The latest worst week ever

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  • The latest worst week ever

    Like most people I'm sure, I'd at a complete loss for words. The events and riots over the last week have been horrific, fueled by gross injustice, decades of building frustration, and an absolute disgrace for a president. Calming a nation might hurt him politically so this despicable psychopath would rather stay silent and allow American cities to burn and be trashed. (I'm turning off the comments today. I have no interest in hearing any opposing views.)

    I always try to offer something you won't find in any other commentary. There's really nothing I can say about this calamity you haven't heard, read, or said yourself. So to provide perspective I want to take you back to 1965. This is not the first race riot I have witnessed. That dubious distinction goes to the Watts Riots here in Los Angeles. In my memoir, THE ME GENERATION... BY ME (GROWING UP IN THE '60S) I reference the Watts Riot. I want to share it today, not to sell any more books, but for you to see how eerily similar that riot was to the ones we're currently experiencing.

    You'd think we'd learn something in 55 years. If we have, we won't know until November.

    Here is that excerpt. Stay safe.

    In August, a California Highway Patrolman stopped an inebriated black man in Watts. When the cop tried to have the car impounded a crowd gathered and things escalated. e bottled up frustrations and oppression that had been simmering for generations finally exploded. Within 24 hours there was a full-scale riot.
    For nearly a week, I watched on TV stunned and horrified as these people destroyed and looted their own neighborhood, the same neighborhood I drove through looking for Shindig. Storefronts were set on fire. Windows were smashed. The National Guard was sent in. It was insane. You'd see two kids hauling a couch down the street as bricks and rocks flew and fistfights raged on in the background. Not a movie, not a re-enactment. Live. Real reality television. In a place I'd been.
    This was an utter shock to me. In my sheltered suburban life I had no real clue that there even was that degree of intense frustration. On those few occasions when I listened to something other than KHJ, one of my favorite stations was KGFJ. I've always loved Rhythm & Blues, and KGFJ was the soul station in Los Angeles. Watts, South Central, Compton - these were not ghettos; they were all just part of the "Big K Kingdom.- Now they were all on fire. And KGFJ was unfairly assigned some of the blame.
    Their most popular disc jockey was the Magnificent Montague. When he played a record he really liked he would yell, "Burn!- Some rioters adopted that phrase and "Burn, baby, burn!- became the unofficial rally cry. Some later thought that Montague was inciting the crowd on the radio but, in truth, he was doing just the opposite. And I know because I was listening.
    On the other hand, there was Joe Pyne.
    Joe Pyne was one of the first belligerent radio talk show hosts. He discovered that you could get big ratings by telling callers to "go gargle with razor blades.- In the mid '60s he also had a local Saturday night television show on KTTV. He sat behind a desk while a studio audience of Cro-Magnons grunted support. On this night he waved a handgun saying every citizen should have one and be willing to use it. He was not fired for this. And the next year NBC hired him to host a daytime game show.
    By Sunday the riot had run its course, leaving about $200 million in property damage. Shockingly, public opinion polls at the time showed as many people blamed the Communists for the riot as those who blamed social issues and prejudice.
    For six days I remained glued to my TV. The images were inconceivable.
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