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Highlights Column




Featured Book Releases:

Radical Atheism and New Spirituality (2011)


Burning Banks
and
Roasting Marshmallows:
The Education of Daniel Marleau
(2009)


Featured Essays:

Choosing a Rhetoric 
of the Enemy: 
Kenneth Burke's Comic Frame, Warrantable Outrage, and the Problem of Scapegoating

Rhetoric Society Quarterly publication (2011)

Demonizing Derrida and Deconstruction 

(Skeptic Magazine publication 2006)




Additional featured reading:


W. B. Macomber's
Love and Culture

A Philosophical commentary inspired by Plato's Symposium

For Table of Contents, further information,
and chapter links click
here




Recommended art:

The Salvador Dali Gallery
Browse a complete collection of Dali's work along with a wealth of information about each work and his life

The Zeugma Mosaics
Beautiful GrecoRoman art saved from a flooded section of the Euphrates River. See the video fly-through at this link for the 14 room Roman villa that housed these amazing mosaics.




 
 
 

Burning Banks and Roasting Marshmallows:
The Education of Daniel Marleau

Available from the publisher here

For best pricing see the homepage display here

Book Description

    This chronicle of student unrest, set during 1970 on the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California, follows student Daniel Marleau and friends through personal and political upheavals that begin on campus with the firing of a popular professor and spread off campus to the infamous burning of the Bank of American in Isla Vista. Those who lived through the Vietnam War era will be swept into a portrayal evoking measures of angst, anger, and bitterness alongside nostalgia, humor, and resilience. Those who are too young to have lived through this period will find areas of identification with characters who face circumstances and challenges that remain relevant in a time of continued military entanglements, corporate excesses, political divisions, and global terrorism. Numerous photographs taken by the author complement the narrative.

Excerpt from Chapter 16

          Canova and I returned along Ocean Road. He left to check his store while I went to my apartment. After tuning the radio to KCSB, I tossed together a scrambled egg sandwich. According to reports, a crowd of about seven hundred gathered at Perfect Park for the rally. But two blocks away a cruiser had already been smashed, overturned, and set afire.

Now about three to four dozen cops, clad in riot gear, moved on the crowd to clear the streets and prevent further rioting. But instead of dispersing, the crowd charged, advanced on the cops, and succeeded in driving them up Embarcadero del Norte. A reporter then commented on the scene around the bank.

            ––We’ve just heard the Bank of America has been broken into. Some reports are saying that fires have been started inside . . .

            I wasn’t expecting an attack on the bank. I grabbed the camera and bolted for the door with part of the sandwich in my hand.

             ––I’m going out there. If they’re breaking into the bank, I need photos.

            Matt supplied the voice of reason.

            ––Don’t do it, man. You’ll just get busted.
            ––Thanks, see you later.

        The sun had set and it was now more difficult to see. Nearing the top of the loop, I heard angry yells and rocks bouncing off the pavement. At the Enco gas station on the corner, I approached a group that had just retreated from the street. The cops occupied the park. Another group collected to my left. Several among those in front of me gathered stones from behind the gas station. I stopped beside a few others who stood motionless in the background along the curb of El Embarcadero--watching and waiting.

        

The cops slowly advanced toward us as the group in front of me drew back, throwing rocks and taunting them. As I moved with the crowd south along El Embarcadero, the sound of broken glass rang piercingly from somewhere down del Mar. A couple of large rocks thudded and rolled in the street near where a group of cops in riot gear now stood at the southwest end of the park.

            Suddenly a separate group of rioters, surprising everyone—especially the cops, charged from the direction of the Magic Lantern Theater. Throwing rocks and projectiles of every description, whooping, hollering, and howling like villagers in pursuit of a Frankenstein, this coiled mass thrust itself onto one side of the police line, breaking it apart and forcing a rapid retreat of its dismembered parts west across the park. The instant this group attacked, the group in front of me reversed direction and joined the onslaught with matching war cries and rock volleys. I froze, stupefied by the din they raised—banging sticks on metal garbage can lids, screaming like savages, and slinging bottles and rocks in javelin-throwing form across the park. Judging from the fury of their movements, they held nothing back.

            Within seconds the combined attack of these two groups routed the cops, driving them in full retreat across the park toward del Mar. I noticed one cop knocked unconscious by a brick. Two others shouldered and dragged him along, straining to keep their shields toward in-coming volleys. Sensing weakness, the rioters intensified the attack. Several cops had by now received serious blows from the rocks. They limped on, retreating as fast as they could down Seville Road.

            The rioters didn’t let up. Here and there two or three stopped to pick up something to throw. Busting apart large rocks, tearing up loose chunks of asphalt, chipping off concrete from curbs—anything they could rip apart and lay their hands on got thrown at the cops as they retreated down the street.

            In numb disbelief I staggered after them, glued to the scene like a witness to a train wreck. Following the riot as it coursed further down Seville, I saw where the crowd had broken out windows in two realty offices on the south side of the street. Further down I paused to attempt a photo of a few rioters passing under a streetlamp. My hands shook as adrenalin jacked my nerve endings. Over the blood thundering in my ears I heard another sound, an odd, out of place sound coming from my left. It was music. Barely audible, I couldn’t make out what it was. Then the volume grew louder, much louder, until it was unmistakable. The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fightin’ Man” blasted from an open window filling the night air up and down the street. Some of the rioters cheered. The cops kept running until they were out of view, chased by rioters who turned the corner after them and disappeared in pursuit.

            Everyone was out of range now. I put down the camera, hands still shaking, feeling fastened to the middle of the street, listening to sounds from beyond the corner. Finally I stood and slowly walked in the direction the rioters had gone. But at the intersection I turned away from the rioting and went along Camino Pescadero toward the ocean. I wanted to walk. A current swarmed all around. In the air. In the rioters. In the cops. I felt it moving inside me.

            After wandering the back blocks of Isla Vista for awhile I came out at the top of the loop area again and approached the bank. A hundred or more people were gathered in front. Smoke rose from between pillars supporting the overhanging roof. Recessed lamps along the overhang emitted dim cones of light through the smoke leaving the entrance in a hazy, diffused glow. Remembering the camera, I snapped a picture, taking in most of the crowd and the bank.



Front of Bank

        

Moving closer, I came to the edge of a bonfire fueled by an assortment of chairs, table tops, cartons, paneling, papers, and other paraphernalia taken from inside the bank and now mostly charred beyond recognition. Continuing left, I knelt down and worked the light meter. Tri X Pan was fast film but with no flash the shutter would be too slow for good definition. The light from the fire would help. I set the shutter at 1/15th and pressed off a shot. I reset the speed to 1/30th and aimed the camera a little more to the left across the flames and pressed off another. Moving slightly closer, I took two more shots while steadying the camera on my knee. As I stood up to get a better look, someone spoke from the left.

            ––What’s with the camera, man? Taking pictures ain’t cool.
            ––There’s not enough light to get faces.
            ––All the same, point that somewhere else.

            Having attracted unwanted attention, I headed toward the back of the building. On the way, I passed several small vertical windows. Through one rectangle flames could be seen leaping toward the ceiling. I stopped, pressed off a shot, and continued around back. As I turned the corner, two people standing at the entrance slipped inside the bank. At the opening, pieces of glass from the broken doors lay strewn across the lobby floor. I peered inside for a few seconds. There was barely enough light to see to the far side of the room. Then, on impulse, I stepped through the hole in the door and plunged into the smoke-filled interior.

        The two who came in before me scanned the damage from the middle of the lobby. When I appeared, they moved toward the door, glanced around, and left—perhaps because they noticed my camera. Now alone in the room, my eyes adjusted to the light and smoke, which wasn’t yet thick enough where I stood to make breathing difficult. But I was too transfixed to breathe—gripped by an upheaval on the inside that matched what I saw in the room.

        Directly in front of me, two large overturned lobby tables sprawled across the floor—one on its side, the other with legs straight up. Toward the far side of the room an L-shaped desk with a broken leg listed like a sinking ship in a sea of white papers strewn from ransacked files. Steel cabinets and drawers protruded like buoys through the surface of paper. A single ceiling lamp in the far corner dimly lit the lobby wreckage.

        The main source of light came from the corner beyond the teller windows where something burned too brightly to see what it was. Flames reached halfway to the ceiling and silhouetted teller windows extending along the lobby to the far corner where it became difficult to see through the haze.

Teller Windows

            

Alone in the burning room, the strangeness of the scene choked me as much as the pungent odor of smoke. I raised the camera, thinking it would record the unreality of it all. After quickly pressing off three shots at different angles into the room, I was about to take a fourth when two guys emerged through the broken door. They walked past me as if I weren’t there. Surveying the destruction for a few seconds, one then picked up several booklets from among the papers beside a large desk and flung them across the room into the flames. The other did the same with a light-weight chair. 

            As they continued throwing debris into the fire, I stared at the flames through the camera lens. The current I felt earlier that night came over me again. Moving slowly, I bent down and picked up a bound booklet. It read: Bank of America Audit Report 1969. The current got stronger. I sailed it toward the fire, then picked up another and flung it. I grabbed another. But while raising my arm to throw it, an image flashed in my mind. I saw myself standing a few feet away, framing me in the viewfinder as I was about to throw the book. My arm stopped. As I lowered it, I noticed the other two in the room staring at me. Tossing the book aside, I turned and, almost running, crossed over the strewn glass and out the doors.

            Several people now gathered at the back entrance. As I passed them I heard a voice. It was the last voice I wanted to hear at the moment.         

––I’ll be damned, Marleau! Is that gasoline I smell?

            Canova grinned, obviously pleased to see me. For a second or two I stared at him with a face that conveyed God knows what. Groping for words, I mumbled a response.

            ––You should get out of here.

            Pushing past him, I crossed the park in the direction of the beach. Surf pounded in the distance. I walked toward it until I felt the sand beneath my feet and salt air on my face. It cleared my head of the fumes, smoke, and bedlam that hung in the air over Isla Vista. Thoughts whirled: What madness! What was I thinking?

            Walking and listening to the surf, I lost track of time. But when I started back, it must have been well past midnight. Returning along El Embarcadero, an unusual light radiated from the park area. When I reached the top of the loop, I stopped and stared in disbelief. Flames engulfed the bank and smoke rolled above the walls into the night. The roof and part of one wall had caved in.

When I’d left earlier I hadn’t imagined that fires inside would consume the whole building. The firemen and cops I had earlier expected to appear at any minute hadn’t responded. Instead, the bank now succumbed entirely to flames and Isla Vistans controlled the streets. The scene was hard to fathom.  

People gathered around the park area and along the street in front of the bank to watch. I walked around the loop toward the Magic Lantern Theater. Some stood quietly gazing into the fire. Others grouped together talking, laughing, and drinking from bottles of wine or beer. A few others leapt around the burning wreckage, occasionally letting out a yell and throwing something into the fire. I sat down on the sidewalk by a brick wall fencing a flower bed next to the theater and watched the fire. The pillars in front of the bank still held, but the front wall had caved inward when the roof collapsed. The brick walls on each side and in back framed the fire. It took the good part of an hour before the fire gutted most of the interior.

            They had done it. They had really done it—whoever “they” were. Now all of us—whether residents of Isla Vista or students of the University—were sailing together, like it or not, into smoke-slickened, uncharted waters.

            I stood up, tired and unable to stay any longer. As I started to walk away, I noticed three guys doing something near the front of the building where part of the fire smoldered. I approached to within a few yards to one side of them. They held refashioned coat hangers over what was left of the fire along the remains of the front wall. On the end of the hangers were several marshmallows. The one closest to me raised his hanger from the coals and with thumb and forefinger gingerly pulled at the end marshmallow. It had gotten a little too blackened and oozed off the hanger, slipping from his hand. He caught it before it hit the ground and raised it over his head. Then it disappeared into his mouth.



        

       
Rear of Bank

Isla Vista Map - 1970


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