Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mooning Over You

This last weekend was absolutely fascinating and wonderful.

On Thursday night I went to a meeting at San Francisco State University put on by a Marxist group in Oakland, it was a lecture and discussion on our political choices this year :P and the goal of creating a Revolutionary Workers' Party. It's rare that I ever hear the words "the capitalists," meant so derogatorily. I had brought along a friend of mine, one of the guys I met at Burning Man decompression. This was only the second time I'd seen him, and I kind of forgot that he had worked on Wall St. and was a registered Republican.

That being said, as a Palestine advocate I'm always going to events and thinking, "gah, they're preaching to the choir again." Which is ok, the most staunch supporters of any cause need to be kept in the loop and know where to direct their support, but a big Palestine love-fest is always missing the people who, arguably, need the message the most. Right now, that's still the people with money and power.

Anyways, I was glad that our little group of eight in this classroom was not entirely "the choir," and we had some good discussions. I'm not well-versed in political theory or economics, so I asked about their reference to charter schools as a "union-busting scheme," since I'd worked at a charter school in New Orleans, and heard a lot of arguments on both sides of that issue. As a newb, I just wanted to know how they felt about education reform and healthcare, given the criticisms about socialism where competition and quality are concerned. Naturally, the issue was privatization and teachers' union rights. I just voted to ok charter schools in Washington, not because I want all schools to privatize, but because of this idea that they encourage public schools to step up their game, even though most cities aren't like New Orleans, and privatizing is no guarantee of success. And I agreed that it does pave the way for a frightening situation in which low-performing schools are starved for funding. Well, that's happening already. 

It reminded of the anti-war protest in SF the other weekend, where one of the speakers was advocating for San Francisco City College, saying "our schools cannot be treated like businesses, education is not a commodity!"

I need to do more research on education reform. 

I also wanted to know how Marxists felt about Libertarians, since a lot of people have jumped the two-party ship to support Ron Paul. I asked if there is a recognized overlap in the goals of ending the Fed, IMF, UN, the war on terror, war on drugs, etc. Suffice to say, these guys wanted nothing to do with Libertarians, and said the military-industrial complex won't be shut down within the capitalist system.

I'm really glad I took the time to go and hear their ideas. I never would have pushed myself to go a meeting like this, had my friend from Seattle not been an organizer, but I'd recommend it to anyone. At the very least, more people need to be getting together and talking about our lack of political choices.

The following morning, I took the train down to Santa Clara to help Rebuilding Alliance sell olive oil at the big Muslim Community Center mosque. It was Friday, and it was also Eid Al-Adha! I have so many good memories from Eid in Palestine, and I couldn't believe it had already been a full year since I was celebrating Luban Asharqia, Al Aqaba, and Tayasir.

Here are two videos I made from Eid last year:

Weekend in Palestine (Nov 3-5)
Happy Eid from Al Aqaba!

This was only my second time in an American mosque, and that's another experience I'd recommend to anyone. I had never heard a Muslim sermon in English, and that's so important! Now I need to go to a synagogue!

One of my favorite things about the Muslim Community Center was seeing people from so many different countries. Between Somalia, Pakistan, Egypt....the languages and the dress was so varied. Also, the image of everyone's shoes in the hallway. Sandals, boots, fancy heels. Everyone was shoeless inside. Everyone was equal.

I was selling olive oil outside the men's worship space, so I could see the men and the imam. The men were sitting on the floor all over the room, but when it was time to pray, they moved inward and stood shoulder-to-shoulder. Seeing the little kids following the lead of the adults as they prayed was so precious. Something a non-Muslim might see as strange, until they think of children of all faiths. I memorized the Lord's prayer at a very young age. I prayed in church very early. I went to Sunday School and Bible Camp since before I could remember. How is this any different? It was wonderful to hear the imam talk about generosity and humility. You have to give, and give, and thank God for everything you have! Honestly, I learned a similar lesson from Burning Man (though we thanked the Universe mostly). The importance of giving gifts, and being grateful for the gifts you have. Ahh, the secret to happiness, if only we could remember it more often!

That night I went with Carin (who I'm staying with currently) downtown to see a screening of The People and the Olive. The title isn't very telling, but it's about a group of marathon runners that runs from Hebron to Jenin, almost all the way up the West Bank. I didn't really have the energy to go, but I watched the trailer and knew it was going to be worth it.

The trailer!

What I loved about the trailer is that it encapsulated the joy of solidarity. This movement is often seen as just an "anti" movement. It's anti-Israel, it's anti-peace, it's anti-Semitic. Why aren't we asking, what is it PRO? That's a question I'm always asking myself when I write or make videos...how can I capture the people involved, their stories, their emotions, that their motivation is actually love, not hate....

The movie was really good. What stuck with me the most were hearing from the American women on the run, and seeing the Israeli jeeps following the runners and eventually arresting their organizer. It was very typical, this absurdity that accompanies a lot of the hard/alarming/scary situations. It reminded me of the bike ride I went on in the Jordan Valley, when the army forbade us from biking down the highway, then our bus was followed by three jeeps. It was just....absurd.

The next night I went to a Halloween party called Ghost Ship, in a hangar on Treasure Island. This was another event I wouldn't have found on my own, but my friends from Burning Man Decompression (that night is feeling more serendipitous all the time) were going, so I met them in the city to assemble costumes and head out to the island. I was a Sith Housewife, though apparently Sith Lords can't get married, so I was Darth Maul's girlfriend. I had a Sith robe, big sunglasses, and black and red lipstick. This was very last-minute, and it worked pretty well. Though, the hangar got too hot for the robe, so I didn't look very Sith-y for most of the night. No one seemed to mind...about anything, really.

The hangar was full of art cars from Burning Man. Big, two-story cars with dance floors and balconies. They also had the big metal sculpture that was outside my camp this year, which you can climb up and hang out in. There are cushions and everything. I loved that sculpture. So I ran around and hopped on every art car, and danced on every dance floor, and examined every tripper trap. Even swung on a rope swing before they took it down. Unfortunately, my phone was dead, so I couldn't get any photos, but the memory will live on. I found a kind of electronic music that I can't even identify, and danced my butt off.

Five hours after the party ended, I was in church.

I was a little nervous about this arrangement from the get-go, but I couldn't forgo either experience, so I took it pretty easy at Ghost Ship, and made sure I had nap/shower time in between.

Peace Lutheran Church is a church my grandfather did the paintings/mosaics/stained glass for. When I called them, they welcomed me with open arms to give my Palestine presentation, and arranged it on very short notice. It was great to walk around and see all the pieces my grandfather made, and people were coming at me left and right with stories about his time there. I also got a great response to the presentation. They gave me a lot of encouragement and advice, and it made me really realize what a friend I have in the Lutheran church. And how could I not talk about the importance of the Lutherans to my time in Palestine? 

Yeah! Lutherans!

Then I went back to East Bay with my friend from Ghost Ship (what a trooper!) to rest, then I went back to the city to fetch my bike. On the way down the hill towards the BART station, I started hearing people on the street hooting and hollering. The Giants had just won the World Series! People were honking and running around and high fiving each other and there were bands playing on sidewalks, and it reminded me of being in New Orleans for the Saints Superbowl win. Not nearly as intense, but seeing people so jubilant and celebrating with each other was really cool. A lot of people were wielding brooms, because the series was a clean sweep. Ha!


Getting home took a bit of time, because I missed the last Caltrain, so I had to take a SamTransit bus home from the BART station. This song was in my head all the way home. It wouldn't leave until I had remembered every word of it. Mission successful but....really?

My brother played this character in 9th grade. hahahaha.

I couldn't find any English stage versions with decent sound quality. HOWEVER, I found one in Swedish and it absolutely made my day.