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7/31 Idaho Falls, ID
This woman who I contacted told me just to show up at a punk show and set up a table and see if I could talk people into doing a workshop afterwards. After the show, we went to the park and circled up. Some of the kids were kinda drunk, and some had no familiarity with political discussions, but it was fun. The group fluctuated, but there were about 10 people there at a most times and then a bunch of us went to watch the film at a guy's house until 3am.
7/30 Salt Lake City, UT
The Boing Collective had a porch full of ripe to older-than-ripe fruits and vegetables all set up for the picking, and a Food Not Bombs banner hanging. So I ate some bananas and waited for people to arrive. There was a guy there who wore a black tie with a grey shirt working on a computer and people were making fun of him for being a communist. Eventually we had enough people to start a workshop. One person self-identified as a ski-bum and another was a nurse's assistant. Afterwards one guy was trying to convince me that Salt Lake City was just the wierdest town with so many weird and crazy places around. Another guy was trying to convince me that it was boring and sucked. The commie and I sat down and started a debate. He had a weird array of arguments including that science was basically going to save our ass one way or another. I told him that th idea of having faith in science made it into a salvationist religion. He also had this argument that it was human nature to grow and that we had to keep growing, which fit in with the other argument because we will need science to make this possible. I tried to argue that we have limited resources and therefore can't keep growing forever, and that we will just end up in endless fights about what little resources are left.
7/29 Lincoln, NE
Four capoeiristas who had googled Soma found my website and drove in from Omaha with berimbaus. We played capoeira with each other and showed a few movements to some others who showed up for the workshop. Afterwards I drove all day and passed out in a rest area.
7/28 Sioux City, SD
This woman who hosted me rented a giant television for the event, but unfortunately hardly anyone was there. She took me home and gave me vegan chilli and I passed out watching Cemetary Man.
7/27 Winona, MN (crimethinc gathering)
I arrived at the Winona Visitor Center to be directed to a park. I was disapointed not to be tested before being given the location. I arrived and 50 black clad young people were in line to eat. I recognized many people from earlier in my tour when I met them in their cities. We had a great meal and then I went to the radical consent workshop. The most interesting aspect of it for me was the possibility of thinking of consent that encourages people to develop a clearer sense of what they really want in a creative and experimental trusting process. Then I did some capoeira with various types of capoeiristas. Without a shower in which to rinse off, I went to the river and walked along the train tracks for a place to slip in. I found a relatively accessible place near a turtle shell and swam for a bit. A few trains passed me on the walk back and they both blew whistles at me. After dinner there was a circle up and people talked about what was going on in their towns. I tried to represent Houston activism for the last year in two minutes and walked away realizing I had forgotten to mention New Orleans. Later there were puppet shows and tons of people wanting to see my video. Unfortunately the car battery powered television was pretty messed up and only came out in black and white and the subtitles were unreadable. A volunteer read the words off of my tiny portable DVD player outloud for the viewers who were thinning out in frustration. But all in all, many people enjoyed it and some bought disks to see it better later. I passed out on the cot in the infirmary tent. The next morning, I did my workshop and said goodbyes.
7/26 Minneapolis, MN
It was really hot in a town where no one has air conditioners. The screening was in an art gallery and thirteen people showed up. I think thirteen is the magic number. If thirteen or more show up, I am happpy.
Later I went to the Hard Times Cafe and hung out for a long time and then went to crash on a futon at a party. A girl I met told me a story about a bike accident. She was hit by this woman and she was ok, but she was bleeding from the chin. But the woman who had hit her was going to see her sister in the hospital so the girl on the bike said it was ok that she could just go, but the woman felt bad and stayed there holding her for a while and kept asking if she was ok, and then she started asking if the girl was an angel. So, the girl had to convince her that she wasn't an angel. Then as I was trying to fall asleep there was a crazy conversation going on out in the hall outside. I heard a woman say, "he would rather be with a girl like katie or melissa," "what are you guys doing in there? can I come in? are you screwing? I don't care if I have to take in my clothes I'll do whatever," and "I only have a dress on me so you wanna do that? ok I can't get it off of me."
7/25 Ames, Iowa
Stupid Ames Iowa. Why did they ask me to come here at all? This was the first time that the people who offered to help me promote and set up the event didn't even show up or return my calls when I got to town. Luckily, a nice fiddle player let me sleep on her couch and gave me lots of slightly expired food from the co-op where she works.
7/24 Kansas City
Nice big theater, but only eight people in it. One of them was Chuck-O (who does infoshop.org) so that counts for something. I was wondering if he was going to disqualify Soma for somehow not being anarchist, but he actually asked a suprising question about physical contact being too weird for Americans. Afterwards, I went out with a bunch of people to a party full of Brazilians and practiced my Portuguese, played drums, drew pictures, ate tomatoes and talked. One girl who had lived in Mexico was talking about the tendency among the upper classes in Guadalajara to wear Nazi stuff and support the ideas. She put an anti-swastika patch on her yellow sweater in response. But what is mestizo racism an d how does it work?
7/23 St. Louis, MO & Springfield, MO
No one would confirm anything in St. Louis until I was an hour away, and then I got a call and word went out and they managed to get 15 people together at a moment's notice. St. Louis was just hit by tornadoes and power was out all over town. I left the dvd at the house for them to watch and walked over to an international festival in the park. Every other tree was knocked down or had limbs ripped off. Park service types were clearing roads. After the film, I did an abbreviated version of the workshop and tried to get a sense of what kind of stuff was going on in St. Louis. They said the national guard was in town to help, but I hadn't seen any. I asked if there were any Israel protests going on. Someone had heard of one.
I arrived in Springfield at the Radish Infoshop and a crowd of around ten showed up. A guy cooked me rice and lentils on a portable stove. No one had time for a workshop because they were all off to a dress as your favorite Beatles' song party. The guy with the portable stove climbed up and got me the puppet making supplies box and I made a walrus costume. When we got to the party, this other guy who had heard I was doing a walrus was also a walrus, but he hadn't had the advantage of a puppet-making supply box and just had two plastic knives strapped to his chin. I met a strawberry fields girl who told me that despite her resentment of the institutions of our society that somehow these institutions make the world go 'round. I suppose I agree with the idea that if you were to radically alter the system too quickly, many would starve. But, her using the metaphor of the turning of the planet made me think of how it could be used to illustrate the opposite of what she was saying. Like "if we didn't have a CIA, it wouldn't stop the world from turning."
Later at the place I crashed, they were watching a live dvd by the Dresden Dolls. In the intro to War Pigs, the singer was talking about how it was 2005, and though the 2004 election was disappointing, in 2008 there would be another chance to vote. As if there is nothing to do about anything except vote every four years. How convenient for Bush that his alleged opposition should have an imagination about political organizing that consists of voting every four years, making statements in support of such voting, and nothing else. Stupid Dresden Dolls, and their drummer's facial expressions were pretentious. Not like mine are any better.
7/22 Carbondale, IL
This was a really disappointing turn out. I had to keep myself from growling. There were two people from the IMC and a couple that showed up. The couple took me home and fed me and then tried to tell me my I-Ching reading. I went wandering off to find the late night bagel stand that I remember from Carbondale back when Sprawl used to play here. I had a bagel with garlic salt.
7/21 Champaign, IL
A few people met up at the Catholic Worker House to see the film. In a few weeks, they are going to host a national conference on anarchism and Christianity. Afterwards, one of the guys and I went over to see the legendary IMC space in a former post-office. Actually the post office still apparently uses the space as a substation during the day. Very confusing. The whole place was full of art, and there was a concert going on, a radio station, and a books for prisoners program downstairs. The art consisted of many giant objects. I got on the radio for a bit and they ended up leaving a Free Radicals CD on for like an hour between shows or something.
7/20 Madison, WI
I drove in to town with a woman who was at the screening who needed a ride. She had spent months down in Argentina studying the factory cooperative movement. She asked if I had any crazy tour stories and I said no, so it was up to her to do something crazy, but she was too mellow.
First, I went to the University to take pictures for my mom who went there for a few years. After, I went to the venue -- another fair trade coffee shop (this once much fancier than the one in Milwaukee) and spent several hours trying to confirm and promote upcoming screenings. Only eight people showed up, so it was pretty disappointing, but they were cool and we had a good workshop and played some capoeira. One couple took me home and made me spaghetti.
7/19 Milwaukee, WI
At Brewing Grounds for Change about 15 people showed up and most of them stuck around for the workshop. Several were in ARA and were preparing a Klan protest. I was impressed, as I have been a few times, to hear that a few of the people who showed up were teachers or worked in mental health or counseling. Afterwards I ended up hanging out for several hours at a cyber coffee shop called Node with this guy who had his name legally changed to Pinkerton. I crashed on a futon and got a parking ticket. The next morning several of us met up for lunch.
7/18 Chicago, IL
The ACME Art space was very accommodating, and about 25 people showed up to see the film, and 12 stayed for the workshop. One point that came up in the discussion was the method of asking questions. One guy who self-identified as a culture-jammer talked about how it was his method to influence his friends to just ask questions instead of giving his opinions. A woman said that she felt that this method could be kinda pretentious by people who act like they already know all the answers. A masseuse let me crash on his floor and gave me a free massage to make up for any strains the floor might cause.
7/17 Marshall, MI
Punks in small towns rock. The DIY ethic is alive in Marshall for the kids who have chosen to make their own scene. After a small workshop, we headed out to the high school parking lot to meet up with others to play black top Frisbee under the lights or hang out on the grass. They had done some work with a nearby World Can't Wait organization, so I brought up the whole "RCP front group" thing. I didn't want to discourage them or anything. If there is not much in around, I guess you do what you can. Andrew, the guy who set up the show also talked about going to a demonstration where Cindy Sheehan seemed disappointed that she had attracted anarchists.
7/16 Ann Arbor, MI
A commie came to the workshop who was pretty open-minded, but he still used this tactic which I don't like. It makes sense to compare tactics, but often times commies take this cheap tactic against Zapatismo which is to say, "oh, that will never work. The government is just going to wipe them out." So, of course it is possible that this might happen, but how do debate against such a possibility? And even if they do get massacred, it wouldn't be the worst legacy of any rebellion. At least they won't have become oppressors. This tactic strikes me as basically as silly as asking "what good did MLK do anyway -- they killed him."
Vegetarian commune living is a system in which the visiting vegan, unused to wide varieties of snack options, may wander to the refrigerator several times in the middle of the night. Large quantities await -- a giant bowl full of blueberries, a full range of soymilks, a tub of hummus, breads, soy yogurts, nut butters, vegan spreads... They only question is guff or not guff -- if it is general use free food or if it bears the initials of ownership.
A woman I met there was talking about the issue of diversity in the co-ops. She was saying that there was a somewhat superficial desire to make the co-ops appear more diverse, so, I asked if she meant that it didn't go deep enough to class diversity, and she said yes. She talked about how originally the co-op movement was really the cheapest alternative for students, but that now there were cheaper alternatives for people who lived in crappier neighborhoods. In addition to the vegetarian co-ops there are also some substance-free co-ops. An attempt to make a Muslim co-op failed.
7/15 Columbus, OH
I stubbed my toe. Ow. I screened the film in a university auditorium. A bunch of the kids from the local indymedia and food not bombs who were there went dumpster diving and scored huge. The sleeping situation was miserable with a friendly stinky barking dog in the room with me.
7/14 Athens, OH
Therapists, teachers, students and a musician watched the film at a cool place called The Wire. Afterwards, I went out for vegan hot dogs with some of the people. It's hard to talk crap about a town that has vegan chilli dogs available at 3 am. It turned out I was hanging out with the celebrity from the dismantled bike / pipe bomb police action. So, I asked for a detailed version of the story from him. He said when he approached the place he had parked his bike and was told about a bomb threat, he approached a cop and asked "this wouldn't happen to be about a sticker on a bike would it?" But he was too late, his bike had already been split into pieces and detonated. The cops who initially arrested him and threatened him with a felony eventually dropped all charges and bought him a new bike.
7/13 Akron, OH
A bunch of people watched the film in a yard and we had a good discussion. I slept on a massage table. I wish there was a Devo museum.
7/12 Rochester, NY
Lots of people showed up and the screening, and lots stuck around for the workshop. Many were in a newly forming anarchist group. The event was held at a large warehouse space in the same complex as the indymedia office.
7/11 Horseheads, NY, Athens, PA
I drove in to the cable station to do an interview for a program on rural health that will apparently air in September. I think it came off pretty well despite my not having slept. I tried not to appear to radical, but I said one thing about Nixon being a lunatic that set off some warning bells in the interviewers eyes. I thought if I had said something about Reagan or Bush, it would offend some people, but I figured Nixon is a pretty safe punching bag at this point. Later I went to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Athens and a pretty big crowd showed up even though it was last minute. I felt that many of the UU principles were similar to Zapatista principles in their orientation that inclusiveness is of primary importance. Unfortunately, I showed the film first, and the tv was kinda small and the room was kinda large, and the folks there had a hard time seeing and hearing. If I had done the workshop first I think it would have had much more energy.
7/10 Binghamton, NY
I was late getting in, but everyone stuck around waiting to see the film. The workshop after the film was fun and interesting. We were acting out the scenes based on my cue cards, but almost everyone seemed to have a hard time staying on script, with people making up their own plots that often had nothing to do with or contradicted the story line entirely. It was a great mix of young and old. One older hard-of-hearing guy was hilarious, as he imitated a cow among herders in the garden of Eden scene. Another psychologist guy there had a mad-professor look going. At the end, we were running out of time as usual and I had to cut things very short, but there was an outcry to try the spinning the person on the feet exercise from soma. We encouraged the person who appeared to weigh the least and almost everyone, even the old guys peeled off their shoes and lay on their backs to spin her. Then we rushed off to a party where vegan sushi, soup, and salad was served. One person at the party and I picked up on the discussion I had started in Boston about the "safe space." She brought up a woman's music festival where no men, or women who gender identify as male are allowed, and the trans-counter festival. She was questioned the whole idea of safe-space. At the house where I stayed, another girl and I talked about the "safe space" thing in relation to Common Grounds in New Orleans where some people have apparently been raped recently. The question came up as to whether creating a so-called safe-space gives false impressions and how that might apply to all other spaces nearby. We ended up staying up all night with other folks joining in the discussion. I left just in time to have to drive to Horseheads, NY to do a cable tv interview.
7/9 Worcester, MA
Every time I pronounce the word "Worcester," I have a weird self-consciousness about pronouncing it as a two syllable word as everyone does. I arrived at the Collective-A-Go-Go house here in the early afternoon, had a wonderful meal, and got the full tour. They have a huge bike collective, a vegetable garden, an herb garden, a wood burning stove (they get trees donated by a local tree company that would otherwise send them to landfills), solar showers, sawdust toilets, a root cellar, and a special relationship with some woodchucks. More and more people kept arriving, by the time the movie screened there were forty folks cramming into a living room. Lots of people did the workshop too. Later, I took a shower made hot by carrying hot water from the wood burning stove upstairs and pouring it into a bucket that connects to the shower. That was cool!
7/8 Boston, MA
Got to the Lucy Parson's Center just in time to hear a Canadian anarchist, Paul Finch, talking about building an anarchist movement. I guess I disagreed with most of what he said, especially regarding scaring off the gutter punks and developing leadership. While I agree with the idea he discussed about there being two types of leadership, and that coercive leadership was bad, and other leadership can be good, his words about good leadership did not resonate with me at all. He spoke of a dialectical relationship between the masses and the leadership and I have always mistrusted dialectical analysis. Sorry Hegel, no bagel. He even sounded vanguardist at times, talking about those who had a more complete understanding than others. As for the gutter punks, he said they alienate the working class sorts because they smell bad, so he doesn't want them around. I agreed that there are problems if smelly middle class kids are scaring off the cleaner poorer folks, or graffittiing up the bathrooms of their own conferences making it difficult to come back next year, but I was not into any of his analysis, stereotyping, or tendency to write off segments of the population. I felt like there are probably some aspects of anarchism he could learn from those folks.
Then everyone left and my screening started. Ok, well there were at least six of seven people there, including Patriq, the Free Radical's trumpeter. After the film, one person brought up an excellent criticism of somatherapy I hadn't ever heard before, which is that they focus alot on criticizing forms of therapy that are increasingly less common. Then, this guy DJ started talking about his own personal journey through life, and I was concerned others weren't getting a chance to talk, and in fact, after a few minutes, many had left without buying dvds or anything, and I was getting ready to write off another financial loss. But when everyone left, DJ handed me $100 for a t-shirt, so I gave him everything in the catalog. Then for the next hour, I got to hear DJ's story in detail over some juice in the park. He had a dream about the creation of the universe that was really kick ass. I think I will accept it as my creation myth from now on. Maybe I can get him to write it for me.
I was still unsure of where I going to sleep and DJ just kept going, a very intense guy. He has an all encompassing economic theory that I must study more, at some point, involving turning things upside down and getting middle class people to sell products on behalf of poorer folks. Even as I was trying to drive off he was still shouting through the window some parting thoughts about DVD factories. I went out with my friend Pete from Indymedia to see a rooftop film about nomadic folks that was great and then there was some music, and some great people. One conversation that stuck with me was about the idea of a "safe space." We talked about indymedia and others using the term "safe space" to designate all kinds of things. Pete suggested that the idea of sports or other non-political content on indymedias is sometimes discouraged by media activists who want indymedia to be a "safe space" for activism, but neither of us could really understood what that means.
7/7 Greene, ME
The JED collective house. An incredible dinner of fried flowers and other groovy foods. About 14 people watch the film and seem to like it, but are too tired to do the workshop. Unfortunately, I am not even close to covering the gas money to get here.
7/6 Willimantic, CT
A great turn out for such a small town. Lots of people contribute some money and buy stuff. A bunch of kids are there, making the workshop crazy. I stay with some local activists who have been street medics.
My brother Dan, a former professor of his, and I all jam before the screening at Galapagos in Williamsburg. Martin from Antibalas lends me some drums from a guy in his band. During the screening, I go get a falafel with Scott and Justin, my friends from high school. Scott asks if this blog has comments enabled, and I say no.
A day off. I play capoeira in Brooklyn at the International African Arts Festival with the people from Joao Grande's class. Go out to Indian food with my family and to try to see the fireworks between some buildings.
The second day in a row with over twenty people watching the film. And about a buck per person in dvd sales. New York is too decadent a place to be as a vegan. It's not right to be able to eat vegan chicken creme crepes, vegan Phili Cheese Steaks, vegan mayonnaise on everything. It's like --- where is all the depravation I am supposed to be going through? Later I go to play timbales with Ilya over some disco at a club where the people are packed in and dancing til dawn. I park the Mercedes hoping it will still be ok in the morning -- it has been taking care of me well so far.
7/2 Baltimore / Philli
I show up, eat some hummus, squeeze my way into a somewhat private meeting of the Snail's Pace Collective and the Beehive Collective, because the topic is Zapatismo workshops and I need to listen. I wish I had seen their workshops. We screen the movie in a huge theater with over 40 people watching it, I run around, sell a few copies, eat some food not bombs, pick up some people who need a ride to Philli and head out. I get to Philli, screen the film and do a rushed workshop and go over to my friend Chicago's house, where he and his wife watch it, and go upstairs and pass out.
Al Fishawy is kinda dead too, but a great workshop with just a few people. It's been a rough week.