Archive for August 2007

Collaborations

August 11, 2007

It’s national Blog Against Racism week. Following Augusto Boal’s axiom that your energy goes to whatever you focus on, I think I’ll Blog For World-Saving Adventures instead.

I am supposed to meet my cross-border transport at a suburban mall. Standing on an island of high ground in a sea of freeways, I discover a certain logic in the arrangement; a human tide of staggering diversity streams beneath the giant plastic beams of a faux-Western cookhouse and through its golden door. I am completely camouflaged and deeply moved. The direction in which I am deeply moved, however, is not toward this universal vision of equality through nostalgia for Teddy Roosevelt and Manifest Destiny. My trajectory makes me visible for about ten paces, at which point the only way to get any further away would involve hurling myself into traffic. In a small patch of grass at the margins of survival I discover two young people leaning on bedrolls, their expanded earlobes flashing in the sunshine. I recklessly inquire as to their plans for cross-border transport. They stare past me into vacancy.

I realize that though I am going to San Francisco, I have neglected to wear some flowers in my hair.

In these situations I find it helpful to keep moving.

An hour later our transport arrives. Once space is folded sufficiently to allow five people, their survival gear, and a large, elaborately packaged men’s grooming kit (a bribe for the border guards?) into a Mazda, we’re on the road. There’s no looking back; our gear blocks the view.

Over the next ten hours I discover the universal language of white America is seventies rock.

Only the young man with the extreme earspools remains silent, brightening briefly when I mention music for Theremin. Sadly, I fail to be in a band. I do, however, have a team of world-spanning transformational Secret Spies. I’m sure at least one of you has been in a band at some point.

In San Francisco secret spies shuttle me from one safe house to another.

The reading is accomplished. Stephen and the staff of A Different Light Bookstore are very nice indeed, expertly defusing a pitched battle for the last available copy of What Becomes You. A troupe of leathermen chat with neatly-coiffed lawyers from the California State Bar. Two veterans of the Mazda miraculously appear. The blacksmith with the nail polish buys a copy for himself. The accountant with the button-down casual shirt buys a copy for his girlfriend. He disappears for ten minutes somewhere between Lesbian Politics and Tom of Finland, returns, and buys a copy for himself. The Castro whirls. My work here is done.

I’ve travelled to the reading from Safe house #1, a room in the Tenderloin YMCA. Secret Spy #1 is my primary contact, a seasoned veteran of a lifetime of cross-border missions. He provides me with local orientation, support, mission analysis, massive shoulders, free offers from Mac’s Folsom Prison men’s club, and truly fabulous paparazzi. After the reading and french fries with the paparazzi, my first handoff is accomplished. Secret Spy #2 detaches momentarially from the State Bar, slips me an electronic door card, and whispers, “Next door to the Transamerica Pyramid. You can’t miss it.”

Safe house #2 is obviously some kind of headquarters. Inoffensive music-like sounds gather me in past the spa and the executive lounge, through the fiendish Security Elevator, and up to the twenty-seventh floor of a high-rise hotel in the Financial District with a staggering view of the bay. I search in vain for the power crossbow which would shoot a cable made from the finest Special Effects through our picture window and directly into the Coit Tower. Though the freerunning maneuvers and capoera moves of my briefing with #1 remain theoretical and I do not get to hang suspended above major tourist landmarks during a death-defying and highly photogenic slide to safety, I nonetheless have an excellent time. We discuss plans for world domination. I shower fearlessly in bare feet. Spy #2 packs his identical suite of Secret Suits of Doom and heads for the airport, handing me off to Secret Spy #3.

Safe house #3 is a house in Alameda with a swingset in the yard. Secret Spy #3 hands me off to Secret Spies 3.almost 5 and 3.9, who expertly guide me on a tour of the nation’s naval defenses and space program. I am duly impressed by these bastions of might. They are matched only by the size of the speaker stacks, the numbers of napkins, and the glory of the gauze-and-fan flames being prepared for an Indian wedding reception which is renting the aircraft carrier for the evening. On our way out I consult with my spies, who agree that when the forces of good rule the world we will leave behind tiny cramped beds and armor-piercing torpedoes, choosing instead the large space rocket and the F4U Corsair, because it would be really cool to be able to fold your wings, change your shape, and fly anywhere.

Personally, I am dizzy with options.

Secret Spy #1 sees me off, preparing for yet another night’s work in the hero mines. The Plane to Lisbon takes me home alone. In the darkness across the turning earth, a million points of light mark secret spies preparing our future.

Question of the Day match game: Know Your Forces Of Good

Euro-American
African-American
Semitic
Cherokee

Single Room at Tenderloin YMCA
High-Rise Hotel
Ranch House in Alameda

Heterosexual
Homosexual
Bisexual
Unknown

Anthropologist
Budget Analyst
Clinical Psychologist
Sex Club Employee
Student
Parent

How do appearances affect the sorting process? (Whenever possible, do not attempt to defend your answer.) How does experience?

The Website of the Day is Prelinger Archive Mashups, where we may reimagine our childhood’s instructional films:
http://www.archive.org/details/prelinger_mashups

The Game of the Day topically draws your attention to the difference between Zero-Sum and Non-Zero-Sum games. Play the Prisoner’s Dilemma at:
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/playground/pd.html

The Word for the Day is quisling, which Merriam-Webster curiously defines as either:
a) one who commits treason, or
b) a collaborator.