Author Archives: hipgnotist

Stage Magick

Stage Magick

Friday, 16 September, 2011

For Bruce McCluggage

Had some words with my friend Bruce yesterday–OK, lots of words. In fact, the Spirit moved me, so I was blasting words all over the place like that guy from the X Men, only with a gag instead of a visor. All the way toward the end of much conversatin’–and yes, Bruce held his end respectably in the face of my torrent–we came to a summation.

The idea is already on the pages here so it’s important and needing some flesh, but it’s also very simple. We all know we can’t prove a negative. Any third grade philosopher know this as an unshakable verity, right? So who will step up to prove that? No one, that’s who–we can’t do it, and mind you, I don’t hearsee that term coming from myself often. I’ll beat my kids senseless if I hear them using it. (Hi kids! Molto amore!). Hell the notion is generational. My totally outstanding 95 year old Granddad banned the word from his brood’s vocabulary, and he started his family during the Great Depression. But we can’t, and we know we can’t.

We can’t even prove that we can’t prove that we can’t prove a negative. We can add layers to our investigation to Eternity, and never can we prove a negative. And yet we know that we know that we know (&c.) that we can’t do it. What the Heellll!!? This is why: Reason breaks down at a point between proving and knowing right here for us to examine like a fascinating diamond, cut in some diabolically ingenious fashion to as to hide its facets from us like a tesseract or something. There’s math that explains this pretty succinctly. Look up Kurt Gödel‘s Incompleteness Theorem, (here’s a good start http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel/). Gödel, [whose name I'll be disrespecting til I figure out how to add an umlaut on this thing, (HA!)], wrote a bunch of High Math, way beyond my capacity, that shows us when reduced to terms even I can grok, that any closed system can never possibly contain all the tools necessary to fully describe itself. With me so far?

This shows us another Eternal Verity: Truth transcends Proof; and further–our ability to know does the same. Now, Bruce is a philosopher, and kind of a Christian, so this sort of shit doesn’t bother him like it may the Scientific Determinists that read this. What we are gazing upon, through the lens of our little diamond, is an example of our ability to “jump out of the system”, and view it from outside, in some manner as indescribable as how we can know there’s no proving a negative. (Apologies to Doug Hofstadter for abusing an idea I came across in Gödel, Escher, Bach. I’m about to depart from his comfort zone, I think. He did, give him mucho credit, respectably describe the idea within the closed system of those pages). This is an ability we share with God. This, I think, is at least in part why some tidbit of western scripture says, “Ye are gods,” (Psalm 82, for you skeptics; read it all and get some context before attempting to argue, please).

This whole line of thought is closely associated with the Ontological Argument as proof of God, if not fully dependent upon it, (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/). For the uninitiated, this is a supremely brilliant bit of philosophical tomfoolery that attempts to prove the existence of God by reason alone, in an orderly procession of thought utterly divorced from empirical evidence. If anyone would care to take it on, I’d love–no LOVE–to see a genuine debunking. It’s very slippery indeed, and feels for all the world like a stage magician pulling infinite decks of cards from his sleeves. But it’s irrefutable, in my stupid little mind. It jumps the system.

I’ll readdress the crap we’ve mulled over here, but this is good. Put simply–arithmetically, one might say–1) We can’t prove a negative; 2) We know this; 3) Truth is superior to proof; 4) We are therefore superior to the closed system of All-There-Is;5) Only god is thus; 6) We are gods. (Yes, I took a leap there at step 6. I only have so much attention span. Roll wit’ it for now, OK? It’s in the Ontological Argument if you feel like getting ahead of me). This is arithmetical, yes, and handily sums up my points from yesterday, Bruce and friends. But, as you’ve seen by now I guess, that doesn’t mean one can’t do a bit of Algebra, Trig, or (Meta)Physics with it.

***

Jeez, I hope you all enjoyed that. Please don’t burn me at the stake yet. There’s more. It’ll take a while to work around the mess of toroidal thinking here. See Bruce–I didn’t forget that part. I’m only human, even if we are all gods. Bear in mind all, that Nothing here is any more valuable than the opinion of one idiot house painter. And any of you who have read the stuff before this will know already: It’s all a bunch of bullshit.

The Next One

The Next One

 

 

The next one is a letter to my dad. You don’t get to read it now. Gimme a minute.

Also Done With Mirrors

Friday, August 1, 2014

Also Done With Mirrors

Also Done With Mirrors

From The El Paso County Jail

hipgnosis_fractal

June 2014

In jail now for contempt of court, i can only hope that i will not be punished for thought, given my intent with this piece more or less to publicly scorn the same court and many of its agents represented here at the misnamed Criminal Justice Center of El Paso County. I will concentrate on this local example for specifics because of intimacy, but recent news and broad history supports my encouragement to the reader that (s)he extrapolate freely.

I’d almost rather sleep than pace around here like a tyger in a fucking zoo, but i am as i have been formed. I really don’t think you fuckers can make me sleep without some kind of assault. It’s possible a dispassionate observer might develop the notion that you can piss me off, so to speak, that you can make me blow my Zen, but no–that was i, and i’m over it already.

Here at the El Paso County Jail, called the “Criminal Justice Center,” uniforms abound and each, of course, conveys a message. All the prisoners are color coded. The deps and “specialists’ and nurses and “contractors” are all of a feather, some with fancier tails as it were, expressive of assorted specifics. Variation is for the most part strictly verboten, (sorry to misuse the language for such a purpose, T. You know what i mean.)

Prisoners are separated by severity of “crime,” degree of danger to self or others, and some by a certain degree of “privilege” (these are called “trusty”). Deputies are generally demarcated according to “authority.” Some have little shoulder insignia indicating rank, “honors,” or extreme pathology. “Civilians” in various “house nig…um…servant,” (ahem), positions bear yet further uniform garb, while certain haughty nabobs glide around in suits carrying clipboards, heads high, presumably to be the more able to reach the rarefied air that must sustain them with their pinched aquiline nostrils.

With irony that may or may not be intentional on someone or something’s part, the same uniforms described as so expressive also squelch some communication, which would be quite freely broadcast in ordinary circles. Certainly “club” colors are vigorously banned. Stuff like those placeholders for my ears. Some shit slips by: Many Department of Corrections guys, (prisoners), are recognizable by  “penitentiary” labels on personal clothing. Haircuts, though highly imperfect at clarity, often show fondness for  a martial life. The richest bearers of information of all apart from coded wristbands we wear under a pretty fair degree of duress are tattoos, freely and openly displayed by all but the besuited clipboard crowd.

The deputies have prevented me from wearing the little protective posts made of comb teeth i put in my ears, meant to keep the piercings from closing, as an experiment in boundaries, and as an expression of my identity; a bit of communication through appearance; silent aesthetic vocalization. One pleasant deputy said to me with great concern and chagrin in both his voice and his eyes, “Oh, no! This is terrible!” I asked him about his concern and he played it off as a joke; “Sarcasm.” But to me, “this”–that is, a bit of aesthetic experimentation that serves to announce my separation  from a society i find abhorrent–is a marvelous thing, rich in multifaceted, radiating, information-bearing emanations. We all do these things, and some of us then wonder why we are rejected by those for whom we define ourselves as Other by those choices of appearance we make of our own volition.

No one can do anything about skin color, for example, and we ought not make assessments about human beings that are based on unchangeables like that, but we do anyhow. And life probably works out to support those assessments. Whether the differences are real or not, when two segments of society conspire to call one another’s members hateful names, like “nigger,” or “cracker,” or “Palestinian,” or “Jew,” the intonation of Otherness establishes a state of polarity where the prophecies inherent in the expression all become true, eventually. That’s pretty crazy in itself. At The El Paso County Jail the most desperate of prisoners–the mixed-color-teal-and-yellow crowd–are garbed thusly so that they are easily recognizable as homicidal-suicidal. They seem to live a miserable existence, isolated from everyone because of mutual fear, from which font their own dreaded behavior springs. The nurses in the medical unit where many of these saddest of souls reside sometimes and apart from regulation wear colors so similar that i have been startled by the spectacle of those shades in unexpected places. But i have had conversations with EPCO jail employees that went something like, “You should find something to do that doesn’t eat your soul.” “Oh, I’m fine–I get home and just forgetaboutit. Turn it off,” with a motion like flipping a switch. “Do you really think partitioning your personality–your life–your Self–to that degree so you won’t flip out is healthy!!? Isn’t that exactly how ‘multiples’ work things?” So just who are the crazy ones?

Division by zero.

One deputy said to me, “Sixty to seventy percent of the cops in this town are just doing their jobs.” This is so multi-dimensionally wrong: Only a mental pathology allows a guy to perpetrate violence against an unwilling subject for a mundane paycheck that is derived in part from money confiscated from that very person being so victimized. This is deeply parasitic and also pretty fucking stupid in that biologically, the most successful parasite is one that works a symbiotic relationship with its host. The relationship of our government, (and virtually all governments), to its host our society is now and will soon prove to be catastrophically vitacidal. Meanwhile, what are the other forty percent doing? My estimation figures the best part of this minority is enjoying  the sanction of the same gullible society to be violent for pay and false “honor.” Some of these two groups are actually deluded to imagine they are helping people.

“Can’t break the rules just doin’ my job nothin’ personal behind that blow to the head gotta paycheck to collect gotta family to feed….”

Assuredly history’s most spectacularly egregious crimes, and lest any reader seeks to comfort himself with false abstraction, those of this very day, this very moment, have always been committed beneath the false flag of “The Rules.”

I’ve heard it said in the context of “appearances” that the men and women of “Gateway” “represent El Paso County,” so that they are not permitted to wear a Mohawk, (or i suppose, bits of comb in their ears). Now, be alert that i am not a Gateway man, exactly, but i am here because of appearances, at least in part. To be clear, i don’t represent El Paso County, by any means and i give but the merest of fucks for appearances. I represent some higher Thing, and not by my choice at all; but having been chosen for this  i serve my purpose while Judge Williams serves his. We are what we are, and what each of us represents is so far beyond El Paso County that i can’t see its apex from here and i suspect that Judge Williams has scarcely even apprehended its Its truth, having heard of these things only in forgotten dreams. I hope you aren’t hurt, dear Judge; these lots of ours are assigned, not chosen.

I certainly never meant to  cause you harm, or even pain, though i can’t deny i have been quite angry; far more at your system than at you, personally. It’s up to you how much grief will be in this for you, but: Fear not, sir; for as i have said, this is all perfectly safe, And again: We are in this together. All of us. Like it or not.

*Submitted with respect to those EPCO Schindlers who struggle daily to avoid division by zero. And i’ll have to talk more about Gateway, later.

Willie and Waylon and Some Other Guy: A story about weed, marriage, and Texas tall tales. Part I

I threatened someone that asked that i might post up some old backstory of mine here on Kiefair.com. Breezy encourages me, so this is that. I’ll post more, along with new. Thanks!

15 September, 2011

Willie and Waylon and Some Other Guy: A story about weed, marriage, and Texas tall tales.

Part I

I like telling the story of the time we went to Telluride with my brother David to catch the Bluegrass Festival there. Dave is a pretty dang famous fiddler, and this happened 13 or 14 years ago when his Freight Hoppers were riding a crest, having two then current Billboard Top 10 Americana list releases on Rounder, (Rounder is pretty much a ripoff for them, but that’s for another time).  The Freight Hoppers were hot in Colorado, and their set would draw some 30, 000 festival-goers, with a respectable bevy of hairy Deadheads looking for an outlet following Jerry’s departure bouncing , flouncing and working their little Tai Chi dance up at the stage. Lots of really notable musicians liked The Hoppers, too, and still do, actually.

Anyhow, we would meet up with Dave and the band at the festivals after winding through a long cattle-line setup, to get to the will-call desk and pick up our magic-rainbow all-access wristbands and hang out all weekend with all these niche-famous musicians, eating, drinking, being merry, smoking, and playing music together. That shit is great!

So one day we’re back stage chillin’ with Tony Furtado, (hi Tony—rock on!), and someone goes, “Is that Johnny Cash?” and sure enough, The Highwaymen had showed up to play an unscheduled set. We never made it away from whatever we were doing at the time to see them play, but not long later, as if they had come for no other purpose, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson show up looking for my brother to tell him how much they dig his music. How cool is that!? Well, we all got to jawin’, and knowing a little about Willie I pulled a little fairly decent weed out of my pocket  and offered it, but Willie said, “Oh, no thanks, son, put that away,” and busted out some G13 mutant weed or something, and sparked the stoniest joint I’ve ever smoked in my life, to this very day. What a day!

Now, Willie has always been a hero of mine. His heroes have always been cowboys, he says; mine have always been outlaws, and I always figured Willie for a true outlaw, to the core. I mean the guy runs for president on a platform built of pot smoke, with Ani DiFranco as his running mate. Go Willie! That’s why some things he’s said lately trouble me. I’ll get to that in a minute but the first order of business here is to retell that story one more time, (not that I won’t tell it again—it’s a great staple of mine at parties and such), and to let you in on a secret: It’s all bullshit! It never happened!

***

I am a teller of tall tales, a spinner of yarns, a slinger of bool-shyte. That’s what I do. I’m gonna do some now, here; it’s my schtick, and folks who know me will instantly recognize some of the regular phraseology of my everyday standup, right here on the page. Hi Tim! Hi kids! Hi Willie! Some will recognize little inside tidbits and feel special. They’ll pick out my little eddies and anticipate how I circle back around myself. Hell, if you’re reading you might just as well go ahead and start feeling all conspiratorial and special right now. I mean, this is certainly not USA Today. You can pretty much count on being in an exclusive number by this count.

So if this is a bit of improv by a bullshit artist, how do you know this isn’t all bullshit right now? I’ll let you in on another secret: it is! That’s right—it’s the Lying Cretin. Everything I say is a lie. The Lie is truer than the Truth. Willie and I will be burning one in Austin when I make it down that way in a few months and we’ll laaaugh and laugh about this whole thing, because he gets it, you know:

               This statement does not belong in the set of all true statements.

Wrap your head around that a spell. It can’t be done. And no side-winding tap-dance involving imaginary words like”pseudo-statement” allowed, either. This is True Lies. It’s a breakdown in reason, a blind spot in our panoramic window to Reality like that thing with the dots you learned in elementary school. You can not manipulate the notions here to fit your mind, though you may, just maybe, be able to manipulate your mind to fit the notions. OK, so I’ll admit we can’t prove the magick here, and maybe someday some mathematician will build a technical ladder up and out of Gödel’s pit, but, we can’t prove a negative, right? But let’s see ya prove that. And now follow it back to the beginning of this paragraph, the beginning of this rant, the beginning of everything you’ve ever read, heard, saw, sensed felt.

And, lo and behold, you find yourself “poised on the wave of explicit Presence, the clockless Nowever.”

But don’t forget what kinda bullshit you’re reading.

(Don’t miss Part 2)!

House of Mirrors

From the El Paso County Jail. There may be glitches while i learn WordPress. http://hipgnosis21.blogspot.com/2014/07/of-mirrors-june-2014-el-paso-county.html

WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2014

House of Mirrors

House of Mirrors

26 June 2014

El Paso County Jail

Don’t freak out now, anyone. I’m still out of jail, pending appeal, as of today, 23 July 2014.

Sorry, no footnotes in the blogger. You can get them here
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1umk-RPyxoiQTPSS84Cp4sR80UAXFzsVRpuiRBVzrdNA/edit?usp=sharing

Pogo couldn’t have known the heft and resonance of his words: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

I wrote a screed a while back, (Today’s Tom Sawyer), excoriating shitty Christian behavior. There’s still plenty to say about all that, and maybe some of it will come out here, but it’s not the point of this one. During that earlier rant, i promised to harp, eventually, about bad behavior on the part of pagans, dope fiends, felons, bikers, disgruntled employees, GIs, vets, and some of my other natural affinity groups as well.

That isn’t it either. Or maybe it is. But not really. Not quite. I promised to write about the Fear, too, and nor is it that, though the Fear runs through it all. This is about a war.

Many members of of various of the groups on that funny little list i jotted just now recognize and will now openly state that there’s a war looming. They’re wrong about that much anyhow–the looming is all done and the fight is on. Right now. It’s been on for decades, (or maybe forever). I’m here “jotting” because that’s what one does in the county jail, where i am a political prisoner–a POW, really, though i prefer to think of myself as a prisoner of conscience–but maybe it’s a digression to say so. Or maybe not. Let’s explore this amalgam of notions a bit, and see if we can find out.

Here at the county jail one finds a  peculiarly refined microcosm of the way the dynamics of the variously conflicting groups involved in this bizarre  war interact, cleared of much of the dross of false civility that ordinarily circumvents the fight out on the sidewalk, at least here in the U.S.A.

I know Europeans here that want to skedaddle from this place and others afraid to come here because many of them can see the shitstorm brewing and it scares them. They often seem to see it more clearly than we Americans are able to do at least in part because our access to real news is barely over nil, of maybe because as outside observers they aren’t saddled with the cognitive dissonance we sorry brainwashed frogs that live in this hot-ass boiling lake must so often suffer. I don’t know. I hope they realize this pond holds us all.

Oddly enough, while the interactions at the county jail display some of the finer points of conflict in out absurdly labeled free society, they also show some reasons for hope. There are still lights burning.

“Fuck the Police!”

I don’t know how many times i’ve heard that phrase from some of my dearest friends. I’ve uttered them myself. Often. Sometimes at the top of my lungs. Sometimes it was far more personal: “Fuck you! That’s right, you, personally, whomever you may be in your opposition to me, my pursuits, my people. Maybe i should refer to the less common; “Fuck the Pigs,’ because the police are only a fractional representation of one segment, one camp of that particular overarching social entity the hippies were talking about when they began to disparage swine so badly as to label their opposition thusly in this odd existential war from whence the flesh and blood scrap derives.

“Battle lines are being drawn,” went the line from the Buffalo Springfield some fifty-ish years back. They’re pretty well drawn, now, though they resemble lines a three-year-old might scribble. The shit’s on. People are fighting. The skirmishes often feel like some kind of kids’ game though too, involving blindfolds and billyclubs. Maybe i can’t deny swinging a stick around myself, sometimes. Maybe that’swhat this is–a chance for me to look in the mirror a little, Maybe it’s because it’s hard to sit the game out when i keep getting hit in the head. Whatever. Let’s keep on through the maze and just hope we don’t smash too many mirrors.

During the Occupation we intrepids staged a few years back, (and some of us still engage–viva la revolución and all), my son and i traveled to Denver for the final push when the cops razed the encampment there. The scene that October of 2011 there in Denver was some shit this country hadn’t seen in over forty years maybe, where armored brigades of soldiers–not cops at all but stormtroopers–rolled on a huge, disparate group of unarmed citizens. It was tragic. And beautiful. Versions of the same scene played out all around the world that fall.

There at Civic Center Park, across the avenue from the State Capitol building, the Boy and i stood in the thick of it as those battle lines sharpened, and then blew apart as the whole outhouse hit the fan.

Some thousands of us had marched boisterously through Denver’s business district, pausing for a special visit at the Federal Reserve. After completing a wide loop around downtown we mounted the Capitol steps for whatever confrontation the Denver planners had planned. They, (to claim a thing–we), had been warned explicitly beforehand to stay off that particular edifice, so the moment we took the steps and began railing through one of our ubiquitous bullhorns, the shock teams appeared, as if the bearded-Spock Enterprise had beamed them to the scene.

Honestly, i was pretty fucking nervous at that point. It’s not as though i’d never been beaten up by the cops before, but that stuff is kind of a young man’s sport, and i was never really all that much a fan anyhow. Besides, those had always been cops, not armored sci-fi gladiators. But the main thing was the Boy. He was fifteen then and down for plenty, but he looked pretty worried too, and, (the mainthing, actually), i knew i’d never live through my next conversation with his mother if i allowed him to be beaten and busted by the police. I suggested we pull back to the park and we did, but i felt pretty spineless for having done it, really.

The Boy and i had a quick consult: “You see what this is going to be, right?” “Yeah.” “Are you down, or not?” Nervous but firm, “Yeah.” “Fuck it then…God damn it; your mom is gonna kill me. Let’s get some lunch.”

The park itself  was packed with crowds of Occupiers, some having returned with us from the march and probably harboring thoughts similar to mine. The encampment had been there for a good while by then, and the Black Flag Anarchists’ Free Kitchen was in full flight. It had already been dismantled more than once as a special preparatory project for the cops–kind of a warm-up. Knowing well what was coming, the no-nonsense scrappy men’n’women in black behind the table were all assholes with elbows, flying around in a frenzy with grim serious joy in their eyes as they did their level best to sling as much great tasting free food as possible before the inevitable hammer fell. Those guys were freaking awesome sauce with motherfuckin’ cherries on top!

Rather than spark an actual and possibly justifiable war on the Capitol steps, even the most radical and adrenaline-blinded of the group holding that position chose to retreat and quickly joined us at the park. The scene was oddly festive, with tents and art projects and folks dressed for carnival. The mid-autumn day was one of those beautiful Colorado Indian summer affairs with pristine blue skies through which flitted happy and blissfully oblivious birdies merrily on the lookout for delectable kitchen scraps. But wait! What the hey!!? The second the steps were abandoned and that contingent joined those meeker souls at the park, the rest of the cops in the danged known universe materialized in a huff and began setting up for some sort of paramilitary invasion. No shit–we all saw pretty quickly what the Denver PD had in mind for all those fun military vehicles and equipment they’d been collecting.

The scene changed dramatically there on the sidewalk where the Anarchists’ Kitchen was set up. There was plenty of action before then, but the top-gun radicals had been at the Capitol along with most of the cops. Now a phalanx quickly formed four deep with armored, shielded, armed, dangerous, implacable, and apparently stoically unflappable police stretching all around, up and down–all over the fucking place. Where the Boy and i stood a few sidewalk squares south of the Kitchen the scene was still like a carnival spreading away and outward into the park in every direction save the east, buy more like something Ray Bradbury or John Clifford might have dreamt up. Moving east to west one would have passed through four rows of cops in a formation that i’d only seen before in movies about Fascist  takeovers where American patriots saved the day by vanquishing some identically clad and positioned foe as we occupiers faced that day, armored only with our damn-the-torpedoes ethical certitude. Stepping by the entrenched police if one were to dare it, one would have passed a modest tree lawn, an ordinary sidewalk crowded with dark festival-goers, and could then step up to the folding table that served as the Anarchists’ ordering counter and serving table set up facing east from the immediate western line of the sidewalk across from the antiMayberry lines facing the stubbornly unaltered scene in the Kitchen.

The cops just stood there for what seems to memory like hours, but it couldn’t have been all afternoon or anything. Maybe so. The Boy and i milled around a bit getting a look at the overall scene and scoping out the various sections of the park. Behind the Kitchen to the west were the bulk of the tents, say a hundred or more, though others were scattered about. Further  west a concrete round with maybe a fountain or something hosted a bunch of info tables, some artsy hippies working on various projects, a triage setup, some chanting Hare Krishnas. More cops surrounded the camp, even more moved to close off the farthest reaches of the west side, We all saw we were utterly circumscribed and our physical position was hopeless. There was plenty of Hope, mind you, but all of it founded on our spiritual position, see.

As we awaited  what everyone knew to be inexorable, not so many of us remained quiet, (by “us” i mean Occupiers here; the most visible government employees were silent). I did mostly, and so did the Boy, he for his reasons and i for mine. The whole scene produced its own racket, but the most noticeable volume arose from the collection of spirit-moved Occupiers working the lines of eerily insensate gendarmes. Each was moved by his or her own personal spirit, few of which were very friendly toward the collective juggernaut we faced. More than one strode frenetically up and down whichever line was convenient  hurling f-bombs and spittle with as much force as he could muster. You know: “Fuck the Police!!!” and,“Fuck Yoooou!!!” from distances as close as the collected officers’ gear would allow. The pointillistic rows of cops, each in his own world, stared into space, eyes forward and directed at some Unknown, refusing eye contact. Only God and each man in his solitude knew what blackness filled his vision, (and possibly anyone operating one of those guv’mint mind-reading gizmos, if you’re into that sort of thinking).

Sensibly, few of the “non-violent” protesters were mad–that is crazy–enough to attempt to get physical. Those that did were promptly stomped, smashed and removed from the game. Otherwise with many pushing the envelope right to its most extreme limit, the arms-down-and-rigid-face forward-inches-from-any-nearest-random-cop’s-shielded-face stance of extreme and barely checked agitation rapidly became familiar. I for one was amazed at the extraordinary and rather creepy restraint the beleaguered police were displaying, though few shield-screened eyes could keep from betraying internal turmoil. Virtually none of the cops would assent to eye contact.

As this scene played itself out, a few Occupiers attempted to convince their fellows to mellow. In the midst of the very front and most electrical line of all this, there in front of the aforementioned Kitchen, one lone Occupier was working the line of gear-laden men, moved by a different spirit indeed. He was preaching it, baby. Pleading. Begging. Beseeching. As near to tears as i am now as this scene spills its way from my fingertips, fluid in his expressive motion to and fro as any practiced Sunday morning crowd-pleaser can i get a amen. “Don’t you see it? You are us! We are you! Please, stop this! We are one–we must stop fighting!” And in some brilliant, divinely inspired voice, “Lay down your shields! Join us! Put down your clubs and have some lunch!”

And then …right there in front of the Boy and me…with the scene in the actual Kitchen production area behind the table unchanged from before the lines formed…one of them did exactly that.

There was actually a fat queue at the Kitchen counter that parted like the Red Sea, astonished, for this newborn brother of ours to step up and claim his serving. He ate his food in silence and retook his spot in that other line which remained unaltered as his fellows stood unmoved, apparently in both senses. The Boy and i collected our portion of genuinely bomb-ass risotto and began to  eat with more on our minds than i can possibly describe. Before we were half through our plates the order came and we found ourselves dining amidst a police riot, our rice flavored by tear gas. (I got off the hook before, when the story remained vague. I suppose his mom is going to kill me now, after all).

The rest of the action went down as one would expect, with ample blood, outrage, and pepper-bullet injury and indignity and tears and drama. It was all on the news, with much expansion available on YouTube. You can look it up. None of that is the point.

I heard that one cop was fired perfunctorily that night.

We were there. Right fucking there. It really happened. It was so surreal i almost have to ask the Boy if it actually wasn’t some kind of dream.

Those two guys, though. That cop! When we all do what he did, just maybe then the war will be over. He looked up  and noticed he was looking in the fucking mirror.

The thing about all this is that the crowd of Occupiers was a full-on quorum of average joes with representation across several spectra. There were Christians, pagans, dope fiends, felons, bikers, disgruntled employees, GIs, vets, blue-collar Barney Rubbles, Republicans, Democrats, hippies, neo-hippies, and chanting, jangling Hare Krishnas, The cops were disguised as an invading foreign force but we all know they were really just a bunch of Christians, pagans, dope fiends, felons, bikers, disgruntled employees, GIs, vets, blue-collar Barney Rubbles, Republicans, and Democrats. The only groups lacking representation really were the hippies and the chanting, jangling Hare Krishnas that stayed with the rest of us till late into the night serving free food as a replacement for the Anarchists who had been quite the hell shut down. Oh yeah–there likely weren’t too many Anarchists on the cops’ side of the lines. I’m pretty sure  those differences are significant. Maybe the cops would be better if they got some of those groups they were missing. The janglier the better.

Back here at the county jail where i’m still Occupying, there’s lots of conflict, though not nearly so boiling hot. The old standby, “Fuck the Police,” is scrawled or carved around and about and plenty of folks on either side of whatever line each has drawn are fully prepared to swing  clubs at one another. Many of the sheriff’s deputies and sad, paycheck-to paycheck “detention specialists” are happy to evoke a very dark spirit indeed in their efforts to control us inmates who represent Other to them. I have been struck by the observation that these obnoxious fucks are the respected  representatives of a society that so many of our deluded citizenry expect us of the criminal class to emulate.

Ha! I may be an asshole myself, but no thanks: I have no interest in joining your obnoxious and shitty club.

Meanwhile, virtually all of us prisoners, including myself sometimes, react…”Grumble grumble fuck the police why i oughtta etc. etc. ad nauseum” Various of us slink around and steal or fight among ourselves or in general practice a sort of blindfolded subservience to Self. (Marco! Polo!…Ouch! Motherfucker!!!). We’re fucking obnoxious. We want the cops and the guards and judges and bankers and presidents to act differently but…why would they want to join our obnoxious and shitty club? When they do we wind up with a spectacular clusterfuck like the found at the Denver county jail last month, where a dep was helping a banger sling dope and administer beat-downs. Happens all the time. In every kaleidoscopic variation you can imagine.

Pogo couldn’t have known the heft and resonance of his words: “ We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

I wrote a screed a while back, (Today’s Tom Sawyer), excoriating shitty Christian behavior. There’s still plenty to say about all that, and maybe some of it will come out here, but it’s not the point of this one. During that earlier rant, i promised to harp, eventually, about bad behavior on the part of pagans, dope fiends, felons, bikers, disgruntled employees, GIs, vets, and some of my other natural affinity groups as well.

That isn’t it either. Or maybe it is. But not really. Not quite. I promised to write about the Fear, too, and nor is it that, though the Fear runs through it all. This is about a war.

Many members of of various of the groups on that funny little list i jotted just now recognize and will now openly state that there’s a war looming. They’re wrong about that much anyhow–the looming is all done and the fight is on. Right now. It’s been on for decades, (or maybe forever). I’m here “jotting” because that’s what one does in the county jail, where i am a political prisoner–a POW, really, though i prefer to think of myself as a prisoner of conscience–but maybe it’s a digression to say so. Or maybe not. Let’s explore this amalgam of notions a bit, and see if we can find out.

Here at the county jail one finds a  peculiarly refined microcosm of the way the dynamics of the variously conflicting groups involved in this bizarre  war interact, cleared of much of the dross of false civility that ordinarily circumvents the fight out on the sidewalk, at least here in the U.S.A.

I know Europeans here that want to skedaddle from this place and others afraid to come here because many of them can see the shitstorm brewing and it scares them. They often seem to see it more clearly than we Americans are able to do at least in part because our access to real news is barely over nil, of maybe because as outside observers they aren’t saddled with the cognitive dissonance we sorry brainwashed frogs that live in this hot-ass boiling lake must so often suffer. I don’t know. I hope they realize this pond holds us all.

Oddly enough, while the interactions at the county jail display some of the finer points of conflict in out absurdly labeled free society, they also show some reasons for hope. There are still lights burning.

“Fuck the Police!”

I don’t know how many times i’ve heard that phrase from some of my dearest friends. I’ve uttered them myself. Often. Sometimes at the top of my lungs. Sometimes it was far more personal: “Fuck you! That’s right, you, personally, whomever you may be in your opposition to me, my pursuits, my people. Maybe i should refer to the less common; “Fuck the Pigs,’ because the police are only a fractional representation of one segment, one camp of that particular overarching social entity the hippies were talking about when they began to disparage swine so badly as to label their opposition thusly in this odd existential war from whence the flesh and blood scrap derives.

“Battle lines are being drawn,” went the line from the Buffalo Springfield some fifty-ish years back. They’re pretty well drawn, now, though they resemble lines a three-year-old might scribble. The shit’s on. People are fighting. The skirmishes often feel like some kind of kids’ game though too, involving blindfolds and billyclubs. Maybe i can’t deny swinging a stick around myself, sometimes. Maybe that’swhat this is–a chance for me to look in the mirror a little, Maybe it’s because it’s hard to sit the game out when i keep getting hit in the head. Whatever. Let’s keep on through the maze and just hope we don’t smash too many mirrors.

During the Occupation we intrepids staged a few years back, (and some of us still engage–viva la revolución and all), my son and i traveled to Denver for the final push when the cops razed the encampment there. The scene that October of 2011 there in Denver was some shit this country hadn’t seen in over forty years maybe, where armored brigades of soldiers–not cops at all but stormtroopers–rolled on a huge, disparate group of unarmed citizens. It was tragic. And beautiful. Versions of the same scene played out all around the world that fall.

There at Civic Center Park, across the avenue from the State Capitol building, the Boy and i stood in the thick of it as those battle lines sharpened, and then blew apart as the whole outhouse hit the fan.

Some thousands of us had marched boisterously through Denver’s business district, pausing for a special visit at the Federal Reserve. After completing a wide loop around downtown we mounted the Capitol steps for whatever confrontation the Denver planners had planned. They, (to claim a thing–we), had been warned explicitly beforehand to stay off that particular edifice, so the moment we took the steps and began railing through one of our ubiquitous bullhorns, the shock teams appeared, as if the bearded-Spock Enterprise had beamed them to the scene.

Honestly, i was pretty fucking nervous at that point. It’s not as though i’d never been beaten up by the cops before, but that stuff is kind of a young man’s sport, and i was never really all that much a fan anyhow. Besides, those had always been cops, not armored sci-fi gladiators. But the main thing was the Boy. He was fifteen then and down for plenty, but he looked pretty worried too, and, (the mainthing, actually), i knew i’d never live through my next conversation with his mother if i allowed him to be beaten and busted by the police. I suggested we pull back to the park and we did, but i felt pretty spineless for having done it, really.

The Boy and i had a quick consult: “You see what this is going to be, right?” “Yeah.” “Are you down, or not?” Nervous but firm, “Yeah.” “Fuck it then…God damn it; your mom is gonna kill me. Let’s get some lunch.”

The park itself  was packed with crowds of Occupiers, some having returned with us from the march and probably harboring thoughts similar to mine. The encampment had been there for a good while by then, and the Black Flag Anarchists’ Free Kitchen was in full flight. It had already been dismantled more than once as a special preparatory project for the cops–kind of a warm-up. Knowing well what was coming, the no-nonsense scrappy men’n’women in black behind the table were all assholes with elbows, flying around in a frenzy with grim serious joy in their eyes as they did their level best to sling as much great tasting free food as possible before the inevitable hammer fell. Those guys were freaking awesome sauce with motherfuckin’ cherries on top!

Rather than spark an actual and possibly justifiable war on the Capitol steps, even the most radical and adrenaline-blinded of the group holding that position chose to retreat and quickly joined us at the park. The scene was oddly festive, with tents and art projects and folks dressed for carnival. The mid-autumn day was one of those beautiful Colorado Indian summer affairs with pristine blue skies through which flitted happy and blissfully oblivious birdies merrily on the lookout for delectable kitchen scraps. But wait! What the hey!!? The second the steps were abandoned and that contingent joined those meeker souls at the park, the rest of the cops in the danged known universe materialized in a huff and began setting up for some sort of paramilitary invasion. No shit–we all saw pretty quickly what the Denver PD had in mind for all those fun military vehicles and equipment they’d been collecting.

The scene changed dramatically there on the sidewalk where the Anarchists’ Kitchen was set up. There was plenty of action before then, but the top-gun radicals had been at the Capitol along with most of the cops. Now a phalanx quickly formed four deep with armored, shielded, armed, dangerous, implacable, and apparently stoically unflappable police stretching all around, up and down–all over the fucking place. Where the Boy and i stood a few sidewalk squares south of the Kitchen the scene was still like a carnival spreading away and outward into the park in every direction save the east, buy more like something Ray Bradbury or John Clifford might have dreamt up. Moving east to west one would have passed through four rows of cops in a formation that i’d only seen before in movies about Fascist  takeovers where American patriots saved the day by vanquishing some identically clad and positioned foe as we occupiers faced that day, armored only with our damn-the-torpedoes ethical certitude. Stepping by the entrenched police if one were to dare it, one would have passed a modest tree lawn, an ordinary sidewalk crowded with dark festival-goers, and could then step up to the folding table that served as the Anarchists’ ordering counter and serving table set up facing east from the immediate western line of the sidewalk across from the antiMayberry lines facing the stubbornly unaltered scene in the Kitchen.

The cops just stood there for what seems to memory like hours, but it couldn’t have been all afternoon or anything. Maybe so. The Boy and i milled around a bit getting a look at the overall scene and scoping out the various sections of the park. Behind the Kitchen to the west were the bulk of the tents, say a hundred or more, though others were scattered about. Further  west a concrete round with maybe a fountain or something hosted a bunch of info tables, some artsy hippies working on various projects, a triage setup, some chanting Hare Krishnas. More cops surrounded the camp, even more moved to close off the farthest reaches of the west side, We all saw we were utterly circumscribed and our physical position was hopeless. There was plenty of Hope, mind you, but all of it founded on our spiritual position, see.

As we awaited  what everyone knew to be inexorable, not so many of us remained quiet, (by “us” i mean Occupiers here; the most visible government employees were silent). I did mostly, and so did the Boy, he for his reasons and i for mine. The whole scene produced its own racket, but the most noticeable volume arose from the collection of spirit-moved Occupiers working the lines of eerily insensate gendarmes. Each was moved by his or her own personal spirit, few of which were very friendly toward the collective juggernaut we faced. More than one strode frenetically up and down whichever line was convenient  hurling f-bombs and spittle with as much force as he could muster. You know: “Fuck the Police!!!” and,“Fuck Yoooou!!!” from distances as close as the collected officers’ gear would allow. The pointillistic rows of cops, each in his own world, stared into space, eyes forward and directed at some Unknown, refusing eye contact. Only God and each man in his solitude knew what blackness filled his vision, (and possibly anyone operating one of those guv’mint mind-reading gizmos, if you’re into that sort of thinking).

Sensibly, few of the “non-violent” protesters were mad–that is crazy–enough to attempt to get physical. Those that did were promptly stomped, smashed and removed from the game. Otherwise with many pushing the envelope right to its most extreme limit, the arms-down-and-rigid-face forward-inches-from-any-nearest-random-cop’s-shielded-face stance of extreme and barely checked agitation rapidly became familiar. I for one was amazed at the extraordinary and rather creepy restraint the beleaguered police were displaying, though few shield-screened eyes could keep from betraying internal turmoil. Virtually none of the cops would assent to eye contact.

As this scene played itself out, a few Occupiers attempted to convince their fellows to mellow. In the midst of the very front and most electrical line of all this, there in front of the aforementioned Kitchen, one lone Occupier was working the line of gear-laden men, moved by a different spirit indeed. He was preaching it, baby. Pleading. Begging. Beseeching. As near to tears as i am now as this scene spills its way from my fingertips, fluid in his expressive motion to and fro as any practiced Sunday morning crowd-pleaser can i get a amen. “Don’t you see it? You are us! We are you! Please, stop this! We are one–we must stop fighting!” And in some brilliant, divinely inspired voice, “Lay down your shields! Join us! Put down your clubs and have some lunch!”

And then …right there in front of the Boy and me…with the scene in the actual Kitchen production area behind the table unchanged from before the lines formed…one of them did exactly that.

There was actually a fat queue at the Kitchen counter that parted like the Red Sea, astonished, for this newborn brother of ours to step up and claim his serving. He ate his food in silence and retook his spot in that other line which remained unaltered as his fellows stood unmoved, apparently in both senses. The Boy and i collected our portion of genuinely bomb-ass risotto and began to  eat with more on our minds than i can possibly describe. Before we were half through our plates the order came and we found ourselves dining amidst a police riot, our rice flavored by tear gas. (I got off the hook before, when the story remained vague. I suppose his mom is going to kill me now, after all).

The rest of the action went down as one would expect, with ample blood, outrage, and pepper-bullet injury and indignity and tears and drama. It was all on the news, with much expansion available on YouTube. You can look it up. None of that is the point.

I heard that one cop was fired perfunctorily that night.

We were there. Right fucking there. It really happened. It was so surreal i almost have to ask the Boy if it actually wasn’t some kind of dream.

Those two guys, though. That cop! When we all do what he did, just maybe then the war will be over. He looked up  and noticed he was looking in the fucking mirror.

The thing about all this is that the crowd of Occupiers was a full-on quorum of average joes with representation across several spectra. There were Christians, pagans, dope fiends, felons, bikers, disgruntled employees, GIs, vets, blue-collar Barney Rubbles, Republicans, Democrats, hippies, neo-hippies, and chanting, jangling Hare Krishnas, The cops were disguised as an invading foreign force but we all know they were really just a bunch of Christians, pagans, dope fiends, felons, bikers, disgruntled employees, GIs, vets, blue-collar Barney Rubbles, Republicans, and Democrats. The only groups lacking representation really were the hippies and the chanting, jangling Hare Krishnas that stayed with the rest of us till late into the night serving free food as a replacement for the Anarchists who had been quite the hell shut down. Oh yeah–there likely weren’t too many Anarchists on the cops’ side of the lines. I’m pretty sure  those differences are significant. Maybe the cops would be better if they got some of those groups they were missing. The janglier the better.

Back here at the county jail where i’m still Occupying, there’s lots of conflict, though not nearly so boiling hot. The old standby, “Fuck the Police,” is scrawled or carved around and about and plenty of folks on either side of whatever line each has drawn are fully prepared to swing  clubs at one another. Many of the sheriff’s deputies and sad, paycheck-to paycheck “detention specialists” are happy to evoke a very dark spirit indeed in their efforts to control us inmates who represent Other to them. I have been struck by the observation that these obnoxious fucks are the respected  representatives of a society that so many of our deluded citizenry expect us of the criminal class to emulate.

Ha! I may be an asshole myself, but no thanks: I have no interest in joining your obnoxious and shitty club.

Meanwhile, virtually all of us prisoners, including myself sometimes, react…”Grumble grumble fuck the police why i oughtta etc. etc. ad nauseum” Various of us slink around and steal or fight among ourselves or in general practice a sort of blindfolded subservience to Self. (Marco! Polo!…Ouch! Motherfucker!!!). We’re fucking obnoxious. We want the cops and the guards and judges and bankers and presidents to act differently but…why would they want to join our obnoxious and shitty club? When they do we wind up with a spectacular clusterfuck like the found at the Denver county jail last month, where a dep was helping a banger sling dope and administer beat-downs. Happens all the time. In every kaleidoscopic variation you can imagine.

Sorry, reader; a glitch is preventing the end of this from displaying just now. I’ll fix it, but meanwhile, this link is better for the footnotes anyway. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1umk-RPyxoiQTPSS84Cp4sR80UAXFzsVRpuiRBVzrdNA/edit?usp=sharing

Although those of you that have read or will now read the other stuff here on hipgnosis will easily recognize the common ground that one may imagine stands to be found on the lawns inside the moats of our adjacent castles in a neighborhood full of loons, all built on air, i am deeply indebted to Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason for some of the truly fine and beautiful language i snatched more or less wholesale to help me build the last four paragraphs here. Even though their book,The Rule of Four is a best-seller of a popular genre, i highly recommend it as the best book i’ve read produced during the twenty-first century. I wish i had written it myself, (while noting the title of this piece). Everyone should read this book.

POSTED BY STEVE BASS AT 9:45 PM

Homeless Colorado Springs man emboldened by Occupy effort appeals jail time

from the Colorado Springs Gazette

http://gazette.com/article/1534440

By Jakob Rodgers Updated: July 28, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Nearly three years ago, Steven Bass’ tent led to a police ticket – a ticket that led to a trial, an appeal denied and 160-day sentence in El Paso County jail.

Bass, the first person cited under Colorado Springs’ camping ban, remains mired in a legal battle backed by a University of Denver assistant professor working for free.

He represents a small segment of the homeless issue – a man on a personal crusade against the camping ban emboldened by the Occupy Colorado Springs movement. His case is not emblematic of others who have been cited for camping on public property; rather, it is more of an outlier.

While people ticketed for camping typically include the chronically homeless – people whose only home is a tent, and who often rebuff police officers’ offers of secure housing – Bass wants to make a point.

Right now, he is free while appealing the jail time. Bass lives with a fellow veteran of the Occupy movement and blogs occasionally on what he sees as injustices in the world.

“I contend now that this thing has burgeoned well beyond the camping ban itself, and has now become a giant discussion of principle, and just what the hell we’re doing here in the United States of America, and the whole world,” Bass said.

Police issued the ticket in October 2011 when he pitched a tent on a sidewalk in Acacia Park, despite warnings from police that doing so would lead to a citation.

For Bass, the ticket and the Occupy gathering proved an opportune time for a stand against the city’s camping ban – an ordinance passed by the City Council in 2010 that outlawed camping on public land. He said he has volunteered at soup kitchens and for other homeless services for about 30 years, and he lives homeless – usually by couch surfing.

“Just because they don’t have any money, poof, they are made criminals,” Bass said of people affected by the ban.

Eleven tickets have been issued under the ban through June 5, with the majority coming in 2014, according to the Colorado Springs Police Department.

The ban came as camps swelled along Monument and Fountain creeks amid the Great Recession in 2009 and early 2010. So many people lived there that bystanders dropped off donated food and clothing along the creek beds – philanthropy that proved overwhelming to the point of concern, some homeless advocates say. Sanitation issues also arose.

City Council member Jan Martin said she voted for the ordinance for the safety of people using creekside trails, along with concerns about the image that such tent cities would create for the city, she said Friday. Proponents of the ban said it is a tool to get people into more stable housing.

“In my opinion, it’s not a matter of out of sight, out of mind,” Martin said. “It’s just trying to find resources that can help people get back on their feet.”

Because of Bass’ indigent status, a judge decided against a fine in favor of a 60-hour community service sentence for the citation.

Bass said he almost did it – he planned on helping Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity – until a DU professor offered to help. With the pro bono advice of Christopher Lasch, who teaches at the university’s Criminal Defense Clinic, Bass appealed the case.

A district court judge upheld the municipal court’s decision – a blow to the notion that the ban is unjust.

A subsequent appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court was denied in March, said Rob McCallum, spokesman for the Colorado Judicial Branch.

Through it all, Bass contemplated his 60-hour of community service sentence. And in an April hearing before Municipal Judge Spottswood W. H. Williams, Bass said he will never complete the requirement.

Identifying himself as an Occupier, Bass wrote to Williams that the camping ordinance is “effectively status-based incarceration,” because forcing people into shelters could be another form of incarceration. He also said he already does community service but railed against the court forcing him to do so.

“Therefore, i (sic) am here in front of you forcing your hand,” he wrote. “You must now either acknowledge the ethical poverty of the ordinance, or prove my point.”

In June, Williams answered Bass’ statement with a 160-day jail sentence for contempt of court.

Bass is appealing that sentence with Lasch’s help after having served more than a month in El Paso County jail.

Lasch said the jail sentence was excessive because jail time for failing to pay a fine is usually half of what Bass has served.

Even if he serves all 160 days, Bass has no plans of completing the 60-hour community service order – a requirement that remains.

Lasch wants all of it thrown out.

“The fact that the government would go to such lengths to punish this activity certainly supports Steve’s position that this (ban) effectively punishes being homeless,” Lasch said.

“In this case, it certainly punished him for speaking out against the ban.”

-

Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter @JakobRodgers

Facebook: Jakob.Rodgers

Read more at http://gazette.com/homeless-colorado-springs-man-emboldened-by-occupy-effort-appeals-jail-time/article/1534440#TIqUcdEm4KE8udlJ.99

High Crimes and Hijinks

Hello All!

I’m Steve, a friend of wonderful Breezy. She asked to add a little content here, since she likes my thinking sometimes. I am in fact a pot activist and have been for decades, but not exclusively so. You can expect me to have stuff to say about other things here, for example this piece about my trial and conviction for camping on public property during an Occupy rally last October. I apologize that there is a bit of a back story that would be unwieldy to give, but you can find it if you poke around the links some [I've discovered these links aren't here. They are here, if you care to look: .http://hipgnosis21.blogspot.com/2012/08/high-crimes-and-hijinks.html%5D Part of my reason for airing this stuff here is to enable me to refine my own thinking through feedback and questions. I already know I’m an asshole and an idiot so if that’s all you have, start your own page and don’t clutter ours, please.

Below this little intro is a conversation i had with my lawyer, kinda; some stuff i wrote to explain myself to her, and have since edited into near unrecognizability. Had i been able to clarify the whole bit better before the trial things may have been different, but probably not. When i was first arrested in Colorado Springs on 18 October of 2011 for the heinous crime of camping on public property, i figured lawyers from the ACLU or something would swarm me like rats on a dying prisoner in the Bastille. I mean, really– advocates for the homeless have been up in arms for years over these no-camping ordinances, and i did the thing as an “Occupier,” rendering the political motivation for my act as obvious as a drag queen’s Adam’s apple. I thought hard about doing the thing pro se, but when i’ve taken that course in the past i wound up trapped in a paper maze of procedure. So i contacted the National Lawyer’s Guild, (NLG), and they connected me with the one attorney in Colorado Springs hot to take an Occupy case pro bono, Patty Perello.

Almost all the Occupiers involved have argued passionately that our actions, including my setting up a tent in specific violation of Colorado Springs’s “no-camping” ordinance, were protected by our First Amendment free-speech rights. I knew this was futile since the U.S. Supreme Court has already shot that line of thought down, and sorry, but i agree with their reasoning. Though other U.S. municipalities experienced more direct 1st Amendment oppression, we were always free to stand around with signs in Colorado Springs, as the argument goes. Occupying, camping, and even merely sleeping on public land are activities that cut much closer to the quick, as it were, boring through several layers of political patina to make painful and deeply suppressed connections in people’s consciousness, and in some ways tying the bulk of the Occupy message into a tight package.

The business of land use and ownership has been high on my list for years and, i think, key to much of what grieves us.It’s why i write about Henry George sometimes. I hoped to get this point across to Perello, but none of this was ever heard by the jury. Also critical is the troublesome 8th Amendment angle. More stuff silenced by Spottswood Williams.

Anyhow, i’m about to start to say again what i only meant to introduce. Below this is some stuff i wrote to explain myself to Ms. Perello. It’s the gist of what i actually wanted to say in court, but was barred from so doing. I can still explain myself on a street corner or here online if i want to, but not in a courtroom:

With a seemingly inexorable inevitability homelessness–poverty– is becoming criminalized in the United States of America. The phenomenon of Occupy protests brought to light in lurid, graphic terms the country’s sensitivities concerning land use, civil disobedience, liberty, and ideas and expression that make us uncomfortable or seem to threaten our aesthetic and ethical sensibilities. The widespread and oppressive action against Occupy encampments by law enforcement was necessary to maintain the prevailing political logic because it was simply an extension of currently habitual oppression directed toward the very poor, i.e. homeless people. There can be no Occupy permitted, because our “aesthetic” experience may be sullied by those wretches that will surely coat-tail upon any license to physically occupy public space in such an objectionable manner. This may be the essence of why the homeless population is both integral to and alienated from the Occupy phenomenon worldwide, since even many participants don’t get the connection.

The past several years have seen a proliferation of categorical laws designed to harass the homeless. The National Coalition for the Homeless, The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, and The National Homeless Civil Rights Project have produced reports that thoroughly document the national trend to discriminatory law-making, selective enforcement, and generally mean-spirited gestures toward those at the bottom end of society’s economic score sheet. We assert that the attached reports provide an apt description of exactly the sort of directed antagonism toward the very poor embraced by the City of Colorado Springs when it so carefully worded its ordinance to allow the pursuit of the homeless while slithering around the spirit of the Constitution. While we understand that protestation and occupation are not necessarily the same, the congruences with the Occupy protests rendered problems with the City’s “no-camping ordinance” germane, and are simply too pointed to allow full separation of the two matters. Bad law put in place as a means to directly truncate the liberties of a particular class of people was brought to bear on another distinct but overlapping set of political protesters engaging in behavior included in the previously established ordinances, resulting in still further loss of natural rights by everyone.

We recognize that no-camping ordinances in general and Colorado Springs’s in particular have been thoughtfully crafted to avoid curtailing First Amendment rights. As has been observed, i have every right to express political views at the spot i was arrested for camping, (although the City’s implication that one ought engage in such expression without provision for safety or comfort is of as suspicious motivation as the suggestion that no-camping ordinances apply to all and not merely to those whom they are likely to affect). We argue that nonetheless the no-camping ordinance is unconstitutional because of its inherently discriminatory nature, and contrary to the spirit of American foundational principles, as well as modern ethics.

M.J. and Dan, (the CSPD “Homeless Outreach Team” cops that actually arrested me), have both characterized the City’s ordinance as an important if not now tending toward indispensible “tool” for dealing with the “homeless problem.” The fact that they express their sense of the ordinance’s purpose and use thusly is really just sort of a semantic Freudian slip, but it derives from the same mindset i found at the planning meetings i attended at the United Way wherein “The Homeless” are a problem, rather than “homelessness.” The no-camping ordinance was conceived as and is now being utilized by the C.S.P.D. as a specific means to move the visibly homeless from the aesthetically offended public eye. Although cities including Colorado Springs have avoided utilizing terms such as, “homeless,” that would reveal the unconstitutionally discriminatory nature of similar ordinances, it remains that laws banning necessary, life-sustaining behavior such as sleeping, eating, bathing or storing belongings in public are likely to affect only those members of an economic class that finds itself forced into the targeted behaviors by circumstance. I observed and participated in the process of development when this ordinance was under consideration, and if anyone wants to get up and say it is not aimed directly at the homeless, i’ll stand in open court to call them a liar.

It remains that whether or not one possesses the means to do otherwise, a camping restriction places constraints on a heretofore traditional civil liberty that had been closely entwined with a central thread of American foundational principles. I wrote previously about my perception of the rights involved with camping ordinances as proto-constitutional. A homeless camper’s pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness are at stake in opposition to any restriction, and have been found weightless in the face of public demand for “aesthetic” sophistication, [Joel v. City of Orlando, 232 F.3d 1353 (11th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 149 L.Ed.2d 480 (2001). Can’t find a free link to this one; it’s summarized here]. We don’t deny that a legitimate tension may exist between societal quality-of-life preferences, (i suspect in these instances this amounts mostly to the quality of perceptions held by the business associations that invariably champion anti-poor-folk laws), but we assert that those ought not carry so much weight as to eliminate the very last of life’s options for those with none other. While it is true that the physical presence of a camper diminishes the ability of others to enjoy the specific space he utilizes, the same is true for any park user at any time given the restrictions of physics. Parks are “first come first served,” to the limits of available space at all times. So, the primacy of uncomfortable business advocates is dubious

If i have a house i can set up a tent in the yard and spend the weekend screwing around out there with my kids. If i have no house i may not do so, not even to stave off frostbite, hypothermia or death, and certainly not as an expression of political sentiment. Ahem. The right to “aesthetic” comfort for the business class currently trumps the rights of the very poor to simply exist. They are required by law to be very poor somewhere out of the line of sight of sensitive society.
If, as is the case with Colorado Springs’s ordinance and others i can’t decline, being forced into “shelter” is the same as incarceration. To further bolster this perspective, the conditions at partially available shelters in Colorado Springs are awfully reminiscent of those at any jail or prison, if not worse by some measures. Also, because i lack the ability to pay a fine, i and others in the same circumstance face incarceration anyhow. All sorts of similar ordinances criminalize necessary behavior. We argue that incarceration or any sort of punishment for carrying out necessary activities where necessary is “cruel and unusual,” and violates the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. [e.g. State v. Folks. No. 96-19569 MM (Fla-Cir. Ct., Duval County, Nov. 21, 1996)]

The cynical establishment response to the 8th Amendment argument has been to assert that ordinances with provision for forced sheltering and the like cannot be unconstitutional since the force takes place prior to conviction of any crime, i.e., it is not punishment. That gimmick is such bullshit that i had to pause after writing that last sentence to keep my head from exploding! Unlike the 1st Amendment argument, this one is both more pertinent, (IMHO), and not entirely settled. Although the ridiculous semantic tango above has emanated from courtrooms, delivered with straight faces no less, some adjudicators have called a duck a duck, so higher courts may well be influenced against some lower decisions in the future. [State v. Folks, linked above].
Anyway, the deed is done and i am a convicted camper, as we expected from the City court. I have a month from last Friday to file an appeal, which can yet afford hope for change. It remains to be seen how much support exists for this cause. I don’t think i can pursue the thing alone.

Finally, i’ve made suggestions above that i have yet to really substantiate. I’ve been quiet a while, sorting things a bit, but this stuff in my head deserves an explanation. Expect more.

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