Met a carpenter in a parkin lot who had spent the day lookin for work, didn’t have no job, no tools, no address, just a backpack where he kept everythin he owned. And he smoked a cigarette and talked about how hard it was findin a job when ya don’t have a phone, an address, a place where ya can be reached, said it was tough enough for those who did have such things. Spent a year in the hills of Oregon after his old lady was murdered tryin to recover from the loss, tryin to think, to hold on, to make plans, tryin. Those folks in the hills, he said, are sick and tired of sleepin in the rain, sick of livin like wild animals foraging for food, sick of bein sick and treated like scum. And some of em, he said, are armed to the teeth. No, those folks in their BMW’s, they just don’t have a clue, don’t have the foggiest idea about what’s gonna happen. And though his voice was calm and his hands did not shake and he was as serene as a guru, there was a flame burnin in his eyes, a vision of what lay ahead. And before he left to cross the parkin lot and the railroad tracks, before he left to find a place to sleep beneath a tree, branches and leaves and a plastic tarp all he had to protect himself against the clouds gathered above, before he went home he said all hell is about to break loose.
A Mexican family of six stood out in the pourin rain on Mission Street in San Francisco, small children and parents and a grandmother listenin to the Spanish translations of speeches about the Zapatistas and the struggle in Mexico for jobs and dignity and food and social change, a struggle that forced them to migrate “illegally” to North America. And they did not complain about the wind or the rain or their own personal struggle against their bosses, their landlords, and the U.S. government. No they did not say a word and stood there in quiet dignity. As the speakers droned on, they listened as if in church. They were there to show support for peasants in Chiapas and the Zapatistas and the people who will one day seize Mexico and create their own civil society. The children paid rapt attention without the need of encouragement from their folks. A little girl around ten stood beside her father who was doin his duty, standin up for what he knew was right, teachin his children. The little girl wore a plastic jacket and had a scarf tied over her neatly braided hair, her hands in her pockets as she tried to keep warm. And then a cry arose from the crowd in Spanish: “¡Viva la Revolución!” and the little girl instinctively thrust a clenched fist into the air and answered “¡Que Viva!” a flame burning in her eyes which made her father proud, tears of joy streamin down his face, and I could see that all hell is about to break loose.
Saw a film about a visit Steven Spielberg made to an impoverished “inner- city” school in Oakland, a school where black students had few books, few supplies, and even fewer opportunities. Pete Wilson was there with Spielberg, goin along for the ride, and the students sat and listened politely as Wilson spoke, havin been warned by their teachers to show respect for the governor and the filmmaker. And the two celebrities made their speeches in the spotlight and the students sat still and listened, a vacuous glaze in their eyes. As the program drew to a close, a young woman and student leader stood up and pointed at Pete Wilson and told him she could not believe he had the nerve to come to her school and into her community and speak his doubletalk when he’d ended affirmative action and cut welfare and attacked poor people like her mother. And the young people in the audience instantly came to life and stood up and cheered and clapped and whistled and Pete Wilson stood there with shit on his face, speechless. The cameraman did a close up of Wilson then scanned the audience, and though it was a film and the lights were a bit dim, if you looked you could see an anger and a passion burning in those young eyes and it was clear as clear can be that all hell is about to break loose.
There’s a working man without a job and he stays home most of the time and he smokes and he sees a shrink cause they say he suffers from “anti- social behavior” and the shrink gives him pills so he won’t get too mad or too depressed and if you ask him what he thinks how he feels he’ll tell you straight out that any working person who isn’t mad and depressed must be out of their fuckin mind. And he acts peculiar sometimes, like when he sees people fightin for their rights, standin up to their boss. When he sees that he gets emotional and can’t help but cry, and when he listens to the politicians on TV tellin him “things never have been better” he becomes real agitated and calls the politicians and the social workers and the intellectuals liars and thieves and other names, and even some of his friends think he’s crazy cause he goes off like that frequently cause he is so angry and so depressed, both at the same time. He was downsized from his job on a Friday, his last day, a Friday just before Christmas, and when he asked his boss why he wasn’t told sooner he was escorted out of the building so afraid of him was the boss and the company. Now others fear him, too, cause there’s a fire burnin in his eyes and it ain’t anti-social . . .And when this out-of-work working man feels strong enough to talk he speaks with fervor and says things he never read in a book or a journal and declares like a soldier prepared to fight a most right righteous battle that there are millions of other folks just like him and that all hell is about to break loose…