Welcome to Maoist Orange Cake. Each week one of our Divas posts a thoughtful (but not necessarily serious) essay on whatever calls forth her Voice or strikes her Fancy. We invite you to join us wherever the discussion leads.
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"I would also like to add that ‘Maoist Orange Cake is possibly the best name for a blog ever. Just my twopence." -- The Sixth Carnival of Radical Feminists, 1 October 2007

The Twelfth Carnival of Radical Feminists is up at The Burning Times blog and mentions one of our posts, Helen 'Wheels' Keller, for recommendation. Orangeists spreading our zest!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Worst Book Ever....

This is what I've been reading during my convalescence (I have bursitis), that is, when I have been conscious enough (I'm on painkillers) to read.

Originally the book was called "If I Did It", and O.J. was to receive all of the credit, as well as the profits. The Goldman and Brown families had teamed up to prevent the publication of this "thing" but due to much legal wrangling, they were unable to do this.

However, since the "Juice" has never paid a cent on his civil judgment owed by him to the Goldman's, all rights and profits have been turned over to the Goldman family. The Brown family would be happy if the damn thing were never published, but someone was going to publish it, and the Goldmans felt at least if they published it, they could put their stamp on it.

The title was changed to "I Did It" and the hired ghostwriter did virtually nothing to pretty up O.J.'s ramblings, resulting in a revolting, if somewhat fascinating book. (And in case you're wondering, no, I didn't buy it -- I checked it out from the library. Although if I had bought it, all profits are to go to the Ron Goldman Foundation, which helps victims of violent crime.)

In O.J.'s world, he was the perfect husband and father, who suffered a wife who was an irrepressible bitch. His description of "that night" is typical of most murderers ---"I blanked out, and when I woke up, everybody was dead, and I don't remember a thing". But hey, I'm reading the damn thing, along with a lot of other people.....Thoughts, anyone???


silvio soprani said...

Okay, I will bite.

Back in the Fall of 1995 I was student teaching a small charter school located on the campus of the university where I was getting my Masters degree.

The 300 high school students were all inner-city mostly African-American but some were children of visiting diplomats' servents. So nobody in this school was rich or even comfortable. In order to get into the school all you had to do was interview and show a committment to your own education.

It was the best school I have ever taught in. It was close-knit, there were no discipline problems, and most of the teachers were troublemakers from the 60s whom the city board of education had exiled in this charter school to get them out of their hair. It was heaven to student teach in.

Along comes the OJ trial. My students were all thoughtful, intelilgent, reasonable people. But I was white and 95% of them were Black. Guess whose side they were on?

The day the verdict was announced, we all stood in the small library around the only tv. I heard most of my students praying aloud, "Be innocent. Be innocent." And sure enough, when the verdict was announced, everybody (except most of the teachers) cheered.

I can only compare it to the Michael Jackson trial. Because he had won my heart for years with all his music, dancing, and philanthropy, I was totally unable to envision him as a child abuser. (I still do not believe he was.) There is no logic involved.

I can only assume the same kind of thing was happening for my students (and not for me because I loathe football and had never even HEARD of OJ until the murder!)

As far as taking over publication of OJs book (I almost said "execrable book" and then remembered that I have not read it--such is predisposition), I say to the Goldmans to go for it. His vileness speaks for itself.

I supposed

silvio soprani said...

p.s. I don't know where that "I supposed" at the bottom of my post came from.

shadocat said...

I remember working at a hospital that had a pretty even 50/50 split between black and white employees, and the reaction there was much like the rest of the nation: the black people cheered, the whites were stunned. I heard that the verdict was payback for all the injustices over the years,etc. Maybe that's true. But 12 years later, I have yet to talk to a person of any race that thinks O.J.was really innocent.

kat said...

Okay, would someone explain the phenomenon to me? As to why (you think) this trial became such a big race issue?

I was young (if it was '95, I guess I was 13-almost-14), and like Silvio, had never heard of OJ.

I just remember TV being a constant OJ fest, and then after the verdict there were all of these exuberant people, when it seemed pretty clear to me that his innocence was unlikely.

It wasn't until recently (about a month ago, actually, on Oprah) that I heard the "payback for all the injustices over the years,etc" philosophy, as Shado put it.
Is that really it?

I don't want to sound crass, but that sounds pretty insane to me. Solving past injustices with brand-spanking-new ones doesn't achieve anything.

Any insights?

shadocat said...

Kat---I wish I could answer this as well as Maggie could, but I'll give it a shot---

Because this was the time when cameras were first being allowed in the courtroom, and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in that coutroom was playing to the camera.

Because O.J. was the most famous person (up to that time) charged with such a serious crime.

Because, before this, O.J. was, by some beloved. He had a pretty damn good football career behind him. He was a spokesman for several companies, Hertz being the one I remember. He had an acting career of sorts, and usually starred in light comedies and TV movies (Roots, for one) I may be wrong, but I don't think he ever played the bad guy.

Because the Los Angeles Police Department has a long history of racism and bigotry towards the minority communities of the area---google Rodney King, and rent "L.A. Confidential" or "Mullholland Drive"---that'll at least give you an idea.

Because O.J. was rich, a black man living like a white man. As Chris Rock once said, "If O.J. had been a bus driver, he'd be known as Orenthal, the bus-drivin' murderer."

Because there was a salicious aspect to the case: people thought Ron and Nicole might have been lovers, and O.J. attacked them in a jealous rage.

Because this case showed us that we really are as racially divided as we ever were.

I hope I made some sense of this stuff to you. (I'm old, and I remember a lot).

silvio soprani said...


I think you covered the reasons pretty well.

You are right--a rich, beloved Black man married to a beautiful white woman...there were a WHOLE lot of issues on the table that had nothing to do with a man murdering a woman.

And Kat, you are so right--it really saturated the news more than anything before it since Kennedy's assassination, I think. I was on a trip to Texas, staying in a hotel in Memphis the evening of the famous pursuit of OJ in his SUV by a whole parade of police vehicles. I walked into the hotel and it was on the tv in the lobby. THat's what I will always remember.

I suppose his children are college-age now, right? Did he raise them or did they go back to Nicole's parents? Pretty hard to imagine being raised by a father much of the world perceives as a murderer. And if he raised them, I can just imagine the grief of the grandparents having to negotiate visits with him.

shadocat said...

The Browns sued him for custody after the murder trial. He won,but I believe the Browns have some kind of visitation. He took his family to live in Florida, because of the tax laws there (he gets out of paying his judgement to the Goldmans, for one). And get this--he sat down with the kids and discussed the book with them before it was published,and told them he was doing it FOR them. He even set up a dummy company in their name, to funnel the book profits!!

kat said...

thanks for the insights.
i was young enough at the time that any kind of analysis like this either went over my head, or I actively PUT it out of my head.

I've read L.A. Confidential (and seen the movie), and I've got a clear-ish picture of the Rodney King riots, but it still seems off, to me, to equate the LAPD's incompetence and racism in those (and the countless other undocumented) cases with what happened with OJ.

Unless, wait, do I remember that there was some sort of police cock-up there as well? Some dim memory is coming back...

Maggie Jochild said...

I've been sick, kids, am still feeling puny (maybe the flu?), so I'm coming to this discussion late.

I think Shado's covered it pretty well.

OJ's flight and the HOURS of coverage on all channels of live TV was the beginning of this media circus. Aside from his guilt, he claimed he ran (and got a friend to accompany him in the car, another black man) because he was sure the cops would gun him down without witnesses and a public eye, and I tend to believe him in that regard.

All police departments have a track record of defending property much better than defending people -- that is, in fact, their main job, the defense of property -- but some PD's have training and practices that made them particularly dangers (Philly, NY, Houston) and LA is one of them. Some of the training in the past has been done at the infamous School of the Americas, where torturers and military junta groups from dictatorships are also trained.

It's also important to remember that California, like Tejas, NM and Arizona, were all originally states of Mexico, and the land was stolen in various ways by our nation. People who were citizens of Mexico suddenly became inhabitants of the U.S. This leaves a racial residue that no one ever wants to acknowledge, much less deal with responsibly.

By the time whites began migrating to California, we in the U.S. had conquest and genocide down pat. The indigenous peoples of California were all but wiped out, consciously and methodically. The so-called "diversity" of California has occurred because of continued non-white immigration, not because whites have necessarily welcomed diversity. And, there's a big difference between regions in this large state: The Bay Area is most progressive around race, but the Central Valley, the Northern areas bordering Oregon, and sections around L.A. have a higher percentage of Aryan Nation and Klan membership than anywhere else in the country.

L.A.'s history includes not just the Rodney King riots of 1992, but the Watts Riots of 1962 (also instigated by a police incident) and the Zoot Suit Riots of World War II. This cauldron has been bubbling for a long time.

OJ's crime also occurred during a time when famous sports figures were still being held to a higher moral standard than they are today.

At the time of the trial, I too was caught off guard by the reaction of my friends who were African-American, for the most part Lesbian-feminists who absolutely believed OJ killed his wife in a masculinity-driven sense of retribution. Even so, they were glad he was acquitted. They explained it as "There's no such thing as a black man getting a fair trial in this country", particularly in L.A. And, several of them mentioned that the four police officers who beat the shit out of Rodkey King, ON VIDEO, were all acquitted.

In April of 1992, I attended the Texas Lesbian Conference in Dallas and one of the keynote speakers was Sabrina Sojourner, at that time working with Congresswoman Maxine Waters from L.A. She focused her speech on the issue of justice and how seldom we actually experience it, for various reasons. She concluded by beginning to chant "No justice no peace!", one of the rallying cries of the riots earlier that year. It was interesting to note how all the women of color came to their feet and joined her, and how few white women did.

Lastly, someone else here referred to the mixed race marriage issue. Yep, a big deal. My daughter, white, married a black man who was also a teacher at her school, and overnight her black female friends among the teachers stopped talking to her. One of them finally explained that she had violated a rule, that white women not go after black men, because, as she put it, the mixture of white notions of masculinity as it is expressed through racism leaves "not enough good black men" to go around. I think this is internalized oppression, but it's operating out there.

shadocat said...

Maggie-GREAT QUOTE! Much better than that other one...

and your answer says it all (as I knew it would). Years ago, I started reading James Ellroy's books, and although he's a complete misogynist, I think he's got it right as far as the corrupt history of the LAPD. That's where I first heard of the Zoot Suit Riots. No wonder the Juice was scared. Still, he seemed to feel completely at ease with the police while charming them after he beat his wife.

I am so sorry you were sick---should've sent chicken soup instead of the other.

And how did you come up with that quote? (Is there anything you don't know?)

silvio soprani said...


Maggie, sorry to hear you have been sick. As usual, great information.

Shado, funny you should mention the Zoot Suit Riots. Recently I have been reading various news stories about municipalities trying to outlaw saggy pants on urban black men (apparently there is a name for it: "sagging." Who knew?)
Above is a sample link.
But one article referenced the Zoot Suit Riots and talked about the larger issues behind the clothing issues our society chooses to battle about.

Personally, I can't stand seeing a guy with his pants down to his knees crossing the street with his underwear hanging there, plus I don't understand how they manage to walk without the pants falling completely to their ankles...but regardless, the history and politics of the thing is fascinating.

kat said...

I'll respond to maggie in a bit, but I'm changing the subject for now.

Halloween. I love halloween. It's absolutely, without a doubt, my favoritest holiday.

I'm flummoxed, though.

Why are most store-bought women's halloween costumes "sexy" or "sassy"?? Furthermore, the most ridiculous "sexy" costume I've had the misfortune to encounter is the sexy little dutch girl.....

um....what the fuck????

Also, why spend a shit-ton of money to buy a costume that you'll wear once, and when you get to your party, all done up as "sassy little ----insert cliche here----," you realize that there are 4 others dressed exactly like you???

I'm off to find some multi-colored checkered fabric to complete my historically-accurate-commedia dell'arte outfit.


Maggie Jochild said...

Well, to link together California's cultural history with the current natural disaster going on there, here's an essay over at FireDogLake tonight -- long but this guy knows his history.

kat said...

I don't know if the news in the last couple of days has answered your question (over on DTWOF) about Katrin versus the SoCal fires, but here are some tidbits:
The situations are very different. Among the reasons why are that fire moves through an area quickly, and then moves on. After the storm left Louisiana, the water sat there for ages.
Also, the hurricane wiped out power and destroyed the whole infrastructure, whereas here, municipal organizations are still functional, and power never went out. Downtown areas haven't been threatened, so business and some agriculture hasn't been interrupted (there are huge issues with the agriculture, but more on that at the end).
The area affected by Katrina is much bigger than that affected by the fires. At least the San Diego one. I'm not sure what the square mileage is for all of the fires currently ravaging the southland. Because most of the area affected is wild or suburban, you don't have the mass chaos that a major urban center would, and because many of the affected neighborhoods are quite wealthy, people had more options in terms of evacuating. Those who ended up at the football stadium primarily arrived there in their own cars.
Here's a big one: Disaster preparedness. Maggie's link is really distressing, and I'm sure that things could be so much better, but apparently CA ranks first in the nation in disaster preparedness, and it's something we take really seriously.
Fires and earthquakes are a constant threat, and building codes are really strict in regards to them. We've had several really devastating fires over the last 15 years, which have not only scared the crap out of us, but also ensured that most folks have evacuation plans, at least in the backs of their minds.
Louisiana, on the other hand, ranked last in the nation in disaster plans at the time of Katrina.

The downside is that, yes, fire departments all over the state are underfunded. In the Bay Area, several cities have seen the closure of a significant portion of their stations. This is not only disastrous in cases of fire, but also everyday emergencies. If you call 911 and need paramedics, it's fire department ambulances that show up. They're taking a lot longer than when all stations were open.
People are building farther and farther out into wild land. This means that naturally occurring wildfires that are beneficial to the health of forests not have to be fought, rather than allowed to progress, because homes must be protected. The Department of Forestry is in a real bind, in that regard.

Last year, Australia had a fire season that just decimated the country for exactly that reason. So many communities were affected that the fire agencies couldn't cope with it all and even with international help, had to tell some people that they could either try to save their own homes with garden hoses, or give up.

So, agriculture. What was thought to be a camp for migrant workers was found yesterday. 4 bodies were found. Apparently a lot of ag. workers have just kept working, despite all the dangers, for fear of either being fired or deported if they report to evacuation sites.
Something like 7,000 acres of avocado trees have burned, which is a significant portion of the year's crop. Also, avocado trees take a long time to mature and produce fruit, so the crops will be affected for years to come. ugh.

Anyway, those are my observations. My brain hurts now, as I haven't had enough caffeine yet for so many words....

kat said...

"beneficial to the health of forests NOW have to be fought, rather than allowed"

it should say

shadocat said...

I read the Firedog Lake essay; yeah it was lengthy, but worth reading.

Back to O.J.---I just finished the book, and I'm wondering if I should've catagorized it as "The Worst Book Ever." It was, inadvertantly I'm sure, a revealing look into the mind of a sociopath. The mixture of obvious lies and bits of truth, the efforts to manipulate---strange how abusers are so much alike underneath it all.And the Afterword by Dominick Dunne---worth reading the book for, I'd say. Heartbreaking. There are even groups listed at the end for victims of crime and their families, which I plan to use as a resource in my work. Some suprising good stuff in "The Worst Book Ever."

Maggie Jochild said...

Kat, my dear, your brilliant and detailed answer to Silvio about Katrina vs. SoCal fires inspired me to wrote a long post at Escape Fires . I give you full credit for the inspiration here. You jogged my brain into thought, always a delightful sensation. Hugs to you.

shadocat said...

I hope you don't think I was ignoring your post---it's just that I had just finished that book, and was itching to write about it.

We have family in California, and with each natural disaster, we jump a little. My "aunt-in-law" always says their seasons are "wind, fire, flood, and mud". It appears the problem of buiding where mother nature says you shouldn't is everywhere, yet neither insurance companies, nor the politicians seem to do anything about it.

kat said...

no problem, shado. I'm surprised to hear that there are some redeeming features to the "worst book ever."

thanks maggie! I'm really flattered!

Yeah, wind, fire, flood and mud just about sum it up. Add earthquakes and you're set.
To some extant, my childhood is divided up based on some of these disasters: the '89 earthquake, the '91 Oakland Hills fire (25 deaths and more than 5,000 people homeless--not me, thankfully).....It's almost as though living through those is my Bay Area pedigree.

I hope that rain doesn't wreak havoc on the southland this year. Yes, we need it, but the hilly areas around San Diego, the LA area, and Santa Barbara are really prone to mudslides....

And no, there isn't much land that's not problematic in some way or another.

kellan said...

Kat, I remember my childhood in LA in exactly the same way: the '88 earthquake, the fires in '93 that forced my family to evacuate, the '94 Northridge quake and the mudslides later that year...

Has anyone ever read the book Ecology of Fear, by Mike Davis? I would like to, but I'm afraid of what I might learn about my hometown (and the place where my parents still live).