in the midst of some kind of new dream, and after a strange and wonderful screening, i had my screen space violated;
doug's film premiered before a group of loved friends, both wired and not, folks in the film and people who just knew me and wanted to know what the deal was. a few agreed, the film is long, and most seemed to respect the voice of doug therein: family, relationships, people struggling to find themselves, growing older.so then afterwards, and after eating some max's with abbe and doug and esther and oscar from south america, and debbie and even seth and of course amy, amy and i leave the west oakland bart station and seth waiting for a different train ("stay famous" he yells) and head across seventh and down chester street towards our house. a young man in a hooded sweatshirt brushes by me on my right, and turns to face me. it looks like an old man, scrawny with a beard. it is a young black fellow wearing a blue bandana with white spots over his nose ("crips" sez carl). "whassup. whassup." he sez. "can i walk?" i ask. "hold up" and he shows me and amy a small black metal revolver, pointed vaguely at us. we stop walking and i hand him my wallet and amy draws hers as well. he and his partner start going through our stuff. i ask, "please let us keep our cards, our driver's licenses." he orders us into a vacant lot conveniently nearby, on the side of the street, with a fence around it. he orders amy to stand up in there and i am scared, and then i am told to join her. they start sticking their hands in our pockets. he takes my keys. my badge for web98. my wallet is his. probably some reciepts. i realize he hasn't taken my pilot, for some strange reason - divine digital prevention. i reach to pat it, to be sure, "what are you reaching for?" "nothing! i'm not reaching for anything! i'll put my hands up here!" and i have my hands and recycled newspaper from the train overhead.
just having all those folks in one place was whelming enough, but them watching them watch me, so much of me, so very much of justin in ten feet by ten feet, that was something. that they still loved me afterwards was nice. howard felt a little wrenched by recalling his own stress level starting electric minds.
then they slip off our backpacks and the (sur/un)reality of the situation sets in - amy and i both have our laptops with us - little apple macintosh duos (now coasters for 40 ounces of malt liquor?). they take our bags away and tell us to stand in the lot and i'm remember my thesis notebook: gone. the notebook amy made me for my birthday ("here, now write your bible," it's inscribed): gone. gone too the book from barbara and colin for graduation on excessive behaviour of seventies filmmakers i was enjoying. my leatherman, my flashlight, swiss army card, permanent marker, wire, electrical tape.
in the midst of minutae, amy's frustrated, "let's go" she sez. "amy, they had a gun." i feel timid and frustrated and paralyzed. moments of silence, we're staring at the corner of a mattress soiled and broken and leaning up against the fence in front of us, our backs to the sidewalk. barren grass. silence.
so we move shaken, hug, talk, confused and upset and unsafe. they have my keys! i discover, but not my pilot. so i don't have email, or a place to write. that's funny, nothing waits for me at home - even all my notebooks are gone. the bible notebook where i'd been starting my notions for a new thing online; the precepts and early article concepts. they're all gone but i have the ideas in my head.
and all the time! he could have shot me capriciously! they could have raped amy and made me watch! they could have taken her away! it could have happened to one of us, without the other. we could have been hurt! paralysed, as howard pointed out.
still, the physical force of the affair rocked me, and us, and hugs didn't entirely penetrate as i saw hooded sweatshirted figures walking across the street and realized i didn't know how to use our alarm system, and we didn't have a double bolt on the door and only a glass door to our bedroom. and that unsafety we felt amplified by the mom-told-you-so of the last two weeks, mom calling with crime rate statistics
and when the police show up, we ask about the quality of the neighborhood, and the frequency of this kind of event; they cite this area as the home to the black panthers, back in the day. and they weren't heroes, they were criminals, "by any means necessary." amy argues with them about the legacy of the panthers. today, the cop says, i could throw a rock and hit a felony parole. murderer, thief. junkies. crack houses. "look around" he sez, "you see any people that look like you? besides your landlord?" amy argues, she's just a waitress, student, with not a lot of resources - "but you're clean. they want to take from you."
his name reminds me a lot of the name of the cop who busted me in san francisco. i didn't tell him.amy has a glass of wine. i feel like throwing up, still. there are worse neighborhoods, they tell us. but this one is pretty bad. we think about staying, about keeping some of the faith we had when we came here. but how could we invite friends over to hang out, and later take the bart home? we can't be young, carless people and dwell here. we're not ready for car-contingent, paranoic dwelling. we're too footloose.
so we realize, in conjunction with parental types (though not our landlord - "there was a rash of muggings at the rockridge bart when i lived there too.") we're going to move, again. the space is so nice, but amy observes that even walking to what corner stores are available feels weird. like it's not her neighborhood. she don't belong. and this morning, i thought i might stroll about at one pm, safe time, looking for discarded books or backpacks, and some guy sez, "hey ju, ju in de suit." i have a fear in me now around here like i haven't before and it sucks heavy.
something strange is happening here to me, to amy with me: in the last three days, our car has been declared dead, both of our computers stolen, and now we have decided we have to move. at least there's a documentary about me and the web out there! hello pluto?
i'm listening to web98 in the background, because the online lounge is the only computer i can find.