So, there was supposed to be a full write-up and all, in story form, with extended input from the other Debt Zombies/Zombies of the Shopapocalypse/Zombies of Debt,*** and also explaining my full motivation for putting this gig together. But that didn't happen because I suck and I am swamped. So here are some pictures with a summary. The pictures were taken by Marc Campos, Dennis, and Me, except for the ones that were swiped from the internet(s). Sorry. Because I've got a lot of them I'm running them tiny this time. Click to enlarge. I'll link to other pictures already posted to save space for new ones.
Warning: formatting for this is going to be all over the place, which happens when I put too many pictures in one post. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Our entry was inspired by the work of The Church of Stop Shopping, run by Rev. Billy and his wife, Savitri D. (Geek tie-in, Chip Delany is a saint of the church.) They are First Amendment warriors and I have been following their work, from a distance, for about a decade. Right before Christmas, via a small note on top of his website, I found out Rev. Billy was going to be the grand marshal for the parade. That got me thinking of how, when Marley showed up at the start of the evening to warn Scrooge of what was going to happen, he was he was weighted down with chains festooned with money boxes. Replace the money boxes with giant credit cards, drape that stuff over people made up to be zombies, and I figured that would make a strong, easily understood visual. I might come back to this later and try to explain in full. But I might not get around to it. You know my track record around this place...
And also, zombies! Woo! The timing was all sorts of bad, but A quick series of emails and a couple of phone calls, and it was all set up.
The materials for the props largely came from recycled or donated materials: foam board found by the day job building manager; bags and boxes from friends (Ms. Classy mailed a Gucci bag from her new outpost in the Wilderness); chains from a locally-owned hardware store; paint & zip ties from my stash; Starbucks cups collected over a few weeks from many persons. We had computer boxes, an X-Box box, a Wii box, a box from a 45'' television (!!!). Bags included Victoria's Secret, Coach, Lacoste, Tiffany's, Ambercrombie et. al. Bags were stuffed with salvaged shredded paper. The 75-feet of chains were cut into two-foot lengths and joined together with zip ties to fit each person. Some chains were left longer for the dragging.
The brown chain, hand-forged, with shackles of the style used on slaves, was donated for the day by Dennis, who made that thing himself! He made it for faire. As soon as I saw it first thought was that prop was for Douglas. You can see why, can't you? (His picture didn't fit into this graph, so he's one above.) Dennis also made the giant "Starbutts" cup from a 33-gallon trash can & insulation foam.
Our makeup was done by Kara McCleod, a pro costumer, makeup artist and prof who, to borrow her phrase, does this shit for a living! That phrase is probably funnier if you've ever attended an Ives meeting where so goes all Don Corleone about our costumes. Do NOT fuck with me! is the other phrase. If you've ever seen her do this, you know what I'm talking about. She spent so much time making us up that when it came to doing her own makeup she had to do it using the mirror of a VW Bug while we were standing on the route waiting to step off! That's a PRO, baby. Makeup duties were also handled by Willow, who is an artist and mistress of the Southern Seadogs. That's Kara in the picture making up Douglas. (Douglas will be appearing at the RedCat in downtown LA on April 15. He is an AMAZING poet/performer. You do not want to miss a chance to see him live.) I don't have one of Willow making us up, but here's an awesome picture of her eating one of the tortillas folks flung at us. Every time she picked up a tortilla from the ground and "ate" it, it freaked people out. They loved it!
What else? Oh! Here's Rev. Billy violating the terms of his restraining order. (Short version: he was thrown into the Men's Central Jail for several days after exercising First Amendment speech rights at an LA-are Starbucks. Trial, end result he's the only person in the country with a state-wide blanket order banning him from coming within 750-feet of any Starbucks in California. For reals. I have an excellent overview article on this situation from several years ago, but it's on paper. If I remember and find the time, I will hunt the internet(s) and see if there's a linkable version anywhere and update this entry. Remember, One Sentence Guarantees Five Freedoms.) Personally, I think he did the right thing that day by not going inside, because it would have been a bad idea to get arrested at the parade right when it started. Technically, because of the layout of the parade route, he was in violation just by walking down the middle of the street during that part of the route.
However, nobody in my group has a restraining order, so Dennis took that giant "Starbutts" cup right into the store!! Here's his dispatch on what happened inside: I demanded "refill now!" and then shook violently. The customers and the staff laughed, the manager looked really uncomfortable and said, "I am going to have to ask you to leave. The people inside laughed. Then Dennis left. Here's more from him on the cup itself: The cup said Starbutts, the little squares had distortions of the original notations (decrap instead of decaff, etc.). The foam was spray on insulation I had left over from insulating the attic, the straw, pvc pipe. On the back it said "The Way I See It # 666" "BBrrraaaiiinnnnsssss. There is good news and there is bad news. The bad news is that there is no good news. The good news is that is all the bad news."
What else? I made Visa cards because everyone knows what they look like, if you see one you "get" it, and the design of a Visa leaves room for the messaging. I made a couple of prototypes of other types of credit cards, but none of them worked as well...
I thought they were too busy and difficult to read. But with a Visa card the white space allowed the lettering to be clearly read from a distance.
I also made a whole set of smaller cards, the size of actual Visas, but thicker because they were foamboard. Those we passed out to the crowd. Some of the smaller cards had messaging on the front, and some were blank for people to write their own stop shopping/debt management message.
Post event, I was ever so pleased as evidence came in that people picked up on the
message we were trying to convey: There were more social commentary in some of the entries, but I won’t post photos. The best were these zombies who had things like laptops, Xbox’s, iPod’s or widescreen TV boxes chained to them. They all had signs that looked like Visa’s logo with pretty clever sayings on it. I told one lady, “Don’t worry, Bush wants to give you $800 so you can go shopping again!” And everyone started laughing and talking about how incredibly stupid our president thinks we are. Bunches of other examples of ! OMIG They Got It ! but that one is my fave. She talks
about us in text only, no pics..scroll down to the text block under the picture of the "vote" lady in a motorized wheelchair. For the record, we didn't have any iPod boxes. Folks I approached with iPods during the build would not give up their boxes, which is funny. In a sad way.
Our group included a former barista, a Cave Canem fellow, a professional makeup artist, two visual artists, a former newspaper editor who is now studying for a degree in mathematics, a newspaper photographer, a genre writer, an LA Derby Doll, a kid, a bank teller, and a photography student. They rocked! One reason I knew it was possible to put this together under the wire is because I have friends who I know could Roll. They did.
I've never been in a parade before. It was so much fun! And to combine activism with yay is always A Good Thing. I admit that facing the wall of thousands of people lining the street was a bit intimidating for me when we first stepped off. There are thousands of people at faire, but they're spread out. This was thousands of people creating a funnel you had to walk through. That's why we've got the litany, baby! As with similar situations, when I started to freeze up it popped up in my head as if on autopilot, and all was fine.
The whole thing was flung together in a few weeks and would not have been possible without all of those people in that group shot. I am thankful to all of them for throwing down. What a great time!
There's more, actually, like falling to our knees in front of the Apple store and screaming $2000 and you can't change the battery? DEAILS!!! Take my blood! but I've gone on enough. Except to note that the chain I was wearing weighed about 30 pounds. I paid for that the next day, but it was worth it.
Here is Rev. Billy's book, which is a guide to doing this sort of thing in far less safe spaces. I did the first read in two days, have gone back a few times since to
pay closer attention. It's funny, informative, practical. The back story behind what he
and Savitri D pulled off at Disney World is ever so dramatic. Dunno how much you know about the most hellish place on earth, but you don't fuck with Disney. They did. I break into a cold sweat just thinking about the logistics of the action they pulled off there.
*** I never settled on one name for our group. Which meant that the media people got all sorts of different answers about our name depending on which one of us they interviewed.