And I Just Saw Napalm In Your Eyes (day 2 pt. 1)

We slept, that night, on beds made of blankets and vodka.  Before falling asleep we watched various coverage of the protests on multiple networks.  When we watched Ed Schultz, notable liberal commentator, not only broadcasting for us but with us, it prompted one of my friends, easily the most negative person I have ever met, to go off on a positive tangent.

“Yeah, he’s a good guy.  He’s on our side,” I recall him saying.

The media gets slammed constantly by right-wingers for having a “liberal slant,” or, “liberal bias,” or being “goddamn Jew-run media fucking Muslim bullshit,” but the fact of the matter is that history has a strong liberal bias and progressive policy is rooted in the advancement of humanity.  Historically, the labor movement led to the eight-hour workday, the two-day weekend, and the paid holidays that we all enjoy and mostly take for granted.  Without the organization of the working class, without that frustration of mistreatment by Boss Tweed types, without that sense of justice, those of us working in the private sector would be without family, friends, a way of life.  Those factories are the places where things like worker’s rights happened, where the basis for collective bargaining for basic rights spurred, where men and women took a stand and said, “Hey, you know what?  Fuck this, I want my Saturday back.”

As it is, the AFL-CIO organized in 1955, a merger of the AFL and the radical CIO.  The CIO, being then perceived as communists, were threatened to take an oath swearing that they were in fact not communists, an oath they refused and which was later found unconstitutional, as being a citizen of the United States and also believing in the basic tenets of communism does not mean that you should be fucking drawn and quartered.

That morning we awoke to beer and coffee, our alcoholic political spree being in full motion at that point like the peak of an adrenaline rush.  The weather was horrible.  We were greeted with mist and sleet and rain on a miserable February morning, but still that did not deter tens of thousands of protesters from coming out.  Snowblowers, government issued, blared their horns as they did their work in solidarity, driving parallel down roads mired in slush and ash.

It is safe to say the weather was not on our side, not for a second.  But fuck February.

That didn’t drive off the numbers though, and neither did it drive off the celebrities and musicians who showed that day to publicly back the struggle we were going through.

Tom Morello was probably the most prominent figure in attendance that day.  Most notably famous for his work in Rage Against the Machine and his unfortunately named solo project “TheNightWatchman,” Morello actually has extensive education in the field of workers’ rights and union solidarity.

A graduate of Harvard with a degree in Social Studies (and an extensive focus on politics), Morello’s studies affected the views that he was confronted with on a near daily basis.  A professed socialist ala prominent senator Bernie Sanders (I-VA), he continued to let his views influence his art, being a notable influence on RATM vocalist Zach de la Rocha, whose diatribes on the Vietnam War and racism in the south would be a continuous force in American media.

That day, Morello confronted protesters in solidarity, affirming his stance alongside us in our struggle as Walker lay dormant in his Madison office despite our cheers and jeers.

An acoustic performance was put on by Morello on that Monday, as well as the prominent punk-rockers The Street Dogs.  We watched and listened that day on the Capitol lawn, outside in the freezing rain, alongside the agonized teachers, janitors, and firefighters meticulously displaced by Walker’s anti-public worker agenda.

The day continued as we marched, not losing a step but for a break to hit some whiskey, fueled only by our emotions and revulsion at the perplexity of the situation become us.

Things like this don’t come easy.  Things like Walker’s assault on the working class don’t come on aside from populous rage perpetuated by the rich-sucking GOP, attempting to destroy any and all progress of the middle class made in the past 50 years.  The free market has demonstrably failed us.  By today’s standards, Reagan would have been a communist traitor.  We require a stand and a say in the day to day workings of the stock markets, of the economy, of the oppression of the working class put on by greedheads and liars like Paul Ryan and Scott Walker.  I feel for those of you so duped by the GOP’s mentality that you are convinced that the Republican party is on Your Side.  They are not, and they have not only abandoned you, but exploited you for future use.

I don’t want to be poor as much as the next asshole I encounter at the bar, but the rags-to-riches myth perpetuated by the GOP has to come to an end.

We have been approaching this for some time.  Now is the time to act.

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Substantial Waste Of Your Time, or: Why I Feel Accomplished

My cat is drunk.

The idea for a public blog came to me on the bus this evening, on the way back from what can only be described as the most perplexing 20-minute shift of all time (I’ll yell about my job in a later post, when I have nothing else to write on).  As I sat there listening to people fumbling with their phones and yelling at each other about the NBA Finals and Lebron James’ future and their gambling habits in a volume that offended even my ears made deaf by years of hardcore punk shows, I asked myself what I should write about.

Obviously, nothing came to mind, so I scrapped the idea.  And then, when I got home, I got into the whiskey.

My throat is sore as all hell at the moment and my tonsils are roughly the size of grapefruits, and so logically I tapped into the pint of whiskey I had at my disposal because, hey, I don’t see a doctor till tomorrow, so screw it, I need a natural painkiller (working wonderfully, in case anyone’s wondering).

I attempted a tumblr account before, but that site is a mired mesh of hipster trends, whiny kids, and what is apparently the bastard child of twitter and photobucket so I gave up on that one.  Also, I had roughly three followers at any given time.  It was also, more or less, a trial period to see if I could really get into political commentary, ultimately giving me the career path I’m pursuing today.

That’s all the personal information you get.  Now we start off into the real shit.  Down the rabbit hole, everyone, and this is a one-way ticket, mind you.  Yes sir, it’s time for the story of my participation in the protests in Madison in February and the near-death blizzard hell experience that resulted from it.  And my God, is it a story.

*****

Day 1:

We arrived in Madison somewhere around midnight on a Saturday in late February.  The Capitol building loomed empty in the distance, a catalyst for what we would experience over the following few days, lost in the grip of an alcoholic political frenzy.  Fear overcame me then, the fear that horrible things were bound to happen to us.  That we had arrived on the climax of the whole ordeal.  That no matter what, we would be the ones screwed over and arrested.  It was irrational and totally fucking stupid in retrospect, but at the time real and prominent in my mind.

We parked about a block away from our host’s apartment.  It was cold and raining.  The ice would prove a bastard  in later days but at the moment we gave it no thought, lost in the adrenaline rush of opposition.

Walking into the studio apartment we were wet and freezing.  Luckily, beer for warmth by was provided by our host to whom I am infinitely indebted.

The night passed without incident.  We drank vodka and beer and watched movies and TV shows.

After our hangovers had subsided in the morning we wandered towards the Capitol building.

That Sunday the weather was against us.  It was cold, misty, foggy, rainy, and miserable.  Few walked around the perimeter of the building, but those of us brave enough to bear the shit-weather were as vocal as our lungs would allow.

Our signs were unconventional at best.  “Drunks against Walker,” and “Scott Walker is a drunk trailer park supervisor,” will always prevail in my memory as highlights of our Sunday Madison debauchery.  The former got us a standing ovation at a bar, and when we realized we were going the wrong way we received an even bigger applause upon retreating towards our intended direction.

When I entered the Capitol building itself, I was overwhelmed with a high unlike any drug can provide.

Few will be able to recall the power of their first entrance of the rotundra, but I remember it vividly though I was drunk.  Drums pounded aghast the wail of the injustice we pressed against in the rhythms of the dead Vietnam protests, cries levered against greed-lead votes.  It hit you like a fucking truck.  Signs posted over signs posted over signs.  The multitudes of booths organized, dedicated to various issues regarding Walker’s bill and governance.  Papers and beds littered the hallways like garbage in an alley though at their worst they were lost and forgotten, doves fucked in the blind light of morning, left behind but for the fleeting memory of something once important.

We grabbed drinks in the stalls of the bathrooms, sipping from whiskey bottles hidden in backpacks and bags inconspicuous.

The rhythms pounded in a growing crescendo as the day grew on, our numbers and dedication increasing.

I slept that afternoon after nights of suffering from chronic insomnia, comfortable in the fact that what we were doing was somehow right, and that we were the ones on the forefront of it all.  Walker was the antithesis of what we voted for in November to be sure, but not even we, though liberal as all hell, expected this from a right-wing governor.  The brutal assault on all public workers save firemen and policemen was beyond us.  Hadn’t Wisconsin been a Democratic state it’s entirety?   Hadn’t Milwaukee voted in and been witness to the first Socialist mayor in American history?  Hadn’t my teachers been prolific?  I could only name roughly three, in the mire of it all, who had been less minimally proficient, and they were all gym teachers anyways so they didn’t count in all honesty.  Seriously, fuck learning gymnastics.  That never aided in my personal gains.

And yet I sit here four months later, reveling in the memories of being plastered in mist and rain, lost but for our shitty signs and routine wandering around the Capitol on day 1 of my journey to Madison, confused and bewildered as to how things had even come to this point.

It’s fucked.