Friday, December 12, 2003

i got to talk to a really sweet old man today. he was telling me how he had _started_ work at a paper mill at age 70. this man is still going. he signed a card for the union, joining again after having been a teamster driving trucks in the south. anyway, we got around to talking politics, and he was telling me how much he didn't like bush, and reagan, and for that matter, gore. it made me really realize how much the media and tv is messing with our perceptions and therefore our reality.
day after day i talk to people, everyday kind of people, working people, folks who are low-wage workers or stuck firmly in the lower middle class. they overwhelmingly feel the same as i do on many issues. which makes me feel quite wierd. looking at tv or listening to the radio, it seems like the whole country supports bush. THEY DON'T!
stay away from that evil tv. and get out to rock the vote. donate some cash to someone of the Dems running. drag out a couple apathetic friends. get them to regsiter to vote. get them to vote. gotta get bush gone.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

heading up to way north maine - probably leaving all cell phone connection to the world. waaaahh. how will i survive? who knows. stay tuned to find out.
another long cold day in maine. driving around - up to 200 miles and maybe see 1 or 2 people. plus all this snow on the ground - it should be fun. but we're only 50 cards away from having a union recognized for over 1100 workers, so this is good work, if not hard work.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

2 years ago i was in mali, west africa. i spent the day traveling from my friend's village to the capital city of bamako. we started our journey in the late morning/early afternoon of september 10th. after our hot showers and food we got going. these, strangely enough were the only hot showers i had the whole time i was in africa. buckets of water heated by the hard working women and girls of the family over wood fueled fires. not that you would really want many hot showers in sub-saharan africa, but strange to have one in the middle of the bush, away from electricity, tv, radio, anything.
anyway, we loaded up the donkey drawn cart and started walking. stopped briefly at the border to take a requisite tourist picture with the border guard and our passports (some large tree unphased by tribal decisions, colonial decisions or anything else). got to the larger village after walking 4 or more hours through bush, fields and some forest. hung out for a while there with tani's family before heading to the place where the road went by the village. kept wishing we hadn't given away our cans of lentils in tani's village before we left. spent the night in the larger village. waited there for a long time for the bus to come. finally, it arrived and we got on. headed to the largest town in the region to continue on to bamako.
we dropped seykou (our friend and translator) off in this town so he could visit family. we also finally got some food we were happy to see (meat and sauce on bread) in this town. by this time, we also knew our bus had problems, so it got some repairs.
we then kept driving back to bamako. stopped many many times. our bus was in a bad way. losing coolant and some other problems. and let me tell you, it is a tough task to find water in the middle of mali to refill a radiator with. those poor assistants on the bus, running around through the bush with a yellow container looking for water. ot was sick (morning sickness, as it turned out) and tani was sad at leaving his mom and family, so i spent a lot of time listening to my minidiscs of bob marley and staring at the countryside. trying to stay in the shade when we stopped, trying to stay comfy as possible on a thin wooden bench in a bumpy bus as we rode along. we had bought seykou a seat all the way to bamako in hopes of having only 4 people for 4 spots as opposed to the 6 people for 4 spots we had on the way to the village.
at one point, we actually stopped in a place where a roadside market of sorts had sprung up at a checkpoint. several places serving as restaurants of a sort as well as other wares for sale. a couple tvs had been set up and a few of us from the bus spent the time watching a champion's league soccer match. when we finally arrived in bamako, it was close to midnight. not the best time for a white boy to be running around alone in bamako.
tani got me a cab home, secured a fare and off we headed across town. of course, as we got closer, the fare kept rising. whatever. i needed to get into bed and the coulibaly house.
got there after an increase of 1000-1500 cfa. don't really know. but don't really care. got let into the house by brahma and got into bed without waking up ruth.
then on the morning of the 12th, i woke up early and started doing my laundry. got a load washed and rinsed and came back upstairs to lay it out to dry in the sun. ruth came out and told me i had to come listen to the radio. the bbc was on, broadcasting one of their several hours of english language news. they were talking about the attack on the WTC and the pentagon.
it was such a wierd day. we spent most of it listening to the radio, trying to get as much news as possible. went to the internet cafe to send some emails to friends and family back home, trying to make sure they were all ok. and spent time talking to people. everyone was saddened and shocked and wondered who could have done something like this. it was also wierd reading the american press on the internet. the anger of america was palpable and completely an isolated feeling. and a feeling not shared by the rest of the world.
so, today when i think about september 11th, i can't really share in this country's anger. i can share the pain, and the shock, but not the anger. i am somewhat glad i was out of the country, because even though this means i can't share the same memories, i have been spared the anger i wouldn't want to feel.
i am also disgusted by the politicalization of this immense loss of life that bush has engaged in. i feel like i don't want to participate in the commemoration of the day because to do this will validate bush's policies and his wars and his attacks on civil liberties. i want to be left alone to grieve and then move towards changing this world to a more just peaceful place. let us turn the memory of september 11th to a monument to peace and freedom.
so we lost. 46 -42 with 9 challenges. supremely frustrating. the atmosphere was one of intimidation by the boss and fear of the boss. so sad that in 2003 so many people are still scared of their employers.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

election tomorrow! nervy and excited.