review of

Peter Werbe's "Summer on Fire, A Detroit Novel"


2161. "review of Peter Werbe's "Summer on Fire, A Detroit Novel" "

- the complete version of my review

- credited to: tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

- published on my "Critic" website March 27, 2023


review of

Peter Werbe's "Summer on Fire, A Detroit Novel"

by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 22-27, 2023

For the complete review go here:


1st off, I want to say that I learned some things of importance to me from reading this & that its being in novel form helped me be entertained at the same time. I'm giving this bk a 4 star rating, wch is positive, & I want the reader to understand that I liked & value it. I'm starting off this way b/c much of what follows is a bit critical & I don't want the reader to think I'm writing off this bk or its author.

Whenever I review something I'm likely, or 'inevitably', going to bring something to the review that 'filters', i.e.: influences, it. In this case, it cd be something as 'simple' as personal experiences of Detroit &/or the tales of other friends' personal experiences there. Wd that it were so simple. Since the yr that's central to this bk's tale is 1967 & since I was alive then, albeit younger than the author, my memories of that time are going to influence what I get out of the bk. E.G.: Werbe mentions music of the time, bands that played at the Grande, & most of these are bands that I listened to as well so there's some shared territory there. Given this shared territory that means that I make comparisons between my own experience & those recounted by the author. That helps me gauge how realistic I think the story is.

Most importantly, I'm an anarchist & so's the author. Given that I try to avoid divide-&-conquer traps that also means that even when I'm critical I don't want to write off the author's POV (Point Of View) b/c I want to respect the diversity of anarchist opinions. That's where it gets tricky b/c I can be a very fractious person - it seems that even in my simplest most affable form I find myself in conflict w/ my fellow humans. SO, I approached reading this bk & I approach writing this review w/ some trepidation b/c I am, after all, a CRITIC, a highly unpopular type of person but someone who tries to mean what they say instead of just saying what other people want to hear, but also someone who wants to further many or most of the causes presented in the story.

What I'm getting at, before I even get to the bk under study, is that reading about these subjects in novel form creates a whole different set of problems for me than reading about them in non-fiction form. I prefer Alexander Berkman's "Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist" or Ann Hansen's "Direct Action - Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla", both of wch I took to be fairly honest & straight-forward accts of political activism of a nature I haven't personally participated in, to reading a fictionalized acct of any activism, regardless of whether it's similar to my own or not.

In my review of my friend Spat Cannon's fictionalized activist autobiography "Press Here and it will all Make Sense" I wrote:

"The problem w/ reviewing a friend's bk is simple: if you give it a good review, everyone's happy, the author's happy, the friendship becomes even stronger, life is good. But, for me, life is never simple, to me, writing the obligatory good-review-of-a-friend's-bk does intellectual standards a disservice. An honest review is what the world needs, not more bullshit.

"DON'T MISUNDERSTAND: I am not giving this bk a bad review, the review might be more critical if I didn't know Spat, if we weren't friends, but, basically, I'm not giving it a bad review, I'm giving it a complicated one, one that acknowledges that I'm reading this from a somewhat deeply invested perspective & that that investment dominates the reading.

"For one thing, this 'novel' is thinly disguised autobiography. People who know Spat will know this from the get-go. While Spat waxes philosophical & introspective in his guise as "Max Sutton", the narrator, for me the writing of it as 'fiction' gives it a strange feel of avoidance at times. I think I wd've preferred it as straight-forward autobiography. Of course, writing it as 'fiction' makes the interpersonal aspects less embarrassing & revealing for all concerned. Hence, it's perfectly reasonable for it to be fictionalized. Spat can tell the truth w/o having his fellow travelers feel too betrayed."

- truncated review: [the full review is no longer available online]

Now, I don't know Peter Werbe personally, we've had some sparse email communication & that's it. Therefore, I'm not likely to know who the fictionalized characters are or to be critical of those fictionalizations. Therefore, the 'problem' that I might have w/ Werbe's bk might be closer to those that I had w/ Jacob Wren's "Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed":

"But what was perhaps the most thought-provoking aspect of reading this (& others of its activist-novel ilk) was the question of: WHAT DO I THINK ABOUT WRITING NOVELS ABOUT POLITICAL ACTIVISM AT ALL? Most of my own political writings are deliberately non-fictional - they don't purport to represent "the whole truth & nothing but the truth" b/c I find such a notion to be highly problematic - but they DO attempt to be accurate & w/ my own opinions & experiences transparently displayed. In other words, I don't purport to believe in 'objectivity' but I do try to not LIE or GLAMORIZE, etc.. - & here's where the problem of fictionalization of activism comes in. 

"I was interested in this B/C it's a fictionalization of an activism that may be somewhat close to the anarchist activism that my own political activities have been primarily connected to. But what I wonder is: does the fictionalization of activism open the gates to people living in fantasy worlds instead of actually BEING activists? I think of things like Arnold Schwarznegger starring in the Philip K. Dick based "Total Recall" - no doubt many an enthusiast of revolution has cheered on Schwarznegger's character in this while paying to see a movie that enriches the coffers of a man whose actual politics are never likely to come anywhere close to those of Dick's character (at its most revolutionary). In other words, activism & revolution, once displaced into fiction, run the risk of becoming escapist fantasy - no matter what the author's intention."


But that doesn't quite apply here either. What might apply more is my wondering whether I'd find the novel 'bourgeois', in 'disguise' as anarchism - wch doesn't mean that I have any strong basis for expecting this to be the case. SOO, I'll explain why this possibility wd be tickling my backbrain (sounds uncomfortable doesn't it?!). Werbe is a member of the editorial board of <i>Fifth Estate</i> magazine. Fifth Estate has been around since 1965 & is currently called an "Anarchist Review of Books". I 1st encountered the term "anarchist" or "anarchism" or "anarchy" when I was 16 yrs old in 1969 or 1970 & realized that I was an anarchist. I became aware of anarchist (a)periodicals in the 1980s when I was publishing & trading frequently. I'm sure I wd've known about Fifth Estate by then, probably the mid-'80s at the latest.

But, for whatever reason (or lack thereof), I never had much interest in Fifth Estate. I think it seemed somehow too 'mainstream' for me, I was based in Baltimore where the oldest anarchist activity that I was aware of was Social Anarchism & their associated radio program The Great Atlantic Radio Conspiracy. I only have 3 publications by them in my extensive personal library: the "Winter, 1980 Vol. 1, No. 1" issue, the "Volume 3, Number 2 1983" issue, & "Research Group One Report No. 25". The latter being the one most appealing to me b/c it has a sense of humor & an imaginative design. Still, all in all, Social Anarchism was too academic for me. My life at the time that I discovered Social Anarchism was extremely different from what I took to be the lives of their writers & editors. It was hard for me to relate. I remember writing a hand-written letter to them questioning whether they cd be so staid & still represent anarchists. I was working hard labor construction & getting drunk & partying fairly constantly, taking risks in my life & still managing to be constantly creative. The Social Anarchism crowd seemed so safe in contrast. I imagine that I seemed like a cliché to them. I don't think they ever replied.

I remember talking w/ one of their younger staff at the 1986 Haymarket Centennial in Chicago, proposing that I collaborate w/ them, & he replied in exactly the bourgeois way I expect saying that he didn't think we'd be compatible or some such. He was vvvveeeerrrrryyyyy straight & I was very much the opposite. Still, I considered collaborating w/ Social Anarchism b/c I figured we were all BalTimOre-based anarchists. The point here, vis à vis Fifth Estate is that when I was talking w/ a fellow Pittsburgh anarchist recently about them she sd they never interested her very much b/c they seemed so academic. In other words, she had a similar reaction to my own.

The anarchist (a)periodicals that I had the most interest in were the ones where I felt like I cd trade w/ the editors, where there were no grammatical or spelling rules to reign in one's writerly imagination. To quote from my review of Brian Gentry's "Adventures in Ontological Dissonance - or Why I Have No Money".

"Perhaps Anarchy & Fifth Estate seemed too much like commercial products. I've had the closest connection to the anarchist magazines that I published:

"DDC#040.002 & Street Rat(bag)

"to the ones that I contributed to the most:

"Factsheet Five, Popular Reality [was that anarchist?], & Reality Sandwich

"& to a few others that didn't have the longevity of Anarchy & Fifth Estate that may or may not've been entirely anarchist:

"The Monthly Me@nder, Mad Woman, Krylon Underground, Black Eye, Awake! - the second yearly report of !po-po!, Guinea Pig Zero, Green Anarchist, & at least a few others.

"Ones that were also known to me that I never contributed to were: Love & Rage, The Match, Eat My Shit, a New England based publication inspired by Lysander Spooner, an Appalachian-based Earth First type publication, etc.. At this point, there're too many whose names I've forgotten."


Fifth Estate provides a "Manuscript Style Sheet" that they expect 'submissions' for publication to adhere to. Below is an excerpt from that:

"Manuscript Style Sheet

"Manuscripts should be submitted in 12pt Times New Roman, 1.5-spaced between lines, flush left. We prefer them in Microsoft Word, but will accept and consider all formats including typescript and handwritten.

"No indentation; the InDesign desktop publishing program has an auto indent function which will be screwed up by any in the manuscript.

"No underlined words; use ital. Book and publication titles in ital; articles and movies with quote marks.

"Single space between sentences; no space between paragraphs. Do not use bold for anything in the text. Use ital sparingly for emphasis; never use capital letters for this.

"No use of Post Office abbreviations in text. Michigan is Mich., not MI; California is Calif., not CA."


To me, that "style sheet" is authoritarian & antithetical to creative anarchist writing. No Concrete Poetry allowed? In their "Writer's Guidelines" they state: "The Fifth Estate accepts articles, essays, reviews, fiction, and poetry. We strive to maintain a tone in FE that is engaging and informative to all readers. To that end, we seek writing that is plainly written, free of jargon, and in a non-academic style." ( ) To me, these rules are akin to the popular notion that all working class writing must have a small vocabulary b/c 'working class people are stupid & borderline illiterate'. Well, I'm working class & if all the writing that I ever read was by people like Charles Bukowski I'd find it awfully depressing.

Restrictions such as the above-quoted "No indentation; the InDesign desktop publishing program has an auto indent function which will be screwed up by any in the manuscript" are perfect examples of what I call the effects of AU (Artificial Unintelligence). Instead of doing the work to over-ride the limitations of the app they use the editors choose to restrict the contributors to the limits of the app instead. The omnipresence of algorithms is creating this effect on a vast scale. A movie that I made called "List4n" (on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here: - on the Internet Archive here: ) calls attn to the limits of AU vs the human mind insofar as the synthetic voice that reads the text is unable to make adaptive leaps that the human mind can. Another relevant movie of mine is called "Artificial Unintelligence" (on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here: - on the Internet Archive here: ).

I make a distinction between academic & scholarly that the FE staff apparently don't: academic means towing the line of 'correct procedure' that's taught to people, it's something that one is expected to conform to if one wants to 'make the grade'. Scholarly is something that backs up its assertions by referencing other sources - Ivan Illich is a great example of a scholarly writer whose superabundance of footnotes might be extremely off-putting to lazy readers.

Fifth Estate, to me, is conventionally journalistic at a meta-level that's important, again, to me, to scrutinize or, at least, take into consideration. In Peter Werbe's "Take the Big Stuff" article quoted below he states that "This newspaper has concentrated its observations on the hippie, new left, and avant garde community it serves." Note the presence of "avant garde". I find that interesting since there's nothing particularly avant garde about FE that I've noticed. Conventional journalism is written at an 8th grade reading level in order to be readable to the 'masses' - whether it's the mainstream newspapers or the underground ones. Alas, that's also the approach of TV 'News'. Ultimately, such LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) 'reporting' tends to reinforce a simple-mindedness that's more susceptible to propaganda.

SOOO, as you've obviously figured out, I have a less-than-enthusiastic attitude toward Fifth Estate & knowing that this novel is written by one of the editors I was immediately wary. In their 1st issue, it's stated:


by Harvey Ovshinsky

Fifth Estate # 1, November 19-December 2, 1965

"There are four estates, the fourth of which is journalism. We are the fifth because we are something different than Detroit's other newspapers. We hope to fill a void in that fourth estate a void created by party-controlled newspapers and the cutting of those articles which might express the more liberal viewpoint. That's what we really are­the voice (I hate that word) of the liberal element of Detroit. This does not mean that everything in the paper will be slanted or written with the so-called "far left" creeping through every space. We want to be a truly free press. If it's good, if it has a name, and if it's sincere, it will be in the Fifth Estate. If not, you can probably find it in the News.

"There is no editorial because this paper does not have a policy. I may have personal bias and certainly will print it but not here and not in an editorial. If I want to say something, it will be in a column. This paper is only a sounding board for new ideas, events that would need and do not get proper publicity. Letters to the Editor not published in the News or Free Press can be printed in our letter column. We will be labeled radical, socialist and communist. But you can call us just "honest". It's what were going to try hard to be."


Now I respect that statement, esp the "you can call us just "honest"" but you'll notice that anarchist doesn't enter into it, they self-define as "liberal". That was 1965. The novel's main action takes place in 1967 & Fifth Estate is described throughout as anarchist. SOOOO, one of my 1st 'duties' as a reviewer here is to check whether Fifth Estate was identifying itself as "anarchist" in the summer of 1967.

""Get the big stuff"

by Peter Werbe

Fifth Estate # 35, August 1-15, 1967

""The chickens are coming home to roost"

-Malcolm X, Nov. 22, 1963

"Malcolm was right, of course, and the chickens have come home so many ways since that grim day four years ago. Vietnam, Malcolm's own death, riots across the country and now the biggest chicken of them all-the Detroit riot.

"Detroit always does things up in a big way.

"The destruction, looting, killing, and violence have been chronicled to such an extent that no repetition is necessary here.

"This newspaper has concentrated its observations on the hippie, new left, and avant garde community it serves.

"The geographical center of that community-the Warren Forest area near Wayne University-was relatively untouched by the holocaust.

"The Fifth Estate office at Warren and John Lodge was unharmed as were the adjacent offices of the Artists' Workshop, Trans-Love, Energies, and the Detroit Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Our newspaper office sported a "soul brother" sign and two large banners were hung from Trans-Love reading "Peace on Earth" and "Burn, Baby, Burn."

"Hippie and political residents of the Warren Forest area reacted to the situation just like their poorer neighbors-they took whatever wasn't nailed down."


Looking thru other places in the issue I find no mention of anarchy. I didn't read the whole thing so it's possible I missed something. Under "Staff" I found Fifth Estate listed as a "Member, Underground Press Syndicate". Maybe I'm pressing too fine a point here but I'm doing so b/c my personal impression is that explicitly stated anarchism didn't really rear its head, after its early 20th century suppression, until the 1970s & even more strongly the 1980s. But reading "Summer on Fire" gives the impression that it was going strong, in Detroit at least, by 1967. It seems possible to me that this is a rehistoricization, not necessarily one w/ an ulterior motive behind it, & that that can be misleading.

There was a plenitude of "Underground" newspapers in the 1960s & 1970s. I'd tend to lump contemporaneous Fifth Estates in that category rather than as necessarily anarchist. BalTimOre had harry, the earliest issue of that that I have is "Volume 1, Issue 12 - April 17, 1970". harry self-identified as "The Baltimore Underground Journal", such papers were consistently anti-war, pro-hippie, pro-free-love, pro-pot-&-LSD, anti-establishment but probably NOT anarchist. I don't think that the concept of "anarchist" had much usage at the time, maybe I'm wrong, people considered themselves to be "radicals", "hippies", maybe "Marxists", maybe "Socialists", maybe "Communists".

Nonetheless, in the online footnotes for the novel, it's stated that:

"Chapter 8

P. 45 Paul and Michele's cat was named after anarchist militia leader, Buenventura Durruti who died in the Spanish Civil War and Revolution (1936-1939) fighting against fascism."

It's not clear to me whether that means that the fictional characters' fictional cat is named after an anarchist or whether the people that the characters are an almagam of had such a cat so-named. I take it to mean that this is fictional. Furthermore, another footnote states:

"P. 56 The women of the Red Brigade named their affinity group after the American anarchist and feminist, Emma Goldman."

Again, I take this to be a reference to the fictional "Red Brigade" of the novel. The actual "Red Brigade", aka Brigate Rosse, was a militant Italian Marxist-Leninist group that was founded in 1970 & that weren't, as far as I know, anarchist. To me, the use of the name "Red Brigade" by Werbe for his group of 1967 protestors as well as his having them have an "affinity group", a concept that I don't remember entering protests until the late 1990s at the earliest, AND having a protest group w/ the same name as a Leninist group that didn't exist yet while having the 'affinity group' named after an anarchist comes too close for comfort to me to a rewriting of political history to creating a role for a type of anarchist that didn't actually exist yet. I object.

"["]I handed off my knapsack with 'em to Charlie, the guy with the anarchist A on everything he owns.["]" - p 61

Was there such a person in 1967? It's possible but I think it's, once again, fictional. There's a fine line between writing something fictional & rewriting history for ulterior motives that create a false mythical narrative that features anarchist heros that didn't exist at this point in time.

But enuf of such introductory analysis. Werbe provides an online "footnotes" ( ) that's useful for providing greater historical accuracy than is presented in the fiction. E.G.: I love the music of Tim Buckley & that music went thru at least 4 distinct phases so I pd special attn to mentions of him. Werbe writes this:

""It was a great show. I loved Tim's 'Get On Top,' she giggled. "I don't know why we left last week's poster on the fridge."

"She tossed the poster designed by their artist friend, Gary Grimshaw, into the trash. No recycling then, or collecting them as art." - p 33

Regarding a July 22, 1967, concert:

"Tim Buckley finished his set to great roars of approval with "Move With Me" and "Sweet Surrender."" - p 132

Those specified songs were a source of minor irritation to me while I was reading "Summer on Fire" b/c they're all from the 1972 album, his 7th, entitled "Greetings from L.A.", what I think of as the 1st of his 'funk-rock' records & the beginning of his 'musical downfall' as far as my tastes go. For me, the musical style & simple-mindedness of the lyrics were in keeping w/ the use of drugs that Buckley ODed on on June 29, 1975. I liked the preceding album, "Starsailor" much, much more. The more likely songs that Buckley wd've performed at that time wd've probably been from "goodbye and hello", his 2nd album, recorded in June, 1967, & wd've been dramatically different musically & lyrically. The lyrics wd've been more characteristic of the introspective poetry of 1967 & had some social content. "Greetings from L.A." was more about fucking & was basically all love songs w/ no social content. ANYWAY, Werbe's online footnotes explain:

"The Grande Ballroom line-up of the Grateful Dead and Tim Buckley is accurate, taken from the Concert Data Base where all of the concerts there are noted. However, Tim Buckley's song, "Get on Top," didn't appear until his 1972 LP, "Greetings from LA." Another case of me playing fast and loose with insignificant details in order to tell the fictional parts of the story in an interesting manner."

I don't think of those details as "insignificant" at all since they're jarringly inaccurate to people who know the music. It's significant that Buckley sang an anti-war song on "goodbye and hello" but didn't on "Greetings from LA".

It might be worth noting that Werbe signed the copy he gave me in trade for one of my bks. He wrote:

"to tENT ­ Can't stop; won't stop! Best Wishes Peter Werbe"

I admit, I'm touched by this, Peter doesn't know me &, for all I know, might disapprove of my highly individualist lone wolf anarchism - still he chose to write a spirited friendly signing for wch I'm appreciative.

Detroit might be more notorious for its racial conflict than any other city in the US. I can only remember driving thru there once, long ago, maybe in 1986. I remember young black males throwing bricks at our somewhat decrepit car: a white man, a white woman, & a Chinese guy inside. Oh, well. Being from Baltimore, a predominantly black city, I got to see plenty of racial conflict 1st-hand, but in 1967 my family was living in what had started out as a somewhat rural area of Baltimore County, about a mile away from the city limit. When we moved there the Baltimore Beltway wasn't built yet but it came soon thereafter as did increased suburbanization & white flight.

Many or most of the people who moved into the new houses were escaping crime in the city but not all of them were racists. In my own tiny neighborhood there was a white gang who committed burglaries & tortured animals, etc - so they brought their own crime w/ them. When they were caught, they were forced to move to separate areas in order to break up the gang & black people bought their homes - they, too, were escaping crime in the city. Some of the whites who were most scared of the blacks then moved away & more blacks moved in. My mom & stepdad were the last white family left after awhile. As far as I know, the crime was never as bad as it had been when the original white flight families were there. Even that time was complicated b/c one of the gang members who was my neighbor loved Jimi Hendrix & The Fugs. Go figger, go fugger. This gang of 4 young teenagers didn't have any blacks or jews, the 'traditional' targets, to terrorize on our small dead-end street & they just HAD to pick somebody based on ethnicity so they picked a Greek family. What on Earth wd they've done if we'd all been Aryans? I'm sure that sock color or some such thing wd've been found to be objectionable.

"Ten years earlier, the anti-war group would not have been able to afford the McKerchey Building rent, and it is doubtful whether the front desk security would have even allowed the motley collection of students, radicals, and peace activists into the building.

"By 1967, however, its professional tenants had abandoned it for shiny, modern suburban offices, part of the mass migration of white people out of the city. The building's elevators had ceased working several years earlier, leaving no tenants above the fourth floor where the project office was located. Their space rented for $45 a month, sent to a suburban post office addressed to Box Holder. There was no security or janitorial staff." - p 2

There're no footnotes for page 2 so I'll assume that that info is accurate. I had a friend who lived in the Time-Warner building in Detroit 30 yrs or so later & he had some fabulous rent like $100 in what had previously been a fancy corporate bldg. The white flight of Baltimore never reached anything close to that that I know of. There were former business bldgs for rent but they were more decrepit & had higher, but still lower than elsewhere, rents. I rented the 5th floor of the Fred S. Lisberger bldg on Baltimore St in the heart of downtown Baltimore in what had been the garment district (a little of wch still lingered on), 4500 square feet for $450 a mnth in 1992. That didn't have a working passenger elevator either but that was b/c it was shut down when someone was murdered by being pushed into the elevator shaft shortly before I moved into the bldg. I had to walk 119 steps up & down from my floor & it was very dangerous outside at night b/c of the drive-by shootings & other acts of violence.

"The union did not realize that the initial exodus of factories from the city was the tip of the spear that would later send production across the globe, leaving tens of thousands of Detroiters without employment. A suburban housing boom of ticky-tacky tract homes made easily accessible by a new system of freeways that mowed down sections of traditionally Black neighborhoods, combined with racist lending policies, began emptying out the city of white people.

"White flight and corporate flight eroded the city's tax base so significantly that the only white people remaining were mostly those without finances to flee. Demolition of homes in deserted neighborhoods left hundreds of acres of empty land in the city, making it almost as ready for farming again as it was in the 18th century.

"The overall mood in the city was grim. The Motor City was redubbed Murder City because of its high homicide rate, along with a dramatic increase in crime, all typical of what happens when poverty is forced on a population." - p 11

"Sarah's face was drained of color. "That was Will Gardner, the Detroit News reporter who likes us. Three people from the Socialist League just got shot at Harrington Hall down the street by a crazed right-winger, and the guy said he was coming over here next to finish off the commies."" - p 5

"Exasperated, Mick exploded. "So, we have to run away because some right-wing jerk-off is armed and we're not? The Fifth Estate office is an armed fortress, but here we're sitting ducks."" - p 6

The relevant footnote online:

"P. 5 The shooting of three socialists occurred on May 16, 1966, more than a year before the fictional setting in the novel. The victims, members of the Socialist Workers Party, were Leo Bernard, who died, and Jan Garrett and Walter Graham who were seriously wounded. The shots were fired by a right-wing assassin at Debs Hall, the Detroit headquarters of the Party, on Woodard Avenue and Selden.

I changed the names since I didn't want to give the authoritarian socialist organization publicity, plus I moved the shooting event to a later date. However, all three victims deserve to be honored for their suffering, particularly Leo Bernard. The party paper is The Militant, referred to in the novel as The Hammer. The actual publication gives an account of the shooting."

""Fuck," exclaimed Paul. "Those Trotskyists in the Socialist League hate the Fifth Estate. If they ever got political power like the Bolsheviks, they'd do to us what the commies did to the anarchists and the rest of their opposition back then."

""Really?" Mick said with disgust. "You're going to debate politics from 50 years ago when two people we know, who work with us in the anti-war movement, need blood to survive? Fuck you, I'm going down there to give blood."" - p 8

I appreciate Werbe's way of presenting this conflict, I identify w/ both Paul's & Mick's arguments.

Werbe generally seems to be honest by presenting the main characters as somewhat bourgeois, if such realism had been missing by presenting them as revolutionary super-heros the novel wd've been unbearable to me.

"At 3 a.m., the couple lay sleeping on their backs, fingers entwined, naked in the 80-degree heat. Suddenly they were jarred awake by the music of The Bar-Kays' "Soul Finger" blasting at a volume louder than if they were playing it in their room.

"Looking out the window, they saw a man casually walking down the street in front of their place with a huge boombox on his shoulder, living up to its name.

"Paul went to the window, shouting at the man who so severely interrupted their sleep. "Hey, man, turn that goddamn thing off. It's three in the morning!"

""Fuck you," came an angry, defiant reply. Paul, for an instant thought about his 12-guage under the bed. No jury would convict me, he thought. Michele pushed him back onto the sheets. "Go to sleep. He's three houses down already."

"An hour later they were awakened again. This time by gun shots and police sirens." - pp 16-17

The next section to be quoted is a bit strange for me as I'll explain after.


""The fuck you gotta call me by my slave name when you know I don't go by that anymore?" the man responded, obviously not pleased about being referred to by what he saw as a past identity. "My name is Malik al-Faez. Is that so fucking difficult for you?"

""I'm sorry, man," Paul said in earnest. "I'm just glad to see you. I knew you for a long time with your other name. It just slipped out. Sorry. Really."

""That's OK" Malik softened. He was glad to see Paul as well. They had been classmates in Detroit's Central High School ten years earlier, and stayed friends even after Paul was permanently expelled and the then-Lucius Thompson went on to graduate first in his class." - p 19

I attended senior high school from 1968 to 1971. Whites were in the majority there but there was a sizeable black population that mostly kept to themselves. I had one black friend who I tried to visit at her house after I graduated from high school. Her father made it very obvious that people like myself were not welcome. Another white anarchist friend of mine went to an otherwise all-black high school in Baltimore, maybe in the late '70s. He told me that not a single student talked to him EVER the entire time he was there. Were things that different in Detroit in 1957?

"The peace groups feared any act of vandalism or violence could be used as a pretext for the police to declare the march an unlawful assembly and disperse it. They also suspected the police would use provocateurs, either from their own ranks or from petty criminals they kept on a tether.

"To forestall this, as well as tactics such as ones unbeknownst to them that Paul and Malik were planning, or from attacks by a local fascist group, the coalition organized a squad of 200 Peace Marshalls trained in enforcing non-violence." - p 26

Ah, & here's where it's easy for me to find this realistic (although 200 is a large number of marshalls). I remember being at a pro-Mumia demonstration in downtown Pittsburgh & seeing a scruffy black guy start to harrass the speaker from the sidelines. He seemed to fit the bill of "petty criminals they kept on a tether" nicely. Fortunately, the demo attendees were quick to accuse him of being a provocateur for the police & he left pretty quickly.

"three Black men, a little older than the mostly youthful crowd, two with big Afros, and all wearing colorful dashikis, abruptly stepping into the Red Brigade ranks. They were shouting, "Off the Pig," and "Power to the People."" - p 53

Any large-scale protest will probably have at least one (probably more) undercover cop / provocateur whose purpose is to give both the cops & the 'news' an excuse for character assassinating the overall cause. It happens again & again &, as far as I know, continues to work to this day as a police strategy despite people knowing about it for at least 56 yrs (actually much longer).

"Although Detroit is viewed as the birthplace of progressive unions like the UAW and featured the largest NAACP chapter in the country, a white homeowners' movement dedicated to opposing residential racial integration was the biggest organization ever created in the city." - p 28

"The Black Legion, a white supremacist militia group, operated in the city at the same time, terrorizing Blacks, Jews, and union organizers, after splitting from the Ku Klux Klan that it felt wasn't militant enough. The FBI estimated its Midwest membership at 135,000 with public officials among them including Detroit's police chief. They are reputed to have killed as many as 50 people." - pp 28-29

Alas, there's no relevant online footnote about the above. I'm wondering what the actual name of the "Black Legion" was. SOOOOO I looked for it on Wikipedia &, Lo & Behold!:

"The Black Legion was a white supremacist terrorist organization which was active in the Midwestern United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It split off from the Ku Klux Klan. According to historian Rick Perlstein, the FBI estimated that its membership numbered "at 135,000, including a large number of public officials, including Detroit's police chief." Historian Peter H. Amann put the number at between 60,000-100,000, while John Earl Haynes said that it [had] at most only a few hundred members. In 1936, the group was suspected of having killed as many as 50 people, according to the Associated Press, including Charles Poole, an organizer for the federal Works Progress Administration.

"At the time of Poole's murder, the Associated Press described the organization as "A group of loosely federated night-riding bands operating in several States without central discipline or common purpose beyond the enforcement by lash and pistol of individual leaders' notions of 'Americanism'." Based on testimony which was heard during the trial of Poole's killer, Dayton Dean, Wayne County Prosecutor Duncan McRae conducted a widespread investigation and prosecuted another 37 Legion men who were suspected of committing murders and assaults. All of them were convicted and sent to prison. These cases and associated negative publicity resulted in a rapid decline in Legion membership. The sensational cases inspired two related films, one starring Humphrey Bogart, and two radio show episodes which were produced from 1936 to 1938." -

SHEESH! Thank you, Peter Werbe, for exposing me to this. It's 'interesting' that Wikipedia classifies the Black Legion as a "political movement". Somehow, that seems like a euphemism to me. The Bogart movie is called "Black Legion" (1937) & "Legion of Terror" (1936), made on the same subject, was also called "The Murder Mob". "Black Legion" was the 1st movie Bogart had a starring role in.

"Before lying down, he grabbed the latest issue of The National Guardian, a weekly leftist paper, and put Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention's new LP, "Absolutely Free," on the turntable of their Magnavox record player." - p 33

Given that I'm obsessed w/ music & that the Mothers were one of my favorite rock bands there's plenty in "Summer on Fire" musically to catch my interest. Werbe was, to quote his website, "a DJ on Detroit's major rock stations, WABX, WWWW. WRIF, and WCSX. He hosted Nightcall, WRIF's phone-in talk show, that was the longest running such program in U.S. radio history, 1970-2016." ( ) That makes me curious about whether Detroit's "major rock stations" were any good by my standards. In Baltimore the rock stns were generally pathetic, strictly commercial, as Zappa sd, & the rock music I liked wd've rarely been played: certainly little or no Zappa, Beefheart, Velvet Underground, Bonzo Dog Band, Henry Cow, Crass, etc, etc - if Werbe broke the monopoly of corporate rock then my hat's off to him. In Baltimore I had an anarchist friend whose band made a very poppy song called "Munitions Radio" that was based on the nearby Annapolis 'alternative' rock stn's reputed investing in arms manufacturing. They submitted the song to the stn, wch probably had some sort of boast about playing local rock, &, gee, it didn't get any airplay.

""But, we're all out of grass," Michele informed Paul. "Why don't you go score a lid from Sonny. Here's five bucks. And, don't hang around getting high with him or we'll miss the show."

"Michele referred to a measurement that was a full lid from a large Hellman's Mayonnaise jar." - p 34

Gotta love it. All these decades that I've known the term "lid" & I never knew what it was based on! Thank you again, Peter Werbe! This being a novel that takes place in 1967 in the US amongst the counterculture there're bound to be drugs.

"The psychedlic properties of LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide-25, were discovered by a Swiss scientist in 1943 and crept through an underground culture until exploding in public consciousness in the 1960s. Its most well know[n] proponent for its revolutionary potential was Timothy Leary who founded the League for Spiritual Discovery in 1966. He went on to be its visible public advocate bringing him fame, but also the attention of the police, winding up in his imprisonment, a jail break, and exile in Algeria." - p 35

& that's a history that I hope is never forgotten. Leary wrote a bk called "Jail Notes" (1970) that I recommend. It's amazing to me that in my lifetime I've witnessed LSD go from being legal, to being criminalized in 1968, to one large-scale manufacturer receiving a life sentence w/o parole in 2000. For those of us who've been fortunate enough to experience LSD trips, & I count myself among them, LSD can be highly enlightening, to say the least. From my POV, the person sentenced to life did more good for people than any president ever has or ever will.

56 yrs later I still remember seeing Timothy Leary on TV, probably in the summer of 1967 when I was 13. He was sitting outside under a tree wearing a flowing white robe or some such & even thru the black & white lo-fi medium of my family's TV set it was obvious that he was experiencing a powerful epiphany, he literally seemed to be glowing (& that WASN'T an effect of the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) of the TV). I don't recall knowing anything about LSD at the time but just seeing Leary was a very potent indicator that there might be something important going on. Nonetheless, I didn't take LSD until I was 18 & I wdn't recommend trying it so-called 'recreationally', it's far too important an experience to be approached flippantly.

Regarding the Grande, where most of the larger rock concerts happened in Detroit at the time, Werbe has much to say.

"Gibb originally booked local rock acts, such as the MC5, The Woolies, Wilson Mower Pursuit, and The Rationals, but quickly hooked into the touring scene of major label rockers such as The Who, The Grateful Dead, and the Chambers Brothers. Also, blues greats like BB King, Buddy Guy, and John Lee Hooker.

"Although Russ was enthusiastic about promoting local acts, when bands with names like The Crucifucks and The Pigfuckers asked to play the ballroom, he turned them down because their names, specifically chosen to ward off any chance they could attain commercial success, had a similar effect in this alternative venue.

""I can't put those names up on my marquee," Russ groused when asked why they weren't booked even though they were community favorites." - p 40

Ha ha! Of course, if the owner of the Grande cd've just put something like "2 bands whose names I can't put up here" on the marquee instead he cd've still allowed the bands to play there.

Werbe got me excited about The Crucifucks & The Pigfuckers b/c I thought he was implying that they were from the 1967 era. I've heard of The Crucifucks (& use their banned name in my sampler piece entitled "Banned Names" ( ) & I always assumed they were from the punk era but if their name came from the '60s that wd've been truly exceptional. I've never heard of The Pigfuckers. Alas, The Crucifucks started in 1981 (according to an online source), Werbe's relevant online footnote has this to say:

"P. 40 The Crucifucks didn't form until 1982, but I know the drummer, and wanted to grab it from another era simply for the name. The Pigfuckers were a band, but memories of them fade and there is nothing on the web about them."

Werbe creates a fictional double-bill of Janis Joplin & Big Brother & the Holding Company followed by Cream. I was never that enthusiastic about Joplin but Cream were one of the 1st bands to get me deeply engrossed in music.

"Cream had begun their set with tunes from their upcoming album, "Disraeli Gears," and were in the middle of "Strange Brew."" - p 43

I never got to witness Cream &/or Joplin live but Werbe's fanciful double-bill wd've been mind-boggling. The main character's witnessing of it on LSD wd've been even more mind-boggling.

"The Red Brigade organizing went better than Paul or Malik could have hoped for. The word about the militant side-march got around the neighborhood fast. Besides instructions on how to make a proper NLF flag, the Fifth Estate that hit the streets on Thursday called for recruits for the Brigade and urged participants to wear red headbands to identify each other. It didn't occur to them that this would also help the police see who was operating outside of the official march." - pp 45-46

Apparently, it also didn't occur to them that the police cd also read the Fifth Estate.

"At the lumber yard, they bought 40 wooden dowels, round poles of several dimensions-1[&]1/4" diameter for the men; a smaller size for the women, and of different lengths geared to body height." - p 46

I've been told that using wooden dowels to hold protest signs is no longer legal b/c they're considered to be weapons. I don't know whether that's legally true or not. I use cardboard tubes. Looking online for confirmation of this illegal status for dowels I didn't find any but I did find this in a Seventeen magazine article prepping readers for a March 24, 2018, March for our Lives:

"First things first, don't bring sticks or sharp objects. Although carrying a sign for an extended period of time can be quite the workout, avoid using wooden poles, sticks, or handles (and basically anything that can be used as a weapon) to hold up your sign." -

The article doesn't explicitly state that dowels are illegal. I take it for granted that the police will take whatever they want to from you & invent a lie to excuse it later, if need be.

"Several of the protesters were attired in conventional suits and dresses passing out a pamphlet with the ostensibly pleasing title, "To Serve the Rich," to the invited wealthy as they entered the building.

"However, the guests were aghast when they opened it to find the contents were recipes for how to cook and eat those of wealth and power. It was a riff on Rod Serling's 1962 epiasode of "The Twilight Zone," "To Serve Man," in which visitors from outer space turn out to have culinary considerations in mind rather than assistance to the human race." - p 61

B/c I tend to follow the more creative aspects of resistance w/ an eye to recognizing humorous innovations when they occur, I had my doubts about this action's fitting into 1967. The relevant online footnote says:

"P. 61 The pamphlet "To Serve the Rich," prepared for the Builders of Detroit dinner honoring the wealthy held in 1974 altered recipes from The Joy Of Cooking, a well-known cookbook at the time. The Eat the Rich Gang, of which I was a part, substituted human parts of detested politicians and cultural figures for the original ingredients. The protest is recounted in my history of the Fifth Estate above on P. 9, and mentioned in David Watson's extension of the paper's past.

The pamphlet was illustrated with clip-art comprising 24-pages. It was put together by a group of friends (me included) who specialized in playing radical pranks on well-deserving official targets. It was passed out free, but now is an historic curio that commands up to $75 from dealers.

The slogan being chanted by the protestors of "Eat the Rich,"  appears extensively in 19th century political and historical texts and is often attributed (probably not accurately) to Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I picked it up from a book by Terry Southern, The Magic Christian, which was also a 1969 movie starring Ringo Starr, Peter Sellers, and John Cleese."

1974 is still a precocious time for such an action & I'd love to see the original pamphlet. An irony of sorts to this is that if the rich people who rc'vd the pamphlet kept it they might be able to resell it now online for a substantial profit. The Yippies were reputedly founded on Dec 31, 1967. They were the main group that I think of as introducing such pranks, I don't think they were anarchist either. SOOOOOO, once again I find this rehistoricization to be suspect. 2 friends of mine pulled a similar prank in the late 1970s in wch they made a tract in the style of Chick that had recipes for cooking Christians, the Lambs of God so to speak. The 1st protest that I ever attended where the chant "Eat the Rich, Feed the Poor" was used was in Chicago in 1986 for the Haymarket Centennial.

"Paul and Michele rode down to the hearing with Jim Connolly in his Buick Skylark.

""Cool car," Michele said, surveying the commodious interior, comparing it with her cramped VW Beetle. "What kind of mileage does it get?"

"Connolly shrugged, indicating that he didn't know or care. Gasoline was 32 cents a gallon." - p 72

That's supposedly the gas price in Detroit in the summer of 1967. That might be true but I remember hitch-hiking thru Hell, Michigan, in 1971 or 1972 & being astounded to see gas prices at 25¢ a gallon!!

The minimum wage in 1972 was $1.60. The current average gas price is reputed to be $3.40 per gallon. The current minimum wage in Michigan is $10.10. $10.10 is 6.3125 times 1972's $1.60. HOWEVER, if the current average gas price of $3.40 is divided by the reputed 1967 price of 32¢ we get an increase of 10.625 times - making the cost of living considerably more & the 'gains' in minimum wage producing a lower buying power.

"Defendants having the temerity to ask for a trial, even one without a jury, slowed down the process, creating a log jam of cases meaning a shorter lunch break and less golf for the judge, who at sentencing, vindictively ensured that the convicted paid the price. Recorder's Court judges worked under the assumption that if the police arrested you, particularly if you were Black, you were guilty as charged." - p 73

& I can't fault Werbe's cynicism here. If you want to see his statement at least partially confirmed sit in court while poor people are being judged. You'll witness astonishing sentences given to people 'guilty' (if even) of extremely petty 'crimes'.

I do have a personal story that goes contrary, tho. In 1982 I was walking down the street in BalTimOre w/ 2 friends, a girl & a guy. The guy dropped behind &, unknown to the girl & myself, drew a hole-in-one tag in CHALK on a wall. A cop pulled up in a car & got out, the tagger ran. The cop started expressing his anger to myself & the girl saying that if he 'caught someone doing that to his car he'd KILL him.' I replied, in a non-confrontational tone, asking him if he didn't think that 'killing him' wd be too extreme. The cop backed down a little & my friend & I walked on & went into a basement bar a block or so further on.

Not long after, several cops came dramatically into the bar & dragged my female friend & me out as if they were capturing big-time criminals. I shouted out for people to hear: "This is a false arrest, please follow us so you can bear witness." 2 people had the strength of character to do so. We were taken to jail where I was surrounded by 5 cops standing w/in a foot or so of myself who told me that they hated "weirdos" like me & that I was likely to "hang myself in the cell" - essentially threatening to kill me. At the time I had a haircut of a died black circle framing my face, the rest shaved ( ). This was, I'm sure, the weirdest haircut these cops had ever seen.

I was legally restricted from leaving the city (or the state?) until I had my trial. Since I had travel plans I appeared before a judge to ask if I might have his permission to go away. My friends told me to get rid of my weird haircut before doing this. I left it the way it was. The judge gave me permission.

When my trial came, the judge that I'd appeared before was the judge for the trial. I think he realized that my weird haircut was one fo the main reasons why I was arrested. When my trial started, he asked the prosecutor to show him the law under wch I'd been arrested. The prosecutor got very flustered, knowing that they'd just invented a fictitious law to use as an excuse. The judge then dismissed the case. The prosecutor was actually exposed & humiliated. Nonetheless, I had to spend time in jail, have my life threatened, have my property stolen & destroyed, etc. The actual criminals in this case, the cops, got off much easier than I did. Of course, I'm white. If I'd been black I doubt that I wd've been so lucky.

"Sgt. Evans was paid a salary of $6,000 a year by the City of Detroit. He brought in an almost similar sum through payoffs from pimps, prostitutes, dope dealers, and gamblers. His son, Herbert, who he and his wife, Charlotte, dragged out of bed each Sunday morning to attend services at King Solomon was, unbeknownst to the Evans couple, a member of the Dap-Daddies, a fearsome West Side gang who often fought pitched battles with their rivals, the Ooh-Lahs and the Almighty Shakers.

"An hour later, Connolly cut a deal with the prosecutors. They presented it to Judge Colombo who arrived back from lunch at Jacoby's at 2:30 and agreed to the terms. Malik and John would pay a $100 fine, reimburse the bank $200 to replace the window, do 100 hours of community service, and would be on supervised probation for a year.

"The judge gave the two a stern lecture about respect for the law and private property and adjourned court early to go play a round of golf at the swank Lochmoor Club in Grosse Pointe." - p 77

I was hoping that there wd be a footnote confiming that the Dap-Daddies, the Ooh-Lahs and the Almighty Shakers were actual gang names but there isn't so I looked up "1960s detroit gangs" online & got the aforementioned "Black Legion" (who were actually before the 1960s), "Chambers Brothers" (1980s), "Errol Flynns" (1970s), "La Familia Michocana" (1980s to present), "The Flathead gang" (1920s-1930s), "The Purple Gang" (1910s to 1930s), & "Young Boys Inc" (1970s-1990s).

As for Werbe's continued cynicism about the Injustice System? Well, I admit, it's the kind of cynicism that brings a smile to my lips b/c the emphasis on long lunches & playing golf over actually caring about justice fits w/ my own perception of the matter. Strictly speaking, tho, one has to wonder how much of a basis the author has for his Jacoby's & Lochmoor Club fantasy.

"The 1917 Selective Service Act, that was ramped up in 1940 as another global conflict loomed between imperial powers, sparked draft card burnings and induction refusals during the Vietnam War. Those campaigning against the war in Southeast Asia and the draft grasped the truth about all military conflicts that they painted on their signs and banners: "Vietnam is a Rich Man's War and a Poor Man's Fight."" - p 85

Anything about resistance to wars &, specifically, to the draft during the Vietnam War era interests me considerably b/c I've been anti-war for as long as I've been thinking about it (since I was a teenager) & b/c I was of draft age during the Vietnam War. I turned 18 in 1971. I refused to even register for the draft b/c it was, & still is, my opinion that no-one has the right to order me to kill anyone; my idea was that if I were to kill anyone it wd be someone I actually had personal reason to kill not someone who'd never done anything against me. No Vietnamese person has ever caused me any harm. Not registering for the draft was reputed to be a federal crime punishable by 10 yrs in federal prison. I was certainly worried. One of my neighbors told me that there was a wanted poster for me at our Catonsville draft office. He might've just been trying to scare me. I'll never know whether the truly heroic action of the Catonsville Nine, napalming Catonsville draft records, that DID get them long prison sentences, is what saved me from any government action against me or whether it was b/c my draft lottery number was 356 or some other cause. I never got so much as a threatening post-card, let alone a visit from an officer of the (f)law.

"Earlier in the year, the Fifth Estate film reviewer, Preston Carville, dropped LSD before going for his phsyical, and freaked out once inside the grim architecture of the barracks. He began hallucinating that the soldiers marching around had on boots as tall as they were, and started shrieking that the smell of the room's paint was so strong that he was going to vomit. Everyone present realized the grimy walls hadn't been painted in at least 40 years. He was marked 4-F, ineligible for induction on psychological grounds." - p 87

The story goes back to September 18, 1959, & to a group of friends' preferred authors.

"their favored Beat authors, Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and William Burroughs." - pp 99-100

OKAY, here's where I have to once again question whether Werbe's writerly liberties aren't being a bit too painting-a-picture of the precociousness of the characters. Let's just take Burroughs as an example: How many Burroughs bks wd've been available to the characters in 1959? I have a copy of his "Junkie", published by the New English Library Limited; the copyright page claims that it was 1st published in Great Britain in 1957 & published in this edition in July, 1966. SO, it's unlikely it wd've reached them by 1959. Let's jump ahead to "Naked Lunch", the bk that, arguably 1st made him famous; my Grove Press hardback is copyrighted 1959. The characters cd've arguably seen it by September. On the other hand, Big Table 1, "The complete contents of the suppressed winter 1959 Chicago Review" that included Jack Kerouac's "Old Angel Midnight", Edward Dahlberg's "The Garments of Ra" & "Further Sorrows of Priapus", & excerpts from Burroughs's "Naked Lunch" came out in the "Spring 1959". Ok, yes, Werbe's characters might've seen that issue & been turned on to writers who were still pretty obscure at that point.

"As Paul walked across campus one crisp afternoon wearing an Army surplus field jacket, four frats in a 1958 Plymouth Fury four-door hardtop with all the windows rolled down slowly cruised by him.

"A voice from inside the car yelled, "Get a haircut, creep. You're disgracing our school." Paul had let his short, Princeton-style haircut grow in a little, so a slight bit hung over the tops of his ears and a hank of hair covered half his forehead.

"Another voice growled, "And, don't wear that coat again on campus, you commie. That's what soliders wear, not fairies."

"Commie? Fairy? Paul thought. What the fuck are these guys talking about?" - p 100

I can't really say what it was like in 1959, I was only 5 most of that yr, but that's certainly realistic & verified by my own experience of 9 yrs later in 1968 when I started growing my hair long at age 14. I wonder if people in 2023 who weren't alive yet back in those days can even imagine how much hate was directed against people who deviated in ways that wd be considered slight to the point of being unnoticeable now?

Along comes Wilhelm Reich, always a source of interest for me.

"Lucius shrugged. "Whatever it did or didn't do, he got convicted for not stopping the box and his literature, and got sent to prison just four years ago. The feds took six tons of his literature and burned it in an incinerator in New York City. And, that's exactly what happened to his books and stuff in Nazi Germany.

""So, he's still in the joint?"

""No!" Lucius exclaimed. "He fucking died in prison just a year after going in and just a day before he was up for parole. Trescott and lots of Reich's supporters think he was murdered."" - pp 104-105

Paul & Michele later go to the Reich museum in Maine. They're the only public there, a guy shows them around & then invites them to his home. Michele's all for it but Paul declines.

""What the hell was that all about, Paul?" she asked angrily once they got back in the car heading to Rangely. "That sounded really cool."

""Hey couldn't you tell what he was up to? He wanted to fuck both of us. That guy was scary."

""I thought you were so into Reich," she replied a bit contemptuously." - p 221

Ha ha! I can imagine being in that situation! I can also imagine my female companion telling me to fuck off & going off w/ the guy, telling me that the car's hers & that I can walk to wherever I'm going for all she cares.

Anyway, I got interested in possibly visiting the Reich museum after reading this section so I looked it up online. Their "COVID-19 Notice" reads: "Masks recommended when indoors, may be required if requested by other visitors." & what if I request that the other visitors stick their heads up each other's assholes? Will they be forced to comply? Wilhelm Reich is rolling over in his grave.

"He strode to the front of the classroom and announced in a loud and strident tone: "Negro students are sitting-in at lunch counters to protest segregated seating at Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina. I'm going to a support picket line at their store in downtown Lansing. All those who believe in freedom, come with me. All racists stay here!"

"And with that, swept out of the room with as much vigor as he had entered.

"No one, including Paul, followed him." - p 105

Last night I watched William Greaves's film "In the Company of Men" (1969), a documentary about the use of psychodrama to try to get all white foremen & all black non-foremen employees (called in the movie "hard-core unemployables") to try to understand each other better. It was an excellent look at systemic racism, the white foremen really didn't seem to be capable of understanding that the systemic denial of career advancement to blacks in itself was good reason enuf to engender deep bitterness. I'm white but after working at a job for 19 yrs I asked my supervisor if he'd ever promote me & he sd "NO!". The reason? According to me, I wd've been much better than him at his job. Now imagine that sort of self-serving discrimination applying to a whole race, a whole ethnicity, a whole class.

The story has reached 1960, if I understand aright. Paul is in 2 student groups that bring speakers.

"Guests like Ellis, plus a constant stream of atheists, free love advocates, anarchists and socialists kept the two groups in constant conflict with school authorities who were still living with the fear of the 1950s Red Scare repression." - p 108

I keep having this nagging feeling that Werbe's history is revisionist when it comes to anarchists. Who were the anarchist speakers that were coming to his school in the fall of 1960?! According to a Wikipedia entry:

"Anarchism continued to influence important American literary and intellectual personalities of the time, such as Paul Goodman, Dwight Macdonald, Allen Ginsberg, Leopold Kohr, Judith Malina, Julian Beck and John Cage. Paul Goodman was an American sociologist, poet, writer, anarchist, and public intellectual." -

Note the wording: "Anarchism continued to influence", it doesn't say that the people so-influenced were necessarily self-declaring as anarchists. I know John Cage's life & work considerably better than most people & I remember him as not declaring himself an anarchist until he was 60 yrs old, in 1972. The Wikipedia entry calls Goodman an anarchist, maybe he self-declared as such in the 1960s. Then there's Bookchin: "In 1958, Murray Bookchin defined himself as an anarchist". I've only read one of Bookchin's bks, one on Spain that I read while I was in Barcelona staying just a few blocks from the CNN bookstore. I liked Bookchin's bk. These days, many anarchists seem to not like Bookchin for his rejection of what he's reputed to've called "lifestyle anarchism", a criticism supposedly directed against Peter Lamborn Wilson who many of us were friends w/. What I'm trying to get at here is that I keep wondering whether Werbe's references to anarchists & anarchism in the 1960s & 1970s isn't misleading & inaccurate. To continue quoting from the Wikipedia article:

"The Libertarian League was founded in New York City in 1954 as a political organization building on the Libertarian Book Club. Members included Sam Dolgoff, Russell Blackwell, Dave Van Ronk, Enrico Arrigoni and Murray Bookchin. Its central principle, stated in its journal Views and Comments, was "equal freedom for all in a free socialist society". Branches of the League opened in a number of other American cities, including Detroit and San Francisco. It was dissolved at the end of the 1960s. Sam Dolgoff (1902­1990) was a Russian American anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist. After being expelled from the Young People's Socialist League, Dolgoff joined the Industrial Workers of the World in [..] 1922 and remained an active member his entire life, playing an active role in the anarchist movement for much of the century. He was a co-founder of the Libertarian Labor Review magazine, which was later renamed Anarcho-Syndicalist Review. In the 1930s, he was a member of the editorial board of Spanish Revolution, a monthly American publication reporting on the largest Spanish labor organization taking part in the Spanish Civil War. Among his books were Bakunin on AnarchyThe Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution, 1936­1939, and The Cuban Revolution (Black Rose Books, 1976), a denunciation of Cuban life under Fidel Castro.

"Anarchism was influential in the counterculture of the 1960s and anarchists actively participated in the late sixties students and workers revolts. The New Left in the United States also included anarchist, countercultural and hippie-related radical groups such as the Yippies who were led by Abbie Hoffman and Black Mask/Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers. For David Graeber, "[a]s SDS splintered into squabbling Maoist factions, groups like the Diggers and Yippies (founded in '68) took the first option. Many were explicitly anarchist, and certainly, the late '60s turn towards the creation of autonomous collectives and institution building was squarely within the anarchist tradition, while the emphasis on free love, psychedelic drugs, and the creation of alternative forms of pleasure was squarely in the bohemian tradition with which Euro-American anarchism has always been at least tangentially aligned."

SOOOOOOO, when I read things like ""The Libertarian League was founded in New York City in 1954" [..] "Its central principle, stated in its journal Views and Comments, was "equal freedom for all in a free socialist society"." that confirms my opinion that people were operating as Socialists & Radicals instead of Anarchists. Then I read "The New Left in the United States also included anarchist, countercultural and hippie-related radical groups such as the Yippies who were led by Abbie Hoffman and Black Mask/Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers." This goes on to include the Diggers. Well, I've read a few Abbie Hoffman bks & have recordings of him, etc. I've read Emmett Grogan's great Digger bk "Ringolevio".

Running a search thru a pdf copy of Hoffman's "Steal this Book" (1970-1971) online I look for the word "anarchy" & find ONE use in a section about wearing helmets for self-protection:

"If you get this model, paint it a dark color before using it and you'll be less conspicuous. Our fashion consultants suggest anarchy black."

"anarchism" yields nothing. "anarchist" yields one result in a personal for a commune:

"DROP CITY-Rt. 1, Box 125, Trinidad, Colorado 81082. Founded 1965. New members must meet specific criteria. Anarchist, artist, dome houses."

I tried the same searches in an Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers pdf on the Internet Archive. I only find one use of "anarchy". This might be b/c the pdf includes image files that might not be text-searchable. In an interview w/ Ben Morea conducted in 2006 I find the ONE use of the word "anarchism": "I'm self educated and continued my pursuit of anarchism and art through reading and correspondence". Note he's not explicitly calling himself an anarchist but is instead saying he researched it, it's treated more like an historical phenomena. The word "anarchist" yields 10 results. Here's the 1st one:

"Ben Morea is an ex-junkie who, in the late-1960s, was the notorious leader of an entirely unsavory, Lower East Side anarchist collective called Up Against the Wall, Motherfucker."

Note that Morea is described as the "leader" of an "anarchist collective". Apparently the author of this section, John McMillian, who goes on to self-describe as "a young historian who studies American radicalism in that period" doesn't get that "leader" & "anarchist" are mutually exclusive. Morea goes on to correct this:

"Ben: It's hard to say whether we started in 1965 or 1966, but the magazine definitely started in 1966. Black Mask was really very small. It started off with just a few people. As anarchists, and not very doctrinaire ones, we had no leadership although I was the driving force in the group."

Ok, that's practically the 1st convincing evidence I've read of anarchists in the 1960s. I move on to checking Grogan's "Ringolevio" (1969-1972) on the Digger Archives ( ). Instead, I watched the TV program called "To Tell the Truth" w/ Emmett Grogan on it. Oh. My. Fucking. God. Even tho I stopped watching TV in 1969 or 1970 I highly recommend checking this out. On the show Grogan makes a quick plug for a bk he's writing: "I'm also writing a book on the impossibility of fair play in democratic society because of loneliness." Wow. I'm intrigued, I'd like to read an elaboration of that b/c it resonates w/ me. The only other bk of his that I found online is a novel called "Final Score" so I bought a copy.

Otherwise, at 1st, I only searched pp 209-263. This yielded ONE anarchy/anarchism/anarchist usage: "In fact, the word hippie was itself a fabrication of the mass media, and in order to do it justice, there was a flood of newsprint devoted to the subject of hipsterism, ranging from stories about the "Beatnik-Anarchist Provos" in Holland". You get the idea.

OK, ok, I dug a little deeper & found this on pp 294-295:

"Needless to say, Emmett was flipped out by the generally false coverage, and in the case of the "bombing threat" story, at least one instance of vicious, deceitful reporting. He wanted to choke every one of those lying, yellow-journalist throats, bend all their fingers back until the bones of their knuckles snapped, rip their snide tongues out of their smug faces. That's what really got him crazy about these small-time reporters who took cheap shots at people-- their petty self-regard for their own minor self-importance. "Who the fuck do they think they are? Making up all that shit that never happened, putting words in my mouth that no one ever said? Everybody who reads those fuckin' lies is gonna believe we're all just another bunch of punk anarchists who want a piece of the pie, a bunch of lames who're just jealous of the bread the HIP merchants are makin' n are tryin' to extort some of it for ourselves. Those cocksuckers! ""

WHEW!! I have a great deal of respect for Emmett Grogan & the Diggers. I ate at what I think was a Digger free food place in San Francisco in 1986. It was AMAZING, a multi-course meal. It seems to me that I volunteered to wash dishes afterward. I might've been told they already had enuf dishwashers, I don't remember now. Consider the implications of "Making up all that shit that never happened, putting words in my mouth that no one ever said? Everybody who reads those fuckin' lies is gonna believe we're all just another bunch of punk anarchists"!! "Punk" in those days meant something more like 'wimpy poseur' than punk in its current since. I don't mean to put Werbe in the same category as yellow journalists but my uneasy feeling about "Summer on Fire, A Detroit Novel" & Fifth Estate is somehow echoed in Grogan's reputed words.

Ok, at this point it's important for me to say something that I often say: I know an enormous amount but what I don't know is infinite. What it really comes down to is that, while I like myself, I'm, in many senses, a 'nobody'; for the purposes of this review I'm trying to call it like I see it but there's plenty I'm not seeing & I can't help but know that. In other words, what I'm writing is just my opinion, to be taken w/ a grain of salt, or a whole beach of salt. I'm more tied in to the rebellions of the 1980s, the 1990s, the 2000s - but I'm not necessarily convinced that those rebellions don't pale before earlier ones. At this point in my life, I'm an extremely socially isolated person, I'm disgusted w/ just about everyone, maybe I'm overdoing it, maybe I'm not.

""But what about the clubs?" David asked. "How are we going to bring in speakers?"

""Let's set up the Byzantine Anarchist Party. Get it? BAP! And the Freethought Society." - p 111

There's no online footnote saying whether these groups were fictional or not so I looked for them online. I didn't find "Byzantine Anarchist Party" but I did find evidence of a Freethought Society of 1960 from the University of Michigan that published a periodical called "The Free Humanist". Searching inside Volume 2, Issue 11, yielded nothing for anarchy/anarchism/anarchist. Now the character, Paul, goes to Michigan State University at Lansing. Apparently MSU & UM aren't the same.

SOOOOOOOO, I keep coming back to the same thing: most or all of the references to anarchism in the 1960s are fictional &, therefore, suspect as revisionist history.

"Trescott waggled his index finger. "Here's the worst part. Wesley and the boys from our dear university were buying guns for a police state. Diem's, just like Bob yelled at him. The Advisory Group figured Diem needs lots of protection because he is a Catholic ruling a Buddhist country and is unpopular and there are constant demonstrations and riots against him." - p 122

& Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated on November 2, 1963. Can't win 'em all.

"The voice was that of Robert Little, the only black person in the restaurant. He was the younger brother of Malcolm Little who substituted an X for what he designated as his slave name. The X represented the African family name that was erased by slave owners who substituted their own when a people were transformed into chattel, a thing owned by another.

"Like his famous brother, Robert was intense and committed to equal rights for Black people. He was born in Lansing, one of eight children. Five of his older brothers joined the Nation of Islam where Malcolm was a minister, but at his sibling's urging, he was earning a master's degree in social work." - p 124

This got me interested in Robert Little, I've read Alex Hays's "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" & seen the Spike Lee movie. For a long time I identified more w/ X than I did w/ MLK jr b/c I indetified w/ X's "criminal sanity", as I'd call it now. PLUS, I have an intense dislike for Christinanity so MLK was offputting. Then again, I have an equal dislike for the Moslem religion. Therefore, it was interesting for me to read this piece in The Morning Call

"Robert Little spoke about the former Nation of Islam leader before about 150 people in Lehigh University's Packard Lab Auditorium.

"Little said his brother continuously changed and grew as a person, educated himself and then took his actions and his life to another level. But there are people who are "time warped," who only want to remember Malcolm X as an advocate of hate.

""A lot of myths and distortions appeared to have surfaced over the years," he said. The autobiographical book and recent Spike Lee movie do not present an accurate or definitive picture of Malcolm X, Little said.

"The book was originally intended to be a promotional tool for the Nation of Islam, he said. Malcolm exaggerated his criminal activities to show that if the Nation could help him, it could help someone who wasn't nearly as bad, Little said.

"Malcolm X's criminal career lasted about two years. He was arrested when he took an expensive stolen watch to a jeweler for repair; that is something that an experienced criminal would never do, Little said.

""The book was certainly incomplete when he died," Little said, adding it was completed by the publishing company and edited to be more readable, entertaining and commercial.

"The movie was Spike Lee's interpretation of Malcolm and was meant to be entertaining and commercial, Little said.

""The movie could not portray the laid-back, easygoing private person," Little said. He said he had high admiration for Lee, who managed to walk through "the maze of Hollywood" to make the movie."


I never perceived Malcolm X "as an advocate of hate", I just saw him as someone who called it as he saw it.

"During a 1938 hearing into communist involvement in the Federal Theatre Project, part of President Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, the director of the project was grilled by Representative Joe Starnes from Guntersville, Alabama, population 8,197, as to whether they were presenting plays written by subversives. Looking through the list of plays presented, Starnes asked the director of the project, in all seriousness, whether Christopher Marlowe, a Shakespeare contemporary, and a "Mr. Euripides" were Reds. He did not pronounce the name of the fifth century BCE Greek tragedian particularly well." - p 125

That wd, of course, be funny if it weren't evidence of the extent to wch ignorance rules. Fortunately, there's a relevant online footnote:

"P. 125 The hilarious exchange between U.S. Rep. Joe Starnes and Hallie Flanagan, director of the Federal Theatre Project actually occurred and is captured in the 1999 film, The Cradle Will Rock, directed by Tim Robbins."

"Cradle Will Rock is a 1999 American historical drama film written, produced and directed by Tim Robbins. The story fictionalizes the true events that surrounded the development of the 1937 musical The Cradle Will Rock by Marc Blitzstein; it adapts history to create an account of the original production, bringing in other stories of the time to produce a social commentary on the role of art and power in the 1930s, particularly amidst the struggles of the labor movement at the time and the corresponding appeal of socialism and communism among many intellectuals, artists and working-class people in the same period." -

Oh, well, here I go again: note that the movie "fictionalizes the true events". Groan. That means that I'm going to search for more direct evidence that Starnes was such a moron. According to a Wikipedia entry: "In 1938 he served on the Dies Committee, precursor to HUAC, and gained notoriety and ridicule for enquiring of Hallie Flanagan whether the English Elizabethan Era playwright Christopher Marlowe and ancient Greek tragedian "Mr. Euripides" were communists." ( ) That doesn't prove shit, Wikipedia is far from 100% reliable, but it's as far as I feel like getting into it at the moment.

"almost two thousand rock and rollers jammed into the Grande Ballroom Saturday night to hear a return performance of Tim Buckley, plus The Up, and The Shaggs." - p 130

"When they entered the crowded, steaming dance floor, The Shaggs were doing their number, "My Pal Foot Foot," with two of the sisters on guitar and the third playing drums. Their guitars were gratingly out of tune. The drummer kept missing the beat, while the other two sisters sang standing almost motionless.

"The Shaggs were three sisters from New Hampshire who seemed to purposely play badly and affected a strange on-stage appearance. But for some reason, audiences loved them. A Rolling Stone article described them as "...sounding like lobotomized Trapp Family singers."

"When they finished their set, the audience cheered wildly, shouting for more, but the sisters had played the only 12 songs they knew." - p 131

My reviewer note to myself was to the effect that this must be a joke. Werbe's footnote doesn't state whether this was a fictional line-up or not. Checking online, I became convinced that, incredibly enuf, Ths Shaggs played at the Grande TWICE: July 22, 1967 (w/ Buckley), & August 19, 1967.

A quadruple bill of The Shaggs, Wesley Willis, Daniel Johnston, & Frankie Capri ( ) wd've been even better but I'm not sure my mind can even handle imagining the real concert.

"Paul knew the members of the light show group who invited him up on their scaffolding at the back of the ballroom to give a whirl at operating the overhead projectors used to create the images. They were all normally used in classrooms to magnify text or graphics on a wall. In the ballroom, rather than a chart showing supply and demand or Doric columns in Greece, glass plates were filled with cooking oil to which different colored vegetable dyes were added and when swirled about by tipping the vessel, giant amoeba-like shapes appeared when magnified and projected outward." - p 132

I've always had a love for that era of light shows but I can't recall ever seeing one live, rather than just in movies & stills. Maybe Jefferson Airplane had one when I saw them at the Baltimore Civic Center on March 22, 1970. I did make my own light shows of sorts, although of a much more content-rather-than-trippy oriented way wch can be witnessed most compressed in a movie of mine called "Multiple Projections - 1978-2009" ( ).

The central subject of "Summer on Fire, A Detroit Novel" is the Detroit riot of the summer of 1967. Werbe's footnote says: "P. 136 The 1967 Rebellion was the second most destructive riot in U.S. history, eclipsed only by the toll of the 1863 New York City Draft Riots." His description of it in the novel made me completely sympathetic to the rioters. The rebellion started when the cops arrested people for after-hours partying.

"This raid and the treatment of Black people at the hands of the cops seemed no different from what was experienced regularly on the streets of the city. The Detroit police were roundly hated by the city's Black population as a white occupation force staffed by corrupt and brutal racists who routinely made life even more miserable for a mostly impoverished community. Normally, arrests and police harassment went unanswered.

"This time it was different. Bill Scott, son of the owner of the illegal drinking establishment, saw not only his father's friends and neighbors being pushed into police vans, but witnessed the usual disrespect and unnecessary force being used, including cops twisting the arms of some of the women.

"The 19-year-old Scott, growing increasingly angry, shouted at the police, "You don't have to treat them that way. They can walk. Let them walk, you white sons of bitches." He jumped up on the trunk of a near-by Pontiac and implored the growing crowd. "Are we going to let these peckerwood motherfuckers come down here any time they want and mess us around?" The assembled crowd, increasing in size and anger, yelled back, "Hell, no!"" - p 136

I don't know what source Werbe based this description on but it seems realistic to me.

"sitting around the living room with the Fifth Estate newspaper staff including Sidney, Riley Black, Cathy East, Len Coolidge, John Wood, and Mick Delvecchio" - p 139

The actual staff of the time for issue #35, August 1-15, 1967, being:


Harvey Ovshinsky

Peter Werbe


Frank Joyce


Cathy West


Gary Grimshaw


John Sinclair


Karen Kovach

Naomi Epel


Leon Brenner

Tom Yates


Wilson Lindsey

Tommye Weiss


Joe Fineman


Benjamin Habeebe

Pat O'Dea

Lena Sinclair

Marlene Tyre

C. Terrence Walker

Susan Werbe"


There are times when I'm impressed by the apparent honesty of Werbe's telling. It's a well-known criticism by black radicals that white radicals of that time cd always just opt to go back to their wealthy families while the blacks had to live w/ the consequences of the struggle. Of course, some white radicals died or went to prison - like Timothy Blunk. Freedom Archives are worth checking out for more on that sort of thing: .

""This is getting pretty weird," Cathy said, worry in her voice. "Maybe we should figure out the best place for us to be, and go there." Other than Sidney's apartment, most of their homes were either in or near the ever-growing disturbances.

""How about this," Sidney proposed. "We can go to my mom and dad's house in the 'burbs until this blows over. I'll call them and see if it's OK for us to come out." - p 142

"The Shaffran house was designed by famed architect, Minoru Yamasaki in 1962. It was 4,200 square feet, featured an indoor swimming pool, and was built on an acre and a half that included a large fresh water pond the family called Lake Shaffran." - p 143

"The reverie was unexpectedly ended by an angry Sidney. "This is bullshit. Utter bullshit," he fumed to the surprise of his friends. "We're supposed to be revolutionaries and radical journalists and we're sitting in the 'burbs eating fancy tomatoes and looking at the stars. There's a fucking revolution going on in Detroit and we're watching it on fucking television.""


""You're right," Sidney said, almost shouting. "First thing in the morning, we're out of here. We need to put out an extra and get it out to the community. To the media and the cops, it's just crazy Negroes gone wild. It's a fucking rebellion."" - p 146

"The commercial and entertainment area along Hastings Street, dubbed Paradise Valley, was comprised of 35 businesses, restaurants, and nightclubs. World heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Louis, owned the Brown Bomber's Chicken Shack on the street. Nightclubs regularly featured the greats of jazz and blues such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and others." - p 149

"Rather than engendering admiration in Detroit's city hall for the area's accomplishments, white business and real estate interests, and city planners deemed the entire district as blighted. It was an impediment to the city's economic progress, they declared. With almost no consultation with those who would be affected, the city, aided by federal funding, began a program of what was designated as urban renewal. The Black residents dubbed it Negro Removal.

"And, that's what it did.

"Beginning in 1959, the entire area was bulldozed of all its homes, business and byways and replaced by upscale condos and the I-75 expressway." - p 150

& most of the time that sort of shit goes thru largely unimpeded & covered over by euphemisms. Fortunately, I can think of a couple of exceptions. E.G.: I-70 was something that was scheduled to cut thru neighborhoods in Baltimore & the local opposition made it stop. Now the expressway ends right about at the city limits w/ just a short spar of it further on in the city.

Werbe's description of looting a supermarket is entertaining.

"In front of the window, someone placed a wooden box and a Black teenager was helping an elderly white woman step into the store. Another young man grabbed paper bags from the inoperative checkout counter and was snapping them open, giving one to all who entered the building, encouraging people to help themselves to empty the shelves.

"As smiling shoppers left by the window, their arms loaded with bulging grocery bags, one of the young men would say, "Have a nice day," something rarely heard from the surly, underpaid regular store staff." - p 160

I rrrreeeeaaaaalllllyyyy hope that's a true story. The novel describes the atmosphere of the looting as festive but of course the militaristic response to it is murderous & the burning of the bldgs might be something that people might regret later. Still, I remember talking w/ a friend of mine about rioters burning down bldgs, he sd something like: 'I don't get it, they're burning down their own buildings!' The thing is, if they were their own bldgs they probably wdn't be burning them down. Instead they're bldgs owned by greedy landlords who've been sucking them financially dry decade after decade, avoiding maintenance, w/ no hope for the tenants of ever owning the bldgs until they're too decrepid to be worth it anymore. I don't think people wd act so violently if they hadn't been pushed too far for too long. Wd you burn down a bldg if it were a place you owned, that you'd gotten for an affordable price, that you'd lived in happily?! Then why expect any different from anyone else?!

"Most of the people weren't taking part in the lootfest, but just watching and every once in a while cheering when people emerged with something surprising like the guys putting the couch in the convertible.

"Some months later, President Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, usually known as the Kerner Commission, to investigate the causes of the 1967 riots in the U.S. In Detroit, the committee estimated that 10,000 people took part in the actual looting and arson while ten times that number were spectators to a grand sport not usually seen." - p 162

Imagine being forced to play a gambling game that you know is fixed, rigged against you. Then imagine being temporarily free to override the rigging & get the spoils you might've long since had if the game hadn't been fixed against you. The poor aren't necessarily poor b/c they don't work, b/c they don't work hard; there're always factors like systemic racism that prevent people from rising from the lowest poorest-pd jobs into better-pd jobs. There's also croneyism & nepotism. Maybe a manager's relative automatically gets a job that a more qualified person doesn't stand a chance at. I'm hardly the worst-off person in the world but in one job environment I was in for 24 yrs I was the direct victim of the most flagrant injustices in hiring one cd imagine, & this was a 'liberal' environment.

"Detroit police officers Jerome Olshove and his partner, Roy St. Onge, both part of the 13th Precinct Big Four unit, got a looting call, arriving at the scene with several other officers. The two entered the darkened grocery store finding 20-year-old Danny Royster and Charles Latimer filling bags with cans of tuna fish.

"St. Onge, a particularly brutal cop as were most of the Big Four, struck Royster in the head with the butt of his police issue 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun.

"For some reason, his finger was on the trigger and the gun discharged striking Olshove directly in the face. Each of the nine pellets from the shell striking him were the equivalent of a .32 caliber bullet, doing so much damage to Olshove's face and head that there was a closed casket funeral for the slain officer. He was the only cop killed during the uprising.

"Royster was severely beaten and charged with first degree murder, the prosecution arguing he was involved in felony larceny bearing a responsibility for Olshove's death. Royster was convicted and sentenced to 5-15 years in prison." - pp 179-180

I'm reminded of another collosal injustice: The Move 9. Wikipedia describes them thusly: "In 1978, a standoff resulted in the death of one police officer and injuries to 16 officers and firefighters, as well as members of the MOVE organization. Nine members were convicted of killing the officer and each received prison sentences of 30 to 100 years." ( ) It's my understanding from reading other sources, such as the highly recommended "Attention, MOVE! This is America!" by Margot Henry, that the MOVE members had one handgun between them, that they were under attack for no good reason by something like 100 officers, & that the one cop killed may've been killed by 'friendly fire' in the crazed melee. Even if MOVE's ONE handgun killed the officer there obviously weren't 9 people who pulled the trigger. To be fair, if all MOVE members in the house under attack were to be prosecuted for this one death then why not prosecute ALL Philadelphia policemen for the attack that was the real reason for the trouble in the 1st place?!

"The nine members of MOVE charged with third-degree murder for Ramp's death became known as the MOVE 9. Each was sentenced to a maximum of 100 years in prison. They were Chuck, Delbert, Eddie, Janet, Janine, Merle, Michael, Phil, and Debbie Sims Africa.

"In 1998, at age 47, Merle Africa died in prison. Seven of the surviving eight members first became eligible for parole in the spring of 2008, but they were denied. Parole hearings for each of these prisoners were to be held yearly from that time. In 2015, at age 59, Phil Africa died in prison.

"The first of the MOVE 9 to be released was Debbie Sims Africa on June 16, 2018. Debbie Sims Africa, who was 22 when sentenced, was released on parole and reunited with her 39-year-old son, Michael Davis Africa, Jr. She gave birth to him a month after she was imprisoned, and he was taken from her a week later. The release of Debbie Sims Africa renewed attention on members of MOVE and the Black Panthers who remain imprisoned in the U.S. from the period of the 1960s and 1970s; there were at least 25 still in prison as of June 2018.

"On October 23, 2018, Michael Davis Africa, the husband of Debbie Sims Africa, was released on parole. In May 2019, Janine and Janet Africa were released on parole after 41 years of imprisonment. On June 21, 2019, Eddie Goodman Africa was released on parole. Delbert Orr Africa was granted parole on December 20, 2019 and released January 18, 2020. The last of the MOVE 9 either to be paroled or to die behind bars was Chuck Sims Africa, who was released on parole on February 7, 2020 after 41 years of imprisonment. Both Delbert and Chuck died of cancer in 2020 and 2021, respectively."


Everything about the treatment of the MOVE 9 was a crime. A heinous crime. & yet it was 'perfectly legal'. As I like to say: "We Are All Unequal Under the Law & THAT Is Its Purpose".

Werbe, again to his credit, is willing to be critical of Fifth Estate's reporting of the Detroit uprising. After all, if you admit to making mistakes there's an increased likelihood of not making that particular mistake again.

"This was entirely fiction, not news. There were no snipers, certainly not what the Fifth Estate reported in its issue covering the uprising. "Fighting between snipers and troops reached fantastic proportions as armed assaults were made on police precincts, command posts and even the downtown headquarters housing presidential assistant, Cyrus Vance. Bands of Negroes armed with army machine guns kept two police precincts from functioning for almost an hour as they lay siege to them. Also, on several occasions, guardsmen and police were forced to abandon entire sections of the ghetto due to sniper fire."

"Most of this fanciful depiction in the Fifth Estate that prided itself as being an alternative publication, was culled from mainstream news accounts and, like its commercial counterparts, failed to report accurately that the gunfire rocking the city for five days came from the wild firing of National Guardsmen." - pp 188-189

I find the explanation of "wild firing of National Guardsmen" plausible.. but how cd the Fifth Estate reporters know one way or the other? My personal rule-of-thumb: take it for granted the mainstream media is lying - esp in a heated situation where it's important to the ruling oligarchies to attain the upper propaganda hand. When I lived in downtown BalTimOre on BalTimOre St from 1991-1994 I lived smack-dab in the middle of a popular black gangster hang-out area. One of my roommates told me that one night he heard gunfire outside & he looked out a 5th floor window to see everyone on the hang-out parking lot next to where we lived pull out hand-guns & drop down behind their parked cars for cover. After the shooting stopped, everyone put their guns back & stood up & started talking again as if everything were normal. I have no way of knowing what the prevalence of guns in Detroit in 1967 was but I know that by 25 yrs later in BalTimOre guns were common. If I read that blacks in BalTimOre had been involved in a shoot-out I wdn't find that hard to believe. The question is always: What started the confrontation?

"The uprising ended if for no other reason than pure exhaustion, having really nowhere to go. It was a rebellion by a despised underclass that did not demand any reform. It was a spasm of rage against centuries of racism. It was social revenge.

"Paybacks are motherfuckers, as is said on Detroit streets. And, this motherfucker was the mother of all recent paybacks, leaving 43 people dead, 1,189 injured, and 2,000 businesses and homes burned over a huge urban expanse.

"You can't do people like that for that long and expect anything different." - p 192

& that's an excellent summary of a lesson learned by entirely too few.

Ngoi Làng Tren Ngon Núi was founded in 1354. It ceased to exist on August 6, 1967, 22 years to the day after the obliteration of another Asian city by American bombers.

"The B52 crew, all in their early to mid-20s, never set foot in Indochina on 22 bombing runs. After their hours of duty ended, they came back home, indifferent to the opposition to the war they had fought. They were only carrying out their assignments. All five went to college on the GI bill, got good jobs, and lived out their lives in all-white suburbs." - 254

& hence the cycle of deniability goes on & on. My father was a bottom gunner in an American bomber plane during WWII. The only time he ever sd anything about it to me he told me that they only bombed military targets in Italy & that no civilians were harmed. As if he wd fucking know from so high in the sky. Humans wreak misery left & right & have some form of denial readily at their disposal, white racists prevent blacks from getting higher paying jobs b/c, well, you know, they don't have the skills that us white people do (&, besides, cousin Jimmy needs a job). Then again, a black steelworker in BalTimOre in the 1980s once told me that when a white guy applied to work in a department otherwise run by blacks they put him in an area that was so hot that no-one cd stand it. Then they waited for him to break so that they cd tell him he wasn't suited for the job & get rid of him.

All in all, if I were to recommend 50 political novels this wd probably be one of them.






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