Yeah so i thought i should wait till something genuinely EXCITING happened before indulging myself in correspondence again, but now the accumulating of quite interesting things has built up and i can hold back no longer.
spent thursday and wedensday in LA, that mecca of 'culture', doing the regetns meeting. was a really good experience actually, even though i wasn't too useful. me, erika and mark (the two facilitators of my uc and the bomb class and top people) were the contingent from santa cruz, there were meant to be 2 cars full but lots of poeple pulled out at the last minute. we drove down to santa barbara, passing through the artichoke capital of the world again, where we stopped for burritos. it is crazy taht you can drive an hour away from santa cruz and get out to a completely different vibe- this small town (castroville!) is a farming community, so loads of mexicans and very cheap food. the restaurant we went to was only in spanish, with an old mexican guyu that didn't speak english, we were the only customers, and he made the nicest burritos. delved down to the depths of my memory to remember my basic spanish, and managed to not look silly. 'y burrito supero por favor'
then got to santa barbara and met up with the rest of the group- only about 7 other people- who were busy making paper cranes to represent all the warheads in the US arsenal (10,000). the coordinators, two post-grads who went to santa cruz, have got campaigning down to an art, learnt lots and lots from them, their idea was to disrupt the meeting long enough for the regents not to be able to talk about the nuclear labs they manage and symbolically represent our lack of a voice int he process. so we woke up the next morning at 4.30am with an inspiration message about a lion 'waking up from its slumber', shaking off and going to fight a battle. then we all piled into a van and left for LA. my job was to provide legal observer and media contact outside whilst the rest went in and disrupted till they got arrested. i really wanted to be in there with them, but after the last meeting and pepper spray thing i was warned by the internatinal student office that if i got even cited (the thing 1 below arrested) i would have to get an attorney, which i can't afford, and might get expelled and kicked out of the country, which would not be conducive to stopping nuclear proliferation.
so we got the LA campus, which was tshirt weather even at 730am, prepared and everyone went in. the campus newspaper's headline was of a guy int he ibrary being TASERED by police for not producing the right id!!!http://dailybruin.com/news/articles.asp?id=38960 . the most disturbing thing is that i am not particularly surprised anymore by this sort of thing. found the building, i started flyering and petitioning people, but NOONE was interested. people either ignored me completely in a nervous fashion, brushed me off or, after listening to me spieling for a while, just shook their head and walked away. it was pretty frustrating. eventually i liberated a huge poster, wrote on the back, stuck it up outside the building the meeting was being held in with the petition underneath and played mbira and clarinet, hoping that people would be drawn in by that and then sign the petition. it iddn't really work. i got like 10 signatures in about 3 hours. i had been warned that people in LA were colder than here, but it was still surprising. i could almost see the bubble around the people walking past. or smell the fear. and then someone came out and said the disruption had happened, and everyone had been arrested, and then the media came and i did some interviews ( http://dailybruin.com/news/articles.asp?id=38998 ) and then we went to a park in beverly hills (!) and had nice food.
it was a really tight crowd of people, dedicated and thoughtful and with a variety of experience. campaigners in america are very america-centred, and when they start tackling international issues they can sometimes come across with a bit too much hyperbole and 'us and them' sort of thing, but they are certainly dedicated. it was also great to be able to get down to the deeper ideological questions with them on the journey, especially seeing as we had all turned up for an action that has a 0.001 chance of ever succeeding, and will take hours and hours to ever get close. so talk of campaign timescales, cooperation vs subversion with authorities, building sustainable movements etc. really interesting stuff. on the way home to santa cruz we stopped at erika's parents house in san luis de bisbo. her mum made us a phat spread, including english cheese and apple stew and ice cream, and i ate quickly and hungrily, safe in the knowledge that that is what we always do in england, so can't be rude :) . so all in all worthwhile, even though i missed quite a key jazz theory class.
we only have 3 weeks of term left, it has gone by so fast, but i think i have achieved quite alot on most fronts, except in terms of forging a good group of friends, but i guess i had to sacrifice something to the music. having said that, i am starting to get to know the crew of my flatmates, who are all nice. on tuesday night at about 10pm i was working hard when suddenly shitloads of people turned up at our house and a spontanious party ensued- it was really great! about 30 people, music making, and i was properly introduced to people by my flatmates as 'the new housemate', which meant i had an easy way to chat to people and everyone liked me, no worries, no noia! great stuff. had some great conversations and now have a base of people i know so i can go to other parties with the housmates. very good. just as i got a bottle of red and started getting myself in for the long party haul some people left and it was reduced to a stoning session, which was ok too. i was jamming with a great piano player who i thought was maybe on coke or soemthing cos he was being well intense, and then he excused himself and i noticed he had blood all round his nostril! i think i kept a straight face. and some mescalin and mushie taking, but i wasn't offered and didjn't really want any. to be fair there were some dicks there, but if they are nice to me i can be nice back. and then last night i went to another party at some beach villa thing, everyone seemed to be into 60s british rock and were a bit disappointed that i wasn't an authority on the topic.
so i am feeling much more upbeat at the moment rather than the last week or so; this time last week i was feelign well shitty. the rain had come with a vengence and reminded me lots and lots of lovely miserable england and all its people and joys. but the sun has come back, at least temporarily, and everything is ok.i think the moment of mental change was when i cooked a huge pot of potato soup, with coconut milk and assorted delicious veggies.
also last week was mine and alice's long procrastinated over open mic appearance- there are several every week but we never manage to coordinate ourselves to be in the same place at the same time to play. anyhow, we played for an hour or so beforehand and alice played me some of her new songs- which are disgustingly catchy and really good quality also- and then we decided on 'like a prayer' by madonna as our finale cover- very exciting. so yeah, we went and i think we ripped it up, alice has got a quality stage presence, even when she is stressed out, and the electric keyboard she was using kept having too much energy running through it and would cut out like 16 bars into every song, so eventually she had to play everything on guitar, but it wasn't too bad. i found myself harmonising higher than alice in like a prayer, harking back to the many years spent singing micheal jackson at st.peters. the crowd went wild. but anyway, met some cool musicians and we are going to try and set up a weekly electric jam on a wednesday, so very worthwhile. directly after there was this guy reading that allen ginsberg poem 'howl', which i thought was going to be great, but he acted out all the lines in quite a chirpy fashion almost lke he was parodying it.
beforehand we went and ate- alice swiped me into the dining hall on her card, cos my 'meal plan' got cancelled when i moved out, so took the opportunity to stock up on munchies- max showed me the excellent 'bagels in the jumper' tecnique, so got two packs of bagels, a fat slop of hummus (with too mcuh garlic in) and about 10 cookies, so well done everyone.
the other big achievement of the week was adding the final plants to full up my allotment, at midnight underneath the full moon with no torch but a wand that reflected the moonlight, and everything seemed alive. the final list of growth is
spinach (half of which has been eaten by gophers already)
beet-leaves (like beetroot but you eat the leaves)
peppermint (which is soooooo cool)
and lavender cotton, which is in the 'misc' corner.
all in a plot about 1 by 3 metres, so it is all packed in, but all good. and some of them i am told grow real quick, and so we will be able to prune and have herbs to cook with soon hopefully.
oh i saw a BRILLIANT FILM last week, dirty pretty things, really one of the best films i have ever seen, set in london, all about two asylum seekers, a nigerian guy who doesn't talk much but is the pillar of strength and righeousness, and a beautiful amelie-like eastern european girl and their stuggle, but it was one of those film that in the beginning is really funny and then suddenly it just gets dark but still is funny when you least expect it. if you haven't seen it, check it out!
the US midterm elections were pretty intense here- apart from voting in or out a generic set of politicians, there are also ltos of propositions all voters have to vote on. the main ones were prop 85, which was trying to make it mandatory for minors to tell their parents if they were getting an abortion, callous 'religious' wank (got defeated after a huge campaign, wey!), putting a huge tax on tabacco (it is dirt cheap here- the same price for 25 grams as it is for 12.5 in england) which also got defeated, a prop to make cannabis the lowest priority of police (so in theory if you were J walking with a fat spliff, they would do you for J walking! it was passed!), and a prop to increase the minimum wage to $925, which was defeated (very shit, that was the most important one in my opinion) and there was a huge campaign saying that local businesses would have to close down, which ws rubbish but seemingly effective.
since i moved in i had been hearing what sounded like walrus's screaming, and one morning last week i went and tried to find out what it was, turns out loads and loads of sealions hang around below the pier at santa cruz (which is a bit like blackpool pier i think, or brighton) and bark and scratch themselves. so now each night when i go outside and smoke i bark back to them.
so anyway after the party last night i had to get up at 730am to go to lawrence livermore national (nuclear) lab, a couple of hours drive away, to see the nuke weapons complex with my own eyes. imagine something between a chemical processing plant and an army barracks. we went into the 'discovery centre', a greenwashed museam type thing to explain all the nice things they do at the labs with the 15% of its money that doesn't got to nuclear weapons reseach. got a tour from this retired engineer who was very ncie but didn't really grasp our more probing questions. he did show is this crazy stuff that looks a bit like a dense spiders web or a bit of hard tiny bubbles, but opaque, that is made up of 99.9% air and the rest silicone, that is has just been invented to trap the dust and substance that a comet or meteorite gives off as it moves, its tail. really cool, i took some just incase i come across a comet. afterwards we got an 'alternative tour' by a lady from a local anti-nuke pressure group, who showed us which building was which etc. the police came almost straigtaway, even though we werne't trespassing or doing anythign wrong, and surrounded our little group while the lady talked.
so now i am home and there is a party here later that i need to be ready for, so going to take a little nap. i don't feel tired but quite giddy so i think it si best.
oh, and if you have a moment, sign the online petition to end the use of depleted uranium in warheads - http://www.icbuw.org/campaign/?id_topic=1&id=1 - the site also has loads of info about all the horrible effects of DU.
i keep thinking about buying a raincoat or something, but then i remember that everything is relative, and that england is bleak and freezing right now, and i will enjoy it more if i can remember how beautiful it is here even when it is a bit cold :) . how is the weather there, and everything else?