5:00 am. April 16 2011
Its early. Stayed up late working on protest flier. I should be tired but my adrenaline is already pumping. I wake up the wifey, whose gonna give us a ride to greyhound, then go to the kitchen and make some coffee. Turn on the light in the living room where Pauly Nade slept on the couch. He pulls himself up and grabs the bubbler. The party begins, CAMP TRASHED STYLEE!
We make it to downtown San Diego with plenty of time to kill. We buy our tickets then hit the block. Must have been a good party last night cause the streets of downtown are quite. Across the street from the station there's a new Federal Courthouse being built and next to that is a Federal Prison. What better place to smoke some weed. My cousin Josh gave me a pinche the other day so i figure we are good. (For those who don't know a Pinche is one of those sneak-a-tokes that looks like a cigarette, it's short for pincher) We walk the couple blocks around it and don't see one guard. I wonder whose checking in who in this GHOST TOWN? We burn the hour then head back to the greyhound.
Woke up in Long Beach. More people get off then on. The people in front of us get off so Nade moves up. We take off. Bout an hour till we get to LA. The guy in back of me is talking really loud so I could hear him over everybody else. At first it sounded like he might be handling some legit business. Then I started to hear something about his "team" was doing good. Then he started to refer to this "team" as "bitches". Hmmm. Next call and he's setting up an appointment and discusses prices. It becomes obvious this guy was literally pimping out of the back of a greyhound bus, and they say it ain't easy. Anyways that's the greyhound for you. You can meet some cool folks but you can also sometimes see some pretty sad shit.
We drive over the now blank LA RIVER into the greyhound terminal. Jump off the bus and land on 7th. Beautiful day for a protest. I pack the pinche. Neither me or my friend Nade are fluent in Los ANGELESE nor do we know our way around this town. All I know is that the museum is in a place called Little Tokyo. We decide our best bet is to head for the tall buildings just off in the distance.
We get about 5 blocks down 7th and the area is starting to look a little grimy. There is a gang of trash on the street. On the side streets I start to see some homeless camps. A couple more blocks and I pass this 250+ lb. lady in a spandex dress, with a thick layer of make up on her sweaty face, limping across the street. We walk past a pile of human poop. Is this somebodies idea of STREET ART? Some guys on the corner are selling drugs to a crackhead. We keep it moving. Another block and we pass a building with a Freemason seal and OES seal across from what looks to be a cop shop. HMMM. Another block down I see a throw up and next to it says SKID ROW.
We push on through to the Fashion District. There are people sewing everywhere in the storefronts. Nade says he's hungry and wants a Burrito and Beer. I've decided that as part of my protest today I will be staging a hunger strike. I wanna stay on my toes and eating will only slow me down, but BEER on the other is a just the type of carbs I need. The sugar will give me lots of energy and the hops will take the edge off what may potentially be a tense situation.
Weve been walking for blocks and the only taco shops we can find don't sell BEER? We ask the locals but none can tell us where one is. They seem as surprised as us when they realize that they don't know of any. As if they just went to one the other day but can't remember where it is. STRANGE? There are still a lot of homeless people mixed in with all the seamsters and fashionista's looking for something new. Some dude skips by with no shoes, dirty as a the cellar, with a pink fluffy boa and some busted ass pair of highwaters. Nobody else seems to notice him as he fairy skips right past them. I'm thinking folks down here must be used to this type of behavior. AWESOME!
We get out the fashion and push into downtown. There's gotta be a place around here to help us out. Heat, Hunger Strike and lack of fluids got's me feeling dizzy. People in costumes start to show up all around us. Marathon numbers are hanging from their costumes. The thought of running makes me hot. Peoples faces are starting to LOOK strange. I think the fumes from all the cars are starting to suffocate me. How are these people running a marathon in this maddness? The answer to that is DUBLIN'S.
Like an Oasis in the desert this well spring of beer named Dublin's appeared. A cool little Irish Pub with way too many tv's and a very nice selection of alcohol. Me and Nade slide into some seats at the bar. I decide to see what a San Diego beer tastes like when drunk in LA so I get a Ballast Point Big Eye IPA. We do the beer chant then proceed to victoriously drink. First one goes right through me. On the way back from the bathroom I run into a pack of the girl runners. When I ask about the marathon they laugh and tell me it's a scavenger hunt not a marathon. SCAVENGER HUNT IN DOWNTOWN LA. WORD! Back at the bar Nade's decided in the name of adventure we should keep all bars to a 2 drink minimum and since Dublin's doesn't sell food til later we finish the second beer and head out. One of the runners is dressed like a big weed leaf so I get a picture with her. NICE!
Totally refreshed we make it about 2 blocks till we find Mas Malos! From the front it looks like it might be some busted ass place. You walk in and its like you stepped into some 20's jazz club. Vaulted ceilings with all types of ill crown molding. Mirrors all the way up and like a 40 ft bar. Bartender is Chris. I get an organic margarita and Nade gets something and a burrito. Burrito is massive. Margarita is the best Ive ever had NO JOKE. SPENDY but TASTY! Chris asks what brings us to LA and we tell him about the protest. He knows all about it. He was not happy bout the BLU buff job and was pumped to see us. Next we drink some Bloody Maria's. Nade gets a call from his friend in town who has a hotel up the street. He gives Nade an address and Chris,being the swell guy that he is, draws us a map on how to get there. Having reached our 2 drink max we say our goodbyes and slide back into the strees of LA.....
The parks in LA are home to some interesting people. There seemed to be people from all walks of life here. One park in particular we went to was a real trip. Next to families playing on the swings would be some wino passed out. Then on the bench some guy would be reading and on the next bench some homeless man just staring into space talking to himself. All of it being watched over by a security guard. It was all a bit surreal. The type of park you can go eat lunch at but at the same time might catch or a shank to the stomach. Despite its diverse human ecosystem we decide it is not cool to smoke at so we bounce.
Wandering through the LA. Its crazy how the transvestite crackheads and the downtown business people move in harmony with each other. The city is crawling with dope fiends and well dressed people on cell phones. Seemingly out of nowhere pops up MOCA building number 2. A man is standing in front of it with his family. I ask him if he is a human being. He says yes. NICE! He asks me if I am. OF COURSE. I tell him we are on assignment covering the art show and were protesting the censorship. His family laughs cause he was just telling them about it. Apparently he is a local artist who had worked with MOCA and had some things censored while working with the museum. WHOA! He wishes us luck and says that if we are interested in corruption we should check out the Disney building across the way. Somehow as we were walking over there we got sidetracked and ended up heading back into downtown.
My friend Adrian calls me. He is driving around downtown LA. He swoops me and Nade up and takes us to his loft where he runs his clothing business. We drink a bottle of champagen, twist a couple blunts and proceed to shoot breeze. Adrian listens to my protest and gives me some good criticisms. He says that he can drive us down to the MOCA whenever. He kicks me down some gear and then we jet.
Walking up to MOCA my adrenaline starts to pump. There is a crowd already outside. First person I see as I'm walking across the street is Risk so I ask if he has a second to talk. He is all ears. After voicing my concerns about the censorship I tell him that because America is currently leading at least 4 wars I didn't think that this was a good time to be downsizing the issue of war. He agreed that killing people was not a good thing and thanked me for being concerned. He shook my hand and then kindly excused himself. That Risk was the first person that the universe sent my way was in my opinion a good omen.
An hour goes by and the crowd of people is swelling up. At random I'm picking people out of the crowd and handing them a flier which was titled "The HamblogggerMan's guide to Art In the Streets ". Being that 3 out of 4 people would take one I ran out of my first stack pretty quick. Not only were they taking them but a lot of folks were stopping and talking to me about the protest. Most of the people that I spoke with had already known about the BLU CENSORSHIP situation so I figured it must have received a lot of local coverage. Some agreed with me others argued on behalf of the museum, but either way everybody was very respectful of my right to voice my opinion. All the PEOPLE at this show were HELLA COOL. Knowing that the party just began me and Nade ran up to staples to get some more copies of the flier.
We get back to the spot and there are now people everywhere. It's a warm southern cali night, the air was crisp and my mind was fluid. The perfect conditions to get pumped for another round of chanting down the military industrial complex. This time though I figure I need to get more attention so I start yelling out "BLUUUUUU. BLUUUU." Like he was my lost kid or pet dog. People were bugging out not knowing if the should try and help me out! Some little kids came walking by with their parents and started yelling "BLUUUU" These are the burgers of the future...FRESH! The mobile mural lab would routinely come up and park in front of the museum which was cool because it had a dope TEMPT piece on the side of it. People were now hanging everywhere inside and outside the museum. A huge graffiti show was going on and NO BEEF! This was pretty damn cool I must say.
Round this point I see somebody dressed in a wedding dress covered in white make up and powder. They are creeping up the front walkway. They look old and hunchback. Very witch like. Their eyes are bulging and completely black. They circle around me a couple times chanting what seems like some sort of voodoo spells. The hunger strike mixed with the adrenaline and alcohol inside me were starting to produce some interesting visual effects. Slowly it starts walking up to me. I'm trying to play it cool and hand out some more fliers but this person is crazy looking. Finally about 2 ft from me it put out its hand and introduced itself as "The Phantom Street Artist."
I'm not sure how many thousands of people have walked by but soon agian I was almost out of fliers. The Phantom, who is actually dressed up like Jeffery Deitche's wife, has been creeping around the front of the museum for a while. I've asked a few hundred people if they've seen BLU. The Phantom leaves and says we should roll through to Senor Fish. Me and Nade are posted up on the stairs for a few just watching. I decide its a good time to break the fast so I eat some fungus that I brought. Talk about a POWER UP. Pass them to Nade then get to looking for BLU! I think I might be starting to annoy some people with all my yelling. GOOD. Enough fun. I close my eyes and see the dollar draped coffins. I open them and see America partying. I realize I haven't been to the other side where the BLU mural actually was so me and Nade pack up and head around back. There are some candles burning in remembrance. We burn a blunt and listen to Los Angeles. The sky is black and purple. Cop sirens sing past us. Some people in the parking lot are drinking and smoking. I feel good about the protest but there is something missing?
We meet up with El Fatom in the back of the bar where his crew his hanging. He is no longer in costume but rather he is wearing a clean ass jogging suit with a matching b-boy hat. Im amazed at how quickly he cleaned up. We talk for a sec about the party and he introduces us to his friends. Everybody is hanging the vibe is relaxed, but inside of me is a whole nother story. Protesting cultural imperialism has stimulated my nervous system to a point of blast off. Throughout the protest my level of energy continually grew. Each person I spoke with charged my battery a little bit more. This made it easy during the the protest to talk to any and every person but something in me had changed and in the state of mind I was in now it was hard for me to talk to anybody because all I wanted to do was SCREAM. There was this feeling of frustration building inside of me. I didn't understand this feeling? Hadn't I been successful in my mission? I made it to LA. I found BEER. I kicked it with the fam. MY VOICE WAS HEARD. What was left?
I had spoke with Joe B. on the phone one time but this was the first we had met in person. He had a friendly handshake and and wore an intellectuals smile. He still had some remnants of his powdery costume on and in the low lights of the bar he took on an angelic look. We spoke about the exhibit and other things going on in the LA. His low voice was comforting to me and was helping me to mellow out. He started to tell me about some of his travels and the influence that street art has in different places. This brought us back to the BLU mural.
Until now I didn't know that there was a federal building across the street literally towering over the MOCA wall. All the media that I had heard prior to the show had not pointed this out as perhaps one of the groups that might be offend. Being that these guys are the ones pushing the wars I could see how this mural might make them uneasy. When Joe referred to the wall as a reflection I immediately understood. The image of a FEDERAL somebody standing in their window,looking out over at BLU painting a mural, of what to them would look like a big middle finger, all the sudden became very clear in my inner minds eye. A reflection indeed. Of all the reasons why Blu's mural should of stayed it was this one. Too often the people on top don't ever have to look at themselves in the mirror. They have people who do that for them, but if every day your sitting in your office looking out over your empire and their is a huge banner that calls out your murdering treacherous ways, you might start to think about what your doing. Joe was right in pointing out that this is the power of the wall. The wall can be a reflection. I was amazed that this was the first time I had heard this connection mentioned. It was getting late and I had gained a deeper understanding for the situation. I felt like It was time to go so we say our goodbyes and once again find ourselves on the concrete paths of LA's urban jungle....
We realized we just missed the last greyhound. FUCK. We are wandering around little tokyo. I'm thirsty. That feeling in my stomach, even though relaxed a bit now was still present. I start to realize what it is. I wanted to talk to more people in the show. As a journalist I had not done my duty in successfully getting any inside information. I was an outsider and I felt like one. We find a bench and talk about getting a hotel. Sounds expensive. I say lets get a drink. The feeling is weighing me down. The streets are still filled with people. Adrian texts me some hotels addy's. We decide to walk some more. We get about a block then I realize I left the drawing Phantom gave me on the bench so we head back. Can't believe I almost left it. This feeling is overtaking my mind. We start walking up the block when across the street I see Saber walking by.
He is walking quickly. I yell out his name. He looks over and and smiles. I ask if he has a moment to talk about the show. He says yeah but not much cause his fam is waiting. Me and Nade start to walk across the street and he greets us both with a handshake. He seems genuinely happy to talk to us and asks if we went to the show. I told him that I would have liked to go in but that I was protesting MOCA because of them painting over the BLU mural. He laughed and said he had heard me yelling outside. He said it was cool though and that he was going through the same issues with the city buffing his murals. He said wasn't happy with Blu's mural getting buffed but that he was going to do everything he could to keep GRAFFITI ART alive and that he wouldn't let something like that stop him. He took time to break down the dynamics of the business as he saw it and positive things that he wanted to do. He spoke with a passion that I rarely see people speak with. It's like when you hear somebody lying and you just know there lying, except the exact opposite. He was telling the truth and I knew it. We talked about some other art stuff, including this blog of which he was so kind to give some painfully helpful advice. He then shook our hands and wished us luck. A true gentlemen.
The knot in my stomach is gone. I feel like I can breath. My thoughts are starting flow fluidly again. In the place of frustration I feel accomplished. The streets are still pulsing with life. I get a call from Adrian who was checking the bus schedule. Next one is 2:30. COOl. Me and Nade find a bar to go into it for a drink. The band is playing some thrash punk. Its perfect. I order 2 stones but get 2 stellas. FUCK IT. Every drink is love. The guitar feedback is ear piercing. I'm in ecstasy. Mission accomplished. Story got. Protest handled. People friended. Tree smoked and drank drank.
Get to the greyhound with enough time for one more blunt. Nade twists it up and we relax on the bench out front. A Rasta man named Tony comes up and joins our session. Dude is jolly. We speak on the tree game and fractional reserve banking. He says all one must do in life to be free is declare their own sovereignty. In the next hit I do just that. He is a refreshing experience and testimony that you can meet cool folks on the bus. we finish that say our goodbyes and jump back up on bus. SOUTH BOUND.