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November 18, 1973 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1973-11-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Imagazine editors:
tony schwartz
marty porter
contributing editor:

Sunday

mctguazrne

inside:
books-page 4
profiles-page 5
week in review-page 6

laura berman
Number 9 Page Three
FEA'

November 18, 1973
TURES

The

terror

of

living

in

a

ho

By MARTIN PORTER
DETROIT
THE PUNGENT SMELL of burning
leaves fills the air on Dolphin
Street. The scene is typical of late au-
tumn afternoons on the westside of
Detroit. The aluminum-sided, houses
stand on barren lots, while women
wearing sweaters and scarves vigor-
ously rake up the leaves. The homes
on this street are identical to the
thousands of small white structures
that sprouted up in this area during
the late fifties. Out here homes are
prim and proper. Life is largely free
from the hassles and horrors of the
inner-city.
This is what Mr. and Mrs. William
Maxwell, a young black couple, liked
best about their new home on Dol-
phin Street. It was clean, neat, a
good place to bring up the children,
and it soon became a symbol for all
that the family had worked for. It
was a symbol obviously worth pro-
tecting. That's why every night be-
fore retiring, Bill Maxwell makes sure
that his shotgun is loaded and within
reach.
You see, despite the apparent sere-
nity, ever since Bill and Gladys Max-
well moved into the neighborhood,
life has been one endless nightmare.
"We knew as soon as we saw the
house that it was what we wanted,"
says Gladys Maxwell, a petite but
vigorous looking woman. "We didn't
think at all about integrating the
neighborhood."
UNINTENTIONAL AS IT may have
been, the Maxwells were the
first black family ever to buy a home
in this middle class area. M o s t
neighbors accepted the new family

ne undE
with hesitant concession but others
decided to make life "hell on earth"
for the Maxwells.
Three weeks before they were to
move in, a mysterious fire gutted
their home. This was only the be-
ginning of a series of tortorous night-
mares that were to befall the family
in the next 13 months.
When they finally moved in, they
found that eggs had been splattered
on the the living room walls. Trash
was dumped on the floors. The panel-
ed basement walls had been painted
with big letters warning, "no nig-
gers allowed."
"At the beginning I was flaming
mad ... this was my house and now
some ignorant punks were trying to
force me out," grumbles Bill Max-
well, a burly Navy veteran. He talks
firmly and acts like a man who has
been shoved once too often. "We are
are not the kind of people to run
away .. . if it comes to a confronta-
tion we can stick it out."
He and his wife have worked too
hard to give up and run. Bill, now a
student at Highland Park Commun-
ity College, worked many grueling
hours at Ford. Gladys works as an
administrative secretary at Wayne
State. Both had dreamt of living a
simple, quiet life and so far the
dreams have been shattered by the
terror of neighborhood bigots.
IN THE LAST 13 months, their front
lawn and shrubs have been de-
molished by vandals. Their front win-
dows have been broken innumerable
times by myriad objects. Gladys
Maxwell is afraid to go shopping by
herself. The children are chauffeured
to schools in other parts of the city.

"It's been like living in the middle
of a battle zone," Mrs. Maxwell la-
ments.
This is just the way that the Max-
wells view their situation. They live in
a home under seige and act accord-
ingly.
"I am against the use of lethal
force, I hope I never have to use my
gun, but when my life, my home and
my family are in danger I am going
to come out with both barrels blast-
ing," Maxwell warns. "If they are
playing a game they better learn that
this is the way people get killed."
ALTHOUGH LOCAL POLICE have
been sympathetic to their plight,
the Maxwells are convinced that they
can't depend on anyone but them-
selves.
"Sometimes the police are slow in
arriving . . . sometimes they don't
come at all, I have learned how to use
both guns and I am prepared to use
them," Gladys Maxwell says. Physic-
ally she seems insignificant compar-
ed to her husband, but her words
have the same vehement ring.
The Maxwells have outlined escape
routes from the house. They keep
away from the front windows at all
times. The children never play out-
doors alone.
"We have been pushed against the
wall," Maxwell explains, "and we are
voing to fight back by any means
that we have to. I know that this is
no better than savages but we have
no choice."
Fl SUDDENLY RUSHES to the
front door, peeks out the win-
dow and returns to his seat. "Living
like this has made me jumpy," is his
excuse. He often imagines hearing

seige

AP Photo
"It's like living in the middle of a battle zone," Gladys Maxwell says.

the sounds of phantom assailants
prowling around his home, but other-
wise Bill Maxwell hides his fear well.
Mrs. Maxwell is unable to hide her
emotions. She sounds worn and there
is a slight quiver in her voice as she
explains, "I am afraid . . . I admit it,
they curse me at the bus stop, I can't
go to sleep before my husband comes
home . . . I don't know if tomorrow

the house will be standing . . . why
don't they just leave us alone?"
"I don't know how to explain it
all to the children," she adds later,
"thank God they haven't been in-
volved. I just hope that by thetime
they grow up it all will have blown
over . . . all I can do now is hope."
IT MIGHT ALL blow over soon. Then
again the horrors might grind on

for years. In the meantime things
will go on as usual on Dolphin
Street. The leaves will continue to
be raked up every autumn. A periodic
coat of paint will continue to make
the homes prim and proper. And Wil-
liam Maxwell will continue to go to
sleep with a loaded shotgun by his
side, wondering if tonight will be the
night that he will be forced to use it.

__
__.

Sinclair on...

...hip capitalism

By DAVID STOLL
The music business may be as cut-throat
as armed revolution is dangerous, but John
Sinclair and other members of the Rain-
bow People's Party (RPP) have made the
switch, and left many observers wondering
what happened.
Advocates of "dope, rock 'n' roll, and
fuckin' in the streets" in the late 60s, Sin-
clair and the antecedent White Panther
Party (WPP) adopted as their emblem an
M-1 rifle crossed with an electric guitar
and a hash pipe. Chairman first of the WPP
and then the RPP, Sinclear now calls the
rifle fetish a "media ruse," but after fool-
ing everyone it hung around to become a
public image.
What is not as well known is that Sin-
clair has been in the music business, for
nearly a decade. Prior to his involvement
with the White Panthers, Sinclair organized
the Artist's Workshop (1964) and Trans-
Love Energies (1966) in Detroit.
Sentenced to ten years in prison for the
possession of two marijuana cigarettes in
1969, in his absence Trans-Love Energies
fell apart. Adoptinga less militant stance,
the White Panthers transformed themselves
into the RPP.
Released two and a half, years later after
the Michigan Supreme Court declared the
law under which he was convicted uncon-
stitutional. Sinclair and other RPP mem-
bers have since concentrated much of their
energy on two business enterprises: Rainbow
Multi Media and Rainbow trucking. While
the Rainbow Multi - Media Corporation
(RMM) manages bands and has sponsored
the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival for
two years in a row, the Rainbow Trucking
corporation distributes such items as T-
shirts, hash pipes and roach clips.
This metamorphosis into businesspeople
has given rise to the suspicion that Sin-
clair and associates have sold the revolution
down the river and turned into hip capital-
ists. In fact Sinclair and his partner, UAC-
n -A1!Cf - r satuf -4r . nfv povr Ait ..o

Sinclair recently admitted to being some
$32,000 "cash-shy" from the festival. To
this must be added about $10,000 in debts
from last winter. Counting again on the
sale of festival recordings to pull RMM out
of the hole, they have so far been unable
to locate a buyer.
Besides borrowing money from "friends"
-RMM backers are not a matter of public
record-the company has also stalled pay-
ment of its debts to a number of festival
contractors. Although a survey of known
creditors revealed various degrees of discon-
tent, no one said they were ready to haul
RMM into court.
The Daily: What does Rainbow
Multi-Media (RMM) do besides put-
ting on the Blues and Jazz festival?
Sinclair: In addition to managing
three bands-Detroit, Lightnin', and
Uprising-we have a printing press
and a graphics department which
turns out a lot of the flyers and post-
ers that people see around town. Bas-
ically we're a multi-media production
company, with a standing commit-
ment to putting our resources at the
disposal of the community as best we
can.
Daily: Is RMM any different from
a capitalist business corporation?
Sinclair: Different? We're a non-
profit, worker - controlled collective.
No one owns the company or its as-
sets and everything accrues to the
corporation itself - we're all em-
ployes of the Rainbow Multi-Media
Corporation. The decision - making
process, right now, consists of a
board of directors - Pete Andrews,
Darlene Pond, and myself - and a
staff collective, made up of all the
employes.
Daily: What difference does it make
that RMM is worker - controlled and
rnl1aoflp

what they say will be listened to. But
last week's staff meeting was just dy-
namite. This week's was off because
everyone went to the Ozone Parade.
Daily: Why are some people at
RMM directors and other people
workers?
Sinclair: The directors are just
workers. We work the hardest and
the longest, that's why 'we're the di-
rectors. Anybody who wants to take
on the same responsibilities that we
have is welcome on the board, but
they aren't going to get on there un-
less they take on as much as we do.
Daily: Is there any substance to
the charge that you and Andrews and
RMM are ripping off the Ann Arbor
community?
Sinclair: The thing that kills me
about being the hip capitalist of all
time is that the only people who don't
get paid are me, Pete, Darlene and the
people on our staff. Now we've sup-
posedly started paying people sala-
ries, but some of us haven't been paid
in a couple of weeks. I'm supposed to
get $50 a week.
Daily: How did RMM develop out of
Trans-Love Energies?
Sinclair: Trans-Love was a non-
profit, multi-media collective center-
ed on band management and dedicat-
ed to providing full services to the
bands so that they could control as
many aspects of their productive
work as possible. We discovered that
it wasn't the fact of being a corpora-
tion which was bad or oppressive
about established companies, but the
fact that corporations were organized
to bring high profits to individuals
at the expense of both workers and
consumers.
Daily: Then why did you turn po-
litical with the White Panthers and

sieres. Every gig we went out to with
the MC-5 was a battleground with the
,pigs. We got pissed, so what do
you want to do but pick up a gun and
shoot the motherfuckers. Those were-
n't the conditions, though, anybody
with any sense knew that if they
picked up a gun they'd get shot to
death.
Daily: But when people remember
the White Panthers they remember
the M-1 rifles, and they think it's a
contradiction that now you're in the
music business.
Sinclair: All that stuff was a media
ruse. We were attempting to use the
media and the television people nev-
er related to the other part of it. That
was too mild. What people need to
know is that it was just as much
bullshit as the media images they
have on President Nixon and every-
one else.
Daily: During the festival Yippies
organized to crash the gates, calling
you and RMM capitalist pigs because
you didn't open up the festival to ev-
eryone whether or not they had a
ticket. Are these people more revolu-
tionary than you?
Sinclair: We don't see these peo-
ple doing anything constructive. I
flapped my mouth for years and
years. We did all the things they're
doing now years ago. I guess they'll
have to make the same mistakes that
we did, spend a few years in the pen
like four of us did, then maybe they'll
see.
Daily: Are you going to put on the
festival next year?
Sinclair: We plan to do it again
next year, but we have to get out of
the hole on this year's first. We have
the tapes, and we're trying to get
the best stuff out of them in order to
do an anthology package. If we can

"From a commercial point of view it's nuts to do
the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival. It's just
fucking nuts. Other people in the music industry
think that we're not only crazy but dangerous,
because the idea might spread and it's the natu-

ral inclination of a lot of

mnusicia ns anyway.

What the music industry is trying to encourage in
their artists is a spendthrift, ego-freak, c c ca i n e
point of view."

could just put Alice Cooper and two
or three other bands out in a field
and make tons of money. Other
people in the music industry think
we're not only crazy but dangerous,

Sinclair: We're not organized to
make a profit but we are organized to
make a living. There's a difference.
We're not rich people and we sure
don't do it for the money.
n.ilv- Who nrevails in the event

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