Archive for January, 2018

28
Jan
18

Revolution 2018 Pt 3: Impeachment Failure, Cheerleader Danger Zone

protest-2018-2

The Bollywood video shoot went off before the Women’s March mob arrived at the Circle, and our photo session continued. We followed inside the crowd of marchers all the way to the State Capital, to the West side of the building, where tents lined up waiting for the protesters to arrive. Tents for Democrat candidates from seemingly every District of Indiana, hawking to the crowd for their support and vote. The demonstration started to wind down for me and Miguel at that point. We got the crowd shots we came for and the speaker’s PA wasn’t loud enough to hear, so it was time to go. This march wouldn’t break into radical protesters demanding blood. These were families and citizens wanting to participate, in their own way, showing how they felt about the current state of society. There would be no rock throwing from this group. The best chances for rock throwers would occur the following weekend, when a demonstration for the Impeachment of Donald Trump was going to happen. We left that day and waited for the following weekend.

 The following weekend came; mild temperatures and rainy skies. We were hoping a good sized crowd would show up. A friend of my brother had manufactured a paper mache head and puppet body of Donald Trump, something we were sure would add to our photo ops. Big fucking Donald Trump head. I thought how magnificent it would be to set the thing on fire, but I would most likely refrain-in fact, with the weather being hit with rain, fire wasn’t going to happen. The rain might soak the puppet head and cause it to melt apart, which would be a nice symbolic image to capture. Then I started wondering if some overzealous protesters might try to tear the Trump puppet apart. More potential photo ops.

We approached downtown and saw they had jacked up parking prices due to an event somewhere near the Capital. Twenty dollars to park in a garage-screw that. We street parked and headed for the protest. It was scheduled to begin in 30 minutes and by the time we arrived at the site, that time was cut to twenty. We had our cameras ready, jockeying with umbrellas as well, going into photo snapping mode. But that feeling got killed as we closed in on the Capital. There were about ten people at most, (excluding the Indy police officers stationed on the steps and grounds of the state building), huddled and rained on, their body language showing disappointment, defeat. They smelled of something similar to apathy…more like lost hope. The crowd organizers prayed for were a no show. We walked about the sidewalk among those organizers, unable to find any inspiring pictures to shoot. Teams moved in to hoist up flimsy portable tents and had political flyers ready. At one point, one of the head leaders for this event told those gathered that the police just informed her of an 18 year old Indiana law prohibiting the use of sticks on protest signs, on the Capital grounds. They were taking away their sticks. When your radical group of protesters can’t even hold onto their sticks, you might as well hang it up and go home…pussies.

We walked across the street for coffee, to give time for the crowd to build-if it would build. Outdoor ads for Jamfest were on nearby buildings, which piqued our curiosity about Jamfest. We noticed packs of tween aged girls and high school students in unitards, outfits you expect to see at a circus, meandering at the Starbucks where we went for coffee. Jamfest had to be the downtown event that drove parking prices up. A mother of one of the costumed kids told us that Jamfest was a national competition of cheerleading teams; extreme gymnast-like routines by kids ranging in age from (probably) 8 years to eighteen. Miguel suggested we check out Jamfest.
“We’ll probably get better pictures there than at the protest.”
He had a good point. The protest was too somber and depressing to witness. It reminded us both of the failed protests we saw down here last year. It re-reminded me of the failed protests I followed years ago in Denver. Jamfest had gymnasts and colorful outfits, happy energetic people. The protest had folks who couldn’t even hold onto sticks. He talked me into it and soon, we were wandering through a sea of kids and parents, all psyched up and ready for some wicked, cheerleading competition.

It wasn’t until we wandered down the wide corridors of the convention center a while that a slow realization hit us. We were two older men with cameras, racing around a crowd of perhaps 100,000 people or more; kids and their parents. This country has been going through as rash of sexual predator and abused women reports, so in spite our clean intentions, this probably made a lot of people here uncomfortable. We photograph crowds at various events; Comicon cosplayers, protesters, various groups of individuals that make up our world, but the mendacity of what we were capable of unleashing here walked a razor’s edge. Our hobby for crowd shooting turned potentially lethal. We were deep in a cheerleading danger zone.

(contd.)

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25
Jan
18

Revolution 2018 pt. 2: The Meat of the Deal

womens-march-2

We had a couple blocks to go before hitting the grassy plaza where the main event took place. Distractions along the way had us slowing down to look and see if there was anything to survey, anyone meaningful to talk with, any shot worthy of taking. More knit pink pussy hats the closer we got. A lady in a wheelchair overturned in the street, a flock of citizens helping her back up. A couple down-on-their-luck guys trying to shame us out of a few bucks. I was not up to funding someone’s cigarette habit right then. Closer to where the crowd stood was the table of merch, t-shirts and buttons, pussy hats in a multitude of colors. Merchants like these show up at every large event to persuade the money out of giddy patrons’ pockets. I understand the desire fans have to purchase t-shirts, etc. at a concert, but I can’t imagine rocking a ‘Women’s March 2018’ t-shirt, faded from numerous washings, in 2019 or 2020. The result of that would be folks looking at your old shirt with pessimism; pessimism for what it failed to pull off.

We finally made it to the Meat of the Deal, the first course of the event; the opening speech ceremony. After an hour or so, the crowd would march down Meridian Street, around the downtown Memorial Circle Monument, then on to the State Capital. My brother and I began mingling around, taking our shots, keeping within eyesight of one another. We’ve begun to develop quick visual signals to one another that clue in, or draw attention to, a potential good shot in the crowd. Sometimes, you have no time for a hand sign, you just float off, and get found later. Miguel floated.

Some folks (who must have arrived early) made a few small snowmen from the scattered amount of snow there, and that had Mike peeling off to see if he could capture art…or something close to it. I’ve noticed his fascination with groups of things. Numbers or collections of items, design and form from repetition or category, like the unspoken visual expression made from a shot of hundreds of flags, or rows of geometric gaming dice, dozens of dolls. Repetition can lull one into studying it, like a deer in headlights, something that hinges on mysticism. A message, but we’re not really sure what that message is…something about pairs or groups in design…something about it touches the sublime mind.

Sublime design, color and form. These are the things we seek out while waiting for disruptive groups to shove their fist in the air, throw some fucking rocks. But most the time, people won’t throw rocks. Most the time people will not get metal, especially not those who brought kids and pets. Saturday’s nation-wide marches were women marching to show their numbers, not to become a pack of mad dogs in the street. Women-for the most part-are much more tempered than men, more methodical planners and strategists. Women stick with something and persevere if the cause seems right. Suffragettes stirring up things eons ago to give women the right to vote. Women were the dominating force behind liquor prohibition-yeah, I know that one got appealed but for that era of American history, it was probably the best thing they could do for the country; get drunk men off their asses. Black women showed up to be the voting majority electing Alabama Democrat Doug Jones into office. Women methodically turn the tides of our society, and when they gather to protest, you can’t count out their effectiveness, or what they can accomplish. My way of thinking always goes back to throwing rocks….I am clearly not a woman.

The event kicked off with a prayer given by a representative of the Native American Community. The event organizers were smart to recognize the obligatory respect they needed to show various minority groups that composed the crowd that day. This helped strengthen their overall cause and made all feel welcome. It was a real fucking warm, cozy feeling, folks. There was a short period of awkward pause when a speaker representing the African American community got up and gave a speech that reeked of a ripoff diatribe from the movie Dear White People. The speaker called out White women and gave them a little taste of shame for not standing with their Black sisters in times of recent social injustices; when society gave them a double pile of shit for being female, and for being Black.

Shortly after the white lady shame speech, Miguel and I had the initial shots we wanted and decided to re-position down at the Circle, where the crowd would be marching through. I stopped and verified the march route with a patrolman sitting in his car waiting for the march to start…a police escort for the revolution. This would be the perfect time for them to throw rocks. I know, the kids and pets…

The march began after a bit and by then, we were positioned on the Monument Circle steps, ready to take more photos. The crowd looked the size of rice at this point, but they would be closing in soon enough. Then, out of nowhere, a group of East Indians take position on the Monument steps and one of them pulls out video equipment. Three of their party were dressed in vibrant electric colored outfits. The other members began to film a dance number straight out of a Bollywood video, Bolly Dance music streamed from a phone to sync with, video later. They raced to tape the dance number before the crowd of demonstrators made it to the Circle. Oh, it was fucking great. The fanfare kept going.

(contd)

22
Jan
18

Revolution 2018 pt. 1: First Dance

womens-march-1

One of Trump’s earliest Tweets this past Saturday encouraged women to get out for the Women’s March-celebrate “historic milestones” and “unprecedented economic success” in honor of the occasion. A lot of women did get out that Saturday, in various cities throughout the U.S. and other countries, to demonstrate en masse against what they feel is a corrupting civilization being created in our modern day society. In Indianapolis, the theme at the forefront of their local protest would focus on ‘Taking Back the State’. Approximately two thousand came to demonstrate against the Crimson King with hopes to lure more votes to Democrat candidates running in the numerous Districts of the state. The current report card doesn’t look good for Republicans and Democrats see that window of opportunity to get larger numbers in Congress, in local districts.

This demonstration would be the First Dance, the premiere protest event Miguel and I would attend in twenty eighteen. Women throughout the world were staging their protest against Donald Trump and all people associated with Donald Trump-his Cabinet, his crony Senators and House Members and his relatives. There would be splintered groups from various diverse associations as well, representing and adding numbers to the crowd of protesters, which would make for a better headline. Another added bonus was the weather being tolerable, a mild forty with clear, blue skies. This is the nice type weather cabin fevered families could endure, so moms and girlfriends packed up their husbands and kids and handmade signs and drove down to the American Legion Mall; a large square city block of memorial with good sized open grassy grounds and historic old buildings to make you feel a sense of importance. I have no idea what the hell this place is used for during the rest of the week, but today, Saturday, it would be the kick-off spot for Revolution 2018. Viva la fucking revolution, let me see what these folks got.

The night before the demonstration was when I heard about the government shutting down. The threat of a shutdown had been pending and I found myself at an artist’s gathering that Friday night. A gathering for the Bohemian class, complete with excellent foods, liquors and drugs, engaging conversations and beautiful minded people. The party went on for hours and eventually, me and a friend left there to saunter over to Dormans (my local haunt) where the liquor consumption got taken up a notch. We were throwing down single malt scotch when my friend looked down at her phone. Her face turned deadpan.
“Well, the government shut down.”
When she told me that, I made a mental note to call on the powers of God, Buddha and any other voodoo figure to make sure I woke up and was ready to go the next day. I shouldn’t close down the bar that night, I thought. The news of the government shutting down could throw more fuel on the fire of protest. This demonstration could get good. Good in the sense of improved numbers, more to observe, much more worth the effort to get down there. Some of the protests we had been to last year showed very few excitable moments, no formidable force being beaten in the streets or gassed. A couple demonstrations in 2017 did have the potential, real civil disobedience, but most of the demonstrations we had been to ended up being hapless and sad to watch. Demonstrations should, and will use, all the stimulation they can get, because if the crowd isn’t big enough, those attending lose interest quick and the revolution peters out.

Saturday morning, I was cognizant and feeling good. My brother would be at my place soon with his outdoor gear and camera and then it would be off to the show. He’s won numerous awards for his photography and has a unique eye for bracketing shots, a true artist’s survey of crowds and people and architecture, color and contrast. He’s always looking for that perfect, expressive shot that shows human emotion, or striking contrasts and shapes; sometimes, it’s just a cool fucking shot to be taken. I continue to search for social drama and visual/audible stimuli. I take shots with my camera as well, but I’m not as focused as Miguel. I search for a variety of sensations at these protests. Sound, imagery, the unspoken horror we bring out in one another. Odd scenes that slap you across the face with irony, like the man I saw last year holding a sign protesting his want for health care coverage, while smoking a cigarette. Oddities that make you giggle and shake your head.

We parked and walked seven or eight blocks through the middle of downtown toward the outside Memorial Mall. The closer we came to it, the more pink knit vagina hats we saw popping up on the streets, heading to the demonstration. Miguel paused for a second at one point, still blocks away from the event. He stopped me.
“you hear that? They’re playing Wonder Woman.”
They were playing some ripped off copy of the theme music to the old Wonder Woman/Linda Carter television series, piping it through some heavy duty speakers. Oh it was fucking on now, The fanfare had begun.

(contd)

19
Jan
18

Premiere Demonstration for 2018; Pregame Warmup

2018

Two days from now, a scheduled demonstration titled “Reclaim Our State” will be held at the American Legion Mall in downtown Sleepytown. Speakers will talk about social injustice and crap like that. Real rattle your paper saber stuff. Then everyone will be encouraged to participate in a staged march to the State Capital where even more speakers will blather on about the atrocities we Americans suffer…of course, I’ll be there representing the Church, reporting back to you avid readers, not as a participant, but as an observer. This will be my first demonstration of the new year, something to kick off Year Two: the Reign of the Crimson King-not to be missed by this preacher. Mi compañero for the excursion, Miguel, will be there too, driven by the same addiction for observing the masses that I have. This languishing habit we’ve developed for watching demonstrations and demonstrators gives us no hope for change, there’s none to be had. They still don’t fucking get it and the day they do get it together and accomplish something, I will be shocked as shit…more shocked than anyone, I think. No, we go to see the human tragedy play out before us, the nuance of social behavior being stirred up like soup, not quite boiling, but right on the verge.

My brother and I have been chomping at the bit waiting for something to knock us out of our winter hibernation. Too much television and online media masturbation leaves me aching to escape the shelter of home. I gotta get out and stretch my legs, breath in the choking fumes of buses and cars, stay out late and close down bars…chat with real people. We’d been putting out inquiries and feelers to find new sites for an urbanex walkaround, another habit Miguel and I love (see earlier writings on urbanex, somewhere in my backlog of blog posts posted here on the Church), but to date, there is nothing on our radar.

The major winter holiday cusp passed, and with Christmas and New Years being out of the way, more demonstrations and protest marches will begin to pop up. The insane whirlwind of shit coming out of the White House, Congress, and various little spots throughout the country, has worked it’s frenzied paranoia on Progressive voters and Trump haters for a year now. After this Saturday’s demonstration, there is another scheduled protest in Indianapolis, one I believe that will be focused on Impeachment of the President. As January marches on, the days get longer and the temperatures will become warmer and slowly, I envision folks crawling out of their cubbies to shake their fist at the Crimson King. How hard will they revolt? Will they reach a breaking point and go Berserker on the politicians in charge of our nation’s affairs? Will this country grow a pair of balls again? I think those who would protest at a ‘Reclaim Our State’ rally have the potential to get results, they just lack the ability to give direction…and they have to be willing to get dirty. I mean street dirty, fucking wild in the streets attitude, because those in power will not just give it away and your signs aren’t doing shit to move your cause.

Reaching back one year ago, protesters raised their weary fists on the downtown streets of Indy to protest against the pipeline being constructed on American Indian reservations. They had protests against the looming (looming at that time, before it started to be enacted) threat DACA would have on immigrant families. There were minor inflections of protest from groups opposed to Islamophobia and those trying to support LGBTQ rights; half a dozen other causes, but out of all that defiance, no change in their favor came about. The few elected officials they had on their team were ineffective at stopping the smothering rule of Republicans. People in charge of defense for the Trump Administration and political kin, people like Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, helped influence congressional members and key politicians to hold the Right Wing fort against the onslaught of Democrats opposed to the President. A purported fever Trump has to destroy anything connected with the past Administration (Obama) brings about headlines to infuriate American voters that loathe the man. If he isn’t busy destroying the legacy of everything Obama, he’s pulling some boner statement or fucked up action that sends the press lighting into it to work up the flames of hate, again and again. How long can they keep fanning those flames before an uncontrollable fire erupts? The gripping control of a narcissistic leader whose whims are as bizarre as anything Caligula would have dreamed up have become a daily affair for us to face. At some point, the boiling point may be reached and that’s what Miguel and I are really waiting for. Maybe it will be this Saturday; doubtful, but I suppose it could be. Maybe it will be the following protest, the one aimed at Impeachment. I’ve been looking long and hard at this Generation to see what sprouts up but so far, all we have are young fucks eating detergent pods. They need some focus, because they have the potential.

Let’s see what Saturday holds.

 

10
Jan
18

2018: My Continuing Tales From the Bus

talesfromthebus

A new year begins and with it, the hope of a new and better tomorrow. The Crimson King remains in power despite threats and yodels from Progressive voters and those new (or naive) to the true American political scene. A scathing new book from Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury, is now online for purchase in hard print, E book and audio book format. His book unleashes a barrage of attacks against the President, new unearthed accusations and witnessed reports; we run quick to look at the book, or work hard to defend (the man some voted for) against what the book says, or wander about in a stupor over what has happened to this country. Congress…the House and Senate-they all seem ineffective and useless to the common man or woman. New rules and proposed legislation, continuing problems erupting in our face online and on tv. Stress levels are high and we’re all just looking for a little relief, preferably one we don’t have to drink from a glass or shoot in our veins. I find some solace on the bus.

The bus is not the cure all for all life’s problems, it doesn’t hold every answer, but it helps me a bit. It’s not for everyone, but not everyone ticks the same. Some hate scotch, others love it. Those who love it find pleasure in it’s taste, those who dislike it compare it to drinking kerosene. The bus is the same way. Some people may travel numerous times on a bus and never once discover the lessons in life public transit has to offer, while others will get it. The bus holds no repetitive mantra, like Catholic Mass rosary or the silent prayer of Nichiren Buddhism. It’s more like a Zen proverb; an ‘a-ha’ moment that gives me a lesson on the nature of humans. The bus reminds me to be humble, by introducing me to people like the monster screamer, a young man in his late teens or early twenties, with a mental condition of some sort that leaves him belting out monster growls every so often. He’s a daily morning passenger on the ten; Monster screamer has to keep on course, because if he deviates from his daily schedule in the least bit, it leaves his world more upside down than it already is. He’ll pause at the door when they open for him to leave, and he’ll wait until it all makes sense, until he remembers that he’s supposed to get off and it’s okay to advance. He knows exactly which stop he gets off at, always remembers his back pack, says goodbye to the bus driver, and proceeds through his day between two dimensions.

Some trips on the bus remind me of an old adage heard a million times, a saying that you assume must be true, but rarely get to see play out in real life. It shows me lessons in life, leaves me curious to know more. The bus brought me in touch with the past through conversation with a black man in his fifties riding the number ten on my way home. He wore a black and red checkered scarf. He also wore dark sunglasses and carried a white cane signifying vision impaired…didn’t act/react all out blind. He looked my way and smiled after we made some initial conversation about the weather or something.
“You know why I wear this scarf?”
I couldn’t hazard a guess so I asked why.
“I wear these colors in honor of the Red Tail Squadron.”
The Red Tail Squadron, the 332nd Fighter Group; World War Two’s all black military pilots, who endured the hardships of fighting in a war for a country that treated them like shit because of their skin color. The red mark on the tail of the P51 they flew gave them the name ‘red tail’. The Red Tails flew over fifteen thousand sorties as bomber escorts, shunned in the white military, and eventually got the opportunity to fly combat missions…the right to fly combat missions. They were finally given the right to fight and live through it or die, to go back and face a world where they were still shunned because they were black. We have some fucked up history in our past, folks. There’s a lot more to the story of the Red Tail Squadron, aka the Tuskegee Airmen, but my education would be limited that day. Before I knew it, my stop had come and I had to leave the man behind.

There will be more a-ha moments from the bus throughout twenty eighteen, this I’m sure of. What happens to the Crimson King, now having been exposed even more from Wolff’s book? Net Neutrality hasn’t happened yet, but is it just around the corner? Will all our health care go away? Will crops in California all rot because we run out of migrant workers to pick our produce? Scary stories drag on and keep me hugging my knees and gnashing my teeth, but at least I have the bus to ground me with the goodness humankind has to offer, with fantastic people and learned conversations. A living lesson to show me that life has it’s ups and downs, but at the end of the day, we all just want to get home.

03
Jan
18

Another Trip Around the Sun

bus

It’s now the second evening of a new year; Two thousand eighteen, and the Church has been quiet for weeks on end. I lacked the passion to drive myself onto a babbling tirade against the social injustice swarming our country-our world, so I left the Church closed. The pews grew empty and dust sets where bottoms should sit. The sympathy and support I offered as a communion for those without hope seemed to have bled dry. The wine was all gone, the wafer had gone bad and grown mold on it’s edges.

Seconds ticked by and turned into hours, days…weeks. The insight I worked so hard to provide about my observations of this silly world didn’t necessarily fall on deaf ears, but they held little impact…and what does hold impact these days? What drives able bodied souls to the streets to defy the reign of nefarious world leaders? Most are quick to point out the devastation we seem to be wallowing in, yet few offer tangible solutions. I keep stumbling onto vapid protests or buzzword dialogue that (at best) boosts moral, rather than evoke real change.

Day to day battles hit the screens we watch. It races us through a litany of button clicking, meme posting prattle, pure online bullshit that doesn’t move a fucking brick. All those live video feeds, all the petitions signed against the pipeline tearing up the homelands of Native Americans, all that did Jack Shit. The furious masses of home protesters who were worked into an irate frenzy over Social Security being robbed….moot. Those protesters didn’t stop the robbery. Neither did our elected officials.

Elected officials-that’s another sore subject with a lot of folks; you and this preacher both. I am hit daily by (on average since January 2017) five emails a day from both major political parties. Emails from Democratic/Progressive superstars like Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Corey Booker and Tom Perez. On the other end of the spectrum, I get daily emails from notables like every fucking member of the immediate Trump family, Newt Gingrich, Mike Pence and a host of others. They beg for funds to help thwart the opposition and use cheesy marketing runs in their body copy to try and convince you to give them a dollar-literally, a fucking dollar. Donation buttons start low and work up to $300, or a button simply marked ‘other amount’. This has to be proof of really lax standards about campaign financing.

Lead paragraphs usually begin by painting some victory speech romance about how they’re working hard to beat the holy Hell out of the bastards in Congress you love to hate. But then they go into the spiel about how they need your financial support before the FEC year end financial deadline. Some emails stress the need to fight Donald Trump and all Conservative/Republican monsters. Others want you to help them thwart the Liberal/Democrat pussies. Regardless, the point I take away from all these daily emails is, political leaders are wasting a lot of workers, effort, time and money (taxes and/or donations) convincing you to give them even more money. For all the effort they use raising funds, they could have raised Puerto Rico. They could have done what they were elected to do. They were not elected to seek re-election, that’s a secondary matter.

There are some campaigns out there which do give off a constructive possibility for actual accomplishment. Bernie Sanders, in conjunction with associations Like Good Jobs Nation, show a definitive strategy to getting the country back on it’s feet again, rebuilding our Middle Class infrastructure with real solutions to economic inequity. Campaigns like this, however, rarely seem to appeal to a large enough audience to keep funded, or lack a base of concerned niche voters to make it a priority issue. We all have so many hours in a day and no one has the ability to stretch out and lend support to every special interest group out there. I’m still waiting to stumble across more bulldog motherfucking politicians from the batch we elected, to get up and do the right thing for America. Right now, we seem to be fed propaganda piece after propaganda piece about Making America Great Again, but it’s really little more than a political rosary of bullshit to quell the ignorant.

Don’t forget the lesson we saw in Alabama when long-shot Democrat candidate Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy S. Moore. Even after reporting his racist remarks and admissions to sexual attitudes that reeked of perversion stumbling into illegal behavior, Moore was considered a shoe-in until election day. It was the effort of a thunderous attendance by black female voters there that kept Moore out of office, not some committee trying to raise funds before an FEC deadline. real people went out and made change in Alabama. Real people voted in California, and now the third largest state in the U.S. has legalized medicinal/recreational cannabis.

I’d better get busy dusting off the pews for twenty eighteen. There’s a protest to Impeach the Crimson King come the twentieth of this month, and I need to be there to look those people dead in the eye and say-
Welcome to the Church.




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