Friday, February 4, 2011

1970 by Bhushan

I Hotel — Book 3

The style of Book 3 was quite different from Books 1 and 2. Instead of being a collection of fairly long stories, Book 3 was broken up into 8 chapters that were all less than 5 pages apiece.

Chapter 1: I Am Hip


Two people, described as “ministers of information of the Black Panther Party and the Red Guard Party,” are sitting in a Moscow hotel room talking about the past. Their plan is to travel through the Communist countries of Asia and eventually meet Mao Zedong. RG, the Red Guard Party’s Minister of Information, tells a story about his past. He went on tours with Janis Joplin as a stagehand, doing drugs and protesting with hippies to avoid the draft. The chapter ends with RG telling the story of his trip to a military recruitment office while on meth, shouting about how he wanted to be an addict.

Quote at the end of the chapter: “The Black Panther Party hereby offers to the National Liberation Front and Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam an undetermined number of troops to assist you in your fight against American imperialism.” — Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party. (196)


Q1. It is understandable that the Black Panther and Red Guard Parties felt animosity towards the US government. Why do you think they focused on the soldiers and the Vietnam War in particular?

Chapter 2: I Am a Brother


Chapter 2 continues where Chapter 1 left off, in the Moscow hotel room. During the conversation, Mo Akagi, a Japanese member of the Black Panthers, is brought up, and his story is told.

Akagi, as a Japanese American, was interned between the ages of five and nine during World War II. Mo met Huey P. Newton soon after and joined a gang with him. At eighteen, he enrolled in the army during a period of peace, hoping to be like one of the members of the 442nd regiment, but there was no one to fight. Once he got out of the army, he enrolled at UC Berkley. He looked into joining Malcolm X, but decided against it because it would require him to be celibate and to quit smoking and drinking.

Akagi read Marx and other radicals and began designing a curriculum for potential recruits to read. He started smuggling in The Little Red Book via China and using the profits to fund the Black Panther Party.

Chapter 3: I Am a Warrior


The storytelling continues. The Panther asks how the Asian-Americans of the Red Guard Party met the Black Panthers. Their alliance was the result of Asian-American girls from Chinatown hooking up with African-American guys from Oakland, which led to the two of them creating armed safe houses together. One of these safe houses was surrounded by the police with guns while the Black Panther and a character named Woman Warrior were inside. That is when the chapter ends.


Q1. Very little information is given in this chapter about the characters. Why do you think Yamashita does this?

Chapter 4: I Am a Crusader


The Black Panther from Chapter 3 manages to escape from the safe house. Meanwhile, Akagi is organizing Black Panther chapters across the country. He communicates with Robert F. Williams, author of Negros with Guns and producer of Radio Free Dixie, who is broadcasting from Cuba and is also in China. Williams and Malcolm X inspire the Black Panther movement.

Akagi becomes a weapons trainer for the Panthers. When the Panthers march in Sacramento, they become national news. Even isolated people from places as far away as Reed College (Portland, OR) telegram in saying they want to join and Akagi goes out to accept them.


Q1. The chapter ends with a quote by Mao Tse-tung calling for people of all classes and races to rise up and join the revolution. What parallels do you see between Mao’s quote and this chapter?

Chapter 5: I Am a Martial Artist


This chapter describes daily life for adolescent gangsters in Chinatown. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of adult supervision, and kids are in and out of juvie. Some get jobs at the local pool hall, but police brutality and harassment ruin any chance of keeping their jobs as a stable enterprise. There is significant tension between the Chinatown-born kids, Legitimate Way, and the foreign-born kids, the Wah Ching. Legitimate Way, RG, and a Russian kid decide to organize themselves, preserve order, and defend themselves against both police brutality and the Wah Ching in order to impress visiting Black Panthers.

Meanwhile, RG and Panther, who are still in the Moscow hotel room, decide to start smoking. However, they accidentally light the carpet on fire.


Q1. Why is there such tension/aggressiveness between the foreign-born kids and the Chinatown-born kids? Why would the Chinatown-born kids far prefer to associate with the Black Panthers than the foreign-born kids?

Chapter 6: I Am the Third World


The police begin shutting down Black Panther operations across the United States. Dozens die and hundreds are incarcerated. A number of minority groups rally near the Hall of Justice and the San Francisco Jail. Since RG is missing, Akagi, the Japanese Panther, decides to represent the Asian-American community.

Akagi gives a speech to try to rally the crowd. He talks about how suppression of minority groups (black, Native American, Asian-American) had been practiced ever since the European “invaders” arrived. He relates that to what is happening in the modern day and says that the excuse given of “law and order” is nonsense. He mentions how women have been oppressed to make sure that feminists are represented, but quickly moves past that. He brings up Marxism but quickly brings down the material to the common listener’s understanding so that he can unite the people there under a banner of “Third World solidarity.”

Chapter 7: I Am a Revolutionary


We go back to RG and Panther in their Moscow hotel room. They manage to put out the fire and start to consider all the things that have happened in the world recently. They compare themselves to Che, Mao, and Malcolm doing their long journeys. Then they go back to storytelling. After the events of the above chapters, Legitimate Way becomes the Red Guard and tries to improve and safeguard Chinatown. During Waverly, a youth festival in Chinatown, a drunken tourist starts tossing firecrackers into the crowd. An RG member tosses him out, and two policemen come after the RG member, ignoring the hurt Asian-Americans. He fights them off, and the Red Guards put on a show of force that night, constantly exploding fireworks.


Q1. Do you think the Red Guards are really that much better than the policemen? Explain.

Chapter 8: I Am the Vanguard


RG and Panther, still in the hotel room, talk about women. They both dream of a woman who is as into the revolutionary movement as they are. She is totally devoted to the movement and to her man, willing to raise his children, even if he is cheating on the woman.

Akagi found a “righteous woman” to date and live with for a while, but eventually she could not take the stress that came from his frequent nighttime absences to patrol for the Panthers, and she left him. He plans to go live in the I-Hotel with the old Filipino and Chinese bachelors because he is a bachelor too.


Q1. We finally have reached a point where the I-Hotel is mentioned. Where do you the story will go from here?

Questions for the overall novella:

Q1. Did you feel the way Yamashita told the events of Book 3 made things more confusing or more understandable than Books 1 and 2?

Q2. The chapter titles in this Book are all of the form “I Am…” Why you think Yamashita titled them in this way?

Q3. What exactly was the purpose of this chapter?

Guide by Bhushan

Edited by Abby

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