Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More on Nazi "Rights"

I’ve had a bit of mail today regarding my previous post--among it, a note from a savvy, highly intelligent, reasonable man of the Hebrew persuasion I respect very much who writes, “Do you want to live in a country governed by the rule of law, or by the weight of a gun in someone's pocket? When the constitutional rights of a hate group are confirmed and upheld, all of America wins.”

Let's not confuse my own adoration and wholesale gratitude for a country governed by law with the question: How does a Jew, of all people, volunteer to defend a Nazi's 'right' to hurt Jews? It wasn't the government who provided Collin with a public defender in '78; it was the ACLU, which was under no obligation to offer those shitballs aid. And if they were, if I've misread their charter, if the ACLU's raison d'ĂȘtre mandates that every sick fuck no matter what their intentions must be defended by their donations-supported organization whenever so-called civil rights are in question, then the Jew who was offered the pulpit should have STEPPED DOWN, claiming conflict of interest.

But it wasn't a conflict of interest for that lawyer. Which begs the question, "If I am not for myself, than who shall be for me?"

Even in the U.S.--the greatest country in the world, the solar system, the whole universe--even here, a Jew need not feel obligated to put a light bulb in his mouth when someone comes to turn his head into a lampshade.

The Nazis in Skokie: 30 Years Later

When I caught the date on the calendar, an alarm went off in my memory. It was 30 years ago this week that we demonstrated the meaning of Meir Kahane’s slogan "Never Again."

The Nazi-Skokie story opens in late 1977 when Frank Collin, head of the National Socialist Party of America (Nazis) in Chicago, applied to the Skokie Park District for a permit to hold a rally in a Skokie park. The Chicago suburb’s population at that time was 66,000, about half of them Jews; many, survivors of Nazi Germany. The park district required Collin to secure a huge liability insurance policy to cover possible damages. So Collin responded by saying his followers would march, in uniform, in front of the village hall on May 1, but the village's lawyer obtained an injunction to block the demonstration. The village board also enacted three ordinances: Requiring insurance for demonstrations, banning persons from parading in "military-style" uniforms or displaying offensive symbols, and banning distribution of hate literature.

A lengthy series of court battles ensued after Collin obtained Jewish counsel from the Illinois Division of ACLU. Both the injunction and the ordinances were declared unconstitutional. Here’s Federal Judge Bernard M. Decker expressing the principle in striking down the Skokie ordinances: "It is better to allow those who preach racial hatred to expend their venom in rhetoric rather than to be panicked into embarking on the dangerous course of permitting the government to decide what its citizens may say and hear…The ability of American society to tolerate the advocacy of even hateful doctrines…is perhaps the best protection we have against the establishment of any Nazi-type regime in this country."

When Collin’s court victory was announced, thousands of Jews were mobilized by Rabbi Meir Kahane, z"tl. I was among them, a 17-year-old street fighter bussed in from Rockaway, New Jersey. The Nazis might march in Skokie, but we’d be there to meet them. The slogan Never Again has often been misinterpreted as meaning never again will there be a Holocaust. That’s a mistake. The slogan meant never again would we stand idle while Jewish lives were threatened. The slogan meant that our generation—the post Irgun Jew—understood with the greatest simplicity that there are causes worthy of the ultimate sacrifice. Especially when the enemy is making it.

Was Collin victorious? No. There were too many of us. The band of several dozen brown-shirt goons were no match for what we'd brought to Chicago. Hell, they'd have been no match for my friends in Rockaway. Forced to change the site of their march from Skokie to Chicago's Marquette Park, these Nazis were clandestinely transported in U.S. mail trucks then protected by nearly five hundred police—mostly mounted, in full riot gear—who had been imported from multiple Chicago suburbs to protect these thugs. Protect them from thousands of men who had come to twist them into swastikas.

One sad note: If the ACLU had not agreed to represent Collin, he would have lost in court. "Skokie would have prevailed," said David Hamlin, the director of the Illinois ACLU in a later interview. "There's no question about it. The Nazis couldn't afford to hire a lawyer, and even if they could have, I don't think there is a lawyer who would have taken the case."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Palestinian Gunmen Ignore Ceasefire

Reports on Friday "Israelis Attacked by Gunmen" neglected to mention that these were just students on a hike. My friend Moshe Goldsmith, a rabbi in Itamar who knows the boys, just emailed me the details. "A group of boys that learn at our Yeshiva on Itamar were hiking near a community in Shomron called Neveh Tzuf. While enjoying the beautiful hills of Shomron they were ambushed by terrorist gunfire. Three of them were injured, one of them seriously who I happened to have taught for four years and am personally very close to… right now he is undergoing surgery! Please pray for the Refuah Shelema [speedy recover] of Avraham Meir ben Malkah Chaya."

The shooting occurred 12 hours after the official ceasefire in the Gaza.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gene Colan Update, Marvel Steps Up & Man Struck by Lightning in Rockaway

Not only has Marvel Entertainment awarded Gene Colan a generous retirement bonus, but also plans are underway for an impressive tribute book for early 2009. While the project has not been officially approved, it appears that I will soon be editing THE INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN for Marvel. I'll share more details as they emerge.

On the home front, Gene is feeling better but is certainly not out of the woods. Medical tests are inconclusive and a biopsy is forthcoming while my friend is functioning on only 10% of his liver. Nevertheless, he reported a healthy appetite yesterday and got out to enjoy the weather now that the heatwave has blown by. Gene attributes his "improving health" to the love and devotion fans and peers have shown him these last six weeks. What a guy!

In an unrelated story, a minister from Pequannock, NJ, was reportedly struck by lightning yesterday in my town and lived to tell the story. "The lightning burned a hole in my hat, entered through my head, exited through my left ankle, and blew off my sneaker," the 47-year-old Rev. told reporters. My son Jesse and I heard the report on 1010 WINS this morning. "I don't believe it," said Jesse. "You think the radio's full of crap?" I asked. "No," said Jesse, "but I don't believe that man." Now that I think about it, I'm not sure it's fair dinkum either. Hard to imagine a man my age who can't tie his sneakers well enough to keep them on, rain or shine.

  • Don't forget to order Meth, Colan & Other Theologians: Click here for details.

  • You can still get The Gene Colan Treasury signed/numbered by Gene - only a few remain - click here.

  • Finally, if you're looking for some great Silver Age comics at reasonable prices, click here
  • Sunday, June 15, 2008

    Gene Colan: Medical Update

    The news has been encouraging in the Colan home with the addition of a new doctor.

    Adrienne Colan, Gene's wife, shares her recent letter to Dr. Nancy Bach at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York:
    I'm generally so focused on and attending to what is wrong with Gene that it just occured to me I can share one thing positive for sure with you tonight: There is no question since under your care that Gene has made a 1000% return to better stamina than I've seen on him for a very, very long time. Even a year ago, he was falling asleep in the middle of conversations, in the middle of dinner, even if it was at a restaurant. We didn't know what was wrong. This week, it is so evident that he is awake and alert and even back to drawing his beloved comic books (he's currently drawing Captain America). So tonight, Dr. Bach, you are the superhero. I can't thank you enough for your remarkable devotion to trying the best you can to restore quality to Gene's life.

    Gene Colan Benefit Auction Continues

    My friend, the artist Dave Gutierrez, has stepped in to help with the Gene Colan Benefit Auction. Nearly 40 new items have been posted to Ebay. Please have a look by clicking here.

    And don't forget to order Gene's new book: Click here for details.

    You can still get The Gene Colan Treasury signed/numbered by Gene - only a few remain - click here.
    Finally, if you're looking for some great Silver Age comics at reasonable prices, click here.

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Marv Wolfman On Meth

    Marv Wolfman--who dreamed up the character Blade and gave us decades of terrific comics scripting--offers some wonderful memories of Gene Colan in his introduction to Meth, Colan & Other Theologians (the reincarnation of Perverts, Pedophiles & Other Theologians that Aardwolf Publishing will be reissuing in September). Marv even has a few nice words about the author:

    [Meth's] writing is dark, relentless and always in your face. It doesn’t make for easy reading, but it is highly emotional and makes you pay attention, which is the best thing a writer can do… You might even turn away from some of his twistier concepts, but I don’t think Clifford expects otherwise. He writes from a place others won’t walk [and] forces you into some queasy speculations that make everything you just read even creepier. Clifford’s strength is that he makes your imagination work overtime, again one of the best things a writer can
    You can order the signed/numbered limited edition NOW; send $20 plus $3 shipping via PayPal to:

    Friday, June 6, 2008

    Meth in Hebrew, French, and Goth

    Mahrwood Press will soon announce an expanded edition of my book god's 15 minutes, which was first published by Aardwolf Publishing in 2003. The new volume will include Harlan Ellison's delightful afterword "Ellison on Meth" as well as several new stories. Mahrwood will simultaneously release Hebrew and (l'havdil) French language editions.

    We're also just weeks away from Septumus Orion's debut CD Caged, which was inspired by my story “Queers". The CD's cover art (pictured) is by Dave Cockrum and Christian Krank. Band members include ex-Celtic Frost drummer Reed St. Mark and J.R., former front man for the hardcore horror-metal band Rosemary’s Babies. In addition to the trippy, musical experience around my reading of "Queers," there's a half-dozen other tracks by this extraordinary ensemble.

    Thursday, June 5, 2008

    The Triumphant Return of Bill Messner-Loebs

    I only hear from certain people when they’re looking for a place to hide. Speaking of Bill Messner-Loebs, IDW Publishing is getting set to release the complete Journey: The Adventures of Wolverine MacAlistaire by the luminous, erudite, and terminally good-natured writer-cartoonist. Thank me, if you buy it (and you should); I reeled in this big fish like an olde whaler. Call me Ishmael.

    Bill writes me this morning with, “I see everyone has a quote on your page except me.” Then he proceeds with what people in Buttfuck, Michigan apparantly regard as high praise:

    “In public, Clifford Meth is the ‘anti’ Bill Messner-Loebs. He is opiniated [sic], swaggers, glories in grudges, sneers at his enemies and takes no prisoners. His work is about the dark side of life, as if he were sculpting beautifully realistic statues while working exclusively in blood and excrement. And then setting them on fire. But the real Clifford Meth has saved my life a couple of times, so I am probably biased… and I’m also a huge fan. I read him mouth open and giggling, stunned, amused and aroused. Clifford Meth is my pornography.”

    Opiniated? As in full of opin? No—that can’t be right. Messner-Loebs is an educated man. He knows his diphthongs from his dipsticks. It must be a typo, I thought all atremble, before I swaggered on to the next subject.

    Monday, June 2, 2008

    BEA Wrap-up

    Just back from the BookExpo... Had a grand meeting with my producer and his exec, a jolly time with the IDW folks, and bought Harlan a birthday present ("For Chrisakes Clifford, I specifically told you not to buy me anything! I have six of everything!" "I got you an Alexander Dumos bookmark." "Okay. I didn't have that.") Other highlights included running into Cheech Marin and Slash (from Guns 'N Roses), lunch at Jeff's Gourmet Sausage on Pico Blvd. (yes, it's kosher, you silly, silly people), then spending my last hour before heading back to LAX at the Santa Monica pier where an overage hippie accosted me with anti-Israel propaganda. All in a week's work.

    And there's an interview with me at Westfield comics.

    And the Gene Colan Benefit Auction continues with new items.