One way to look at entering a city like San Francisco is that there is an entrance fee. I have always joked that when you go to Aspen there is a toll booth where they check your credit limit to see if you can enter the town. In SF it wasn’t as much of a joke. You pay to come over the bridge and then of course to park. Between sixteen and eighteen dollars just to get the car in. It is free to leave the city. I would have taken the train but it stops running at midnight and that would have left me stranded according to my experience at other performances.
So I found the open mic venue, Martinu’s, then began the two and a half mile walk to the Occupy general assembly. It felt good to finally get some real exercise again after so many days of sitting. It is really shocking to this farm kid to experience the city. It is so loud, so hurried, so crowded and, it seemed, it would be really easy to be lonely.
The group assembled in front of the Federal Reserve building. A police barricade was in place to keep anyone from coming closer than the sidewalk. Two officers lounged under an outdoor propane heater smoking cigarettes and playing with their phones. The meeting lasted nearly three hours. There was talk of the action they organized on January 20 where many people got arrested. Someone said that City Hall’s doors had been left unlocked under the hopes that something would go wrong. They said that while the Occupy people were being arrested for their protest some “punks that showed up” started breaking things, thus giving them a bad rap.
The primary focus for the evening was a round robin of all attendees stating the two most pressing issues they thought Occupy SF should be working on. Ending capitalism, education, inclusion to name a few. There was a proposal submitted to request that OSF recognize the general strike that is to occur on May Day. Some arguing about something that seemed personal. Then the meeting was over. I requested that I share a song before every one disbanded.
I said, “In my opinion there is something tangible that people can do to end capitalism, restore the power to the people and bring hope. It is a slow action. Find a piece of dirt. Plant a seed. Water it. Then save the seeds that grow there.” Then I sang “Purge”. I offered free house concerts and to show the movie “Thrive”, gave out a couple business cards and went on my way.
By now the open mic sign up was fifteen minutes under way and I had well over a half hour jog/walk ahead of me. I rushed in, found a seat and started realizing this wasn’t going to be my best venue. Open mic in a piano bar means that you need to look through the book, find your favorite show tune, jazz standard or 80’s pop hit, then belt it out while all your friends golf clap. They let me get up for one song. I shared “Definition”, then listened to Little Mermaid and Paula Abdul covers for the next forty-five minutes until I decided they weren’t going to let me back on.
Snack in the car and back to sister L’s. Thank you smart phone, this would have been impossible without you!