The Rally

When the police presence started to get inconvenient, Food Not Bombs was on the scene. They mostly missed the point, calling for an end to police brutality (of which there was very little) and holding up banners reading things like "The Real Criminals In The Park Wear Blue". At one "sleep-in vigil" they brought a puppet of Willie Brown fifteen feet high. It caricatured the mayor in borderline race-stereotype form, with the 20's black gangster zootsuit and the menacingly cocked hat. In his hand he held a bag covered with dollar signs. Manipulating the puppet were four or five Bombers with scarves wrapped around their faces in high Zapatista fashion. Behind the puppet was a banner reading simply "Food Not Bombs" which, of course, figured most prominently in the morning papers. It's the underground anarchist parallel to Marlboro putting their logo in baseball stadiums to get air time.

Other than the face masks, the bombers dress in what could be called their Sunday worst: regular clothes with maybe paint splattered on them or just in a high state of unwash. They are clearly "housed." Funny how when you live this lifestyle you start to look down on anyone living "behind a legal door".

The Bombers wrote the phone number of their attorney on everybody's arm, so if we all got arrested they couldn't take away the phone number. We were all poised for confrontation. Someone whose brother was killed by the police gave a bellicose speech replete with call and response; we shouted at every passing squad car; we chanted in unison.

But nothing happened. The cops one-upped the protesters by using tactics of non-violent resistance. There wasn't a trace of that tinderbox atmosphere from the New York squatter's riots, where both sides did full bloody frontal battle. None of the Bombers brought a sleeping bag, so they went home.

The People's Kitchen will be leaving San Francisco shortly, owing both to police pressure in the form of nighttime ticketing of everyone sleeping in the R.V., and also to avoid the just starting rainy season. Such are the joys of being migratory. For travelling expenses, they'll each get jobs for a week or so, pool their money, maybe apply for "G.A." (General Assistance). As Floppy put it, the camper is "quite a gasser".

Personally, I've been so emerged in this whole culture that I can't even see it anymore. I can no longer decipher what's interesting or relevant about it; it all just seems normal to me now. At this point, malleable me is practically an anarchist, if only by immersion. It would be more interesting to write about so-called normal lifestyles, as they seem stranger.

I know inevitably my perspective will shift back to something like it was: that I'll once again value clean clothes, that I'll consider it necessary to wear something different every day of the week, that I'll once again find a little body odor unnatural, that soon I'll be making money and therefore spending it with nervous compulsion, and that someday culture and custom won't seem arbitrary but will seem right and fixed. Until then .....

The end.

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