In which the Flaneur fesses-up to slacking off this year, a brief and incomplete round-up.
Someone called "hey, Raymantico" in my open window from the street. It was Ian my former house-mate who is active in Occupy. He came up and invited me with him to visit the latest encampment, "Occupy the Farm" in nearby Albany. A doctoral candidate in music his appearance had changed since we'd first met. From the clean-cut grad student (who nevertheless played in at least two bands, one Ethiopian-pop the other wooly dense stuff like Mahavishnu Orchestra on nitrous oxide or something) to the back-to-the-land-archist cat with beard as long and wild as his head-hair. He hurtled through back-streets and crowded boulevardes both at what is for me breakneck speed toward the agricultural tracts owned by the Yooniversity and occupied by a mostly young bunch of students and friends.
The place had a charming mood of the makeshift practicality, and good vibe gathering. A small kitchen wafted aromas of the evening meal on its way. Ian became engaged in several conversations so I pushed on for an unguided tour. In the near distance beyond the central mid-way as it were planting and watering took place in the extended evening light of spring. Closer to were a couple of information tables and other operations some adjourned for the day. The concourse culminated in a ring of hale bales above which folks were stringing light bulbs. Tonight was to be a jamboree and various folk guitar toting young minstrels bided time as a stage-area was wired for sound. I sat in an available canvas lounge chair and watched the long shadows across the ruled farm land.
Who would not sympathize with the quixotic idealism of some the stated goals of this action? That is to make a statement about preserving some of the last viable farm land hereabouts versus the publicized plan to create a whole foods market and modest retirement housing there. But seriously considered it has less chance of prevailing in the courts of property than did the appeal to UC's better nature in the call to preserve the monumental oak grove. That legacy was, as we know, eventually shredded for the uber-stadium plans the funding for which, what do you know?, have recently been exposed as a fraud-ridden part of the boom boom war and investment scandal years. As the last secretary of state once asked, "How could we have possibly known?"
At some later court proceeding against Occupy the Farm, a UC lawyer referred to this state-owned public property as "private property." In other mad mad courthouse news the judge who had issued draconian stay-away orders for enrolled students arrested on campus at Occupy Cal, has since been indicted for elder abuse and grand larceny from an octogenarian trustee lady. Accept judgement from the moral high ground, ye must.
And as it inevitably shook down, platoons of police state overkill arrived and ejected Occupy the Farm a few weeks later. Some were arrested one brave soul allegedly urinated on a riot-clad cop from a tree. Shortly after ward both the city of Albany (trapped in a mutual support agreement with the gestapo-like UC police) and the UC police themselves both submitted a bill for police expenses to Occupy the Farm members. Albany asked for less than four-thousand dollars. UC's villainous mouth-piece Mogolof has demanded around four-hundred thousand and counting. People who are humble enough to sleep out with their crops are thereby damned to a huge financial liability for daring to protest UC officials for selling off public holdings to bankroll their own careers and gild their own parachutes.
On that idyllic night in May, Ian and I didn't hang long enough for the show to begin. The meal smelled great but the line was long and I was happy to leave the vittles for the others especially those hauling water to remote crops. Instead we decamped to an area where instruments were played and the smoking chalice was passed about. As we pushed on through Ian again held up in conversation I climbed a little tower like outdoor airport stairs and looked over at the small group enchanted by music and herb. Hope among the remnants of the natural world getting smaller as we were soon winging toward home.