Sunday, October 30, 2005

MY FORT WORTH: bicycle tour

Okay, it's early Sunday morning. Even though you get to set your clocks back an hour, you probably won't see this in time to get in on it:

October 30 at 10:00 am
Begins at the TCU Soccer Stadium on Bellaire Drive S.

"Join us for a bicycle ride through Fort Worth, by architectural monuments and down the Trinity River Trail. The ride will have routes for both beginner and more advanced riders." [from the website]

Yep, in honor of what they're calling the Third Annual Architecture Month (October is Architecture Month in FW), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been educating, exploring, and celebrating ARCHITECTURE AS ART, not only with fellow architects, but with the broader community as well. 

The bicycle tour concept is not new to folks in San Francisco, who have been coordinating cool themed tours-on-wheels to explore things such as the historical district of Barbary Coast on a "historical gambling house and brothel" tour. And then there's the "Activist Bike Tour of SF". Led by the San Francisco Bike Coalition executive director, this bike tour led participants through current transportation hot spots, where they learned the history behind current campaigns for better streets in SOMA, the Bernal Cut, Valencia Street, the Wiggle, Golden Gate Park and many more.

I remember when Ramsey, a fellow activist and rider, led a few of us on a bike tour of the 76104 neighborhood, making stops along the way to illustrate specific concepts of democracy and activism. We need to organize more frequent rides such as these, with education in mind.

There are plenty of Fort Worth bicyclists out there and we should figure out how to coordinate tours of this city, so we can grow and improve it together...

For more info on "October is Architecture Month in FW":

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"2000 Too Many" - report on yesterday's march/rally in FW

At our vigil on Wed, Oct 26th, we met at 4:30pm at the Federal Building, downtown Fort Worth. At approx. 5pm, we marched the two blocks to the Star-Telegram main building, carrying signs and a city-block-long banner (with the names of all the U.S. military dead who hailed from Texas), and chanting loudly our various chants. Several members of CodePink FW walked into the main lobby of the Startlegram, apparently startling some of the front desk staff--who weren't quite sure how to interact with us. Hillary spoke to the traffic coordinator, asking to speak to a Star-Telegram editor. (She, on behalf of CodePink FW and the rest of us, wanted to simply deliver a sweetly-wrapped, pink-bowed white gift box--containing a “pink slip”--into the hands of an actual editor.) After a flurry of anxiety and inelegant (FW-ST staff, not us) communication, an editor was finally summoned down to the front reception desk. Two of our folks, who had carried in a large and prominently-worded pink banner, were ordered to vacate the building—despite our assurances that we meant no harm or damage to anything or anyone at the Star-Telegram offices. A few of the staffers who were on their way out for the day, expressed consternation and agitation about our presence at their precious workplace. Oh, the nerve of us! To practice street democracy and to voice our outcry against the invasion of Iraq! What kind of hoodlums were we to leave the quiet confines of our tv rooms and office cubicles in order to voice opposition to the illegal war the U.S. is waging in Iraq.

After a few minutes, we marched back to the Federal Building for presentations of music, street performance, and poetry.
There were about 60 of us gathered there, in the shadow of the Fed. Building. I noticed three young Latinas emerge from the Traffic Court Building, nonchalantly walk over to a pile of protest signs, and pick a sign up each. They walked quietly to the curbside at Throckmorton, facing oncoming traffic, and held their signs up high. Turns out they had just finished doing jury duty, saw the hubub of our public action, and decided to join us. Really, I was very impressed by their sense of civic responsibility, and I told them so. Two of them mentioned that they were students at Castleberry HS, which had recently administered the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test. When I mentioned that they had a right to refuse to take this test, they said that they'd assumed it was mandatory because the school administrators made it seem so.

(The ASVAB is a multi-aptitude test which is given at over 14,000 schools nationwide, and maintained by the Dept. of Defense. The scores a student receives on this test helps the recruiters to determine whether he/she is qualified to enlist in the U.S. military.)

For more information, read on here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Famed NOLA Radio Station WWOZ is back on the air!

"Oz has always been the intangible glue that holds this community together," says jazz pianist David Torkanowsky, a WWOZ disc jockey. "If you're going to restart the city, you have to start with the heartbeat. For musicians, it's a beacon."

That's such good news, as WWOZ-FM radio is the best radio station in New Orleans and has had an international audience (the OZ streams their programming online). I remember the "you have now arrived!" feeling i would get when approaching NOLA by car and being finally able to get WWOZ on the radio. Blues, jazz, classic tunes, blue book favorites, local musicians, and--my favorite NOLA poet--the raspy-voiced big John Sinclair calling the shots as disc jockey. It's like the feeling i get when i hear old sixties soul classics, taking me back to childhood innocence and simpler now-glorified days.

One spring, when in NOLA for the Jazz Festival, i passed John Sinclair holding it down, broadcasting live from under a tent on the Festival grounds--bringing in the big stars for impromptu interviews and live musical interludes. You felt like you were at the soul of the heart of the body of THE NOLA MUSIC COMMUNITY experience. A precious thing.

From the WWOZ website: "WWOZ is now broadcasting at 90.7 FM in New Orleans from our temporary facility in Louisiana Public Broadcasting's studio in Baton Rouge. Our shows are running from 9am to 10pm CST. WFMU will broadcast pre-recorded WWOZ shows outside of those hours...WWOZ, presently streaming in exile due to Hurricane Katrina, sends a special thank you to our year-round valued Underwriters who support WWOZ as New Orleans' community radio station."

The station's website has up-to-the minute updated info about Katrina Benefit Concerts, Missing/Found Musicians listings, Musican Aid resources, and much, much more. Tune in, listen to the shows, and feel that indescribable Nawlins feel in the songs, talk, chat, and tunes of WWOZ.

2000 U.S. Dead in Iraq

The sad day that we’ve been dreading is here. Today, October 25th, 2005, the Defense Department has announced the 2,000th military death in Iraq.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has listed more than 400 events in 49 U.S. states which will involve thousands of people calling for an end to this war. The media has already started reporting on this, of course, with noted exclusion of any info or statistics about the Iraqi dead...

AFSC, Gold Star Families for Peace, United for Peace and Justice, CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and many others are bound to change the perception of this war during this sad milestone. Join us for a show of opposition to White House warmongering that leaves so many, too many, of our people needlessly dead.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bowing my head as I raise my voice in tribute... yet another poet-comrade who has passed over to the other side. Yes, Pasha Allsup, my Austin poet friend has died, back on September 19th--though i only got word of this last week. Some of our friends in Austin are putting together a tribute memorial performance in honor of Pasha, and i have been invited to submit an original poem--using words or phrases from what i presume is one of Pasha's final poems--"The Chair".

I can't make it to Austin to actually read the poem myself, but here's what i wrote and have emailed to the organizers so it can be shared at the tribute memorial tonight, Sunday evening, October 23rd. Progress Coffee House, Austin, Tejas:

(a poem for Pasha)


he bent over, doubled himself, was still just one but doubled in terms of halving. knees to his chest as his fingers caressed his now-naked toes. his ears folded in so his lobes cupped his cheeks and his belly warmed his thighs as he licked himself closed. a human envelope, a sealed man, book-rate to Nirvana.


Pulling his knees together tightly, he poised for flilght. A passing whippoorwill sent a gust via wingflap and then he too became airborne. He relinquished darkness as his lids lifted so that he could see the topography down below: murky dim light showed that he was heading west on North Loop and he thought of the blind, at the school below. He knew they would not see him or very well, at least, but if he whistled, shrieked a verse, sang a raga, this would most certainly draw their faces skyward. He pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth, letting the first sound be an “l” and the word sang low in harmony with the pitch of the driving rain, a sudden storm. “Laundry....!!!”

“Air your Laundry!!” He sang. “Pitch those panties and the scraggly jeans you’ve cherished for years. Put everything out like a sail. Your heart, your broken heart words, your uncensored turds, confession rockets of words, your eloquent rage, every last paragraph they leave off the page, the gnarly secrets of pain, the wrist naked to a bleeding vein, every damn last syllable that will vanquish any possible tangent of regret, neglect, forget. Launch them as kites, every last word, tv sound byte, make the unspeakable loud, your echo resound. Here i speak it, there i hear it. Bounces off the clouds, cliffs, crowds. A triple digit decibel infidel, be that man.”

Soon the children had sprinkled past the tutors, the guards, the monitors and were padding gently across the clay floor of the tennis court, with their noses nosing and ears hearing. From their pockets bits of string, spring, sting---dental floss, slinky, bandaids. All useless to help tether the flying mail man, the poet launched, teetering abandon, wildly postal. So they let go, just let him go. They dropped to the ground, first one on his knees, then another fully spread-eagle on his back, while yet others did slow-motion full-body prostrations, as if encircling Kailash herself. This sudden fit, a communal devotional reverie, overtook the playground. Even the chancellor straddled a child’s swing and hummed the melodic sky-drone, broadcast from the sky.

Higher and higher, an elevation is nothing to those who speak only math. He was up higher than numbers could tell and the faint of his yell was soft yet kept peaking. For the loudest ones often drop short, while the panting and whispering diaphoretic and epiphanal incantations are as swelling and eternal time-dwelling as the heartbeat of the HImalayas. You can hear, yes? You too have noticed, right? I can count you as one of the listening and everlasting few, too? Wait, listen, don’t miss it. Hear that? Pasha again: “Euphoric! Eu---phor--ic! Are - you - for - it ?” It was slight, a wing flutter, a never-published-page utter, but it lingers, it stays with me, it can never evanesce, yes?

As he softly landed, where it was the place he landed, a whole new language became spoken, old rule and tenets of rigidity broken. But he did not stay there, for the place he longed to reach was not of commandments--not ten, not any, and never many. Arisen to a new location, he slowly unlicked or rather unsealed himself, gradually unfolding to full-Pasha breadth and length, heft and hue, and keenly spread his arms and said without speaking, breathed without being, laughed without living, “tomorrow is tomorrow is tomorrow and soon you too will wake up to that day. But until then, do not truck with sad tears and journey with fears or tarry with impossible unenchanting careers.


Live, your life, then die, your death, and,......” And I waited for the next words, I held my breath to keep my ears poised, but the next words never came. They did not come until I opened my own true mouth--and remembered.

tammy melody gomez
october 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

MY FORT WORTH: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in town now

The first-ever Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream store in the 817, located at 6115 Camp Bowie (west of the Ridglea Theater), opened several months ago. And guess what? ALL proceeds from ice cream sales will benefit the YWCA programs for disadvantaged women, adolescents, and children. The store offers an opportunity "to provide on-the-job training for at-risk youth of Tarrant County...the goal is to train 30 youth each year and assist them in finding permanent employment." [from the YWCA website]

That's pretty cool: you can eat your ice cream and support positive social programs that benefit fellow Fort Worthians at the same time/al mismo tiempo. Go to the local YWCA website to read up on all the programs and services they offer here in FW. And, if you're not a vegan, you might stop by the Ben & Jerry's for a double-dip of your favorite flavor.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Katrina Store in Richland Hills

Quite by accident, I happened to drive up to the Katrina Store, here in Tarrant County. It's located very close to the Handley-Ederville exit, off I-30. Because I had some time on my hands and am insatiably curious, I parked my car and walked in, just a few paces behind a Latino family who were slowly approaching the entrance. I stopped to study the handwritten signs on the front doors, which detailed the store hours and rules of operation.

Once inside, the attendant sitting behind a big table greeted me and asked if I needed assistance. I could hardly bring myself to look at him as I was completely overwhelmed by the 1) enormity of the space within this store, and 2) was blown away by the gadzillions of goods, clothing, and other merchandise which were attractively displayed on racks, shelves, and tables. Contrasted with a few other Katrina aid stations I'd visited in FW--where the donated items were merely heaped in unrecognizable piles on tabletops--the items at the Katrina Store were better organized by category, with carefully-lettered signage designating item locations.

I was so impressed. According to the attendant, the store is run by the Salvation Army and they plan to keep it open to needy evacuees until "at least December 15th." What an evacuee needs to present in order to "shop" at the Katrina Store is "proof of victim status", which would mean either a Tarrant County-issued "Victim I.D. card" or a driver's license. The store hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:30am-6:30pm, with the last clients admitted at 5pm. Of course, no money is required and everything from personal hygiene kits to kitchen appliances and furniture are free for the taking.


(On the day I visited, a job notice was posted on the front door. "HELP WANTED. FULL-TIME WAREHOUSE HELP. 8AM-5PM. CALL DAVE, 817-838-5196.)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

"Bring 'em Home" demonstration - Friday, October 7th - Arlington, TX

[Thanks to Desiree Fairooz for the following announcement. For more information, please call 817-521-7856 OR 817-468-3069.]

Friday October 7, 2005
Matlock and Bardin
Arlington, TX
(parking available at Radiology Associates or Starbucks)

Signs provided but new ones encouraged. See ideas below. Bring your friends! Bring your kids! Bring your grannies! We'll be handing out mini-flyers about the spontaneous vigil when U.S. fatalities reach 2000. Please come and help. Media will only come if you do too!


Ideas for signs or chants:

US Out of Iraq! Let them have their country back!

This Occupation is a crime - George and Rummy should be doin time

Bring all the troops home now, No WMDs were ever found.

They stay and fight for Bush's lies, and every day another dies...

Money for Jobs and Education, Not for War and Occupation!

Bush and Cheney did the killing while their friends do the drilling!

Power to the Peaceful!

Out of Iraq, We need our troops back!

U.S. out of the Middle East - We the people, we want Peace!

Make Wetlands, Not War. Oil is NOT worth dying for!

CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace and peaceful citizens say, “Bring ‘em on home not bring ‘em on”. On July 3, 2003 Bush vowed to stay in Iraq despite attacks on our troops. Then he posed the challenge to those who would attack us, “My answer is bring ‘em on.”

Most recently when confronted by Cindy Sheehan, his answer has been “Stay the course.” However the American people are unhappy with his course of action. According to an ABC News Washington Post poll from September 8-11, 2005, 62% of people polled disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq.

According to CNN/ USA Today/ Gallop poll 60% of the people polled consider withdrawing our troops from Iraq either now, or if the number of troops killed becomes too high. For those of us who understand the devastation of war this number is already too high. Also, 53% of the same group polled thinks it was a mistake sending troops to Iraq in light of developments since we first invaded.

The purpose of this vigil is to raise awareness and motivate people to hold our government accountable. We want people to be aware that they are not alone. The sentiment of our country and the world are on their side. The mainstream media has turned a blind eye to the peace movement so we feel we have to stand out on this street corner to let our neighbors know about it. It must be made clear that our elected officials have forgotten that they are public servants who work for us, the people. The President says he doesn’t govern by polls. Instead, he has governed by poor judgment and misinformation at best. Evidence has shown that most likely, he has governed by lies and deceit (9/11 Commission Report, Downing Street Memo, Dulfer Report). It is time for all Americans to wake up, stand up and hold our government accountable.