Thursday morning I went to meet friend SM for coffee in Oakland proper. What a nice visit! But….. as I was still a couple blocks away from the coffee house I stopped at an intersection and watched in slow motion as a drunken biker (9 am mind you) swerved down the side walk and casually broad sided the passenger side of the car. She put her face close to the window and slurred in a high pitched, raspy voice, “What up, cowboy!” then off she veered down the road. The scratches were minor, thankfully she didn’t come through the window.
So I went back to the city. I got a call from someone I met at the General Assembly of Occupy SF saying that he would like to hear more songs and stories and that I should come back to the meeting on Thursday and share. So I did. Before I sang my song I listened to Beth recount to the digital recorder her experience being arrested in Oakland. I heard her tell of being held over thirty six hours without being charged or booked. I heard her tell of the seventeen year old high school girl suffering the same fate in the cell next to hers. Of the mid seventies lady also held and denied access to her medications. I heard her talk about how, with the new rules that were passed in the Defense Appropriations Bill at the end of ’11, it was easy to see how they could have just disappeared off to Guantanamo and not be heard from again for a really long time. She was shaken by the experience.
I sang “we’ve WON!” then went for a walk back to where I had parked the car. I could feel the strain on my voice to sing at full volume over the traffic and conversations. The most relaxing time in the city for me was sitting in my car reading “Navigating the Collapse of Time” by David Ian Cowan. After a nice break with snacking and beverages I saddled up the old smart phone and headed off the the corner of 16th and Mission to the BART station for the second show of the evening.
Not long after arriving a man started a chalk mandala on the concrete to act as the stage for the evenings poetry slam. This was by far the coolest open mic that I have been to yet. There were probably fifty people there listening and performing and enjoying the cool evening. I sang “Purge” and could feel it in my throat. Once again the loud atmosphere of being in the open air and the traffic made me push harder than I should have. That song went well and was well received. Later when I got back up to sing “Stand” I could tell at the first note that I needed to take it easy. Instead of singing both halves I focused on combining the two and being as gentle on my voice as possible while still having enough volume to be heard. What a neat place to listen and perform. There were poems about personal, about America, about the fallacy of the war on drugs about life. Thank you 16th and Mission for letting me join you for the evening!!