Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Greatness of Life (Birthday Wishes on 30)

I'm turning 30 tomorrow. My dog (who needs a home) is turning 10 this December. We're getting old. And usually that's alright.

I'm usually okay with getting old. Sometimes, though, the heaviness of how full my life has been brings me a sadness. The buddhist in me tries to be rational and state it emphatically, "it's an illusion, it's not more real than the fleeting experiences (regardless of how full and heavy they may be) you've had. It's all gonna be okay."

I've had a number of friends and acquaintances pass-on during my short, but heavy, life. And yes, each death has lessened me, as Donne put it. I vaguely recall an afternoon conversation somewhere between Georgia and Virginia, sipping iced coffee and smoking cigarettes and an old man telling me that I was too young to regret. That I couldn't understand regret until I was an older man. And when he said that I was relieved.

Since then I have taken easily to Nietzsche's eternal return of the same and the diamond sutra and the prajnaparamitra - those made sense to younger me because in the lightening flash my life was born and it could easily snuff-out and not much would be missed - because I had not invested myself into much. But now I am older and am invested into much more than I thought I ever could be:

my family has become something more than it was, heavier
my friends have taken-on a dimension of more "more-than-me;" that is, my
friends have come to represent those parts of me that are "more-than-me," an enrichening of who I am
and out of the blue, my wife - I want to say that part of me I discover
everyday to be more and better and ever more mysterious - a mystery that becomes ever more rewarding the more I plumb the depths of that which we call life

Not only could a younger me not understand what it means to regret until I became old enough to realize how heavily we must value life (I'm not saying I have regrets, per se, I agree with Nietzsche here) but I also now understand better, paradoxically, what "ineffable" means. I have no good words for this feeling.

My lack of words was not even a consideration until I read the obituary of this parrot. I know it sounds absurd, for me to lament the passing of a parrot I never knew and in this regardyou would be right: I don't miss Alex the African Grey. Maybe I regret having not met Alex.

Animals are supposed to be the foil to Humanity: we note man's inhumanity when a human being is "animalistic" in his behavior. Animals cannot communicate (which the more liberal of Western society will debate today), but most importantly for our modern understanding of what it means to be human: animals cannot contemplate or understand their impending death.

And it is on this point that Alex the African Grey has given me pause. Please read the obituary above. This bird's last words to his life-long work partner, a PhD at Brandeis University, "You be good. I'll see you tomorrow. I love you." If I were faced with my imminent death I could think of no finer last words.

Please, be good, do good work, love well.
I will see you tomow: for my dog, Chino, tomorrow is meaningless; everytime I
leave it is the end of our togetherness and a terrible, lamentable, sight. And yet, there is always the return and so life bursts forth again.
I love you.

What more can you leave the world with? Our time together does end, and yet there is always the return. We tell each other (maybe the younger folks less so today) at New Years and Birthdays and Anniversaries, "Many more returns." I think I understand, now, why. In this way, "I love you," is a challenge, a proposition, a debt no one can shirk. The eternal returnings are only possible in love.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Knoxville rejects Nazis and Klan.

Do note that if you read what the Knoxville tv station published about the protest it is full of racially-charged rhetoric by the leader of a hate-based organization and then compare it to the coverage that the (is it indymedia?) other folks wanted to talk about: the creative nonviolent response to fascism.

Why is that not the discussion point? More to the point: why don't the clowns get to talk about creative resistance and the fascist gets published with a statement like, "there are terrible savages in the city and people need to be more racially aware?"

Regardless, I think we have a great example of how fighting the good fight must be done with a sense of humor.

Saturday May 26th the VNN Vanguard Nazi/KKK group attempted to host a hate rally to try to take advantage of the brutal murder of a white couple for media and recruitment purposes.

Unfortunately for them the 100th ARA (Anti Racist Action) clown block came and handed them their asses by making them appear like the asses they were.

Alex Linder the founder of VNN and the lead organizer of the rally kicked off events by rushing the clowns in a fit of rage, and was promptly arrested by 4 Knoxville police officers who dropped him to the ground when he resisted and dragged him off past the red shiny shoes of the clowns.

"White Power!" the Nazi's shouted, "White Flour?" the clowns yelled back running in circles throwing flour in the air and raising separate letters which spelt "White Flour".

"White Power!" the Nazi's angrily shouted once more, "White flowers?" the clowns cheers and threw white flowers in the air and danced about merrily.

"White Power!" the Nazi's tried once again in a doomed and somewhat funny attempt to clarify their message, "ohhhhhh!" the clowns yelled "Tight Shower!" and held a solar shower in the air and all tried to crowd under to get clean as per the Klan's directions.

At this point several of the Nazi's and Klan members began clutching their hearts as if they were about to have a heart attack. Their beady eyes bulged, and the veins in their tiny narrow foreheads beat in rage. One last time they screamed "White Power!"

The clown women thought they finally understood what the Klan was trying to say. "Ohhhhh…" the women clowns said. "Now we understand…", "WIFE POWER!" they lifted the letters up in the air, grabbed the nearest male clowns and lifted them in their arms and ran about merrily chanting "WIFE POWER! WIFE POWER! WIFE POWER!"

It was at this point that several observers reported seeing several Klan members heads exploding in rage and they stopped trying to explain to the clowns what they wanted.

Apparently the clowns fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the rally, they believed it was a clown rally and came in force to support their pointy hated brethren. To their dismay, despite their best jokes and stunts and pratfalls the Nazis and Klan refused to laugh, and indeed became enraged at the clowns misunderstanding and constant attempts to interpret the clowns instruction.

The clowns on the other hand had a great time and thought the Nazis were the funniest thing they had ever seen and the loud laughter of over 100 counter protesters greeted every attempt of the Nazis and Klan to get their message out, whatever that was.

Many of the local Knoxvillians that came to counter demonstrate had no illusions about why these out of state bad clowns with swastikas were doing in their town.




Were just a few of the chants that the non clown counter protesters rained down upon the Nazis. The clowns interacted with the non clown protesters with glee and even participated in a chant or two, though apparently with no idea that the Nazis were indeed not clowns thinking it was just part of the show.

In the end the 20 or so sad VNNers left with their tails between their legs. At this point over 150 counter demonstraters were present. The clowns seeing how dejected and sad the Nazi's looked began singing to cheer them up.

"hey hey hey hey, ho ho ho ho—good bye, good bye" everyone sang waving their arms in the air in unison.

After the VNNers left in their shiny SUVs to go back to Alabama and all the other states that they were from the clowns and counter demonstrators began to march out of the area chanting 'WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!"

But the cops stopped the clowns and counter protestors. "Hey, do you want an escort" an African-American police officer on a motorcycle asked. "Yes" a clown replied. "We are walking to Market Square in the center of town to celebrate."

The police officers got in front of the now anti racist parade and blocked the entire road for the march through the heart of Knoxville. An event called imagination station was taking place and over 15,000 thousand students and their parents were in town that weekend. Many of them cheered as the clowns, Knoxvillians and counter protestors marched through the heart of Knoxville singing and laughing at the end of the Nazi's first attempt at having a rally in Knoxville.

On June 16th the Stormfront Nazis are trying to have a second rally in Knoxville. Clowns, anarchist, activist and others are all invited to come and creatively and nonviolently help us confront these Nazis and give them an even bigger counter rally than the first. If you can come, or can help email.


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