Fort Meade K-9 gives WikiLeaks Truck go-ahead to park on base

Photo by Steve Rhodes

For the WikiLeaks truck to be parked at Fort Meade on the first day of the Bradley Manning court martial is a bit of performance art that reaches new heights of irony: WikiLeaks is the media organization which received Manning’s anonymous transmission of documents and video related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For a hypersensitive military, which bans its personnel from viewing anything remotely related to WikiLeaks, it’s a symbolic slap in the face.

It isn’t exactly as if Julian Assange himself is attending Manning’s court martial–the truck isn’t sanctioned by WikiLeaks. It became a familiar sight, though, throughout the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations as artist Clark Stoeckley’s way of drawing attention to Bradley Manning’s situation.

Official or not, the WikiLeaks logo and the words “Top Secret Mobile Collection Unit” emblazoned on the side do have the strange ability to unsettle authorities. Stoeckley was driving the truck near the White House in March 2011 when the Secret Service pulled him over for the fabricated reason of driving in a “no-truck zone.” In November 2011, the NYPD confiscated the truck and temporarily lost it.

Today, Stoeckley had official clearance to enter Fort Meade, regardless of transportation. After a K-9 search, the truck got the green light to park on the base, and Stoeckley took his place among media covering the trial. He’ll draw courtroom sketches, as he has for the pre-trial hearings.

You can see Stoeckley’s sketches in his newly published book, The United States vs. PFC Bradley Manning: A Graphic Account from Inside the Courtroom.

UPDATE via Rob Brune: “The MP dog pissed on Clark’s cooler in the back. The MP apologized, but I’m sure he and the boys on the base are having a good laugh.” I prefer to think of it as the signal for passing a security check–or even the K-9 official seal of approval.

Cool Photo of the Day

Photo by Giralt
Photo by Giralt

In Hawaii, the three nights of Lā’au moon were associated with trees and plants. Planting of certain types of fruit were discouraged during this period because they would be woody instead of tender, though other types of plantings could occur. This period was also an important time for the healers to go out and locate herbs for medicines. On Lā’au Kū Kahi, the moon has waned so much that the sharp points of its horns can once more be seen.

 

The Silken Tent

Photo by ahisgett/Flickr

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To everything on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

-Robert Frost

Slapping Medicine Man

The 1491s, a Native American sketch comedy group, were in attendance at the American Indian Society Inaugural Pow Wow. Sociological Images praises their “skewer[ing] of popular representations of Native Americans and their various cultures.”

The group recently released a new video featuring footage of 1491s member Ryan Red Corn dancing at the Santa Fe Indian Market interspersed with shots of visitors to the market and examples of appropriation of Native cultures, all set to Irving Berlin’s “I’m an Indian Too,” from Annie Get Your Gun. It’s a great send-up of the whole Native-culture-as-fashion-statement trend:

My favorite video is “Slapping Medicine Man,” above. Will Slapping Medicine visit Washington, DC too? A few politicians need to schedule an appointment.

Photos from the American Indian Society Inaugural Pow Wow are here.

 

The Gaza Kitchen: A stronghold against despair

The most recent trauma suffered by Palestinians in Gaza was November’s eight-day war, which resulted in a truce with Israel (so far) and recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations. The eruption of conflict leads Westerners to wonder once again, who are the 1.7 million people jammed into Gaza, and what are their lives like?

A cookbook fills in some blanks for us. The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey gives us a window into “that most tortured little strip of land” through food and cooking, which co-author Laila El-Haddad calls “the essence of the everyday.”

Beyond all the discourses, the positions and the polemics, there is the kitchen… hundreds of thousands of women every day find ways to sustain their families and friends in body and spirit.  They make the kitchen a stronghold against despair, and there craft necessity into pleasure and dignity.

The Gaza Kitchen is not only a cookbook. A lot of other things happen in the kitchen as well as cooking: conversations, the re-telling of family histories, and the daily drama of surviving and creating spaces for pleasure in an embattled place. In this book, women and men from throughout Gaza tell their stories as they relate to cooking, farming, and the food economy: personal stories, family stories, and descriptions of the broader social and economic system in which they live.

The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt is available from Just World Books for $29.

“Outrage”: Art speaks out on behalf of the homeless

by John Zangas

A moving work of art will lead the way during a march for the homeless in Washington, DC on October 26. A banner painted by artist Ray Voide aims to raise awareness of the ongoing social problem of homelessness in the nation’s Capital. Voide, an activist with Occupy DC, has painted about twenty wide-format banners illustrating different protest actions over the last year.

This one, entitled “Outrage,” took over 20 hours to complete. He calls the 4′ x 15′ creation “my favorite and best yet.”

The composition layers scenes with messages depicting the plight of the homeless in the District. A destitute mother cradles her baby, while the wall above them reads, “Housing is a Human Right.” A tear streams down a young girl’s cheek as she gazes over a stark metropolis of corporate buildings, lobby firms, and condominiums. And a child stares bleakly at viewers, the inscription on her torso daring them to “feel.”

“The DC government cut $7 million from its homeless budget this year,” said Voide. “That’s just not acceptable.”

Last year the District cut its homeless shelter capacity by fifty percent, from 300 units to 150. The budget for services to help the poor and homeless was slashed in spite of a $140 million operating surplus for fiscal year 2012.
The banner will accompany hundreds of homeless and activist marchers from Franklin Park to Freedom Plaza.

For too many the battle never ends

Artist Ray Voide took over 20 hours to complete the banner entitled “For Too Many the Battle Never Ends” for the Veterans for Peace vigil outside the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was a graphic artist in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Occupiers share solidarity, get fired up for S17 with art, music

Activists take time out to type up their own Occupy story at Foley Square

by John Zangas

Washington Square Park and Foley Square were the sites of strategizing, networking and lots of creative activities leading up to S17. On September 15, the first day of scheduled activities, Occupiers gathered in Washington Square Park, where they met for direct action planning. They made signs, sang songs, ate together, participated in teach-ins, painted, chalked colorful drawings and had movement emblems silk-screened on t-shirts.

September 16 was a day of celebration and entertainment at Foley Square with a multitude of art collectives, teach-ins on social and economic justice. A cacophony of art projects mingled with voices of hope, diversity and music. A young woman held her LGBT partner’s hand, a tree of hope depicted photos of people with their written messages of a better tomorrow, a quilt was sewn, and typists wrote their Occupy stories. Retired Philadelphia police Captain Ray Lewis stood proudly in his crisp, immaculate uniform. A roving musical ensemble played long horns and drums while people trailed behind them dancing.

The afternoon climaxed with musicians performing protest songs on stage, concluding with much-anticipated Tom Morello and Occupy Guitarmy.

Reverend Nuge dares you to “Occupy This!”

Reverend Nuge performs “Occupy This! Tales of an Accidental Activist”

I love first-person Occupier stories. Everyone who gravitates to Occupy and eventually–almost inevitably–gets sucked in by definition has a unique story. Tommy Nugent, aka the Reverend Nuge, tells us his Occupy story–and he’s a very good storyteller.

Part of the Capital Fringe Festival, Occupy This! Tales of an Accidental Activist is a one-man show. Just a guy and a stool. Dressed in ripped jeans and a faded Buddha t-shirt, Reverend Nuge for a full hour simply tells a story, mostly his own story with Occupy Detroit. It’s one hour of well-paced, high energy storytelling–funny, personal, and honest.

Showing up in New York the day after the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge in October, he gravitated to Zuccotti Park. As “an old Burning Man guy,” he found drum circles appealing. So he headed home to Detroit to check out Occupy at Grand Circus Park and make some signs, with the goal of getting the word “asshole” on TV.

If you guessed that a conversion story is coming, you might be right. Yet however much the Reverend Nuge is the accidental activist, he reveals an affection for his Occupy comrades and a command of the issues driving the cause. He weaves his personal experience of clusterfuckery by Bank of America with insight into the dynamics of Occupy camp life. It’s a narrative that entertains and informs at the same time.

Occupy This! tells us a little about a neglected subject–the difficulties of integrating large numbers of homeless people into Occupy camps. He also reminds us that Occupy didn’t end with eviction. Police evicted Occupy in Detroit the same day in November as Occupy camps in twelve other cities–after the mayors of those cities colluded to get rid of them.

In post-camp Occupy, the shift from “fighting against to fighting for” is an important one. Nuge goes on to relate his participation in Occupy Our Homes, an off-shoot that takes up the cause of families “where the banks are just wrong.” When it comes to the greedy and illicit foreclosure practices of the Big Banks, this is one issue “we can all agree on.”

With his first-person account, Nuge reminds us that there’s more than one way to Occupy. As he says, each of us has to divine our own gifts and use them to the best of our abilities. His gift is storytelling with a commitment to being totally present with his audience. If you weren’t an Occupier going in to this performance, you might find yourself one going out.

Occupy This! Tales of an Accidental Activist is playing at the Capital Fringe Festival. Remaining performances are July 27 at 6:15pm and July 28 at 1:00pm.