TALES FROM THE COOP

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MUSSOLINI MEMORIAL PARKING LOT PROPOSED

The food coop is wonderful, but it is a nightmare of pesky rules. You can't shop without going through Soviet-grocery-style checkpoints: membership check at entry, tallying your foody at one counter, paying for it at another, and proving at the exit that your tally matches your receipt matches your bags. Members' guests' addresses are recorded, but they can't shop. Buying a ton of something requires advance special ordering. Every adult in even a loose, housemate-style household must also be a member, and if one person is suspended, the whole household's suspended. Five thousand people put up with this bureaucratic crap for great food, a sense of community with other weirdos, and the behind-the-scenes squabbles portrayed in these very pages.

So it was little surprise that a member, ironically a major coop-democracy activist, tonight proposed more rules, to wit: people who park illegally before the coop are to be captured as slaves for the cheese counter. That's not true. I'm exaggerating. But her proposal included forcing all coop members to file their license-plate numbers, and the coop having monitors who clock how long cars are parked, more than ten minutes' parking meaning chastising the car owner (if its plates are on the members' list) or firing a bazooka at the car (if it's a nonmember's). More rules! Mean ones!

Illegal and sloppy parking is a big problem. It cripples deliveries, pedestrians, and other cars. But these fascist tactics were too much for this general meeting. Many members suggested moderating the proposal. There was no vote since it was up only for discussion, not a motion. But then again, Il Duce didn't wait for motions, did he. Look out for brown shirts, eating brown food.

Little other substantive business. The Governance Referendum Committee to Unite the Masses to Decapitate the Coordinators was re-proposed but its proposer forgot to show, and the few opposition members present were too embarrassed to stump for it, so after lame discussion the resolution was dismissed. A Marketing Committee to promote the coop announced its existence, but it got caught between a short coordinator and opposition spat over whether it had the right to exist without a special resolution, or a right to say anything without a catechistic coop mission statement.

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jkarpf@echonyc.com