By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
I suspected that the folks who ran ASD had led exciting lives. Ollie, one of the staff, was handsome and dressed in lime-green jumpsuitsand sported an earring. Most impressively, he had been a Black Panther. I imagined that other staff members had back stories of intrigue, staying one step ahead of the Man, until the Man decided to pay them to help keep the young and poor from becoming radicalized and rioting by keeping them busy with make-work and free lunches. And here we were getting radicalized; we would riot later in a decade or two.
Then there was a field trip to the Apocalyptic Black Man Library, the kind of place that had to be under surveillance and was located deep in black Los Angeles. We walked through beaded curtains into a dimly lit room, where we were greeted with the smell of incense and, on the walls, revolutionary paraphernalia, including posters of Huey seated in the rattan chair with a spear in hand, and maps — plenty of maps.
A brother in a dashiki approached us and said in a grave voice that we needed to be ready for the revolution, that it was coming. He told us that those brand-new, supersized interstate freeways were designed to get tanks and half-tracks to the inner city as fast as possible to suppress the revolution. We needed to be ready to drive our cars onto the freeways to slow the tanks so that the revolutionarieswould have time to mobilize; the sellouts who lived far from the core of inner city were putting themselves in danger because when the revolution came they’d be the first taken out by the Man.
I can’t say that I was philosophically comfortable with this guy’s idea of how I should be spending my adolescence — getting military training instead of trying to hook up with my girlfriend. I was maybe 17, probably 16, and felt as though I should have been supporting the cause, but I was much more inclined to fly model rockets and read novels in the shower. The presentation did leave me thinking I needed to do something. I asked Ollie what my odd-ass friends and I could do to support the revolution.
Ollie gave me an amused look.
“Jervey, all you need to do is live your life,” he said. “That’ll do more to change things than anything else you could do.”
I was grateful to Ollie for those words, for in truth, all I really was good at was being an ineffectual pootbutt. Ollie liberated me to live my life as I saw fit.
Today I don’t worry about what happened to those black militants who longed for a final confrontation with the Man. I imagine they went on to college, or maybe they were jailed, or killed. The government plots worked: Gangbanging and drug dealing are currently apolitical capitalist activities, and I never became radicalized, whatever that meant.
Maybe someone will discover that Obama had a similar experience with his own Ollie. If he did, I’m sure he’s the better man for it. I certainly am.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city