Wednesday 22 February 2012

Bloco dos Desvairados, Ash Wednesday.

"Where is the courage in these rooms?" Anjali Appadurai.
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

Bloco da Ansiedade.Bloco da Ansiedade.Bloco dos Desvairados sounds like a perfect festival for PNGs - a rallying point for the praeterite.

Literally, 'The Bewildered Parade' - or sort of - 'bloco' means a musical group, such as Ilê Ayê mentioned here recently, but really it is more than that. There are banners and bonecas/dolls/puppets, so there is someone who takes care of the props, and though the group of people who get together do so informally, the same people seem to show up year after year.

Origami with a $1,000 bill.There is a half-formal structure to the desfile/parade/procession: a period of concentração/gathering/practicing often lasting several hours, followed by the saída/departure which begins the parade itself. In the case of the Bloco da Ansiedade in Rio (my favourite) the parade goes nowhere - moves a few city blocks south on Teixeira de Melo from Praça General Osório and stalls permanently in total disorganization on the beach (map) until, eventually, everyone goes home, drunk and soaked in Floco Loco.

As for this Bloco dos Desvairados I have no idea - it is in São Paulo; maybe it began in São Luiz do Paraitinga, about half way between Rio and Sao Paulo (see map); can't say - I came across it in the subject line of a spam email - it exists but I can't find any pictures anywhere.

I posted something about Carnaval before, quite a while ago, in which I wrote:
We have a cosmos which increasingly appears to consist of both matter and anti-matter. Though you can't exactly see anti-matter, it seems to be there eh? Society and culture, on the other hand, increasingly appear to consist only of 'matter' - materialism, exclusive humanism, excarnated incarnations, rationality gone wild (if you will permit such a phrase :-) Taylor talks about a balance between structured culture and unstructured moments such as Carnival - and suggests that this balance is essential, and not just as some kind of safety-valve either.

The distinctions natural/supernatural and immanent/transcendent are equivalent for Taylor. (This was a major step for me because somewhere along the line I got a different idea of what 'immanent' meant.) The supernatural and the transcendent are being done away with, clear enough.

Echoes of, or maybe just a hint of, trickster gods, coyote ... as ... necessary for the health of the community ... or ... given what I know of global climate change as a function of instrumentalism and 'externalities', would that be for the health and continued existence of the species itself maybe?

I've seen the future brother, it is murder.
Re-reading it after a few years have passed I am wondering ... who (the fuck) was the guy who wrote that?!

Grubbing around looking for information on the Bloco dos Desvairados turned up a few things (as digging in a compost heap often does).

From a poster for Anthropofagia, featuring music by Bloco dos Desvairados.Alek Wek with a similar hair style.Antropofagia by Tarsila do Amaral, 1929.Next thing you know I have discovered Tarsila do Amaral and her lover Oswald de Andrade and his famous (in Brasil, and among a few of the upper class, and at the time) Manifesto Antropófago / Cannibal Manifesto, in English & Português. Cannibalism! Wowzers!

This was all going to be a holocaust meditation ... but the Toronto Public Library has still not delivered Modernity and the Holocaust by Zygmunt Bauman, and won't, until sometime in March (they say when pressed), so ... though when it finally does show up I will likely have both editions - 1989 & 2000 - in hand and side-by-each for the purposes of comparison.

In preparation I found Rick Salutin's The Autobiography of an Idea: Rethinking the Holocaust in light of 9/11, my mentor, and my dad from December 2007; and several dependent clauses - Torture and the new normal also by Rick Salutin from October 2005; and, The Eggs Speak Up by Hannah Arendt from the early 50's.

A subject more fitting for Lent-in-full-sail anyway, maybe; or for Easter itself (and no resurrection likely this year).

From Lester Brown and his colleagues at Earth Policy Institute comes this qualified & approximately good news: Global Economy Expanded More Slowly than Expected in 2011:
The global economy grew 3.8 percent in 2011, a drop from 5.2 percent in 2010. Economists had anticipated a slowdown, but this was even less growth than expected, thanks to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, unrest in oil-producing countries, the debt crisis in Europe, and a stagnating recovery in the United States. As richer economies struggle to recover from the financial crisis of 2008–09, poorer countries are facing high food prices and rising youth unemployment. Meanwhile, growing income inequality and environmental disruption are challenging conventional notions of economic health.

The total value of goods and services produced worldwide in 2011 was $77.2 trillion, twice as much as 20 years ago. The global economy expanded by an average of 4 percent each year in the decade leading up to the 2008 slowdown and the 2009 contraction. Industrial economies typically grew by about 3 percent annually in the 10 years before the recession but only 1.6 percent in 2011. Developing economies, which grew by an average of roughly 6 percent annually in the decade before the recession, grew by 6.2 percent last year.
Too many words, I know (see 'knuckleheads' below) ...

The short version: economic growth is slowing in the so called 'developed' world; not quickly enough, and not in the develop-ing world where it is accelerating instead, but ...

Ron Plain.Ron Plain spoke at UofT last week: Dream Catcher? Where the Industrial Nightmares Fall.

I came across Ron when I discovered 'two girls for every boy' in Aamjiwnaang a few years ago; and I was lucky enough to meet him at another event the next year - so it was no trouble to trek out to see him again, more like an honour. The phrase "with a clarity that will motivate the most moderate of social activist" in his abstact even made me vaguely hopeful.

Ada Lockridge.Of course Ron faces not just the death of a culture, of a civilization, but a personal death, his own - confirmed (for himself at least) by looming statistical averages. It was not mentioned in his presentation but I overheard him say that he has moved his family out of Aamjiwnaang - for obvious reasons.

He and his colleague Ada Lockridge have been/are being excised from the very organizations they initiated apparently - all part and parcel of the four D's says Ron, though I think there are more than four D-words that apply.

Here they are following a court session a few weeks ago: Eco Justice video.

I left when he was finished - there was no space for conversation as the 'co-ordinators' hustled him away - wishing he would have given me a clue about what to do? I'm sure the clues were there, abounding - I just did not pick up on them, as usual, for some reason which I cannot fathom. And as I rode the streetcar home I thought, "At least he does not have to face it alone."

Enbridge Line 9 Reversal.Enbridge Line 9 Reversal.Enbridge Line 9 Reversal.One of the things he talks about is the Enbridge Line 9 Reversal and the NEB evaluation. The trick with maps is to concentrate and struggle a bit to envision, imagine, what every one of the schematic lines represents in human terms. Here's another one, and another.

University of Toronto knuckleheads ... There are two (count 'em, two) co-ordinators present from the University of Toronto Centre for Environment, and a technician, all paid-for one presumes; and yet after almost an hour of fucking about they can not get the overhead projector to properly project Ron's presentation, nor is there a mic for the question and answer session following. Doh!?
Bungling Incompetent DUNDERHEADS!
It ranks with turning the lights out on Jim Hansen when he spoke at that august institution in 2010.

Occupy Toronto knuckleheads ... One of the bright lights of Occupy Toronto, Ruckus-trained Dave Vasey, is present as well - apparently as barker for an 'activist' meeting over at OISE an hour or so later - but he cannot remember what room it is in, stammers out several contradictory numbers, and mumbles off into the sunset in his artistically ripped-at-the-knee jeans with his Apple laptop under his arm.

And the 'official website' is more of the same.
Useless TWATS!

Spin Cycle:
#1 Tammy Samede vs Anita Anand of BBC.
Tammy Samede.Tammy Samede.Anita Anand.Tammy Samede is the single person named in the Occupy London eviction lawsuit with the City of London Corporation. Having read 'An Occupy protester's story: an idea cannot be evicted' (below) and having watched and listened to her carefully (clip from 'Sunday Politics London' with Anita Anand), she is now, to me, the epitome of the best of the Occupy movement.

She certainly shines beside our Anita, who seems to me a mindless media barracuda most closely resembling Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in that famous old film. Apologies for the quality of the screen grab; the original video is here on the BBC.

The trial proceeds today (Wednesday) and I will post the outcome next time.

#2 Anjali Appadurai vs Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.
Anjali Appadurai.Anjali Appadurai.Everyone already knows what Amy Goodman looks like right?

If you think I am posting pictures of Anjali Appadurai because she happens to be young and georgeous you are mistaken (if understandably so).

Here, watch and listen to her speech: UNFCCC Plenary December 9th and read the transcript below; and here, an interview in Durban, apparently about a week previously; and read some of what she has to say: Media Messaging: The silent, subtle art of loudmouthing the innocent.

It irks me that this speech was hijacked and 'branded' by Democracy Now so the performance was fractured and diluted - 'sucked off' into the energy drain of a mediocre middle-aged slag - so (anger is good for something) I clipped her speech from the UNFCCC webcast site [item: 2011-12-09 10:00 GMT+2 Conference of the Parties (COP), 9th meeting; Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), 9th meeting; Joint High-level Segment UNFCCC Plenary Baobab], and posted it simple & entire & unedited on YouTube (above); apologies for the small difficulty with the aspect ratio which I am not skilled enough to overcome.

She is smart, thoughtful, insightful, frightened, courageous, eloquent ... admirable. Good on her!

(Not that she is a 'fully realized being' er none'a that guff either y'unnerstan' - at 21 years old! - I was certainly not that filled in at 21 ... but about as naïve ... 'nuf said.)

#3 American Parochialism.
"The most palpable legacy of the WikiLeaks campaign for transparency is that the U.S. government is more secretive than ever," says a blowhard American pundit, and has it right if you replace 'the U.S. government is' with 'all governments everywhere are'.

#4 Still Shilling Growth.
Paul Krugman in the NYT, Pain Without Gain:
Last week the European Commission confirmed what everyone suspected: the economies it surveys are shrinking, not growing. It’s not an official recession yet, but the only real question is how deep the downturn will be. ... For all America’s troubles, its gross domestic product has finally surpassed its pre-crisis peak.

Simple is good.
Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle;
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.
Apologies for all the bold red CAPs gentle reader and for repeated descents to that favourite anglo-saxon expletive (Slothrop's spell) ... Yes, I am angry, frustrated; and yes, I know these states are defined as sins in the new age fol-de-rol ideology of positive thinking ... I am doing what I can do and I am sorry it is not enough.

I am truely bewildered. I would fly away to São Paulo on the last of my stash and join with the Bloco dos Desvairados but it is over already for this year.

Be well.


Family Day / Fête de la famille.A quasi-statutory holiday in k-k-Canada, Fête de la famille, aka Louis Riel Day (which is a tiny smidgen closer maybe to properly marking the beginning of Lent - but no cigar).

A-and as usual, Gable's cartoons contain the proper elements, but disguised somehow to obscure the full message - but what do I know? Stupid old fuckin' hippie.

Tracking has been finally turned off, Site Meter has been removed and the accounts deleted. For what that's worth.


1. An Occupy protester's story: 'an idea cannot be evicted', Patrick Kingsley, 12 February 2012.
2. Anjali Appadurai Transcript, Anjali Appadurai, December 9 2011.

An Occupy protester's story: 'an idea cannot be evicted', Patrick Kingsley, 12 February 2012.

Tammy Samede arrived at St Paul's last October as the protests began. Angry at police treatment, she has been there ever since

Tammy Samede at St Paul's, with three of her visiting children.

Flanked by a QC and a crowd of protesters, 33-year-old Tammy Samede strode from the Royal Courts of Justice last month and addressed a crowd of microphones and cameras. "An idea cannot be evicted," said Samede. "This is not the end."

A judge had just ordered the Occupy London activists to leave their camp outside St Paul's Cathedral. But she was defiant: the occupation would launch an appeal.

Standing next to Samede, Matthew Varnham was close to tears. "She was speaking in front of the world's press, and she was on fire," said Varnham, 22, a recent law graduate and fellow occupier. "Knowing her backstory, it was incredible."

Samede first arrived at St Paul's one Saturday morning last October. There were few other people around, so she sat on the cathedral steps, and waited. What she was waiting for, she did not really know. She had been following Occupy Wall Street, then only a few weeks old. Through Facebook, she had heard something similar might happen that day in London. But there was little sign of anyone else, and for a while Samede thought she might have wasted the train ticket from Crawley, west Sussex.

That she was even there was slightly surprising. She had never been particularly political. She found it difficult talking in group situations, and had low self-esteem. The only protests she had attended were about child abuse.

From the age of three, and until her late teens, Samede had suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Leicester-born, she left school at 16, got a job as a care worker, got married, and had four children – now aged nine, eight, seven and four. Six years ago, she started having flashbacks about her childhood. Then she started blacking out. Soon she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and spent eight months in a psychiatric hospital. In the years following her discharge, she separated from her husband, and lost custody of her children. She struggled to find work because of her medical history. She saw her kids every Saturday and the local mental health team every fortnight. A friend gave her informal work looking after her ailing mother. But last summer the mother was sent first to hospital, and then a care home, and Samede was again left without much to do.

On 15 October, she travelled to the capital with nothing but a handbag. "I got here about 11am," Samede said, "and I thought: 'Oh, there's not many people here. This isn't going to happen.' So I sat on the steps and had a smoke. And then all of a sudden I looked up and the place was swarming with people."

Police blocked them from entering the Stock Exchange, so the thousand-strong crowd sat on the nearby steps of St Paul's and held an impromptu meeting – or, in Occupy parlance, a general assembly. They used the obscure hand signals employed by seasoned activists. Samede did not understand what many of them meant, but she was intrigued enough to stay until the police kettled the crowd. In the melee, she was thrown down the steps by riot police. "I thought: 'What the hell is this?' All I could see was a group of people sitting down to have a conversation." Angry, she resolved to stay. "Apart from six nights away, I've been here ever since."

She had no tent or sleeping bag, so Samede spent that first night outside on the steps. When the sun rose, a man in a dog collar was pottering about, drinking from a mug. As a Christian, Samede felt comfortable approaching him. "I said: 'Morning, father. You're not happy about this, are you?' And he turned around and said: 'Actually, I don't mind you protesting. But I don't like the police on the church steps.' Then he asked me to hold his mug, and he walked over to the police. And they left." The man was Giles Fraser, and he and Samede have been friends ever since.

In the first week, Samede lacked confidence. She would stand at the side of the many meetings, and simply listen. "I didn't know anything about the 1% and the 99%, but over the next few days I learnt about it. And I learnt about the banking system."

Initially, she busied herself with practical things, like the kitchen, and the "tranquillity" team, a night-time patrol group aimed at keeping the peace and warding off invasive journalists. "I remember one night, we saw this journalist with a camera, unzipping people's tents and shining a light inside. He was looking for empty tents. And we said: 'A tent is a home. If there's a female in there, and a bloke just opens a tent, it's a bit much.'"

Gradually, Samede made friends: "Now, when I get up in the morning, I've had about 10 hugs by the time I've got to the loo" – and she started speaking up. "I wouldn't have spoken in public to two people let alone a crowd of hundreds. But now if I've got something to say, I'll say it." She soon grew to understand the hand signals. "They're like a second language now. I've even got my kids doing it."

She joined working groups: the church liaison group; the sanitation group. "I even joined the economics group for a while, but it was a bit above my head." For the first time in her life, Samede felt like she belonged. "When you come from an abusive background, you forget that you have a voice. It's beaten out of you as a kid. But Occupy gave it back to me." Not everyone initially agreed. After she started missing her therapy sessions, her psychologist rang her, alarmed.

At the end of October, the cathedral chapter tried to evict the occupiers. They quickly made a U-turn, but it was enough to disgust Samede. "That building over there," she said, pointing at the church. "That museum, that business – it's nothing to do with my Christian faith. I once said to the dean: 'I've been in the cathedral for communion, and you blessed me. And yet when I'm outside as an occupier, you reject me.' So what I've learned is that organised religion is not for me. If I want to find God, I don't need to go in there."

Instead, she spent Christmas in the camp. Instead of midnight mass, the occupiers had a drink on Millennium bridge. For Christmas dinner, they set up tables in one of the larger marquee tents, and everyone helped with the cooking. "For me, it was how Christmas should be," Samede said. "It wasn't commercial. No one was stressed out about getting the latest iPod. It was about sharing. I loved it. A proper, dysfunctional family Christmas."

Towards the end of 2011, Samede made a decision that would change her life. She agreed to be the single "named defendant" in eviction proceedings instigated by the City of London. Because the occupiers would have otherwise been collectively liable for legal costs of hundreds of thousands of pounds, Samede volunteered to take on the liability alone. The case is now called "City of London v Samede".

While the corporation later promised not to pursue her for costs, the decision had more negative consequences. After reading about Samede's involvement in the case, her employment officers argued she was no longer actively seeking work, so they cut off her benefits. As a result, she stopped paying rent, and soon her flat will be repossessed.

It was, nevertheless, the making of her. She, and the camp, lost their eviction fight, and they may well lose their appeal on Monday. But things are coming together. After her speech outside court, she got a call from her mental health team. "At first, I thought: 'Oh here we go'. But instead they said: 'We've seen you on the TV. We watched your speech. And we're signing you off because clearly you don't need us any more.'"

Then, last week, social services called. For the first time in two years, she was granted overnight access to her children, and so the five of them spent last weekend in a youth hostel near the camp. "It's not that the camp's not safe for children," said Samede. "But I don't trust the city bankers. When they get drunk, they kick the tents."

Samede hopes her story will inspire other people who have suffered from mental health issues. "I spent time in a mental hospital, but I also took on the City of London. So I hope that it shows people going through the mental health system that, yes, it may be really hard right now. But never feel that it isn't going to change."

She has lost her home, but gained others – literally (Varnham has offered to put her up if the camp is evicted) and metaphorically: "I'm 33 years old," said Samede last Friday. "I'm living in a tent. I have a couple of changes of clothing. And I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life."

Anjali Appadurai Transcript, Anjali Appadurai, December 9 2011.

I speak for more than half the world’s population. We are the silent majority. You’ve given us a seat in this hall, but our interests are not on the table. What does it take to get a stake in this game? Lobbyists? Corporate influence? Money? You’ve been negotiating all my life. In that time, you’ve failed to meet pledges, you’ve missed targets, and you’ve broken promises. But you’ve heard this all before.

We’re in Africa, home to communities on the front line of climate change. The world’s poorest countries need funding for adaptation now. The Horn of Africa and those nearby in KwaMashu needed it yesterday. But as 2012 dawns, our Green Climate Fund remains empty. The International Energy Agency tells us we have five years until the window to avoid irreversible climate change closes. The science tells us that we have five years maximum. You’re saying, "Give us 10."

The most stark betrayal of your generation’s responsibility to ours is that you call this "ambition." Where is the courage in these rooms? Now is not the time for incremental action. In the long run, these will be seen as the defining moments of an era in which narrow self-interest prevailed over science, reason and common compassion.

There is real ambition in this room, but it’s been dismissed as radical, deemed not politically possible. Stand with Africa. Long-term thinking is not radical. What’s radical is to completely alter the planet’s climate, to betray the future of my generation, and to condemn millions to death by climate change. What’s radical is to write off the fact that change is within our reach. 2011 was the year in which the silent majority found their voice, the year when the bottom shook the top. 2011 was the year when the radical became reality.

Common, but differentiated, and historical responsibility are not up for debate. Respect the foundational principles of this convention. Respect the integral values of humanity. Respect the future of your descendants. Mandela said, "It always seems impossible, until it’s done."

So, distinguished delegates and governments around the world, governments of the developed world, deep cuts now.

Get it done.

Mic check! / Mic check!
Equity now! / Equity now!
You’ve run out of excuses! / You’ve run out of excuses!
We’re running out of time! / We’re running out of time!


Chairman: Thank you, Miss Appadurai; who was speaking on behalf of half of the world’s population, I think she said at the beginning. And on a purely personal note I wonder why we let not speak half of the world’s population first in this conference, but only last.


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