intro to method and style
speakin and sharing (includes sign text)
daring to be poetree
the depth charge
second action: GR Art Fest
soldiers called cops
someone i knew
third action: Three Fires Pow Wow
intro to why i dared
second champion, gifts, and dance
into more depth
someone i knew
after the pow wow
notes------------------------------------- Shortened version (see link for full reports)
Grand Rapids, a "normally" dismal midwestern city of maybe 300,000 where truly liberatory ideas have long been driven underground, alternative media blocked, and public access to ideas beyond the religious and corporate networks highly controlled (1). So it was that a lone "crucial artist" dared beyond conditioned fears to hike *THREE different times* (in one month) in this city in order to seed, spread, and blaze a trail of the kind of creativity and excellence that only a handful of radicals seem capable of comprehending the value of so far. In the tradition of the African griot, the Native American cocapelli or Heyoka, the religious prophet Johnny Appleseed, or even eccentric street interactors like Grandpa Woodstock, this half-crazed "weirdo champion" art-doer has worked overtime, through more than twelve cities and towns and other communities across the u.s.a. to get his quite provocative statements out!
The first action spanned more than six hours and a walking distance of at least 12 miles! The second, a few weeks later, for about 4 hours on the last day of the city's annual 3-day "Arts Festival" downtown. The third, a week after that, of a total distance of about 7 walking miles, with a main focus on the annual "Three Fires Pow Wow" held at Riverside Park.
intro to general method and style
My art/arting consisted of decking myself out in a kind of mobile spectacle that promised to not only catch attention, but as well "trip out" people because they would have little or no preconceived idea of what i was up to...
speakin and sharing
My mobile arting also consists of how i interact with the public, both by daring "abnormal" ways of speaking, and passing out "depth charge" flyers to all who dare not flee or put up armor and ignore me (see the entire depth charge flyer on link). As well, i carry or wear multiple day-glo signs of many sizes and shapes with phrases like:
"WE ARE KEPT HYPED-UP AND DIVIDED AGAINST EACH OTHER--Realize the value of reaching out to those you fear"
"REALIZE THE VALUE OF BEING RADICALLY BEAUTIFUL WITH EACH OTHER"
"DARE TO ART YOUR HEART"
"DARE TO PRESERVE YOUR WILD DEPTH--Dare to see this as your very own ticket to Loving Living"
Also strategically passed out at least twenty copies of an article about post-Left anarchy, by Jason McQuinn.
daring to be poetree
Prancing and strolling, defying categorical-isms
passing out my depth charge flyers,
jiu-jitsuing the spectacle to most
--"What, you're really not selling anything?"
--"What, you're REALLY not some religious fundamentalist?"
--"What, you're really not representing some fishy organization?"
Hot out, so my walk becomes like "a Sweat". A mobile *Sweat Lodge* of sorts; doing "The Sweat of Everyday Life" with indigenous imagination mixed together with the gist of Raoul Vaneigem's "Revolution of Everyday Life".
Not seeking mediated mention in mainscream war "News" ("the revolution will not be televised"); i make it a point to avoid and not cooperate with professional mediators...
(read more, and see the 'depth charge' flyer passed out...) ---------------------------------------------------
First action: Grand Rapids metro, NW and NE:
Biked through Latin neighborhood (full of good vibe) via Grandville Av over to John Ball Zoo on the NW side, parked bike there, then hiked in full ceremonial regalia down Fulton into downtown, over to Michigan Street, up the hill past Butterworth Hospital to Coit, through that neighborhood over to Bradford and then Lafeyette, to Leonard, up the hill to Fuller, over to near Knapp, back down Fuller to Fulton, and back to the Zoo, at least 12 miles of walking, speaking with people, and being wildly real in all!
Messing with the mindsets in mid of a typical work day, tripping people out ("Is this an acid flashback?"), derailing these seemingly obedient so-called "citizen" peasants from their highly propagandized tunnel vision ("What the hell is that?"), in yet another creamy heart of American Whitebread-Conditioning Central.
Soldiers called cops didn't know What/How To Think, and just stared. Didn't have no mandate, no idea put into their heads from their "superiors". Conditioned sheeple had voiced their fears that i'd be arrested or worse, a reflection of the grip of the Cops/Fear In Their Heads, when in fact, there was no real need to fear! Carrying signs and voicing ideas promoting *mutual* liberation and general beautifulness can do that!
All in all i'd learned, via such self-inquiry luminaries as don Miguel Ruiz, not to take such highly-tooled dreamers of hell personally (2). What *would* one expect given the context of this suiciety (re: suicidal society)?
Most were pleasantly surprised, even impressed, when i proved to not only be completely outside their classically-conditioned expectations (i.e. quotes above), but continued arting in a way that had undertones of magicking!...
the totally enthusiastic teenage dude who wanted to walk with me til i told him how far i was going; the people at Kendall who took the time to read my signs; the kids in the bus depot who mischeivously flipped me a bird; the always slowing down car drivers; the yells of enthusiasm from construction and other workers; the young man and his fam speaking near Coit st.; the elder gentleman on a stoop challenging me with the concept of "offensive" due to fear (me replying that being offensive can be valuable); the street gang openly interested in taking my flyers; the enthusiastic thumbs-up/honking from passerby/drivers after reading my signs; the tenement occupant yelling after me to come closer and see what i was up to; the crossing guard's friendliness (and my mentioning Matt Groening's "Childhood is Hell" book to several young crossing guard aides); the group of pot smokers coming out of their house; the cup of cold water given at one house; the badass lady and adult sons on Fulton; the goth girl who came out of a store and congradulated me; the small group that questioned me at length; the group of gangdudes who eyed me enthusiastically; the little kids who could've easily shown me what WILD is all about had their mothers not intervened.
Second action: GR Art Festival
The last day of this annual festival, Sunday, June 6 (?), i biked in full regalia downtown via 28th St (in heavy traffic), then Division Ave. Not deeply inspired to do that action, but wanting to have some sort of presence at this major event which a friend had thought i should appear at.
Walking into an entrance of the free festival, i noted a phalanx of soldiers called cops...
A totally wild guy who i partied with just days before found me more than once during the day and hooped and hollered and let his permitted weekend wildness hang out. (...)
i actually ran out of flyers (even tho i was giving them out only to people who asked, generally), had much interesting interaction (more deep than all the other cities i've engaged combined!), and near the end, began being followed by two young men carrying a video camera. (...)
Three Fires Pow Wow, 6-12-04
intro to why i dared
My original first action in this tour began at a Pow Wow near Portland, Oregon in 2000 (when i first began creating ceremonial masques and regalia with spiritual path intentions--unlike previously, which were more experimental and spontaneous). And i saw my desired interaction at the Three Fires Pow Wow as a potentially *very powerful* compliment to the origins of these x-country actions. After all, they are not only plunges into the Unknown/my Fear in a large way, and very spiritually powerful in an individual basis, but brought forth an enhancing of care and a desire for solidarity across all alleged differences. To add, as both Ward Churchill and Trudell John have been pointing out, we *ARE ALL* descendants of indigenous cultures (European included)! And part of my task, i see, is to promote a return to trusting the general excellent potential of imaginations created beyond the pale of so-called "civilization" and their perpetual war/alienation model so seemingly inherent within that entire value system.
So i began seeing myself as an informal "ambassador" of sorts, representing galaxies of my desires and dreams, and wanting to get together with others daring their individuality, and collaborate towards beautiful excellence!
Thus i saw/see my going into the realms of Pow Wows (and other semi-autonomous zones) as quite appropriate, even tho i am no "American Indian" (but only a Euro mutt, as far as i know); bringing the depth of my experience and reflections into spaces which *could use* authentic, dared depth from other angles than usually experienced---and perhaps evolving *my own* largely negative beliefs about the apparent superficiality of publicly-held pow wows and the politricks that seem to plague them (as with so many independent-seeking communities).
So where i'd only gone superficially in the original pow wow--which i'd been invited to by a native (daring only into one main depth with an elder lady who spoke of my being "Trickster", and retreating in fear by her warning, preferring supposedly more-safe spaces in non-Indian areas), i dared after all my experiences across the country and in diverse communities, to go fully into my fear of this Unknown.
This time i changed my regalia to a new intensity; i put my black n'white striped pants on upside-down for a shirt (making a hole in the crotch of course), added a roughly-cut but be-jeweled jacket i'd gotten for 25cents (attaching feathers i'd come upon in my travels) and wore, for the first time since IL actions, my dayglo-colored jacket upside-down for pants; and on one shoe i tied one of a pair of the green frog slippers i dumpstered way back. The ideah of that last one was to off-set the scary-looking "gator" masque (a friend says it looks that way to him) together with the silly frog slipper (and hopefully mess with the proclivity of folks--indigenous and not--to get stuck in FEAR-orientation assumptions of what i appear as and "am doing").
Okay, so i biked maybe 7 miles to the corner of Leonard and Monroe NE, locked the bike up, and walked 2-3 miles from there to Riverside Park where the Three Fires Pow Wow was being held. Along the way, passed a Boy Scout troop out for a hike, found a birdfeather that i stuck in to a bandaid on my left index finger, interacted with a guy in a car who resembled a burly off-duty cop (and seemed intent on provoking my emotion, but failed), reflected increasing audible response from passerby (whoops and joyful cries) as i neared the pow wow grounds which was already teeming with activity.
Well, when i first wrote about this, i chose to "write without words" except to send words that my 59-yr-old Inuit mentor first shared with me back in the late '80s: "i thank yOu (in many languages)". This was meant as a way of respecting, and not allowing the police state and its minions entrance into what i call a sacred interaction...but now i wonder...because my *intent* is to demystify and inspire imagination potential beyond the same old ghettos of traditional leftism and anarchy, and promo that we all get together in one basic *resistance of consciousness*.
Had earliest wanted to accompany the march for sobriety to see how they were speaking of the issue, but didn't make it due to two things:
One, my mixed feelings about how social services propagandists would "probably" be controlling things completely, and two, didn't wake up after partyin until at least 4AM the previous night (heh).
By the way, while i see the heavy problems/challenges with drinking liquor/beer in native and other communities, as with others, i also see how internalized value assumptions and politics hinders any serious solving of this (like so much else).
i could go on at length about this, but i'll save you that for now, and speak only a bit:
If people *WERE ENCOURAGED TO RITUALLY ARTICULATE* drinking and being drunk in a sacred manner, together with *believing in themselves* enough, drinking/drunkenness could become a ceremonial tool **in a similar way that peyote and tobacco is used!**
So i myself am standing with a grey area, not wanting to get smothered by the usual manipulations of those subordinating themselves to BIA/Leftist-style "reforms" and such politricks, nor wanting to demonize people's natural inclination to want to escape the dumbing down reality of what living in this "reality" has become for so many. Anyway, i see eye to eye with Sioux leader, TrudellJohn, where he says basically (in a video i saw) that drunken indians were the only ones who crucially REFUSED to conform to the superficial reform games of BIA-style "integration" strategies, and thus were a *crucial* group to modern efforts of independent defenses...
Entered into a balking silence. Wasn't at all sure how i'd be received, but didn't expect what i got. i was doing, i claim, an angle on *spiritual nudity* and didn't need to think about "what might happen" at length.
Almost immediately, a native guy (i'll call a champion) who'd been just parking his bible-quote-decorated pickup truck when i first walked in through a parking lot, invited me to come with him and go back and let him share some of his bible quotes from the truck ... i intuited that he wanted to try to talk to the s t r a n g e intruder via a language that i might be talked to with, thus acting as one more excellent watcher for the community.
Then a van pulls up and a mainstream-style-dressed older lady (in 50s?) gets out and asks me if i'm "trying to satirize" or otherwise defame what she called her people.
---------------------------------------------------------- Note: when composing this article the first time around, the public computer i was using "somehow" ceased up and didn't allow me to post this at any IMC sites. I had to start all over again (because I didn't have a disk with me). I've seldom seen this type of thing in my x-country travels, and can only figure--based on the games that the political police have a record of playing against systematic challengers (3)--that someone was at work to block this info from reaching others. Luckily, I persisted in getting the library staff to extend my day's allotment and *was* able to post it to two IMCs, but still not the Michigan IMC...until now (hopefully).
(1) There are *no* alternative book/magazine/zine stores in Grand Rapids and area. There is a recent try at starting some kind of local IMC project, but I missed that conference. Public access to the Internet is more severely controlled than any place in the country i've seen. None of GR's colleges allow free access (a Grand Valley State College employee told me that while the college is publicly funded, its internet services are not, thus no access to the public; and GRCC allows access for $10 a semester after and ID check and much personal info gathering; Davenport and the other two private colleges are all "password protected" which is a change apparently after 9-11). Lack of alloted time for my one-hour use of public computers at the main library downtown prohibited me from going into more detail on these texts until I left the GR area (i don't own a computer myself, yet), and then any website deemed "sexual" is rigidly filtered from even adult viewing (i.e. reading an alternative gay magazine i like called www.guidemag.com ).
(2) i highly recommend don Miguel Ruiz's _The Four Agreements_ and _The Mastery of Love_.
(3) all serious challengers of the status quo would do well to educate themselves on the history of once-illegal, now legal, official covert action in order to take steps to avoid it as best they can, and deal more up front with "paranoia". See Brian Glick's book _War At Home_ (South End Press, Boston, 1990) for its exceptional run-down on the history and "what we can do about" this kind of warfare.