Your Hobo Addresses the Bangor City Council

The guy from the Bangor Daily really didn’t like what I said, and covered it correspondingly.  I think it was at 39:00, the part he didn’t like.

Anyway, I wasn’t thinking of it as a photo op.

Click to play the video. (At Bangor's website.)


Occupy Xmas: the video (script)

A short video explaining Occupy.

THE SCENE:  An upscale, middle-American kitchen.  The remains of a big baking project lie piled in and around the sink.

There are THREE GINGERBREAD HOUSES on the countertop, each with a GINGERBREAD COUPLE out front.  One couple is clearly Caucasian — a man and a woman — one clearly African-American, and one two men.


Three to five SMALL CHILDREN.  Each child is dressed as a bank, somehow, with the appropriate logo worn prominently.

A WORKING CORPORATE MOM, who somehow balances the demands of motherhood with a successful carreer.  She is at first partially dressed up in her costume, then leaves and returns, fully in the role of “Aunt Sam” (a female Uncle Sam).

THE GUY BEHIND THE CAMERA, who we hear but never see.  Male gaze.

OPENING SHOT of normal pandemonium in the kitchen, of the kind you’d get with a bunch of kids milling around.

GUY BEHIND CAMERA:  So explain to me what we’re doing here.

CORPORATE MOM:  Getting ready.

GUY:  No, for the camera.  What’s the project?

MOM:  Oh — Well with Christmas coming and everyone still being so angry and bitter about the poor banks, who are just trying to survive in hard economic times like anyone else, I thought this year we’d have the kids put on a little skit representing America!

So every kid is a bank.  This is Bank of America, this is Chase bank [and so on].  When we get to Grandma’s and the cousins are all together —

GUY:  Wait, who are you? Continue reading

Open Letter to the City Council – re: bust of Occupy

Gentlemen and Ladies of the City Council,

Regarding the recent police action against Occupy, I thought I would direct to you some public comments I have made recently on BDN’s public BBoard.

I think I do not exceed my authority as the Encampment Legal point person in saying that, while we all consider this police action to be very unfortunate, we nevertheless remain guardedly optimistic about working with the city to find a mutually satisfactory solution within the existing legal code. Continue reading

I was misquoted

 *correction to the Bangor Daily article* Alba Briggs said that uprooting the camp would mean throwing away the last month of work we’ve put in.  Not me.

I said that, yes, we may be the top-clicked story on the Bangor Daily website (partly no doubt because of all you beloved “Get A Job” trolls venting your spleens) — but we pull up our tents, we’re a flash in the pan and forgotten by Bangor.

America is sick.  Terribly sick.  It should be possible for a man making minimum wage to support a wife and three kids, without a dime of government assistance.  We had that once.  But now, minimum wage isn’t enough to support yourself.

We need to *push* American society off its present self-destructive course and onto a more reasonable one.  This takes *time*.  We *need* to keep at this.

Our white-collar organizational leaders, who put forth the proposal to pull up the camp, without actually *telling* anyone who lived at camp ahead of time, tell us maintaining the camp takes too much time, too much energy.  Some of the ones saying this, like Valerie, really put their heart and soul into keeping the camp alive. 

Now I know something about photography, and this picture -- in that light? -- is a real accomplishment

Other of those leaders, I can’t tell you what they do to keep camp running.  Sunny once called the encampment the “heart and soul” of Bangor’s Occupy movement.  Was up in arms when the city wanted us just to apply for a permit.  Now she wants us shut down.

What I said was, we decamp, and we become just another white-collar activist group doing deskwork and promotional stunts.  Camping out in Maine weather *means* something, and this is what has the nice old women from the Peace and Justice center running scared.  Trying to uproot our camp for our own good.

It’s amazing to me that we have to fight not only City Hall, but our own leadership to stay alive.

(open letter to the city council) Thanks for, and thoughts on, the recent workshop

Gentlemen and Ladies of the City Council,

I want to thank you for having the workshop, inspired by the desire to be a fair umpire to Occupy Bangor and in general.  I want to thank you for everything from the rousing speech about our nation’s origins in the early pilgrimages to this land, to the quiet expressions of determination to uphold the law, to the counterpoint that you are a policy-forming committee.  And I appreciate equally those moments of legal clarity from the city attourney, particularly in reference to the law of unintended consequences.

Please understand that I have no position of authority at Occupy Bangor, and everything I say here is from me, as a citizen who is deeply committed to the peaceful protest that has formed in this city.

This is simply my view of the matter.

There were only a few focused, specific questions which you asked of us, the public.  These I can address, and the concerns from which they seem to spring.  I can also address the questions I imagine you might ask.  But there are undoubtedly questions you have not asked, which I can not anticipate, and I would encourage you to publish them with the announcement of the next meeting’s time.

One question Mr. Sprague asked was, “How long do you intend to be there?”  Another was, “How is being limited to park hours ‘onerous’?”

The group has not reached consensus on a time-frame.  The brave reply you may get from people is, “As long as it takes!” 

My reply is, “Until spring.” 

One passerby asked me, “What happens in spring?”

I told him, “We come up with another plan.”

This is Maine.  Camping out will be safe — if there is any risk to life or limb, I personally promise I will lead the retreat into a headed structure — but miserable.  Utterly miserable.  It will be a hardship.

As a hobo, I have a notion of what deliberately going through a hardship does to a person’s character, as a matter of choice.  It tempers your character.  It causes you to live in reality and not fantasy.  It wakes you up wonderfully.

You learn, in other words, something about what you can personally accomplish under your own power simply by being determined.  I want this for these people.  I want the college kids who have an interest in political activism to be tempered in this way. Continue reading

Reply on BDN bboard

I have to say, the city has been very reasonable toward us.  The Parks guy, Tracey Willette, has, and the city council has.  Cops have on their rounds.
But I also have to say, I think we’ve been pretty reasonable toward the city.  Not filing a permit is something that can be done by anyone doing something in a park.  To have a wedding in a park, you can go without a permit.  Cops won’t bust it up.
The permit just allows you to certain benefits, which Occupy has, in my understanding, gone without.  A benefit to permitting is that, for example, you make sure someone else isn’t having a wedding at the same time.
Whether Occupy NEEDS a permit for the way it’s currently using park property is not at all clear.  In my view, we SHOULD HAVE a permit — it’d make things legally tidier, tie up some loose ends — but look:
One of the things that came out of the meeting is that it really isn’t clear which park department rules and policies we might be breaking, or should be governed by, because those policies weren’t written with something like an occupation in mind, and they don’t clearly apply to us.
I left the meeting thinking that the city council is deeply committed to the bill of rights, and for that I’m grateful.  The lethal question is, is the city council committed ENOUGH, and is the city itself committed ENOUGH, to reconsider whether giving Bangor citizens real legal freedom is worth stepping outside the normal comfort zone, in the form of actually allowing substantial 24-hour peaceful political protest.

Reply to Soldier [facebook]

We’re not about free handouts. That’s exactly what we DON’T want.

We want WORK. We want JOBS. We want an economic and social system where a man can work and feed his family.

But what we have now is NOT that. What we have is an utterly corrupt system where the power elite garner ALL resouces and decision-making to themselves.

This began because the millionaires who run this country made the bad business decision to funnel bailout money into the pockets of the super-wealthy, instead of using it to ensure credit to the man on the street and escape an economic death spiral.

These bad decisions hurt their own companies and damaged the economy. We lost jobs, we lost housing. And for this they got paid million dollar BONUSES. That’s on top of their million dollar salaries. And because they’re holding the economy hostage, Uncle Sam seems to believe there’s no alternative but to keep bailing them out.

We need soldiers. But let’s look at what they do.

You, soldier, commit violence for money when Uncle Sam tells you to. For this you are paid, as you say, moderately well. And you earn that by going through hardships and risk of bodily harm. You do it to protect American civil order.

In contrast, we have Uncle Sam commit violence against us for exercising our right to free speech. We risk bodily harm, we go through hardships, in order to protect American civil order, and we do it not for pay, but on the contrary we pay for it. We pay dearly.

So, yes: you got the better deal. Undoubtedly, as you say, your job has greater material rewards.