Friday, November 16, 2007

How History (the past) and the Present (the future) sometimes skew each other. (Or is that "screw" each other?)

[Dada note: The following account of an incident from the 1960's is "fictional" to those residing in this universe. But in the universe just one over from our own the following account actually happened December 2, 1964, illustrating how Earth altering events can be unintentionally unleashed by the play of the Fates and a leaky transmission seal on a 1959 Volkswagen. ]

Nearly 33 years ago Mario Savio, a frustrated UC Berkeley student, walked the seventeen blocks from the point his car had broken down to campus in time to make his 11:00 o'clock Poli Sci class.

He would have been on time but, on his way to class, his anger spilled over as he was passing a small group of peace demonstrators on the steps outside Sproul Hall.

This wasn't the first time Savio's 1959 VW Bug had broken down. It was the fourth. And always there ensued a hassle to repair it with the dealer he was buying it from and who had warranted its dependability.

Anticipating another such battle, frustrated Savio took it upon himself to usurp the student activist's venue for his own purposes that morning--to attack unscrupulous local car dealerships he felt were preying upon university students.

Stopping atop the steps outside the hall, Savio, began his rant:

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

His inspiring incitement of the audience present and their appreciation afterwards made him late for Poli Sci. But we now know some students scurrying between classes and overhearing part of Savio's rage against the "People's Volkswagen" dealership on south Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley mistook it for a protest against the University, against the state of California, the nation and it's war on Vietnam.

What ensued is now pretty much history. From Savio's impassioned admonishment of a local car dealer to fix his Beetle, to passing students who misunderstood what he was trying to inspire, the Berkeley Free Speech movement was born on the steps outside Sproul Hall that early December morning in 1964.

Free speech, always a radical and frightening concept to society's power centers and their supporters, unknowingly launched Ronald Reagan's political career that very same morning, for just two years later he was elected governor of California on a platform that promised to "clean up the mess in Berkeley."

[Dada note (yeh, I know, another note): In 1997, Mario Savio was honored for his pursuit of the radical concept of free speech when the steps of Sproul Plaza were named in his honor. In a nearby universe on this same plaza, there is erected a rusting '59 Volkswagen.]
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"You can't disobey the rules every time you disapprove. However, when you're considering something that constitutes an extreme abridgement of your rights, conscience is the court of last resort." ~Mario Savio

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7 comments:

D.K. Raed said...

Dada, you tell it so well, I find myself wondering, maybe it DID actually happen like that? A Free Speech movement inspired by a creaky Vee-Dub! Next you'll be telling us Mario Savio proved that "War is Not Healthy for Beetles or Other Living Things". And of course, I'll believe that, too. These alternate universes have a way of crossing over when the tides are just right.

enigma4ever said...

okay I am soooo confused- you do telll this soooo wonderfully , so did it happen or not...( of course I believe in Xfiles and alternative universes and parallel lives and LIES.....I am soooooo confused...)


I guess it does not matter, because I got the point and I love how you write...

( and where is Mario now? is he married ? )

thanks...

dada said...

d.k. Well, in the universe where this actually happened (just seconds before it mutated into the same, but slightly different, event in this universe here) it unfolded ever so slightly dissimilar such that the most familiar poster of the 60's there read, "War is not healthy for Beatles and other living things." (Inspired by that rock group's strong anti-war stance.)

As some kind of portent of the future, it proved eerily prescient when the Beatles--on their last tour of the U.S. in 1971--lost their lives in a suspicious (and tragic) plane crash over Minnesota while touring for peace.*

A wife, infant son and press manager were also among those killed with the Fab Four over the north woods in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. (It's the same woods that today are now being decimated by an infestation of Beatles, er, beetles.)

Synchronicity? I don't know, but strangeness? Certainly.

*The private chartered plane was a DC-5, which conspiracy theorists claim casts suspicions upon a rival Brit group of the 60's, the Dave Clark Five.

Of course, this is the thought of only some conspiracy theorists, the vast majority of whom still suspect the main perpetrator of this tragedy to be then FBI Director, J.Edgar Hover.

dada said...

enigma: Funny you should ask as to Mario's marital status! (very big grin)

In your universe, I'm sorry to report he passed away eleven years ago this month as the result of a history of heart trouble. (That is, his heart was too big for this world.) That probably explains the timing of the naming of the steps of UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza in his honor in 1997.

As reported by Wikipedia, he was a professor of mathematics and philosophy at Sonoma State at the time of his death.

Like all good citizens concerned for his country, Savio had received the highest awards a concerned government can bestow upon its citizens such as:

- unwarranted and unauthorized FBI surveillance of every imaginable aspect of his private life. (and even some unimaginable!)

D.K. Raed said...

Dada, you crack me up. I didn't think ANYONE else remembered The Dave Clark Five!! I'm in pieces, bits 'n pieces ...

enigma4ever said...

I loved the Dave Clark Five...sigh....

Dada...so I chose another dead one- way to go enigma....

dada said...

Ah, yes, the DC5....I have a double CD set of theirs. Trimmed it down to just one...it's a lot of their lesser knowns, B-sides, stuff like that. I entitled the new edited CD, "The soft underbelly of the DC5."

Poor enigma....I am so sorry. That was a pretty good picture...and a founder of the Free Speech Movement! Who could blame you for asking?

So you chose another dead one- way to go enigma. (Don't give up, dear.)