Q: You have a Double?
A: I was tired of being a solitary white male. I wanted a shadow, a Double. Try one on for size. You might like one.
Q: Are you related to Jamie Raskin?
A: Funny you should ask me that.
Q: I’m serious.
A: So is my cousin Jamie and so was his father Marcus Raskin who ran the Institute for Policy Studies in DC and who noticed that he and I share the same last name. We sat down together and figured out that his ancestors and my ancestors came from the same village and that sometimes it was in Russia and sometimes in Poland. Our ancestors didn’t move. The borders did. That’s the history of Europe that’s still being played out in Ukraine.
Q: Sounds like you and Jamie Raskin are kissin’ cousins.
A: We’re pro-democracy dudes.
Q: So you’d like to see him in The White House?
A: I’d actually like the White House to be torn down and for the Pres and First Lady to camp out in a tent on the lawn and see what it’s like not to have a house with four walls and a roof overhead.
Q: Now you’re talking like some kinda weirdo.
A: I’m asking for empathy and compassion.
Q: Wanna do away with privilege?
A: I was involved with an organization that wanted to end white skin privilege.
Q: I bet they pretended to be something other than privileged kids for a time and that most of them went back to it.
A: You sound cynical
Q: Everyone has some kind of privilege in the U S of A. The crumbs from the table here are bigger than the crumbs from the table in Iraq or Afghanistan. Hollywood ran a dictatorship for white people for decades. Just look at all the old movies.
A: You’re supposed to ask the questions, not make blanket statements. The crumbs here are toxic more often than not.
Q: Back to Jamie. What do you like about him?
A: His fearlessness. He goes head to head with power and he’s resilient. When his son committed suicide at 25 he mourned and then he was back to the thick of the fight
Q: It’s too beautiful here in California to fight the way folks fight elsewhere isn’t it?
A: We worship at the altar of youth and beauty: a deadly combo, but people on the margins have battled the monster.
Q: At 80 is your life over?
A: I hope not.
Q: What books of yours are you proudest of?
A: The Mythology of Imperialism, Out of the Whale, plus my biographies of Abbie Hoffman and Allen Ginsberg and Jack London. If I could do it over again I would start with London and then tackle Ginsberg and move on to Abbie.
Q: What about the novels you have written?
A: I’m better at non-fiction than fiction, better as a journalist than a poet, but my poetry enlivens my writing for newspapers and magazines and also in the biographies I’ve published.
Q: Care to write a biography of Jamie Raskin?
A: How did you know? I would want to make it a personal book about the Trump era viewed through the eyes of two anti-Trump guys, Jamie’s and mime and, write it with kindness, too.
Q: Sympathy for the Devil?
A: The time is always ripe for revolution even when it isn’t.