From Baltimore I headed south for Richmond, Virginia with a NEFAC supporter Alex in his old little red sports car (it may have been a Mustang but I'm rubbish with cars). The boot was bust so there wasn't much room inside once my small bag had been crammed in and it was making some alarming noises he said not to worry about but it was a beautiful sunny spring day as we pulled out of Baltimore and took the highway south.
Washington DC was almost my shortest stop but also the North American city where I have spent the most time because I'd visited it repeatedly in 2004/5. On the tour I didn't actually stay in Washington at all, rather we drove over from Baltimore which is only an hour or so away. DC is one of the strangest cities I've ever been in and my stop there (at the National Conference of Organised Resistance) was in itself strange for an odd reason I reported at the time and which caused a bit of a row online. In the interest of preserving the historical record I've let the original unaltered text at the end of this updated blog.
My stop in Baltimore was the second time I had been in the city and indeed the second public meeting I'd done there. Back in 2004/5 my ex was working in Washington DC and I was flying across the atlantic every few months to visit her. On what I think might have been the third trip I made contact with Flint from NEFAC before heading over to the US and offered to do a meeting. And so in April I headed across to do a meeting in a city I knew absolutely nothing about, apart from the fact there didn't seem to be any tourist type stuff there. By the time I arrived in 2008 I had watched every episode of The Wire (save the very last one) so I'd a much better, or should that be worse, picture of the city.
After staying in New York for a few days it was off to Philadelphia. The Philadelphia meeting was a little sketchy looking and indeed we ran into some problems but as there were two NEFAC members in the city onc of whom I'd be staying with so I was fairly confident it would come off. Winter was defeated for now (although I'd travel back into it a week later in upstate New York). It was a warm morning when I caught the subway from Jersey City to Port Authority and it remained sunny for the short trip down to Philadelphia. Philadelphia was one of the very few cities where no one was available to meet me at the Greyhound station but the station is quite central and the city is a grid so it was straightforward enough to orientage myself on arrival to ensure I was walking across the grid in the right direction.
Hartford, the state capital of Connecticut was the other city I did from my stay in New Jersey. It was a couple of hours drive up the highway on a cold but sunny spring day. We made the mistake of skipping breakfast before we left New Jersey thinking we'd easily sport somewhere to stop off on the highway but while we passed plenty of places before we started looking as soon as we did start looking there were none to be seen. Eventually we just took a turn off and ended up eating in some burger place.
It would be hard to imagine a tour of the US that didn't include New York City and my visit there was fourth time I'd been in that city in about 8 years. I spent a few days in New York City, which is when I did both the public and private talks, before heading off south to Virginia. And then I spent a couple more days there a couple of weeks later to break the long Greyhound trip from Richmond, Virginia to Syracuse, upstate New York.
My starting point for the 'Building a Popular Anarchism' tour is Boston, I stayed with some of the Boston NEFAC members who have organised the tour for the five or so cities around Boston before heading to New York. As an Irish anarchist arriving in Boston I'm pretty soon drawn into discussion of the history of Irish American racism in the city.
On Wednesday 27 February I headed west from Boston to the Connecticut river valley and the town of Amherst. Just over twenty people attended the meeting in this small town in Food for Thought Books.
By the time we drove up to Portland, Maine for the meeting there it was apparent that the speaking tour was going to be extended beyond the North East. In the original blog for this meeting I noted that "It may well be possible to extend it well beyond the North east." In fact months later I would speak in Portland, Oregan on the west coast, i don't think at the time I was even aware two Portland's existed.
The Boston meeting (the 10th in North America) was in Encuentro 5 in Chinatown on Saturday. The perennial problems of Saturday night meetings emerged, another event on at the same time so the audience was smaller than what the organizers hoped for (I think just over 30 people). A good number of these were part of the North Eastern Anarchist Network.