Ballad of Eola Park

In the land of Minnie Mouse and Mickey things are getting icky
Since the municipality
Of Orlando, Florida passed a moritaria
Against feeding hungry people in their city
The mayor said with a scoff we’d all be better off
Without these food terrorists lurking like a shark
So he did declare — semaritans beware!
No more feeding hungry people in the park

And if you do you’d better raise your bail
‘Cause you will be fined five hundred bucks and sent to jail

There are many things that you can do when you’re passing through
That are much more acceptable than that
Go on amusement rides, eat things that are fried
Buy each one of your kids a little hat
You can stay in a hotel, pretend everything is swell
Go to Sea World and hear the seals bark
But whatever else you have in mind you will be in a bind
If you feed the hungry people in the park


Yes you can drink some wine, have yourself a good time
Have a good vacation, then retire
But if you want to stir up trouble, if you’d deign to pop the bubble
And try to feed the hungry people of the shire
In such a public place, we can’t suffer such disgrace
Though the logic may seem a little stark
What would the neighbors say, where will the children play
If you keep feeding hungry people in the park


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“Ballad of Eola Park” appears originally on the 2013 online album, Everything Can Change (and before that as an iPhone broadside). I first met Keith McHenry back in the 1980’s when he was constantly getting arrested by the San Francisco police for serving food to people in a public park (Golden Gate Park was where I remember seeing him), under the banner of Food Not Bombs. FNB is more a concept than an organization, as I understand it, and it has spread throughout the country and beyond since then. I was hanging out with Keith and other Food Not Bombers at Eola Park in Orlando, Florida in between their numerous arrests for feeding people in a public park, and then I wrote this song about it. The song is specifically related to Orlando and Disneyworld and all that, but it happens all over the place, arresting people for this particular act of civil disobedience. The truth is, in most every city across the US, the authorities want the homeless swept off the streets. Or at least kept hidden away in church basements, where the free meals can generally be found. Not in the public, where they can be seen, where the reality of poverty and homelessness across America can be out in the open, and might cause discomfort for the “well to do.”