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September 27, 2021


Alan Grayson and the Purple People

By: Zach Roberts/Russell Burlingame

I’m finally getting to look over the footage I shot while at Netroots Nation, and I came across this gem from the always quotable former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson. He uses the the release of The Green Lantern movie as a way to talk about what the Democratic Party does for America, versus what the the Republican Party does. The speech is cited in a fundraising email, but I believe the video here, for is the first anyone will be seeing it. Grayson spoke at a Minneapolis church – the first stop on the Democratic Progressive Caucus Speak Out Tour. Below the video is an explanation of the comic book from my good friend of 15 years Russell Burlingame whom I work with over at Ever since I’ve known him he’s worn a Green Lantern ring – he recently got married, so I think it may have finally been removed… but maybe not. Whenever I want to try to get back into comics Russ is the guy I ask about what’s worth reading. He also helped me produce Greg Palast’s Steal Back You Vote – A Graphic Voter Guide (2008) (Download for free here )

The explanation of the comic:

As corny as this scene reads (and believe me, it’s been dissected and mocked and everything else by comics fans since about fifteen minutes after the first time somebody read it), it was absolutely pivotal in the history of American sequential art, and especially in the history of DC Comics, who hadn’t really begun to venture into the “real world” with their comics prior to Dennis O’Neill and Neal Adams’ legendary and much-loved run on GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW.

This particular issue actually started out that run, and takes place shortly after Green Lantern, seeing someone being pelted by cans and garbage, leaps into action to save him and smack down his attacker–only to discover that he’s not thanked, but showered with garbage himself. The man he saved, you see, was a slumlord and pretty much everyone on the block (including liberal crusader Green Arrow) sees Green Lantern as guardian of the status quo.

Over the course of the year or so that O’Neill and Adams made some of the best and most memorable comics in DC’s history together, Hal (Green Lantern, the staid and conservative one) and Ollie (Green Arrow, the brash pseudo-socialist) come to a mutual respect and friendship that has the characters forever tied together in the imagination of the comics community, while each teaches the other a little something about the “real” America, circa the early ’70s. Ollie probably taught Hal a little bit more than the other way around, and in turn they helped to shape the destiny of not only the planet but the universe as one of the self-professed omnipotent immortals who control the Green Lantern Corps–the “Guardians of the Galaxy”–joined Hal and Ollie, the “Hard-Traveling Heroes,” for a road trip across the country in search of the soul of America and the essence of the modern Western human experience.

Hal (a recovering alcoholic who once succumbed to mind-control and killed a number of his friends) and Ollie (an arrogant, self-righteous womanizer) have their flaws, but through a willingness to learn, to compromise and to do the work, they managed to improve as human beings and as heroes.

-Russ Burlingame



30 Responses to “Alan Grayson and the Purple People”
  1. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Coming in on the tail end here but with my ever effervescent perspective. Here in Brasil a lot of people think the USA has gone nuts and they are already hedging their bets. If you don’t think this bit of theatrics the repuglicans are pulling is damaging, all you have to do is come here and look around.

    Meanwhile the electorate, the people who determine whether any of the nut jobs we have in office now will continue in office are mesmerized by reality tee vee and almost immune to reality, that is actual reality.

    Of the many deep contradictions in the right wing’s perverted ideology, there is also a great irony that seems to have escaped them entirely. On the one hand they are all about individual rights, we are not a collective or social nation, we are a tightly partitioned divying up of all the space and resources to all individuals on a sliding scale from immense almost incomprehensible wealth for a few and abyssmal horrid poverty for a huge multitude. Billions of people do not have clean water to drink. A few thousands have so much money they could buy water from the moon without blinking.

    This is the world we live in. Will we change it?

    • benlomond2 says:

      eventually, KB, eventually we will change it. Right now it’s a coin toss weither it will be for better or for worse… 🙂 there are days when I think the Human Race will go the way of the dodo, and then some person does a charitable act, or a politican remembers that we should be living on a higher plane and does ” The Right Thing” for ALL the people….and then things don’t seem so bad… ( and no singing that song from “Sound of Music” !!)

      • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

        benlomond2 – I wrote back to you to AKM via email a reply to with my suggestions of how to fight pebble but apparently it did not go through. I do not want to publish it because that would have the effect of reducing its effectiveness.

        Unfortunately I think the probabilities are something less than a coin toss as to the outcome of present policies and policy vectors. Given the amount of uncertainty that surrounds predictions of what the consequences of burning into the atmosphere hundreds of billions of tons of fossil carbon will be, and the ideological divide that makes even the most trivial attempts to address the concerns objects of ridicule. I would be inclined to guess that the odds against the short term survival of humanity as a species are about 10:1. My perspective is geological so 1,000 years is like a nanosecond in real time. But I would truly be surprised if Homo sapiens sapiens actually did survive for another 1,000 years. I will never know of course.

  2. PollyinAK says:

    I hope Alan Grayson gets re-elected.

  3. CanadianGuy25 says:

    What is up with this choking-out Judge business in Wisconsin? I think we need some boots on the ground on this one.

    • Prosser needs to retire…. He’s lost his judgement..

    • mike from iowa says:

      Prosser plays the SP I’m the victim of this,card. He claims he was provoked and just defended himself by putting his hands on a female justice’s throat. Probably get away with it,too. Not his first lapse,won’t be the last.

  4. Well, I’m not wearing a Green Lantern ring with any regularity these days–but if you look carefully at my wedding photos you’ll see that my cufflinks that day had the Sinestro Corps logo on them (the main bad guys from Green Lantern comics). I was quite proud of that–and one of my wife’s extended family members was equally proud when they recently remembered it and thought to ask me about the GL film!

  5. CanadianGuy25 says:

    Movie’s not working, I don’t think.

    • CanadianGuy25 says:

      OK, sorry, just Internet Explorer being a jerk. Firefox works just fine.

      • ks sunflower says:

        IE did that so much that I finally deleted the thing from my computer. Love Firefox – so many useful add-ons, but people are telling me that Chrome is lighter, quicker, faster. Hmm – I think I am so addicted to my FF add-ons and how reliably it works, might not switch.

  6. carol says:
    David Brooks is, once again, in trouble with the FRWNJ of the GOP. On occasion, he sounds like a (gasp – horror) moderate.

  7. CO SMR says:

    And I’m changing my moniker again. No more TX. Now I’m CO SMR because I’ve been set loose on Colorado. Yay!

  8. TX SMR says:

    I didn’t click on Alan’s video. Maybe it talks about this… strange sort of parallel between the comic strip showcased here and what I perceive to be the attitude of so many toward Obama. As in “you haven’t done enough for (my own group) the XYZs.” GLBT says he hasn’t done enough for them. Same with (other) minorities. Ditto middle class. And what about solving the financial crisis, wars, education crises while you’re at it, Obama?

    It’s a source of frustration to me. We’ve moved to Colorado (HEY YESSSSSSS! Denver I am loving you!) and I noticed in a local magazine that Obama was voted by readers as the #1 politician to be voted out. REALLY? He’s the absolute worst politician around? Let me guess, he’s let you down! Didn’t solve the problems of the US and the world?

    Obama is The Green Lantern. At least that’s how my tiny brain is interpreting this particular piece of info presented…

    • PollyinAK says:

      I assumed Denver was progressive. This surprises me. Why on earth would they believe that PO is the #1 politician to be voted out!? — I read today that David Duke (former KKK) is planning to run for prez!! What a circus this election is turning out to be.

      • CO almost native says:

        *waving to you from Denver* Denver proper, and much of Colorado, is progressive- conservative as far as the environment is concerned, and wanting the government to stay out of their bedrooms. We do have strong enclaves of GOP/evangelicals- around Colorado Springs, Douglas and Weld Counties, and near Grand Junction.

        Most, however, are interested in listening to each other and working together. The magazine poll depends on who gets online and votes (often). 5280 Magazine’s Top of the Town issue? Most love to read it, rarely vote.

        • CO SMR says:

          While driving up to Denver we stopped in CO Springs. There was someone with a “don’t blame me, I voted for McCain/Palin” bumpersticker. Crazy town down there, apparently.

          But I am love love loving our area of Denver. Little houses. Parks. Bike trails. Great neighbors. Man do I love it. It’s like a ten-ton weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. TX was killing my soul.

          Maybe we can clink glasses in real life one day!

    • The only flaw in your logic here is that (while I see where you’re coming from and don’t inherently disagree with you), Green Lantern was actually wrong in this case. That’s where the metaphor kind of breaks down…

      • CO SMR says:

        I see where you’re coming from, but there are a lot of people screaming that Obama is wrong wrong wrong about many things. I happen to agree with them about some of the issues, but overall I’m as pleased as I expected to be with his job performance. And in this case, does the fact that the guy was a jerk landlord who everybody hated make it okay to beat him/pelt him/etc? So, “wrong” is subjective, no? Grey area. Wrong and right?

  9. fawnskin mudpuppy says:

    thanks, zach

    i am a comic book movie geek and don’t miss a single new release. most people probably don’t know how much the comics contributed in some small and big way in presenting social issues to an america that maybe wasn’t ready to face them.
    i also tune in to radio classics on sirius and am surprised by what i would have thought to be taboo subjects introduced into story lines.
    it is, indeed, a sad commentary on our lack of progression that some of these issues are still at the forefront of our political process and moral dilemnas.

  10. Lacy Lady says:

    It’s too bad that all these Republicans think that they can win Iowa by knocking our President around like a football. They have no ideas of their own . Like the schoolyard bully, they just beat him up.
    All they are interested in is winning. It doesn’t matter that
    they are bringing our country to a halt. Putting themselves ahead of our country is UN-American!
    Sarah is standing around watching, and waiting to jump in the fracas.

  11. I See Villages From My House says:

    “a willingness to learn, to compromise and to do the work, they managed to improve as human beings and as heroes.”

    I only wish people like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann would subscribe to these very basic tenets. Not all of us are born with knowing what is right or doing the right thing even if it doesn’t personally benefit – but with a willingness to learn, compromise and work, we all are capable of improving as human beings. Some of us even turn out to be hero’s.

    Sarah’s still young, maybe she is capable of having a real “Come to Jesus,” moment and grow – but I won’t hold my breath. I can’t wait for the campaign trail to heat up and smack Michele in the face with reality that she can’t run on being Hot for Jesus alone and win a nation.

    • mike from iowa says:

      I do not necessarily believe in the Christian concept of god,but,from early memory,the god that conservatives showcase is totally unlike the one I heard about. Maybe they think god evolves to suit their ideals.

    • ks sunflower says:

      Well said, ISVFMH, very well said.

      I, too, hope both Sarah and Michelle will have a moment of epiphany when they realize that they’ve been on the wrong path, putting style before substance, spouting dogma not truth, following and creating a cult of self, celebrity and selfishness. However, I, like you, am not holding my breath.

      I will settle for seeing both Sarah and Michelle bit the dust as regards their political careers. They are mindless zealots with hard-core shells and nothing inside.

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