human on Sun, 14 Jul 2002 18:23:02 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> designing secure politics

  i think it was wednesday when i heard that President
  G.W. Bush was going to be visiting Minneapolis on
  two days notice, to stump for a hand-picked republic-
  an Senator hoped to unseat the democrat Wellstone,
  and lobby for repealing estate taxes as a prime cause.

  oddly enough, after weeks of blazing temperatures it
  was clear that Minnesota had indeed become Texas, in
  both an increase in pollution, and in desert weather
  with lots of humidity added in. it was so weird to
  see the president fishing in Maine on his birthday,
  while the state of Texas was in a brutal heatwave,
  then, to be hit with more than two feet of water,
  flooding of a biblical proportion, while he is shown
  on a boat catching quite large ocean fish, relaxing.

  there has been this sense that others seem to be now
  sharing, an uneasiness. further, though, is a sense
  of disconnect. the hard part to gauge is whether the
  pundits are viewing it as a discrete event, this and
  that problem, or if in a whisper, as with mention of
  the president's visit to town, it was a non-event, on
  the whole, not much was said about it in public minds.

  disquiet, that's a feeling similar. some great foreboding,
  and concern for that which is not yet seeable, under-
  standable. then, to hear the punditry from all sides
  either talking up competence with proclamations of
  faith, or questioning the ability of current laissez-
  faire politics to address economic and social concerns.

  there is no stop to budgetary spending in site, _and,
  more importantly, an ideological constraint in the .US
  administration that has so vilified taxes that it is
  not even an option, it is sacrilege. most any social or
  other service could be cut before taxes, and some are,
  at the same time new, inefficient bureaucracies are
  being grown, no questions asked about how to pay for
  this, who will pay- yet one thing is for sure, that
  the estate tax is, as was said by Karl Rove possibly,
  going to be _the_issue_ for the next election cycle.

  ? estate taxes ? anyway, hopped on my bicycle, and
  headed for downtown, a few miles away. had a digital
  camera, digital voice/audio recorder, and a monopod.
  had heard the President would be at Target Center at
  2pm until 4pm or so. so i photographed the riverfront,
  post monster-rain, and waited. and waited some more.

  as i biked back into downtown i heard that something
  had happened about an hour ago, and that someone had
  thought the event had already happened and was done.
  no one knew for sure what. then biked to the Target
  Center, a basketball stadium and ice-rink it seems,
  and saw that everything seemed to indicate that the
  President had yet to arrive or was inside already.
  at some point, it was said he would be around between
  4pm and 6pm. i believe it was not until close to 7pm
  that when all was done, i left.

  yet, first one must arrive, and so biking about, it
  seemed all the activity was on one side of the
  four-sided building, which has basically two sides
  which are easy to access, two which are not. of the
  two accessible sides, one was blocked off by a line
  of police who were everywhere, along with all of those
  instant questioners, in regular wear, wondering about
  what is going on, and what one is thinking about it.

police perimeter to block access to building (30k)

  the area blocked off was the front of the building, and
  on that day it had a very spooky feel to it, ghost-
  town eery, almost grassy knoll dissonance. the charge
  in the air was hard to read. caution was estimated.

empty office building, under construction (26k)

  across the Target Center is a highly-political local
  redevelopment project which is now under construction,
  and some ebbs and flows of changes with police and
  various cadres of intelligence gathering outfits,
  made it seem a highly serious matter. they must be
  the secret service, as there were many non-uniformed
  but also non-civilians in the secured areas. and so,
  upon seeing a construction elevator going up and down
  at an empty office building across the street, it is
  not possible that anyone would be working, i imagined,
  and then, a tarp opened up at the top of the building,
  where the elevator led a fine nest above the street.

  the Target center itself symbolically acted its part,
  like a large concrete boulder in the middle of one-
  half of the Twin Cities. it had the embassy-zeitgeist
  with guards on the roof, peering over. not sure where
  the boundaries were for taking pictures, i tried to
  not take too many to press my luck. the media trucks
  with directional microwave antenna for remote broad-
  cast were there. a few trucks, Fox News, et cetera.

guards on the roof (35k)

  and, from where they were standing, it was all rather
  clear and clean and simple. there were police and there
  were protesters, and inbetween, the media, of course.

on one side: protesters, police, and the media (16k)

  hung around for awhile, trying to guess how Bush might
  enter the site. what freeways were around. it is usually
  a big enough to-do that I thought if the President of
  the United States was in the building, someone would
  know, but nobody did. the protesters, it was said in
  the newspaper later, had only two-days to gather, so
  300 people turned out, yet it was a vocal crowd, still
  very civilized and no provocations seemed to occur.

  it was one of two times that i realized where the line
  was when told to get out of the empty street while on
  my way to take a digital snapshot of the protesters,
  who were holding up a segmented sign and chanting...

coordinated signal by protesters (28k)

chant 1: who is a terrorist? "" is a terrorist... (104k)

  it seemed someone said to get back, and so the photo
  was taken while in movement back to the sidewalk. as
  a type of independent photojournalist one cannot assume
  to have any rights of the mass media, which had their
  own concrete islands in the middle of the street, and
  access to the Target Center and officials of all sorts.
  the upside being that it was easy to mingle and get a
  sense of the scene, in a way that was not shown nor
  heard on local tv newscasts later. basically, nothing-
  much of anything was said or recorded: ie, a non-event.

  of two laughs, one was in seeing afar a sign carried
  by a protester, which made a few hundred yard shot with
  digital zoom worthwhile. even though i could not see
  the sign in focus, the camera got enough of it in its
  context to capture a counterpoint to evildoers...

one sign, evil-access (19k)

  the other laugh arose when two costumed civilians went
  into the street, and infront of the television media
  to present their messages in a well-thought-out manner.
  it was effective, and they posed to be shot by cameras.
  in putting images online, of all people, their faces
  have been erased, both of police and others, to limit
  the specificity of this event, as it seemed what was
  happening was no less than major forces intertwined,
  even working together, choreographed, and respectful,
  yet also absurd in the limits of civil disobedience.

the oilman and the taxman cometh... (35k)

  another chant at the time, before leaving to look
  around the area to see what was not visible, that
  was, where was the President?

chant 2: out of """""",,, don't come back... (112k audio)

  i still didn't know, and went to the other side of the
  immense building. having a monopod attached to a digital
  camera looks a bit odd, as many do not know what one is.
  the reason a monopod is an excellent piece of equipment
  for reporting events is that, with a digital camera with
  either a remote control or automatically timed snapshots,
  and a swivel-LCD screen, one can attach the camera to a
  monopod, tilt the viewscreen downward, and place the
  monopod fully extended some 10 feet in the air, and
  shoot down towards the ground. a bird-in-the-tree eye's
  view. and so, using this technique took a photo of the
  street on the other side of the building. all the while,
  being peppered with questions from all types of lifeforms.

blocked off street full of waiting police cars (45k)

  over the period of what seemed like several hours, going
  back and forth from sides, i decided towards the end to
  hang out in this location. and it was intense. no one
  was around but police and non-uniformed security people
  were everywhere, and standing in the middle of this while
  all the protests were on the other side of the building,
  along with the media, had me thinking. someone came up
  and said the President already left. suggested I should
  leave, i think they said. or, that it was probably going
  to be another hour. i decided to wait. and upon this
  type of intense questioning, i spotted directly above
  where i parked my bike, a surveillance globe rigged into
  the street lighting and traffic lighting system.

hotwired surveillance gear (32k)

  it was not my intention to look and document this type
  of thing, but the clue was not the camera itself, but
  in seeing the base of the pole, earlier in the after-
  noon, with exposed wires. yet not thinking enough to
  look up and see the unusual fish-eye-lens camera,
  which basically 360's the entire area. i was worried
  about security myself, so i was wondering how such
  things could be left as-is, along with other trash.

  my theory was that the President had yet to arrive,
  and, after seeing a police helicopter hovering about
  earlier, and then, it and a small jet airplane above
  the Target center, it seemed a possibility that the
  Marine One (i think the name is) helicopter might
  land on the building. crazy sounding, maybe, but it
  was unclear how they could get him in and out on the
  surface streets given the traffic congestion. else,
  it was also possible Bush might land on another
  building and go underground to access the building.

  after a short while, the police helicopter arrived
  again above my head, just sitting there with the
  familiar sound of blades chopping the wind, yet
  one that is not heard but recognizable for its
  use as a sound-effect for those less acquainted
  with that form of travel, or of warfare zones.

hovering police helicopter (18k)

  the helicopter just sat there, above, by that spooky
  building and its construction elevator, which on the
  far side of the building were the few hundred which
  could be heard much fainter but still active, over-
  there. i decided to take a photo, why not. nothing
  else to do. and snapped one or two photographs when
  all of the sudden, from behind me on the street a
  blazingly fast motorcade began flying by. i tried
  to set my camera straight, must have instinctively
  moved toward the scene and was yelled to get back
  by a local peace officer with their hand ready to
  draw a gun, and before i knew it, limousines and
  SUVs and other cars sped by like lightning. quiet,
  at first, yet swift and fast as a blinking eye.

the President of the .US leaving the area (101k)

  no other press were in the area. they were not needed.
  they were there to cover the protesters. the composite
  photo of the motorcade has mixed-sequence shots, the
  first few being a limo which i would guess probably
  had the president in it (upper left in photo) and then,
  to my surprise when looking at the photos on a computer,
  to see that someone jumped infront of my camera when
  no one was around me that i could see or remember, yet
  they seemed to block my photograph. i was moving back-
  wards as fast as i could while still shooting photos,
  and then they were gone. and the Target Center emptied
  of its 4,000 person crowd of Republican supporters.
  the odd thing about it was besides that window of
  about 10 seconds, nothing exciting happened the entire
  time. nor were the people coming out of the event in
  any way charged as one can tell when coming out of
  a big event, talking, smiling, energetic. it was a
  somber and docile and small but well-to-do crowd,
  yet seemingly greatly uninspired, or uninspiring in
  their response to having heard the .US President speak.

  at this point i was able to laugh, and to leave. yet
  went around the building one more time to see the other
  side, with the media, protesters, and the police line,
  and sure enough, the dance added some charge once the
  Target Center was emptying, and police crossed over to
  the protesters side of the street, for a moment, maybe
  to test the situation, and it seemed a bit obligatory,
  a play for the camera crews, and existentially absurd
  as all the rest of the days surreal non-events.

  bc, minneapolis, minnesota 7-11 2002

  * images.sounds temporarily online. if archiving, download

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