Commentaries - November 2008
Frank Cieciorka, the man who designed the fist emblem for the New Left, died on Monday. He was an early opponent of American involvement in Vietnam, opposed the Johnson intervenion in the Dominican Republic, went to Mississippi during Freedom Summer in '64, became a field secretary for SNCC.
When he returned north after Freedom Summer he made a first woodcut of the now-famous fist, modeling it (of course) on previous 20th-century leftist fists. Only later did he realize that the design was being adopted everywhere and by seemingly everyone. His version of the first for the 1967 Stop the Draft Week was the one that really became iconic.
From the New York Times obit: Mr. Cieciorka had seen the clenched-fist salute when he participated in a Socialist rally in San Francisco. When he returned from Mississippi, “the fist was a natural for the first woodcut in a series of cheap prints,” he noted in an interview with Lincoln Cushing, a political art archivist and historian. “It wasn’t until we made it into a button and tossed thousands of them into crowds at rallies and demonstrations that it really became popular,” he continued.
Later he did watercolors and painted rural California landscapes.
Dick Polman in his daily American Debate blog writes about Barack Obama 2.0, the (alleged) remaking of presidential communication with the people through e-interactivity. I tend to feel the same skepticism Polman does: "[A]s for this idea of engaging in a two-way online conversation, with feedback from citizen participants . . . well, we shall see. Speaking from firsthand experience, I can stipulate that the online world is particularly unruly, a virtual Wild West where the perpetually aggrieved shoot first and think later, if at all."
On Monday evening of Thanksgiving week, each year, the Writers House community gathers at 3805 Locust in Philly, cook like crazies, get warmed by each other's company, and (each in iturn) speak very gratitudinously. "Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action." (So said W.J. Cameron.)
The recording of my interview with Art Spiegelman last February has now been segmented into short, thematically organized clips. Go here to the Writers House Fellows' Spiegelman page, where you'll have the option of streaming or downloading that segments that interest you, or the whole interview, or indeed the whole presentation Art gave the previous night. There are also video recordings of all.