Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Life And Times Of Michael Philip Marlin – The Club Tijuana

As readers know Tyrone Fallon, the son of the late famous Southern California private operative, Michael Philip Marlin (Tyrone used his mother’s maiden name for obvious reasons), and private eye in his own right told my old friend Peter Paul Markin’s friend Joshua Lawrence Breslin some stories that his illustrious father told him. Here’s one such story.  

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman-with kudos to Raymond Chandler

Los Angeles private investigator Michael Philip Marlin hated to go south of the border, south down into sunny fetid Mexico, faux Mexico really. Tijuana. He hated the squalor he found just over the border after the immigration station told him he was in hablo espanol country. He hated the bracero looks, stares, eternal stares, piercing right through you, from the sun-blackened Mexican fellahin, and the blank stares, the hungry stares from his children. He hated once he entered dusty, disheveled, loud honky-tonk (gringo honky-tonk) Tijuana leaving the two or three streets that made up tourista Tijuana. And most of all he hated what could and could not be sold, cheaply, cheap like the value of human life there. Anything perverse or illegal could be had for a price, and not much, un-bonded whiskey, seven kinds of dope, women willing to do anything, ditto for guys if it came to it and that was your preference, somebody’s sister, hell, somebody’s brother, guns, all the guns you would ever need enough to outfit Pancho Villa’s army if it came to it.

Yes, Marlin hated going south of the border, the smell, the dust, the piss, everything but just then, 1940 just then, he was in need of cash bad since business had been off and he had room rent coming due fast (his landlord had padlocked his office and that room rent loomed large) so he had taken the Addington case the minute he had received it via Detective James Foote his friend on the Los Angeles police force who threw business, non-police business discreet business his way. What was desired by a Mrs. Addington was for a missing husband to be found, found by a woman who had the means and wherewithal to find that errant soul. The fleer, one James Addington, late of New York City Riverside high-end digs via that searching wife, had made the tour of the West Coast cities and as Marlin found out to his dismay had headed south of the border to indulge in whatever he had the price for, mainly primo dope and loose women.

Yes, James had slipped down the class ladder a few rungs after he got the taste for cocaine, got the taste for loose women who hovered around the cocaine pits, and so his life turned to the meccas for such tastes and Marlin had to go south and find out where he was, and whether he was coming home to his waiting wife. So naturally Marlin had to stop at the Club Tijuana (don’t get confused the place was owned by Americans and catered to Americans, no fellaheen need apply) the central place where those trying to make dope connections, or anything else sporting could be found. And Marlin found James, James and his woman, his all Spanish sparking eyes, ruby lips and swaying hips woman, Rosita. After some verbal sparring James told Marlin (without the fiery Rosita present) that he would return to the up and up in New York once he got rid of his jones. Marlowe thought that would be never giving the ragged look of James. He reported that news to Mrs. Addington and, go figure on women, she not only bought the excuse but sent money via Marlin to cover James’ expenses.

Marlin figured that would be that, case closed except that a few weeks later Mrs. Addington showed up Los Angeles to be nearby when James was ready. Marlin was sent to deliver that message.  James no nearer to recovery than previously was peeved at the fact Marlin presented to him about his wife. Rosita was furious. Marlin sensed that no good could come from these quarters after his announcement. And he was right because a few days later, a couple of days after he got back from Tijuana, Mrs. Addington was found in her rented suite murdered, cut up by somebody skilled at knife work. Needless to say despite all the pat alibis down in Tijuana this appeared to be a hit ordered by James (probably pushed on by Rosita), and was probably done by a Mex bad boy who went by the name (in Spanish) of  Mack the Knife.

Once Marlin had his proof he would go up against James, who expected to inherit a big wad of dough for his habits (and to keep Rosita in style). When Marlin had his proof (somebody in Mrs. Addington’s apartment building had seen a bad Mex looking like Mack the Knife in the hallway) he went in for the collar. One afternoon he entered the Club Tijuana where James and Rosita were sitting at a back table in the dark. As Marlowe approached a knife whizzed by him, he turned and shot Mack the Knife point blank. James seeing that was ready to face the music but Rosita took a shot, two shots actually, at Marlin hitting him in the left arm. He responded by throwing a couple of slugs into her heart. Dead. As for James, James recently took the big step-off up at Q for the murder of his ever- loving wife. Marlin thought when he heard the news that damn was another reason to hate Tijuana, hate it bad.
From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-Karl Kautsky (Leader of Pre-World War I German Social Democrats and Second International)- The intellectuals and the workers

...Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and all the better historic leaders of the advanced guard of the international working- class always have depended, and rightly so, on contributions to political clarity by non-revolutionary and apolitical sources. Even sources as here  that later fell by the wayside in the struggle. Kautsky has been rightly vilified in the post-World War I period as a political scoundrel but in his early days they called him the "pope" of the social-democracy and then rightly so too. Read on.


Click below to link to the Revolutionary History Journal index.
Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:

This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover”the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.

Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible. 

The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.

Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the


The intellectuals and the workers

Karl Kautsky (1854-1938), the ‘Pope of Marxism’, wrote the following article when he was the major theoretician of the German Social Democracy. It first appeared in Die Neue Zeit (Vol.XXII, no.4, 1903), the journal which Kautsky edited from 1883 to 1917, and appeared in English in the April 1946 edition of Fourth International.

Part of the very problem which once again so keenly preoccupies our attention is the antagonism between the intellectuals and the proletariat.
My colleagues will for the most part wax indignant at my admission of this antagonism. But it actually exists, and as in other cases, it would be a most inexpedient tactic to try to cope with this fact by ignoring it.
This antagonism is a social one, it relates to classes and not individuals. An individual intellectual, like an individual capitalist, may join the proletariat in its class struggle. When he does, he changes his character too. It is not of this type of intellectual, who is still an exception among his fellows, that we shall deal with in the following lines. Unless otherwise indicated I shall use the word intellectual to mean only the common run of intellectual, who take the standpoint of bourgeois society and who are characteristic of intellectuals as a whole, who stand in a certain antagonism to the proletariat.
This antagonism differs, however, from the antagonism between labour and capital. An intellectual is not a capitalist. True, his standard of life is bourgeois and he must maintain it if he is not to become a pauper; but at the same time he has to sell the product of his labour, and frequently his labour power; and he is himself often enough exploited and humiliated by the capitalists. Hence the intellectual does not stand in any economic antagonism to the proletariat. But his status of life and his conditions of labour are not proletarian, and this gives rise to a certain antagonism in sentiments and ideas.
As an isolated individual, the proletarian is a nonentity. His strength, his progress, his hopes and expectations are entirely derived from organisation, from systematic action in conjunction with his fellows. He feels himself big and strong when he is part of a big and strong organism. The organism is the main thing for him; the individual by comparison means very little. The proletarian fights with the utmost devotion as part of the anonymous mass, without prospect of personal advantage or personal glory, performing his duty in any post assigned to him, with a voluntary discipline which pervades all his feelings and thoughts.
Quite different is the case of the intellectual. He fights not by means of power, but by argument. His weapons are his personal knowledge, his personal ability and his personal convictions. He can attain a position only through his personal abilities. Hence the freest play for these seems to him the prime condition for success. It is only with difficulty that he submits to serving as a part which is subordinate to the whole, and then only from necessity, not from inclination. He recognises the need of discipline only for the masses, not for the select few. And naturally he counts himself among the latter,
In addition to this antagonism between the intellectual and the proletarian in sentiment, there is yet another antagonism. The intellectual, armed with the general education of our time, conceives himself as very superior to the proletarian. Even Engels writes of the scholarly mystification with which he approached workers in his youth. The intellectual finds it very easy to overlook in the proletarian his equal as a fellow fighter, at whose side in the combat he must take his place. Instead he sees in the proletarian the latter's low level of intellectual development, which it is the intellectual's task to raise. He sees in the worker not a comrade but a pupil. The intellectual clings to Lassalle’s aphorism on the bond between science and the proletariat, a bond which will raise society to a higher plane. As advocate of science, the intellectuals come to the workers not in order to co-operate with them as comrades, but as an especially friendly external force in society, offering them aid.
For Lassalle, who coined the aphorism on science and the proletariat, science, like the state, stands above the class struggle. Today we know this to be false. For the state is the instrument of the ruling class. Moreover, science itself rises above the classes only insofar as it does not deal with classes, that is, only insofar as it is a natural and not a social science. A scientific examination of society produces an entirely different conclusion when society is observed from a class standpoint, especially from the standpoint of a class which is antagonistic to that society. When brought to the proletariat from the capitalist class, science is invariably adapted to suit capitalist interests. What the proletariat needs is a scientific understanding of its own position in society. That kind of science a worker cannot obtain in the officially and socially approved manner. The proletarian himself must develop his own theory. For this reason he must be completely self-taught, no matter whether his origin is academic or proletarian. The object of study is the activity of the proletariat itself, its role in the process of production, its role in the class struggle. Only from this activity can the theory, the self-consciousness of the proletariat, arise.
The alliance of science with labour and its goal of saving humanity, must therefore be understood not in the sense which the academicians transmit to the people the knowledge which they gain in the bourgeois classroom, but rather in this sense that every one of our co-fighters, academicians and proletarians alike, who are capable of participating in proletarian activity, utilise the common struggle or at least investigate it, in order to draw new scientific knowledge which can in turn be fruitful for further proletarian activity. Since that is how the matter stands, it is impossible to conceive of science being handed down to the proletariat or of an alliance between them as two independent powers. That science, which can contribute to the emancipation of the proletariat, can be developed only by the proletariat and through it. What the liberals bring over from the bourgeois scientific circles cannot serve to expedite the struggle for emancipation, but often only to retard it.
The remarks which follow are by way of digression from our main theme. But today when the question of the intellectuals is of such extreme importance, the digression is not perhaps without value.
Nietzsche’s philosophy with its cult of superman for whom the fulfilment of his own individuality is everything and the subordination of the individual to a great social aim is as vulgar as it is despicable, this philosophy is the real philosophy of the intellectual; and it renders him totally unfit to participate in the class struggle of the proletariat.
Next to Nietzsche, the most outstanding spokesman of a philosophy based on the sentiments of the intellectual is Ibsen. His Doctor Stockmann (An Enemy of the People) is not a socialist, as so many believe, but rather the type of intellectual who is bound to come into conflict with the proletarian movement, and with any popular movement generally, as soon as he attempts to work within it. For the basis of the proletarian movement, as of every democratic movement, is respect for the majority of one’s fellows. A typical intellectual a la Stockmann regards a “compact majority” as a monster which must be overthrown.
From the difference in sentiment between the proletarian and the intellectual, which we have noted above, a conflict can easily arise between the intellectual and the party when the intellectual joins it. That holds equally even if his joining the party does not give rise to any economic difficulties for the intellectual, and even though his theoretical understanding of the movement may be adequate. Not only the very worst elements, but often men of splendid character and devoted to their convictions have on this account suffered shipwreck in the party.
That is why every intellectual must examine himself conscientiously, before joining the party. And that is why the party must examine him to see whether he can integrate himself in the class struggle of the proletariat, and become immersed in it as a simple soldier, without feeling coerced or oppressed. Whoever is capable of this can contribute valuable services to the proletariat according to his talents, and gain great satisfaction from his party activity. Whoever is incapable can expect great friction, disappointment, conflicts, which are of advantage neither to him nor to the party.
An ideal example of an intellectual who thoroughly assimilated the sentiments of a proletarian, and who, although a brilliant writer, quite lost the specific manner of an intellectual, who marched cheerfully with the rank-and-file, who worked in any post assigned to him, who devoted himself wholeheartedly to our great cause, and despised the feeble whinings about the suppression of one's individuality, as individuals trained in the philosophy of Nietzsche and Ibsen are prone to do whenever they happen to be in a minority - that ideal example of the intellectual whom the socialist movement needs, was Wilhelm Liebknecht. We might also mention Marx, who never forced himself to the forefront, and whose hearty discipline in the International, where he often found himself in the minority, was exemplary.
Karl Kautsky
Free the Class-War Prisoners!-28th Annual PDC Holiday Appeal-Partisan Defense Committee

Workers Vanguard No. 1034

Free the Class-War Prisoners!-28th Annual PDC Holiday Appeal

This year marks the 28th anniversary of the Partisan Defense Committee’s program of sending stipends to class-war prisoners, those behind bars for the “crime” of standing up to the varied expressions of racist capitalist oppression. The PDC’s Holiday Appeal raises funds to send monthly stipends to 21 class-war prisoners and also provides holiday gifts for the prisoners and their families. We do this not just because it’s the right thing to do. The monthly stipends, just increased from $25 to $50, and holiday gifts are not charity. They are vital acts of class solidarity to remind the prisoners that they are not forgotten.

The Holiday Appeals are a stark contrast to the hypocritical appeals of bourgeois charities. Whether it comes from the megachurches of Southern televangelists or the urbane editors of the New York Times, the invocation of “peace on earth and goodwill toward men” at this time of year is nothing more than a public relations scam to obscure the grinding exploitation of workers and the beggar-the-poor policies that are the hallmark of both major parties of American capitalism. The lump of coal in the Christmas stocking for millions of impoverished families this year is a drastic cut in their already starvation food stamp rations. Christmas turkey for many is likely to be sculpted from cans of Spam.

The prisoners generally use the funds for basic necessities, from supplementing the inadequate prison diet to buying stamps and writing materials, or to pursue literary, artistic and musical endeavors that help ameliorate the living hell of prison life. As Tom Manning of the Ohio 7 wrote to the PDC four years ago: “Just so you know, it [the stipend] goes for bags of mackerel and jars of peanut butter, to supplement my protein needs.” In a separate letter, his comrade Jaan Laaman observed: “This solidarity and support is important and necessary for us political prisoners, especially as the years and decades of our captivity grind on.... Being in captivity is certainly harsh, and this includes the sufferings of our children and families and friends. But prison walls and sentences do not and can not stop struggle.”

We look to the work of the International Labor Defense (ILD) under its first secretary, James P. Cannon (1925-28), who went on to become the founder of American Trotskyism. As the ILD did, we stand unconditionally on the side of the working people and their allies in struggle against their exploiters and oppressors. We defend, in Cannon’s words, “any member of the workers movement, regardless of his views, who suffered persecution by the capitalist courts because of his activities or his opinion” (First Ten Years of American Communism, 1962).

Initiated in 1986, the PDC stipend program revived an early tradition of the ILD. The mid 1980s were a time of waning class and social struggle but also a time when the convulsive struggles for black rights more than a decade earlier still haunted America’s capitalist rulers, who thirsted for vengeance. Among the early recipients of PDC stipends were members and supporters of the Black Panther Party (BPP), the best of a generation of black radicals who sought a revolutionary solution to black oppression—a bedrock of American capitalism.

Foremost among these was Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt), former leader of the BPP in Los Angeles. Geronimo won his release in 1997 after spending 27 years behind bars for a murder the cops and FBI knew he did not commit. FBI wiretap logs, disappeared by the Feds, showed that Geronimo was 400 miles away in San Francisco at the time of the Santa Monica killing. Other victims of the government’s deadly Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) remain entombed decades later. Absent an upsurge of class and social struggle that transforms the political landscape, they will likely breathe their last breaths behind bars.

Among the dozens of past stipend recipients are Eddie McClelland, a supporter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party who was framed on charges related to the killing of three members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland, and Mordechai Vanunu, who helped expose the Israeli nuclear arsenal. At its outset, our program included five British miners imprisoned during the bitter 1984-85 coal strike. State repression of labor struggle in the U.S. added to our program, for a time, other militants railroaded to prison for defending their union against scabs in the course of strike battles: Jerry Dale Lowe of the United Mine Workers in West Virginia, Amador Betancourt of Teamsters Local 912 in California and Bob Buck of Steelworkers Local 5668 in West Virginia. (For more background on the PDC and the stipend program, see “18th Annual Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners,” WV No. 814, 21 November 2003.)

The most recent additions to the stipend program include Lynne Stewart and the Tinley Park 5. Stewart is an attorney who spent four decades fighting to keep black and radical activists out of the clutches of the state, only to find herself joining them behind bars on ludicrous “support to terrorism” charges. The youthful anti-fascist fighters known as the Tinley Park 5 were thrown in prison for heroically dispersing a meeting of fascists in May 2012.

At the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, we warned that the enhanced police powers being amassed to go after immigrants from Muslim countries would also be used against the oppressed black population and the working class as a whole. That the “war on terror” takes aim at leftist opponents of this or that government policy is affirmed by the massive “anti-terror” police mobilizations and arrests that have accompanied protest outside every Democratic and Republican national convention, among other gatherings, in recent years. Other recent examples include the FBI-coordinated nationwide crackdown on “Occupy” movement encampments and the state of siege in Chicago during the 2012 NATO summit.

The witchhunt against the Tinley Park 5 coincided with and fed into the hysteria whipped up against the anti-NATO protesters, particularly anarchists and participants in Black Bloc actions. Sitting in jail awaiting trial for 18 months are three protesters set up by a police provocateur. They were arrested and charged under Illinois anti-terrorism statutes, the first time these laws were ever used. Free the anti-NATO protesters! Drop the charges!

Continuing the Legacy of Class-Struggle Defense

The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization that champions cases and causes in the interest of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the Marxist political views of the Spartacist League, which initiated the PDC in 1974. The PDC’s first major defense effort was the case of Mario Muñoz, the Chilean miners’ leader threatened with death in 1976 by the Argentine military junta. An international campaign of protests by unions and civil libertarians, cosponsored by the Committee to Defend Worker and Sailor Prisoners in Chile, won asylum in France for Muñoz and his family. The PDC has also initiated labor/black mobilizations against provocations by the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis from San Francisco to Atlanta to New York to Springfield, Illinois, and mobilized sections of the integrated labor movement to join these efforts.

Cannon’s ILD, which was affiliated to the early Communist Party, was our model for class-struggle defense. It fused the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) tradition of militant class-struggle, non-sectarian defense and their slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all,” with the internationalism of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, a revolution made not merely for the workers of Russia but for the workers and oppressed of the world. These principles were embodied in the International Organization for Aid to Fighters of the Revolution (MOPR), a defense organization formed in the Soviet Union in 1922 that was more popularly known as the International Red Aid.

The ILD was born out of discussions in 1925 between Cannon and Big Bill Haywood, who had been a leader of the Western Federation of Miners and then the IWW. The venue was Moscow, where Haywood had fled in 1921 after jumping bond while awaiting appeal of his conviction for having called a strike during wartime, an activity deemed a violation of the federal Espionage and Sedition Act. Haywood died in Moscow in 1928. Half his ashes were buried in the Kremlin, the other half in Chicago near the monument to the Haymarket martyrs, leaders of the fight for the eight-hour day who were executed in 1887.

The ILD was founded especially to take up the plight of class-war prisoners in the United States. Initially, the ILD adopted 106 prisoners for its stipend program, including California labor leaders Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, framed up for a bombing at the Preparedness Day parade in San Francisco in 1916, and Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, immigrant anarchist workers executed in 1927 for a robbery/murder they did not commit. The number grew rapidly: Zeigler miners in Illinois whose fights over wages and working conditions pitted them head-on against the KKK; striking textile workers in Passaic, New Jersey. The ILD monthly, Labor Defender, educated tens of thousands of workers about the struggles of their class brothers and carried letters from prisoners describing their cases and the importance of ILD support.

Many of the imprisoned militants were IWW members. After a brief membership in the Socialist Party (SP), Cannon himself had been an IWW organizer and a writer for its press. Witnessing the anarcho-syndicalist IWW crushed by the bourgeois state while a disciplined Marxist party led a successful proletarian revolution in Russia, Cannon rejoined the SP in order to hook up with its developing pro-Bolshevik left wing. In 1919, that left wing exited the SP, with Cannon becoming a founding leader of the American Communist movement. He brought a wealth of experience in labor defense. As Cannon later recalled, “I came from the background of the old movement when the one thing that was absolutely sacred was unity on behalf of the victims of capitalist justice.”

In the year preceding the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti, the ILD and sections of the International Red Aid led mass actions in their defense, including protests and strikes of tens of thousands on the eve of the executions. The SP and pro-capitalist union tops undermined the growing workers mobilization by looking to the political agencies of the class enemy, a policy accompanied by a vicious anti-Communist campaign of slander and exclusion. Cannon addressed the two conflicting policies:

“One policy is the policy of the class struggle. It puts the center of gravity in the protest movement of the workers of America and the world. It puts all faith in the power of the masses and no faith whatever in the justice of the courts. While favoring all possible legal proceedings, it calls for agitation, publicity, demonstrations—organized protest on a national and international scale.... The other policy is the policy of ‘respectability,’ of the ‘soft pedal’ and of ridiculous illusions about ‘justice’ from the courts of the enemy. It relies mainly on legal proceedings. It seeks to blur the issue of the class struggle.”

— “Who Can Save Sacco and Vanzetti?” (Labor Defender, January 1927)

The principle of non-sectarian, class-struggle defense has guided our work, in particular our more than two-decade struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. As a small organization, we don’t pretend that we are able to mobilize the type of hard class struggle that not only built the unions in this country but also harnessed the social power of the working class to the defense of labor’s imprisoned soldiers in the class war. Such struggles are today a very faint memory. Nor do we want to distribute rose-colored glasses through which even the most minimal stirrings against particular atrocities by the racist capitalist rulers appear as sea changes in the political climate—a practice that is common fare for sundry proclaimed socialists.

Instead, we are dedicated to educating a new generation of fighters in the best traditions of the early Communist defense work before it was poisoned by Stalinist degeneration. As Cannon wrote for the ILD’s second annual conference: “The procession that goes in and out of the prison doors is not a new one. It is the result of an old struggle under new forms and under new conditions. All through history those who have fought against oppression have constantly been faced with the dungeons of a ruling class.” He added, “The class-conscious worker accords to the class-war prisoners a place of singular honor and esteem.” Keeping the memory of their struggles alive helps politically arm a new generation of fighters against the prison that is capitalist society. We urge WV readers to honor the prisoners by supporting the Holiday Appeal.

The 21 class-war prisoners receiving stipends from the PDC are listed below.

*   *   *

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther Party spokesman, a well-known supporter of the MOVE organization and an award-winning journalist known as “the voice of the voiceless.” Framed up for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Mumia was sentenced to death explicitly for his political views. Federal and state courts have repeatedly refused to consider evidence proving Mumia’s innocence, including the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot and killed the policeman. In 2011 the Philadelphia district attorney’s office dropped its longstanding effort to legally lynch America’s foremost class-war prisoner. Mumia remains condemned to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Leonard Peltier is an internationally renowned class-war prisoner. Peltier’s incarceration for his activism in the American Indian Movement has come to symbolize this country’s racist repression of its native peoples, the survivors of centuries of genocidal oppression. Peltier was framed up for the 1975 deaths of two FBI agents marauding in what had become a war zone on the South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation. Although the lead government attorney has admitted, “We can’t prove who shot those agents,” and the courts have acknowledged blatant prosecutorial misconduct, the 69-year-old Peltier is not scheduled to be reconsidered for parole for another eleven years! Peltier suffers from multiple serious medical conditions and is incarcerated far from his people and family.

Eight MOVE members—Chuck Africa, Michael Africa, Debbie Africa, Janet Africa, Janine Africa, Delbert Africa, Eddie Africa and Phil Africa—are in their 36th year of prison. After the 8 August 1978 siege of their Philadelphia home by over 600 heavily armed cops, they were sentenced to 30-100 years having been falsely convicted of killing a police officer who died in the cops’ own cross fire. In 1985, eleven of their MOVE family members, including five children, were massacred by Philly cops when a bomb was dropped on their living quarters. After more than three decades of unjust incarceration, these innocent prisoners are routinely turned down at parole hearings. None have been released.


Lynne Stewart is a lawyer imprisoned in 2009 for defending her client, a blind Egyptian cleric convicted for an alleged plot to blow up New York City landmarks in the early 1990s. Stewart is a well-known advocate who defended Black Panthers, radical leftists and others reviled by the capitalist state. She was originally sentenced to 28 months; a resentencing pursued by the Obama administration more than quadrupled her prison time to ten years. As she is 74 years old and suffers from Stage IV breast cancer that has spread to her lungs and back, this may well be a death sentence. Stewart qualifies for immediate compassionate release, but Obama’s Justice Department refuses to make such a motion before the resentencing judge, who has all but stated that he would grant her release!

Jaan Laaman of the Ohio 7



Jaan Laaman and Thomas Manning are the two remaining anti-imperialist activists known as the Ohio 7 still in prison, convicted for their roles in a radical group that took credit for bank “expropriations” and bombings of symbols of U.S. imperialism, such as military and corporate offices, in the late 1970s and ’80s. Before their arrests in 1984 and 1985, the Ohio 7 were targets of massive manhunts. The Ohio 7’s politics were once shared by thousands of radicals, but, like the Weathermen before them, the Ohio 7 were spurned by the “respectable” left. From a proletarian standpoint, the actions of these leftist activists against imperialism and racist injustice are not a crime. They should not have served a day in prison.

Ed Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa are former Black Panther supporters and leaders of the Omaha, Nebraska, National Committee to Combat Fascism. They are victims of the FBI’s deadly COINTELPRO operation, under which 38 Black Panther Party members were killed and hundreds more imprisoned on frame-up charges. Poindexter and Mondo were railroaded to prison and sentenced to life for a 1970 explosion that killed a cop, and they have now spent more than 40 years behind bars. Nebraska courts have repeatedly denied Poindexter and Mondo new trials despite the fact that a crucial piece of evidence excluded from the original trial, a 911 audio tape long suppressed by the FBI, proved that testimony of the state’s key witness was perjured.

Hugo Pinell, the last of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, has been in solitary isolation for more than four decades. He was a militant anti-racist leader of prison rights organizing along with George Jackson, his comrade and mentor, who was gunned down by prison guards in 1971. Despite numerous letters of support and no disciplinary write-ups for over 28 years, Pinell was again denied parole in 2009. Now in his late 60s, Pinell continues to serve a life sentence at the notorious torture chamber Pelican Bay SHU in California, a focal point for hunger strikes against grotesque inhuman conditions.

Jason Sutherlin, Cody Lee Sutherlin, Dylan Sutherlin, John Tucker and Alex Stuck were among some 18 anti-racist militants who, in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park in May 2012, broke up a gathering of fascists called to organize a “White Nationalist Economic Summit.” Among the vermin sent scurrying were some with links to the Stormfront Web site run by a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon. Such fascist meetings are not merely right-wing discussion clubs but organizing centers for race-terror against black people, Jews, immigrants, gays and anyone else the white-supremacists consider subhuman. For their basic act of social sanitation, these five were sentenced by a Cook County court to prison terms of three and a half to six years on charges of “armed violence.”

Contribute now! All proceeds from the Holiday Appeals will go to the Class-War Prisoners Stipend Fund. This is not charity but an elementary act of solidarity with those imprisoned for their opposition to racist capitalism and imperialist depredations. Send your contributions to: PDC, P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013; (212) 406-4252.


Note that this image is PVT Manning's preferred photo.

Note that this image is PVT Manning’s preferred photo.

Reposted from the American Left Historyblog, dated December 1, 2010.

Markin comment:

I like to think of myself as a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, an organization committed to social and political defense cases and causes in the interests of the international working class. And an organization committed, at this time of the year, to raising funds to support the class-war prisoners’ stipend program through the annual Holiday Appeal drive. Unfortunately having to raise these funds in support of political prisoners for many years now, too many years, as the American and international capitalist class and their hangers-on have declared relentless war, recently a very one-sided war, against those who would cry out against the monster. Attempting to silence voices from zealous lawyers, articulate death row prisoners, anti-fascist street fighters to black liberation fighters who ended up on the wrong side of a cop and state vendetta and anti-imperialist fighters who took Che’s admonition to wage battle inside the “belly of the beast” seriously. Others, other militant fighters as well, too numerous to mention here but remembered.

Normally I do not need any prompting in the matter. This year, however, in light of the addition of Attorney Lynne Stewart* (yes, I know, she has been disbarred but that does not make her less of a people’s attorney in my eyes) to the stipend program, I read the 25th Anniversary Appeal article in Workers Vanguard No. 969 where I was startled to note how many of the names, organizations, and political philosophies mentioned there hark back to my own radical coming of age, and the need for class-struggle defense of all our political prisoners in the late 1960s (although I may not have used that exact term at the time).

That recognition included names like black liberation fighter George Jackson, present class-war prisoner Hugo Pinell’s San Quentin Six comrade; the Black Panthersin their better days, the days when the American state really was out to kill or detain every last supporter, and in the days when we needed, desperately needed, to fight for their defense in places from Oakland to New Haven, as represented by two of the Omaha Three (Poindexter and wa Langa), in their better days; the struggle, the fierce struggle, against the death penalty as represented in Mumia’s case today; the Ohio 7 and the Weather Underground who, rightly or wrongly, were committed to building a second front against American imperialism, and who most of the left, the respectable left, abandoned; and, of course, Leonard Peltier and the Native American struggles from Pine Ridge to the Southwest. It has been a long time and victories few. I could go on but you get the point.

That point also includes the hard fact that we have paid a high price, a very high price, for not winning back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when we last had this capitalist imperialist society on the ropes. Maybe it was political immaturity, maybe it was cranky theory, maybe it was elitism, hell, maybe it was just old-fashioned hubris but we let them off the hook. And have had to fight forty years of rear-guard “culture wars” since just to keep from falling further behind.

And the class-war prisoners, our class-war prisoners, have had to face their “justice” and their prisons. Many, too many for most of that time. That lesson should be etched in the memory of every pro-working class militant today. And this, as well, as a quick glance at the news these days should make every liberation fighter realize; the difference between being on one side of that prison wall and the other is a very close thing when the bourgeois decides to pull the hammer down. The support of class-war prisoners is thus not charity, as International Labor Defense founder James P. Cannon noted back in the 1920s, but a duty of those fighters outside the walls. Today I do my duty, and gladly. I urge others to do the same now at the holidays and throughout the year. The class-war prisoners must not stand alone.

Friday, December 20, 2013

From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-The case of Fenner Brockway (1930s Socialist- Britain)
...the Marxist movement has at certain historic moments drawn a multifarious array of adherents, some episodic, other historic like Lenin and Trotsky. Lord Brockway (and the lord was operative here in his political trajectory) did his share to muddle affairs in British left-wing politics in the 1930s. Worse he ran from the defense of a fellow left-winger, Leon Trotsky, was being hounded across the world. Essentially under a death sentence. Brockway had no clue that an injury to one is as injury to all. He was, unfortunately, not alone in that time when the crimes of Stalin needed to be exposed. But alone or in a crowd his name should leave a bad taste in every left-wing militant's mouth.   

Click below to link to the Revolutionary History Journal index.

Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:

This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover” the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.

Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible. 

The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.

Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the


The case of Fenner Brockway

Fifty years ago the third and most grotesque of the Moscow trials was staged. Once again the small forces of the Trotskyist movement were mobilised against the mighty propaganda machine of the Kremlin, the communist parties and their venal fellow travellers.

This was to be expected. But to make matters worse, the attempts to refute the allegations made against Trotsky in all of the trials were hampered by those who, whatever their political differences with Trotsky, may have been expected to have defended him against the Stalinists’ slanders. One such character was Fenner (now Lord) Brockway, a leading member of the Independent Labour Party, who refused either to support the Dewey Commission in Mexico or the British Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky. His refusal to take a firm stand against the slanders did not, however, spare the ILP’s co-thinkers in Spain, the POUM, from being massacred by the GPU.

The following critique of Brockway’s evasions was written by Hilary Sumner-Boyd under the pen-name of Charles Sumner, and appeared in the July 1937 edition of the British Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky’s Information Bulletin. Sumner-Boyd was secretary of the Committee and a leading member of the Marxist League.

At its annual conference in March, the Independent Labour Party passed a resolution on the Moscow trials which stated that “It is imperative that there should be an impartial investigation by representative socialists who have the confidence of the working class”, and that the investigation “should analyse both the detailed evidence given at the trials and the full reply which it is understood Leon Trotsky intends to publish shortly”. It is greatly to be feared that one member of the national council of the ILP at least – Fenner Brockway – has not been loyally carrying out this resolution. The subject at issue, which in the last analysis involves the character of the present government of the Soviet Union and the prospects of the world revolution, is so important, and the instructions of the annual conference of the ILP so clear, that it is necessary to establish the facts definitely in order that the members of the ILP may judge the matter for themselves.
Fenner Brockway’s connection with the proposed enquiry into the Moscow trials has all along been extremely ambiguous. In August, directly after the Zinoviev trial, the New Leader (28 August 1936), of which Brockway is the responsible editor, wrote: “We think it is the duty of the International Working Class Movement to appoint a Commission of Investigation. It should visit Trotsky in Norway, and also ask permission to visit Moscow and examine the evidence given at the trial.” A few months later, however, Brockway refused to sign the Open Letter (Manchester Guardian, Herald, etc., 1 December) appealing for such a Commission of Enquiry, although it bore the signatures of Brailsford, Horrabin and other working class leaders. Brockway has, moreover, consistently refused to have anything to do with the British Trotsky Defence Committee, which exists for the purpose of furthering an investigation of this kind. Apparently Brockway recoiled before the virulent campaign of slander carried on by the Communist Party against all who dared to question the evidence presented at the trials.
Then came the United Front Agreement, the programme of which expressly forbade all criticism of the Soviet Union and the policy of its Government. At this point Brockway's conduct, as it appears, became positively disingenuous. It seemed likely by this time that the efforts of the Committees in various countries, and especially in America, for an investigation into the trials, would be rewarded by the establishment of an International Commission of Enquiry. Brockway hastened to write to Norman Thomas, leader of the Socialist Party of the United States and a member of the American Trotsky Defence Committee, urging that a Commission of Enquiry be established, not to investigate the Moscow trials, but to examine “the role of Trotskyism in the working class movement”. An investigation of the Moscow trials, according to Brockway, would “merely arouse prejudice in Russia and Communist circles”!!! Now at the same time that he was making this preposterous proposal to Thomas, he also wrote to George Novack, secretary of the American Committee, proposing a Commission to enquire “into the charges against Trotsky”. Thus to the Committee officially Brockway makes one proposal, while to Thomas privately he makes a quite different and incompatible one. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in this case Brockway was playing a double game. (The implications of Brockway’s proposal to Thomas are fully examined in Trotsky’s article which appears in this Bulletin.)
In spite of Brockway’s efforts to draw a red herring across the path, an International Commission of Enquiry was shortly afterwards established. Towards this Commission of Enquiry Brockway has consistently taken up an equivocal and dishonest attitude. He has himself perfectly expressed this in a letter of 9 April to the British Committee, in which he says: “We are prepared to collaborate with the Enquiry, but don’t use the word ‘endorse’ as that would be going too far”. Thus he does not “endorse” the Commission with which he is “collaborating”! This is the most frivolous temporising, unworthy of any serious revolutionary. It is cleat that Brockway is once again taking shelter behind his well-known opportunism: if in the future he thinks it advantageous to come out strongly against the Moscow trials, he can always point to his “collaboration” with the Commission; if, on the other hand, he continues to flirt with the Communist Party, he can declare that he never “endorsed” the Enquiry.
In order to elucidate the position as far as possible, the British Committee on 1 May addressed to Brockway the following questions:
1. Is the ILP and the International Bureau prepared to send a delegate to the Commission? If not, in what concrete forms do these organisations envisage their ‘collaboration’. 2. Are the ILP and the International Bureau prepared to accept the verdict of the Dewey Commission? (An impartial enquiry whose verdict is not unequivocally accepted by the organisations which ‘collaborate’ with it, is of course completely useless.) 3. As part of its ‘collaboration’ is the ILP prepared to give the widest publicity within its power … to the proceedings and the report of the Commission?
For nearly a month no reply was forthcoming. Then on 28 May, Brockway wrote and answered the first two questions in the negative, the third not at all – and at the same time doing his best to maintain his opportunist position by offering to “provide evidence” to the Commission. Except for the testimony of a few individuals like Maxton, Paton and Smith, which has already been given, it is difficult to see what “evidence” the parties adhering to the International Bureau could give. This offer is clearly a sop.
One reason only is offered why the International Bureau is unwilling to support the Commission of Enquiry (which Brockway persists in calling “American” as contrasted with “International”, presumably in order to make it appear less representative, although its personnel is in fact international). The reason given is that ”a disastrous mistake has been made in initiating the enquiry through a committee which describes itself as a ‘Committee for the Defence of Trotsky’” since this will present an “argument to those who condemn Trotsky which it will be impossible effectively to meet”. This contention is at once specious and disingenuous. To begin with, it is untrue that the Commission was initiated by the American Trotsky Defence Committee. The Commission was organised by the co-operative action of all the national Committees for an enquiry into the trials. Such committees exist not only in New York and London, but also in Paris, Antwerp, Prague and other European capitals. Since Brockway attaches so great an importance to the name, we ask him to note that the French Committee is called the Committee for an Enquiry into the Moscow, Trials, while those in Prague and Antwerp are known as Committees for Justice and Truth. In addition to these special committees, the American Socialist Party – affiliated to the Second International – and the Italian-American Anarchists also took an active part in setting up the Commission. When it had been agreed that the enquiry should be held in New York – in order to be within easy reach of the chief witness, Trotsky – the major part of the work of organising the Commission inevitably fell upon the American Committee, aided by the Socialist Party and the Anarchists. The fact that the enquiry is being held in the USA also explains the great preponderance of Americans serving on it, just as the personnel of its sub-commissions in Europe is largely composed of European representatives of working class organisations. Thus Brockway’s assertion that the Commission was initiated by the American Committee is simply false
Even supposing, however, that it were true, the contention that because it is called a committee for the defence of Trotsky it would provide “an argument to those who condemn Trotsky which it would be impossible effectively to meet” is utterly dishonest. In the first place, any commission of enquiry into the Moscow trials, as Brockway himself has pointed out, “will merely arouse prejudice in Russia and Communist circles” – and in all other circles which are willing to condemn Trotsky unheard. Secondly, how could this argument be more effectively met than by the International Bureau and its affiliated parties officially taking part in the enquiry, and thus giving it a still broader and less “partisan” basis? If Brockway and the Executive Committees which he represents were sincere in their desire to “collaborate” with the Commission and to get at the facts behind the trials, this is clearly the course they would have pursued. Thirdly, it is surely irrelevant by whom the Commission is initiated. The guarantee of its impartiality, and the criterion by which the working class movement will judge it, are to be found, first, it its own personnel – and Brockway himself was compelled in the New Leader for 9 April to pay the highest tribute to the unchallengeable probity and passion for justice of the members who had so far been decided upon – second, in the full reports of its public proceedings and examination of evidence, and third in its final summing up and verdict. To judge it on any other grounds is the part of the enemies and not the friends of truth. Finally, the verbal objection to the name “Committee for the Defence of Trotsky” is sheer casuistry. Neither logically nor psychologically does it imply a conviction of Trotsky’s innocence, but only a conviction that he may be innocent – and this is obviously required of any impartial committee. It is an age-old principle of civilised justice that no one is to be adjudged guilty until he has been given the opportunity to state his case before a properly qualified body, that is, before he has had a chance to present his defence. Even those who plead guilty are in civilised countries allowed defending counsel. But Trotsky has pleaded not guilty; and there are those – though apparently Mr Brockway is not one of them – who are not convinced that the case against him was proved beyond reasonable doubt at the Moscow trials, and who are therefore anxious to hear him state his case and to act in his “defence” in order to arrive at whatever may ultimately prove to be the truth.
These considerations are so clear that they cannot have escaped the subtle mind of Fenner Brockway. It is greatly to be regretted that he chose to disregard them and to act in a way that is at best cowardly and at worst dishonest. Now the GPU has transferred its activities to Spain and threatens the life of Brockway’s political allies in the POUM, Brockway has gone to their defence. But if he had come out courageously in support of the investigation into the Moscow trials, and had used his influence to secure for the Commission of Enquiry the support of the ILP and the International Bureau, it is more than possible that the GPU would not have dared, in the face of the indignation of the revolutionary working class, to use in Spain the methods which have brought about the Russian Thermidor.
Charles Sumner

***Out In The 1940s Crime Noir Night –Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s “Key Largo”

DVD Review

Key Largo, starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore, and Claire Trevor, Warner Brothers, 1948

“One Johnny Rocco, more or less, in the world is no business of mine.” So says one world-wise, world weary, been-through- the-mill ex-World War II military man, Frank McCloud (played, understatedly, by one cinematic 1940s tough guy, Humphrey Bogart) in the film under review, Key Largo. And he was right, dead right that a single guy , a single guy singed by life’s pitfalls could, would, or should take on one more hoodlum in this wicked old world.

But, of course dead right or not, this would be an exceedingly short film if Frank threw in the towel when he faced one real live Johnny Rocco hoodlum (played to a sleazy tee by serious 1940s gangster-type Edward G. Robinson). Moreover I set up the last paragraph to see if those who follow crime noir in all its glory were paying attention. Crime noir, for the one hundredth time, no, the one thousandth time, is based, for good or evil, on one premise, crime at the end of the day does not pay. And criminals must pay, either forfeiting their lives or doing one to ninety-nine in stir, the can, prison, okay.

And so world-weary, world wary, seen it all Frank McCloud must once more call on the better angel of his nature to eradicate one very live Johnny Rocco. Let’s give a few plot details to flush on this story and see why Frank had to bust up some two-bit racketeer. One Johnny Rocco and his courtly entourage of petty thugs decided to hit Key Largo, specifically the Key Largo Hotel, off-season, maybe to save a little dough on the room rates. No, no, no to make a score off of some counterfeit dough hot off the presses that his old crony Ziggy will pass off as real kale. But see Johnny has a problem because although a few years back he was king of the hill up in the Midwest he has been deported as, if you can believe this, an undesirable alien and has been cooling his heels in anything goes Batista-era Cuba waiting for his big comeback. So this deal, real dough for fake (at a serious discount of course) brings him back to old Estatos Unidos, well, Key Largo which is only a stone’s throw from Cuba.

And everything would have been fine except just then one ex-serviceman, our friend Frank McCloud, who happened to have been the hotel owner’s (played by Lionel Barrymore) killed in action son’s commanding officer in the European Theater, decided to stop by and commiserate on his way to Key West. And everything would have been very fine if a big blow, a hurricane, did not also gum up the works forcing everybody (everybody except the Native Americans left to fend for themselves during the storm) into the claustrophobic hotel lobby area where the frayed nerves of all were exposed.

Naturally since old Johnny had all the guns, all the gunsels, and a very nasty disposition when he was crossed he was hands down the winner, right. No, no you were not paying attention. See a dame, well, actually two dames, come in to muck things up. No femme fatales here though, just Nora (played, very understatedly by Lauren Bacall), who was married to the owner’s deceased son and is pretty easy on the eyes. While the sparks between Bogart and Bacall do not light up the screen like they did in To Have And Have Not they go for each other. So Frank’s hands off the world approach is doomed, doomed big time, if he wants to get anywhere with Ms. Nora. And then there is Johnny’s lush girlfriend, Gaye, who old Johnny does not treat right, no way. Add a slap or two to Nora by Johnny and Johnny is doomed, doomed big time. RIP. Thus there is, whether it makes any different in the great mandela in fact one less Johnny Rocco in the world. Got it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

***The Life And Times Of Michael Philip Marlin – Yeah, Trouble, Trouble With A Big T

As readers know Tyrone Fallon, the son of the late famous Southern California private operative, Michael Philip Marlin (Tyrone used his mother’s maiden name for obvious reasons), and private eye in his own right told my old friend Peter Paul Markin’s friend Joshua Lawrence Breslin some stories that his illustrious father told him. Here’s one such story.  

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman-with kudos to Raymond Chandler

As Michael Philip Marlin, Los Angeles’ rough-edged, hard-nosed, no nonsense windmill- chasing (skirt-chasing too) private eye drove up the main driveway of the vast Jeter estate, yes, those Jeters the ones who made fortune in the LaBrea tar sands oil money racket, he was trying, desperately trying to remember where he had heard or seen that bit about the rich, the very rich actually being different from you and me. As he turned up in front of the massive mansion named La Strada (they always names their estates something, something European as if to put paid to the point that they had made it) he finally remembered it was F. Scott Fitzgerald in a book he had read a few years back.

He also remembered that the rich, the very rich, were not so very different from you and me when it came to crime, crime all the way up to murder. What was different is that they could afford, easily afford, the fee in his case to hush it all up and go on about their business. And since the private eye business, like everything else in the year 1939, was slow he was glad for a chance to make some office rent dough to get along for another month. He just wondered what kind of nastiness he was supposed to hush up this time, not murder, not from what he had heard through his police grapevine but something that needed hushing if it required his services.    

As Marlin entered old Jeters’ study, the guy who had actually made the money that got these digs, make the money walking over a mountain of human bones, including a couple of suicides when things got tough in 1929,  he saw the living corpse that was what was left of one Herman Jeters.  Human wreck or not, apparently he was feisty enough to want no trouble left surrounding his name before he passed on. Passed on and left his fortune to an errant son who seemingly was hell-bent on spending every last dime on wine, women, and song.

Oh yeah and some high-end gambling too which is what had old Jeters disturbed. Apparently young Jeters, Jeff, had run up a sizable debt at Marty Bennett’s casino over in Santa Monica up the Pacific Coast Highway, something like 50k, and Marty, purely for professional pride and for good business practice was squeezing the old man for the dough. On top of that a dame, wouldn’t it figure, had her hooks into the young pup, planned to marry Jeff and live in splendor. Old Jeter had her down as just another gold-digging whore who had to be paid off like the previous times. So Marlin was on the case, on top of what a rich man wanted done when he had his wanting habits on.   

What the old man did no tell Marlin was that this dame, Leslie Lamour (yeah this was Hollywood remember and just the kind of name which Susan Smith or Jane Jones took when she stepped off at Vine Street from Omaha or Davenport), was something to look at, something that he would take a run at himself if he got the slightest encouragement. She was in any case not in the market to be bought off for chump change, particularly since she was working with Marty Bennett on this Jeff project but also because old man Jeters had been the cause of  her father’s suicide back in ’29. Yeah, this case was not going to be the walk over Marlin thought.   

First off things got just a little bit complicated when somebody put two, two slugs, into Jeff Jeter’s chest and stuffed him in a closet in Leslie’s apartment. That left a big hole in Marlin’s job since now there was nothing and nobody to negotiate with. Marty was out big dough and Leslie was down for the count now that Jeff was by-by and so she was back on cheap street. Of course, while it was not strictly in the line of business, trouble business or otherwise Marlin was more than helpful in helping Leslie get over her loss. (Yes she had an alibi, airtight, and so no snooping cops were going to pin the crime on her even if it was her closet, maybe especially because it was her closet.) They shared a few nights of satin sheets at her place while Marlin figured out who was going to do the big step- off for young Jeters murder.

And Marlin did figure it out, figured it out pretty quickly once he found out that Marty was head over heels for Leslie and got so daffy that he let his emotions get the best of him. He had hired Jeff’s chauffeur to do the deed and so Marlowe had to go mano y mano with the chauffer. Well not exactly hand to hand since that chauffer tried like hell to drill Marlin with a sweet .38. Marlin plugged him dead, very dead, to give the state its best shot at Marty. So Marty was left holding the bag, no more than the bag since he was the last anybody heard scheduled for the big step –off at Q for the Jeters murder. Leslie, well as Leslies everywhere will do, she walked away from whole thing leaving Marlin with nothing but a lingering sandalwood trail to remember her by. You say you never heard about all of this, about the Jeters murder. What did I tell you before the rich, the very rich are different, very different from you and me. The whole thing had the big hush on it, and I mean big.           
all- radical caroling time is here, and its on!

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22nd, 2:00-4:00 p.m. @ BOSTON COMMON, Park Street Station – RAIN or SHINE –

please take your feet to the street and join us as we raise our voices to raise awareness around issues of social un-justice, economic exploitation, political oppression, environmental degradation, and general havoc-reeking practices known as “the holidays” and capitalism.

 our playlist focuses on questioning capitalist and holiday norms practices. the cheatsheet for the street songbook with all of the lyrics, and the flyer, are available from our event page (you can join there or email me directly) :

for those new to radical caroling and street art actions:

what happens?

this is an open event, anyone may join us at anytime. we will be singing, signing, and playing instruments.  there will be homemade percussion for kids, songbooks to share, lyrics written on large poster boards and infosheet handouts (explaining our message and providing alternative practices) for those passing by who are interested.

why bother?

many folks simply don’t know the whole story, bringing knowledge to the streets, in the form of satirical (and hopefully enjoyable) art, can get folks to stop, listen, contemplate a message, it can alter how and what they see, and possibly reconsider the choices they make.  i remember not knowing i HAD a choice, actually didn’t  even realize i was actively MAKING a choice…until folks educated me.  so basically we learn, we share, we learn, we share, and we attempt to create change. and we have fun.

this is a kid friendly event and we aim to be accessible to ALL who wish to participate.  so if you have the knowledge to spin, the voice to raise, the freedom to join and the time to spare to spread the good word of building a more fair and just world for all-then lend your voice and SING!

in solidarity-  karan
End-of-the-Year Reflections on Drawing the Court Martial of Chelsea Manning-Deb Vanpoolen

Note that this image is PVT Manning's preferred photo.

Although Private Manning vs. the United States was one of the most important trials in US history, no cameras were allowed inside the courtroom.  Without cameras in the courtroom, the world’s masses of people impacted by the Wikileaks releases could not be properly informed of the proceedings.  In the three years following the Wikileaks releases and Manning’s arrest, the mainstream US media provided miniscule coverage of anything to do with Private Manning, including her entire three-year pre-trial confinement and the two years of pre-trial hearings.   Thus, before the court martial began, I saw a dire need for alternative media as well as ordinary citizens to daily attend and closely report on the trial so that quality information about the historic trial was accessible to as many citizens of the whole world as possible.

Although I had virtually no experience in courtroom sketching, I predicted that my portrait drawing skills might prove useful in communicating images from the courtroom to the public.  I arranged my life (found a work-trade/rental situation providing massage, cleaning, and gardening services in exchange for rent) so that I could attend each day of the court martial which began in the first week of June and lasted until the third week in August, 2013.  I taught myself how to use a smart phone’s internet hot spot, a portable scanning device, the Picassa computer program, and Facebook and Twitter accounts so that I could immediately upload images during breaks in the courtroom proceedings. 

Throughout the summer’s proceedings, I experienced a huge spectrum of emotions.  I was deeply impressed by the way Private Manning held her professional, intensely attentive composure throughout each day of the trial.  She was almost always sitting on the edge of her seat, focused on each word that was spoken in the courtroom. Every single time one of the defense team prepared to speak, Manning flipped the switch which turned on the defense team’s microphone.

I was deeply inspired and encouraged by the opening and closing statements of David Coombs as well as the statement Chelsea Manning read on the final day of the trial.  I was very happy upon hearing the amazingly articulate testimony of Professor Benkler who schooled us all on the “aiding the enemy” charge’s potential to wield a fatal blow to freedom of the press in the US.  The day Benkler testified followed several days of ridiculous, nauseating prosecution witnesses who claimed—under oath--that national security was harmed by Manning’s actions.  When Benkler appeared, my heart leapt for joy because it recognized that truth had been resurrected (after a few days of hellish defeat) inside the Ft. Meade courtroom!  I was nauseatingly angry on the day the prosecuting attorney Ashden Fein spent over five hours giving his highly repetitive and mind-numbingly boring closing statement (which resulted in Coombs’ closing statement being postponed until the next day, when much less press was present).

I was also very moved by the following testimonies:  Lauren McNamara who spoke regarding Manning’s transgender desires; Debra Van Alstyne, who described her interactions with Manning as her aunt who offered Manning nurturing shelter at key times in her life; and Casey Manning, Chelsea’s older sister, who described Chelsea as a wonderful, loving, and dearly missed sibling.  I cried throughout the testimony of Casey Manning as the unceremonious courtroom was transformed by the presence of undeniable, sisterly, strong love between Casey and Chelsea Manning.

David Coombs often met with Manning supporters after the proceedings and I deeply valued each word he shared with us about Manning’s well-being and about the intricate developments of case.  He was consistently very warm and appreciative of our presence, as well as open to answer any questions we asked.  I was also thrilled to meet and work alongside of some of the very hard-working lawyers, journalists and activists who were regularly attending and/or commenting on the case:  Alexa O’Brien, Michael Ratner, Cornel West, Chris Hedges, Medea Benjamin, Debra Sweet and Ray McGovern.

The large group of Manning supporters, dubbed the “truth battalion” by David Coombs, was not only supportive of Chelsea, but also of each other.  Each day I went to Ft. Meade, I was fascinated to observe who else came to the proceedings and to learn where they were from and what exactly motivated them to support Chelsea by silently sitting in the courtroom.  Many supporters--whether they came just for a couple days of proceedings or were regular attendees--acknowledged me and thanked me for my work covering the trial.  The supporters, most of whom donned “truth” t-shirts for the day, were very friendly, intelligent, and informed.   Almost each day of the trial there were at least ten Manning supporters sitting in the courtroom and many days over thirty supporters were in the courtroom with another twenty in the overflow trailer.

I attempted to draw each witness who testified, even if they were on the stand for just a few minutes.  Throughout the summer, in between the times of witness testimony, I drew several portraits of Chelsea, David Coombs and Judge Denise Lind.   The drawings from the trial, as well as some watercolor portrait paintings of Manning, can be viewed at the following link:  Four of the images are available as limited edition giclee’ prints and can be ordered via the website.