Monday, June 15, 1992


by Aaron Noble

There was some urban unrest going on and I fell in with a pack of old leftie activists that included the beat poet Bob Kaufman. We surged through the streets in the reddish twilight until we came to an old four-story school for girls. A decision was taken by the leadership to storm this building. The old ladies of the movement started hauling gear out of their VW bugs. Their equipment for scaling buildings was a system of curved iron plates, like medieval shin guards, which were fitted one above the next against the corners and moldings of the school. We could then climb the wall as we went, standing on the lip of one plate while the next was passed up to us along a chain of militants below. At first there were dozens of us assaulting the wall and the air was filled with clanking sounds and shouts of cameraderie. The rusty old plates were heavy, though, and cumbersome, and people began to drop back to the ground. By the time I reached the second floor I was the only climber left. With the last of his strength Bob Kaufman handed me a piece of chalk and told me to enter the third floor classroom and write the radical equation "R & R" at the bottom of the blackboard.

With no more iron plates being passed up to me the remainder of the climb was easy. I ducked into the window indicated and found myself in a small classroom of only four or five desks. Three students, a blonde and two brunettes, their school uniforms variously disarrayed, were lolling at their desks in the most lethargically sensual poses imaginable, while their aged and severe headmistress lectured at the chalkboard. All four of them regarded me with the faintest curiosity.

I felt strongly that simply to write my small equation would be an impotent gesture. To win them over to my revolutionary position I needed to prove that I could arrive at the equation rationally from agreed-on premises. I approached the board, scanning the headmistress' notations for a promising starting point, but could find none in her dense scrawl. Looking for time I complimented the lady on the completeness of her work, to chilly response. Then I noticed at the bottom of the board a group of three skeletons, beautifully drawn, if a bit slick. "And these are yours also?" I half mumbled. The headmistress smiled faintly and the day was lost.