Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Left Forum 2008

Left Forum is on in New York, March 14th-16th. I will be speaking on a panel on the Saturday 15th, from 5pm to 7pm (at the same time as Tariq Ali just for some competition).


The criminalization of migration builds on the nearly three-decade long project of mass incarceration. How can we understand how walls and cages target different groups of people, yet with similar effects, and how can the prison abolition and immigrant justice movements learn from and support each other?

Andrew Burridge – Geography, University of Southern California, “Might a theory and politics of open borders manifest themselves spatially and challenge current forms of border securitization and militarization?”
Trishala Deb – Audre Lorde Project, “The intersections of racism, transphobia, and homophobia for immigrant community members, particularly around issues of enforcement and incarceration”
Micol Seigel – African American Studies, African Diaspora Studies, American Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, “Zero Tolerance Goes South: focus on the international police consulting of former NYPD and current LAPD Police Chief William Bratton”
Seth Freed Wessler – Research associate, Applied Research Center

Friday, February 22, 2008

No isn't on the ballot

Normally I won't write about things like the topic below, at fear of sounding like the ranting white liberal. But this first hand account, written by a friend of mine this week, I think is important to get out there. It sums up well about how I feel about the situation, and it's an all too common occurrence.

And before you go out to vote, or tout the liberating aspects of the first possible female or black president, remember that all of the candidates support stricter immigration policies, and further fortification of the border, leading to more deaths. Remember that Hilary Clinton's husband put into effect Operation Gatekeeper, one of the most significant causes of migrant deaths. Leading to the next question, how often do you hear in the media or political campaigns about the deaths that happen each day at the border?

Yesterday afternoon three young volunteers and I were on a No More Deaths patrol in a remote desert canyon. We were dropping off water, food, blankets, shoes and socks along some remote migrant trails. Walking up the canyon, I saw some green shoes, and, thinking they looked pretty new, began to yell, as we always do, "Hola, hola! Tenemos agua, comida, somos de la iglesia, blah blah..." I only got to the second "hola" before I saw her teeth, and spun around, and told my friends "Stop."

I had never found someone dead in the desert before. The feeling is horrendous. So ugly, frustrating, tragic. I just looked at my feet and said "Goddammit." I'm still mad.

Joseline was only fourteen years old. She was from El Salvador, heading to the West Coast to reunite with family members there. I can't stop thinking of all the freshmen I taught at VVS – she could have been one of them.

Because obtaining a visa through official means is next to impossible, she, and thousands like her, can't cross the border at a port of entry. Instead, our spineless government builds walls to force them into the furthest, most inhospitable stretches of desert. As crossing without documents becomes more difficult, the price of the journey rises. Now smuggling people is as profitable as smuggling drugs, so cartels are more involved and violence is increasing. "Securing the border" is a stupid term that just means speeding up this vicious cycle.

Each year, hundreds of people die trying to cross the southern borderlands, walking north for a better life. Still, it is very rare for humanitarian aid organizations like No More Deaths to find a deceased migrant in the desert. It only happens about once a year. I guess this year my friends and I are the unlucky ones.

I'm not writing this message asking for sympathy – I'm asking for action. Though the many calls and kind words I've already received are appreciated, I don't feel comforted. How can I take solace when what we ran across yesterday is a regular occurrence here in the U.S? Take a look at the attached letter from my friend Deb. Thankfully, the 13 year-old boy mentioned in her letter was later found alive and well. But it shows the racism and inhumanity that is consuming our country. How can we feel secure when our neighbors are being rounded up and scapegoated in our own communities, far from the border? How can anyone feel comforted when a kangaroo court called "Operation Streamline" is forcing poor and hungry people to beg a judge for forgiveness for their "crime" of trying to feed their families – or face jail time and criminal records?

U.S. border policy is designed to neglect, berate, scapegoat, humiliate, torture, and kill innocent people. Let's change it. Now, goddammit!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Burn it all

Packaged water with "30% less plastic", it's like saying the "most fuel efficient SUV on the road"...really, what does that even mean?

Now im off to purchase some water from down the street.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Crossing Arizona Screening

Crossing Arizona will be screening at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Monday 25th of February at 7pm. After the screening I will be joining the director for a discussion of the documentary and issues surrounding migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. I would love everyone to come and see this wonderful documentary

Info about the event and directions:

Info on the documentary

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sea Scouts

This is some great footage from a few years ago that someone recently put up of the Sea Scouts, in Melbourne, 2000. For a succinct little history... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Scouts_(band)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Getty Museum - February 10th

One of the few places that affords a totalizing view of Los Angeles is from the Getty Museum on the edge of the Santa Monica mountains, particularly in winter when the layer of brown smog leaves the city. In one sweeping view you have the ocean, the snow capped mountains, and one of the largest megalopolis' in the world laying in between - the full spectrum of living conditions, sections of green the spot the landscape in between the freeways that bisect the city, and planes taking off from LAX.

The marine layer rolled in across Santa Monica. When you are in it, you just assume everywhere is grey and overcast, but from above its a different perspective, like always.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008

More house shots...

The house was built in 1905, so we think this might have been the original servants quarters

The condemned stair case of death

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Blood In Blood Out, or, "why do my legs hurt so much?"

On Saturday I decided to make a half-assed return to doing roadie rides (all lycra-related taunts are welcomed, including, but not limited to "roadie-scum"). Matt and I hit up Elysian Park (past the fixed-gear swapmeet) to the L.A. River trail, and on to Griffith Park, up and over to the Observatory and past the Hollywood sign.

After leaving Matt at Griffith Park, and 30 miles later, I rode home and decided to immediately turn around (sans-lycra) to the alleycat that was being put on by some downtown messengers. This alleycat was themed after the movie Blood In Blood Out, and so was based in East L.A./Boyle Heights, my new neighbourhood. I thought I would just drop by to watch the start, but inevitably decided to race. It has been about two years since I last raced an alleycat ("Cranksgiving") - a few years of bitterness towards "messenger lifestyle" and my continually bad performance in alleycats (getting lost, forgetting to eat before, generally being slow) meant I have avoided these largely. At least I could ride home if I decided to return to 6 year old budge, and just quit half-way without telling anyone, ala primary school.

The race started at the infamous 4th and Flower location. Situated in downtown under an overpass, this is a site best known for smelling like you are down-wind of a giant urinal (and you are), amongst other delights. This made the start of the race even more interesting: after lining all our bikes up across the road to create a sprint start, we were made to take all of our shoes off and put them in a pile, walking through things I dont even want to imagine...

Where are my shoes?

Once we found our shoes and ran across four lanes of one-way traffic to our bikes, it was a sprint to the 6th street bridge to get the manifest that listed all the checkpoints we had to get ticked off (in any order we chose) before getting to the finishing point (the 'Purple Rain' house a few blocks from my place).

Lining up the bikes for the start.

The checkpoints were located at locations that were scenes in the film, and often included certain 'tasks', including eating an entire chili, getting a "Vatos Locos" neck tattoo, drinking a shot of tequila, naming the artist of certain murals, or the name of the only white character in the movie (or if you didnt know the name, like me, doing 10 push-ups). I struggle with eating whole chili's and doing push-ups at the best of times, but after riding at full pace against traffic and running up giant sets of stairs, I was not feeling so well. The race was a lot of fun, and most even avoided arrest or a fine from the cops after some close calls.

After finding that my local liquor store is actually the best in L.A., and one of only two in the state that sells Australian beer that isn't Fosters (this brings me great joy, it even has Pinkus organic pilsner from Germany), we all headed to the industrial wasteland alongside the L.A. River, near the 7th street bridge for bike polo

I am Jake's demented cat.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Huck the wheel!

Took the new single-speed 29er out on Thursday. A short train ride (smiling at the commuters as they trudge off to work)/pedal and you are in the mountains.

Matt cranking up the hill on the cyclocross

At the top of the fire road after a pretty arduous uphill ride, before hitting the single trail down
Looking out over L.A. on one of the few clear days of the year
Total BFF's

Huckin' the wheel