“A Roll, A Roll, My Kingdom For A Roll!”

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I worked on Soviet fishing vessels in the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea in the late seventies and early eighties. The Soviets were poor and the ships didn’t have amenities most Americans took for granted, like toilet paper! Ship latrines were open-pit squat toilets and daily visits, especially when the ship pitched and rolled in the waves, were not a pleasant experience.

But Russians, maybe as an expression of their ability to persevere in the face of great hardship, are inventive and find creative solutions to scarcity. They do not have an entitled sense of abundance and can build, modify, and fix anything.

No toilet paper, no problem!

One thing the Soviet Union never had a shortage of was written propaganda. If you’re old enough, you remember the Soviet Union’s main newspaper was called, Pravda, the Russian word for truth. Pravda was everywhere, even at sea. Waxing philosophical, the truth can take many forms.

On Soviet ships, the truth took the form of a triangle. In fact, ship latrines had stacks of triangles cut from Pravda; small, technique requiring triangles. The metaphorical irony of Pravda as toilet paper was not lost on the Russian sailors who frequently joked about the “appropriate use of Pravda.”

As Americans, in their frenzied response to the Coronavirus, sweep into to snatch up extra rolls of toilet paper, I wonder what it says about us that the first thought we have when panicked is to protect out toilet hygiene. Here’s a first, LOL.

Pravda

What does it tell us about ourselves that in the midst of a pandemic we stock up on toilet paper? (Another LOL thinking about a Freudian analysis of this) I’ll leave that for you to ponder, but one thing I know is that you can’t clean your behind by asking for help from Siri or Alexa.

And that is a little dose of the Damn Pravda!

Caged Beasts Unite! Flee, Flee Flee!

JoeyChimpanzee

The photo was shot by my friend, Eric Mirell, in 1972. It looks across the parking garage by where he lived on Kingsbridge Terrace. I was seventeen and had lots of hair. Albert was the young chimpanzee we took care of in my high school’s Animal Care Program, which trained students to be zookeepers at the Bronx Zoo. We also had a lion, Angela, who we walked through the Bronx one day.

On this day, Albert held me close as any young child would when out on the streets of NYC. I took Albert to my house where he promptly climbed the curtains and wreaked havoc on things. It was EPIC! New Yorkers are fairly naive about anything outside of the norms of the city and seeing a chimpanzee blew a lot of minds. I also had a boa constrictor that I trotted around from time to time.

On a personal note, I see my face and darkened eyes and it reminds me of why I left the city barely eighteen months later.

C

Humble Pie With No Foie Gras On The Side

What can I say, I grew up in New York City where snide was a valued art form. Yesterday I posted about NYC’s foie gras ban.

BUT: after posting the piece about foie gras I spent some time looking at images of modern-day foie gras “farms.” After seeing those I applaud any ban that seeks to end those practices. A bit to be funny is one thing but having seen the reality of how the geese are treated, I will not eat foie gras again unless I know the animal was raised with care and respect.

Today I eat a large slice of humble pie.

What’s Good for the Goose…???

Three weeks ago the New York City Council took a bold and courageous stand on behalf of animal rights by banning the sale of foie gras. Foie gras is the much-prized goose liver paté with a creamy texture and flavor served in small portions on special occasions in France. After studying French for three months in 2004 I tested my language proficiency when purchasing it in a small specialty shop in the Dordogne. Foie gras is typically spread on a cracker or piece of bread as an appetizer before a meal. It also adds flavor to some wonderful sauces. A close friend of ours spent her childhood on a foie gras farm in Southwest France and she tells lovely stories about early life on the farm. The NYC Council’s primary reason given for banning the product cites the practice of force-feeding the geese to enlarge their livers. The ban was opposed by some New York state farmers who no longer use the force-feeding method known as gavage.

To be fair, there are many practices in modern animal farming that are deplorable and industrial foie gras operations are frightening and a far cry from the image of a flock of free-roaming geese living in the bucolic French countryside. As someone who has raised and slaughtered animals for our own table, I know first-hand the importance of honoring, respecting and caring for any animal we consume. It isn’t the intention of the ban that I find laughable so much as the shallowness of targeting a product with such little significance. Even if you embrace the symbolism of a foie gras ban, it addresses little of the greater issues. Banning foie gras was easily done with little risk of political fallout or resistance.

For “giggles and grins,” as a friend says, I crunched a few numbers to calculate how much foie gras is affected by the NYC ban. The estimates utilize figures for consumption of foie gras in France only because foie gras is so uncommon in the United States that I could not find a meaningful figure. Per capita consumption of foie gras in France is about 12 ounces/year, equal to about one gram/person/day.

New York City has roughly eight million people. Let’s assume that most foie gras is served in restaurants to curious or appreciative diners in French restaurants. Even in New York, there aren’t that many French restaurants so it would be shocking if a thousand people eat it on any given day in the Big Apple. At one thousand people eating one gram/day, foie gras consumption in NYC amounts to about 2.2 lbs every day. Allowing that my estimates could be off, let’s step it up one order of magnitude to ten thousand New Yorkers eating one gram/day. In that case, New Yorkers consume 22 pounds of foie gras each day. Now, let’s step it up another order of magnitude (remember “giggles and grins”) so even if one-hundred thousand New Yorkers eat some foie gras, say on a slice of pizza (haha!) that would amount to 222 pounds each day.

Here’s the rub, based on per capita statistics of American consumption of beef, pork (think bacon) chicken and other meat animals, New Yorkers eat millions of pounds of meat animals every day. An overwhelming percentage of these animals are raised and slaughtered in industrial meat farming operations. New York’s City Council did nothing to address that nor do I expect council members to take up a bacon, chicken nuggets or hamburger ban anytime soon.

I have little patience for anything that soothes our conscience while allowing greater affronts to be ignored. In the spirit of what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, I say to the NYC Council, “Give me a break and get back to dealing with something real!” And one more thing, “Bon Appétit!”

X Marks The Spot

The events of history may not change but who we are relative to them does.

I am standing in Dealey Plaza twenty feet away from where two modest X’s (shots 1 and 2) are painted on the road where John F. Kennedy was shot dead.

I turn around and look up to the corner window of the former Texas School Book Depository, now the Dallas County Administration Building where my daughter, Ruby works on the 4th floor, scanning to the sixth floor aerie where Oswald shot the president.

Anyone my age has seen numerous accounts of the killing from every possible perspective.  Standing on the street, the one clear thing is regardless of what theory holds about the killing; it was an easy shot.

Who, what, why, how and whether history changed because of the shooting I have no idea.

I was eight when the killing happened; too young then to grasp its implications.  Now, sixty-four,  I feel much the same.  A few quotes come to mind. Bob Dylan twice, “I was so much older then I’m younger than that now.” “There ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe, it don’t matter anyhow.” And from Samuel Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot, “Time will tell, fades away.”

Standing here after visiting the museum, what is most clear is that Time-Will-Not-Tell.  All one knows is that a man died here and the violence of that death lingers.

On the street, and in the Sixth Floor Museum, are hundreds of people visiting the site, many, if not most in Dallas for a football game to be held later today. Most are half my age and born well after the killing.

I ask two of the young people why they’re here and they say because like 9/11 it is part of history and they’re curious. The mood of the people inside the museum is somber as with our guided headsets we walk through the events leading up to, during and after the killing.

I’m no different than anyone here. I’m bearing witness to an event that I will never fully understand and I’m spent when I leave.

For some reason I struggle to capture the emotions in a haiku.

A man was killed here
Fifty six long years ago
I know nothing more

Insomnia University

Insomnia University

As a child I listened to the clattering arrhythmia of elevated subway trains

Listened to the throttled urgency of a late-night bus and the piercing sirens of a police cars

while winter wind blew hard against rusted metal fire escapes

and windows with chipping paint drew deep breaths as if they might shatter

exposing the chill of a decrepit city in the hours when the owls flew

 

Today, alone with restless body and absent of the brothers and sisters

with whom I shared hidden conversations and whims of the wee hours

I sit listening to the howling wind outside my cave

The bite of cold encroaching on the remains of a dying fire

while the Earth spins within the darkness

We are the restless souls

Guardians of the peaceful sleep

of the unconscious river binding souls together

 

We who purify the dreams of others

We of Insomnia University

Sharing the world’s wisdom with night owls across the waves of time and space

Sweeping dirt from streets and dreams

Preparing the day for our innocent sleeping children

 

© JEB 2019

 

America. (with respect for Allen Ginsberg)

America

Why are you so cruel?
So mean
Why do you blame your cripples and your helpless for your failings
while you embolden your most powerful to express their bestial impulses
You conceal your blood lust
and drop bombs from the sky
on enemies you’ve invented to justify your greed
Your heritage is littered with the bodies of those you’ve crushed with genocide and racist lynching
Your innocent children are gunned down in schools and you do nothing
Your playful are gunned down in recreation and you do nothing
Your prayerful are gunned down in worship and you do nothing
as an army of faux Christians grasp hands in unity with the diabolical
Your homeless swell with desperation and you do nothing
Your henchmen lawyers tip the scales of justice to their favor while you desecrate the sacred earth
America, are you ignorant or are you criminal as you plunge aggressively into the abyss
America, why do you imprison your black men because you cannot face the shame of enslaving them to build your palace
You circle the wagons forming an impermeable membrane to repel those who still believe in your fading promise
The world fears you now that you are exposed as were the Romans, as are all imperialist empires
You hide in your Bible now cleansed of it’s Christ
Your favorite passages are of wrath not of love
You know more of bullets than of compassion
Even your warriors are confused
Are you lazy, America or are you simply the metamorphosed form of your fate
Don’t answer, please because your reply will only confirm the worst assumption
So I ask again, America, why are you so cruel
but I neither expect nor do I need your reply
You chasten your loving
You shackle your feminine
You feed the blood lust of your masculine growing more voracious
You do not seek peace
You do not embrace the balm of poetry or the soothing soul of art
but instead crush the soul of your poets, your writers and composers
as you commoditize their creativity
You churn out thousands upon thousands of predators whose certificates of pedigree manifest the commoditization of all human endeavors from kindness to empathy salvation, spirit, healing and empathy
You call these your children but what children are they who feast on the flesh of their mothers
I might forgive many of your trespasses but not this one
Shame on you America for neglecting those whom you should honor
Shame on you America for your smart bombs and your second amendment
Shame on you America for your Wall Street and your border walls
Shame on you America for the alchemy you practice that turns hope into greed into fear into materialist vampires
Shame on you America for destroying your wild creatures and rivers
Shame on you America for your laziness while burning sludge instead of embracing light
Say amen somebody, can I get a Shame on You America?

 

Where Are You From?

I was born in Columbus, Ohio, raised in Poughkeepsie, NY, Yorktown Heights, NY, then the Bronx, NYC.  I left at age 19 and moved to Tumwater, Washington.  I lived in Olympia, WA, Friday Harbor, WA, then Seattle, WA before moving to Lorane, Oregon in 1991. 103-0318_IMG copyAbove is a picture of my father and his parents, Emil and Eva Blum in Stelton, New Jersey.  Eva was born Eva Spinner, in Zitomir, Russia (Now Ukraine).  Emil was born in Kiev, Russia (Now Ukraine).  I never met them.

The world is always turning.

103-0318_IMG copy

All humans are citizens of diaspora.

I visited my grandfather, Emil Blum’s grave 20170307_090811 in Colorado Springs, Colorado six weeks ago.  I never met my grandfather but we share two names and I’ve always felt a connection with him.  Emil is buried in The Sons of Israel Cemetery beneath Pike’s Peak.  Emil was born in Kiev in 1895,https://tse2.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.5Wt-DegdtFTNs3mIW_GXWAEsEs&pid=15.1&P=0&w=300&h=300 fled to Germany to escape pogroms, returned to Russia, then was shipped by his family with a first class passage to NYC (not everyone marched through Ellis Island) in his early teens.  He lived in NY, worked as a printer, moved the family to Stelton (New Brunswick) New Jersey and a year after my grandmother died in 1947, moved with his daughter, my Aunt Lillian, to Colorado Springs when his employer, Shepard Citations relocated.  Why they moved there I don’t know, but it is a lovely place, and maybe the air was better or they knew the country was growing westward.

“By the early 20th century, the Frank Shepard Company was binding the citations into maroon volumes with Shepard’s Citations stamped in gold on their spines, much like the ones still found on library shelves.

Under the leadership of William Guthrie Packard, the company endured the Great Depression and continued to grow. It moved to Colorado Springs in 1948; in 1951, it adopted the name Shepard’s Citations, Inc.”

CunardWhen I saw my grandfather’s gravestone beneath Pike’s Peak in Colorado, I thought, “Holy Shit, Grandfather, how did you get here?”  pikespeakColorado Springs is where my Aunt Lillian met and married my Uncle Wesley, a soldier stationed in Colorado Springs, from Tumwater, Washington.  103-0308_IMG

I spent summers in Tumwater starting in 1967 and eventually moved there in 1974.

 

I met my wife Nancy while going to The Evergreen State College in Olympia, though we didn’t really know each other then.  Nancy is from Shelton, Washington, about twenty miles from Evergreen.

shelton3shelton

Now I live in Oregon.  In the future will my grandchildren find my grave somewhere and ask, “Grandfather, how did you get here?”

 

Dennis Banks Two Obituaries

Dennis Banks walked on amidst family, friends and Native song on October 29th, 2017

American Indian Movement co-founder, activist, author and teacher Dennis Banks has died at 80 years of age. Banks died from complications of pneumonia he had contracted following open heart surgery.

According to a recent post on his Facebook page by his family, Dennis Banks passed away at 10:10 pm on October 29, 2017 amidst family, friends and traditional song.

Our father Dennis J. Banks started his journey to the spirit world at 10:10 pm on October 29, 2017. As he took his last breaths, Minoh sang him four songs for his journey. All the family who were present prayed over him and said our individual goodbyes. Then we proudly sang him the AIM song as his final send off. Our father will be laid to rest in his home community of Leech Lake, MN. Presiding over traditional services will be Terry Nelson. We welcome all who would like to pay respects. As soon as arrangements are finalized, we will post details.Still Humbly Yours, The children and grandchildren of Nowacumig.”

In response to the announcement of his death, Facebook and Twitter have already been flooded with comments.

Lonn Duncan condolences to the family, our hearts, thoughts and prayers always. rest in peace brother. a true and great warrior.

Michael Mitchell Condolences to your family. A great leader to all Indigenous peoples.

Dennis Banks (Leech Lake Reservation, Minnesota Ojibwa / Anishinabe) is well-known for his role in co-founding the American Indian Movement (AIM) alongside George Mitchell and Clyde Bellecourt.

Banks is also infamous for his interactions with fellow AIM activist Russell Means at the Wounded Knee occupation. At the Wounded Knee uprising, federal agents fought against Native occupiers for 71 days resulting in the loss of life of two tribal members and serious wounds to a federal agent.

Means and Banks were charged in 1974 for their participation in the occupation, however, a judge in federal court threw out the charges on the grounds of federal misconduct.

On April 12, 2012, Banks received a Living Legends Award in Washington D.C. for his ‘contributions as a co-founder of the American Indian Movement and his ‘commitment to the well being of the American Indian community.’

As a teacher, Dennis Banks taught at Deganawida Quetzecoatl University in the 80’s but later was incarcerated for 1973 charges at the infamous ‘Custer riot.’ After an 18-month term, Banks continued to work for the rights of Native people both as a drug and alcohol counselor on the Pine Ridge Reservation and as an activist fighting for Native gravesite protections and repatriation, and legislation to protect these sites.

In 1978, Banks initiated “The Longest Walk” a traditional and spiritual journey from San Francisco to Washington DC. Aspects of the longest walk are still celebrated annually.

In addition to his activism, Dennis Banks acted in movies such as War Party (1988), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Thunderheart (1992), and Older Than America (2008). As a musician he released Still Strong (1993) and teamed up with Peter Gabriel on Les Musiques du Monde and with Golden Globe and Grammy Award-winning artist Kitaro on the CD Let Mother Earth Speak.

He also got into politics and in August 2016, Banks was the vice presidential nominee on the Peace and Freedom Party, a socialist political party with ballot access in California with presidential nominee Gloria La Riva.

As Dennis Banks once told Indian Country Today in a 2013 interview, there will always be a place for activism and change.

“There’s always going to be a need for change whether it’s the American Indian Movement or Idle No More. Whether it’s now or 10 years from now, we’re always going to need those people to go out and confront the issues and take a stand even if we all become doctors and lawyers and senators and congressmen, even if we all become millionaires. There will still be a need to tell America that there are some very important contracts that were made in the 1700s and 1800s that deal with our land.”

The family has stated Dennis Banks will be buried in Leech Lake, Minnesota with traditional services.

Vincent Schilling is on Twitter – @VinceSchilling

 

By ROBERT D. McFADDEN

The New York Times
Dennis J. Banks, the militant Chippewa who founded the American Indian Movement in 1968 and led often-violent insurrections to protest the treatment of Native Americans and the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died Sunday night at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was 80.

His daughter Tashina Banks Rama said the cause was complications of pneumonia after successful open-heart surgery a week ago at the clinic. Mr. Banks lived on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, where he was born and had grown up.

Mr. Banks and his Oglala Sioux compatriot Russell Means were by the mid-1970s perhaps the nation’s best-known Native Americans since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who led the attack that crushed the cavalry forces of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory in 1876.

Mr. Banks, whose early life of poverty, alcoholism and alienation mirrored the fates of countless ancestors, led protests that caused mass disorder, shootouts, deaths and grievous injuries. He was jailed for burglary and convicted of riot and assault, and he became a fugitive for nine years. He found sanctuary in California and New York, but finally gave up and was imprisoned for 14 months.

He once led a six-day takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, and mounted an armed 71-day occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Wounded Knee was the scene of the last major conflict of the American Indian Wars, in which 350 Lakota men, women and children were massacred by U.S. troops in 1890.

While his protests won some government concessions and drew national attention and wide sympathy for the deplorable social and economic conditions of American Indians, Mr. Banks achieved few real improvements in the daily lives of millions of Native Americans, who live on reservations and in major cities and lag behind most fellow citizens in jobs, housing and education.

To admirers, Mr. Banks was a broad-chested champion of native pride. With dark, piercing eyes, high cheekbones, a jutting chin and long raven hair, he was a paladin who defied authority and, in an era crowded with civil rights protests, spoke for the nation’s oldest minority.

To his critics, including many American Indians, Mr. Banks was a self-promoter, grabbing headlines and becoming a darling of politically liberal Hollywood stars like Jane Fonda and Marlon Brando. His severest detractors, including law-enforcement officials, said he let followers risk injury and arrest while he jumped bail to avoid a long prison sentence and did not surrender for nearly a decade.

Siege at Wounded Knee
Mr. Banks and Means first won national attention for declaring a Day of Mourning for Native Americans on Thanksgiving Day in 1970. Their band seized the ship Mayflower II, a replica of the original in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and a televised confrontation between real Indians and costumed “Pilgrims” made the American Indian Movement leaders overnight heroes.

In 1972, the two organized cross-country car caravans on Trails of Broken Treaties. They converged on Washington with 500 followers to protest Indian living standards and lost treaty rights, occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs and held out for nearly a week, destroying documents and the premises, until the government agreed to discuss Indian grievances and review treaty commitments.

In 1973, after a white man killed an Indian in a saloon brawl and was charged not with murder but with involuntary manslaughter, Mr. Banks led 200 AIM protesters in a faceoff with the police in Custer, South Dakota. It became a riot when the slain man’s mother was beaten by officers. After he left town, Mr. Banks, who said he had merely tried to ease tensions, was charged with assault and rioting.

It was the last straw. “We had reached a point in history where we could not tolerate the abuse any longer, where mothers could not tolerate the mistreatment that goes on on the reservations any longer, where they could not see another Indian youngster die,” he told the author Peter Matthiessen.

Weeks later, the siege that made Mr. Banks and Means famous across the United States began when 200 Oglala Lakota and AIM followers with rifles and shotguns occupied Wounded Knee. About 300 U.S. marshals, FBI agents and other law-enforcement officials cordoned off the area with armored cars and heavy weapons, touching off a 10-week battle of nerves and gunfire.

Amid wide news media coverage, the significance of the battlefield was not lost on many Americans. Dee Brown’s best-selling book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West” (1970) had recently explored the record of massacres and atrocities against Native Americans on the expanding frontier, undermining one of the nation’s fondest myths.

Proclaiming a willingness to die for their cause, Mr. Banks and Means demanded the ouster of Richard Wilson, the elected leader of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, whom they called a corrupt white man’s stooge. The government refused. Shootings punctuated the days of stalemate, leaving wounded on both sides. Two Indians were killed, and a federal agent was shot and paralyzed.

When it was over, Mr. Banks and Means were charged with assault and conspiracy. After a federal trial, with the defense raising historic and current Indian grievances, a judge dismissed the case for prosecutorial misconduct, including illegal wiretaps and evidence that had been tampered with.
By then, Mr. Banks was a pre-eminent spokesman for Native Americans. He mediated armed conflicts between Indians and the authorities in various states. But his own legal troubles were not over.

Charged with riot and assault with a deadly weapon for his role in the 1973 melee in Custer, he was found guilty in 1975. Facing up to 15 years in prison, he jumped bail and fled to California.

Asylum, sobriety
With 1.4 million signatures on a petition supporting Mr. Banks, Gov. Jerry Brown granted him asylum in 1976, rejecting extradition to South Dakota by saying his life might be in danger if he were sent back. Mr. Banks earned an associate degree at the University of California at Davis, and became chancellor of Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University, a small two-year college for Indians in Davis.

Deprived of California sanctuary when Brown was succeeded by a Republican, George Deukmejian, in early 1983, Mr. Banks found a new refuge on an Onondaga reservation near Syracuse, New York. Federal officials said he would be arrested only if he left the reservation. But in 1984, weary of his confined life, he returned to South Dakota voluntarily and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Paroled in 1985 after serving 14 months, he moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation to work as a drug addiction and alcoholism counselor. He also turned his life around, embracing sobriety, giving talks on public service and organizing cross-country events that he called “Sacred Runs,” which became popular among supporters of Native Americans in later years.

“We were the prophets, the messengers, the fire starters,” Mr. Banks said in an autobiography, “Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement” (2005, with Richard Erdoes). “Wounded Knee awakened not only the conscience of all Native Americans, but also of white Americans nationwide.”

Dennis James Banks was born on the Leech Lake Reservation on April 12, 1937. He never knew his father. His mother abandoned him to his grandparents.

When he was 5, he was taken from his family and sent to a series of government schools for Indians that systematically denigrated his Ojibwa (Chippewa) culture, language and identity. He ran away often, until, at 17, he returned to Leech Lake.

Unable to find work, he joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Japan, where he married a Japanese woman, had a child with her and went absent without leave. Arrested and returned to the United States, he never saw his wife or child again. After being discharged, he moved to Minneapolis, drifted into crime, was arrested in a burglary and went to jail for 2 1/2 years.

Founding of AIM
Released in 1968, he founded the American Indian Movement with an Ojibwa he had met in prison, Clyde Bellecourt, and others to fight the oppression and endemic poverty of Native Americans. He became chairman and national director as the group, based in Minneapolis, forged alliances and grew rapidly. After two years it said it had 25,000 members.

Within a year AIM, with its flair for guerrilla tactics, joined a lengthy occupation of Alcatraz Island, the former federal prison site in San Francisco Bay.

After his fugitive years, Mr. Banks had a modest movie career.

Besides his wife and child in Japan, Mr. Banks had many children with other women. In addition to Banks Rama, he is survived by 19 children, 11 with the surname Banks: Janice, Darla, Deanna, Dennis, Red Elk, Tatanka, Minoh, Tokala, Tiopa, Tacanunpa and Arrow. The others are Glenda Roberts, Beverly Baribeau, Kevin Strong, D.J. Nelson-Banks, Bryan Graves, and Pearl, Denise and Kawlija Blanchard. Mr. Banks is also survived by more than 100 grandchildren, Banks Rama said.

Mr. Banks was the 2016 vice-presidential nominee of the California Peace and Freedom Party, which identified itself as socialist and feminist. (The party’s presidential candidate was Gloria La Riva.) As a single-state ticket they won 66,000 votes.

In recent years, Mr. Banks lived with some of his children in Kentucky and Minnesota.