November 6, 2011
BELOW are nineteen things you might not know about our TAX THE 1% event that took place on October 29.
1. Postcards. If you filled out a mailing label at the event, you should by now have found in your mailbox a beautiful, oversized postcard. Eight hundred of these started landing in mailboxes around the Bay Area on Thursday (a new record turnaround time by at least 10 days), but others will take a bit longer. We had attendees from Finland, Germany, South Africa, Hawaii, and about a dozen other states too.
2. This was the first time I officially partnered with another group — The Other 98% (other98.com) — to put on an event. I consider the partnership a tremendous success.
3. The Other 98% was formed nearly two years ago (long before “99%” became the designated Occupy metric) with the motto: “Making Democracy work for the rest of us.” The co-founders are Andrew Boyd (founder of Billionaires for Bush — billionairesforbush.com ) and Andrew’s co-conspirator, John Sellers, and they have since created an entire portfolio of creative Other 98% events.
4. I met Andrew Boyd in 2004 through a most-improbable circumstance about which I imagine I’ll write more on some other day, and he and I have been comrades and long-distance friends ever since.
5. On September 11 of this year, on my way to the Codepink peace march on the Golden Gate Bridge, I called Andrew on my cell phone (he actually answered!) and told him I was eager to put on another beach event, soon, to set up yet another event a year from now (in the immediate run-up to the presidential election of 2012) — but I absolutely wasn’t going to do another one of these things by myself again ever. Any chance Andrew and the Other 98% would partner up with me? “I like it,” Andrew said. “Let me talk to John and get back to you. But I think John’s going to like it, too.”
6. Nine days later, by coincidence, John Sellers was in San Francisco. I drove John out to Ocean Beach so I could pitch the event over lunch at the Beach Chalet and so we could walk the site together. When John first climbed into my car I had no idea of his history — I had assumed he was probably just another silly little activist / organizer like me. When I asked what kind of organizing he’d done before he and Andrew started The Other 98%, John mentioned having founded the Ruckus Society! ( ruckus.org ) After we shook hands on the Oct 29 event, I went home and googled John and learned that he is widely considered the Key Force — the architect and the strategic mind — behind the famous shutdown of Seattle during the World Trade Organization conference of 1999. The big leagues. I stand quite humbled.
7. John and Andrew and I originally scheduled TAX THE 1% for Saturday, Nov 5, exactly one year and one day before the 2012 election. But a huge surfing contest was scheduled for Ocean Beach on Nov 5, and the Park Service said No Permit for us. So we moved the date up one week, to Oct 29, which turned out to be a Perfect Weather Day — 74 degrees, cloudless, no wind. November 5 was yesterday, a day of solid gray clouds and intermittent heavy rain in the Bay Area.
8. Neither John, Andrew, or myself had a clue that the Occupy Movement was going to erupt like this. I didn’t even HEAR about it until people had been sleeping on the streets of New York and San Francisco for ten days. My original idea for our message was “CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE.” Before the Occupy movement began, John and Andrew and I had agreed on the shorter “TAX THE RICH.” In the end we wound up shortening it again, to “TAX THE 1%.
9. The Other 98% was able to enlist Democrats.com, The Courage Campaign, and Credo Mobile in publicizing TAX THE 1% to their email lists — I never would have been able to accomplish that on my own. Credo Mobile’s email was particularly timely. Twenty-eight hours before our helicopter was due overhead, we had a slim 499 signups. Credo’s email hit inboxes around the Bay Area at about 8am Friday morning. By Friday evening there were 800 signups and, with the forecast of spectacular weather, I knew we were on our way to something worthy. Yeah Credo Mobile! ( credomobile.com ) Yeah Democrats.com! Yeah Courage Campaign! ( couragecampaign.org )
10. From having organized several previous beach events, I do recognize the names and mailing addresses on the Attendees List pretty darned well by now. My estimate is that at least 80% (and perhaps as many as 95%) of TAX THE 1% participants were first-timers. I also noted heavy turnout from the Richmond and Sunset neighborhoods near Ocean Beach. Not sure quite yet just what to make of either of those two details, but I do find them interesting.
11. I forgot to do a census at the event (I usually ask someone to walk around and count bodies), and I haven’t yet blown up a photo of the whole group, so I don’t know an exact number. But I’m confident we had at least 800 people. And I think that saying “We had 1,000 people,” is fair enough.
12. The line of people along the surfline at event’s end stretched for two-thirds of a mile. If we repeat that exercise in 2012, I hope to have it organized so that we are spread more evenly. When people are spaced about five feet apart, reaching out to hold each other’s hands, it makes for more impressive photos. Still, that part of the event was phenomenal (see item #19), and I can’t wait to do it again.
13. I am intending to reserve a date with the Park Service for early- or mid-October 2012. I’ll let you know asap. Consider yourself invited. If you registered for TAX THE 1%, consider yourself registered for next year’s event. (And if you want to add your name to the registration list now, go ahead – as of today it’s still open.)
14. I always think these things are going to be bigger than they turn out to be. But with the foundation we’ve now laid, well, I can’t even imagine how huge our turnout will be in 2012.
15. I always think our photos belong on the cover of Time or the front page of the New York Times, but they never seem to get quite that far. Still, they do travel. This morning I showed one of our postcards to a lawyer in my cab who had just arrived from Austin, Texas (in my cab, it’s “All Occupy, All the Time”). “Oh, I know about this,” he said immediately. “I saw this on. . . I think it was CNN.” Five years ago, CNN did indeed broadcast worldwide the aerial video footage from our first Beach Impeach event, but this fellow’s report was the first rumor of CNN involvement I’ve heard re TAX THE 1%. People tell me say they’ve seen coverage on all four major Bay Area tv networks, in the Huffington Post, The Bay Citizen, the Chronicle’s online edition, The Advocate, and many, many more. If I get a chance, I’ll compile a list of links to these sightings.
16. TAX THE 1% participants dropped a total of $2,620.32 into the Postcard Addresses buckets. Roughly $2.50 per person. THANK YOU VERY MUCH! (Pretty cheap entertainment, no? Pretty inexpensive media reach, too!)
17. I haven’t tallied all the bills and receipts yet, but I think they’re going to come in somewhere right around that same $2,600 figure. So far: Helicopter — $600. Postcards (from Inkworks, a union shop in Berkeley) — $595. Postage — $500 (44 cents per postcard). Flyers, faxes, hand outs — $100. Lumber, posterboard, supplies — $100. Miscellaneous — $200. . . Photographer – Free — thank you John Montgomery — great work!
18. In the last half-hour of today’s cab shift, I was driving out Market Street near Valencia Street when up ahead I saw a small car plastered with “Avalos For Mayor” posters. I SO badly want to see Supervisor John Avalos elected mayor on Tuesday. Our current Mayor, Ed Lee, sent riot police in to rough up the unarmed campers at the OccupySF site, which I believe shows a stunning misreading of the San Francisco citizenry, and a fatal lack of imagination. I overtook the Avalos For Mayor vehicle, beeped to get the driver’s attention, and gave him a thumbs up. As he turned toward me, I noticed Supervisor Avalos himself sitting in the front passenger seat. A few short weeks ago I had no idea what Avalos looked like, but now I’ve seen him intervening between the police and campers at the OccupySF site more than once, have seen him at Board of Supervisors meetings and at our TAX THE 1% event. Our windows were open, and I called out, “John!” Avalos turned, smiled, and called back, “Hi Brad!” The car’s driver (he was wearing shades and I didn’t recognize him) called to me, “Great work — I already got my postcard in the mail!” And then the traffic split us apart. Hey, if my endorsement matters at all, here it is: Avalos For Mayor! Please!
19. The very first person to arrive at Beach Impeach #1 (Jan 6, 2007) was a 13-year-old named Sam Rubin. Sam followed me around with his video camera that morning and produced a great seven-minute video. At TAX THE 1%, Sam (now 18 years old) followed me around again and just this evening sent a link to the resulting two-minute, fifty-second video. Whether you were there or not, I think you’re really going to love this. (I love it, but then there IS a lot of ME in it.) I think Sam really captured the spirit — not to mention the letter(s) — of the whole event: http://www.youtube.com/user/other98#p/a/u/1/IHeVlA4eeuc