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Hiroshima Flame: On the 'Hound Out of Oakland

On the road again....
On the bus out of Oakland. We're cruising on the 80 through the hills. I walked a bit in my old neighborhood - downtown Oakland - before getting on the bus. That was 4 years in one of my favorite urban environments.

The neighborhood's changed quite a bit. The Chinese lady is no longer behind the counter at Hien's. It was too early to see Greg at his barber shop. Even the Korean grocer didn't have any kim-bop ready.

There's a hawk just sitting at the side of the freeway. It turns its head to follow us as we pass by rolling onto the 580. I don't think I've ever seen that before. It really feels now that we are moving. I give a moment of silent thanks to our escorts. I feel heavy with the blessings we've received on the west coast and pray that I can carry them correctly as we travel through the landscapes of tribal lands. And there's another hawk sitting on a lightpost for us.

But my old neighborhood has changed but not in the ways I'd expected. Sure, there's a Gap in downtown now but so what? From just a quick jaunt, it doesn't appear that Jerry Brown's plans to correct (or yuppifie) problems downtown have worked. There isn't a noticable difference in storefronts or in the faces of the people walking downtown. I don't notice a huge amount of SUVs but I see the same cast-out faces walking the streets of downtown. I don't know how far cuts in social spending or the evictions of shelters have gone but I know that money's been made in the real estate business here.

The local papers here have been full of criticisms against the military school that the mayor set up to fix the plague ridden public school system here. As the papers show, results haven't shown positive results with the kids. The drop out rate seemed to be higher than expected. However, the kids the stick around are getting disciplined. I'm not sure if that is what 'we' want from an education system but I'm sure that its great if you are looking for people to staff a workforce.

I was able to hang out with a reporter from the East Bay Express (good god, another paper bought out by New Times and they even changed the paper into a tabloid format) who mentioned that there's still fallout from the Oakland Police Department's "Riders" scandal. The scandal is similar to LA's Rampart district scandal. I haven't kept up with the Riders but I know that when the scandal was gaining publicity, one of the cops had run out of the country. The Riders really felt they were above the law and fully abused their powers as cops by doing things such as beating up people who made noise complaints on neighbors.

There was a lot of criticism against Jerry Brown when he took office and especially when he publicized his "10,000 in Downtown" plan. I still can't believe he had the gall to say that no one lived in downtown. I don't know what kind of system we have where they ignore the voices and wishes of the people and where they ignore the signs brought up by the earth. I don't know where this kind of system is supposed to take you.

Someone said that the atomic bombings in Japan were a kind of karmic retribution but I wonder what kind of karmic retribution lays ahead for America. Perhaps, we're already living it in our commercialized space breathing dirty air, eating chemistry set foods, and living lives of blindness and forgetfullness.

I wrote the other night on the sadness I felt at the tribal center. I didn't mean to denigrate the center and didn't mean to sound so fatalistic about the fate of people. The center is a warm and welcoming place for people without homes. As might be expected these are people who have had hard lives. It was that energy I was feeling. Tom talks of America as a land where the Nazis won and the natives are leading lives in concentration camps. I am very thankful that the tribal center exists here.

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Our stop in Baker was interesting. We stopped off at a generic gas/convenience shop with the sign, "Greyhound Bus Terminal." The lot was full of good ole boys in crewcuts working on their monsterized pick ups. The Bun Boy thermometer read 58 degrees, well it could've been 48. Now, on our way to Las Vegas.

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6:10 AM and we're finally on the bus to Denver from Las Vegas. What happened? Well, we got here late from LA - traffic heading east of LA on a Friday night is a bad proposition. So, we missed our connect here by a couple of hours. There was a big mass confusion getting on the bus and Hiroshi got thrown out of line by our bus driver. As I walked on the bus, I noticed his confederate flag pinned down on his Greyhound jacket.

They used to say Riverside was the armpit of Los Angeles but I'd have to say its Las Vegas.

The sun's coming up. And now the bus is churning out my rat plagued stomach full of overly sweet American snacks. And sleep conquers us all.

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A little pit stop in Mesquite (are we in AZ?) and the driver tells us he's not really a mean SOB.

The view out the window is incredibly beautiful. Pink/rust eroded earth and rock covered in sage brush, yuccas, chollas, and mesquites. River carved canyons. 75 mph speed limits. The driver turns on the intercom to let us know that this stretch of the 15 is one of the most expensive stretches of highway built in the US. He gives us a number in the billions.

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40 miles to Beaver and there's a full rainbow encircling the sun. Snow's still on the ground. Looks like favorable walking conditions.

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5:20 PM Mountain Time at Grand Junction, CO. I'd like to take this time to thank all the independent natural food stores in America where our main food sources are controlled by a hideous oligarchy of transnationals.

Anytime you find yourself at the 'hound station in Grand Junction, go up 2 blocks on 6th and hang a left on Rood. You'll find the Sundrop Grocery about a block and a half from 6th. They got a great deli and can attest that their burritos, beets, and soycutash are very very edible.

Oh, and if you ever find yourself in Bisbee, AZ be sure to stop by the Bisbee Food Co-op. Its filled with really great food and cool people.

thanks for your travelogue andy 18.Feb.2002 22:23

walkin with you in spirit

andy,

thanks for sharing your experiences with us. i like all of the personal touches and the way that i feel as if i am there.

om mani padme hung