be talked about. Instead of this massive denial, where it's just Gore versus Bush and nonsense like that. And then they wonder why no one is voting. I mean, you can't go on forever ignoring what is so stark and so crazy. Sooner or later--and I hope we've seen the beginning of it--we have to start looking at just how out of whack everything is, and why.
Exotic: Do you worry about getting indicted for inciting a riot or anything like that because of what happened in Seattle?
Zerzan: Well, I've heard that floating around and references to Janet Reno saying something in passing about a possible federal grand jury. I don't put any particular stock in it, as if I know something, as if I know anything, but, yeah, that's a possibility. It's worrisome. I don't know what that would be, or how that would play out. It doesn't fill me with joy. But what are you going to do?
to demolish the argument that technology is neutral, that it's just a tool and you can pick it up or not, and all that stuff. Technology is the embodiment of the system of capital, if you will. The big refrain of the whole high-tech vista is, "We empower you and we connect you." And yet, of course, people have never been so disempowered or so isolated.
Exotic: What is your impression of what happened in Seattle?
Zerzan: Overall, I think it was a great step forward. I think it took virtually everybody by surprise, including me. I was hopeful, but I didn't expect so much dedication and such a level of militancy. I was impressed with the dedication of the people that put up with being sprayed for hours, and all the rest of it, when they were keeping the delegates out and keeping the thing from happening, the willingness of people to confront the cops and to engage the cops when they started attacking people. They didn't just go away without a fight. And now it seems like, from what I've been hearing, the heat is on the authorities in Seattle.
Exotic: What was the most important message that came out of all the protests?
Zerzan: To me, that there's a new movement here. After 30 years of really no social movements, this is a new day. And there's a lot of people, especially young people, who see this whole society as just really bereft and bizarre and intolerable. I don't think that should come as a surprise, given the reality. School children are murdering each other, the teenage suicide rate has tripled in the past 30 years. I mean, you can go on and on. It's right there in the paper every day, but it's just kind of ignored. But now, I'm hoping that the real questioning of things is finally up on the table.
Exotic: What was the role of violence in Seattle, and what is the appropriate role of violence in this kind of a struggle?
Zerzan: Well first, just to quibble about the word, I don't think property damage is violence. I think there's an important distinction. You can't be violent against a window, in my opinion. I understand the general sense, I don't want to make a great big semantic deal out of it, but I don't think it's violence per say.
Exotic: Is there a term that's more appropriate, other than violence, that you would use?
Zerzan: Well, "property damage" or "sabotage" or "property destruction" or "targeted vandalism." I mean, I think they're all more valid than just violence. A piece of wall can't feel it's been violated.
But aside from that, it seems pretty unmistakable--and it's certainly sad, it's certainly unfortunate, it's too bad it works this way--but that's the kind of thing that seems to be necessary to pierce through the general dominant stuff. I hope we get past this stage of violence, to use the term loosely, but it seems to be, sadly or otherwise, effective in terms of putting the issues on the table. Or another way to put it is: All the good ideas and all the rational, polite conversations and all the peaceful parades don't achieve that. If they did, I think society would have been changed a long time ago.
The most spectacular instance, I guess, is in the Unabomber case. No one would have heard of that manifesto without the bombings. And of course that doesn't mean that anybody I know is bombing anyone or injuring or threatening people or anything like that, any kind of personal violence whatsoever. But I think that you do seize the issue or make some noticeable statement if you're willing to go to that level of going past the rules that the system lays down, the protest as usual, the protest by the numbers stuff. That I think will only take you so far.
Exotic: As I understand it, you've actually visited Ted Kaczynski and corresponded with him.
Zerzan: Right. Yeah, I visited him three or four times in the Sacramento County Jail in the almost two years between his arrest and sentencing.
Exotic: Now, clearly the public perception of him is the classic mad bomber, completely nuts. What is your impression, having actually met and talked with him?
Zerzan: I have found Ted Kaczynski to be completely sane. His liberal death penalty lawyers decided that the only chance to avoid his execution was to portray him as insane, contrary to his wishes. And so they worked overtime to give out that message. But I'm just saying, I never saw the slightest sign that he wasn't in touch with stuff. I found him to be a very intelligent, very direct, very tuned-in person with a sense of humor and just quite appropriate, just very normal.
Exotic: For years the establishment has basically prevented anyone from questioning the global economy by saying it's a done deal, there's no sense talking about it because nobody can stop it. But it seems to me that one of the big things that came out of Seattle was the realization, yes, we can talk about it.
Zerzan: Exactly. It's the old cliche that nothing succeeds like success. We stopped the WTO meetings, the chief of police is gone--that was an unmistakable victory. And without that, a lot of people would still just accept that you can't talk about it, that it's just the way it is. You can point out everything under the sun--the ocean is dying and 50,000 other things-- and they'll say, "Well, yeah, you're right, but so what? What are you going to do about it? Nothing's happening, there's no prospect for change." And now there is. . .
Exotic: What can people do in their day to day lives to fight back?
Zerzan: That's of course the challenge. That's really the basic question, it seems to me. But the first thing is, the essential first step, is just that it
They parted and Angel stepped back up to the microphone as Sonia slowly arched her body across the dance floor, acting abandoned by her lover. By now, my second shot of tequila had warmed me and reassured me that the natural order of men and women was restored in a town often confused by complex gender issues. Sonia circled the floor as if searching for something/someone. She passed by the cigar-smoking producers, the sleazy Europeans, the Beverly Hills "I'm on my third wife, but I'm here with my stepdaughter" types.
Then she paused in front of me. She looked me deep in the eyes, undulating to a rhythm that was slower, deeper than the band's. I blushed at first; then I realized that she was not coming on to me, but including me in her seduction of the room. We shared an understanding of our power over the powermakers--that our sex was our calling card and that a slow dance on a hard floor can bring down a king.
I nodded and smiled, but it was theater, mood and dance we all forget about in the big push of LA and the freeways and the deals. By now, Angel and the band were playing "Thrills in Beverly Hills" (about a 17-year-old who looked older) and I was lubricated and feeling much better than when I arrived. The song ended sooner than we wanted; at the break, the vibes player approached me and said I looked familiar. I said, "I am familiar." He got a laugh outa that and turned me onto some outstanding smoke in the over-decorated ladies room, so I could calm my throbbing pussy. He told me that the band always had difficulty concentrating when Sonia danced. While we were talking, Sonia came up to me and presented her card, "Sonia Ochoa--Dance Instructor," then walked away--the moist silk clinging to her proud dancer's ass.
The next Monday I called Angel and asked him if Sonia would be dancing that night, because I wanted to finish up my story. He said, no, he couldn't afford to pay her the necessary $50.
So I called Sonia and asked her to dance. She said she probably wouldn't but she might show up at the club later.
She arrived dressed in tight slacks and a conservative little sweater. I could tell that Angel was crazed that she wouldn't get up and dance. I was standing near a back piano when she approached me.
"OK, I'll dance," she said. "For the story. What do you think I should do?" she asked. "I'm not wearing my outfit. I don't know if I can do this."
"Sonia, this is not about clothes," I told her. "It is about you and your body of work."
So when the time came, she did the dance. Angel was grateful because he needs my story. He needs it bad.
Sonia got up and moved slowly to the dance floor. It didn't matter that she was wearing a high school teacher's sweater. In fact, nothing mattered. She danced liked Salome before she gave John the Baptist's head. She danced for the story.
She must have felt restricted by the sweater and slacks because she began to take them off. It was an innocent strip--it just seemed like she was hot or something. Her body is not perfect, but it is perfectly willing to be whatever the jaded men think it should be. Her black bra and panties fit as well as anything Betty Page ever wore.
Everyone wanted to fuck her. Her sweet face and demeanor, like Betty, made her desirable to those who imagined her pretty mouth filled with cock. Again, there was the silence in the room, save for those pesky zipping noises.
When she was done, she came over to me and said, "I miss my garter belt. I really needed my garter belt."
For some reason, known only to me and Frederick's of Hollywood, I understood: the need to feel the restraint of the garter against my hips; the desire to slip my black stockinged legs and high-heeled feet around a man and rub them against the small of his back. Sonia and I talked softly about how fun it is to be women with weapons.
Later, during another tune, Angel approached her, his hand stretched out in an invitation to dance again. She tossed her ponytail with defiant politeness and said, no, she just came to dance one dance for that writer's story. He slouched away like a defeated Ricky Ricardo who has just realized that Lucy has ruined his life and career.
Except that I am more like Lucy, and Sonia is a magic mambo sex dream, created in the mind of every Fred who has ever had to sleep next to an Ethel.
I drove home on the dark, cold freeway that always belongs to me at 2:00 AM, thinking, " maybe it's time I learned to dance."