The Netflix algorithm has almost figured me out.
HAPPY BUY NOTHING DAY. I just sort of hung around the house finishing Flaubert’s Sentimental Education. It’s my favorite holiday.
The other day at Berkeley 70-year old former Poet Laureate Robert Hass was beaten by police. This was not just a case of one rogue officer losing control in a tense situation. We also witnessed the cowardly officer Lt. John PIke pepper-spray a group of students who were just sitting in on a campus quad. He’s on his way to becomming the most-clowned cop in history. We clearly need to change the way we police ourselves. The irony of this whole thing is that we hired these people to beat us. What kind of crazy system is that? And whose idea was it for the cops to dress like nazi storm troopers?
I want to give Hass kudos for his bravery, but anyone familiar with his poetry already knows the content of his character. In his 1996 book Sun Under Wood for example he wrote a very intimate poem about his mother being institutionalized for alcoholism. She was so careless of herself taht I could see her breast, the brown nipple, when she leaned forward. I didn’t want to look, and looked, and looked away. It takes tremendous courage to write something like this. I have a special affinty for Hass becuase when he came to San Diego to read poetry in 1997 with June Jordan and Sandra Cisneros he bought a copy of my novel The Sub, which I was selling from a blanket on the grass outside. Let’s raise our glass to Robert Hass, poet.
If you get a chance check out these far out movies by Alejandro Jodorowski. Holy Mountain, Sante Sangre (INstant Netflix) and Fando & Lis. The Fando DVD included a decent documentary about director Jodorowski and his role as therapist So imagine how stoked I was to watch this interview with him on one of my favorite websites Dangerous Minds. Richard Metzger, editor of Dangerous Minds, asked the 82-year old director what he thought of the Occupy movements around the world.
I see late evolution. I see mutation. Revolution can do nothing. You take out a power; they put in another power. French revolution—failure. Mexican Revolution– failure. Russian Revolution– failure. Revolution is not the thing, we need to change our minds. If we don’t change our minds, we will kill the planet. That is reality. – Alejandro Jodorowski
For those who aren’t familiar with the phenomenon known as Critical Mass, it is essentially a bike ride through the city. It happens all around the country every month. In San Diego it takes place the last Friday. Riders meet at sunset near the fountain in Balboa Park. Besides being a lot of fun, the event promotes the use of bikes as transportation and offers an example of a non-hierarchical organization. Whoever happens to be riding in the front is the leader and the ride meanders, rather predictably, through iconic points in the city. It can roll as long as 20-30 miles in a night, though my friend and I peeled off after about 15 miles last night. We rode through Hillcrest, North Park, South Park, Golden Hill and downtown to the Civic Center where we temporarily occupied the streets and square in solidarity with the movement known as Occupy San Diego. The protesters were jubilant to see the swell of their ranks. It’s always good to know that people are with you. One similarity between these two events is how they reveal the violence that is sometimes hidden from middle class people. We see it on tv, but it is alwayspresent– the threat and use of force is a daily phenomenon for many poor people in this country, and around the world. Thursday night, around three am, the SD police tried to disperse the people camped in the civic center. I heard a man Friday morning ask a police officer why they had to “bust our heads” when they raided the camp. The police in San Diego, to their credit, seem to be learning how to cope with a thousand bicyclists using the streets in the way drivers think they are solely entitled (granted Critical Mass doesn’t stop for traffic lights; it imagines a world without traffic lights.) Though most people seem to be delighted by the spectacle of 1000 bikes rolling by (especially on Halloween with many people in costume) Critical Mass can reveal the violence that car culture creates in all of us. Road rage is so common as to be a joke. I witnessed drivers yelling and angrily honking their horns after they were stalled for 5 or 10 minutes by the bike procession. Some people are assholes even when they aren’t in a car; some bike enthusiasts are assholes, but cars, like a cop’s nightstick or rubber bullet gun, make being an asshole dangerous. Drivers feel empowered in their machines. (As previously stated Power Corrupts.) Critical Mass simply asks people to reflect on why you are in a car rather than walking, taking the bus or riding bike.
I’m not known for attending mass, but…
On Saturday, THe Global Day of Rage, Angela and I decided to occupy Morley Field with a group of radical 2-4 yr olds.
Our Demands: 1) More cake. 2) Sustainable toys. 3) A statue of Dora on the national mall. 4) Shared decision-making. 5) Face painting, a klown, and a piñata!
We will add that the working class in the United States, because of its high standard of living, does not clearly see the contradictions existing in US society. To the US working class, these contradictions, which are blunted, appear incomprehensible and they cannot gain clear consciousness of their own exploitation as long as they continue to get the crumbs that US imperialism tosses to them from the feast – Ernesto Che Guevara
It’s such an interesting problem. My desire to give my kids everything they deserve versus the desire to live in a more just and equitable world. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Kids don’t really need much. Love. Intellectual stimulation (fun). Attention. I’m sure if they could articulate it they would appreciate wholesome food and appropriate shelter. And if they had a sense of history they would be happy not to have to work in the mill. The children’s birthday party might be a good metaphor for the system. You can’t show up at these things without a gift. The culture demands it! The economy depends on you and I to buy things we don’t need. The economy demands that people waste their time doing meaningless work. The parents who throw the party are going to feed you and you want to show that you like their kid so you go to a store and buy something. We almost got the little girl here a Mr. Potato Head. And then we wondered what happened to our Mr. Potato Heads? They have probably already floated up out of the landfill, migrated into the ocean where some poor dolphin choked on the spare funny nose. The world just doesn’t need any more plastic crap. We ended up getting a cloth Dora-the-Explora doll, thinking, at the very least, it would biodegrade. We didn’t check to see if it was made by a less-fortunate kid in a sweatshop in Mexico. We should have. There’s no excuse. How can we change our rituals? How can we change the system? How can we preserve what’s good about children’s birthday parties – enjoying a beautiful day in the park, sharing delicious food, community bonding, watching kids laugh – without screwing up this two-year old’s environment, or forcing some kid half way around the world into slavery? tChe Guevara didn’t have faith that we could change as long as our kids were living the good life. He claimed that we couldn’t see what was going on in Africa, say, as long as we were so well fed. Apparently, we can’t see what’s going on in Detroit or Los Angeles or New York. The people occupying streets and public squares around the country are starting to see. Circumstances are forcing them to see. They seem to have come to the realization that the system has to change. They don’t know how to do it. No one does. They are ordinary people. But a more just world can only be built by ordinary people. We don’t need leaders or scientists or politicians to tell us what is good about a children’s birthday party.
I should have added the caveat that all these food documentaries information should be evaluated by individuals. Yesterday, we watched Food Matters which contained many specious health claims — that you won’t be tired in the afternoon, you won’t get sick, you can reverse cancer– if you drink a liter of water in the morning and megadose vitamins. Bollocks. I think the old adage ‘You Are what you eat,’ contains some truth, but don’t expect miracles.
I’ve always wondered whether Slovenian philophser Slavoj Zizek read my poetry book Fat Free Lard. He’s uses the concept to illustrate what he sees as wrong with our culture over and over again. He uses coffee without caffeine, ice cream without fat… Here he is in action useing the protest tool known, I think, as the People’s Mic. My question is: Is this a strictly progressive tool? Could it be put to use by fascists? Are people keen enough not to repeat the kinds of hatelful or Subtly racist things, say a politician, might utter on the campaign stump.