Archive for 2005

Letter from Disneyland Jail

posted by Mike on December 30th, 2005

Greetings from Philadelphia. I just found out that radical guitar improviser Derek Bailey died on Christmas. I’ll be remembering him tonight by going to a concert featuring, among others, radical improvisers Todd Margasak and Jack Wright. I must admit I’ve always gotten Todd’s music, and never gotten Jack’s. That’s part of the appeal of seeing Jack play again.

Anyhow: If you want to get arrested for protesting in California, you could go to some boring air force base in the desert, or you could join Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir at Disneyland! Rev Billy:

With watches synchronized, the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir walked onto “Main Street USA” at 1:50 PM on Christmas Day, with the Disney faithful lining the curbs, waiting for the dancing of Tinkerbelle and Donald and Mickey.

…the entire choir entered the theme park undetected, hiding their robes at the bottom of backpacks and purses. …Once marching up the street in the rocking motion of gospel, the singers were able to complete three full songs, with the Reverend preaching throughout. The heightened strangeness of the place may have contributed to the hesitation by police to resist the church.

The performers marched back and forth on the theme park’s Main Street, a distance of about a half mile, contacting several thousands of on-lookers, for a period of about 25 minutes. After Reverend Billy was surrounded and hand-cuffed, the choir was detained in the filthy back lot of the park. …The Rev was held in the Disneyland holding tank and then the Anaheim jail.

Be sure to read the Rev’s “Letter from the Disneyland Jail.” (Here’s a nice picture.)

posted by Mike in General | on December 30th, 2005 | Permanent Link to “Letter from Disneyland Jail” | 4 Comments »

49 hours at Wal-Mart vs. 39 hours in an abandoned building

posted by Mark Dixon on December 21st, 2005

Editor’s note: This is our 100th post.

In the heart of the dead (as advertised) but employees can’t find it, the inventory number is missing, the bar code won’t scan, ‘Price check on aisle one nineteen!’ they have promised again and again so we are here to collect: health, happiness, fulfillment, quality and especially savings in the isles of the only home we know.

The statement also applies to the 49 hours I had previously spent at Wal-Mart. Despite the ironic tone, those Wal-Mart pieces were an experiment in compliance. In Wal-Mart, I endeavored to accept the offers of consumer culture—health, happiness etc.—as if they were made in earnest. I decided that the intense, extreme, adventurous and sublimely happy life displayed in product advertisements was the thing for me.

Wal-Mart was a perfect site for the quest because it is the ultimate experience of abundant promise and dismal reality: the products versus the customers. There, amidst a crippling one billion choices, the perfect item is said to lurk; as customers our mission is to find it. My visit to Wal-Mart was an act of total compliance with that mission. The stipulations I brought were a sincere expectation of achieving that goal and a preference for process over product. In the end I felt successful for having made good on their false promises.

On the one year anniversary of the 49 hours I spent at Wal-Mart, I endeavored to colonize another modern fixture, the abandoned city building. Beginning on the evening of Thanksgiving 2002, I operated under the following procedure:

  • I will illegally enter an abandoned building.
  • I will have the door locked behind me.
  • I will have no prior information as to what is inside.
  • I will bring the clothes I wear, flashlight, paper, pen, camera, water, food, chalk, pliers, screw driver, and a two-way radio.
  • I will remain inside the building for 72 hours.

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posted by Mike on December 20th, 2005

Lots of new stuff since I’ve been away.

  • New York Catholic Worker Matt Vogel made an appearance in a New York Times op-ed. It referenced a march by Catholic Workers to Guantanamo to oppose torture there. It also mentioned 80 people gathering in NYC to remember Dorothy Day. Among these were Clinton’s Patty Angevine and Worcester’s Rev. John Madden.
  • Volcanoboy reports that Mike Duffy has died. I got to know him a few years ago working on a production of “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.” He played the judge. Damn nice guy. There’s another remembrance of him at Wormtown.
    Joe Finneral, Andy Keefe, Mike Duffy, and Mike Benedetti celebrate with pizza and beer
    Joe Finneral, Andy Keefe, and Mike Benedetti salute Mike Duffy (center, with pizza) after their final performance. Photo:
  • Many people have pointed out another CW mention in this New York Times story:

    One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a “Vegan Community Project.” Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group’s “semi-communistic ideology.” A third indicates the bureau’s interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

    Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Mike in Items | on December 20th, 2005 | Permanent Link to “Items” | 5 Comments »

Thoughts on “My 49 Hours at Wal-Mart”

posted by Mark Dixon on December 20th, 2005

Rumor has it that you can get anything at Wal-Mart. That is one of the many reasons to avoid it. But on the day after Thanksgiving, 2001, I endeavored to submit entirely to the world of Wal-Mart. My intention was to hyper-accept the offers of consumer culture—health, happiness, fulfillment, comfort, etc.—as though they were made in earnest. On the day after Thanksgiving I entered a Super Wal-Mart planning to stay continuously for seventy-two hours or until I was thrown out.
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My 49 Hours at Wal-Mart: an announcement of possibility

posted by Mark Dixon on December 17th, 2005

Letters to the outside:

Hi drew,

Believe it or not, I am writing you from Wal-Mart. I am now well into my thirty-seventh hour of continuous occupation. My plan was to stay for seventy-two hours but I have had absolutely no luck finding a suitable place to sleep—go figure! Actually I just got busted trying to bed down. I guess the camping section manager saw the rack of orange camo cover-alls wiggling as I tried to get comfortable below. Just as I settled down I saw a pair of feet approaching. “What are you doing under there?” she asked. I assumed that I’d be escorted out the front door (or worse) so I didn’t bother with an elaborate excuse. “Hiding,” I said as I climbed out and waited, like a good criminal, for the firing squad. But the strangest thing happened! She just stood there looking at me. I know she wanted to open the application but she didn’t have the right program. After a few seconds I just walked away. I took off my wig and spent the next few hours hiding in the magazine section. Now the “Radio Diner” is open again and I’m back in the booth where my “refill” cup hides… I think the whole thing’s blown over.

Always Wal-Mart tm
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South Bend Catholic Worker loses zoning battle

posted by Mike on November 29th, 2005

The South Bend Common Council has denied a zoning change to the Catholic Worker community there. WNDU-TV:

“We are looking forward to finding another house that’s properly zoned and continuing our work,” said [Margie] Pfeil. “We are hopeful that we can get a good price on our house and invest our money elsewhere.”
Starting Tuesday the Catholic Workers plan to move their five guests and three staff members south two streets to a house that the diocese gave to the organization years ago.

South Bend Tribune:

A last-minute effort to prolong the Catholic Worker house issue failed in a 5-4 vote. This was followed by an emotional 7-2 vote to deny the group’s overall rezoning petition.
There are no plans to pursue a lawsuit against the city, [Mike] Griffin said.

“Many have said we have a good case,” Griffin said. “But it’s also a Christian tradition at times to simply shake the dust from your sandals and move on.”

Twenty-five years without Dorothy Day

posted by Mike on November 29th, 2005

Dorothy Day was an American anarchist, pacifist, and devout Roman Catholic. She dedicated her life to serving the poor of Manhattan, eating and living with them. She refused to pay federal taxes, to accept government aid, and to be complicit in injustice. From time to time, her stands landed her in jail.

Her great accomplishment was to integrate these usually unrelated things into the seamless whole that was her daily life. With Peter Maurin, she founded the newspaper The Catholic Worker, which gave its name to what we call the Catholic Worker movement.

Each Catholic Worker community is independent and unique, but all take inspiration from the model she developed.

Dorothy died twenty-five years ago today. In accordance with her wishes, her family correspondence and diaries, held in the Marquette University Archives, will now be unsealed and available to researchers.


posted by Mike on November 28th, 2005

Today: social service siting, Mason Court, wild animals, Catholic ninjas.
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posted by Mike in Items | on November 28th, 2005 | Permanent Link to “Items” | 2 Comments »

Thanksgiving and other items

posted by Mike on November 25th, 2005

Let’s eat

Thanksgiving is one day when America not only makes a point of feeding the hungry, but feeding them in style.

There was a big crowd at St. John’s Free Meal for Thanksgiving Breakfast. Lots of hugs and smiles.

The St. John’s High School football team stopped by with a donation. (Later that day, they beat St. Peter-Marian 28-7.)

The breakfast conversation was sparkling, as always.

Mike: Why are they showing “Night of the Living Dead” on Thanksgiving?

Bruce: The dead gotta eat too, Mike!
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Mother Jones on Catholics and the Death Penalty

posted by Adam (Southern California) on November 23rd, 2005

Here’s a good article from Mother Jones about how some otherwise politically conservative Catholics are getting involved in anti-capital punishment activism. I think there’s a tendency amongst leftists to think of the Church as being far too conservative and a tendency among right-wingers to think of the Church as being far too liberal. Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Adam (Southern California) in General | on November 23rd, 2005 | Permanent Link to “Mother Jones on Catholics and the Death Penalty” | 1 Comment »