Report back from Smashing of Spectacle:
Before the history is written, let me say just this. Before the pepper spray finally weeps out of my eyes, while the tear gas covers me – let me just say a few words while this smile is still smeared across my face.
Tonight the social peace was exploded. How many will say it was just a hockey riot, as if one could say just one thing about the tearing apart of the relations that bind us to command. Just a hockey riot, where tens of thousands moved through the belly of commerce and took what they desired, smashing what was in their way. Hockey fans – fuckin-eh we are! And we fucked shit up.
I haven’t been bamboozled by any media coverage yet. In the smashing of spectacle, the spectacle responds in its operative ways. From there we usually draw our analysis and shape our positions. But I just remember what just happened. Not all of it, not even close. I pulled up at the end of the game, beginning of the riot. At its origin it was very much colored by the collective rejection of fans who had again been disappointed. Whereas in life we are expected to take the kicks to the teeth when we are down, there are exceptions; and in such moments when the anger is shared, it expresses itself generally.
Cars on fire brought us together, seeking the light. The smoke signaled that we were not alone. The edge of alienation cut through the cop lines and sliced a crevice between all of us against the few of them. The fires grew with our entitlement. Single acts of defiance become the more heroic as one window gave way to another. Finally a hole big enough to get through. After streets were walled off by partitions of gas, the buildings opened themselves to the street. Trickling in at first – stripping the mannequins and then hurling out their torsos to be used as projectiles, the mob began to pour in. It was theHudson’s Bay that split wide open. Window after storefront window offered new entrance, one after another. Each window leading to another then turned around the corner, where more windows yielded to the boots and bats.
We were being blown forward by black smoke. It bellowed through the frenzy. A car here-and-there smashed and burning. Parking garages bellowing the stuff. We all took it in deep breaths and let out cheers.
By the dozenth store to be looted, an open market had established itself. Gifts and trades were given and made. Piles of merchandise were left on the sidewalk for whomever. Gifts were presented to any who wanted some, many having more then they could carry (fortunately a high end bag shop got-its, and folks were able to load their newfounds into travel cases).
Before it is said that this was a jock riot. Drunk white guys. A hockey riot. It should be asked why some are so quick to dispel social war. This was not a politico riot. For the most part it seemed like kids from the peripherals of centralVancouver. If it were a race riot, as a white guy I’d a been strung up. My shade of white-ass was few and far in between.
‘Fuck 94’ was a popular expression. A refusal to be compromised by a hollowed event, which was considered by the cops to be long dead. It did not rise to suck the blood of the riot – this was war against the day. The day-to-fucking-day.
The violence I witnessed was conscious. It attacked the citizen-cops who morally upheld the inequalities of everyday life. These citizens received a taste of the violence that they uphold. Many found that taste on the heel of many a boot. Between them and a window, they both got smashed.
Amongst it all, a cluster had formed. A circle around a fight. In the middle were masked-up ‘rowdies’ trying to make an escape. ‘Kill the fuckin anarchists’ was the slogan shared by a few. These anarchists where too self-conscious, and in a riot where the everyday was ruptured in the clothes put on that morning, these black uniforms became totally alien. Suspect. Ridiculous. As for security culture, the logic was lost in the conspiracy of numbers. As a vandguardist adventurism, it had them running away from the riot and towards a riot cop line.
From Sears rained down cheap jewelry. Pungent perfume choked me, as every display case was smashed and contents delivered out the front door. Piling up on the streets, commodities which had been striped of their fetish became trophies(but for the most part garbage).
Chapter’s bookstore windows seemed to be made out of lace. From inside rioters threw hardcovers back at the glass, smashing in at both ends in a race to complete its implosion down the block. Here I found a dented can of beer, a failed projectile, which allowed me a moment to take it all in. What joy we were all having. A carnival. The language of destruction was sung in smashes and accompanying applause. But in the rubble of downtown there was nothing that could be made. We lived for the moment. We all knew that tomorrow is coming. With it, everything that leads to today’s desire to destroy. The cops began to assume their kettle formation, and most folks took the opportunity to get gone with their hauls.
Every store had its guts spread out on the sidewalk. Every trashcan gave light and warmth. The night sky was black as the smoke from a burning cop car. A full red moon, red like fire. Helicopters’ strobe lights. The rhythmic banging on street poles. Objects streamed overhead, others fluttered down. We made our festive retreat in the wake of a beautiful storm, which itself was born and remains in us all. There is no telling when the storm will again tear this shit down, or how long the next will last. Every moment contains in itself a rising wind.