This morning I got a text at 5:30am telling me that #occupysantacruz was being raided, so I drove down to the courthouse to film. I crossed the street (it could be argued that I didn’t cross the empty street at the corner) and turned on my camera. Immediately, a cop detained me for jaywalking. Here’s the interesting part: he told me that I didn’t have to get a ticket if I would just leave and not come back for two hours. He told me he had no interest in debating what was and was not public property. I argued with him for awhile and then acquiesced.
It was clear that he didn’t care about my jaywalking and was only using it as leverage to clear me off of public property.
Turns out that google+ requires you to use your legal name and if you’re caught in violation they suspend you and do all kinds of not-nice stuff. I know this might come as a surprise to most of you, but I wasn’t actually born Margaret Killjoy. So I quit.
Besides, I had no idea what to do with google+ anyhow.
The other night I went to a release party for a queer zine (with the translated title of “fags and disaster”) at a squat in Athens. One reason that I’m not looking forward to going back to the USA: the anarchists in europe listen to good music. I’m well known for my disinterest in the current fad of US anarchists listening to mainstream pop and hiphop. Nothing against pop or hiphop… I’m quite fond of both. I’m disgusted that we set up countercultural spaces, occupying warehouses or at least finding a modicum of liberty in rented spaces, and then infuse those spaces with what mainstream culture would prefer us to listen to. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there is a higher instance of youth radicalism in Europe, where countercultural tendencies exist in more or less every music genre.
I got into this whole “anarchy” thing looking for a beautiful way to live my life and to question the fundamental assumptions put forth by our society. I didn’t get into it so I could dance with hipsters to songs with misogynist lyrics.
Anyhow, at this wonderful party in a giant abandoned apartment building in Athens, they played such good music: lots of dark wave, danceable noise, a bit of techno, a bit of gothic. Actually the above song was almost the mainstream thing I heard. I had never heard it before, though I listened to an awful lot of Portishead in the 90s. It’s so good. Industrial as hell but mixed with the kind of current dark pop sensibility one might find in The Knife or iamamiwhoami.
So I’m in Italy at the moment, working on some editing projects. (I used to travel as a volunteer activist, now I travel as a volunteer editor. Go figure.)
Anyhow, I don’t speak Italian. The other night I watched this mediocre crime/romance/europe-as-exoticism movie called The Tourist. In it, Johnny Depp is a tourist in Italy and doesn’t speak any Italian. So, being an American, he gets flustered and speaks Spanish to people. This amused me because I identified with it.
This is a few months premature. I quit eating animal products in, as best I can guess, February 2001. Regardless, I’ve had thoughts stewing in my head about this thing that I’ve chosen, so I might as well spit them out.
What veganism is to me
It actually hadn’t occurred to me that I would need to define (or describe) veganism to a general audience. As far as I’m concerned, being a vegan means that you don’t consume animal products. I don’t eat anything with meat, milk, or eggs. Veganism is a dietary choice that some people make. The reasons vary tremendously, which is something I’m totally fine with.
The reason I feel the need to define veganism is because of a recent encounter with a vegan who, as far as I’m concerned, tried to take the label away from me. He felt that veganism wasn’t just a diet, that veganism was a commitment to a lifestyle that supported the concept of animal rights and opposed speciesism. He said that an omnivore who burns down a factory farm has more claim to the title than someone who eats vegan but doesn’t do anything else for animals. And while I agree that said omnivore is a better champion of animals, I disagree wholeheartedly that this entitles that person to claim the title veganism.
Why is this distinction so important to me? For one thing, because I care about veganism as an idea that can spread (among those willing). I’m not interested in defining ourselves into a more and more specific, more and more pure little niche. I’m interested in minimizing the number of animals that are slaughtered in factory farms, not being an elitist.
And the distinction is important to me because vegan is a handy word to use to describe my diet to people when we talk about where to go out to eat. I don’t want some damn whippersnapper kid taking it away from me. He can find something else to call himself. Fifth level vegan or something.