Write On Wranter
by Hariette Surovell ©2000
Cleaver should be given historical credit for inventing the currently popular
form of self-expression, in which I frequently indulge, known as Ranting. Growing
up in Queens, N.Y., the Black Panthers were headquartered a mile from my family's
home, and copies of their weekly newspaper were as accessible as "The New York
Press" is in Manhattan today. "New York Press" boxes, when emptied, are frequently
used by creative homeless people, who hide their sandwiches, scarves and other
belongings in them. This is the only purpose "The New York Press" serves. I will
never understand why people want to read Russ Smith, alias "Mugger" 's detailed
descriptions of the comped gourmet feasts he and "Mrs. Mugger" greedily devour,
while most New Yorkers struggle to pay their exorbitant rents and try to afford
over-priced groceries. They certainly are not helped in this effort by writing
for "The New York Press", which pays writers pathetically low wages and always
has. (According to Andrei Codrescu, when he wrote for Russ Smith and John Strasbaugh
in "The Baltimore Sun", they paid him $25 a column.) In their favor, they did
have enough class to give my friend Catherine Seipp, a brilliant journalist, a
regular column, "Letter from L.A." But I digress...
Tonight, while cleaning out our own crib, my musician husband decided to place an old green tambourine in a "New York Press" box. We are waiting to see which one of the locals retrieves it and what s/he does with it--will the bearded hispanic guy use it as a hat? A pan-handling dish? Actually jingle it?
Anyway, I think Eldridge Cleaver has been overlooked as The Very First Ranter. Granted, he frequently rambled, and it is true that he was not always as coherent as one would wish, but as I recall, he had the ingenuity to use the phrase "fascist running-dog lackey to the imperialists pigs" in practically every paragraph, and to this, I say, "Right On!"
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