Thursday, July 2, 2015

Will We Ever Move Forward?

Jason Collins

Typically, I don't sit down with the intention of listening to a CD Audiobook planning to scribble 'bout I-T, but instead, simply enjoy the book and escape thy A-L-L consuming Keyboard!

Yet I recently finished listening to John Grisham's Excellante tome titled The Last Juror, which like many books I listen to these Dazes, was published in 2004 which always makes it funny discovering them a decade or more later.

The stories main character becomes rebranded as Willy Trainer, after the prestigious "Preppy" from the North, having attended Syracuse University for five years before dropping out has his name massaged by the then current fictional Clanton, Mississippi Newspaper's editor in this sleepy 'lil Backwater town nearby Memphis, Tennessee.

And although it doesn't delve into the real world of journalism per sei, nonetheless I enjoyed  several of its viewpoints, including noting how by the end of his tenure of having owned the Ford County Times, which thee young brash Willy purchased for $50,000 at the ripe 'Ol age of 23! Notes how he was fictitiously cranking out 22-pages of the weekly's issue 36-pages over 52 weeks-a-year for nearly a decade before ultimately burning out!

As this made me immediately think of my 'lil No Fenders enterprise - and ultimately how I hope to go out on my own terms (which naturally we all do!) whenever I cease poundin' away on Zed Keyboard! As perhaps one of the last 'Ol School Open Wheel Racing "Keyboard Warriors," eh?

Although I harbour ZERO illusions of leaving on Messer Trainer's terms, selling his flourishing Newspaper for a kOOL $1.5m at the end of 1979 - which obviously we'd A-L-L be happy with receiving today!

This story made me think about a deeper issue then its recounting of a brutal rape & murder by an affluent citizen, instead  I was simply bowled over by the excellent descriptions of how backwards of a nation we were (and still are) in regards to racial divide, as the book begins in earnest in 1970, for which I keep musing to myself occurred in my lifetime!

As how ridiculous that major battle lines were drawn with white folks threatening to cancel their subscription over the brazenness of a white editor doing the unthinkable by publishing black people's obituaries in a Newspaper!

Not to mention the total uproar over forced integration of our public schools, for which it seems that Seattle was behind the Curveball of this epic undertaking in the south in the early 1970's. As the fictional town Clanton goes into full panic mode over this edict in 1971!

Yet Grisham's lead character Willy Trainer excellently points out how the local Redneck's fears became as swaged when a black Running Back leads the High School's team to an upset win in the season opening football game!

As I myself, was part of this mandated integration when being voluntarily bussed in the mid-1970's five miles south to a then predominantly black High School in the Central District - for which I can still recall our team's star football Wide Receivers name being Anthony Allen.

The story revolves around the then unthinkable and controversial decision of the Newspaper's brash young new Editor Mr. Trainer's decision to publish a seemingly innocuous two part Human Interest story on Miss Calli's seven sons & daughters who all hold PHD's - in what becomes a long standing tradition of having weekly lunches at Miss Calli's house, naturally with her cooking all the meals in the obscenely "Lotown" across the railroad tracks.

Later the story delves into how Sam, their eighth child whose name is taboo was forced to attend the town's then all white school for three years as its only black student before integration.

Then Sam is seduced by a married white female at his job at the town's upscale shoe store, which after the couple's caught, Sam spends the next two years on the lamb as the provocateur's husband is a local law enforcement officer who's threatened to kill Sam if he  ever returns to Clanton!

Later, Willy convinces Sam to not honour his Draft Order for Vietnam and instead flee to Canada, along with writing a blistering editorial over how wrong the war is, noting how our top military advisors knew the war was lost in 1969, yet a further 18,000 US Servicemen's life's would be lost before finally pulling out in 1974.

As my friend Marcus reminded me of Walter Cronkite's blistering speech during one of his nightly newscasts after returning from Vietnam after the 1968 Tet Offensive - where he publicly decried we couldn't win the war.

And thus, coming full circle, as I suppose the 40th anniversary of this extremely dark affair, punctuated by leaving thousands stranded  as the helicopters furiously fled the Hanoi Hilton, have we as a society progressed at all? As seemingly just the battle lines have shifted, for which I tried writing about after Indiana Governor Mike Pence's Racial Hatred and Stupidity...

Since, to my knowledge, NO active racing driver has ever openly declared they're Gay! While only two African American's have ever raced in the Indianapolis 500 to date. With two more taking part in the long forgotten USGP Formula 1 races and Indy Lights Freedom 100!

As surely Y'all know the name Willy T Ribbs and Lewis Hamilton, right? While I'm guessing George Mack and Chase Austin aren't as well known...

As will we ever see another black IndyCar driver contest the Indy 500? Or even better yet, an entire season in Indy Cars? As Chase Austin seems merely a forgotten footnote, while the only current black driver Stateside is plying his trade in "Taxicab's," multi-time NASCAR winner Bubbah Wallace who's currently a Roush Fenway Development Driver in the Xfinity Series. while Lewis Hamilton doesn't get nearly the respect and admiration a soon-to-be F1 triple world champion deserves.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I'm sure many will gleefully jump on the Bandwagon deriding Michael Sam's snap decision to walk out upon his current employer the Montreal Alouettes

, for which I surely hope he'll wisely reconsider and return promptly, although obviously I have zero knowledge upon why he did so.

Although Sounders FC Players and Fans behaved rather poorly over their being eliminated by rival Portland Timbers at  home during this year's U.S. Open Cup match play, at least the Franchise in whole is on the "right Page" and smartly honouring the LGBT Community with its Pride Match Saturday, June 20th during its game against the San Jose Earthquakes, along with honouring Jason Collins.

As the New England Revolution held a similar Pride Match on June 13th while Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers did likewise  on June 3rd, the team's first ever event. As are you listening Governor Pence?