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8/27 Tucson, AZ
This will be the last day of the tour because New Mexico and West Texas weren't coming up with much and I realized I was going to be leaving Houston soon after returning. A small group showed up for an afternoon screening and workshop. We focused on issues of sexual assault within the activist community and rockstar activists. A guy from Texas at the health food store recognized me from my band. 8/26 Phoenix, AZ
Counter Culture is a hip bookstore with an anarchist bookstore next to it. Some folks came by for a continuation of the previous night's workshop.
8/25 Phoenix, AZ
The Firehouse is a cool cluttered artsy space and twenty people showed up to see the film and do a workshop. Afterwards I went home with some interesting folks and ate home made lentil burgers and read about guided meditations.
8/24 Prescott, AZ
I picked up some French Canadian hitch-hikers on the way who watched the film on my portable dvd player and bought a copy. I arrived at the bookstore kinda worried because the phone had been busy for several days. The door was open and I went looking for someone. Two people were on their knees feeding each other peaches. I introduced myself and the woman remembered me but started apologizing for having forgotten to tell anyone about the screening or contacting me about it. But the most noticable thing was that they seemed to be on acid. A few people dropped by and we watched the film.
8/23 Las Vegas, NV
I got a response from some folks on myspace the previous day, welcoming to come do a home screening at their place, but they had no idea if they could get anyone to show up. I drove through the desert all day going up to 4,700 feet on my first tank full of waste vegetable oil. As I approached the Nevada border, I could see a surreal skyline from far away. There were castles, a tramway, giant malls and the Gap all there in the middle of the desert. But as I got closer, I saw a big toxic looking puddle with what looked like warning signs posted all around it.
I arrived at the house in Vegas and it was a giant mansion where Reagan stayed once. There was a huge pool room with a hot tub and a rocky waterfall. There was a glass wall facing the pool that allowed the swimmers to peep into a shower on the other side. My hosts were an activist couple that had somehow ended up living in some kind of mafia house. There was a large orange dog that had been dognapped and forced to fight in Mexico for several months, punk kid and old guy living under the same roof, or rather there seemed to be several roofs connected. I have no idea what was going on there, and my hosts didn't either, though they were trying to figure it out. Perhaps things in Vegas are necessarily corrupt, and the sleaze extended deep inside this house. There were mannequins with holes poked in them and light coming out, a giant metal fish, and a secret room behind the book case. No one showed up to see the film but around 9pm, some guy came by with some papers to serve to someone. We should have invited him to stay and watch.
I had been eagerly awaiting my arrival in Las Vegas because I had been hearing so much about Las Vegas Food Not Bombs getting busted recently. The women had been part of it for a while and gave me some interesting background on what was going on. They explained that an older woman, Gail and son Joe Sacco have been dealing with and enjoying to some extent all the publicity. They are not really the same as those who are doing Food Not Bombs as their food is not even always vegetarian. They said Joe sticks his camera up in cops faces and starts demanding badge numbers and etc. and to some extent, this approach may have escalated the conflict and ultimately made it harder to have servings. Meanwhile, many of the kids have backed off afraid to go to jail. Also, Gail has been unsupportive about sexual harassment and groping by the homeless of the female volunteers, saying that they are necessarily emotionally unstable and it is a natural tendency.
The women also talked about what it is like trying to do DIY organizing in a city where women have few rights and the newspaper boxes on the street are filled with pornography and not newspapers. There is a gambling machine in every business except for the banks, and perhaps they are next. The mayor is famous for only appearing in public with an Elvis impersonator and a showgirl, always having a drink in hand, and telling an audience of kids that if he could only bring one thing to a desert island, he would choose a bottle of Bombay Saffire.
8/22 North Hills, Los Angeles, CA
First a woman did a presentation about her son who was riddled with bullets by LAPD. The audience at the Sepulveda Unitarian Church north of Burbank was older than most, and the television set there was tiny. So, I suggested that we should skip most of the movie as we wouldn't be able to see the subtitles. A few people really enjoyed it and came and thanked me, but the workshop was really nuts because there was an old man screaming stuff at me the whole time, like "what's your position on Chavez? what's your position on Castro?" and I kept trying to move things along. But then things got really crazy when he shouted out "why don't you visit Cuba, you went to Brazil, why not Cuba?" and I told him I would love to go if he would but me some plane tickets and take care of the paperwork, and that I would like to have some black beans. But then a woman from the Green Party was suddenly offended saying it was racist to talk about going to Cuba just to eat black beans and Americans could eat more black beans and probably be healthier, with which of course I agree. My friend DJ from 2nd grade was there with his head in his hands. Afterwards we went out and had black beans.
8/21 Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA
I got my car converted to run on plain vegetable oil after a tour of buying biodiesel. Looking at all the new stuff under my hood, I feel like a transgender person with a brand new set of genitals. A bunch of my friends who hadn't gotten to any of the other LA area screenings came by including Krantz, my friend from 3rd grade, who happened to live a block away. The place was in an alley behind some Chinese restaurants.
8/20 Santa Ana, CA
Off to the inland empire, Orange County Ca. I arrived too late to cook for food not bombs, but made it in time to eat. After, we went to a Mexican Community Center and nine folks checked out the film. But by the time the workshop started, more people had shown up and I finally got my desire to meet with actual communities of color instead of just whites in a people of color community space. There were folks from cop-watch, food not bombs, and an anarchist federation. We had a great talk and then accidentally burned the carpet while burning some sage afterwards. One guy was talking about how the Zapatista other campaign on the other side in California was making some sweeping decisions without much input from Zapatista adherents who didn't happen to live in LA. Another guy was talking about Immokalee organizing in Florida and I how they achieved in four years what they had planned to achieve in ten. On the way home, I was trying to read my directions off my cel phone when a cop drove by and saw me holding up my phone and communicated with me by loudspeaker telling me to put down my phone. It was a very clear voice, it had clear high frequencies and a deepness as well. It was almost as if he were sitting right next to me. I think they have really improved cop loudspeakers over the years.
8/19 El Sereno, Los Angeles, CA
Another space canceled me, so I moved to the Antigua coffee house which is an incredible space for creativity. A high school ska-band looking bunch of guys started loading in, as apparently my screening and their concert were scheduled for the same time. We worked it out and many of their fans ended up watching my film, although some seemed kinda bored. Two of the folks who had come for the screening ended up doing the full unabridged workshop with me, and this was actually the first time this had occurred on the whole tour. It took about five hours and it was an incredible experience to actually finish the material. One was a Spanish guitar major in community college who grew up very poor and wanted to go back and teach music in her community. She was also struggling with the fact that the supermarket where she worked was doing next to nothing about asbestos except making their employees sign waivers of rights. A pretty clear example of our system -- workers are forced to sign documents that acknowledge they are being poisoned. The other guy was a incredibly clear-thinking young student of yoga and ayurvedic medicine. After midnight I drove over to my friends house and got an air-mattress.
8/18 South Central Los Angeles, CA
So, the Southern California Library is probably the coolest collection of leftist literature I have ever seen. A leftist researcher could spend months there and not even scratch the surface. They had old stacks of films and recordings from over 100 years of leftist history in America. It would be well worth any activists time to spend time there and help with the digitizing. The screening and workshop were small and again, were mostly non-local white folks.
8/17 Sylmar, CA
Tia Chucha's is a super cool place, but like the Watsonville show, a bunch of gringos from other neighborhoods far outnumbered any of the local folks from the center. There were indymedia folks and radical therapy folks there, so we had a cool workshop. One guy from the community center gave many indigenous perspectives which added alot. He was advocating taking time each morning to work on ourselves before going out into the world and working with others.
8/16 Santa Barbara, CA
Driving into town I picked up Pacifica radio in LA and heard an announcement of my film, so that was cool. A few arrived for the workshop and a screening on the lawn of the an indymedia guy and his wife. We ended up talking a bit about the problems of indymedia. He thought having a kick-ass codebase like some of the newer blog codebases would really make a difference as there is a fair level of frustration with indymedia tech issues.
8/15 Fresno, CA
I drove in listening to Pacifica radio on they played George Galloway on Flashpoints attacking the Rupert Murdock reporter and I was laughing uncontrollably. Cafe Fresno (Collective for Arts, Freedom and Ecology) has recently been launched in a space that used to be a Chinese restaurant. The Peace Fresno people were having their meeting at the same time, but those kinda groups are pretty hard to get to come out anyway. I don't know if there is a vegan burrito to be had in this town, but the Cafe Fresno folks sent me on a wild manteca chase, so when I got back I was pretty pissed at them. I should have just gone to the supermarket and gotten some hummus.
The screening and workshop were cool with the whole Food Not Bombs house participating. One guy suggested that I try not to interrupt people, and I should really do that. I guess I always feel rushed because people never have long enough to do the whole workshop. then that same guy started telling me about his recent time at Common Grounds in New Orleans. I had already heard that there had been sexual assaults there, but he made it sound like a horrible mess. He said there were rapes and assaults all the time, that there was no structure, and that the toilets were backed up, the food was unsantitary and everyone was getting infections, that they were barely getting a fraction of the work done of other orgs like Acorn. He said the sooner it crashed the better. Wow!
8/14 Watsonville, CA
I stopped off at Robert Anton Wilson's house to show him the movie on his deathbed. An old Indymedia friend, E, was taking care of him and he invited me over. Robert wasn't able to talk much at all, but afterwards he said he liked it and thanked me, apologizing for not being well. I imagined before meeting him that he might be so unhappy about his condition that he would resent visitors, but it was more like he was sorry he couldn't be a better host. He is only 75, but looked 100 with post-polio related problems. He won't be around much longer.
I was very excited to be screening the film at the Brown Beret's place, especially to get to do the Zapatismo material in the workshop with radical Latinos. But, unfortunately, the folks from the space were all off doing other stuff or hanging around outside and it was a bunch of white folks from Santa Cruz who participated. But, I guess white folks are ok too. I stayed with a woman with a little girl who likes soy-butter on her pancakes. I asked her if she could tell me where butter comes from and she said "the butter box."
8/13 Berkeley, CA
The Longhaul has been around for about 30 years, a radical library and home to the Slingshot collective. I arrived during a big feast and then people crammed into the screening room until there was no more room to see the film. This was perhaps the most diverse crowd of the whole tour with very old and very young, straight-laced to punk to hippie to homeless looking. A woman invited me to sleep at her place, on a mattress that was actually in a shower ontop of a bathtub.
8/12 San Francisco, CA
I jumped on the subway to the huge anti-war march and rally. I made copies of a flyer to promote the screenings and handed out hundreds. It seemed like a coalition of commies, liberals and Arabs. The counter-protesters including the somewhat puzzling "anarco-syndicalist for Israel" were across the street. I spent time speaking with a black Muslim kid who was tired of commies trying to talk to him, a Palestinian teacher who told me for the first time in her life she felt herself supporting Hezbollah, and ran into David Solnit. Some were disappointed that there were only a couple thousand, but by Houston standards it was gigantic. I walked to the Station40 for the screening and was kinda grumpy because I was afraid there would only be like eight people again, but it ended up being pretty good, like 30 people. We did a quick workshop, and it was my first chance to run into SF's old school Reichian radical therapy people. There is this interesting question about how that movement petered out, and co-optation would obviously be my first guess, but one of them shed some light on how that may have happened. If you follow too far the idea espoused by Freire at the end of my film, that protesting doesn't change the world, but that people changing themselves does, then everyone could be off in their little realm of change and meanwhile there are genocides going on. You could take Reich's endorsement of orgasm too far and go off with your partner and have great orgasms for years while all along, the government is bombing babies. People with money and spare time can all be liberating themselves more and more, while those who have to work full time have little space for such luxuries. Afterwards, I met up with Dan and Kelli and we went for a walk down a pier. A security guard came out to tell us that the pier was closed and Dan started lecturing him about the law. The security guard was sweating profusely and had no idea what to do so he went to go get back-up. Dan yelled at the back-up too.
8/11 San Francisco, CA
I arrived in town and went straight to a coffee shop to be interviewed by a writer for Alternet. Then I met my friend Shum from the California Nurse's Association and interviewed him for the Houston IMC radio show. The screening was pretty dead, at a place called ATA. Afterward, I was off to a chocolate fondue party where everyone was named Mike and then to crash on the couch of my old friends Dan and Kelli who are staying in a penthouse like apartment with their five year old son Zane who has severe physical and mental handicaps. Taking care of him seems to have given them much happiness. One interesting aspect they brought up was that his lack of ego seems to contribute to him not getting discouraged or sad.
8/10 Sacramento, CA
I arrived in a garden of some Food Not Bombs folks in downtown Sacramento. A small group showed up for the workshop and a bigger one for the film. There was a nice potluck and the film was projected on a large wall. I slept in a room next to some dehydrating figs which smelled quite nice.
8/9 Klamath Falls, OR
It was a difficult drive up some mountains for the Mercedes, but I made it of and met with my generous hosts from the Unitarian Church. They took me to lunch and then we went to the church and had a great workshop. I like workshops so much better when they include either older people or children. Maybe just because I was getting used to the 20s / 30s demographic. Unitarian Universalists rock, they are always open minded about almost anything. My host is a lawyer who does work defending people in medical marijuana cases. The state legalized possession of small amounts by those who have been issued cards for medical reasons. At first, the state cops were harassing people to make sure they didn't have over the legal amount, but he said the state has managed to come to some sort of equilibrium in not hassling those with cards. Those with cards on probation now have the thc section of their mandatory drug tests ignored. Federally, though, it is still illegal, but apparently the amounts are too low for the feds to be interested. In California the clinics / clubs were an easy target but the autonomous nature of the growing in Oregon makes it much less bustable.
8/8 Eugene, OR
I went to the Red Barn health food store and had some strawberry almond juice that was incredible. I was freaking out trying to find some place to go the next day in Ashland OR, and then got an email that reminded me I already had something booked in Klamath Falls. It was serendipitous that I hadn't booked two things or not gotten the reminder email. The workshop was in a garden at the Jawbreaker and it was kinda tense. A few of the capoeira people there seemed to think that my very criticisms of our civilization implied that I was advocating some sort of authoritarian solutions. I had a hard time handling it and ended up scaring a few people off by cutting off certain lines of discussion. Maybe the next time what I should do is ask those present to decide whether we are going to spend alot of time off-topic, or whether they would prefer to try to get through more of the material. There were over 25 folks there for the screening which was cool, and afterwards I went out with the capoeira folks (or the ones I hadn't scared off) and we played capoeira next to the Ken Kesey statue. One of them offered me a place to stay and his housemate had had her purse stolen for the second time in a few weeks in a car break--in. The next morning I went down and got some more strawberry almond juice, some biodiesel and hit the road.
8/7 Portland, OR
I went out trying to promote the screening during the day. Over twenty people showed up for the at the Laughing Horse Bookstore and then we went on a long nomadic workshop. First we walked to a park that was getting kinda dark. A girl who was concerned she might give others scabies gave David Rovics as an example of co-optation accusing him of being at least a macktivist if not a date-rapist. I disagreed that this was a proper example of co-optation, but stood aside on the accusation itself. Two cops on meth-patrol kicked us out of the park, allowing us to finish acting out the garden of Eden first. Then we walked and drove to an Ethiopian place that had no food on Mondays except some hard tacos. So we left and went to a Safeway. A man was yelling at the security guard about having been accused of shoplifting. Then we bought food and sat down to eat in the deli area but they wouldn't let us use the bathrooms. I was joking about trying to create a "safe space" in Safeway. Two women in our group were fighting with the security guard about the bathrooms issue and we all left. Eventually, I ended up on the futon of a man in the business of ebay computer sales who gave me ram.
8/6 Portland, OR
The venue was right down the street from the vegan grocery store, Food Fight, from where I had ordered vegan caviar through the mail for my dad last year. They also had vegan haggis, and vegan tartar sauce. Veganism has, in the past few years become all too easy. There is almost nothing that vegans have to give up, except of course the ability to find things they can eat in most restaurants. Around fifteen people showed up, including some older folks and people connected to alternative therapy. In the Q & A, a woman seemed to have a hard time associating the word anarchism with anything she had seen in the film. A woman played some capoeira with me and then we did a short workshop and went to a late night fancy place with lots of vegan stuff. I stayed up with my host talking about all the connections between therapy and activism. I slept with some cats and woke up to vegan pancakes and sausages.
8/5 Olympia, Wa
Tish was in town from Houston to visit her dad and we met up and she took me to the state fair. We did the Ring of Fire and other rides. The ride where you spin around and stick to the wall had a sleazy carny who made weird comments to Tish while strapping her in about what he gets for giving free rides. We saw the rice crispy treat award winners but missed the pie contest. We went to the venue, Traditions, which is a super cool fair trade general store with a coffee shop. About ten people showed up and watched the film and half stuck around for the workshop. We really wanted to eat sandwiches and drink beverages from the freezer, so we left money for them with a note. I slept up in a nearby carpeted attic with a whole crew of people. The next morning a nice fellow made me lunch and interviewed me for indymedia.
8/4 Tacoma, Wa
I arrived at the Food Not Bombs house in Tacoma and about ten people showed up to see the film. We did a pretty long workshop. The next morning I took the car in to get a oil change and went blackberry picking.
8/3 Seattle, Wa
A few people showed up for a screening at the Apex Belltown Co-op, which is right in the middle of downtown Seattle. It is an anti-gentrification co-op with about 25 members that has been around since the 80s. People seemed very excited about the workshop but called it very early as they all seemed to be up past their bedtimes at 9pm. When I went to my car to get my blanket, I met a crack-head who explained to me that he was on a vacation from his family because he became a dad at 12 and never really had a chance to be an adolescent. He enjoyed drinking and smoking crack and not having to worry about anything much. He planned to end his vacation pretty soon, maybe at the end of the summer. He asked what I was doing and ended up saying he wanted me to take him with me so he could tell his story to kids. Some friends of his came up with some shady proposition and he introduced me to each of them before they walked off. The next morning, I went out with my hosts to a punk rock vegan place.
8/2 Spokane, Wa
As I was driving through Idaho, I passed a beautiful looking lake so I got off the freeway and went through town to find a place to jump in it. I arrived at a beach with people suntanning and swimming and jumped in for a while. When I arrived in Spokane dripping wet, they told me that the water I was in was badly polluted with pesticides. Fifteen or more people got together and watched the film, and did some of the workshop at a punk rock flop house kinda place. Some had concerns about Soma that echoed what Chuck-O had said in Kansas City -- that making everyone do physical trust exercises gave them weird flash-backs to church-camp and didn't strike them as particularly liberating. One funny thing that came up was when we were talking about co-optation and one guy saw co-optation in the way the local peace and justice center treated their World Can't Wait protest. But I pointed out that since that whole campaign was a front-group for the Revolutionary Communist Party that it was co-opted from the start. Like most people I have met who organized a local event from WCW, they had no idea there was a connection to the RCP.
Then we all went to the park and continued and did some capoeira. There was really good discussion about institutionalization and education. One guy had gone to an alternative school that was shut down by the state. After then he couldn't stand to be in a normal school so dropped out. Some had very religious upbringings and got interested in activism when they confronted their disillusionment with religion.
8/1 Missoula, MT
I showed up at a bookstore and there was no projector, just a tiny computer screen that alarmed me. The free projector hook-up wouldn't come through because we weren't a non-profit event. I thought it was pretty ironic since I make so much less money than a non-profit would. But luckily my old friend Brad had a big tv at home. I went with the woman from the bookstore and had some incredible vegan Indian food around the corner and then came back and saw there were over 30 people there for the film. It was the most age-diverse crowd I had gotten in a while. There were a few people there with somatic body-work experience and we had a good Q & A followed by a short workshop at a coffee shop down the street. One guy told me his friend had decided during the film to move to Brazil and become a somatherapist. I stayed up at Brad's house late and ended up watching The Revolution Will Not Be Televised on You Tube which I had never seen in it's entirety. It's really a great film I think. It captures the coup-attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002. It's just amazing to see these guys who seized power thinking they could just dismiss the whole government and the people who all had copies of the constitution correcting them.