Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jesus according to Buster



I worked on the original Los Angeles production of Jesus Christ, Superstar at the Universal Amphitheater in the early '70s, and say what you will about the film or of subsequent productions, this show was a knockout. It was before they put a roof over the amphitheater, so there was a magnificent view of the San Fernando Valley behind the stage. The director, Tom O'Horgan, made brilliant use of.this during the finale, in which high intensity lights and strobes flashed through smoke around the crucifixion, blending with the clear lights of the valley below. It was enough to make you a believer.
There was a revival of the show at the Universal Amphitheater just about five years ago with the original Jesus and Judas, Ted Neely and Carl Anderson, so I had to go, this time with my eight-year-old son Buster. I'm Jewish and Buster had never been to a church in his life. All he knew about Jesus was that he had something to do with Christmas.


He enjoyed the show enormously. It was not only his first live Broadway musical, it was his first contact with the story of Jesus Christ. The next day one of his friends asked Buster about Jesus Christ. Here's what he told them.

"Jesus was this cool guy who lived 2,000 years ago. He had long hair and wore a robe and he preached peace and love and stuff till he got a lot of followers who thought he was the messiah. Then one of his followers named Judas betrayed him to the Romans who nailed him to a cross and he died. Then I went backstage and met him and told him how good he was. I told him I really liked the part where they crucified him. Then I met Judas and told him how good he was, even better than Jesus.  It was really cool because dad was friends with Jesus, and this wasn't some new Jesus, it was the original Jesus. Then dad and Jesus and Judas had a glass of wine together while I ran around the dressing room playing with Jesus's kids."

Merry Christmas from the Dares

"The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face."
-Jack Handy -

Does being a liaison between Occupy Seattle and the Chief of Police make me a traitor?



I live at city hall. The first thing I do every morning is read the mayor's newspaper in his waiting room on the 7th floor. This morning, the lead story concerned the US Justice department ripping the Seattle Police department a new one for its use of excessive force. They were particularly hard on Chief of Police John Diaz who was actively defending his department.

Ever see a picture in a newspaper and look up to see that person standing in front of you? Chief Diaz came right out of the elevator and went in to a meeting with the Mayor.

Afterwards, they both emerged from McGinn's office and stood there talking in front of me. God knows what inspired me to butt my ugly head into a conversation between the Mayor and the Chief of Police, but I walked right up to introduce myself. I thanked Mayor McGinn for making our site at City Hall the most successful and long-lived in America. He said he was waiting for someone to notice that.

Diaz saw this happen, an open and trusting relationship between the mayor and an occupier, so I took advantage of the moment. I told Chief Diaz that I was from the Hempfest and used to working with the police to put on protest events. I offered myself as a liaison between himself and the movement, making it very clear that I was taking this action unilaterally, without approval from the general assembly, but I was deliberately disobeying the rule not to talk to police because we need a dialogue going. I was very clear I was speaking only for myself, not FOR the movement, but simply as a member OF the movement. He agreed and asked for my contact information.

I searched for a pen. He searched for a pen. Mayor McGinn told me to just give my information to his secretary and she would send it on.

Cool. When Chief Diaz got back to his office, there was an email waiting for him from the Mayor saying if he ever had any problems with the Occupy Movement, give Michael Dare a call. Hilarious. I'm not holding my breath.

In any case, Mayor McGinn was more than pleased to see such an exchange, and renewed his commitment to working with those in the movement willing to work with instead of against the system. He agreed to sit down later to discuss the future of the movement and how we can work together to further both of our goals.

Like it or not, Occupy Seattle now has a liaison with the Mayor's office and the Police Department.

I posted this information to an Occupy group and someone responded with this... "If you talk to a cop and he beats you then you are a hero. If you talk to a cop and both you and the cop are civil and even discuss your different opinions.... Well then you're just a snitch and a traitor! But good for you!"

Let me clarify what I believe a "liaison" does by inventing a fantasy situation.

Let's say we're gathered somewhere surrounded by police. We are quite rationally fearful of getting pepper-sprayed or worse, so we prepare for a clash.

The liaison walks up to the police and says "Hi guys, what's up? Why are you here? What are we doing wrong?"

The police say "It's the candle."

The liaison says "What?"

The police say "You can't have an open flame."

The liaison says "You've got to be kidding me. You're not here to suppress free speech?"

The police say "You can have as much free speech as you want. What you can't have is an open flame."

The liaison says "So if we blow out that candle, you'll go away?"

The police say "Yep."

The liaison walks back to the Occupy gathering and says "All they care about is the candle. Blow out the candle and the cops will go away."

The liaison is stared at in disbelief. Somebody takes it upon themselves to blow out the candle just to see what will happen. The cops go away.

Voila. Incident averted. A peaceful protest is allowed to continue because somebody talked to the police.

This is obviously over-simplified but you get the idea. Sometimes mis-communication is the only problem. The police don't know what we're doing so they are naturally fearful of entering the situation. Their entire training has to do with how to handle unstable situations. As for being a "snitch," sometimes, literally, all the police need to know is what we're doing.

Once again, let's say we're gathered in a park. The police are there prepared for anything because they don't know what we're going to do. Somebody goes up to them and says "We're marching from here to the Federal building for a short rally, then returning here."

The police have an INSTANT change of tactics. Knowing where we're going and what route we're taking, the police move in front of us to CLEAR THE ROUTE. Suddenly, they're working FOR us to make sure nobody gets hurt.

Okay, this tactic wouldn't have worked at the docks where we were clearly breaking the law, but there have been other situations where all we were doing was exhibiting free speech. In those situations, violence can have be completely averted by simply informing the police ahead of time where we're marching, 

As a liaison, obviously I know a lot of things I'm not telling the police, like where marijuana grow rooms are situated in Seattle, or where Jimmy Hoffa is buried. (In one of the grow rooms.) But if I tell the police "We're going to be meeting here at this time and marching to there at that time," does that make me a police informant? Not any more than Vivian McPeak is a police informant when he tells the Seattle Police department that hundreds of thousands of people are going to be gathering in Myrtle Edwards Park in an open act of civil disobedience in protest against the War on Drugs.

Hempfest is the world's largest peaceful protest rally. In a city park. With the co-operation of the Mayor and Police. This is a city that lets Hempfest happen. This is a city that will let the Occupy movement happen. All you've got to do is talk to them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

George W. Bush joke of the day


First...


Sex with Animals Causes Penis Cancer

Men who put their penises in animals have a higher likelihood of penis cancer, a new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicinereports:
We think that the intense and long-term SWA [sex with animals] practice could produce micro-traumas in the human penile tissue. The genital mucus membranes of animals could have different characteristics from human genitalia, and the animals' secretions are probably different from human fluids. Perhaps animal tissues are less soft than ours, and non-human secretions would be toxic for us.
Then today...

Hopefully it's by fucking an elephant.
Thank you very much.
MD

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Occupy Thanksgiving


I started the day, as always, at the Occupy Site at Fifth and James at City Hall

Normally, I"d head upstairs to the City Hall lobby and get something from Rick Farley at the City Grind, where they put up with me even when all I want is hot water, but it's Thanksgiving and City Hall is closed, as is the library.
So I head down the street to the entrance to the transit tunnel when I notice something happening in the park at Jefferson and Fourth...
A park with no name where the trees have mufflers...
And there are tents and people lined up...
And I wonder if I'm hallucinating. What is wrong with this picture?
Maybe this guy knows.

Nobody seems to notice that they are surrounded by the gayest trees I've ever seen, each with a Jewish mother, and ever since they came out of the closet, she won't stop knitting. You'll never guess, bubala, for Thanksgiving, I'm making you a muffler.
What is everyone lined up for? Amazing food prepared fresh in the park for absolutely anyone who gets in line. There's fresh bacon...
And ham and muffins and mashed potatoes...
And Shasta soda and smiles...
And all these people...
Who are now my heroes...
Have gathered in the park on a cold morning where the trees are normally warmer than the people...
And spread the warmth by feeding everyone, those with one leg...
And even those clothed in trash bags. 
Yeah, this kid's my hero too, for passing out cookies, pears, and water.
Why is this guy my hero? Because he's passing out silverware out of the goodness of his heart.
These  are my heroes too.
And I'm going to show you every one of these wonderful people who appeared out of nowhere to make fresh pancakes.
They didn't do it for fame or fortune.
They don't expect to be paid back.
They're doing it because they're decent...
And nowadays, simple decency is a valuable commodity.
And they're enjoying themselves while they do it...
Actually taking orders and giving out numbers so people can pick up their individualized breakfasts. 
They went to all this trouble...
For these people...

And these who are usually ignored.
Not checking for ID or doing breathalyzer tests or making anyone listen to a sermon, even though they were from a church...
Feeding everyone with a mouth,
Creating a whole park full of happy people.
I was once walking around Santa Monica, CA, when I saw a bunch of people in an alley. I walked down to see what was going on and saw somebody had a truck full of food they were passing out, and it wasn't just street grub but fancy to-go dishes from expensive Beverly Hills restaurants. I moved in closer and saw it was Martin Sheen. There were no lights or cameras around. He wasn't doing it for publicity. He personally drove around to all his favorite restaurants at closing, picked up their leftovers, and distributed them to hungry people. He became my hero that day. Like these people. I wish there were more like them. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Seattle activists deliberately provoke mini-riot

Poster clearly stating the march starts at 6PM at Westlake Park

6 arrested and pepper spray deployed in Occupy Seattle protests 

I was there at Seattle Central Community College at 3:30 when the march set out. A speaker at the campus specifically said they were headed towards Westlake Plaza to join a bigger crowd and march to protest Jamie Dimon's presence in Seattle from there. Westlake Plaza was plastered with posters about the march, which was to start from there at 6:00. By 5:00, the march still hadn't reached the people waiting in Westlake, even though it's an easy 20 minute walk. Why?

The marchers took off from the college campus south on Broadway towards Pike, where I believe everyone, me, the police, even the marchers themselves, expected to turn right towards Westlake Park. It was a march I'd taken many times before with the Hempfest, escorted by the police.

But then instead of turning right, the leader turned left, crossed the street, and turned left again, making a complete U-turn, now heading north on Broadway. I was wondering where the hell they were going, so were the police, and so were the marchers themselves.

It's like the march organizers didn't know that all you have to do is tell the police what route you're taking and they won't give a damn what your march is about, as a matter of public safety, they will escort you, block off intersections making it safe for you to pass, make sure no one gets hit by a car, and get ambulances there as fast as possible in case one of the marchers has a seizure (I saw this happen).

Either that or they were deliberately provoking the police because they thought the issue was us vs. the police instead of us vs. Chase Manhattan and the international cabal of bankers who rule the world.

The only reason the police weren't working with this march to make it a peaceful act of civil disobedience where no one got hurt is because the organizers saw a protester get shot out of a tree and said to themselves Good Idea, let's get shot out of trees ourselves. I blame them for the violence, which was unquestionably deliberately provoked.
 
You know what else would have worked? The entire crowd marching into the bank or hotel lobby and simply sitting down and saying nothing. Give the police a hundred people to peaceably cart away.

Follow Vivian McPeak's advice concerning dealing with the police when committing an act of civil disobedience. Don't act so surprised when they bust you. You know it's going to happen. 
That's why you're there, so to suddenly go OMG, look what this police officer is doing to me is disingenuous to say the least. That's the plan.

Try this next time. Everyone go up to a cop and introduce yourself. "Hi, I'm Heidi, and you're about to arrest me. I just want you to know that I will not resist arrest, though I may go limp and you may have to carry me out. I understand you're just doing your job. It's nothing personal. Please don't mace me. I don't have any weapons."

They will appreciate it. They will still arrest you, but if you treat them with respect, they might end up respecting you too. You're both just doing your job. No reason to get nasty.

There are those accusing the "leaders" of this march of working undercover for the enemy to try to splinter the movement. I'm not saying it's true, but if it WERE true, they couldn't be doing a better job.

It's time to start a new work group called "Enemy Reduction," the idea being that the less enemies you have, the more chance you have of accomplishing absolutely anything. Every enemy we've got, let's make them our friend.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Paul McCartney to Convert to Judaism

And to rewrite songs...

She Shlepped in through the bedroom window
Yenta Madonna
Within Jew and Without Jew
Hey Jew! (don't make it bad)
Baby you can shmeer my bagel
Happiness is a Warm Knish
Can't buy me traif
Eleanor Rigbewitz
Schvitz together, right now, over me
It's been a hard matzo ball

10 Things Occupy Seattle is Asking from Seattle City Hall

Occupy Seattle's permit to occupy City Hall is up at the end of the month so I'll be signing the new permit to keep us going for at least another week. I'm thinking of all the things I need to ask for, like more space and the occasional use of a Xerox machine and the rights of children to camp.

It's a legitimate negotiating strategy to deliberately include things you don't really want in order to give them the opportunity to turn something down and feel superior, so here's my official list of the 10 things I'm inviting Seattle City Hall to say no to...

  1. A bonfire.
  2. Pony rides.
  3. A tropical fish tank full of piranhas for leftover vagrants.
  4. Turning the plaza into an ice rink and doing a show called Homeless on Ice.
  5. A bunny farm so we can all wake up surrounded by hundreds of bunnies.
  6. A merry-go-round.
  7. A public hanging in effigy of every bankster in Seattle who got away with stealing millions of dollars, through fraud and deception, from the innocent who now suffer.
  8. An Occu-pie-fight, where we invite the 99% to City Hall to throw pies at each other.
  9. A job, a home, some food, maybe a little medicine, preferably pot.
  10. A theatrical production of The Occupied Piper, about an Ian Anderson wannabe who leads the homeless out of City Hall to the city park of their dreams, only to have City Hall renege on the deal to pay him, so he teams up with Anonymous to close all their bank accounts, default on their loans and mortgages, and lead them to Ivar's Acres of Clams where they all have one final bowl of chowder before marching off the pier into the Puget Sound like lemmings.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Lobbyist



Hi, I'm Michael Dare, and since I don't live on a private island surrounded by gunboats with a harem devoted to peeling my grapes, since I haven't fleeced mankind with economic corruption and terrorism for nothing more than my own personal benefit, since I'm not doing high dives into a pool of gold like Scrooge McDuck, since I haven't abandoned the basic precepts of human decency we're all born with for nothing more than my own personal betterment, since I haven't turned into a corpulent slavemaster whose soul can only be measured in micropayments, since this is the best of times for money shufflers and the worst of times for the entire rest of the human race, since I now find myself completely and utterly fucked by a system that puts corporate greed over human need, since I'm now reduced to stealing material not only from Charles Dickens but from signs I read in the park, since the chasm between the haves and the have-nots in this city, this state, this country, this planet, is so wide and so deep that somebody, and it's not me, is looking to get pushed into it, because of all these things, I am part of the 99%, I fully support Occupy Wall Street, and I have been a member of Occupy Seattle since day one.

I had to get that out. Run-on sentences are no good for the public microphone where I've been speaking lately. It's an acquired skill (It's an acquired skill). You speak in short bursts (You speak in short bursts). Everything takes twice as long (Everything takes twice as long). You have to be an insta-poet. Ta da DA da da (ta da DA da da) Da da TA da da da (Da da TA da da da) Writing's so much more simple, where my words only echo endlessly in my OWN head, thank you very much.

From that first day where everything was a triumph, one of the most exciting of my life, the park coalescing into little pods of discourse, interactive amoeba, a big bang of expanding social evolution in front of my eyes, to the fourth morning where I woke up to find a dozen Seattle Police headed by an intimidating officer surrounded by media and lights asking me to take down my tent, to sleeping in the park without a tent, getting my backpack stolen, getting another tent, setting it up on the night of 500, waking again to at least 50 Seattle Police on bikes and the park surrounded by barricades, no way out, no way in, from the first rain where we were forbidden to stand under the awning to the war of the umbrellas where we were literally ordered to get wet, to seven blocks away where I now mysteriously find myself the central facilitator of Occupy Seattle South in that little building called city hall, I've been completely convinced that the movement is organic, embracing all strata of humanity, a living breathing frustrating disorganized mess that's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

Compared to Westlake Park, City Hall is the goddam Hilton. Westlake Park is absolutely one of the worst places in the city to try to get a good night's sleep. City Hall has a whole other vibe, peaceful, organized, sanitary, a place where things got done instead of talked about.

Mysteriously, I was called a traitor. How dare I accept the Mayor's kind offer of a place to sleep, bathrooms, running water, dozens of free electrical outlets, no police, and a safe place to leave my stuff where I can find it when I get back? Why was I giving in to THE MAN? I asked if the Mayor offered them a room in the Hilton, would they take it, and was told No way, man. He's the problem. It would be like accepting cake from Marie Antoinette. It's all just a ruse. They want us where they want us so they can surround us and BAM, round us all up.

Well, first of all, that's not what the permit says. Second, no Mayor in the history of Seattle has EVER offered the front plaza of City Hall for occupation by a political movement, much less suspended the fees which should be running up to $500 a day. Third, if there was any political pressure on the Mayor to do something, it was surely NOT to offer us City Hall, it would have been the opposite, to squash us like bugs. Fourth, if the Mayor hadn't offered it to us, we'd be demanding it, and fifth, I asked him if he'd ever heard of the Trojan Horse. When the Mayor invited us to occupy City Hall, he surely didn't expect ME in the lobby.

Writing in the lobby of city hall, I try to figure out what to call myself. Days ago, I was told that the night before they had a vote and I was now in charge. I was uncomfortable with being called a leader so we settled on facilitator but I'm not happy with that because it makes my kids facilitator tots.

So I need a new word for myself. I'm in a goddam lobby. The city council and the mayor are upstairs. I have been, and I cannot stress this enough, invited.

The one thing I've done outside is listen to people's stories. I cannot claim to represent Boeing, but I can claim to represent the Boeing worker I met in Westlake Park. I cannot claim to represent the hotel worker's union, but I can claim to represent the needs of the member of the hotel worker's union I met in Westlake Park. To claim to represent the 99% means to claim to represent everything from crack addicts to cops. That's a big bridge to gap, but I guess I represent them too.

I didn't choose to do this. I'm filling a vacuum, much as my cat once did. What I am is a very non-professional lobbyist for the 99%.

THREE LETTERS!

Dear Mayor McGinn,

I have decided to accept your brave and generous offer to occupy city hall, and for the first time in my life, I'm not being the least bit facetious. I speak both in my volunteer capacity as primary facilitator for Occupy Seattle: City Hall, and in my personal capacity as a homeless person in the City of Seattle. Occupy Seattle and the homeless problem are now joined at the hip and they're both mine. I am both a relentless advocate for social change and a fellow human being with no place to stay tonight. I'm couch surfing, and mean it from the bottom of my cold cold heart, I appreciate the place to crash.

That being said, you should know I'm right here, dude, in the southeast corner of the main lobby, sucking up your electricity with a broken laptop, and I'm going to be here till you throw me out. I'm in City Hall for the long haul. This isn't going to take days or weeks or months. This is going to take years, and I'm going to be here, sometimes in full support, sometimes a massive obstruction in your sigmoid colon. I'll try to be a nice guest. I am here, after all, at your invitation, and I'm not a shmuck. I know that a courteous person leaves everything behind as they found it if they ever want to be invited back. This chair I'm sitting in? I moved it. I promise to move it back when I'm done.

Our permit is up for renewal at the end of the month, and hopefully, the month after that and the month after that. My personal needs directly correlate to the needs of the movement I hesitate to claim to represent. I need a job and a place to live. I need food and transportation and entertainment and companionship. I need to know that life isn't like joining a game of Monopoly already in progress, a game that never starts over, where every square is already owned, so anywhere you land except Free Parking, you're screwed, you never pass go, and you never collect $200 (or, in the case of Seattle, $197). There's got to be a way out of this. I know there is, and it's not just me.

The OCCUPY movement has spread across the country. Every mayor in America is facing the exact same problem you're facing. The mayor who figures out how to deal with us with grace and compassion, the mayor who can take the principles of Occupy Wall Street and successfully apply them to their own town, could end up leading this country out of the second great depression.

How do I know this is a "depression" and not a "recession" or "downturn in the market" or "bump in the road that will correct itself?" Because of the people I've met. Because making a claim to represent 99% of Americans, in all their splendor, with their wildly divergent sizes and shapes and colors and religions and IQs and political affiliations and endless personal needs seems completely outrageous until you enter an OCCUPY camp and find men and women, big and small, black and white and everything in between, preaching the gospel and preaching anarchy, brilliant people who have never had the chance to share their views in public finding, goddam, there are others who agree with them, the good looking mingling with the ugly, macho scumbags high-fiving semi-transsexuals all in the name of one thing, to secure a place on this planet where our basic human needs are seen to, a social safety net that applies to everybody whether anyone thinks we deserve it or not.

You've got it particularly tough since this is a company town where the companies are Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon, etc., some of which are completely cool, and some of which are part of the problem. You want to lead this movement instead of oppress it, you've got to start dealing with local corporations according to the national guidelines set by Occupy Wall Street.

We want money out of politics. How about banning all political contributions in the City of Seattle and setting up a taxpayer financed electoral process? Seattle can show America how it can be done. (Don't ask me.)

You can personally stand up to the Supreme Court and say No thank you, in Seattle, corporations aren't people and money isn't speech. We all know these are both legal fictions that only exist to codify corruption, making it possible for you, right now, to squeeze local corporations for dough for your own personal benefit. Want to join us? Squeeze corporations for the benefit of the city. (Easy example, the current plan to lose the free bus zone downtown. This is easily branded as part of the war against the poor, and a war against the poor is a war against Occupy Seattle. Personally, now that general relief checks have stopped coming in, I can't afford ANYTHING, much less public transportation. Get a corporation, or a conglomeration of corporations, to pony up for the free buses.)

The one thing you can't do is ignore us. I may seem to be representing the dregs of the earth, but there's a militia that's got our back. They've made themselves known to me. Seattle is on the verge of the showing the US how NOT to deal with us, and it won't be pretty. This isn't a threat. I don't like it any more than you do. I want to defuse the situation.

Mayor McGinn, I genuinely think you're on our side, that if fate had sent you careening into a life other than mayor, you'd be with us.

There's a fireplace in the lobby of City Hall I understand is rarely used. On some beautiful, cold, windy, and obviously rainy Seattle day, how about a fireside chat? I'll bring the marshmallows.

Sincerely,

Michael Dare
Lobby
City Hall
Seattle, WA

Dear Occupy Seattle,

Let me tell you about the Seattle Hempfest. It is not the biggest political event in Seattle. It is not the biggest music or cultural event in Seattle. It is the biggest event in Seattle, period, and the biggest peaceful political protest and act of civil disobedience on the planet earth, maybe ever.

How do we do it when we're a political protest in a public park governed by a city ordinance that bans camping, just like Occupy Seattle? We work with the mayor and the police who, amazingly enough, agree with us that the war against marijuana is outrageous. There's a three year waiting period for police to volunteer for working the Hempfest. They want to be there.

This year they cut their staff way back. There were basically only four Seattle Police for the whole park.

Are you listening to me? Every year, up to 250,000 people gather in a public park in Seattle as a political protest against the drug war, openly buying and selling paraphernalia, openly sending giant white clouds of pot smoke into the air, and the Seattle Police and Mayor not only let it happen, THEY'RE ON OUR SIDE.

What's the difference between Occupy Seattle and Hempfest, where the city ordinance just as clearly forbids camping? We don't camp. That's it. You think we don't want to let venders and performers spend the night? You don't think we've asked for a variance? No way. On that point, they won't budge. We've been fighting this exact same battle for 20 years. They have threatened to do to Hempfest what they've been doing in Westlake, coming through the park at night and hassling people who might be sleeping.

But they don't. Why? Because we do it for them. I personally have gone up to people at Hempfest and ordered them to take down their tents. I don't like it. I think they should be able to stay. But it's a small price to pay for Hempfest to happen. How many of you think we should have allowed the city to cancel the Hempfest permit this year and stop the entire event by drawing an imaginary line in the sand concerning the enforcement of this one stupid law. We had bigger fish to fry and so do you.

You want to change a city ordinance? You believe in democracy? There's an app for that. It's called the initiative process. Getting it on the ballot and getting the 99% to vote this inhumane ordinance out of existence will be MUCH more effective than pitching a tent in the rain in a deserted park.

It's particularly not worth fighting for since the mayor has already acquiesced to so many of our demands.

You can't ask for 24 hour access to bathrooms. He's given them to us at city hall.

You can't ask for permanent booths devoted to medical needs and food distribution. He's given them to us at city hall.

You can't ask for a safe place to store your things where you'll find them when you get back, you can't ask for a location to pitch a tent without fear of police interference, and most importantly, you can't ask for a bongo free environment where you can actually get a full night's sleep, because he's already given them all to us at City Hall.

You may have had a bad experience with cop. I'm not surprised. So have I, but you can't carry that baggage with you into this movement and apply it to all police, any more than you can take a bad experience you had with an Eskimo and apply it to all Eskimos. Do you know any police who live on private islands surrounded by hula girls and tidy mile-high stacks of hundred dollar bills? If they're not the 1%, they're the 99%, and I personally invite every Police Officer, every Social Worker, every bus driver, and every city employee to come join us at city hall in protest of the corporate takeover of the United States of America.

I'll put it as simply as possible. When we started, we were living in a single. We slept and worked in the same place. Now that we've grown, we need a one bedroom. Let City Hall be your bedroom and nothing more.

At night, downtown Seattle clears out and turns into a standard deserted urban shithole. What exactly is the point of occupying Westlake at night? You can demonstrate up the wazoo and it'll only be seen by three crack addicts and a pigeon.

At Westlake, there are no Honey Buckets, so at night, the alleys surrounding the area have turned into public urinals and worse. This should be a Parks Department issue. They provide free trashcans they routinely empty, regardless of the political affiliation or race or gender of the pedestrians disposing of their empty Starbucks cups. They don't want trash in their parks and they shouldn't want crap in their alleyways. It's a public health issue. Whatever the may think of our possession of the park, the city should provide Honey Buckets in city parks where there are hundreds of people, whatever the purpose. Depriving anyone of the simple right to empty their bladders and bowels is intestinal terrorism and pretty goddam despicable. (Personally, I think it should be the law that ANY business open to the public must have bathrooms open to the public. Call me crazy but shitting and pissing are the smelliest human rights that the Occupy movement should be fighting for.)

I have nothing but admiration for the brave souls who got themselves arrested in Westlake. There was a particular moment when it was a direct strike for the movement, the tents symbolizing everything we stand for. Hell, I was there with you in a borrowed tent. But that moment has passed. Now it's just an unfortunate distraction from the real issues.

It seems to me that you have been surround by the police doing terrible things for so long that you have deluded yourself into thinking they're out to stifle free speech and squash the movement. It's not true. They don't give a shit about what you're saying. Ask yourself. Have they ever busted a SPEAKER? No. All they're interested in is tents. and allowing the Park Service to do their job cleaning the park. THAT'S the only law they care about. If the tents are gone, POOF, so are the cops. No more paranoia about being busted. Really. Just like Hempfest. I've talked to them (before I found out I wasn't supposed to). As soon as they're convinced there will be no more camping at night, the only cops you will see in Westlake are the ones off duty who are joining us. You've got to pick your battles. Corruption in politics or tents.

MD

Dear Anarchists,

You're part of the 99% so God help me, I represent you too, even though you don't want representation, even though you believe we've reached the tipping point where the only possible solution is to bring down the system. I'm with you. The problem of corruption is systemic and has to go. It's like cancer that has spread throughout the structure of society so surgery, radiation therapy, whatever it takes to kill the damn thing without killing US in the process.

It's like the viaduct. It had to come down. But that doesn't mean it had to be blown up while people were driving on it. Step by step, the old structure will be replaced with a new one, just like we're going to do with society.

When society crumbles, there will be anarchy. It is a necessary part of the transition process from one system to another, but the open mike at general assembly is positive proof that order and responsibility will naturally evolve and arise out of anarchy and chaos. Nobody could have planned it that way. I watched. It just happened and nobody could have stopped it. The natural impulse towards structure and safety is one of the trademarks of our species.

The first man to hurl an insult instead of a rock invented civilization. You can't fight FOR civilization with rocks.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Radio Free Albemuth


Radio Free Albemuth
by Michael Dare

John Simon's new film of Philip K. Dick's Radio Free Albemuth is proof positive that mind boggling science fiction can feature battling human beings instead of battling robots.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
- Philip K. Dick 
"I don't believe anybody. Even the most knowledgeable person on any subject has only a small fraction of the big picture. Whatever anyone says, you add it or subtract if from the big picture. Multiplication and division are out. As soon as you start multiplying and dividing the big picture by individual pieces that happen to fit together, you end up with a sum that's far from a summation."
- Kilgore Trout -
Philip K. Dick is such a good writer you almost wish Hollywood had never discovered him, that he could have remained the overlooked genius, the fanciful madman whose ideas were so profound he could barely find the words to describe them, completely beyond the realm of cinematic translation. There's an alternate universe where that happened, but we live in the universe where this happened...

Ridley Scott and Philip K. Dick (who died before Blade Runner came out)



Why PKD isn't the subject of the same adulation as Stephen King, with rows and rows in every book store and library of everything he's ever written, remains a mystery. Search for Philip K. Dick in the sci/fi section of any but a specialty shop and you're lucky to see two or three, but it's not like fans are bereft of material. There are annual Philip K. Dick awards, his wife has written a memoir called Searching for Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is now a highly-praised graphic novel, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is supposedly being made by the producers of Terminator, Nottingham Trent University has an annual PKD Day celebration, The Adjustment Bureau is now Available on Blu ray and DVD, and in an alternate universe, Amazon will give you one of them for free just by mentioning my name, but that still doesn't explain why The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch isn't in every Borders. (There must be some other reason.)
 
Just to get it out of the way, from this point on I will continue to refer to Philip K. Dick as PKD because I inadvertently wrote a headline that went something like Radio Free Albemuth, a triumph of Dick, thus causing a cavalcade of inappropriate dick jokes to echo through the shadowy hallways of my demented brain, and which will be corralled into this paragraph and this paragraph alone. One of the difficulties of writing about Dick is not in figuring out how many people were influenced by his work but how to do so without creating inadvertent dick jokes. If I were to mention Philip Jose Farmer or Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., if I were to say Farmer this or Vonnegut that, you'd know to whom I was referring. Obviously Vonnegut is Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Farmer isn't just some random farmer who wandered into the proceedings unannounced. But if I refer to the cult of Dick or how Dick always makes me laugh and how Dick changed my life completely and how I own every book with the name Dick on it, or how Dick is best enjoyed between two covers, and if I know your film involves Dick, I'm going to run to my neighborhood theater to see how you handled my precious, the reader could be excused for laughing behind my back. Philip K. Dick is harder to write about than one would imagine. Try Googling Vonnegut. Now try Googling Dick. See what I mean? 

Now that we've gotten the 300 lb. gorilla of dick jokes out of my system, it's time to point out that fans of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. might think of PKD as Kilgore Trout, the renegade lunatic science fiction writer who appears in a good half dozen of Vonnegut's own profound novels. Vonnegut's descriptions of Kilgore Trout are spot-on for the pre-Blade Runner PKD - Trout wrote over 117 novels and over 2000 short stories, and is usually described as an unappreciated science fiction writer whose works are used only as filler material in pornographic magazines. He has only two fans, Eliot Rosewater and Billy Pilgrim, both Vonnegut characters who have complete collections of Trout's work.** Philip Jose Farmer's "Venus on the Half shell by Kilgore Trout" reads a lot like a Philip K. Dick novel, too. Vonnegut eventually admitted that Kilgore Trout was in fact based upon Theodore Sturgeon* (Sturgeon/Trout, get it?**), but I will always think of Trout as half Sturgeon, half Dick. (How did that dick joke get in here? Flee! Be gone to the previous paragraph!)


"So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it. Do not believe -- and I am dead serious when I say this -- do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe. The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish. This is a dangerous realization, because it tells us that we must eventually part with much of what is familiar to us. And that hurts. But that is part of the script of life. Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly. What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new."
- Philip K. Dick: How to Build a Universe that Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later -


One day, PKD woke up from a fever dream, as have we all, wrapped up in an enigma, awaking from an alien thought pattern, surely not his own, a message from somewhere else, entering his brain, sending him thoughts from something he could only describe as a system that was vast, active, living, and intelligent, outside himself, sending him messages he could only transcribe as science fiction, making up fantastic worlds beyond imagination, but never giving himself full credit, believing in his own personal vision, that his pineal gland was crystallizing, bringing on what was once defined as senility, but which he knew as a radio transmitter, deep in his brain, a self-generating crystal set allowing him to tune into the cosmos, allowing the cosmos to contact him, a wireless remote controlling his body from somewhere else, a cosmic radio station, Radio Free Albemuth, transmitting the word of the VALIS, the Vast Active Living Intelligent System that spoke through him, PKD, writer of fanciful novels that lived in the vast underbelly of alternative universes we've all grown so used to ignoring. 

Specifically, Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics states that every time the universe has a choice between different realities, it literally splits into every one, creating an eternity of alternate universes where every possible thing that can happen, does happen. This theory, like the theory of gravity and the theory of relativity, has yet to be disproven. How could one disapprove such a thing? You can't. It's a theory that can't be disproven, which was proof enough to PKD. He believed deeply in this theory and his novels show it. In his novels, things happen that can only possibly be explained by the alternate universe theory. PKD knew he wasn't making this shit up, that there actually WAS an alternative universe in which the Axis won WWII, like in The Man in the High Castle, Europe was given to Germany while Japan got the Americas, and everyone was reading a book about another alternative universe, ours, where the allies won the war. It was inevitable because everything that can happen, does happen. The universe splits into another universe every time something different can happen, which is infinitely, every second of your reality, you've just chosen to follow the path you're on, but in another universe, you didn't eat those little chocolate donuts.

It was a pink light, beaming directly to his brain from somewhere in space, a satellite, an overwhelming religious experience that shook him to the core. According to We'll always have VALIS, "Phil dedicated the rest of this life to understanding these visions. He wrote constantly about them, producing a 8000 page exegesis," a massive raving about the nature of the universe that was either genuine divine intervention, the ravings of a drug-addled lunatic losing his grip on reality, or simply symptoms of the stroke that would kill him months later. (To me, much of Exegesis, at least the parts one can read online, the unreadable rants about Jesus, Spinoza, the trinity, the nature of Karma and enlightenment, are products of a mind that has mysteriously lost its humor. He takes himself so serious you just want him to snap out of it, thanks for the profundity without entertainment value, so good luck finding a film in it.)

Either way, there is irony in the fact that the mad preposterous ravings of one science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard are accepted as gospel by millions of Scientologists, whereas the comparatively rational ravings of PKD, which match up pretty constantly with accepted parallel reality theory, have to be treated as science fiction. One can just as easily imagine a world, which must exist somewhere, where VALIS is a true religion with millions of followers of the divine words of PKD, while the works of L. Ron Hubbard are turned into bad John Travolta movies. 



 As the keeper of this monumental truth, PKD found himself in a quandary. He found Scientology vile and refused to do the same thing, even though he knew he was right, that he had found the one true religion, that we were all radio receivers, using the crystals in our pineal glands to get our orders from beyond, not god, not Yahweh, just a vast active living intelligent system that we might as well call VALIS.

I'll leave it to writer/director John Simon to explain the difference between PKD's novel VALIS and PKD's novel Radio Free Albemuth, but let it be said that no other novel of his is more personal or more paranoid. PKD took his own personal dealings with VALIS, the fever dreams keeping him up at night, and gave them to a fictional character named Nicholas Brady, while making himself Nick's best friend Phil trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Is his friend nuts or what? Who could believe such a thing?

In the movie, as in the book, it's real, there's no need for a spoiler alert, right away, we see the satellites sending their transmissions down to Nick, so we know it's really happening. What's more mysterious is the world this takes place in. Where are we? Yet another alternate reality, much like the one in Terry Gilliam's Brazil, where everything is ALMOST right, a deliberately incongruous mixture of technologies and politics, part 1984, part Richard Nixon on steroids.

Radio Free Albemuth (written in 1976 and published posthumously in 1985*) is very much PKD's adaptation of George Orwell's 1984. The original was published in 1948, Orwell just switched the last two numbers to come up with a date 36 years in the future where the world has gone through horrible unimaginable changes. In 1976, 1984 was just over the horizon, PKD could see it coming, only with Nixon in office it wasn't so unimaginable. He could write a REAL 1984 by changing very little. Radio Free Albemuth takes place in an alternate reality that's damn close to the real America of the 80s.

Even if you've never read a word PKD has written, even if you've only seen a few of the films based upon his novels, how can anyone see Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, Paycheck, Next, or The Adjustment Bureau and not ask themselves who is the mind-blistering madman who made all this shit up.

Just as I will always picture Jack Nicholson in Reds whenever I think of Eugene O'Neill, I will always picture Shea Whigham in Radio Free Albemuth whenever I think of PKD. It's a tricky performance to pull off since, in the context of what's happening, he's the sane one, the rational science fiction writer with the emphasis on fiction. What's happening to his friend Nicholas (Jonathan Scarfe) simply cannot be happening in real life, even though he makes up even more implausible stories every day. It's a restrained and fascinating performance, but Simon gets great performances all around, from Alanis Morrissette as a mysterious songstress with her own relationship to VALIS, to Katheryn Winnick, who plays the traditional long suffering wife who doesn't know if her husband is going crazy, with passion and grace. 

The lack of chase scenes and pumped-up CGI lunacy is actually one of the charms of the film. It's low budget because this is all it takes to tell the story, which is intellectual, political, musical, and scientific, in fact, everything good science fiction should be. The fact the SyFy channel has degenerated into one cheesy monster flick after another, as though nothing has changed in the science fiction world since Creature from the Black Lagoon, instead of featuring films like this that stretch the human imagination, is just appalling. No wonder they changed their name. They're to science fiction what Sunny Delight is to Orange Juice.

Radio Free Albemuth opens up the Pandora's Box of the VALIS trilogy. I hope Hollywood is smart enough to let Simon explore it further. Mindfucks this massive deserve proper care and treatment. 


"The authentic human being is one of us who instinctively knows what he should not do, and, in addition, he will balk at doing it. He will refuse to do it, even if this brings down dread consequences to him and to those whom he loves. This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance. Their deeds may be small, and almost always unnoticed, unmarked by history. Their names are not remembered, nor did these authentic humans expect their names to be remembered. I see their authenticity in an odd way: not in their willingness to perform great heroic deeds but in their quiet refusals. In essence, they cannot be compelled to be what they are not."
- Philip K. Dick: How to Build a Universe that Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later -

The epitaph on Kilgore Trout's tombstone reads, "Life is no way to treat an animal." Guess what Philip K. Dick's tombstone reads?


He said it, I didn't.

MD

* correctly quoted from Wikipedia
** deliberately misquoted from Wikipedia
***actually remembered
****remembered from a dream state, somewhere between a hallucination and consciousness, where the boundaries between fact and fiction are non-existent and people who use footnotes aren't automatically assumed to be ripping off David Foster Wallace.

If I've failed to mention any of Simon's other projects like The Getaway and Wicker Man, or Katheryn Winnick's brilliant performance on House MD, or Shea Whigham's outstanding bit in Boardwalk Empire, it's only because I expect you to do your own research. What am I, the fucking IMDB?

Radio Free Albemuth on Facebook

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rapture by Proxy



Send $20 for a full size blow-up doll, or $10 for a mini-sized blow-up doll, along with your name, or the name of the party you would like to see Raptured by Proxy [TM], to Michael Dare, 2405 NE 113th St., #3, Seattle, WA 98125.

On October 21, 2011, I will write your name on the doll with a Sharpie, fill it with helium, and live blog the release of all the dolls into the Seattle sky, whatever the weather.

Don't let the next Rapture catch you with your pants down, and don't accept any other offers for Raptures by Proxy. This is the only one with a personal guarantee that you will fly into the clouds.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Fact Checker #1



There's an old fashioned thing called a copy editor and fact checker that newspapers used to have and I was one of them. The job involves splitting yourself in two. As a copy editor, I don't give a damn what the writer is saying, I'm just verifying it's in proper English - spelling and grammar - that's it. First test of being a good copy editor, doing it from the bottom up, paying no attention to content, just making sure there isn't a their that should be a they're or dash that should be a comma. Then you're done copy editing.

Then you start fact checking, or you can do it the other way around if you've got both jobs, but in the old days, it was two different people.

So this putz film critic has declared that The Godfather is the worst movie ever made. This, in your opinion, is not a fact, it is an opinion, an opinion that will go on forever as a representation of the magazine or newspaper paying your salary. Should you call the writer and maybe ask him to reconsider the statement, maybe add "one of" or "in my opinion," something other than a statement of fact that will making everyone at the paper a laughingstock. A statement of fact is a dangerous thing in the golden age of litigation, not to mention the potential of no more advertising dollars from a distribution company that bears a grudge.

As a fact checker, it is your job to question the veracity of absolutely everything, you're like a personal Wikipedia where everything has to be proven. This was a tough job before Wikipedia.

So as a fact checker, I say the bin Laden assassination story is full of holes. Not gaping, just little places where the pieces don't fit. It seems to me that if you don't believe in evolution because of a single missing link in a vast chain of empirical evidence, you can't believe the bin Laden story for the exact same reason. There are missing links.

So the first thing I "fact check" is the traditional Muslim method of burial, which mentions in the ground by sunset with the head pointed towards Mecca and nothing of having your picture taken then moved to the nearest ocean and being dumped off a U.S. destroyer.

As long as there was a way to bury bin Laden
in the ground with his head towards Mecca, the burial at sea was distinctly NOT according to Muslim tradition. The obvious answer, the U.S. didn't want him buried, knowing the site would become an an attraction to the enemy, and ignoring the obvious, that surveillance of such a site would allow them to keep track of the enemy.

All it would have taken was one single country to allow the burial of bin Laden and there would have been no need for a burial at sea, according to Muslim tradition. You wanna tell me there wasn't single lunatic dictator in some backwoods African no-man's-land that wouldn't have taken bin Laden's body just for a tourist attraction? Did the U.S. actually ask every country if they wanted him? That would have been more in line with Muslim tradition than a burial at sea as long as his head was pointed towards Mecca.

Yet the media has blindly repeated Obama's line on this, it was according to Muslim tradition, when it was no such thing.

There. Now you know why I'm not working as a fact checker at any major news organization.
MD