Just out in Courier-Post: My Op-Ed on proposed Martin Luther King memorial in Maple Shade, NJ.

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A 2009 Google maps image of the site of Mary’s Cafe, later The Jade and then Moorestown Pub. It was razed in 2010.

 

For 20 years, I read the Courier Post, and now I’m in its opinion pages. That’s pretty cool. What’s also cool is I got to offer my opinion–and, hopefully, move a conversation forward–about a particular aspect of my hometown, Maple Shade, NJ.

I write about this in my next book, called Shader, but here it is again, in a nutshell, one more time: one night in June 1950, a Maple Shade bar owner threw a 20-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. out, at gunpoint, refusing to serve him, his friend and their dates. (They ordered beers, but also ginger ales, after they were refused the beers. But that’s not as sexy.)

Recently, some activists have proposed to put a historical plaque or memorial there to mark the spot where it happened. There are a good amount of people from Maple Shade–a couple blood relatives–who say forget about it and move on, why dwell in the past, or what good can come from doing that?

I offer my take on it as a native Shader.

I worked hard on this one. It went through a million drafts, loads of research, interviews and emails, discussions with people from Maple Shade. And a lot of soul-searching.

Here’s a core belief I have: history should be acknowledged, good and bad (thus the piece’s title). That’s probably why I don’t think Maple Shade, my beloved hometown, needs to turn away and continue to exclude it from its history, which it does. The more it’s suppressed–and I’ve come to think that’s the right word for it, suppressed, from town histories, historical societies, even the Wikipedia page–the more complicit it looks we were in the event.

How should it be acknowledged? There I’m not sure. I’m not a plaque-maker or memorial expert. I’m also not a historian.

That’s why I spoke with Clayborne Carson, one of the world’s top King historians, for the story. He’s not the biggest fan of historical markers, either, at least next to highways. But I did like his idea of setting up a website, perhaps along with something to mark the spot, which today is just a patch of grass beside Route 73.

Read the piece here. Below is a screenshot from one of the King biographies that mention the Maple Shade incident, To See The Promised Land (page 153).

MLK To See The Promised Land Page 153

 

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Filed under Shader: 99 Notes on Grief, Car Washes, Making Out in Church, and Other Unlearnable Subjects, Shameless Self-Promotion

This ad for ‘broadminded swingers’ asks you to send to a P.O. Box in Cherry Hill, NJ.

SwingersCherryHill

This comes from a March 3, 1970 issue of the defunct East Village Other, an early competitor to the Village Voice.

Anyone from Cherry Hill know about this? Please write to me.

 

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Filed under Beyond Camp

Look! My volcano is working!

PeterVolcano2

1 Comment

January 25, 2015 · 4:09 pm

Just up on Passages North: “Type Hard or Go Home: In Praise of the Clicky Keyboard.”

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I am typing these words on an IBM Model M, a behemoth beast of a keyboard that has a solid steel plate inside. For the past fifteen years, I have refused to type on anything other than a Model M. Made by IBM from 1985 until 1991 (successors made by Lexmark and now Unicomp, while good, are not regarded as classic), it weighs in at six pounds, about as much as six iPads, and connects to a computer with a curly cable that resembles something Jimi Hendrix might have used with his Fender Stratocaster. Its clicks rival any Remington’s.

Read the whole thing here.

 

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Shameless Self-Promotion

Just out in Chicken Soup for the Soul’s The Power of Forgiveness: “Flag Waving for Beginners.”

ChickenSoup

A couple months I got an email, subject line “Your Writing in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Forgiveness.” It said my writing was being considered for inclusion in an upcoming anthology. I didn’t recognize the title, but figured it might have been the thing I wrote about the flag my sister gave to me after our father’s ashes had been scattered at sea.

It was, and I liked the new title as well. And now it’s out. The Chicken Soup people sent me 10 copies of the book and a check–a check!–for $200. If only every anthology could do that for their writers.

Anyway, order your copy today!

 

 

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Filed under Uncategorized