Tuesday, September 29, 2009
This may seem like ancient history but hey, history matters, especially local punk history. Let’s call it our “Punkstory.” O.K. maybe not. Anyway, the following account was posted on My Space in January of 02006. I’m reprinting it here In Bold with my running commentary. The only changes I made were to add punctuation. This is a part of our local Punk History and should be remembered, commented on, and shared. Pedro
“So last night Yah Mos Def played a show in Williamstown NJ. The show was put on by this dude Alan who has been putting on great all-ages shows in the area for a long time.
This was at a new venue that was owned by some other older dude. So during the course of the night some kid stole a sign from the bathroom. This was fucked up, because anyone knows we have to respect these places if we want to be able to use them as show spaces. But this was not Alan's fault, just some stupid kid being funny. But the guy who owned the place flipped out and called the cops.” Alan comes in and says “one more song.” I guess the cops told him to wrap it up, and Alan came in to do so.
So Amateur Party starts to playing the shows last song and, and one of the cops says, "No, no more music". It is a confused situation. So Alan kind of just stands there and does not say anything, not knowing how to react. Captured in this picture.
The photo is a great one because it does more then capture Alan’s confused expression. It captures a group of folks at a crossroads.
On the left hand side of the photo there are two women who seem to be smiling.
At the center is a police officer with his right hand on his night stick, and on the right another young women with her arms up against her chest as if she were shielding herself, and to her left, a young man gnawing on the wrong end of a plastic water bottle like some disoriented hamster.
Anything can happen at this point!
“So from here on out I have it on video.”
I’ve seen the video several times. I suspect the guy who wrote this had watched the video before posting this account because the quotes are accurate, word for word.
“Since Alan does not respond, the cops says "that's it you're under arrest and grabs Alan. He (Alan) says something like "fuck you" cause the cop just grabbed him so hard by the neck, but did not resist or anything. All the sudden 2 other cops run and, and they all jump on the kid. It was fucking insane.”
From what I saw on the video the word I would use is “tackle” instead
“People start taking out their phones and cameras and taking pictures. One of the cops starts yelling "put away your phones", and a kid in the crowd says "This is America" and the cop responds "I don't care, you're in my town now.” W. T. F!”
The cop quoted said other things. But it was when he said, “This is my town.“ that he truly lost respect from the kids. He also repeated “I told you nicely, put the camera away.” over and over. I thought that was interesting. The cop doesn’t realize that what he is saying sounds like. “I’m censoring you but I’m doing it nicely.”
“He gets in my face and starts telling me to put away my camera or I will get locked up. I tell him to F' off, and that I work for a Law Firm (which I of course don't), but that I know my rights. The kid next to me, who I don't know, spits out the amazing line "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but we have the responsibility as citizens to record this". I love that kid.”
In the video the cop upon hearing
"I don't mean to be disrespectful, but we have the responsibility as citizens to record this." said nothing. But the expression on his face suddenly changed. The anger melted away like a puddle after a summer thunder storm.
What replaced it I can’t say; Shame? Embarrassment? He then quickly turned and walked away.
“Anyhow, if anyone has pictures of info from last night please put them in a file and hold on to them. Even if you have memories you should jot them down in a word document in case Alan wants to sue those fucks.
Man, Jersey Cops.”
It’s that last line in his post “Man, Jersey cops.” that was used as the subject line. Before re-posting it on My Space I changed the subject line to read, “The Responsibility of a Citizen.” Every response to my re-post were angry. “Sue em, sue, em, sue em.” It’s possible that I’m not wired in the head quite right. But I wasn’t angry after reading it. I felt pride. And it was with a sense of pride that I re-posted the story over the net.
I was proud of those kids and proud to be associated with a scene that has that kind of mind set. Those kids knew instinctively that they had some kind of duty to perform. They automatically it seemed, took out there cameras to well...police the police. A lot of people know that respect is something you give with out any regard as to who the other person is so as to receive respect in return.
Other people know that respect is only acquired through force.
The events at that show demonstrate that a gun and a badge will only give you so much respect for so long. If you blow it, then it’s going to be very hard to inspire confidence from others again. By confidence I mean a sense of trust; Confidence that you are going to use the power folks give you in a responsible way. That’s what most people want. They want to trust the people that our system puts in authority over us. But we can’t always have what we want. When that happens we have to step up and accept the responsibility that a liberal society imposes; to have liberty means having to defend it. I don’t know at this writing weather shows are still happening at that venue in NJ but the event that took place there in January of 02006 could be a contribution to developing a wisdom of our own, one that we can share with others.
“Even the smallest victory is never to be taken for granted. Each victory must be applauded…”
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Pedro Angel Serrano
20th January 02009
The most often heard statements today have been about how the election of Barak Hussein Obama represents the changes the United States has made over a single life time.
But there is such a thing as short term history. Looking back to the recent past to inform where we are today. It's people who make history not the events. To me it seems that one of the things that moves is those people are there priorities; What for them comes before anything else.
I remember back in the 2000/2001 election when the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth adds were out attacking John Kerry. Bush was being asked to comment on them from some and to say they were wrong from others.
When he did it made was front page news.
Since I had no change for the vending box I squatted down to read his statement. George W. Bush said "They were bad for the system." A short laugh came out of my mouth. Then I said out loud to myself,
"He's doing the best that he can. There are six billion people on this planet and they are All doing the best they can with what they know and what they have available to them." Just because I thought his best was lame didn't matter.
As I walked to the train station I remembered John McCain's on TV, when asked what he though of the adds said they were, "dishonorable."
So here were two men, one being of service to a "System" and another being of service to something called "Honor": Priorities.
John McCain's priorities where why I wanted to see him get the Republican nomination for President in 1999/2000. But on the eve of an important primary, I believe South Carolina, thousands of potential voters were phoned and asked if they knew John McCain had an illegitimate Black child.
OH! and his wife was a drug addict! No one was more surprised then she was.
Who did that? Republicans did that: Priorities. Needless to say he's not the first veteran to have his name dragged in the mud. He won't be the last. I feel I live in a country where being a hero isn't enough any more. Why? Priorities.
There are a lot of hopeful people today. In nations across the planet there has been a change. A reporter who was part of a round table discussion on the election told a story about being in another country after the election and having a guard when he found out this guy was an American straightened himself up and saluted him. "That's unheard of!"
Turn a page and the story can take an unexpected twist.
There have been several unexpected twists for the last couple of years. And it will be people who fill the pages of history. As we always have.
I try to ask periodically what it is I am being of service to. Not a painless process but I think, only because I have been told, it has led me to create a better world for those around me.
In fact I asked myself what I was being of service to while writing this.
The Rev. Pedro Angel Serrano
Any way the next morning I couldn't find my keys.He apologized and said he'd look for them and call if they were found.
I headed to another friends place where my back pack was for a quick breakfast. I suspected that my keys might be there. They were not. "This is not good."
I called Richard to see if he'd located my keys. He apologized again and said he'd not seen them. I told him there was no need to apologize. "Just give me a call if ya find em. I think they be on that book shelf next to the sofa bed."
Yesterday He gave me a call and said that he'd found them. He apologized yet again and said that when he cleared the table in front of the couch he'd taken the keys with everything else and put them in his roommates room.
"I'm sorry." I said
"There's no need to Apologize! What matters is that ya found em."
I arrived that night to get my keys. The door opens and Richard had the clip with my keys in his hand.
"I'm so sorry..."I cut him off.
"Shut Up and Stop apologizing!" He smiled and said,
"Then fuck you for losing your keys."
I explained "There's nothing for you to apologize for. Stuff just happens. But if I were to walk up to you for a hug and you kicked me in the nuts, you'd better apologize."
Pedro of New Jersey.
Pedro Angel Serrano
28th November 02008
It's been a while since the election and I have not commented on it.
When I watched the elections I watched them alone.
Not by choice, but as the night progressed I was glad
to be watching the results and watch the dignified high tech free
coverage on PBS.
Science is objective, people are not.
But by being alone I was able to deal with my emotions
and mine alone.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been taking time to
put all of this in historical context.
There's a historian names David McCullough. In a talk he gave he said,
"I make the argument that there is no such thing as the past."
Think about that. An Historian said that!
The example he gave was that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson never said
"Isn't it fascinating living in the past as we do?
Don't we look quaint in our funny outfits?"
No, indeed, they lived in the present. And in the present they had no idea how there revolution would turn out. There expectations were not positive. They had no idea how things would turn out. And after victory and independence, they had no idea how long the republic would last. At best it was an experiment and if they lived long enough to see it survive they may have considered it a success.
I have no idea what the future holds.
There is only this eternal present we experience from moment to moment.
But history can provide perspective.
The path this nation and its people are on has been trod before.
This became clear after reading an Inauguration speech.
Not the one Barak Obama will be making.
But one given when the United States seemed it was falling apart.
Other countries were watching as the nation struggled over a savage depression. Would the great experiment in democracy fail today or tomorrow?
When F.D.R. was inaugurated one of the options given him was to
suspend the Constitution and declare martial law. Instead he gave the
first of his "Fire Side Chats", to inspire confidence in the banks and the future.
Afterwards he got up and is quoted as saying, "I think it's time for some liquid refreshment." By that he meant the abolition of the amendment banning alcohol.
He knew the citizens of the U.S. didn't need martial law. They needed a BEER!
That ladies and gentle men is leadership! There was another form of leadership he showed. One of the most famous lines from his speech first speech is "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself..."
That's the only line people seem to know.
But it's what he says afterwards that matters.
"nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
Reading it reminded me of the last descriptive words of the star spangled banner, "...the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Roosevelt reminded the people of that with his first paragraph.
That was a repeating theme; unity and courage.
Unity courage was the sentiment John McCain put forth in his concession speech.
It was what Barak Obama as well.
Unity and courage was what F.D.R. put forth as he started
his first term. And what he said in "the past" sounds all too
familiar to me in this eternal present.
I do want to believe this is still, and always will be,
The Home of the Brave. And I have made a
personal pledge that any dickhead in the news media
try's to undermine that quality in any way will,
if I should meet them on the street, get a
steel toe attitude adjustment up his ass.
Ummm... Sorry. Lost me eloquence for a second.
Below is some of the home work I did since the election.
It's a LOT for a blog but hey. I have a whole pumpkin pie to finish.
One more cup of coffee then later a glass or three of Johnny Walker.
I put in BOLD the parts I feel speaks to us today.
I love you all.
United we stand, divided we fall.
Rev. Pedro Angel Serrano
I found it at
I have put in BOLD those statements
that seem to relate to our situation now.
In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.
More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.
Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.
Hand in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products and with this the power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.
Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people's money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.
There are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States.
Through this program of action we address ourselves to putting our own national house in order and making income balance outgo. Our international trade relations, though vastly important, are in point of time and necessity secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.
The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in all parts of the United States—a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.
In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others—the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.
If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.
With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.
Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.
It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.
I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.
But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.
We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of the national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.
We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.
In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933, as published in Samuel Rosenman, ed., The Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Volume Two: The Year of Crisis, 1933 (New York: Random House, 1938), 11–16.