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  •  I just finished Gibbs M. Smith's (6+ / 0-)

    biography of IWW activist and songwriter Joe Hill.  Unfortunately, not much is known of Hill's life before his arrest for murder in 1914, and subsequent conviction and execution on purely circumstantial evidence.  Hill was treated for a bullet wound (allegedly from a jealous husband) the same night that a shopkeeper and his son were shot by two men with bandannas over their faces.  None of the witnesses could identify Hill and he had no discernable motive:  nothing was stolen and he had no connection with the victim (an ex-cop who had a long list of enemies and 2 prior attempts on his life).  

    Smith rejects the claim (popularized in Alfred Hayes's song "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night) that anti-union forces conspired to railroad him for his union activities; Smith argues that any impoverished vagrant would have encountered a similarly casual attitude toward justice.  Hill's refusal to identify the woman or otherwise try to prove his alibi is baffling, though it's been speculated that he decided he'd serve the union cause better as a dead martyr than a live worker.

    The book includes Hill's songs, including the well-known "Casey Jones, Union Scab," and "The Preacher and the Slave" (first known use of the term "pie in the sky").  It made me smile to see that some of his songs were outright feminist, including "Rebel Girl" (later recorded by Joanna Cazden, among others).  A couple of other songs included lyrics about what today would be termed sexual harassment and sex trafficking.

    I'm almost done reading The Knitting Circle Rapist Annihilation Squad, a dark comedy by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan.  I was afraid it was going to be one of those books where somebody started with a good idea and then bungled the execution, but this one is wickedly hilarious.  The rapes and most of the killing occur off-screen.  The authors manage to spoof everything from PETA's weird sexist ads, to important-sounding governmental reports (which refer to women as MVR's, or Mobile Vagina Resources), to police profilers who are certain that the mastermind behind the knitting-needle murders must be a white male in his 30's.  The cable news anchor is particularly awful...but the cabling is great.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:31:59 PM PDT

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