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Man, Goia was right in my movie when he said that some angoleiros think that capoeira and anarchism don't mix. I am screening the movie right upstairs and immediately following a big capoeira angola roda and I couldn't get any of them to come up! I thought since their master is interviewed they would want to see it, but furthermore one of the guys downstairs is even in the movie and I he didn't even come up! Only about seven or eight people.
Three people watched the film. I stayed in a straw bale house so that was rad. I am starting to lose some money! At least I got a good long chance to try to catch up on booking using high speed internet.
6/28 Twin Oaks
A nice drive in for about three hours. For the first half hour I am doing an interview on the cel phone about freeganism and food not bombs for the daily Texan with a woman who was really interested. We could talk all day but it was costing ten cents a minute and if I didn't see these hitch hikers that look pretty cool. They are these Russian college age guys who seriously can't speak enough English to understand the question "where are you going?" My high school Russian pronunciation is still good enough to make them think I am actually Russian, but then my vocabulary runs out after about 20 seconds. So, I give them a ride, but it is impossible to talk about anything interesting, or to explain that I am going off the highway on an adventure to try to find some biodiesel that someone had heard about. As they are getting more and more worried that I am taking them to some cannibal cult, I keep repeating in different words that biodiesel is fuel for the car made from soybeans and it makes me feel better to use it because I am some kinda hippie. When we finally find the place I write down for them "biodiesel is made from vegetable oil and diesel fuel is made from gasoline" and they look up each word in their dictionary and understand.
When I arrive at Twin Oaks I am amazed by its size. This is nothing like the other places I have been. I drive around and get to the right place and sit down with a guy who tells me that their main businesses are hammock and tofu making. Talk about a couple of generic hippie businesses! They also do book indexing. There are about ninety people living here. We go up the hill for dinner and there are all sorts of different buildings around. One does machine repair, another does tofu production, all around are hammock looms. The dinner is incredible. They have salad with nut butter dressing, stir fry, cookies, and of course, the specialty of Twin Oaks, tofu. Later I do a super short workshop, in theater mode, and then screen the film. While it is playing, the guy who was my contact setting things up shows me my room which is super nice and belongs to a woman who is off hiking the Appalachian trail. And between him and another guy, I get a fair amount of the economics explained to me. Here is what I understood:
First you come for three weeks, and check it out, working, and seeing how you like it. Then you go away for a month and think about it. Then they decide if you are ready to join. People who live here work 46 hours a week, and it is divided into three types of work. Money earning work, housework/cooking/gardening, and administrative/outreach. In exchange they get $2 per day, and all their stuff paid for -- housing, food, heating, communal internet, communal phones, toiletries, transportation costs to go to town, etc. When you hit 50 you start to retire one year at a time. so the 83 year old still does 13 hours of work each week. The work of under 18 year old is just up to the parents. If you work extra hours you can save up vacation weeks and still get your $2 per day while on vacation, or you can leave without it being an official vacation and if it is under a year you will probably get allowed back in easily, unless you left under weird circumstances. I wake up in the morning to check out the tofu operation. Hairnetted people are cooking, cutting, marinating, and packaging tofu. I have lunch, receive my tofu for the road and even an irregular hammock.
I am up against not only Al Gore, but also Jello Biafra. A rough night to get anyone to come out.
6/26 Chapel Hill
After a really short drive I do my workshop at Internationalist Books which has been around since 1980. People are pretty uninspired except when we do a short physical ice-breaker exercise. Alright, that's it, I am switching into theater mode and make people act my workshop out. No more sleepy faces. Later I show my movie at Diane and Roberto's bar and it is prety dead. Diane takes me to this coool diner . used book store where they are playing a trivia game with teams. When a waitress sees my art she takes me to see her paintings and tells me she hates giving away her art and has bad dreams about it when she does. She has never heard the word anarchy before.
6/25 Blue Heron Farm / Raleigh NC
First I went to Blue Heron Farm and met with a small group there who are producing their own documentary about the end of civilization with Daniel Quinn and others. Then, I made it in town just in time for Food Not Bombs and get to discuss Houston vs. North Carolina with some people who came by to eat. The screening is in a cool collective house with a bike shop and an FNB kitchen. A bunch stick around for the workshop and then we go out to a bar where women's roller skating teams have come to party down after the match. The next morning, I request and get as a gift a book called Conversations with Stalin by a Yugoslavian that reminds me of Wolfgang Leonhard's book. I go to a coffee shop that has a killer vegan sandwich called the Plethora or something.
6/24 Greensboro NC
Despite getting up early to make the long drive, I totally screw up the time the screening was supposed to be and the nine people who showed up ended up talking about Zapatismo without me. Luckily, I managed to catch almost all of them later at various parties and other hang-outs and gave them all free dvds or other consolation prizes, and do the workshop with them. I spend some time at a crazy house where people are telling funny stories of how they had sex and acting them out with their clothes on. Some kids from DC tell me that the informant against the enviro-bombers should have been suspicious because she didn't cuddle or eat dumpster food.
6/23 Knoxville TN
I arrive at the Unitarian Church just before they are supposed to close to pick up the key and go over any details for the night. The secretary is really cool and basically takes off leaving me to take care of the building. I am worrried that no one will show up because this event had no local sponsor, but the usual number, about seven, show up. Afterwards we go to one of their houses and do the workshop with some other folks. The Zapatista "we walk asking" principle resonates with the Mountain Justice Summer kids who are doing just that. For some odd reason, not only are my friends Diane and Roberto from Chapel Hill in town to play a show, but also Clay, Sonja, and daughter are in town rocking out at the show. I crash on a guys futon and get up early to make the long drive to Greensboro.
6/22 Liberty TN
My second hippie commune experience. Pumpkin Hollow is having their solstice festival and I am the night's entertainment. Wonderful Indian dinner with vegan daal. People are all falling asleep during the screening. Perhaps I need more chase scenes. In the morning, everyone is down for a workshop and there are a few young kids, so I do the workshop in complete kid mode acting out scenes. Maybe this is the best the workshop has ever been.
6/21 Whitwell TN
My first hippie commune experience. The Sequatchie Valley Institute has a bunch of cool kids and a bunch of them have kids. They paid me in whatever they had - cash, tea, homemade jelly, pickles and mead, etc. I have never before done my workshop for a bunch of naked people in a hot-tub but I don't think it will become a tradition because people don't usually want to sit in a hot tub for more than 30 minutes. I passed out on a couch and was awoken early to the screams of running kids and given a breakfast of oatmeal with fresh picked berries.
This tiny town had been the subject of much craziness, because the guy Doug, who had set up the screening, had been moved around several times because a woman who initially offered to screen it at her yoga center freaked out because of the word "anarchist" and cancelled it. So we met in a shelter in the park. The audience included an anarchist who had driven with his whole family from Tuscaloosa to see it, the woman from the yoga center, and some drunk guy who yelled out my name during the movie because he wanted to know what the hell was a martial art about people dancing around. There were over 60 folks there and an under 20 guy. We did some capoeira and a rushed workshop. I stayed up late talking to Doug and his girlfriend about all kinds of things including the crow that had showed up to live with them in response to Doug's request. Doug told me what it was like to grow up as a non racist in 1950's Alabama and his theory that the civil war was fought over alarm clocks. He also talked about some of the stifling effects of liberal democrats on activist organizing in Alabama. The next morning I grabbed a peanut butter and Zapatista honey sandwich and hit the road.
Determined not to be late this time, I left plenty of time. Most of the drive, I was on the cel phone, trying to let people in NYC know I was coming soon. When I called my friend Ilya, he told me the incredible coincidence that he was dating someone in Birmingham. I called her up and she asked me to come by the bar she worked at although she would miss the screening. Some Birmingham Food Not Bombs people took care of me and got me free tea at Starbucks. I passed out flyers trying to get more people out and actually met a Nazi who told me he wasn't really interested in hating other races. I went by Ilya's girlfriend's bar and she made me a sandwich. The screening was at the University and there were about 15 people there. Most stayed for the workshop but as usual it was rushed. There were grad students and professors there that were quite familiar with the material. One woman even defended the work of Alexander Lowen, the disciple of Reich who was criticized in the film. Several of the folks agreed to meet the next day for lunch to continue the discussion. The next morning we met up and applied stuff from the workshop to things that were personally interesting to each of them.
I woke in my giant spacious room where they were about to have a prayer circle. Some people arrived and we did some more OMs and chanting. I was talking about how worried I was about my friend who had been hospitalized for freak out and this woman in the prayer circle said she had been freaking out too. So we put my computer in the prayer circle, since the only type of picture I had on my friend was on the computer, and we all said affirmations for him. Then the woman got in the circle and we affirmed her too. The screening was looking pretty sketchy since no one from the place was there and we didn't have a projector and I had to show it on my computer. There were only a few people there, but after, almost all of them went to a coffee shop to do the workshop which was super rushed. I was speeding through it but they seemed to like it. Later I went to the organic co-op where beautiful young dreadlocked couples greeted each other. On the way back to Amata I ended up picking up some guy who supposedly needed a ride to the hospital to see his daughter, but I drove him around town and never got a clear sense of what we were actually doing at all. The next morning I woke up and had lunch with my old friend Shaila who had been out of town until then,
I wanted to get there in time for capoeira class, but I was too late. Luckily, as class ended, one of the guys, who I knew from Brazil, played some capoeira with me for a few minutes. I lined up a place to stay at the Amata Center which is some kind of collective. They told me that I could go up the hill and see a drum circle and make announcements about my screening the next day at midnight. Around 10pm I went up the hill with a guy from Amata, and couldn't believe what I saw. In the middle of downtown Atlanta, there is a "land trust" that had been purchased from Marta, their metro company, 19 years earlier. According to a guy who was in the food serving area, the land trust wanted this land because it corresponds to a continental plate, and water on one side of it flows to the Gulf and the other to the Atlantic. Hundreds of people were drumming and dancing around a fire. I went back down the hill to grab my art and set up a table. One guy bought a piece of art in honor of his brother who had just died and asked me to to give it for free to the next person who asked to buy it. I met a bunch of people who were really hung up on 911 conspiracy theory stuff and that kinda freaked me out a bit. It was as if they were saying that 911 is the most important scandal of our time and that exposing the truth about it is the only way to address the culture of fear that has arisen allegedly in response to 911. I felt that it was kinda weird and though I don't pretend to have any idea what happened on 911. I said that I have always sought to expose the truth of more universal, less expert testimony kinda stuff. At midnight we all held hands and said OM and I made an announcement about the screening.
On the way there, I picked up the coolest little kitten at a Citgo station, figuring I'd have no problem finding an activist in Talahassee who wanted it. Because of being chronically late and the unexpected time zone change, I was an hour and a half late, causing two alleged sexy amnesty chicks to take off before I arrived. As if to make up for Baton Rouge, Talahassee has a place called the progressive center that is huge. I barely saw a fraction of it. Around eight people watched the film. Four people stuck around for the workshop and one took extensive notes. She also took the kitten. I went out to what was supposed to be some big fundraiser party but maybe I arrived too late, and it was pretty dead. An Irish band was playing. This guy who I had met at the Progressive Center earlier was there and we ended up going to a late night coffee shop where he told me about growing up as a Jehova's Witness during revolutionary Nicaragua. A friend of his showed up who had brought his entire desktop computer and showed videos ranging from funny cat antics to 911 conspiracy stuff. He showed a few minutes of the "secret government" from Bill Moyers that looked like it kicked ass. I woke up at 9am to do the workshop again with a guy who missed the one last night and the Nicaraguan guy. I left and was again running behind.
6/15 Baton Rouge
I stayed up all night packing in Houston and ended up leaving at 6 am. I fell asleep for a few hours at noon at a gas station and arrived at the house of my old friend Anna in the afternoon. Her mom welcomed me despite the fact that she probably still thinks I am a freak for being a vegan weirdo who wouldn't eat the almost vegan stuffing she made especially for me ten years ago. I also met Anna's son for the first time and Anna's mom made sure and alert him as to when I was making up ridiculous nonsense to answer to his questions. The workshop with Anna's poetry class was rough, but they seemed to like Subcomandante Marcos' poems. Later that night we had a screening at a friend's house that had a wonderful wide screen tv. I napped while about 15 people watched the film. We did a rushed workshop afterwards and two drunk women kept interrupting, but other than that, it was cool. Baton Rouge has no activist space at all.