Day That Everything Went Wrong... or Did IT?
the story of why there's not more footage from
a very long day
It's 5 am Sunday
morning, can't sleep. The alarm's set for 8:30. I'd
been up till 4 am meeting a deadline for a client because I'd spent
my entire work day... Kuciniching .. roaming message boards, searching
/ distributing news, reminding media outlets, getting through the
e-mail ... The computer has finally been turned off but the whir
of the motor stills rings in my ears and won't let me sleep.
The last thing I remember thinking was "I should just get up
because if I fall asleep now I'll never wake up in time".
I was right.
It's 11am my
eyes realize there's another world on the outside of the lid.
Panic. I've got got 2 days of desk slave funk on and at LEAST
an hour's drive between me and Denis Kucinich. It'll be OK;
Danny Glover was to speak first at noon, oh well.
address in hand and all my equipment; I arrived at my car to find
one tire unsafely low. Pack the car and take off ... 10 long
slow miles later there's a gas station with air. On the freeway
I pull out the map and find Garfield High.
In what appeared
to be a lucky break, I was able to get fresh tapes for the
camera at the local E.LA big name electronic store.. Found the tapes
and headed for the door.. there was no checkout anywhere near the
door.. ?? Check outs were all in the "departments" and
the ONE that was manned had 4 people waiting. I thought about
just walking out with the tapes.. but remembered seeing an armed
guard on the way in. The store design invites you to walk
out with it, to your doom. Interesting. I bugged several
chatting employees until 1 checked me out and I got back on the
I found the
High School no problem, followed my senses.. and the signs to the
auditorium. As I'm approaching the auditorium, trying to turn
on the camera as I walk.. I hear Dennis say "Thank You! Thank
you very much!" and then from the audience a long, loud cheering
for the words he'd just FINISHED speaking. .. Oh well.
I found a corner
with what I perceived to be a good angle, set my camera bag down
and proceeded to shoot the Q & A. Found it to be a better
angle on the other side of the auditorium where all of this footage
came from. Had a blast following Dennis around as he made
his way to the caravan of Kucinich Cars that was about to honk noisily
through the streets of E.LA to the Campaign Headquarters for the
ribbon cutting fiesta. I even got my question in.. about the
FTAA Protester / Kucinich Supporters arrested in Miami.. Things
were looking up as I ran back to my car and joined the caravan...
far, far, far from the front.
miles later we arrived at the Campaign office and taking 3 laps
around the block; I found a parking space and checked my gear.
Camera, check, tape, check, monopod, check, camera bag...
AAAHHHHHHG!!! ( no I didn't really say "AAAAAHHHG!" in
reality it started with an F and used much more percussive consonants).
Actually, I think I must have said it many times, loudly; because
there was now an elderly hispanic man laughing at me from across
the street. I understood, I'd be laughing at me too.
I ran the block
and a half to the campaign office while analyzing my situation.
My extra tape was in the bag that now sat in the High School Auditorium,
which I didn't really remember how to get back to. From the
Office the Kucinich Train was heading to Culver City to speak at
a Peace Sunday event at the Agape House. If I must return
to the school I will now be late for the Culver City event as well.
I got to the
office, the ribbon had been cut, people were milling about, we put
a call in to the person who had remained at the auditorium to clean
up (maybe they could bring the bag to the office before Dennis heads
of to Culver City - saving me the trip back)... no answer...The
office festivities went great and the community was excited and
receptive. Dennis left and I ran for my car. I had to
stop along the way when I saw a sign along someone's fence "Ropas
Gratis". All day I'd been hearing Dennis speak of the
importance of people supporting each other at the neighborhood level.
I stopped running to make sure it said what I thought it said. I
don't speak much Spanish... but "Ropas Gratis" I understand.
"Free Clothes", 4 or 5 racks of various types of clothing
adorned the backyard and the gate was open, kids playin'.
I thought: "THIS is East LA? I've not had much
need to be in this area and this just didn't jive with the stereotype
implanted in my head. The sense of friendly community
oozed from every crack in the sidewalk. What a cool place.
the High School... took along time.. I had not paid attention to
the route from the High School to the Office, the map helped but
I still got turned around the wrong way a couple times.. but finally
arrived just as the last of the clean up crew was leaving... with
my bag in the van.. a half minute longer and my bag would have been
en route back to the office!
on my way to the Agape House in Culver City at 5700 Buckingham.
Address memorized. Grabbing the map while cruising a strange
freeway I realize the page of the map that has 5700 Buckingham Culver
City on it ... is the 1 page of the map that had turned up MIA a
few years back. (LA MAPS have roughly 700 pages)
I decide I can drive the area until I find Buckingham and then everything
will be fine. I never found Buckingham. At this point
I'm so late that I'm sure Dennis has probably finished at the Agape
House and moved on by now, but I still want to find this place and
maybe I can catch him as he's leaving...
As I'm lost,
driving around in the dark looking for Buckingham; I see a fairly
large group of striking Von's workers. I pull in. I
have been distributing VHS copies of a video of Dennis Kucinich
and local labor leaders at a Venice, CA strike rally to various
strikers as I encounter them and I had 1 tape left. I pulled
in to give them a tape and get directions in hopes of salvaging
something of my mission to film Dennis at Agape ( I hear he won
another peace award that night). Oh well.
I met Andre and that's when I found that I had ended up in the right
place after all.
During my adventures
giving that video tape to strikers I encountered a strange phenomena.
When I approached the strikers offering a tape of the Venice Strike
Rally with speeches from Mike Straeter and other Union leaders (because
I didn't want to appear to be pushing politics on them) they routinely
refused the taped and were only interested when they were told that
Dennis Kucinich also spoke at the rally. I was about to learn
A few minutes
into a conversation with the striker who wanted to talk I was wishing
I'd brought the camera over. But I was just trying to get
some directions, oh well.
There's no way
I can convey the complete conversation; I did eventually ask "Andre"
if I could interview him on camera and he was not interested.
"Andre" is a phony, made up name. Another day,
maybe he said and I gave him my card.
expressed a very jaded opinion of Union leaders that sprouted a
chorus of "uh huh"s, "yeah"s & "that's
right"s from fellow strikers. They feel they've been
sold. Teamsters crossed their lines. They were told
to lift the picket on Ralph's. Other workers from so called
"independent chains" who, though not union members, worked
under the same contract were told to continue working. They
were told these things by People they trusted to lead them and were
told these measures were necessary to show compassion on the community,
who still needed a place to shop. These tactics allowed the
Company to take the strike in stride and allows the issue of the
strike to be ignored and forgotten by most; leaving the workers
with NO Leverage... and no income.. much longer than would have
been necessary had they been given the full support of their Union.
A couple month's
ago the company was bitching about paying overtime, encouraging
people to "help out" a few minutes off the clock.
Now they're gladly paying untrained scabs nearly twice salary.
This is What
Union Busting Looks Like.
people have families to feed, mortgages to pay, rent, car payments...
and it's Thanksgiving .... soon to be Christmas. "What
am I suppose to tell my son!" Andre wanted to know how to explain
to his son that because he didn't want to pay a few bucks more a
month for less healthcare than the current contract; because it's
not fair, just or ethical considering profits for the company are
up 91% and because letting it happen sets a horrible precedent for
workers everywhere who will soon find themselves fighting this same
fight, one at a time, until nobody has healthcare... "What
am I suppose to tell my son!"
He brings his
son with him to the picket line so that he can understand the reality
and importance of the strike. Many adults find it hard to
comprehend how this, or any, strike effects them. They can't
see the big picture of allowing corporations to systematically lower
wages and benefits across the the board in all industries with a
well proven divide and conquer technique. These strikes effect
all workers by lowering "standards"; ensuring everyone
gets less next time around. But how do you make a 10
year old understand that at Christmas.
adamantly about putting women in positions of power because men
lack the compassion to lead for the benefit of all. He spoke
adamantly about not putting all your faith into anyone. Union
Leaders, Presidential Candidates, anyone wanting your support.
He reminded me that each of us can help each other .. at the community
level ... and the politicians will likely do what ever they want
to do. "Things change" he said, "times change,
you can change and survive, or you can fight and get crushed.
This strike happened to me because I put myself in the position
of listening to others about what was in my best interest, he said.
I'm gonna educate myself a little and take charge, get outa
this kinda work... but now the strike ate up my rainy day... so
it's going to take little longer."
I hope his new
job has benefits.
struggle, between being forced to fend for self and family and the
desire to stand strong for his fellow man is becoming too much to
bare for him. Undermined by People he trusted to put People
Over Profit he and his fellow workers now just feel left out
in the cold. Which reminded me how important it was
to get Dennis Kucinich elected President now, to stop the decline
of civilization now before it gets any worse and to put the brakes
on the Corpo-Media-Military-Industrial Complex.... but it also reminded
me rents due... civilization will have to wait awhile.. one person
can make a difference, but one person can't make ALL the difference...
not me .. not 1 striking grocery worker with a 10 yr old son at
Christmas... and not Dennis Kucinich. It will take us
ALL, working together on a variety of issues at many levels, to
progress to a place where People no longer accept Profit
Over People. Until then, we will each have to deal with our
own "sustainabilty issues" from time to time and when
forced into undesirable corners we will still need the solidarity
and understanding of our brothers & sisters.