Sunday, October 02, 2011

About Town

Electric Band
:: alberta rose theater ::

Having worn a prototype cuffka around town for a couple weeks, haunted households known for making bold fashion statements, I was ready to trade up for the real deal. Lots of cuffkas out there (branded elsewise) but not with a Nirel Foundation logo. With my suit coat and black leather cuff with Hebrew lettering, I look up to my old tricks again, back in Black Hat territory.

Affixing insignia to the cuff, ala girl scout merit badges, ala Bavarian walking stick badges, shows people how far into the woods you've wandered following our esoteric leadings. Glenn stopped by at The Bagdad and started a talk that lasted for some hours. Nirel was enthralled.

Last night, I operated a hand held sound recording gizmo plugged into the main sound board at Alberta Rose Theater, built before talkies, 1927 I think it was. Now she's a main venue for Portland's legendary music scene, a mix of undiscovered and known gems. Jimmy Lott is in the latter category, in being a big name around town. He was followed by some awesome acts, including Leaves Russell. I dashed here from Quaker Quarterly Meeting, missing family night, but then Carol and Tara both had engagements elsewhere as well.

Quarterly Meeting was about economics, privilege and class. Our branch of the tree is quite self conscious about its mostly middle class status, and those who wash up on that beach, often refugees from other lifestyles (quite often military service), or perhaps a protracted illness, or student loans. I don't really consider myself middle class, as I have that "institutional wealth" mentality similar to those aboard an aircraft carrier. Uncle Sam owns the assets, I just have access in accordance with rank and responsibility (though it may not always be "Uncle Sam" in my case -- that was more a figure of speech, given how mangled the tax laws have become (you can't always judge by simplistic criteria, when it comes to measuring allegiances and brand loyalty (psychometrics is a dark art))).

Our interest group focused on an apparent criminal act, involving robbing defenseless women of their life savings who thought they were getting working equipment, when all this junk showed up on their doorstep. With half the money down, and half the equipment delivered (in non-working condition), the company position is they'd need to pay the other half to get the rest, with no admission of wrongdoing. Quakers are interested in bolstering the legal team with some professional attack dogs, eager to score kudos with their peers, for really helping the wheels turn in some international case. Faith in the justice system is at a low ebb these days, so here's a real opportunity for someone with skills. We shall see.

Lew and I spent a lot of time talking about the waste stream. I'm used to talking about the food stream at Food Not Bombs, in our many meetings for cooking (I'm talking several servings a week), but pure waste, as in sewage, is more a Wanderers topic, and indeed Lew has been coming to Wanderers, was there for Duane's talk last week in fact. He was also a member of this Nicaragua Delegation and spoke eloquently during the interest group, as did the others, including my daughter. I hadn't realized Josh had been a Gitmo pilot for the military. That gives more perspective.

Speaking of Food Not Bombs, yes of course the Portland activist community is familiar with the theme of Occupation, which has been making its way through the Internet of late. Given this isn't Burma, we're not really expecting the military to roll out its heavy weapons or to provoke street fighting ala Tahrir. Rolling back the Occupation might make more sense as a theme, as North America has been occupied by a somewhat alien ideology, good at masking itself behind nationalist iconography. I've used some of Dr. Fuller's esoteric shoptalk in these journals, yakking about LAWCAP and so on. In the popular mindset, that conjures images of Seattle and the WTO. However, as Nirel pointed out over lunch, Portland has a higher proportion of high IQ people than Seattle, even if we're not as well educated. Is this true? We shall see.

Hey, interesting article in The Mercury about the new computer program that helps with cop watching, even as the cops are keeping watch. It uses the GPS units to keep track of the forces, which is something the military has been using for a long time, as a way for MPs to keep track if not commanding officers. That convention in Scandinavia, where an arrest is by default hands off, might gain some ground here, though "going peacefully" is not the point of a civil protest, though nor is "resisting arrest" if the stand is on principle. The sidewalk laws come into play. Businesses don't want consumers and clients having any problems getting through, as these are their sustenance. A festival atmosphere that increases some forms of consumption, by providing another reason to go downtown (for the spectacle) is not necessarily bad for business.