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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Real Meaning behind "Kill My Landlord"

by Tyrone Green

Dark and lonely on a summer's night.
Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord.
Watchdog barking. Do he bite?
Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord.
Slip in his window. Break his neck.
Then his house I start to wreck.
Got no reason. What the heck?
Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord.
C-I-L my land lord!

"During the Eddie Murphy days of 'Saturday Night Live,' Norman Mailer made a short film about death row authors and poets. In the piece convict Tyrone Green (played by Murphy) reads his award-winning poem. It was one of the funniest things 'SNL' has ever done. But it is not the inspiration for the title of this column. That is a popular misconception.

In fact, the history of 'Kill My Landlord' is long and tumultuous, spanning three decades. It's a story rarely told and barely known.

The things that came to be known as 'Kill My Landlord' were started in 1967 as a group called the 'Kill My Landlord Society.' It was a coalition of closet media junkies who would meet once a week at a beatnik bookstore/head shop/coffee shop/opium den called the 'Purple Haze.' Because it was composed of members of the 'Black Panther Party,' AIM (American Indian Movement), radical feminists, anarchists, communists, draft dodgers and 'American Bandstand' dancers, as well as visiting dignitaries from Jamaica, the Mexican highlands and Cuba and Abbie Hoffmann who was known to drop by, the society had to keep its meetings secret. Every so often Fidel Castro would sneak into the country with a box full of Havana Red cigars for the society, just to say 'hello.'"
In 1975, Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington can be clearly seen in the 'Talent Show' episode of "Welcome Back, Kotter," reading an issue of the newsletter. In the episode where they have to go undercover as cruise directors, "Huggy Bear" tells "Starsky and Hutch" that he is, "Working on a piece for Kill My Landlord, sorry I can't help you out." In the Dr. Seuss Book, "Oh the Thinks You Can Think," one of the Beft (creatures who can only go to the left) can be seen sitting under a tree reading an issue of the newsletter. And in the film "Apocalypse Now," Lawrence Fishburne can be seen reading "Kill My Landlord" while sitting on the bow of a gunboat (leafing through the famous issue where Jim Brown and Pam Grier got to a Klan rally and burned a picture of Jefferson Davis).

(full article)


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