Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King

Thinking about MLK, JR., today I felt a book recommendation might prove a nice change of pace from another contrived Internet history lesson. Contrived books are simply more fun. So if you are interested in the American 60's and how the wildest shit you ever imagined went down, delve into James Ellroy's Underworld USA Trilogy. From MLK to Howard Hughes, Sonny Liston to JFK with endless waves of drugs, assassinations, wicked Mafioso’s and dim-witted movie stars, shit is hitting the fan continuously.

In talking about the first book, American Tabloid, Ellroy has said

America was founded on a bedrock of land grabs, slavery, religious extremism, colonial ambition, and genocide. The notion that America was innocent prior to Jack Kennedy's murder is preposterous; by the rules he lived by, Jack got what he deserved. He took aid from organized crime during the 1960 election; he repaid the debt by siccing his kid brother Bobby on the Mob at large. He betrayed the Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs. He pissed off a hot-headed troika of mobsters, exiles and renegade CIA men involved in the Cuban cause. They whacked him for it. His death derived from the perennial motives of money and turf. It was a gaudy homicide that set the stage for the out-of-control America that I portray in The Cold Six Thousand.

And in this second book, The Cold Six Thousand Martin Luther King makes his troubled appearance:

Martin Luther King, the greatest 20th-century American, was a true hero of the 1960s. His promiscuity was directly related to, and served as a counterbalance to, the terror he experienced during his 13-year tenure as a marked man, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the time of his death. King's social agenda expanded during the last 2 years of his life -- almost in the manner of a kamikaze attack on American society. He was physically and morally exhausted. His agenda was a shriek of self-martyrdom. He wanted to alienate as much as he wanted to heal. His long transit of courage brought him to the point of calling forth his own death.

But believe you me, it is much more than merely that. I can think of very few books that will make you heard spin faster and longer. Book #3, tentaively titled Police Gazette is still in the workshop but you'll want to be read it, I promise. So get cracking and enjoy the Holiday.


Anonymous said...

Dear Friends,
Today is a holiday because it is a day we pay tribute to a man who changed the world. That’s what’s important. We need to remember that King was a man of great conviction and he accomplished incredible feats in his short time on earth. Would we have a black middle class without this great man? I think not.
Now, there are those that dwell on the fact that all his advisers and close comrades were communists. Sure lawyer Stanley Levison wrote most of his speeches, including the “I have a dream” smash hit but that doesn’t necessarily mean King was a communist so lay off that. And sure he had a very hardy sexual appetite. The night before he was assassinated he was with three different prostitutes and, when a jealous feud broke out between number two and number three he cracked the bitch in the head (wouldn’t you?). Sure the FBI has secret tapes of him yelling “I’m fucking for God now” and “I’m not a negro tonight!” from the high points of that orgy but big whup. You should hear the shit Ralph Nader says when he’s drunk.
There’s also the embarrassing revelation that he plagiarized about 64% of the final thesis that brought him from Martin Luther King (not his real name) to Dr. Martin Luther King. His Alma Mater, Boston University has acknowledged this but they obviously don’t see it as a big deal as they have not annulled the PhD. Neither should you.
The big picture is that King paved the way for landmark civil rights legislation and, like James Frey, the important part is that he helped people. How he did it and what’s true and what is not true is not important. Okay? Let’s all take a moment this Monday to pour out some of our 40 for one of the greatest heroes in American History.

jane said...

you guys must really like to read i just got a new game boy and threw all the books out of girlfriend's loft.


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the running mule