Welcome to my asylum for ideas and thoughts on movies, politics, culture, and all things Bruce Springsteen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I was on hiatus last November and didn't even record my thoughts of the election. That month held many anniversaries, many sad. The Jonestown massacre. The 27th marked the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and city council member Harvey Milk. I spent that day in reflection and remembrance. Now I can't seem to get all of that out of my head as last week, I saw the Gus Van Sant film, Milk. Twice, actually. Sean Penn soars in this role, truly losing himself in the part. A dramtic summary of The Times of Harvey Milk, a twenty-five year old documentary that I saw a couple of years ago. The film has made me reflect on the simple passage of time and the 'hometown' aspect of San Francisco. From a very young age, I remember the killings. I don't know why but I always remember the names Moscone, Milk and White. I remember my mom explaining the events to me and I remember KGO radio airing the stories. I was five and it's amazing what one remembers. Only as I grew older did I really learn Milk's story. While it's truly small on the level of historical importance (if this were to have happened in a smaller town, no one would remember this) on a national level, there is, of course, great symbolic importance. Milk's role in city politics was very limited and yet his legacy of civic activism still rings clearly today. That he 'found' himself when he turned forty and then decided to become an agent for change and action is not only remarkable but encouraging to anyone still wondering he can play a role of importance in society. And, of course, his sexuality and his hopes for social and legal equality. I take inspiration from Harvey Milk's story and see him not as a gay martyr but one who simply worked to bring about rights and equality for those who had not, and truly have not, reached full and equal rights. Odd to think that had he not been shot those thirty years ago would probably not be alive today as he was born seventy-nine years ago. And yet, even if only in the mind of this history teacher, his name will live on as I teach the 1970s and the struggle for civil rights among many disparate yet under-represented groups in this nation. i ordered his biography and will try to finish it before I reach the 1970s as I really want to share the story of Harvey Milk with my students this quarter.

See the film; it's an amazing story. Learn more about the story as it is one of triumph and tragedy. Learn about the man as his story is one we can learn from