RARA-AVIS: Off to the Races...

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 16 Nov 2001

Gee, I knew I shoulda kept my mouth shut about race...

Todd wrote:

>Kevin, as M. Blumenthal notes, your image of Boston as adjoins Cambridge is
>extremely distorted if you attempted to apply it to Boston as a whole, as
>you seem to know at least in re Southie, since the Hub is on balance one of
the most aggressively racist/ethnicist cities in the US...

Well, if the Hub is the sort of Cambridge/downtown Boston axis, that's where I was. And if the Hub is "on balance one of the most aggressively racist/ethnicist cities in the US," what the hell were all those nicely dressed black/white couples doing smiling at at each other and holding hands on the subway and in restaurants and stuff? Or did you mean Boston as a whole?

>Meanwhile, were the Boucherconites Virginians? And if so, were they, aside
>from alarmist, from Northern Virginia, where racial tension is played out on
>many levels, with DC majority-"black" and the NoVA 'burbs mixed but full of
>resentment for the folks who would re-elect Marion Barry mayor, at least in
>part to protest the dictatorship of their city by the essentially
>all-"white" Congress, which has essentially All the power in the city.
>Arlingtonians are, on balance, much less self-segregating than neighborhood
>folk in Boston and its suburbs as I remember them.
>Virginia did secede, and West Virginia seceded from VA to stick with the
>Union, but this didn't mean that racism abated in WV, or Massachusetts, for
>that matter. It just has different tones, not radically different aspects.

Well, my point was not that Boston was racist-free, or that Virginia was a hot bed of rednecks, but that there are, in fact, all types and degrees of racism. I'm not really interested in which city is most racist. Richard himself felt he should mention his own background, when explaining his problems with Hawk. I merely extrapolated on it, and suggested Parker's take on race may have something to do with his own background, and that his intentions may not have been necessarily those that Richard was troubled by. Not that either is wrong or right
-- just seeing things from different points of view, that's all.

And Kerry wrote:

>And Kevin, speaking about racial experiences via Bouchercon, it didn't occur
>to me until I got home how few black people I saw at the event. I remember
>Walter Mosely and Gary Phillips among authors. I do not recall any black
>female authors at all.

Yeah, I realized that too, when I got home. I'm not sure what it means. But then, maybe we only saw Mosley and Phillips because we wanted to see those guys. There could have been fifty black cozy writers there, and I might have just mentally bopped over them. And, after reading Ann's list, I'm reminded that I did see Woods for a moment (she did the absolutely great SPOOKS, SPIES & PRIVATE EYES anthology), and in fact, wanted to say hey, but she was gone before I could even open my mouth (Kerry's probably thinking, now, "Wow! That woman IS fast!")

And Mark wrote:

>You're not hallucinating. There was a series called A Man Called Hawk
>starring Avery Brooks, spun off from Spenser: For Hire. I liked the few
>episodes I saw, but it didn't last very long. The show's page on
>www.imdb.com has one fan's theory on why that was, because America
>wasn't ready to see a Strong Black Man as the lead in a series. He
>makes a pretty good argument.

An even better argument, though, is that the show just wasn't that strong. I felt it was a weak Equalizer rip-off, with windchimes. Without Spenser to bounce off of, Hawk was adrift. As i remember it, they tried to insert a sort of mojo mentor/father figure (known as The Old Man) as a foil, who spouted some vaguely new age type blather now and then, but it never really worked, for me. A far better approach would have been to do a sort of VENGEANCE UNLIMITED riff, playing up the black humour of the loose cannon avenger, instead of trying to make Hawk into some sort of mystical, mythical black crusader.

Still, the show was set in D.C., not New York or L.A., so that must count for something.

>Trace and 47 Miles of Rope by Warren Murphy -- I've read the Digger
>books and the first Trace and thought they were fun, but didn't keep up
>with them. I know I could look it up on your site, Kevin, but how many
>Trace books were there?

Seven, I think, plus four Digger books... (Digger became Trace when Murphy jumped publishers).


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