NATO-Chicago Dispatch: I Am Not An Objective Journalist - I Rode The Occupy Boston Bus To NATO

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I'm not following Tom Morello around the country. It might seem that way; in the past few months I've caught him at South by Southwest in Texas, and a few weeks ago for May Day in New York City, where the Rage legacy and Occupy icon organized a GUITARMY to stomp some blacktop swinging axes. But while Morello will indeed be in Chicago today, kicking for tens of thousands in Daley Plaza, his street-side spectacular is hardly the main selling point for my trek to the Windy.

I'm here because the NATO protests are . . . hold on a minute – did I tell you how I fucking got here? I took a nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine hour bus trip from Boston with a fleet of Occupiers. Some of my travel mates I've been covering for months. Others I've just met in the past few weeks. But until yesterday, I'd never smelled any of their feet, or shared with them a microscopic toilet facility with echo-friendly walls that play farts like trampolines do basketballs.

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My plan was to skip NATO. I expected more than a massive showing, but funds have been low, and there's no Fung Wah to Chicago. Or so I thought before seeing that NATO-bound Occupy buses were departing from the Hub. With that my sentiment shifted, and so I filled out the online form and hoped that organizers would approve of a reporter tagging along. At best, I envisioned a literal boys-on-the-bus experience. At worst, I'd get to Chicago for the small cost of however many cigarettes Occupiers bummed off me at rest stops.

The result was somewhere in between those poles, with at least one cool Juggalo who smoked me out on some totally legal K2 synthetics, which it turns out I'm a huge fan of. Things started off rocky; the buses were two hours late, and one of them shit the futon less than 30 miles out of Boston. But after that it was an absolute dream complete with harmonicas, guitars, and Chris, the endlessly fascinating and perpetually shirtless pacifist MMA fighter who sat next to me when he wasn't parading through the aisle dropping knowledge.

It really was a whirl. I'm not sure how the Complaining About Free Shit working group felt about the bus, which came courtesy of National Nurses United, but I full engaged the road show. When I felt like resting, I rested. When I felt like reading, I read. Otherwise, when I felt like being entertained, I just listened, and got two ears filled with everything from credible conspiracy theories to at least one comparison of the situation to Christ's expedition in the wilderness.

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In short I had a great time reading, writing, and interviewing Occupiers whose personal stories add up to the reason that more than 50,000 people are heading to Chicago this week. I was hardly even fazed when some movement members who were not on the bus started flaming me on Twitter for mooching off of Occupy resources, which I'd actually feel badly about if there weren't empty seats. They also accused me of sacrificing whatever little bit of objectivity I had left in covering Occupy by riding along.

That's completely understandable, or at least it was until I touched down in Chicago and got the briefing for independent journos who are covering NATO. Reliable word is that police aren't distinguishing between reporters and protesters, writers and anarchists – we're all subject to the military-grade aggression that's already being thrust upon folks who are courageous enough to stand up to war profiteers and murderers. At least in that regard, I'd argue that we're all on the same bus after all.

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