Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Astrogirl and Capt. Revo Join the Occupation

I have a complaint. I was harangued into joining the local occupation against my will, by a serial back-toucher and a Revolting Protester, Capt. Revo.

Before the Occupy Wall Street protest ever began in New York, Revo already had it pegged as a trigger movement that would quickly go viral to become an international phenomenon of discontent. He saw it as coming at an ideal time, at the perfect level of fertile public outrage, taking full advantage of Tahrir inspired lateral communication and cell phone technology, the “flash group” technology that had made the Arab Spring possible, now denigrated as “flash mobs” on this side of the pond.

Through the jaded eyes of a frequent activist for over 30 years, I saw it as a protest organized by the usual suspects, which would undoubtedly produce the usual result: a small to medium sized group of people who would raise a fuss for a day or so and nothing beyond that would happen. Revo can justly claim the visionary edge here.

Capt. Revo was thrilled and energized by the potential American Spring he saw coming over the horizon. He immediately wanted to get involved. His badgering “encouragement” for me to get involved was met with my yawns. This Occupy thing will be a hassle and will come to nothing. That was my firm belief at the time.

By the time satellite protests spun off from the Wall Street site and started proliferating across the country, however, Occupy Wall Street had proven staying power. By the time Occupy Baltimore got underway, I was beginning to feel a groundswell. When Occupy Baltimore landed next to Harborplace, I agreed to give Capt. Revo a ride to McKeldin Square.

As an aside, my buddy Revo had his theatre, his livelihood, and most of his worldly possessions taken from him by the BDC in a nefarious process, and he now has no vehicle of his own. As the Beatles sang, “I got no car and it’s breaking my heart, but I’ve found a driver and that’s a start.” A downtrodden 99%er self-described “revolting protester” with a huge Yellow Submarine banner the BDC didn’t get, and a door to door chauffeur. Poor Revo.

When we first arrived at McKeldin Square, the nightly General Assembly meeting was just starting, with facilitators using the effective, but annoying “People’s Mike” to speak to the crowd of roughly thirty or so, mostly young and white participants (the apparent composition of the group at that time). I already had just about enough of “the People’s Mike” from the media coverage of Occupy Wall Street, where a civic ban on sound systems was the mother of that invention, by necessity.

Baltimore has no such ban on voice amplification, yet the Occupy Baltimore protesters seemed to relish using the People’s Mike, regardless. It appeared to impart a sense of participatory, joystick empowerment for the speaker to hear the crowd echo everything they said, vebatim in mini-tweet form – listener tedium be damned!

Using the People’s Mike, when we first arrived, was a representative of the self-appointed leadership of the “leaderless” Occupy Baltimore (think Zen koan), whom I will describe as the barely composite character, Callow S. Narrowmindsky. At that moment, Mr. Narrowmindsky was in the process of introducing the People’s Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Assault. He told the assembly that a representative of the Committee would read the group’s proposed policy on sexual assault, which would then be subjected to a non-binding temperature check, to see how people were feeling about not feeling anyone up.

Narrowmindsky and his cohorts then thoughtfully assured the assembly that “Afterwards, you are free to discuss the proposed policy among yourselves. We don’t have any rules to prevent that.” Capt. Revo and I exchanged grinning glances, stifling shocked hilarity at that reassuring revelation. Revo expressed his appreciation, and wondered aloud if it was not the secret wish of Narrowmindsky’s clique to ultimately invoke such a ban of free speech, outside the General Assembly. The angry glares directed at the Capt., from a core group among the assembled, was my first indication that hanging with Revo around this crowd may earn me an involuntary joy ride in a dark trunk to the killing fields.

The perceived need for a public pronouncement that we still retained our first amendment rights became an object of recurring mirth over the next few days...as did the content of the Sexual Assault and Harassment policy itself. (More on that next time...)

Click here for part 1.
Click here for part 3.

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