Black October



Black October

            We were standing outside a Subway sucking beers from a straw waiting for the police brutality march to start when the shrooms started to kick in.  I turned to Jim and said, “My head feels like it's full of helium” and he asked, “Is it floating away?”  “No,” I told him.   “It's still attached to my body but by a long thin string that I don't trust.”  He nodded like my response was the most natural thing in the world and went back to his beer.  Then I was assaulted by a barrage of voices singing that popular System of a Down song.  They kept singing “DESTROYER, DESTROYER, DESTROOOYEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” which meant that the Pirates of RCC had finally joined us.  They were called this because of their habit of wearing pirate rags, dressing stylishly bummy, their love of drink (just beer, sometimes wine), psychedelics, herb and rabble rousing all in the name of REVOLUTION!  With the Pirates here joining all of us in Food Not Bombs (Angela Angst, Jim, Ally, Miguel, James and Rachel) Riverside was here in force.  They still singing and I heard myself say “Hey can someone change the station they keep playing the same song over and over?”  It got quiet. I looked around and a bowl was going around.  No one cared about the cops because it was the beginning of things no one knew what was gonna happen once the march got started but the anticipation was growing. 

“Marge do you always have to act crazy to get attention?” Zach asked. 

“I dunno.”

            He was the one Pirate I knew mostly through Jim and also by legend.  Last year he went nuts in the quad at RCC and punched out a window while class was in session.  The students freaked and when security got him, he was babbling incoherent madness.  The cops came then the guys with the butterfly nets and he spent a few months in the nuthouse.  What was even crazier was Zach's father owned the biggest newspaper in the county, The Press Enterprise.  But now he's back at RCC and with the Pirates and he hasn't punched out any windows so I guess all is well.  I snapped a few pictures of the Pirates and lit a cigarette.  It was high noon and a good crowd had gathered.  When it became clear no one else was showing people started marching towards city hall which was the end point of the rally.  There was no leader, not with a bunch of anarchists in the crowd but there were some people leading chants.  The Pirates tried to get a System chant going but they were drowned out by people chanting “FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL!”  I didn't know who that was and wasn’t into it enough to ask.  The shrooms were starting to come on strong now.  I looked at Jim he was trying to light a cigarette but kept missing and I could tell he was at the beginning stages of his trip where your brain's trying to figure out what the hell's going on.  Basic motor functions are not lost but have to be carefully thought out before proceeding.  I had gotten past this point outside Subway but Jim was having trouble.  I went over to him and lit his cigarette.  He lifted up his shades and grinned at me.  His pupils were dilated beyond all recognition and then his eyes disappeared behind the shades.  I took his hand and led him as the marchers started chanting “FUCK THA POLICE!” as cops on horseback started showing up and shooting menacing looks from behind their mirrored shades.  This was no time to start lagging, we had a few miles to go before city hall and we weren't even peaking yet.  All we could do was lean on each other because we were the only ones in the group crazy enough to go on this trip.  We thought the only way to truly experience the 1st big social event of the fall season while being deep in the heart of the revolution was to go into pure Hunter Thompson gonzo style.  All this was decided the night before at the FNB meeting at Angela Angst's place over a bottle of wine and two blunts.  Now here we are trying to maintain as we inched toward the vortex of the revolution. 

“This must be what it was like when Moses led the Israelites out Egypt,” Jim said his voice was distant and dreamy like at that moment he was there crossing the Red Sea on dry ground after old boy Moses parted it.  “Way on down in Egypt land let my people go,” Jim sang softly over and over negro spiritual style. 

            Let my people go?  What a thing to sing with cops on horseback, maybe snipers on rooftops and most definitely storm troopers lying in wait when we get city hall just ready to tighten the noose, we slipped around our necks the second the march started.  Angela started a “FIGHT THE POWER!” chant that caught on immediately.  In between the chants I'd catch snippets of conversations.  Some old school protesters were talking about how it was in their day with the peace and the love and how even though they got our boys out of Vietnam in the end Nixon, the 70s and cocaine were their downfall.  Yet watching us still fighting the good fight let the old timers know that their legacy lived on.  No one could argue with that.  Then there were the new breed of protesters the ones who had gone to the WTO thing in Seattle where cops were shooting protesters with rubber bullets, stun grenades, pepper spray.  They were ready for the storm troopers, the apocalypse, anything and everything.  Most of them had on beat up army fatigues, knapsacks and as we got to the point of no return covered their faces and readied their gas masks.  I had been fighting off small waves of paranoia for a few blocks and seeing people starting to prepare themselves and glancing at us and shaking their heads like we should've been prepared for war but came acting like we were going to the park wasn't helping.  The shrooms are running strong now and I'm still leading Jim by the handout of habit now or maybe I just need something to hold on to.  We were two kids twisted, mad, scared, confused walking into the mouth of the beast unprepared.  But can you ever be prepared to walk into the lion's den?  Just then Angela got everybody’s attention.

“Alright slackasses look alive we're almost at city hall.  When we get there BE READY! because shit goes down no one can panic.  You know why people panic because they're not ready for what's coming.  Now we've been watching what's coming for the whole march so we have no excuses!  Stay close to each other and remember don't panic!”

            Angela telling us not to panic didn't help me and Jim as we finally made it to city hall and saw that we were completely surrounded by cops on horseback and storm troopers.  One of the organizers had a portable PA/mic set up and they cranked up Rage Against the Machine and suddenly it's like that video they did with Michael Moore.  There's a lot of dancing and jumping around but I couldn't deal with it.  Fear gripped me and I grabbed onto Jim just as he was grabbing onto me.  When the song's over some of the organizers are on the mic saying something about how it begins and ends with the people and that there's more us than them and stuff but then security comes and takes the mic away and one of the organizers tries to take it back someone gets punched and that's all the storm troopers needed.  They rush the crowd batons out and all I hear is screams and bones breaking.  I remember what Angela said about not panicking but now I can't move.  I look up at Jim and he's got his head on a swivel but has no idea what to do.  Then Angela grabs us like a mama bear protecting her cubs and shoves her way through the crowd and down an alley and she doesn't stop till we're in the car.  Me and Jim are shaking uncontrollably so Angela goes into her car and packs a bowl.  We all smoke and calm down a little but no one talks about what happened.  It's still too fresh in our minds with ambulances and fire trucks screaming past us.  The rest of the group show up a few minutes later not tripped out like me and Jim but excited to think that this'll be on TV later tonight and that they didn't catch a baton to the skull.  Our trip had been screwed up by the burst of violence and near escape so me and Jim got in Angela's car in the backseat.  Next thing I knew Angela's driving saying something about a meeting at this anarchist house near Echo Park. 

“You know all shit like this does is let me know that we're fighting right side because if what we we’re doing didn't matter then the powers that shouldn’t be wouldn't have called the dogs on us.  We're shaking the cages people! we're shaking cages people! we're shaking the cages!”

            Despite the march devolving into chaos with tear gas and beatings Angela had hope.  Something was stirring and the bastards in power knew it!  If they were going to bring their vision of 1984 to past, they were in for a fight.  Not from me and most likely not Jim but people like Angela, the Pirates of RCC, Food Not Bombs, anarchists and many others who would rather die on their feet than live on their knees!  Of course, I could just be feeling overly optimistic.  Psychedelics do that to me from time to time.


Demond J. Blake

Demond J Blake is a warehouse associate who has traveled the country working odd jobs, meeting and writing about various artists, musicians and nonconformists living life on the fringes of society. He lives in Colton, CA with his wife and son. Demond is currently seeking publication for his essay 'The Spiritual Matrix', 'The _______ Generation: Slackass' his first novel and 'Pay Me the Penny After' his first collection of poetry.

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