The Satyr Liberation Army
While on my cross-country road trip this past August, I took a pit stop in San Francisco. I was interested in finding out some first hand information about an environmental protest group that had attracted some local press with their unique name and tactics. Calling themselves the Satyr Liberation Army, this group had been linked to a series of vandalisms, disruptive demonstrations, and social protest concerning the continuing urbanization of the San Francisco area. Thru a series of e-mails with an anonymous source I was put into contact with a member of this group named Britianica. He agreed to meet me in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park at a prearranged spot on the day I arrived into town.
Upon reaching the park I sat myself down with the latest copy of Fortean Times and bided my time, occasionally glancing up and down the walkway, looking for Britianica I was surprised when I heard a voice behind my head ask, "Derek Barnes?"
Britianica, spokesmen for the Satyr Liberation Army
"That's me," I said, glancing over my shoulder and peering up at the stranger behind me. To call him a little odd looking might be an understatement but I've dealt with stranger looking folk so I didn't let a little green hair dye, piercings, head tattoos and surgically implanted horns throw me. (If I wanted to interview guys in suits I would be working for the New York Times.)
"Glad to make your acquaintance," he said as he jumped over the park bench and sat down beside me. "Now what did you want to know?"
I dug my tape recorder out of my backpack and fired it up for the interview.
Derek: So just what exactly is the Satyr Liberation Army? I've seen a couple of buildings near Haight-Ashbury that have your logo spray-painted on the wall.
Britianica: Yea, we put our logo up on companies to give them warning that their being watched. It let's them know that we're around and won't put up with any bullshit. We've put that whole area under watch. The whole place is a pigsty of capitalistic growth gone insane.
D: How long have you been around?
B: The SLA was formed about a year ago as a way for us to express our rage at the way city government is more concerned with big business than it is for the common people.
D: Who do you mean when you say "us"? Who makes up your group?
B: Concerned citizens. Anyone who thinks city hall needs a kick in the ass to get our attention.
Haight-Ashbury is under the watchful eye of the SLA.
D: I guess what I'm asking you is, why do you call yourself the Satyr Liberation Army? Are you claiming to be the mythical creatures of legend?
B: Who you calling a myth? (laughs) Who's to say we're not? The satyrs have a long history of protecting the earth and that's exactly what we're doing.
D: But they're also suppose to be half man, half goat. Unless I'm missing something you ain't got the hairy legs and hooves.
B: Chalk it up to an unimaginative mind. You see what you want to see or what I let you see. You think I'm going to be skipping thru the park playing a f**king flute? F**k that shit! I'll play a flute when all the dot com assholes are forced to beg for a place to put their servers and we don't have to worry about protecting what's left of the undeveloped land. That's what's important. Not if you can see my hooves or not.
D: OK....Well then what's the problem as you guys see it?
B: That this unchecked economic growth of the Bay area is coming at the expense of any sort of rational plan of development and structure. New office buildings are springing up faster than milkweed in areas like South Market and the Mission District and the city supervisors just turn their heads at this, ignoring zoning rules. Meanwhile you've got those dot.commies opening up office after office in what used to be apartment spaces, driving up the already insane rent and the city says they can't stop them because there's a loophole in the law that allows it! It's insane. Some people are so strapped for a place to live that they have started placing ads where they offer to exchange sexual favors in return for a place to sleep.
D: It does sound out of control.
B: Damn straight! That's why we've taken it upon ourselves to create examples, cause some ruckus so the city can't keep ignoring this.
D: Well how big is your group?
B: It varies according to the moon cycles. Usually we have about 20 members but it can get up to 50 or so if everything is in conjunction.
D: What do you mean moon cycle?
B: Some of the wood folk can't easily manifest themselves unless the moon is in the proper phase; you know full moon, quarter moon, that kind of shit. The more aggressive members of our group can only materialize on this plane on nights when the planets are aligned. It gets complicated. Plus there's a little bit of a power struggle going on with the Elves.
D: ......right. What is the elf point of view?
B: Oh they gave up on you guys centuries ago. They think humans are a lost cause. That man's gonna go extinct sooner or later so they don't put any stock into our issues. They don't even come into the cities. They think our efforts are just a waste of time. (He pitches his voice higher in an elf imitation) "Oh leave the foolish humans be. Their concerns are not ours." It's your basic elf isolationist line of bullshit.
D: But you satyrs are more concerned?
B: Oh definitively. There's no way I could leave the city. Can you picture me out in the wilderness drinking dandelion tea like those elf sissies? Screw that. I mean I'm not convinced you guys won't manage to blow yourselves up but I wanna be here to party while it lasts. It's just our dual nature I guess. Same thing with the earth elementals. They think humans are f**king hilarious. They love it here in town.
D: Yeah...well, lets get back to the issues. What actions have you guys taken?
B: Oh plenty. Our latest action was last week. We basically shut down this construction site over on MacLindon Ave. They still haven't figured out what's going on.
D: What did you do?
B: Well a couple of the guys have been getting in really deep with the earth magic, getting into that deep "in tune with nature" bullshit. It's surprising how easy that crap is especially when you've got an earth elemental to help you along. What we did was break into the construction site at night and put this huge f**king hex on the place. And it wasn't just your garden-variety "bad things happen to you" spell. This sucker was a serious laying down of nature's law. Human interference is no longer allowed in that site.
D: What do you mean?
B: I mean that we gave them proper warnings that the whole place was magically rigged nine ways to Sunday. We left fliers all over the site that the area was now under the sovereign protection of the SLA and they shouldn't even think about stepping foot into that site cause some serious shit was going down. Of course they didn't believe us.
D: What happened?
B: They ignored our warnings and started back to work there. They started using a backhoe and after about half an hour all the workers were getting sick, vomiting their breakfast all over the nice equipment and they had to close down. And they've been shut down ever since. The EPA just got finished with a preliminary investigation and they think that the backhoe uncovered some hazardous underground bacteria. Said that it might have been something left from a previous landfill that wasn't on the city records. Course that's utter bullshit. We know the real reason. Now the workers union says that no one is coming back to work there until the situation is resolved and the workers can be guaranteed a healthy work environment. And that ain't gonna happen until they talk to us. (Points to chest)
D: Do you believe-
B: Listen I'll make it short and sweet to you cause I gotta split. Until the city of San Francisco recognizes that it can no longer allow unchecked urban growth without proper safeguards we're keeping up the fight. Humans aren't the only ones on this planet and the sooner you guys realize it the better off you'll be.
And with that he got up and strolled back into the trees and I lost sight of him. I checked out the construction site on MacLindon Ave. and found that it was deserted. I called Toole Construction who was listed as the principal contractor and spoke with a man named Edward Timmons. He confirmed that work had stopped pending a city investigation but denied knowing anything about the SLA.
But after I hung up I spotted the SLA logo spray-painted on the side of the construction fence.
Interview with Britianica, August 5th, 2000
Phone interview with Edward Timmons, August 5th, 2000
Photos by Derek Barnes