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September 29, 1978 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-29

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age 4-Friday, September 29, 1978-The Michigan Daily

te idb gan taiIy
Eighty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom

The working poets in San Francisco

Vol. LIX, No. 20

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

A summit a day

0 0 9

keeps inflation away?

MERICA HAS a new household
phrase - the Camp David Sum-
Because of the alleged enormity of
e success that resulted from a
velve-day meeting in the Maryland
>untryside between three national
aders it seems like everyone is
Iking about a summit.
Because of the success some
)liticians are campaigning for sum-
.its of their very own. In the last three
ays, two state politicians have called
r summit-like conferences on two
sues that complement each other.
On Tuesday, U.S. Representative
)hn Conyers (D-Detroit) walked out
a meeting with President Carter af-
r the President refused to convene
hat Rep. Conyers calls a "human
eeds summit."
Later the same evening, Carl Levin,
te Democratic senatorial can-
date told the Daily he had contacted
veral members of the Carter Ad-
.inistration, including Tim Kraft,
tuart Eisenstat, Robert Strauss, and
Te President Walter Mondale, in an
fmpt to convene a "Camp David-
ke summit" on inflation.
The problems of unemployment and
he passage of the Equal Rights
mendment (ERA) - which Rep.
onyers has lumped under the "human
eeds" banner and inflation are every
it as difficult to solve as the Middle
,ast dispute. The problems have been,
rith us almost as long as the Arab-
sraeli conflict.
If President Carter is as firmly
edicated to drama c.reductions in
nemployment and the-rate of inflation
s he is to peace in the Middle East,
hen summits on inflation and human
eeds should be convened before the
nd of the year.
The question is to what degree is the
resident dedicated to solving these
omestic problems? So far, the ad-
iinistration's fight against the in-
ation rate has consisted of a delicate
rt, developed by Mr. Eisenstat, called
jawboning." When unions settle con-

tracts with pay raises that outstrip the
rate of inflation or when corporations
increase prices at similar rates, Mr.
Eisenstat gets on the phone and
This is hardly an effective means of
solving a problem that reduces the
American consumer's buying power
by nine per cent every year.
The administration has no visible
policy to reduce unemployment.
Any reductions in unemployment
during the Carter presidency have oc-
curred largely because of seasonal
changes in the job market and cyclical
changes in the economy. President
Carter has done nothing to resolve ,the
problem above and beyond dependen-
ce upon these natural economic ebbs
and flows.
The Humphrey-Hawkins full em-
ployment bill languishes in the
Congress. Because of a threatened
filibuster it may never see the light of
The Carter administration has done
nothing, either rhetorically or substan-
tively to push for passage of the impor-
tant bill.
If Mr. Carter expects labor and in-
dustry to voluntarily battle' unem-
ployment and inflation, he might suc-
ceed by contacting the captains of in-
dustry and labor, sit them down in the
same room, lock the door, and not let
anyone leave until substantive
agreements are reached on prices and
The difficulty is that the ad-
ministration has less control over
labor and industry than it does over
Egypt and Israel. At this point,, in-
dustry and labor have more, control
over the administration than Mr. Car-
ter had over those belligerents.
If Mr. Carter is sincere in his attem-
pts to tackle the tough problems and if
he is willing to risk showing a
president's powerlessness in the face
of industry and labor he should con-
vene the summit.
The risks, however, would be greater
than they were at Camp David.

SAN FRANCISCO - This city,
which has helped nurture such
writers as Mark Twain, Frank
William Saroyan, Jack London,
Lawrence Ferlinghetti and many
more, is now giving rise to both a
new group of writers and a new
kind of writing.
Some call it the "literature of
work," and for two good reasons:
It is written, for the most part, by
blue-collar workers, cab drivers
and dock workers, and it depicts
the special worlds defined by
such work.
One of the most successful
examples of this fledgling genre
is a literary magazine called The
Deep City Press, written, edited
and published by cab drivers for
cab drivers. It is one of several
experiments here and in Los
Angeles that might be forging an
important new direction in con-
temporary writing.
Until now, workers' literature
- a term the writers might scoff
at - usually languished in a
dresser drawer, according to
George Brent, a longshoreman
poet and novelist, because there
seemed to be no audience.
"The big magazines and
publishers wanted something
more glamorous. And the little
non-commercial publications
leaned towards the avante garde
or the academic."
The Deep City Press, however,
revealed that people writing
about their work could find an
audience in the men and women
who shared their occupation.
Ralph Hoffschildt, editor and
publisher of the magazine,
proved that this sort ofpublishing
could be done without a great
deal of capital or fancy equip-
TheDeep City Press is typed on
an IBM typewriter, laid out in a
spare bedroom of Hoffschild's
house and printed in his
basement on a mimeograph
machine. Yet the magazine,
featuring three-color reproduc-
tions and artful lay-out, sells 1,700
copies an issue at a dollar apiece
- highly successful for a small
literary magazine.
Publication is not the only way
to reach an audience. The Water-
front _writers, a group of San
Francisco dock workers, grew
out of reading sessions
organized last year by Benet and
Bob Carson, a longshoreman and
poet. Four dock workers read the
first night, and 50 people atten-
Since then, the audience has
grown, and the group has 15
members, including artists and
photographers. Most are from
Local 6 of the International
Longshoremen's and
Warehousemen's Union. They
have published two small
volumes of stories and verse, but
public readings remain their
major forum.
Sharing their art with fellow
workers has changed how and
what the writers write. Gene
Dennis of the Waterfront Writers,
for example, worked on a screen-
play for several years. The work
was based on an incident that
took place on the docks, but,
Dennis said, "there was this idea

that the foundation of it was to
sell it to Hollywood, and that idea
wrote the screenplay. I put a lot
of gratuitous sex and violence in-
to it.
"Since I started reading with
the Waterfront Writers, I've been
drawing a lot more on my own
experiences, my reactions to the
work and to changes in the work,
my relationships with the other
guys. The Waterfront Writers
gives me an incentive to come to
terms with these things. Without
it I'm not sure I would focus so
much attention on this part of my
life," he said.
The Waterfront Writers and the
Deep City Press portray whole
worlds shaped by work, which
suggests that workers live in a
variety of sub-cultures defined by
their trades, each with its own
mythology and its characteristic
physical and mental landscapes.
''Death of Watchman Way,"~
for example, about the murder of
Michael Albert, a cab driver who
worked nights evokes a dread
that is peculiar to the trade of

driving a taxi. "The face of
Michael Albert haunts .every cab
driver, deep-seated but not
dwelled upon," said the editor in
a note.
Dockwork is also dangFerous,
but the threat of being crushed by
a 20-ton cargo container has a dif-
fercnt psychological quality from
that of being shot by a "load," as
cab drivers call their passengers.
Cab drivers are loners in an ur-
ban labyrinth, intimately
familiar with the byways and
back alleys of the city. many
dock workers, on the other hand,
not only work, but live, shop and
socialize on the waterfront. Some
never leave the area for years at
a time and get lost when they try
to take a cross-town bus. In fact,
the erosion of this sheltered, self-
contained-world by automation in
the industry and other social for-
ces forms one of the overrifing
concerns common to the Water-
front Writers.
Cab drivers and dock workers
are not the only blue-collar
authors. Singlejack Press, a

By Tamim Ansary

By Andy Araneo
Passing 101 morning freeway cars
Passing the calm and sparkling bay
Notions passing thru my head this morning
about Capitalism-"the Royal Scam."
There's a lot of weather to talk about these days, '
convenienifor passing time with the customers-
how our winter storms are flattening Buffalo.
"Oh, about $16 to the airport ..."
Frank the dispatcher singing
"City cab in the sunset" to the "red sails" melody
as Iflip off the radio
and settle into passing tIe next 20 mins.
at 60 mph, in a freeway interview.
The guy in the back-
regardless of which clothes or attitude he's wearing
- is a mirror
and this one's a big-jawed lawyer from Chi-town.
"Really,"I ask in my best California accent,
"they named the city of Chicago after an Indian
"For sure,"re replies
"well they named your city after a saint."
And I'm drifting off into a thoughtless meditation
with the taximeter clicking off my mantra-
I see the towering hotel at Geary-Powell
as brown-robed St. Francis himself
stooped over Union Square
playing at the pin-ball game of Taxi
and me one of the balls
going for 10 hours in surprise directions.
I often go for rides on my day off-
.and it's hard for a motion junkie to kick cold.

small "workers' press" in Los
Angeles committed to publishing
such material for a mass audien-
ce, has been astonishingly suc-
The operation, run by
longshoreman Bob Miles and
retired longshoreman Stanley
Weir, started with the intention of
publishing just one book, a collec-
tion of short stories and poetry by
George Benet.
"We knew George and we knew
he had a closetfull of writing that
he wasn't doing anything with,"
Weir said. "So we talked him into
letting us select some and put
together a book. After "A Place
in Colusa" came out we started to
think maybe there were other
people out there with good
manuscripts sitting in their
closets. So we decided to try to
keep the operation going and see
what happened.
They soon were put in touch
with Steve Packard, a
steelworker in Gary, knd His
book, "Steelmill Blues," became
Singlejack's project. After that
came "Longshoring on the San
Francisco Waterfront" by Reg
Theriault, vice-president of Local
6 of the ILWU; and "Directory
Assistance - the Story of a
Telephone Worker," written
anonymously by a- telephone
A novel called "Going Down"
by Oliver Ote, a Detroit
caseworker, deals with life in the
social service bureaucracy and is
now at the printers. The latest
project is a chronicle of working
life by a keno dealer in a Reno
Another Singlejack book, "One
Year in an American Factory" is
my Maynard Sider, an academic
sociologist, who worked in a fac-
tory a year because he could not
find a job in his field.
Discussing that book, Weir said
he was reminded of Harvey
Swadoes who, in the mid-50s,
went to work in a factory in order
to write his novel, "On the Line."
''The literary establishment of,
the time ridiculed Swadoes,
ridiculed this idea that you had to
do the work to write about it or
even that work was worth Writing
about," Weir said. "But Swadoes
complained then, and it has pret-.
ty much remained true until
recently, that American
literature contains - no
examination of work, no
recognition of the dominant role
it plays in most people's lives.
And because of that lack,
Americans don't really know
what each other does."
According to Bob Carsen of the
Waterfront Writers, the time is
ripe for change. "There is an up-
surge of interest in the literature
of work," he said. "Why else
would 2,000,000 buy a book like
Studs Turkel's "Working"?
Tamim Ansary is a freelance
jounalist and P.N.S. con-


h \, ,
' ' '" Q'
'IhA 11.r4 'S ' 1 i 11

II ; I


"( ~Dist. Fideld Newspaper Syndicate, 1918


Coping with an oriental ancestry in the U. S.

11MM4' . I


It is not everyday that you encounter people
who possess the rather peculiar habit of
walking up to you and drowning you with a
flood of Chinese phrases, especially if you
don't understand Chinese. Yet, this is my
frequent experience.
The first and most memorable experience
of this type occurred about two years ago as I
was standing quite innocently in line to
register for classes. There was a tap on my
shoulder. I turned around to meet the wild
stare of a green-eyed girl with freckles who
was bobbing up and down on her toes. Her
exuberant state of mind was like that of a per-
son in the presence of a famous celebrity
whose name she could not, at the crucial
moment, be plucked from the tongue. But
before I could assure her that I was not Bruce
Lee, since he was no longer living, she presen-
ted a simple question:
"Where are you from?"
"Detroit," I hesitantly replied, rather
frightened of her stange visage.
"No, ;where are you really from?" she per-

By Craig Leon
"NO. NO. NO. Where are you realty from?"
Reeling from this gunfire of questions I
perceived the true intent of her inquiry. I told
her I was Chinese; but this sounded stange to
me since I wasn't born in China. Then I told
her I was American, which also was strange.
since I was also Asian. To add to my con-
fusion, she began to drown me in Chinese at
this point.
I calmed her down enough to twll her that I
could not understand her, and offered to con-
verse in another language. Disappointment
transformed her into stone. But as she told me
of her studies in Far Eastern languages and
literature she gained enough energy to slink
away. Her knowledge was indeed impressive
- and unfamiliar - I thought. I also began to
think that this green-eyes girl, in some in-
discernable way, was more "Oriental" than I.
This came as quite a shock.


was perhaps an impossible

What is the meaning of "Asian-American?"
Does it mean little more than that blank box I
have found on countless number of forms to
be filled in with pencil? And if it means
anything, I don't eat with chopsticks; they're
too messy when it comes to eating ham-
burgers, steaks, or jello.
BUT I DON'T view this questioning as
being indicative of an onsetting ontological
crisis. It is important to inspect one's cultural
background, and this becomes a pleasure
when done with other people.
My concerns, I believe, have been at one
time or another the concerns of all Asian-
In a more serious tone, I would like to men-
tion that the Asian American Association has
recently been formed to help Asian students
lear more about their cultural heritage by
enabling them to come together and enjoy
discussions with visiting speakers and
faculty. There are also informal get-togethers

1 E Mtchtgan :43atlu


Arts Editors


Managing Editors
C'flTW rAI 'V



BOB MILLER.. ,....... .....

-... .-. . ... . Sports Editor
..ExctieSrisrts EFdi tor


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