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He Has His Own Mind

By MIKE HAZARD and MARTI MALTBY

“As you can see, I’m part Irish American, part African American, and part Native American,” said Vernon. I asked what nation. “My brother says Cherokee.” He thumbed through his cellphone texts looking for a picture of his Irish American great grandfather, Henry O’Killian. He never found it. We talked.

MIKE HAZARD “My father taught me to hunt,” says Vern. “We hunted to eat. Venison, bear, beaver, raccoon, and quail. We lived in southern Illinois, near the Kentucky border. I was a country boy. I’m ready to go back.”

“I was a cook in the military, a biscuit burner. Sister Rose (the founder of Peace House) hired me to cook. I cooked at Peace House for two or three months, and then I got a job as a machinist. Machinist paid more, but I liked cooking more. I cook everything. I learned a lot about cooking from ex-girlfriends. (Laugh.) Italian, Spanish, Asian… I cook it all.”

“I’m a Christian, but there is no honor and distinction in killing people. People can think what they want to think. My Dad was in WWII, my Grandfather was in WWI.”

“I followed the model of Muhammad Ali during the Vietnam War. I went AWOL. Don’t make me kill somebody. I was a marksman, sharpshooter. But I decided I was against war. We don’t have to kill people to solve problems. If somebody was here in our country, I could shoot to kill. But not these other wars. The Vietnam War was about who was going to control the heroin trade. The Gulf War was about oil.

“There’s a proverb in the Bible, Don’t let anybody lead you into Hell. Watch out for Satan. I choose my battles and who my enemies are. When I get to Heaven, I want to hear, ‘You had your own mind.’”

“I have a passion for martial arts. I am an instructor in Sunday school at Park Avenue Methodist Church, where Prince attended. It’s a passion. I have belts in kung fu and karate. Kung fu is a style based on animals—tigers, reptiles, insects like scorpions and praying mantises. You watch these beings fight, and learn. Kung fu is soft style. Karate is hard style. There are a thousand different styles.”

Vern’s life took a downturn in 2004. Robbers broke his jaw, and a few months later a car hit him as he rode his bike. “I went from $1,200 a week to less than $1,200 a month because of my back injury,” he says. Once he completed his therapy, he came back to Peace House, where the community helped him through the difficult time.

Now Vern often cooks at Peace House. “I like cooking and I like making people happy through my cooking.” On this day he cooked a delicious jambalaya.

You have your own mind, Vern, and yours is a great example of a good life.

*

This poetical picture story is by Mike Hazard. Marti Maltby, manager of Peace House, contributed some of the copy. It is part of a project called Peace House People. The work will be exhibited at Franklin Library in April, 2020. The project is funded by an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

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2019 Alley Front Page Review

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March 2020 – The Epic Report

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March 2020 – Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association

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March 2020 – Ventura Village Neighborhood

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92nd Oscars Making Glorious History… A Look at Previous Snubs

By HOWARD McQUITTER II

Never achieved before, in the 92 years of the Oscars, that a foreign director won for Best Director and Best Picture–“Parasite”, which is an extraordinary mark not only for the Academy but the world of film; especially for South Korea.

For me, I jumped up-and-down for the winner of those chosen Oscars, South Korean Bong Joon Ho, who won in two other categories; Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature. (Don’t get me wrong I jumped up-and-down for other winners, too, such as Brat Pitt for supporting actor and Renee Zellweger for best actress). Some of Bong’s other wonderful films (perhaps lesser known to the average moviegoer but seen by cinephiles) are “Mother” (2010), The Host” (2007), Memories of Murder” (2007), “Snowpiercer” (2013) and “Barking Dogs never Bite” (2000). All are must sees to get a feel from this great director.

The Oscars has a bad trail though when through the years too many cast members, directors and screenplay writers have been snubbed. Why didn’t Alfred Hitchcock ever win for Best Director?  He’s the master of  suspense and only his “Rebecca”(1940) won a Oscar for Best Picture. Mr. Hitchcock, nominated 5 times for Best Director, had to settle for the Honorary Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968. Looking back at some of Hitchcock’s stellar films such as “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), “Spellbound” (1945), “Rope” (1948), “North by Northwest” (1959), “No- torious” (1946), “Rear Window” (1954), “Psycho” ((1960) and “The Birds” (1963) to my sentiments would have stacked as well as –if better than– “The Apartment” (1960), “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956) and “Oliver” (1969), yet didn’t win best picture. Politics has played in many Oscar favorites over the 92 years the royal event has been in our midst.

Many critics cite “Citzen Kane,”
directed-written-produced-acted by the great Orson Welles, in 1941, as the greatest movie ever made–yet John Ford’s “How Green Was My Valley” won Best Picture. Is the latter a better movie…or is it politics that superseded the win? Maybe it has some thing to do with Orson Welles’ fictional character as a wealthy newspaper man who mirrors the real-life newspaper tycoon, William  Randolph Hearst, and retaliates against Welles by trying to destroy all the copies of the film. 

I’m still smothering from last year’s snubbing of Glen Close for “The Wife” in favor of Olivia Colman for “The Favourite.” Don’t get me wrong, Ms. Colman gives a fine performance. I just think far too often older actresses get stiffed for younger women. Close is an ex- ceptional actress, I remember her in her earlier career in”The World According to Garp” (1982), “The Big Chill” (1983) and “The Natural”(1984). 

A woeful year (and there’s others), 1999, when “Shakespeare in Love” won over “Saving Private Ryan”, “Elizabeth”, “Life is Beautiful” and “Thin Red Line” for Best Picture. That year the voters had to have been drunk to make such a colossal blunder. To this day, an African American director has never won Best Director. Remember Spike Lee is nominated only once for Best Director, for “BlacKkKlansman”, and that’s only last year. The late John Singleton is the first African American to be nominated for Best Director (and youngest nominated) and best screenplay in 1991, for” Boyz ‘n Hood.”   I think of the late great director Stanley Kubrick who augmented film culture in critical ways with movies such as “Spartacus” (1959), “Killer’s Kiss” (1955), “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964), “A Clockwiork Orange”(1971) and “The Shining” (1980) and although nominated 4 times for Best Director he never won. 

Thelma Ritter, Peter O’ Toole, Richard Burton, all three excellent Thespians,  (nominated 5, nominated 8,and nominated 7, respectively) never won the golden statuette. Snubbing deserving cast members and directors by Hollywood is itself an art form. (Peter O’ Toole did win a honorary Oscar in 2003; Richard Burton also wins a Honorary Oscar. 

 I have said paraphrasing from the 2006 film “Art School Confidential”– “When white men did their best work they weren’t dead yet.” What I mean is don’t try to throw them out like the proverbial “baby with the bathwater,” but women and people of color must be brought in to be nominated and, hopefully, win as directors and screenwriters. In the 92 years of the royal film event only 5 women have been nominated for Best Director which is an egregious mark on the Academy. The 5 women nominated for Best Director are: Lina Wertmuller, “Seven Beauties (1977); Jane Campion, “The Piano” (1994); Sofia Coppola, “Lost in Translation” (2004); Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker” (2010); Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” (2018). Only Kathryn Bigelow won for “The Hurt Locker” (2010).

Whoever passed up “Brokeback Mountain” for “Crash,” in 2006, for best picture must have been broke. Three African Americans are nominated in one year, in 1973, the first time in Academy history that happened: Cicely Tyson for “Sounder”; Diana Ross for “Lady Sing the Blues”; and Paul Winfield for “Sounder”. All three Black nominees whited-out for a white “winner,” Liza Minnelli, for “Cabaret” inferior to the performances by Tyson, Ross and Winfield. 

Seeing South Korean Bong Joon Ho win in elegant fashion is more than enough to not only see the Oscars but an attribute to international films anywhere and everywhere they’re made.

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March 2020 Movie Corner

By HOWARD McQUITTER II

oldschoolmovies.wordpress.com
howardmcquitter68@gmail.com

“Midnight Family”(2019)
Documentary/Action/Crime
5 of 5 Stars

“Midnight Family” is one of those didactic documentaries that feels much more like a narrative than the usual documentary. If you know nothing  about the film and hear the title you might think it’s a mob film or one of those  dreamy horror pictures. But instead, the film is about a family in Mexico City  who own an ambulance in Mexico City, a sprawling city of nine million people, where only 45 government ambulances are in operation. A city of nine million with only 45 government ambulances is pathetic to say the least. To add to the horrific shortage of government run ambulances, local families trying to eke out a living by having private ambulances. One of those families is the Ochoas, hard working and determined to go to the rescue of those in need of a hospital, clinic or treatment on the spot. Often times the private ambulances show up at emergencies while the government ambulances show up late or not at all.          

For the Ochoas (as with others, too), day and night (especially the later), the life of ambulance drivers and assistants often take on edgy and dangerous undertakings. Competition between the private and government ambulances is evident in a city of massive traffic jams and other obstacles. In down times, the family members go to sleep on the sidewalks or the youngster kicks a soccer ball or put on their headphones.

A lesson to be learned is the dedication of the people who own  private ambulances. On the other hand, “Midnight Family “epitomizes the vast lack of responsibility by the Mexican government. Director: Luke Lorentzen. Running time: 81 minutes. Spanish with English subtitles. Cinematography: Luke Lorentzen. Original Music: Leona

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Raise Your Voice – Sisters in Spirit

By PETER MOLENAAR

Last month, on delivery of the usual 40 Alley papers to the Minneapolis American Indian Center, the young woman at the desk gave access to the Two Rivers Gallery where a marvelous birch bark canoe is on display. With a twinkle, I inquired: “Who built the first canoe?”

As it happened, thousands of years ago….

It was to be an unusually warm day for late autumn, it seemed. The Aunties exited the sweat lodge, intent upon harvesting the edge of the marsh. Straddling lengths of logs the men had hewn, they would maneuver the water without getting stuck. In tow were the water-tight baskets they themselves had made.

A celebratory fire was stoked near shore for their return. In the shallow, a newborn was placed in a basket for introductions. The gentle rocking induced a contented smile, which erupted in a squeal of delight when a careful spin was applied.

Naturally, the toddlers and somewhat older children converged to demand their turn. This is why the first boat was actually a big round basket, which eventually gave birth to the canoe to facilitate trade between the nations.

So, then…

In today’s world, “Alley territory” extends somewhat beyond the official boundaries of the Phillips Neighborhood. For example, 10 papers go to a place called the Electric Fetus, at 4th and Franklin. 15 papers go to nearby Loaves and Fishes, where the good servants believe a soul is imparted at the moment of conception. 5 papers go to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. on 3rd Ave., a block north of which exists the Hennepin History Museum.

The H.H.M. is housed in a relatively modest mansion, built by an “Irishman” whose last name suggests he was a son of some English lord of that land, but likely not the firstborn son, and so he was compelled to emigrate to avoid the military draft. Poking around, he discovered “St. Anthony Falls”, returned to Europe to procure technological secrets, came back here again, then sold the patents to the group which evolved into General Mills…. Afterwards, his likeness was carved in white marble. Enough.

Rather urgently, however, one should visit this museum before the “Votes for Women” exhibit closes in July. Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment is worth the trek, but departing without purchasing Sisters in Spirit would be a mistake. The book is subtitled Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influence on Early American Feminists. Indeed, the Euro-American feminist precursors were deeply influenced by Native American cultural norms.

Imagine….

When hunting grounds overlapped, the Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, and Tuscarora men were inclined to war. How then did “the Six Nations” become one? It happened (by all the inherent logic) because the Haudenosaunee council of women was more than equal to the council of men. All said and done, the woman’s role in the economic sphere (i.e., her “three sisters” mode of agriculture) was equal to the role of hunter. On top of which, she owned the dwelling and would throw you out if you failed to listen!

Unfortunately, the strings behind the scenes of our present day bourgeois-democratic republic, remain in the hands of Euro-male capitalists. Oh, and the one called Little-Boy-Man deploys “right to life” talk, but has no more moral connection to a zygote than he has to any other form of life.

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Something I Said

By DWIGHT HOBBES

What’s the big deal? Why did we need a whole month for the history of black folk? After all, nobody else gets one.

Well, for openers, calm down and console yourself that at least it was the shortest month of the year. Then, consider. Were American History college and grade school classes honest about chronicling what white people did – actually, what they didn’t do – the record would already have been set straight. Which isn’t merely a matter of recording facts for facts’ sake. More than being about data, as Marcus Garvey stated and Dick Gregory quoted, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Crucially, youngsters denied that knowledge have little to foster self-esteem outside models mainstream media provides, largely in sports and entertainment – this includes the sorry spectacle of thug rappers brandishing a lifestyle kids blindly believe will take them from the streets to riches and fame but lands legions behind bars in a revolving door industry.

Even aside from that, why not put truth to the historic lie that Caucasians and Caucasians alone made this nation what it is? Unless, of course, you can only feel good about yourself as some sort of master race by looking down on someone else as being inherently less than? Which, face it, is what fueled the genocidal doctrine of Manifest Destiny and nearly exterminated the Natives to whom this country actually belongs. If the Trump the Chump truly has a problem with illegal aliens, guess which group should be first to go?

Don’t take my word for any of this. Look up, online and absolutely free of charge at You Tube, Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed, a 1968 CBS documentary, narrated by Bill Cosby, written by Andy Rooney – yes that Andy Rooney – and Perry Wolf (no directing credit noted). Indeed, had white historians not so diligently lied and disguised facts, there’d be no cause for African Americans to have our contributions counted. That, in and of itself, reasonably states the case for celebrating Black History Month.

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Spirit of Phillips – Impeachment Sellout 152 Years Ago

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