The Runaway Slave

The Runaway Slave

“It’s not a swamp, because the water moves. It moves slow, but it moves.”

The Everglades is one of the places featured in Ken Burns’ documentary The National Parks. It’s a place where people hid, from displaced Indians to runaway slaves, to thieves, deserters, outcasts. A politician named Napoleon Broward wanted to drain the Everglades and turn it into commercial land, redirecting the water to irrigate farms and provide drinking water to urban housing. He didn’t get his way. Today the Everglades, at 1.5 million acres, is the second largest national park in the country, next to Yellowstone. Its ecosystem helps provide a balance to the planet.

The Jazz Bakery just closed its doors from its old location because the building’s owner wanted to turn it into a furniture store. A new site hasn’t been announced yet. Even though the best jazz musicians who visit the Los Angeles area often wind up playing at the Jazz Bakery, because it isn’t located near a mall, a chain restaurant, or a nightclub, it never made that much money. Because it isn’t a restaurant where you can chew your food and suck down your glass of wine while the music plays in the background, drowned under casual conversation, because it isn’t that kind of place, it didn’t make that much money. When you went to the Jazz Bakery, you sat down, shut the fuck up, and just listened to some amazing jazz.

In November 1995, CBS lawyers ordered its show 60 Minutes to air an edited version of Jeffrey Wigand’s interview, to protect the company from any controversy while it negotiated a merger with Westinghouse Electric Corporation. The unedited version shows Wigand, a former scientist of Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation, discussing the potent effects of nicotine. In February 1996, after the information in the unedited version had already been revealed in the the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and the Wall Street Journal, the unedited version of Wigand’s interview was finally shown on 60 Minutes.

Today, some of the poorest countries in the world are suffering through devastating storms and floods, killing hundreds and displacing thousands. In America, social services are being shut down, university faculty and students are picketing to fight deep budget cuts and layoffs, while powerful lobbyists are winning the war to prevent any change in the way American healthcare is managed and to keep healthcare costs and profit high.

Somewhere, a man is spending almost all of his time figuring out how to take an extra penny out of every dollar that somebody else has worked for. Somewhere else, another man sees this but is so afraid that he will do nothing about it.

Somewhere else still, another man decides otherwise.