Beyond protest

Folks around the world are preparing for diverse, decentralized, absurdist direct actions on Leap Day — Friday, February 29, 2008 — taking seriously the call to use our extra day to smash capitalism, patriarchy and the state. In the Bay Area, Leap Day Action Night will start at critical mass at 6 p.m. in Justin Herman Plaza near Embarcadero BART in San Francisco. The bikes will ride round and round — where the action happens — and what oppressive institutions it targets — no one will know . . . until the water balloons filled with lube begin to fly and the clowns playing flaming brass instruments arrive.

People around the world have been talking with their friends, forming affinity groups and preparing to disrupt business as usual. Leap day is an extra day — a blank slate waiting to be transformed into a spontaneous, inspirational rebellion against the corporations and institutions that are destroying the earth and transforming the amazing experience of being alive into a drag filled with rent, stupid jobs, boring suburbs and polluted freeways.

Every four years in the USA brings another ridiculous Election Year when the system tries to channel everyone’s growing dissatisfaction with the ways we’re getting screwed into a spectacular distraction. Candidates all promise *Change* and the media plays dramatic music while endlessly trumpeting the election process circus to convince you that if only you vote for the right person, if only you buy the right product, if only you drive the right car or starve yourself so you have the right body, everything will be okay, afte rall. And somehow everyone forgets the betrayal of the last election year — forgets that the media and corporations and politicians offering the change are the same ones who created the whole mess in the first place. And the real issues — why is everyone working to make these jokers richer and richer and why are the forests and rivers we used to play in when we were young getting torn up to build another parking lot for another fucking Wal-Mart? — no one talks about the real issues during election year.

Luckily, every four years also brings Leap Day Action Night! Leap day offers an opportunity to go beyond protest — merely decrying what we’re against — and focus on living life in a positive, creative, loving, cooperative, sustainable fashion without domination of others or the earth.

Leap Day Action is not being organized by anyone and yet it will happen in cities and towns everywhere because — without asking permission and without boring meetings, email lists or moldy coalitions — people will act on leap day. At night. The key is a wild brainstorm to figure out what we haven’t tried yet — because all the stuff we’ve been trying hasn’t worked yet. What tactics are too risky or too laughable? Those are precisely the ones that just might be the key to a memorable leap day.

Life can be transformed from dull and ordinary at the most unexpected moments. The January critical mass bike ride in Berkeley was proceeding normally — no cops around, no edgy anger in the air — when suddenly, someone noticed a huge hole in the chainlink fence between the frontage road we were riding on and the 10 lane wide Interstate 80 Freeway. Suddenly, the hum drum of the predictable shattered and bikes were streaming onto the freeway — how many lanes could we shut down? One lane . . . two lanes . . . three lanes. Cars swerving, horns honking. And then we rode, bike lights blinking. And 5 minutes later, we were taking an exit and escaping into the dark — still no police, no tickets — just a brief vision of liberation and resistance!

On LD8, our lives will shift from talking about freedom and liberation to living chaos in real time — getting back to the roots of rebellion instead of running our activist efforts like we’re trying to replicate the computerized, bureaucratic structures of “the man”!

How do you want to spend your Friday Night? What props and costumes and maps of targets and flyers describing a new world will you bring along? In the Bay Area, meet us at San Francisco critical mass bike ride. Everywhere else, organize your own leap day. Leap for it!

Check for info. To get free 17 X 23 inch Leap Day Action Night posters with a space to write your event, email or write LD8, c/o Slingshot, 3124 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705.

In the San Francisco Bay Area: gather at San Francisco critical mass bike ride (Justin Herman Plaza near Embarcadero BART 6 pm) and ride with the mass to the undisclosed location of a leap day action starting at about 8 p.m. Bring costumes, decorations, refreshments, drinks, games, musical instruments, art supplies, dancing shoes, fliers, gossip, your friends, sports equipment, skateboards, puppets, stilts, frisbees, unicycles, toys, pogo sticks, juggling clubs, funny hats, skipping ropes, kites, banners and your dreams & desires for a different reality. Think the unthinkable – demand the impossible! Use your extra day to smash capitalism, patriarchy and the state.