When I was 18 I went to the Wooden Shoe Bookshop in old compton street. It was run by Albrt Meltzer and stuart christie though I was unaware of this. It didn’t sell much but what it did sort of blew my mind as we used to have it. I picked up copies of Black Mask,Heatwave, Rebel Worker.’The Forecast is Hot’ from the Chicago surrealists and Franklin Rosemont, and something from the Resurgence Youth Movement. I likedthe RYM stuff the best………..every sentence exploded off the page like a fizzing bomb. I’d never seen the like. You couldn’t pick this up in rural hampshire – no sirree! The RYM were some sort of politicised street gang with some links to chicago’s Blackstone rangers.
On friday i went to listen to Ben Morea of Black mask and Up against the Law motherfuckers. At the first oppotunity I asked Ben about RYM. ‘Yes that was Jonathon Leake’ he said. An older English bloke volunteerd ‘yes that was Jonathon Leake – he was murdered’. ‘well who else besides Jonathon leake’ I queried. ‘Well no one’ said the english man’ it was just Jonathon Leake’. My heart sank – my entire political life and especialy Class war had been predicated on RYM being a gang of street toughs – not shown to be the case. I gasped but recovered.
Ben Morea was fantastic listening for anyone of my age. Modest, funny, self deprecating but poltically astute. He coveredeveryone from Abbie hoffman to valerie Solanos and H Rap brown. After the murder of the panthers fearing for his own life he’d fled into the forests for 35 years. Two things stood out. The Motherfuckers were slated by radical artists for being too interested in politics and by polticos for being too interested in art. But Ben wanted a total revolution – an all embracing group of the kind you don’t get anymore. they recfused to be pigeon holes – they wante ‘the totality for kids’ Ben was also very warm and generousspirted to people he disagreed with. He’s say how much he disagreed with say Abbie hoffman and then dd disarmingly ‘i loved him’ Maybe that generosity could be replicated now. He also dismissed the ‘dogma’ of the situationists saying the Motherfuckrs wanted to fuck things up not wallow in dogmatic pronouncements. ‘I’m the only person to be expelled from the SI who was never a member in the first place’ he said.he also spoke touchingly about the waifs and strays and nutters who the Mothefucker family took in and looked after ‘it was a violent place the lower east side’ he reminded us. One such was Valerie Solanas who had shared a house with Ben and who later applauded her assasinaton attempt on warhol – ‘thats when the art radicals fell out with us’ he laughed. Someone asked him ‘What do you think of Banksy?’ Ben looke quizzical not understanding the queston….He’d never heard of Banksy.
He was aided and abetted throughout by the english man who’d produced King Mob – with others – and who had a clearer recall than Ben of some events and acute political judgement. It dawned on me that this could only be Dave Wise. I’d never met him before. ‘I introduced myself and asked him about Jonathon Leake – ‘murdered by speed freaks’. Dave lives in bradford now ‘ – ‘lets meet up next time your in london’ I chanced. Actually i was a bit star struck. ‘that’s Dave Wise’ i went round telling people. On the way home in the rain i thought about murdered Jonathon leake. i saluted him .Just one geezer – jonathon I love you.