The Ruins of Santa Monica

National Guard Protecting Santa Monica Place Shopping Mall

The above picture shows two aspects of yesterday’s widespread looting of Santa Monica businesses. On the one hand, the National Guard was moving into place to protect businesses; and HUMVs with guardsmen were seen in the streets. On the other, if you look to the left of the photo, you will see a mother and daughter with brooms, two of the many people I saw today helping to clean up the mess.

I spent an hour visiting places where Martine and I shop. The amount of damage was appalling. While the demonstrations were going on, looters moved in with hammers to break into businesses by shattering glass doors and windows. Below is a photo I took of a smoke shop on Broadway near 2nd Street that had been entered that way and ransacked. You will notice that the windows and doors had been smashed::

Cleaning Up the Damage at a Looted Tobacco and Vaping Shop

It seems that half the businesses in town were putting up plywood to protect their doors and display windows:

Putting Up Plywood to Protect Businesses

Finally, as I was searching for a bus stop where the re-routed #1 bus could pick me up, I noticed an ATM whose glass had been broken with a hammer:

Damaged ATM Window at Pacific Western Bank

I do not blame the protestors for the looting. It’s just that highly mobile thieves were using them as a screen. While most of the police were with the protestors, the looters quickly moved in, parked their cars, smashed their way into businesses, and made off with whatever merchandise they could find. Among the businesses looted were a Target three blocks away from us, the Italian deli I usually walk to, the Vons Supermarket across the street from it, several local pharmacies, a smoke shop, and a branch of Recreational Equipment Inc (REI).


Mayhem Comes Close

Looters in Santa Monica on Sunday

To begin with, I think that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin should be severely punished for his murder of George Floyd—and I believe that First or Second Degree Murder would be a more appropriate charge. The worst option, which would result in riots across the country, would be for him to be set free.

Today the protests came very close to home. In conjunction with the protests, which were generally peaceful, there were both looters and anti-police provocateurs. The latter came armed with firecrackers, shields, and weapons. There were major outbreaks in nearby Santa Monica and in Long Beach.

Tomorrow, I plan to walk to Santa Monica to survey the damage and take pictures for posts to follow. I suspect by then that the hubbub will have moved on to other locales.



An Unforeseen Difficulty

A Protest Around La Unión Hold Up My Trip

As I have written before, the biggest transportation problem on my trip was getting from Copán, Honduras to Rio Dulce, Guatemala. In the end, I was right. There had at one time been shuttle buses that made the trip, but either they had been canceled or occurred only during certain times. In the end, I cut a deal with a Honduran travel agency called Baseline Tours out of the Café ViaVia to hire a car and driver to:

  1. Drive me to Rio Dulce
  2. Allow for a one- or two-hour stopover at the Maya ruins of Quiriguá on the way

I wound up paying 1,700 Guatemalan quetzales (about $217) for a car and driver to take me there. I could have taken public transportation for much cheaper, but it would have thrown a monkey wrench into my schedule. I would have had to take a collectívo to the Guatemalan border at El Florido, a Litegua bus to Chiquimula, and an (unspecified) second class bus to Quirigua, where I would have had to spend the night. And then, I would have had to face the chore of a bus from Quiriguá to Morales, and from Morales to Rio Dulce. So I spent the money and adhered to my schedule.

Except there was one little unforeseen difficulty. Midway between El Florido and Chiquimula, the highway was closed in both directions because the residents of La Unión were protesting en masse some government dictate or malfeasance. For an hour and a half, I sat in the car reading my Kindle when—quite suddenly—the local police (shown above) started letting traffic through.

It is not unusual to find whole towns in Latin America shutting down access to and from their towns while they make their point to the government. Bolivia is particularly notorious for this type of action.

In the end, I got to Quiriguá and Rio Dulce with time to spare. It was not an accident that I left early, around 8 AM, to allow for this sort of hindrance.


The Resistance Emerges

Dump Trump!

Dumpf Trumpf!

A Resistance Movement to Trump has emerged from a highly unlikely location: From inside the White House! You can see their website, which is entitled The Official White House Resistance Operation. It’s almost too good to be true. But then, Trumpf has been complaining about leaks from the White House, suggesting that even his employees dislike what he is doing with the office of POTUS.

However much he tries to insist on slavish loyalty to his prezidenchuleering, Trumpf will always generate protest from voters whose needs are being ignored by the new racist, ultra-conservative regime. He cannot ignore these protests, because they clearly represent the majority of the population. The people who support him the most are (1) his billionaire friends and (2) ignorant Confederates who have been “left behind.”


Wackadoodle Warriors

Ammon Bundy and His Motley Crüe

Ammon Bundy and His Motley Crüe

For several weeks now, we have been regaled with stories about the Men of Malheur (French for “unhappiness”) holed up with their leader, Ammon Bundy at an Oregon federal wildlife refuge. They are dressed in camouflage, armed to the teeth, and muy macho. The fact that  cynical Americans have been mailing them dildos and sexual lubricants suggests another view of these wackadoodle warriors.

All of them are equipped with copies of the U.S. Constitution. Considering their educational level, however, it might as well be Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. I rather suspect that most are hoping to fall in a hail of bullets defending their beliefs, whatever they may be. Fortunately, the Feds are willing to pick them off one by one as the protest decays, which it gives every sign of doing. Eventually, it will all end up in court, with the defendants angry and confused as to why they are being picked on.

The Second Amendment of the Constitution states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The resemblance of these bozos to a “well regulated militia” is at best highly speculative.

The Stale Language of Protest

This Is What It’s Usually About

This Is What It’s Usually About

Every so often, I feel that a particular mode of behavior has run its course. I think it’s time for a paradigm shift (perhaps that expression has run its course as well) in the art of protest. Turn on any news program, and you are sure to see a group of people carrying placards and usually moving around in a circle chanting very stale slogans. Typically, a newsman will hold a microphone and camera up to one of the most inarticulate of the protesters and ask them why he or she is picketing. After a few hems and haws, the protester will say that so and so is unfair or unjust or dangerous or just irksome as all get-out.

Now it is possible that all ten people who think like the protester are with him marching around and chanting. It is indeed probable that the viewpoint being expressed is not only in the minority, but a statistically insignificant sliver of the total population. In our era of “fair and balanced” news reporting, we are eager to seek out these minority viewpoints and make as much hay with them as possible. Think of these boring protests as a boon to news organizations, particularly on a slow news day.

I am always for more ingenuity. If one’s point of view is to be effectively conveyed, I say do something that people will remember. Let me cite a classic example. An Argentinian condom manufacturer who was also a big soccer fan published the following graphic before a match with Brazil:


I will not try to explain exactly what is happening here because—well, if you don’t know, you probably haven’t reached the age of puberty yet. Needless to say, the B stands for Brazil and the A for Argentina. This did not sit well with the Brazilian soccer fans. When their team pasted the Argentinians, they rubbed it in by publishing an even funnier graphic:


I will always remember this as perhaps the most inventive act of protest I have ever seen.

The next time you feel like taking to the streets with your message, try something different. Think of the streets as a form of theater. And start from there.

(This is a re-posting of one of my 2009 entries from Blog.Com.)