Created this in photoshop this afternoon from the no-famous image of Officer Pike cavalierly spraying defenseless and non-confrontational protesters at UC davis.
Occupy Wall Street marked their two month anniversary of existence with a nationwide day of action. Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgwNyq2p89A . This is a fairly graphic video of the NYPD beating on a demonstrator, then ignoring the physical damage they had done while they search his pockets.
As a friend of mine said, ‘This is not my America.’
And yet, unfortunately, this is the America we’ve created over the last couple hundred years. Is #ows any different from the early days of organized labor? Are the NYPD any different than the Pinkertons? And, perhaps most importantly, are the robber barons of yesteryear any different than the untouchable billionaires of today. I don’t believe they are. It’s a bit of a cliche that history repeats itself, but cliches don’t become such without truth.
The scene may be different, the arguments may be different, and the responses by the media and by the citizens may be different, but one fundamental thing has not changed; the rich and powerful are keeping the many poor from doing anything of substance about their condition.
This is, of course, a natural side effect of a primarily capitalist society. This is what happens when the invisible hand Smith coined is allowed to play its own version of chess, unfettered by the rules governing the movement of the pieces. This is not to say that capitalism is inherently wrong as an economic model. It is, however, inherently destructive. Capitalism rewards the man who cuts the deepest without affecting profits. The only way to find out how deep that cut can be is to keep cutting. Thus, capitalism rewards the man unafraid to cut deeper into his own flesh; to destroy the very organism that gives him power.
Occupy Wall Street began with a simple concept; the 99% are getting fucked by the 1%. I’ll be the first to admit my skepticism. In the early days, I couldn’t figure it out. Why were these people camping? Who’s bright idea was it to start this right before winter? They’re missing the point and pissing people off. These refrains ran through my head, but I knew there was something there. The movement had potential, if it could just get off the ground. Then the Oakland PD hit Scott Olsen in the head with a flash bang grenade or tear gas canister. That was the pivotal point. Future writers of history will easily identify that moment as the catalyst for the growth of the Occupy movement. All of a sudden, ordinary people had something to rally behind, a face, a story, a name, and a cause.
This scared the new generation of robber barons. So, they did what scared men with lots of power have always done; they pulled the lever that moved their puppets into position. The police and their general overreaction have been a common theme in the time following that initial Oakland ‘crackdown.’ Fingers point to different origins (War on Terror, the Seattle WTO protests, lack of training) but most can agree that police forces across America are proceeding with a level of violence not seen in recent years, domestically. From quick-trigger pepper spray to brutal beatings and rubber bullets, the narrative of Occupy has almost become one of the protesters vs. the police.
I believe this is a pretty unfortunate, if unavoidable development. The police are getting screwed just as badly or worse than the protesters by those in power, but are put in the position of being the enforcers for the powerful. It’s an unwinnable situation. Occupy needs to figure out how to get the police on board. There were a few glimmers of hope in the early days, but the 1% have demanded so much brutality and force that a broad-scale joining of the movement by the police seems extremely unlikely.
The problems are many, and complex, and perhaps unsolvable. But one thing seems to be clear to me now; Occupy has a message that is resonating with more Americans than any quasi-political movement in recent memory. it is drawing more support by the day as the police try to crush it. It has no clear leaders for the FBI to infiltrate, assassinate, or compromise. It has very few specific talking points that can be refuted by talking heads. It is too big for that. In the parlance of the financial industry, it may well be ‘too big to fail.’
Fall has rushed quickly into winter here in the Intermountain West, and that means one thing – layer up or go inside. In the past, I’ve been a fervent proponent of layering up, but mostly hardening the fuck up and getting after it outside. This year, though, with markedly lower body fat, and thus insulation, I’m getting colder much quicker, and the layers don’t seem to cut the cold like they used to.
In short, Mother Nature has forced me onto the trainer.
Having decided that even if I owned a trainer, the apartment was no place to get my sweat on, I broke down and rejoined the gym, for pretty much the express purpose of using their spin bikes. Putting in any more than 20-30 minutes on a stationary bike makes me die a little inside, but there is certainly a mental strength that grows alongside the physical strength. And, speaking of physical strength, the aerobic and ‘exercise’ benefit you get from the trainer puts bike riding outside to shame. Except that I don’t ride outside because it’s great exercise, I ride because it’s fun. Which the trainer is not.
I have my sights set on the Tour Del Sol at the end of March as my first race of the season. It’s an amateur stage race with a criterium, TT, and road race over two days. I don’t want much out of it other than to get my racing feet wet. Then, in June and July, the real racing begins.
I’ve decided that bikepacking and ultra-endurance, self-supported racing is the direction I’m going to point my goal-o-meter. Races like the Durango Dirty Century, the Colorado Trail Race, and the Arizona Trail Race are incredibly intriguing and sound like the ideal marriage of physical and mental challenge. Going to ride through the winter, bust ass, and hopefully have some good fitness by the time summer rolls around. Had a few mechanical delays with my road bike, but it should be up and running by the end of the week. Going to tear down the Fargo and swap the parts to an El Mariachi, which will fit me better, and provide a good base for frame bags, and everything else. Hopefully moving soon, to a place with a garage that I can make some of my own gear in, so the whole endeavor doesn’t break the bank in pursuit of fun and fitness.
That’s all for now, more as I progress.
Double espresso, vegan ginger softie cookie, vegan soft serve. At City Cakes and Cafe in Salt Lake