Scores For the City

Social Choreography and Imagination For Southern California

The Llano Del Rio working group’s “Scores For the City” is  available now, free!

This two sided guide maps locations that have supported oddball behavior in LA, including freeway puppet shows, civic dance pageants, riots, and the gatherings of witches. The front of the map is an archive of documents relating to four events. The backside is an exploration of the way non-conformist behavior in LA has helped shape collective consciousness.

There are two ways to get the guide for free if you live in LA County:

1) For county residents simply email us your postal address and we’ll drop one in the mail for you free (till postage $ runs out) 
Contact llanodelrio(at)gmail.com

2) Maps will be dropped of at the following and ever-expanding distribution nodes. Pick up a copy at these locations:
Pieter – Lincoln Heights
Experimental Meditation Station – Lincoln Heights
Machine Project – Echo Park
Materials and Applications – Silverlake
The Bicycle Kitchen – East Hollywood
Dance Garden LA – Atwater Village
Wombleton Records – Highland Park
Southern California Library – South LA
Sweat Womb- Downtown
The Public School – Chinatown
Chucos Justice Center – Inglewood
Mandrake Bar – Culver City
LAXART – Culver City
Highways Performance Space – Santa Monica
Curves – North Hollywood

U.S. Senate hit by ghost mob

CALLING ALL GHOSTS
by The Center for Tactical Magic

Originally published in the “Applied Magic(k)” column in Arthur Magazine No. 25/Winter 02006

Ghosts are unwieldy subjects to contend with. It’s as if their ephemeral nature predisposes them to be barely tangible topics of research. The vast majority of evidence used to support the existence of ghosts is subjective: first-hand reports and eyewitness accounts. Despite the fact that forensic science, cultural geography, physics, and parapsychology all suggest that any given area is inscribed with the residue of that area’s history, the hard data on hauntings remains inconclusive.

To make matters hazier, the definitions of ghosts often swirl together with religious beliefs and philosophical assumptions. For example, if we define ghosts as being the spirits of the departed, we are stating clearly that we believe in life-after-death and some notion that separates body and spirit. Whether this notion is Cartesian dualism, Egyptian ka, Polynesian mana, or the yin-world spirits of Taoism, the assertion is that the individual is not indivisible. At the very least we are forced to accept the idea that the self is multiplicitous.

This shouldn’t be such a leap. At any given moment a person can be characterized by many different activities that s/he engages in: mechanic, musician, anarchist, lover, gardener, cyclist, etc. A person doesn’t think of him/herself as a mechanic when s/he’s in the garden, although s/he also doesn’t stop being a mechanic. We are many things to many people in many spheres of activity – simultaneously. But still we remain ourselves. On the most basic level, we live multiplicitous lives every day.

And when we go to sleep at night, it doesn’t end there. Our dreams continue to embroil us in action-adventures that would surely leave us breathless and exhausted if it weren’t for the simple fact that our bodies barely participate in all of the fun. If there is any sort of universal logic that can be applied as a subjective proof for the insubstantiation of the self, it is the simple fact that we all dream, whether we remember it in the morning or not.

To be clear, dreams don’t prove that ghosts are real. Nor does it prove that ghosts are the spirits of dead people. Rather, the travels we undertake when our eyes are closed simply suggest that a meaningful disembodied existence can occur. Even if we dismiss dreams (and ghosts) as immaterial and inconsequential, anyone who has ever experienced a nightmare won’t deny the fact that these visions can cause acute physical and psychological sensations in our waking lives.

But what are ghosts exactly? The incorporeal dead hanging out amongst the living? Reflected light? Psychosis? Atmospheric anomalies? Holographic messages from the future? Alien lifeforms? Osama’s latest WMD (Weapon of Mental Distortion)? Whatever they are, ghosts, like magic(k), pop up, in one form or another, in nearly every culture on the planet, and have been described in legends, myths, and stories throughout history. A popular Chinese attitude towards ghosts is voiced in the age-old expression, “If you believe it, there will be, but if you don’t, there will not.” According to legend, the saying was penned by a scholar named Zhuxi (Song Dynasty, 960 – 1279). Now Zhuxi was such a strict non-believer that he decided to write an essay about the non-existence of ghosts. But, lo and behold!—a ghost showed up to convince him otherwise. The ghost made such a lucid argument, that Zhuxi was forced to reconsider his thesis. In fact, it’s actually the ghost that is credited with authoring the aforementioned expression, and Zhuxi merely wrote it down.

Whether we believe in ghosts as actual paranormal phenomena, or as manifestations of mass cultural imagination, we can agree on some fundamental characteristics of ghosts. For starters, it’s significant to note that many such manifestations consistently take the form of people, or exhibit seemingly conscious behaviors. This could be similar to looking skyward and seeing faces in the clouds; however, there’s one major exception. When we let our minds drift in the cumulo-nimbus we also tend to see things like bears in bathtubs, and inverted Lay-Z-Boys. And we don’t hear ghastly tales of glowing gaseous forms resembling anything quite so banal, or cute and cartoony. Instead, we are most often presented with accounts of haunting encounters that evoke horror, sorrow, fear, anger, remorse, passion, and purpose. Ghosts emerge from the shadows; from dark corners; from forgotten and abandoned recesses. Regardless of whether or not these phantoms are psychological projections or external paranormal phenomena, it’s clear that our collective response to these apparitions is apprehension, angst, and anxiety.

Generally speaking, there are two dominant types of ghost stories: lost love, and grave injustices. The “lost love” category encompasses all of those apparitions who wait endlessly for lovers to return, or visit their living loved ones for comfort, counsel, and last condolences. In the second category, the vast majority of ghost stories hover around a central theme of grave injustices yet to be rectified. Murder. Torture. Betrayal. The plight of this sort of phantom is one of paradox; it seeks to rest in peace, yet refuses to quit the struggle until things have been set right. While the crimes of the past still linger at the site of a haunting, the ghost’s job is to make sure we, the living, don’t ignore it. Their refusal to let injustices be forgotten manifests in a form of spiritual civil disobedience. From silent vigils to shrieks and moans to outright property destruction, these ghosts are paranormal protestors bearing witness to a world gone woefully awry. In their quest for peace, the phantoms that haunt us defy the laws of the material world in acts of otherworldly anarchism. Offering spiritual resistance to the complicit affairs of everyday life, these insurgent souls have little regard for the rules and boundaries that restrict the world of the living.

They defy even gravity itself. Moving through gates and walls, no barrier restricts their attempts to resolve the inequities that torment them—and consequently us. After all, it is the apathy of the living that drives them to disturb the peace, because they cannot rest until the conflict is, once-and-for-all, addressed and resolved. There is no moving on. Not until unsavory events are properly put to rest.

It’s this kind of dissenting spirit that needs to be channeled today. Even Senator Specter (R-PA), whose position on most policies is rather ghoulish, could not sit idly by when faced with the recent legislation surrounding Guantanamo Bay detainees. Like all hauntings, the degree of uncanniness is quite remarkable. It’s only too fitting that the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee be named Specter. And perhaps even more appropriate that he should take issue with the United States’ recent dissolution of habeas corpus (meaning quite literally “(You should) have the body”). Dating back as far as 1305, and included in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, habeas corpus is one of the oldest and most celebrated guarantees of personal liberty. It grants individuals the right to question their detainment and challenge the government on the legality of their imprisonment. By killing habeas corpus, the clock on civil liberties is set back more than seven centuries to a time when judicial courts were simply a king and his dungeons. No wonder Mr. Specter is voicing his disapproval.

The haunting of society by the ghosts of our collective past resonates within a present that continues to manifest grave injustices. Generation after generation, the abuse of power materializes in a reoccurring nightmare, claiming countless victims—collateral damage in a battle to maintain hegemony. Doomed to repeat the tragedies of the ages, these lost souls insinuate their desires and anxieties into the world of the living. Each step of the way, these energies inform our thoughts, our dreams, our actions—indeed, every aspect of our existence. Ghosts are an unsettling reminder that the crimes of the past have not yet been resolved. Refusing to quietly fade from consciousness, they demand that their howls be heeded. The residues of injustice permeate the physical, psychological, and parapsychological landscape, inscribing the present with desperate warnings and demands for reconciliation.

Perhaps it’s time for the living to start paying attention to the stirring in the shadows. These aberrations in space, time, and freedom remain inscribed in mind, spirit, and social body, awaiting their release through the discovery and recovery of our own self-determining forces. Can the righteous spirits of the past truly join forces with the living to achieve peace and justice? If you believe it, there will be, but if you don’t, there will not.

EXERCISES
Through methods of divination, channeling, investigation, experimentation, and active engagement, we can invoke those that seem most experienced in dealing with past inequities—ghosts. Here are a few experiments in magic(k) to get you started. As always, please let us know how it goes by emailing to: goodluck at tacticalmagic dot org

1. Summoning ancestral spirits for guidance and inspiration is an age-old practice re-popularized in the ’70s through Milton Bradley’s mass production of the Ouija board. But you don’t need to jump on eBay to get a piece of the action. Make your own walkie-talkie to the spirit world by covering any smooth surface with the letters of the alphabet, numbers 0-10, and the words, “yes,” “no,” “unclear” and “goodbye.” Use another object that glides easily over the surface as your planchette, or pointer. A shot glass, serving spoon, or cell phone will work okay. A generic board will likely attract a general audience. For the best results, craft your set-up with a righteous spirit in mind using items and symbols that the spirit might find appealing. If, for example, you wanted the counsel of Nathan Hale, draw the board on a copy of the Patriot Act. For Harriet Tubman, try replacing the planchette with a broken handcuff. Grab a few friends, dim the lights, and place your fingertips lightly on the planchette. Then, invite the spirits, and begin your supernatural conspiring.

2. The problem with ghosts is not that they won’t shut up, but rather that it took death to get them to speak up in the first place. Is it fear of death that keeps us from voicing our dissatisfaction with the world of the living? Or fear of life? Fortunately, there’s no need to wait for that last breath to start haunting places. Form your own ghost mob and venture out to haunt sites of known social injustices. Banks, police stations, recruitment centers, and chain stores are but a few potential targets. From large-scale occupations by friends in Halloween gore to quiet insertions of tape recorded whispers and groans, a ghost mob can embody suppressed fears and desires whilst banishing the specters of social control.

3. Encounters with ghosts are said to increase during times of social crises and the post-trauma periods immediately following. Most notably, research suggests that more people see ghosts (or at least report them) in wartime and during post-war transitions. If this assessment is accurate, we should expect a barrage of ghost sightings related to Katrina, Afghanistan and Iraq. We are sincerely interested in studying this trend. If you have had paranormal experiences that you feel are related to social crises, please let us know by emailing us at: socialhauntings at tacticalmagic dot org

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The Center for Tactical Magic is a moderate international think tank dedicated to the research, development and deployment of all types of magic in the service of positive social transformation. To find out more, check out tacticalmagic.org

It's Time to Stop Messing Around- Why I Am Not Going to the Protest

The rise of the new ultra-radicals?(-RH)
By JEFF GIBBS
from counterpunch.org

I am not going to the protest. I am tired of protests: they don’t stop wars. Not protests that are mostly about sign waving and hooking up with friends and strangers and feeling the solidarity and then going back to work or school on Monday. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

Sure it FEELS rebellious, these government-permitted, media-ignored, totally predictable rituals-but come on, going to an anti-war protest hasn’t been rebellious since Abbie Hoffman coughed up a fur ball at one in 1968. And in the context of the war on our civil liberties envisioned by Clinton/Reno and executed by your nemesis George W. Bush, they are very, very happy to have you protest and take your name and number. Or force you into a field, or a waiting pen to be locked away until they decide to let you out.

Personally I am tired of marching alongside people wearing masks and carrying signs about stupid Bush when we and everyone we know put together have not been smart enough to stop him. And the Bush bashing only makes the whole parade, err, protest look juvenile to the rest of the world.

Here is what I propose: let’s stop messing around. No more anti-war. Let’s stop the war. No more protest, unless it is part of some huge thing that doesn’t involve business as usual the next day. How do you stop the war? Shut ‘er down. No more business as usual. The target audience: the Democrats, and the presidential candidates who can’t fall over each other fast enough rattling their little Democrat saberettes. (“Bomb Iran? I can top that, let’s bomb PAKISTAN! Take THAT, cowboy!”)

Being anti-war is a fashion statement, a political position, not a movement. I talked to a fellow yesterday who was anti-poison but still used them on HIS lake to fight HIS weeds-weeds outta control because he and his neighbors dump tons of fertilizer on their beach hugging lawns. I personally am anti-junk food but I still eat it, anti-logging but I still use wood products, anti-fossil fuels but my work and fun still depend on them. I am anti-aging but I still age. I am against, rape, animal cruelty, torture, genetically modified food, child abuse but what am I doing to stop it? Well, being against it. In other words, nothing.

“Anti-” is easy-stopping is hard.

Continue reading

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 22, 2007; A02

Not that they’re worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn’t want any.

A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of “deterring potential protestors” from President Bush’s public appearances around the country.

Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by “rally squads” stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out.

But that does not mean the White House is against dissent — just so long as the president does not see it. In fact, the manual outlines a specific system for those who disagree with the president to voice their views. It directs the White House advance staff to ask local police “to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route.”

The “Presidential Advance Manual,” dated October 2002 with the stamp “Sensitive — Do Not Copy,” was released under subpoena to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of two people arrested for refusing to cover their anti-Bush T-shirts at a Fourth of July speech at the West Virginia State Capitol in 2004. The techniques described have become familiar over the 6 1/2 years of Bush’s presidency, but the manual makes it clear how organized the anti-protest policy really is.

The lawsuit was filed by Jeffery and Nicole Rank, who attended the Charleston event wearing shirts with the word “Bush” crossed out on the front; the back of his shirt said “Regime Change Starts at Home,” while hers said “Love America, Hate Bush.” Members of the White House event staff told them to cover their shirts or leave, according to the lawsuit. They refused and were arrested, handcuffed and briefly jailed before local authorities dropped the charges and apologized. The federal government settled the First Amendment case last week for $80,000, but with no admission of wrongdoing.

The manual demonstrates “that the White House has a policy of excluding and/or attempting to squelch dissenting viewpoints from presidential events,” said ACLU lawyer Jonathan Miller. “Individuals should have the right to express their opinion to the president, even if it’s not a favorable one.”

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said that he could not discuss the manual because it is an issue in two other lawsuits.

The manual offers advance staffers and volunteers who help set up presidential events guidelines for assembling crowds. Those invited into a VIP section on or near the stage, for instance, must be ” extremely supportive of the Administration,” it says. While the Secret Service screens audiences only for possible threats, the manual says, volunteers should examine people before they reach security checkpoints and look out for signs. Make sure to look for “folded cloth signs,” it advises.

To counter any demonstrators who do get in, advance teams are told to create “rally squads” of volunteers with large hand-held signs, placards or banners with “favorable messages.” Squads should be placed in strategic locations and “at least one squad should be ‘roaming’ throughout the perimeter of the event to look for potential problems,” the manual says.

“These squads should be instructed always to look for demonstrators,” it says. “The rally squad’s task is to use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform. If the demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out the protestors (USA!, USA!, USA!). As a last resort, security should remove the demonstrators from the event site.”

Advance teams are advised not to worry if protesters are not visible to the president or cameras: “If it is determined that the media will not see or hear them and that they pose no potential disruption to the event, they can be ignored. On the other hand, if the group is carrying signs, trying to shout down the President, or has the potential to cause some greater disruption to the event, action needs to be taken immediately to minimize the demonstrator’s effect.”

The manual adds in bold type: “Remember — avoid physical contact with demonstrators! Most often, the demonstrators want a physical confrontation. Do not fall into their trap!” And it suggests that advance staff should “decide if the solution would cause more negative publicity than if the demonstrators were simply left alone.”

The staff at the West Virginia event may have missed that line.

courtesy of Marc Herbst

Children of the Sun: German and California Proto Hippies

It’s fig season in California. Those sweet tree warts are beginning to sag with the weight of their sugars. True bliss for urban and rural foragers alike. The season reminds me of these folks…

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Natural music and vine ripe watermelon with Gypsy Boots and his talented friends on a summer day in Hollywood,1948. Gypsy Boots and his pals would often travel over 500 miles just to pick and eat some fresh figs.

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Seven of California’s “Nature Boys” in Topanga Canyon, August 1948. They were the first generation of Americans to adopt the “naturemensch” philosophy and image, living in the mountains and sleeping in caves and trees, sometimes as many as fifteen of them at a time. All had visited and some were employed at “The Etropheon” where John Richter gave his inspiring lectures about raw foods and natural living.

This magnificently illustrated book chronicles the philosophy, lifestyle and dissemination of Lebensreform, (Life Reform – “neither communism nor capitalism, but land reform”). In reaction to industrialization, from Hermann Hesse and the artist Fidus wanderings through pre-WW1 Germany in edenic bliss to Bill Pester going natural in a Palm Springs canyon. Pester, a German born immigrant, was counted in the 1920 census as one of the 24 members of the Cahuilla tribe.

Bill Pester at his palm log cabin in Palm Canyon, 1917; note palm blossoom walking sticks leaning on left side of the door.

Man was intended to live in a state of nature. All mans troubles, sickness, anxieties and discontent come from a departure from nature. I would advise you to go back to nature, if you want to be cured; give up your extravagant habits, your high-priced hotel life, quit taking medicine and discharge your doctor. -Bill Pester

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Image by Fidus

cs7.jpg

Wandervogel means “migrant birds/free spirits.”

Street Signs and Solar Ovens: Socialcraft in Los Angeles

October 22 – December 31 , 2006
Gallery 3

A revolutionary exhibition featuring artwork created with social activism as its inspiration. Dubbed “socialcraft”, the objects on display are examples of unique artworks utilized by communities and individuals in their quest for social change. Street Signs and Solar Ovens will feature protest art meant for public display such as hand-crafted demonstration signs, posters, t-shirts, as well as examples of instruments for socially-conscious living such as eco-friendly appliances.

Curated by Marc and Robby Herbst, of the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest editorial collective (Cara Baldwin, Marc Herbst, Robby Herbst, Christina Ulke). CAFAM also is collaborating with institutions including the Center for the Study of Political Graphics and the Center for the Preservation of Democracy.

Featured artists include Edith Abeyta, Steven Anderson, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Mike Blockstein, CARACEN, Chris Burnett, C.I.C.L.E., Code Pink, Center for the Preservation of Democracy, Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Sandra de la Loza, Sam Durant, Eric Einem, Karl Erickson, Fallen Fruit, Finishing School, Gaian Mind, Fritz Haeg, Evan Holloway, L.A. Commons, Laura Howe, Karen Lofgren, Kelly Marie Martin, Matrushka, Jennifer Murphy, Nico of Teocintli, Christopher Nyerges, Path to Freedom, Sheila Pinkel, Oliver Ressler and David Thorne, Oscar Sanchez, The Arroyo Arts Collective, The Phantom Street Artist, The South Central Farm Support Committee, Christina Ulke, Votan, Allison Wiese.