Oct 262011

The following is a direct response to some of the misinformation regarding the Occupy movement that appeared in an editorial printed in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday, October 10. The op-ed was written by one Leland Conway.

First of all, I’m here nearly all the time, and after two days of inquiries I can’t find a single organizer who has even seen you here, let alone spoken to you.  If you had spoken to anyone in an organizational role, then you would know that ending capitalism is not a stated goal. You would also be aware that none here advocate “government command and control of the economy,” although we’re quite against the economy’s current command and control of our government. Continue reading »

Oct 262011

A trip to Bluegrass Tavern

By Matt Sullivan

We were at that state of inebriation where you feel vacuous and bubbly, like you might float away if you don’t try hard to stay on the ground, when we passed Soundbar. That wasn’t our destination this night. The three of us would most certainly return to our safe haven, but not this early. Right now we were trying something new, for me anyways. Something different to ruffle the routine we had fallen into for our weekend fun.

Sauntering down Limestone, my boyfriend, our friend who I will refer to as E, and I ran in to a drunken foreshadowing of what I presumed was to come. Two large, hairy, drunk men were bumbling down the sidewalk speaking to each other and assaulting girls on the opposite sidewalk with dazed walrus grunts. The girls would look over, first at us, and then seeing that there was no way the three of us could produce those noises, at the two guys stumbling near us. The responses varied. Some girls howled back in appreciation. Others just laughed to their friends and kept walking. Some pretended they didn’t hear. They asked us where McCarthy’s was and my boyfriend said something to them, but I kept walking. He’s more polite than I am. Continue reading »

Oct 262011

We need your do re mi

NoC Staff Report

On Tuesday, November 1, North of Center is hosting several parties in hopes of raising funds to continue operations into the next year. Yeah, we’re asking for your hard-earned do re mi. In NoC fashion, some of these fundraisers are FREE to attend, while others aren’t even fundraisers at all so much as they are communal sing-alongs sent out over the public wire.

Without further ado, the three-pronged NoC winter fundraiser, a celebration of public transmissions.  Please join us at some or all of these events. Things are so much more fun with crowds. Continue reading »

Oct 262011

By Christian L. Pyle

Tate Taylor’s recent movie, The Help, garnered substantial box office and a majority of positive reviews (73% fresh on RottenTomatoes.com), but some critics denounced it. Tulane University professor Melissa Harris-Perry called it “ahistorical and deeply troubling.” Dana Stevens of Slate.com wrote that The Help put “a Barbie Band-Aid on the still-raw wound of race relations in America.”

Still courtesy thehelpmovie.com

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Viola Davis in The Help.

The Help attempts to cover the mistreatment of African-American maids by their white employers in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963, the year of Martin Luther King’s march on Washington and Medgar Evers’ assassination. At the center of the film is “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone), an aspiring writer and editor of the newsletter of the Junior League, an organization of former debutantes headed by the film’s villain, Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard). The only writing job Skeeter can find in Jackson is ghosting a housework advice column in the newspaper. Having been brought up with (and by) a maid, Skeeter has no clue how to perform housework, so she enlists the aid of Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), the maid for another Junior Leaguer.

As Skeeter begins to explore the life of a maid, she finds that a bizarre and paranoid set of restrictions keeps the maids from using the bathrooms in the houses they clean and confines them to using the same plate and glass every day for their meals. Blacks carry different diseases than whites, explains Hilly, who is spearheading a campaign to put special bathrooms in white houses for the help to use. Hilly fires her own maid, Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer), after Minny uses the indoor bathroom during a storm.

Skeeter is a familiar type of heroine—too smart and forward-thinking for her environment and brave enough to let everyone know it. Skeeter decides that the treatment of maids must be brought to light. After getting a contract with Harper & Row, Skeeter secretly begins to gather the stories of maids, beginning with Aibileen and Minny, then expanding to others. Skeeter realizes that what she’s doing is illegal (Mississippi had a law against promoting racial equality), and the maids are aware of the terrible violence they would face if their participation became known. Skeeter’s book, The Help, disguises the names of both the innocent and the guilty but creates a local scandal nonetheless. Continue reading »

Oct 262011

Moving your money into local banks

By Austin Parker

I never thought too much about my bank. The fees seemed to stack a little higher every so often, and it was always a pain to get new checks, but I figured that this was merely the way of the world. Besides, I had more important things to worry about than the people taking care of my money—like actually making some money to put in there.

JP Morgan Chase Bank towers above occupiers. Photo by Guy Mendes.

Three years ago, however, I started to think about my bank a lot. The financial crisis, whose roots traced back to the massive multinational banking and financial services industry, started to make me very curious about the organization I had put faith in to manage my deposits. What I began to learn was shocking—the relentless exposure to sub-prime loans, the pattern of increasing rates on Lines of Credit or special Balance Transfer programs without proper notification, and the black hole that their share of the $800 billion TARP bank bailout had seemingly disappeared into.

Frankly, I was disgusted. As more and more information leaked out about how the newly-coined “Too Big To Fail” banks were exposed to ludicrous amounts of complex financial instruments, bought and leveraged using my own money, I became even more so. I remembered a time when banks were smaller, community-focused institutions. I still have a picture of myself at age four, hauling a porcelain pig full of coins into our local savings bank and starting up an account with the teller and banker my parents had been using for fifteen years. On consideration, I couldn’t remember if I had ever seen the same teller twice at my current bank, and I certainly knew that they weren’t as involved in the community as that old banker had been.

Alternatives exist

Thankfully, we can still find those community banks, and credit unions, alive and well—in many cases, prospering. Websites such as the Move Your Money Project (www.moveyourmoneyproject.org) have assisted thousands in switching their accounts from the Too Big To Fail, Bailout-Banks, into responsible and more accountable local firms.

Why does it matter? There’s a concept in banking known as “core deposits.” The concept refers to the actual money being handed to the bank and placed on their balance sheets. For each dollar of core deposits a bank has, the effective stability of their lending dollars increases. In less wonky speak, the more money a local bank has, the more stable and confident it can be about its loan products—things like home mortgages, vehicle loans, and investments in small businesses.

I moved all my accounts over to a state-wide credit union, and couldn’t have made a better decision. They’ve given better customer service, more competitive rates for loans, and less fees than I ever saw at a big bank. Sure, they don’t have an iPhone app, or SMS alerts, or an ATM I can deposit checks into—but I can live without some minor convenience features in return for supporting local business and a better banking experience overall.

So, no iPhone apps, but plenty of other perks. In switching my account, I have begun to personally invest in the community around me. My deposits allow my state credit union to grow its deposits, which allows it to offer more loans to businesses starting out, or to new families trying to get a house. While the megabanks process loans in New York, Charlotte, or even India, the loan officers at my bank, as at other credit unions and community banks, are generally people I can call personally and meet with; since they live here, too, they are invested deeply in the community and are more likely to support the sort of investments that build us up as a community rather than the sort that build a cushy end-of-year bonus. And since my bank doesn’t benefit from rows of foreclosed homes, it is more eager to pursue loan modifications for people caught in a bad situation.

As a credit union member, I even have a stake in the bank itself. As at all credit unions, annual members meetings are held where I can attend and speak to the officers and executives of the bank, and offer ideas and feedback on their business plan. Compared to the proverbial smokey back-room dealings of the Wall Street fat cats who drove our economy off a cliff with speculative investments, this sort of personal touch and sense of ownership is a breath of fresh air.

Switching banks is easy

Switching banks is easy and painless. Deposit a small amount of money into the new bank to create your account, switch the direct deposit from your employer to the new account, and wait for your new checks and debit cards to arrive. In the meantime, use your old account as usual. Once the switchover is complete and you’re all set up with new cards and checks, you can either withdraw the remaining money from your old account and close it out, or use it normally until it has been depleted and then close it completely. If your old banks ask why you’re leaving, tell them “Too Big To Fail is Too Big For Me!”, or that you merely don’t appreciate your personal deposits backing up the gambles they’re making at the Wall Street Casino.

Don’t stop there, though. If you’ve got home or auto loans, see if you can have them serviced by your new bank as well. If you’ve got institutional accounts, such as for a small business, church, or nonprofit, ask your new bank how to switch those over as well! Unlike the gambling tables on Wall Street where tycoons sank our economy with reckless speculation and risky lending, everyone wins when you move your money to community banks.

Supporting Occupy Lexington

Speaking as an occupier, I’ve had so many people come by and ask what they can do to personally support us even though they can’t stay. Gladly, I’ve told them about moving their money—it’s something that almost all of us can do, and it does a lot more than one might think. Consider, briefly, that at the height of the financial crisis the big four banks had over $250 trillion leveraged against $5 trillion in deposits. Essentially, for each dollar you had in your checking account, they bet 50 times against that dollar in speculative gambles that came up short. Therefore, even the relatively small amount of money sitting in your checking account means an awful lot to how much the JP Morgan Chases of the world can risk. Contrast this with  supporting community banks (and thus community lending), where you directly investin small business, helping them to expand.

The question, then, isn’t “Why haven’t you moved your money”, it’s “When are you going to move your money?” There’s a National Move Your Money Day scheduled for November 5th, which might be too quick for some people to switch everything out, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go ahead and start the process. Every paycheck that goes into these Too Big To Fail banks represents another boost to their bottom line, and is a tacit approval of their despicable business practices. Vote with your dollars, and send the message to these Wall Street tycoons – “Too Big To Fail, is Too Big For Me.” I’ll see you at the credit union.

For more information or to find a local bank, please see www.moveyourmoneyproject.org

Oct 262011

A self-guided walk/bike tour of scenes from the last revolution to hit Lexington

By Guy Mendes

In contrast to the Greatest Generation, which saved the world from the Nazis and the Fascists, the crowd of students who hit their college years in the late Sixties was what you might call the Provocative Generation. They prodded and poked and pissed off a lot of people in order to help us understand that war was not the answer. They were part of a nation-wide movement not only because their lives were in the balance, but also because the American Dream had been exposed as a myth that hid the duel-headed beast of racism and militarism. These Provocateurs were in middle school or high school when JFK was assassinated. They were in college when MLK and RFK were gunned down. They were turning 18 when that meant, if you were a male, you could be drafted into the army and sent to Vietnam, where many people on both sides were being killed in a senseless, brutal war. They were just beginning to vote when Washington was burning and race riots consumed Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago. And they were about to graduate from UK when they heard that antiwar protesters had been killed by National Guard troops on the Kent State Campus. Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming, four dead in Ohio. It can’t happen here, right?

During the weekend of October 28-30, Lexingtonians are advised to be on the lookout for roving bands of hippie-dippie peaceniks, pinkos, radicals and bleeding heart liberals who have conspired to convene in Lexington during the last weekend of the month. This loose-knit band of sixty-somethings is re-grouping 41 years after some of them put Lexington and the burning UK Air Force ROTC Building in their rear-view mirrors. Others among them have been living here all along, quietly thinking their leftist thoughts, waiting for the next chance to march in the streets.

On Saturday, they’ll gather at the downtown YMCA (239 East High Street) at 10 A.M. for a walking/biking tour of their provocative past. Come join them on their tour, and afterwards head on down to Occupy Lexington to hear some of their stories.

Can’t make it then? No problem. Here is a guided tour of “the most dangerous moment in UK history” (so far). In the meantime, if you encounter someone Questioning Authority, or asking What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?, approach carefully, flash the peace sign and say, Right On! Continue reading »

Oct 262011

Win final bout 143-92

By Suns McGunns

On Saturday, October 1, I attended the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky’s(ROCK) final bout of the season against the Vigilante Pistols Whips (VPW) at Heritage Hall in Lexington.

Donning plain white tees, the Pistols Whips were a unique team because, actually, they did not exist.  Rather, VPW was made up of various skaters from various leagues, including three skaters from ROCK.  As seasons end and tournaments begin, I learned that these types of pickup games are not unusual.

Pickup game or not, roller derby fans were out in full force.  The stadium and suicide seating were filled.  Fans lined the walls.  I took a seat on the bottom row of the bleachers.  To my right were a couple of young boys, gobbling popcorn and singing along while Adele played over the loudspeaker.  To my left was an older good-natured heckler, joined by his daughter who lovingly referred to him as ‘weasel.’  Continue reading »

Oct 262011
Photo by Stephen Shephard.

Child in polka dot participates in Occupy Lexington. Photo by Stephen Shephard.

One percent of Americans currently control nearly 40% of our country’s wealth.  We are the 99%.  We occupy Lexington, KY in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and hundreds of others across the globe. We are the majority whom the system has failed.  We are each, if not already there, one disaster away from financial ruin.  We are individuals who demand transformation of the American political and economic system, which breeds corruption and injustice.  We have gathered here to dissolve the bonds between corporations and government, both of which were brought into existence by the people—the former to employ Americans, and the latter to fairly represent them and foster conditions for the economic prosperity of all.  These entities have instead colluded to create policies used to facilitate short-term financial gain among the few at the expense of the well being of the many.Our pursuit of happiness, in terms of housing, healthcare, and job stability, is not secure in a system that entraps its people in economic slavery.  Our political representatives have funneled wealth to the top 1%, promising that it would ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us.  This financial experiment has failed repeatedly.  For decades, our national prosperity has enriched the top 1% while the vast majority have languished.  The rich have instituted credit as a facade of wealth, placing our economic future in toxic assets.  We are in a financial drought while the 1% are soaked in profit as a result of their ability to manipulate the political process.

We are here to represent, support, and elevate the majority, who have been excluded from the benefits of this system.  We stand up for the unemployed, for the underemployed, and for those who are fully employed but continue to struggle.  We occupy Lexington for current and future generations who have inherited injustices that stem from short-sighted policy making.  We have endured poverty, prejudice, discrimination, and the pollution of our planet.  These grievous conditions exist alongside an expensive education system that fails to prepare young people for productive work; the stifling of imagination and creativity that comes with the demise of arts and humanities programs in schools;  the demonization and criminalization of large portions of our communities; and the dismantling of our healthcare system for the purpose of feeding the pharmaceutical industry, while we as citizens enjoy little to no political representation.

Our movement is a call to all individuals to become actively involved in the financial, political, environmental, and social decisions that impact our lives and the well being of those around us.  We are working to create a world in which everyone can live by providing an example of a decentralized, cooperative, egalitarian community that functions on a national and international level.  It is through organizations such as these that we will build foundations upon which communities can meaningfully address the myriad issues threatening our very survival.

We, the people of the occupation of Lexington, KY, seeking to shift the path of our community and the nation; reestablish justice and ensure economic, social, and democratic equality; and to promote the general welfare of the 99%, hereby establish this document as a proposal for the United States of America. This is a living document, an can be amended at any time by consensus of the Lexington General Assembly.

Oct 262011

Frankfort to Elkhorn: An imaginative stretch

Editor’s note: The conclusion to the 5-part, dual-author recounting of a 2-night mid-summer float on the Kentucky River. The Slackwater Paddle-venturists have rounded Frankfort, passed through Lock 4 and encamped at Steamboat Hollow, where the current author was visited by the ghost of Colonel George Morgan Chinn.

By Wes Houp

Lyle arose early, started coffee, browned sausage, chopped onions, garlic, and another carmen in the pan.  The smell of sizzling pork wafted through each tent, and by 7:30 the camp was alive.  I sat up in the tent for several minutes and thought it best to sit on last night’s encounter a little longer.  After breakfast, we started to dissemble our constellation of tents, tarps and gear and pack kit and caboodle back into dry bags for the next leg.  In the bottom of my kitchen bag I found a dog-eared copy of Kentucky: Settlement and Statehood, 1750-1800, by George Morgan Chinn.  “Whose book?”  I held it up for all to see.

“Not mine, but I’ll take it if you want.”  Danny examined the cover and opening it to the title page announced, “Hey, man, this is an autographed copy.”  Sure enough, there was Colonel Chinn’s signature.  “A signed copy.  You know, this book is out of print now.  Better take good care.  It looks like someone’s marked the important stuff.”   I stuffed the book back in the bag, chalked its strange appearance and my strange encounter up to too much hootch, hauled my load back down to the canoe, and we pushed off en masse by 10:30. Continue reading »