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At the command center on the Y2K weekend.
January 17th, 2000

Thanks. Really.
Oakland was empty this morning and I was able to park on the street close in to the office. On Martin Luther King Day in Oakland, California, a city with a large African American population, you celebrate this holiday, everyone, it seems, except us. If there was a thought, even the vaguest hint, of any racism in our non observance, you'd see a very large number of our people taking this day off (and some do) including me, but the feeling seems to be one of we get a lot of vacation days, but this is not one of them, rather than making any kind of cheesy racial statement. Still, I'd rather we observed it.

I wasn't active in the civil rights movement, active in the sense of marching in the streets At the command center over the Y2K weekend. or attending rallies. The civil rights movement in Seattle exploded in the 1960's. I remember listening to a speech Stokley Carmichael gave to a primarily African American audiance at Garfield high school and wondered, a little awe struck, at how this guy only two years older than I was could speak to an audiance like a man with a thousand years of experience and humanity. We learned later that the FBI had been dogging the civil rights activists including Carmichael, running a program of disinformation and dirty tricks designed to destroy him, all of this with some success. Would the FBI, the law machine of legend, really stoop to such tactics? Yup. Absolutely. When you lose your innocence, I guess, you lose all your innocence and it's not hard in retrospect to understand why a paranoid egoist like Hoover might be terrified of a mind that quick and intelligent. Or why someone else might load a rifle.

I was in the army from 1967 through 1969 and stationed in Korea when Dr. King (and Robert Kennedy) were assasinated. The army and the ever present Vietnam war wrapped all of us in a kind of mental coccoon that blocked out the outside world and focused our attention on day to day survival, but the assassinations made us stop and wonder what in the fuck was happening back in the United States. Hey, lieutenant, youngster, sweetheart, welcome to reality. They want you to go to a war in a far away land nobody believes makes any sense while they're killing the political men in the streets and the spiritual men on their pulpits.

Weird. I mean shit kicking really weird. So weird it left you numb. I returned home having not a clue what I was going to do with my life, but settling down into a damaged suburban debt driven American Dream to watch television and eat pizza with a shell shocked wife and two and a half kids was not one of them. (There may have been other reasons for this, but it sounds good the way it's written and it must have had some influence. Don't you think? Doctor?)

There were a lot of voices in those days, each rallying their troops. The idealism in the American Dream was represented by Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. There are lots of ways to go in this American experiment, this living and surviving together mix of a thousand different cultures and colors and some of them are pretty ugly. Some few understood that exactly in those mid and late 1960's urging a different course and another vision. Black and white in America? I haven't a clue. I live in a ghetto inside my own head and I have no experience whatsoever except for what I've read and maybe seen from a distance. My guess is this guy, the idea of this guy, anyway, the written words and spoken words of this guy are worth remembering and keeping, whatever the reality of the man himself. And so, today, in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, I say god be with you sir, or, in your case, I guess, God (with the capital G) be with you. And thanks. Really.

The photographs were taken over the Y2K weekend at the office. I know, I know. Who are these people and what are they doing here? Same thing I was doing in the command center. Bouncing off walls and drinking coffee.