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Protests, Revisited

Jury duty has put me down around City Hall for a few weeks, meaning I’m closer than I’d ordinarily be to the occupation on Wall Street. I’ve wandered by a few times after we’re let out at 5. Today I spent more time there, trying to figure out how I could possibly be useful.

Useful, in a protest setting.

I found out early in the anti-globalization protests of the late-’90s-early-Aughts that I’m really uncomfortable in throngs of people. My gut reaction is to run clear of them. It’s maybe not a claustrophobia thing. Maybe it’s a manifestation of privilege. I dunno. I hate walking behind slow people, want to kick out or thrash when I’m boxed in by a crowd. Being in an immobile mass makes me feel useless. Inefficient?

It’s one of a few reasons I always gravitated to communications roles and to the Independent Media Center. I prided myself on being able to accomplish things by writing (wrong as I may have been) and felt more like I wanted to deliver a clear message to a lot of people than be one of a lot of people chanting. Back in 1999 not many people had cell phones, so there was also a lot of use for someone who could help with walkie-talkies and dispatch. I liked that, too; I had done it for the Humane Society officers in my hometown, and it felt familiar. And safe. More comfortable in the crow’s nest, hearing from the streets by radio, being able to send directions back to guide protesters away from police kettles, cordons, or tear gas.

So much has changed. (Continued)

I’m sorry, San Francisco, I couldn’t help it

every car sounds the same
coming up 25th
towards Dolores
It’s a kind of strain
it’s the sound of a struggle
Nobody owes us this
the view afforded
by this height
Centuries
of seismic activity
It didn’t happen
overnight

Nobody owes us this
it could all come down
tomorrow
Nobody owes us this
the richness
of this kind of town
(Continued)

On Bicycles

I just wrote up the following for my online dating profile, on a site which seems to be awash with fixie-riding hipsters. Cute boys, but unfortunately bicycle-obsessed.

Many of you good-lookin’, smart, down-for-the-cause gentlemen appear to be into bicycling. I generally click through a cute picture and skim down a well-written, funny profile indicating how reliable your leftist bona-fides are, feeling like you are maybe The One For Me, and then at the bottom, I see “Big bonus if you want to ride bikes with me.”

I have a confession to make, honey. I hate bicycles.

(Continued)

Hello, Hello

I’m watching and listening to The Beatles’ Hello, Goodbye, having been earwormed with it:

The Beatles – Hello Goodbye

A simple song, almost like an exercise in opposites. That’s how the song came about, according to the Wikipedia page. Listening to it, something lifts from me.

Some of you may have heard that we recently lost my cousin, Clay Cobb, to complications following the flu. Clay was only fourteen. He’s the son of my mother’s half-brother, the nephew of the aunt who took such good care of me while I was struggling to live in San Francisco. He was one of the kids in her summer rock band camp.
(Continued)

Someone Else’s Neuroses

This is going to be one of those posts I might oughtn’t to write on the modern Internet, now that everyone is here and knows where you live and won’t accept your unborn children to Choate because you once blogged that the school’s name bears a resemblance to slang for an otherwise unnamed part of the male nether regions — I did so prefer the Internet before you-all got here, GIA — but I started this blog to write on noteworthy experiences in New York City. The training I chose as an undergrad was formal, written ruminating, in the tradition of Rousseau. And I’d like to think that if Rousseau had bed bugs, he’d have written about the experience of getting rid of them, because it gives one pause.

*goes to google whether Rousseau wrote about bedbugs*

*finds google’s results to be roughly the quality of bed bug feces*

I have bed bugs. Had, past tense, hopefully, if yesterday’s treatment took. No shame in it. Everyone gets ‘em these days. Upper East Siders. Department stores. Trump, I think. A former roommate who is also an EMT and who had them herself admonishes that it’s not an indicator of lack of cleanliness.

But god, will it ever make you feel like you have social herpes. All over your face. (Continued)

Blank Textbooks

I just googled “blank textbooks.” I was doing so because I wanted to allude in a presentation to Richard Feynman’s story about reviewing textbooks for use in California schools, being handed blank textbooks and being told to comment on their worthiness anyway. I wanted to do this because it should not ever, ever be forgotten that the textbook marketing and development process is rather like watching sausage get made. It’s an awareness that diminishes appetites, and it’s another reason to never take the quality of the US educational system for granted.
(Continued)

Everything but country and rap

I recently stumbled across the “Musically Oblivious Eighth-Grader” meme. The top picture on that entry in Know Your Meme is this:

This pleaseth me mightily. Listening for the line “I listen to everything except country and rap” has always been my favorite way to weed out potential dating material, because as far as I can tell, it translates to this: (Continued)

TSA Experience, 101126

After four flights and two check-ins, my final leg of travel in nine days finally confronted me with a millimeter-wave scanner. At Detroit, every passenger who had put their bag on the scanner was waved into the line for the millimeter-wave scanner (and, I should note, this meant we did not go through the metal detectors.) Passenger after passenger went into the booth and put their hands on their heads. I opted out.
(Continued)

TSA Experience, 101117

As I’ve been following the movement to resist the use of backscatter scanners at airports, and people are being encouraged to report their experiences to the ACLU as well as the general public, I thought I should report my experience with the TSA this morning:
(Continued)

Do the Tighten Up!

Hi everybody! We are YMO, from Tokyo, Japan! Now, Tighten Up was very popular in Houston, Texas? With Archie Bell, and the Drells? Now, tighten up! Takahashi! Sakamoto! Yo La Tengo! Lynda Barry! Come on, everybody! Sock it to me, Sakamoto! JAPANESE GENTLEMEN, STAND UP PLEASE!

DO THE TIGHTEN UP!