Today, I spent two and a half hours on the phone to Bobby Seale, the 70-year-old co-founder of the beret-wearing, gun-toting, Little Red Book-waving Black Panthers, the small group of civil rights activists dubbed 'the biggest threat to American security' by J Edgar Hoover in the 1960's. I was interviewing him for Swindle magazine's Icons issue, which will be a shit-hot collection of interviews and photos with 50 living legends from across the spectrum (I'll be contributing a few good 'uns like Larry Clark, Larry Flynt, Slash, Seymour Stein, Brian Grazer and Elvira).
Bobby told me all kindsa cool stuff about his years fighting the racist pig police, first in Oakland and then across the US. He told me about how he and Huey Newton (the Black Panthers Minister of Defense) sold copies of Mao's Little Red Book to students at Berkeley so they could buy more guns. About how the FBI planted agent provocateurs in their midsts and made them do 'dumb shit' to discredit the group – “This one guy who was supposed to be one of us held up a gas station for $42 and drove off in a truck that said 'Black Panthers' in big letters on the side,” he said. He told me how he still gets hate mail from people who call him a black racist, even though he insists “the Black Panthers were always about power to all the people, black, white, yellow and polka dot…”
We were talking for so long he had to hang up for a 15-minute bathroom break, and when he called back he told me some more exciting news – he plans to revive Barbequ'n With Bobby, his collection of more than 250 outdoor cookin' recipes to make your mouth water. He wants to re-issue the book and maybe do a cooking series for TV, as soon as he finds the funding. I asked him if he has a manager or an agent and he said: “When I talk to agents they always say 'Bobby, tell us the dirt behind the Black Panthers, give us the sleaze' and that makes me so mad. It's time to move on!”
I wholeheartedly agree – why dish dirt when you could be dishing BBQ spare ribs instead…mmmm…