This past Thursday night, 2-10-11, “Oilpocalypse Now” happened at the stupendous Grand Lake Theater in Oakland. The speechifyers were Carol Brouillet, me, Lisa Gautier from Matter of Trust, Berkeley anti-corporate-personhood warrior Phoebe Sorgen, and Dr. Riki Ott.
Well, if you know anything about current oilspill-related events, you know who Riki Ott is. If you don’t, get ready for a lesson in badassery. Her personal push now centers around the 28th Amendment for the Separation of Corporation and State. So we threw an event to further the idea, to start the ball rolling and empower people with knowledge. And to watch an excellent documentary about the Valdez disaster and its aftermath, and to figure out how to compartmentalize the sadness at the destruction which greedy spillionaires have wrought in the name of catering to the oil addiction they installed.
Addiction (to oil, coal, fracking, and extraction-based energy) is best overcome with a spiritual experience, and nothing provides a spiritual experience like realizing, via the urgency facing Planet Earth’s health, humanity’s oneness far outweighs all the imagined separateness.
Carol Brouillet and ourselves worked on the event for a month solid, emailing every press outlet, radio station, TV station, Bay Area mayor and/or city councilmember, and the entire law, poli-sci, and enviro departments of area colleges. Chicken John wrote it up for his new column at the SF Weekly.
Carol Brouillet calls herself a “hyperactivist” and she’s not kidding. She has spent the past decade shouting from the rooftops about the high improbability of three steel skyscrapers freefalling because of two planes. This month she buried her friend, who lived around the World Trade Center, where the government told its people the dust was safe to breathe. We went with her while she scouted locations to host the memorial. 9/11 truth is her game, and in the name of her friend, she’s more passionate than ever.
She sees the same slow genocide going on in the Gulf. That’s why when we handed her a flyer at an event, she hollered at us and we discussed the whole affair on air. She’s done so much — making the film Behind Every Terrorist There Is A Bush, among other things — that I’m sure, after co-creating this event with her, we will be on that governmental list if we’re not already. (It’s a big list.)
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
— Dalai Lama XIV
The Grand Lake Theater is beautiful beyond all description. Even more absurdly so with the Doggie Diner‘s three superstars Manny, Moe, and Jack in attendance — the Holy Dogminican Trio, whose noses you rub for luck. In the Bay Area, nothing says “THIS EVENT IS GOING TO BE COOL” like the Dogs’ Heads parked out front. Score, with thanks to John Law of Laughing Squid. He and “Dick Cheney” judged the tinfoil hat contest to kick off the event — but only after our former Vice President alternately berated innocent bystanders in the Grand Lake’s lobby, gave them the finger, threatened to shoot them in the face “like the last guy who crossed me,” and told them to go f*&k themselves.
Another commonality with the 9/11 thing and the Gulf Coast thing is that there are some friends and acquaintances with whom one just can’t talk about the issue. That’s modern life: We silently agree not to bring it up. We don’t want to disrupt anyone’s denial any more than they want to be forced to confront the very real possibility that their government really is capable of producing such evil — after shaking down trusting, hardworking Americans for their taxes and public service, playing upon their emotions, and breaking their kneecaps in order to offer them kneecap surgery.
My New Yorker friends — who don’t like talking about the Gulf debacle at all, either — waded through the dust in the dark of the fallen towers and brought meals to their dusty gray injured bretheren, and brave firefighters and emergency medical workers, and tried to make them laugh after gathering gourmet food all day for them … so they don’t want to hear about how forces within our own borders, on our own soil, controlling all our public interests while catering to their drinking buddies behind corporate shields, are constantly contriving new ways to murder people in the name of engineering a shock-doctrine apocalyptic event in order to dig the claws in deeper.
But they are. So ladies hold events about it.
And to those wolves in the throne room we would say: Sorry about your tiny penises, seek help for your psychopathic narcissism, and get out of my house and away from my money. We don’t even want your help fixing the Gulf. The Cajun Navy can do that. We just want you to fork over the money you stole, stop spraying chemical weapons all over us, and go take a long walk off a short pier.
Dr. Riki Ott has been feeling these feelings of ours for near about 20 years, since the Exxon Valdez puked up crude all over her hometown and obliterated the fishing business up there. Then the spillionaires created more rifts as a way of undermining the fix … all the way up to where the mayor of Cordova shot himself in the head. Really, you should watch Black Wave, first chance you get. It’s depressingly necessary viewing, with a potential for uplift at the end.
So “Oilpocalypse Now” was all about facing facts. We tried to lighten it up with the tinfoil hat contest and the fake Cheney, but the reality is depressing. We’re used to clowning around on bikes and throwing shaving-cream-and-flour pies at people with Cyclecide — not stumping for hardcore activism stuff like this. But rather than seeing the world as prohibitively overwhelming and oppressive, where we are the puppets in their game, we should realize we’re swimming in the same pool as they are, and they’re the ones fouling it up, and there’s not really a lifeguard on duty at the moment.
Corporate persons take corporate-sized craps on the land and sea from behind the emerald-city curtain of CORPORATION, and they tell us there’s no other option, and they try to make us all speak their language of debt, money, fear, and terrorism. But again, fewer of us are falling for it, and we’re getting together to put words on it, to be able to take those words and tell other people about it. So even though the theater wasn’t full, as Dr. Ott said, the right people were there. We threw a huge boulder in the pool Thursday night. Now we shall see how it ripples.
Videos of the speechifyin’ are forthcoming, soon as we can figure out how to stuff the film in the Youtubes. Dr. Ott also spoke to Rose Aguilar that day, so here’s the link for the radio show where you can hear most of what she told us that night.
Our favorite talking points from Dr. Ott’s speech and teach-in after the film go like this:
1) The Deepwater Horizon debacle was no mistake. It was the logical outcome of an industry bloated on deregulation and secure in its coziness with the government, which was supposedly designed to regulate it and not let it get bigger than the people it’s meant to serve.
2) The U.S. Federal government is (forcing all its regulatory agencies to stay silent and complicit in) lying to cover its ass, and certain state governors are going along and keeping mum, in order not to send their economies into a tailspin. A full 85 percent of Alabama’s income is generated on that tiny little stretch of coast between Mississippi and Florida.
3) Ott’s favorite ways for “what can I do”-ers to get to work are to get into the Move to Amend thing or the Gulf Coast Fund thing, and to help raise money to get Dr. Wilma Subra and others to test more people in the Gulf and start building the epidemiology for the science behind the proof that the spillionaires are killing people. Slowly. And lying about it, and trying to sweep it under the rug.
4) Growing your own food, amassing your food stores and old-school self-sufficiency, and living in an intentional community are some of the most radical things you can do right now. (Which is weird because this writer, an oil-spill evacuee, got tentative plans to go do that, out of necessity, since the bank account is empty and it’s time to stop being homeless but we’ve got no first-last-deposit and don’t much care to be in a city anyway, and they invited us, which is an honor).
5) Extraction-industries energy companies’ fuckery is cause for concern and alarm, but not fear and despair. Dr. Ott’s favorite publication is Yes! Magazine because of their positive spin on current events. Never forget the silent (or at least unerstated) majority of groups of people somehow committed to doing good things for the benefit of humanity. She said: “The Western culture has the most awful mindset on Earth — they’re waiting for the end, and fear and anger rule the day. But name one thing that’s actually collapsing.”
After this lil’ Oilpocalypse shindig, and listening to a woman who lost more and crusaded more than anyone we’ve met in the oil-spill pool of activists so far, we feel more hopeful for the country and the planet — maybe simply because we know we’re not alone/ There are people who know more than we do, have been at it longer, and are on the same silent-majority team. We raised consciousness for the proposed 28th Amendment for the Separation of Corporation and State, and we raised a few hundred bucks for Ultimate Civics, the Gulf Coast Fund, and the Coastal Heritage Society of Louisiana. Thanks to all for participating, or wishin’ on it in the Gulf, and/or for the Gulf. We shall git’r'dun (sung to the tune of “we shall overcome”).
Ripple ripple ripple.
LINKS: a whole lot of aggregated info because we’ve been doing the Oilpocalypse boogie.
NOLA.com: BP documents expose initial low-ball oil flow calculations (“documents released to MacDonald by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., show that BP used a different standard to measure the surface oil and convinced the NOAA scientists not to use NOAA’s standards, the ones endorsed by an international agreement.”)
“For those who don’t remember January 2002, that was when Cheney asked Daschle to “limit” an inquiry into the “failure of the Intelligence Agencies” Senator Bob Graham and Congressman Porter Goss headed that inquiry, initially under the CIA’s L. Britt Snider. Senator Bob Graham (who used to be CIA and recruited Porter Goss, who also worked for the CIA), also happened to breakfast with the ISI’s General Mahmoud Ahmad, and they never bothered to investigate themselves for their own relationship with the man who was reported to have had $100,000 wired to Mohammed Atta.
Graham was also appointed to co-chair the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill whose 400 page report blamed the spill on a failed culture of safety at BP, Halliburton and Transocean, and a failure of government regulation. Does this bring back some memories?”
YouTube: Truth Out for the Gulf Forum – Paul (“Paul was a rebellious youth that just wanted to swim in the Gulf and eat fresh seafood like nothing happened out there. He didn’t want to let the BP oil spill dictate his life, so he kept livin’ it. Wheelchair, seizures, paralyzation etc. Watch this video to the end please. Filmed February 5th 2011 … After about 30 minutes of multiple seizures an ambulance was called and Paul was taken to a New Orleans hospital. According to his parents, this will be the 15th hospital he will have visited in a seemingly endless search for answers to what they (and many) believe is a BP spill related poisioning.” – WARNING – HARD TO WATCH – BUT THIS IS THE VIDEO THAT WILL VIRAL THE URGENCY OF HEALTH CRISIS IN THE GULF …)
LATimes: Koch Brothers – David and Charles Koch in Washington’s Republican spotlight – Koch brothers now at heart of GOP power (“…a change most evident in the new makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Wichita-based Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the panel, ahead of giants like Exxon Mobil, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee’s 31 Republicans, and $32,000 to five Democrats.”)
YouTube: Who killed the Water Car? (Part 2 of 6 – part 1 was apparently taken down)
YouTube: Egyptian Revolution 2011 Complete. World must must watch this. Freedom for All! (Muslims and Christians protecting each other)
Discovery.com: Bugs ate up methane from Gulf spill (yes but WHAT KIND OF bugs)
Washington Times: Gulf of Mexico seen as recovering by 2014 (yes and it wasn’t oil that spilled out of the hole they poked in the planet — it’s actually chocolate ice cream! Grab a spoon!)
Mother Jones: A Giant Pipeline Carrying Dirty Oil from Canada to Texas. What Could Go Wrong? (“Several environmental groups have recently raised concerns about the ties between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the lead lobbyist for the international oil services company TransCanada. … Clinton raised ire among environmental groups and some senators last fall when she indicated that the pipeline was likely be approved despite the fact that the evaluation of the environmental impact of the proposal is still underway.”)
Politics Daily: Pentagon reports BILLIONS of dollars in contractor fraud (“The report was released by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had demanded a Pentagon accounting of fraud. “The sad truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money,” he said in a statement.”)
Herald Tribune: Big blob of gunk found in the Gulf (“Tests show it had no connection to land, was less than a year old and almost 100 percent biological. Tests also showed that tiny organisms had been getting stuck to the blob and dying as a result.”)
HuffPo: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker readies National Guard against unions (“To say it’s a power grab would be a huge understatement,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. “It’s hard to believe he’s even serious about this.”)
Antiwar News: Citing ‘Threats,’ Pentagon poised to unveil largest budget in history (“See, the Pentagon isn’t just about occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, and threatening to occupy Iran. The military sees a number of threats to national security, from imaginary pandemics, to piracy, to cyber warfare, to rising oceans and education. … And incredibly, the “national debt.” Yes, the military is actually arguing that it needs to spend more money on itself to combat the threat of the government spending too much money (largely on the military).”)
Secrets of US History (wow)