Author Archives: Steve Bass

In the Leigh of the Storm

“Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress or behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on basic differences, because our basic natures are the same.” — Dalai Lama

So our little Occupy group met with Colorado Springs City Council member Tim Leigh the other night. He came to meet us at our regular haunt, graciously provided by independent local business the Cafe Corto.

Tim is an affable dude, and our meeting seemed to go well, at least in the sense that we were able to develop a rapport with him and come away with a sense of friendliness, if not friendship. Tim is a self-described member of the 1%, an appellation that derives from specific statistics involving wealth which has acquired connotations as a result of Occupy that Tim may not be so quick to embrace. Fact is, i really don’t know enough about the guy to decide for myself whether or not he deserves application of the darker connotations or not. The group at the meeting is as diverse as any formed in October’s Occupy crucible, and as has been characteristic of the movement in general, each in attendance holds individual interpretations of just what Occupy is, and what we mean to accomplish. Good ol’ Thomas, in the course of his regular series of uncontrolled and only marginally civil outbursts, vehemently denied we constitute a “movement.” Others sought mostly to find little political fulcra with which to pry at Tim’s scales, (in case he’s a shape-shifting alien, i suppose). None of this was surprising–we are a group dedicated to disruption of the entrenched, monied status quo, working within a rough framework of fairly aggressive expression worldwide, if nothing else.

Tim weathered the various clods of dirt whipped up by the wind as one might expect from either a politician, which label he denies, or a very rich real estate wheeler-dealer, which would be ludicrous to attempt to gainsay. I don’t have the motivation to dig up lots of facts about Tim Leigh’s business dealings, but we know well enough that his name is on an awful lot of buildings around town, and he lives on a tidy and isolated landscaped lot up on the Mesa, where the houses are all overpriced, the better to keep the riff-raff away. His house is almost certainly bigger than yours. No one is apt to be shocked by those minor revelations. In fact, his now predictable assertions to be “in the same boat” as we would be fairly ludicrous to the casual observer, except that i think he’s right on the money with that one, though perhaps not as he sees it. Thomas asserts that we are an issue-driven–something not a movement–and he’s right about issues, at least in part. Tim is himself in a political position and making plenty of sounds i recognized as definitively politician-like in spite of his disavowals of the label. Focus on issues seems to be relatively comfortable, and certainly easier than addressing the grand thematics that permeate Occupy to the chagrin of some of its more terrestrially grounded aspirants, as well as its critics. As a result our conversation with Tim was often siderailed into issue-oriented lulls, at least in my mind, though i acknowledge the importance of issues as well. I’m just a grand theme kind of guy.

Tim had a few disturbing things to say about a few issues, like his statement that fracking in eastern El Paso county is “inevitable.” He said a few intriguing things as well. I bet he already regrets toying with the notion of giving OCS a building. He even let slip his own secret fears that the whole economic system might collapse. One thing that immediately raised lots of hackles, oddly enough, was his bemused question about the religious orientation of us Occupiers. And there’s the rub. Or at least one big one.

I promised to eschew incidental reporting for a while, and i am. Really. This may seem like reporting, but it’s otherworldly speculation. I suppose Chet will handle specifics well enough. Tim demonstrated a bit of a dichotomy one comes across in the Occupy phenomenon by stressing issues and suggesting ways for us to work with the System to get things to work out our way. This response to Occupy crops up all the time, both externally and internally. I met with a foreclosure working group in Denver last weekend, and spoke with a “constituent advocate” in Senator Michael Bennett’s office last week. The dichotomy arose there as well. The thing is, lots of people, including lots of Occupiers, are trying to figure out how to work within the System, however it may manifest, to change Things for the better. This is the ground where one finds the crossover between Occupy here in America, and the Tea Party. Again, everyone has a different take, but many express the thing as a desire to return to the Constitution, or to reclaim the “American Dream,” “End the Fed,” get money out of politics, or whatever, within a range of tactical thinking from addressing Congress and local pols, through–well, shooting Congress and local pols.

On the other hand, there’s a big batch of us that see the problems Occupy engages as rather beyond systemic reach and veering into if not fully established as spiritual issues. Although some at our meeting took auto-umbrage at Tim’s query, i think he asked the question in good faith, (ahem), and had worked up a rather bemused state for himself about our expression and motivation. Tim, you see, is a “pragmatist,” he says. He works the old system like a farm pump, and out comes serviceable, if foul-tasting, water. We look like Jesus freaks or something, to him, idealistic apotheoses.

We esoteric Occupiers, as one might call us, don’t see any hope at all from within the System, or at best, very little. (I’m willing to entertain the possible viability of the U.S. constitution, for example, if only because of its inherent malleability). We aren’t especially interested in, for example, the slick approach of establishment solutions to the foreclosure crisis where the government throws grease on the banking cartels’ bone-grinding machinery, setting up programs that allow mortgage holders to continue to be pillaged, a little less uncomfortably. Or policies that allow politicians to bray like drunken mules over the reductions in increase (!) in toxic emissions over the next fifty years when we all know damn well that the rate of extinction of species will have the very cockroaches fighting over table scraps soon enough to make fifty years seem a shaky proposition. Or bullshit excuses about some XX-anianstani or another that’s supposed to be aiming another batch of invisible weaponry at us while cartel honchos hop on a plane for Jerusalem so they can watch the fireworks from there, and record their profit and loss at close quarters.

We don’t like the damn crooked, snaky, backstabbing, cheststabbing, competitive, might-give-you-a break-after-i-get-mine-otherwise-fuck-you-and-yours System, and really we figure that even if it sounds ridiculous to many we’ve come to a point where abolishing the System is the only way to save our now tenuous hold on viable life here on Earth. We don’t see much pragmatism in working within the System in an effort to abolish the System. In fact there’s some concern that the thing may collapse on your head, doing it that way. There’s a real sense of unobtainability in working inside the System, akin to the application of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem i posted earlier. It really seems to us fringe thinkers that the best one can do by working within the System is to expose it’s inherent, indivisible, insuperable bankruptcy.

I’ve been criticized, (by an Atheist that simply couldn’t tolerate discussion of Anything outside his Box), for attaching Undue significance to certain ordinary terms by targeted capitalization. Here in this very post, i’ve capitalized the terms, “System,” and “Things,” in order to attach significance to them that i don’t see as undue. I’m really not so sure what Tim Leigh, or even other Occupiers mean when we bandy those terms about in conversation so very casually. I strongly suspect, though, that their use is far more fluid and troublesome than we notice until we condemn our fellows for misstatements that only derive from failing to recognize one another’s usage. So let me explain that i am not restricting the Terms to ordinary usage involving mere political or financial systems or things, but expect them to be interpreted in a kind of supra-dimensional sense where the mundane is enfolded into a set batch of meaning we can’t really plumb so well.

The point is we need a new System if Things are going to work out for Us. Get it? I’ve often said that i’m part of the 100%. That includes Tim Leigh, whether or not we can trust him. It includes N-eeew-t Grinch-rich. I includes, say, Eric Holder the U.S. AG that has the sheer balls to hire on in his current capacity, straight off the payroll at Covington & Burling where he helped big bankers commit the crime of the millennium. No shit. There’s just no way to trust a guy like that. But we’re all in this boat together, alright, even if some of us are busy drilling holes in the bottom. This System where we steadily compete to see which of us can screw the most of us over simply isn’t working. And i don’t think we can come out any better if we simply rearrange the game board a little so we can screw Holder, instead.

A different Eric, this one a dear friend, says i oughtn’t to hesitate to speak “for Occupy” in the media, and expresses discomfiture when i say i can only speak for myself. But i can’t always speak for everyone. Not all Occupiers agree with the idea that a spiritually oriented reimagining of Human consciousness and interaction–a Paradigm Shift–is central to our focus. But it is, because no political ideology is apt to rescue us from ourselves. We humans have soundly fucked Things up. We have the wherewithal to fix our messes, but only if we completely and utterly rearrange our values. Sometimes we Occupiers still need some rearranging, too, and the business of demolition of our own hoary paradigms and approaches has been uncomfortable already. It’s not so likely to get much easier, either, but here we are at sea together. We’d best all put our drills away.

All these themes are in earlier posts, and i expect they’ll come up again. We esotericists could be wrong about it all. The huge body of science professionals warning of impending and serious environmental dangers could be completely wrong, or even manipulated by power-grabbing globalists, (though that would fall within the scope of this notion of System over system). Being wrong about the imminence of karmic backlash doesn’t negate the ethical reality that we just don’t do each other right. That we’re simply way to caught up with our own rather infantile egos. We really don’t think the numbers are to easily deniable, though, so even though we know this business of attempting to shift the consciousness and motivation of the entire species is absurdly grandiose and improbable, what else can we do? Do or die, it is. And when the whole Thing collapses, hopefully some of us will still be standing. If it does, and we are, Tim, Newt, and Eric are all welcome to stop by for a sandwich, if we still have one. Same goes for those Occupiers alienated by differences of opinion. In the meantime, we mean to fight the Dark aspects of the System tooth and nail, both from within and without.

Tea Partying with the Freak Brothers

Whew! These Occupy posts are far more difficult to pry from myself than their predecessors; the hands-on mechanics of putting the earlier stuff into practice in the present world, amongst the isolated pools of individuated consciousness we humans represent, each with his or her own vision of the whole, has been at the very least disorienting. I’ve lately revived an old motto i swiped from the good people at Oat Willie’s down in Austin, Texas: Onward Through the Fog! How odd is it that i’ve recently connected with some folks that hark back to that place in ways that are deeply surreal. Oat Willie’s and Fat Freddie will seem to be completely out of place in this bit, in which i mean to address the notion of cooperation amongst disparate factions, but not permanently i hope. By the end of this post, i hope to connect Occupy, The Tea Party, disparate passions, and yes, Hippies. It will be necessary to engage in some relatively surreal thinking.

Last night on a new Facebook page, “UNITE: OCCUPY,” (cap lock and all), i got into a conversation about this stuff started by a guy that asked whether anyone thought a joint event between Occupiers and Tea Partiers might be possible. Sure, i said, our Colorado Springs group had lots of Tea Partiers among its earliest enthusiasts, and although many have pulled away, there still exists a close association with many that veer sharply toward the Te Party camp, especially among Ron Paul supporters. The common ground Occupy shares with the Tea Party, at least t a grass root level, is substantial. There can be no doubt of the equally substantial differences. I suspect that it would take some pretty serious ideological barnstorming to bring the two camps together, but nothing prevents the groups from at least tentative discussion to find commonalities.

Tonight our Occupy group staged a talk by Tea Party stalwart, Constitutionalist Mike Holler. Mike seemed for all appearances to be an earnest and well-versed supporter of Constitutional “fundamentalism,” if you will. He peppered his talk with lots of my favorite quotes from my favorite founding fathers. He got a little testy about the revisionist history his kids bring home from college early on–perhaps indicative of one point of separation between Occupiers and Tea Partiers. Some of those are important. Occupy is international, where the Tea Party can display degrees of jingoism. I, personally, respect the earnest efforts of our Enlightenment founders, but recognize that they were flawed, and aver that their document was dated by racist, sexist, and elitist provisions and thinking that they might be excused from by noting their temporal milieu. We don’t have the same luxury. Occupy is legitimately grass root, supported by sweat and blood more than funded, where TP is, or at least became very quickly corporately funded “astroturf,” disingenuously proffering libertarian ideals as a smoke screen for corporate license to plunder. Occupiers are in my experience far more diverse than Tea Partiers. Socialist and Anarchist Occupiers are common, as are assorted races, genders, orientations, and religious persuasions, where Tea Partiers seem to my limited observation to be relatively homogeneously white Christian capitalist patriots. Mike interjected that both groups had been misrepresented by the media, and that seems likely to be so given that mainstream media seems content to misrepresent ’bout anything they report in this country, but Fox news and the rabid right like the Tea Party so much i have to wonder if he’s fallen victim to a personal soft spot.

Mike spoke eloquently enough in his effort to simplify the Constitution, focusing on issues of freedom, and state’s rights. He said very little with which i could find disagreement. He pointed out two major points of confluence between Occupy and the Tea Party–personal liberty, and a rally-cry, “No more Bailouts!” I suspect he fastidiously avoided some points he knew or at least feared might be contentious, like for example the ludicrous assertions i’ve heard often that environmental warnings from the scientific community stem from some kind of Satanic control scheme from the–well just whom is never too clear. The Vatican or something. Commies, i guess. That just maybe the best way for Tea Partiers and Occupiers to interact, though, for now, concentrating on the common aversion to what amounts to Fascism. Interacting from that perspective could exclude much conversation. It could put the Tea Party in the same position as the Occupy movement, after their Fascist sponsors withdraw in horror. Whatever. We Occupiers got on just fine with Tea Party Mike–“Mr. Constitution.”

Mike largely expressed notions we Occupiers could embrace. I suppose he could have done a bit of research and tailored his speech toward that end, but i think we just agree; he seemed a grassroot kind of guy, to me. He briefly alluded to schisms within the Tea Party, and there’s no sensible reason to avoid acknowledging the same within Occupy. Last night’s event was attended by Occupy people that have had such extreme altercations in their attempts to wrestle a semblance of ideological unity from a stubbornly liquid platform that it could easily enough have disintegrated into bedlam. I attended with my dear friend Thomas, with whom i often disagree. In fact, he and i often disagree so strongly that sometimes i feel like smacking him in back of the head. I expect he feels the same way about me at times. Maybe much of the time. Take note, war-mongers of the world: Thomas is a great guy, and even though we disagree with one another, sometimes strongly, neither of us has smacked the other in back of the head. Get it?

So here we were last night, disparate Occupiers engaging a Tea Party mouthpiece in a room full of people that have all experienced the vagaries of human interaction under a fairly pressurized circumstance over the past few months. No butterflies fluttered around the room, but no one worked up a bickering session, either. We worked together. All of us. One could recall the old adage that “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but that would be devolution. I prefer to imagine that those with arguments present recognized the futility of scrapping amongst friends, if only below the radar of their Egos. Whether my nobler hopes for those pained souls in the room last night are valid or not, the assertions i made in these non-pages well before Occupy began remain true. The system we wrestle against is collapsing around our heads. And the solution is spiritual, to a far greater extent than it is temporal.

Fat Freddy is a comic book character that lives in Denver. Seriously. I met him a little while ago. (This only seems out of place, i promise.) Mr. Constitution Mike Holler expressed the opinion last night that our American republic, our constitutional federation of states, is in its final throes; that we are in a position where, ” it’s too late to save the country, but too early to start shooting.” Mike seemed tentative in expressing his hope that God might pull some kind of supernatural rabbit from his celestial hat to resolve our monumental national woes. I expect he feared perturbing the often non-Christian sensibilities of the Occupiers. He needn’t have worried quite so much–we may be largely skeptical of literal interpretations, but we’re pretty tolerant of that sort of thing. When i met Fat Freddy–an icon of counter-cultural activism important to me since childhood, an old-school Hippie with connection to the most famous and infamous of that crowd–he singled me out and pulled me aside to explain in some detail his expectation for a spiritual upheaval in coming days. Freddy’s taken up with the Urantia Book, a tome i’ve heard Christians disparage as devilish. I couldn’t see anything devilish about what he showed me. He earnestly explained his expectation for resolution. Soon.

We had come to Denver to talk about foreclosures and bank jiggery-pokery with another guy, and pulled up at Freddy’s house without knowing it. It just happened that way. These old Hippies like Tea Party fave, Ron Paul. (Follow along, now, i know it’s weird, and yeah, i know a lot of Occupiers don’t like Paul; i’m not sure about him myself). Also in attendance at that meeting was a woman i had been conversing with on line for quite a while in the context of Occupy. It took me nearly through the whole meeting to recognize her, because i knew her to live down in the Four Corners neighborhood of Colorado. She lives at Freddy’s now. This juxtaposition is so weird that now i’m expecting the Mad Hatter, or Lewis Carroll himself to pop up at some meeting quoting from Jabberwocky. Mike Holler holds out for resolution to the country’s woes in a traditional Christian context. My own suspicion, shared with J.B.S. Haldane, is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. But somewhere in the mix i am convinced that some divine Thing many of us think of as God is deeply interested in the little proceedings here on our little blue marble and that our interactions are subsequently and necessarily thus influenced.

We live right here. We have no choice but to manage things on a coarse, physical level; but we also live, i think, on an overlapping and less tangible plane, where we have more influence than we might ordinarily imagine. At the same time, things seem to occur herethere without our conscious direction. We’ll need to keep plugging away at things like grasping the Constitution, and taking on massive, quixotic quests like fighting banks and a world full of renegade, intransigent governments and power brokers, not to mention our own internal battles, as finely defined as within our own Souls. We’ll need to recognize the Truth in one another, even when it’s obscured by a bunch of worldly disagreement and fog. And so far as i can tell, were learning. Whatever that means.

Reprinted from hipgnosis.

The Last Girl Scout

Yesterday marked an invigorating shift for me.
 
I’ve been beset by the common malady among Occupiers, wherein the sheer weight of the task at hand and the sly, evasive Jung Fu practiced by the adherents of the Darkness has been a bit stifling. Given the way the City Court in Colorado springs has been summarily dismissing cases arising from the local Occupation, i genuinely feared they would simply drop my camping ticket as a way to sweep the whole business under their now incredibly lumpy rug. After all, when Nic G. was arrested for setting up an occupation at City Hall, his case was summarily dismissed for “lack of evidence.” Nic, Michael, and Kristie then drove to the police station to retrieve the three carloads of evidence they had confiscated and were storing there. It seems likely that the real reason the case was dropped was the lack of any legitimate crime. Nic has reported that none of the cops on the scene for his incident had any clue what they were doing. In fact they are recorded by their own equipment responding with befuddlement when asked for what he was being arrested. No shit. “What am I being arrested for; what are the charges?” “We don’t know.” Apparently even our city’s lawyers aren’t stupid enough to take that one, though it may well have been simply a harassment strategy. If so, its effectiveness is as yet undetermined. No one has set up any tables or anything at City Hall since, but we’ve been busy, many of us simply finding ways to avoid freezing to death. The idea is hardly off the table though, one might say.

Some weeks back we contacted the National Lawyers’ Guild office in Denver and Chuck Nadler from that office sent out a mass email, blah, blah, blah, and i was put in touch with local attorney Patty Perello. Perello had presented difficulty to connect, and in the weeks leading to the rescheduled pre-trial conference yesterday, i developed a sense that she may be of a mind to steer the procedure toward the simplest solution and try to get the charges dropped on technicalities or to persuade me to take one of the cheesy deals the city attorney offered. I was pleasantly disabused of my unwarranted impression when we finally met, 10 minutes past the scheduled moment for the conference to start.

We spoke hurriedly for a few minutes about more or less unrelated topics before they called my name and Perello motioned for me to wait while she conferred in the inner sanctum of banal constitutional deconstruction to be found at any courtroom. I held my previous view at this point, that Perello was likely not so different from other overworked and over-avaricious solicitors with whom i’d had previous experience. When she reappeared with not one but two potential lame-ass deals posited by the city, i knew the moment was at hand. “So,” i say, bracing for the worst, “just how deep into this pond do you want to wade.” “I want to do what you want to do,” Perello says. “I want to take this on as a Constitutional and human rights thing,” sez me. Perello then launches into an enthusiastic rant, peppered with my favorite sort of coarse language, touching on subject matter like appeals, constitutional motions, and hustling for one of our Occupy Colorado Springs T-shirts. Before we were called again, she’s Patty, and one of us.

Patty also agreed to take on Jack’s cases, and Amber’s, too, i think, although our conversation continued to proceed in a fashion too scattered for me to be sure. I still suffer under a preconception about lawyers deep enough to cause lingering doubt, but Patty’s demeanor is so out of place it’s kind of disorienting. After spending an hour and a half or so at the courthouse handling cases for which she actually pulled money from her own pocket for discovery, she offered to give me a ride home in the snow, 12 miles away. During the drive we continued to cement simpatico perceptions of one another. Any other lawyer i’ve ever interacted with would send me a bill for $1500 and then sue me for all my coveted nothing when i couldn’t pay. Patty’s ready to fight the genuine base issues, “All the way to the Pope’s office.”

We’ll keep you posted!

Hey Mike!

After last week, it seemed this entry would be a pep talk for disheartened Colorado Springs Occupiers. Instead it seems it will need to be my own mind meandering around in an attempt to make sense of the new dynamic rising from the ashes of the original manifestation we had going here, which has surely been destroyed. It feels something like a kids cabin make of Lincoln Logs or something after he knocks it over to build something else.

It’s been over a week since the City shut our permit down and confiscated our ramshackle, wind-ragged tents down at Acacia Park. After a few days of curious and somewhat disconcerting quiet, Occupiers in Colorado Springs are reconnected, reinvigorated, and in many cases really pissed off. Yesterday a contingency of us made our way to the old Venetucci Farm south of CSprings to harass Colorado’s Gov. Hickenlooper at the groundbreaking ceremony for a solar garden project of the city’s publicly owned utilities company. About 20 Occupiers of Colorado Springs mic-checked the governor and briefly disrupted the speechifying before a group that was made largely of Occupy’s natural allies, raising the ire of some attendees, but most assuredly reminding Hickenlooper that he won’t be allowed to ignore the movement simply by leaving Denver.

Some Occupiers present , including i, were ambivalent about our project. Hickenlooper is something of a liberal darling, having supported projects like the SunShare solar garden in the past, and the crowd at the event was populated by many of Colorado Springs’s “liberal” elite. The business of interrupting at these proceedings is a little sticky, and may have cost some in support for Occupy among this crowd. On the other hand, some of the issues addressed by Occupy were aptly illustrated within the very brief span of our attendance. Jerry Forte, who wrangles close to $300,000 a year for himself without considering bonuses as CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities, spent a few smooth-talking minutes going on about how cool the city’s utility non-profit is, noting the great advance the two or three dozen solar panels undergoing installation at Venetucci Farm toward his goal of deriving 20% of city power from renewable resources by 2020 represents. Gee whiz! At today’s use rates, by 2020, the world’s inhabitants, especially in the U.S., will be stabbing one another over firewood if we can survive the toxic byproducts of the petroleum industry, or the potentially nuclear wars we are preparing for our next trick in the Middle East. Hmm–wonder what gas prices will look like if the Levant and its environs are sealed under a “sea of glass.”

Forte also sits on the board at the local branch of the United Way, where Bob Holmes’s Homeward Pikes Peak brought in around $650,000 last year, and still can’t figure out how to house or manage the low-ball ,(and variable), estimate of around 1,100 homeless residents in Colorado Springs. Hickenlooper, a million dollar winner in the American sweepstakes who loves to project an aw-shucks, up-by-the-bootstrap, populist kind of image came to his ability to start restaurant empires via the petroleum industry. He presides over a state that panders shamelessly to the U.S. military and its attendant industrial complex, both of which entities these days seem to be no more than acquisition arms of the energy and financial elite about which you may have heard Occupiers railing in recent months. Mike Hannigan of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation was there, and i’m sure he was butt-hurt by the Occupiers implication by their mere presence that his organization might be elitist or something. The CC student i spoke with on the way off the farm grounds was perplexed and hurt herself, expressing solidarity with Occupy, but begging that we not “do it again, ” referring to our admittedly rather obnoxious interruption. She will likely go on from CC to join the cultured pseudo-liberal aristocracy of our guilt-laden Western catechism spinning its wheels till the Apocalypse. Hannigan manages some $50m in assets, and to be sure the foundation does some good work, but all the back-slapping and genteel coffee-sipping over a couple of ultimately meaningless solar panels sure feels a lot like John Rockefeller’s habit of passing out dimes to street urchins late in his life.

I am not accusing Hannigan, Forte, or others of comparability with Rockefeller, who made his initial fortune by arson and murder. Consider this, though. No one seems interested in whether the numbers in the mix add up to anything substantive or not. None of the serious players mentioned above have ever questioned the 1,000% spread between some of the salaries involved at CS Utilities, and when and if they do it’s generally to argue that we have to pay such ridiculous amounts to attract the “best and the brightest,” even though recent history shows plainly enough that it’s painfully obvious huge salaries hardly translate into top performance. No one scratches his head over the disconnect between the high-minded goal of CS Utilities for 20% renewable energy within minutes of the utter collapse of projected petroleum reserves. And aren’t we Americans, including especially those of us with the clout big money wields, responsible for our own politics? Are we really a bastion of freedom and intelligent, realistically utilitarian process or is all that rhetoric just a roll of dimes to cover up our guilt every time we go down to Wal-Mart to perpetuate our slave economy, without which we have never lived? What’s the disparity between Forte’s salary and the annual income of the guy that made his spiffy shoes?

Occupiers love solar projects. But nothing’s ever about just one thing, and it seems to me it’s about as rarely mostly about the thing at the top of the presentation program. We Occupiers are often accused of stupidly purveying no solid agenda. it may be apparent that at least my Occupy agenda is complicated. The above connects Big Oil, Third World labor, charitable impulse, income disparity, under-girding Western guilt, competitive job markets, and spiritual malaise, among other things, including much that remains implied. Many Occupiers i have met personally are still perturbed at the scanty portion of the American Pie they find available on their own plate. We’ve brought this whole scenario upon ourselves, though, and the current program will remain fully unsustainable whether the polite society of charity in the Pikes Peak region dismisses us over our antics or not. That’s why Occupy in general will be not so easily dislodged from its place in history.

The bitch about saying all this is i really, really like most of the people i recognized at Venetucci Farms yesterday. I like Americans in general–but man, we’ve got problems, just like the homeless guys Bob Holmes and his philosophical brethren like to try to control all the time. When i talk to those guys in line at the soup kitchen, i tell them, “Man, ya really ought to leave that dope alone a little.” They know me, and they know i love them. Really. I do–and really, they know it. They know they’re fucked up, too. Sometimes i’ll tell the most torn down that they need to leave the dope alone completely, before it kills them. That’s what i’m saying about our society here in Colorado Springs, in Colorado, the U.S.A., and the whole world. I really don’t have a beef with the bankers, politicians, and half-assed, dime-roll charities of the world, or the foolish scrabblers grasping at the American Nightmare. They’re working a system designed by haphazard evolutionary processes to favor ruthless competition. But i am saying that we need to get serious about fixing all these interwoven problems that stem from deep down in human souls, because we’re running out of time. If we lose, and everything goes to Hell in a handbasket, if none of us learn a genuinely cooperative technique for living together with ourselves, and with the Earth before she rejects us, we Occupiers will be able to tell our kids we fought the deadly processes that brought us down with everything at our disposal. Even if it’s with our dying breaths. What will those of us that insist on competing our species to death be telling theirs?

Occupy is not going away, here in Colorado Springs, or anywhere else. We’re planning more and escalating prodding at the fat, lazy system and its symbiotic remorae. We hope the World listens closely to what we’re saying and its members genuinely look inward to find that bit of truth that remains, concealed behind layers of self-deception and avarice. Because, sure, we’re pissed off about injustice–who wouldn’t be? But we also really like humans, and other living things, and we don’t want to see them all go away.

City Hall of Mirrors

As cities around the US bully Occupy groups around on park verges and college campuses, we here in Colorado Springs have not remained unscathed. Monday morning saw our friendly neighborhood “Homeless Outreach Team,” (HOT), and a much less friendly contingent from the city’s code enforcement office dismantle the previously permitted Occupy site at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs. A surprisingly good-sized group materialized after midnight to vocally express displeasure at the actions of the city as rendered by the police and what appeared to be a rather callous batch of contracted laborers hired to accomplish the actual dismantling. No one got beat up or gassed. The permit surrounding which had developed controversy in our little microcosm is gone and we will now be required to redefine, restructure, and proceed without it. Personally, i feel it to be a good riddance even though we here in Colorado Springs seem to be experiencing a bit of disorientation as a result.

Dan and M.J. of the HOT team, (a redundancy, i know, but common parlance), were present for the dismantling of the tents that had been a fixture at our protest site. Some 50 or so protesters managed to flood the scene, even at the late hour of the event. Despite the relative peace between authorities and Occupiers here, the police present were fully prepared to inflict harm if we protesters had engaged in any form other than the sometimes obnoxious yelling. The whole scene, not unlike other aspects of our unusual local manifestation of the Movement, produced and continues to produce a sense of extreme ambiguity in my own psyche. I like to think of Dan and M.J. as friends, at least in a provisional sense, but i have no choice but to acknowledge that none of my closest friends would ever even think of putting me in jail or beating me up, even if i piss them off.

Tuesday a fairly large group of Occupiers attended a City Council meeting with a previously established agenda, none of which was to address Occupy directly, though it would be difficult to conjure a government meeting with an agenda that pertained to no issue encompassed by Occupy at this juncture. My own experience at the council meeting felt very much like an exercise in futility. A gentleman preceded us Occupiers with a request to restore city funding to his non-profit that helps supply transportation to disabled city residents. As the council and mayor did with our objections next, they seemed to tolerate the man’s speech and then perfunctorily ignore it. No indication of interest or intention to act was in evidence. Aimee Cox, serving as some sort of city liaison, distributed a few sheets describing the city’s appeal process in a few sentences. The remainder of the council meeting involved investment strategy and plans to extract additional money from residents in the form of utility rate hikes.

The minutiae to all this wrangling is just about as pointless to describe as anything i can picture. The clearest vision afforded by the whole scene is still one of a struggle to get things from those that control them on the one hand, while struggling to keep people from getting things on the other. There remains a sense of entitlement held both by those with little, and by those generally smug players with much. I remain convinced that the current state of affairs is fully unsustainable. The global takeover of industry and commerce by factions that appear fully unconcerned by any consideration other than personal enrichment has led to a scenario in which those at the winning end of that paradigm are in as much trouble as anyone else. Sure, if our supply of food, energy, shelter, and so on becomes insufficient those with more clout in hand may well be able to hold out rather longer than those otherwise equipped. A few survivalists will likely outlast inner city dope fiends; but what’s the point? Is the object of human interaction to feel smugger than the next guy? Who gets to feel the smuggest?

Directly attacking the intractable problems of human interaction seems as futile as ever. No amount of negotiation seems effective enough to overcome the entrenched cultural aversion to cooperation and insistence on coming out on top that has produced such a three ring circus of a society. Observe that Colorado Springs’s Mayor Bach is in office after a campaign financed largely by real estate and development interests. Really, now, do we need more buildings around here, or aren’t these activities really just the outcome of individual efforts to scrabble up money? Think about that a moment. How much human activity is nothing more than bullshit make-work designed not to be productive, but to shift money around? How much useless crap does Madison Avenue convince us we need for no better reason than to supply income to its players. I’m suggesting that most of the stupid jobs we Occupiers hear we should get so often are self-destructive bullshit. That the great majority of laws and regulations we have allowed to overwhelm our hard-won liberty, spawning the parasitic legal industry, the real estate industry, the huge regulatory bureaucracies of governments all around, and in fact most of the “work” we humans do is utterly pointless. I’m suggesting that we humans will, in fact, need to rethink our entire interaction with one another if we are to survive our own more ridiculous tendencies.

I’m hardly the first person to posit this notion. Jeremy Rifkin, for one, discussed the ideas i merely hint at above in rather more depth in his 1995 book, The End of Work. Of course, suspicious religious folk have raised an uproar at the mere mention of Rifkin for decades now, claiming him to be a Devil-worshiper, among other things. The sad truth seems to be that fundamentalists in this country and others, of Christian orientation and others, seem content to allow their Creator’s handiwork to burn to ash rather than to work together with anyone else to resolve the problems we humans have cobbled together to our own collective detriment. As little as i relish the sort of fight that generally ensues from arguing about spiritual matters, i’ll be finding it necessary to head in that direction in upcoming posts. Hold on tight, and please feel free to engage….

African-American Voice

Occupy! is a movement that has arisen “in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice.” It’s a phenomenon, perhaps more that a movement. The state of the world, and of the human race has grown so imbalanced, so deeply dysfunctional, so painfully self-absorbed by malign tendencies that suddenly we humans passed a threshold beyond which our tolerance could not continue. So we spilled out into the street to demand attention to the aggressive imbalances we’re all forced to live with every day, be they economic, racial, nationalistic, religious–the nature of these distinctions is far less important than our weariness of the game we’re caught up in involving the necessity to grind down our fellows in order to keep our own heads above water.

We Occupiers are as diverse as the face of the entirety of humanity. And we’re tired of fighting a losing battle against the self-centered ideology gripping so many of the world’s institutions and interaction. We’ve come together to do something about it , even before we have any clue just what to do. We American Occupiers are coming at this thing within our established framework as a nation committed to law and Constitution, and struggling to absorb the idea that Occupy is not an American phenomenon, even though it stems from ideas we’ve been accustomed to supporting as Americans for a long time. We’re weary of the gap between our ideals, the underlying philosophies of equanimity expressed in our founding documents, and our collective expression in the real world. We’ve come together, now, to splay all our discontent out in the open, to figure out our commonalities, and to demand both a reckoning and a rectification. We Occupiers are convinced that the time has come, that we Humans stand at a crossroad in our history, and that we must finally learn to live cooperatively, or lose our place in the history of a small planet in a cosmic sea….

The Great American Hero

America lives in the heart of every man everywhere who wishes to find a region where he will be free to work out his destiny as he chooses. –Woodrow Wilson

Our understanding of history shapes our perception of the present, and informs our actions in the moment. This post, for example, is given additional flesh by the eviction of Occupiers from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan last night by forces directed by 4.0 × 10-8 percenter Michael Bloomberg, one of the richest guys in the USA, and probably in accord with Federal direction. Zuccotti Park is a “Privately Owned Public Space,” (POPS), and that odd status has no doubt been notable in current discourse. Across the USA and elsewhere, including here in Colorado Springs, governments at various levels have utilized no-camping ordinances and public park hours to harrass Occupiers, often to such extremes as to soundly demonstrate some of the protesters’ most salient points. So what is the history of “property,” and how does it pertain to the Occupy Movement?

We citizens of the USA are virtually without foundation where historical discussion is concered, unless we educate ourselves beyond the standard drivel so ineptly foisted in our direction by teachers bound by our disastrously faltering public indoctrination system, mislabeled “education.” We learn a sanitized verion of our own history, and the European history from which ours so largely derives, focused on patriotic and Euro-centric hero-worship rather than on the genuine and controversial currents that have effected societal changes at various junctures in world history. We often become enraged when these inane presumptions are questioned, as i have personally witnessed when service veterans have come unglued when protesters suggested they ought not to have been engaged in foriegn adventurism for resources, or when Occupiers have come near to blows over rights or priveleges the foundations for which they often demonstrate but scanty comprehension.

The story of Christopher Columbus and his noble and brave explorations of a frightening unknown quantity for the lofty purpose of betterment of the human condition, followed immediately by even more noble American colonists’ successful efforts to throw off the shackles of monarchical tyranny culminating in the sacrosanct US Constitution is ingrained in our collective psyche like a Freudian complex. The quote from the nearly deified US President Woodrow Wilson at the top of this page is meant to illustrate this phenomenon. Wilson said some things that seemed to spring from a font of humanity, but he was demonstrably a heinous racist and an elitist, encouraging reestablishment of the KKK, turning US finances over to the Federal Reserve, propagating celebrated treaties he subsequently ignored, and intrepidly belittling any expressor of opinion contrary to his own, among other public sins. Columbus filled his own journals with tales of religiously inspired avarice as he gleefully reported his intent, and execution of his plan to conquer the lands and subjugate the peoples he encountered. The US Constitution, while serving to codify some dignified and egalitarian principles, was still seen as some as an instrument of avarice in its formative days, as has proven to be the case with Adam Smith’s doctrines when handed over to naturally acaricious men. Even the highest-minded of US founders–St. Jefferson springs to apperception–firmly established racist, misogynistic doctrine and elitism by excluding all but white, male land owners from the earliest US political process. Those Founders also knew themselves to be limited and allowed the mechanisms for change to exist within the document.

The land owners so favored by the Founders above had been granted holdings either by monarchical fiat, or by purchase from those granted such holdings. Subsequent years were full of similarly motivated action, wh en”pioneers” once again ennobled by our propagandist history strode across North America claiming everything in sight by perfectly legal Homestead acts and the like, and killing or subjugating anyone not European, male, and white, assuaging their consciences with the absurd “moral” doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Many US citizens, usually white and of European descent, have blithely sloughed off Native American claims to the land here as anachronistic, habituating themselves to the notion that a couple of generations represent a lengthy historical stretch. “Indians,” many of whom don’t experience the epoch between, say, the gleeful rape and resettlement of their great-grandmothers as very lengthy at all, advocate for the removal of white Europe from “their” lands. This may not be anachronistic after all, but it has indeed become impractical, and it is no more nobly motivated than the insistence on Americans, or anyone else, to scarf up resources, such as but not limited to land, to which no human being enjoys a more legitimate claim than any other.

The uproar in Zuccotti Park last night is based on laws that derive from the notion of public versus private property. The Banks we Occupiers have been railing against hold the threat of eviction from private property over the specious doctrines of land ownership in this and other countries. The spats in Colorado Springs over tents, where they belong, and who belongs in them derive from the same set of doctrines, which i hearby proclaim to be bogus, in my opinion. The bad habit of human beings to either grovel or dominate is yet another matter.
One can follow the tendency to dominate and conquer, along with the development of Divinely appointed land control in western culture at least as far back as the dubitable stories of Hebrew escapades in the Levant, supposedly ordered by a loving god to kill, pillage, and rape in order to spread their doctrine of light. Ahem.

While the recalcitrant problems of aggression and slithery competitve spirits, as well as our quickness to condemn one another’s mere habits lead us deeper and deeper into an environmental cul de sac, we continue to pursue failed doctrine. The USA has, in apparently actual fact, presented the world with a still viable political framework within which to effect the sort of massive changes necessary for everyone involved, and it may well be our saving grace, if we acknowlege and rectify its initial errors and subequent abuses. Lots of thinking will be necessary. It’s awfully difficult to conclude that genuine unfettered Anarchism is likely to produce a civil society. Laws are not intrinsically bad unless they’re bad laws. Few really believe Libertarian suggestions that unregulated exploitation of natural resources can lead to anything but irredeemable destruction akin to the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or the impending collapse of our fisheries.

Did you notice how comfortable my use of the term “our” felt, applied to a natural resource in that last sentence?
Capitalism and the American Constitution found themselves on private property ownership. Some things belong intrinsically to individuals and groups. Marxism denies any right to private property at all and kills innovation, in the argument of McCarthy’s legacy. Marx and Lenin were motivated by historical factors as well, even if their doctrines were no more effective at legislating kindness than ours have been. Most of us will agree that our bodies ought naturally belong to ourselves–the person whose consciousness centers in that particular body–and yet many of our laws belie that acceptance even now that we’ve abolished open slavery. We’ve built a gigantic and Byzantine body of law here in the US, and in countries all over the world, based on principles of subjugation and rapine that are in actual fact now fully anachronistic, using justifications that are fully mythological. The conquering of neighboring lands and their parceling for sale for personal enrichment, using armies fed a long and patriotic line of shyte about motives is simply not sustainable any longer. We can continue to fight over detritus after we, (by which i mean everyone and not just Europeans or Americans), collapse the entire playing field, or we can recognize our errors and take on the extraordinarily difficult prospect of admitting fault and rectifying our relationships with one another both here in the US, and everywhere else. Some things belong to everyone.

This post is largely about bad history, and partly about the failure of both Capitalism and Communism. I’ll be putting it up lacking a certain amount of flesh in order to have it in place. The natural aggression inherent in confronting some of the subject matter contained requires some additional referenceing, which i’ll add later. The characterization of both systems as failures could be entirely specious if i were unprepared to offer alternatives. This is not the case, and i’ll be addressing the whole kit and caboodle, whatever that means, at greater length in the future. The best suggetion i’ve come across thus far is from Henry George, and i hope you’ll investigate. But even if you don’t i hope you’ll give this the thought it warrants. My ideas are unlikely to be the best out there. Look around, though. The one’s we’re working with now are bullshit.

More links are forthcoming, but the take on history expressed here is largely indebted to Howard Zinn’s “Peoples’ History of the United States,” and James E. Lowen’s critique of history as taught in public schools, “Lies My Teacher Told Me.”

Birth Pains

Apologies to readers not at hand or interested so deeply in Colorado Springs’s silly affairs.
 
Last night , it appears more cops were called in to arrest or press charges against one of our own, Jack Semple, by one of our own, the identity of which latter individual seems muddled to some extent. It’s simple enough to determine that Jason W. and Kristie W. are the only individuals that have any sort of legitimacy, however dubious, for cop-calling, but we all know from experience that the cops possess a grasp of nuances like this one below a genuinely operable threshold. Some have been bandying about terms like “tyranny,” “hater'” and other such inflammations. I’ll note that, though Jack and Jason will serve as specific personifications for this piece, others have made alignments according to the differences described. More than one observer has noted the inanity of all this, both from here in Colorado Springs, and from afar. Holy mackerel.

Our unique, permitted status has presented problems left to fate at other Occupy locations. Jack Semple has, no doubt, insisted on performing behaviors of at least somewhat scurrilous foundation. To the best of my knowledge, no “rules,” or even “guidelines” have been adopted by the overall group “Occupy Colorado Springs, ” which i must insist on noting to be separate by definition if not in spirit from “Occupy Colorado Springs,” the permitted entity. Last Thursday, (9 Nov), a rather large and representative group of us agreed to adjust wording in our set of rules to reflect their nature as guidelines. Neither rules nor guidelines have been accepted by any consensus, to my knowledge. Jason has proffered the notion that other groups are more stringent in enforcement actions than ours has been, though no set of guidelines for either enforcement or encouragement have been adopted. Most of the sets of guidelines i have been able to dredge up from other sites online have been heavy on terms like”respect,” and “mindfulness.” Jason’s assertions that “the group” reached a consensus on the permit are unfounded, which i know because i myself with others in agreement objected to the permit on the grounds that the law it was meant to skirt is bad in the first place. There was and remains a group of like opinion in opposition to supporters of the permit–a predictable scenario, in light of the hasty disregard for consensus building at the start.

Jack has, in fact, “pushed the envelope” in his approaches both in GAs and in independent action, as have other group members, including at times, me. Jason has also pushed envelopes, and though his responsibility is unclear at certain points, he has it seems signed tickets and pressed charges in the two incidents involving mavericks in “his” tents. No small number of OCS participants have observed the detrimental effect of the behavior of both Jack and Jason. Jack has stubbornly insisted on proceeding without consensus, and given the leaderless, undefined nature of Occupy! worldwide and here, no real authority exists to prevent his behavior. Jason has stubbornly insisted on proceeding without consensus, and given the leaderless, undefined nature of Occupy! worldwide and here, no real authority exists to prevent his behavior. Hmm.

Jack has proceeded from his insistence on peace and love to his own occupation of places and resources to which his claim is at best undecided. There exist legitimate questions concerning what belongs to whom on our street corner, and it seems to me Jack’s self-installation as the Robin Hood of Acacia Park has been a detriment to his own stated motivation. At the same time, Jason’s insistence on a rather dictatorial approach based on his status as permitted signatory is at odds with the consensus model in general, and the overall spirit of Occupy!

Other than vituperative ad hominem attacks between both parties and their adherents, hardly communicative of either loving or peaceful sentiment, very few of the actual issues have been addressed. It must be granted that Raven, yet another aggressively expressive player in this little conflict, has the backing of fact in that those few consensus agreements to have been adopted have been soundly ignored by Jason, who must be named personally in this given that his name at the top of the permit and that he has apparently issued questionable edicts and instructions to “security” people. Some bits of definition have remained untouched to our detriment, for example, the fact that the tents in question were demonstrably in place well prior to the magical creation of the permitted entity, “Occupy Colorado Springs” by the City’s placing that name on the permit. Another example is Jason’s admonition to some complaining against his actions to come participate in the securing of the site. I can speak only for myself on this, but even though i have regularly helped build, supply, secure, clean, etc, i have not signed a waiver, so my welcome is in some ways disingenuous, leaving me to believe “permission” to enter tents is a matter of fiat. I’d love to spend regular nights at the Park, but as much as i’ve promised to do so, i’ve been stymied by the fact that it becomes necessary to abandon sleep entirely and pace the sidewalk all night, with no option for relief. I’ve found the prospect more detrimental to motivation than i’d initially imagined.

With or without this foundational uncertainty, it’s clear that the permit, or at least its handling in our group, has been the focus of a great deal of friction, as may well have been anticipated. The permit can be a good thing if utilized correctly. It allows us, for the time being, to Occupy the corner without fear of pepper gas wielding police bulldozing the site with their spiffy new urban assault vehicles we all know they simply must find some justification for owning. It’s also been the source of an authoritarianism bearing an awfully clear resemblance to at least one strong aspect of the problems that brought Occupiers to the streets in the first place. It’s also clear that the one truly solid consensus–to avoid calling cops in non-violent scenarios–has been ignored. There seems to be a lack of awareness of the fact that chair-swinging wrasslin’ moves and police action are no more prone to building consensus than impulsive disruption of group thought processes. The permit itself may well be a casualty of insistence on bad behavior from each quarter.

I simply can’t believe we in CSprings are the only Occupy outpost wrestling with these very fundamental matters, even if we have an unusual factor in the mix, especially with the introduction of a “security” guy from out of town crowing about tent-slashing escapades.

None of this will kill the Occupy Movement. We all seem to be in agreement that our time for ignoring the issues that brought us together has come to an end. The abrupt gathering of millions–no shit–of disgruntled citizens across the entire planet is an expression of the expiration of patience over an unjust, unkind, and self-servingly dictatorial status quo. A renewal of perseverance and, yes, patience while we learn to manage some very intractable problems with our common natures is necessary if we are to avoid actual bloodshed in this existentially unavoidable conflict. We’ll learn this, or we’ll die.

Practically speaking, no amount of voting or “telling” will solve the problems at hand. To an extent, events are proceeding in a predictable fashion. I suggest we consider with grave lucidity what a consensus process really is, and learn to abide by those few clear points of consensus at which we’ve come to agreement. Some discussion of broadening the list of permit-holders took place at the Thursday GA. If the permit holders in place are too burdened by liability to allow themselves to be governed by consensus, this question should be examined in detail, with consideration for alternatives. If the permit represents its own final word, then it seems unlikely consensus is attainable, and it will likely become a moot issue when it disappears, which will occur on our present course. If permit holders insist on arbitrary decision-making based on the dictates of the permit, we must recognize the equally sovereign nature of OCS (Permitted) in juxtaposition with OCS the leaderless movement gathered in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. That is to say, if consensus is ignored, it is done so on an individual basis, and the permitted OCS separates itself from the Movement to the extent to which it is able. We’re still forced by the fact that we have no choice but to learn to cooperate. In the meantime, let us not neglect the many deeply compelling reasons for being together, or the various projects our self-identified membership have undertaken, particularly internal educational projects which appear especially crucial.

Nothing about this is going to be simple. We will not be solving the problems of the World in a couple of weeks from our Acacia Park vantage. These issues represent the selfsame internally conflicted bits of human nature that have caused us to develop the drastically and fatally flawed social constructs we have come together to oppose. Breathe deep, kids. Learn to love Jack Temple and his half-cocked impulses while he learns how to manifest peace and love without starting a fight. Learn to love Jason Warf, C.J., and Rick the Tent-Slasher as they learn whatever it is they’re learning. Learn to love even me as i continually throw thought-wrenches in the cogs. Turn your most critical eye inward, because as i well know of myself, the only way to change the world is to enlighten ourselves to our own flaws and start right there.

Or stock up on bullets. You can find me standing in the Light without any if they start to fly.

Defined:
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/consensus?region=us
A start at the notion of consensus-building:
https://www.msu.edu/~corcora5/org/consensus.html?pagewanted=all
A couple sets of Occupy guidelines:
http://occupydc.org/about-us/guidelines/
http://c1ecolocalizercom.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/2011/10/occupyguidelines.jpg

Fear and Loathing in Colorado Springs

Those readers following the Occupy! Movement in its many forms around the world and in Colorado Springs will be glad to hear that Tuesday culminated a difficult week for us here with a resolution of many contentious issues, and an overall commitment to unity.
 
The subject matter behind this particular post is closely associated with the Movement in general, but it’s more a humanity thing than an Occupy thing, overall. I hope i can get the associations to make sense, and that readers will restrain themselves from developing the erroneous notion that this is meant to be a pitch for some sort of religion. It’s not.

I went to the Municipal Court in Colorado Springs to enter a plea of “not guilty” to the charge of camping on public property because of actions executed as a part of Occupy! Actually, i was camping on public property, to put it quite plainly, and the idea behind the plea is that the action does not engender guilt even if it violates a silly and badly unAmerican, (read, “oppressive,” if we’ve become a little unrecognizable in this regard), statute. A couple dozen supporters made it to the courtroom with me, and raised enough ruckus to get Municipal Judge Spottswood W. H. Williams to threaten them all with contempt charges. The whole thing was kind of a lot of fun, really. Made me feel a little like Hoffman or Hayden, in a much smaller sense. There comes a first time for everything, and this was my first visit to a courtroom during which i was able to feel utterly unencumbered by the dark nature of my own action that had led me there. My deepest thanks to all the OCS members and especially Dennis Apuan, who put his political credibility on the line to stand with us, and brought a good deal of patriotic weight to the room as State Rep for the fine soldiers of Fort Carson.

The hearing was only that, after all, and after entering the plea, we scheduled a pre-trial conference with the City Attorney, for 22 Nov, at which a government lawyer will make me an offer i’ll most assuredly refuse and we’ll schedule a jury trial. I’ll keep you news hounds posted as things progress.

The point to this post, though, is an underlying root to the no-camping ordinance, as well as to most of the woes of the day: The Fear.

Most of us don’t acknowledge the Fear because, well, it’s scary. Instead we get angry, or attempt to maneuver ourselves into a position to control uncontrollable factors like society or competitive economies. We eschew cooperation because we’re afraid of our fellows. We make assumptions about others’ behavior and how it will effect us. We bewail the corruption of society, and begin looking over our shoulders for the punishment of God, or black-clad mercenaries coming over the horizon to herd us into frigid winter FEMA camps. We worry about hunger, poverty, inglorious death. We develop elaborate political systems and foment revolution in order to establish “security” of dubious credibility. Look around. These tactics have not ever worked after attempting repeated, redundant permutations, and there is no reasonable expectation that they ever will.

The Fear has driven all this cutthroat competition. It’s what motivates folks to be sure they have more, more, more. It’s what causes us to petulantly demand our right to burn as much gas in our Hummers as possible, and to constantly engage in useless commerce. It motivates the lowest guy competing for some crappy job at Taco Bell just as surely as it motivates conspiratorial Rothschild backroom bankers. It motivates us to enact stupid, oppressive no-camping ordinances when someone that scares us becomes visible, oh my! We’re all deathly afraid of some horrible outcome, like someone else getting our stuff, or scaring tourists away, or enjoying some habitual pleasure we find repugnant.

The Fear is irrational! What’s the very worst that can happen to us in this life? We die? We find ourselves incarcerated or tortured? Consider, if you will, that we live our little spans, maybe a hundred years or so at the outside limit, surrounded at both ends by an unfathomable mass of toroidally twisted, multi-dimentional Eternity that not one of us will ever grasp while we live. What possible fear can be valid under this circumstance other than that we fail to live according to our own perceived Truths? I say “perceived” since only those afflicted by the Fear are afraid to examine those truths for the errors all honest thinkers know to exist within our own perceptions. If I knew my own blind spots they wouldn’t exist, right? We don’t even know what we’re afraid of mostly, though we can usually list a few if we set ourselves to the task. No one is to blame for his or her own irrational fears, especially cultural fears such as seem to be more or less universal. Many have been established by the direct influence of media that may well have been designed by nefarious folk for exactly the purpose of invoking unfounded fears in various populations. OMG! Now i’m making myself afraid! Not really–but what to do about the Fear?

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear,” reads a certain religious text, (1 Jn 4:18, for those with a source fetish like me). I won’t be digressing into a religious sermon here. The principle holds without the doctrinal baggage surrounding it in the context in which it nests. No matter how evil the Ideas we oppose as Occupiers, or as human beings in general, they can’t overwhelm a spirit of love. No matter the spiritual foundation or lack thereof, love can dissipate greed, fear, disappointment, embarrassment, and in fact any of the various bases for the secondary anger response we are all prone to manifesting in situations as apparently dire as the one we’re seeing now. As much as i can plainly see the bogus nature of the moves made in, say, the financial industry, (inseparable from other key industries at a certain level), applying some genuine empathy causes a mental process that can not end in hatred or vengefulness. Look guys like Greenspan or Geitner in the eyes next time you see them. They’re deeply miserable, and completely trapped in their own Fears. When it all collapses, i really hope they’re still available so we can feed them a plate of food, even if we can’t resist the temptation to ask, “What the fuck were you thinking!?”

We can’t fight fire with fire here. Battling greed with more greed, as some seeking to restore an “American Dream” involving bigger slices of a rotten pie seem to do. Revolution only spins us in circles: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” We always seem to find ourselves standing in the same spot we started, except standing in pools of blood with fewer resources after every revolution we’ve ever effected. We don’t have these options any longer. The planet is in a condition that will not permit us to continue on the deeply ingrained, competitive course we’ve followed for so long. Learning to love, to let go, to tolerate, to work together for our futures which are common whether we like it or not is the only way out of this. It’s not easy, only necessary.

I can’t tell anyone how to save anyone else, or how to convince the next guy that any of this is true. I can’t even describe the mental processes that led to these conclusions. All i seem able to do is to proceed in the direction the thoughts lead, as they come to me in a fashion that very often seems external. Examine the assertions that continue to spill out of me at 2 in the morning like this. Notice with joy that there seem to be many others reaching similar conclusions: Things are terminally fucked up and only Love can save us. If it turns out that we’re not saved, that the whole human experiment is doomed to fail, i’ll breathe my last breath in the knowledge that i walked the talk spoken by all my heroes in tongues long lost to history, or new today, or unspoken yet understood by common nature. I don’t think i’m alone. I don’t know how to be afraid of that.

Ye Aulde Memoir

Another old piece. These stories are distorted by romanticized memory, at times, and others likely remember them differently. I by no means intend to insult any of the real persons that lived through this stuff with a cavalier treatment of tender recollections, or harsh description of personalities or actions. Each of us always did exactly what seemed to be exactly the right things to do at the time. And there survives much, much love, which has grown and developed like it always does, in ways we never see coming.

I’m not putting these old ones up because i’m too lazy to write new. I’ll have one of those next–but some of this old stuff fits. Hope you like it.

11 May 2009

One day during the summer of 1980 my brother David was in the hospital at Case Western Reserve University for yet another open-heart surgery. The scene that day was dramatic I suppose, but for our family at the time, it was in many ways just another day. The state of the relationships between us had come to the condition that existed then because each and every incident that had occurred in the history of the Universe had added to that cumulative point. The way it came together then could have been viewed as tragic, I suppose, but we never noticed.

I don’t even remember how I got the news that this particular episode was approaching. David’s surgery that year was one of many—so many, in fact, that by now surgeons and academics had written papers on his congenital condition, and even given it a polysyllabic title. His lead surgeon, a Dr. Ankeny as I recall, had once claimed that he had “learned more from David Bass than fourteen years of medical school.” We four siblings had in effect grown up in the hospital, with the constant potential for death in attendance on a daily basis. Many years would pass between that summer and the moment I decided any of this was applicable to self-reflection, and the sweltering summer afternoon was as present and imminently experiential as any other I lived through during that period.
Our family seemed done that year. I had been out of the picture for over a year. Dad had left soon after, leaving a sour tinge in the air with those remaining, though I never blamed him. When David queued up for one more death-defying, experimental, split-chest open-heart surgery, Dad came back to Cleveland from Florida to put in an obligatory appearance.

Here was a meeting that defied conventional description. Dave, the least guilty of all our immediate family, had been deeply affected by Dad’s exit from the filial stage earlier that year. I hadn’t seen, or even spoken to Dad for well over a year, nor could our interactions prior to then be described as warm and supportive. Outnumbered by angry or indifferent family members, and perhaps less acclimated to hospitals as the rest of us, Dad was way out of his simpler, down-to-earth element.

I showed up unannounced, with glorious southern tart Candy Stone from Mobile, Alabama in tow, she in dirty bare feet, nearly illegal shorts, one of those dangerous eighties tube-tops, and very red eyes. I don’t think Dad spoke more than a half dozen words to me. His eyes told the whole story of uncertainty, pain, and failure. Dave, fresh from surgery, quite literally green, with a repulsive grey crust around his lips and appending to the tubes and what not projecting from several of his orifices, refused to see Dad. Refused to allow him in the room. Dad left unrequited to return to his exile in Florida. I didn’t see him again for many years.

Once, David, following the Dead tour in our Mom’s old family van showing all the effects of the Rust Belt, with his underage Russian girlfriend, his fiddle, and a patchouli oil manufacturing operation, got pulled over in Alabama, for sport. By this time, David was unkempt, smelly, and obviously committing some crime or another. The cops shook him down pretty good, but of course he had no contraband. He has a vice or two, but the heart thing keeps him from excess. He had that young Russian girlfriend, though, and Alabama’s finest figured they could really hang him out to dry, (dang hippie). But she and Dave convince the alpha cop to let them call her mom in New York to confirm that permission had been granted for the road trip and no heinous kidnapping was going on. The mother spoke zero English, but somehow the girlfriend convinced the cop to allow her to translate for her mother. Mother and daughter held a five minute conversation about the mental acuity of Alabama cops, duly translated as an expression of permission, and the travelers were on their way. David drawls this story on stage in his hillbilly persona, fiddle in hand. It’s hilarious.

It seemed to me for a long time that David was the only one of us to escape that little bubble of anti-reality that made up our family life while we siblings were young. Maybe he somehow managed to avoid being trapped in it in the first place, residing only temporarily, with some sort of metaphysical pass associated with potential imminent death. I don’t know, but years later, during one of the high points of my own endeavor, Renaissance Paint and Remodeling, I remember feeling jealous of David. This was a recurring sentiment, and all the more abberant for the fact that my strongest memory of it falls during a visit to Dave’s place in North Carolina that amounted to a just-in-case kind of deal before a heart transplant. Whatever the rationality or fairness of my little envy, (not real envy, mind you, but one of those little personality spikes that one notes and passes through), David is the one of us that got away the least damaged, and has lived his idiosyncratic dream out in full, down to the fine print, with joy.

Mom tells a story about my first day at school. Or maybe the second. I had asked some question that Miss Gardner couldn’t answer, and after day two, came home grousing about how those people were ignorant, and furthermore lazy, since no one had even bothered to look up a response. Mom likes to carry on about how smart her offspring are. She doesn’t usually bring up in public how warped we can be.

Mom, we brothers agree, bequeathed us a legacy of somewhat dubious mental processes. She’s nuts. We all know it. She knows it. Dad knows it. The rest of her family knows it well, and most of them recognize a common bond of familial, brand-name insanity that we all seem to share. I expect this is a more or less common thing among families, but I remain convinced that we are a bit stranger than most, at least in part because of the unique circumstances we lived through.

Back in the day, Mom’s thing was what they call control issues. The dynamic of her issues was so complex I can’t imagine I’ll ever figure it out. Some of her personality came to her by heredity from her mother, whom we call Mo. Much of it developed in that crucible of stress Dave kept heated by his repeated, continuous flirtation with death. Mom, responding to my over-the-top reaction to a pubescent hormonal tsunami, became madly obsessive with minutiae, dividing her time among us brothers and badgering us constantly in a fashion no one can really get unless they have their own experience to compare. I think she and I trapped ourselves in a sort of feedback loop that could have ended no other way.

I was out of the house for good, by the age of fifteen, for all purposes off to lead a life of crime, I suppose. For some years, I lived out my interpretation of the old Kerouac/Kesey/Abbie Hoffman mythos, on the road, in the street, an utterly directionless rebel. A good five or six years passed without more that a word or two passing between Mom and me.

I was nineteen when I came to Colorado Springs. The vague and unformulated manifesto for global revolution I had worked out in my head was on hold, kept in place by a twelve-pack of cheap beer. I had a job as an electrician, and didn’t see any reason to change that, but we actually didn’t do much of anything but work and drink beer that year.

One day Mom called to say Mike, another brother, got himself in trouble again and she expected him to “run away.” I told her to give him my number and I’d let her know when he called. He did just a few days later, and can I come pick him up over on south Circle.

Mike and I spent a couple years engaging in the sort of insanity to which we had become habituated in Cleveland. The reader will require imagination to add flesh to the story here. The statute of limitations may prevent backlash, but I don’t mean to poke at a bees’ nest, and it seems unlikely you might imagine anything more extreme than what actually took place. We weren’t stupid, though, and the business of working for wages, or relying on illicit behavior for advancement just wasn’t good enough, so we formed a construction company and went to work. That proved to be a trap. Maybe an extension of the weird, family trap that all of us have discussed so deeply, without resolution.

Mike and I had it in our minds that the working man’s habit of grousing over how management acts is crap and that if we were going to grouse, we ought to just take the reins ourselves. It turned out we were pretty good, too, in a lot of ways. We worked together for the best part of twenty years, and reached moments of national prominence in our little niche. The whole period was characterized by more bone-crushing stress and absurd, super-human feats. We had little breaks from the madness when we’d crash the business, which we did three times. We were great at getting shit done, but lousy at administration in the final analysis.

Hiring employees in the construction business kept me exposed to the street element to which I had become accustomed. I involved myself in various efforts to assist folks in their low-budget struggles, imagining still that I could somehow change the world. In fact, contrary to Mike’s primary obsession with business success, I figured the whole pursuit as a means to some vague end involving social revolution. For a while a religious experience had me involved with a church effort to “reach out” to the hoodlums that used to cruise Nevada Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights. I even managed to glean an ordination from the Baptists, though now I suspect they’d regret bequeathing me with it. My identification with street folks and the urge to help them rise above conditions has never left me. Actually I’ve worked up the notion that we could all stand to rise above conditions.

Dad. I went even longer without speaking with him than I did with Mom. He dealt with our family’s teen-aged fulguration by folding his hand and striking out on his own. Offered a transfer by his employer, the story goes, he told Mom, “I’d like you to come to Florida with me, but I don’t think I can love you anymore.” No woman in her right mind would go for that deal, and Mom didn’t fall for it either. Dad packed his company car and struck out, leaving his all-important nest egg, and everything else, behind. When David was in the hospital again that summer, that’s where Dad came from to visit him.

I had been away, and I don’t recall blaming Dad for his poor dealings with the family. He had been raised in a very old-school, European style, and he simply couldn’t handle our ways. To this day, in spite of Dad’s expression of a taste for “philosophy,” our conversations are often guarded, pregnant with unspoken truths. I still don’t know his philosophy.

Last summer Dad, my youngest brother, and I went to Montana to camp and fish, riding an outfitter’s horses into some of the most pristine wilderness left in the lower forty-eight. I had genuinely hoped to break the communication barrier that stands between us, but we had to settle for hugs and meaningful silences, for the most part. Dad still plays with his cards pressed tightly to his chest, flashing a look of panic if the conversational waters begin to threaten him with submersion. I guess he can’t swim.

Dad’s experience, it seems to me has also been different from the norm, though I’m uncertain that any human being matches that mythical standard. His family, unlike Mom’s, which fought in the Revolution, was barely American. They were proud American citizens, but their traditions came from old Europe, and they still lived communally on the old Bass farm as they had done for a thousand years.

During my childhood, whenever David was out of the hospital, we’d spend weekends at the farm with the scene looking very much like something from an era that had long since passed in this country, all Dad’s siblings and extended family eating together, playing cards, children roaming the grounds like Huck Finn. It was all rather idyllic, truly, and the moment Grandma Bass died and the farm disappeared under a layer of vulgar office towers marked the shift from one childhood to another.

Dad’s life since then became an effort to recreate those years. His brother and sister had never left the farm. Even when his brother Paul married and had a child, he stayed there on Rockside, as the place was known. I think that scene served as an anchor for my Dad, and when he retired, impressively early despite having suffered huge financial setbacks, he bought his own farm, secluded and sylvan, and moved his socially inept brother and sister in with him.

Paul was a very strange dude. Throughout his lifetime he suffered from some sort of condition that caused him to wobble quite a bit and to mumble when he spoke, like a cartoon character. I still have no idea what the actual condition was–it was never discussed in medical terms, and Paul worked, loved, laughed, and lived in a fashion perfectly suited to him. He represented another unusual facet of our lives that never seemed unusual to us, simply because it just had always been what it was. During his declining years, Paul became more and more difficult to live with, his condition developing into a matter that caused him to actually require care, rather than merely one engendering bemusement. He became cantankerous, incontinent, and dangerous to himself, given his refusal to use a cane. Dad actively cared for him, there on the new farm, forty-five minutes from a paved road, until he died a few years ago.

I couldn’t make the funeral, but I spoke to Dad on the phone as he was back in the city making arrangements. I told him I thought his dealings with Paul were among the most impressive and moving things I had ever seen. I still see it that way. The conversation, which lasted no more than ten minutes I guess, may have been the deepest we’ve ever shared.

For the past eight or nine years every Sunday, so long as I’m in town, I give away food we cook up to whomever we can get to come up to the Colorado College campus and sample our fare. Often our guests are homeless or dirt poor, but we’re not so much stipulating low economic clout as a qualifier. We’ll feed anyone. Dick Celeste, the former governor of my home state, Ohio, and once ambassador to India, comes now and then. He’s a friend, and I visit him at his home, during party season at CC. Arlo Guthrie came down to our basement kitchen once–I put him to work washing dishes. Many of the crowd I see every week are chronic though, plagued by demons I surmise to have been born in conditions similar to mine as a youth. I’ve occasionally contemplated the accusation of “enabling” bad behavior that people toss my way once in a while, but many of our regulars, some of whom I’ve known for twenty-five years, are simply never going to approach any sort of productivity. They are simply too extraordinarily damaged, and as the proverb goes, there, but for the grace of God, go I.

The Christian experience I mentioned earlier was a reflection, or maybe an extension, of spiritual drives I always apprehended. I pursued it heartily for a time, beginning my adult involvement with the sort of hands-on charity our Sunday kitchen represents in a Christian context. The Church always felt skewed to me though, and a couple years’ studying of the questions involved convinced me to adopt thinking anathema to most of my Christian friends. The exclusionary thinking shared by many church folk, in turn, began to seem anathema to me.

Something about my family and its ability to weather long, rending forces, becoming over time a stronger entity for all its roiling turbulence, seems to me akin to the aspect of the human condition that produces the wrecked lives that bring folks to visit me on Sunday afternoons. Further spiritual thinking–some would say metaphysical thinking–concerning Chaos and Oneness has encouraged me to feel like the separation between me and the crowd I serve is illusory in some indefinable fashion. When members of our family passed through periods during which we found it necessary to step back from one another, the bonds that hold us together never broke, and the etheric bonds between my soup kitchen crowd and me, and ambassadors or presidents, don’t seem breakable either. We all seem to share certain common struggles, differences arising simply from disparate approaches, variant perspectives. Our family, it turns out was never what we imagined it ought to be, but perhaps something greater, and more viable, after all.

Part of my mission in ditching the construction business for more cerebral and perhaps less lucrative pursuits at an age when many of my peers in the building industry are thinking of golf courses and retirement comes from a belief that the differences in individuals are reconcilable. Feeding people is necessary, but falls short of bridging the apparent expanse between souls. I still want to change the world, even though I understand the futility of such a grandiose notion. Utopians always fail. But I expect that each time some failure becomes apparent, we can learn a little something, and maybe the next day we can fail a little better.

No account of self-examination is ever going to be complete. I won’t be asserting anything about how I’ve come full circle. Our family will never return to the conditions of my childhood. Nor is the new generation my brothers and cousins and I have brought into the world a retread of old lives. I haven’t even touched on my own experiences as head of a new family, but my children live lives vastly different from their forbears, and even though I rather hope they can avoid some of my mistakes, I suspect they’ll be making many of their own. It seems to be in their genes to require hard lessons. But, like my tortured friends in line at CC on Sunday mornings, or those in my circle equally tortured but accustomed to fine linens, whatever they may suffer holds its own value.

We all learn what we must learn. Life is perfectly safe. Its lessons are self-taught, but deep. I genuinely plan to write a real memoir and a family history, for my kids’ sake, but by the time we come full circle, it’s too late to write about it.

George Who?

This is a paper from some time ago, well prior to the advent of Occupy events. Henry George wrote from a sensibility one rarely finds expressed so explicitly today. The modern reader should note that Christian underpinnings in no way disrupt either the reasoned logic or the passionate humanity behind George’s arguments. Follow the links! Many Occupiers have promoted education, the deeper aspects of which are rarely available in 3 page tracts….

For Eric Stephenson
16 February 2009

George Who?

It seems peculiar that in 2009 no one has heard of Henry George, if only for the fact that during his prime a hundred years past his was easily one of the most recognizable names on Earth. Just a journalist really, George’s hardscrabble upbringing, his early experience in the business world, and maybe just a little OCD inspired him to craft an entirely new approach to economic theory. Its publication very quickly garnered him international acclaim, respect, and supportive friendship from many of the greatest figures of his day. Many, encountering his work for the first time today, would no doubt label him a Commie, particularly given that George’s work followed Marx and Engels’ by three decades. This misinterprets George. His thinking split the difference between Adam Smith and the Communist theorists in many ways, sharing common ground with both camps but firmly establishing his own territory. His work deserves a second reading.

George was born in Philadelphia, September, 1839, to a family headed by a hardworking but low-budget printer. By providing the Church cut-rate printing services, George’s devout father enabled Henry to garner a relatively high-standard primary education from the Episcopal Academy. He left home after high-school seeking his own way, and after a brief period of adventuring, found himself in San Francisco where he joined the Printer’s Union, following in his father’s footsteps after all.

George lived a poor man’s life–same as any tradesman at the height of the Robber Barons’ power–until an editor at the San Francisco Times came across a piece he had written and left lying around. He accepted an offered staff writing position at $50 a week, which seemed a princely amount compared with his father’s $800 a year. He traveled quite a bit for the Times, and in 1868 on assignment in New York City first encountered the squalid conditions surrounding and adjoining vaunted islands of luxury and power that would inform and undergird his writing for the rest of his life.

Having gained considerable respect as a newsman and a fair amount of seed-money, George and a partner, William Hinton, established the San Francisco Evening Post in 1871. George unabashedly used the paper as a human rights platform until 1877, when, some say, powerful railroad interests against whom he had written since his SF Times days shut the Evening Post down. Quickly landing a government post through highly-placed friendships he had developed, he used the leisure time it afforded to produce his magnum opus, Progress and Poverty, and published it in 1879. George moved to New York in 1880 and promptly left for England and Ireland, touring there to support Irish land support. By the time he returned, his life had changed forever. Progress and Poverty had made him a celebrity (de Mille 1-152).

George’s political economy laid out in his roughly 600 page book begins with his assertion that Smith’s approach established private land ownership as the foundation of economic and social structure, referring often to “the sacred rights of private property” (Smith, par. 1.11.79). So far few would argue, but George figured this skewed, and brazenly wrote that, “[t]he great cause of inequality in the distribution of wealth is inequality in the ownership of land. The ownership of land is the great fundamental fact which ultimately determines the intellectual and moral condition of a people….[I]t necessarily follows that the only remedy for the unjust distribution of wealth is in making land common property” (295, 391). He argued that as a foundational natural resource there is no basis for sequestering land in private hands. He proposed to hold land in common and allot it to users for as long as they needed, for whatever production they could derive from it, and the holder would pay tax, (rent), on its assessed value until relinquished. The holder and any capital or labor involved would keep whatever profit came from the working of the land, and the public would base taxation only upon the land itself. Note that this negates both income and capital gains taxes. (During George’s prominence, no federal income tax existed in the United States). George insisted the extensive system described philosophically in Progress and Poverty, and rather more technically in The Science of Political Economy, would adequately supply the government’s fiscal needs without additional taxes while simultaneously encouraging entrepreneurship and curtailing development of a landed class.

Marx, whose seminal works came before George, but close enough that both wrote from the surrounding milieu of the Industrial Revolution, addressed similar problems. He and those following took the matter to a deeper extreme, however, allowing for no private ownership of either property or capital. Marx expressed a well known hostility to capital. The familiar Communist adage, “Property is Theft,” represents a drastic condensation from Marx’s arguments that labor always seems to wind up on the short end of dealings with those holding either land or capital (Marx, chap. 6, par.2). Like George, Marx chafed at the inequities this arrangement produced, especially with the exacerbations of capital lording over labor, which industrial development had completely disassociated from the land producing the wealth. “The means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up,” says Marx, “were generated in feudal society,” (Marx, and Engels 1848, chap. 1, par. 21).The Communists implemented a far more radical seizure of all private property, including both land and capital, consolidating it under a central federal power (chap. 2, par. 75). Contrarily, George felt that capital deserved its due, and sought to rectify the problems he saw by implementation of a more enlightened “single tax.”

A few germane observations present themselves for discussion. Smith, George, and Marx all expressed notions we might call idealist—Utopian even. Each sought to solve timeless conundrums with an incredibly optimistic approach. Jaded 21st century readers might consider any one of them painfully naive, in retrospect. None of them had the advantage of the hindsight we enjoy, however, and fruitlessly denying the problems each pointed out in his broader work does not help at all. Smith wrote when, fresh from the collapse of European Feudalism, land served as the key to wealth of any kind, and still viewed as an unlimited resource for the grabbing. The vast inequities the Industrial Revolution had abruptly produced vexed George and the Communists. None of these could have predicted today’s technological, information based economies, with the problems they addressed dispersed over the entire planet. Today, the rate of separation between the “Haves” and the “Have Nots” poises to exceed the conditions affecting either set of writers.
George did not design a perfect system. Neither, as amply demonstrated by both history and current events, did Smith or Marx. Henry George thoughtfully and humanely addressed a terribly intractable matter in human affairs, however, and deliberately allowed for future thinkers to expand his work. His work deserves contemplation as we forge into a new century fraught with uncertainties. Our present crisis may help encourage just that.

Works Cited

De Mille, Anna George. Henry George: Citizen of the World. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1950.
George, Henry. Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy. 1898. New York, New York: The Robert Shalkenbach Foundation, 1979. 17 February 2009

Marx, Karl. Wage-Labor Capital. 1849. 17 February 2009

Marx, K. and Engels, F. Manifesto of the Communist Party. 1848. 17 February 2009

Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. 1776. Ed. Edwin Cannan. 5th ed. London: Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1904. 17 February 2009

United States Department of the Treasury. Fact Sheets: Taxes. 17 February 2009 (This link is obsolete).

All in

When i first set out to write this blog i had no intention of writing about geopolitics, or anything any bigger than my own little world, or to develop any sort of readership at all, let alone to kick up international interest. Who knew? Since the time i started, Adbuster’s Occupy movement has overtaken the whole world and i’ve become a part of it, along with apparently millions of fellow humans dissatisfied with aspects of the concentric and overlapping political systems that govern and control the minutiae of our daily lives. Occupy has struck a chord that resonates well beyond what seems to have been its original intent as well.

Adbuster asserts in its campaign web-page opener that, “we vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy,” speaking, one assumes of U.S. democracy, even though Adbusters is a Canadian publication founded by Kalle Lasn, an Estonian. Adbusters itself claims to be a, “global network of culture jammers and creatives,” and that their Occupy is, “[i]nspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the Spanish acampadas.” One should note that Adbusters is a non-profit organization with aspirations and effect well beyond the confines of the magazine at its core.

Many of my dear intrepid friends struggle mightily with the unavoidable nature of the movement in which we all participate. Occupy Colorado Springs, (OCS), has garnered a fair amount of attention both because of its early acquisition of a city permit to camp on the sidewalk, and for its fragmentary infighting. Strong personalities have clashed fairly spectacularly for what scale we’re dealing with here, and precisely the same arguments are on display at Occupy web-pages all over the U.S., as well as abroad. Here, many patriotic, nationally oriented players have concentrated on addressing the U.S. Constitution and the influence of corporate interests in Washington, D.C. politics. Others have been caught up in causes of personal concern as the “focus” of the overall movement has grown more and more diffuse. The bickering and difficulty in reaching consensus has been frustrating but, i suggest, not unhealthy or out of place.

Adbusters, following ques from the Middle East and Spain, deliberately set off a “leaderless” movement, and has fastidiously avoided taking hold of any sort of control of what has developed since, refusing even media interviews for fear of exercising undue influence. Occupy remains a leaderless movement. Various groups and individuals have issued lists of demands; the one linked there, “is representative of those participating on this [particular ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Facebook] page.” We Occupiers have much common ground, which has served well to bring us all together, and will continue to serve as we gather to discuss and bicker over issues and particulars. There is plenty to differentiate amongst us as well, on individual and other categorical bases, but we have recognized, more or less, an essential humanity that has us willing to stand in freezing temperatures if we live in the northern hemisphere, and subject ourselves to the slow, often painful process of learning to live together.

Some among us, as we have seen right here in Colorado Springs, are very uncomfortable indeed with the amorphous nature of the Movement. We have seen splintering, censorship wars, general Assemblies that devolve into shouting matches, and the development of personal animosities. These phenomena are repeated on a grander scale throughout the Movement while observers gloat over the imminent dissolution of Occupy unity. Neither we Occupiers nor the Movement’s detractors ought to be misled by these birth pains. Our situation as humans, or for that matter any other creature inhabitant of the Earth has been rendered fully untenable by humans competing for dominance. The upheaval we engage from our Colorado Springs street corner, or from squares in Manchester, Belgrade, Cairo, and etc. is the natural response of rats in a corner. Were it not for the fact that we humans indeed possess reasoning capacity beyond a rat’s we really would be screwed. Fortune, or Divine providence, or evolution, or whatever mechanism or mechanisms turn(s) out to be true has granted us the tools that, utilized with empathy at every turn may–just may–allow us to work our way out of the massive pickle in which we’ve put ourselves. Nothing about this will be easy, quick, or for most, especially comfortable.

The Movement is leaderless. This is an existential fact. No matter how strenuously individuals attempt to grab hold of reigns, or to turn them over to others, there is no authority behind the Movement other than the profound spiritual authority of its essential Idea. The financial disparities that we have focused on here in the U.S. are real, and the supra-national bodies that control our government with full directive power are the same bodies that separate people from power in every nation on Earth. Each issue that has arisen into the Movement’s overall consciousness, from derivative markets, to marijuana law, to camping on public property is part and parcel of the whole thing, which itself amounts to such a gigantic, lumpen juggernaut that we have a hard time gathering our thoughts around the whole thing at once. We must.

Many U.S. citizens, including some prominent in and around OCS, have expressed insistent nationalism. Muslims and Christians around the world have pushed religions agendas. Nationalism is by no means confined to the U.S.A. Our corporate, non-personal enemy and its personal, human operators are Global already, and use these divisions to our detriment! At a Colorado College faculty panel yesterday, much ado was made of income disparities and market finagling by Wall Street financiers. We can isolate our minds all we want, but we can not eliminate the fact that Wall Street, Fleet Street, Singapore, Hong Kong, the House of Saud, whatever, whatever, are already one indivisible entity, operating in opposition to any concern for overall humanity or household priorities for any of us as inhabitants of the planet, including the natural requirements of the controllers. The Idea of competition and profit has acquired an independent life of its own and has prevented even those at the top of the unwieldy pyramid from living lives connected to the most valuable prizes of all, which we humans have recognized throughout our history and recorded in odes, songs, and literature to be transcendent of politics and possessions. The statistics cited by those college economists, and the many Occupiers that mention them in speeches and lists of demands are quite real, and Americans might note that Kurdish, Nepali, and Palestinian Occupiers, for example, skew the stats we’ve been flailing our arms about here even further, and that “First World” exploitation is a very large part of this discussion, indeed.

There can be little doubt that the “Wall Street” entities in control of our various governments have planned for and directed events toward a “New World Order” for decades, if not centuries. Lots of justifiably paranoid conspiracy watchers all over the planet have done their best to alert their fellows to this alarming and unacceptable development for as long as it has been in the mix. The Vatican, a power with negative credibility in its adherence to its own doctrine, has offered itself up as a potential controller of a global banking scheme. Currently entrenched power-brokers will absolutely without question attempt to co-opt and control the current Movement. We humans are not interested in more of the same bullshit, plus the added benefit of still more bullshit! We occupiers are fully Sovereign, each in his or her own right. We are leaderless by design, which is the natural development of the abject failure of our leaders, and in fact of the failure of the very foundation of our interaction amongst ourselves that has developed without much direction for at least the 10,000 year span during which we have written about it. Those who resist this fact will find little more than inversely correlated discomfort in their resistance. One can deny the nature of a rhinoceros till one’s dying day, but the beast remains a rhinoceros, and the denier’s last day may well come on the day he encounters a rhinoceros.

Sovereign consensus building is not democracy. It’s something we humans have never attempted on the scale we Occupiers are attempting now. Broad-scale cooperation as a foundation is against an established competitive approach that we have fallen into by default for a long, long time. Voting one another into submission will not work, simply because we have let the cat out of the bag. We noble individuals are learning a brand-new thing, like it or not, because a rhinoceros has smashed the freakin’ house down. I, for one will not abandon the Liberty of my own Sovereignty, no matter who votes what, nor will i abandon the respect i hold for each other Sovereign in the entire mix. I recognize the differences between whatever groups or persons are in the whole wide world. Categorical observations are real, so far as they go; but i won;t be bound by them. I won’t be forced to fight against the 1% simply because i am a member of the 99%. Rather i will be fighting with every fiber of my being for the 100% of us who will ALL be trampled by the rhinoceros, in pretty danged short order, unless we ALL relinquish our insistence on control, avarice, and irresponsibility of all stripes.

Each of us has a part to play, a purpose to serve. Never abandon what you know. Work hard at open discussion. Don’t be embarrassed by frustrating moments or attempt to hide your own humanity. Withdraw for a moment if you need to to prevent overboiling passions. We’re all in this together. Be patient Brothers and Sisters; this is gonna hurt some….

OWS List of Demands:
www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=157161391040462
Adbusters:
www.adbusters.org/campaigns/occupywallstreet
NPR:
www.npr.org/2011/10/20/141526467/exploring-occupy-wall-streets-adbuster-origins
Middle Eastern origins:
www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/apr/09/libya-egypt-syria-yemen-live-updates
Acampadas:
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13466977

Denver Daze

Occupy Colorado Springs is and has been a relatively staid affair. Our biggest marches have drawn maybe 200 participants, and the street corner has been generally host to small crowds and mostly friendly or indifferent passers by. Visits from police have been just that–visits, rather than assaults, even when the HOTT Team came to arrest me early in the morning on 18 October, and the intrepid Camping Jack on two more recent occasions. We had to take steps to force them to make my arrest. Many of the core participants at Acacia Park have never been involved in any sort of political processes at all, let alone public protestations. So when several of our number traveled to Denver last Saturday to join a boisterous crowd of around 3,000 souls emotions were high, mixed, and complex.

There can be no denying the nervous air among one van load during the trip to Civic Center Park, directly in front of the State Capitol building, on the western side. Shana expressed open fear, bless her heart, and i suspect she wasn’t the only of our number of like mind. Fear was generally dispelled by the excitement of the much larger Denver crowd, though, and as we marched around downtown under clear blue unseasonably warm Colorado skies, past the Mint, the Federal Reserve Building, down the 16th St. Mall where city employees took an unscheduled break to let us pass and bewildered shoppers either stared aghast or waved and grinned in support, up 17th St. past all the towering bank centers, and finally mounting the steps at the Capitol Building in defiance of specific instruction from city and police. Throughout the march, spirits were exuberant as cooperative bullhorn operators traded various, sometimes conflicting perspectives while our horde danced and prated along the sidewalks and streets, and we arrived at the Capitol in high, expectant spirits.

There had been quite a lot of friendly cops along for the march, but shortly after our arrival at the Capitol the armored legion showed up and began tactical operations to expel the somewhat rowdy crowd from its perch. I was there with my 15 year old son, so we pulled back from the danger zone when the announcement was made waving off the “unarrestable.” Adin and i observed the obscure scuffling, complete with clouds of gas, from the Park as we waited for the valiant crew of absurdly comical drag queens “manning” the field kitchen to finish the “pimp-ass risotto” we later had for lunch, flavored by tear gas. The cops cleared the Capitol steps and formed a double-lined phalanx at the eastern face of the Park, at the street edge of the sidewalk directly across from the kitchen and the hastily erected camps. The kitchen crew struggled to put a specifically verboten makeshift canopy over their operation, so the police could be sure and find them.

The police blocked Broadway for several blocks and pushed protesters off the street into the Park and stayed in a threatening stance for some 6 hours or so, waiting for the appointed hour of 7:00p when they razed the camps, apparently according to specific orders. The clearing of the street was punctuated by violence , at least some of which was beyond the pale. Photographer and protest participant Andrew Cleres was ruthlessly shot down from his tree-stand while obviously not a threat. Frankie Roper of our OCS group was transported to a local hospital after taking a “non-lethal” round to the chest, though he was not arrested and refused treatment so he could rush back to the proceedings. Cops pulled back to the street after their initial assault and held a line for several hours while listening to protesters preaching various words ranging between, “We love you; you are US,” to “Fuck off and die, Pigs!” while awaiting word to move on the camps, which they did at the appointed hour, throwing tents, food, and kitchen equipment into a city trash truck.

The police surrounded the empty camping areas afterward, and maintained their line at the street for some time, continuing to endure some very angry expressions by riled protesters. Around 8:00p they abruptly and rather anticlimactically just left, allowing protesters to claim a victory, of sorts.

Though my observations to follow may well clash somewhat with some attitudes expressed during much subsequent conversation, much of what i witnessed at as close a range as could be was very encouraging indeed. Protesters were extraordinarily courageous in the face of a volatile situation. At odds with some other observers, i suggest cops exercised pretty fair restraint. Frankie and Andrew were both rather overworked in the incidents linked above. Frankie’s foot had been rolled over by the motorcycle he then knocked to the ground when the cops jumped him, and police had no way to know that when they got him. He was not arrested. Throughout the day, during which there were only 20 arrests reported, i witnessed numerous instances of very angry protesters attempting to engage police violently. These incidents were mostly handled by the crowd by their moving in to separate the overwrought form the line of cops, and the few moments where things escalated to actual physical levels were marked by a lack of brutality by police, and an apparently strong reluctance to arrest anyone. And again, after executing announced plans to raze the camps the cops simply left the scene.

Among the most exceptionally poignant vignettes of the day was the scene at the kitchen between the clearing of the Capitol steps and its ultimate destruction. The queer high antics persisted in good humor through the entirety of the very tense day, and the line of grateful hungry continued steadily within shoulder-brushing distance of the armored squads; life, joy, and loving community on display under duress. Many protesters repeated the suggestion to police that they are fully welcome to lay down armor and join us for a sandwich and a bowl of soup, and some cops actually did so, braving the incredulous stares of their fellows before rejoining the line. All day, though more so during the march while still in a conversational mood, police expressed support for us protesters, and reluctance to be antagonistic on their own. When they returned at the close of Park hours in much smaller numbers to match the dwindling of our own, remaining protesters knew to clear to the sidewalk and no further incidents took place. By then, new supplies had been delivered by random donors, and a new kitchen was already turning out coffee and chili dogs from an adjusted position at the park’s edge.

There remains aroused spirits from many of the variously positioned players in this conflict of Ideas. Many U.S. armed forces veterans are very angry indeed at police seen as traitorous after the incident with Scott Olsen in Oakland, (don’t forget to continue to hold Scott in your prayers, if you do that sort of thing); however I, for one, am encouraged by the dramatic differences between what i saw in Denver Saturday and the stuff from my childhood where police would just wade through crowds swinging nightsticks with brutal efficiency at whomever was within range. Further encouragement came from the shift in mood the following day when much of the tension between holders of opposing opinion among our OCS core appeared to simply diffuse on its own in the face of the sheer size and intensity of the action in D-town.

My take: I am immensely proud of all the Occupiers that participated, (including perhaps most especially my son Adin, who chose to stay right up in the thick of things with us all day long), and steadfastly protected those of our own motivated beyond restraint from overstepping propriety. We are ALL one. The human race makes up a group of 100%, even if some of us need to catch up with the notion. We have a long way to go, but we’re learning. This thing will continue to be lumpy and chaotic, but we’re getting there. Because we have to, no matter what.

Interlude 2

Off to Acacia Park for the night, then Denver in the morning. Occupy! is fully international. We’ll need to come to terms with that in our own countries, cities, minds, and act accordingly, cooperatively, if we are to truly build a thing of beauty without a ridiculous cataclysm. Continue to embrace Humanity in everyone! Cops and soldiers, bankers and beggars–all of us are just working the Gameboard as seems best to us at the time. Pull back. Breathe. Shine the Light! The Game’s over. Learn to Dance!

Occupying an empty house

My friend Maureen gets frustrated with me because i keep slinging all this outlandish stuff at her, and as one might expect, she has a hard time getting it sometimes, and an even harder time imagining that any of it might be true or practical. I keep telling her that money is over, she keeps telling me that people use money for good things. I start hanging around Occupy Wall St. and its attendant movement and she feels alienated because she lives largely from Stock Exchange investments. Maureen is not the only one with this issue; a man appeared at our GA in CSpgs last week deeply troubled by the fact that we “haters” were trying to force his grandma to eat cat food because as he noted, “Wall Street”, that is, the package of various stock offerings available there, is owned diffusely by grandmas and retirees, penny-pinchers and wheeler-dealers all over the world. My friend and this guy are both put off by the extremely jarring nature of the realizations at hand that have precipitated huge crowds of traffic-clotting protesters into the streets. (Actually that stranger stayed for the GA and came around, while Maureen has an injury preventing her attendance, so this is kinda for her, as well as everyone else).

The issue with the money that’s causing problems is closely associated with the Global nature of Occupy! and because of that, its fragmented nature. Both issues are rendered all the more discordant to many by their perceived urgency among occupiers. We want things to change right now, not after the next bullshit election cycle, but rather before we all die when the food chain collapses. Many within the movement at hand will object to what i posit here, but there really is no way around it in my own mind, so i have no choice but to put it out there. The FED, the IMF, World Bank, Bank of England, Royal Dutch, Al Rajhi, etc, etc, and their intertwined financial/military/industrial destruction machine already exist as a very solid Global beast with utterly uncontrollable and ravenous hungers. We humans are equally as Global, and Occupy! is the same. The destructive elements in this conflict as well as the creative are out of the hands of nationalistic players, and our old notions of money and its production will not save us in time. Once again, if it were gonna, it woulda.

I’ve put this educational chart up before, and if you have no motivation to look any further then i hope you’ll just go get another beer and stay out of the way. The World as we know it is a disaster, and we made it so. Don’t give me that crap about global warming is caused by dinosaur farts. We’ve dumped more toxic shit into the ecosystem in the last century than can be said to have even existed, anywhere. If Humanity can’t effect the world, like one hears on Rush, of some of those other insane programs where are all the American Bison? Passenger Pigeons? Pennsylvanians drinking tap water? Live, healthy corals? Why are so many of us completely, stubbornly ignorant of these obvious and urgent facts. It’s the Fear, of course, and it’s actually propagated deliberately by some, who fail in turn to recognize that they are trapped by it themselves. we’ll move on to the business of the Fear another time.

Plenty of accusations fly around about who caused the money crisis, the environmental crisis, and any other crisis at hand. It really doesn’t matter, and even though some players have obviously been behaving recklessly, some in succession with conspiratorial characters of some pedigree, we absolutely must give up the hatred and sort out solutions, if we want to live. There are a few links at the bottom to articles, (and one video–don’t like ’em myself), on financial and economic collapse. There are plenty more. The point is to assure you all that our monetary system, the means we’ve “developed” through haphazard mutual throat-slitting for trade and interaction among ourselves, is fucked. We can’t fix it. The “money” we’ve been passing around isn’t reflective of anything real. The “price” we pay for things has utterly nothing to do with their intrinsic worth or their scarcity in the world. This is our collective fault, not simply the fault of a couple Rothschilds and Morgans. We all scrabbled to keep up appearances and grubbed around to buy stupid shit we never needed, or even used. The numbers involved down at the FED are so unrealistic they’re meaningless, and trade imbalances and the like merely amount to spiffy terms for describing exported slavery, a kracken which is quickly coming home to roost for Westerners intent on prolonging the petro-economy for the sake of the god damn Fear. There is no money. Its value has been pilfered away by milquetoast pirates one Stewie Griffin party at a time.

The ends of the Dollar and the Euro represent terrific opportunity. Not for making more money, you dumb-ass! That’s the thinking that’s got us in this state in the first place. Some reasoned arguments exist that attempt to exonerate the financiers held up by many Occupiers as responsible for this mess. It really doesn’t matter. The people playing this game, which are all of us, have all been working at competition together ever since we began to establish societies. We didn’t know any better at the time. Now it’s apparent that the approach we’ve been taking isn’t working. If you are trapped in a mindset that insists on claiming a bigger slice of pie, or plaintively keens of the potential virtue of money if only it flows through the right hands, i’m sorry for you. Because when this all really hits the fan, you will be completely lost. We own nothing, except stuff that’s really not worth much, if you figure it in money. At some future point it may be necessary to argue these points at a higher level, because financiers are fond of obfuscation and bullshit in the literature, and hate to admit to themselves or anyone else how evilly they’ve been behaving, but soon enough the thing will collapse beyond the need to parse words.

So follow. The Earth is in the balance, because of the natural behavior of human beings when set loose to compete. Humans also have an innate drive to form societies and cooperate. The mechanisms of the old competitive game are worn, and the game is pretty much decided. We’ve already abandoned borders within the confines or the Game, only keeping nationalisms and “racial” distinctions in place when convenient to some other aspect of the Game, like the continued propagation of slavery, or the demonization of controllers of certain resources. Pull back and look a little. It’s 100% game players causing all the wars in the world, all the food shortages, all the misery. Do we really give a shit what color or religion a thirsty guy in the desert may be? Am i really worried about Iraqi invaders pouring over the horizon? Please! Even if all the current unrest and destabilization isn’t manipulated by people who thought George Orwell was writing textbooks, none of this is necessary. We don’t need petroleum, (look it up yourself fer cryin’ out loud). We don’t need to hate a bunch of desert nomads just because our shitheads set them up in business as a part of a grand scam. We don’t need to compete.

Cooperative living is so much easier and less troublesome you naysayers will be feeling really silly before this is over. It’s OK, though. It’s not so easy to see, at least for now. If it takes too long to avoid the pain you’ll see soon enough. Come see us then. What we have isn’t worth money but i am rich, rich rich! And this Manse won’t collapse, with or without money. Stay with us….

http://economiccrisis.us/
http://www.naturalnews.com/032999_financial_collapse_Euro.html
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26756
http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=16225
http://129.81.170.14/~dupre/SEEDS.pdf

Legalismo

This is a direct copy of the email i sent earlier today and then copied and pasted some before it dawned on me it would be much easier and more effective to post it here. Collins is a law professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His referenced comment appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette on 18 Oct, after my arrest but before the paper got the news to rectify a time-frame misconception i tossed around earlier. The version of that story is dated 17 Oct, but the paper version came out the following morning.

I remain without legal representation and will accept any offer to confer, but no tapdancers to take the case. I’m not so stupid as to imagine i can learn the Byzantine procedure of Our shameful legal system before the 8th of November well enough to get the point across if i represent myself, but neither will i accept representation from someone who will not take my approach.

Professor Collins:

I am the guy arrested for camping in Colorado Springs.

Although the perfectly certain fact has yet to sink in amongst many of my cohorts here in Colorado Springs, i am well aware that the point you made for the CSpgs Gazette the other day is entirely true. No-camping ordinances are by no means unconstitutional. This fact highlights the argument against the amendment of that original document by many of our founders fearful that the enumeration of some rights would expose others to attack. Current events managed to plop a soapbox and peculiarly focused bullhorn directly in my lap. I intend to plead not guilty on grounds that no-camping laws violate the pre-constitutional right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and that this case is exemplar of the general and drastic erosion of human rights in the U.S., and across the entire globe. I am not particularly concerned as to the outcome of the case, but extraordinarily pleased at the opportunity to publicly state a few sentiments i believe by observation to be both common and woefully unarticulated.

I remain unbacked by any legal practitioner and i’d love your input, discussion, advice, council, suggestions, or connection, in any “and/or” configuration that suits your fancy.

Warmest Regards,

Steve Bass

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wilde

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Report from the Right Front

I will be the first to point out, right now here in this forum, that I have a Texas-sized ego. I think I’m a reasonably smart guy, and not unlike any writer, that I have some things to say that are so danged important that I’m gonna say them. I’ll also point out that some others in the conversation, possibly including you, gentle reader, have the same handicap. The entire discussion ought to be undertaken with a salt shaker within easy reach ’cause everything anyone has to say ought to be taken with a liberal helping.
 
This post is an attempt to unravel a bit of a Gordian knot that has tied itself around the politics of “Occupy” movements around the world, and particularly here in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.A. without hacking at it with f-bombs directed at the many possessors of equally large egos as mine, while openly acknowledging strong disagreements between some of us. Believe me, this is a difficult bit of unraveling and though I mean to avoid ad hominem attacks, I’ll not promise to eschew strong language. It’s also a bit of a news update, straight from the horse’s ass, so to speak. Sorry if it runs long or gets complicated; it’s a big hairy knot.

I am the guy that picked up the first no-camping ordinance violation in the city of Colorado Springs. I did this while participating in protests falling under the ill-defined aegis of a group called “Occupy Colorado Springs,” in solidarity with another ill-defined group called “Occupy Wall Street,” and other Occupiers all over the world. In case it’s unclear: there’s no such thing as Occupy Colorado Springs, (OCS). What happened is a few guys, boldly named at the top of the eponymous Facebook page like John Hancock at the bottom of that one famous page, finally got bent enough out of shape to do something about it so they set up a page, and a small camp down at Bijou and Tejon–Acacia Park. They were behind the Wall Street guys and liking what they were about, I came behind them.

There is no club membership, no charter, no bylaws, no nothing to define the Colorado Springs group that might in any way be construed to suggest the thing we are doing at Acacia Park is anything other than a gathering of a bunch of fully leaderless sovereign individuals that happen to share a common distaste at the state of human affairs extant in the world today. Anyone who has known me for any length of time, or has read any of the pages preceding this post will know that this is nothing new for me. I was and remain ecstatic at the development of public expression, both here and globally. I am a free actor in the business of protesting in general, and that involving the city’s no-camping ordinance in particular. I act as a sovereign, as a member of OCS whatever that means, as a citizen of the U.S.A., as a citizen of the World–a member of the human race, possessor of certain unalienable rights, whether those derive from God or not.

I decided to deliberately violate the city ordinance because I believe it exemplifies an aspect of the overall erosion of human rights here and across the globe that has precipitated such widespread uproar. I believe it directly attacks individuals’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that it is both superfluous and fully unnecessary. It’s just a mean-spirited dig at the weakest among us, a tactic akin to schoolyard bullying, which I maintain is motivated by the same spirit that allows the holders of power at the Federal Reserve and other powerful international and national bodies to gleefully grind the majority of the world’s citizenry to dust for no more than sport. I meant all along from well before the advent of any Occupations to have this conversation at a level previously unattainable to me, and now we will–that is, I and whomever cares to jump in during the proceedings. I control only my own actions and expressions.

There are some protesters at Acacia Park that have strenuously objected to my camping as I did. They are pleased to maintain the fine relationship with CSPD and with the Mayor’s office that has developed, and happy to have avoided the head-bashing, tear-gassing removals that have troubled some other Occupy outposts. Fearing a narrowing of focus from the general Occupy platforms, they asked me, and truly in some instances pleaded with me to abandon my course. Some attempted to tell me. They are happy to compromise, capitulate, appease, to utilize terms previously utilized by those members opposed to my individual action. I am not. I promise, I love every one of the crazy fools involved with the action at our little street corner whether we agree on this matter or not. I’ll mention this one more time: I am just one dude. Anyone that agrees with me here is also behaving of his or her own accord.

Our Mayor Bach is an asshole. I promised to avoid ad hominem here, and I’ll point out that this is not an attack but an observation, and only my opinion. Publicly, falsely and slanderously maligning the very civilized protesters of OCS for urinating on sidewalks while simultaneously locking park rest rooms which had previously been available to all manner of dope-shooting freaks, and possibly authorizing the operation of park sprinkler systems to douse protesters in below freezing temperatures are asshole moves. In my opinion. Mayor Bach is in error, but he’s only acting as seems best to him in each moment, now also capitulating, and allowing protesters a right to their freedom of speech.

We already have a freedom to speak in our country. My violation of the camping ordinance addresses a deeper, more fundamental set of freedoms mentioned so briefly in Mr. Jefferson’s Declaration, and to be found in all the keening of literature throughout all of history–blowin’ in the wind, one might say. This is not a narrowing of focus, but rather a telescopic lens by which I hope we can examine questions of such grand scale and difficulty that centuries after a bunch of homeless guys floated across the Atlantic to Plymouth, we still haven’t grasped them. failing to address the camping ordinance presenting itself so conveniently will flippantly sidestep the most essential key to all of this whole set of global protesting. We’ve all seen protesters on the street corner a million times. We’ve always compromised. It’s never worked.

Anecdotally speaking, it appears the major objection raised by detractors of the Occupy movement is that there has been no firm expression of goals, manifestos, or demands. It seems to me that this is the natural outcome of the complexity of the problems at hand. Although there are certainly individuals involved in skulduggery at, say, the FED, my view is that we face the necessity to alter a fundamental flaw in our very basis for human interaction. I’ll leave you to read my thoughts on that elsewhere in this blog, if you desire, both previous to this post and to come. Right now the Occupy movement is just an acknowledgement of discomfort with the extraordinarily stubborn status quo across all political and national lines, and a frame work within which discussion may take place. Planning and legal definitions will have to wait for some 7 billion Occupiers to chime in. The difficulty of hashing out the minor disagreements among players here in Colorado Springs may be an indication of how much work is involved with the big picture. Be patient. Unless you like the status quo. Most of us don’t.

For anyone out of the loop, including friends across the U.S. and abroad, here’s a bit of fact: I was arrested 18 October, around 2am MST for deliberately violating a city no-camping ordinance. The arrest was executed by my friends, the extra-fine members of the “HOTT” team of the CSPD, as we had previously discussed, (those guys are just as much in jeopardy from “Wall Street” as any of us; they are our brothers). I was simply driven, sans violence of any kind, or even cuffs or hard feelings, to the Gold Hills police station. We did a little paperwork and the fellas drove me to a friend’s place where I claimed a bit of much-needed rest. The HOTT team and I were completely cooperative with one another, and remain so. They did their jobs, I did mine. I had to wrestle with the question until some family matters came up, but I will not be camping under that no-camping sign again until at least my court date, 8 Nov at 1:30p MST. I can not, nor will I attempt to speak to the actions of any other sovereign actors who may follow my example, other than to toss out my opinion should it seem germane to me.

I hope we can all have this conversation in a civilized manner. I hope the whole world shows up at the courthouse that day. I hope all my friends known and unknown that can’t make it will pray, or chant, or beam love on fairy wings–whatever their fancy. I’m gonna need it. I think we all need it, that day and every other.

Reprinted from Hipgnosis

To be or to be somewhere else

An attempt to address a few issues presented here in as brief a fashion possible: Re: “Occupy Colorado Springs hits legal wall.” Regardless of the opinions of any observer or participant in any protests currently under way here or across the country, police are likely to follow the direction of their superiors, apart from unauthorized behavior on the part of mavericks or rogues. Jason points out that the Bill of Rights “trumps” city ordinances and statutes, and if that is not true then I am personally inclined to object strenuously and if necessary physically, in the sense that I will camp “illegally” with the occupiers during the course of the current protestations.

A point is advanced during the meeting that separates homeless campers from active political occupiers. As a matter of personal opinion, though there are some real differences in context, the camping ordinance is bad law as yet untested in courts. However, having been involved with the free food biz in Colorado Springs for decades I am confident in stating that many homeless campers are in their position by choice, having opted out of a political system found onerous. I see no legitimate difference between this lifestyle of protest and the pointed expressions of protest embraced by Occupy Colorado Springs. Other homeless campers are thus because of uncontrolled habits, some of which fall under the label of “diseased” behavior by authoritative bodies in the U.S. or because of circumstances external to their control. There are only two varieties of property in the entirety of the U.S.–public or private. If the continuously burgeoning population of homeless campers is barred from sleeping on public property, and have no means by which to acquire access to private property, they have no option at all. Others are then required by default to put them up, thus far manifest here in conditions both unsanitary and unsavory as demonstrable by the bed-bug ridden Express Inn or the Aztec Motel, or else the Salvation Army–court ordered church. Otherwise, our only other option is to incarcerate them. I maintain that an unmentioned and “unalienable” right of all human beings is simply to be, wherever that being may take place.

Jason points out the tenuous Constitutional position of the camping ordinances in a reasonably clear manner. The position of the police is clear and understandable, though I believe they are mistaken about the issues with city statutes; they will do as directed by others. Some of us affiliated with with the Occupiers, including I, believe arrest followed by courtroom examination of these and other questions may be seen as a good thing, and would result in the elimination of obviously untenable, ill-conceived statutes that are currently being enforced only in the most visible and problematic cases anyway.

This describes some of the entanglement of the only somewhat separate matters of Occupiers in Colorado Springs, and campers in Colorado Springs. Without more than this brief mention, it also demonstrates the erosion of liberty in this country that precipitates the protests in the first place.

Finally, to nip a little at Bryce’s bait, his “dismissive” attitude is unnecessary and dishonorable. I would personally love to see the unconstitutional camping ordinances put to the test in court. The U.S. Constitution is NOT an especially arcane piece of work, in spite of generations of lawyers’ efforts to make it seem so. Here’s a copy for you to examine: http://constitutionus.com/ . Have one of these, too: ushistory.org/declaration/document/

As an individual, merely affiliated with the fine and diverse members of Occupy Colorado Springs, I can speak only for my own motivation and opinion.

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Cajun squirrels and field peas

One more time, for the Community Kitchen Cookbook. This is something like the coon-asses I planted tree with for a season used to do over a propane cooking ring. They used a couple dozen squirrels and fed us all at once. Man, that was some good times. If you want it coon-ass authentic, serve with plenty of cheap beer. Don’t get too drunk and kick the pot over.

Squirrel with Black-Eyed Peas
Four medium-size squirrels, drawn, skinned, and cleaned
1/2 lb Black-eyed peas
3 md Onions
2 sm Carrots
1/2 pk Frozen sweet peas
1/4 lb Smoked link sausage
Flour
Bacon fat or lard
Garlic
Little dab of oregano and marjoram
Salt and pepper
1 c Chicken broth
For the slow cooker: serves two
Put the squirrels into salted water and hold overnight in the refrigerator; the next day, rinse and pat dry.
Bring 4-6 cups of water to vigorous boil in a large saucepan, then add the black-eyed peas to it. Boil furiously for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and cover; hold 15 minutes and drain. Quarter the squirrels, and dredge with flour. Sauté in a skillet in hot bacon fat or lard until golden brown, then drain on a paper towel and place in a crock-pot. Saute the garlic til golden before adding onion. . Chop the onions coarsely, and sauté in bacon fat and pan drippings until translucent, and add to the pot. Cut the carrots into 3/4″ lengths, and the sausage into 1/8″ disks, then add them along with the frozen peas and the cooked black-eyed peas. Salt and pepper to taste and stir gently; add the chicken broth and cook in the crock-pot for 8 hours on low setting, or until the meat is almost falling off the bones. For a different flavor, you can substitute lentils or navy beans for the black-eyed peas.

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Today’s Tom Sawyer

It’s 4am here and this occurred to me strongly enough just now to have me say it just now. For Vic, Ken and the rest of my Christian friends, as well as Michele, Kathryn, and others who get twitchy when I bring up the Bible.
 
I had breakfast with my friend Vic a little while ago and we had some of this conversation–I mean this conversation. The one we’ve been having if you’ve read any of this stuff around here, or if you’ve been to see me at my Facebook, or on the sidewalk or whatever. Vic is a Christian, and about as solid a practitioner as I’ve ever met. He “works” as a prayer director for one of the internationally influential untaxed Christian pseudo-businesses one might easily enough find scattered around town here in Colorado Springs. Years ago I lived in Lindale, Texas and I used to say Lindale was the buckle of the Bible Belt. Now that some of the big organizations down in Lindale have disappeared due to fraud and embezzlement and the like and some of the people I knew down in East Texas have moved to this very town I sometimes say America’s waistline has risen with age and the buckle has found a home in Colorado Springs.

Anyhow, Vic is an affable guy and a good friend and we had a good time over our platesful of arterial lubrication such as we Americans like to do at breakfast. He said he had read some here on these e-pages–I aaalmost cringed because of a certain propensity of mine. Then I remembered one of the axiomatic rules I’ve taught my kids since they started picking up English: “There’s no such thing as a bad word, only bad timing.” It’s time for this.

Vic said he found some of the thoughts he’d come across here, “interesting,” and mused that I had a bone to pick with “organized religion,” which is true, but hasn’t really come up at hipgnosis just yet, I don’t think. I cringed a bit at having utilized terms like “motherfuckah” while discussing a Bible tidbit known as the Beatitudes from a longer passage known as the Sermon on the Mount. It’s one of those axiomatic rules for lots of Christians, and for many who’ve never set foot in a Christian edifice as well. One finds the passage, (from the book of Matthew, chapter 5, in the Bible, if you’re interested), hanging on wooden plaques and the like in people’s living rooms and over their toilets and chapel entrances all over the world, and I suppose in every tongue still in print. I felt a twinge of embarrassment at the time that I get now and then from writing strongly about such grand subject matter knowing well that I’m no saint myself. So I brushed my way by that one at the time, and we went on with breakfast, and with other portions of the Conversation. That’s why this is for Vic at the top of the page, not ’cause I mean to point him out as a prime exemplar or anything.

I have lots of Christian friends, and I often claim that very appellation amongst them, (though not so often amongst the “Romans”); some of them may now think of me as shooting my own foot as I continue. I also have friends that are occultist dope fiends. They’ll find this bit rather more amusing, I expect, but I’ll implicate myself with them too, when I get a round tuit. This is not about organized religion–it’s personal, you see, and directed at people I know, among others including myself where it applies, by which I mean, “where it applies.” Not, “where it applies unless it’s uncomfortable to apply it there like Mercurochrome or something.”

Christians are full of shit as a defining point–the idea of Christian full-of-shitness is all over the New Testament. Many if not most of them have not the merest clue about their own doctrine and those that do spend hours and hours at intricately complex and totally reducible discussions about irreducible complexity and such while ignoring the business of Love so central to their own foundations. (Recall my comments about pseudo-statements now, if you will). One of the so-called Ten Commandments reads, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain,” in that poetic old Frank Bacon English I love so much, (Exodus 20:7, if you give a damn). I’m not gonna dig out a Hebrew lexicon to make this point, and some translations say “misuse” or something instead of “take…in vain”. Whatever. You Christians quit tapdancing and think about this.

Just about any Christian will get at least a little uncomfortable if you say, “God damn it.” There are injunctions in their doctrine warning them away from curses, as well as oaths, unpiloted tongues, and “coarse language”. They don’t so often know the difference and figure this sort of thing for “taking the LORD’s name in vain.” Think about this: When a woman marries a man in most contemporary societies, she takes his name, though this is no longer so mandatory as it had been given the slow and incremental abandonment of the notion of women as property in vogue these days. If a woman, say, marries some patriarchal dude and then goes to work for some pimp on the side, she’s taken Dude’s name in vain. So when Christians do their little tapdancing around points in their own bedrock supposedly established by Gawd Himself and endorsed by His Only Begotten where they’ve not-quite-deliberately, (that’s a dance move called an NQD in the studios, BTW), failed even to drill for pylons, they join the Golden Calf Party, and according to their own lore will be consumed in the fires as they fall through the very fissure in that bedrock I describe here now.

This is the same sort of thing going on when a guy zips up his fly after reading about turning the other cheek and steps out to shoot his quota of Afghans for the day. Or votes a “hawk” into office at his 8-year-old’s school assembly room. Or works up a smokin’ hot head of steam about the crackhead that broke into his garage to feed a real live demon that lives in any crackhead’s pocket and gets real hungry and cranky, (snicker), when its belly is empty. And practicing the sort of bullshit Christianity that allows for this sort of Gene Kelly move is like sailing down the mighty Mississip’ on a flat Tom Sawyer raft made of the concrete that you ought to have been using to build your foundation instead. You’re already at the bottom of the river and the Water of Life is flowing right by your drowned bones.

I’ll be danged…the Sun is coming up over a fine Colorado Sunday morning and I’ve just come to wrapping up a genuine sermon, complete with brimstone. Who’da thunk it?

Pay attention Christian: The World doesn’t hate you because you bring Jesus up all the time. It hates you because you sully a beautiful thing. It hates you because you’re an abject hypocrite, the worst variety of an asshole! And they can smell it, even if they can’t articulate the thought. And none of this is wrong; the fact that it’s coarse is a separate matter. I may have blown my disguise for some…it’s ok, I’m still pretty clear with my own notion of where I stand, and this is for you at least as much as it’s for my own amusement. To paraphrase Gandhi, “I’d be a Christian if it weren’t for the God damn Christians.” That nor any of the above has nothing at all to do with whether I’m actually a Christian or not, nor does it have to do with “religion”, organized or otherwise. It’s about that personal relationship you guys keep talking about. It’s dysfunctional, Yo, and it’s up to you to straighten yours out while I worry about my own.

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Genocide

When I was a young hoodlum, I plagiarized a bit of prose poetry with something like this at its core in order to make myself look cool. As an officially legal adult I’ve lost interest in how things look and have taken up a pursuit of how things Are. This is my take on the piece that my younger self recognized as valuable. That unknown poet, whose name is long lost to the mists of my long lost mind may well recognize a few of his or her words here. No harm intended, kind sir or ms. All the cells that may have stolen your work wholesale are long dead. I hope you like what my momentarily current self has done with the memory….

When I woke up this morning I pulled back the cover and in so doing scattered skin cells like chaff from wheat onto the floor.
I drank a bunch of hot-ass coffee and scalded my tongue–maybe the caffeine killed a few hundred thousand brain cells. Who knows?
I rode my bike to a demonstration, undoubtedly reaping a harvest of sorrow amongst the muscle cells in my anguished protesting protester’s legs.
When I arrived and put the rest of my body to protesting I met a friend and we hugged causing the deaths of multitudes of fleshly villagers in each of our respective bodies.
As the day progresses into evening I’ll meet others maybe loved ones maybe new acquaintances and we will joyfully kill one another’s cells ending their brief unnoticed lives ignominiously.
If it should fall out that we fuck–Genocide!
How is it that these most tender of acts expressing our humanity are so violent in their collatery? Does it matter? Are those cells not reborn in a new generation a new regeneration? Hark! I am born again yes born again.
I am born and born and born requiring the Universe to bear me. It’s the points on a line–I am born again at each indivisible moment. Infinite. There are no two points between which there are not infinite dimensionless points. I’ve been born again more times than there are numbers for as I wrote this.
You’ve committed murder in your own head while you read it. Surely this bit has killed some of your brains off too.
The beauty of it all is Infinite. Eternal. Undying.

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Willie and Waylon and Some Other Dude: A story about weed, marriage, and Texas tall tales, Part 2

For you, Willie. God bless the Hell out of ya! Alright, so this is all the same thought and I’m just thinkering around with it some for y’all. And it’s all bullshit.
 
I bet some of y’all forgot this was in the offing. I didn’t, and it really is all one thought. It’s about more than lost weekends or divorce fodder, too. It’s about God and country, life, liberty, and the pursuit of revolution in the fast lane. Let’s hope no one gets hurt, because it’s not me in the fast lane. And you thought I was going to tell you something torrid, din’cha!? Wait–maybe I am!

A lot of the guys that started this country–the U.S.A., where I live–were church folk. They tried real hard, ya have to grant, but they were church folk after all, so they had blinders on just like lots of church folk always have, and still do today. Get to lookin’ too closely at the periphery of things and it’s scary, don’t we all know….
They came over here in the first place on the run from some other church folk, that wanted to kill the Hell out of them. So, naturally they immediately set about establishing a domicile, ( in someone else’s back yard, mind you), where they could kill the shit out of everyone else, instead. After a while that arrangement started to smell a little funny–on account of the bullshit, see–and a few got together to to try and straighten things out. Besides, the Grand Game wasn’t working out quite right and the game pieces kept getting scattered.

The Occupiers read St. Thomas’s Declaration at Acacia Park the other day, ( I call him St. Thomas just to mess with him–he was just as scrambled as the rest of us, if ya didn’t know). It was a beautiful thing. It was beautiful when Kyle read it with his shredded voice. It was beautiful when Jefferson wrote it, and beautiful when they read it in the Boston Common. It’s all the more applicable today if you crunch a few names and change a few numbers, and Jefferson would certainly be needing to restrain Patrick Henry from swinging blows by now if those guys lived now, and had let it all slide as far.

Jefferson wrote the Declaration, , but he had nothing to do with the Bill o’ Rights. He was out of town when they threw that stuff together, which they did ’cause they knew he hated the idea. In fact, he may have ditched town because he knew they were gonna just have to write it and he just couldn’t stand it. He figured it best to leave well enough alone, for fear of a thing developing like we’ve heard, “Everything not forbidden is mandatory.” Now would be the moment to mention that this is an axiom in–wait for it… Quantum Physics, stolen from literature fair and square by a fellow named Gell-Mann and named the “Totalitarian Principle”. That’s right–physicists see the poetry and the downright ridiculous humor in all this, too, sometimes.

The Bill o’ Rights contains stuff designed to keep government unobtrusive. No one could figure out a way to make it go away completely back in the day, but those guys had eaten enough shit to realize they didn’t want a buncha power to inhere in the Halls of Power. Even the church guys had had enough–my mom’s family came over to escape religious persecution real early on, (my aunt Leslie paid someone a boatload of money to tell her we came over with a boatload. Surely it’s not bullshit). So that’s what they were thinking about when they put together the addenda to the Constitution. How could Jefferson and the rest have guessed that it didn’t matter about the enumeration? We were bound to fuck it up, anyhow.

Willie, still onea my heroes, used to let his freak flag fly without regard for whom it may have snapped when the wind caught it. No doubt being out in the weather like that has worn his flag out some, so I hope I can spiff it up some for him–add some color, if you will. That weed-rag interview that set me off about all this was sad as a dirge, to me, simply ’cause I still idolize Mr. Nelson. I still hope he gets to be POTUS. If he does I wanna do some bongs in the Oval Office! But when I read his carryings on about medical marijuana, and how we ought to tax and regulate it and all that Republican, party-line shyte, I wanted to spend the rest of the week wearing a black arm-band, even though I know most of the”patients” at the weed stores here in Colorado just want to get stoned.

The decision to alter one’s consciousness, which each and every human being makes every single day as soon as the notion to open his eyes in the morning passes across the surface of his frontal lobes, is absolutely private, to be rendered with the final consultation of no one but the individual in question, and his or her God, (or absence of god, if such a thing were really possible). I promised I wouldn’t use that clunky English, but it’s important to be sure no one feels left out of this. Maybe I should say “his and her” now, to be sure I don’t miss any hermaphrodites, drag queens, or Chas Bono. The fact that this is a strictly spiritual decision relieves the government, and everyfuckin’body else of responsibility for my decisions, or anyone else’s decisions other than their very own. It also renders it illegal for them to regulate or tax. “Sin” tax, right? Ooooh– I can smell the smoke coming form y’alls ears from here, though I know not all those brain cells are heating up for the same reasons.

I promised to squeeze marriage into this, right? Still think I can’t do it? Watch this….

We have spent an awful lot of effort in this country worrying about whether or not queers ought to be allowed, allowed, to marry each other. Who is it gonna do the allowing? We the people? Aren’t we talking about the government? Isn’t marriage at its very most basic essence an spiritual agreement between some people and whatever god or non-god they deign to invoke? So what the fuck is a secular government doing in the marriage business at all??? If your church doesn’t like queers, don’t have any. If your church doesn’t like straights, get the pastor to put on lots of makeup and a Dolly Parton wig–that ought to scare them off well enough. But if those perverts in Washington start foisting their own crap on us then–oh, wait–they have, and the shit is totally screwed now!

St. Thomas said the government should do no more than to prevent folks from harming one another. (He got that idea from J.S. Mill, who likely got it by Divine Inspiration, if you ask me). So, a bit of tastefully rendered social contract law wouldn’t hurt, but licensing marriage is utterly unconstitutional, and maybe straight from the Devil, or the Balrog, or something. Just like prohibition laws of any stripe. You just can’t write one in stripes that are recognizably red, white, and blue. Maybe Willie’s flag is too faded for it to remind him of that, but I know the damn thing is still flying. I have to believe it. ‘Cause Willie’s a hero, an icon of the War from back before he was born.

And when we get together next summer we’re gonna laaaugh–’cause he gets it, ya know….

I lied about it bein’ part two, though. It’s all been the same story–all of it. I lied about the bullshit, too –it’s all fuckin’ True!!!

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Revolution at 2112 RPM

For Tom, the guys at Occupy Colorado Springs, and everyone else:

So, if I sit here and carry on about how we can get out of this grief under which so many of us find ourselves buried by living cooperatively, and no one plays along, it’s like division by zero, an operation that produces no definable solution and the thought of which is so troublesome it caused philosopher George Berkeley to suspect all mathematicians could be devil-worshipers on the side. Seriously. A new friend I met at Acacia Park yesterday asked where the little hullabaloo about banks and bailouts and revolution and such was happening in Colorado Springs was asking the general milieu of rabble rousers where their revolution could be expected to go. (Hi, Tom). Some of the guys there, as one might expect, were so fed up with the obviously unsupportable state of current affairs that they were almost gleefully anticipating violence and war–civil war–right here in the U.S.A.. (Hi, Pat). I certainly can’t blame anyone for thinking that way, given that I hoped fervently for exactly the same outcome from around the 3rd grade til only recently, really.

I’ve already mentioned my opinion of the futility of standard issue revolutions. We’ve tried that. It doesn’t work. We’ve tried Monarchies, ordinary dictatorships, “working-class dictatorships”, Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, Ism after Ism–none of what we’ve tried to do has worked, neither for the oppressed nor the oppressors. We’ve been dividing by zero all the while. You should look that operation in the eye some, so you know what I’m saying. It’s the same as proving a negative, or trying to work out the math of the Singularity, and if you find it difficult, one glance at a graph will turn the lights on a little for you. When I was a schoolboy, I always thought it was supremely bogus to respond to any questions about division by zero, (or other imponderables, for that matter), by asserting the answers to be “undefined” just because a conventional answer might be unsatisfactory. I was a weird kid, OK? Look at the link or find something more techie, (a little help, Kathryn?), and then extrapolate the idea to the business of social revolutions and you’ll find my point, or at least one “quantum” facet of it. You could have a look at a representation of the Ouroborus and get the same notion to materialize in your head, maybe.

The shit we’ve been doing has not worked, is not working, and will not work. The answers we’re after will not derive from the operation we’ve been attempting to apply, no matter what.

We compete. That’s just what we do. We compete against one another, against Nature, and maybe against God, though it’s not by any means compulsory for you to think of it in any sort of Divine sense, or wrestle with religious aversions for the thing to work out the same, here. That’s just me. The competition we’ve been so avid to pursue all these generations hasn’t worked any better for the atheists or the religious. If we pursue yet another bloody revolution, we’ll wind up bathing in another absurdly predictable vat of blood, and maybe you super-rich can stretch your inane Grand Game out for a few more years in your bunkers after some of us useless eaters are dispatched and used as semi-organic fertilizer. The snake will still have a mouthful of tail caught up in its throat, if it lives through this one.

Tom was serious about finding a solution when he came by our little protestation yesterday. Pat was just as serious about the blood, I’m afraid. I’ve had enough of blood, so here’s what I’m doing. See what you think. (Here comes the part that might curdle Mom’s blood a bit, but maybe not…maybe not.) I have completely abandoned ordinary reality. It’s never worked so well for me anyhow, and I was already kinda screwed when I came to this notion, so you are welcome to hold on to your own personal misery and think of me as just another hopeless crackpot, if you want–another useless eater. After all, I’m seriously just an 9th grade dropout and unemployed housepainter with bad joints and a broken back, a tragic character out of a Steinbeck novel if you will. Except I don’t feel tragic at all; I’m the happiest guy I know. No shit.

What does it mean to have abandoned ordinary reality? There are lots of angles to that so I apologize up front for the doglegs I’ll be working as I attempt to answer the question. First, I’ve given up looking for a “job”, or the hope of ownership of anything at all, including money. That doesn’t mean I’ve decided to laze around on someone’s sofa til I die of entropic dissipation; I’ve been incredibly busy since this paradigm shift, with no horizon in sight, really. There are millions of people in the shape I was in over last summer, wells running dry and bankruptcy looming while the whole time work to do abounds. I’ve just given up the game those $game pieces$ track, like a chess player laying down his king. Those guys won. It’s OK–it’s only a game, after all. I was never so good at it–never really gave a damn.

Now I find myself in a brand-new and rather sketchily mapped territory where I’m the president of my own head and nothing else, a monarch of abrogation and apostasy. So when Tom asked about a plan, I had to think about it some before I could even say as much as I am right here, right now. The two biggest differences I can define between this new approach and the other are cooperation and good ol’ hippie-dippie, Jesus freak style love and self-abandonment. And not just on my end, see. I don’t own anything, won’t own anything at least so long as I go down this path, and can’t pay for anything or support myself, or anyone else. Well then. WTF?

I’ve always given. Always. I loved Robin Hood as a kid, and I used to do things like stashing random campfire-scented homeless dudes in the back of my room at night, in hope that Mom wouldn’t discover them and put them out in the snow or, even worse, send them packing to jail. (Neither Mom nor Dad ever discovered any of them. Hi, Mom. Hey, Dad ;)) I give away food for…well that’s a fine question. When asked why I spend so much of my time on things like the Colorado College Community Kitchen, the best I’ve been able to come up with in response is that it’s just in me to do. I think it’s been some sort of psychic trade-off for the ethical compromises and outright violations to which I’ve succumbed in my lackluster prosecution of the game of property collection, which I’ve always vaguely known to be a sort of theft, just like the Marxists say. Follow me, though–the Marxists haven’t show me anything not-dysfunctional, either. (Sorry, Michele, Jon).

This new thing is about giving and receiving, and about a different way of seeing the whole picture, like when one of those optical illusions with the hidden horse and rider amongst the trees suddenly becomes apparent. Nothing changes; it’s just revealed–revelatory. I live at someone else’s house. I bring around food for everyone to eat that I never owned. I smoke tobacco that a gracious host brought to me, and hope my phone and broadband will still be operational next week. You’re welcome to pay it for me while I try to figure out how to do this with no game pieces at all. Message me; I won’t be paying for it. I’m living on a prayer, as the song goes, living on Love. You can too, I swear. Quit your shitty job at Wal-Mart’s haircutting kiosk and cut your neighbor’s hair for free. Don’t worry about game pieces. Come down to CC on Sunday and help us give away someone else’s food. Have some! Bring some pizzas from your shop to the protesters. Retire your jersey if you’re a big winner and forget about the conspicuous displays of wealth. We get it. You won! Yay for you! Now put a few families up in your east wing. Love them. Be tender. Let their hapless lost patriarchs know it’s unnecessary to numb the pain with whiskey, or whatever. It’s OK–we won’t call you a wuss, or anything.

Right now there’s Revolution in the wind. I like to read kind of a lot. It seems the handiest way to find out about shit, and I’ve read about a lot of Revolutions. It can make my head spin. If we pursue Revolution we’ll be running in circles. We’ll be eating our tails. The Earth herself is done with our bullshit, and there’s really not any more tail left to eat. Let’s get off the turntable. We’ll be dizzy for a while, but I think we can walk in a straight line if we get our bearings. Get hold of me. I’ve got these words for you all, for free. This is not a trade. I can paint your house, too, or build you a deck or something. If you want to give me something, or give something to my family, or give something to someone I don’t know and will never meet, then maybe you get it. I won’t take it as payment. I’m not in that game.

I hope this works. I’ve had enough tail. How ’bout you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_by_zero

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Pseu Pseu Pseudo-Do-Dah-Day

For Rob. Thanks buddy! Say hi to yer Mom.
 
We’ve been toying with some pretty weird bits of thinking here, and it’s already getting hard to follow. Lemme try and tie a few things together. Also, if you’re still with me, now’s a good time to point out that this humble site is best read in conjunction with the discussions on my Facebook, (Steve Bass), and for this bit, especially within the PPCC Philosophy Club page linked from my Wall or wherever it is.

Remember my mention of Pseudo-statements back at Willie’s story? Elsewhere, in Stage Magick and around about, notably at the PPCC Philosopy Club linked off my Facebook, I put up the business of our inability to prove a negative. The assertion that “This statement does not belong in the set of all true statements,” is a nice example. The statement is internally self-defeating, negated by paradox; it’s internally inconsistent, self-contradictory, neither true, nor false– a pseudo-statement. The “set of all true statements” statement is a tidy example in that attempting an answer produces a nonsense response awfully reminiscent, at least to me, of the sort of thing that happens to those hapless physicists when they try to crunch their numbers beyond the event horizon and into the heart of the Singularity. Lots of PHDs get real pissy if you try and take their numbers and drag them into the “real” world here. Like most of us, abstractions are fine for them. Hanging flesh on the ephemeral turns it into a monster for some. I, on the other hand, have no such qualm. If matter isn’t made of matter, as some rather esoteric physics appears to indicate, that most assuredly effects us, sez me.

The problem of proving a negative is stickier than the “True Statements” statement, because we can somehow tell the essence of the genuinely self-defeating pseudo-statement is True. Something about the very idea is akin to the business of the Singularity–we can’t seem to get there, or even define the nature of that There, but we know there has to be Something, OK? And thinking about it produces notions that resonate in our world.

We’ve also talked some about politics, and here’s the clincher. Our whole system, our World, maybe even our very Selves combine to make a big ol’ Pseudo-statement, overburdened by internal paradox and contradiction, and decorated with infinite concentric, overlapping circles and waves of Pseudo-reality.

The “Doctrine of the Many,” claimed by Zoroastrians, Jains, some Gostics, among others, avers that we humans are compound beings. Some scientists at the fringe have claimed this as well, but let me keep this as political as I can for a moment. The concept surfaces in Western thinking when we speak of “talking to ourselves,” which we all know can be quite an argument at times, and in notions like multiple personality. Most U.S. citizens will agree that we are a “Christian” nation in spite of that pesky 1st Amendment. We’ll acknowledge “diversity” in religious matters, but obviously those other guys are wrong and belong in Hell where they won’t fuck up our Christian Zen, see? The foundational Christian documents upon which the edifice of the world’s biggest group of religions includes a whole lot of admonitions about Love. Yet it is hardly necessary to provide examples of the embarrassing fact that a whole lot of Christians are rabid, violence-loving haters dribbling foam from their chins as the rail about how, “God hates fags,” or whatever. Don’t feel so smug if you’re a Buddhist or an Agnostic or < insert your favorite dogmatic crap here> and you still get that rush of glee when you see Saddam dangling from a rope or hear about the supposed demise of Osama. I may argue that a thing can be both A and non-A at the same time, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that killin’ a motherfuckah is the same as turning the other cheek. Where is the Love in this set of systems/politicals/religions/nationalisms? It’s in there, but only in the sense that it sets the whole business up as a sort of cosmic, (and often comic), Pseudo-statement.

I spoke a bit with my homeless friend Rob yesterday and he told me about a guy he knows with some brilliant talent–musical, I think–that lives outside. Rob had burned himself accidentally and the topic brought to light his friend’s plight; the guy is a multiple, and periodically his alter will emerge and industriously destroy his life. The fellow named his alter Jack, I think, and knows of his existence from observing the destruction “Jack” leaves in his wake, but the two never interact. The guy blacks out and has no recollection of moving about in the world while Jack is in control. Once Jack put his feet in a campfire til the shared body required a lengthy hospital stay. One day Jack just may kill the both of him.

I’m saying Christendom is just like Jack and his host, and so is American society. So is the whole freakin’ society of the whole freakin’ world. Only we suffer from a far more advanced stage of the condition and our legs are buried in hot coals. Our hair is on fire. Those homeless dudes don’t worry about a house, but we’ve been building a huge edifice on a foundation of shit for so long we think we can’t backtrack, but backtrack we must. This house is collapsing upon us right now, as we speak, so to speak, and we need to get the fuck out, tear down the M.C. Esher thing we’ve been trying to build, and start the fuck over or we’re all going to be buried. Our society, societies, lives, and now even the solid earth is/are collapsing under the weight of internal contradictions of our own making.

Most who’ve read so far won’t need me to explain the function of a keystone–the stone at the top of an arch that concentrates the force and thereby holds the arch in place. When the capstone at the top of an arch at, say, a Medieval cathedral erodes, the arch collapses. The capstone of the Christian faith is supposed to be Love, right? Isn’t that key to a great many doctrines? It seems hard to find a player in all the world that will openly advocate for a doctrine of Hatred. Even the nastiest Devil-worshiping headbanger seeks Love, if only amongst his own within the particular bit of the Chaotic waveform in which he finds himself. Whatever. Our shit is missing its capstone. And its foundation is shit, too.

Don’t you dare get all dogmatically ideological and ignore the fact that I’ve NOT preached Jesus here, or any other tributary. We–and I mean all of us, including those of us clutching the notions of enmity so close to our hearts, and those addicted to power–need to stand back, tear the whole house down, and rebuild something with a thoughtfully drawn blueprint. We need to build an edifice on a foundation of Love, designed toward the capstone of Love. When we do that–oh, what a mansion we’ll have!

What did that one dude John say? “God is Love.” Right? Can I get a witness?

Right. Thus sayeth the housepainter.

http://samaelgnosis.us/books/html/revolutionary_psychology/chapter_12.htm

http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Yer in the Army Now….

So much has been happening lately I’m afraid this will be a big confused mess, but what th’ hey, right?
 
The world is in a Meltdown. Hell that’s the reason I have time for this crap, ya know? This is NOT a surprise. We’ve all known it’s been coming for a looong time now, though it’s hard to nail down that specific moment when we knew. Maybe we always did. I’ll get to how I think we’ve known, and how we didn’t know we’ve know a different time. For now, a somewhat more imminent thought. Here’s one place to find a buncha bone-chilling stats http://www.theglobaleducationproject.org/earth/index.php . The numbers are everywhere. This is only one source, and far more officious, (don’t mess with me, I used that word on purpose), sources are available. YOU look ’em up. Anyone wanting to look fuckin’ stupid can tapdance around them til–well, til the Apocalypse–and they’re not gonna change, cause tapdancin’ won’t change it. If it was gonna, it woulda! I already put it more or less in a nutshell: WE’RE FUCK-ED!!

But we’re not. We’re still breathing, still eating, drinking, fucking, pumping out babies, and so on. I have two accidental children whom I love without bounds. I genuinely thought it would be rude, at best, to sire a new Person and foist all this bullshit upon him16 years ago when the pertinent romantic interlude took place. Maybe it is, in way, but in plenty of other ways life is as always a thing of such great, broad, deep beauty that I think all potential for its fulfillment ought to be pursued. (Don’t imagine I’ve converted to Catholicism or something–that though was rather more metaphysically driven, and you should put on a raincoat if it looks like rain. Or waders if it looks like–you know ;)) Look around, though. We’re ALIVE!! More than we know. And life shows us in every discrete packet of light entering our retinas that it will rise, no matter what. We can’t kill the Earth. I rather think she’d prefer us to work this out, but she’ll be fine. We can certainly destroy our ability to live here as Humans, though.

In Consider the Lilies, I started to explain what I’m up to here. Every time I approach that question, the answers that come to me sound more and more absurdly grandiose. Save the world? I mean, reeealy! when I was a young child, like in the 3rd grade or something, (no shit–ask Mom), I was politicized and set in a frame of mind opposed to fascism, oppression, and unkindness, for lack of a better term. Everyone knows this is the course of idealism, though, right? I got out in the “real” world and it struck me that one must make some pragmatic concessions to get by. Right? We all learn this, don’t we? Usually when it “strikes” us it’s like a brick in the head. It’s usually thrown at us by some cog in the Fascist machine.

If you’ve read the earlier posts, or caught my live rant, you’ve likely been puzzled by my carryings on about money being a bad metaphor. It’s outdated poetry, good for a time, now hopelessly outdated like that ridiculous, overwrought Victorian romance shyte you may have read in college or high school. (Leave them kids alone, teacher!). “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling, ” wrote Oscar Wilde, and the old thing has gotten us a long way, in fact, it’s gotten us right here. Fucked. Or on the cusp of some spectacular event(s).

We live in a competitive world. Whichever doctrinal approach one embraces, whether scientifically mechanistic or holding out for divine fiat, it’s the scrabbling over game pieces that has us in this sinking boat. Everyone has to have a buncha shit they don’t need, in order to display for all the other poor losers how dominant they or their team has been in the Game. This isn’t a fuckin’ game anymore, though. Look at those numbers again. Do you really think a little half-assed reduction in increase in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 100 years or whatever is going to save the human race? Get real! Do you really think we might someday pay off our $23 trillion debt, or whatever it is? What’s that shit, anyways? To whom do we owe it? When did we sign that contract? Didn’t someone steal that from us last month? Do we really think we can survive a collapse of the oceans, the food chain, the watersheds, etc, etc, and so on?

I may be grandiose and ridiculous, but I can read the writing on the wall, in the sky, on the face of the Moon. We’re gonna need to stop fiddle-fuckin’ around and wrestle this shit to the ground, or we’re all gonna die. Our kids are gonna die. Our grandkids, if we live to see them, will be mutant freaks like Goldbloom’s fly monster, just like the poor fucked up three-eyed fish around Chernobyl and downstream of a BHP Billiton mine , (BHP: Broken Hill Properties. It’s only a secret if you close your eyes, kids). They’ll die miserably, and the Earth will breathe a sigh of relief, having fought off a pestilent Virus. Or we can CHANGE EVERYTHING.

I saw a panel discussion at the community college yesterday, (PPCC). A Bahai, a Buddhist, a Pagan, and a Christian philosopher walked into a bar and the bartender said, “What is this, a fuckin’ joke?” Oh–sorry. They actually sat behind a table and spoke as cogently as they were able, and we all took them fairly seriously, if with the standard portion of salt–you know it’s still all bullshit, right? A thematic keystone was the notion that we’re all One, that it’s all All-One. You’ll notice me playing that riff for all I can wring from it. It’s got a lot of Soul, and it sounds good. When I say we’re all gonna die, I don’t mean all us minor league players. The whole stadium is collapsing. It’s already collapsed in a lot of ways. Check out my friend Skip’s posts about the Federal Reserve. Don’t be tapdancing when you read. The Fascists will die with us. Their secret bunkers won’t do. Competition is over; the game pieces are reduced to Parker Bros. parts. Cooperative living is at hand.

Only LOVE will save us. That’s right, y’all.Think that’s hokey? Sure. It is. But that’s a view from the old game. I put this shit up because I believe it. I’m just as much like water as anyone else. I’d stay comfortably here at the lowest level if it seemed for one second to me like that might be an option. It does not. It is not. Change or die. Right now. Today. Look me up. I have a couple ideas, and I bet you do too, if you were to stop concentrating on that tapdance.

There are many, many more things to say about all this. Come back and see us, eh?

Viva la rivoluzione!
Viva l’Esercito dell’Amore!

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)