I did the best I could, but I arrived 15 minutes late to my position at the Mount Tabor Reservoir of the municipal water supply system. My 12-year-old son, on his way to an all-day ballet practice, although he knows how to make sandwiches, asked me please to make him four slices of toast and I did.
So, at 12:15 I pulled up on the 60th Street side of Mount Tabor Reservoir Park, where one sees the large empty Lower Reservoir. I got off my bike, loaded with all the stuff for a couple of nights’ overnight stay, the which I had pedaled for six, perhaps, miles, uphill since Glisan Street. Now to find Jesse, who two weeks ago (at our second meeting) told me to meet him and the Occupy Mount Tabor group at noon — but had not said where.
I thought about that last part, where we were to meet, as I pulled along the uphill the way south from Glisan Street. A liberal would define himself by going to the Mount Tabor Presbyterian Church, where one met, indoors, in a room, to talk; a radical was one who when he promised to meet up on the occupation of Mount Tabor, went to Mount Tabor.
I did not see anyone even the slightest bit scruffy (for that would characterize folks ready to camp for an indefinite time outdoors). So I asked one of the healthy, attractive joggers who were passing as I scanned for fellow (“Cascadia Camper”?) protesters; the person I spoke to turned out to know of me, since she was the ex-girlfriend of Travis Weedon, for a few months earlier this year a member of the Pacific Green Party’s State Co-ordinating Committee. Her name is Janie, she told me, and as we walked she showed me the trail to the Upper Reservoir, the small one, holding water. She started her reply to my query with the not offhand comment that I bear an intimidating manner; preparing to be arrested in a hyper-militarized, pre-fascist police state was expected to be accomplished without intensity of emotion. She promised to bear my good wishes to Comrade Weedon.
Pushing my loaded bicycle up those steep steps gave my cardiovascular system, not to mention my somewhat aged skeletal musculature, quite a work-out.
So, after a fruitless search for the slightest signs of an Occupy Mount Tabor presence at the Lower Reservoir a quarter of an hour after the stated time of meeting, I arrived at the natural site for an Occupation, the beautiful (and small, therefore photogenic) Upper Reservoir, at Low Noon, 12:30 pm. I put up the Pacific Green banners, the big one on three stakes firmly planted, using the mallet my wife said was the wrong tool, in the non-mown grassy part of the slope next to the jogging trail above the reservoir.
I think you’ll have to imagine the display: veteran Party comrade T. Oliver (Ollie to his friends) was prowling the slopes with his daughter toddler Rachel and his camera at the very time but was warned away from where I was by the ATV [that is, All-Terrain Vehicle]-mounted Portland Police officers speaking to him and suggesting he might want to relocate. He went down to 60th Street.
At 1 o’clock I was sunning on the slopes of the Upper Reservoir. I continued to inquire of anyone who would look me in the eye of reputed “occupy” types of people sighted elsewhere. All asserted I seemed to be solo. Occupy Mount Tabor, c’est moi, to paraphrase an aphorism attributed to le roi soleil on the occasion of addressing his cabinet officers.
At 2 o’clock two park rangers came up and advised me that they had some concern about the posted banner. Here is where, Dear Reader, the story begins to illustrate the pervasive Untruths all we contemporary inhabitants of the PostModern World utter all the time. When I informed Mr and Mrs Park Ranger in the clearest terms that the regulations protecting the health and welfare of the untrimmed flora of the National Historic Site for which they provided crowd control were overridden by my right to political expression at a political gathering, they protested — oh no, they weren’t talking about, they had no intention whatever of, well, arrest. Arrest me if you like, I had said: my defense to the court runs as follows.
No, no, this is off on the wrong foot. Can we get started on another foot? Probably not, I responded (in a tone, I am afraid to admit, which was what Sister Janie would have regarded as “intimidating”), as you are sworn officers of the Court, and the Court as an institution does the bidding of the corporate masters who suppress dissent and meaningful political action by the majority.
Yes, I did say that. Give me a chance, and I give a little speech. My older son has adopted for questions he wants to present the conversational opener, “Short Answer.”
But, wasn’t I right? Speaking not as one individual but as a member of a corporation, my voice ought to be amplified, on a reasonable number of occasions, and nothing could be more reasonable than a political action staged to demonstrate popular protest against the Covering Of The Reservoirs [we’ll call it COTR for future reference, eh?], where the polity’s leaders are ramming through a program of hundreds of millions of dollars of spending in order to put in place a water supply system which will — must — present water of lower quality.
The corporate masters are in this case the Mayor and the City Council, with the sole exception of a British-born and -accented nurse (there’s no native American-born politician in Portland who didn’t get the message — none more clearly so than Amanda Fritz’s opponent in the recent election). The Oregonian account of my arrest (in the print edition, dated today 13 July 2013: the fact is, the Oregonian has about the worst webpage in creation, and for them to say they’re going to be a presence on the Web is, to laugh) included the quotation by reporter Steve Beaven
[Mayor Charlie Hales] released a statement saying that he and his colleagues [the fellow purveyors of corporate-sponsored construction, on the City Council] “welcome people who wish to assemble peacefully,” but the city would block any attempts to damage the reservoirs
Remember, Mount Tabor is going to be made over into a roller-skating rink or something when these corporate shills get through.
or affect the water’s safety.
That is, the City of Portland will administratively, spending four hundred or six hundred or eight hundred millions of dollars, make the water supply system less safe and presenting water that is less pure. But the Mayor will block any attempts by anybody else to affect the water’s safety.
You see what I mean about the pervasive untruths we all utter all the time, here under the gaze of Post-Modernism?
I spent three hours this morning, from 2 am to 5 am, sitting the row behind — we had to sit, we were ordered to sit — Eric Daniel Zimmerman, one of those arrested at the Sixtieth Street gathering; at no time did either he or I know that our neighbor in the holding cell of Central City Jail was a comrade in the effort to bring accountability of some minimum variety to local politics. Is that not absurd enough for you?
But I break chronology, as so often.