Flaskaland
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
  PopMatters
Because Marvin who was an expert in Kiwis and instrumental in bringing Kiwi to be grown in the US (he was among the first to travel to New Zealand once he heard about the fruit and got rootstock) and he even cultivated them carefully with all the skill of generations of organic farmers he had learned through his life to show they were a sustainable crop here .... once upon a time when he and his family lived in the house that Errol Flynn had once rented while he was making the movie "Robin Hood" in the big park in Chico .... some rich doctors and Barbi Benton (daughter of the Playboy publisher) decided to invest in California Agriculture.  (That was about the time that doctors like rich Beverly Hills plastic surgeons or orthodontists for those selfsame doctors wealthy children) were forming investment clubs to invest in California.  They bought real estate together .... they bought futures in farm crops ....(This form of group business investment venture was long about 1971 or so, and their investments were directed by self-styled experts and "venture capitalists"). 

This is a funny story, see, investing in Kiwis. This shows how out of it Hollywood people are even when they think they're on top of it. And it all ends up with me talking about that Barbi Benton folk music record ....

My getting to know Marvin was right about the same time I first started writing for PopMatters (1999-2000).  Though soon I was asked to be on the brand new Air America Radio Station by Joe (who once upon a time took a bus up to Chico and knew the college radio station there.  He'd applied for a job back then and they'd turned him down.  Now, he was Air America's recruiting station for a radio station just beginning to fly).  I'm just trying to set the time for historians and puff up my own ego a bit. 

Because we were under assault at the Unitarian Church in Chico, you see., at that very moment in history.  Bush had just been "elected."  And you know, "church" is a word Unitarians use to let other people know it is a church .... but where the services are held are called a "sanctuary".  And any one can be a Unitarian, any religion, any belief.  Even athiests and agnostics.  The Unitarians are known for "free thinking".

The President of the church at the time, who had a long FBI file because she went up against a local redneck minister who was preaching that blacks were inferior .... she and I discussed how we'd have to chase away the Quakers who wanted to rent a room, because wherever the Quakers went the FBI was soon behind ... they were deemed a "terrorist"organization at that time.  I talked with the President of the church because I was the church co-ordinator.  Though likely nobody at PopMatters or anywhere else I published at the time knew that. 

And we knew the FBI was coming into the church and looking at the bulletin board, we knew this because we all had experience in the past with this stuff during the Civil Rights Days. And I'd have to review the bulletins and church announcements ....for political or social action content .... and examine the bulletin board where calls to action had once been posted, but were now dicey because the church could lose its status as a church ...

And the Unitarians, you know, were continuing to take the heat and had for years, and the orders had come down from on high, because our publishing house in New York had been the one to publish the first draft of the Pentagon Papers.  And they have memories like elephants when it comes to things like that .... So we were all "suspect" again, especially in the first dark days of Bush II.

So we knew they were around, and I said to myself, let's give them something to look at and put in their reports, and that seemed to be a good idea at the time.  So for Thanksgiving, we brought the weirdest people in the world in for the gathering, people who already were interested in the church and they were too weird even for the Unitarians and had been previously sent packing, but I encouraged the Church President to invite them back because we knew the FBI would likely be keeping notes of our "gatherings".  (And she KNEW that the FBI had been monitoring her, because a friend of hers TOLD HER the FBI had come to visit and showed a photograph of her!!!!) 

So these people pulled through the door to the Thanksgiving Dinner (which had great chow, by the way) and the really weird people totally took over the whole meeting as I suspected they might so nobody could get a word in edgewise at the communal dining tables.  The guy was wrapped in a blue wool checked lumberjack shirt, and his wheelchair was dragged in through the doors by two large ill kempt dogs on a leash, while his girlfriend! ..... barely ate a bite and rushed to the front of the hall, just got up and took over the whole entertainment section of the gathering while we dined ... and she told nearly incoherent stories about horses that she had worked into some kind of  "comedic" routine because she took drama classes .... and the whole scene was a complete quiet riot to me. So I insisted that they get the plates of leftovers at the end of the meal, heaping portions wrapped in aluminum foil, the leftovers they had always barged into the kitchen and begged for at the end of previous church gatherings, a form of impolite behavior that would piss people off because these people would always show up empty handed to the potlucks and even come into the church kitchen and open the refrigerator to see what was available.  The guy in the blue shirt had previously been caught stuffing a quarter of margarine in his pocket, you see, and that would be needed for the church bake sale later in the week.

We (that is, I, because I will claim full responsibility for these evasive tactics and maneuvers that we were obliged to construct) especially knew that Marvin and his daughter would be looked at again because she kept on signing her name on petitions and being a trouble maker throughout the years  .... so when SHE had a church picnic in her yard .....












 




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