2/14/2008

Joan Didion's Essay On The 1988 Strike

In 1988, Joan Didion wrote an essay on the writers' strike. There's a link to a pdf version at los angeles daze -- it's a must-read.

Agree or disagree with how this strike has been waged, she puts her finger on realities that sound eerily familiar, 20 years later -- and on some key differences as well.

Most importantly, the Union Blues writers that she talks about, who broke the back of the '88 strike -- this time, there was dissent, but we held together. As writers, as a union. And 3 years from now, we'll still be here.

In the wake of the LA Times article talking about the "Dirty 30" and the events leading up to the final agreement, we're going to be running some pieces ourselves concerning those events and, to us more importantly, where we all go now.

3 comments:

stuiec said...

Thanks for the link to the Joan Didion piece. I wonder who (and how many) will write the similar accounts of this strike?

Thanks also for the link to the L.A. Times article. I won't comment, except on this passage:

Some militants had resorted to guerrilla tactics to promote the union's cause. One evening outside a home in Bel Air where DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg was discussing a peace plan to end the strike with a group of "moderates," the militants struck. As people left the meeting and approached their cars, they found sheets of paper stuck under their windshield wipers. "Don't be weak!" the fliers goaded.

"The militants struck...." I was expecting slashed tires, horse heads in passenger seats, or at least soaped-up windshields....

True story: my dad was an official of the teachers' union local in Oakland, Calif., back in 1968. He and a group of protestors packed a school board meeting under an agreement that they would be allowed to make their statement for the TV cameras and then be asked to leave for violating fire code restrictions on the room's capacity. In the event, before the union officials could get up to speak, the school board president announced that the Fire Marshall required the crowd to disperse -- and a full-on melee broke out. My dad was on film wielding a briefcase as a war hammer on a cop's back in order to get the cop to break a baton choke on one of his friends -- and then was on film, pretty bruised up, being put into a paddy wagon.

That night, as Mom, my sister and I waited in our lily-white suburb of San Leandro to find out when Dad might be let out of the Oakland city jail, we heard something on the front porch. We looked out the window, and on the doormat was a duck, stabbed through the heart. Pretty clear message there: dead white duck....

So when someone characterizes people who put flyers on cars as "militants," I gotta laugh.

sonofliberty said...

The PDF about the '88 strike is no longer viewable - instead you get a message that due to excessive views its bandwidth has been exceeded.

Dennis Wilson said...

This time, there was dissent, but we held together. As writers, as a union.

And we caved together. As writers, as a union.