Occupy Los Angeles Saturday October 15

By Sesshu FosterOctober 21, 2011

Occupy Los Angeles Saturday October 15

SATURDAY, THAT PERFECT DAY — an intersection downtown as a crowd spilled down Fourth Street streaming toward me on the corner at Broadway, for the first time ever, I snapped a photo with my cell phone — OPTIONS: EMAIL. This image of all these people, this surging crowd, blew away in the air like a calendar leaf into the cyber-nothing slipstream of microwave ether, the fragrance of your life wafting like cinnamon. 

Judges are in the banker's pockets

Corporate greed must go

Stop depositing your soul in the Lake of Fire

We are not overthrowing a democracy

We are restoring one

2 black women scooting around the corner on a side street in a black compact honk and wave, honk and wave. Other drivers are honking and waving. A bony jogger strides down the sidewalk pallid, eyes straight ahead.

Occupy together


Buying is all that is asked of you

We don't have "varied agendas"

We are against "neoliberal economics" look that up

Bail out people not Wall St.

Iraq veterans against the war

Please don't feed the bankers

The last march looked like 3,000 and this looks like maybe 7 or 8,000; LAPD closed off Broadway across all the intersections from 4th to Temple, screwing up traffic throughout downtown — that's how you know this thing is growing bigger. Takes me twenty extra minutes to get to my secret parking structure (usually overloohked by crowds on these occasions), Little Tokyo, $4. I was going to take the Gold Line downtown but I am late, hurrying to Pershing Square to meet the marchers pouring down 4th. The image of this day flies from a device in my hand toward Phoenix, El Monte and Brooklyn.

Close SOA School of the Americas

We the people not the corporations

Join us

We are the 99%

Nacho died at age 95, but I still see him standing by Carnitas Michoacan under the open eves of Grand Central Market barefoot in his chanclas, watching the procession with grouchy bemusement through his one good eye. He has a plastic bag sagging with stuff that he haggled over with the vendors. His kids always hated that. He doesn't see me. Bunker Hill projects this presence from the 1950s, 1960s. (He arrived in California in 1922.) I see these things out of the corner of my eye. I tried to take a picture with my cell phone to send my daughters but the crowd was all around me; I had to move on — cell phone ringing — Ben was calling. 

The dismantle of the evil secret society's Wall St. FED RVE BIBRG Intl Bankers & Corrupts has begun!! Vendetta is MY!! says the Lord.

Stop our protest, are you NUTS!

United Black & Brown Students from South L.A.: We are the 99%

Separation of Corporation & State NOW!!!!

Jobs are gone for 24 million.

End the puppetry cut the strings

No to US militarism

Out of Afghanistan & Uganda


Democracy starts when you get active

Hasta la victoria siempre

Desultory dragons symbolizing all previous protest marches in the march of time flap desultory overhead in smog, smog of photochemical beauty, slightly toxic charms of vagueness and bullshit of our lives, creamy like old mayonnaise. I will take any ordinary b.s. over the vast onslaught of impending nothingness that hangs in the night. No matter if all this marching is not new. How many times have I marched these streets? Sometimes I feel like I march in circles — marching in my sleep — marching or shuffling again and again (or not). Wandering, roaming. (Not "entering digital roaming.") Somewhat lost, politically detached, amidst a loose bunch of anarchists. At least I'm not doing all the phone calling like the old days. I can keep to myself or not. Alert the phone tree. Which? One time I marched behind Jackson Browne and Darryl Hannah. One time Kris Kristofferson played the steps of City Hall to a sparse crowd. One time I was part of some security squad designated to watch out for some Iranian rightist provocateurs who were allegedly going to attack some other Iranians. One time there were 700,000 to a million jamming these streets. As a kid, it was just the old guys, homeless and poor people of Bunker Hill tenements on these blocks. Soft tarry excrescences make rainbow smudges on the greasy plate glass of the fried chicken stand where Dad would purchase us each one hot just-cooked drumstick for the evening, on a sojourn from an SRO with murphy bed in the wall, icebox and hot plate. 

My kid deserves a future

Reform campaign finance

Tax banks and corporations

Stop sucking corporate dick

Hey Bankers: Shared Sacrifice

Starve the Fatcats

King Kong was fighting Tyrannosaurus Rex and threw him bodily off the cliff finally. And behind the gritty smogtown skyline, behind brick facades of old SRO hotels, the silent reels of cowboy flicks were shot on the dusty outskirts of 1920s L.A.'s dry oaken hills (smudged or blurry black and white cowboy swirling through dust of time and indifference toward the object of his pursuit — or fleeing the gang of bandits — it doesn't matter. Manifest Destiny seeking its ends, fleeing the consequences. Likely it's the same thing — pale horse of desire raising dust on an imaginary dirt road early in the 20th century). This colors the landscape in the... inversions of manifold space... cold into blue... shorter, longer rhythms ... 

West along Broadway, Grandma Northway (Foster) would not have been watching; she posed the avuncular feminine equanimity — acquiescence to male Empire. Son run off to war in North Africa at age 17 and then a few years later the other son to the Pacific, her husband the cop, head of security, Mare Island Naval Shipyard. She would not find it amusing from her couch on which she spent so many years after the men were all gone — and she herself would go off to find a nice guy (though short-lived) named "Northway." ("What did this couch know of eternity before me?") A year or so before marriage and first child, at 15 or 16 she played organ in the great halls of Broadway's silent movie theaters where sheet music was supplied so that she might perform the soundtrack. Those ornate brocaded halls are abandoned, shuttered, or converted into evangelical churches. It's the dusty decaying vibe of God. "Pare de sufrir" is the silent command, one of the commands of silence. Grandma played keyboard accompaniment her life long till she turned it off on a side street in Santa Barbara; she now keeps the command of silence. 

Emanations of silence vibrate in the glare on cop Harley chrome. 

It's really simple. We are the 99%. Join us!

I expect our ghosts are shuffling here with us and the 99% —

Tax the rich

Occupy L.A.

Human beings before prisons & war

No more war for the rich

Occupy USA, not Iraq

Someone has hired rent-a-cops on 21 speed mountain bikes in purple shirts, each with weaponry on their belt that includes a brace of plastic tie handcuffs fit for the multitude. Nine of these guards stand at attention holding the handlebars of their bikes at the corner of First and Broadway. In other countries they might wade into the crowd swinging steel bars. 3 purple shirts pedal purposive down the avenue. 3 motorcycle LAPD control the intersection. The crowd wheels about and clots in the gloomy lobby entrance of the Bank of America, cheering and drumming reverberating out of the ugly architecture. I follow Ben and Tommy, who purchase paletas from the palatero. Two thin women drag by, dragged by pit bulls with heads like Chinese stone lions. Some women push babies in baby carriages.

We are who we've been waiting for

90 years on this earth only to see the American Dream stolen away. We are the 99% [tiny aged Latina, tree shadows in her face]

We come in peace for financial equality so don't bring battons and riot gear!

Why no leader???

You can't kill us all!

Public schools are designed to make compliant people

Rubbery shrubbery at Bank of America office bldg invokes dusty durability, smog-pitted convenience and the corporate ethos, and their ugly building looks like shit. Nah, feces would speak to organic processes of the body, but the ethos evidenced by everything BofA touches with the personality of their corporate personhood, it's toxic, boring. It's all about the polished precision of greed. To think I once had a job caring for the wilting plants at BofA branch banks throughout East L.A. I drove the avenues of East L.A. all one summer, with tellers buzzing me behind the money counter to attend the potted organisms. 

I'm not here to end capitalism or get a hand out I'm here because we've been lied to.

Don't be greedy leave some for the needy!

Honesty is the best policy

Jobs not cuts

Turning away from the music that breaks out atop the truck bed stage at Spring Street at City Hall, a grubby grouch growls, "This is the Revolution, this ain't the fucking Bob Marley Festival." 17 virgins await him in the bubble bath of 2-D doctrinaire Heaven. Note to self: "As you turn into a doctrinaire crabby old bastard, keep a death grip on whatever sense of humor you got left." 

Flags of calm forgetting wave in the skies. 

45,000 detenidos y desaparecidos exigimos memoria, verdad y justicia 1960 — 1996 responsables el estado guatemalteco su ejercito sus fuerzas policiacas y judiciales con asesoramiento de estados unidos

People over profit$

Government by the 99% single payer healthcare now

Restore democracy

Corporations are not people

Stop corporate greed

Slave to student loans

We are the back bone of the country stop breaking us

America is a union ??J

obs now! Not later

A couple weekends ago, the tents were just popping up. Now tents and tarps cover most of the west grounds under the strange historical ficus with scarred forlorn white bark like whitewashed powdery limbs in silent movies or white faces of photos in the headlights of history; tents cover the sad-scuffed tufts of grass where winos sleep (and have maybe slept away whole lifetimes no one will ever dream of except in "On the Nickel" and the songs of Tom Waits) near that typical unknown statue of the unclear city father — beckoning with one hand at the unrestored fountains that have run dry for a century, at the ugly pasty yellow-painted high concrete pedestal everyone averts their eyes from, refracting the indifference of the empty lot across the street, vacant for generations. Not to mention across the street the bankrupt half empty Los Angeles Times, Rockefelleresque square-Chicagoed fascist cornball architecture, civic clock tower face in some Art Deco nostalgia, which is to say, it might look good on paper. From across the street, on the lawn of City Hall, it looks like another failed project. Tycoons and visionaries have abandoned this town, scurried to the hills. One afternoon I drove by, the mayor was standing out front of that building like a proud city father who arrived on the scene too late, all the shouting over and the party strewn in debris in the streets. Our mayor, he stood in the afternoon sunshine with a posse of other suits spiffy in his broad-shouldered white shirt and suspenders, his genuine replica killer smile as hard as glass if you look at it from the side. Today, Cheshire cat-like, the mayor is vanished, leaving only his patented grin hanging about in exhaust fumes in the air. Carbon monoxide breath. Strictly amateurs, the anarchists who have taken over the mike on the stairs are strumming and humming arrhythmically, loopy, bongoing their bongos, ay yay yay, no! We're scuttling off under the trees.

Economic democracy for all

Obama lead or step aside

Greed is the inventor of injustice as well as the current enforcer

Governments lie, I.F. Stone

I am Troy Davis

Spirits step to the windows and gaze upon the crowd. I can feel 'em, but I'm listening for vibrations of the afternoon from New York City and points elsewhere. I think I hear something. So I scribble more notes, standing by a squad of Guatemaltecos on the northern steps of City Hall, where I saw poet Matt Timmons a couple weeks ago. I can't hear the speeches from the sound truck from this vantage. The female speaker sounds kind of remonstrative. Is she the second speaker, or the third? How many have there been? Time splashes about my feet like the Pacific foam, you know how it washes back into the ocean in a froth of bubbles popping — leaving the sand perfectly smooth.

The status quo sucks

No more fee$

No more crook$

No more Banker$

Dirty look$

Moving my $ to a Credit Union

FYI: Broken

Justice system  





Economy/ Wall St. 

Estimates for repair?needed ASAP

Greed is bad!

The peasants are storming the castle

Actually, truth is, something is happening with my right ear. I have a nasty grinding noise entering my head from the right ear. I went to a doctor, who said it would eventually go away. Weeks or months later, this metallic screech wakes me up at night, it keeps me company, like some leftover echo from the abandoned factories of industrial America, the ghost of their great promise a century ago just some kind of steel cricket grating in my right ear. What the hell, I don't mention this noise to anybody. It doesn't have anything to do with them. It's just another sonic ghost. Vestigial message that no one bothered to pick up. It's always one thing or another, ain't it? That's what I get for listening to music too loud for forty years. Maybe it's a secret message, if I could decode it. From another civilization yet unknown. Maybe it has something to do with the secret tunnels of the Lizard People, reputed to undergird portions of the downtown area, as noted in the Pocho Research Society Field Guide to Los Angeles, by Sandra de la Loza. I've heard people discussing the legend of the Lizard People and their ancient underground civilization. 

Our communities our jobs

Its serious when real estate agents are marching!!

Go directly to jail do not conduct business as usual

Spank of America

Refuse consent, Noam Chomsky

Hey Congress what part of we the people don’t you understand?

The truth is on the side of the oppressed
            — Malcolm X

Stop the funny money

Change starts here

I’m not a hippie

A young man sits with his back against a street lamp pole, legs crossed in lotus position as if meditating at length, eyes closed and a dollar bill taped over his mouth. His numerous black metal piercings hanging from his lips, face and ears remind me of clerical supplies like paper clips. I feel that he has clipped himself so as to appear neater than most, not in disarray like me probably. He has accessorized himself with a street lamp. 

The world is abundant

It's time for an economy that works for everyone

Slave to student loans

Support the zero waste committee

Love your neighbor

Occupy earth

Tax oil to fund education

Corporate pigs need a lap band

Lower tuition now

People before profit

The Chamber of Commerce a Treasonous Organization??99% You can't arrest an idea

My husband has been jobless for 2 years

Bring out troops home and start the war here we'll finally get some roads and schools built

Tax the rich and close the loop holes

The American Dream is only real for those who are sleeping

Ownership kills! Earth belongs to all!

For sale

2 senators

+      1 representative

Research reptilian bloodlines

Your profit is raping the earth!


We circumambulate City Hall, once targeted by Lex Luthor's Death Ray, it used to explode daily at the beginning of every 1950s black and white television episode of Superman. At that point, Superman would head for a telephone booth, which is also outdated, but was always interesting because it obviously made no sense. Change clothes in a phone booth? It was a metaphor for identity: over the phone, no one can see who you really are. And the Death Ray concept was swiped from the papers of Nikola Tesla, inventor of the radio and alternating current, whose papers on particle beam experiments for his Death Ray disappeared from his lab after his 1943 death on the 33rd floor of the Hotel New Yorker in Manhattan. Poor Superman committed suicide in some Hollywood canyon house, career washed up by the more viable era of the 60s, while the City Hall still stands. Lex Luthor and the ghastly villains of Hollywood, Fu Manchu and Bela Lugosi, the hunchbacks and scar-faced creeps, devils of the cotton candy and popcorn imagination. The criminal geniuses operating in society are so bland as to be invisible. Talk about city councilmen like Art Snyder. Besides, Tesla's Death Ray never worked out, or Vietnam would have been blasted to pavement — Richard Nixon would have pressed that button like there was no tomorrow. That's the chill in the shadow of City Hall.


Investments they refuse to dump the 1%

Fox and friends stink

This is how the 99% lobby Congress

I don't have a job but I found an occupation

Peace Love Unity


Imagine a world without corporate greed

Stand & Fight

We stroll through the east lawn tent city headquarters — Welcome tent, First Aid tent, Library, Supplies, Food (closed by City Health Dept.), Used Clothing, etc. "Fresh bagels! Free bagels! Fresh, just delivered!" a woman shouts, proffering a cardboard box of bagels. I split one with Ben. We discussed stopping depositing our souls in the Lake of Fire. But we have not investigated reptilian bloodline research. Stuff takes time. We have marched from Pershing Square repeatedly. Of course, we may have to do so time and again in weeks and months ahead.

At the Welcome tent I give a cash donation, noting this schedule:

Saturday October 15

8a      Breakfast

12:30  Japanese & Korean language meeting

         Little Tokyo Towers

1pm    Lunch

1p      media

2p     Spanish Language meeting

        Placita Olvera

3:30p   Chinese Vietnamese Language meeting

        Chinatown Plaza

4p      City liaison (s. steps)

4p      Action (n. steps)

4p      Sanitation (0 waste)

        (Temple/ Spring)

and this schedule of the day's classes:

10a    Alternative economics

Industrial hemp

12p    Nonviolent resistance

1p      History of healthcare

        (How did we get here?)

2p      Alternative funds for public education

3p      Stripping Corporate personhood

4p      Balancing understanding privilege

6p      Making animal-earth-human 

        liberation connection

5p      Find out @ class

and at the Supplies tent, this is the list posted "Needs 4 donation":

- poster paper

- markers/ paint

- warm shirts etc.

- any tents/ tarps

- sweaters

- cleaning supplies

- any unwanted things to donate

Off with their heads

USA made in China

Wall St. = Out of Control Greed

An alliance of equivances

Stop "financial terrorism" end the fed

Divest from Israeli apartheid

The rich cannot have everything

Corporate welfare: all of the rewards, none of the risks

Fox News lies of the Koch bros

No School

No Job

No Money

American dream?

Bankers got a bailout

We got soldout

Democracy not corporatocracy

Stop the BS

Repeal Citizens United

Occupy L.A. not Gaza

You look beautiful today

Reinstate Glass-Steagall

Beautiful sunshine of afternoon — I look up. Hands in my pockets, I lean back and look up through blue skies that sweep across the desert to the Pacific, I get the hemispheric vibe. I'm looking for animals, shapes and forms in the hints of cirrus to radiate a vast sun refracted through windows, cityscapes, empty lots, dry thistles, vehicular shells, wires and lines — through weeds and trees, solar glints magnetic and acrid, smudged and infrared. And reflected upside down on the sky, a wholly different possible destiny, the pale forms of dying dolphins and porpoises from the Gulf of Mexico glimmer and sink into the depths above us. Ether, a thought peeled from my mind like a strip of yellow cellophane on the sky.


LARB Contributor

Sesshu Foster has taught composition and literature in East L.A. for 20 years, and writing at the University of Iowa, the California Institute for the Arts, the University of California, Santa Cruz and Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program. His most recent books are the novel Atomik Aztex and World Ball Notebook. He is currently collaborating with artist Arturo Romo and other writers on the website, www.ELAguide.org.


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