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Hydra’s Occupy Wall Street Reading List

“Some reading suggestions that might elucidate, antagonize, support, or deepen your ideas about the current nationwide OWS Movement.”

— By The Hydra | October 25, 2011

photo by Arturo Rafael Romo

(photo from

There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air

—Bob Dylan

Let’s Google it. Café Cultural + Boyle Heights.

Hmmm. Nada.

But I remember. How can I forget the Mexican socialists that provided me with my first stage, my first microphone?

It was run by Norma and Rodolfo Barragán. They were in their thirties then, pleasant and plump and pumped with ideology.

The Revolution was at hand.

The Sandinistas had toppled Somoza and El Salvador was next, then Guatemala… in Mexico City there were more socialists than nopales. Ronald Reagan was right! The communist hordes were at the gates!

I was 22 years old.

Oh there was revolution in the air at the Café Cultural!

And I was… I was trying to grow in my goattee.

Okay, let’s try again. Café Cultural + Norma Barragán.

And the first result is the Sprout Café in Palo Alto.


How could Café Cultural not virtually exist?

Because it existed, to bursting, in 1984, when Prince’s doves cried and Bruce’s Vietnam vet howled that he was born in the USA.

Oh wait… I remember that I’m Facebook Friends with Norma Barragán!

Let’s message her right now:

Hola Norma te escribo para ver si podemos platicar sobre los viejos tiempos en el Café…

And soon enough we’re messaging back and forth and and the bones of the Café start taking on flesh again.

Café Cultural was at 2036 East First Street, on the southwest corner at the intersection with St. Louis. The building has a brick façade with elegant cornices of urns and vines and flowers. Inside the ceiling was tall, the space dark and deep, and there was a concrete floor.

This is where we made revolution—which is made with speeches and songs and poems and paintings, by selling books and magazines and buttons, with endless arguments over theory and praxis and strategy and tactics, lots of food and drink—ah, Norma’s famous chile rellenos. Jackson Browne loved them.

Yeah, Jackson was there all the time, and Guaradabarranco, those cute Sandinista New Song folkies straight outta Managua…

Sabiá, a crew of white solidarity girls who sang and spoke Spanish better than most of us halfies.

Marisela Norte, speaking her mordantly haunting word, classic pieces like the unforgettably titled “The Lady and the Ginzu Knife.”

Rubén Guevara, the Aztec god of Funk, growling “Con Safos.”

And Sesshu Foster, the Japanese-Anglo bard of City Terrace. I was always getting into arguments with him over theory and praxis and strategy and tactics…

And me, doing my best Roque Dalton imitation:

Creo que el mundo es bello,
que la poesía es como el pan,
de todos.

Our stage? The concrete floor. You do not use risers in a socialist space.


(photo from

It seemed to me back then like there’d never been a place like it, but that was because I was 22 years old.

Of course there were others that came before.

There is a long line of red cafés in L.A. history.

In the 70s there was Magon’s, on Adams and Broadway, named after the great Mexican anarchist who spent a decade agitating in L.A.

In the 60s the Brown Berets had a place called Piranya’s on Olympic and Goodrich, from where Minister of Information Carlos Montes emitted his communiques— and was surveiled by the FBI.

We can go much farther back… to Restaurante Bohemia in the 1920s, just off La Placita downtown, where Latin American and European immigrants hung out and everybody broke their English.

And to the Italian Hall on Olvera Street: anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, and Wobblies drank red wine, wrangled over their manifestos, were haloed by the smoke of their cigars and cigarettes.

Across the decades the red cafes were like mini-communes: communes with a coffee pot, chile rellenos, tobacco, maybe a joint out in the back late at night, you know, to help with the theorizing…

In them you talked your desire, you fought for it—arguing across the –isms, the most important of which is we-are-young-and-the-world-is-ours -ism.

They never seem to last long, the red cafés, but they are also eternal, because they keep coming back.

Galería Ocaso, Manazar Gamboa’s place on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake. Back when the Sunset Junction festival was free and long before the No Cruising signs went up.

Macondo, on 7th Street in Pico Union. One night Rubén Guevara, Elia Arce, Tim Miller, Guillermo Gomez-Peña and yours truly presented what we called performance art, which included playing a lot with walkie talkies and Elia literally riding through the doorway on the back of a Harley.

Regeneración on Figueroa in Highland Park. Rage, Ozomatli, and Aztlán Underground, a whole new generation of kids imagining, with the help of the Zapatistas, a continental commune.

Chicano-Brasilera couple Reyes Rodriguez and Marialice Jacob were regulars at Café Cultural and many years later they took over a great Art Deco building on Beverly Blvd., baptizing it Trópico de Nopal…

I was at Trópico just a few weeks ago for a cool jarocho show. I noticed this kid, his long curly black hair pulled into a ponytail. I was looking at the back of my own head in 1984. When he turned around, I saw that he was trying to grow in that goatee.

The bottom floor of the building at 2036 East First Street is emtpy and for lease today. It’s just down the street from Casa 0101, and Libros Schmibros, and Corazón del Pueblo, a block of Boyle Heights bathed in the wall of sound from the Five Freeway and steeped in a history far deeper than its concrete tomb.

Red cafes never die—they just move to a new storefront.

Rubén Martínez is an award-winning journalist, author and performer. He holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature & Writing at Loyola Marymount University. His essays, opinions and reportage have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, Village Voice, The Nation, Spin, Sojourners and Mother Jones. He is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Fellowship in nonfiction, a Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, a Freedom of Information Award from the ACLU, a Greater Press Club of Los Angeles Award of Excellence, and an Emmy Award for hosting PBS member station KCET’s Life & Times. His books are Flesh Life: Sex in Mexico City (with Joseph Rodriguez, Powerhouse Books, 2006), The New Americans (The New Press, 2004), Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail (Picador, 2002), Eastside Stories (with Joseph Rodriguez, Powerhouse Books, 1998), and The Other Side: Notes from the New L.A., Mexico City and Beyond (Vintage, 1993).

Close inspection and scientific testing of our language structures meets or exceeeds the Directives of the Bureaucratic Mind and its Guidelines for Practical Necessity, thank you very much. When you afix your body to one of our metaphorical ships, you will find the highest metallic and technical verbal alloys at your service. Guaranteed.

Component notions such as Bunker Hill Memories, flushing the toilet, Blood on the Face, old toothbrush/same teeth, Vertically Stacked Sunlight, and similar tropes have been submitted to Exacerbation Rounds to insure Tight Full Loads.

Fiddlers and Jerry-riggers (Sergio, the way he is) nerded and torqued the wads and whistles of each precision Simile, Hyperbole or Taut Metonymy.

At the same time, teams from Brooklyn and Oakland massaged the strings so that they looked exactly like lines or wires. This was to ensure that if there was a choice between ramen or pho, indications would fire LED Brights, so to speak.

Sufferers of particularly egregious childhoods and strange adolescences monitor all phases of the development of appropriated language, afixed tangentially to each Figure Core, Synechdochal Bite

Each figure arrives imbued with historical mission. We have not been inured by the Russian experience, by the Nicaraguan Contingency, by the German Revolution, by the Italian Slope. Our product retains supreme buoyancy in spite of all 20th century registers.

Our teams have collaborated and supported various actual and imaginary airship projects redounding through corridors of time. Those echoes are evidence of the qualities of aluminum and titanium resonance.

Unusual, immanently effective and radically designed figures in the form of metaphorical airship imaginary unfold each evening.

Early Brazilian vegetarian synechdoches and synchysis has been combined with the most modern verbalisms and contemporary alloys which offer the dual benefits of zeugmas and spoonerisms.

We have scoured eclectic regions for appropriate language constructions to add frisson and snap to your next flight.

Superlative Synesis expert Rigo Hinojosa personally oversees the arc meld unit which tests the fusion of merisms and neologisms for every airship.

Our Truism Allusion Squad (Rinko, P-Girl and Otono seen here on a case) ferret out and subject every instrumentalized apostrophe and radio transmission to Roiling Shock.

Early stage ships are sent to "far corners" of the earth like Swollen Glands, like Engorged Organs, like Tumescent Tubers. Wild feelings attract hordes of riders instantly---sometimes simultaneously.

Our crews even repair the damaged kenning aphorisms with ellipses and cataphora. Here the vivid phraseology simply hit the wall at 60 MPH.

You will shortly find yourself on top of the world via coiled asyndeton, hopeful enumeratio and a lunch menu that includes your choice of red or green posole.

According to your visions and nightmares, we design itineraries to include furtive catachresis, high voltage antiphrasis, and high frequency innuendo, maximizing your Total (Folded) Experience.

Everything present will include toothy paradox, Los Mochis no sweat, and paralipsis of the utmost Californication, no extra charge. Simply check the terms of the check list.

Think of us, on the dark nights of the soul, in the 3 AM on Parallelism Avenue, on the Ticketless Air Conditioned Dysphemism. Mental Bill London recommends us, saying "It worked for me."

Airship Figures that balance fancy truths, Dirty Gadgets, and the transformative Tesla Appositions. From the center of the Universe out.

Mental Bill London proclaims, "Proletarians, don't fall for the bullshit from the other guys. This ain't Pep Boys on Atlantic. Rise and levitate on figures of shining silver, tourmaline and jade."

The yucca says, "When you only bloom once in a lifetime, you have to make the next one count. Blackened dry stalk under a blowing wintry sky of mist on the rocky San Gabriels. Asyndeton right there, climax accordingly, euphemisms for the structures of cyberspace. Sure."

The yucca says, “When you only bloom once in a lifetime, you have to make the next one count. Blackened dry stalk under a blowing wintry sky of mist on the rocky San Gabriels. Asyndeton right there, climax accordingly, euphemisms for the structures of cyberspace. Sure.”

The least impulses, non-adumbrated conceptualizations, exigent doubts and frontal ideals deserve our pitch perfect synesthesia and personification.

The figures of these airships waft toward substance, toward angular planes, toward your definite existences. Multiply your rolling sensations with a flight today.

The true figure of the airship exists inside you (parenthetically, as an appositive) and outside existence---a syllogism of interlaced wires.

Crews are waiting now to take your call at new ELADATL docking stations and transfer depots being erected throughout Southern Calif. In spite of the fact that the FBI and Sheriff SWAT team attacked and burnt down our El Sereno Station for no reason except denial of the assonance of the New Economy.

The Figures of Airships are growing in our facilities, as experts like Sergio feed them lubricated antitheses, filament metalepses, and parallel ironies.

At last, in the final hour [insert another phrase here], as they proceed to destroy the economy thru War, to destroy the earth thru Greed, to destroy people thru Lies, we float towards you through soundless air. We are there. ELADATL. Got it?

Somebody was looking, somebody wasn’t looking— CIA murders and torture in Afghanistan and Iraq— somebody knows, somebody doesn’t know— somebody sits and eats pork back fat for breakfast and doesn’t die, but they will die— they eat eggs and their eyes look like eggs, they eat fried potatoes and emit radioactivity like secret potatoes.

see the rest of the article here:


Buying is all that is asked of you

We don’t have “varied agendas”
We are against “neoliberal economics” look that up

Bail out people not Wall St.

Iraq veterans against the war

Please don’t feed the bankers

The last march looked like 3,000 and this looks like maybe 7 or 8,000; LAPD closed off Broadway across all the intersections from 4th to Temple, screwing up traffic throughout downtown — that’s how you know this thing is growing bigger…

photographs by Arturo Rafael Romo

Caliban Magazine, free on-line

current issue includes Lynn Lifshin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Nathaniel Tarn, Nico Vassilakis, Elizabeth Robinson, Timothy Liu, Sesshu Foster, Carine Topal and a host of others.

edited by Lawrence R. Smith


everyone forgets everything

they were supposed to take an aspirin

on September 7, 1941, but they forgot—

by December 11, 1973, coup in Chile,

it was rainy inside jackets, how could they

not know they had forgotten? The mufflers

remembered, the parked cars, the allen

wrenches, but not the people, who practiced

forgetting drinking the black coffee

of forgetting, forgetting in conversation,

sleepless sleep, turning off and on lights

in rooms, every flipped switch was

practice forgetting—not the sudden cliff

of history or 3 stars falling on Sand Creek,

but the the day under their fingernails, day

embedded under the skin like tiny stars of glass.

The brilliant Pial Hossain on tabla!

First raided by Sheriff SWAT team and the F.B.I., the El Sereno station of ELADATL mysteriously burned down later that night. The F.B.I. left these documents behind in the parking lot beside a smoldering dumpster.



Verbatim transcript:


1. Have you ever heard of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines (“ELADATL”)?
2. What is it?
3. What does it do?/What is its purpose?
4. Are you a member?
5. What is your position within ELADATL?
6. How is it structured?
7. How many members are there?
8. Who are the leaders?
9. Where in the U.S. does it exist?
10. Who are the other members in El Sereno (or Huntington Park)?
11. How does it pay for expenses?
12. Does it have an office?
13. Are there regular ELADATL staff meetings?
14. Where do they take place?
15. What is discussed?
16. Do you or anyone else at the meeting or with ELADATL, take notes?
17. Where are these notes?
18. Do you receive paychecks from ELADATL?
19. How much?
20. What is the purpose?/What happens to the money?
21. Who collects the dues?
22. Are there regular national meetings of the ELADATL?
23. Where do they take place?
24. What happens at the national meetings of the ELADATL?
25. Is it affiliated with any other organization in the United States?
26. Does it control/direct/exercise influence over, any other organization in the United States?
27. Have you ever heard of the Anti-War Committee (“AWC”)?
28. What is it?
29. What is the relationship between the AWC and ELADATL?
30. Are you a member of the AWC?
31. Do you have a “red” name?
32. What is it?
33. What is the purpose of having a red name?
34. Do you have a “red” e-mail account?
35. What is it?
36. What is the purpose of having a red e-mail account?
37. Have you ever heard of a group called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also known as the PFLP?
38. What do you know about the PFLP?
39. Where is it based?
40. What is its philosophy?
41. Have you, anyone from the ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever traveled to the Middle East? Gaza? West Bank? Israel?
42. Have you, anyone from ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever given money intended for the PFLP?
43. Have you, anyone from ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever given anything intended for the PFLP?
44. Have you, anyone from ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever given money intended for the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committee, also known as the Women’s Committee?
46. Have you, anyone from ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever met with anyone from the Women’s Committee?
47. Have you, anyone from ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever met with anyone from the PFLP?
48. Are you aware that the PFLP has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States?
49. Have you ever heard of a group called the neo-Futurist American Realism Conference (“neoFARC”)?
50. What do you know about the neoFARC?
51. Where is it based?
52. What is its philosophy?
53. Have you, anyone from ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever traveled to South America? Colombia?
54. Have you, anyone from ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever given money intended for the neoFARC?
55. Have you, anyone from ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever given anything intended for the neoFARC?
56. Have you, anyone from ELADATL, or anyone you know, ever met with anyone from the neoFARC?
57. Are you aware that the neoFARC has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States?
58. Do you support, either financially or otherwise, groups that have been designated as terrorist organizations in the United States?
59. Have you ever taken steps to otherview the United States government?

Questions for Specific Individuals

Parker Thistle Ohno
1. Do you run the Anti-War Committee?
2. Have you ever given money from the Anti-War Committee or the Anti-War Committee Education Fund, to a terrorist group, specifically the neoFARC, through third parties?

Ericka Llanera
1. Do you collect dues from East L.A. Balloon Club members?
2. What did you do with the money?
3. Have you ever lied as a witness in any court proceedings, including a grand jury?
4. Have you ever recruited pilots to the East L.A. Balloon Club?

Ray Palafox
1. What did you do with the proceeds from the Revolutionary Lemonade Stand?

Swirling Alhambra
1. Have you ever hosted any members of the neoFARC?

Bert Pine
1. Do you own a gun?
2. For what?
3. Have you taught any ELADATL or balloon club members how to shoot?
4. Why?
5. What’s your personal view of the neoFARC?
6. Did you ever meet a woman named Tania Lirio?
7. Who is she?
8. Where did you meet her?
9. What were the circumstances of your meeting her?
10. Was she a member of the Women’s Committee?
11. Was she a member of the neoFARC?

Samantha Lam
1. What’s your immigration status?
2. When you visited Los Angeles, did you lie to immigration authorities about the purpose of your trip?
3. Have you ever assisted in someone else, neoFARC or not, in raising funds for a trip to Los Angeles, East L.A. or Huntington Park?
4. For whom did you raise funds?
5. Did you ever assist anyone in getting money to Ericka Lanera for the purposes of dispersing it to Pacoima, Downey, Huntington Park or East L.A.?
6. Who?
7. When?
8. How much?
9. How did she get the money over there?

Juan Fish
1. Did you ever recruit anyone to go to Los Angeles, Boyle Heights or Downey?
2. Who?
3. When?
4. What was the purpose of that trip?
5. Did you ever tell anyone to lie to the Immigration and Naturalization Service or the Border Patrol about the purpose of the trip?
6. What do you think of terrorist groups? Do you support them, you dirty bastard?

Liki Renteria
1. Have you ever met Ericka Llanera?
2. Where?
3. When?
4. Why?
5. Who is she?
6. Is she a member of neoFARC?
7. Did you ever help her raise money in the United States?
8. Why was the East L.A. Balloon Club formed?
9. Who is El Sapo?
10. Did you ever meet with him in East Los Angeles?


Cute photographer with a sizable camera shot pictures of store window displays, as the demonstrators walked by with banners and signs. Drivers were honking happily, leaning on their horns.

The short boyish cop made a display of cheery politeness as he kicked people off the City Hall steps.

Matt Timmons introduced me to Kim and asked me what was I doing, just hanging out?

The crowd was pretty diverse except they were a bunch of 2,000 leftists plus assorted hangers-on, like the loser in the Ron Paul T-shirt.

The rasta dude driving the landscaper’s hauling flatbed truck with the big trailer painted with Christian PEACE messages in big red white and blue letters, and signage on the sides that said he’d driven from Santa Cruz to New Orleans to deliver building supplies 15 times, “PEACE PEACE PEACE”, with his speakers broadcasting reggae music, he drove alongside and parked. The last time I saw him was at the Home Deport in Santa Cruz.

Nobody gave any big speeches on the steps of City Hall because this was some kind of anarchist demonstration. Some protestors would be camping at City Hall, surrounded by the crowd and the drummers.

Always the same sullen overgrown ficus trees of California public grounds.

The Streetscapers’ mural on the side of the Victor Clothing Co. building is tagged over with graffiti of course. Victor Clothing Co. is gone—maybe long gone—I wonder what happened to the Broadway mural by John Valadez that was in there.

Upstairs in the Bradbury Bldg the next block down from Victor Clothing Co. is LAPD Internal Affairs. In that 120 year old building they filmed Blade Runner and an Outer Limits episode, science fiction with wrought iron grill work on the old elevator and railings.

2nd Street tunnel through what’s left of Bunker Hill. I turned to it and tried to see it overlaid with photographs of forty or fifty years before. It’s like the opening scene of the 1970s science fiction movie starring Charlton Heston, “Omega Man,” where he’s driving through an empty vacated downtown where he’s the only human being left in a city of vampires. That’s kind of a Bukowski feeling. But I’m surrounded by 3,000 people and they’re having a good time.

I sauntered off like this was some broad avenued endless summer of my youth. Tom called me on the cell and said they’d meet me on 2nd Street.

Maybe we can go back later, take the protestors occupying the City Hall lawn some ice cold drinks, eh?

Stupid, gutted, bankrupt, piss-ass L.A. Times across the street from City Hall, is that Bukowski’s monument? Or Antonio Villaraigosa’s (and the brown princes of the Democratic Party)?

3,000 people—had to march on the sidewalk from Pershing Square. LAPD attended to traffic at the intersections. The protestors didn’t get a permit for the street—there wasn’t that many people, like May Day whatever year that was, 2008 or something.

Smoggy sunshine on the broad avenues.

October 2011