Wednesday, August 16, 2017

IN THE WAKE OF CHARLOTTESVILLE, THIS JUNE POST FROM MARGOT WELCH

ON THE SPIRIT OF RESISTANCE
Margot Welch June 7, 2017 One comment
In August it will be ten years since Grace Paley died — when the goldenrod she loved was dancing all over her Vermont hills. Her voice alive, her brave, vibrant stories, poems, and essays (newly available again) capturing her passion for people, social justice, life. She’s with us on playgrounds, protests, army bases, Wall Street, Washington Square, at Seabrook, the Pentagon, Seneca Falls, in jail cells, Paris, Sweden, China, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Hanoi. As always, she begins again. As we must.
The malice of the current administration — and knowing that hate does not feel hateful to so many Americans — is what most frightens me. Trump’s cabinet appointments, and many of his executive orders are nasty. Mike Capuano tracks mandates we don’t know about. But why must Secretary Kelly cut the Temporary Protective Status review time for Haitians from a routine 18 months to 6? Thousands of empty beds in county jails and closed ‘re-purposing facilities’ are available to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Still the agency is ordered to use “all legally available resources to immediately construct, operate and control facilities to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico.” Bids flood in. We, the people, will pay.
Hate and fear deaden hearts, silence voice. We must name what is happening. Consider how little most Americans know about immigrants’ everyday lives. We ‘refer’ to the issue, even as we depend on immigrants for so many services. But we don’t really imagine what it’s like, now — to be so fearful for your family and friends that you’re afraid to go to the Emergency Room, to pick up the legal WIC allotment for your hungry baby, to send your kids to school, to call the police when you — or someone outside your window — are battered. In the first three months of this year, 41,000 immigrants were deported. 95% of all those ever deported have no criminal record.
I want you to meet Conrado and Reina — two dreamers who, like tens of thousands of undocumented youth, came here when they were very young with parents fleeing violent, chaotic nations. Parents determined to give their kids better lives. Many are now young adults, have beaten great odds, excelled in our schools, and know no other land as home.
Conrado’s parents left Brazil, overstayed a tourist visa, and saw their son excel in schools. In Junior year, at Somerville High School, a Guidance Counselor told him be-cause he was undocumented he couldn’t go to college. His grades fell, he was dropped from the honors program, thought of leaving school when he encountered the Student Immigrant Movement (SIM), a grassroots organization of and for undocumented youths, focused on political education, leadership training, protection, and mentor-ship. Conrado worked two jobs to pay for one year at UMass Boston. So far. Lead Pro-gram Coordinator for SIM, Conrado reports that his parents, too stressed by anxieties about their health and their children, have returned to Brazil. He will not be able to see them.
Reina came to Massachusetts from El Salvador, near the end of the terrible civil war, when so many women and children were killed. Her mother fled; Reina was raised by grandparents until she herself was sexually abused. Her mother asked Reina if she wanted to join her. Alone, at 11, she made the decision and the dangerous journey to finally meet her mother at a California juvenile detention center. When the two re-turned to Massachusetts, a judge ruled that Reina could not stay. Over the next years the little family moved from town to town, until Reina graduated from Everett High School. She now works as a Student Organizer for SIM.
The morning after the election, Conrado wrote, he was afraid and alone with many questions he couldn’t answer. What would happen to his DACA status? His undocumented family members? Friends and dreamers he knew? That morning, however, all the dreamers, sharing the same fears, felt new resolve. Together they would resist, take care of each other, and defend their human rights.
Listen to Paley:
…what we need right now is to imagine the real…really think about it…
call it to mind…not simply refer to it all the time….(or) you lose (it) entirely.… .
Once we really imagine, really hear, we must join, “light up” what otherwise stays invisible, unnamed. This is “what justice is about,” Paley adds. Resistance. Courage. Energy. And hope.
Some Sources:
A Grace Paley Reader, eds. Kevin Bowen & Nora Paley (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
American Civil Liberties Union: aclu.org
Unitarian Universalist Mass Action newsletter:  uumassaction.org
My Undocumented Life: myundocumentedlife.org
Student Immigrant Movement: simforus.org
Michael Capuano’s Behind the Curtain mandates: capuano.house.gov
Mass. Immigration and Refugee coalition: miracoalition.org
We are Here to Stay: weareheretostay.org
Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM): fairimmigration.org
Centro Presente: cpresente.org
Brazilian Immigrant Center: braziliancenter.org
United We Dream: unitedwedream.org
Center for Popular democracy:  populardemocracy.org
Backers of Hate: backersofhate.org
Center for Popular Democracy:  populardemocracy.org

Monday, July 31, 2017

“Picturing Our History” The War Resisters League by David McReynolds

David McReynolds

Taken from the convention floor of the civil rights rally.  The banner reads “Protect Your Freedom… Support Civil Rights Legislation.”
Taken from the convention floor of the
civil rights rally.  The banner reads “
Protect Your Freedom… Support Civil
Rights Legislation.”  In under a decade
the Civil Rights Act (of 1964) and the
Voting Rights Act were signed into law.
Photo: David McReynolds
Photographs by David McReynolds
Text by Jay Cassano
This series of previously unpublished photographs was taken by David McReynolds from1956 - 1971.  They portray the people at the center of vibrant and turbulent times in movements for social justice.  In many cases, these photographs also highlight the ways in which the War Resisters League has ben ahead of the curve and pushing the limits of what issues the broader Left addresses.
Just two years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling and mere months after Autherine Lucy became the first black student to attend the University of Alabama, a massive civil rights rally was held in Madison Square Garden on May 24, 1956.  McReynolds had arrived in New York City only weeks prior but was on hand at the rally, where he captured scenes of important Civil Rights Movement leaders together.  In 1959, the War Resisters League presented its second annual Peace Award to A.J. Muste. Martin Luther King Jr., eight years prior to his publicly coming out against the Vietnam War, gave the award ceremony speech.  In 1971 McReynolds traveled to Hanoi in then-North Vietnam, where he photographed the lives of the Vietnamese people in a way not often seen. Just two years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling and mere months after Autherine Lucy became the first black student to attend the University of Alabama, a massive civil rights rally was held in Madison Square Garden on May 24, 1956. McReynolds had arrived in New York City only weeks prior but was on hand at the rally, where he captured scenes of important Civil Rights Movement leaders together. In 1959, the War Resisters League presented its second annual Peace Award to A.J. Muste. Martin Luther King Jr., eight years prior to his publicly coming out against the Vietnam War, gave the award ceremony speech. In 1971 McReynolds traveled to Hanoi in then-North Vietnam, where he photographed the lives of the Vietnamese people in a way not often seen.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Autherine Lucy, actress Tallulah Bankhead, and Rosa Parks.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Autherine Lucy, actress Tallulah Bankhead, and Rosa Parks. Photo: David McReynolds
Bayard Rustin (R), who served as WRL’s Executive Secretary from 1953 to 1965, greets Dr. T.R.M Howard, one of the featured speakers at the rally.
Bayard Rustin (R), who served as WRL’s Executive Secretary from 1953 to 1965, greets Dr. T.R.M Howard, one of the featured speakers at the rally.
 Photo: David McReynolds
 
Future Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Murray Kempton, Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, Autherine Lucy.  This is one of the only known photographs of Baker and Rustin togehter, the key behind-the-scenes activists of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, respectively.
Future Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Murray Kempton, Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, Autherine Lucy.  This is one of the only known photographs of Baker and Rustin together, the key behind-the-scenes activists of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, respectively. Photo: David McReynolds
 
Musician Josh White lights Rustin’s cigarette backstage.
Musician Josh White lights Rustin’s cigarette backstage. Photo: David McReynolds
 
A.J. Muste and Norman Thomas, six-time Socialist Party presidential candidate, posing with Muste’s Peace Award.
A.J. Muste and Norman Thomas, six-time Socialist Party presidential candidate, posing with Muste’s Peace Award. Photo: David McReynolds

A candid shot of Muste and Thomas in conversation at the awards banquet.
A candid shot of Muste and Thomas in conversation at the awards banquet. Photo: David McReynolds

Martin Luther King Jr giving the award ceremony speech.
Martin Luther King Jr giving the award ceremony speech. Photo: David McReynolds
In 1971 McReynolds traveled to Hanoi, North Vietnam.  At the time, no tourists were allowed in the North but McReynolds went anyway and took these two photographs, among several others.  The final photo echoes the infamous shot of Kim Phuc running down a street while being burned by napalm in 1972.  McReynolds’ photo reminds us that even amid the horrors of war children are still able to laugh and smile.  Photos: David McReynolds

David McReynolds

David McReynolds served on the staff of WRL for nearly 40 years and was chair of War Resisters’ International.

Jay Cassano

Jay Cassano is a former Editor of WIN Magazine.  He worked for several years as a journalist based in Turkey, writing regularly for Inter Press Service and contributing to regional publications such as Al-Akhbar English and Egypt Independent. Based again in the U.S., writes for a variety of publications on topics ranging from technology to sexism to Middle East politics.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Grace Paley Fellowships in Mexico

http://underthevolcano.org/wp-utv/choose-your-plan/full-fellowships/











GRACE PALEY FELLOWSHIP

The Grace Paley Fellowship at Under the Volcano honors the legacy of the great writer and activist Grace Paley, whose inimitable stories gave lasting life to the immigrants, artists and visionaries of her New York and who believed in all necessary and generous change, as embodied in the title of her first collection, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. Grace Paley was a master teacher and a member of our founding faculty, who returned to teach and read in Tepoztlán many times before her death in 2007.
This fellowship covers participation in any of our English-language master classes, the two-week follow-up extension residency, 24 nights accommodation in Tepoztlán, RT travel to and from Mexico City from the US and help with childcare expenses if applicable.
The Grace Paley Fellowship will be awarded to a woman writer of any age whose work Grace Paley would have encouraged.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Anniversary of June 12! No More War!!


from John Bell:
























I forgot to mention on Monday that 35 years ago (!) on June 12, 1982, the Bread & Puppet Theater collaborated with 1,000 volunteers (mostly from Vermont) to stage a "Fight Against the End of the World" parade as part of a huge anti-nuclear march in New York City, which included close to a million people--the largest street protest in the city's history. Peter Schumann's giant puppets (and Schumann on stilts) graced the front page of the New York Times the next day. This was in a way a culmination of many years of Bread & Puppet shows, circuses, and parades responding to the threats of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. A somewhat smaller version of the parade was presented in London a few months later as part of an anti-nuclear protest there. It's good to know that current work in activist puppet theater has such strong roots to build on; roots that of course go back even further, to the 1930s and beyond...

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Women’s March to Ban the Bomb
















NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARE ABOUT TO BE BANNED AND WE NEED YOUR VOICE!


In one of its final acts of 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted with overwhelming support a landmark resolution to begin negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. This historic decision heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts.
Throughout June and July of 2017, governments will negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons at the United Nations. WILPF and our coalition are hitting the streets to celebrate and also demand a good treaty that prohibits these weapons of mass destruction once and for all!
The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb is a women-led initiative building on the momentum of movements at the forefront of the resistance, including the Women’s March on Washington. It will bring together people of all genders, sexual orientations, ages, races, abilities, nationalities, cultures, faiths, political affiliations and backgrounds to march and rally at 12 PM – 4PM Saturday, June 17th 2017 in New York City!
route for women's ban the bomb march
Times 
  • 12:00 PM meet at the assembly point outside of Bryant Park along W40th Ave street. Join the movement, get inspired, build solidarity, make some friends and get ready to march!
  • 12:30 PM march begins along the route outlined above ending at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza where the rally begins!
  • 1:15 PM-4:00 PM Rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza with speakers, booths and musical performances.
Speakers & Musical Performances
More details to come!
ban the bomb nyc

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Eulogy (My Mother Was a Dictionary) by Sherman Alexie

My mother was a dictionary.
She was one of the last fluent speakers of our tribal language.
She knew dozens of words that nobody else knew.
When she died, we buried all of those words with her.








My mother was a dictionary.
She knew words that had been spoken for thousands of years.
She knew words that will never be spoken again.
She knew songs that will never be sung again.
She knew stories that will never be told again.
My mother was a dictionary.
My mother was a thesaurus,
My mother was an encyclopedia.
My mother never taught her children the tribal language.
Oh, she taught us how to count to ten.
Oh, she taught us how to say “I love you.”
Oh, she taught us how to say “Listen to me.”
And, of course, she taught us how to curse.
My mother was a dictionary.
She was one of the last four speakers of the tribal language.
In a few years, the last surviving speakers, all elderly, will also be gone.
There are younger Indians who speak a new version of the
tribal language.
But the last old-time speakers will be gone.
My mother was a dictionary.
But she never taught me the tribal language.
And I never demanded to learn.
My mother always said to me, “English will be your best weapon.”
She was right, she was right, she was right.
My mother was a dictionary.
When she died, her children mourned her in English.
My mother knew words that had been spoken for thousands of years.
Sometimes, late at night, she would sing one of the old songs.
She would lullaby us with ancient songs.
We were lullabied by our ancestors.
My mother was a dictionary.
I own a cassette tape, recorded in 1974.
On that cassette, my mother speaks the tribal language.
She’s speaking the tribal language with her mother, Big Mom.
And then they sing an ancient song.
I haven’t listened to that cassette tape in two decades.
I don’t want to risk snapping the tape in some old cassette player.
And I don’t  want to risk letting anybody else transfer
that tape to digital.
My mother and grandmother’s conversation doesn’t belong
in the cloud.
That old song is too sacred for the Internet.
So, as that cassette tape deteriorates, I know that it will soon be dead.
Maybe I will bury it near my mother’s grave.
Maybe I will bury it at the base of the tombstone
she shares with my father.
Of course, I’m lying.
I would never bury it where somebody might find it.
Stay away, archaeologists! Begone, begone!
My mother was a dictionary.
She knew words that have been spoken for thousands of years.
She knew words that will never be spoken again.
I wish I could build tombstones for each of those words.
Maybe this poem is a tombstone.
My mother was a dictionary.
She spoke the old language.
But she never taught me how to say those ancient words.
She always said to me, “English will be your best weapon.”
She was right, she was right, she was right.

(from lithub.com)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This week’s New Yorker has an extended review of a new collection of stories and poems by Grace Paley. The book is co-edited by Nora Paley and Kevin Bowen. It includes a lovely photo of a young Grace.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Remembering Greenham Common and Seneca Falls

An April 1 1983, 70,000 people marched in the UK against the missile deployment at Greenham Common. This base was a center for the Women’s Peace Camp there. A solidarity encampment was held at a base in Seneca Falls, NY.

The photo of Grace on this blog is from Seneca Falls and is described in a book by Helene Aylon: “...we moved to the Seneca Army Depot in upstate New York to call attention to the missiles being deployed from there to the military site at Greenham Common in England. The poet/activist Grace Paley was at the site and in a brilliant moment of political theater, cut holes in her pillowcase for her arms and head so she could wear it. At first the artist in me winced, but the picture of Grace in her pillowcase became an iconic antiwar image. And when other women followed Grace, the soft shield of the pillowcase giving them the courage to clime the Army fence, I was humbled.
   “A young guard approached me to ask if he could hang a pillowcase in the police headquarters. I said I could not remove any that were meant for the army fence, but that I’d get a few women from the peace encampment to make a new pillowcase especially for him. I like to think that guard quit his job because of this piece of cloth.”  from Whatever is Contained Must be Released by Helene Aylon.
Grace at Seneca Falls
The following photos are from
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/20/greenham-common-nuclear-silos-women-protest-peace-camp?CMP=share_btn_fbay
  an article in the Guardian today.








Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Event for Grace in April: Save the Date!


Thursday, April 6 at 7 PM - 8:30 PM At the New York Center for Fiction

Sunday, March 19, 2017

New Collection of Grace’s Work


REVIEWS A Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays, and Poetry By Kevin Bowen and Nora Paley, Editors FSG It is the early 1930s. A girl in New York City, just tall enough to see over her family’s kitchen table, catches a moment of tacit communication between her parents. The mother pauses in her reading of the newspaper to say to the father: “Zenya, it’s coming again.” Even the young girl, Grace Goodside, knows what “it” means: Hitler’s rise to power. The “again” was more mysterious—more compelling—both for the girl and for Grace Paley, the writer and activist she became, who retold this memory. The 1905 pogroms that killed her uncle and drove her parents from Russia to the United States were only dimly known to her as a child. A penumbral and weighty silence, common to refugees from politically murderous areas of the globe, covered much of the family’s past in the old country. A lesson emerged from that parental shorthand “again”—namely that nothing, even the worst, was entirely new. Politics was a matter of taking the long view and enduring. Paley never forgot the rebuke her parents’ wariness offered to American innocence, but she lived to shatter the silence with the volubility of an American child. From her Bronx childhood to her maturity in Greenwich Village’s radical heyday, lasting to the Vermont retreat of her old age and her death in 2007, Paley was a fearless and unflagging arguer. She was someone who gained energy through the give-and-take of political debate, whose brash, blunt New York manners made the tacit sayable. A co-founder of the Greenwich Village Peace Center and a noted member of the War Resisters League whose pacifism was rooted in a continually evolving feminism, Paley blended the socialism of her secular Jewish upbringing with the unruly passions of the left during and after Vietnam: The civil-rights, antiwar, and environmental movements each counted her as an ally. Much of her arguing happened on the ground—at protests, at the constant meetings that her life as an activist demanded, during visits abroad to nations that her own country was spending its young men and money ravaging. But from the 1950s until the 2000s, much of it also happened in writing: in poetry, in essays and political reportage, and in short stories, where her brilliance found its best outlet. Politics is a matter of taking the long view and enduring. Paley’s oeuvre isn’t large. Years raising children, and many more years as a committed political actor, limited the extended solitude that writing demands. The short stories came out in three books published over two and a half decades, while the essays and poems were scattered over a longer period of time. The career can fit between two covers, as in a multi-genre anthology like A Grace Paley Reader. If the Reader was intended as a memorial, published a decade after her death, it now seems more pressing—a necessary antidote to the current demoralization of the American left and the disorientation of what remains of the country’s center. On the one hand, Paley’s durable, disabused optimism and the resilience of her fiction’s women, “the soft-speaking tough souls of anarchy,” as she called them in the story “Friends,” will catch you up short. On the other hand, so will her wary fatalism, the voice that lingered from her parents, reminding her how “it”—illiberalism, authoritarianism, the scapegoating of the most vulnerable—always might, and usually does, come again. When that happens, as it now seems to be happening, Paley has a way of reminding us how to be stubborn. Paley’s initial stories, slowly written during the 1950s and collected in The Little Disturbances of Man in 1959, received the kind of attention that launches careers. It is not hard to see why. They are masterpieces of voice, stunning ventriloquisms of women who, telling their life stories, refuse to be taken for suckers in a man’s world. A streetwise Russian-Jewish Bronx patois is the general dialect, but every utterance of her characters promises to take an idiosyncratic, poetic swerve. The 14-year-old narrator of “A Woman, Young and Old,” on her mother’s taking a new lover: “Living as I do on a turnpike of discouragement, I am glad to hear the incessant happy noises in the next room.” The middle-aged Aunt Rose of “Goodbye and Good Luck,” remembering taking up piecework flower-making to earn some money as a young woman: “This was my independence, Lillie dear, blooming, but it didn’t have no roots and its face was paper.” With stony bravura, “An Interest in Life” opens: “My husband gave me a broom one Christmas. This wasn’t right. No one can tell me it was meant kindly.” FSG The milieu is the New York City immigrant world that muddled along before and during World War II, and then lurched unpredictably into middle-class prosperity. The voices are unapologetically female, speaking as if woman-to-woman. Men are transients and incidentals, “till time’s end, trying to get away in one piece,” Aunt Rose comments. Crowded multigenerational homes and thin walls make sex a common preoccupation. Patriarchal rules, inevitable and sublimely ridiculous, turn women into rugged survivalists. By 1959 this display of voice—the comedy of white ethnic life—was somewhat recognizable territory. Still, Paley pulled it off with so much panache that it gained her a following. The rueful honesty of her female narrators gave the stories a political charge, but they could be read as merely brilliant, wicked mimicry, a kind of amusing tourism, their feminism latent. Late in The Little Disturbances, however, Paley found the key to transcending comic-ethnic ventriloquism: the recurring character Faith Darwin Asbury. While Paley’s other narrators speak as if unconscious of their picturesque wit, Faith—a single mother of two boys, juggling petit bourgeois drudgery in increasingly bohemian times, putting no stock in men or their work—is her author’s equal. The joke is no longer for the reader; it might even be on the reader. From her first appearance in “Two Short Sad Stories From a Long and Happy Life,” when she names her first and second husbands Livid and Pallid, Faith has a self-awareness that makes it impossible to laugh at her: Truthfully, Mondays through Fridays—because of success at work—my ego is hot; I am a star; whoever can be warmed by me, I may oblige. The flat scale stones of abuse that fly into that speedy atmosphere are utterly consumed. Untouched, I glow my little thermodynamic way. On Saturday mornings in my own home, however, I face the sociological law called the Obtrusion of Incontrovertibles. Faith invites and refuses confidences in the same sentence: “I rarely express my opinion on any serious matter,” she tells us, “but only live out my destiny, which is to be, until my expiration date, laughingly the servant of man.” If the admission seems like a bitter acceptance of things as they are, it is also the beginning of a refusal. It is a bulletin from a developing front. Through faith, Paley discovered her great subject: the evolving political engagement of the generation of women who came of age in the shadow of World War II. The stories Paley wrote after The Little Disturbances are ever more plotless. They are snapshots of female community—in particular, the group of Greenwich Village women early to the postwar quest for feminist consciousness—or, in Faith’s own words, “a report on … the condition of our lifelong attachments.” Paley borrowed the method of linking characters across a story series from Isaac Babel, one of her lodestars. But unlike Babel’s Odessa stories—or, for that matter, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio—Paley’s stories about Faith extend the timescale well into adulthood. Faith and her friends age, shedding lovers and children and parents, and finding new objects for their political passions. It turns out that rather than voice, Paley’s true subject was time. Put another way, her theme was how the ethical aspirations of political life extend over time: how they survive inevitable disappointment; how they steel themselves into endurance. Paley’s second collection, 1974’s Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, was like nothing else in American writing then. Especially startling was the way the stories handled the question of time. “Faith in a Tree,” one of the volume’s showstopping pieces, starts as a gently meandering account of a Saturday afternoon in Washington Square Park, where Faith observes other mothers, the new generation of fathers performing parental attentiveness, the hesitant mixture of races, the urban gossip and sexual competitiveness. Faith’s voice is mordantly witty but sympathetic. The park is, as she puts it, “a place in democratic time,” and there is love blended with Faith’s quiet acerbity. The story seems for a while like the kind of observational vignette that might have made its way into William Shawn’s New Yorker, a poignant display of modern manners in the style of Irwin Shaw or John Updike—and then the story tears itself apart. A small procession of families enters the park making noise and carrying signs protesting the napalming of Vietnamese villages. A picture of a “seared, scarred” baby is borne aloft. A policeman forces them out of the park. Faith fails to intervene on their behalf; her older son accuses her of timidity. In a moment, everything is different: “And I think that is exactly when events turned me around, changing my hairdo, my job uptown, my style of living and telling … I thought more and more and every day about the world.” The story doesn’t merely explode the comfortable confines of white-collar realism. It refuses the blandishments of postmodern irony, another popular narrative mode in 1974. After all its emotional indirection and leisured byplay, its well-mannered literariness, Faith’s last words register with a stunning, almost embarrassing directness. The story lingers, and then pounces, transformed into a confrontation with a political fact; one moment expands suddenly into years, pulling us into a future of continual preoccupation. More and more, starting in the late 1960s, Paley’s stories worked like this—embedding us in slow daily time in order to confront us, obliquely or directly, with urgent historical time. They depict the frictions of changing social norms, but they also preach, particularly the virtue of endurance. It is Paley’s emotional signature: how to wait patiently, stubbornly, but not passively. “My husband gave me a broom one Christmas. This wasn’t right.” The transformation from the early stories is remarkable, a pivot from wit into something like a steady and intelligent earnestness. Earnestness, above all, is durable. Hate burns itself out and exhausts; indignation yields eventually to acclimatization; hope is bound to be disappointed. Earnestness expects to be around for a while, and knows it won’t have it easy. This is the theme of Paley’s essays, which offer plainspoken accounts of resistance: a jail stint for civil disobedience; a 1969 trip to North Vietnam to escort three American prisoners of war home; protests at the Seneca Army Depot, at the Pentagon, on Wall Street. The essays are not rousing, precisely, or in any way histrionic. They are steely. In their own way they too are about the long game, the lifelong project of change. At the Seneca protest in 1983, Paley, then 60, musters one more act of exhilarating athletic defiance and climbs a fence around the Army depot. She is arrested for it, but claims no special virtue for the effort. “There was a physical delight in the climbing act,” she reports, but I knew and still believe that the serious act was to sit, as many women did, in little circles through the drenching night and blazing day on the hot cement in front of the truck gate with the dwindling but still enraged “Nuke Them Till They Glow” group screaming “Lesbian bitches” from their flag-enfolded cars. There are no easy conversions here, and while Paley has a stern understanding of her political enemies, she refuses to soften into acceptance. Instead she dwells on protracted acts: long, difficult conversations; long, painful vigils; many drenching nights and blazing days without obvious results. They are what the stories give us, fragmented into brief, vivid glimpses. Of the voices of mid-century American radicalism, few could ever make perseverance seem so vital.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Happy Women’s Day 2017














Money for women, not for war.