The PJ Tatler

The Right to Poo and Van Jones Skepticism: Just Another Day at OccupySF

As I noted in my previous post with the self-explanatory title “Excrement, urine, vomit and tampons” mark new site of OccupySF, San Francisco’s municipal health department recently cited the OccupySF encampment for numerous sanitation violations. But an article that subsequently appeared on SFGate claimed that by noon on Thursday, OccupySF was “an utterly transformed encampment” that was no longer “a crash pad for chronically homeless people, with a contingent of activists thrown in”:

Suddenly, there were people who looked more like office workers than hippies strolling among the 50 tents pitched on the concrete and grass. Tourists gave high-fives to the campers. A group resembling yoga instructors set up a huge rug and spent the afternoon meditating.

Overnight, it went from Rainbow Nation redux to a kind of cross between an antiwar demonstration and a company picnic.

By happenstance I passed by OccupySF while doing errands later that same day (Thursday afternoon), and I took the opportunity the check out its latest location (my previous coverage of OccupySF had been at its three earlier locations, before it moved to the Embarcadero). But what I saw during my ten-minute visit just before nightfall didn’t jibe at all with the SFGate description of the encampment as “relatively tidy.”

We’ve been reassured that as of today there may be less human feces in the area — but there is still a serious problem with dog feces, which can be seen and smelled at various places around OccupySF. Many of the homeless or semi-homeless Occupiers keep dogs as pets (pit bulls being the most popular breed) as well as puppies that haven’t all been properly housebroken, and the owners either simply let the dogs do their business wherever they want, or take them on “walks” about 20 feet away from the tents for the dogs to relieve themselves.

The encampment is directly on top of some new bocce ball courts that the city had just installed. The area on the right side of this picture I found to be particularly malodorous, though I didn’t see any large steaming piles as I had on the other side of the camp (as seen in the previous picture). I think what happens is that people unwittingly step in the dog poop and then tramp it all around the camp.

As for the human feces situation: Almost every single item on the official OccupySF bulletin board concerned itself with the poop crisis (see following pictures for close-ups).

“Defensive posture on compost solution to fecal BC prob imposed on us. Consider: a.) self-defense b.) freedom of speech in re: Better system! c.) RIGHT TO POO!”

“RESPONSE TO TODAY’S BLACK P.R. Editor, the lack of porta-potties is equivalent to B.C warfare and Black Press. VI5 suggests to demonstrate WELL-MANAGED (Key: must be well-managed) composting of fecal matter. It is better than chemtoilets they refuse + good P.R. and better than BC warfare as well.”

I’m not entirely fluent in Occupese, so I’m not sure what the abbreviations “BC” or “B.C.” stand for in this context. “Black P.R.” and “Black Press” seem to be Occupese for “unsympathetic media coverage.” (As an aside: Can you imagine the uproar if the Tea Party used the term “Black Press” to complain about media coverage they didn’t like?)

“Composta Potty: need Toilet Seat = Good PR! REAL solutions!”

From all this I gather that the Occupiers want to address the human feces overflow with the installation of “composting toilets,” which are a trendy sort of modern outhouse in which the feces is saved and aerobically fermented under the seat to be later used as garden compost. Who will pay for the installation is anybody’s guess.

As with the previous incarnation of the Oakland Occupation, I also saw open and unapologetic drug use at the OccupySF camp as well, such as this guy smoking a pungent joint just a few steps from an organizational committee meeting.

Other Occupiers, such as this guy, sat around and did something that looked a heck of a lot like rolling joints.

The city’s notice about sanitation violations and hygiene problems was still pinned to the bulletin board.

And it’s not just feces and drugs and dogs. Despite the supposed re-birth of the camp as a sparkling clean picnic ground populated by happy businessmen and tourists, as SFGate would have us believe, there were all sorts of repulsive
vignettes around the tents, such as these rotting sandwiches abandoned on the ground.

Despite donations of various new-ish tents and bags, the sleeping quarters in general didn’t look particularly sanitary or pathogen-free.

As evening fell, everyone gathered for one of those tedious “General Assembly” meetings that seem to drag on for hours as Occupiers vote up-twinkles or down-twinkles on various radical proposals.

Far and away the most interesting message visible at the camp was this graffito casting apersions on, of all people, Van Jones, whom the SF Occupiers apparently see as a big-money puppet looking to co-opt the movement:
Tides Foundation, established by international banker –> Whose $ ? –> Van Jones. 1? 2? or 3?”
The rift in the Occupy movement between the well-heeled progressives and the anti-money anarchists continues to grow.

The “anybody can write a message” wall featured a big “Fuck you!

Someone needs to classify all these Occupations as “Irony-free Zones.”

Another example of ironic ignorance: This poem, traditionally sung on Guy Fawkes Day in England, is meant to condemn Fawkes and his co-conspirators, not celebrate them. But the youngsters of the Occupation and Anonymous, whose only knowledge of history apparently comes from repeated viewings of V for Vendetta, think Guy Fawkes is some kind of variation on Robin Hood, a hero for all to admire.

Back at the General Assembly — still up-twinkling the composting toilets idea? Yup. Still twinkling.

Not everyone bothered to participate in the political side of things: This guy in a Venetian Carnival mask serenaded a meditating yogini on his ukulele.

As I left the Embarcadero I passed by the site of the previous OccupySF encampment in front of the Federal Reserve on Market Street, and discovered that a satellite Occupation was still there, consisting mostly of signs and banners.

Why pussyfoot around?

Chemtrails: One of the few conspiracy theories that spans all political orientations.

This is one for the record books: I’ve long bemoaned and mocked peaceniks who just can’t seem to get the peace symbol right, often leaving out the central leg so that it becomes a Mercedes-Benz logo. I mean, how can you possibly mis-draw the one symbol that symbolizes your whole philosophy? But here at OccupySF, for the first time I encountered an apparent peace symbol that not only lacked its central leg, but was upside-down. Gerald Holtom wept.
Update: The more I think about it, the more I feel that this really ought to be the new Occupy logo, since it features an “O” and a “Y” superimposed on each other, like OccupY. If they haven’t adopted it yet, let me nominate it. Up-twinkles anyone?