A brief explanation of People’s Park

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Not a bad line-up for 3 bucks.

I guess the thing that made People’s Park such a historical icon was the timing of it.

There had been this sort of underground counterculture movement that had been bubbling under the surface of American society since the Beats in the ’50s, to Kesey and the proto-hippies in the early ’60s. But it wasn’t until around 1967 with “the Summer of Love” and Sgt Pepper that the whole thing exploded into the mainstream. And it kept building with this force — this new generation that wanted to go in a very different direction than the previous generation. And it wasn’t just the peace-and-love-and-drugs of the hippies, and the old school bohemians of the Beats, but there was also the political factions — the liberals and the radicals and the Civil Rights movement and especially the anti-Vietnam war movement. Along with the gay rights movement and the feminist movement. And the whole thing loosely became known back then as The Movement.

And to large degree it polarized American society. You were either a straight or a freak. And it became known as the Generation Gap. One side wanting to take society in one direction, and the other side wanting to take it in another direction. And it was practically a civil war. The first real battle of this war was at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 where riots broke out between the anti-war activists and the police.

And then in 1969 a similar war broke out in Berkeley when Governor Ronald Reagan sent in the National Guard to expell the hippies from People’s Park which they had recently converted from a vacant lot into a park. And many people got shot and one got killed during the People’s Park riots. And People’s Park ended up as an enduring symbol of the emerging ’60s counterculture. Which during that period was at the very heart of the American zeitgeist. A couple months later there would be the Woodstock Festival and the whole emerging Woodstock Generation (so-called).

So People’s Park was like at the epicenter of this whole crazy cultural explosion..

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Popular misconceptions about “the homeless”

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Its funny, the stereotypes — and misconceptions — that so many people have about “the homeless.

My friend B.N. Duncan was a fairly eccentric-looking guy. He had a long, bushy beard down to his chest, and wild, unruly hair. And his clothes were often ragged and stained, and pitted with cigarette hole burns.

While I was fairly bland and clean-cut looking (at least compared to Duncan, ha ha).

And we’d be walking down the street together, and on many occasions, strangers would assume Duncan (who had never spent a day of his life homeless) was homeless, and offer him food or money or clean socks or etc.

While I (who had spent 13 years, and counting, homeless) rarely, if ever, received such largesse from the general public.

It’s a funny world, ain’t it??

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When my friend Moby was filming a movie about the street scene, he cast Duncan as “the homeless guy.” Unfortunately, I didn’t look “homeless” enough to get the role.

Back in the days when I was rad

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One of my Facebook friends just posted the logo to my old column in MaximumRocknRoll. That crucial punk rock fanzine. I think it was from 1989. I had a column for a couple years until the publisher Tim Yohannon fired me for submitting a column that was critical of his politics. Ha ha. Though he “assured” me it had nothing to do with my “politics.” But that I had suddenly become a “bad writer” who “nobody wanted to read.” My prose was no longer up to the literary standards of a magazine mostly written for 17-year-old boys. Ha h

He was a strange fellow. Tim Yohannon. As the “Punk Rock” movement started to unfold in the late 70s early 80s he seemed to have this neurotic impulse to grab the mantel of Punk Rock and claim it as his own. He was one of those guys — Tim Yohannon — who “saw the parade going by and jumped up front and pretended to lead it.”

Scaredy Cat and Fatty, and the daily soap opera that is life in Feral Catland

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Scaredy Cat and Fatty, in happier times.

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The population of the tribe of feral cats at my campsite usually ranges from about 5 to 10 cats. This number of cats has afforded me a look at many of the “social” aspects of cats. How they interact and relate to their fellow cats.

And the social dynamics can usually get as complex and convoluted as a tribe of humans. And, as with human relationships, they have friends and enemies and rivals and lovers and acquaintances and sibling relationships, and etc.

Scaredy and Fatty are a case in point. Two sisters from the same litter four years ago. For their first two years they were best friends and inseparable companions. Sleeping together, romping in the woods together, licking and grooming each other, etc.

But then after Scaredy Cat’s first kitten was born — Mini Scaredy — a change gradually took place in their relationship. Mini Scaredy asserted herself as Scaredy Cat’s new best friend and inseparable companion. And it was the age-old story: “Two’s company, three’s a crowd.” And Fatty was gradually ostracized by the tribe. And eventually run out of my campsite by Mini Scaredy — who was much more aggressive and athletic than the passive Fatty.

Sadly, even Scaredy Cat would sometimes take part in the ostracism and run Fatty down the hill and up a tree. Though I always felt her heart wasn’t really in it. She had simply thrown her lot in with Mini Scaredy and was going along with her program.

Still, I remembered how close Fatty and Scaredy Cat had once been. And would feel bad for Fatty when I’d see her roaming like a pariah, alone and lonely on the outskirts of my campsite. Life is a soap opera I guess.  Even for feral cats.

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My main recurring dream

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I had my main recurring dream again last night. I call it my “Curious George” dream, after the mischievous monkey character in the children’s books. And, like in the books, I start out trying to reach some goal, only to, step-by-step, be pushed farther and farther away from my goal. It’s like moving backwards.

The dream starts out with me riding on a BART train trying to get to some place. But I fall asleep and miss my stop and end up at the end of the line. The train is completely deserted except for one person who is sitting in the seat right next to mine. I’m annoyed by this violation of my space, and get up to push him away from me. But I realize it’s not actually a person, but a big bundled sleeping bag that someone had left for me. I guess they saw me sleeping there, realized I was homeless, and left it out of pity.

I get off the BART train, and get into another train that is headed back in the other direction. Then a big group of boisterous, obnoxious high school kids get on the train. I’m hoping they don’t come back to where I’m sitting. But that’s exactly what they do. They surround the area where I’m at. This one young guy — who’s face is peeling from being in the sun too long — gets in my face and starts acting derisive and mocking. He makes fun of my face, which, apparently is very red. Then he tries to stick his hand into my pocket to steal what I got in there. I want to smack the guy, but I have to treat him gingerly because I’m afraid if I get heavy with him, the whole pack of kids will turn on me.

Then the BART train transmogrifies into a Greyhound bus (you know how dreams are) that is barreling down the highway. I start packing up all my bags of stuff to prepare myself for when I reach my destination. Two of my feral cats — Blondie and Mini Scaredy — have also been accompanying me for this whole misadventure. The bus stops at a red light. And, for some reason, I decide to get out of the bus for a moment to take care of some business. But before I can get back on the bus, the bus takes off down the road. I’m chasing after the bus, hollering at the bus driver to stop. But it’s no use. And pretty soon the bus is gone.

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So now I’ve got to figure out some way to contact the bus station, to get all my stuff and my feral cats before they get rid of them. Even worse, I realize I have no clothes on. I’m standing there on the side of the road completely naked. So now I’m really in a jam.

I wander down to the beach by the ocean. A large group of people are hanging out there in their bathing suits. So at least I won’t be too conspicuous in my nakedness — maybe I can pass for a nude beach-goer. I ask one of the men where I am, and he tells me I’m in some town I’ve never heard of. And I’m at least 70 miles away from Berkeley, my destination. He, too, is mocking and derisive towards me, makes fun of my red face. I realize these people will be no help. So I head off down the road trying to figure some way out of my predicament.

I come across a big house and sneak in the back door. Nobody seems to be home, so I steal a shirt and pants and head back towards the highway. I suddenly realize I have my cellphone — so for the first time I start to feel hopeful. I can contact help on my cellphone. And I got clothes on. So things are finally looking up. I get to the freeway — I’m thinking of hitching a ride to the next town so I can figure out where I am. But there’s a barrier that separates me from the freeway. So I’m running alongside the freeway, trying to somehow get on it.

And then I woke up.

As I usually do when I have a bad dream, I went right back to sleep. I like to keep dreaming until I finally get a good dream. I ended up sleeping until 2 in the afternoon, when I finally got a good dream. I’m hanging out with Hate Man and the Hate crew down by his garage, eating slices of apple pie. THE END

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