Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fun Center / OPDX

:: click for larger view ::

from the comments section of

Notes From the Occupation

48 hours inside Occupy Portland

· Articles · Cover Story · Notes From the Occupation
willamette week

Related comments:

A Poetic Comment
@ Ikea
@ Red Square
@ Fun Center

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween 2011 (1 of 3)

:: halloween 2011 ::

This isn't actually the day of Halloween, October 31, but for us it's a season, and a favorite holiday. Tara got some time off school to come home and bake (part of our Blue House curriculum).

We took our bikes down to Peoples Coop, where I had a gigantic bag of lentils on order, keeping the memory of Teresina and Joe Havens alive, some really Together Friends that we knew.

Teresina was deeply into Buddhism, had cleaned public toilets in Tokyo as one of her services.

Joe started our Quaker Economics Study Circle, which blossomed, and in my case led to closer ties with the Henry George School.

We also procured pumpkins suitable for baking into pies and Tara has spent a good part of her day on that project, following The Joy of Cooking. She also went to the gym (no, not 24-Hour Fitness anymore, which we'd joined when it was still a Gold's in this town).

Lindsey was through for a pit stop. She's mostly roaring her engines (metaphorically -- she's against wasting peak oil) around Occupy Portland. Her picture is in this week's issue of Willamette Week as a part of a photo montage.

I bought her beers at Angelo's last night and pumped her for information. Her analysis tends to be influential on mine, though where spin doctoring goes, we do it differently, have our respective weaknesses and powers. She headed back into the fray just a few minutes ago.

She liked Notes from the Occupation in Willamette Week as it seemed an allusion to Notes from Underground, and Dostoevsky has been her theme recently, especially The Idiot, a role she alludes to in her own character in Privileged Dignity Village (she loved this picture, as I reviewed what I'd stashed so far).

I need to return to Fred Meyer's, where we shop most frequently. The evaporated milk we were going to use in the pies is like a solid paste and a funny color. Kind of too old, too evaporated. No wait, it's condensed. I need to replenish our stocks.

I'm sharing storyboards of what an organized camp would look like, something the city might be proud of, in solidarity with camps elsewhere. We wouldn't go the steak and lobster tails route, like in Afghanistan, nor would we be so hazy on our mission, like in Iraq.

We could experiment with hexayurts, take and send "away teams" through Ft. Lewis. There's no law against civilians getting to use some of the same toys the military does, for humanitarian purposes. We could also showcase more bizmos and vegan food carts running on biodiesel provided by Asian restaurateurs and fellow travelers.

Yurt Exhibit

This is not about shutting down the OPDX campus so much as about providing a more planned and thought-out response to Portland's most desperately needy. Released prisoners, returning vets, other homeless, are flocking to OPDX seeking relief from the bully club and involuntary treatment wards.

There's an opportunity here to let a thousand dots of light show us a kinder, gentler America, what used to be the presidential rhetoric when I was between Lindsey's age (36) and Tara's (17).

We remember what happened with Rajneesh Puram, when they tried to address social ills in a more remote setting. Keeping OPDX from being spun in that direction by the press is not going to be easy, even though there's no Bhagwan.

The movement has a cultic flavor, thanks to various branding choices. Not saying that's bad. The pumpkin I carved was that Vendetta guy, as suits the season. I put that upside-down A, our Victory sign, on the back.

Tara found Lisa Randall on The Daily Show. We watched from her Holdenweb laptop in the kitchen. Patrick should be over soon, for nog 'n rum, yar! I was Facebooking Daily Show earlier tonight, sharing some links to that Bank of America story.

:: Ma Sheela, from The Oregonian ::

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Psychiatry Today

Joe Arnold is here, packed house again, giving us a talk on psychotropic medications. He's a practicing psychiatrist and a Wanderer. He has shared about this topic with us before, but thinking evolves, goes deeper, pulls in more and more of a world view. Philosophers know this from personal experience.

Cranks, Quarks and Dorks: that's not the title of the book he's sharing, more a paraphrase. He's wrestling with the authoritarian aspects of the Apollonian paradigm or archetype.

Heavy duty STEM theories are hard going sometimes, especially if you're not fluent in their cryptic equations (code languages for generalizations). It's a "back to basics" discussion, a kind of recap of physics. Nirel just walked in, with her girlfriend Max, and Barry. Wow, what a huge turnout.

I'm wondering about group psyches, mobs, currents that clearly transcend individuals. You might call them meme viruses, but that maybe reads too much into an analogy. "PR campaigns" won't cover it either. Some churches call it the zeitgeist (Holy Spirit). Television, the hottest and most volatile of the several media, is of critical importance in both spreading and quashing these movements.

Rationality is important to a psychiatrist, as it's critical to most diagnoses in that field that patients be suffering from a shortage of same.

That's an oversimplification of course. Some conditions, in need of treatment, result from a perhaps over-abundance of rationality. Thinking too clearly may be a recipe for existential alienation.

Octavia Butler novels come to mind. Her talented and gifted bore the brunt.

Paranoia was sweeping OPDX tonight and Lindsey was too busy trying to get fire lanes open, than do much more than telegraph her thinking. She was calling for help.

I went to my desk and sketched a draft of what I was getting, somewhat like a cartoonist. Like check out this one, shared again on Facebook recently, in honor of mom's visit to the Nevada Test Site.

Actually, Joe is far more suspicious and skeptical of science writers these days, so his investigation into the nature of rationality is more directed against his peers, other commentators on psychiatry.

The view I will share, when we go around the table, is that Psychiatry as a discipline should no way retain its monopoly, going forward, over the control of psychotropic substances.

I've taken some lessons from the "Voodoo House" on this (a silly term, invented by Willamette Week), but my thinking goes way back, and stems from interviewing many sources.

Mature cultures have other ways to manage psychotropics aside from as "cures" for "mental illnesses". Using the "illness" model so exclusively puts pathologies and their treatments in the drivers' seat, a situation we can ill afford.

The churches have a lot to do with this state of affairs, in not wanting to take on their deeper heritage. It'd take another Nietzsche to really get to the bottom of all this.

In the meantime, we continue to live under the yoke of Prohibition.

My other question for psychiatry is to what extent is there a literature of "social ills (pathologies)" and their cures. The standard model seems to isolate the "illness" to the single individual which may not be the appropriate unit of analysis in all cases.

We've all heard of "family therapy", but mob psychologies spread to far beyond a family. Does psychiatry allow itself to look at the spread of pathological ideologies (the "military-industrial complex" for example).

The focus on "the brain" may be somewhat unhealthy (too restrictive) if that causes these good doctors to avoid thinking about the importance of television, other media.

The spread of Freudianism (or Jungianism or whatever) should be studied as if it were the propagation of a mass delusion, a way of performing a kind of "group psychoanalysis" within that profession. The confinement of "mental illness" to a neuroscience discussion is blocking a lot of progress on other fronts. George Lakoff tries to bust out of that straitjacket, but he's a creature of his discipline, some might say a prisoner.

Monday, October 24, 2011


photo and sculpture by Dan Suttin

photo by Dan Suttin

photo by Dan Suttin

photo of Dan Suttin and models
by Tyler C. Cleveland/The Ranger

Related links:
NCTM web site

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October Look

(click for larger view)

Zen koan: remember your face before Facebook was born.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Fighting Quaker Tells All
:: esoterica ::
(click for larger view)

These camp sites are not especially hospitable, despite extraordinary measures to keep them ship shape. #OccupyIraq is no better in many ways. Sleep is difficult.

Some claim #OccupyPortland (OPDX) is frequented by Nike executives, posing as homeless. That's not really it though. Some families there, with kids, are truly homeless and are just looking for mercy, have a hard time sleeping in freeway dividers, especially with children.

If you're in social services, you're thinking "intake" i.e. there's some triage going, a sorting out, and a long menu of next stops, including some camps, but better established and set up to impart skills, give campers a new angle on life. More like BarCamps. But where? Are they secret? In Russia? The gulag professoriate should have them planned by now (or is "the future" not their business or cup of tea?).

Speaking of BarCamps with their unconference format, I got a worried email from Eve, perhaps following me on Twitter. I was bringing up those Broadway Metroplex theaters again, thinking about the spontaneous film festival we could be having, geared to an audience primed to think and talk anyway (that's about all that goes on in PDV, with sleep hard to come by). Eve also has designs on those theaters.

I was thinking of that Town Hall we held at Portland Center Stage. Theater and Town Hall go together and here's a vacant multiplex theater. Of course we would need sponsors. That would be the interesting part. Who would sponsor and who might feel like not participating because of those sponsors? That's a question for campers more generally.

Also, part of my pattern is to check out abandoned theater halls, like The Stanley, and to propose to repurpose them for curriculum use. I'm really into having movies be on the syllabus, just like books, and sometimes it's worth having a bigger screen with a serious sound system, the shared experience of others in the same space. You have a different kind of consciousness in a movie hall or meetinghouse. That's why Quakers come together, because the sum of the parts is less than the whole.

:: movie night @ opdx ::

Maybe the theaters were closed to install high def digital projectors. Livingroom Theaters, down the street, is doing a thriving business. Laughing Horse has plenty of relevant videos, like Punishment Park, that we could be screening (or maybe something less disturbing). PSU could be giving lectures, about the History we should be learning. Bring your students. Have them interview and learn from real homeless for a change, maybe sign up for career training through a booth, for duty in a Reboot City.

We may end up inventing a host of new brands as a result of the Occupation. The troops seem to be rotating, but so slowly, into more interesting lines of work. At this point, a few more arm band colors might do the trick. Give me tiger stripes and send me in a loop, recruiting others. It's an animist badge. But anyway, we don't need these to stay effective.

I've long advocated fleets of bizmos geared for inter-encampment touring, a way of cross-fertilizing the various cultures. The various bases were in on some of these circuits. Depolarize in North America and the campus will become friendlier in other Occupation zones as well -- that's the theory anyway. Or re-polarize on different axes. Doesn't happen overnight of course.

Name Band Legend

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Checking In

I walked through our "Privileged Dignity Village" (PDV) tonight, newly aware of Ibrahim's camp, a few blocks a way, on a steeper climb (Portland Tribune gives that story a whirl).

That name (PDV) is from a sign I photographed. Better than "Hooverville", another name for an encampment, associated with this same park (at least now that these dots are connected).

I was on my way to see Ides of March at Fox Tower though I didn't know it at the time. I follow leadings sometimes, part of my training as a Quaker, with Ray Simon another influence. I helped take care of Ray's and Bonnie's baby girl in those early days in Jersey City, after I'd quit my job with the Dominicans, following leadings.

Ides of March
is set against the backdrop of US presidential politics, highly fictionalized. This culture lives in fiction, and finds that works pretty well, as long as the toilets keep flushing (a Morlock responsibility). The upcoming movie Anonymous looked interesting.

Occupant Village is spic and span with like a village square or circle, with booths and boutiques (not saying for money). The kitchen is well organized and bustling. It's like a Brouwer (Dutch painter) except minus the drunken revelry. These folks are staying sober, have some serious organizing to do. Their living standards appear to be improving, as people notice the rewards of collaboration.

Zooming back, we see vast Hoovervilles all around Planet Earth. Would that similar youthful enthusiasm gain some access to inventory. The student body could use some gear, some of it brand name. Stewart Brand conveyed some of the excitement of these swift development scenarios. Shouldn't university coursework involve learning logistics? These campers crave opportunities to learn and share skills.

The community downtown feels a little different in terms of footprint as there's a sense of a propertied owner class behind it. A lot of these campers have homes, though probably in places with less sense of a campus community. They're getting "sangha" to sound Buddhist about it. This is how they'd like those property taxes spent, to keep their festive encampment a showcase of future lifestyles, and not necessarily distopian ones (many high cultures have used tents).

I doubt North Face executives are unhappy seeing their products in use (tents mostly). I wore my Andy & Bax army surplus jacket. Officer Urner (no yellow-fendered bike this time), strolling through The Village, seeking an idiot perhaps.

I took TriMet both ways.

Oh, and lets not forget the rare appearance at Carl's Jr., thinking strongly of Idiocracy. Regarding that film, it's not a literal genetic theory, I hope you weren't stupidly believing that (grin).

Dream Catchers

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Life in the Material World (movie review)

Catching up on the life and times of George Harrison was an eye opener. The guy had a lot of eloquent, well spoken friends who came forward to testify about his life, as a dad, husband, brother, boyfriend and Beatle.

I had never realized the extent to which George was involved with the Monty Python troupe. I'd seen Ringo Starr in The Magic Christian, under the tutelege of Peter Sellers. Some of the Python gang make appearances in that film. But I'd forgotten how The Beatles were seeing so much of themselves in the irreverent, satirical Monty Python movies. George bankrolled Life of Brian to the tune of $4 million, after EMI dropped it like the hot potato it was (right up there with Jesus Christ Superstar in terms of inspiring righteous outrage).

This movie is cram packed with footage you'll likely see nowhere else, unless this becomes the new source for clips on YouTube. The movie takes us back to the very earliest years of The Beatles and rolls forward. George's friendship with Ravi Shankar is pivotal, in terms of its effects on his music and subsequent career. His friendship with Eric Clapton was likewise transformative. He loved his friends, clearly, women and men from many walks of life (race car driving included).

I found the stories captivating, as did the others in our audience. The film received a warm applause, both at intermission and at the end. Many of the on-camera remarks got a hearty laugh as well. George knew some funny people, was pretty funny himself when in the mood to be. He also channeled quite a bit of fury, one could sense.

Monday, October 03, 2011

On the Road

... with David Koski (as Charles Kuralt).