Occupy LA Day 14: Sunny Friday

It was surreal today to watch a fashion shoot  in the middle of Occupy LA, but there it was. A collective of Los Angeles designers had a sent a male model down with photographers for a photo shoot.

Meanwhile, last night some of the sprinklers had gone off, and some of the Occupiers got wet, while others had moved to the sidewalk. No one was arrested. In fact no one has been arrested, period.

I was walking by the media tent and got called over to fill in for a minute or two on the Occupy LA livestream which was scary but fun and showed me how hard the gig is and kudos to the folks who do such a good job with it!

Terry the Solar Lady (aka the Sun Goddess) was busy at work in the solar tent planning Saturday’s talent for the big Occupy LA rally and fest at 1 pm on the City Hall lawns, after a march through the financial district which begins at noon at Pershing Square as part of the Global Day of Solidarity. Terry runs a non-profit organization called Power of Green LA:

a collective of organizations and individuals committed to creating Green & Sustainable approaches to Community Outreach, Employment Service, Intervention, Urban Renewal, as well as Emergency Response.

She and her team have set up the whole media tent and the public address system with solar energy. In the meantime  Power of Green LA employs people to install solar panels and trains people to install their own panels, along with running workshops, a food bank, a hip hop collective, and generally making Los Angeles a better place.

There is voter registration and a chess club is now in place. in front of the fountain on the south lawn. And there is a volunteer laundry service! Friday a group of stand up comics brought in by Josh Androsky performed and will be back on Saturday along with much more entertainment including live music from local bands beginning at 1pm at City Hall, plus lots of people to talk with. So come on down!

One of the faux-memes Limbaugh and others have been pushing is that Occupy is anti-Semitic, which is kinda like the left picking one the Tea Party morans who misspell their signs, say racist things, or think the moon landing was faked, or Obama was born in Kenya. There are fringe groups or idiots in every group who are low hanging fruit for the opposition. At Occupy there are some people like the LaRouche-ites who are um, crazy or regurgitating whacked conspiracy theories without bothering to think for a minute about how goofy they are, and how such thinking plays into the hands of the people they are protesting. Some Occupiers despair at Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.

So I asked a lady visitor who was chatting with an Occupier and planning to march on Saturday about her thoughts on anti-Semitism at Occupy LA. Here’s what Marsha Steinberg had to say:

Elvis Costello Cancels Israel Concerts

Elvis Costello has canceled his two concert dates in Israel June 30 and July 1 to protest the Israeli treatment of Palestinians. On his website, Costello wrote:

It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July.

One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament.

Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.

I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.

I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation.

Some will regard all of this an unknowable without personal experience but if these subjects are actually too grave and complex to be addressed in a concert, then it is also quite impossible to simply look the other way.

I offer my sincere apologies for any disappointment to the advance ticket holders as well as to the organizers.

My thanks also go to the members of the Israeli media with whom I had most rewarding and illuminating conversations. They may regard these exchanges as a waste of their time but they were of great value and help to me in gaining an appreciation of the cultural scene.

I hope it is possible to understand that I am not taking this decision lightly or so I may stand beneath any banner, nor is it one in which I imagine myself to possess any unique or eternal truth.

It is a matter of instinct and conscience.

It has been necessary to dial out the falsehoods of propaganda, the double game and hysterical language of politics, the vanity and self-righteousness of public communiqués from cranks in order to eventually sift through my own conflicted thoughts.

I have come to the following conclusions.

One must at least consider any rational argument that comes before the appeal of more desperate means.

Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it.

I cannot imagine receiving another invitation to perform in Israel, which is a matter of regret but I can imagine a better time when I would not be writing this.

With the hope for peace and understanding. Elvis Costello

While Santana and Gil Scott-Heron also canceled their Tel Aviv concerts, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney and Madonna have played there in past year, with Elton John and U2 scheduled for this summer.