specifically a peace parade. I will describe our purpose in using those settings as a way to bring the anti-war message home below. However right now I can state that we have come to agree, without a doubt, there is a vast war-weariness that if not organized in a public way runs pretty deep just under the surface among the plebeian masses of this country.

For those who do not know, Peter Paul, over the past decade going back before the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 has attempted to move might and main along with his fellow Veterans For Peace (VFP)to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and lately to urge no war with Iran) to no avail. I, although not a veteran, have attempted in various journalistic endeavors and on the streets to make those same basic points to no avail as well. Those “no avails” though have never stopped us from continuing to push the rock up the mountain when the cause is righteous. And the struggle against these particular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is righteous and has brought us closer together of late. That has not always been the case, as Peter Paul tends to take a harder anti-capitalist look at the wars as systematic of the need to bring down the whole damn American house of cards and I more from a more anti-imperialist perspective of just trying to hold the American military monster in check. We united on one idea earlier this year and that was the need to continue to get the anti-war message out to the general public. By any means necessary.

That is where the parades idea came in play, although we claim no originally for the idea, none at all. The parades notion actually kind of hit us in the face as a way to bring any kind of peace message to the folks whom we do not normally run into in our rarified big city radical circles. Of course the original focus started out last year in 2011 with Peter Paul’s chapter of Veterans for Peace in Boston, the aptly named Smedley Butler Brigade (“war is a racket”), attempts to march in the “official” South Boston Allied War Council’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Without going into all the particulars of the denial of permission for VFP to march (involving reams of material from a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision permitting such exclusions for“private” parades) that organization was shut out of the official parade. Needless to say these resourceful vets (mainly long in the tooth Vietnam era vets who cut their teeth on such symbolic actions) just created their own peace parade to follow the official parade to let those who came to South Boston know there was another voice to be heard from on the questions of war and peace.

That parade in 2011 is where a first tentative recognition of war-weariness came in. Now for those not familiar with South Boston (“Southie”) this is, or was, according to Peter Paul, the last bastion of Irish-centered working class pro-war (or at least don’t question war policy) sentiment left in the world ( a little hyperbole from him, but I am used to it). His family roots stem from that community and I will defer to his analysis (although I would argue that my own hometown, Olde Saco up in Maine filled with grateful immigrant French-Canadians and old time Down East Yankees, would give his Irish a run for his money on unquestioning patriotic sentiment). Expecting the worst all were surprised by the positive reception in Southie.

This spring when we marched (yes, I marched with Peter Paul and his VFP brethren like in olden VVAW times) the response by those same plebeian masses was even more cordial to say the least. Not in the “down with the war, slay the dragon, down with the war budget, take care of things at home” sense that we have “preached” to high heaven about in this space, and others but in the tap of the fingers to the head salute, the ubiquitous throwing up of peace signs, the response when we called for troops out, and enough is enough, as we passed by. Salutes of the VFP flag by hoary old war veterans decked out in their military attire just put icing on the cake. And that is how the Breslin-Markin antiwar “spring offensive” (with, ah, a little help from VFP and others obviously) took off.

A Dorchester Day Parade just south of Southie in one of the more ethnically diverse Irish/Vietnamese/Latino/ Brazilian you name it neighborhoods of Boston (although neighborhoods like Southie that have provided more than their fair share of troops to America’s imperial adventures) produced an even more cordial response. Here some even took up our chants from the sidewalks, shook hands, and offered vocal support as we passed by. Ditto at several Memorial Day services in the area where there was much gnashing of teeth by those who have lost loved ones in the last decade’s wars (and over the post-service stresses that are only now coming to light in huge streams). More recently parades in affluence Rockport and working- class Portsmouth, New Hampshire have only confirmed the cordiality, openness to anti-war messages, and the war weariness. That last one, Portsmouth, by the way, held in a town that depends (read: would not survive) substantially for its local economy on naval appropriations for the huge shipyard there.

So the disconnect between American governmental war policy and the genuine war-weariness of the masses is real enough. But real enough as well, despite the openly expressed sentiments, is any sense of one being able to do anything about it other than patiently waiting for withdrawal due dates. And that is where my simple suggestion comes in.

I, as well as other honest and knowledgeable anti-warriors, have recognized that we did not have any serious effect on Bush-Obama war doctrine in Iraq and have had precious little thus far in Afghanistan. There is one place, and one thing that we can do to turn that around right now. Call on President Obama, who has the built-n executive constitutional power to do so, to pardon Private Bradley Manning now being held in pre-trail detention in Fort Leavenworth Kansas pending charges that could amount to a life sentence for the young soldier. For the forgetful Private Manning allegedly passed sensitive information about U.S. atrocities against civilians and other cover-ups in Iraq and Afghanistan to Wikileaks who then passed it on to a candid world. Thus Private Manning is the “poster person” for opposition to all that has failed, all that is wrong, all that was (and is )atrocious, and all that was (and is) criminal in Bush-Obama war policy. So raise the cry with us-Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops From Afghanistan! President Obama Pardon Private Manning!

Friday, May 31, 2013

***A Confession, Of Sorts

For Joyce D., Hunter College High School, NYC, Class Of 1965, Out There Somewhere In Cyberspace

From The Pen Of Peter Paul Markin:
We live in an age, thanks to Internet technology, where one is able to tell-all in an instant pushing the limits of an already previously burgeoning confessional ethos well beyond what the average person needs to know. Needs to know, frankly, even on the high side of the “information super-highway.” Needs to know about anyone else’s personal business, okay. Well, here is my little contribution to the genre with a half-fictional, half-whimsical tale. But only half...

Okay, okay I have a confession to make. I am being forced to do so, kicking and screaming, and not your average kicking and screaming but door-kicking and banshee- screaming so you know, know deep down, that I do not want do this, by my "soul mate." A woman who I have trusted, trust, and will continue to trust until I can trust no more, although this request stretches that trust thing more than a little. Her telling me, moreover, something about coming clean for the good of my soul. I hate that imperative moral tone but I have learned a thing or two over time. One of the things being that you ignore than “tone” of hers at your peril.

In any case one and all should now know that I am on this North Adamsville Class of 1964 classmate site under false pretenses. [Referring to a site set up by do-gooder members of the class to run amok in our sweetly and quietly aging lives, going gentle into that good night, by peppering anyone they could round up via the Internet with endless questions about what we have been doing for the past almost fifty years-jesus, get lives, get lives please, and let me return to writing political stuff-PPM].

Oh, sure, when I originally came on the site I, like everybody else, was just trying to take a little nostalgic trip down memory lane to the good old high school days. However, once here, I started to spew forth about the fates of various sports figures like the fleet-footed long distance runner, Billy Kelly, and the behemoth football player, Thundering Timmy Riley, and his heroic partners in the victorious 1964 football season. And high school dances, corner boy life, boy meets girls dates and stuff, “watching the submarine” races down at old Adamsville Beach, drive-in movies and restaurants, be-bop nights and not be-bop nights. Kids’ stuff ready, harmless kids’ stuff.

Then, seemingly as an act of hubris, I felt compelled to investigate various aspects of our common past using a very handy copy, a copy made handy by one Billy Kelly, of the North Adamsville Magnet, our class yearbook, as a guide. I ran through a whole series of investigations from rather simple ones like the pressing question of the rationale for white socks and white shorts in gym (and white socks elsewhere) to the more urgent one of the rationale for separate boys' and girls' bowling teams and, ultimately, stumbling on to the apparently nefarious doings of Tri-Hi-Y. Well, you get the drift- a guy with a little time on his hands and a decided penchant for mischief.

Well those would all be good and sufficient reasons for being on the site, if those were indeed the reasons. But here is where the confessional part comes in. The REAL reason I am on the site is the generic class homepage. Apparently in order to finance the website those curmudgeonly class do-gooders rented out space for cyber-advertising, helter-skelter advertising. Also, apparently, unconcerned about heart attacks and other medical problems for their fellow male AARP-worthies (and maybe female as well), they “permitted” advertising by online dating services. Thus, I am very, very curious, among other things, about those 833 nubile young women, courtesy of one such online dating service, who live near my town and who are just dying to meet an old geezer. (Fellow women classmates, I am sure, get the same pitch with hulky, beefcake young guys.) The slender, slinky, saucy (and intelligent, of course) Kerry, in particular, has my attention. But enough of talking about such things. That above-mentioned "soul mate" would take a very dim view on this subject since I am here merely to confess not to speak of ogling. However now I know why the expression "dirty old man" and the word "lecher" were created in the English language long ago, long before the Internet reared its ugly head into our lives.

That hardly ends this sordid tale though. Other, admittedly, lesser kinds of information also intrigued me like my credit rating. Hell, apparently, my credit is too good. I can't raise a bank loan for hell nor high water. Seemingly only GM, Goldman Sachs, AIG and that bankrupt-prone crowd gets the nod these days. (Now, let's not get political here Peter Paul. Save that for another day.) More appropriately, if ominously, our brethren at AARP have seen fit to extol the virtues of long-term health care insurance. So you can see how one can get easily sidetracked. So be it. However, here is the good part. I have taken, and I hope others will join me, the PLEDGE. From here on in I will keep my eyes straight forward on my profile page [each member, as in many social networking sites, has his or her own page, for better or worse], the Class Of 1964 home page and only click on the Message Board section. Well, except for one little, little peek at... winsome Kerry.
Dorchester Parade - Sunday - June 2, 2013

Please join the Smedleys in the Dorchester Day Parade, this Sunday.
Please see information below, assembly area and time is at the bottom of this message.
We need your participation in this important effort. Years ago the Smedleys had a strong presence in this parade. We started walking in the parade again last year and had a very good turn-out, we are hoping for a good turn-out again this year. There are tens of thousands who will be watching this parade. We are warmly welcomed, and our message is welcome. We will have our banners and flags and will be handing out information along the way
Please come and help us have the strongest showing possible as we walk the 3.2 miles through the streets of Dorchester.
If you are interested in coming but can't walk the distance please let me know. If there are members who would like to participate but can’t walk the distance please let us know. We have one convertible and one other car to help with rides for those who can not walk the distance.
Please let us know if you are planning on coming so we have some idea of how many of us there will be.
We will assemble between 11:00 and 11:30 noon. The parade steps off at 1:00 pm.
(We have to have a contingent at the staging area at 11:00 am, not everyone needs to be there that early). So if you have a morning commitment (ie church, temple, synagogue or mosque) please still try and come. We are in the middle of the parade this year and will probably not actually step off until about 1:15 pm or later.
Please invite any veteran you know who might want to walk in this parade to join us.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or Winston for information
Pat: 978-475-1776
Winston: 617-784-7518
Parade Information: Assembly Point and Directions are below
Dorchester Parade – Assembly location
VFP is in the 2nd Division
We will assemble on Richmond Street at the corner of Dorchester Ave.
Assembly time is 11:00 - 12:00 noon
Look for VFP flags.
Directions to Dorchester Parade Staging Area:
We recommend public transportation:
If you are driving – recommendation:
By T – Take the Red line to Ashmont Station.
Transfer to the Mattapan Hi-speed Line (Trolley) – get off at the “BUTLER” stop. Walk north two short blocks on Butler Street to Richmond Street – Look for VFP flags. We will be down near Dorchester Ave.
For those of hearty stock – from Ashmont Station you can walk down Dorchester Ave. about one mile to Richmond and Dorchester Ave.
Preferred driving directions:
Drive to Ashmont Station, park your car. Take Mattapan Hi-speed line (Trolley) – get off at Butler stop.
OR: Drive to the Butler Station area - to get a space you should be there early
Driving from the North:
93 South to exit 11B, merge onto Granite Ave toward MA-203/Ashmont, go .5 miles.
Turn left onto Milton Street – go .2 miles
Take 1st left onto Adams Street – go .7 miles
Turn left onto Medway Street – go .2 miles
Slight left onto Bearse Ave – go .1 mile
Take 1st left onto Butler Street – you will be at Butler Station.
Driving from the South:
Take 93 North to exit 11, Merge onto Granite Ave towards MA-203/Ashmont
Follow the directions above.
Driving from the Southwest:
Take Route 128, Exit onto Route 28 North towards Milton (North Main St/Randolph Ave) – go 4.8 miles
Slight right to stay on Randolph Ave - go 75 feet
Turn left onto Adams Street – go 443 feet
Take 1st right onto Medway Street – go .2 miles
Slight left onto Bearse Ave. – go .1 mile
Take 1st left onto Butler Street – you will be at Butler Station
***White socks.....and white shorts

For James And John C., Clintondale Class Of 1964

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Jimmy Taylor was desperate for a pair of gym-worthy white shorts, gym day worthy whites. Desperate enough to go into the dreaded battered white shorts discard cardboard box now slumped across from the shower stalls and rummage, rummage nose held, for a pair that would pass muster. Pass muster when Coach Dickson (everybody called him Coach, although he hadn’t coached a sport in Clintondale since Roosevelt was president, Teddy Roosevelt, Jimmy thought) passed down the line like some imitation colonel inspecting two things-white shorts and white socks. Clean, unwrinkled, better be pressed, white shorts of the appropriate size.

That last quality mattered, at least this is what Jimmy had heard from his own older brother, Kenny, Class of 1961, ever since one small sophomore, or maybe it was a freshman, whose brother was a behemoth on the Clintondale football team, the 1960 one that went on to win the Class D state championship if you remember that great team and that great season, “inherited” his brother’s perfectly good white shorts. Perfectly good according to this lad’s mother, and with the concurrence of many a Clintondale Irish working-class mother who knew things in that neighborhood were dear just then. They kept falling down, the behemoth's white sail shorts that is, exposing, well, exposing the fact that he did not have a jock strap on, and we will leave it at that, or could. Except Coach Dickson, cold-hearted Coach, merely cuttingly commented that he was glad there were no girls around because there would be nothing to see, wink, wink.

Needless to say every boy, particularly every senior boy, every Class of 1964 boy that is, in the place laughed or at least chuckled at Coach’s lame remark, fearful that "His Vengefulness" might hold up their graduations for failure to pass a state-mandated requirement. And according to local school lore, Clintondale High lore any way, back in those Roosevelt days (Teddy or Franklin, could have been either Jimmy again thought) he had actually done so. And the school committee backed him up, creating a legend that he lived, no, feasted off of for the next few decades. There was another story, or maybe stories, of too tight shorts exploding on the wrestling mat or while the guys were doing some gymnastic exercise. Those were just rumors though, Kenny never mentioned anything about that. In any case Coach Dickson’s Rule Three A ruled. (Rule Three being the part about clean and presentable white shorts.)

The failure to observe the afore-mentioned rule branded you as a felon not fit for civilized company, or it might as well have, for you had exactly one excused non-white short, non-white-sock gym period, per year, per student, as per Coach Dickson’s rule. (Rule Four, for all the rules see the bulletin board in front of Coach’s office. Bring a chair and reading glasses, if you need them, you will be there a while). And Jimmy had already used his up back in the fall when he had “forgotten” his after going down one of the back halls, far down in one of the back halls, with a certain girl, a certain nameless girl, and left his bag with his shorts and socks in it behind. (Really, it’s true, guys, and, oh well, he won’t mention names, although he told me it, but a certain girl, a certain very “hot” girl, could back Jimmy’s claim up. Jimmy claimed that you too would have forgotten your foolish gym bag if you had been around her, and her craze-inducing perfume or soap that made her smell like some flower, a gardenia maybe. I agree about the craze-inducing part too.)

Today he had forgotten, real forgotten, to bring his shorts, and in any case he was probably fated for the death penalty anyway since he had also forgotten to have Martha (dear, sweet mother Taylor, for those not familiar with Clintondale, or with the Taylor clan that has been part of Clintondale society since Hector was a pup, and who do not know that woman) wash his dirty pairs of shorts and socks.

Of course Jimmy's scramble for white shorts much less for white socks, white matching socks, although the now doddering Coach Dickson was not always careful in inspecting socks so there was some wiggle room, was fated to be nothing but a humiliating experience, and was designed by His Vengefulness as such, since this wretched, battered cardboard box was filled with every thrown-away, nasty, off-white, sweat-grinded pair of shorts that Coach Dickson found lying around the locker rooms, or wherever he could find such things. (Although Jimmy, in a fit of gallows humor, chuckled to himself that he bet that Coach had not found those shorts down that dark hall where he had gone with Liz, oops, no names.)

But the white socks were worse, much worse, thrown hither and yon after doing yeoman’s service on some perspiring feet. All dirt-smudged caused by rubbing against the inners of some too tight sneakers while playing volleyball, basketball, or a really athletic endeavor like throwing the medicine ball and then left on some dank floor to walk home by themselves (no kidding either) when Coach’s charges changed into “civilian” socks-brown, black, or blue to go with their penny loafers. (The rest of the “uniform” being a plaid shirt and black chino pants, cuffed, preferred, uncuffed if your mother bought them.)

Today though he also started to notice some stuff that he could have cared less about yesterday. A lot of the guys on gym day wore their white socks with their uniform (plaid shirts and, cuffed or uncuffed, black chinos, remember), with their penny loafers. Egad. Squaresville, squaresville cubed. Also he started to remember that when the Class of 1964 athletic team pictures were being taken along with the jacket, tie, and slacks he noticed that most of the guys, especially the guys who were sitting down had white socks on. Double squaresville cubed. White socks, jesus. Jimmy was dumbfounded and said to himself what, pray tell (although he may have not used that exact term), was the meaning of this sartorial display. Moreover, did it extend beyond athletics? He knew, as a creature of habit at the time and one who desperately wanted to be “in”, that he too wore his "whites," sometimes unthinkingly.

But what kind of fashion statement were they trying to make at the time? “White socks” meant only one thing- dweeb, nerd, outcast and not cool. He distinctly remembered that term in reference to scientific and engineer-types. And they were not cool. As cool as he and his corner boys tried to be were they really all dweebs who did not get the message fast enough out in the 'sticks' of Clintondale?

And that last question got Jimmy to thinking, rebelliously thinking when he started to get up a head of steam about it. Why, if you forgot your white shorts or white socks, couldn’t you just wear your civilian clothes in gym and not have to go through the indignity of the dread battered box discard pile. And while Fritz was organizing this train of revolutionary thought (to Coach and his rules, if to nobody else) in his head he added why if you did have your white shorts but had forgotten your white socks couldn’t you just use your civilian brownblackblue socks. It’s only two-period-a-week gym, right? And on that note Fritz made a momentous decision. He was, come hell or high water, going to find a pair of decent white shorts and just wear them with his brown civilian socks as a protest against the injustice of Coach’s silly rule. He then found a suitable pair, donned them and walked out to face the music.
***Frankie Riley Holds Forth- On The Aches And Pains Of Aging

-With Jim Cullen, North Adamsville Class Of 1964, And All Other AARP-Worthy Brethren In Mind

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

"Do not go gentle..

...into that good night." First line of Dylan Thomas' poem of the same name.


Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Frankie Riley here. Yah, I know it’s been a while since you have heard from me and I have seen or heard from most of you. Now some of you know, know full well, that back in North Adamsville days I could, well, you know “stretch” the truth. Stretch it pretty far when I was in a fix, or one of my corner boys like my right-hand man Peter Paul Markin up at our old "up the Downs" haunt, Salducci’s Pizza Parlor, needed some outlandish excuse to get right. And fellow women classmates and some other women non-classmates as well know I would outright lie, lie like the devil, in church or out, to get, well, “close” to you. Hope you forgive me about the lying, not about the trying to get close to you part. But that is all water of over the dam or under the bridge, take your choice. Today I am a new man, a truth-teller, or trying to be, except of course when I am practicing my profession as a lawyer. Then the truth might just be as elusive as it was when I was making up excuses for my corner boys or, if you were a woman, trying to“feel” you up. But enough of that as I am not here to speak of my repentance or about me at all, as hard as that might be to believe, but of the hard fact of age, yah, that creeping up thing that just kind of snuck up on us. So I am here to say just one thing- “won’t you take my word from me” like the old blues singer Rabbit Brown used to sing when he had the miseries. Listen up.

I am, once again, on my high horse today like I used to be when I had the bee in my bonnet on some subject in the old days. I have heard enough, in fact more than enough, whining from fellow AARP-worthies that I have been in contact with lately and others of my contemporaries from the "Generation of '68” about the aches and pains of becoming “ a certain age.” If I hear one more story about a knee, hip, heart, or, maybe, brain replacement or other transformative surgery I will go screaming into that good night. The same goes for descriptions of the CVS-worthy litany of the contents of an average graying medicine cabinet. Or the high cost of meds.

If I am not mistaken, and from what that old gossipy Markin has told me, many of you fully imbibed in all the excesses of our generation from crazed-out drug overkill to wacky sexual exploits that need not be mentioned in detail here (although I would not mind hearing of a few exploits strictly in confidence, attorney-client type confidence, of course), and everything else in between. Admit it. So come on now, after a lifetime of booze, dope, and wild times what did you expect? For those of us who have not lived right, lo these many years, the chickens have come home to roost. But I have a cure. Make that THE cure.

No I am not, at this late date, selling the virtues of the Bible, the Torah, the Koran or any of a thousand and one religious cures we are daily bombarded with. You knew, or at least I hope you knew, I wasn't going to go that route. That question, in any case, is each individual's prerogative and I have no need to interfere there. Nor am I going to go on and on about the wonders of liposuction, botox, chin lifts, buttocks tuckers, stomach flatteners and the like. Damn, have we come to that? And I certainly do not want to inflame the air with talk of existentialism or some other secular philosophies that tell you to accept your fate with your head down. You knew that, as well. No, I am here to give the "glad tidings," unadorned. Simply put- two words-graham crackers. No, do not reach for the reading glasses, your eyes do not deceive you- graham crackers is what I said.

Hear me out on this. I am no "snake oil" salesman, nor do I have stock in Nabisco (moreover their products are not "true" graham). So, please do not start jabbering to me about how faddish that diet was- in about 1830. I know that it has been around a while. And please do not start carping about how wasn't this healthful substance "magic elixir," or some such, that Ralph Waldo Emerson and his transcendentalist protégés praised to high heaven back in Brook Farm days. Well, I frankly admit, as with any such movement, some of those guys went over the top, especially that wacky Bronson Alcott. Irresponsible zealots are always with us. Please, please do not throw out the baby with the bath water.

Doctor Graham simply insisted that what our dietary intake consisted of was important and that a generous amount of graham flour in the system was good for us. Moreover, in order to avoid some of the mistakes of the earlier movement, in the age of the Internet we can now Googleto find an almost infinite variety of uses and helpful recipes. Admit it, right now your head is swirling thinking about how nice it would be to have a few crackers and a nice cold glass of milk (fat-free or 1%, of course). Admit also; you loved those graham crumb-crusted pies your grandmother used to make. The old chocolate pudding-filled ones were my favorite. Lime was a close second. Enough said.

Here is the closer, as they say. If people have been mistaking you for your father's brother or mother's sister lately then this is your salvation. So scurry down to your local Whole Foods or other natural food store and begin to fight your way back to health. Let me finish with this personal testimonial. I used to regularly be compared in appearance to George Bush, Sr. Now I am being asked whether Brad Pitts is my twin brother. Or is it Robert Redford? .....Oh well, that too is part of the aging process. Like I say-“won’t you take my word from me.” Get to it.


To “jump start” you here is a little recipe I culled from my own Google of the Internet.

Graham Crackers Recipe
November 10, 2004

I'm nostalgic about graham crackers because they remind me of my Grandma Mac. Her full name is Maxine McMurry and she is now 90 years old. She lived just a short drive from our house (when my sister and I were kids) and we would tag along after soccer games when my dad would go by on Saturdays to check up on her, trim hedges, wash cars, or do any handyman work she needed. Heather and I didn't mind at all because she had a huge driveway that was flat as a pancake and smooth as an frozen pond --perfect for roller skating. This was in striking contrast to our house that was on a steep hill which made skating perilous at best.

Grandma Mac always had snacks and treats for us when we arrived. She had a beautiful cookie jar in the shape of a big red apple which was always filled with oatmeal raisin cookies (I admittedly picked out all the raisins). Around the holidays she would fill old See's candy boxes with perfect cubes of chocolate fudge, and if we were really lucky she would have a plate full of sweet, graham cracker sandwich cookies in the refrigerator. It was a pretty simple concept, but I've never had it since. She would take cream cheese frosting and slather it between two graham crackers and then let it set up in the fridge. I couldn't get enough.

So I thought of her when I saw this recipe for homemade graham crackers from Nancy Silverton's pastry book. I've cooked a few other winners from Nancy's books in the past; the Classic Grilled Cheese with Marinated Onions and Whole Grain Mustard, and Spiced Caramel Corn, and have quite a few more tagged for the future.

Most people think graham crackers come from the box. Period. But making homemade versions of traditional store-bought staples is worth the effort if you have some extra time or enthusiasm -- in part because the homemade versions always taste better, but also because people LOVE seeing and tasting homemade versions of foods they have only tasted out of a store-bought bag or box. I've done marshmallows and hamburger buns in the past, as well - both a lot of fun.

As far as Nancy Silverton's take on graham crackers goes - this recipe was flawless. I didn't even have to make a special trip to the store because I had every ingredient in my pantry - flour, brown sugar, honey, butter. The dough was easy to work with, and the best part of the whole thing is that the cookies actually taste exactly like graham crackers. They are delicious. I included a recipe for the cream cheese frosting in case you want to make sandwich cookies out of your homemade crackers.

Graham Cracker Recipe

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen

1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover

5 tablespoons whole milk

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers.

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Yield: 10 large crackers

From Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (Villard, 2000)

Cream Cheese Frosting1

8-ounce package of cream cheese

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups of powdered sugar, sifted

Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy. Mix in the cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla extract and when fully incorporated add the powdered sugar. Mix until smooth and creamy. Place in the refrigerator for an hour before using.

from Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery - reprinted with permission