Occupy’s Rose Parade Octopus Floats Down the Street Tomorrow!


It’s really freaky to wake up New Year’s Day and not have the Rose Parade on because it’s a Sunday. Oh the tyranny of religion, which also interfered with my ability to grocery shop on December 25. And seriously, on  Christmas Day, there’s always something you need at the last minute–duck fat, crème fraîche, hot glue gun–you know stuff the 7/11 or liquor store  doesn’t stock. Heck, our local Sev doesn’t even have beer or wine, making Liquor-a-Go-Go or the ever popular Pink Elephant (they deliver and sadly know us by name and that we always need ice) a holiday necessity.

But no Rose Parade on New Year’s Day makes those suffering hangovers (happily, I am not amongst that number) bereft of queasy amusement. Ditto on the Bowl Games, though those always give me a headache, no matter how little Dom has whetted my appetite.

But the high point of tomorrow will not be the Rose Parade itself, but rather the after-march (usually the refuge of the religious groups–the parade is secular) when Occupy Los Angeles will prance its 70-person manned puppet, an octopus made from plastic bags, down the parade route. Let’s hope the cameras stay on it–though with the parade being Monday with a heavy load of local news shows, it’s more than likely Occupy’s statement will make it on air, live or not.

Late Night FDL: Don’t Shoot Rudolph!

My, my Santa, what a big gun you have! A Scottsdale, Arizona gun club will let families pose with fully automatic assault weapons for their holiday Christmas cards. And Fox’s “funny” news commentators sure enjoyed it (though there was some debate about the appropriateness of photo they couldn’t/wouldn’t show which not only featured young children, but Daddy pointing gun at Mommy’s head).

My dad used to say we didn’t have firearms at home because

a  hand gun is the best way to end a family argument.

The director John Milius was our neighbor when I was a teenager. One while his house was being rennovated, Milius fell through a poorly laid piece of wood. Pulling himself up on his sprained ankle, swearing profusely, Milius grabbed his pistol and fired shots at the contractor who was running for his truck.

Greg Gutfield says the cards are just a reminder to Occupy Wall Street that

the other side is better armed.


#N17 Marches, Good Jobs LA and Occupy LA: Actions and Arrests

Thursday, in two separate actions, several hundred people participated in a march organized by Good Jobs LA, with folks from Occupy LA, SEIU and citizens joining in as part of a general day of action to protest police actions in New York and elsewhere, and planned arrests went off without a hitch;  later in the afternoon, a large group from Occupy LA marched back to the Bank of America branch and some folks were arrested. There was no violence in either action.

Occupy LA at Bank of America, 11/17/2011 afternoon:

For the first march, 7am donuts, coffee, bananas and oatmeal bars were laid out for the protestors, news crews were in place and buses arrived with more people to join in. The Bureau of Street Services had closed off intersections and freeway off-ramps to accommodate the permitted march, and of course the LAPD was in place. This was a planned and permitted march which promised a banner hanging from an overpass and tents set up in an intersection, plus scheduled arrests! Wow, party!


The crowd warmed up for about half an hour with a drum trio and a rocking chant leader who rallied the crowd with

Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!

Hola! Good job! LA!

Rebuild! LA

then the march began. As we turned a corner, Epic Fail Guy (aka Anonymous) and friends unfurled a huge banner reading

We Come In Peace

while dancing and posing. It was dramatic and goofy at the same time. EFG continued his frolicking on the other side of the building and mysteriously appeared on a flatbed truck with the chant leader at intersection of 4th and Figueroa where a huge banner guarded by sheriffs deputies hung from an overpass proclaiming

LA Needs Good Jobs

As promised, there was civil disobedience: Three tents were set up in the center of the intersection and twenty protesters with blue armbands circled holding hands. Eventually a lot of police showed up (it was kinda scary to see the really big schoolbus painted black with LAPD stenciled on it) with riot helmets and batons. But since there were no gas masks or shields, it was clear this was just crowd control.

Some, however, did have the latest fashion accessory, the “green gun” – a rifle with a green stock and strap which indicates it shoots rubber bullets. All of this was very structured. After we all got on the sidewalk, the police broadcast an order to disperse, declaring an unlawful assembly. After the second order, the cops marched in stood in front of the chanting crowds on the sidewalks, holding their batons, while a another group moved in and handcuffed the designated arrestees. First up, an 82-grandmother.

Each arrest was greeted with cheers and lots of news footage–all the local and national networks were there, plus police video teams, and it looked like at least half the crowd had cameras. When all 20 were arrested, the LAPD hopped on their riot-mobiles and sped away. We all began to disperse, though some stayed for speeches.

It was very stylized, regimented, well-orchestrated, though having police at both ends of the street was a little disconcerting, but there was street with sidewalks we could have used to bail if it had gotten weird.

I noticed some of the police officers doing crowd control didn’t look happy, they seemed uncomfortable with the idea that if things went south, they’d have to bonk folks with batons, folks of all races and colors and age, moms holding babies, senior citizens and scrawny artist types with cameras. Luckily, despite one hysterical woman who was shouting that we all needed to get in the streets and was moved away by organizers, the crowd listened to the chant leader who urged us to give the civilly disobedient their space and clear room for the officers.

Meanwhile, Occupy LA has filed a restraining order to prevent the LAPD from dismantling the camp without notice, and Police Chief Beck told the LA Times he is working to negotiate a timeline for the camp to leave. At camp factions have emerged: The rabid frothing anarchists–some of whom have come down from Oakland to radicalize Occupy LA and think, depending on who’s talking, Los Angeles Occupiers need to get off their butts and raise some havoc, get arrested, maybe smash some shit and, like you know man, start the Revolution, get tear-gassed, get their heads beat in, and generally make the eleven o’clock news, ‘cuz like Los Angeles looks like lazy sissies, we gotta represent for the Revolution, man; the more by-the-book activists who see the advantage of staying arrest-free during protests (this week there were five arrests relating to inter-camp issues including assault and lewd behavior), and believe in reformation through action and also in not repelling the average citizen with acts of violence including property damage; and the people who are just hanging out and doing nothing but living in the camp.

Later in the day, Occupy LA took over Bank of America Plaza on their own. There were numerous arrests.


Today I’m going to camp with FDL member Bluewombat to deliver socks, Neopsorin and other supplies from the FDL Occupy Supply Fund. The camp is still having massive food problems; the Health Department has been dropping in to inspect any kitchen Occupy LA uses for camp cooking, and donations of packaged foodstuffs are needed because the camp has lost another kitchen.

Black Phoenix #Occupies Your Nose and FDL Takes to the Road for #Occupy

The perfumers at the ultra-cool and collectible Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab have whipped up the sweet scent of democracy, Occupy style, and are donating all proceeds above manufacturing costs to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy LA in the form of  dollars to the OWS General Assembly for needed supplies, as well as sending pizza, aka the round meal (and making sure the ‘zas have lots of veggies on them for extra vitamins and fiber).

So far BPAL has donated over $1,300 to the OWS GA and has delivered stacks of pizzas to both camps, thanks to the scent which they describe thusly:

Rock the protester cliché! This is a filthy friggin’ patchouli, dark, deep, rooty, and strangely sexy, with cocoa absolute, tobacco absolute, and bourbon vanilla.

Meanwhile at Firedoglake, we have the #Occupy Supply Fund, with Kevin Gosztola hitting the road in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky to donate specific goods needed at eight sites.

Occupy LA Day 16: Musical Interlude

Local musician John Curry serenades us with the song he sang to City Council during last week’s meeting. And R.E.M. lends their song “Welcome to the Occupation” to the Occupy movement:


Wingnuts’ Photo Fail: Desperate or Just Stupid Morans?

Wingnuts have been circulating this photo, claiming it’s from Occupy Wall Street. One woman who claims to work/have worked at the New York Stock Exchange posted it on her Facebook page and where it was shared over 1000 times wrote this as the caption:

This is the NO-CLASS Wall Street occupiers. They are rutting in the street. They are defecating in the street. This is what the democratic party is applauding and embracing? America is in trouble; When morality is willingly being usurped by corruption; Freedom sold for limitation and servitude; Honor traded for degradation, a society can not survive.

Fail. It’s from a 2007 Portland, Oregon anti-war demonstration. The building in the background with its distinctive clock tower–the  former headquarters of The Portland Telegram–was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1994; ten years later renovations were completed, and it opened as a mixed-use apartment/retail complex. Here the Creative Commons photo from Wikipedia:

Troll? Disinformation? Either way, utter, epic fail. Heck, even I knew this wasn’t New York.

LittleGreenFootballs.com links to their original March 19, 2007 post with photo, via Indybay, which shows the protestors wearing the traditional black scarves of anarchist groups and looking nothing like the forefront hipsters the media is so fond of snapping at OWS. Or anything like the hundreds of regular people of all races and demographics who are coming out in New York.

I think the wingnuts are scared and desperate. First the protesters are painted as ignorant dirty hippies/trustifarians.

The next push against Occupy was anti-Semitism, which is nuts–the Jewish Labor Committee marched on Saturday in LA, and today  Sukkoth was celebrated at Occcupy LA. And now this blatant attempt to use an old, utterly unrelated photo as propaganda. Will wingnuts’  desperate terror and lies know no bounds of decency? Next you know they’ll be reporting that Occupiers are roasting and eating babies. Which is patently ridiculous, given the number of vegetarians in the group.




Occupy LA Day 15: Global Day of Action


Day 15 of Occupy LA started off with a permitted march from Pershing Square to City Hall where two stages of music and spoken word entertained and inspired participants. The entire PA system is solar powered by Power of Green LA, a non-profit education and employment consortium which provides green jobs while educating people on how to create their own energy sources, including workshops on building and powering generators. Activist Ron Kovic came by and delivered a stirring speech, then led the crowd at the People’s Stage on the south lawn in singing “This Land is Our Land,” while comedian Jeff Ross strolled through the encampment.

Spring Street was closed to traffic for the (R)Occupy LA stage which, like the People’s Stage, featured a mix of music, poetry and speakers. The food tent and welcome tent were bustling with activity, while committees held their regular meetings and workshops took place on the grassy lawn. An art installation created from abandoned furniture was built facing 1st Street, drawing honks from noted artist Peter Shire who cruised by in his vintage truck.

Local eatery, the Nickle Diner, which has been bringing by donuts and other goodies for the Occupiers, baked special “Occu-pies,” their own version of all-American apple pies decorated with


and brought them to the celebration.

There is a feeling a jubilation and fellowship at Occupy LA, with people who normally wouldn’t come in contact with each other now hanging out, sharing common ground, talking, sharing food and stories. And within this, solutions are discussed, actions are planned, and plans hashed out. I saw a La Rouche supporter getting schooled by an activist while a decorated infantry specialist, a veteran of the Afghanistan War in full uniform, carried a sign asking why the government and financial institutions won’t do what’s right.


Sean Penn on Occupy Wall Street Protest: More Proud than Ever to Be an American


At first Piers Morgan pushes the

Protesters are angry

concept and looks nervous about OWS. Sean Penn says

Occupy Wall Street protest is telling the world we cannot be controlled by fear anymore.

and that the protests have made him prouder than ever to be an American. The whole interview is very inspiring, and Penn is a thoughtful and articulate American philosopher.

Occupy LA Day 13


Thursday at Occupy LA many of the tents were off the South Lawn to accommodate the regular farmers’ market and local food vending. People were happy that the city council voted to support Occupy LA.

However, there is also a buzz on because the city wants to resume sprinkling the lawn every night at 10:30. Frankly, the lawn could just be watered twice a week, which would also save the city money; but hey I’m not in charge. The city also says that allowing Occupy LA set up 24/7 sets a precedent across all California cities regarding use of public parks which could allow anyone and everyone claiming to be an advocacy group to set up on city land and potentially in state parks.

So there is a huge camp-wide debate: Should everyone comply and move to the sidewalks nightly, which allows the Occupiers to keep doing their thing? Or should they press the issue and risk a mass arrest (and loosing their gear, supplies, etc.)?

I can tell by talking with individual LAPD officers I have seen on site that they think Occupy is

cool…a good thing

but who’s to say what will happen if the city decides to enforce by force.

The group is also losing their off-site kitchen–the guy who has it is moving, so if you’re in LA close to City Hall and have a commercial or large kitchen free from 6am to 6 pm, please contact Occupy LA Logistics, via the website OccupyLosAngeles.org.

Along with Lt. Dan Choi, Tom Hayden visited Occupy LA, telling the Occupiers

This is a tremor. I don’t know if it’s a quake, but the media should let the baby be delivered. Get out of the delivery room. There’s too many pseudo-scientists trying to name it and make predictions.

Those nutty Lyndon LaRouche supporters and other fringe conspiracy types have been passing out material and signs that are anti-Semitic. They are less than 1% of the overall Occupy people at City Hall, yet the far right media has seized on this to “prove” anti-Semitism in the Occupy movement. And while there are Occupiers who are pro-Palestine, that doesn’t mean they anti-Semitic!

Heaps of well-known writers and authors have come out in support of Occupy, including Naomi Wolf and Salman Rushdie. President Bill Clinton told David Letterman that he thinks the protests are:

on balance…a positive thing

And at Occupy Wall Street, music mogul Russell Simmons said he would pay for the clean up of Zuccotti Park. Maybe he could pay for porta potty rental and maintenance! He tweeted:

I am part of the 100%. If the communities suffer I suffer.I am part of the 100%; the people lack healthcare education and opportunity and they are my people therefore I lack those things.

The big excitement is tomorrow when Occupy goes global. I’ll be livestreaming and video taping.



Lt Dan Choi Evokes Love, Courage for National Coming Out Day

PFC Hugo Valencia and Lt. Dan Choi

Lt. Dan Choi spoke at Cal State Northridge Tuesday night for National Coming Out Day. Wow. Wow. Wow. His speech took us from the Triangle of Death in Iraq to his parents’ home in Orange County, California and back again, through his falling in love for the first time at age 27 to his split with his Southern Baptist parents; heart wrenching stories, witty asides, skillful humor and pop culture references aligned alongside the poetry of al-Mutanabbi and quotations from the Bible and Christian scholars, giving the audience a full look at Dan’s life during and after his coming out, his experiences under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and since its repeal, as well as orating with beauty and grace the reasons for coming out as LGBT. Or as a straight ally.

I was typing as fast as could–no video was allowed, though CSPAN did record the event. The president of CSUN’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance, Hugo Valencia introduced Lt. Choi. A private first class in the National Guard who joined at 17, Hugo who stood proudly on stage last night in his uniform, came out when DADT was repealed.

Lt Choi began his speech by telling us that he was proud to stand before us in his uniform

to tell all of you this uniform is now the uniform of all Americans.

He also honored the memory of activist Frank Kameny, who served in World War II and led the fight for gay rights since the early 1960s,  who died yesterday, but lived to see the repeal of DADT.

Lt. Choi’s wry exhortation to the non-LGBT in the audience was met with laughter and applause:

It’s is time for all you straight people to come out as allies. Gays wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for heterosexuals. You literally gave birth to us!

Lt. Choi’s skill as an orator and his roots in the Southern Baptist Church (his father is a minister who started several congregations and worked as missionary) shone as he took us through the six months he spent living with his parents after coming out, his father repeatedly telling him that homosexuality was the number one sin. Lt. Choi countered with:

Love they neighbor as thyself.  Love they neighbor as you love yourself.  Gay people are blessed to be able to show how important love is…

Honor thy father and mother, honor them by telling them the truth, do not bear false witness…I am not going to let someone I love die being a homophobe. Love them to teach them. Under all that hatred is a loving spirit.

Lt. Choi then lead us in a powerful call and response:

I am somebody! I am somebody! I am somebody!  I deserve full equality! Now!

and referenced the Occupy movement as an example of people who are standing up and saying

I am somebody!

After his speech, Lt. Choi took questions from the audience, responding to one

Prince William invited his best friend from his unit to his wedding. His best friend who is transgendered and undergoing gender reassignment paid for by the British armed forces…I am queer inclusive. That is what America fights for, freedom and justice. Yes, I am a queer activist. I learned as an activist why I fought. These skills are transferable. My being a soldier has made me a better activist, and my being an activist has made me a better soldier.

At the reception afterwards, Lt. Choi spoke with students and faculty members, posed for photos with veterans and active members who attend CSUN, as well as with members of Gamma Rho Lambda, the campus’ queer sorority.

This was one of the most inspirational and profound speeches I have ever heard. As soon as I get the link from CSPAN I will post it up.

Lt Choi poses with CSUN veterans.

With Gamma Rho Lamda members


Photo 1 courtesy of PFC Hugo Valencia, photos 2 & 6: John Saringo, CSUN

Archived Posts