12.31.2011

the oakland police

"i see how dirty they rollin'."

mary is telling charlie and i about her 3 a.m. experience of being trapped in an alley by the oakland police. "they just show up, and they say, 'now you got five mitutes,' and then they jes' throw that [the tear gas]."

a berkeley resident who showed up to visit some friends, mary ended up staying at the occupation at oscar grant plaza until 2 or 3 a.m. "i'm just looking" she repeats, indicating she did not participate in any activism. she notes how she was impressed with teachers and lawyers taking care of the homeless.

a 61-year-old small-framed woman, mary sure doesn't look like a threat to the oakland police. yet right as she was leaving, the police surrounded the camp and wouldn't let her go. they gave everyone a five-minute warning, and began to tear-gas them.

this was the raid that inspired the first occupy riot in oakland. the rest is history - tear gas, concussion grenades, scott olsen... these stories are old news to people in the bay.

and mary's experience is not entirely unique. my friend stefanie, an old-guard disabled-rights activist, got tear gassed in her wheelchair. "i was just sitting there and praying," she later told me. "we weren't doing anything illegal, although they declared it an illegal gathering."

i've always been interested in street politics, but stories like these inspired me to see for myself what things were like during a police raid in oakland. yesterday i got a text alert on my phone that the police were about to raid oscar grant plaza. i hopped on the bart to downtown oakland, and this is what i saw:



i arrived in time to see a raucous crowd of about 40, screaming and cursing at five stern looking police officers. a tree-sitter hovered above. at least as many people were hanging around the center of the plaza eating, playing foursquare, smoking cigarettes and chatting with each other.

the word was that people had trickled down here from other occupy locations around oakland that had been raided this week. as a result, the oscar grant protest had once again swelled in size. the 24-hour vigil, the police said, had no permit and had to go - at 2 p.m.

about 2:15, more police came around the back of the plaza and told people to move their belongings and the food stores. the ensuing shouting and refusal provoked six or seven rather violent arrests. but what were the official charges? loitering? disorderly conduct?

a lot of occupiers around here have been getting arrested for "resisting arrest." can someone tell me how that works again?

i was pretty sure that the oakland police weren't acting in anyone's best interest, so i joined the effort to block the police van from leaving the plaza. a soft-spoken police officer shoved me back, and they were on their way.

12.26.2011

anger

29 degrees fahrenheit.

at people's park we found that more than a dozen people were visible sleeping in the landscaping and out on the sidewalk.

people with clean records and no substance abuse problems, friends of mine, are sleeping outside. on christmas eve.

i'm calling you out berkeley interim city manager christine daniel. your christmas week eviction notice made dozens from our camp sleep on sidewalks and in alleys, separated from the only family they knew by the city municipal code. it's sickening.

being houseless isn't necessarily psychologically damaging, but being robbed of shelter and a place in a community is. shame on the city manager for evicting us.

and shame on the berkeley police officers who hit unarmed women with their clubs without warning. eviction is a nasty business. i'm writing the city! does anyone have a pen?

no more camping bans! write:

christine daniel
professional proliferator of classism
(510) 981-7000 
manager@cityofberkeley.info

also: here's a photo essay of the city-mandated shutdown of the occupy eugene encampment.

12.22.2011

how we (almost) saved #occupyberkeley

late at night on the corner of center and mlk, phoebe sorgen and i are sitting in her bumper sticker-plastered car, staring down a city map. it's been a long day. the view from phoebe's windshield looks out on around 100 tents, crispy in the late-night frost that plagues december in berkeley, california.

on september 17th, an occupation protesting corporate greed and the hi-jack of our republic by corporations started in manhattan, the first in north america. berkeley followed suit 3 weeks later with an occupy protest outside bank of america. it is one of the longest standing occupations in the united states.

a lot had changed since protestors first set up here on october 8th. numbers had grown dramatically, and a gradual move down the street to mlk park was undergone. american police had dismantled all of the bay area camps, including the neighboring occupy oakland camps, which had served as an unofficial west coast capital to the movement. we were the last camp standing in the bay.

we are trying to save this cause.

as members of the occupy movement, phoebe and i had been attempting desperately to find a way to de-escalate the violence within the this camp. phoebe is a local activist who spent hours every day volunteering with and caring for the residents of this park; and i lived here.

the occupation at the corner of mlk and center was a bit of a paradox - so much strife bleaguered it, and yet the police did not once raid the camp. in contrast to the violent and anti-human city policies of neighboring oakland and san francisco, the city council here endorsed the occupy wall street movement, and suspended the park curfew to at least give the camp a chance to flourish. the police policy was strikingly hands-off.

but the camp had internal conflicts. a relatively friendly crowd during the day, many in the camp would turn violent and start to brawl at night (my account of my first day in berkeley). rapes and attempted rapes were committed. resolutions made by the general assembly, this camp's autonomous government, were largely ignored by rowdy campers. drugs and drug trade abounded.

the berkeley p.d. received hundreds of incident reports, and eventually resorted to walking through and ticketing defiant campers who refused to stay sober or smoke on the sidewalk rather than in the park. despite the efforts of activists in berkeley to restore order to the camp, a largely alcoholic and drug-abusing population of houseless refugees refused to cooperate. the camp was out of control.

within a few days of arriving, i was working hard to save the camp. i talked sympathetically with different groups, listened to stories and encouraged folks, cooked food, fetched water and cleaned up trash. and i also started strategizing for a new drug-free camp where everyone involved in the movement could feel safe camping.

we settled on ohlone park, a quiet location just a few blocks away. proposals to activists garnered mixed reactions. we moved ahead. unfortunately, so did the police. tuesday night, without the knowledge or consent of the berkeley city council, the police served up an eviction notice - the park curfew was to be enforced wednesday night, they said.

so we blitzed. phoebe and i, along with russ, christine, maxina and many others started pro-active negotiations with members of the out-of-session city council. what we heard surprised us. council members jesse arreguin and kriss worthington informed us that the police were refusing to communicate with them. by the end of the day, we had no grounds to believe that the police would not try to raid our new camp as well, should we succeed in establishing one. our plans began to spiral down the drain.

the police attacked a half-way torn down occupy berkeley camp late on the night of wednesday, december 21. non-violent resistance to the raid led to violent attacks from the police. the kindness and respect we had received from them was done with; the city cleared tents out in the morning.

taunting was occurring on both sides.

it was sad to see the police take immature and violent actions against immature but non-violent protestors. it's sad, but the camp had to go for now. however, i have hope for the future. even though the camp is gone, i know the movement will live on.

p.s.
i am still trying to find places to sleep for several safe and sober people involved in the movement who were just evicted from the park by the police. email me (joeldevyldere(at)msn(dot)com if you have any leads on that.


12.16.2011

berkeley

the stars are always smirking on the east bay,
under chuckling
clouds, faux rivers flow, where thunder interrupts the stereo:

turn off the creek! put out the smog!
stop living large and start
seeing God

12.14.2011

defense authorization act

detainees at guantanamo bay military prison
quick update on the world:

the defense authorization bill can be studied at a glance here.

the obama administration seems poised to sign it in to law, possibly today.

you can contact your representatives using this directory. or on twitter ( in oregon, @reppeterdefazio @barackobama, etc.).

12.13.2011

port shutdown

today 
karyn and i made shoddy fake press passes, packed snacks and cigarettes and hopped on the bart to west oakland. 

from oscar grant plaza we marched with thousands people of all ages down to the port where occupy oakland had already succeeded in shutting down all of today's operations. we took picture and asked questions.


the atmosphere was electric - music and dancing were the activities of the day. people chanted political slogans and we heard from boots riley, angela davis and famed police brutality victim scott olsen.

once we arrived, a general assembly was called to decide what would be done. the decision was made to hold the port at least until 3 am.



police were scarce. there were no arrests, and all roads leading into the port were guarded by officers. there very few cars on the roads, but a few large vehicles loaded down with dancing protestors blasted dance music for all to hear.



many oaklanders lined the streets, and treated the protest as a parade to watch. some joined in.

the defend oakland tent. these folks occupy foreclosed homes.

and...
not just here in oakland, but all up and down the coast ports were shut down. people were attacked by police in seattle, arrested in houston. in portland people danced and played games of ninja destruction while protesting corporate greed at the port.

you can check out what's happening with the oakland port shutdown by searching #occupyoakland on twitter.

12.10.2011

letter to the instigators

unlicensed protest in russia

dear readers,


what is the nature of our rebellion?


i tried but couldn't entertain coherent thoughts about the substance of our revolt. the only message that i hear, five little words:


who made us your slaves?

who engineered post-lockean consent? who closed the public space and opened up the prisons? who tapped the phones and locked the doors? 


who cranked up the tariffs and turned on the licensing fees? who defined corporations as people and money as free speech?


and who do they think they are?


this is only the middle of tyranny. we are running out of these woods, dancing in the intersections and singing revolution songs.


as ever,


joel


p.s. 
"i think the word 'security' is one of the most dangerous words that can be used by governments... security is all right, but freedom is even more important." - stephane hessel
(full interview)

12.06.2011

absurdity

in headlines this week:

$500 million in u.s. military weapons, including helicopters and m-16's have been given out to police forces. doesn't sounds so bad, except...

there is no opposing military force in the u.s.

that's right, despite a remarkable drop in the rate of violent crime nationwide, the u.s. military is now arming local p.d.'s with grenade launchers. 

the pentagon's 1033 is the program under which war-ready weapons are being dispensed to any law-enforcing agency with "powers of arrest and apprehension." 2.6 billion has already been given out, and the daily reports that "orders in fiscal year 2012 are up 400 percent." but why?

micah silfry reports that searches for the word "revolution" are beginning to peak on google search trends, just like they did in greece with the with the may 5 protests, in spain with 15-m and in egypt with the original taking of tahrir square. many in the states have called for an all-out revolution.

the pentagon is not ignorant of this, though a debate still persists on what constitutes conclusive evidence that the department of homeland security is coordinating attacks against the u.s. occupations.

wait... why are police departments around the country gearing up for war? oh, well maybe this:


11.19.2011

bloody triumph of the republic

"in a single republic, all the power surrendered by the people is submitted to theadministration of a single government;" - james madison, federalist no. 51

occupy wall street

in the history of the united states, there is a precedent for warning against a single body of government holding all of the power in the nation.

after the civil war, however, the power of the states was largely absorbed into the federal government. when the united states declared and carried out a war on the confederate states, it effectively demonstrated that individual states had no right to leave the union, and thus ultimately had no rights at all.

similarly, the rights of the individual to express dissent in these united states has been largely lacking for decades. despite pervasive rhetoric citing "freedom of speech," people who attempt creative free speech that is opposed to government policy are often violently attacked by government agencies.

occupy wall street

but this is nothing new. the women's suffrage movement, the civil rights movement and the vietnam war protests all faced violent opposition from the state.


since the industrial revolution, almost any protest large enough to cause a scene has been violently suppressed and covertly combatted by the u.s. government.
occupy wall street protests. photo: @samglewis

true, we no longer have soldiers shooting live rounds at non-violent protesters in broad daylight...

we do, however, have conclusive evidence of a nationally organized police assaults on the occupations from oakland to denver to new york.*

you can also read my eyewitness account of the eviction of occupy portland and see video of the police beating of the non-violent protesters there, one of whom was put in a wheelchair.

these efforts resulted in a wave of city-mandated tax-payer violence across the united states in recent weeks. police have repeatedly beaten non-violent protesters into comas, while shooting others with rubber bullets and tear-gassing hundreds.

video after video depicts police officers dragging unarmed women by the hair (for instance, here and here and here).

there is also some evidence that the federal government is engaged in an ongoing violent campaign shut down the occupy protests nationwide.**

most troubling of all, many images and stories of police abuse may never reach the public. the policy of the nypd at times is to keep reporters as far away from the action as possible, even when that includes violence against reporters.

through taxes and student fees, u.s. workers, journalists, students and educators now pay for the privilege of being beaten and pepper-sprayed, both on campus and in the streets. peaceable assembly is now limited to football games and shopping malls. free speech has an asterisk indicating it no longer includes parks, streets and sidewalks.
occupy davis students sit peaceably while police assault on nov. 18th.

there is a remarkable failure of the republic to serve the needs and interests of human beings, for "representatives" to represent their constituents. worse, there is a profound failure of a government that claims to be by the people and for them to show any signs of being human at all.

*in an open letter to the portland's mayor sam adams, former occupy portland police liaison alaina melville criticizes the mayor for lying to msnbc about support he received from other cities in preparation for the beating and jailing of the occupy protesters on november 13. at least one other mayor has come out and admitted that a group of representatives from cities across the u.s. strategized against the occupations on a national level. also: the ap reports the collaberation as fact here.

**the extent to which the federal government is directly involved in what has been called a remarkably similar outbreak of attacks against the occupations remains in question. both the fbi and the department of homeland security assured media organizations that they were not involved, huffington post reports. additionally, portland mayor sam adams seems to have alluded to contact with the department of homeland security in a tweet earlier this week.




analyses of these united states

photo: mars2o84
'free speech' is a joke we tell at american parties.

and it is widely held that there are only two - the war-mongering republicans and the war-mongering democrats. american democracy is an anti-humanitarian process. here's why:

'the republic' was the formal term for the form of government in the us when it was founded. "republicanism" is a process which facilitates the consolidation of power into the hands of a few representatives.

founding father james madison hails the republic as a form of government which becomes stronger as its size increases in the federalist papers.

we now live in what many people call a "democratic republic." it's a republic, with the word "democratic" added to the beginning of it. we do not have a democracy, and never have. as madison points out:
"the two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended."  - james madison, the federalist no. 10
the "democratic" republic of the states is also at times called a representative democracy. this is because the bulk of the decision-making in the republic is conducted by elected and (subsequently) appointed officials.

the intentions of the founding members of the nation, if they can be guessed, are to form a strictly elitist republic. it was their aim that someday every affluent male caucasian would be free to participate in electing a representative to make the country's decisions on his behalf.

the current structure of the federal government is contingent on the notion each person is best served by representatives, "whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country" (madison, federalist no. 10).

the problem for the u.s. propaganda machine then becomes convincing the poor and working-class public of how an elitist rich person with a law degree and military training best represents their interests.

this has been a relatively simple endeavor. the task was simply to create a diversion, the dramatic scuffle presented to the public by democrats and republicans jockeying for political positions and grumbling endlessly about the other party.

this distraction effectively diverts the attention of many u.s.-ians into concentrating on shooting down the ridiculous ideas of one of the parties. the rest are so bored that they become absolutely convinced that they will never want to participate in or learn about the manner by which they are governed.

all elected politicians have this in common - that they don't believe in democracy. if they did, they would either quickly resign, or use their communication skills to help the u.s. transition from the oppression of an elitist republic to the liberty of a democracy.


p.s. in case you're wondering, there is a direct democracy functioning on the streets of nearly every major city in the world. these movements don't need the tyranny of taxation or the oppression of "representative" governance to function, but serve as a government by the people and for them.

- see how one group has made direct democracy work for them.

11.18.2011

laws of the city

http://bit.ly/tOfEH9
destruction of property:
http://bit.ly/vovfaP












rioting:



convening without a permit:
new york, thursday

assault:
berkeley, nov. 9


misconduct:
portland, thursday.

11.13.2011

#occupy protests violently dispersed in portland

protestors push police back on
3rd street saturday night. image: cbs news.


thousands of protestors lined the streets, cutting off almost every line of escape. dozens of police held formation, brandishing batons and flipping down the face shields on their riot helmets. some looked menacingly into the crowd. with one voice, the mob exclaimed their admonition to the officers:

"you're sexy! you're cute! take off your riot suit!"

 this was the scene in and around lownsdale and chapman squares last night as hundreds of police came to serve up mayor sam adams' 12:01 a.m. eviction notice to the stragglers who still inhabited the park blocks between salmon and madison downtown. literally thousands gathered in the middle of the night to stand in the way of the police attempts to take the parks.

some gathered inside the encampments, where many people stood on benches to observe the happenings in the area. free champagne was passed out at at the occupy cafe, which for the last month has been serving coffee free of charge to anyone who wants it. on the corner of main and fourth, about 75 people were gathered around a drum circle, dancing away.

the encampment at occupy portland, which has held the park blocks in the financial district downtown since october 6th, had dwindled slightly as of late. the surge in late-night participation for these winter-weary camps was in response to an ultimatum lately served by mayor adams, who announced that the city would temporarily close the park blocks "to put an end to safety, health and crime problems, and to repair the park land."

"we must balance people’s rights to free speech, with keeping the city safe and moving," adams said in an open letter to the city.

a standoff ensued. the police donned riot gear; the protestors broke out drums and megaphones. cops brought out tear gas, and protestors broke out the gas masks.

"don't shove," said a lady in her thirties to the teenagers standing around her. "when they push forward, we stand our ground."

chants proliferated, mostly aimed at the portland police officers who advanced on the crowd. "peace-ful pro-test!" was oft repeated, as protesters held up peace signs to the street. repetitions of  "who do you protect? who do you serve?" also rippled through the crowd.

others shared defensive tactics. "if they throw tear gas, pick it up, throw it back!" a man shouted to those standing around him.

another man made the rounds handing out rags soaked in apple cider vinegar. "when they tear-gas you, wipe you face with it!" he shouted above the din.

but the police did not tear-gas the crowd. they advanced several items on the mob, before being turned back by a surge of steadily advancing protesters. signs were waved and a peace signs were held as the occupiers advanced unarmed at the riot police. at least one beach ball bounced above the ecstatic crowd.

the first to retreat were the mounted police, followed by the riot police, who held formation as they slowly gave ground; they were pushed by the crowd all the way down third until they reached madison street.

"i support a lot of what the encampment stands for..."  mayor adams said on cnn. "(but) it shouldn't be focused on port-a-potties and tents and encampments attracting criminal elements. i think this movement needs to evolve."

meanwhile, many felt betrayed by a city that spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars enforcing last night's curfew.

despite the city's efforts, the camps still remained sunday morning.

"bag checks are going on. people are still mad about that. it's ok," a protester commented on the occupy portland livestream. the crowd had thinned. occupiers calmly ate brunch while police began to systematically taking their belongings. a man went to do dishes, only to have his water-fetching bucket pulled directly out of his hands by an officer in riot gear.

but a few hours later, the easy-going atmosphere was completely gone. a group of police had surrounded the remaining protestors, beating them with clubs while they chanted "peaceful!" and "shame on you!" (watch the video) 

more than 50 people were arrested, according to the associated press.

by nightfall sunday, a temporary fence surrounded both the parks. mayor adams' evition notice had been served.

a chain-link fence now borders lownsdale and chapman squares,which
until last night were the site of occupy portland. image: @occupyportland

p.s.
you can reach sam adams at mayorsam@portlandoregon.gov. his twitter username is @mayorsamadams.

you can reach portland police chief mike reese at 503-823-0000. the twitter username for the portland police bureau is @portlandpolice.

11.08.2011

todaythoughts

what is the nature of our inquiry?

maybe it's disparate and varied like ourselves, and maybe it is ourselves. are we only concerned for our own self interests?

it's hard to say.

there's a scenario that's been set up in my mind and so many others: either we acknowledge that there are natural moral laws communicated to humans directly from a transcendent god, or every person will do, to paraphrase the judges record, what's right in their own eyes.

it's believed to be inherit that the natural state of man is to be, to quote the genesis record, "only evil all the time."

is this true?

maybe our own well-being is buried in the practice of engaging openly and vulnerably with community. can we be individuals? .... were we ever individuals?


these are just a coupe of my todaythoughts. write them off with your very own stern-minded replies, won't you?

11.07.2011

i'm just sayin'

portlandic street singers of balkan gypsy jazz.
don't let this photo fool you,
these guys were twice as blurry in person.
economies of street can be disparate and diverse. if you've got to live on it, the sidewalk can seem formidable. but if you're just out for a stroll between shops, it can seem lovely and refreshing.

'i'm so glad they keep the air out here on autumn evenings,' many-a-tourist has been known to probosculate. 'i'm not entirely shure about these street folk, though.' and then they get mugged, and then everything continues as usual.

and this is the game we engage with, everyone misunderstanding each other in the comical mass-mis-communications of massive greed and misanthropic displacement.

nakedness, for instance, is not allowed on the sidewalk, which is, strictly probosculating, a clothes-only zone. and horses from far and wide, are shivering, because all their blankets got gaave out to no-good and hella-stoned anti-(trojan)war hobos.

now, we might probosculate, if it tickles our chins and shivers our elbows, that each of these disparate street creatures are simply being human beings...

horses, however, would like to interrupt here, and readily assert that they, for one, are not;
and neither are the drinking fountains, which congregate in large numbers on the sidewalks to serve humanity in a categorically racist fashion. but they are so unlike like the spange-heavy fountains which bore them, and, if memory serves, raised them from a knee-high grass-hopper, or so they tell them. often.

be that as it may or may not be, i think it's high time for people who are street singers to start working on exclusively and explicitly barter terms. there is opportunity here, people!

what do people say when you refuse their money?! they are seriously puzzled like all birds, and like all chipmunks think that you are nuts, and too good to be true.

i'm just sayin'.


p.s. i (really) love this post.

11.01.2011

no prose november!

the challenge


good question, cardboard.
hey guys! we are doing something fun to commemorate the shave-less month of mustache - a poetry dare ("how rare!" - laurel). our aim is to throw down some stoopid phat rhymes every day of the month: poems with class and rush and candor; poems that never under any circumstances incorporate the phrase "stoopid phat."

and now you can join us: write some sick poems, and share alike with a community of amateur artists. just drop somebody a line, and we'll add you to the facebook page.

unsure about this whole thing? follow along with megan, jordan and me, for starters!



poem, day #1

make believe
i want to hear about the first adam and
the first
eve
they were naked in the garden
did they ever want to leave
paradise?

 i want to know
when the cold comes in
the virus hides the sun
and my nose tries to run
(down my cheek)
unapologetically!

in the wake of early morning,
in the dusk the that settles slow
there's this story that you told me
it's the only one i know
can it be?

p.s.
in other news, this group is no-shaving for yes-charities (and so much more!)

10.28.2011

uo goes three-and-out, punts #occupy


uo 'cannot accommodate' #occupy
the occupy eugene protests moved to the uo quad thursday morning, and wer met with considerable resistance from the administration.

by 2:30 pm, every student on campus had an email in their inbox denouncing the relocation as incompatible with general mission of the university, and noting that camping is not allowed on the uo campus. "it would be very disruptive to the university’s core mission of teaching and research," offered acting provost lorraine davis.

unless they bring in sports money too
evidence that camping has not been disruptive to the "university's core mission" surfaced just two weeks ago when the university invited espn's college gameday to set up an enormous structure in the center of the quad from which to host their show.

though the administration insisted that "the uo cannot accommodate a campground," it hosted an event that encouraged hundreds of students to stay out all night for a chance to get on the show; many camped in tents in the exact same spot where the occupy protestors were threatened with arrest this thursday:


photos: oregon daily emerald






 occupy in the quad:

protestors speaking out against
government corruption.
department of public safety and the eugene police department threatened arrests by 11 p.m.







p.s. this is my letter to acting provost davis, thanking her for her kind and informative manner. enjoy! 
dear acting provost davis,  
thank you for addressing the issue we all faced of having occupy eugene congregated in the quad. it was indeed troublesome to have all those dirty hippies standing around innocuously while we all walked to class and the library.  

i also want to thank you also for notifying prominent occupiers that "camping is not permitted at the university of oregon." i think it's critically important to make it excessively clear that such a mass of tent-toting loiterers would be "very disruptive to the university's core mission of teaching and research." that is, of course, unless those camping are waving foam fingertips and "go ducks" signs in hopes of appearing on espn.   

erecting structures in the quad is very obviously contrary to university policy, unless you happen to be a giant multimedia corporation that brings in a significant amount of publicity and cash.  

 thank you most of all for making it crystal clear that the only thing that matters to this university's "mission" is it's actual and potential cash flow. if football is enough reason to suspend all university policies, and student-driven social action is not, then we are headed down a dark road and into and even darker alley.   

sincerely,   

joel devyldere (senior studying english and philosophy)


 feel confused? misrepresented?
you can email acting provost lorraine davis at
lgd@uoregon.edu (202 johnson hall), and uo president richard lariviere at pres@uoregon.edu (110 johnson hall).

10.20.2011

universal

what is the essence of our pursuit?

as human beings, is there something that we're all oriented toward? i have heard it was God.

other examples of proposed objects of the universal pursuit include 'truth,' 'wisdom,' and the ever-popular 'love...'

and then there's acceptance - respect, love and belonging from other people. i've been starting to see that maybe this is want i want the most...

hey! what  if there isn't a universal desire among us homo-sapiens, among us two leg-walkers and pizza-eaters... wouldn't that be revolutionary?

i actually don't know. but in myself i seem to notice deep longings for truth, wisdom, love and acceptance. and sometimes when my wants for each of these begin to trip on each other i start to feel morally conflicted. but which desire to choose? is there one that's more important than the others?

does anyone have any insight?

10.18.2011

#occupy


smallish steps 
(tiny little miniscule footfalls toward living in a way that actually makes sense)


#5 protest government corruption

on saturday, i hopped on the downtown-bound emx with some friends to participate in an occupy eugene march. but first, nick and i made cookies:
free cookies for the revolution.

we caught up with a very vocal crowd of oppositionists while they mingled at wayne morse plaza, right across from the eugene farmer's market. hundreds were there; more than one was dressed as guy fawkes.

from saturday market, hundreds (the register guard estimates 1500-2000) walked a highly visible route downtown, marching, chanting and waving signs in opposition to wayward policies in the states. i was very curious to see what other people would have to say. here are a few pervasive characteristics that i noticed at the occupy eugene march:

diverse
armed with a box of no-bake cookies, a friend and i set out to informally interview various marchers as we walked. what we discovered was an impressively diverse collection of eugenians - from old-guard activists to fiery students to young-and-possibly-homeless drug addicts. some people marched carrying young children. all of them had something to say.

articulate
among those marching, the diversity of opinions was significant: some were protesting corporate personhood in the states, while others were disputing the wage gap between workers and corporate officers... one guy was promoting the awareness of psychoactive mushrooms.

for the large majority, however, there was continuous thread - a central government had dispensed their taxes to banks and squandered them on militaristic endeavors elsewhere in the world. that same government, any occupier will tell you, is defiantly neglecting to dispense those taxes to those in need in the states and largely refuses to impose reasonable taxes on its largest corporations.

courteous
estimates cited on a new york times blog report that the eugene protests on saturday involved more than eighteen hundred people. yet the scene was curiously benign - no destruction of property, virtually no hate speech and no violence. protestors walked respectfully, careful to avoid even jay-walking, while dozens of police officers looked on ominously.

determined
while excited, ecstatic, and sometimes downright annoyingly persistent in self-celebratory chants, these protestors also showed resolve. three days later, somewhere around a hundred are still camping in the plaza downtown.

while wandering through the camp with a friend at 4 a.m., i was stopped by a student who talked optimistically and frankly about the movement: "we are prepared to be here for at least a few months; and if not here, then somewhere else."


10.12.2011

revenge, revenge

"the body gaped at the stroke dealt to it after death: beowulf cut the corpse's head off." and the blood bubbled to the surface of the sea, coming in full view of those who had watched the hero descend.

the first hero of the english language, "the warrior determined to takes revenge for every gross act grendel had committed... beowulf in his fury now settled that score." his revenge was gory and unremorseful; but of course it was! he's thousands of leagues below the sea, in the lair of a pre-historic and satanically motivated monster.

even so, beowulf defends revenge between people. he assures the casual listener that "it is always better to avenge dear ones than to engage in mourning." not that they needed much convincing - beowulf's entire culture is anchored by an honor code of cyclical revenge. if someone is killeed, even accidentally, they must be avenged. it is highly shameful to refuse to kill in kind.

on another level, these speeches become very important. the poet, not a member of the germanic bloodbath era in which beowulf is set, is himself an anglo-saxon christian, who anachronistically frames this ancient germanic saga with vehemently christian characters. the speeches of these characters teach reader and hearer alike of the wonders of the vengeance of the christian God.

God gives beowulf his strength, the narrator tells us, and it is He who upholds this cycle of revenge.

so you might blame God for the fact the original readers of this epic poem (and arguably the modern readers) continue to stab and slash each other in torturous repetitions of a morbid assertion of justice. but we can't go judging a hebraic God for events that occur at least three thousand years after He's first recorded. how hokey is that?!

it seems as though we shouldn't, and though i won't attempt to gloss the theological aims of the beowulf poet here, maybe we can trace his eerie fascination with vengeance back to a legitimate source. who is the first revenge killer?

"the Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil... and the Lord said, 'I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth.'"

the first revenge killer is the hebrew God. 

it is God who at first decides to take his holy justice out on someone by killing them violently (in this case primarily drowning them). and he is the start of a never-ending tradition of violent attacks and violent reprisals.

at the foundation of western literature stands the tradition of vengeance killing; and vengeance continues in that literary line to this day - the two have never stood apart. and we, as westerners, have always been fascinated with retaliatory violence, as the literature has led and reflected us; as our students have read and our writers have expressed - we want revenge!

now this may sound as if i'm trying to misrepresent a mythological character, but the hebrew God here is proud of what he's done. he encourages the few humans who survive the flood to follow suit, saying: "if anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. for God made human beings in his own image."

and so legend conceives of the origins of revenge. indeed, as long as we can blame God(s), then there will be no need to live in anti-homicidal community.

"'vengeance is mine,' says the Lord." and now, it's everybody else's.




beowulf, trans. seamus heaney
bible, new living translation

10.10.2011

the week of vegan


smallish steps 
(tiny little miniscule footfalls toward living in a way that actually makes sense)


#4 try going vegan.
veganchallenge week: seven days of the not-eating of animal products: no milk, no cheese, no eggs, no meat and (sadly) no honey. this turned out to be a bit a bit of a legitimate challenge for everyone involved.

this summer i started to realize that i had made it my habit to eat meat at almost every meal; food felt incomplete without it. i felt that this was unhealthy in a few ways. but was it feasible to up and quit my carnivorous ways at 21?

my first couple of attempts were largely unsuccessful. at first i was traveling on the east coast, and tried to be vegan for a bit. i remember the look i got from the girl at the sandwich shop when i ordered a veggie sub with no cheese. it was a lot at once. i was trying...

but i would start to feel weak with the absence of meat from my diet. i halfheartedly attempted this same endeavor again on the west coast, with similar results. one thing that eventually helped was a for-fun attempt with friends. about a dozen people expressed interest when i told them about it; and three of us who committed to it lived together. so we started planning. we made lists of possibilities, schemed out some necessary ingredients and reorganized our food. we even had a facebook page:






we were impressed with the need to eat meals together, to combine ingredients, blowing steadily on sparks of imagination in each other until we were ablaze with new culinary creations. many of the meals were suuuper good.









all in all we had a great experience. we grew together as friends and we learned that maybe we can survive and thrive without animal proteins. this might sound intuitive to some of y'all, but for me it was kind of surprising. i feel empowered to embark on a few more adventures. onward! : )

the quiche that (basically) ended it all.

10.03.2011

questions

jacques-louis david's the death of socrates.
barefoot in the back of allejandro vallega's lecture, i was re-introduced to some fairly fundamental questions. among them was a big ol' western philosophical gem that has got me doing mental double takes:

how can we become human beings?

simultaneously curious and defensive, i reacted against this question, even as its premise was still being glossed: 

'what do you mean we're not inherently human?' i fumed silently.

"we are potential human beings. we're not human beings until we are ethical." vallega's serendipitous explanation resounding in my mind, i wove my way through the crowd of freshmen and strode away to meet a friend. 

'are we inherently human?' i assumed so. why didn't the greeks?

walking past the library, i shudder through aching memories of a text message i sent in frustration so long ago. "you have to tell me when we're done. it's called being a human being." 

i've been saying that i regard everyone as valuable because they exist. all this time, maybe i haven't acted like it's true. i can point now to times in the past when i've decided when people were worthy of respect as human beings and when they weren't.


can i break out of my insecurity, and learn to love each person for who they are, and choose to respect them for what they are? can i retreat from self-focus and engage wholeheartedly in the pursuit of understanding the perspectives of my neighbors?

maybe so, and maybe this sort of thing is vitally important...

and this is how a mind forms, of molten cosmologies and into universal claims. but i don't want to be right. i pretty much only want to be alive.


p.s.
if you haven't already, check out occupy wall street. what a fascinating twist in the largely unprecedented drama of our times!


9.30.2011

running errands

smallish steps 
(tiny little miniscule footfalls toward living in a way that actually makes sense)


#4 running errands.

lately i've been feeling a little short on hours. this idea definitely helped.

when i exercise, it's commonly by running; and usually all that running is done in the neighborhoods around my house. i also tend to shop at the market on hilyard, which is pretty conveniently half a mile away. so i took my run at night, and picked up groceries on my way back.

it is a little weird walking around the grocery store a little sweaty and wearing workout clothes... but i like to think of it as a great potential conversation starter. a lot of people run in my neighborhood, but even if they didn't, it's not really that big of a deal.

this is a super convenient way to save time (one trip instead of two) and energy (no bus or cars involved). do you have a market near your house? try it out! : )

9.29.2011

secondhand

it has long been my intention to read stuff. i wanted to earn the prestige of being a casual reader... and i wanted to be smart too.

i longed to be a quasi-academic consumer of info, and began (almost) daily turning my attention to such renowned gems as google news and the new york times. lately, however, i've taken recourse to focus on my followship of the blogs of a couple of friends.

'why so backslidden?' you may ask.

i don't know. but reading local is surely good for your brain, and there's a lot fewer pesticides for sure! check out these wonderful willamette valley writers:


the substance of one step big shot is a scavenger hunt for visual art in eugene, oregon. osbs's jordan eddy is a student of the uo school of journalism and communication and now blogs for the on-campus jordan schnitzer museum of art. jordan certainly has an eye for enthralling images, and some pretty great suggestions for what they might mean to the reader.


natalie brooke photography centers around the photographic adventures of one natalie poindexter, formerly of eugene, or. documented in these pictures are not only geographically disparate novelties, but also culinary adventures and serendipitously captured journalistic shots. natalie has a sharp focus on human-centered portrayals; watching people react, while the world spins behind them.


i don't know anything about wished upon a sun, but it's lovely. the author is somewhere, from the looks of things, the author is somewhere in corvallis, or. come claim your blog! you have lovely poetry, and a funny little tendency to repost the silliest little bits of nostalgia.