Occupy AM 640

30 10 2011



I admit it: I listen to John and Ken. Yes them. The two white dudes on AM 640, who holler about illegal immigrants, LAUSD, State-workers, taxes and whathaveyou. Angry white men with wives and kids, middleclass, in their 40ies. Most of the time, I listen to KCRW, but some afternoons, I need my Jon and Ken fix. Because I want to know what the “Other Side” thinks, how they justify their reactionary, conservative and men-ways of perceiving the going -ons in our world.

But that’s not all: I sometimes actually like them. I enjoy their often-righteous anger and their sometimes-reasonable reasoning. Sometimes they are just so right. And when they really laugh about something bizarre, like the Octo-mom or Schwarzenegger, their laughs are infectious and they make me laugh too. Sometimes it’s a guilty laugh, because they are just so, well just so right about things one should not laugh about and certainly nobody laughs like them on the all-serious left-wing stations that can get a little bit dour and boring. Lately, specially when I was on my match.com-dating rampage I met a lot of guys who listen to them too; with the same feelings of slight guilt, but hell, when they’re right, they’re right.


Today, I went to the tent-city of “Occupy-LA”. I meant to go days ago, but I just opened my new store, then I had a fashion show, then I came down with the flu and it looked like I was going to miss this event. I was still slightly sick today, but when I heard that Jon and Ken were planning to visit the site, I took a handful of Advils and drove down there with Lisa Derrick from Firedoglake.com with $91 worth of peanut butter jars, pounds of bananas, apples, 35 loafs of bread and jars of applesauce.

The sight of the tents, the smell and the look of the diversity of people living there, took me back to a déjà-vu I did not expect at all: I felt like I was back in Vienna, 1976, the end of the summer, as a very young teenager. The only difference was that, here in LA, it was warm and sunny, but back in Vienna in September and October of 1976, it was starting to be bitterly cold. The City of Vienna had opened up a long abandoned meat factory and slaughterhouse for the summer as a cultural playground for bands, theater, dance, reading and parties. Thousands of people gathered through he warm summer nights and for many, like me, it was the first time to be free, to watch the bands we had listened to on the only radio station that played this kind of music for one hour a day, to enjoy our kind of culture, not our parent’s. The place was called “Arena” and when September came around, the buildings were supposed to be bulldozered and destroyed to make room for a shopping center.

A few of us decided to stay, to occupy the Arena and demand to keep it as a cultural center for the emerging punk=rock and cultural scene we had enjoyed all summer. The few turned into hundreds and more and more until the place was filled with people unwilling to leave. I was one of them. Even though I went back to school in September, I made sure to return there every afternoon, every evening and soon enough, a whole new city bloomed inside the historic slaughterhouse. It was my first experience with police-brutality, hunger, cold nights in sleeping bags and growing solidarity with my fellow occupants.

Just like Occupy LA, the mix of people was – well, mixed. A lot of druggies, crazies, the usual super-left wing idealists, trying to turn this event into their own agenda; from “Free Palestine” to God knows what, that had little to do what this was about: the cry for a place for just us, free from supervision and control, free from the usually expensive concert events and any kind of suppressions of our emerging creativity. But most of us were just kids, still in school, artists with a need for a space to work and to live.

My grandmother baked cakes for my sister and me to take there and other parents and grandparents, a lot of celebrities and journalists joined in and after two months of heated discussions on TV and in Newspapers, the place was ours. We had our very own cultural space and only because we did not allow the sometimes brutal and aggressive police force, the threat of cold and no food to run back into the safety of our parent’s houses.

Today, after Lisa and me delivered the much needed nourishment, Jon and Ken from “The stimulating” Radio station AM 640 showed up. Surrounded by stone faced security goons with visible weapons under their impeccable suits, their eyes hidden by sunglasses, they slowly made their way deeper into the center of the occupied tent city.

“The conservative pigs from the Rightwing Radio station are here” was soon followed by a howl of “We are the 99%”, “We are the 99%”, a hostile chorus that did not allow for any kind of meaningful conversation and turned the event into a cacophony of screams and burning rage.

“We can see your weapons, pigs”, a toothless man behind me raged, trying to make his way to Jon, who, with his headphones on, sweat running down his face, tried to find a place in the crowd that would leave him enough room to breathe.

“Shut up, please, you are making us all look stupid”, I hissed, while I tried to capture as much as possible with my iphone camera, “They are trying to listen and they have a huge audience”, I pleaded with another angry occupier. Eventually, some of the smarter people in the crowd realized too, that this was a chance to get across what “Occupy LA” is about. I was able to film a few conversations that were articulate and expressed what this is about.

Ken (or Jon?) interviewed a young single mom, half her face covered with a black scarf, with her four months old baby strapped to her chest. Another couple told about how they were screwed out of their home by a Bank of America scheme. Story after story emerged of people who had lost their jobs, their homes, their cars and their savings by unscrupulous banks and greedy criminals who will probably never see the inside of a jail cell where they surely belong.

All this was interrupted by “Commercial Breaks”, where Ken (or Jon) read their bizarre “You have a house, a car, a family, but your rotting teeth and gums and your horrible breath….” And “…. come and get your free eye-exam for the first 90 callers…..when you mention Jon and Ken….”

I never knew that they really read this stuff live. What a surprise. I always thought that this stuff was pre-recorded, but no, it isn’t.


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