Monday, December 22, 2008

Mill Avenue Nights Saturday, December 20th 2008

The bracing chill of wintry weather brings foggy breath from pursed lips; huddled crowds, conversing over cold fingers, white exhalations like smoking lungs speaking warm words into substance. For most of the night, everyone gathered out in front of Borders; but eventually the crowds lingered also around the drum circle and we had drums.

The drum circle finally found itself, shook off its sleepy cloak, and started up around 10pm. The street rats there shifted in a tide between nineteen and twenty six people, one third of the population female. Pretty much also all huddled into talkative groups against the cold.

I got to see Mark and Cairo—a young man I’ve seen on Mill for quite some time, who carries a bokuto like I used to (although sheathed, and now I carry my steel-fiberglass cane instead of my bokuto.) He introduced himself as Cairo Seijuro. Mark, for those who don’t know, is one of the biggest fan of Vexations as there ever was. As a result, I made sure that he got a copy of Lost Sphinx Cat.

I did get quite a few booklets passed out tonight.

Monkey sent to the hospital

Our friend, Monkey aka Mikey, ended up being taken out of Borders bookstore and trundled off by the paramedics. No news on what happened to him but it did not appear life threatening. Speculation is wild, but the facts are thus: he was strapped to the gurney, which is not uncommon; and he had no apparent IV, there were no debris from injections or ampoules, drop bags were not open, and they did not have vital telemetry set up. This tells me that he was at least stable.

I suspect we’ll see him back on the Ave soon and we’ll all know then what happened.


I met him, bouncing his skateboard on his foot standing, waiting, watching the evangelicals. A young man with a mohawk growing out, short brown hair on the sides of his head and the mohawk itself blonde. He says that he’s just out of San Francisco, wondering at the rusty-razor chill wind.

Diana and Danielle

I am not sure exactly where to put this one. I’m certain the BetterThanFaith people want my observations on them, but since I have some base anthropological thoughts on the subject I will just double up my observations. You can read this entire section also on my Mill Avenue Resistance observations blog.

A few of the Resistance had already appeared by the time that Kazz showed up with his speaker and microphone. When he started up, Jim was on the mic for the evangelicals (this is Valerie’s Jim) and he stepped down an instant later. To which there was a quip from Kazz, “Yeah, he’s afraid of me.”

Almost instantly a woman with straight, lank dark hair stepped up and started talking to Kazz. Her name, I would learn during my later interview of her, is Diana. I missed a lot of the conversation between her and Kazz, but I think that they discussed some of the ordinary first-day evangelical sound bite memes. (More of this on the Resistance observations blog.)

I spoke with Diana and Danielle, sisters. I could be wrong about Diana’s name, she could be Diane—but I recall thinking of the Italic goddess Diana, Greek Artemis’s likeness as the goddess of the hunt. Danielle wore this lovely little matching woolen sweater and cap, topping off round spectacles and also watched quietly like I normally do.

They haven’t yet visited Mill before, so I welcomed them. And I learned that they are basically a nomadic family who go from place to place evangelizing. Sold all of their worldly possessions and now they live out of an RV. I hope that they had a good time. I gave Diana a copy of my book as well just because.

As usual I spent some time steering the conversation, deflecting mirrorspeech when I could. This is because likely with the simple memes I’ve heard it all before and it’s just going to be a turn off to both of us. I understand they they’re out “working” to convert or evangelize people, but it’s hard to actually get to know anyone through their work when it is such a homogenizing and normative force. As a result I began to describe some of my thoughts on the civilizing influence of urbanization.

I have some thoughts about how city centers and cultural locus are extremely important to community. That Mill Ave serves this purpose for Tempe, especially with the proximity to Arizona State University. How cities have burned into a culture were everyone’s neighborhood actually persists at work and away from their residence. The modern work ethic has drawn people out of their local communities and made a tribe out of their workplace to the extent that most people know their co-workers much better than they do their neighbors.

In some ways this is good because it diversifies the set of resources that people have to draw upon; but it also has some collapse problems in that people therefore are disconnected from the communities that they must rely on for social interaction in times of crisis. It disconnects them from the proximity of culture.

Town centers like Mill Ave can help to bridge that.

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