2005_10_rickburnley.gifA ramshackle outpost of signage, supplies, propaganda, and concerned citizens have staked ground in Union Square. This is the New York branch of Camp Casey.

Age, occupation, where are you from, where are you now?
I’m 66. I was a graphic designer in New Mexico, but I haven’t been back there in quite a while, and I’m not planning to go back, because I’m on the road, doing what I’m doing. About two months ago I headed to Crawford, Texas, to support Cindy Sheehan and the people who are trying to stop this insanity. By the time I left 12,000 people had gone through. I came to New York, up from the Washington movement on the 24th and I’ve been here since, right here in Union Square.

What was the Camp Casey experience like?
It was the camp of the Jedi because we sure as hell knew who the evil empire was. It was wonderful being there. A lot of us went to Washington D.C., Cindy Sheehan had a Camp Casey there too. They had three different busloads that went, a northern route, a mid route, and a southern route, with stops along the way that were well attended by many people. I started writing poetry about two months before the war. Everybody loved my poetry at Camp Casey. I’ll do a short one for you:

The land of the free and the home of the brave, Or the land of the fleece, and the home of the knave? Sadly I think it’s becoming the latter, Our fearless leader is as mad as a hatter.

We need to have a regime change,
And get rid of this draft dodger.
They shouldn’t fly the Stars and Stripes,
They should hoist the Jolly Roger.
‘Cause that should be the flag that they fly,
That’s what they’re all about,
Sacking our nation’s treasury,
And sharing with those with a snout.

Our rulers point to the people
For the troubles that we have,
And that’s what they always have said.
But there’s an old Chinese pearl of wisdom:
The fish rots from the head.

A lot of us are angry,
And it’s not just sour grapes.
We’re getting tired of living
On the planet of the apes.
With knuckle-draggers leading us,
In their unholy undertakings.
Obscene power without wisdom,
And the whole earth is shaking.

Smaller nations tremble
When they see our flag unfurled,
Because they know they’re at the mercy
Of the bully of the world.
And mercy’s not our specialty,
We care less if they scream and holler.
Our national anthem’s ca-ching, ca-ching,
And our God is the almighty dollar.

What’s going on at this outpost here?
This table is the New York chapter of Camp Casey. Named after Cindy Sheehan’s son, Casey, who was killed in Iraq. She went to the Western White House, where, the day we got there, I was told Bush was on day # 326 of his accumulated vacation since he was elected president. By the time I left, he’d completed his first year. This was basically his M.O. when he was governor of Texas. Couple of hours in the governor’s mansion, little bit of stuff, and then on. Basically he’s a frontman. Anyway, there are many more people involved at Camp Casey New York. On the weekends, late afternoon, many people come. These here now are the hardcore. Someone’s here all the time. 24 hours a day. sleeping on the sidewalks, sleeping in the rain. Sleeping on the subway grates because there’s a little bit of warmth. These are people who care. There’s a mass march on Wall Street on Saturday, December 3rd. On Thursday, December 1st, there’s no school, no work, no shopping. So there’s going to be a strike to end poverty, racism, and war. Black Elk was a Sioux medicine man who watched the Americans for some time, and this was his observation: “The white man knows how to accumulate, but he doesn’t know how to distribute.” I can’t find a lot of flaws with that.

How long have you been writing poetry?
I never wrote any poetry until about two months before we went to war. It’s all political stuff. I don’t do too much “Roses are red, violets are blue.” I’m not into that. One of the things at Camp Casey, we had documentary films every night. There are some things going on to which our so-called liberal media has kept us amazingly ignorant. We are the most ignorant people on the face of the earth—meaning “not knowing,” not “stupid.” They talk about the liberal media, and the comment I like is that our media is: Our media is as liberal as the corporations that own them. Check it out, General Electric, Westinghouse? Last time I noticed, they were making nuclear subs.

What can be done to ensure a more accurately reporting media?
Sometimes I think our best shot is the asteroid. These people are difficult to dislodge. I’m not thrilled with what people have done so far. We live on the planet like a two-legged virus. This is our life raft and all we do is stab it with ice picks. It’s just crazy. This is what we live on and they can’t rape and pillage fast enough. I recommend people start getting their news from sources other than the big four. And they start to do some digging. There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s not soundbites. It’s facts. Easily verifiable facts.

Well, where should a person start?
There are a lot of underground newspapers right here in Manhattan. Go to Buzzflash.com and it will take you to the media all over the world. It’s a real eye-opener. Basically we’re killing the planet. We’re dropping massive amounts of depleted uranium in Iraq. We did the same thing in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Yugoslavia. This stuff is somewhat inert unless it’s subjected to extreme pressure, fire, an heat, which is what happens when you use it in the nosecone of a missile or a bomb. This stuff is radioactive as can be. It’s very small, the isotopes bind to dust particles, and within four days they are worldwide. We’ve dumped 40,000 times as much of this little treasure as was dropped on Nagasaki in Japan. Our soldiers are getting this so-called mysterious Gulf War syndrome. And when they come back, we can’t find anything wrong with them. We say take two aspirin and come back next year. But when these same soldiers, who have constant headaches, a hard time thinking clearly, when they make love to their wives, both of them get burned. It’s amazing that we’re doing this, and we’re doing it to our 140,000 troops right now on the ground in Iraq. And when these troops come back, and nobody on our side can find anything wrong with them, they go to the experts who measured radiation sickness in Chernobyl. Four of the seven initial soldiers were ticking like cheap clocks. One of their daughters was born a month later missing fingers. Now they’re saying 67% of all of the children born to our troops exposed to it are born with birth defects. This is no time to be sitting around wondering what you’re going to do with your life, what you’re going to be when you grow up. This is Attila the Hun on speed. We’ve got to snap. What we’ve got is a rogue elephant that is trashing the world village. And what they do in Africa with a rogue elephant is the pygmies go out with their little poisoned arrows and if enough of them go out, they bring that elephant down. I’m one of those pygmies and these are my poisoned arrows. All of us have gifts, have skills, and doing something about it feels so much better than sitting back and being victimized.

Why do you think these pygmies were unable to take down Bush in the election?
Well, they stole both elections. The head of the election commission in Ohio was also head of the reelect Bush campaign. The same thing happened in Florida with Kathleen Harris. She was in charge of Elect Bush for President. Can you spell “conflict of interest”? Then Diebold, the man who makes the machines used in Ohio, that leave no paper trail, that have proprietary wiring in them so nobody’s allowed to peek inside, which they can change the results from the street with a cellphone, happens to be a ranger who donated $100,000 to the Bush campaign and is on record as saying “we have to win this election.” Joseph Stalin said, “It’s not who votes that counts. It’s who counts the votes that counts.”

What do you think will happen in 2008?
I don’t think we’ll have elections in 2008. These people that are in power right now, like rats in heat.
They lost the last two and that didn’t seem to cramp their style. I have a line in one of my poems:

In the recent Presidential election,
Which one man clearly won.
The high court crowned the loser,
Now he roams the world with his gun.
To the world it’s a frightening spectre,
An atomic Attila the Hun.

We could have had Gore or Nader,
But instead it’s Darth Vader,
It looks like Star Wars has begun.

So what I expect--in some circles the poets are considered prophets--and my prophecy is between now and the midterm election, we will have a serious attack, which will be blamed on the Arab world, al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Possibly a chemical plant somewhere with a bit of a dirty bomb mixed in and thousands will lose their lives. If you look at the Patriot Act, they have this red code which automatically suspends the Constitution and instills martial law. If you’d like to find out what happens with no Constitution, I suggest reading a book called the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. We will have the goose-stepping brownshirts, the gulags, and the suspension of all our liberties. There’s the little parable of the frog. If you take a frog and drop it in a pot of boiling water, it will instantly leap out. But if you put a frog in a pan of cold water and turn the heat on underneath, he will die, because he never realizes what’s happening. It’s incremental and he will just cook to death. That’s what’s happening to the American people with our rights and liberties. Just a little bit at a time, they’re taking them away. That’s what they do. Karl Rove is Josef Goebbels reincarnated. They’re working from the same playbook. It’s interesting that all of them seem to find as their spiritual advisor the teachings of Machiavelli, who, if you’re not familiar, his teachings go like this: “If you hit somebody in your car and they are injured, back over them so you won’t be sued.”

What was that experience like, traveling with Camp Casey?
I was in Crawford Texas but I didn’t join the buses because I had to go back to New Mexico. But I joined them in Washington. The northern bus went to Chicago, Cleveland, and wherever they went, there were large, loud, vociferous rallies. There are many, many people offended. When the action took place in Washington D.C., a friend of mind from New York was there and when her father turned on the news, he couldn’t even find a mention of it. This is what we live in, the Dark Ages. They keep us in the dark. These people that smile at us every morning and make 30 million a year, they better figure out who they’re hauling water for. I think, if I were a journalist working for one of the big networks … I don’t see how the men don’t have their faces all nicked up, because I don’t know how they look themselves in the mirror when they shave.

And what’s the point of poetry? What is that accomplishing?
What was the point of Bob Dylan’s songs? Of the people in the streets? It’s inspirational. It’s something they fear more than anything else. They always try to decapitate someone who voices a message, whether it’s Malcolm X or anyone who has something to say.

Where are you headed next?
I’ve been invited to perform my poetry in numerous places. My poetry is all over the world right now, because the media was at Camp Casey. I’ve got lots of spiffy lines that inspire people, amuse people, educate people. That traditionally has been a very powerful poison spear from a pygmy. And there are many others—some people are experts at computers. You find out what you’re good at and you plug into one of these groups. You’ll feel a lot better helping than standing by and watching. These people… they are a juggernaut of Thanatos, the god of death. Everything they do is destructive. I’ve never seen anything like it. Our government hasn’t been too great in quite a while, but this is taking it to a new depth.

Any advice for mayor Bloomberg?
Go spend some time with the Dalai Lama, and open up your heart as much as you can, and realize that we’re all one. It’s what Jesus said in the Bible: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my creatures, you do unto me.”