Categories
Poor Vago

Why I hate the money chase and would rather be a bum

WHY I HATE THE MONEY CHASE AND WOULD RATHER BE A BUM
Money corrupts.
It’s a false return of trading something for nothing.
It’s incorporeal.
I gave up being a bum
with all the time in the world
to think,
and write
and travel
and meet people
and figure out how to make a few bucks
to pay for a few simple needs
like food and medicine
for my dog and if I get sick hope someone takes care of me
like
the world has always done,
every stranger becoming a family member.
Trading friendship for weed
found in dumpsters
and grown in closets.
Having to give up the joy of many finely made things and suffer
the judgments of people and know
that the judgments exist because
you probably smell.
You learn real quick who your friends
Are, yet you– can retain a paranoia
for their sanity
and your own.
But you find moments of peace in the solitude
which you are forced to find by
your own need –to be away from people –who see only the superficial.
You borrow a little money
here and there
and figure out how to pay it back,
never borrow too much.
Just enough to get a good drunk or buy some coffee or a bag of cheap tobacco.
A bummed smoke is worth a sincere thank you
but almost never begrudged,
the code of return for return.
Bums take care of each other
and when their friends disappear,
they wonder if their friends can return
or will.
I got tired of being a bum
and tried to create work on my own– a few times.
There’s time to write, but the need to survive
saps the energy and inspiration,
but the creativity is allowed to come out in other ways.
Stones stacked on a beach,
the stoners stacked on the beach,
a fire and a dozen people and no one feels the need to speak except to ask
for another can of PBR or Schmidts beer.
A horrible headach,
the rising sun,
a hike up a hill or mountain to rid yourself of it and find some herbs to either fool
or heal
your body into
feeling better.
A camp hidden in trees where the dog wants to bark as hikers walk by
But
I
have to tell her not to or risk
my
hooch being discovered by a bunch of kids on bicycles and having to scout
and find
a new spot in the woods behind the park which go much deeper than most people suspect and house a number of full time residents
and twice as many in summer.
Inspiration to pull yourself up begins the downward look and soon you want to be able to afford more manuscripts at Kinkos
or more postage
or a computer so you can surf the internet
or a place for the computer
and you might find yourself working a little more,
maybe starting a magazine and opening an office and getting into politics
cause you always had a way with words
and words turn into issues
and issues turn into arguments
and groups are formed around arguments
between people
and people
and corporations
and people
and pipelines
and children
and people
and whales
and trees
and other people who aren’t here yet
and people over there –
who are killing each other as we speak in ways we hopefully cannot imagine
but most of us can
or have
seen it
or don’t believe It
or just don’t think about it
. The world is about to end if you’re looking at it from the bottom
and there’s probably no stopping it–
until you start to climb up
and the money hunger grabs you
and then you get a nice private place by a lake and take a job
writing radio commercials because you just got back from England and Alaska where you
spent all the money
you got from working in the movies
and now you’re ready to spend some more
But the job turns sour because
You
have to deal with a few unpalatable people who make your life miserable critiquing your writing and
making you
make changes
for clients
because clients
mean money
and money is what the salespeople want .
so the art becomes prostituted and that’s okay
the salespeople are not subdued,
they become more demanding and intrusive until they begin to
critique
your column in a weekly magazine
knowing how valuable they are to your writing
progress
they just love the uncreative flat copy which comes out of your computer now,
so they
want to offer the same advise
to your outside work as well.
. what they are telling you “works” and sells to the people their clients have been catering to for 30 years who are
the same people
who are selling out Stan the Grocer
to go to super chain grocery boxstores
because the
new marketing
is converting the entire population of the planet to exponential consumers who
“need” the latest technology
and “deserve”
a little fun even if it is
“just a little bad for the environment”
and the unborn generations ahead of us all.
But bums don’t have to think about things like that.
So I began to play politics again and got raises and promotions and put above
or at least equal to the status of the salespeople
and got fancy titles like
Copy Chief
and staff writers,
and introduced as a marketing assistant
and “cutting edge”
“creative genius”
and my ego was soothed
and I started writing for clients
with giant grocery boxstores
and thought of buying a nicer car,
and rarely saw my bum friends
and began to dread it because
what if someone saw me,
what would they think and
I’ve got those gold coins stashed and
what if they knew,
do I trust them now that I’m not poor
…sometimes…
some people…..
maybe….and you see true greed unfold
in your own nature and begin to recognize it
in others
–and gradually –you see the horrible things some people will do for money
or power
or a feeling of dominance
and you begin to question
who
is seeking
what and who
you can trust
and as you take –defensive actions
to protect your future or your moneys future
suddenly you realize
this isn’t me?
I’m not like this.
So you decide to quit
and ask some friends to help you
make a magazine and you take on
burdens bigger than you can handle
using faith and naively believe
you
will
succeed
if you do right,
that people want to help bring what
you perceive as goodness
and brotherhood
and sisterhood
and enough food for everyone to eat
and all of a sudden your in politics again.
And you have to scramble for credibility
and you become a distinguished speaker,
noted environmentalist,
and a good bet for advertisers and you’ve got more money,
but eventually you let the truth
piss off the advertisers by being to radical,
so you continue and barely make it
but become enough of a success that you can
satisfy all of your desires,
but find it empty,
but continue on like a drunk who’s already
had a few too many but has to continue on
strong
creating further and further
emptiness because you’ve always had
faith
that a woman was out there somewhere for you
and its beginning to seem like maybe
somebody else got her
or maybe
she got hit by a train.
because I’d always liked space
and computers
and they offered creativity
and even though I had named corporations my mortal enemy
I borrowed money
to buy a car
and moved away
from everything I had always wanted
and can never go back to
And now no car, no money, owing money to the people I didn’t
and don’t want to let down
and a salesperson myself
and gone are my friends
gone all gone
and a semi empty house,
no groceries,
no money,
no woman,
no car,
Just a guy and his drinking like a bum
and thinking like a bum
and not even enough money to buy a can of PBR
and not a friend to give me one.
I just don’t want to be a bum
forever
and it seems like if you stay a bum
for certain time limits
you pass the point of no return
and I don’t want to lose my teeth
or scrounge for change

Categories
Poor Vago

My TechPlanet Experience

The following are the resume I got a job with a dotcom with, my letters to the CEO in silicone valley, after he came to Seattle to have a conference with me, I thought things were going to get better, but as you can see from the resignation letter I sent to every employee in the company when I quit, they didn’. The company went out of business a month and a half later. Nobody got stock options.

resume
Christ Damitio
301 W. Holly St. Suite U5
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 738-9074
Personal Statement: I am repulsed by much of the monetary system we live in. I’ve tried to make my living in the past six months by “following my bliss”, but bliss won’t pay the bills in Whatcom County, so now that my resources are nearly gone, I find that I have to get a job. Working at TechPlanet sounds much less distasteful than writing radio ads for corporate America, working at Olive Garden, or any number of other exploitive, underpaid, greedy corporate employers.
History:
August 1999-Present: Self employed publisher of Conchsense: A Bioregional Magazine and President of Conchsense Multimedeia. Duties included writing, sales, editing, public relations, advertising, printing, distribution, website maintenance, videography, photography,coordinating volunteers, organizing events, setting up promotions, and everything else necessary to start and run a small business.
Several periods over the past three years: KGMI/ Cascade Radio Group. Copywriter, producer, stunt guy, Mr. Beaver, DJ, engineering assistant, production work, promotions assistant, etc. etc. etc
Other jobs in the past three years: Bartender at several Bellingham and Juneau, AK bars
Craft Services for John Sayles “ Limbo”, Juneau, AK
Casting Assisstant for Hubbard Casting, London, England
Stand in for “Practical Magic”
Bed Builder at Liberty Bedworks, Raleigh, NC
Assisstant for Deans Tree Service, Bellingham, WA
Knife Sales, Juneau, AK
Other info: Honorably Discharged from USMC, 12/94- E-5, ATC, etc.
AAS Degree Whatcom Community College
I’m looking for at least $8/hr. Hours are very flexible. I am still publishing my magazine and maintaining my website, so any work week free hours will be appreciated.
1st Letter to the CEO
Hi Matthew,
My name is Christ and I’m a Partner in Seattle. Part of me recognizes that writing this may be a CLM, but I have some serious questions that need to be answered if I am to
“ride for the brand”.
I want to believe in TechPlanet. I want to sell TechPlanet. But, I need reassurance that the vision that has been painted is, in fact, the same vision that you hold. Here is the vision I see:
TechPlanet was created because you saw a market niche that was not being fulfilled on a national scale. The idea being that in this rapidly changing world, small business needs the same tools as large business in order to succeed. Small businesses were paying too much for an unknown amount of service and were being outgrown by their technology consultants. There’s the market.
You decided to create a corporate culture that focused on working and playing hard.
Based on a simple set of principles: 1) It’s my job to make it right (initiative) 2) I’m always on stage (responsibility) 3) I’m a good person (morality) and 4) I’m a business person too (profit incentive) (I’ve intentionally switched 3 and 4.) The corporate culture would focus on the needs of small offices. It would provide known services for upfront prices and never outgrow its market. It would be a partner to the little guy.
The corporate culture (cc) would be built upon the 4 principles, self-motivation, integrity, and obsession with customer satisfaction. This in turn would provide opportunity for advancement, increased responsibilities, travel, and financial rewards (commission, bonus, stock options.) The corporate culture of TechPlanet seems designed to change the way corporations do business. Each office offering the same services for the same price, guaranteed.
Here are the problems I have:
1) 1) Are we on the way to outgrowing our 2 and 3 computer clients? Will we have time for them when the big jobs start coming in? I don’t want to tell the customer that we will always be there for them and then not have time for their needs. I build relationships with my clients. I don’t lie.
2) 2) I went to Burger King the other night because I was in a hurry. The employees were not well trained. The level of service was not what I expected; I saw obvious flaws in the operation. I see that happening at TechPlanet. While we are all good people and knowledgeable in sales, the level of technical expertise is very low. I don’t want clients to think of us as fast food computer guys without good training. The two weeks in Houston were a great introduction, but further classroom type training would be good. Mack Avery does his best here, but right now he is the one tech to our 16 partners and PITS. If we lose him, we are screwed.
3) 3) I’ve already seen a lot of valuable people leave TechPlanet because the immediate expectations were too high and the results and rewards were too low. A perfect example could be this recent mailer. The employee expectations were set so high that if it doesn’t work, morale is going to drop. We’ve all been cold-calling our asses off in Seattle, but the market is a bit different in the northwest. Business’ have money (and their computer needs taken care of), know someone in the computer industry, or can’t afford our services. We’ve priced ourselves out of the market in many cases with no latitude for competing.
4) 4) If someone came onto TechPlanet with the intention to rip us off, it would be easy. Partners could under bid the planet. Take hardware. Break into the office after hours and rip off all the gear (it sounds like that is what happened in DC.) Employee theft is something you have to count on and I don’t see many safeguards built into TechPlanet. This is a serious threat to our future.
5) 5) The stock options, rumors abound about them. What is this process? No lawyer can read the paperwork before we sign? Is there something you’re trying to hide from us? Do the options in fact max out at $100,000 and then revert to the company? If so, that should be made clear, $100,000 is still a lot of money, but it’s all about setting and meeting expectations.
6) 6) This is the big question…my big doubt about TechPlanet…when we go public are you going to sell the company? Is it the company or the cash that matters most?
I hope these doubts don’t appear insulting or silly to you, but my loyalty does not come blindly. Once it is in place, it is an asset to those who have it. I want to go places with this company, but I have to believe in it. I realize that the only way to get past my shit is to address my concerns to you. Everyone who knows you assures me that you are a very cool guy with an altruistic vision. Ideally, I’d like to sit down to some coffee with you and discuss business, marketing, philosophy, politics, and management. Just shoot the shit, but I realize how constrained your time must be.
I believe in the parts of TechPlanet I know. Each member of my training group, partners in the Seattle office, START members, and SD’s are outstanding human beings.
I just want to make sure we’re not all being naïve (you’ll pardon my distrust of distant corporate offices making broad based bottom line decisions which screw with peoples lives) in serving “Corporate”.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and to respond.
Kindest Regards,
Christ Damitio
Letter to the CEO #2
Hello again Matthew,
“Whatever it takes”, that’s what it says on the pin I wear proudly on my collar, day after day. I believe in that philosophy. I believe that writing to you (again) is what it takes. On a purely descriptive level I like my job. Rather, I like the idea of my job. The reality of the situation is very different. I just don’t understand.
In my last letter, I mentioned that if we lost Mack Avery, the Seattle office would be screwed. Now we’ve lost him, and guess what? For the moment anyway, we are screwed. I assumed that whatever it takes meant at a corporate level as well as a personal level. I don’t see how this company can make it without retaining good people. There wasn’t even a counter offer made to Mack that I am aware of. Now we have Joe Scholl, a guy who works his ass off for TechPlanet in the same position as Mack was. He is the sole tech in our office and by his own account far less capable of handling it than Mack. Not only that. Robert Blakely has also left with no counter offer, despite other factors, Robert was one of a few technically able people in our office, losing him hurts. Adolph Briggs is probably going to follow soon based on “miscommunication” from corporate. We are in a messy situation here. All the venture capital in the world can’t save us.
Here is the Seattle office in a nutshell. A bunch of nice people who are not really qualified to handle anyones computers…even our own. Our network is constantly having problems, our computers have glitches, we don’t even have the firewall we recommend to others. We “feel like a bunch of idiots” standing around our fax machine. We are a highly qualified sales staff, but we don’t have the technical knowhow to do what we sell.
I went on a planet help today by myself because a tech was not available. This was a potential client who was ready to write a check for $2400 if I could fix what sounded like a fairly simple problem. I couldn’t fix it. In fact, when I replaced the lithium battery as Mike Easley suggested might be the problem over our help desk, I may have ruined this guys machine even further. I of course did not charge him and he of course did not write the check.I was not qualified to go on this job. Later another client called and asked for Mack, who was supposed to install a VPN for them. When she heard he had left she said “He was the only person with your company who knew what he was doing, we won’t do business with you again.” I received this message when I returned from my possible destruction of a clients machine. I called and she had left the office until Monday. I may be able to salvage things, but I doubt it, mainly because I don’t want to recommend us to anyone. We are not qualified for what we are doing.
I feel like you are leaving us out to dry. Why not use some of that venture capital to put some of us through an intensive technical course? How can you afford to fly so many people to so many places and then let them quit? Where is the support from above? I don’t like lying to people. I am a good person and this entire company is forcing me to misrepresent myself. I can make sales all day, but how am I supposed to feel good about charging someone $750 for a Frontpage website? If the idea is to make the company look good to the investors and buffalo them out of millions, bring me in on it, I can be helpful there. But charging a small business that is struggling to survive $300 an hour for my unqualified services is not a “decent” living in my book. Maybe I’m just seeing you as a talking head, but based on the more experienced people in this company’s view of you, I see you as that Tom Brokaw meets Willy Wonka sort of guy…I guess I hope that you’re waiting for Charlie to point out the problems and then you’ll let him stay in the chocolate factory.
Mike Campbell was allowed to leave despite the heavy investment in his training and his effectiveness as a sales leader in our office. You’ve lost people from Chicago, Portland, Seattle, and probably every other office. We don’t even have a library of technical books in our office, people were going crazy when I brought in DOS for Dummies….a bunch of “Techs”. You are not even giving us the tools to teach ourselves. We need many things to achieve success, here are a few of them:
1) 1) a solid technical library covering the basics (for dummies) through heavy duty techy stuff
2) 2) more training, the certification is a good start, but we need experienced teachers
3) 3) technical workstations to practice our in the box and some out of the box procedures
4) 4) All of our products installed so we can show them to clients who want to visit our office
5) 5) Regional marketing and practical promotional items like hats or umbrellas, or scratch pads
6) 6) A tech staff with incentives to stay (the stock doesn’t look too promising to me right now…I wonder how it looks to someone more technical?)
7) 7) Voicemail…if Shannah is not there my clients get picked up by anyone available…I lost one yesterday when an overenthusiastic PIT (lousy insulting term by the way) tried to oversell a callback for me while I was on a consult, he didn’t get a message
8) 8) Training on how to use Outlook and Filemaker ( I don’t know how to use them effectively because no one has taught me and I don’t have time to figure things out by playing and do the amount of prospecting necessary to sell some of our heavily overpriced products
9) 9) Real human beings instructing us instead of voicemail and e-mail
10) 10) Confidence in you
I can go on and on, but honestly I don’t think you care. If corporate doesn’t start living the same “Whatever it takes” attitude you want us to have, this thing is never going to work. If I sound bitter, I am. I thought this company was different.
Doubt you’ve read this far,
Christ Damitio
Unqualified Partner and Incredible Human Being
Why Am I Quitting?
By Christ.Damitio@integrity.com

My “corporate” “bosses” or “superiors” have shown a decided lack of integrity towards promises made to myself and other partners. (Compare your offer letter to the reality you have experienced, count the number of verbal promises or implied promises that were made to get you here and the number of these which were not met.)
“Corporate” has shown a lack of competence in training, marketing, inventory, and morale. These are areas key to survival.
Inefficiency in meeting payroll promises has led to a few black marks on my financial record as I bounced checks written on expected payment to meet financial obligations I only took on naively to help build “the premier brand in the world.”
Corporate has given me little opportunity to exercise my creativity (outside of the cold calls I make everyday or lying to prospects about my qualifications so I can screw up their computer systems.) No one has told me to lie, but little in the way of effective training and a strong emphasis on “making the sale” leaves little choice if I want to retain my job or have the possibility of advancement and a rise in responsibility.
I have very little economic security because my future income relies on a company that won’t pay mileage but would like me to put magnets on my car. A company which cannot seem to use its own products let alone sell them. I’ve felt little loyalty from distant “corporate” to make sure my needs were met while I’ve beat the drum for this “startup”.
TechPlanet lacks stability at the fundamental level of partner (employee) retention. Hyped marketing has shown little effectiveness and yet I am expected to show effectiveness through cold-calling. My time is 90% useless, robbing me of any meaningful work. A lack of training has lead to inefficiency, loose ethics, wasted time, curbed freedom (in a sales job), sub par excellence, distortion of the truth, very little excitement, faked openness from above, and very little honesty to those who have taken the bold move of putting their fate in TechPlanet’s hands.
We show little expertise, nearly complete disorder, and limited achievement to the world.
However, I do value the many friendships that have been born from this fiasco of an endeavor to “change the way corporations do business.” I have enjoyed the challenge of encouraging growth from a stunted seed.
It has been my pleasure to take part in a huge family of good people filled with affection and dedicated to helping each other. I have enjoyed the challenging problems of technology and tried to conduct myself with honesty.
However, I am a person who needs change and variety. I require independence, quality, and honesty in business. I value my community and the close relationships I form with my prospects and clients.
.
I am not a person who deals well with closed minds, blind authority, exploitation of people, soul-less values, bureaucratic gridlock, and lack of compromise, which is what I have experienced at the hands of “corporate.”
I believe each person needs a sense of purpose and has special skills and abilities that can benefit others. With respect and support from the people around us, sufficient resources, and fair treatment, each of us can achieve our goals and define our values. The result can be more pleasant physical surroundings, the ability to use our own ideas, and creating a sense of identity in the individual and the company. I just don’t believe in it anymore.h
I have taken a job in public service, it is a drastic pay cut but a dramatic rise in decency. I hope you all start looking for work or quit your jobs too because I’d hate to see you end up like Alain Eav who was moved to SLC with his new infant and wife and very excited about techplanet and was laid off about a month later.
Christ Damitio

Categories
Poor Vago

Of Anarchists, Protestors, and the LAPD

Of Anarchists, Protests, Conventions, and the L.A.P.D.
By christ damitio christ@anarchist.com
Over 600 anarchists from all over North America converged upon Los Angeles for the North American Anarchist Conference. I was one of them. From the moment I heard of the conference I knew I had to attend. This was an opportunity to meet my comrades, share ideas, and work together to bring on the revolution. I drove from Seattle to Los Angeles picking up hitchhikers, anarchists along the I-5 corridor who needed a lift, and a bizarre blond woman in a pink top who is a missionary for Ted Turner. She told the rest of us in the car how Ted is God and performs miracles like Jesus. The real bizarre part was how often Ted Turner turned up in conversations over the next week.
Arriving in LA we followed directions to the check in point, a cooperatively owned Mexican café. A large group of protestors from different groups were laying out guidelines for the following weeks marches and protests during the Democratic National Convention. Simple guidelines. Support each other, respect each other, and do what you have to do to get your message out. A severe looking brother handed me the schedule and information packet on the NAAC.
The packet contained directions to the conference space, a giant orange warehouse beside the LA River. We checked in and made our way inside. It was about 10 PM. A motley group of anarchists were watching a video about the police problem in Eugene, Oregon. Almost everyone was wearing a nametag with his or her “handle” on it. Paranoia was running rampant and very few people were using their real names. The house rules were posted in obvious sites “No alcohol, drugs, weapons or anything that will give the police a pretext to close us down” and “No cameras, video, or recording devices.”
It was hardly typical of the first hours of any other conference. People were gradually introducing each other, claiming space to crash, eating free food prepared by Food Not Bombs, and taking in the remarkable anarchist scene. People ranged from clean to crusty and young (14) to old (70+). I met up with one of the organizers who had agreed to let me crash at his house for the next week or so. I said goodbye to my road companions and followed my hosts to their Pasadena residence. They were pretty confident that their phones were tapped, the house bugged, and that cops and/or FBI had rented an apartment across the street. Sure as hell, when I woke up in the morning to go back to the conference a cop in a cruiser watched me walk out of the house. What do you call paranoia when it’s very real?
The conference kicked off with about 200 anarchists present. Mixed in were reporters from the mainstream media and almost certainly a few undercover law enforcement officers. Workshops on Friday covered bike repair, insurrectional anarchism, first aid training, welfare reform, race discussions, radical art, primitivism and green anarchy, legal support, and vision discussion groups. Each hour contained far too much information to go into detail in this article. Each individual had their own ideas of what anarchy is and respected the views of every other person. Los Angeles Times staff writer Nicholas Riccardi described us as “…a multifaceted, hyperintellectual, communitarian bunch….”
The most heated discussions were between advocates of Primitivism (Green Anarchists) and Syndicalism (Red Anarchists). The greens are very anti-tech calling for a return to a more natural human condition while the reds are more involved with radical unionism (IWW), workplace democracy, and collectivism of industry and work. The two philosophies are not mutually exclusive, though an outside observer might of thought so based upon some of the arguments and discussions. Both fill necessary niches in an anarchist future. For more information on Primitivism a good starting point is John Zerzan’s book of essays Future Primitive. Other works on primitivism and syndicalism can be found at your local anarchist bookstore or lending library.
Security was tight and most of us expected the LAPD to burst in and arrest us at any minute during the 3 day conference. They never came. On Friday a federal judge disallowed “pre-emptive” police raids like those used in Philadelphia two weeks earlier.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were community meals. Some of the most interesting discussions took place in spontaneous groups sitting on the concrete floors or next to the concrete river outside.
The second day of the conference focused on strategy. How to bring about an anarchist society. John Zerzan opened up the day with a somewhat controversial presentation in which he argued that civilization erases a world of egalitarian food sharing and creates organized violence. He berated the political left and described primitivism as part of the vision the left doesn’t have. Many were angry or disturbed by his straight up radical vision, but everyone respected his voice and views. As anarchists, we agree that we can disagree. Other workshops covered police abuse, anti colonialism, combating homophobia, developing consensus skills, political prisoners, food politics, and womyns and mens groups.
A panel of radicals and a workshop on anarchist tactics again illustrated the divide between greens and reds. Reds and non-green anarchists shared tales of ditch digging collectives, book stores, and direct action to reclaim the economy and workplace from fat cat capitalists while the more militant Greens condemned industrial tactics and trust fund anarchists as ineffective and contributing to the problem we live in. Both sides have valid points but most of the anarchists there fell somewhere between the two extremes.
One of the day’s most important workshops was on developing a security culture. Knowing that our direct action movement will increase the governments surveillance and harassment of activists and revolutionaries, there are some simple steps we can take to cover our asses. In a nutshell, be sure to know who you are talking with. Many monkey wrenchers have been exposed by people they thought they could trust. Lying, bragging, gossiping, and talking about direct actions unnecessarily are some security breaching behaviors. Never discuss plans in buildings, businesses, on telephones, or in cars. These areas can be bugged and tapped.
Another well attended workshop focused on the Black-Bloc. The Black-Bloc has its roots in Europe where anarchists dressed all in black and wore masks so that police could not identify individuals. This tactic also makes it easier to “unarrest” other activists because the cops aren’t able to tell who’s who. Veterans of Seattle, DC, Philly, and other violent protests shared tips and tricks to help keep people safe. Avoid showing tattoos and other identifying features, do not put grease or gels into your hair(they hold chemicals which can drip down into your eyes), wear gloves so you don’t leave fingerprints, have a gas mask handy, do not wear contacts as CS gas can weld them to your eyes, don’t use sun block or oil based lotions as they cause pepper spray to burn your skin worse, link arms as you march so that you can pull comrades back from the cops, do not bring identification or address books as they can be seized by cops, do not let media film or take pictures of black-bloc activities. Above all, be prepared to be arrested and beaten- but don’t let them if you can help it.
About 30 people woke up sick on Sunday. The amazingly clean porta-potties became puking dens when we could make it to them before hurling. I threw up twice and missed the crapper once. We think it was the fruit or possibly the untreated water we were drinking in the warehouse. Many left the conference to march in the Free Mumia Abu Jamal March, the first of the week. About 15,000 protesters, 2000 media, and 5000 cops showed up. I wasn’t among them. After I finished throwing up, several of the countries most visible anarchists decided to go to the beach. We were going to go to Venice but got a bit turned around and found ourselves looking at what might have been a checkpoint. Motorcycle cop after motorcycle cop zoomed by us. I decided to head the other direction and whipped an illegal u-turn. A cop sped by me and yelled…”Nice U-turn” and then kept going! We stopped at a beach a mile or so down and stood beside the road watching all the cops go by. Suddenly…there was Bill Clinton himself whizzing by us in his presidential limousine and waving. Random chance got us within 15 feet of the President. One of my comrades whispered “The secret service must of never heard of McKinley.” It was an obvious joke, but made all of us a bit nervous.
The DNC opened up Monday with fat cats and delegates sitting inside the posh Staples Center while thousands of activists marched from Pershing Square to the designated protest area or “free speech cage.” The cage was about 2 blocks of parking lot surrounded by a 10 foot high security fence and about a thousand cops with night sticks, rubber bullet guns, pepper spray and tear gas. The black bloc marched and chanted rousing slogans like “Racist, sexist, anti-gay…LAPD go away” “Fuck the police and corporate media” and my favorite “Tonight, we’re gonna, smash the fucking state”. Once inside the cage Rage Against the Machine played a free concert and agitated the crowd with anti political/corporate rhetoric and anti authoritarian music (strange coming from a band on a big bucks corporate label.) The media was largely ignoring the protests focusing instead on the buyers of democracy having a fancy party inside the DNC. Several individuals began throwing water bottles at the police. A lone anarchist climbed the fence with a black flag and began waving it and was promptly shot by the police with a rubber bullet. The police pulled the plug on the second show and ordered everyone to disperse. They gave the huge crowd 15 minutes to leave but started shooting and gassing after 5 minutes. The black bloc picked up abandoned protest signs and covered the fence to protect the fleeing peaceful crowd. Two anarchists climbed on top of the fence and waved black flags taking shot after shot from the brutal and cowardly cops on the other side. Several people began pulling no parking signs from the street and using them to bust up concrete and battering ram the fence. Individuals began throwing rocks at the cops and shooting slingshots at the giant windows on Staples Center. The cops fired indiscriminately hitting peaceful protestors, the media, and even a 4 year old child in the back with a rubber bullet. The black bloc continued skirmishing with the police and then melted into the crowd. The police arrested 10 people, none of them anarchists. Suddenly the media began paying attention to what was happening outside the glitz.
Earlier in the week, members of the community had met with anarchists and organizers and expressed fear that property damage would occur. The LAPD was finally on the ropes about police brutality and the neighbors were concerned that property damage would not only bring on more bruatality later but also do harm to poor working people who are having a hard enough time getting by. The overall consensus was that property would not be damaged. To my knowledge there was no property damage…not because of police but because of communication and solidarity between activists, anarchists, organizers, and the community.
The week continued with massive marches protesting racism, police brutality, womyns rights, corporate control, and a variety of causes. The LAPD had several more skirmishes with those pesky anarchists and continued to brutalize a mostly peaceful crowd with strongarm tactics. The number of police in LA was overwhelming. They were everywhere. Rumors of white vans abducting people from the street began circulating. The FBI nabbed one girl and questioned her, the next day two police cruisers were sitting outside of her mothers home in Michigan. The media largely ignored most of the issues until some brave anarchists created some eye candy violence for the corporate lap dogs. Politicians and delegates never even acknowledged that upwards of 15,000 people were a few hundred feet away calling bullshit on their big money politics and being brutalized by the most racist, violent, and cowardly police force in the country.
As we left LA and California, we all felt relief at escaping the police state. The story doesn’t end there though. We stopped in Eugene where anarchists are serving free coffee traded from Zapitistas. The enterprise is called Café Anarchista and happens on the street daily from 9-11. We scavenged a large bag of donuts from a dumpster to contribute and enjoyed the coffee and open camaraderie on the sidewalk. I dropped off several riders along I-5 and finally drove to Bellingham to relax and de-brief myself so that I could return to our normal fucked up society. I was absolutely stoked to find the good work of anarchists blooming in the ham. The Colmena Collective has established a library /bookstore /beauty shop on State Street. For those of you who haven’t been there…you absolutely must check it out and support it. Other anarchists are working on similar and diverse projects too.
Lessons or morals learned? Anarchy is coming and its bringing free food and coffee, clean restrooms, respectful relationships, friendship, lending libraries, and a damn fine time….Viva La Revolution.