In early 1969 it was claimed that The Black Panthers had planned coordinated bombings of police stations. 21 members were indicted, among them Afeni Shakur, the mother of the late actor/rapper Tupac Shakur, who was born in 1971.
Printed papers were handed out on street corners downtown and benefits were planned to help the defendants.
Racial problems were being written about in many publications — both underground and mainstream. The Black Panther Party started in Oakland, California in 1966 as a self defensive group to counter police brutality.
They began by instituting self help charities and neighborhood food programs until J. Edgar Hoover called them the greatest threat to America’s security! The FBI and Hoover formed COINTELPRO, a counterintelligence program of infiltration, police harassment and worse!
The mainstream press stressed the negative and picked up on Hoover’s propaganda and public opinion in most cases was turning against them!
My brother was still in New York working with Columbia Records and living as if he were a real New Yorker! I was surprised that he didn’t seem to be affected by the cold weather. He strolled the streets wearing only a jacket!
We visited Paul Bartel and the next day we all went to the Little Carnegie Theater to see a revival of Walt Disney’s Fantasia, a movie my brother and I had seen, as kids, dozens of times
Paul was still meeting cinematographers while hoping to get some sort of feature film started. He’d written some very funny scripts and submitted story ideas but they were far from what companies were looking for as commercial properties! Paul’s intelligence and interest in 1930s screwball comedies and french films were not thought of as marketable!
I went to Brooklyn to see Bill Rilling and Gary Van Kirk. We’d had such a good time together in Puerto Rico that we started thinking about how we might find someplace in the country where we could spend weekends away from all the turmoil enveloping the city!
If you can travel with friends and at the end still call them friends you can certainly spend weekends together!
A few days later we met with Paul’s aunt Connie Bartel at The Balkan Restaurant.
Connie had restored a 200-year-old stone house in Alpha, New Jersey about an eighth of a mile from the Delaware River. It was on 68 acres with a tenant house that at that time had no tenant and was sitting unoccupied!
She agreed that it’d be a good idea if we rented it. So we were set! We would have someplace to go that wasn’t overrun with people and we would also be able to spend time with Connie who was such an interesting and fun person to be with! She, in turn, was glad to have just enough company and also more importantly, to have the tenant house occupied. She’d no longer be a woman living alone with nobody around! Just in case!
This whole idea started after we’d gone to the picnic that my friend Janet Hautau had arranged in Upper Black Eddy. It had left us yearning for a place we could even garden and get close to nature. The timing was perfect!
Meanwhile, until we could move in, we were still in the city!