Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Congress Shall Make no Law

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  But  the town of Columbus, Georgia–that’s another story altogether.

For the last twenty years, protestors have gathered in the week before Thanksgiving outside the School of the Americas (SOA) in Ft. Benning, Georgia, which is in Columbus, Georgia.  They have conducted peaceful protests, in the nonviolent  spirit of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  Protestors claim that The School of the Americas (known now as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) train military personnel throughout the hemisphere in how to shut down protests and demonstrations, as well as training military and police in sophisticated torture techniques.

Protests began twenty years ago when Americans learned that graduates of SOA were implicated in the murder of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador.  The priests were strong advocates for the poor among whom they lived and worked.  There is evidence that Archbishop Romero was assassinated by guerillas trained at the School of the Americas.

This year twenty-four people were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly, for parading without a permit, and for standing and watching the arrests (Excuse me–but what happened to “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”  A local barber, for instance, stepped out of his shop to see what was going on and was promptly arrested.  A number of people were arrested for the crime of taking pictures of the police who were conducting the arrests.  These included a seventeen-year-old girl photographing the arrest of her twenty-year-old sister.

Once in court, the judge, who was also the prosecutor–as is apparently typical under Georgia law–ran his courtroom like a Model T factory.  He ignored witness and defendant statements and evidence .  Bail and fines were set high, and the town of Columbus set up a complicated system in which they accepted only cash for some parts of the penalties, allowed credit cards for others, but didn’t make their system available to the public.  Four journalists, including two from Russia, were among those arrested.  I guess we are showing them democracy in action so they’ll know what to do when they get arrested at home.

How dangerous are these Sisters, anyway?

SOA Watch paid fines and bail for those arrested; the total was $75000.  Since many of the members are Catholic Sisters and priests, as well as groups like Veterans for Peace, they don’t have deep pockets.  Disclaimer: I’m not a member but I did donate money for fines and bail.  A friend of mine who was at the demonstration, and helped bail out defendants, says they were in court until four Sunday morning.
I tried to insert video footage from the bus that transported people to the jail, but couldn’t figure out how to load it.  The URL is here

On this Thanksgiving Day, please pause for a moment and do something to preserve the liberties which we all cherish.  And wherever you are, I hope your holiday is safe and joyful.

Edgar Allen Poe Awards

Friday, November 19th, 2010

On November 18, I learned that the Mystery Writers of America are bestowing the Grand Master Award for Lifetime Achievement on me this coming April.  I feel really excited, and happy, and in a way, bewildered. It seems as though it was only yesterday that I was watching Julian Symons receive the Grand Master award at my first Edgar dinner in New York.  I was a novice and a stranger; I’d taken a half day of vacation time from my day job to fly out.  I didn’t know a soul, and I was seated at a table as far from the podium as you could get, but I was incredibly thrilled to see the writers I’d admired for years. Symons was followed the next year by the gifted Margaret Millar, and then John Le Carre.  Dorothy Salisbury Davis, one of my icons, received the Grand Master in 1985.  Dorothy later became not just a good friend, but an extraordinary mentor, not just in how to write, but in how to live.  I can’t believe I’m joining this legendary company.

Elvis is Dead

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

And I don’t feel so good myself.  That’s one of my all-time favorite book titles, by the humorist and memoirist Lewis Grizzard, but it sort of sums up why I’ve been missing in action for a while.

I was badly injured in a car crash several  years ago and all the travel I had to do this past summer/fall re-inflamed the nerve damage, so I’m having trouble typing–entries to the blog will definitely be spasmodic until that clears up.

I do want to announce a winner for our “V I’s Lover” contest.  We asked “which of her lovers should VI stay with and why?”  My thanks to everyone who took the time to think this through–she’s had at least nine that I can remember and I’ve probably forgotten a few.

Mihael Franich won me over with his romantic/philosophical take on the question:

The answer to VI’s love quest is not who… but what, when and how.  In every life, there is someone willing to go the distance, any distance, for her.  Someone who knows every intimate  hair on her skin, who sees her beyond a morning face, the beat up running shoes, really sees the person she is, understands what she needs, what she is unable to say herself.  Her love is a strong, steady guy, solid, patient, with a long distance vision.  She is in his thoughts each day, always close; he has a clear sense of their life together, the only thing he does not know is the when.  The only things he can do is stay in touch, keep showing, not telling her what love is, long distance, hoping to close that space, that she will notice, let him know it’s ok to move a little closer.”

I’ll post all the other answers in a future notice.  My own feeling is that Conrad Rawlings is the best man for V I, but there’s the unsurmountable mountain to climb of his being a cop and her being a PI.  If he agrees with her take on a crime, he’ll get the boys and girls in blue to take over from her.  If he disagrees they’ll fight, as they did in Tunnel Vision, and V I is a street fighter.   Every now and then, I get hate mail about the affair, because V I is European-American, Conrad African-American.  When the book was first published, Reader’s Digest offered me a high six-figure advance for the condensed version if I’d make Conrad white (or maybe V I black–they didn’t say).  It was a lot of money to walk away from, and maybe if I’d known how much my injury would slow down my writing I’d have thought twice instead of once…

PS My second favorite book title is Joe Namath’s autobiography: I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow ‘Cause I get Better Looking Every Day.


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November 2010