G.A. Minutes 7-25-17

G.A. Minutes 7-25-17
So the weather people say it’s supposed to rain this evening. It’s not raining as the first Occupiers roll up to People’s Plaza; we’re gonna try to get as much time in the fire circle as the rain gods will allow. The sky is overcast but not particularly dark, the temperature is in the low 70s and there is no breeze at all. The air is very muggy; uggg….. maybe the fire will take up some of the moisture.
Several of the Anonymous crew are waiting when we arrive. As they help set up the circle one of the crew tells us, “I’m not sure who’s gonna show up tonight. I’ve been without internet for an entire week so haven’t been able to communicate. We’re very dependent on Facebook for sharing information and for organizing”. An Occupier responds, “Yup, the internet is very convenient; we use it too. We’re going to have to look for other means of communication though. Once the revolution becomes stronger, the government will just close the whole thing down. The Anon adds, “When the government shut down the internet in Egypt everyone came out of their houses and congregated in front of the main government centers”.
The Stylish Native Woman and her partner arrive. Her partner tells us that he was recently arrested and hauled off to jail again. The arresting cop smacked him around too. The Partner is an unmedicated schizophrenic who has an uncontrollable need to just yell into the air sometimes. He doesn’t yell at other living beings and as far as we know has never physically harmed anyone; he just yells sometimes. When he’s finished he always apologizes to anyone within earshot.
Anyway, he’s been plagued with bouts of yelling for the last month or so. Somebody must have called the cops a week or so ago because one showed up to insult and harass him. Cops have been harassing him for well over 20 years. When he tried to verbally defend himself, the cop smacked him around and took him to jail. Now he’ll have to try to explain himself to a judge. He never has much luck with that.
All the so called professional people tell The Partner that the solution to all his problems is to just take his prescribed medicine. The Partner says, “I just really cannot take that stuff. When I take that stuff I become a complete zombie; I can’t even think”. The so called professional people seem to think that The Partner taking his medicine is a very simple and easy thing. They think that if he doesn’t take it then he doesn’t deserve any kind of help.
The Partner opines, “I wish there was somewhere I could go where there were no people and I could just yell and yell until I exhausted myself. I could then come back and associate with people until I had to go and yell again”.
We’d like to offer to help him file a complaint about being beaten up but we know he would never do that. He’d be too afraid that some of the cops would take him into a dark alley and break every bone in his body. There are some cops on the police force that would do that too.
More Anons are arriving; they hang around the fire circle and turn on their good music. Many Anon groupies also appear. We call them groupies because they are younger than the Anons and don’t have much knowledge or interest in what Anonymous is really about. They just think the masks are cool.
When an Occupier returns from parking his truck he reports, “There’s a guy without a shirt running around on the roof of the steam plant. A couple of squad cars are parked down at the bottom”. A few people go to take a peak over the back bushes; then an ambulance comes roaring across the overpass and off in the direction of the hospitals. The guy on the roof can no longer be seen. Someone says, “Gee, I hope he didn’t jump off the roof”. Someone else responds, “Naw, if he’d have jumped off there would have been a lot more squads and such around”. We all hope things work out o.k. for the dude.
When the Fire Magician finally gets a chance to light up the fire, the Anons go out to the street corner and start thumping. The groupies stay behind, hanging around just outside of the circle between forays for food from the table. We notice they’re acting extra “squirrely” tonight.
A street man who sometimes visits our fire and a street woman who we haven’t met in the past are discussing their previous and many stays in prison. The man states, “One time I spent a year in solitary. It wasn’t too bad; I read a lot of books and I appreciated the reprieve from having to interact with lots of people”. The woman replies, “I have grandbabies now and they need me. I have to stay out of the system”.
One of the street folks points to the water sculpture across the street and calls out, “Hey look, some tourists just brought Mr. Green a big pizza! Several of the street folks go running over to see if Mr. Green will share. An Occupier says quietly to another, “Oh, Mr. Green will definitely share. I know him; I was his nurse when he was in a chemical dependency unit about 15 years ago. He’s developmentally disabled; I know he looks real mean and scary but he’s actually a very sweet and innocent dude.
“He just doesn’t understand the connection between hanging out with the real hardcore street drug users and being kind of stuck in the life he leads. Every month when he gets his SSI check all bad guys hang out with him and he buys them drugs and alcohol. Once his money runs out, they beat him up and leave. As far as I know, no one has tried or been able to get him to understand about addiction or that another life is possible”.
After the pizza is gone, Mr. Green comes over to our circle to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. He doesn’t recognize his former nurse.
The city official and another Occupier come up the stairs. Once they are settled an Occupier reports to the city man, “I have 3 people who are willing to go on your radio show. Two of them could be available any Wednesday, Thursday or Friday afternoon”. The city man answers, “Those times would work for me too”. The Occupier continues, “I still have to contact the third person and then we’ll be good to go”.
The newly arrived Occupier asks, “So what did you think of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Open House last week?” Another Occupier replies, “I arrived very late so most of the food was gone but I think the sponsors have a very nice house, garden and back yard. The band playing was good too. Our old friend, the band’s guitar player has certainly advanced his chops since the last time I heard him play a couple of years ago. I was able to sit and chat with a few people I hadn’t seen in a long time. Also, Rich Upthegrove is definitely the best person for City Councilperson at Large. I’ll have no problem voting for him. We all agree, Rich Upthegrove is the best candidate.
An Occupier announces, “I went to Detox last week because I think I need another round of treatment for my alcoholism. They interviewed me and put me on a waiting list. I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait to get in. A street person adds, “Yeah, I’m having some pretty serious mental health issues but I can’t get in anywhere. Everything is full and there are long waiting lists. Another street person chimes in, “Even St. Louis County Jail is full. They’re contracting out to other smaller jails in the state. There sure are a lot of people hurting out here”.
The conversation turns to the subject of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights. The official man reminds us about his idea to purchase cheaply priced used buses from the DTA and turn them into portable shower facilities. An Occupier comments, “I like that idea. Myself and 2 other people from the HPB of R Coalition are tasked with exploring solutions to the 24/7 access to bathroom facilities human right. Mayor Larson has asked for a meeting with us. She says she has some ideas too. When we meet I will bring up the DTA bus solution”
The gay African American former street guy who was a regular at our Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial fires appears. He’s been at several of our fires this year too. He and the street man with the prison record see each other, break out in big smiles and hug each other for a long time. We were aware the African American man had fallen in love with someone but we didn’t know who it was. We don’t know the former prisoner well but, on the surface at least, he appears to be intelligent and kind hearted. We hope he really is because the African Heritage Man deserves to have a real relationship with someone who cares about him.
The Anon groupies have been running around the Plaza and acting silly all night long. It appears that some of them are drunk. Now they are sitting in the circle and trying to burn each other’s hair with their lighters. We tell them to stop. They do stop but begin wrestling with someone’s bandanna. They come within inches of the fire; everyone is yelling at them to stop. They have become deaf.
It’s about 9:30pm and we were planning on watching the fire die out. The Fire Magician sighs, “That’s it! We gotta go. If these kids won’t respect the fire circle then we’ll have to take it away”. All the non-groupies help pack up; the Anons come off the corner. The groupies just stand there looking confused.
An Occupier walks out of the Plaza to get her vehicle and load on the food stuff. She spots 2 cops that she doesn’t recognize, sitting on bicycles in the shadows; she hears the 1st cop say, “Hey, they have a fire going up there!” The 2nd cop says something that she can’t make out. The 1st cop says, “You mean they can do that ?!?” The 2nd cop says, “Yeah”.
The stupid acting groupies come walking down the stairs, appearing to be ready to harass the cops. At first the Occupier thinks she should go back to the circle but then she remembers the city official is still there. No worries, cops NEVER mess with the official man.
The light changes and the Occupier continues her mission. When she returns, the cops are gone and so are the groupies. Everything is ready to go; an Anon puts his sound system into her trunk and we are off….. Until next Tuesday of course.

G.A. Minutes 7-18-17

G.A. Minutes 7-18-17
It rained all day today and into mid-afternoon. The weather people say that’s all we’re gonna get for now. When we arrive at People’s Plaza this evening, the sky is clear, the temperature is in the low 70s with no breeze to speak of.
Spiritual Man is already waiting for us; he jumps right in and starts setting up the chairs. The young Native guy who used to help at the Anishinaabe taco sales comes up the stairs. He tells us that he recently got a very good deal on a used van; it now has a flat tire but he doesn’t have the tools needed to fix it. He says, “Winona LaDuke gave me $40 yesterday and I need to get to St. Paul tonight”.
He asks the Occupier who has the truck to come with him about 6 blocks away where his van is sitting. The Occupier replies, “I have tools and I’ll help you but not until after the fire circle is done. Come back here once the sky is completely dark and we’ll go take a look at your vehicle”.
One of the young white guys who hang around with Anonymous sits down; he comments, “It sure is quiet”. An Occupier answers, “That’s because the Anons aren’t here yet. They generally make a lot of noise”. The young guy tells her, “I don’t think they’ll be showing up this time. The Anon who takes care of the sound equipment and signs is feeling a little sick”.
The Fire Magician lights a small fire to begin with; the air is still quite warm and very few people are in the circle. The group currently consists of some Occupiers, the city official, Spiritual Man, the friend of the Anons and a young street man who has been coming to our fire for the last couple of weeks.
An Occupier states, “The next Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition meeting is this Thursday at Dorothy Day House”. The city official adds, “I attended a big meeting today about the HPB of R up at the Central Hillside Community Center. There were a lot of people there; folks from the Coalition and many City departments, City Councilors and such.
“The bulk of the discussion was about funding sources. I’m afraid they weren’t too happy with me; I kept providing information about rent control, CDBG funds and other things that City Councilors and City department employees didn’t seem to be aware of. I was surprised by their lack of knowledge and their defensiveness”.
The Occupier remarks, “Oh that’s right; I knew about that meeting but forgot to go. It’s probably for the best because I’m like you; I bring up topics that the so called upper echelons of folks so called running the City would rather ignore.
“I sure wonder what’s going on with mayor, Emily Larson. She talks like she’s in support of homeless people and their equal rights but her behavior shows something different. I definitely know she doesn’t want the HPB of R to become a City ordinance. I suppose she’s a better deal than the previous mayor, Don Ness who showed himself to be racist and classist but still, I wish she’d back up her words with actions”.
The city man agrees, “As far as Duluth’s communities of color are concerned, Mayor Larsen receives the grade of an F”.
Another Occupier tells the city man, “I received the email you sent out about grants for people willing to tell their stories about living during the Viet Nam War era. I think that would be a good thing for Veterans for Peace to get involved in”.
The official man concurs, “I sent it to them too. Do you all know that SURJ is sponsoring a tour of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial area tomorrow at 5:30pm?”
The Occupier who reports stuff says, “If now is the time for reporting, I’d like to report that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will not be having an Anishinaabe Frybread Taco Sale in August. Their frybread maker is having knee surgery and they don’t have another experienced maker.
“I have a good recipe for frybread but it’s not the Anishinaabe kind. I know how to fry but I don’t know how to make the dough. It seems like people around here keep their recipes a closely guarded secret and just pass them down to their next generation”.
Spiritual Man remarks, “I know how to make frybread. I learned from my mother when I was a kid”. Another Occupier advises, “Why don’t you just go on the internet? I imagine that somebody sold their recipe during a moment of need”. The reporting Occupier opines, “Yeah, I guess I could do that but it seems unethical somehow”.
An older, white, Christian man who we have known since the very first days of Occupy at the Civic Center walks up. He is accompanied by a young woman. We’ve always found this man to be a little odd but very likeable. He hangs around with right wing evangelical Christians but is disappointed with how unchristian these folks are.
He’s a very talented photographer/videographer who used to be employed by a major local TV channel. We don’t know what happened but he hasn’t been employed by any local media company in many years. He moved to Orange County, California last year where he became homeless. Homelessness was a new experience for him; he learned a lot and then decided to move back to Duluth where people are more charitable.
We chat for a while but he has to go to purchase a top of the line camera from some guy. He’s planning on making a video about homelessness. We tell him we think that’s a good idea and wish him luck.
An Occupier informs us, “I have a young friend who recently told me about non-binary gender identity. I’m not sure I completely understood. Does one just decide to not be a specific gender or what? I mean, I have no problem with the idea but I’m not sure I fully understand the concept”.
The city man adds, “So what does cis gender mean?” Someone tells him, “Cis means heterosexual or straight, trans means changed gender or something like that”. The scientific Occupier explains, “In organic chemistry when carbon chains branch out in opposite directions originating from the same spot it’s called “cis”; when they branch out in opposite directions but originating from different spots it’s called “trans”.
An Occupier takes out his phone and states, “I know, I’ll just see what Siri (a computer program that tries to talk like an actual person) says”. Another Occupier jokes, “Siri?!? Don’t ask her; she doesn’t know anything”. The phoning Occupier asks Siri anyway and she gives him an answer that makes no sense at all. The joking Occupier exclaims, “See I knew she didn’t know anything. And besides, Siri, stop flirting with my husband, you B…… wait, is Bitch a non-binary word?” Siri replies in a patient, pleasant voice, “Now, now”. We all just crack up. Our questions remain unanswered.
An Occupier couple rides up on a motorcycle. The male remarks, “It’s summer and I finally got my bike up and running. Maybe I’ll take it when I go out to the Retreat at Mesabe Co-op Park this Friday and Saturday”.
The multi-racial couple, who were staying at CHUM and attending all our fires last year, appears. They have an apartment now; the female has been in counseling and drug treatment for an entire year. She tells us, “I feel like a completely different person. I’m so much happier and healthier”. She talks about things she’s learned and says she has been taking a drug called suboxone. She reports, “When one is trying to get off of heroin there’s methadone and suboxone. Suboxone works much better”.
The young street man adds, “Yeah, I don’t know why they even give methadone. A person is addicted to heroin so they give the person another drug that they become addicted to instead? That doesn’t even make sense”.
Coma Man seems to arrive out of nowhere. He just stands, smiling at us. He doesn’t seem to be particularly wasted. He says, “I have to leave but I’ll come back later”. Off he goes.
The woman who is in long term drug treatment asks the city man if he know anything about the City Diversion Program. She has several tickets from the police that were received many years ago. She’d like to clear them up. The city man knows about the program and tells her where to go to find out if she is eligible.
A group of 5 or 6 young guys, who are of varying ethnicities and sort of Anonymous groupies, climb up the ledge, go through the trees and come running across the Plaza and into the circle. Because there have been fewer people in the circle this evening, about half of the food is still on the table. The youngbloods devour everything in a matter of minutes. They take the tobacco pouch, begin rolling cigarettes and talking about girls. They’re nice kids; we like them and just sit and listen to them talk.
A group of young girls are walking down the sidewalk. The young guys know the girls and call out to them. To the delight of the boys, the girls come over. They chat a while and then the entire group goes off to wherever (climbing through the trees and jumping off the ledge of course).
It’s quite late; the stars are out and we’ve run out of wood. Taco Helping Man appears; he seems only slightly drunk. He has his girlfriend and a couple of other guys with him; they are really drunk. All the sober people quickly pack up and are ready to go.
The Occupiers will go home and rest up for tomorrow; except for the Occupier with the truck. He’s going a couple blocks up from the Mission feeding center to help Taco Helping Man change a tire. We hope the experience won’t take too long or end in some type of disaster.
Of course, we plan to be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 7-11-17

G.A. Minutes 7-11-17
The weather people say it’s going to rain tonight; they don’t say exactly when though. It could happen in an hour or not until the middle of the night. We’ll just have to keep an eye on the sky. Right now it’s overcast, the temperature is in the mid-50s and a steady wind of moderate force is acting like it’s not really mid-July.
Some of the Anonymous folks are already out on the street corner as the first Occupiers arrive at People’s Plaza. The man from New Jersey, a few Anons, Socialist Action members and several other peeps begin their Cop Watch (another name to be decided upon) meeting as we set up the fire circle and food table. The Fire Magician gets the fire going right away. It will definitely be needed this evening.
The Cop Watch folks are talking about doing an action in coalition with Superior Save the Kids and Lake Superior Ex-Prisoners Organizing. It is to be titled Millions for Prisoners Human Rights and will take place on the protest corner directly outside of the Plaza on Saturday, August 19th from 5p-6p. The Occupiers plan to participate in this rally.
There are many street folks here too. They generally show up later; tonight they’re making the scene early. It seems like everyone is hungry. The Occupiers have brought their usual pile of sandwiches, cookies, coffee and apple juice. The Native couple from the neighborhood donate a big pot of manoomin (wild rice) and New Jersey Man contributes a really good watermelon. Fortunately, he also contributes a cutting board and a big sharp knife.
An Occupier puts the cutting board on the floor and cuts it up to the best of her ability. Some of the pieces look pretty strange but at least she didn’t cut herself or anyone else. When she’s finished she wraps the knife in a towel and puts it under her chair. She learned her lesson last year after Coma Man got a hold of the wood chopping axe and started playing Ninja Warrior with it.
The Cop Watch meeting is finished and most of those in attendance need to leave. New Jersey Man joins the circle; all the chairs are full. Among those in the circle are the Occupiers, the city official, Spiritual Man, the Stylish Native Woman and her partner, Mississippi Woman, the veteran young homeless man whose mother comes to the fire from time to time in search of him, a few young Native guys who have been attending regularly this year and a Duluth police officer.
The DPD officer wants to speak with the veteran young homeless man but he doesn’t want to speak with her. So the officer says, “O.K., you all have a good evening” and leaves. The veteran man tells us, “She arrested a friend of mine last week and now she wants me to give her some information. It ain’t gonna happen”.
A Native man who says he attended one of our fires last year comes up; he was attracted by the smell of the burning sage. He tells us he is a member of the Fond du Lac band and spent several years in prison where he found Jesus. We notice that he wears a small Christian fish symbol on a chain around his neck. He requests to be allowed to pray for our gathering in the Anishinaabe language. We accept his offer and give him a pinch of tobacco.
The Native Christian man steps toward the fire; Spiritual Man stands beside him. As he prays, an Occupier who has a vague familiarity with Anishinaabemowin notices that he asks the Creator for a blessing upon us but does not begin by calling in “the spirits” as is usually done. When he finishes he and Mississippi Woman go off away to have a conversation about their Christian beliefs.
An Occupier informs the city official, “The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition folks have asked me to take on the responsibility for getting everything together so some of them can come on your radio show. Are there any particular days or times when you would like them to do this?” The city man responds, “Most any day could work. We can record the interview and then I can play the recording on a Thursday at 6pm”. The Occupier answers, “O.K. good. It will probably take me about a month to get the people in order but I’m on it as of right now”.
The neighborhood couple has been out on the corner with the Anons. As they are leaving, they stop to pick up their now empty manoomin pot. They ask, “So when is the next Sobriety Feast?” An Occupier tells them, “Tomorrow night, 6pm at the Central Hillside Community Center. I’ve made a big pot of homemade macaroni and cheese with turkey hot dogs in it. Everyone says, “Yum!”
The food has all disappeared; the Anons are still thumping on the corner and most of the street folks have gone off to their sleeping places. With full stomachs, they will hopefully sleep well.
The circle is considerably smaller; everyone pulls their chairs closer to the roaring fire. The Occupiers, Spiritual Man, New Jersey Man, one Anon and the 2 young Native regular dudes are the only folks remaining; then Chicago Man appears.
An Occupier exclaims to Chicago Man, “I’m so glad you showed up tonight! I have something for you”. She hands him a small sage bundle. Chicago Man is pleased and remarks, “Oh thank you! This is exactly what I need. It really helps me to keep my head together when I can smudge when I need to”. He tells us he’s just been hired as a clerk at one of the neighborhood big box stores. He also has a job interview at the casino tomorrow. Chicago Man confides, “I’m not too thrilled about these jobs because I do much better when I have a job where I don’t have to deal much with other people. I’m kind of an introvert so have to force myself to make nice with strangers. However, seeing as I’m still grieving the loss of my deceased partner, I find it helps to keep myself busy. Besides, I seriously want to get a place of my own. I’ll have to do whatever it takes to make that a reality”.
The wind is blowing strong now, it’s been dark for a while; the stars are not visible. Someone looks at their phone and reports, “It says here that it’s not going to rain until 2am”. No one is ready to leave yet; an Occupier goes to his truck to get more wood.
A discussion about spirituality, philosophy or something like that begins. At first the 2 young dudes are sitting next to each other and talking about girls but they soon join the main discussion. Among the topics analyzed are atheism, various spiritual practices not associated with any specific “god”, Christianity and Anishinaabe spirituality.
The Anon wants to know about Marxism. New Jersey Man opines, “I believe Marxism is considered to be a science”. He goes on to explain basic Marxist ideas. The conversation goes on until the wood runs out. It’s quite late but we’re sorry we have to leave. It would be great if we could continue with this good vibe next time.
We expect to be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 7-4-17

G.A. Minutes 7-4-17
Peoples Plaza is completely empty as the first Occupiers arrive for their weekly fire circle this evening. We realize that many of the street people received their small monthly government checks a few days ago. That means many of them will be off somewhere indulging in their substance of choice. However, there are no people of any sort on the street; there are lots of cars though. Whatever…. we take our time setting up the food, chairs and such and wait to see what happens.
It’s slightly chilly for an early July evening; the sky is partly cloudy; the temperature is in the mid-60s. A slight eastern breeze is responsible for the chill. The Fire Magician prepares the fire pit for a big fire but says he’ll wait to light it until the sun goes behind the buildings.
A 30 something, probably white, street man who is vaguely familiar to us takes a seat on a bench just outside of the circle. We say hello but he doesn’t acknowledge us. It appears he is having a quiet conversation with someone who we can’t see.
Our next visitor is the African American gay guy from Chicago who we met last week. He says, “Oh good, you’re here. I thought you said every Tuesday”. He seems kinda sad; when an Occupier asks if he’s o.k, he answers, “These last few days have been really stressful for me. My living situation is chaotic and all the fireworks going off all over the place are really getting on my nerves. I’ll be glad when I get my own place so I can have things the way I like them”.
The city official arrives; he’s still carrying his cane but he doesn’t need to use it. His knee has healed considerably so he takes the cane “just in case”. An Occupier says to him, “Say, I heard the Damiano will be needing a new executive director”. The city man verifies that particular rumor as true. The Occupier continues, “If they put the position out to the public you should apply. You have the experience needed and would be good at that job. The city man agrees, “Yes, I think I will apply; it probably wouldn’t interfere with my radio show”.
The sun is behind the buildings now so the Fire Magician starts up the fire. It roars up right away, protecting us against the cold wind.
A Native young woman who we don’t know sits down. Her behavior is boisterous and she appears to be drunk. She’s somewhat over weight and is wearing a thin ankle length skirt that has a side split going all the way up to the waist band. All her “stuff” is hanging out and it looks like she’s not wearing any underwear. She bounces from chair to chair, attempting to rub up against whoever is sitting there. Trust me; it is not a pretty sight.
When she gets to the chair that holds the Chicago Man she stops. Apparently, he’s the one who strikes her fancy. Chicago Man is polite; he listens to her conversation for a little while. It’s obvious she is making him feel uncomfortable; he gets up and gets some food from the table. She follows him; he moves away from the circle. She turns to the Occupiers and asks, “Is it o.k. if I bring my boyfriend here”. We say, “No problem” and she leaves.
Unfortunately, she quickly returns with a tall, slender young Native man in tow. We think we have met this young man in the past. He says hello then bends over, puts his head in his hands and just sits there. She resumes stalking Chicago Man. He briefly plays her game but we can see he’s getting annoyed.
At one point her boyfriend gets up and bends over the side bushes. An Occupier opines, “It looks like your boyfriend is throwing up over there in the bushes”. She checks on him briefly then returns to resume her stalking. However, (surprise, surprise) Chicago Man has disappeared.
The Anonymous group rolls up. They decide to just hang out around the fire. Seeing as Chicago Man is gone, the half-naked woman starts rubbing herself on all the male Anons. They are not pleased but refrain from insulting or yelling at her. They crank up their music.
An older Native man who looks very familiar to us stumbles in. He tells us he has been drinking continuously for 2 days. He asks the city official to call his sister who lives on the top of the hill and tell her that he (the drunken man) needs a ride home. The official man complies and relays the sister’s message that the drunken man is not allowed to come home when he’s drunk. That’s when we remember the dude. He was always coming to our fires up at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial and asking folks to call his sister.
The drunken old guy thanks him, then tells him, “You know, I really don’t like the way you’ve been treating your woman. It’s not right”. The city man is not married; he doesn’t even have a girlfriend. He responds, “Sorry, it’s not me. You have me confused with someone else”. The mistaken man replies, “But how can that be? I was just talking to your old lady today and she told me how bad you treat her”. The city man stands his ground.
The confused old guy turns to one of the Occupiers and growls, “I know who you are…..Cop Caller! All I have to say to you is FUCK OFF!!!” The Occupiers have become used to this alcoholic mistaken identity thing so she tells him, “Nope, it’s not me. You’re thinking of someone else”. He looks real closely at her and sighs, “I guess you’re right. I was wondering what happened to all your curls”.
The boyfriend of Half-Naked Woman has revived somewhat. He’s showing off his veins and track marks to the mistaken man. The mistaken man is impressed. The boyfriend calls over to Half-Naked Woman who is still busy rubbing up on folks, “Get over here and sit down!” She comes to sit beside him but she’s still squirming. He says softly but firmly, “What did I just tell you? Sit down and shut up!” She complies.
All evening the cops have been buzzing around with their sirens blaring and their lights flashing. There’s been fire trucks and ambulances too. Sometimes they go up the hill but mostly they’ve been heading for the freeway or Canal Park. We think there are probably some car accidents on the freeway. We doubt anybody is rioting down in Canal Park.
The Plaza is rapidly filling up with lots of people. Most of them are street folks who appear to be really wasted. There’s the little veteran homeless dude whose mom stops by the fire when she’s looking for him, the schizophrenic middle aged man from the Skinner, the handsome, dark haired, furry schizophrenic guy who rants around the neighborhood and many others. We wave to them, they wave back but they know not to sit in the circle when they’re too fucked up.
An Occupier looks around the Plaza at all the incoherent people staggering around and comments, “Well, at least the music from the Anons is good”.
Menagerie Woman and her best friend arrive; they’ve come in the friend’s car tonight and brought 3 dogs with them. We give water to the dogs. Bush Man is down in the Cities staying in some type of mental health care facility. The friend tells us she is in the process of moving. She’s been living in a large public housing building where everything is really nuts. Things are looking up though; she’s managed to find a larger apartment in a smaller building where she will have a patio and the opportunity to garden. She reports that the housing authority is now giving out housing vouchers that have a 90 day time frame as opposed to the previous ones that had a timeframe of 30 days. Apparently, the Duluth housing market for poor people is so tight that the housing people know it will be close to impossible for poor people to find somewhere to live.
The friend notices Half-Naked Woman sitting next to her boyfriend with her stuff hanging out. The friend states, “It looks like your skirt has come apart. Would you like me to help you fix it?” The Woman seems to notice for the first time that her skirt is open and replies, “Yes please”. The friend sees that the skirt has little buttons all down the slit and she begins buttoning them up. She advises, “You probably won’t be able to wear this again. Some of the buttons are missing and the skirt is a little too small for you”.
Another young Native man who visited our CJMM fires frequently appears. We haven’t seen him since we moved to People’s Plaza 2 years ago. This particular man always seemed to have his shit at least half way together. It appears he knows the Woman and her boyfriend well. He speaks to them sternly, “These people work really hard to make this fire and food for us. You need to respect it!”
The couple doesn’t say anything; they just get up and leave. The Anons are leaving too. They’re going to find a place by the lake where they can watch the fireworks. The half way together young man goes with them. It’s almost 10pm so most everyone in the space scurries off to find a watching spot. The Occupiers stay behind; they’re kinda conflicted about fireworks and the whole 4th of July charade.
As we are packing up, Chicago Man returns. He asks, “Has she gone yet?” We assure him that she has. He sits down next to an Occupier and sighs, “She was getting really annoying. July is a really bad month for me. It’s the month that my partner died, the month that his family that didn’t care about him when he was alive came into the picture and also the month of his funeral. I was allowed to attend the funeral but after that they just didn’t have any use for me”. We emphasize but don’t know what to tell him except that his pain will probably lessen with time.
As we are leaving, an Occupier comments, “Man, this was the weirdest meeting we had here. We didn’t even get to discuss anything on our agenda”. Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, I’ve always thought that I wanted to go back to CJMM to have our fires. Things were always much more active and dramatic there. After tonight, I’ve changed my mind. The Plaza is just fine with me”.
On that note, we plan to be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.