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Vol. 1, No. 3

The Anarchist Convention
by Tom Paine

~

When I woke up my feet were wet and Steve is like building a wall of dirt to keep the Mississippi River out of the cave. I said, like, dude, we got to get out of here. And Steve argues with me, and we waste a lot of time arguing, and then there is like this flash-flood thing happening, and we are like up to our knees in water and scrambling up the mud bank of the Mississippi. And I get up on the bank with Nosebone and Bugeye and Steve and the cave is like underwater and the rain is like serious. We all get in the car, and we are all like shaking and freaking out and smoking herb fast and furious to take the edge off the death vibe, but it isn't working. Steve is totally freaking out, and he opens the window and starts randomly throwing shit out the window. He mostly throws his own stuff, but then he throws some of ours and that isn't cool. Then there is some real shit between us, and Steve gets out of the car and says he's going to like walk to Oregon. We're like, no man, get back in the car. But Steve is serious, and walks off into the rain and disappears, and I like sit there afterwards looking at the rain pounding on the windshield and pretty much decide the next time I like sleep in a riverbank cave and there is a flash flood, I am like definitely not going to stand around and argue with any Steve.
      So then we hit the road again and make our way out of Minneapolis and we are all quiet and thinking our own thoughts about the river and almost getting killed and Steve going off and taking his herb with him. And me and Nosebone and Bugeye are pretty quiet and then we see that our stash of acid is gone too, it must have gone out the window when Steve was freaking out or got lost in the general confusion of our exodus. So this is a real downer, as there are a lot of miles ahead to do straight before we get to the Anarchist Convention. So we are doubly down and generally stolid and it is raining and nobody is talking for many hours and miles. And then in the middle of the night we go into this truckers' stop and we see this graffiti in the bathroom that says both Kings, Rodney and Martin, got what they deserved. We come out of the bathroom and I spit the biggest goober Bugeye said he had ever seen on the counter and we are like totally pissed off. This is like South Dakota, and then all of a sudden we look around at all the truckers and it like clicks and we're like oh, shit. The truckers in their cowboy hats all just stare at us though, and we back out of there and get back on the road and it was cool again in the car, we had the vibe back.
      The car we were driving was pretty silly, there were these huge rusted holes in the floor and it was like still raining heavily and so we're like going through the flood and the rain is like spraying up at us, and it was like we were paddling along the road. There was this extraordinary thing soon after we left the truckers' place. The land was all flat as far as you could see and then there were like hundreds of lightning strikes all tearing up the sky all around us but from the ground up. For a minute I thought we were tripping. I mean the lightning was starting from the earth and going to the sky. We were the only people out there, so we stopped the car in the middle of the road, and it was like, this is for us. There was so much lightning it was creepy but still cool, and then Nosebone floored it and we're flying through all this upside-down lightning and it was like nothing could get us or hurt us and that went on for hours and hours it seemed like.

 

~

Then we seemed to wake up and we were in the Rockies. Man, those are some serious mountains. Like I'm beginning to get a sense of how big this country is, you know. We stop at this rest stop up at the top of the pass in the Rockies and there are these old timers working at the rest stop, men from the local auxiliary something and they give you free coffee and doughnuts to keep you stoked going down the mountains, and they told us all these crazy stories about how this town used to be a lumber town but now all the timber was gone and shit. And the old timers and us punks agree America is fucked about how she has treated Mother Nature.
      Then we are on the road and we just feel like driving, and we're these three kids and I think we must be crazy but then we suddenly hit the Pacific and I know we're not crazy and the sun comes out and the fog clears and there is the whole Pacific Ocean. We're way into the ocean and driving along next to the ocean feeling her beautiful vibe, but then there is this helicopter overhead following us along and it ruined the vibe, then we decide to go with it and watch the helicopter with our heads hanging out the window, but their helicopter vibe is so negative we duck off the road and find this winery way back in the woods with these Alaskans running it and they are cool and give us wine even though it concerned them that we're like only sixteen. They had this white husky and Bugeye played with it and we stomped the grapes, and we're totally stoked and pretty drunk and Bugeye wants a vineyard because it's like ancient and with the earth and then Bugeye decides to stay there at the vineyard because that's where he wants to be to work the earth in like this ancient way.

 

~

We're like down to just me and Nosebone in the car. And we're sort of totally mellow as we drive up the coast to the Anarchist Convention and after a couple of hours we're thinking about all the old skateboarder dudes back in Albany and big Steve and even Bugeye like it was a hundred years ago we last saw them all.
      And then soon enough we drive right into the main square in downtown Portland. We see a dude or two playing hackey-sack, and then just as we park we see this Dumpster catch fire. All these punks come running out of nowhere and start jumping around the flames and there is like this white BMW next to the Dumpster and they are like jumping around and praying the BMW catches fire. And Nosebone and me see these punks jumping around the flames and think cool, this is like the sign we were looking for, this is the place we were coming to.
      Nobody is really clear on when the Anarchist Convention is going to start, and the definite vibe is it's not cool to ask, as anarchists are pretty much against setting a serious date and time. So when me and Nosebone are not spare changing we take to wandering around sort of like tourists, and we find this massive old castle thing in the hills up above Portland. This big old stone castle that for some reason they took a wrecking ball to but there is still enough of the walls left so you can see how cool it was once. We decided to move to this like castle up in the hills. We drove around and found all this wood in the Dumpsters at like these huge new mansions under construction outside Portland, and took the wood up to the castle and built a couple of cool shelters.
      More and more punks are coming into Portland for the Anarchist Convention, and some of them hear about the castle and they start to come up and build their own shelters. There was this one old guy we called GI Joe who was AWOL from the U.S. Army and he was like the mayor of our growing freak city. He stayed up there all the time and watched our stuff when we were down busking for change. A big crew of train hoppers showed up with spray paint in their hair as it keeps out the lice, they had flashlights and all the gear for train hopping, and they were all pretty cool. Some of the old guys on the scene start to tell stories about their life on the road around the fire we've got going at night and it's like we're part of this big tribe for a while and these are our old storytellers and it was cool and kind of beautiful, if you know what I mean, but there was this one guy Frank, he was like fifty years old and a roadie and a juicer and at first he was cool and he told some good stories like the rest of the old guys, but then he got juiced and I ended up like holding his elbow and keeping him from wandering off the cliff all night.

 

~

The scene finally started up for the Anarchist Convention. Turns out the anarchist thing goes way back in Portland, it is like where the first convention for communal living was held like fifty years ago. The scene in 1994 was at this café called the X-Ray. A grocery store kicked down some food and there was like the first party of the convention at the X-Ray, and the truth is mostly we just stood around, all us punks from around the country, waiting for something to happen. There were chips, wine, and everyone was like where you from, dude? and then someone would try to get something organized but someone else would call them a fascist and everyone would go back to partying and then someone else would try to get something together like a talk on how to tip over cars, or how to keep a boxcar open, or how to get into Canada on this secret trail, or how to find a good squat and keep the cops off your back, or generally how to live a life separate from the suburban and corporate American power trip, but as soon as someone got a talk going someone would say bollocks to this, we're anarchists, let's just party.
      There were some bands planned that night at the X-Ray Café and everyone was getting pumped and saying how we're going to rock the house now and burn the place down because we're anarchists, but in the end it was just an okay party and everyone was pretty much like looking for something to happen. I was actually getting pretty bored and then there was this like seventy-year-old, wrinkled-up guy who looked like a troll in my face telling me we should do something, so we go in the back and make a huge pot of noodles and he threw all this random stuff in the pot that looked to me kind of rotten and we went back out and fed everyone and they were all reaching in and eating with their hands, but it was cool anyway that the old troll guy had the idea that we feed everyone, because it was clear all the anarchists in general were pretty hungry, and nobody else was going to do anything about it.
      If you tried to talk to the anarchists it turned out no one there was actually very interesting, and then I see this bald-headed girl sitting in the back reading the dictionary and I'm thinking she's kind of odd to be reading the dictionary, but I'm also getting this growing vibe as the days pass that maybe I'm kind of crazy myself, and then I saw her looking back at me and she looked kind of cool so I went over and she wanted to cut my dreads to get the lice out. I didn't know I had lice but my head was getting pretty itchy, but still I wasn't ready to give up my dreads quite yet. She wants to play with my hair and I'm like, whatever, and then she takes a strand of hair and like ties it onto a ring off her finger and leans back and dangles it over her heart, and because it swings clockwise without her doing anything she says I have a positive vibe for her.
      The punk band tries to start up right then but this woman with shaved eyebrows and blue hair gets the mike and she wants to talk about our legal rights as squatters and all sorts of other official anarchist stuff and one punk in the crowd calls her a Nazi bitch and how we're anarchists and how her organizing us is making us militaristic, and she drops the mike and walks over and brains him with this bottle and he's gushing blood. Nosebone runs over and is like talking about her freedom to do that to him and then I see the girl with the dictionary is like helping the bleeding guy on the floor, and then this tall bald woman in skin-tight black leather with a staff in her hand and these big blue eyes like pools steps in front of me and she says she came all the way from Finland. The truth is she was kind of a spooky old lady, like a witch or something, and she tells me with her blue eyes boring into me some trippy shit like you must slay the dragon. Right then someone says there are two squad cars outside and everyone was trying to hide although it was just a big room and there was no place to hide. People with warrants for their arrest are crawling out the bathroom windows, and then all these guys in the center of the room take out yo-yos. They are these heavy-duty stone yo-yos and these guys are train hoppers and they use them to fight the bulls on trains. Then someone says the cops are gone and I go over and ask the girl with the dictionary her name. She tells me she has no name, and then says she wants to go to the castle with me. We get in the car and there is only jazz on the radio and I listen to it for a minute and say I kind of like it and she says that's cool, so we listen to the jazz and drive up to the path to the castle.
      The old guys up at the castle tried to get the storytelling thing going again that night, but the scene up there was now overrun with all these straight kids from the suburbs, they were all there hungering for the anarchist vibe. For a while GI Joe was showing me how to blow fire with a mouthful of gasoline. He was sending these flames from his mouth like ten feet in the air. At one point I go off to take a piss and while I'm taking a piss the word comes that the scene is about to be raided by the Portland cops and GI Joe is yelling for everyone to run for the hills, but I run back into the castle area anyway against the general flow of humanity and try and find the girl with no name. GI Joe grabs me and says she's already run, so then I get out of there just before the cops overrun the place. GI Joe let himself get caught by the Portland cops and put up a big struggle so the rest of us could get away, and they beat him pretty solidly with their nightsticks.
      I am hiding up there in the hillside pressed down in the dirt gully listening to the cops beating on GI Joe and generally trashing the scene and right in front of my nose which is pressed in the dirt is this silver bracelet and I put it on and think this silver bracelet will protect me. The cops finally leave but the place is totally trashed, all the shelters are knocked down. I never find the girl with no name again that night, although it seems like I drove all over town looking for her and Nosebone.

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