Intoxicated Minds


So I have been on a month long hiatus from most alcohol including beer and wine. I wanted to see how staying away from drinking made me feel and so far it’s been good. My pants fit easier and I don’t wake up in the morning with a headache of regret.

But I still went to the 3rd Anniversary Party at MacLeod Ale. Which, as I said for a few years now, is the best thing to happen in Van Nuys since maybe 1960.

Friends and near friends were there. I went back and hung out with some people and we drank and laughed and everything was fun.

There was one eccentric, older woman with red hair. I decided in my intoxication that she should join our group and I pulled her over.

She immediately asked everyone where “they were from.” She didn’t mean Reseda or Santa Monica, she was inquiring about the ethnicities of all the people.

And the usual bragging rights afforded to the mediocre came out. “I’m from old Norwegian stock and on my mom’s side her father was a ship captain from Ireland and we also have some pirates who we trace back to Crete, and then on my grandmother’s side she had a distant relative who was a first cousin with the Rockefellers.”

When her finger pointed to me, I knew what was in store so I dodged the bullet. When you are around drunk people you don’t say your last name is Jewish. You say Russian. So I did. That seemed to satisfy her, and she related my background to something noble that helped elect her leader who was making America great again.

Around the hops the discussions continued. This time the drunken brother of a regular customer was making fun of another person who he said was “a fake boyfriend of my sister and definitely gay.” The chuckles and the chortles of the regular dudes continued and they made fun of the man they pegged as gay.

It reminded me, in a strange way, of those days, long ago, in Lincolnwood, IL when I was friends with the Clarke Family and good old Pete, Dave’s older brother would greet me at the front door with “Hello Fruit!” or “The Fruit is here!” There was always a laugh on that one, the calling out of that which is not normal or regular.

I think I was 10 at the time so I didn’t understand what he was saying. But my father, schooled in Chicago manliness, honed on the ball field, said, “My son is not a fruit!” and so I learned I better not ever be one.

It is now 2017 but you wonder if those sober vows of tolerance are really just ready to burst especially when the intoxicated gather. There is public tolerance for almost everything that once set teeth on edge: gay people, pot smokers and growers and sellers, mixed race couples, trans people, obese people with tattoos, homeless people. We think it’s OK for people to walk around mentally ill and sleep in the street, and we are quite “cool” also with two dads for Sarah, and if Sarah wants to become Sam, that is “cool” too.

Everything that once made us uptight is “cool” just as everything else is “amazing.”

And maybe when we are sober, and rational, we decry the hate speech, but get a few beers in us, and we revert to our old ethnicities, our old tribal thinking, or old dumbness, really.

And somewhere there are little kids playing well together and everyone gets along great until one little kid learns he is a Unitarian, or a Ukranian or a Uruguayan and then the trouble starts.

Julius Blue, Whites Only, Van Nuys, 1948.


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According to WWII Army Enlistment Records, on March 9, 1942, Julius Blue, a 21-year-old Negro citizen from Walker County, Alabama enlisted at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The United States had been attacked by Japan three months earlier, and this nation was now involved in a struggle against the formidable and murderous Axis powers: Germany, Japan and Italy.

Unknown to most of the world, Germany was also engaged in the world’s most advanced genocide against unarmed Jewish citizens of every nation in Europe.

America fought not only to win, but to free enslaved peoples.

When the war was over, Julius Blue, now married, made his way to Los Angeles and settled at 1655 E. 40th Place in South LA.

By 1948, Los Angeles was booming. Jobs, factories, housing: the state was on fire.

And up in Van Nuys, near the corner of Roscoe and Sepulveda, 392 single-family homes were under construction at “Allied Gardens.” Terms were very favorable for veterans. A $10,400 home with a $66.80 mortgage could be had for $400 down.

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So one fine day in 1948, Julius Blue, his wife and her parents made their way up to Allied Gardens to look at the new homes.

When they got to the development, instead of being shown plans, the promoters handed the Blue Family a mimeographed document. It contained this description:

“No person whose blood is not entirely that of the Caucasian Race (and for the purposed of this paragraph no Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Hindu or any persons of the Ethiopian, Indian or Mongolian races shall be deemed to be Caucasian) shall at any time live upon any of the lots in said Tract 15010”

Boltenbacher and Kelton, the builders, were allowed, at that time, to restrict purchasing of their homes to only whites. They were unapologetic about their open prejudices and discriminatory policies.

In that same year, 1948, the US Supreme Court ruled against race restrictive covenants.

If Mr. Blue had been able to buy a house at Roscoe and Sepulveda, he might have tried to apply for work at the brand new General Motors plant five minutes away at Van Nuys Boulevard north of Raymer.

But that plant also discriminated against black people. There were thousands of jobs, but only a handful of black workers, mostly janitors, employed in that factory.

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These are some tales of old Los Angeles told by the LA Sentinel, a black-owned paper whose news coverage reported (and continues to report) stories often ignored by the LA Times and other white-owned media.

While it is amusing in our present time, and poetically just, to imagine that the multi-ethnic San Fernando Valley was once, by law and custom, reserved only for white buyers, it is still shocking to contemplate the blatant sadism, inhumanity and unfairness of that old time racism.

Julius Blue was not the only black man who had difficulty buying a home in Los Angeles. The August 12, 1948 LA Sentinel also had this headline:

HATEFUL SIGN PLASTERED ON “KING” COLE’S $85,000 PALACE

Nat “King” Cole and his wife were planning on moving into Hancock Park but they were bitterly opposed by neighbors who feared that the dark-skinned entertainer and popular singer’s presence would reduce property values.

In 1948, Nat “King” Cole: wealthy, talented, successful, world-famous; fought to buy his own house in Los Angeles.

Think about it.

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As a footnote, in 1987, Julius Blue, 65, was seriously wounded in a drive-by shooting in South Los Angeles.

I don’t know whether he survived.

But his story is the story of so many black men. How they managed to stay alive and keep their chins up high is truly astonishing and inspiring. And deeply distressing.

We Americans are the inheritors of an illogic and unreason that herds men and women into racial categories.

We Americans must uphold individual, not group, character as the only standard of moral judgment.

If we again buy into con-man ideas about group wide evil, we are going back in time to somewhere dark and ignorant, not pushing ahead into enlightenment and reason.

Dec 3 1987

Racialism and Obama.


Racialism and Obama

Suddenly, the cat is out of the bag and people are looking at those who oppose Obama and asking if the dislike of the President is formed out of racial animosity.

To an observer and historian of American history, the question should really be asked: What issues in our nation are not tinged by racial prejudice?

Very few.

Welfare reform, tax breaks for the wealthy, home schooling, public transportation, spending for domestic social needs, legislative redistricting, education, jobs, sprawl, the growth of the Sun Belt, immigration reform, the depopulation and decay in the Rust Belt, Christian values, states rights, affirmative action, prisons, law enforcement, guns. Almost everything has some underlying racial preference or prejudice influencing people’s beliefs and behaviors.

Obama is half white, but in this nation, that means he is all black. He married a black woman, and they joined a majority black church and lived and worked among working class black Chicagoans. Obama never lived post-racially but joined the very race based world of South Side Chicagoland.

Despite his immersion in South Side politics, Obama has tried and nearly succeeded in making white people forget that the history of America is as much about the exclusion of darker skin as it about the inclusion of everyone else. For the last two years, the liberal “elite”, if there is such a class, has pronounced, from its well-to-do white habitat, that we are a “post-racial” nation. We are not, and never will be that country.

Who among us, if given a choice, would rather have a black complexion? Who would choose to live in a mostly black neighborhood if they could live anywhere? We are lying if we say that we want to make our life harder. Anyone with common sense would like things to be easier: economically, socially, and racially.

If some sleeping liberals now detect that hostility to Obama stems from some hidden bigotry, they might realize that hatred of the man and his policies all share a common thread, however insignificant: race and color will always inform our policies.

Race and class are sitting in the debate room on issues as small as the renaming of a part of Van Nuys as Sherman Oaks; and as large, invisible spectators in the national tragedy of why we have spent 2 trillion dollars in Iraq rather than rebuilding Detroit, Newark, and Camden, NJ.

END

Colorful people for a Better World, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King (Ben Heine)

(Note : If you wish a print of this image, follow the following link and click on “Buy This Print” : benheine.deviantart.com/art/Obama-Luther-King-81753252 thanks)
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Budweiser Opening in Van Nuys: 1952


Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser groundbreaking, Van Nuys, 1952
Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser groundbreaking, Van Nuys, 1952

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Budweiser

TOP:USC Digital Archive
LOWER 2: LA Public Library

55 years ago, the opening of the Budweiser plant on Roscoe Blvd. was a big event. Costing $20,000,000
and employing 1500 workers, the plant was a large contributor to the post-war prosperity of Van Nuys.

In 1957, the NAACP launched a boycott of Budweiser beer. An NAACP spokesman said that there were only two “Negroes” employed by Annheuser-Busch in their entire Los Angeles operations! Here is a more detailed article about the racial prejudice black workers faced in the 1950s.

Busch Gardens and Bird Sanctuary was part of the complex and a major tourist attraction for many years until it closed in 1976. Here are more photos of that attraction.