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09 October 2011

"Welcome to the Camp, I Guess You All Know Why We're Here"

Rudolfo Carrillo

by Rudolfo Carrillo

Actually I really did not know for certain why they were down there.

I had some ideas that had formed in my head. I got them by scrolling through a few pages of status updates, videos, photographs, and statements read by crafty teevee celebrities - and then doing some thinking on my own about what all of that meant.

By the way, those sources of information I just mentioned were being piped into my home through a vast and intricately organized network of wires and circuits, digital transmitters and receivers. When they finally reached my end of the void through which they travelled, all those signals, symbols, signages, and other electronic intricacies transformed themselves into useful data whose output was governed by an assemblage of absolutely huge corporations.

I'll try to tie that winsome fact into this discourse in a paragraph that will probably come to reside near the bottom of the post. To get there, you're gonna have to read through this, which comprises a series of observations I made whilst visiting the Occupy Albuquerque site currently manifesting itself on the remnants of Yale Park.

In case you are interested, I went down there and walked around for a while this morning. I chatted here and there, but mostly just hung back, watching and listening. I knew in my heart that I couldn't figure the thing out without seeing and hearing it myself, sans electronic contrivance.

The first fellow I spoke with was sitting under an banner that had the word information written on it in big colorful letters. I jokingly asked him to take me to his leaders and even used my index fingers to pretend I had antennae sprouting from my head.

A couple of bearded men in the background immediately chimed in that I was the leader and they were too. Everyone was a leader, one of the hirsute guys said, sounding sorta poetic. I asked how they made decisions and was solemnly handed a piece of paper that turned out to be a printout from part of a Wikipedia article on the subject of Consensus Decision Making.

Just then, an angry cowboy dude came marching up with his kid in tow. He was dressed all in black and was driving a monster truck with sign on it that read "Report Police Misconduct." He wanted to complain about the upside-down American flag he had planted earlier in the day. It was at the edge of camp, but had disappeared, he lamented.

Another heavily bearded fellow appeared from behind the kitchen with the flag. He was wearing a long tie-dyed skirt and explained that some of the protesters were unsure of the flag's meaning and so took it down.

A heated discussion ensued, which mostly went round and round the subjects of how the country was in distress and how proper flag etiquette played a part in that perception; the flag was ultimately returned to its place on the periphery of things. The tragic dark horseman told the crowd that his son had been killed by the police and then drove off in a storm, with The Charlie Daniels Band blaring from his stereo.

Two native kids in full Juggalo regalia walked around shaking hands with the campers who were mostly homeless men. Those ones seemed sunburned and dusty and weary from living on the street. Mostly they sat in front of their tents, patching their broken shoes or talking about how cold it had been at night. Some of them had their dogs along and the Juggalos patted the dogs on their heads, asked to know their names.

A young woman walked up to me and spontaneously offered me a piece of home-baked bread and two teenage girls made up to be flower children gamboled around, passing out flowers and singing songs they must have learned from their grandparents.

After all of that, bells were rung and a general meeting was called. When everyone had gathered into a half-circle, a smoky blessing was initiated and two college types asked the group to follow along and read back the camp rules, so that everyone could hear, all fifty of them.

It was a man and woman doing the talking and they kindly asked that all present make themselves familiar with the anti-corporate declaration that had come down to them from New York City.

I found a copy of the pamphlet and read through it. The word that is most common in that manifesto is the word "They". After listing all they things "they" did to betray humanity, decency and democracy, it calls on "The People of the World" to "generate solutions accessible to everyone."

The thing was, I really didn't see any evidence of active or progressive solution generation going on. Maybe I came at the wrong time, but when I asked about that, the young fellow under the information banner told me, "It took them a while to come up with these ideas in New York City; we'll come up with our own version of them sometime or other."

Meanwhile, cars continued speeding down Central Avenue and occasionally somebody would honk or yell a cuss word out as they passed by. My cell phone started chirping and it was Samantha on the line telling me to come home and help her walk the dogs, as they were getting mighty restless.

On the way back home, the radio was playing a song about revolution and I thought about who exactly "they" might be, reckoning finally, that for all intents and purposes, it might do as well to replace every utterance of that loathsome word with this one:


We brought the corporations to life. We allowed them in our homes. We have enlisted them towards a definition of our own leisure and convenience. We are watching Monday Night Football and listening to Spotify. We are on Facebook. We buy stuff from China, We waste food, We lead countless animals to their untimely deaths. We have friends and neighbors, sons and daughters, wives and cousins who are soldiers or who work as nuclear physicists or bomb technicians. We apparently do not have the knowledge of history to understand that We have done this to ourselves.

And now suddenly, and by invoking a collegial sort of magic, We want to save what We have already ruined. 

Rudolfo Carrillo / a fifth-wave feminist from the fourth estate | a burqueña | a ladyboss | a writer + editor

I am a fifth-wave feminist and a reluctant member⸺hey, Groucho knew whereof he quipped⸺of both the fourth estate and the gig economy. I am an Albuquerque-based freelance writer, editor and social media marketing and branding+PR consultant. I remain an observant ’90s riot grrrl and a devout practitioner of halfhearted yoga posturing and zen and the art of the sentence diagram.


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