It’s not easy starting an essay when one is so hung-over. Such is my current status. I feel like a zombie who’s trying to type out his last will & testament. And to substitute the aches and pains, I pour enormous amounts of caffeine and yellow dye number 5 into my weakened body, just so I can stop my eyes from receding any further into my skull. It’s ugly stuff, but important matters demand strong perseverance.
My latest binge began yesterday when I went to a protest in downtown Los Angeles. WeAreChange Los Angeles was having its monthly meet-up, and started the New Year off right by hanging banners over the 101 Freeway at Hollywood Blvd. It seemed like fun, but there was no way I would go through all the trouble of getting over there and not indulge upon some of God’s Nectar. So before heading off I went across the street to get some groceries: A 3-pack of Budweiser Light, gum, and rolling papers for my tobacco. I was set, almost.
The Metro Train once again proved itself an invaluable ally in this so-called War of Ideas. It managed to drop me off just two streets shy of my destination. If things didn’t work out so well, I was sure the day’s events would be made more tolerable with the beer. I’m usually not Budweiser fan; but it was on sale, and worked properly enough. The hard part was drinking the damn stuff in public. This is where, after admiring the turnout – over thirty people, I estimated – I ran across the street to a 7-eleven and promptly paid full price for an empty Big Gulp. Running around the back of the store, I popped open one of the cans. Then two. Then three. The dumpsters served me nicely and worked great cover in this operation of alcoholism. Now, I was set.
So I headed back before anyone noticed my disappearance. Many of the attendees were on the list, while others, like the homeless kids, or the motorcyclist who got sideswiped on the corner not long after I had arrived, were only there because they couldn’t perform the proper maneuvers enabling them to leave.
That accident was a funny scene; here I was discussing political issues with one of the other activists, and the next thing I hear is the screeching sound of tires, followed by a nasty crunch, then by several “thump, thump, thump’s” as the poor guy’s limbs drummed across the pavement. He got right up though – and I’ve granted myself permission now to laugh at it.
Us Truthers acted instinctively, and tore a page out of Rahm Emanuel’s book; taking full advantage of the crisis unfolding before our eyes. Ambulances, police cars, and – stalled traffic. The whole intent of the protest was getting a message out, and we seized the chance to informationalize the delayed commuters. I couldn’t say for sure, but if I hand to guess, I’d say our DVD hand-out tripled after this little incident. I sleep better knowing there’s a more informed public in our streets. Thank God for incompetent LA drivers. Either, they’re getting dumber, the traffic is getting worse, or the Truth Movement is growing so strong it’s able to stop the average mundane public dead in his or her tracks.
At some point during all this craziness, a gentleman came over with a camera and asked if I wanted to make a statement.
“Sure” I said “but ask me a question first, just to get it started, ya know?”
“Fine. What made you come out today?”
“Well, I was bored.” I answered honestly enough. “I didn’t really have anything else to do.” I told him. I immediately felt a tinge of betrayal in my own emotions, and rebutted the statement, only to be followed by a series of sentences that conveyed my feelings with issues that I felt were encapsulating our Country. The Federal Reserve, the farcical War on drugs, and so on. Then he asked me the singular, blunt question: “Who’s responsible for 9-11?”
Usually I hate this question. Or more accurately, I hate the response that is occasionally rebuked by people with an agenda. I answer honestly every time I’m asked it, but I feel like a Christian who’s sitting in Church one day suddenly wondering if he’s been mislead his whole life.
“I don’t know” I said. Then explained how I felt the independent research was alluding to the Governments involvement. It wasn’t impossible, and even if it weren’t so, there is nothing wrong with demanding answers to those questions that never received any.
There is something eerie about a protest group that wants every one of its members to believe every single word they say. It doesn’t’ happen with my group, but it happens quite a bit in many other activist organizations; like our “counter parts”, the so-called “no-planers.” They feel that anyone who thinks planes didn’t hit the towers are a disgrace to the Movement. People like that want your mind. And will take your body if there’s enough room for it. Just check out L. Ron Hubbard. The statement that “the best way to make money is to start a religion” is widely rumored to have come from his mouth, and even if he didn’t say it, the credence is in his insistence that a giant space dragon named Xenu brought life to this planet 75 million years ago. Even with language like that, Xenu can’t go two rounds when it comes to “The Church.” I mean to say, how many reports do I have to read about former Nazi’s occupying the Vatican? All these institutions, once organized, will betray their original purpose. Guaranteed.
After about three solid hours of protesting, we packed up our bags and headed over to a local billiards room. Unfortunately, I was starting to sober up at this time, and wasn’t sure if I had enough money to pay for more booze. Still, I went inside the establishment.
It was a nice place, with about a dozen tables, 3-4 parties shooting sloppily on them, and a good, solid thirty foot bar. Naturally, I headed on over, dug into my jeans, and pulled out $2.75; just a quarter shy of the lowest priced drink available – which was three bucks even at the end of Happy Hour.
“Short a quarter?” The cashier asked. He must have been sensitive to my situation. I reeked of beer, and he knew I was dry. “No problem. Go get at that man, he’ll hook you up” pointing to the barkeep. I went over, but as it turned out, the barkeep was no where near as concerned for my problem as the other guy had been. Any time you ask a bartender “what can I get for three bucks?” you’re going to get a scorned look, and probably a shitty drink. They know there won’t be any tip for them, even after going through all the trouble of making the damn thing up for you. I growled a quick “thanks,” grabbed the whiskey and coke – not JD – and then wandered off to the other room where everybody was gathering.
They had all separated themselves between a large table, with surrounding chairs, and a smaller table adjacent to the soft couch that I quickly threw myself upon. I took a sip of my drink, and took in the scenery. Thirty or more people, all with similar interests in mind: The Government is fucked up – in so many ways – and it must be changed; and not by some trumped up campaign mantra.
At times like this, I wonder if the Powers That Be know how many people are upset at their actions. Have they any idea that small packs of citizens, from all walks of life, are appalled at the direction our Country is going? I’m sure they’re well aware of it. And at the same time, I think they are actively ignoring us. Ah, well. It was time to go home.
For some reason I recalled my life in prison. Going in nearly three and a half years earlier, I had been out here on the streets for six months. And now I was being active a World I felt was going horribly astray. “Damnit” I thought to myself, “tomorrow I got an appointment with the court-ordered shrink.” I headed back to the train station, crawled onto an empty seat, and watched as downtown Los Angeles faded into a blur of bright lights.
I woke up the following morning positive that I was a new rank and file member of the Undead. That somehow my body resuscitated itself in the middle of the night; by lightening or sex or something else that had jolted my brain into activity.
I began remembering the incidents of the previous day: Protests, drinks, porn; and never in that order. I recalled securing an interview with one of the WeAreChange Members, a well-informed guy by the name of Jeremy. I need the story for my next article, and I think – or had thought – that I’d called my editor in the middle of the night asking him about it. I think he agreed. And even if he hadn’t, I’ll just presume that he did and write the thing up anyways.
On the way over to the parole office, I started taking wallet-notes of the questions I had in mine. Half-hour later, I walked in, signed in at the counter, took a deep breath, and sat down on an ugly green chair – all while making sure to avoid eye contact with everyone else in the room. My ignoring them didn’t quite work, however, and those ridiculous conversations, so often found in places like this, we’re in no way absent today.
“Hey homes’, I saw your homie Crazy up in Chino” one of them said. “Yeah? Is he over there on east yard?” the other replied. “Nah, he got into a fight. Took him to the hole.”
As impossible as it might seem, discussions like this will go on for hours; new names, places, and circumstances in every sentence. I’ve been out for almost six months now, and I still can’t escape this dreaded atmosphere. Grown men playing ‘house’ with the State Penitentiary.
Luckily, my shrink came and collected me rather quickly, and ushered me off into some back room so we could begin our own “discussion.” I’m not sure which conversation I’d rather be in company of: the gangbangers who are enamored with prison, which I don’t have to participate in, or the ones I have with my shrink, who is a paid agent of another insidious organization: the Prison Guards Union.
“How are you?” she asks.
"Whats been going on?"
“Well” I say, “I just attended a protest yesterday in LA.”
“Really? What was the protest for?”
“We’re asking for a new investigation into the September 11th Attacks.”
She looked at me with her typical narrow-eyed suspicion. It’s almost warranted; most of our meetings are all about me bashing our Government and officials, and since I did burn down a Government building, she has an obligation to keep an eye on my intentions. I hated that fact the first few months, but now I have come to accept it as a perfectly necessarily function in a perfectly defective Society.
“Why are you asking for a new investigation? What’s wrong with the one we have?” She asked the question like she’s supposed to, as a psychologist paid to make the subject – me – appear to be what I am: guilty of everything, inept with common sense, and void of all moral standards.
I answer anyways, immaculately confident in my beliefs. “Actually, there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence that points to Government complicity. Why were those planes aloud to stay in the air for so long? Why did the commissioners come out and tell us the investigation was compromised?” Valid points, for any rational person. And definitely something that deserves attention when it’s concerning the biggest terrorist attack in our Nation’s history.
“You know, I talk to people who share those kinds of beliefs” she tells me.
“Do you believe any of it?” I asked, hoping she’ll show a sign of humanity and say “yes.”
“It’s not that I don’t believe it. It’s just. I don’t know… it’s just...it's heavy.”
“Of course it is. But it’s important” I proclaimed dramatically “and it’s not crazy like you might think.”
“What makes you think I think it’s crazy?”
“I know that I’m the specimen in here. I’m the one who gets analyzed.” Having a belief that the Government was involved in these sort of activities fuels people like her who are paid to analyze people like me, obviously in here for something already questionable, and, occasionally, altogether deplorable.
She looked at me again with her narrow-eyes. Our conversations are like this every time we get together. It’s a mental chessboard. Sometimes she traps me. Sometimes I trap her. But it hones my mental prowess, which is why I enjoy going. I found my answer. I’d rather have conversations with her. At the end of the meetings, we both realize that this is only practical. We won’t be friends when this is done; she wont be going to any of the protests, and I won’t be writing her any letters.
Then she threw the bombshell at me, “don’t you think that your fellow protestors might enjoy learning about what you did to get in prison?” She wasn’t just hitting a low-blow; she was using my balls as a speed-bag. There are a lot of things that upset me, but when it comes to the participation of American Democracy – I simply can not stand criticism. It feels personal. And not only for me, but for the ones who developed this Nation.
Dissention is supposed to be the greatest form of Patriotism. These days, it seems like the United States public has turned into a society of lemmings, and even though FOX News thinks the Truth Movement, or the “Birthers” – or even people who believe that Eisenhower had routine meetings with Gray Aliens – are all crazies, we are supposed to get out there and speak our minds. There’s nothing radical about it. Damnit! And as I explained that concept to her, I subtlety made gestures that the meeting was over.
My shrink gave me all the usual “good-byes” and whatnot. And I made my way back home. Along the way, I continued my notes. And wondered aloud, kicking an empty soda can, “why is it so damn difficult to make a change in this World?”