TALES FROM THE COOP foody.org/coop.html
WITH A YADDA YADDA HERE AND AN OOK! OOK! THERE! HERE YADDA THERE YADDA
Tonight's monthly meeting wasn't taped, so it doesn't matter whether I'm accurate or not, cause I'm all anyone's got.
In the beginning Open Forum, the coop's produce buyer asked us to remind complaining members, who have asked where the New York State apples have been, that the apples are still on apple trees because we have these annoying things called "seasons." Local apples will come, though, and our state has even escaped much of a national drought. Dame Yadda Yadda Yadda, finally back after breaking her hip (she showed off her scar), asked if higher food prices after sucky weather meant profiteering. The produce buyer all but said yes, citing the doubling of coffee prices as an example of such gouging.
Electing two members to the Communications Committee was the first agenda item. Neither candidate showed, one because he was working, adding new Metrocard readers to turnstiles. Both were voted in anyway, despite complaints from Andy Kaufman that the what he considered to be the conspiratorially undemocratic General Meeting shouldn't vote on anything. Andy Kaufman had breezed in after the meeting had begun, dragging a chair so he could sit behind me, kick my chair, mutter secret rebuttals to the general discussion, and wonder aloud why he smelled fried eggplant, which was my takeout beef chow fun. Yum.
The second item proposed to let more members more easily attend General Meetings by letting them skip one work shift. It's already done; this would just formalize a process that workslot credit as. Bribing members to come sounds ignoble, but it brings new blood to the widely dreaded meetings. Tonight's attendance was one-third newbie. A nominally anti-staff member suggested that such new meat might not be the best voters, as they were "lacking a sense of history." "Very good. Very good. Yes," mumbled Andy Kaufman, who stood and added his usual the-Meeting-isn't-democratic rant. The chair asked him to stick to the topic. "I give up. I give up," replied Andy Kaufman. "Shithead." Others praised newbies for their contributions. The motion passed overwhelmingly, with Andy Kaufman hooting like an ape as he cast his sole nay.
The next item was his, actually. "Oh I get to say something?" he sniped when invited by the chair to begin. Tonight he wanted us to discuss his proposal for coop governance. The coop newsletter had called it "not easily summarized" when publishing it in March. Now we all had xeroxes of five thousand words of babble with the linearity of a Mobius strip. It was two-thirds dissociated manifesto and one-third wholly new constitution, so specific that I'm surprised it didn't say how the new governance would flush the toilets.
Andy Kaufman first asked who had read it. Two people. He complained that he should've been given more advance publicity. Now knowing that we were all ignorant of the proposal, he refused to present it, instead inviting questions and returning to his seat. Incredulous, a member asked him to at least summarize his points. Sighing with exasperation over the trouble we were causing him, he tossed out a few examples of how his new polity would allow us all to enjoy the joy of democracy "that the rest of the world enjoys, which has been denied to [the coop] by some fluke."
One way would be to chop the coop into 50 chunks that would send representatives to the meeting to vote, with hellish paperwork before each meeting to certify who spoke for whom. More hands went up, less to discuss this than to squeeze a fact or two from Andy Kaufman. Dame Yadda asked that those who hadn't spoken on this issue, such as herself, be picked first. When a member asked why Andy Kaufman's proposal allowed people who wanted to represent themselves to go to the meetings anyway and vote along with the representatives, thus fucking up the system, Andy Kaufman accused him of begging the question and of addressing a method Andy Kaufman no longer supported (even though it was in his proposal!)
What a mess. He stood in the room's center, hands behind him, talking about this and that. The meeting attendees stared at the Xeroxes on their laps, some wading through his choppy sea of words, all looking as though they were waiting for particularly painful kidney stones to pass. And pass they did, with the chair finally ending the "discussion" due to lack of time, apologizing for presuming to guess that the Meeting wished to move on. No apology was needed.
Grapes! The last item discussed of the perennial UFW boycott. The coop has seesawed over whether to exclude organic grapes from the boycott and include them in our bellies. The UFW's boycott stresses pesticide poisoning of migrant workers, but its boycott includes even organic California grapes in the name of organizing all migrant workers, including those on organic farms since their jobs are just as crappy. Most of those speaking then invoked organic food's inherent spirituality, and the boycott's proudly disobedient rebellion in the name of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Get a grip, said someone else: we're abstaining from grapes.
The meeting ended with criticism and self-criticism, much of it criticism of Andy Kaufman, who had rudely slipped out after speaking his piece, he not waiting for the last agenda item, the closing announcements, this critical period, or the formalizing final vote of the board of directors. Andy Kaufman had wasted our time, complained a member. Why, he asked, had the agenda committee given his babbling a voice in the first place? Were they afraid of him?
Back to list of dispatches.