When I was younger I received a handwritten letter (remember those?) from Warsaw, Poland. The young man described to me how he and his friends would find inspiration in my band’s music, how they had smuggled it into their country, and about how they copied and distributed it to their friends. He told me that it was an integral part of their resistance to the occupation. The Polish resistance and punk rock music were interwoven, and bands would smuggle their master tapes out of Poland with touring bands (most notably the legendary Canadian punk band DOA) in order to have the messages get past the censors. These tapes would be released as records in the west by fans and supporters. To even record an album, Polish punk rock bands would need to first provide the lyrics for government inspection, and then the master tapes would be beeped (censored) if anything appeared on them that was considered offensive by the censor.
Bands from the west would travel on archaic roads to clubs to play if they could get through, often for little money, a meal or two, and gasoline which was rationed, thus it was collected and stored in jars by fans and promoters to help the bands get back. The drummer of the legendary German band The Spermbirds (yes, that is what they are called) confirmed this with me, and shared a few stories about how the Stasi (East German State Security) would infiltrate the shows in East Berlin. Although the incognito Stasi were often known and recognized by the East German punks as such, some of the Stasi were clearly being won over by the music. “It was a strange time,” he told me. “We knew change was coming.”
Until gentrification came to Berlin, and it has- continually for some 60 + odd years, I was proud to have seen a stretch of the Berlin Wall shout proudly “Who is Who?” in a splash of yellow on cyan- painted by a fan who found in one of my songs, a parallel to his (her?) world. I don’t doubt that the upgraded and improved coats of slop they threw on top of that mural may have had the blessing of the new government, but it is the message below that new coat that tells the story of the real battle for freedom and resistance that took place.
2. Just because it’s Anonymous, Doesn’t Mean it’s Without Value.
One of the best articles I've ever read on how City of Pasadena and PUSD really work was written almost three years ago but I found it to be such a good explanation that I kept the link for reference. Because you seem to be looking for a key to all of this you might find it interesting:
(click here) - Anonymous (November 23, 2012 2:17 PM)
3. Old School Vs. New School; a Hybrid Fueled by Complementary Ideas.
On the advice of a Tattler, I entered the Sub Rosa. A thing of the past, a snapshot frozen in time, silent except for the imprint, a Trilobyte, waiting to be placed back into the dwindling water supply to be reborn. I recall reading a couple of the articles I saw as I scrolled through the archives, though , admittedly I am now armed with a rudimentary knowledge that I lacked back then.
I accept that I am a novice, an accidental activist - dragged into a battle I neither asked for, nor shied away from. It was because of the bullies, the elite - some of whom, through tireless research by Mary and I - pointed us first in the direction of the Sierra Madre PTA earth mamas, to their husbands- sheriffs, city attorneys, executives, and then, ultimately, toward a PUSD superintendent, upper cabinet, and finally, a board member. We studied, we asked, we were called fools, we persevered, and we learned. We learned names, faces, and dates, organized timelines, outlines, and rat catching lines.
It has been an interesting trip, sprinkled with acronyms like ACT, and PEF, IIPK, and BOE. It was all thanks to a couple of persistent posters who followed us around on the internet, harassing and attempting to humiliate and belittle us - not unlike the way that their co-conspirators followed our seven-year old son around at school and harassed him, actually - and, because of their big mouths and bravado, shined the light that guided us to locate almost every document and item that we were able to find. What resulted was a conclusion that demonstrated how a group of Queen Bee Elitist Earth Mamas and Limpotent Drone Papas somehow convinced the PUSD to disregard the law and the civil rights of a child. My child.
In the various circles that I run in I am referred to as “old school” - mostly by the kids in the punk rock subculture. This is a venerable title, one that acknowledges my impact on local music and alternative cultural history, and it is used as a title of respect. The survivors of my generation are rightly known as “miracles” and the support for bands like mine - holdovers from the late seventies and early eighties - is flattering and surreal.
I share this because, here, in this blogging arena, I am what the kids would refer to as new school. Though I am clearly on the correct path, I am still searching for my voice, and I am still finding my footing. It doesn’t mean that I lack strong beliefs and opinions, nor does it explain my peculiar and unusual (none dare say unique and individualistic) worldview - but it certainly supports my inquisitive nature, my sardonic humor, my gaffs, and the likelihood that I will stumble, fall, and disappoint some people along the way.
4. Where to now, St. Peter?
So. On your advice, Anonymous 2:17 Tattler, I will examine a couple of Sub Rosa posts, and let me see if I can bring them into 2012, and test their validity within the context of my blurred and hyper-focused multi-faceted mindset. I want to get a grip on it, on the core, and see if I can put a new school spin on an old school post or two, and, I don’t know, maybe along the way I’ll drop a few names and determine how their faux-progressive groups intersected, and sometimes interfered, with my life. I also want to thank you for guiding me to that post.
On reading Sub Rosa, I realize that no matter how much things seem to change, things pretty much stay the same. Same players, same “ideals,” and the same money trail. I bring this up because the January, 2010 Sub Rosa blog post was smack dab in the time of Pasadena’s stepping into a brave new tomorrow, one designed for long term investments, big time money, designed and executed by the ruling oligarchy. Wayne Lusvardi, you were spot on. I won’t even attempt to paraphrase.
“In Pasadena it has historically been the Pasadena Education Foundation (PEF), a semi-public non-profit entity that is a shadow school board, through which funds from government and private grants are passed to the schools. But the monies procured by the PEF are typically first laundered through yet another layer of nonprofit consultants and agencies who are political pets of the establishment. This is oligarchy - government for the few and the well-connected with only symbolic benefit to the public.
On paper the PEF is set up as a way to augment the funding of the Pasadena Unified School District and circumvent state restrictions on local school funding. In reality, the PEF is legalized corruption. It holds closed meetings and is unaccountable to the public. It alone has the discretion to award funding for pet projects and consultants.”
Here we are, three years later, and I have unknowingly stepped over Michillinda Blvd. and stepped right into it (click here). You know what? It still smells funny. All the players from then are still here, and the world as laid out by somebody someplace still favors the elite, still promises the poor some magical kingdom at the end of the metro line, and still cuts the breaks to the rich fat cats. If any wisdom can be found in Petey’s Tale of Two Cities (Click Here) it is this: the promise of a better shake for the poor is nowhere to be seen in the Pasadena Renaissance and in fact, the housing as it stood back in 2010 seemed to benefit the well-off and the builders.
Unlike old Petey, however, I believe that the builders will continue to screw the poor while continuing to receive tax breaks and favoritism. They will continue to buy those favors through politicians who depend on labor/union votes, and that those votes will be guaranteed through the promise of work, i.e. new construction. I agree with many others that there is nothing environmentally sound about any of it, and whether I know the code number, or the law that this farce is measured by is moot; these so-called green laws will continue to benefit the class that is in power, and the demographic that benefits from this are members of that specific class. In the event that these self-serving laws, protocols, and now EIGHT guiding principles, actually does result in the vertical slums they promise to promote, it won’t be for any socially progressive purpose- it will be to keep the poor locked up in Eastern Block styled housing units so that they are easier to manipulate and control.
You know, funny thing about pack and stack living? It doesn’t promise the elimination of cars. Crawford said this to me, and I have to concur. He said the first thing folks will do with the money they save is to buy a car. (“Probably to get the hell out of here,” says I.) Every couple of years I go to Rome, and I have noticed a few things about it. I noticed that you can have old ruins, and that they still serve a purpose and look cool. Same with bombed out buildings in Berlin, and in Croatia. I noticed that there is an excellent underground train system in Rome, and buses that will take you anywhere you may need to go. I noticed that Roman cabbies pull off maneuvers that make New York City cabbies look timid. All of these transportation modes run alongside a large number of Romans living in a tight and bustling space. There are tons people, buildings, crazy Italian roads, and, yes, lots of cars- but the difference is that scores of those cars are just really, really small. They are tiny little bitty things like the clowns drive at the circus. Clown cars, if you will. they have solved the parking problem by packing them up on the sidewalks. So much for cutting down on cars (click here).
Funny thing, some of the Eastern bloc cars from before the wall are still running. I have seen critters destined for the ALF move faster, but they are still moving nonetheless. Pretty much consisting of an engine in pressed cotton and paper fiber, the Trabant (click here), is a greenster’s wet dream. You can’t get more biodegradable. You know what else? People on the other side of the wall still wanted cars, even if they were hustled around by rail with the rest of the masses. Their desire did not subside because they were packed and stacked along the U-Bahn. In fact, they wanted to dig their own ride so much they’d wait forever to get their own car, even risking the possibility that the damn thing would eventually melt.
Chew on that for a while, comrade.
As for the PEF and IIPK, it didn’t take Mary and I long to find the names of most of the Sierra Madre Elite on their donors list and involved in the formation of that 8th Guiding principle. Until the figureheads in those edu-clans make a statement to me distancing themselves from the activities that were pulled on my autistic child, then I consider them one and the same- elitist. I hold the regional PTA in that same regard.
5. If you can’t make yer Case Based on Three Principles, What Good are Eight?
So. In the elapsed time since Wayne left the building, an eighth guiding principle has arrived (click here) and it came through a quasi-grassroots non-profit group called Invest in Pasadena Kids (IiPK). Petey loves them (click here) and the IiKP parade were en masse at the Pasadena City Council Meeting I attended last month, pushing and pleading to the Pasadena Royal Court for consideration of that Eighth Guiding Principle:
"Pasadena is committed to community planning that supports vibrant educational resources responsive to the broad needs of our diverse community. Quality public schools are a shared community responsibility."
Wait, what? That is it? Are you kidding me? All those meetings and drafts, and city manager scribe support- and that is the best you could muster up? Holy Mother of Mercy, no wonder drivel slides past the voters and becomes law.
Invest in Pasadena Kids planned to be at the Monday, December 3, 2012, Pasadena City Council meeting promoting more of the same hokum (click here), that is, a mission statement that doesn’t really have substance. Apparently the council need more time to mull about on it, or maybe, just maybe, someone figured out it doesn’t say a goddamn thing. I will say something else on principle #8: if it has the support of Petey, as does the IIPK (click here), then I am, by default, on alert, and immediately suspicious. That they are involved in the inevitable sustainability planning (click here) only adds to those suspicions. You’ll note, all the usual interests are involved.
This is the one that stitches together the goals of the Greenies, the Meanies, and the Weenies. I’ll leave it to you to assign the stakeholders, but we have been tinkering with it for a few weeks and feel that we are a hint closer to a general understanding that at least slakes our thirst for understanding, as simplistic as it may seem (click here). If you gaze upon that fine piece of fluff that ran in the Pasadena Meekly, you will find not only a fine portrait of Petey taken by photo boy Ed Honowitz (click here) but you also get the connector that brings the Sub Rosa piece, specifically Pasadena Education Foundation (PEF) together with Invest in Pasadena Kids. One of the connectors is that spokespeople for both groups had criticized the PUSD Board of Education for interfering with efforts to develop partnerships or access grants (click here). At that same meeting in 2011, our pal Mr. Ed stated (click here)
“I think this (Resolution) is significant and symbolic ... But the challenge for us now is for us to really start looking at and adding specific into what we are going to do to build the kind of programs and interactions. One of the things I want to ask Superintendent Gundry and the city manager over the next 30 days, is to start to lay out how this partnership will move forward.”... (He added that the community wants to see PUSD and the city manager to) “Move the pieces forward and see actual implementation.”
Of course, that little nudge came crashing down when Mr. Ed tried to squeeze the Bigley Brothers through as a possible building company, and suggested an unknown and unnamed community-education group through the discussion on his usual verbiage of “uh, duh, um.” It was due to the interference run by a few pesky gnats who caught Big Daddy Ed “PEF “ Honowitz trying to sneak it by unnoticed that shut it down cold, at least for now. Nice try bonehead. Give me the “uh, duh, um” signature page.
I have come to the, gasp, startling conclusion that our focus needs to be in line or parallel to/with preservationist groups. They may be the last hope for stopping the madness, or at least in curbing it. (click here) I don’t support anything wholeheartedly, but in the preservationists I believe stands the key to stopping ridiculous projects from moving forward at the expense of what makes our cities unique. I have given up hope that the taxpayers won’t continue to pay for the folly, but maybe it’s time that we are given stock in our investments since we can’t seem to tell the bastards to knock it off (click here). Of course, that will require selling our souls.
6. Old Wine, New Wine ... Just Break the Bottle.
I have also come to the conclusion that what the PUSD needs are more maverick Board of Education members - the kind that don’t scare, and that don’t care. That whole messy Baggett thing would have been cake had that outlaw approach been taken. The “Yeah, so what?” approach. The time has come for people to step up and take every lie, every smear, and and every dig- and turn it around. “Is that the best you can do? Fine, that’s me. Now what are you going to say?” Sometimes you just gotta hold up your hand and say, “Pick a finger, chump.”
As we move closer to those March elections it becomes painfully clear that to counter the absolute nothing we can expect from “the press” that we need to hear some familiar voices that still echo in our canyons to be thrown back into the mix. Voices of reason, and voices of grit.
Come back, Wayne Lusvardi, the new school needs your wisdom.