FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

My Weekend With Bernie (Goetz)

by MISSY BEATTIE

“That sounds like something Bernie would do. This is Bernie,” I’d said to Charles, years ago. He shook his head no.

Before we met, Charles lived in NYC, where he got his PhD. That’s how he knew Bernie, both at NYU in the department of nuclear engineering. My husband collected characters, and Bernie was one. Charles had plenty of Bernie stories but disagreed with my realization, couldn’t fathom that one of his friends could do what struck me as obvious.

A few years after Charles and I married and were living in Kentucky, Bernie visited. He drove a rental car from Manhattan to Lexington, on his way somewhere. He stayed a few hours and had dinner with us.

When Charles joined the staff at Johns Hopkins, we moved to Baltimore. Bernie rented a car and drove down from Manhattan. He did this twice, staying several hours each time. First trip, he related a story—that he’d been mugged and injured by three teens in a subway station. Only one of the kids was apprehended. Bernie was angry his assailant was charged with criminal mischief, not for the attack and attempted robbery, but for tearing Bernie’s clothing. Said he’d bought a gun. Then he told me about another attempted robbery, when a Black teenager suddenly was in his face, demanding money. He pulled out the gun and pointed it at the kid, who dropped to his knees and begged for his life. Bernie described him, the pleading. He let the young man go.

Bernie tried to convince me to purchase a gun. He said I needed to be armed when I ran. And he suggested a specific gun, one so small it would fit in an eyeglass case. I told him I wasn’t interested. I have a visual right now of Bernie and me, just the two of us, standing in the kitchen of the first Baltimore residence, a rental, having the conversation. This was the early ‘80s. Son J was about eight, and H was a possibility, a hope.

Not long after this visit, the Subway Vigilante story was THE NEWS. That’s when I told Charles Bernie was the man who’d shot four teenagers. Days later, Bernie turned himself in, and his photograph was front-page at our door.

I don’t remember exactly when Bernie visited again but son H was far more than a maybe, five or six years old by then. And Bernie had served a prison sentence for illegal possession of a firearm. He arrived with a woman. She was a police officer, very pretty and nice. We sat on our row house’s balcony. I remember not wanting to talk about the shooting in H’s presence.

Bernie never came to our place in Nashville, where we lived for eight years. Then we moved to Manhattan. On a hot Saturday morning, Charles and I saw Bernie at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. We chatted briefly. Bernie mentioned his aspiration to be mayor. That was the last time we saw or spoke with him.

The Zimmerman acquittal delivered Bernie memories.

And triggered another: I was in a children’s clothing store in Baltimore’s Roland Park area, shopping for H. When I was at the counter, paying for my purchase, I saw alarm on the cashier’s face. I turned to see a Black couple entering with a child. The man wore a full-length fur and held the little boy’s hand. “We have to watch them. They’re here to steal,” the cashier said to another.

I spoke up, “Because they’re Black? Probably, most of your shoplifters are women like me. White and privileged.”

She began to apologize. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

This is the way so many perceive anyone outside their set—anyone not among the group with whom they identify. And it’s one of the reasons we’re not in the streets, obstructing traffic, blocking commerce, to end the murder of those we dehumanize, those whose countries are in chaos courtesy of US Empire. Another name for our superiority complex is white exceptionalism.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
Pete Dolack
Fanaticism and Fantasy Drive Purported TPP ‘Benefits’
Murray Dobbin
Canada and the TPP
Steve Horn
Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill
Colin Todhunter
“Lies, Lies and More Lies” – GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants
Franklin Lamb
ISIS Erasing Our Cultural Heritage in Syria
David Mihalyfy
#realacademicbios Deserve Real Reform
Graham Peebles
Unjust and Dysfunctional: Asylum in the UK
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
Yves Engler
On Unions and Class Struggle
Alfredo Lopez
The ‘Bern’ and the Internet
Missy Comley Beattie
Super Propaganda
Ed Rampell
Great Caesar’s Ghost!: A Specter Haunts Hollywood in the Coen’s Anti-Anti-Commie Goofball Comedy
Cesar Chelala
The Public Health Impact of Domestic Violence
Ron Jacobs
Cold Weather Comforts of a Certain Sort
Charles Komanoff
On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane
Charles R. Larson
Can One Survive the Holocaust?
David Yearsley
Reading Room Blues
February 04, 2016
Scott McLarty
Political Revolution and the Third-Party Imperative
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail