Monday, October 09, 2006

1,000 visitors: thank you!

According to my ClustrMap, sometime in the last few days Stormy Petrel reached 1,000 visitors. Thanks for visiting. I'm honored by your presence!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Animal Factory (San Quentin Prison)

Edward Bunker (1933-2005) served 18 years time at San Quentin state prison and other California correctional institutions. and wrote The Animal Factory, published in 1977, a novel loosely based on his experiences. I just finished the book, which provides a rare window on life at the prison.

Animal Factory was also a film in 2000 with Edward Furlong (as Ron Decker, the young dope dealer serving his first prison time) and Willem Dafoe (as Earl Copen, the long-term prisoner with deep ties to the white supremacists and prison guards).

Given the lack of literature about prison experiences, it is tempting to try to learn something from Bunker's experience at San Quentin to apply to Marie Equi's experience there. But the 1950s were so different from the 1920; and Bunker's story is mainly about race wars, the threat of homosexual rape, drug dealing in prison, and trying to escape. Also, women prisoners during Equi's stay were strictly isolated from men - so that they never even saw each other. Women were removed from San Quentin altogether in 1933 after the Tehachapi prison opened.

Still, some physical descriptions remain:
Monday began as a typical San Quentin day, so overcast that all light was gray, and even without clouds it took until mid-morning for the sun to climb over the buildings. By noon it would be bright, and by twilight it would be glorious, but by then the convicts would be in their cages unable to enjoy it.
Earl settled down on the hospital's psychiatric ward, an isolated sanctuary behind a barred gate on the third floor. Guards could enter only to count and if called on in an emergency. The freeman nurse came in to pass out medication, but otherwise convict attendants were in charge...
All during the afternoon and evening Earl heard security bars being raised and cell doors being unlocked, and then the dull sound of blows and falling bodies...

SP Protest of the Month: Catholic Priest Jane Via

In San Diego yesterday, 58-year old Jane Via celebrated mass yesterday as a Catholic Priest. The Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community gathered in a rented church building with 100 worshipers, and received communion from Via, a woman.

Via was ordained in Switzerland in june by Roman Catholic Womenpriests. She is a married mother of two and a deputy district attorney for San Diego County. Since leaders of the Catholic church have excluded women from the priesthood, she risks excommunication for her protest.
Note: A protest doesn't have to be against something. The second definition of protest is: to affirm or avow formally or solemnly.
Other women priests are saying mass in Northern California, as reported in the newspaper of San Jose State University.