Remembering Savio Salvos: Free Speech and Banned Book Week

THIS LITTLE street art piece quietly appeared last week in Old Town, in the SGV. I’m trying to find out who is the brain behind it. Two sides are this:

The other two, this:

(Free Speech activist Mario Savio walking through Sather Gate at UC Berkeley)

Just in time for banned book week.
More when I find out.

Will You Sleep Outside Tonight?

LATE YESTERDAY, as I was walking back from my last class, Loyola Marymount students had transformed the rolling lawn just west of the Alumni Mall and adjacent to the new multi-million dollar William H. Hannon Library into a very realistic homeless encampment.

The installation, a powerful visual articulation, is part of a community service event, Feed the Hungry, that the university has sponsored annually for the last decade. Students as well as faculty and staff and other local volunteers convene to feed the homeless population in L.A. focused on Santa Monica every Tuesday. The crew packs lunches on campus and then carpools west to pass out lunches to the needy.

Sponsored by campus ministry, the event, which begins November 16, is in line with the university’s social justice mission. The encampment is a concrete way to underscore the severity of the issue. Numbers are abstract, but fragile makeshift cardboard shelters rising on one of the first cold nights of the season conveys what pie charts, bar graphs can not.

Jeff Chang’s Meditation on Post-Election Culture Shifts

AUTHOR AND scholar Jeff Chang is the subject of a Q&A in Colorlines that parses the election. He looks the midterm as a harbinger of what’s to come. Culture, he suggests, “always moves before politics’ He cites Jackie Robinson’s Major League integration in the same breath as Ellen Degeneres’ coming-out preceding “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Cultural Change, he says “is often the dress-rehearsal for political change. Or put in another way, political change is the final manifestation of cultural shifts that have already occurred.

The disconnect, Chang explains, “is that progressives —have not yet figured culture into their theory of change. Unlike the right, they have no cultural strategy.”

In 2007 and 2008, Obama was the microphone, but he was not the song. He was the page, not the text. He called himself “an imperfect vessel for your hopes and dreams.” And it’s clear that he still does not grasp the significance of the new cultural majority that elected him. The fact is that neither do we. The new cultural majority has not disappeared or shifted to the right. They stayed home this election. Obama did not reach them. We did not reach them.

One thing progressives need to do is to understand the importance of expressing our hopes and dreams in narratives. Progressives misunderstand culture. The right is clear about it—Beck, Brietbart, and O’Reilly were long in the creation; they are the products of a four-decade long conservative movement building initiative. We need to build up an infrastructure that includes cultural strategy. We focus on facts and figures, but stories are what move the country. Culture is where ideas are introduced, values are inculcated, and emotions are attached to concrete change. It is where the national imagination gets moved. So we need cultural strategy.

We also need to take the long view. Electoral politics is episodic, short-term, and transactional. Movement-building must be constant, long-term, and transformative. It is not a cyclical task. It is work that reaches toward the horizon.

The full interview here:

The People Have Spoken

RICHARD AVEDON’S 1976 portrait of Edmund Brown, Jr.
Rough day yesterday for the Dems overall, but here in California the new governor is the old governor. Jerry Brown has made history as both the youngest, and now oldest, person to win the seat of California’s Governor. A.P. called it early via exit polls. Brown made an exuberant victory speech last night in Oakland, Calif., nearly an hour before his opponent, Meg Whitman conceded.

The Rules of Engagement: Journalism Style

THIS IS one I’ll be discussing in the classroom. N.P.R.’s All Things Considered broadcast a very strong piece on Friday about wartime coverage and reporters’ privilege, prompted of course by the Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone profile which served to unseat Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the U.S. top commander in Afghanistan. What is on and off the record when it comes to access? In a moment when the debate over who is protected by shield laws for protecting sources — bloggers vs. staff writers and stringers– this has been a turned-up debate as “the rules” of journalism are being tested.

Here’s a taste:


The “Rolling Stone” article that wound up toppling General Stanley McChrystal’s military career has sparked a roiling debate in journalism circles about access and what exactly constitutes on and off the record exchanges.

The “Rolling Stone” reporter Michael Hastings threw gasoline on the fire when he accused other war reporters of long ignoring the general’s rather dim view of the Obama security team, and instead lavishing him with generally positive coverage.

Some high-profile reporters took exception, including The New York Times columnist David Brooke, a frequent guest on this program and Lara Logan of CBS.

Ms. LARA LOGAN (Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, CBS News): The question is really is what General McChrystal and his aides are doing so egregious that they deserved to – I mean to end a career like McChrystal’s? When Michael Hastings has never served his country the way McChrystal has.

NORRIS: Logan and others say Hastings violated wartime journalist code by focusing on the McChrystal team’s salty repartee, instead of the steely challenges they face.

The piece — the rest here — goes on to question what part of this is important for the public to know — just the “steely challenges” of the wartime theater or the meta-story of the “steely challenges” of those moving the pieces?