Sam Greenlee, a novelist and poet who was one of the first black Americans go to abroad with the Foreign Service, died Monday, according to The Associated Press. He was 83.
In his most famous book, 1969’s The Spook Who Sat by the Door, a disillusioned black CIA officer quits his job and begins training street gangs as “Freedom Fighters” to overthrow the government. The title plays on the double meaning of “Spook” as both a racial slur and slang for spies. In 1973, the book was made into a movie of the same name.
In a 2004 interview with NPR’s Karen Grigsby Bates, film critic Elvis Mitchell said that the film studio was unnerved by the insertion of politics into what they expected to be an action film, and handed it back to Greenlee. The film’s sudden disappearance — and persistent though unsubstantiated rumors that the U.S. government had helped to suppress it — helped ensure its status as a classic. It was rereleased in 2004 and added to the National Film Registry in 2012.
More book news here.
9:28 am • 13 September 2014 • 50 notes
Among the dozens of blaxploitation films released in the 1970s, one of the more actively revolutionary was The Spook Who Sat By the Door. Historian Andreas Killen writes about the film in his book 1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America:
"The desire on the part of black audiences for more militant heroes culminated with this remarkable political thriller, based on the 1969 novel of that name by Sam Greenlee and directed by Ivan Dixon. In it, Korean War vet Dan Freeman becomes the token black in a CIA that is forced to integrate in order to meet new hiring quotas. Freeman is a variation on the Manchurian Candidate who, while outwardly docile, devotes himself to mastering the dark arts of the spy trade. He eventually quits the CIA and returns to Chicago to organize a black insurrection, making use of the knowledge he has absorbed at the very heart of the white power structure."
Soundtrack cover from here. More on Killen’s book here and here.
9:28 am • 13 September 2014 • 115 notes
An AMAZING portrait of me done by l0ll3! She’s incredible and I’m obsessed with all of her work! (I love that I’m wearing my own bands shirt!)
(Source: afroxvx, via afroxvx)
12:26 am • 13 September 2014 • 852 notes
In 1960, Garanger, a 25-year-old draftee who had already been photographing professionally for ten years, landed in Kabylia, in the small village of Ain Terzine, about seventy-five miles south of Algiers. Garanger’s commanding officer decreed that the villagers must have identity cards: “Naturally he asked the military photographer to make these cards,” Garanger recalls. “Either I refused and went to prison, or I accepted.
“I would come within three feet of them,” Garanger remembers. “They would be unveiled. In a period of ten days, I made two thousand portraits, two hundred a day. The women had no choice in the matter. Their only way of protesting was through their look.”
12:17 am • 13 September 2014 • 6,036 notes
its gone 5am but this song tho…
12:15 am • 13 September 2014
This video legit brought tears to my eyes. I was depressed the entire day:
ugh this tore me apart..
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12:10 am • 13 September 2014 • 44,588 notes
If you think I’m “illegal” because I’m a Mexican learn the true history because I’m in my homeland.
(Source: angrywocunited, via crumpetwhales)
12:09 am • 13 September 2014 • 9,214 notes
i saw my old housemate today,
we hugged until it hurt and people stared to make it awkward
i don’t know how i can stress how i have worried,
how good it was to see this beloved relative stranger.
the last time i saw him he was heading off on a insurrectionary anarchist adventure
and to hear him tell stories,to see him well and dare i say …be happy,
kept those building anxieties at bay.
12:03 am • 13 September 2014 • 1 note
highlight of my blaxploitation binge fest was “The spook who sat by the door” (1973) based on the ‘69 book by Sam Greenlee.
essentially its the 70s and fucked white supremacist america hasn’t employed anyone black into the CIA. so they train hopeful applicants and the guy that gets through is a black panther and he starts a cell of radicals that totally fuck up the tools of the racist state and the social commentary is fantastic and all round a movie everyone needs to watch
11:57 pm • 12 September 2014 • 1 note