[Hpn] Advs. in Poetry for Oct. 18, '01 (fwd)

Wes Browning wes@speakeasy.org
Thu, 18 Oct 2001 19:38:21 -0700 (PDT)


Below is my recent column, dealing with the political action and
arrests of last Friday here in Seattle. SHARE and WHEEL are grassroots
homeless organizations here that provide self-managed shelters,
organized our Tent City, and have sometimes admitted to practicing
politics. Please bear in mind that this is, as always, intended to be
a humor column. Opinions expressed may be stupider than they appear,
or the reverse.

Wes Browning

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 09:53:17 -0700 (PDT)
From: Wes Browning <wes@speakeasy.org>
To: Real Change
Subject: Adventures in Poetry for Oct. 18, '01

The latest news on the homeless front, besides the fundamental
legalization of Tent City, is Anitra Freeman's turn to crime.

Anitra has been sort of sucked into sort of a life of crime by such
repeat offenders as Michele "Give'm Hell with One L" Marchand of
SHARE/WHEEL and Scott "the Facilitator" Morrow of SHARE. Actually more
like a minute of crime. But she still should be able to look forward
to a rewarding career playing parts in John Waters films, if she can
bring herself to relocate to Baltimore three months of every year.

For those of you who just boarded this train at the last station,
that's Anitra Freeman, alias Anitra of Many Associations Freeman, aka
The Duck on the Italian Menu, aka Net Mama, aka Wes's Main Squeeze, on
Whose Kitchen Floor I Have Sometimes Slept.

It went down like this. King County Executive Ron Sims got a bug up
his butt this year about SHARE. Nobody can say why, where, how, or
when the bug came from or what it was doing there, but an unidentified
source has reportedly said that "maybe he doesn't get the way
grassroots organizations like SHARE operate."

The upshot of Sims' dissatisfaction with SHARE was that he wouldn't
let them run the Winter Response Shelter at the King County
Administration Building this year, even though they ran it for
something like eight years without anyone complaining about it at the
time. Getting new management for the shelter took time, he said, so
the shelter wouldn't open until October 15, he said, instead of the
1st of October, when it usually  has been.

So SHARE said, OK, but there is (was, this is all history now) still a
need for a shelter Oct. 1 through Oct. 14, because the cold weather
won't wait for the County to get its act together, and it's not safe
out there even in good weather. Therefore SHARE offered to run the
shelter those days. But the bug in Ron Sim's butt made him say no to
that. "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin," he might have said,
but he evidently didn't, forcing me to make it up.

I'm not making this part up: Each night of Oct. 2 through Oct. 14 the
County put up "No Trespassing" tape to keep people out from under the
overhang at the entrance way to the Administration Building. SHARE
then went ahead and ran a sidewalk shelter in front of the
Administration Building every one of those nights, vowing each night
to cross the tape if it should happen to be raining at the beginning
of the night.

The office of Ron Sims referred to SHARE's sleep-out as a political
stunt, without explaining why politics is bad for SHARE but OK for Ron
Sims and his office.  The unofficial SHARE position is that it was NOT
a political stunt, they needed the shelter for survival, etc., but
nobody at SHARE has explained to me why SHARE continues to let Ron
Sims and others characterize politics as a bad thing when homeless
people engage in it, but all part of a civic duty when anyone else
does it.  Politics are the means by which Americans set about choosing
what's right, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Finally it rained on the beginning of the night of Oct. 12.

Six people were arrested -- Anitra, Michele, Scott, Claude "Cowboy"
Nalls, Ted "Tex" Shirey, and Richard "No Fancy Nickname That I Know
Of" West. The two women of the gang were cuffed and locked together
alone for more than an hour in the SPD holding tank. There, Michele
was forced to listen as Anitra, now hyper, theorized extemporaneously
on the sociological origins of warfare. Eventually bail was set at
$190 for everybody, and all but Scott got out by the next day on their
personal recognizance.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, risking domestic turmoil and
tumult, to say that I think both sides overreacted in this incident.
But in the words of my unidentified source, "The county overreacted
FIRST, so there."

Also, on a stupidity scale from 1 to 10, what the County did was a big
fat 9, and what SHARE did in response was at most a 5, only slightly
more than half as stupid.

To put those numbers in perspective, using scales from 1 to 10 (and
how many of us haven't, be honest) is itself an 8 already.