Thursday, November 1, 2007

DOAEN 7: Quoting Folks

"Much in the week of rollers passed along my head, and porridge it was also. It finished to only fill kontentom the newly-made RU- project, as it shaded me thinking to inspect the thickets of vordpressa and to look what interesting in it still there is. Site simply was not opened. And something in the region of heart began at that moment, it recalled suddenly besprobludnye nights after kompom, sorting out kontent, line after the line, each word should have been verified and corrected, while friends pull beer and wenches. Now I do ask in all, whom I can - knows who, as this to restore and to correct? In the furnace of dialap, Ancient Chinese. Recently I rummage in the Russian pit."

The above is not from a character in Anthony Burgess' "Clockwork Orange," but a portion of a blog entry written by a 27-year old Webmaster and translated through the online auspices of Babelfish. And while the translation service did its best to render the Russian into intelligible English, what remains is something mongrel, pit bullish, some quality of a Russian landscape lined with porridge and thickets. Bears do not sleep in autumn here, which is where I fit in.

As I now possess black leather pants together with a black leather motorcycle jacket that contains as many zippers and pockets as Marlon Brando's in "The Wild One," I decided to do battle with the local parking police at UC Berkeley and to attend the 11th Mario Savio Memorial Lecture. I rode no motorcycle nor wore my leather attire because I didn't want to draw attention unbeknownst, but walked into Pauley (now King) Ballroom together with clearly 1,000 other people, thinking about the car I had illegally left behind with my AC Transit badge on the dashboard. Drums ratcheted outside of Zellerbach Auditorium. Food wagons were still parked on Telegraph Avenue, one week before we turn back the hands of time, serving chicken kababs and burritos. Or I could be a Webmaster in Moscow wrestling with kontentkom?

But no, I sat in the front on the wooden floor to the right of the microphone where two young people were given a "Young Activist of the Year Award," but since in the interest of saving trees no programs were printed, and I can't guarantee the correct spelling of their names so bearish kindly with me. Patricia Colours (sp??), 24 and from Los Angeles, a member of The Labor/Community Strategy Center, a multiracial "think tank/act tank," and Christopher Goodman (sp??), 19 and from Baltimore, who is demonstrating in Annapolis with others for "quality education as a constitutional right," both speaking to a national movement led by young people, and how the system is "intentionally miseducating black and brown youth by underfunding our school systems."

Shadows clogged around the edge of the room move to the front -- Fanny Lou Hamer, John Brown, Fred Hamptom, Jonathan Jackson, Asada Shakur, Elaine Brown, Cesar Chavez and other freedom fighters.

Standing ovations on behalf of both young people and now one of the former leaders of the Free Speech Movement, Bettina Aptheker, speaking in the deep voice of a thousand lectures, introduces the evening words, Angela Davis, Professor in the History of Consciousness Department at UC Santa Cruz and life long teacher, writer, and political activist. Her talk is on "From Jim Crow to Guantanamo: Prisons, Democracy and Empire," all in 40 minutes.

Angela invokes the spirit of Antonio Gramsci who was an a founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy, writing in his prison notebooks about culture and politics. Gramsci wrote (she, Angela said), "that the pessimism of the intellect must be balanced by the optimism of the will," kindly words in these days when we are being Bushwhacked and Schwartezeneggered here in California with the largest prison system in the country. But Angela, her hair slightly tinted golden, dressed in black standing at the podium, representing a link to that not-so-distant past of social activism says, "as disheartening as our contemporary situation appears, it could be worse."

Angela says that without the people who have come before us, we would not have "the imagination to struggle."

She is fighting for prison abolition. She is working with other organizations to create a different notation of justice. She is imagining this. It's in her head.

I go back outside again as a clump of young people form around Angela to help stop the bleeding. There is always Keats and a ticket on my car. Right away, I didn't look to see for how much.


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