If tyranny is to prevail, first, kill the peacemakers

KGB and CIA counterintelligence styles were vastly different because America is an open society while Soviet is closed.

KGB had an immense pool of people to pull from. They would seek out the right personality types for covert ops. Super hottie and bisexual candidates of both sexes that could kill on command without raising their blood pressure were the most highly prized recruits.

CIA agents were defectors or White Russians. It was much harder for them to pass as authentic. They relied mostly on hypnosis. Agents would be conditioned to resist breaking cover. 

KGB expected a long, protracted struggle and embedded hundreds of sleeper agents who were supposed to become Americans, raise children, even attend churches, and then maybe 20 years down the road, might get activated for a mission. CIA didn’t have that sort of patience.

Tai Chi was central to KGB philosophy, which meant directing energy not engaging it head-on. The first major maneuver was into the Civil Rights movement. And also recruiting lawyers, who were deemed essential to the cause.

The Communist lawyers, most of whom could have been true-believers, created the National Lawyers Guild, which positioned itself as the Knights in Shining Armor for the fight for equal rights in America. A large number of double agents were placed into the NLG, and that list would include Mark Lane, Michael Kennedy, Bill Kunstler, Bernadine Dohrn. In fact, these are the most famous members of the group.

Bernadine Dohn. CIA super hottie

In fact, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Dohrn were the CIA’s most highly prized super hotties. Rumors swirled around Fonda’s sexuality for decades. Dohrn, on the other hand, forced bisexuality on all her cadres during her crackpot “Smash Monogamy!” movement.

Fred Hampton was trying to turn the Panthers non-violent while Kennedy and Dohrn were supplying them with assault rifles and C4 and telling them to “kill cops.”

When Fred began denouncing the Weather Underground as lunatics, Chicago police connected with the CIA murdered him, and Dohrn arrived first on the scene to lead press and use his murder as her fulcrum to fame. You can’t imagine a more dishonorable act than trying to exploit Hampton’s death to provoke violence.

It’s the same thing as what happened when Ghetto Brother Black Benji was murdered on the streets of the Bronx. The Ghetto Brothers wanted a war with the gang that killed him, and came to promise blood revenge to Benji’s mother, who said, “My son was all about peace.” Instead of a gang war, the Ghetto Brothers organized the Hoe Ave. Peace Conference that ended gang violence and allowed for the rise of Hip Hop. Hampton had done the same thing in Chicago, ending the war between the Latin Kings, Blackstone Rangers, Gaylords and Vice Lords.

Watch The Americans series about KGB sleepers on Amazon and then imagine its Dorhn and Ayers posing as sane, normal people by day while plotting cop killings at night. The woman on the left plays the Michael Kennedy role (protector of the agents in the field).

They were in direct communication with Soviet, Cuban, and Chinese agents, all of whom advised them not to kill cops, or even use bombs. Of course, they didn’t follow that advice and kept up their terror campaign until it had zero traction left, so they came out of the cold and got university jobs with pensions. KGB sleepers don’t get that treatment, much less cop killers with three dead bodies to explain.

The author of the series says the CIA inadvertently gave him the idea for a series about spies, explaining, “While I was taking the polygraph exam to get in, they asked the question, ‘Are you joining the CIA in order to gain experience about the intelligence community so that you can write about it later’—which had never occurred to me. I was totally joining the CIA because I wanted to be a spy. The job at CIA, which he later described as a mistake, helped him develop several storylines in the series, basing some plot lines on real-life stories, and integrating tactics and methods he learned in his training, such as dead drops and communication protocols.

Origins of Beat Street

I’d been pitching a story on rap music, break dancing and graffiti to almost every publication in New York for months. Nobody was interested. Not Rolling Stone, not the New York Times, nobody.

Then Tulani Davis, an editor at the Village Voice, took a look at my massive profile of Afrika Bambaataa and said she wanted to publish it, but it would take months before she got around to editing it.

Meanwhile, I wrote a three-page treatment for a film called “Looking for the Perfect Beat.” First, I took that treatment to an office Jane Fonda had just opened in New York. I guess Jane passed on the idea, but one of the women in her office took me out to lunch in the theater district and offered me $500 on the spot. She had a contract she wanted me to sign. I took the contract home, looked over it and decided it was a bad deal.

The next person I thought to visit was Harry Belafonte. See, I was looking for someone with a political consciousness who would do justice to the story without trying to exploit the original creators of the culture, all of whom deserved to reap some reward. Alisha, a woman in Belafonte’s office loved my treatment. So did Harry. He offered to produce the film and that night I started expanding the treatment into a full-blown script. After I finished the first draft, it was sent to Harry, who was vacationing at his palatial estate in Jamaica. I had to go to Harry’s office one afternoon and take a long distance call from him. He wanted to go over the changes he wanted made while Alisha listened in on the other line as his witness. I began making notes on some post-its, and quickly filled up ten of them and soon ran out of space and got frustrated with the barrage of comments that kept coming and coming. “Maybe you should hire someone else to finish this,” I blurted out. I could tell Harry was floored by my statement. He took a long pause. Alisha tried to smooth things over, but it was all pretty much downhill after that.

The film got made. I got story credit. But almost nothing (other than the characters’ names) made it into the final film. I was jettisoned from the production team and a bunch of dudes from Brooklyn moved in to advise Harry. During the pre-screening of the final cut, these dudes all booed when Phase 2’s tiny cameo came on, and Harry ended up deleting Phase from the movie I guess because all those dudes from Brooklyn claimed he was actually a “nobody” and didn’t invent anything and hip hop started in Brooklyn? Brooklyn did have the center of energy at the time due to the rise of Run/DMC, but not only was Phase 2 a key innovator of Wild Style graffiti, he helped create Up Rocking, he invented the “ghetto-deco” style that took over hip hop flyers, and he innovated a lot of other stuff inside the culture. Maybe someday they’ll restore his cameo? Anything is possible.

I put the original script up on Smashwords and was amazed at how well it holds up. Especially compared to the very weak film Beat Street turned out to be. I thought I was going to be moving to Hollywood, and maybe I would have it I’d had a bigger piece of paper to write notes on. I immediately wrote another script about garage bands in the late 60s after Beat Street came out, and Scott Yoselow at the Gersh Agency liked it enough to pitch it. But it never sold. I got sidetracked after I was made editor at High Times, and never had the time to write another film script. Meanwhile, you can read my original script and dream about what could have been. And I still have those original ten post-it’s with Harry’s “suggestions” although I must admit I don’t think any made it into my script.