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Ishmael Reed’s second book of essays, written between 1976 and 1981, covers Muhammad Ali, the politics of the American Poetry scene, race war in America, and black Irishmen. His title essay, centered on the passage of Congressional bill HR-39, chronicles long fought legal battles between Sierra Club environmentalists, corporations formed by Haidas and Tlingits, commercial business interests, and state and federal politicians.

Concluding the book February 4, 1982, Reed writes: “There is an ugliness and viciousness in the air as well as mono-cultural arrogance and ignorance. During Halloween, somebody went into a drugstore and paced acid in the eyewash products. There are people with political and cultural power who are doing that to the American vision, placing poisons in the solutions which would cleanse it; the kids didn’t invent the phenomenon of punk; it ‘trickled down,’ from their elders; punker ideologues whose speeches sound bellicose and uncharitable toward the powerless; a punker cultural leadership which spends so much time ridiculing and belittling the cultural achievements of others, when not ignoring them; punker media which view nonwhite groups in terms of gross and demeaning caricatures.

“At this time in American history, we are like ghosts talking gibberish through different dimensions, and stupid men do not make good mediums.”

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