Saturday, April 18, 2020

On The 150th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
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Articles by Karl Marx in Die Presse 1862

The Secessionists’ Friends in the Lower House. — Recognition of the American Blockade

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Source: MECW Volume 19, p. 182;
Written: on March 8, 1862;
First published: in Die Presse, March 12, 1862.


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London, March 8
Parturiunt monies! Since the opening of Parliament the English friends of Secessia had threatened a “motion” on the American blockade. The resolution has at length been introduced in the Lower House in the very modest form of a motion in which the government is urged “to submit further documents on the state of the blockade” — and even this insignificant motion was rejected without the formality of a division.

Mr. Gregory, the member for Galway, who moved the resolution, had in the parliamentary session of last year, shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, already introduced a motion for recognition of the Southern Confederacy. To his speech of this year a certain sophistical adroitness is not to be denied. The speech merely suffers from the unfortunate circumstance that it falls into two parts, of which the one cancels the other. One part describes the disastrous effects of the blockade on the English cotton industry and therefore demands removal of the blockade. The other part proves from the papers submitted by the ministry, two memorials by Messrs. Yancey and Mann and by Mr. Mason among them, that the blockade does not exist at all, except on paper, and therefore should no longer be recognised. Mr. Gregory spiced his argument with successive citations from The Times. The Times, for whom a reminder of its oracular pronouncements is at this moment thoroughly inconvenient, thanks Mr. Gregory with a leader in which it holds him up to public ridicule.

Mr. Gregory’s motion was supported by Mr. Bentinch, an ultra-Tory who for two years has laboured in vain to bring about a secession from Mr. Disraeli in the Conservative camp.

It was a ludicrous spectacle in and by itself to see the alleged interests of English industry represented by Gregory, the representative of Galway, an unimportant seaport in the West of Ireland, and by Bentinck, the representative of Norfolk, a purely agricultural district.

Mr. Forster, the representative of Bradford, a centre of English industry, rose to oppose them both. Forster’s speech deserves closer examination, since it strikingly proves the vacuity of the phrases concerning the character of the American blockade given currency in Europe by the friends of secession. In the first place, he said, the United States have observed all formalities required by international law. They have declared no port in a state of blockade without previous proclamation, without special notice of the moment of its commencement or without fixing the fifteen days after the expiration of which entrance and departure shall be forbidden to foreign neutral ships.

The talk of the legal “inefficacy” of the blockade rests, therefore, merely on the allegedly frequent cases in which it has been broken through. Before the opening of Parliament it was said that 600 ships had broken through it. Mr. Gregory now reduces the number to 400. His evidence rests on two lists handed the government, the one on November 30 by the Southern commissioners Yancey and Mann, the other, the supplementary list, by Mason. According to Yancey and Mann, more than 400 ships broke through between the proclamation of the blockade and August 20, running the blockade either inwards or outwards. According to official customs-house reports, however, the total number of the incoming and outgoing ships amounts to only 322. Of this number, 119 departed before the declaration of the blockade, 56 before the expiration of the time allowance of fifteen days. There remain 147 ships. Of these 147 ships, 25 were river boats that sailed from inland to New Orleans, where they lie idle; 106 were coasters; with the exception of three ships, all were, in the words of Mr. Mason himself, “quasi — inland” vessels. Of these 106. 66 sailed between Mobile and New Orleans. Anyone who knows this coast is aware how absurd it is to call the sailing of a vessel behind lagoons, so that it hardly touches the open sea and merely creeps along the coast, a breach of the blockade. The same holds of the vessels between Savannah and Charleston, where they sneak between islands and narrow tongues of land. According to the testimony of the English consul, Bunch, these flat — bottomed boats only appeared for a few days on the open sea. After deducting 106 coasters, there remain 16 departures for foreign ports; of these, 15 were for American ports, mainly Cuba, and one for Liverpool. The “ship” that berthed in Liverpool was a schooner, and so were all the rest of the “ships”, with the exception of a sloop. There has been much talk, exclaimed Mr. Forster, of sham blockades. Is this list of Messrs. Yancey and Mann not a sham list? He subjected the supplementary list of Mr. Mason to a similar analysis, and showed further that the number of cruisers that slipped out only amounted to three or four, whereas in the last Anglo — American war no less than 516 American cruisers broke through the English blockade and harried the English seaboard.

“The blockade, on the contrary, has been wonderfully effective from its commencement.”

Further proof is provided by the reports of the English consuls; above all, however, by the Southern price lists. On January 11 the price of cotton in New Orleans offered a premium of 100 per cent for export to England; the profit on import of salt amounted to 1500 per cent and the profit on contraband of war was incomparably higher. Despite this alluring prospect of profit, it was just as impossible to ship cotton to England as salt to New Orleans or Charleston. In fact, however, Mr. Gregory does not complain that the blockade is inefficacious, but that it is too efficacious. He urges us to put an end to it and with it to the crippling of industry and commerce. One answer suffices:

“Who urges this House to break the blockade? The representatives of the suffering districts? Does this cry resound from Manchester, where the factories have to close, or from Liverpool, where from lack of freight the ships lie idle in the docks? On the contrary. It resounds from Galway and is supported by Norfolk.”

On the side of the friends of secession Mr. Lindsay, a large shipbuilder of North Shields, made himself conspicuous. Lindsay had offered his shipyards to the Union, and, for this purpose, had travelled to Washington, where he experienced the vexation of seeing his business propositions rejected. Since that time he has turned his sympathies to the land of Secessia.

The debate was concluded with a circumstantial speech by Sir R. Palmer, the Solicitor — General, who spoke in the name of the government. He furnished well grounded juridical proof of the validity of the blockade in international law and of its sufficiency. On this occasion he in fact tore to pieces — and was taxed with so doing by Lord Cecil — the “new principles” proclaimed at the Paris Convention of 1856. Among other things, he expressed his astonishment that in a British Parliament Gregory and his associates ventured to appeal to the authority of Monsieur de Hautefeuille. The latter, to be sure, is a brand — new “authority” discovered in the Bonapartist camp. Hautefeuille’s compositions in the Revue contemporaine on the maritime rights of neutrals prove the completest ignorance or mauvaise foi at higher command.

With the complete fiasco of the parliamentary friends of secession in the blockade question, all prospect of a breach between Britain and the United States is eliminated.

Friday, April 17, 2020

On The 150th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
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Articles by Karl Marx in the New York Tribune 1862

English Public Opinion

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Source: MECW Volume 19, p. 137;
Written: on January 11, 1862;
First published: in the New-York Daily Tribune, February 1, 1862.


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London, Jan. 11, 1862
The news of the pacific solution of the Trent conflict was, by the bulk of the English people, saluted with an exultation proving unmistakably the unpopularity of the apprehended war and the dread of its consequences. It ought never to be forgotten in the United States that at least the working classes of England, from the commencement to the termination of the difficulty, have never forsaken them. To them it was due that, despite the poisonous stimulants daily administered by a venal and reckless press, not one single public war meeting could be held in the United Kingdom during all the period that peace trembled in the balance. The only war meeting convened on the arrival of the La Plata, in the cotton salesroom of the Liverpool Stock Exchange, was a corner meeting where the cotton jobbers had it all to themselves. Even at Manchester, the temper of the working classes was so well understood that an insulated attempt at the convocation of a war meeting was almost as soon abandoned as thought of.

Wherever public meetings took place in England, Scotland, or Ireland, they protested against the rabid war — cries of the press, against the sinister designs of the Government, and declared for a pacific settlement of the pending question. In this regard, the two last meetings held, the one at Paddington, London, the other at N ewcastle — u pon — Tyne, are characteristic. The former meeting applauded Mr. Washington Wilkes’s argumentation that England was not warranted in finding fault with the seizure of the Southern Commissioners'; while the Newcastle meeting almost unanimously carried the resolution — firstly, that the Americans had only made themselves guilty of a lawful exercise of the right of search and seizure; secondly, that the captain of the Trent ought to be punished for his violation of English neutrality, as proclaimed by the Queen. In ordinary circumstances, the conduct of the British workingmen might have been anticipated from the natural sympathy the popular classes all over the world ought to feel for the only popular Government in the world.

Under the present circumstances, however, when a great portion of the British working classes directly and severely suffers under the consequences of the Southern blockade; when another part is indirectly smitten by the curtailment of the American commerce, owing, as they are told, to the selfish “protective policy” of the Republicans; when the only remaining democratic weekly, Reynolds’s paper, has sold itself to Messrs. Yancey and Mann, and week after week exhausts its horse-powers of foul language in appeals to the working classes to urge the Government, for their own interests, to war with the Union — under such circumstances, simple justice requires to pay a tribute to the sound attitude of the British working classes, the more so when contrasted with the hypocritical, bullying, cowardly, and stupid conduct of the official and well-to-do John Bull.

What a difference in this attitude of the people from what it had assumed at the time of the Russian complication! Then The Times, The Post, and the other Yellowplushes of the London press, whined for peace, to be rebuked by tremendous war meetings all over the country. Now they have howled for war, to be answered by peace meetings denouncing the liberticide schemes and the Pro-Slavery sympathy of the Government. The grimaces cut by the augurs of public opinion at the news of the pacific solution of the Trent case are really amusing.

In the first place, they must needs congratulate themselves upon the dignity, common sense, good will, and moderation, daily displayed by them for the whole interval of a month. They were moderate for the first two days after the arrival of the La Plata, when Palmerston felt uneasy whether any legal pretext for a quarrel was to be picked. But hardly had the crown lawyers bit upon a legal quibble, when they opened a charivari unheard of since the anti-Jacobin war. The dispatches of the English Government left Queenstown in the beginning of December. No official answer from Washington could possibly be looked for before the commencement of January. The new incidents arising in the interval told all in favor of the Americans. The tone of the Transatlantic Press, although the Nashville affair might have roused its passions, was calm. All facts ascertained concurred to show that Capt. Wilkes had acted on his own hook. The position of the Washington Government was delicate. If it resisted the English demands, it would complicate the civil war by a foreign war. If it gave way, it might damage its popularity at home, and appear to cede to pressure from abroad. And the Government thus placed, carried, at the same time, a war which must enlist the warmest sympathies of every man, not a confessed ruffian, on its side.

Common prudence, conventional decency, ought, therefore, to have dictated to the London press, at least for the time separating the English demand from the American reply, to anxiously abstain from every word calculated to heat passion, breed ill-will, complicate the difficulty. But no! That “inexpressibly mean and groveling” press, as William Cobbett, and he was a connoisseur, calls it, really boasted of having, when in fear of the compact power of the United States, humbly submitted to the accumulated slights and insults of Pro-Slavery Administrations for almost half a century, while now, with the savage exultation of cowards, they panted for taking their revenge on the Republican Administration, distracted by a civil war. The record of mankind chronicles no self-avowed infamy like this.

One of the yellow-plushes, Palmerston’s private Moniteur — The Morning Post — finds itself arraigned on a most ugly charge from the American papers. John Bull has never been informed — on information carefully withheld from him by the oligarchs that lord it over him — that Mr. Seward, without awaiting Russell’s dispatch, had disavowed any participation of the Washington Cabinet in the act of Capt. Wilkes. Mr. Seward’s dispatch arrived at London on December 19. On the 20th December, the rumor of this “secret” spread on the Stock Exchange. On the 21st, the yellow-plush of The Morning Post stepped forward to gravely herald that “the dispatch in question does not in any way whatever refer to the outrage on our mail packet.”

In The Daily News, The Morning Star, and other London journals, you will find yellow-plush pretty sharply handled, but you will not learn from them what people out of doors say. They say that The Morning Post and The Times, like the Patrie and the Pays, duped the public not only to politically mislead them, but to fleece them in the monetary line on the Stock Exchange, in the interest of their patrons.

The brazen Times, fully aware that during the whole crisis it had compromised nobody but itself, and given another proof of the hollowness of its pretensions of influencing the real people of England, plays to-day a trick which here, at London, only works upon the laughing muscles, but on the other side of the Atlantic, might be misinterpreted. The “popular classes” of London, the “mob”, as the yellow-plush call them, have given unmistakable signs-have even hinted in newspapers-that they should consider it an exceedingly seasonable joke to treat Mason (by the by, a distant relative of Palmerston, since the original Mason had married a daughter of Sir W. Temple), Slidell & Co. with the same demonstrations Haynau received on his visit at Barclay’s brewery.” The Times stands aghast at the mere idea of such a shocking incident, and how does it try to parry it? It admonishes the people of England not to overwhelm Mason, Slidell & Co. with any, sort of public ovation! The Times knows that its to-day’s article will form the laughing-stock of all the tap-rooms of London. But never mind! People on the other side of the Atlantic may, perhaps, fancy that the magnanimity of The Times has saved them from the affront of public ovations to Mason, Slidell & Co., while, in point of fact, The Times only intends saving those gentlemen from public insult!

So long as the Trent affair was undecided, The Times, The Post, The Herald, The Economist, The Saturday Review, in fact the whole of the fashionable, hireling press of London, had tried its utmost to persuade John Bull that the Washington Government, even if it willed, would prove unable to keep the peace, because the Yankee mob would not allow it, and because the Federal Government was a mob Government. Facts have now given them the lie direct. Do they now atone for their malignant slanders against the American people? Do they at least confess the errors which yellow-plush in presuming to judge of the acts of a free people, could not but commit? By no means. They now unanimously discover that the American Government, in not anticipating England’s demands, and not surrendering the Southern traitors as soon as they were caught, missed a great occasion, and deprived its present concession of all merit. Indeed, yellow plush! Mr. Seward disavowed the act of Wilkes before the arrival of the English demands, and at once declared himself willing to enter upon a conciliatory course a ; and what did you do on similar occasions? When, on the pretext of impressing English sailors on board American ships — a pretext not at all connected with maritime belligerent rights, but a downright, monstrous usurpation against all international law-the Leopard fired its broadside at the Chesapeake, killed six, wounded twenty-one of her sailors, and seized the pretended Englishmen on board the Chesapeake, what did the English Government do? That outrage was perpetrated on the 20th of June, 1807. The real satisfaction, the surrender of the sailors, &C., was only offered on November 8, 1812, five years later. The British Government, it is true, disavowed at once the act of Admiral Berkeley, as Mr. Seward did in regard to Capt. Wilkes; but, to punish the Admiral, it removed him from an inferior to a superior rank. England, in proclaiming her Orders in Council,” distinctly confessed that they were outrages on the rights of neutrals in general, and of the United States in particular; that they were forced upon her as measures of retaliation against Napoleon, and that she would feel but too glad to revoke them whenever Napoleon should revoke his encroachments on neutral rights. Napoleon did revoke them, as far as the United States were concerned, in the Spring of 1810. England persisted in her avowed outrage on the maritime rights of America. Her resistance lasted from 1806 to 23d of June, 1812 — after, on the 18th of June, 1812, the United States had declared war against England. England abstained, consequently, in this case for six years, not from atoning for a confessed outrage, but from discontinuing it. And this people talk of the magnificent occasion missed by the American Government! Whether in the wrong or in the right, it was a cowardly act on the part of the British Government to back a complaint grounded on pretended technical blunder, and a mere error of procedure, by an ultimatum, by a demand for the surrender of the prisoners. The American Government might have reasons to accede to that demand; it could have none to anticipate it.

By the present settlement of the Trent collision, the question underlying the whole dispute, and likely to again occur — the belligerent rights of a maritime power against neutrals — has not been settled. I shall, with your permission, try to survey the whole question in a subsequent letter. For the present, allow me to add that, in my opinion, Messrs. Mason and Slidell have done great service to the Federal Government. There was an influential war party in England, which, what for commercial, what for political reasons, showed eager for a fray with the United States. The Trent affair put that party to the test. It has failed. The war passion has been discounted on a minor issue, the steam has been let off, the vociferous fury of the oligarchy has raised the suspicions of English democracy, the large British interests connected with the United States have made a stand, the true character of the civil war has been brought home to the working classes, and last, not least, the dangerous period when Palmerston rules single-headed without being checked by Parliament, is rapidly drawing to an end. That was the only time in which an English war for the slaveocrats might have been hazarded. It is now out of question.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

When Hammer Productions Pulled The Hammer Down-Cushing And Merill’s “Cash On Demand” (1961)-A Film Review

When Hammer Productions Pulled The Hammer Down-Cushing And Merill’s “Cash On Demand” (1961)-A Film Review



DVD Review

By Sarah Lemoyne


Cash On Demand, starring Peter Cushing, Andre Merill, 1961 


[Unlike some of the other writers, film reviewers at this publication who use this space, according to site manager Greg Green, to go off on tangents discussing everything but the film they are supposed to be reviewing I am using it to introduce myself. Hi-Sarah Lemoyne is my name and this is my first serious job in journalism after several years doing a little of this and of that while keeping myself alive as a barista at Starbucks. Greg hired me for now as a stringer which he, and all the older writers, tell me is the way that things work in this business. Leslie Dumont told me that when she was hired by Allan Jackson, the former site manager when this publication was a hard copy edition, a number of years ago before she got her by-line in Women Today she had not only been a stringer, meaning then that she got paid by the word but had written half of the film reviews that Sam Lowell got credit for in his by-line when he was drunk, doped up or off chasing some woman. Funny meeting him after what Leslie told me he seemed nice and certainly not a guy who would pilfer somebody else’s work but I still have a lot to learn.

That is really what I want to talk about, about learning things, as I work on my first assignment which Greg says will help broaden my horizons. I have been given the chance to review a block of six films, six black and white films from the 1950s and early 1960s put out through the Hammer Production Company in England and distributed in America by Columbia Pictures. I will admit that before this assignment came up I had never seen a black and white film (Greg told me to include this point). Since I started here Seth Garth has sat with me when we watched what he called a classic black and white film worthy of note from a period later than the 1940s and 1950s The Last Picture Show  starring Jeff Bridges whom I did know from the movie Crazy Hearts. I am not sure I like black and white film as a way to create a certain mood but like Greg says it will broaden my horizons and reviewing older films will allow me to learn from my mistakes without causing a whole lot of problems for him. Sarah Lemoyne]   

Seth Garth mentioned to me when I told him that my assignment was this Hammer Production series and that I had never seen a black and white film since I was born in 1988 that the Hammer operation was based on a low budget schedule using unknown British actors who would work on the cheap and getting the guys who wrote books to do the screenplay to save money on writing and production time. Still he seemed to think that dollar for dollar they have held up. His experience had been reviewing the monster and ghoul movies Hammer was famous for and an important film noir series which he had reviewed in this space a few years ago. With that advice, and mention that I should take it easy and not go crazy trying to think up some “cinematic studies” stuff to what he called “padding” the review, I worked my way through the first film Cash on Demand, I don’t think they spent much money on figuring snappy titles, which seemed a little weird a couple of times to make sure I got the plot right. (Seth also said if you are in trouble with a review just go heavy on the plot and characters which is what most readers want anyway which seemed like good advice.)  

Seth also said that everybody loves a con man, everybody except the person being conned and although I don’t agree with him the con man, the bank robber here seems to be what had Seth all in a dither when I told him the plot and was looking for advice about what everybody around here calls “the hook,” what you want the reader get out of your considered judgment of the merits of the film. This con man, a Colonel played by Andre Morell, posing as an insurance investigator has the uptight and strait-laced branch manager of a London bank, Harry Fordyce, played by Peter Cushing beside himself just before Christmas when he descended on the bank supposedly for an audit. Once the scene get reduced to a battle of wits between the two the Colonel lays out his plan, or rather his intention to rob the bank without firepower or visible accomplices. Lays it out so that Harry has no choice but to go along. The Colonel has buffaloed  Harry with the idea, complete with telephone conversation (which turned out to be tapes when the whole scam was exposed later), that his unseen accomplices were holding Harry’s wife and son hostage and would do them grievous bodily harm if he did not comply to the letter with the instruction being laid out to him.  

The Colonel’s “hook” was that Harry only and solely cared about his wife and child and despite every instinct he had learned as a banker and as an uptight person he went grudgingly along with the con, with the robbery of some 93, 000 pounds sterling which seems like a lot of money for the times and even today when I would be glad to have such a sum to get out from under my college tuition debt hanging over me. The Colonel had Harry in a box until it comes time to depart with the dough. Then everything broke loose although not to Harry’s liking because one of his employees has called the coppers when things didn’t seem to add up. The London coppers apparently so clever on the pursuit brought that the Colonel was brought back in handcuffs to confront his “confederate”-the perplexed Harry.

After a bit of sleight of hand Harry was angled into going to the police station to answer a lot of questions about why he shouldn’t be sitting in the cell next to the Colonel at Dartmoor prison. Chastised by the experience we are left with the implication that hereafter Harry will be better toward his fellows and a more stand-up man. I hope everybody is okay with the synopsis and that this little tale has some meaning about being less uptight in the world and filled a bit more with the milk of human kindness. First review done and hopefully accepted.       

On The 150th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
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Articles by Marx in the New York Tribune 1861

Progress of Feelings in England

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Written: December, 1861;
Source: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 19;
Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964;
First Published: New-York Daily Tribune No. 6467, December 25, 1861;
Online Version: Marxists.org 1999;
Transcribed: S. Ryan;
HTML Markup: Tim Delaney.


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London, Dec.7, 1861
The friends of the United States on this side of the Atlantic anxiously hope that conciliatory steps will be taken by the Federal Government. They do so not from a concurrence in the frantic crowing of the British press over a war incident, which, according to the English Crown lawyers themselves, resolves itself into a mere error of procedure, and may be summed up in the words that there has been a breach of international law, because Capt. Wilkes, instead of taking the Trent, her cargo, her passengers, and the Commissioners, did only take the Commissioners. Nor springs the anxiety of the well-wishers of the Great Republic from an apprehension lest, in the long run, it should not prove able to cope with England, although backed by the civil war; and, least of all, do they expect the United States to abdicate, even for a moment, and in a dark hour of trial, the proud position held by them in the council of nations. The motives that prompt them are of quite a different nature.

In the first instance, the business next in hand for the United States is to crush the rebellion and to restore the Union. The wish uppermost in the minds of the Slaveocracy and their Northern tools was always to plunge the United States into a war with England. The first step of England as soon as hostilities broke out would be to recognise the Southern Confederacy, and the second to terminate the blockade. Secondly, no general, if not forced, will accept battle at the time and under the conditions chosen by his enemy.

"A war with America," says The Economist, a paper deeply in Palmerston's confidence, "must always be one of the most lamentable incidents in the history of England; but if it is to happen, the present is certainly the period at which it will do us the minimum of harm, and the only moment in our joint annals at which it would confer on us an incidental and partial compensation."

The very reasons accounting for the eagerness of England to seize upon any decent pretext for war at this 'only moment' ought to withhold the United States from forwarding such a pretext at this 'only moment.' You go not to war with the aim to do your enemy 'the minimum of harm,' and, even to confer upon him by the war, 'an incidental and partial compensation.' The opportunity of the moment would all be on one side, on the side of your foe. Is there any great strain of reasoning wanted to prove that an internal war raging in a State is the least opportune time for entering upon a foreign war? At every other moment the mercantile classes of Great Britain would have looked upon a war against the United States with the utmost horror. Now, on the contrary, a large and influential party of the mercantile community has for months been urging on the Government to violently break the blockade, and thus provide the main branch of British industry with its raw material. The fear of a curtailment of the English export trade to the United States has lost its sting by the curtailment of that trade having already actually occurred. "They" (the Northern States), says The Economist, "are wretched customers, instead of good ones." The vast credit usually given by English commerce to the United States, principally by the acceptance of bills drawn from China and India, has been already reduced to scarcely a fifth of what it was in 1857. Last, not least, Decembrist France, bankrupt, paralyzed at home, beset with difficulty abroad, pounces upon an Anglo-American war as a real godsend, and, in order to buy English support in Europe, will strain all her power to support "Perfidious Albion" on the other side of the Atlantic. Read only the French newspapers. The pitch of indignation to which they have wrought themselves in their tender care for the "honor of England," their fierce diatribes as to the necessity on the part of England to revenge the outrage on the Union Jack, their vile denunciations of everything American, would be truly appalling, if they were not ridiculous and disgusting at the same time. Lastly, if the United States give way in this instance, they will not derogate one iota of their dignity. England has reduced her complaint to a mere error of procedure, a technical blunder of which she had made herself systematically guilty in all her maritime wars, but against which the United States have never ceased to protest, and which President Madison, in his message inaugurating the war of 1812, expatiated upon as one of the most shocking breaches of international law. If the United States may be defended in paying England with her own coin, will they be accused for magnanimously disavowing, on the part of a single American captain, acting on his own responsibility, what they always denounced as a systematic usurpation on the part of the British Navy!

In point of fact, the gain of such a procedure would be all on the American side. England, on the one hand, would have acknowledged the right of the United States to capture and bring to adjudication before an American prize court every English ship employed in the service of the Confederation. On the other hand, she would, once for all, before the eyes of the whole world, have practically resigned a claim which she was not brought to desist from either in the peace of Ghent, in 1814, or the transactions carried on between Lord Ashburton and Secretary Webster in 1842.The question then comes to this: Do you prefer to turn the "untoward event" to your own account, or, blinded by the passions of the moment, turn it to the account of your foes at home and abroad?

Since this day week, when I sent you my last letter, British consols have again lowered, the decline, compared with last Friday, amounting to 2 per cent, the present prices being 89 3/4 to 7/8 for money and 90 to 1/8 for the new account on the 9th of January. This quotation corresponds to the quotation of the British consols during the first two years of the Anglo-Russian war. This decline is altogether due to the warlike interpretation put upon the American papers conveyed by the last mail, to the exacerbating tone of the London press, whose moderation of two days' standing was but a feint, ordered by Palmerston, to the dispatch of troops for Canada, to the proclamation forbidding the export of arms and materials for gunpowder, and lastly, to the daily ostentatious statements concerning the formidable preparations for war in the docks and maritime arsenals.

Of one thing you may be sure, Palmerston wants a legal pretext for a war with the United States, but meets in the Cabinet councils with a most determinate opposition on the part of Messrs. Gladstone and Milner Gibson, and, to a less degree, of Sir Cornewall Lewis. "The noble viscount" is backed by Russell, an abject tool in his hands, and the whole Whig Coterie. If the Washington Cabinet should furnish the desired pretext, the present Cabinet will be sprung, to be supplanted by a Tory Administration. The preliminary steps for such a change of scenery have been already settled between Palmerston and Disraeli. Hence the furious war-cry of The Morning Herald and The Standard, those hungry wolves howling at the prospect of the long-missed crumbs from the public almoner.

Palmerston's designs may be shown up by calling into memory a few facts. It was he who insisted upon the proclamation, acknowledging the Secessionists as belligerents, on the morning of the 14th of May, after he had been informed by telegraph from Liverpool that Mr. Adams would arrive at London on the night of the 13th May. He, after a severe struggle with his colleagues, dispatched 3,000 men to Canada, an army ridiculous, if intended to cover a frontier of 1,500 miles, but a clever sleight-of-hand if the rebellion was to be cheered, and the Union to be irritated. He, many weeks ago, urged Bonaparte to propose a joint armed intervention "in the internecine struggle," supported that project in the Cabinet council, and failed only in carrying it by the resistance of his colleagues. He and Bonaparte then resorted to the Mexican intervention as a pis aller. That operation served two purposes, by provoking just resentment on the part of the Americans, and by simultaneously furnishing a pretext for the dispatch of a squadron, ready, as The Morning Post has it, "to perform whatever duty the hostile conduct of the Government of Washington may require us to perform in the waters of the Northern Atlantic." At the time when that expedition was started, The Morning Post, together with The Times and the smaller fry of Palmerston's press slaves, said that it was a very fine thing, and a philanthropic thing into the bargain, because it would expose the slave- holding Confederation to two fires -- the Anti-Slavery North and the Anti-Slavery force of England and France. And what says the very same Morning Post, this curious compound of Jenkins and Rhodomonte, of plush and swash, in its to-day's issue, on occasion of Jefferson Davis's address? Hearken to the Palmerston oracle:

"We must look to this intervention as one that may be inoperative during a considerable period of time; and while the Northern Government is too distant to admit of its attitude entering materially into this question, the Southern Confederation, on the other hand, stretches for a great distance along the frontier of Mexico, so as to render its friendly disposition to the authors of the insurrection of no slight consequence. The Northern Government has invariably railed at our neutrality, but the Southern with statesmanship and moderation has recognized in it all that we could do for either party; and whether with a view to our transactions in Mexico, or to our relations with the Cabinet at Washington, the friendly forbearance of the Southern Confederacy is an important point in our favor."

I may remark that the Nord of December 3 -- a Russian paper, and consequently a paper initiated into Palmerstons designs -- insinuates that the Mexican expedition was from the first set on foot, not for its ostensible purpose, but for a war against the United States.

Gen. Scott's letter had produced such a beneficent reaction in public opinion, and even on the London Stock Exchange, that the conspirators of Downing Street and the Tuileries found it necessary to let loose the Patrie, stating with all the airs of knowledge derived from official sources that the seizure of the Southern Commissioners from the Trent was directly authorized by the Washington Cabinet.

The Great Art Heist Caper-Carmen Diaz and Colin Firth’s “ Gambit” (2012)- A Film Review

The Great Art Heist Caper-Carmen Diaz and Colin Firth’s “ Gambit” (2012)- A Film Review   



DVD Review

By Sam Lowell

Gambit, starring Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Allan Rickman, 2012

Willie Sutton the great and legendary bank robber was reputed to have said (I assume when he was in police custody although who knows maybe he gave free-lance interviews on the fly) when asked why he robbed banks answered truly enough “that was where the money was.” Okay, but dear sweet Willie was an old-fashioned boy and while in his time that was the place to go to earn his daily living that mode of employment is now rather dangerous filled with sensors, wires and the 3rd Marine Division, or so it seems. Moreover as the film under review The Gambit amply demonstrates there are more ways to heaven through guile, and through a choice piece in the international art market. That guile is important since there are basically two ways to acquire art and amass your fortune. That aforementioned guile which will drive the action in this film and a straight out heist into some museum overriding the security systems and such which is the stuff of more than one cinematic storyline. I like the second way quite a bit since I have been around long enough to have seen the masters of the profession at work in the famous, or infamous your choice, big rip-off at the Gardner Museum in Boston which to this day has the frames of the ripped off art work as painful reminders that those objects have never been recovered and the police and others are still scratching their heads on that one.

The guile strategy does have its good points though especially if you have a ready buyer and you have an enflamed unscrupulous individual wealthy, wealthy these days meaning a billionaire or one who has access to billions. Especially when it is an inside job, a comeuppance inside job. The average person probably does not know it since the very rich in Scotty Fitzgerald’s famous aphorism are different, very different from you and me but high end art collectors can put art experts on their payrolls without thinking about it. A wise investment when you think about it guarding against fakes and frauds and tax deductible too. That is the case here with hired gun art expert Deane, played by Colin Firth who is out to bamboozle an ugly rich and nude everyman billionaire do we really need to know names, played by the villainous late British actor Alan Rickman.

This is how this caper played out and you really have to admire it even if your heart is with those Gardner master thieves. Claude Monet, the max daddy Impressionist, painted a couple of haystacks out in the French countryside in the 1890s, one at dawn the other at dusk. The “at dawn” one money bags already has but the other “at dusk” had a long and troubled history including being part of German Nazi Goring’s private collection and supposedly  subsequently when the Reich fell down in poor Podunk, Texas in the hands of the guy who grabbed it when the Nazi went down. Or rather to complete the key ensemble, his granddaughter PJ now, played by Cameron Diaz, a true cowgirl in the sand.

Deane’s play is to convince the dear Lord that the Texas Monet is legitimate and enlists PJ in the caper to add the final touch to the also lecherous Lord. The caper goes through a bunch of perhaps unnecessary pratfalls once PJ hits London in order to get her claws into the Lord, get them in good so he buys the story, takes the bait. Which he does. This is the beauty of the play though. Deane had his confederate master art forger paint two Monets-dawn and dusk and through a series of flimflam maneuvers is able to substitute a fake “dawn” for the real one in the Lord’s possession while claiming the dusk one is a fake (which it is of course). Deane sells the real “dawn” to a Japanese competitor of the Lord’s for a cool ten million-pounds (pre-Brexit). Nice play-and PJ gets a big cut too before heading back to Podunk, Texas. I wonder if the dear Lord is interested in a Rembrandt self-portrait–cheap at the price.                     

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-Lost In The Rain-With The Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter In Mind

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-Lost In The Rain-With The Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter In Mind




By Allan Jackson

[All roads lead back to Markin, Peter Paul Markin, a guy from the old growing up neighborhood back in the working class, that fact is important, Acre section of North Adamsville. Lead back from my having taken his name as my moniker when I was the site manager of this publication all the way to his being an important bell weather for what went on in our generation our Generation of ’68 as it has been characterized here and elsewhere, the vaunted baby-boomer generation just now starting to pass the baton to younger generations hoping they are up to the tasks of this wonderful, weird, treacherous century as it gathers some steam. Markin whom we always called Scribe from very early on since he always had a pencil or pen and notebook at the ready in his shirt pocket to write something down and bore us with it later. Always had pen or pencil ready when our acknowledged leader of the corner Frankie Riley had something to say which I think is the original way Markin got the name. Yeah, Scribe was a piece of work and if I live to be one hundred something I am not sure now that a am on the short side of that possibility I want to make I will always think of something the bastard did or said in his short sweet sad life.

The Scribe was no generational Everyman, no way, but he did represent a certain aspect of that generation, a certain aspect of what went into making the 1960s a wasn’t that a time moment and the scourge of the night-takers who to this day have been fighting a frontal assault on whatever dreams we thought we could create. Of course certain things lead you to think about the old days when you are old enough  to have old days and for me it had been a haunting and hollow feeling in the back of my brain ever since the Fall of 2017 when I was watching Ken Burns ten part-eighteen hour Vietnam War series on Public Television. What has got me thinking about that series is how many of the experiences mainly by guys just like the guys in our Acre neighborhood paralleled Scribe’s (and my own). How we got patriotically bamboozled into serving in the military in that war. I especially related to Tim O’Brian, a guy who has written many good pieces of literature about those times, about how he too got snookered into the service by everything that he knew or felt. Every minute I watched I couldn’t help but think of Scribe, help think that if not Everyman his life story-better his dreams-were part of the mix and not the worst part either.
I don’t know about “red diaper’ babies, sons and daughters of radicals and communists when that was okay in the 1930s and early 1940s before the hammer came down and everybody had to put their heads down-or else-in that red scare Cold War night that forms part of the title to this series. I don’t know about kids from our generation who grew up in the leafy suburbs and mother had a Volkswagen or some such car to talk the kids to and fro (we, and this included Scribe’s family as well only have private transportation when there was enough money for a car otherwise we were captives of the slow-death public transportation). For that matter I don’t know about what were then called the ghettos where black people, people who later would be kindred, were huddled and abused. Didn’t know about the barrio a much lesser ethnic group then or about how the Indians, Native Americans, indigenous peoples now, survived. Or what went on, except at second hand, down in the hills and hollows of poor white Appalachia. Neither did Scribe although lightning rod that he was he actually studied up on such stuff, took an interest when all the rest of us cared about was cars, girls, and having sex with the same, with the girls. He did too but not with our desperate intensity.

What Scribe knew about, what we corner boys knew about was white working poor Northern stuff, although we probably unlike to day when identity politics of all types and were are in a cold civil war according to writer Frank Jackman shared plenty of common customs, dreams, commitments and myths with the other aforementioned groupings. What Scribe knew about was “from hunger,” our from hunger world (funny I remember he told me once he did not realize that he and his family was poor because in “the projects” where he grew up, grew up early in, everybody was poor, white poor in the golden age of up and coming for whites after World War II and it was not until sixth or seventh grade in school when kids outside the projects attended the same school that he was painfully and thoughtlessly made very aware that he was poor-from girls who scorned him for his poverty as well as other indignities. So “from hunger” fits.

That is one part Scribe but the part the part that made him that bell weather was some kind of instinct, maybe dream instinct, that something new was coming along in our times and we had better grab it with all hands since it might not last (later as it faded with the ebbing of the 1960s cultural shifts he refused to believe the fury of the times was fading, the newer world was dying, which I believe, and not just me believe, was part of his untethering, of his early death down in fucking dust-strewn back streets Sonora, Mexico dead by his own overweening from hunger appetites). I didn’t, nobody did except maybe Frankie Riley and he only because he thought it would provide him with the main chance, realize that a “new breeze” was blowing through the land. Scribe was on it from the sense he had that beatnik thing that we were just too young to have sensed was our thing although that didn’t stop Scribe from on lonely Friday nights on the corner spouting forth with verses from “fag” Allen Ginsberg’s “faggy” negro streets avenging angels Howl  which we couldn’t get him to stop yakking about.   

More of our time the time which none of us patriotic working stuff boys understood when he went with the freaking Quakers and other commies to call for nuclear disarmament or walk the sidewalks in front of Woolworth’s on Washington Street in Boston for the “n----rs” (you figure it out but that was what we called then in the Acre including Scribe early on) down South who wanted to eat lunch in the place but couldn’t by custom and threat. More sensible (to me) since he took me there were the trips to Harvard Square when beatnik turned to folkie which would turn to hippie to listen to songs and poems which were totally different from our heaven-sent rock and roll that had sustained us in the dark days of the 1950s when we didn’t know we were from hunger but knew something was missing-at least I hope we did.

But the biggest thing and it was epidemic so I don’t know how we missed it especially since Scribe endlessly harped on was when he got all of us, almost all of us except a couple of guys from the corner Ricky Rizzo and Jimmy James who had already enlisted and would perish in Vietnam and have a place of honor down on black granite in Washington, D.C., to head out to California after he came back from there and got us in the Summer of Love, 1967. That set us on a different course, set me on a different course for sure. Then the “shit hit the fan.” Scribe had decided that fateful 1967 to drop out of college, a bad mistake since was drafted the next year and sent to Vietnam. I went there too but later after I finished college and was drafted. This is where our white working class beginnings and ethos left us without a compass. Where, as Tim O’Brian in that Ken Burns series eloquently put it, was there space in small town, neighborhood but it might as well have been a small town since the ethos was the same to rebel against induction. Who including patriotic World War II serving parents would have supported us. And so Scribe’s fate was cast, cast in a very different way than we would have expected earlier in the decade. After ‘Nam he never was the same although he wrote some great stuff, did some great politic work but the “real” world was getting nastier and nastier and not where he expected it to go. So a “lost boy.” Still fifty years later all roads lead back to Markin. Allan Jackson]    
*********

Peter Paul Markin, but after this introduction just Markin, at least that is what I have always called him ever since we first met down in my hometown of Hullsville in the summer of 1964 was for a long time out of step with his generation. Or at least I, Jimmy Jenkins, have always liked to think that he was out of step with the best part of our generation, the generation of ’68 name so by me and others later to reflect that ebb-tide year when all hell broke loose and many things were possible, the part of our generation that tried to turn the world upside down, tried the great decade boxed in jail-break out. It was not that Markin did not have appetites, in fact after many talks with him I found like many working-class kids from hunger like the two of us he had huge appetites, for changing the world, a world that neither he nor I created but which we each on our own way had wanted to spin on a different axis. To include us in the day to day calculations. My story was rather simple as I simply went with the flow as it drifted toward a counter-cultural expression but Markin, well, Markin’s is something else again.   
But enough of trying to tease out an explanation and let’s get to the skinny, the story.  Hullsville is about twenty miles south of Markin’s hometown of North Adamsville which meant that ordinarily the chances of us meeting were slim seeing that after graduation from high school he was going off to college in Boston and I was getting ready to go to work in Jim Snyder’s Auto Body Shop over on Route 3A on the Hingham line to make some money and maybe after a while go into the service and then to college on the GI Bill since our family did not have dollar one to send me to college. Moreover while the teachers in school called me smart, some said too smart and one old-time History teacher who looked like he might have participated on the White side in the Russia civil wars after the revolution in 1917 called me a “Bolshevik” once for giving a snarly answer to one of his silly questions about some date in history, I was too much into being a corner boy to keep up my grades enough to get some scholarship help like Markin got. Nobody called him a Bolshevik then as far as I know and he never mentioned anything like that after I told him one time the History teacher story, and how he had kept me after school a few days running when I did not give him what he considered an appropriate answer to why I was acting like Bolshevik in his class. 

What is remarkable, remarkable when you think about how possessive and cut-throats guys were in those days about girls and girlfriends and we were no exceptions, was the way we met one night shortly after we had graduated from our respective high schools at the Sea ‘n’ Surf Ballroom in my hometown.  This locally famous dance hall, now long gone to condominiums, had been located right at the start of the ocean end of Hullsville, an oceanfront which extended the length of the town right up to the Daley Point Lighthouse. The place catered to those from eighteen to twenty-one who could not legally drink liquor and only served soft drinks and snacks. That oceanfront had been a draw in its own right for those moments during dance hall intermission when guys and gals went out to for smoke, a cigarette smoke then as far as I know although I had heard rumors that in California people were smoking other stuff, marijuana, and Markin had told me that he had read about the “beats” who came a little before us, you know Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, guys like that in the Village, out in North Beach places like that who were high all the time on bennies and marijuana so there could have been some of that going on too. Maybe the guys and gals, and this I know from my own frayed nerves especially around girls then, girls who I might try to pick up, fed up with the soda inside stepped out to gain “liquid courage” with some cheapjack low-end Johnny Walker whiskey to calm the nerves, and later in the evening, those midnight hours, that oceanfront acted as a local lovers’ lane complete with some car window-fogging action for those who got lucky, or were horny.

The Sea ‘n’ Surf in those days held a weekly rock ‘n’ roll dance in the main ballroom all year-round on Friday and Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons were left to real ballroom dancing by those like our parents who did not know fast-dancing or anything like that and the rest of the week the place stood empty. Back then the main ballroom featured a live cover band, the famous Rockin’ Ramrods, locally famous anyway, who went on to front at many concerts like when the Stones and Grateful Dead were in Boston although they never quite had enough of whatever it took to make it big on their own.

See that night we both, Markin and I, had our eyes set on the same girl, same young woman, if we were talking about her now, Laura McCarthy, who was nothing but a heart-breaker. Heart-breaker in a lot of ways but mainly, which both of us were clueless about at the time since we had been nothing but grinds and narrowly- focused guys, because she, an absolutely ethereal beauty all wispy and dreamy like some Botticelli model  was maybe a step ahead of her time in her sense of sexual liberation (or at least wanting to break the mold of that prevalent mores of working one’s way steadily toward the marriage altar), of being her own woman and of being into the very closed “new dope” scene, meaning LSD, mescaline, peyote buttons, and the like not the junkie nose candy or H stuff like some Nelson Algren junkie man with a golden arm Frank Sinatra thing in the movies and he trying go cold turkey all for Kim Novak and making a mess of it. (I did not know until a few years later that a Botticelli model is what Laura should have been compared too since I had never been to an art museum and Markin only mentioned it later after he had taken some required Art Appreciation course and I had seen a photograph of one of his paintings, and after he had showed it to me and we both immediately thought of that little long gone heart-breaker)

So yes we became friends out of trying to make the same girl who played us like we were on yo-yo strings, and subsequently dumped both of us in succession, me last, and left plenty of lovelorn scars on our psyches. We had heard back then that Laura had subsequently drifted to a commune out in Taos, New Mexico and she might still be there for all we know as improbable as that sounds. But in the ins and outs of that competition for her favors is a whole other story, a boy-girl story that has been told since Adam and Eve time, maybe before, and not knowing that information does not add to the story I want to tell you about what was taking place with Markin in the mid-1960s. A time when we were trying to figure out all the implications of that new wave blowing across America, a generic youth wave which included Markin and me too, a wave away from almost everything our parents, all those in charge, and other interested parties were into as we sought the newer world that we expected was just around the corner where we would finally be free to express ourselves in a world that we had created, or at least had a say in. But I will fill you in on the general outlines of that big picture quest as I go along. Right now this is about Markin’s long journey on that road, longer that one would have thought when the dust finally settled later but once you knew everything that drove him back then it makes sense that it would be nothing but a long journey, and a close thing in the making at that when all is said and done. 

Now that we have it straight on the Markin moniker part, the name part which I said before I have always called him and not just me since that is what everybody in old North Adamsville except his dear mother, Delores, well, maybe not so dear but his mother anyway, and later his first frenetic ex-wife, Joyce, which explains a lot about why she was an ex-wife called him we can try to fit the pieces together that made up Markin then (strangely Joyce had been  another woman that we both lusted after but I did mine in secret, or a little subtly, since she always had eyes for Markin from the first and my only hope was that she would fall off his train but she never did, damn, she never did, and when they split she headed to Frisco so I never had a proper shot at her. Markin when we talked about it much later after many other affairs fell through for both of us gave me plenty of reason to be glad that she never got her hooks into me, although I still think I would not have minded taking the ticket, taking the ride back then). Markin never could figure out then what the attraction was for all those desperate children of the light camped out, rain or shine, on the Boston Common in that summer of love year, 1967. (That desperate part strictly in Markin’s head, maybe the “children of light” part too but the “desperate” part tells a lot about the way that Markin saw the new wave coming, knew it was coming but was totally out of synch with what was coming down like I say driven by his own life’s trajectory and his outsized dreams). This was not some abstract question since a number of his old time friends, his corner boys, a couple of whom I met before they headed west, headed west physically and in their minds to a very different place than they had talked about on those lonely Friday nights in front of their bowling alley hang-out.

A lot of what went on back then, a lot of the questioning, a lot of things that were pulling people every which way was associated with the west just like out forbears, including our immediate spiritual forbears, the “beats” who through their writing, through their life-style and through the sheer fact that they themselves were always physically heading west in those broken-down, stolen, or hitch-hiked cars and trucks drove us that way. (Strangely as far removed from the “beat” scene as Markin was he was fascinated by their writings, especially Kerouac’s, a working-class former football hero who he said “spoke” to him in some literary way. What he hated was the dope, “fag,” hey that’s the word we used, midnight sunglasses part tied in with a little plebian anti-intellectualism carried over from those North Adamsville streets where “street smart” trumped “book smart.”) Those old corner boys from the old town had “gone over to the other side” as Markin saw the matter when he heard where they had gone, gone to ground on that very Common with the other desperate children, saw them turning seemingly in a minute from stolid old corner boys holding up walls in front of Doc’s Drugstore, Salducci’s Pizza Parlor or the Jack Slack’s Bowling Alleys (along with him) to drug addicts, ne’er do wells and vagabonds. No question in those days no matter what else was going through his mind Markin was a man out of sorts with his generation, out of sorts with the wave, out of sorts about what I thought although I had been a little slow to pick up on the wave myself being stuck in that garage job in Podunk.

Funny that “drug addict” business, Markin actually used that word when talking about all the new smells in the air when we went to rock concerts and dances in those days say in 1965, 1966, reflected Markin’s old-timey notion picked up from some black and white 1930s morality play film or cautionary tale about those who went off the straight and narrow that “smokin’ a bone,” having a marijuana joint, a few puffs to ease the burdens of life would inevitably lead to life of crime, rapine, debauchery and about sixteen other social evils. Or maybe he got it from reading Nelson Algren’s Man With The Golden Arm (which he told me about after he had read the book, filled in the story for me since my take had been based on the film adaptation with Sinatra and Novak which I vaguely remembered my parents had taken us in tow to see since there was no money for baby-sitters and young kids got in free with an adult) or from one of Algren’s haunting short stories about people on the edge, doper-related short stories where the parties were led into the rude life of junkies and spiraled down from there.
A lasting image of the time for me, an image picked up now in retro-1960s “hippie” nostalgia exhibitions, movies, memoirs and from folk tales sputtered out by the now aging remnant, was of dazed kids in all kinds of exotic regalia, some carefully crafted to give a certain look for the cameras that were swirling around at the time when everybody, every journalist too, was looking to see what the “scene” was about.  Others just thrown together haphazardly with whatever was at hand, at hand being from the nearest “free” box, the latest offering from some skid row Army and Navy store or whatever somebody straight people had donated for resale at the Sally’s (Salvation Army), who obviously had been at the hash pipe, the joint or had swallowed something not on Doc’s Drugstore list. 

All harmless, mostly. That ne’er-do-well business reflected, including the use of the term, the moral pounding that Markin had taken as a child and teenager from Grandmother Riley about the dangers of drink, about laying around and becoming a wastrel, worse a charge on the state like her own brother before they found him in a dark alley in Boston’s South End and put him in a potter’s grave before the family could find out about what happened. (Markin’s first drink had come via that same grandmother who having had a crippling accident at some time earlier in her life had been house-bound for years and would ask him to go get her prescriptions from Doc’s Drugstore, real name of the place, and so Doc got used to seeing him for her orders. On occasion she would also order a small flask, a pint of whiskey, to have when her sisters came to visit. Although underage Doc would just place the bottle in the same bag as the pills and lotions. One time when he was about sixteen he decided that he wanted to taste what liquor was like and so when he went to Doc’s for the order he added a bottle in. No questions asked. He said that when he drank the stuff, drank the whole bottle with a friend down at Adamsville Beach he was sick for days after). But that was the start of the ne’r-do-well campaign for him although many nights including the night not long along when we were talking about the “1960s wave” that he was befuddled by at first we were sitting in Rummy Jacks’ over in Cambridge sipping whiskeys and scotches. That vagabond thing was something he thought about, maybe more when he saw photographs  which looked like something out of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath with rootless people, old Okie tramps, toothless hags, not well put together, just picking up stakes and heading west. So no Markin was not at all sympathetic to the new migration, to the new consciousness, to that new wave that was sneaking up on us.

Where did it all come from, why was he so adamant about hating that whole scene with a vengeance, of seeing it as a threat even, more importantly, going out of his way to belittle those who were seeking a different way of doing their life’s business, of chilling out before being burned out, including more than one go around with me causing a rift between us for certain short periods. A lot of it had to do with his grandmother, Grandmother Riley (the one who he used to get the medications at Doc’s for) and her worldview. See Markin’s home life was hell (as was mine as well), his mother always on his case, always trying to cramp his style, always saying no to any project he expressed interest in, any request for a couple of bucks, anything, okay and so he sought refuge at grandmother’s house a few blocks away (although he told me once it was more like ten thousand miles away with the quiet and the food that she would provide him, well-made food unlike at home where his hard-pressed  mother was an indifferent cook serving indifferent food). The price he paid for that refuge though was an indoctrination in the small-minded house-bound views of his grandmother. So as the hippie movement surfaced in the media old grandmother would go into her take on the matter for his edification, his edification about drug addicts, ne’er-do-wells, and vagabonds.        

In short as his sainted grandmother, sainted for putting up with a crotchety old grandfather if nothing else, would say the “queer people” and not for their sexual orientation as now because everybody in the old neighborhood knew those kind of queers as “fags,” “light on their feet” or “different” but in the old Irish sense, the sense in which the playwright Brendan Behan used it in one of his plays, the sense instilled in him as well by his mother (nee Riley), she too of the “different” usage passed on from grandmother (to give a true case of that being “different” a guy from the house across from his own, Johnny was “different” since, although thirty-five years old, he still lives with his mother, does not have a girlfriend, expresses no interest in having a girlfriend much less marriage, drinks his drinks at the all men’s tavern across the road and is always when not in the pub going into the South End in Boston to the clubs there. It did not take much even for na├»ve Markin when told these facts how Johnny was different, the “fag”) Meaning more broadly that those who did not profess their faith as often as possible (that faith being the true church Roman Catholic faith and not some heathen Protestant or worse Christ-killer Jewish faith which formed something like the cycle of life around which Markins and Rileys did their daily business. The Sunday masses, the holy days loaded with sweet-smelling incense, the dreaded Saturday confessions, the first communion/confirmation/six other sacraments and a damper around anything that smacked of idolatry), those who did not stay away from the drink, keep clear of the ever-present taverns that dotted the neighborhood landscape more numerous in number than the churches that dotted the neighborhood tempting many a man to part with his hard-earned paycheck  before he got home to his wife and her weekly bill-paying envelopes. (Many a wife stood guard at many a tavern door on payday, usually Thursday when the shipyard was running strong provided many jobs in the area, in order to fill those desperate envelopes although many a husband got wise and would head out of town to do his Thursday night drinking until many a wife got wise and stood guard at the bank to cut many a husband off at the pass. Some husbands though nevertheless spent the paycheck and so every once in a while you would see a neighbor’s apartment in a triple-decker tenement vacated in the middle of the night with everything packed up and gone, including some Jimmy who had become your best friend now gone with no forwarding address.)

Drugs, marijuana or whatever you called it in your neighborhood, cocaine, you know cousin, junk, you know heroin, were beyond mother and grandmother comprehension, were so far from their home tragedies that bringing that up as something to “stay away from” in order to live the good life never would have occurred to them in a thousand years then. That scourge would come later and hit them and the neighborhood with full force, as night time robberies, jack-rolling, and auto theft became rampart as the need for a “fix” moved from the movie screen or a clever book by the likes of Nelson Algren to next door and all subject to some God forsaken whim of some dope feign, those who did not work hard (and often, unlike some transient skid row bums working for daily pay and be quick about it in order to get their hands on a vagrant bottle of booze, taking whatever brainless damn work was available if necessary especially po’boy father’s like Markin’s to the coals mines of Kentucky born and thus in the razzle-dazzle of the greater Boston labor market reduced to last hired, first fired work where he could get it mainly in some outfit loosely affiliated with the old town’s declining shipbuilding industry), or did not  sanctify their lusts with marriage were odd, were outsiders in their own community (and lustful girls too although every boy, every man wanted to touch their satin sheets, hell, their good Catholic linen sheets damned to hell and called whore, whore of Babylon for those who had read their scripture and lustful boys called perverts, called Onan, call seed-spillers and succumbers to wretched linen sheets after some rabid priest called them calamites from the pulpit on high).

So when Markin heard the news, presumably from mother and grandmother, that old junior high school fellow corner boy Timmy Kiley (the star quarterback on the black and red Red Raider high school football team although not considered bright enough to do much more than toss balls, well or poorly, and so reduced to clerkship in his uncle’s downtown North Adamsville clothing store after his high school heroics went silently to some local newspaper grave), high school corner boy Red Kelly (fresh from two years with Uncle seeing hazardous duty in red scare Cold War Germany and not in hellhole hot war Vietnam but the service broke him from that knee-jerk patriotism,  that easy-going Fourth of July and salute the flag that had been handed down from generation to generation since sometime before the Spanish-American war, Teddy’s splendid war, and so when the wave broke, broke in New York City and out in Frisco town first he grabbed onto the damn thing, the wave as we are calling it now and a guy, well, a journalist like Hunter Thompson called it then, called it, sadly, when he saw its ebb and flow hit the ebb tide, damn, like a man struggling for a life-preserver), ditto corner boy Sean Murphy (the pretty boy on the stoop, out in the corner boy night, who got married right out of  high school to the belle of the ball, Sarah Bennett, the senior prom queen until she, and then they, discovered that their projected parent-trap endorsed by Good Housekeeping and expectant grandparents went to an all-night party and got stoned and liked it , liked the idea that they could be close but free of bourgeois convention, a term that was beginning to make the rounds as a sign of disenchantment) and sometime corner boy Bob Stone (heady Bob who had gone out to California in the summer of 1965 after dropping out of college and fully partaking of what was out there after finding a waif woman named Magic Sunshine, high as a kite on mary jane but also high on life, high on folk wisdom that would later turn into a huge industry when the new age turned into the New Age, on Fillmore Street one late night who had actually been to one of Ken Kesey’s acid blow-outs in La Honda, knew the long-running sagas of the magical mystery tour yellow brick road school bus that Tom Wolfe would eulogize in his sociological treasure-trove The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and turned him around, or better as I resurrect the language of the time “turned him on”) had taken up the “queer” life he could not understand why, or what made such things attractive to them.

Couldn’t understand why the discontent, why the infernal searching, why the need to blast the church, and remember which church in case you forgot, and remember too that blasphemous Markin even then had quietly slipped away from church, had taken to spending his Sunday mornings with some heathen for a night woman, thankfully, messing up the sheets and causing any number of hers, since he was still hell-bent on Irish Catholic women, to miss Mass. Forget confession or anything exotic like that but he still hung to the basic feeling of the faith, the basic square-ness of the faith in a faithless world even if only because his future plans, his political plans required at least lip service to the old pieties, could understand why blast the education system for allegedly making them helpless against the big modern current that was ready to crash down on their heads, their parents who did not understand why they were rebelling against the golden American age, against the steel, iron, aluminum world that had bequeathed to them, why it had turned to ashes in their mouths, and worse, worse because he represented the social glue that held the society together, the President of the United States. And for Markin, Markin the born in the manger rising from the ashes guy who expected to ride the political rails to his own worthy future drew the line in the sand at that proposition. Could not see the point, whatever one thought of the war in Vietnam that was also causing his generation to kick up some dust, and he was not quite sure what he thought about that war although he knew when his time came if he was drafted and the war was still on as appeared more and more likely that he would to go just like generations before had done since Markins and Rileys had come to the American shores from the old countries.

See just then worthy college student Markin had it all mapped out, had it figured that he would ride the political whirlwind to get as he said to anything who would listen to him on the corner “get his while doing good in the world,” that first coming from his from hunger existence, from his huge unabated, unquenched wanting habits, the second from some home-spun god Catholic Worker stuff he had read about in school and that his Aunt May  would talk to him about when he went over her house (her house more of a journey and so used less frequently as a refuge since she lived across town in Adamsville proper and that required taking the damn private line bus which never seemed to come when he needed it and so the less frequently) when the whirlwind at home was too fierce for him to combat (and when Grandmother Riley was firmly taking her daughter’s side on those few occasions when that event occurred). So, truth to tell he would rock no boats, would not try to turn over the fig leaf that was holding society together, and decidedly would not call the President of the United States a whoremonger, a baby-killer or oversized baboon with the brain of an amoeba who needed to be castrated, or worse. No, up and coming junior politicians on the make just did not do that in 1965, 1966 maybe forever. Markin already had his mind made up in the summer of love of 1967 when all the social glues were coming undone, when kids his age were shedding good sense, good taste, good lives to become vagabonds in some ill-defined lustful night he fully intended to support the President against the main scourge of the age, one Richard Milhous Nixon who was beginning to rear his ugly head once again. Once again Nixon acting like the beast with five claws ready to do muck to everything it touched. So Markin had no time for fallen corner boys, for dreaming guys who used to have their heads on right, who wanted to say “fuck you” to all that he liked about his America.              

And it was not for lack of asking that Markin could not understand his old-time corner boys (who at some down-the-road point he expected to form the initial cadre for any political operation he was going to run but he was damned if he was going to have dope-addled, long-haired unwashed, what were they starting to call them, oh yeah, hippies and their caravans and love trains ruin his beautiful dream, no sir). A dutiful son of the working-class (and just plain street smart hustler if you thought about the matter), working his way through college by driving a truck on a route through downtown Boston he would after making a delivery at one of his stops on Beacon Street walk across to the tent-festooned Common to search his old corner boys out when possible and try to reason with them (those attempts to reach them, not the reason for doing it part, were done always assuming that he could get a parking spot rather than double-park as was his usual habit but was considered ,well, not good form for  longer than the time it took to deliver his goods and he had a couple of traffic citations to verify the truth of that “not good form”). 

Their arguments however seemed ridiculous to him, or at least did not seem worth the effort, the effort they called “creating the counter-culture” or that was the expression that Sean Murphy, the most intelligent of the tribe and the one that Markin respected the most used to defend the new life-style that Sean and the others and their brethren were embarked upon. The life-style including a new-found disinterest in keeping their hair groomed (which would have shocked Tonio, the barber “up the Downs,” who specialized in one cut, boys’ regular, and had even looked askew at Markin when he, in order not to be completely outside the new generational norm wore his sideburns a little longer like some second-coming of Elvis), growing mustaches and beards (Timmy looking nothing but a scraggly muppet with his chin whiskers which he kept solely because some chick had told him he looked cool that way), wearing what Markin could  only describe as second-hand “Bargie” (a pre-Wal-Mart-type store that sold low-priced, and odd-ball merchandise out of fashion at best), stuff that he, and formerly they, were required out of poverty to wear when they got, or rather their mothers got them their twice-yearly new clothing at the beginning of school and at Easter). The “in” wardrobe stripped pants, frilly-cuffed shirts, holey bell-bottom blue jeans, threadbare sandals, all guaranteed not to hold up for the length of time it would take to become hand-me-downs for younger brothers and outer garments from Jay’s Army and Navy Store, things like World War II army jackets (Markin had to laugh at that one since all his old corner boys with the exception of Red who had already done his military service and so could justifiably wear such garb were committed to opposition to LBJ’s war front, were instinctively anti-military, although all their now befuddled fathers had been through hellhole World War II and yet reached out in desperation to be part of an army, if only Gideon’s), Eisenhower, Jesus, Eisenhower jackets, used (Markin, and they did too, used to run home at noon break in elementary school to watch Big Brother salute old man Ike with a glass of milk, didn’t these guys remember or were the drugs and the life so corrosive that they had lost their memory banks), navy skullcaps (last used one night when they were hungry for dough and had heard about a big house with nobody home had taken what they wanted under such cover), dog soldier army black leather boots (with some poor GIs’  shine so sarge could see himself reflected in the boot’s glory long gone, long gone to rain-pelted muds, wore-out heels from walking as much as hitching out on the great American highway west, long-gone to kicking out the jams if it came to that come some midnight fire festival with magic elixirs, magic bongos, magic kazoos in a pinch, the works).

But the clothing regalia would not end there for everything in the new dispensation had to reflex the new color world explosion, the mauves, violet purples, magentas, tangerines, white blacks, you name it, and in Day-Glo the pigment for the new age a-dawning. The exploded world seen through LSD or mescaline lenses if one could explain to the square or hip alike the colors bleeding in their chemical heads. The mushroom cloud of the new reality splintering visions about twelve different ways (hey, only an estimate could have been fifty or a hundred who knows) so exploding purple apples, orange bananas, magenta pears, and that was just the fruits and even Markin knew they were not fruits like you though just like they were not queer like you and your Irish South Boston/Dorchester/North Adamsville brethren kept harping on but that didn’t save Timmy, Sean and the boys from going under it spell. After a few months, he stopped going over to the national encampment (the guys were tired too of his noise they had once collectively said to him half in jest half in rancor).  See he had met down in Falmouth during that summer of love July a young woman, Jewel Diamond. (Jesus he was tired of all the name changes like changing a name would do the trick to produce a new identity. He respected, at least he thought he respected, those blacks who during this time, those who came out of the extreme end of the black liberation struggle, called the black civil rights movement then but they are both the same thing, who wanted no part of their old slave names and so were X this and X that but white- breads had no such history to eradicate)  Jewel wanted to show her new boy a trip around the world in her bedroom, wanted in too on his soft-shell political dreams (thinking she would be some latter day Jackie O, some White House princess) wanted just like him to have that white picket fence complete with white shingled house, couple of kids, and a dog and wanted to be a step or two ahead of where their parents had left off and so she dreamed with him, while taking her daddy around the world (yeah, she was that kind of girl half-virgin mary, half-whore and half her mother’s daughter), yes, dreaming that dream.    

Now Markin was not so square, or better to say in those days, un-cool, as not to  appreciate that young guys might want to get high, get laid (he could certainly understand that since half, no, nine-tenth of corner boy life was about getting some easy sex from some fox and if not some fox then some young thing who wanted no commitments just like him, better yet get some head, you know, the “toot the root” that a guy could talk a chick into in lieu of having vaginal intercourse with all its dangers, some head like that Jewel from down the Cape could be talked into if you gave her a couple of drinks or if she had taken her medication and had those same drinks which made her speedy), and lay around all day philosophizing about the world and never get beyond cleaning up their tents, if that. (Not that Markin was above a marathon philosophy talk spending many a night talking of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill like they were second cousins but would give the air to Baba Ram Dass, Timothy Leary or even Eric Hoffer when those names came up, pure hippie words in the night madness)

Also Markin could appreciate guys getting out from under mother’s and/or grandmother’s apron strings as he himself had done just the previous year since he and his mother had had their twelve-hundredth argument about when he got home, who he was hanging with, what he was intending to do with this or that girl (no, not the sex thing, Jesus, no, the word was obliterated from the Markin household vocabulary and he had learned whatever he had learned about sex in the streets and on the corners just like his former corner boys who were boffing every girl in sight, and, get this, them, the girls starting things up, starting with that come hither look and their own sexual vocabulary learned in their streets), was he going to settle down and get married  right after college, stuff like that. So no he was no square like that and truth be known, although not to mother or grandmother who would have flipped out, gone wiggy if they knew that he had been with a heathen women, a bloody Protestant girl who he had run into one night at Jack’s, Jacks’ over in Cambridge where some musical infusions were starting to roar up and take the sails out of stogy old folk music that had died years before but if you went into some of the coffeehouses still existed there (although only in that town in homage to some worthy past) you would still get twenty-seven varieties of Bob Dylan covers done off-key (if that was possible with that gravelly voice) or Joan Baez ironing-board haired princesses calling for the world to kumbaya, kumbaya until the next century from what the scene looked like.

Some called it acid rock, some called it flamingo for all he knew but that night high on his Irish whiskey sots she was sitting at the bar, all ethereal, all feathers and fandangos and no bra (no bra a victory for every shy boy who ever tried to unhook some strange virginal girl and get it all wrong and, damn, she had to unhook the damn thing herself), a tent-like dress worn just so, what did she call it when he asked about it, oh yeah, hippie chic. She just in from Fargo just out in the Dakotas having fled some scene that he was not privy to but which made Boston seem like Frisco town thought he, slightly side-burned, lean, with a wicked Boston accent (really filtered neighborhood North Adamsville Irish-flecked accent but to the rubes from Fargo wicked Boston), she having no experience bought his line of patter, gave him some speed and they stayed up all night at his place making love and talking like two magpies. But even Markin knew he was just slumming around the edges of the new dispensation that night since she was there, she was available and she thought he was nice so that hippie chic business should not be weighed heavily in the Markin argument. Who knows she could have, like a later Angelica, Angelica from out in Muncie just been tasting the wares before going back to whatever the Great Society was offering in its turn.                      

See that is where Markin was really at, really just another in a long line of Irish guys, Irish on the cookie-cutter machine guys, guys on the hustle except the hustle played out with him getting his while he was helping the brethren. (Old Aunt May invoked at every turn.) He would eat much crow, eat many words as each new treachery wended  its way around his brain but he was young, was committed to the easy life of an “on the make” politician who would not sell his mother to the highest bidder so he had his virtues since most of the previous generation’s “pols” had done just that. Yeah, the map was set, maybe not in every detail but set. He had already that summer of love although he heard war cry rumblings from the likes of Eugene McCarthy’s tribe and that of his own gangster saint Robert Kennedy hero that they might oppose the President on the war issue, make him pay hell at the polls if he listened to the never-ending requests for men and materials from the generals, committed to LBJ in that eternal fight against the impeding dirty nasty fight that was coming. Had lined up Jewel Diamond (she would have to get rid of that moniker and go back to being Joyell but he would humor her for now, especially since she was quite inventive in bed and had the heart of a princess-warrior then). All he needed as he headed into 1968, all he thought he had to do was get that degree, do his military service if he was drafted, get married (in the church of course, no one would countenance the simple civil ceremony he would have personally preferred) and ride LBJ’s wave into some cushy Washington job and that white picket fence was a sure thing.        

…And then came the notice from his friends and neighbors at the draft board in North Adamsville. Having exhausted his college deferment and with the recent withdrawal of exemptions for law students which would have been his obvious shelter had that route been available he was prime material for induction. Although Markin had softened somewhat on his stand of emphasizing the good parts of the Vietnam War in the fight against world-wide communism and his former adherence to the “domino” theory that if one nation in Southeast Asia fell all would fall which drove all thinking the death of Jack “Bone-Crusher” Maloney who lived down the at the end of his street, a guy with whom he had been a corner boy in junior high school with shook him a little. Still, although no way in hell had he intended to volunteer, enlist as regular Army, given his career plans that were tied up with doing one’s public duty would accept induction if drafted. In those days, now too probably although it no longer has the same cache, military service still counted for guys who aspire to public service careers. In early 1969 while all hell was going on in the country, while people including me were being “chicken shit” busted for opposing the war, or smoking dope, or other random acts of “being free” Markin headed south down to South Carolina for boot camp.  (As for me a couple of serious leg problems derived from childhood illnesses gave me a 4-F status, although it is still an open question whether I would have accepted induction or not since down in Hullsville whatever else they thought or cared about guy did their military service when called so despite the dope and counter-culture the pull of that would have been a factor.)       

Truth. About three or four days after he got down there I got a call from Markin, collect, at my girlfriend’s apartment in Allston where I was staying at the time which I accepted not knowing what the hell was going on. I thought poor clumsy Markin might have hurt himself or something. The gist of the call though had bene that Markin said he had made a mistake, that the whole military thing appalled him and that he, and I quote “was starting to get ‘religion’” about the war, was going back to some deep recess Aunt May Catholic Worker, social consciousness thing inherited through her from some forbears, or something. That night I thought he may have been sincere as far as he had thought it out to that point, although all those endless conversations pointed the other way.
If Markin was sincere what to do about it was another question since he was down south a long way from home and support (support he could have gotten in Boston, one of the true hotbeds of anti-war activity where many were willing to help entrapped GIs figure out a way out. But for the period of basic training and then when he was assigned to Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) he merely refined his sentiments in letters that he would sent to me every few days. That AIT designation meant only one thing-they were training him to be as he put it a “grunt,” or as I put it then “cannon-fodder” and the only place where that “skill” was needed just then was on the China Sea, in Vietnam.        

Among the things that Markin asked me to do in those long ago letters was to get in touch with some Quakers over in Cambridge to see what they thought he could do if he got orders for Vietnam. I did so, hoping against hope that he would not have to go. But at the end of AIT he did receive his orders to report to Fort Lewis out in Washington for transit to Southeast Asia. He was to have a month’s leave before then so he came home and I met him at the airport. He was leaner than when I had seen him last carrying that tell-tale duffle bag over his shoulder. But here is where I realized that he had done some serious thinking, had come part way, so I thought, over to the side of the angels. He was sporting a very busy mustache which Army regulations allowed then (although his unkempt one surely could not have passed muster) AND wearing a new pair of bell-bottomed jeans, a sign of the times.  

But that was the exterior, the look to fit in. Here was his plan. He was the next day going to Cambridge to get some advice from the Quakers about what to do, about how to forestall going to ‘Nam as he now called the place under the influence of those nasty drill sergeants he would tell me about. But that was the surface, the paper chase. Almost before we got out of the airport he made it very plain that he was not going to ‘Nam, no way. Although a look in his eyes told me he knew that there was a long road ahead.
Here is how that road unfolded. The Quakers at that meeting in their counselling center in Cambridge gave him several options, mainly about filing for conscientious objector status through the military. Although possible to apply for that was a very hard road then once you had actually been inducted and made doubly so because the basis of his objection would had to have been centered on his faith, his formal faith, Roman Catholicism which was mired in “just war theory,” and not a basis for discharge. (That “just war theory” was in fact his own position although without the Catholic trimmings, a position that he still holds today, sometimes there is no way around fighting the oppressor except by picking up the gun and that was that with all its contradictions.) But the application was merely a holding action, forlorn as that was. Another part of that option, advised informally, by one of the counsellors and not official policy was to go Absent Without Leave (AWOL) for more than thirty day, or until he had been “dropped from the rolls” at Fort Lewis and then turn himself in at Fort Devens out in central Massachusetts where he could make his CO application. Tactically, and here I admit I pushed him toward that idea, it made sense to work things out close to home and also where GI resistance support work was becoming a central focus to opposing the war. (He felt in tough moments that like those nasty drill instructors told him and his fellow recruits if you got out of line he was bound for some stockade anyway, or at least he recognized from other cases he had read and heard about that place was a possible endpoint) And so he did, did go AWOL for a while, turned himself in at Fort Devens and put in his application which held him there. Held him there until his application was denied, summarily denied on those above-mentioned grounds of not being an absolute objector to war like the Quakers, Mennonites and such. And given orders once again to report to Fort Lewis for transit to Vietnam.                

Even today the rest of the Markin Army story is a little hazy, and anytime it comes up as when the latest American war puts “grunts” at risk for some unknown, maybe unknowable reason, he will dismiss further talk with a simple “I did what I had to do, and I have no regrets about it.” Part of that haziness is that his case bent a little heavy on the legal side since I was not privy to those maneuvers but that decision to stay in the Boston area helped Markin since some people got him in touch with a lawyer and one way or another that lawyer’s work held him at Fort Devens until the legal proceedings in the civilian courts had worked its way to the end. Hazy too though because of the actions Markin had taken while those legal proceedings were working their slow way through the system. Actions done without counseling me but when I tell you what he did you will understand.

All during this period of waiting, and getting a foreboding feeling for where things would lead, lead to some stockade time that he had avoided by being contrite on the AWOL charges Markin was getting more and more serious about his anti-war position and about doing something about it. Something symbolic. Well, he sure did something, something out of the ordinary. The way I heard the story from him later went like this. One Monday morning in the late fall of 1969 when the whole fort, the whole of Fort Devens, was on the main parade grounds for what is called the morning report, basically to see who is and who is not present, not AWOL, after the weekend, Markin walked out onto the field in civilian clothes, those now not new bell-bottomed jeans included, carrying a fairly large hand-made sign-“Bring The Troops Home” for all to see. Needless to say he was quickly pounced on by some lifer-sergeants and eventually taken to the stockade for questioning and to await charges. To make a long story short, Markin spent the rest of time in the Army in that stockade, spent almost two years there, including some time in solitary (not for doing anything wrong but the Army officials were so freaked by his actions, so fearful his actions might spread, that they did not want him mixing in with the rest of the stockade population). He eventually did get out though those slow legal proceedings in civilian court otherwise as he always kids me, he might still be there.              

I was on the West Coast, in San Jose, when I heard that Markin had been released for the stockade in 1971. A couple of weeks later when I came back East and I went over to Cambridge where he was staying with some young Quaker gal whom had taken a fancy to him and he to her (and who I took a fancy to as well, living with her off and on for about a year after Markin left her for Joyce, who would be that frenetic first wife of his, since that Quaker gal was a different breathe of fresh air for both of us but in the end too good and kind for old- time rough and tumble corner boys no matter how we had changed) there he was, a little pale and smelling that faint indescribable smell of prison, growing the first remnants of a beard, letting his hair grow longer, wearing those now fading bell-bottomed denims and a leather jacket somebody had given him.       

As we talked one night a few weeks later about the future both sensing that the effect of trying to turn the world upside down had been ebbing of late I told him this when he tried to dismiss what he had done in the Army to slow the machine down. “But get this, and get it right, Peter Paul Markin has gotten in synch with his generation, in synch with the best of his generation, no, with the very best of that generation.” Enough said.