Random Perusals

The tabs on my Firefox browser have been up now for over a week. I haven’t shut down the app or the machine in a while, and after those random bug crashes (that happen often on the newer versions of Firefox), I bring the tabs back up. The past weekend led to some great online research/time wasting (you pick which term because I sometimes cannot tell the difference) thanks to folks like Larry, Pod, and my new hobby with researching the P2P torrent world. I’m ready to close some of these tabs; don’t worry, they’re bookmarked, so thought I should pass some of the leads along to whomever hits the HappyFeet universe:

  • GraffitiGen: Fun site that lets you type in words and turn them into graffiti-style art. Change the colors, link to the type you made, and have a good time doing legal digi-graff.
  • Visual Complexity: Pod turned me on to this great site a few days ago. This site shows you how things connect using advanced design techniques. Some major thought goes into these images, and the results can look otherworldly at times. Pod and I both wonder if this is the future of corporate data manipulation. Imagine Google using their information on all of us to make these complex charts that will further the bottom line.
  • The Oil of the 21st Century: Speaking of information, this convention just happened in Berlin. From their site: “Under the banner of the ‘Information Society’, a cartel of corporate knowledge distributors struggle to maintain their exclusive right to the exploitation and commodification of the informational resources of the world.”
  • tvRSS: I just learned what a tracker site is. And I’ve also just learned that sharing a torrent file does not mean that you are sharing info with “exclusive rights”. This site is worse than having cable TV because every show is one click away. Want to spend a day wasting time in front of the tube? Hit up tvRSS before Interpol gets them.
  • Also found out that The Pirate Bay is legally hosting a torrent tracker in their home country of Sweden. Sort of. The exciting story coming from that country is that there’s a movement to start a Pirate Party that will seek seats in government. Will the WTO be the final ring for this battle?
  • Had the honor of meeting Aaron and his Tactical Ice Cream Unit after the Peace March Saturday. I document educational vehicles and his Ice Cream truck fits the method. I hope to post photos and write more about the TICU soon, and will say briefly that he’s got a good deal going on with that project.
  • February 29 might seem far off, but a group of organizers have decided to make Leap Day a day of creative chaos. A call has been sent out to get the ball rolling across the planet for a day of direct action that focuses “on living life in a positive, creative, loving, cooperative, sustainable fashion without domination of others or the earth.” The object is to be so off the wall that the actions will confuse cops and business owners. Sound like fun to me!
  • Finally, I read an alt-history book about girls who had to give up their children for adoption in the 1950s and 1960s. The Girls Who Went Away gives first hand accounts of many tragic stories based upon societal, familial, and religious ignorance and misunderstandings. I had to read this book slowly because each story a mother gave filled me with sadness, anger, and compassion for their heartbreaking stories.

July Flew By, No Posts From Me…..

Wondering where I’ve been? Have you given up on checking my RSS feed? Has this blog fallen off the face of the earth? What the hell happened to Russell in July?

Not much. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been writing. Well, not exactly “not much,” but mostly things I didn’t want to write about. I’ve backed off of reading the news, reading books (though Phillip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” rocks!), going out, consuming anything beyond a movie here or there. So I haven’t been thinking about politics, taking many photographs, doing any carny or puppet gigs, or thinking in audial mode. I haven’t really left the house that much.

Why? Well, I spent half of July at a vipassana retreat in North Fork, CA (near Yosemite NP). The course lasted 10 days, Goenka the teacher called it “prison,” “deep surgery,” “a monastery,” and I had an intense time. I couldn’t talk, write, gesture, interact with anyone else beyond the assistant teachers and the manager. The less distractions the better. My brain more than made up for the lack of technology, consumptive items, and interaction with others. I wrote amazing blog entries about the course, made many revisions, and then realized that I shouldn’t say much about the workshop. Once we all broke Noble Silence, we all realized that we had different experiences.

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July 4th Tragedy in Dolores Park

From the grapevine:

Hello,

I am Roisin’s father. July 4th, Roisin and friends were in Dolores Park watching fireworks. Some stupid piece of shit threw an M60 at them. It landed on Roisin’s right hand and blew it apart. She will undego surgery later this morning but it doesn’t look good. Most likely she will lose her index finger; second and third fingers will also be permanently impaired and disfigured. Needless to say, her musical career is over.

I want this fucker. Media attention will help flush him out. People know who did it and I’m offering $20,000 for a name. Please do whatever is necessary to get the story out. Do so and I will reward you as well.

Thank you,
Chris Isner
chrisisner@hotmail.com

What I Saw:

Chris,

So sorry to hear about Roisin’s tragic injury. I have no name but saw it happen. I live in the ‘hood and had never been to Dolores Park on the Fourth. I hear huge explosions all the time from my apartment and realized Tuesday night where they where coming from.

If any of this helps, here is my account:

I got off the 33 bus at the J church stop and walked up the hill by the tracks. Huge explosions where going off all over the park. I realized quickly that anyone below me was in potential grave danger. There was a no-man’s land above the bathrooms, with people randomly tossing and setting off huge fireworks. I saw a few go off from about 30 yards away and wouldn’t get any closer.

I saw a guy, average looking, white maybe brown skinned, with short dark hair, light something and hold it for a really long time. With a fuse that long, I speculated that it was one of the round fireworks you put in a tube to shoot high up. Why the hell was he holding it? He finally tossed it into the no man’s land (he was standing on the 19th st. side of the bathroom, past it up the hill) and tossed too hard. Guess he was excited. I saw the bomb bounce through the empty space and into the crowd down there (they where too close). It went off and screams started. A guy, I guess a friend or boyfriend of Roisin, raged and ran into the empty space ready to kill the guy. I didn’t see where the tosser went to.

The firetruck and ambulance soon showed up. Huge explosions like that one randomly continued all over the park. Then, when people started running out of fireworks, the SFPD showed up and drove around the park.

I do think that it was an accident. The fuse was too long and the firework was thrown too hard. I bounced several times before going into the crowd. There where also a lot of drunk people there and no rules. One couple where setting off huge fireworks in a small 20 foot circle elsewhere. Hundreds of people where around them. Chaos, alcohol (I was stone sober), ordnance, and  “patriotism” equals a lethal cocktail.

I don’t think I could identify the tosser. I was too far away and it was dark. I saw no discerning features in the soft light. I could tell you where he was standing, maybe the exact same spot. What caught my eye was the long burning fuse. It burned for about 5 seconds before he threw it.

Again my sincerest sympathy and regards towards your daughter, a victim of an unfortunate, tragic accident. I hope she recovers soon and continues to follow her musical passions.

Sincerely,
Russell H.
San Francisco

My Favorite Hat

Over the years, I’ve worn many hats. I know people who wear more, but I sometimes have doubts about how to deal with the random lids I’m wearing at the time. Last year, I wore the “performer” and “activist” hat, as well as the “photographer” and “writer” ones. I also got to wear the “production” hat and the “artist” hat a few times as well. As you can easily see, sometimes I have a hard time juggling all those hats around.
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Benefits to Cheaply Fill Your Weekend with Joy

I love the fact that you can soak up free and cheap culture in San Francisco. My music tastes can always be satiated with $5 to $10 events, in great underground spots, that benefit hard-working organizations and people. I rarely go to bars and clubs to catch larger shows anymore and instead pay what I can to support amazing causes. There might even be free food, drinks, and smoke at some of these events (read ahead for details).

See you in the Mission at one of these fun events. PS: DJ Pod in the house at the Feb. 3 ArtSF event.

  • 2/1/07: BLO’S 5TH BIRTHDAY PARTY AND BENEFIT FOR MISSION ANTI-DISPLACEMENT COALITION!
  • 2/2/07: CELEBRATION AND SOLIDARITY FOR OAXACA AND ATENCO’S POLITICAL PRISONERS
  • 2/3/07: KAFANA BALKAN – a benefit for the Bread and Cheese Circus

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Hooked

I learned a simple lesson last week at Macworld. Hypercapitalism equals hooked on gadgets. When my two nieces got an iPod stereo/alarm clock on this past Christmas, I didn’t notice. They also separately got a cellphone and a camera from Santa Claus. Mr. Claus would probably give junk to a junky if that’s what was the hot seller that holiday season. I still didn’t bother to pick up the addicted message.

But with the new Apple iPhone, I got hooked right along with the school of consumer fish. As Wednesday’s audience oh’d and ah’d at Macworld’s iPhone presentation, I drooled as well. My friend Antonio texted me while I was there, “bow down and prey(sic) to ur new god.” He had taken photos of people oogling at the encased iPhone, but afterwards still ran over to the Apple Store and bought his girlfriend an iPod.
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Painting the Walls with Butter

My, what a long period of nothingness from these yon HappyFt pages. No pics, no words, no strange deeds of Middle American yonders. What a fast and furious month I’ve stumbled through. Driving across the heartland one last time, lunching in Cleveland right before the November elections, and reading a great political cartoon about how to hack your voting machine.

Before Cleveland, I hot-tubbed on the 25th floor of my friend’s rental building inside Chicago’s Loop. Kimilee was in town working on the Broadway preview of the Pirate Queen as a swing for four of the fem parts. Saw the show, it needs work, but wished her well as I continued the drive east.

Nights in hotels blurred by clear across the Rust Belt, TV visions of election madness, pundit punditry, and the usual gang of idiots. I’d hop online and try to stay in touch with my peeps in NYC and SF. The trip to RI fell through, as did my grand dream of traveling over most of Canada. Iowa got too cold, and an SF friend called me mad for thinking of visiting our neighbors to the north in Nov.
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CELLspace 2003 Multiuse Arts Facility FAQ

After the cops shut us down about 4 years ago, I had to take on the task of answering info@cellspace e-mail. At least once a week, people from around the world would contact CELLspace and ask how they could start their own arts center. I tried to answer their questions. This desire to make community space showed me how amazing of a concept CELLspace had become. Now, the term “multiuse arts facility” is used to describe spaces like CELL all over San Francisco and the world.

Here, unpublished since 2003, are a few of the answers I gave for the groups that e-mailed us asking about starting their own multiuse arts space. I tried to be as honest as possible, because I didn’t want them to make the mistakes that we made, and I saved these answers in info@cellspace’s account. Sadly, all of those old e-mails were deleted by the company that hosted our mail account. Of all the neat things I saved during that rocky time, these FAQs are the only bits that survived.

HAPPY 10TH CELLSPACE!!!

:~:~:~:

(From a personal file dated June, 2003. All opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of CELL the collective and/or CELLspace the nonprofit.)

If things seem slow–i.e., few people around, summer’s here, let’s go drink, etc., do we just keep sticking it out?  Have there been ‘bad times’ at CELLspace, and how did you weather them?

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Ten Years of the CELL(space)

Join CELLspace in celebrating its 10 year anniversary!
When: Saturday, October 14th 7pm-10pm
Where: 2050 Bryant Street (btwn 18th & 19th Streets)
Price: $20 (in advance) $25 (@ door)

Join us for a night of live entertainment, awards ceremony, silent auction, craft making, youth performances, special quest speakers, Hors’ Dourves, full bar, community and more…

Our longtime history and commitment to promoting the arts now embraces creative culturally relevant programs to address violence prevention, leadership development, and academic enrichment for young people in the Mission District.

In 1999, my good friend Leon Rosen went in and out of loving and hating CELLspace. He lived down the street in a Project Artaud studio, played amazing piano and accordion, but didn’t do to well at collective meetings. He and the Sound Coop crew, the original Sound Labbers, couldn’t manage paying rent that well either. Leon added flavor to CELLspace when I started volunteering there. You loved him and hated him too, but he’d always make you laugh or smile when he’d randomly play on the junky instruments that lived in the space.

This photo hung on the CELLspace office wall for a long time. The sticky note says something like “Lea Bo has a posse/5’6″/130 lbs” and stood the test of time in the office. I asked his permission to put it on my older version of Happy Feet Travels, and he didn’t care, so for a few years, Leon was one of the HappyFt characters that dressed the home page.

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OMG: 25 Years of Live Music

Spent part of last night moshing to The Legendary Shack-Shakers, and once again, I forgot my ear plugs. This time, I have no excuse. I bought six pairs for Burning Man, gave away one, and had another on standby. Why did I forget them again tonight!?

So, once again, my ears ring the tune of tinnitus. Back in 1984, after going to a Van Halen concert, I remember thinking how cool it was that my ears rang the next day during school. Now, after many musicians have “come out” and shared their stories of becoming deaf due to playing in front of huge PA systems, I keep forgetting my damn earplugs!

Sigh.

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The Right Side of Things, or, Waiting for the Jesus Bomb

I keep an open mind about new ideas, so don’t mind experiencing situations where my values are questioned. This job provides these experiences daily. Today, in Waukee, IA (a Republican suburban town just outside Des Moines), I set up my Wheel of Fortune at their Fall Fair. My first players, from Des Moines, loved our message and even signed up. Throughout the afternoon, three different families walked away from the game while I was in mid-sentence. The word “Pentagon” clicked the ignorance gene in their minds. Or maybe their reality blinders lowered from their halos.

I want to talk to these folks, and see why they don’t agree. When I do speak with them, I get into arguments where we just talk in circles. Or we fall into illogic where their comments just don’t make sense:

“The whole budget [pie chart] should be the pentagon!”
“Even if they’re wasting our money?”
“Who cares. They know what’s best for our freedoms!”

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The Numbers Nine, One, and One

Numbers represent powerful images for humans. Seven means good luck in some cultures, the number of God in others. Thirteen looms negative for many people while others attempt to connect this number to earth-based origins. In the Hebrew language, letters are also numbers, creating amazing possibilities and combinations to consider.

The numbers 911 will always stand for the horrors of that day in 2001 when the towers fell and two other jets crashed. What used to be the number to call for an emergency has now become a symbol of an image that most of the world watched through two letters – TV. 2,973 also has a new meaning for most American citizens: the number of people who died on 911 due to the jet-bombs that changed the world.

Now five years later, the letters TV once again show the images over and over for us to relive the moment and the grief that ensued. Radio covers the spectacle via news, music, and the ever present sound bites that we all easily swallow. Like a wound that never healed, we will not forget the day, and the Spectacle will not let us.

So many angles cover this day, so I won’t bother giving my story and $0.02 worth.

I keep asking myself “how am I supposed to feel” after five years of a postmodern, post-911 paradigm? Grief comes in stages and moves through each of us in different ways, so I can’t buy into the flag-waving, scab-pulling images and sounds that try to tell me what to feel about that day. I like dealing with my grief in small, personal ways, and in private or with friends.

Back to numbers. Since these symbols (Indian in origin and relayed to Europeans by Arabs in Baghdad) hold so much weight, I thought I’d spend this powerful date on our calendar reflecting on other numerical combinations.

  1. Native Americans killed by European Americans: ~39,000,000
  2. World War I deaths: 22,000,000
  3. Deaths in USSR during Stalin regime: 13,000,000
  4. Deaths due to German Nazi government: 12,000,000 (source, ibid)
  5. Deaths in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia during US Vietnam War (1960-1975): 2,000,000 (source, ibid)
  6. Iraqi deaths due to 1990 UN embargo: ~1,000,000
  7. Filipinos killed by US Military (1898-1910): 600,000
  8. Deaths in Darfur, Sudan (2003-present): ~400,000
  9. Japanese deaths from US atomic bombs: ~210,000
  10. US Civil War deaths: 191,963
  11. Iraqi deaths since Operation Iraqi Freedom: ~41,650