Updates since the New Year

Over these past few weeks, I did a panel for the new PM Press (www.pmpress.org) book, “Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail: Stories of Crime, Love, and Rebellion,” edited by Andrea Gibbons and Gary Phillips. Held at the William Still Art Center in South L.A., authors in the book, including myself, talked about fiction and politics to a receptive audience on a nice clear L.A. day. My story in the collection, “Look Both Ways,” was an attempt to do a modern mystery story with political and social relevance. The whole book is filled with gems by authors like Sara Paretsky, John Imani, Gary Phillips, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Penny Mickelbury, and more. Definitely worth reading and sharing with others. I also did a second public unscripted conversation called “The Three Louies” with Luis R. Torres, Chicano journalist and former L.A. radio personality; Louie Perez, of the great East L.A. band Los Lobos; and myself. This included remembrances, anecdotes, insights, and more. This time we were at KPCC-FM’s Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, CA on January 5, 2012. This went very well and we’ve now received requests to do this in other venues. As Louie Torres says, “Carnegie Hall… here we come!” On January 17, I had the privilege to be in a public conversation with Father Greg Boyle, founder/director of Homeboy Industries and author of the book “Tattoos on the Heart.”  He was most generous and kind (we’ve been friends and colleagues in this work with hard-core gang youth for years). We also had great questions and comments from audience members in the full house at the Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Public Library. This was sponsored by Aloud!—a wonderful program of readings, talks, conversations, and more. Go to www.lfla.org/aloud/upcoming.php for information. During this time, I also got word that my last book, “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing” became a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award in their autobiography category. This memoir is the sequel to my best-selling “Always Running.” I’m going to the awards reading, dinner and ceremony in New York City, March 7 and 8. I’m honored to be thusly recognized, especially by those who read and critique books. [caption id="attachment_886" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="Luis Rodriguez, grandson Ricardo, and Ricardo's mother Jennifer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 2012."]Luis Rodriguez, grandson Ricardo, and Ricardo's mother Jennifer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 2012.[/caption] This past Saturday I was in Fort Lauderdale Airport on my way back home. My oldest grandson Ricardo—currently in his first year of college—came to visit me in Fort Lauderdale Friday evening with his mother and uncle. What a wonderful young man, whose dream is to become a top-notch graphic artist. He’ll make it—whatever he wants to do he can do. Prior to this I was in Miami/Coral Gables at the historic Biltmore Hotel as part of the Eight Annual “Gathering of Leaders,” sponsored by the New Profit Foundation. Here were leaders in politics, business, nonprofits, sciences, and the arts addressing social innovation and what this means for the rapidly changing—and crisis-ridden—realities we are all in. I did a dinner talk on February 8 that was well received, introduced by new friend and youth leadership dynamo Robert Lewis of Boston. I particularly liked hearing the journalist and TV writer David Simon (“The Wire,” “The Corner,” “Homicide,” and more). He hit hard—with strong personal authority, facts, and a big heart—the disastrous and unjust drug laws of the United States (and linking this to the terrible violence in places like Mexico). My respect goes out to this man who continues to fight for the peaceful, encompassing, and just country we need, not the country the bankers, corporations, much of the media and most politicians have forced on us. To end I’m reprinting here a poem by Matriz, who has come out of the In Their Own Words women’s writing workshops held weekly at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural (www.tiachucha.com). She also happens to be my wife Maria Trinidad Rodriguez (La Trini)—someone I love, admire, and respect.
Change Change is the child we all carry. We cuddle it, hold it, soothe it, but it is insistent. Its nature makes it persist, knowing it can do no other. Change wears the face of the unknown. Unrecognized, and feared because of it, we approach it timidly, it rushes at us, unapologetic, ready and roaring, an in-your-face presence needing attention. Change grows beyond our control, independent of our will, it minds itself as it springs from every core, being and becoming all at once. Strength and courage impels it forward and we need the same to do likewise. Change is the heart of anything alive. It makes us see the Earth as our Mother, helps us know the Sky as our Father. It reminds us that all the in-between is connected, vibrating and beating together, unable to stop transforming, making itself new. Change is throughout, cleansing all the wounds of time and humanity with the medicine of our time, of past legacies, of new promises. The colors of this new day necessary, not a cover for illusions or camouflage --these will not withstand a stripped-naked truth. Change requires that we respect, see again all that we have done, are doing, need to do. It means we need to let go of the old orders, march to the different drummer in us all, open up to the possibility that At Last has finally arrived with bells on, so let’s dance. Change will be the hardest and the easiest thing we will ever give in to. Change has always been with us but its never been here quite this hungry, so let’s not play at feeding the Need, let’s be bold and let go of old traps. Change will take all we got and give it back in new forms ready to change us and the world forever all over again. -- Matriz July 29,2011
c/s
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On 2012

The Huffington Post/Latino Voices today posted a piece I did on the meaning of the 2012 Mayan prophecy. This was written to move ideas and imaginations. Here is the link. c/s
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On The News

This past week the L.A. Daily News featured an article on Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore (www.tiachucha.com). It showed a nice photo of my wife Trini and I as cofounders of this much-loved cultural/literary space in the Northeast San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles—now in our tenth year: Also the Huffington Post on the same day featured a story on my new book, “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing” with a video and a slideshow of their questions and my answers for their Los Angeles section. Here it is. And I was also interviewed on NBC-LA’s “Nonstop News L.A.” show with Colleen Williams on December 20 about my new book.
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George Whitman—R.I.P.

[caption id="attachment_870" align="alignleft" width="389" caption="Photograph of George Whitman taken by Gary Auerbach © 2010"]Photograph of George Whitman by taken by Gary Auerbach © 2010[/caption] Back in the early 1990s, I ventured outside of the world I knew to end up in Paris, France, my first trip abroad other than to Mexico, Canada, or Central America. It was an amazing, eye-opening, and romantic time for me (my wife of about three years, Trini, accompanied me on this trip). In 1991, Curbstone Press of Connecticut published my second book of poetry, “The Concrete River,” and this opened up a world of words and books I didn’t know existed. During my time there, I befriended George Whitman, the owner and founder of the Shakespeare & Co. English-language bookstore on the Left Bank of Paris. I read there to a full house one afternoon. George and I talked frequently. At one point he asked me to submit a poem for an anthology he published to raise funds after the Sylvia Beach Library upstairs burned in a mysterious fire. Trini and I enjoyed ourselves immensely being among the other English speaking students, writers, and artists who congregated there. I had lunch with the late great African American poet Ted Joans. I found wonderful professors of Chicano literature and art at the University of Paris. I even hooked up with old friends and colleagues from East L.A.—Chicano artists, poets, rappers, and performance artists—who were on a tour of France at the time. This is what I wrote about my meeting with George Whitman in my latest memoir, “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing” (2011 Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster):
At Shakespeare and Company bookstore, on the Left Bank across from Notre Dame Cathedral, the eccentric and beloved owner, George Whitman, invited Trini and me to stay in a room at the “Tumbleweed Hotel,” the second floor of the bookstore where many English-speaking writers and students were allowed to stay without paying. George only asked that in return I spend a couple of hours daily in an afternoon tea talking with young writers and travelers. I loved these interactions and this saved us hotel costs. We stayed about ten nights. The rooms and bookstore were filled to the ceiling with books. We had to climb over them on staircases and push them off tables, beds, dresser drawers. Many were valuable first editions. The pulp and cloth were meant for me. They brought back a time when I first held a book in my hand, a stammering boy of seven, in between languages and silences, finally discovering worlds that didn’t hurt or dismiss me. In a book, the writer doesn’t have the last word—the reader does.
Sadly, my long-ago and far-away friend George Whitman passed on last Wednesday, December 14. He apparently had a stroke a few months earlier and died peacefully in his sleep. His daughter, Sylvia, is now the proprietor and will continue his legacy of books, ideas, and art at Shakespeare & Company in Paris. I pray George’s soul is at peace. He is a friend to writers everywhere. Que descanses en paz, amigo. c/s [Visit here for more of Gary Auerbach's photos]
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The Bay Area: Poetry, Song, and Deep Talk

Eddie Palmieri streamed through the piano keys as he played his most well known hits at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in San Francisco. It was Sunday, December 4, and Eddie’s last gig at Yoshi’s after several nights of sets. It was also around his birthday—on December 15 he’ll be 74. I listened, danced, and enjoyed a musician I once saw around 35 years ago at the Hollywood Palladium with his famous Salsa orchestra, playing the same songs—and sounding just as good. I mean “Azucar,” “Muneca,” “Vamonos Pal Monte,” and more. With me were the poet Genny Lim and my longtime friend, Bay Area publicist Juliana Mojica. In the 1970s I was a huge Salsa music fan—the Fania All Stars, Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Tito Puente, Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, Eddie and his brother Charlie, among others. Besides enjoying Salsa concerts in L.A., I saw some of these same musicians at the famous Village Gate in Manhattan. So listening to Eddie at Yoshi’s evoked some great memories. I returned to the Bay Area in late November to speak at the Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland, which had standing room only. The event also featured Hip Hop performers, poets, and Native ceremonial drummers. Many of my fans/supporters came by and we had a great time. Earlier I spent a couple of hours with lifers at San Quentin Prison in a writing project. I came courtesy of Brenda Rhoades of Sugar Beet Productions, who’s working on a film of prisoners who were given life sentences as juveniles. Some of the men had already done fifteen years or more. I must say their writings were excellent and compelling. I hope to continue to work with these men in the future. I also spent about three days in Marin County at the annual board meeting of the Mosaic Multicultural Foundation, founded by storyteller and drummer Michael Meade. Mosaic publishes books and CDs as well as organizes events, talks, conferences, and workshops on mythology, ritual, rites of passage, soul work, and much more across the U.S. and other countries. I’ve been working with Mosaic for eighteen years, including at their yearly men’s conference in Mendocino. It was great to see my many friends in this work at the meeting. On Monday, December 5 I spent most of the day at the Alameda County Juvenile Hall, organized by another long-time supporter, Amy Cheney of the Write to Read program. I spoke to three groups of youth, including a young women’s circle that proved to be emotionally powerful. That evening I did a presentation at the City College of San Francisco, Mission campus, which held another full house, including young people from the Youth Adelante program of East Palo Alto, CA. A rich discussion followed with deep talk, poetry, tears, and revolutionary ideas. On Tuesday, I spoke at the Arise High School, an Oakland Charter school in the Fruitvale neighborhood, to more than 200 students—again the attention and questions were amazing. And later that day, I was at 826 Valencia, a writing center in the Mission District of San Francisco, founded by writer Dave Eggers and catering to children and youth ages six to eighteen. I read from my children’s book, “America Is Her Name” and fielded some tough questions from the children. Also from their Spanish-speaking mothers. Overall my time in the Bay Area for several days over the past two months was overwhelmingly positive: I ended up selling more than 150 books and had packed houses at all my public events. I was interviewed on various radio programs and had print media coverage as well. Thanks to Juliana Mojica, George Galvis, Amy Cheney, Brenda Rhoades, Vickie Vertiz, and many others who helped make these events possible. c/s
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Police Raid Occupy L.A.

[caption id="attachment_855" align="aligncenter" width="579" caption="Luis Rodriguez (right) pictured at the Occupy L.A. encampment some hours before it is raided by the LAPD. Standing next to Luis is friend, Frank Curtis."]Luis Rodriguez (right) pictured at the Occupy L.A. encampment some hours before it is raided by the LAPD. Standing to Luis' right is friend, Frank Curtis.[/caption] Last night my daughter Andrea and I – along with her boyfriend Sean – stood among the Occupy L.A. protestors on the south steps of City Hall. We were taking part in the General Assembly that was preparing for a police raid later that evening. It was dark already. The raid was expected around 10 pm. I had heard that police had amassed at Dodger Stadium. Helicopters hovered above our heads. My long-time friend Frank Curtis had just bought gallons of water for the protestors—water and food were scarce by then. At one time since October 1, during its height, I heard from 700 to 1,000 tents were set up around City Hall, making L.A. the largest Occupy Movement encampment in the country. By last night there were only a couple hundred tents. A few people were encamped on top of trees. Around 500 people were at the General Assembly or hanging around. At least three times when I was there someone tried to get violent. People surrounded any disrupters, embracing them at times, and gently but swiftly removing them from the area. No persons were hurt. As this would happen, people chanted: “We Are A Peaceful Movement.” Occupy L.A. was only a few blocks from the world’s largest jail—the Twin Towers County Jail. It was only a few blocks from the largest homeless enclave in the country. I’ve been in that jail and I’ve been among these homeless. For me the worldwide Occupy Movement was one of the most meaningful shining lights of defiance against a society that would create jails and homeless in the midst of the greatest rise in wealth in history. As the Occupy people made clear from the beginning—the widening gulf between the one percent of the richest people and the rest of us, the 99 percent, is criminal and obscene. Andrea, Sean, and I left just before the police closed off streets, encircled the City Hall Park, and began to remove people. Andrea had to get back to her daughter. I would have stayed—I’ve been in hundreds of protests and demonstrations over the years, Maced and pepper-sprayed, even jailed for my actions. But tonight I was going to have to get my daughter, Sean, and myself home (Sean, a decent, hardworking recovering alcoholic and ex-convict, can’t get arrested). [caption id="attachment_859" align="alignright" width="432" caption="LAPD officers surrounding the Occupy L.A. encampment, Nov. 30, 2011. Photo Reuters/McNew"]LAPD officers surrounding the Occupy L.A. encampment, Nov. 30, 2011. Photo Reuters/McNew[/caption] That night I watched some of the raid on TV. In the end the police had 1,400 officers, many in riot gear and with weapons. Some 200 people were arrested when everybody was moved out by 5:30 a.m. Many protestors ended up at La Placita Church in front of Olvera Street—the church opened its doors to the Occupy L.A. people. To the credit of the protestors, peace was maintained. The police were prepared for the worse, but in the end they did not utilize terrible violence to remove people. The movement continues. It must now take new shapes, new outlets, new kinds of protests. As my good friend the poet Jenuine says, it must also be fluid. It’s clear we cannot live under this system of deep inequality and scarcity any longer. The economic inequities are forcing millions of Americans to come together, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or even political party. If you’re among the poorest of the 99 percent, these things don’t matter as much. What ties us together is the dream of saving our homes, our jobs, our freedoms, our basic needs and our voice. This must now also involve powerfully new and encompassing vision, organization, strategies, plans, and knowledge. If we don’t learn, we don’t grow. And how we learn must be expanded—there are many ways to get the essential teachings in all these actions so that we get closer and closer to real political, economic, and cultural independence from capitalism, its governance, and all the poverty, pain, and deaths this has caused in the U.S. and around the globe. The big dream of a new world has to remain constant, even as the movement takes on many shapes. The point is we can’t stop until the battle’s won. c/s
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Violence Against Non Violence

[caption id="attachment_851" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="Occupy Wall Street poster by Adbusters. www.adbusters.org"]Occupy Wall Street poster by Adbusters. www.adbusters.org[/caption] Some onlookers applauded the demonstrators from open windows. Others yelled, "Get a job!" "I don't understand their logic," said Adam Lieberman, as he struggled to navigate police barricades on his way to work at JPMorgan Chase. "When you go into business, you go into business to make as much money as you can. And that's what banks do. They're trying to make a profit." Gene Williams, a bond trader, joked that he was "one of the bad guys" but said he empathized with the demonstrators: "The fact of the matter is, there is a schism between the rich and the poor, and it's getting wider." The above statements were in an article I found on the Internet. They point out to the heart of the matter of what’s transpiring in the United States—is this a country where people can make as much money as they can (the same idea a criminal enterprise has) or is this a country that ensures people’s freedoms, livelihoods, schooling, health, and homes are secure and sacred? We as a people need to decide: Are profits sacred or our lives? Two different ways of seeing the world, of thinking, of being, are clashing at Occupy America and the other anti-capitalist demonstrations, protests, and marches on the rise everywhere. The recent violent acts by police to remove the Occupy Wall Street people out of Liberty Plaza came at the heels of similar violence in Oakland, Denver, Portland, and other cities. Even in L.A. the other day, where clashes between police and protesters were not happening in the past two months, several people were arrested trying to gather in front of a Bank of America building. It’s now known that the FBI and Homeland Security were involved in these coordinated attacks. The police may be made up of working class people, of family members, even our relatives, but as an institution they are there to defend the power of private property over the rest of us. In the end they will use violence against the nonviolence of the people—they did this against movements led by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez. The Occupy Movement must expand, stay strong, and push forward—the “legal” thievery of the banks and corporations must not go without challenge.  Since the October 2008 stock market crash, the richest people have become richer—more than anytime in human history. They have amassed and are hoarding trillions of dollars, keeping this from the economy, and continuing to pay their executives outrageous salaries, including one who recently received $40 million in one shot—$40 million for one person only because they are part of the 1 percent. I’m with the thousands of community leaders, revolutionary thinkers, and activists in all fronts of struggle and organizations in condemning the recent police actions against Occupy movement people anywhere. In particular, Occupy Wall Street must continue to exist and grow. For more on what I’m doing, please go to: http://conferenceofrevolutionaries.tumblr.com/ ALSO my friend David Diaz recently wrote this about his two daughters:
Sonja and Zerena were in the middle of the conflict at Berkeley. Sonja, in front of Boalt Hall, walking to her bldg was harassed, then handcuffed, then cited for resisting arrest. She is totally pissed, and esp at the Dean for not supporting Latina/o studies, of course the only two harassed by UC and Alameda Co Police. This was after a demonstration, she was by herself, and when challenged by campus police she stuck to her guns and demanded the name and ID number of the officer. Those that know her, know she is an alpha Latina who does not back down. She has been interviewed on TV, 1/3 of the law students attended a meeting to bash the dean, and now has legal representation. Zerena was hit w/ a baton, fortunately not mega during one of the actions on campus. No damage.... but she is really turning a political corner and engaging in direct action. Of course, I’m totally proud of both of them. Seeing Latinas in action offers promise for the future. If you want to make a difference you can call or contact: Dean Christopher Edley: 510. 642.6483 email    edley@law.berkeley.edu 215 Boalt Hall Uni of CA Berkeley, CA 93720-7200 and/or UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau 510.642.7464 email    chancellor@berkeley.edu 200 California Hall, MC # 1500 Uni of CA Berkeley, CA 94720-1500
c/s
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The Heart of Occupy America

[caption id="attachment_836" align="alignleft" width="432" caption="Riot police take control of the streets as they surround New York's Liberty Square Occupy Wall Street encampment on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos, and posted to the NYDailyNews YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/nydailynews"]Riot police take control of the streets as they surround New York's Liberty Square Occupy Wall Street encampment on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos, and posted to the NYDailyNews YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/nydailynews[/caption] In the early hours of Tuesday, November 15, New York City police officers attacked and removed Occupy Wall Street Protestors from Liberty Plaza in the city’s financial district, leading to many arrests and the removal of tents, property, and other items. This is Ground Zero for the Occupy Movement sweeping across the United States and other parts of the world. Police have also attacked in Oakland, Denver, and other cities. At the University of California, Berkeley, where students and other Occupy protestors converged against higher ed fee hikes, police beat down people on the steps of the quad that some forty years ago helped sparked the “Free Speech” movement. In the evening of November 14, I took part in an Artists March to Occupy L.A., organized by my friend Susan Tanner and others, going from California Plaza to the steps of City Hall. I spoke about the necessity and vitality of the arts in any movement, and the struggle to bring creativity and imagination to this and other aspects of life. I then read a poem about the power of words in transforming lives. [caption id="attachment_839" align="alignright" width="290" caption="NYPD riot squad surrounds Liberty Square on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos."]NYPD riot squad surrounds Liberty Square on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos.[/caption] Other friends of mine were there, including Ruben Guevara—known also as Funkahuatl, the Chicano performance art and music icon. Ruben also hosted the rally and sang. John Densmore of the Doors, one of the most big-hearted and generous people anywhere, came with a drum and a strong spirit. Since early October, I’ve been to Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Plaza, to Occupy Oakland the day before their general strike, and briefly went through Occupy Berkeley, Occupy Madison, and even witnessed the Occupy East L.A. College (one of my few schools I actually attended). The movement is growing, but it’s also trying to find its shape. As one activist said, it needs room to breathe. But I also think revolutionaries need to be there with clarity and a deeper scientific basis for understanding capitalism and the vision, strategies, and principles needed to move everything towards a capitalist-free world. We need to be in this for the immediate demands and to address the very real hammering of our livelihoods and homes in the economy—but also for the future of this country, for the long-haul resolution to make this the abundant, cooperative, democratic, and earth-aligned world we are dying to have. I see this also as a massive conversation that more people need to be invited to, including the many estranged members of the 99 percent who have yet to significantly take part like Mexicans and other migrants, other Native peoples of this land, and the growing army of foreclosed and unemployed of this country, particularly among the urban and rural poor and forgotten. [caption id="attachment_842" align="alignleft" width="432" caption="NYPD officers destroy tents and seize property at Occupy Wall Street encampment on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos."]NYPD officers destroy tents and seize property at Occupy Wall Street encampment on Nov. 15, 2011. Still from video footage shot by Rebecca Davis and Julia Xanthos.[/caption] Since mid-September, I’ve been holding part of that conversation in places like Salinas, CA, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, San Diego, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, East L.A., San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, and three cities in Wisconsin (De Pere, Madison, and Milwaukee). I’ve had from twenty to 500 people show up to my talks in colleges, universities, libraries, bookstores, juvenile halls, community center, and other venues. Members of all communities took part—including inner city blacks and Latinos—to poor whites and the increasing number of so-called middle class people that are having the economic rug pulled from under them. Many students unable to work are entering colleges and universities, but at great debt and often with no guarantee of a job. The economy is busting at the seams. And the beginnings of a political sense of what to do can be seen everywhere I go. Again, this process needs real leaders, real vision, real teachings, and real organization (and I don’t mean those who want to contain, push in other directions, to “agendize” the movement). Part of this effort during my talks involved the formation of a network of grassroots practical and visionary leaders for the revolutionary transformation of our society. You can find out more at http://conferenceofrevolutionaries.tumblr.com/ This historic moment often appears shabby, hard to get a hold of, in many ways all over the place. At Occupy L.A. there are real homeless, the mentally ill, complaints of molestation, and drug use. But there were also larger instances of people bringing services—of treatment, healing, workshops, skilled personnel, and moving collectively to quell any violence. There are developing means to address any fraying that is common in any movement for deep and lasting change. This is America. It’s complicated, diverse, feisty, and even sad at times. But the undertow pull is for a new way of thinking, of relating, of another economy, and of organizing. Let’s keep drawing on that—and our own immense capacities to pull things together—in the direction of the most equitable and free America we all deserve. c/s [ "The Other 99" independent media group is offering live video coverage of events around the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York's Liberty Square; you can watch here - www.ustream.tv/TheOther99 ]
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The Dream That Has Yet To Be

“The increasing unrest in the land and intensifying protests in the streets are a necessary lament for a collective dream that has been lost. Not simply the loss of the ‘American Dream’ of a consumer society and endless economic growth; but, the loss of the real dream, the dream behind the dream, the dream of an America that has not been yet.” This statement is from my friend and storyteller/mythologist Michael Meade about the current Occupy movement across the country. This was part of a Huffington Post piece that Michael did on October 29 called “Looking for the Dream of America.” picOn Monday morning, I was at Occupy Oakland to do an interview with KPFA-FM’s Davy D’s Hard Knock Radio. Standing in front of the tents by city hall at a plaza renamed Oscar Grant Plaza (for the unarmed young man killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transportation police officer nearly two years ago), we discussed the growing occupations of public and private spaces to counter the deepening gap between the wealthy and powerful from the rest of us—who seem to be losing more political power as well as economic means. These two things are linked, and people are rising up in a way we have not seen in forty years to say enough is enough: We need real democracy, real political power and independence, and a real means to live. We need the dream that ties us all together, not just a few. As many of you know, I’ve been going around the country promoting my new book “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing.” I’ve had 60 to 800 people come to may talks/readings in bookstores, universities, colleges, high schools, juvenile halls, community gatherings, and more since late September in cities like Salinas, CA; Chicago; New York City; New Jersey; San Diego; Los Angeles; Pasadena; Long Beach; Grand Rapids, MI; San Francisco; and Oakland. Tomorrow I go to Seattle to read at the Northwest African American Museum for Elliott Bay Bookstore at 8 pm. Next week I’m in the Wisconsin cities of De Pere/Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee. On November 12 I’m doing the “Three Louies” presentation with Louie Perez of the East L.A. band Los Lobos and Louie Torres, award-winning journalist and radio personality at the Vincent Price Art Museum, East L.A. College, at 2 pm. And on November 20, I’m doing an encore reading at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural (www.tiachucha.com) for the new book from 5 to 7 pm. In my travels I’ve been to Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Plaza, Occupy L.A. at City Hall, and now Occupy Oakland (with a swing through Occupy Berkeley).  Last Saturday, Trini and I were at Occupy L.A. listening to speakers, sitting in on teach-ins, talking to participants, and taking in the vibes and voices. My talks/readings are coinciding with an exciting time that is challenging the basic premises of this collapsing economy, the frayed political system, and as Micheal Meade says, of what our dream really is in this country. I hope to talk about all this during my presentations. A similar thing happened when my first memoir, “Always Running,” came out eighteen years ago. It was a year after the Los Angeles Rebellion awoke the country and the world to the disparities of urban wealth and poverty, and the rise of street gangs under these new conditions. As people move, as they organize, as they protest, we must also teach, talk, move imaginations and ideas, not just for what is, but for what can be. c/s
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Justice for Scott Olsen

Scott Olsen was an Iraqi War veteran at Occupy Oakland to protest with thousands of people around the country, and many parts of the world, the control of one percent of the most wealthiest and most powerful people against the rest of us. Unfortunately, last Wednesday morning Scott was hit in the head by a police teargas projectile, sustaining a skull fracture and other injuries, forcing him into a coma and the hospital. [caption id="attachment_825" align="alignleft" width="454" caption="Scott Olsen, a former U.S. Marine and veteran of two tours in the Iraq war, is carred away by fellow Occupy Oakland protesters after being shot in the head by a police projectile on the night of October 25, 2011. (Credit: REUTERS/Jay Finneburgh/www.indybay.org) "]Scott Olsen, a former U.S. Marine and veteran of two tours in the Iraq war, is carred away by fellow Occupy Oakland protesters after being shot in the head by a police projectile on the night of October 25, 2011. (Credit: REUTERS/Jay Finneburgh/www.indybay.org) [/caption] Beginning the night before, some 500 police officers attacked a peaceful crowd of 170, leading to the most violent attack against Occupy participants in the country. Soon after at the original Occupy Wall Street protest in Liberty Plaza in New York City, people chanted: “New York is Oakland, Oakland is New York.” The last news I saw was that Scott had awakened in the hospital’s intensive ward. Yet this brazen police act against those opposed to the rule of corporate and financial interests must not go unanswered. These attacks are indicative of what officials are now planning to stop the growing momentum of the Occupy Wall Street movement as it enters its third month. To honor Scott Olsen and other veterans of war who’ve decided to join the nonviolent movement for peace, equity, jobs, homes, and real democracy, I’m presenting here this statement by Bruce Parry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who served in the infantry from 1969 to 1971. He’s been active in the veterans’ movement and the movements for peace and justice since the 1970s. He is a leading member of a recently formed network of revolutionary leaders. For more information, see our website at: www.conferenceofrevolutionaries.tumblr.com
"We are the 99 percent: I believe that this slogan of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Chicago and all the other 'Occupies' represents the fundamental demand of the movement: for democracy. The needs and concerns of the vast majority should outweigh the interests of the tiny minority. I learned in Vietnam that if you are fighting the entire population and believe in democracy, you are on the wrong side. I have devoted the rest of my life to fighting for real democracy, of the kind expressed at Occupy Chicago. I believe that the reason that demands of the movement have not been jelled down to the normal list of progressive demands is that the real demand is to be heard. Then, we will be able to work out how to get health care for all, the homeless off the streets, jobs for everyone, housing, clothing and food for the poor. The concept of democracy runs very deep in the American psyche. Everything the US does is couched in terms of taking democracy to the people. They even refer to capitalism as democracy, rather than what it is. That is because they know that we are a deeply democratic people, in everything but fact. Polls show that the majority of the American people want health care for all, want to feed, clothe and house the homeless, want jobs, want secure lives for them and their families. The reason we do not have those things is that the interests of the 1% are outweighing the interests of the 99% in this country. That is the demand of the 'Occupies.' That is a demand that shows clearly why they have the broad and growing support and the sustainability that characterizes this unique movement. I am fighting for democracy! We are the 99%!"
c/s
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