Posted by: terrapraeta | March 5, 2010

Breathe Deep

Breath deep
The gathering gloom
Watch lights fade
From every room
Bedsitter people
Look back and lament
Another day’s useless
Energy spent

Impassioned lovers
Wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love
And has none
New mother picks up
And suckles her son
Senior citizens
Wish they were young

Cold hearted orb
That rules the night
Removes the colours
From our sight
Red is gray and
Yellow white
But we decide
Which is right
Which is an Illusion

The Moody Blues, Nights in White Satin

I really wanted to write today… something new and thoughtful and all that good stuff. But I find myself in a weird headspace this morning. Not sure where it is coming from, but it feels external and I cannot calm myself enough to locate the source. This does not happen often, but it does happen recurringly. And I often never find out the source. We’ll see if today is any different. In the meantime, I have read a number of interesting things over the last few days… in several cases, they are things that I intend to write about or respond to in some way. For today, I’ll simply put them up to read and then when I am ready, y’all will be to. Or something like that.

Derrick Jensen’s last two pieces at Orion discuss resistance. First, 50 Simple Ways To Get Off, followed by Resistance Resisters.

My friend Willem Larson has written a couple pieces that I could not agree with more: Stop Hating Teens and Start Respecting Them, and Widening Conversational Scope: Identity. And if you haven’t seen it yet, Willem is currently engaged in developing and spreading Where Are Your Keys. Absolutely awesome.

Urban Scout posted a really thoughtful article this week: Hate Culture vs Rewilding. And he says his most recent book should be out any time now, so look for it.

Also check out a new blog: 29,0000 Acorns. Daniel is very well spoken (ok, written) and generally has interesting things to say and think about.

Meanwhile, there was a demonstration in LA yesterday at CSUN. Roughly 10% of the student body, 3000 people (in contrast to the medias claim of 300) stepped out to protest the ongoing dismantling of California’s educational system. Dr. Karren Baird-Olsen, Sociology and American Indian Studies Professor at Cal State Northridge was assaulted by a police officer in full riot gear, breaking her arm with a truncheon, stomped on her and moved on. Students assisted her in escaping the press and it is strongly suspected that several students were arrested because they assisted her. Karren Baird-Olsen is 73. The attack occurred when students “refused to disperse” — in other words, when they began backing up as ordered — but apparently not quickly enough. (BTW, my source on this is a friend of mine, close to Dr Baird-Olsen, in contact with her last evening and living in LA.)

Next week I should be back to writing… I think 😉



  1. With Permission:

    Broken Wings by Bill Maxwell:

    I made a promise tonight.

    It’s one I hope I’ll never have to keep.

    A dear friend and mentor, Dr. Karren Baird-Olsen, Sociology and American Indian Studies Professor at Cal State Northridge, is, as I write this, lying on gurney in a hall in an emergency room. Here’s why.

    Today there was a student protest on campus. The funding to education is being cut again and fee hikes are being implemented and programs are being cut and all of the promises that were sort of half-assed promised the last 1/2 dozen times the students marched are pretty much just dust in the wind.

    You can blame it on the recession or incompetence or whatever your pet peeve is but here’s the bottom line: the future of the state of California is being gutted. Systematically and thoroughly gutted. We’re being told that all of our children in elementary and secondary education are supposed to be preparing for college while college — with its insane tuition hikes — is being quickly lifted out of reach of just about everyone who isn’t (a) already possessing wealthy parents or (b) willing to plunge into crippling debt.

    The students are starting to figure this out to; this isn’t like losing a job. It’s like saying that every job from now until the end of your life will be meaningless, will be beneath your potential because you couldn’t get a piece of paper that says you really are a smart kid. You couldn’t afford it.

    Dr. Baird-Olson said she hadn’t seen a fire light up like that in student’s eyes in decades. They knew they had to do something.

    So about 3000-4000+ show up for a rally — that’s about 10% of the student population at least; off they go, marching around the campus, working on getting the message out, on getting attention. There’s the usual mix of activists and agitators along with folks you might not expect — the CSUN swim team, for example — comprising an amazing cross-section of CSUN’s student population.

    After various marching about and blocking some streets, a group of students decide to do a sit in, to block a street. I know the street they were on; it’s not particularly a busy one. Busy enough to make a point but not dangerous. Certainly worth the risk. Dr. Baird-Olson saw them planning to do it, knew what was up and decided to stay with them. She’d been in marches like this for a long time. She’d been arrested for civil disobedience. She could help protect her students.

    It comes to mind that I haven’t introduced her properly yet. Dr. Baird-Olson is 73 years old, striking platinum hair and a fierce spirit that belies her stature. She’s an amazing mentor with astonishing stories and with a twinkle in her eye, she’ll give you the support you need while challenging you to do it yourself. The last thing you’d picture her is, is a threat — unless it’s a threat to your ego! I met her when I joined up with the American Indian Student Association (she was the adviser and coordinator for the program) and she has done nothing except earn my respect every time I’ve dealt with her. She’s well known — and well respected — among her peers, the local tribes, the native community at large and among the political set as well. If you ever want to find out what an American Indian means by “elder”, you’ll learn about it when you spend time with her.

    She was there to protect students. It’s so very her, so very indicative of her spirit. Police dressed in full riot gear pulled up fast to the intersection and formed a solid line. They demanded the students leave. The students didn’t move until the cops started to move. Then, the students, arms locked, got up and moved peacefully back.

    I’m going to make a point of this because I heard it from experienced protesters / monitors. These were adults who’ve done this before, who know the consequences and who know how to point out what went wrong. They said — and several of them agreed — that the students were up and backing up as fast, and as peaceably, as they could.

    Some of you already know this drill.

    By the time the cops say “back up”, it’s too late for you. The next word are “you’re not backing up fast enough. You’re disobeying a direct order.” And the surge happens.

    Cops pushing up against students. Students trying to get back faster.

    Then a cop breaks the line.

    He steps past the shield line and he fucking truncheons her.

    Then he stomps on her after she falls.

    Karren Baird-Olson.

    The students — not the other cops — rush to the defense, get her up. One strong young man takes a BEATING to make sure she gets out of there.

    She’s pulled out and then paramedics are called and she’s in the emergency room, shaking, in shock, her arm fractured. Six students arrested. I’m betting at least one was arrested because they helped her.

    73 years old.

    Frail, shock of platinum hair, with an impish smile that would light up a room.

    Black truncheon falling. A big boot coming down to make sure she stays down.

    I’m visiting her and she’s scared. She has a right to be. Nobody her age should go through that. And I’m standing next to her just before they put in the pain meds. Just before they tell her she’s going to have to wait to eat — she hasn’t eaten since 11:00am — because they still have to find another doc to put on her splint. And she makes me and Nikki and a third person — a professor — who is there with us promise.

    If she passes, call her children. Tell them that they were the best thing that ever happened to her. Tell them that she doesn’t want to leave them, she’s going to fight to stay, but if she does go, at least it was like this.

    The last part goes unsaid. Fighting for the rights of her students. Trying to protect them.

    We tell her she’s too tough to go; she’s got classes to teach, people to visit.

    She makes us promise anyway.

    It’s a promise I hope never to fulfill.

    Instead I leave it with this. Don’t stop fighting, don’t stop protecting, don’t stop being there for the people and causes you love. Jump in with both feet and make certain that everyone knows that “we the public” are the people standing right in front of you.

    And we are strong together.

  2. Video of the confrontation:

  3. “But I find myself in a weird headspace this morning. Not sure where it is coming from, but it feels external and I cannot calm myself enough to locate the source. This does not happen often, but it does happen recurringly.”

    hey tp, I’d like to hear more about this if you get a chance to explore it.


  4. Hey John —

    I can do that. I have written a little about it, way back when… but I’ll get something up this week…


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