Feb 05

565 Agencies on Waiting List To Join L.A. Food Bank

An Incredible Number of Agencies In Los Angeles County Waiting For Food

U.S. Government Policy Has Led To Catostrophic Consequences As Food Supplies Tighten Across the Country – Inflation Could Now Destroy What Is Left of the Middle Class

How is it possible, you say?  This great, once bountiful country, now becoming mired in a continuing food crises threatening to collapse the middle class.  Let’s go back in time a few years. America had a huge food surplus – we had a Strategic Food Reserve.  This was abandoned and the government started a policy of paying people to NOT grow food.  Big farmers and corporations raked in millions DOING NOTHING.  Our wheat surplus was shipped to Russia and China, compliments of the US taxpayers.  Now we have hundreds of charities – 565 according to the L.A. Food Bank – waiting for food for their hungry wards.  This situation may be getting worse due to drought, climate change and other natural disasters.  It is also estimated that in other parts of the world something like 100 million people are starving,  Go to www.YardEats.com website for an analysis of Strategic Food Reserves and comments on the food shortages and what needs to be done.

Dec 01

Free Clothing Sunday Dec 2, 2012

National Council of Jewish Women – Thrift Shop massive clothing give-away.

NCJW/LA Council House parking lot
543 N. Fairfax Ave. – Los Angeles, CA 90036
Starts at around 8am until 1pm on Sunday.  One person said that they start around 6:30 but we could not verify this.  The Thrift Shop is just north of Beverly Blvd on Fairfax Ave.  They usually give away 85,000 items.
Oct 29

Gallery of Missing “Crusty Punks”

Crusty Punk “Trash Can”

Click on this link to go to the blog that has photos and stories of various New York East Village nomads of the past.  These travellers move across the country, usually by rail. They are called “crusty” because their clothes become stiff or crusty.  Most of the nomads disappeared in 2011, and did not come back to the East Village in the summer as they always have.  Probably because of what they called “asshole cops” harassing them.  Another tourist attraction gone?  Click Here.

Crusty Punk “Dolly”

Oct 29

Nomads Go Missing From East Village NY

  “When one species disappears, others tend to follow.”

Old story from NY Times

In East Village, Harbingers of Spring Are Missing

Bob Arihood

Young, tattooed travelers gathered in Tompkins Square Park in 2009. The visitors have been absent this year.


Published: June 14, 2011

For years, warm weather in the East Village has been heralded by an influx of young, tattooed visitors carrying backpacks and bedrolls and wearing clothes so stiffened with grit that they have come to be known in the neighborhood as crusties.

On Tuesday, the benches were empty along a stretch known locally as Crusty Row.

Their arrival in Tompkins Square Park has become a predictable harbinger of spring, a surviving custom in a neighborhood that has undergone various upheavals and changes over the past several decades.

But this year, they have not materialized. People have reported stray sightings of one or two visitors, but nothing like what the neighborhood has come to expect. No one knows if they are simply late this year or if, for some reason, they will not come at all. Either way, their absence has been conspicuous.

“It’s like the birds aren’t migrating this year; the salmon aren’t swimming upstream,” said Chris Flash, an East Village resident who runs a local bike courier service and an underground newspaper called The Shadow. “The whole ecology of the neighborhood is out of whack.”

The visitors are seasonal nomads, crossing the nation in rough accordance with changing weather patterns, heading south or west in the winter and venturing toward the Northeast in the summer months. Many travel along rail lines like the Union Pacific and the Norfolk Southern, hoisting themselves into empty freight train boxcars.

Several cities are known to be relatively hospitable to the travelers, among them San Francisco, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Richmond, Va. In New York, the group has become such a fixture in Tompkins Square Park that the area where members have generally assembled — near the park’s western edge, just south of the Temperance Fountain — is known as Crusty Row.

There, the travelers could typically be found relaxing on wooden benches and whiling away the hours talking (adventurous tales of illicit rail travel were popular), drinking (preferred beverages included cheap vodka, malt liquor or “space bags,” the name given to the silvery bladders found in boxes of wine) and smoking (self-rolled cigarettes predominated)

Dozens of the nomads would set up what seemed like semipermanent encampments along the row, at one point designating their territory with a black flag emblazoned with a skull and crossbones. Many would arrive at the park shortly after the 6 a.m. opening time and remain until the midnight curfew, leaving in between only to avail themselves of free meals handed out on Avenue A or to ask for spare change on St. Marks Place.

Last summer, a steady flow of the travelers frequented the park from May through September. During that time, a local photographer, Steven Hirsch, documented the visitors’ presence and recorded their stories on a blog, crustypunks.blogspot.com. This year, Mr. Hirsch theorized that the visitors were steering clear of their usual haunt to avoid a blizzard of summonses that he said the police began issuing late last summer for infractions like drinking in public or lying on a bench.

A street poet who goes by the name L.E.S. (for Lower East Side) Jewels, a Crusty Row regular who lives in New York year round, agreed with Mr. Hirsch. On a recent afternoon, he sat on a bench in Tompkins Square Park, away from the Row, and ruminated in rhyme on the absence of his more mobile comrades:

“It’s a park, it’s for all, for all to be,

and Tompkins Square now is just a memory

it ain’t like it used to be.

I’m sitting here in Tompkins Square,

drinking vodka like I do anywhere,

next thing you know you got a pair of cuffs on,

and those silver bracelets, they ain’t no fun.”

Over the years, some people who frequent the park have expressed distaste for the travelers, saying that too many drink alcohol openly and that they tend to create a disorderly atmosphere. Others have been more tolerant, arguing that whatever harm the travelers cause is only to themselves. Susan Stetzer, the district manager of Community Board 3, suggested that many East Village residents had accepted the visitors.

“People just don’t make a big deal about them,” Ms. Stetzer wrote in an e-mail, adding, “At least they are quiet.”

On a recent afternoon, Crusty Row was empty, save for a few parkgoers. Levent Gulsoy, 55, gazed toward the empty row of benches where the travelers used to gather. “That’s not a good sign,” he said. “When one species disappears, others tend to follow.”

Oct 29

Squatters Victory in East Village

Sharing a Part of Activist History in the East Village


From the street, the brick tenement on Avenue C looked like any other building. But inside on Saturday afternoon, about 30 people gathered to look at a storefront space covered with graffiti and murals.

“This is C-Squat,” Laurie Mittelmann explained to one of the spectators, “soon to be home to the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space.”

That museum, Ms. Mittelmann said, was being established to, among other things, tell the story of how activists in the East Village took over abandoned properties and over the years transformed them into permanent housing or community gardens.

She said that she came up with the idea for the museum with Bill DiPaola, the executive director of an environmental group, Time’s Up, whose members participated in demonstrations to preserve community gardens and squats.

Some of those efforts were effective. Most of the East Village gardens became permanent parts of the neighborhood in 2002 after Eliot Spitzer, then the state’s attorney general, and the Bloomberg administration resolved a lawsuit Mr. Spitzer had filed against the Giuliani administration to prevent their sale to developers.

Although the police evicted many squatters, the city called a truce about a decade ago and about a dozen squatter buildings remained. The resulting agreement cleared the way for residents of those buildings, including C-Squat, at 155 Avenue C, to become legal owners.

Still, the neighborhood has undergone startling changes over the last three decades, and Ms. Mittelmann said the goal of the museum was to preserve the memory of its recent history.

Mr. DiPaola said that he was enthusiastic about opening the museum in C-Squat, perhaps the most anarchic of the squats, and home to members of local bands like Choking Victim, Banji and Dog That Bites Everyone.

Opinion about the museum idea varied among C-Squat residents. Ultimately, a majority decided that the project made sense, said Brett Lebowitz, who has lived in the building for 20 years. Residents said the museum would provide monthly income from a tenant that promised to reflect the philosophy that was an important part of the building and the East Village itself.

Last week, Ms. Mittelmann, a neighborhood activist who lives nearby, and Mr. DiPaola signed a lease to rent the storefront for about $1,700 per month. (Up to now, the space had been used mostly as a community room.) Over the past several weeks, they have been renovating the space and assembling photographs, artworks and other materials to exhibit there.

Among the displays are old issues of The Shadow, an underground newspaper published from 1989 to 2008, which reported on the evictions of squatters, the bulldozing of gardens, and battles over a curfew in Tompkins Square Park.

And Ms. Mittelmann and Mr. DiPaola recently looked at back issues of The East Villager, a free monthly newspaper published in the mid- and late 1980s, while sitting in the kitchen of a former editor in chief of that newspaper, Heidi Boghosian.

The issues contained photographs of the Gas Station, a performance space on Avenue B created by members of an art collective called the Rivington School; an article about a rally against the eviction of squatters from a building on East Eighth Street; and an interview with a resident at the Christodora House on Avenue B, a doorman building that some demonstrators pelted with pieces of concrete after the eviction. A Christodora resident, identified as Mr. X, is quoted as saying, “I was quite irritated.”

Ms. Boghosian said she would also make letters to the newspaper available to the museum. One of the letters was from the writer Luc Sante, who in 1988 called those campaigning against sidewalk peddlers “pea brains” and suggested that they might need to “take lessons in urban ambulation.”

In addition to displaying artifacts and pieces of art, Mr. DiPaola said, the museum will organize tours like the one on Saturday, which was led by several longtime neighborhood residents.

fter leaving C-Squat, the group made stops at a squat on East Seventh Street and two community gardens before ending at Bullet Space, a squatter building on East Third Street, where they looked at a display of bottles, clay pipes and coins believed to date to the 1800s and unearthed in a backyard dig two years ago.

Later, a C-Squat resident, Bill Cashman, said the museum’s examination of the recent past had motivated him to research the more distant days of his building using tax records and other resources. The tenement was built in 1872, he said, housed a pickle store, and went through various other permutations before squatters moved in more than 100 years later.

“I’ve always wondered what was in this building before us,” he said. “Who was walking these halls?”

Check out World Car Free News:

Aug 15

American Gypsy Woman

American Gypsy Woman

Oksana Marafioti’s parents performed in a traveling Romani ensemble until she was

15, when they moved to America. Growing up, she saw the Mongolian deserts and

the Siberian tundra, watched her father get into bar fights with Nazis, learned about

sex by sneaking into illicit movies, and endured the hostility of school bullies. What

little Oksana and her sister, Roxy, knew of the United States they had learned from

MTV, subcategory George Michael. Not quite prepared for the challenges of

immigration. Marafioti cracks open the secretive world of the Roma and brings the

absurdities, miscommunications, and unpredictable victories of the immigrant

experience to life, one slice of processed cheese at a time.

Oksana spoke at Vroman’s Bookstore August 7, 2012 on her family life as a gypsy woman.

Video of the talk:

Part 1 – Gypsy Woman Oksana Marafioti

Part 2 – Gypsy Woman Oksana Marafioti

Part 3 – Gypsy Woman Oksana Marafioti

Jul 12

How To Disappear In America

Last summer, after writing a story for Wired
magazine about people who fake their own
deaths, journalist Evan Ratliff decided to vanish
and invited the public to try to find him. While
he attempted to stay hidden for 30 days, he
was caught in 25, thanks in part to the digital
breadcrumb trail he left behind.

Join Peter Eleey, curator of The Talent Show
and Ratliff as they discuss data-mining,
surveillance, and other ramifications of a culture
awash in in information.




P.S. Please share Forbidden Knowledge TV e-mails

and videos with your friends and colleagues.

That’s how we grow. Thanks.



Alexandra Bruce
Publisher, Forbidden Knowledge TV

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Bike Center in Santa Monica offers Showers and Lockers


Bike Center in Santa Monica

If you carry a bike with you in your van (or if you don’t have one, go to a thrift store and buy a bike helmet and become an illusion of a biker), note that this very cool major bike shop in Santa Monica offers a lot of services, including showers!  A low $15 bucks a month and you got showers!  Towel and/or locker is extra, but is still very reasonable.  They offer a lot of services, bike repairs, education, tours, etc.  If you are camping out in your van “gypsy cool” style on the Westside this might be a spot you will want to go to, it’s near the beach on 2nd near Colorado.  They are open until 10pm. If you are camping in the area for an extended period, the yearly rate is only $299 for membership, including locker, towel and showers.  That’s less than $1 per day, so don’t be stinky, check out this place. Here’s the link:


Tell a friend about this one.  Paulie is going to try to get some video soon!  If you have a bike, Santa Monica has a lot of great rides.  With the new rail line, the Expo line set to extend that way, you could get to Santa Monica from almost anywhere in LA, (you can also take your bike on the bus).  Or just get there and rent a bike from them.  Lot’s of possibilities here for fun, healthy bicycling, shower, sunshine and great weather on Southern California’s beaches. You can enjoy the world’s greatest weather and laugh at all your dumb friends stuck in their hot-box apartments in the Valley.  (Anyone who has spent a summer in the San Fernando Valley knows that hell is just an afterthought.  In fact, rumor has it that the Devil came up to the Valley one day to check it out, but it was so hot he had to scurry back to Hell to cool off.)