Free Culture Lives!

Sunday at the West Fest, a free concert in Golden Gate Park, I threw a new line in my carny spiel: “Just like the SF Diggers gave it all away in the Summer of Love, our games are free. There ain’t no line, and it don’t cost a dime!” The SF Diggers have inspired me many times over with their mad, creative urge to make the word “free” the real deal. They gave food away to the wayward runaways that flocked to Upper Haight, inspiring the Food Not Bombs campaigns. They hustled landlords to get living space and then crammed in as many homeless teens as possible to get them off the streets, and the Huckleberry Youth Programs is a reminder of their work. The SF Diggers threw free concerts in the Panhandle, the West Fest was a quasi-unsponsored (they did have logos all over things) example of that legacy. Finally, the SF Diggers created free stores, where money wasn’t considered. The Really Really Free Markets and Clothing Swaps stand as 21st Century Examples of this idea.

The SF Diggers, for good or bad, were tied to the San Francisco Mime Troupe. On top of all that free culture listed above, there were also many puppet performances, spontaneous art happenings, and wild, tripped out parties. The Mime Troupe gave their shows away for free in parks across the City, and they had to fight for that right, inspiring the SF Diggers (and bringing on the hilarious arrest of some of their giant puppets). On the East Coast, Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater also began to throw free performances in New York, Vermont, and beyond. And Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino also began free, radical performance from a Mexi-Cali Latino perspective.

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A Rumpeled West Fest

How often does one have the chance to give a fool a ride back to his house sit in Lower Haight? Before my eyes, in the dark of a sliver moon night in late October, stood Rumpel the Aussie fool. I couldn’t stop staring at his vest, all full of ridiculous shiny things that idiots like me can’t help but look at. I tried to avoid the man’s pointy shoes and the mouse nose that forced Greg Mooney to ask “is that nose your real nose?” Rumpel dodged the answer, saying he has 300 noses, and I believe him.

Poor Rumpel, not from San Francisco and way too stoned to find a direction home (sorry for the Dylan/Hendrix reference, but Jimi Hendrix was the patron saint of West Fest today. His signature even blazoned the label of an energy drink, most likely licensed by the guitar great’s brother. That same sibling was on stage when a rag tag group of guitarists “played” Purple Haze in an attempt to break a world record. I don’t think they pulled it off). Mr. Rumpel was cold, in the dark of Golden Gate Park, and looking for the after party “where some of the bands were going to hang out.” He heard an address and was too high to remember it. Or too foolish to write it down.

But he found me and Greg in the middle of a field chatting. I played with a broken branch and Greg toyed his lit-up unicycle. Rumple showed up and fell in “with the folks you need to meet tonight” (Greg’s words), getting a ride home from Jonathan and the Wonder Truck. We dropped the fool off at the corner of Fillmore and Oak, still unsure about what he was going to stumble into next.
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Precita Eyes Benefit: 19 Sep

SOMArts (South of Market Cultural Center)
934 Brannan Street (near 8th Street)
San Francisco, CA. 94103
6:30-9:30 pm
Admission:  general $35, VIP $50

For more information please visit our website

I’ll have my autograph pen there this Saturday, along with a pile of artists, authors, and photographers in the Mission Muralismo book. Not cheap, but the money goes to a great cause: MURALS!

On Contemplating Art and Public Space

I spend a lot of time walking/biking around urban landscapes, looking at space and photographing art. If you’ve followed my travels, you’ve notice that this is something that goes beyond hobby. This search isn’t a job either, but I have been paid for my efforts. For me, walking through a living system where humans work, play, eat, sleep, etc. brings rewards beyond a systematic point of reference. It is hard to label it as work, hobby, etc., when the urge to wander and look for art is a deep way of living for me.

This Saturday, I went for a walk, thinking a bit more about space. I reflected on the potential that space has to present art. The way people relay their feelings in more creative ways. And the lost histories that surrounds us in the neighborhoods we live in.

The following photo essay are the images that made me stop, stare, ponder, and snap. We all live in a world full of many colorful possibilities. We also live in a culture that doesn’t tolerate certain opinions, while letting others flourish. These photos touch on all the ideas I carry with a passion, and might help add context to why I constantly “stencil hunt” in the urban wilds of the USA and beyond.

Links Updated

Went to a puppet show yesterday and met a puppeteer visiting from Arizona. We started talking about the local Bay Area puppet scene, and I directed him to the links on this site for further connections and research. Late last night, I clicked through some of my puppet links and found many of them gone, outdated, or moved. So I went through them and did an update.

Today, I went through the rest and cleaned them all up. As I deleted dead links, searched for new links, and added links that weren’t on the list, I had a good time checking out my larger spheres of connections in the Bay Area and beyond. And I got to update my new causes and angles on the topics that interest me. Made sense that the Culture Jammer section is the most up-to-date. Need an online presence if you’re going to jam mainstream culture, right?

HappyFeetTravels.org has always had a links page. You can visit a 2004 version on the old archived site to see the early spheres of connections. I initially set up this site for East Coasters to share my life’s influences, visions, new friends/communities, and the City that became my home. I still see the links in 2009 as a way to express what is happening here in San Francisco and beyond. I also like to keep the links on here as a personal bookmark list of sites I like to refer and go to often. A one-stop click through of things that feed my soul here at HappyFt HQ.

So click away on the left colomn’s list of community goodness. I do add new links on there from time to time. And if you aren’t on the list, please let me know and I’ll add you. Some of today’s new links include: Michael Rauner, subMedia, Black Mesa IS, Eleni Gekas, Infoshop News, NORML, Just Seeds, Christine Marie, Noisebridge, Chicken John, and many others.

And if you want any stencil links, they’re all on Stencil Archive.

NBC Catches a Phish(head)

Had to head down to the Shoreline a few weeks ago to check out the 3.0 version of my favorite 1990s band Phish (they’ve broken up two times prior to this). They’re much better than the last time I saw them (the mud-mired Coventry, VT festival), mostly in part to lead guitarist Trey Anastasio’s going clean and sober (addicted to Big Pharma pills). Delicate show that kicked out the jams, and played the one song I wanted at the top of the show (Golgi Apparatus).

Josh Keppel, a photo-journalist from a local NBC Web site, snapped this pic of me for his cheeky “Jam Band Parking Lot” spread. I have to remind folks that “jam band” wasn’t a term when I started going to Phish shows. I think jam bands suck anyway.

rsl_phish_lot
Russell Howze from San Francisco wore his hat from the 1995-1996 Phish tour saying, "it's vintage you know," when asked about his ensemble. A fellow Phish fan tried to explain to me the significance of the name "Wilson" embroidered on the arm of Howze's marching band coat, but my eyes glazed over at the lengthy explanation. Something about Gamehendge Wilson...?

woah… empty blog…

Hey there. Did anybody miss me? Has the webos-cloud of attention moved away from the humble digs of HappyFeet Travels? I can only guess that you all have been sucked into the micro-webos clouds of Twitter and FaceBook. Huh? Have you? So easy to blog in 100-ish characters or less, isn’t it? Simple to throw some links to vids, articles, and pics over on those sites, yes? Beyond bands, has anyone wandered to the MySpace-webos cloud lately? They’ve made it less blinky last I checked, which was a while ago!

I’ve been laying low for several reasons. Getting off of a year of touring and promoting and producing has been part of the reason. Resting, regrouping, and reconnecting has been another. Not feeling like I have much to say that isn’t too personal (I don’t post too personal here) is yet another reason for the blank cal on this site. And just plain coming to grips with life in the microcosm of the reality-cloud we call a crappy economy has been another.

Things here at HappyFt HQ are feeling caught up. The Fall is looking great for potential creative endeavors. Some of them might actually help me pay the rent! On the book front, Stencil Nation is currently “out of stock” while Manic D tries to figure out the future in what is now a glutted street art book category (we were there before the wave crested…. I beat the crowd once again!). I still have some banged up return copies that I’m trying to sell on my site. A few have gone out.

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Skylight LA Pics

Great presentation tonight at Skylight Books on Vermont St. here in LA. Submit and Ripper1331 showed up, as did a few other local artists (if I surmise from some reactions I got from a few things in the presentation). My friend/hostess Christine Marie took some photos of the event, and was great for support, assistance, and yet another diner visit (this tour is turning into the Diner Orgy Tour). Several people in the audience had a pile of questions, so we spent a good deal of time discussing stencils and elaborating on my small bullets for the presentation. Getting our stencil geek on. woo hoo!

In the big marquee lights in LA. Well, in the chalk on the sidewalk at least.
In the big marquee lights in LA. Well, in the chalk on the sidewalk at least.
OK.... No marquee name in lights, but on top of the heap at least!
OK.... No marquee name in lights, but on top of the heap at least!

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Attracted to the Tag Cloud

Warning: GEEK Zone Ahead

Another WordPress upgrade, another new look for good ole’ HappyFt Travels. Jumped a whole .5 versions to 2.7 tonight, and was mostly interested in beginning a fun tag cloud for the site. What’s a tag cloud you ask? Well, it’s a jumble of words with the ones used the most being the largest. It’ll be interesting to see what stands out the most. The old Vistered Little theme still seemed to work in 2.7 but I couldn’t find any new versions of it on WP sites. And the font seemed to be a bit off once I finished the upgrade. I found this new theme and like it for the most part. Seems that my photos are too big for the column, so are hanging off the side. I can live with that. Reading white text can be a pain, but this seems OK for now. Some of the WP themes are just plain awful for one reason or another. I wish I had the time and skills to make my own theme, but I say that everytime I change or upgrade the site. Vistered lasted a while and I have waited for support and updates, but finally gave up today. Hmm, I wonder if this counts as yet another version of HappyFt? Naw…. not a major overhaul of things, so I guess this is still 3.0 or 4.0. OK, must stop web/blog geeking and get back to working out the Stencil Nation tour. Sleep will be next on the to-do list.

The FaceBook Re(De)volution

Hitting the End of a Warhead with a Hammer

During my cold, winter travels in the heart and fringes of the European Union, an odd transformation happened to me and my travel mate Pod. We felt immersed in the transmigration of real to digi-real, and overwhelmed by the power of corporate, online social networking tools. Using a term that a philosopher gave me in Prague, Pod and I are digital immigrants, folks from the era of rotary dial phones, pre-1984 Apple, and rabbit ears for TV reception. We have seen the birth of the computer, the cell phone, and now Web 2.0. The latter development sparked Brendan Smith, et al. to surmise in their article Social Movements 2.0 that “the web is increasingly looking like the invention of the printing press, which radically changed the lives of even those who could not read, by spurring the Protestant reformation and scientific revolution.”

I began to realize that I am not that as comfortable with this transformation as the digital natives, those folks who only know a world of digital innovation and seem to celebrate every last bit of it as progress for humanity. Thinking a bit deeper, and noticing that many of my Facebook friends are my age, I realized that the digital immigrants seemed to not mind going online daily to click out status blurbs on sites like FaceBook, Twitter, and MySpace. But, like I mentioned in a mini-essay for Stencil Nation, technology has become easy to use, especially online via the Web 2.0 tools. So, even those who clunked around with floppy disks back in the day could easily create blogs, upload photographs, and type those brief Tweets.

But something still doesn’t feel right. Though the most important invention since the printing press is online and in process, I couldn’t help feel an unease about the rage to social network.
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LAST niGht: Melbourne Speeding Ticket: All Happy Eyes

Melbourne speeding ticket. Camera caught while fleeing concrete and spray paint. Started the day, but it got better fast. Hope it did for you too. Was glad to back in my town San Francisco. To ground. To connect. To vote. Fun time voting with The Twin. Had to deal with a rotten window too, but that wasn’t so bad. Took care of things. Rode my bike! Ran into people, Mission style. Get massage. Tight neck and shoulders relaxing hour. Eat collards. Then go meditate vipassana style over at a church on 15th St. Good to have sanga while in the City. About 10 minutes left in the sit, and a house of Obama supporters flood the streets outside the church. Hard to concentrate. Teacher ends with no dharma talk. Pulls out tiny TV. Puts mic to it. McCain giving concession speech! Put on shoes. Run/walk back to Flora Bora where normal-sized TV awaits. Watch McCain a bit from passing bar TVs. SMILES on faces. Cheering in the streets. Screaming. Hugging. Laughing. Honking cars zip by. Make it to home and TV awaits. McCain has finished and all await Obama. Time to pop corn as station plays commercials. “Are they selling commercials like they do for the Super Bowl,” asks D’Louie. HA. HLZ and A. Girl show up just in time to hear Obama’s speech. HMM :: he quoted Lincoln. Illinois, state of Lincoln. Wow, he just said that ideas and deeds outdo money and military. He’ll listen to people he doesn’t agree with. Amid 2 inch thick bullet proof glass, Biden/Obama and family greet the throngs of people. Many crying. Flags waving. Screaming in the streets of the Mission. D’Louie and Then Twin are jacked on the energy. Me too. We cruise with no destination other than hitting the street to see the celebration. I suggest Castro St. and we all agree. People headed that way. All happy eyes. Hit Castro St. and walk into  the No On 8 street party. 8 is winning. That’s bad, so we all celebrate Obama. I walk up to a just-lit effigy of George Bush. Chanting “O-Ba-Ma” begins. I change it to “No More Bush!”. D’Louie turns into party sniffing hound and we stand close to the stage. In front of The Castro Theater. Large TV screen on stage. Man stripping up on fire escape. Takes shirt off. Climbs higher. Dances to DJ music. Climbs to the top of the building. SFPD begin to climb fire escape on first floor. Guy up top begins to take his belt off. Tosses it over the SFPD below. They’re just below. Oh, now a fancy dressed couple begin making out right in front of me. A woman tries to climb a potted tree and puts her ass all in D’Louie’s face. She’s not sure if she’s digging that. Texting friends all over the City. Party in the streets on Divis. In the streets on Valencia. Castro is on TV. Cheese! On the move again and head up to Market cutting over on 17th. Run into Moe at Church! Get to chat. Good times. Look for the roving Extra Action street party but don’t see it. All blow up the stairs to great conversation, warm beds, and sweet dreams. Wake up this morning wondering if it was all a dream. It wasn’t after various nibbles and pinches. Flora Bora feels good. All seem happy. The clucking of “Ba-Rock” fills the house. Back on Bike! Consuming for America. Jonathan calls so head over to MFP and reconnect with the Facilitator of Fun for the Roadshow. Good hang time, eating Thai leftovers and dreaming, dreaming, dreaming……. Off to Market St. for some dessert. Apple pie of course, but with a “change”. Rice pudding ice cream instead of vanilla. We aren’t doin’ vanilla…. LNE visits so good to see again. 8pm where’s Al? Meeting up with Al. Ah, there’s the call. Go outside to be polite at the table and watch about 400 angry queers screaming “Out of the bars, and into the streets!” Protesting Prop 8’s victory. Three men run out of the cafe and join the mass. Jonathan and LNE go to join. Farewell. Hello Al. Zip to Lower Haight (on bikes!), past Sean’s work in progress on Lower Haters. Beer at Toronado. Zip over to D-Structure to Look and HLZ’s stain glass window. Rocks! Bike down Market and hang at Al’s. Knock over toys. Break a few things. Fixed. Good. Bike more. So tired. But must write. At least attempt to show the flow of the “new era”. And how I saw it go down in San Francisco. Left of East. Over the Rockies and at the edge of the world. Where islands burn in the Bay. Prophecy town, pushing corners of the box. Trying our best. And happy to be alive.

Signals Get Crossed

I can’t help but think of the great coliseums of Rome after going to an NCAA college football game. In Clemson, SC, take out the marble and replace with bricks, take off the togas and replace them with orange clothing. After a maybe 25 year gap in time, I returned to the autumn days of my youth when I drove my mother and niece to see the Tigers take on the Georgia Tech Jackets this past Saturday.

For the tens of thousands of fans trudging through traffic to arrive and tailgate before the game, this version of Rome floats in a sea of an orange utopia. This is IT for many of them, the ultimate place to be year in and year out. When these dedicated fans find their reserved parking space, they pull out the food and drinks, the satellite dish and wide screen HDTV, and get into some serious football pride. And they haven’t even gone in to see the live action yet!
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