I'm reluctantly conceding to my own self that "Fuck the Establishment" shouldn't be the title of this thing. I'm really liking the sound of "Amerikkka: Story Now in the Radical U.S.A."
The design is proceeding in an extremely compartmentalized fashion. I've written and mildly playtested a primary mechanical device for episodic story creation, which seems solid. Just to whet your interest, here's
the little playmap where cards get laid out during an episode. I am enjoying the idea - which seems viable! - that during play, people can contribute to the four scenes nigh-simultaneously and asynchronously, even though in the fiction they are perfectly sequential. So if you wanted, you could play them just as sequentially, i.e. literally, or treat them more like a creative montage to produce something whose true in-fiction sequence is not fully understood until the end.
However, it's rather localized to the 1970s and maybe too short-form at present. I may consider a larger framing-process of the episodes, and at present, I'm even leaning toward fictionally focusing on the Right for that part of play (see below).
I'm considering aspects of a musical mechanic as described in [next political Story Now game] Music
. I really like the idea of each character being associated with a given album for a given session, and somehow turning on the appropriate music in an easy and effective way at given points in play. Or maybe each "unit" of the playmat goes with an album for that particular session, which makes a bit more sense actually.
And for the writing which most directly informs play (equivalent to the Appendix decade-summaries in Spione and the Al-Hawadess chapter in Shahida), I'm proceeding quite well on my reading-and-reflection list. The more I do, the more it seems clear that the story of the Sixties and Seventies is only superficially about the (New) Left ... it's really about the resurgence and redefinition of the Right. So I'm getting much deeper into the FBI, details of the justice system, the religious revival (and its nigh-utter political reorientation), Cold War hawk-dom and liberal-dom, and the subtleties of U.S. unionism then I was expecting. It's definitely not mere "backlash."
Similarly, I'm finding that focusing
too much on the Panthers and the Weather Underground (and feminism and gay rights groups) would be a bad idea, and instead I'm taking a more grass-roots look at the literally hundreds of small groups which either fed into these or similar umbrella groups or splintered off from them. I'm also getting interested in prison reform and sex work as shadow issues throughout the whole thing, as well as in distinct moments of schism like blacks vs. Jews, feminists vs. (all) Left, communists vs. (New) Left, and cultural vs. political within many groups. It fascinates me that the sexual revolution threw the whole activist movement just as wicked a curveball as it did the mainstream society. And then there's the whole range of clique-commune-cultlike-cult which includes Synanon, the People's Temple, and several others.
Here's another interesting thing. Contrary to popular myth, Weather and the Panthers did not do too well in direct confrontations with police, either literally or politically, and such events were rare or even absent for many branches of those organizations. (I also note that the Panthers were not as violently militant as they are painted, or as some of their members or leaders talked). There is one interest-group, however, which in two instances - especially the second - engaged in full-up, face-to-face, uncompromisingly violent and successful
confrontations with law enforcement, which seems to have dropped down the memory hole.
The first was the Stonewall riot in New York, 1969. The second, which really interests me, was ten years later in San Francisco, following the assassination of Harvey Milk. When Dan White, the grossly-obviously first-degree-murder killer, was convicted of minimal crimes , in an equally obvious sop to the SFPD, the gay community of Castro Street stormed City Hall
and overwhelmed its defenders, including molotoving
all the cop cars* and actually forcing the police to flee.
That feel-good movie didn't show that
, did it! But from my current perspective, it's fascinating that this is the sole interest-group, in my opinion, who maintained the gains they made in the 1970s without being subverted** or shoved back under the rug.
A supporting detail: Dianne Feinstein, who's incessantly billed herself as Milk's spiritual successor for thirty years, was generally his political opponent while he was alive, was one of the authorities cowering in the City Hall lobby while the windows were smashed during the assault.
The lesson may be: if you want your politicking and civil actions to stick, beat the living fuck out of the cops for a few days.
* A tactic brought from Europe, planned, and implemented by John Cleve, who'd learned a few things in gay-rights demonstrations in Spain before moving back to San Francisco.
** Or only in limited spheres anyway; e.g., "gays in the military" is classic