Monday morning I took the train downtown to City Hall, and the Mayor's office. There was a bizarre episode walking into that monolithic building of red quarry stone, a woman holding the door open for me, waiting while I covered the stairs to the door. Like a besieged public servant trying to display her devotion to service, but really just breaking the bounds of normal social expectations, awkwardly. I felt weirdly obligated then to hold the door for the woman with the young son, climbing the stairs behind me, though it made her more uncomfortable than it had me.
Outside the Mayors office I paused awhile to send an email. It was a business email, somewhat important, which I sent then not because I had to, but because I found I was afraid. What could I be afraid of? It's only the Mayor's office. Thinking about it, I realized it was only a generalized fear of my government, which made me angry.
I walked into the office, and stood there awhile before I realized the young woman behind the bullet-proof glass wasn't going to help me unless I pushed the buzzer. She came to the glass, and I realized she was afraid as well. I explained my situation, as she grew increasingly uncomfortable. She offered to retrieve someone else.
I sat down, and the young woman came out from behind the glass, to fill her water bottle, on her way out. I asked her if she liked working in the mayor's office. She replied that she did, and that she had only been there a year, while everyone else had been with the mayor from the beginning. I was thinking, you've been accepted then, that's great, because I know it's no easy thing to be accepted by a tight group of people, anywhere. What came out of my mouth was, "So you've been accepted by the clique then?"
It's about the meanest thing I've said to someone, in a long time. What do I know about Mayor Rybak and his staff? He's been mayor for years, and I've heard very few vociferous complaints against him, in this time of widespread rage against government. He seems to be a good mayor, as mayors go. What did I know about this woman? Nothing. She bristled, and explained that the Mayor has a staff of eleven, while the previous Mayor had 18. 'More work for everybody,' I thought, meanly. She hustled out the door, while I floundered in my stupidity. I tried to say something nice, but I was beyond redemption.
Another woman came to the bullet-proof glass. She explained to me that the city only condemns for a lack of water service. I corrected her, she looked up my address, and confirmed that in fact, there is an Intent to Condemn order. She explained that I needed to go to the Planning Department. She gave no sign if she thought it strange that the city would condemn my house for not having natural gas service in the summer. I was quite happy to get out of there.
At the office of Planning and Inspections, I found myself talking to an attractive, intelligent blonde. It's like they saw me coming. "Oh, he's angry, send in *****." We had a pleasant conversation, though it was clear to me it was more odd to her that I could function without natural gas service, than it was that the city was condemning my house for it. She let me file an appeal, and I left the office feeling like they would recognize the absurdity of the situation, and cancel the order. I called and left a voicemail with the issuing inspector, like I was told to. When I got home I found the letter of Intent to Condemn, in the mail.
Tuesday I heard nothing, so Wednesday morning I called the inspector and the Planning office, leaving voicemails. (While I made the calls I watched a white city vehicle drive by the house, turn south on the avenue, turn around half way down the block, and park in the middle of the avenue facing my house, before speeding to the intersection and turning east on the street. Lurking, seemingly.) I received two voicemails shortly after. In the first, Sandy in a very stern voice told me "this is not an appealable offense," twice, and that I would have to address the problem with Harold the inspector, who already told me he doesn't make the rules. What kind of law in America is unappealable, I thought? That sounds more like the law of kings, which is absolutism, which is tyranny. The second voicemail was from Dawn, informing me that there was a hearing May 19, but giving me no other information about the hearing. Is it for me and my case, or is it a general hearing? I still don't know.
I called the number Dawn gave me. A woman answered, and it took some time before I was able to ascertain that the woman I was talking with was in fact, neither Sandy or Dawn, but Bonnie. Bonnie could find no record of a "con", in my case. A con? Is that what this is? She used the word three times, evidently preferable to saying condemnation, though I can't imagine how. She said I needed to talk to Harold, but I informed her that I had left two voicemails with Harold and had heard nothing. She said she would be sure to have Harold call me.
He did. He told me I needed to turn the gas back on, or the city would condemn. "You realize," I said, "that the city is effectively saying it's a crime to conserve natural gas, to use the sun to heat my water instead of natural gas, and that I don't have enough money to pay my bill."
"I'm not going to get into that with you," he said, because he is only following the rules apparently no one makes, which no one can appeal, which can't be considered in the light of logic, reason or simple sense. He said he could give me until Friday to restore the service, or the city will condemn, and if I persist in the house, "the police will remove you."
Which is where it stands. If things continue as they are, I could be in jail this time next week. I've never been to jail. Perhaps it's time. I have, after all, said I do not recognize my government as legitimate. More to the point in this case, I do not recognize laws that are "unappealable." I do not recognize laws that make no logical sense. I do not acquiesce to extortion.
I spent much of yesterday sending emails to local media, and a few national outlets. No one has responded. More people have read this blog the last three days than at any time in the history of this blog, yet there has been no response but from one faithful reader, and two old friends. Reading through the last post again, I had to ask myself, who is going to support me in this? A radical anarchist gorilla gardener, in service to the Goddess, calling for revolution?
Anarchy is a word mostly used by people who don't have any idea what it actually means. In my case, it means I govern myself, and I don't need any government to tell me what's in the best interest of my "health, safety and welfare". It means I believe everyone is capable of governing themselves, though few know it, and many who think they do, govern themselves as if no one else matters.
A guy on HuffPost recently mocked me, as if I don't know the difference between Gorilla and Guerrilla. I didn't get a chance to respond that I am considerably more gorilla than guerrilla. One of the guiding principles of my life is that violent revolution has never brought us anything but a different kind to tyranny. Another is, there is more than this life, hence my service to the Goddess, though I don't claim to know any more about Her than I do about God.
I do what I feel called to do. I write what I feel called to write.
Finally, by revolution, I mean a broad evolutionary transformation in consciousness. What that looks like, I don't know, but I believe. We are better than what we have become, as a species, as a people, as a nation. Many believe we are beyond hope. I like to think we are all unique, astonishing and utterly beautiful manifestations of the spirit, divine beings, children of the earth, children of the sun, Homo sapien sapien, sacred, and so there is always hope.
I had a moment the other day, returning to my house from the Planning Department, when I felt that in that moment, I could meet my maker and not be afraid or ashamed. That feeling has passed, but I hold onto the memory, thinking about what seems to be coming from my civil government. I am an American. I love my family, friends, community, and the Earth. I am in service.
I think I'll return to the city Planning Department Friday, and see if I can figure out who makes these rules that cannot be appealed. After that, I think I'll go to the police department, and warn them what the city is going to ask of them. Though I expect to hear much the same from the police, as I've heard from the people in Planning and Inspections, which is much the same as I hear from many in public and private institutions: "I'm just doing what I've been told," and, "I don't make the rules."
But according to our founders, we do, by our consent.