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“Operation Fail Game” appeared to be a success, and it’s weird to see my two protest crowds only blocks away from each other…

May 11, 2008, 11:41 AM

Saturday was the day that the DC chapter of Anonymous was putting on “Operation Fail Game”, the May protest against the Church of Scientology. The title of “Operation Fail Game” is a twist on Scientology’s “Fair Game” policy, where anyone opposing Scientology is considered fair game for harrassment by the Church.

Our protest was supposed to start around 11:00 at Dupont Circle, march up to the Hubbard House, and then go from there to our usual location in front of the Founding Church of Scientology at the intersection of 20th Street, R Street, and Connecticut Avenue NW.

That didn’t go according to plan, because when I got to Dupont Circle just after 11:00, the place was deserted. Where were all the Anons? I rode the Metro in from Wheaton with several other Anons, and so I knew I wasn’t going crazy. We all took an opportunity to mask up at this point, though, since the idea is to be anonymous, and arriving already masked up is considered somewhat important. One difference between masking up for Anonymous and for black bloc: I wear my glasses for Anonymous, but not for black bloc. Anonymous isn’t the kind of deal where I’m afraid that my glasses might get messed up, but black blocs have a much bigger potential to turn ugly. After everyone masked up, I basically took charge in figuring out what happened. I first called Isis. She was at the Hubbard House. Then I called Jeff. He was at the usual spot. Not being quite sure where the Hubbard House was, we ended up going to the usual spot, in front of the Church of Scientology building.

Arriving, I quickly found out what the deal was with Dupont Circle. Turned out that they had a little police issue relating to their march permit for Dupont Circle, and got chased out of Dupont Circle. You have to have a copy of your march permit with you, as it turns out. They didn’t have it with them, because it hadn’t gotten back to them in time. Oh, such regulations. This is why I love the way my anarchist pals deal with it. The basic rule of thumb there is, the hell with march permits, because since when do we need permission from the state to demonstrate in a public square? Anonymous doesn’t play that way.

But regardless of how we got there, we made it to our usual spot. It was fun, as we had the “long cat”, which was something that had ends that looked like a cat, and a long streamer in between, and even a small miniature golf hole. Plus we had the usual music and dancing and such. How cool. The miniature golf hole reminded me of Hole in One from The Price is Right. All we needed were some grocery items and we would be all set.

Additionally, as a slightly ironic twist, there was a problem with the water main feeding the Scientology building, causing water to bubble up from below and out into R Street just off of the intersection. This left Scientology with little to no water pressure in their building, since most of it ended up in the street.

And amazingly enough, the weather held out! It was forecasted to rain all weekend, but we ended up having a nice day, though it was slightly on the cool side (no complaints there). The forecast of rain meant I decided to wear my Crocs to this one rather than my Chuck Taylors (my usual protest standby), and it ended up working out for me.

And of course, we have pictures!

Miniature golf!
Miniature golf!

What a creative and complicated sign!
What a creative and complicated sign!

Handing out flyers on the street to passers-by.
Handing out flyers on the street to passers-by.

The water was coming up out of the street at roughly the location of that bump in the pavement.
The water was coming up out of the street at roughly the location of that bump in the pavement.

Standing in the spot where the water was coming up while wearing my Crocs was remarkably refreshing!
Standing in the spot where the water was coming up while wearing my Crocs was remarkably refreshing!

Posing with a "Free Hugs" sign and our little friend...
Posing with a “Free Hugs” sign and our little friend…

Free hugs!
Free hugs!

The "long cat" (which sounded like lolcat in practice) in action.
The “long cat” (which sounded like lolcat in practice) in action.

About midway through, Isis, Jeff, and I, as well as about five other Anons, all went out for lunch. We wanted some good food that was relatively close by. Thankfully, we were in Dupont Circle, where restaurants are plentiful. We ended up going to Così, where I had a tuna sandwich. Isis had coffee, some people had the flatbread pizza, and others got whatever they got. Nice place. It was a good break from the protest, and we got to get to know each other a bit better. And then after we finished, we rejoined the protest.

Then after the Anonymous protest was over, Jeff and I headed back to Dupont Circle, where the “Really Really Free Market” was going on. That was sponsored by the Really Really Free Market Collective. In other words, my anarchist friends were putting this one on. Yay!

However, as Jeff and I were leaving Anonymous, still masked up, I thought I heard a woman’s voice shout, “Ben Schumin!” I looked around. Nobody. Who knows.

Meanwhile, on the way to Dupont Circle, Jeff and I unmasked. After all, this was a community-type event, and not a protest situation, so black bloc and the related masks and such would be unnecessary. For me, that meant undoing the green bandanna that I’d been wearing, removing the hat that I wear with that outfit, and fluffing up my hair. All set!

We saw all of our anarchist friends When we got to Dupont Circle. Olga was there, as were a number of others. And the stuff for the Really Really Free Market was all laid out on a tarp. Basically, the idea was that you can take what you want at no cost, and you can also donate things that you think other people might want. There were books, CDs, movies, clothes, shoes, you name it. I even saw Dis Moi!, the first-year French textbook by Scott, Foresman from back when I was in school.

As you can see, there was a lot of stuff here, and things were going quite well, too.

As you can see, there was a lot of stuff here, and things were going quite well, too.
As you can see, there was a lot of stuff here, and things were going quite well, too.

One woman was even giving away free henna tattoos! How cool is that!
One woman was even giving away free henna tattoos! How cool is that!

I took a moment to check my phone at this point, and noticed that, hey, I had a voicemail. It was from Erin, a coworker of mine, and seeing her name show up in my phone, I was thinking, boy, I’m glad I’m only three blocks from the office, thinking it was a work-related question coming up and that I might have to come over. But then, listening to the voice message, it turned out to be more of a personal matter. Turns out it was Erin who shouted my name at Anonymous, as she saw all of us protesting Scientology as she was driving by, recognized me, and was saying hello. How interesting, though I question the wisdom of shouting one’s real name at an event where anonymity is considered important. That’s why we wear the masks, after all.

Getting back into things at the Really Really Free Market, I ended up grabbing up a textbook on abnormal psychology. Should be interesting reading. Textbooks are actually really fun to read if you’re interested in getting an overview of a new topic, especially when you can read it at your own pace and not have a professor dictating such things via the syllabus. So this will be fun to read. I’m looking forward to curling up with abnormal psychology.

Additionally, while I was at the Really Really Free Market, a group of about ten masked individuals walked by. I knew where they had just come from. I said hello, and one of them tried to hand me literature. I just said, “I was there.” They all looked at me in a confused sort of way. Such is what happens at masked demonstrations, and it’s not the first time I’ve presented my unmasked self to people who know me better in “full black bloc” and gotten confused looks. So I pulled my shirt collar up over my nose and said, “Don’t you recognize me?” That’s when they all figured out who I was, as I got one of those Oh, yeah, we know you! reactions. And I got to give them the whole lowdown on the Really Really Free Market. This was the first one, and they will be doing it on the third Saturday of every month at Dupont Circle, meaning that the next one will be on June 21, same time same place. They were more than welcome to take what they wanted, and donate whatever they wanted. Unfortunately, they were on a schedule, and couldn’t stay. A shame…

And from there, that was about it! I had to head back to Silver Spring, as I still had laundry to do, and I had to go shopping for groceries and such. All in all, though, it was an awesome day…

Web site: Have you got your "V for Vendetta" mask? Notice the "GO ANON!" message in the description. Pretty cool...

Song: Not a song, but these are funny. First of all, this first video is real: How to Fake Abs. Then this one is a parody: How to Fake a Six-Pack. Looks like CommunityChannel's gotten a hold of Strong Bad's Ab-Abber 2000.

Quote: And don't forget it's Mother's Day today. Happy Mother's Day, Mom...

Categories: Project Chanology