A banner tied between two pine trees announced the "Really, Really Free Market" yesterday to drivers passing by Anaheim's Boysen Park. On the other side reads "todo gratis" in Spanish or "everything free." Goods were laid out on blankets. Punks, rockeros, raza and homeless folks rummaged through stalls of clothes, artwork, shoes and even election pan holders from Jose Solorio's recent failed bid for State Senate.
In a city that likes to think itself as "freedom friendly" while cracking down on yard sales and generously subsidizing rich developers, the pop-up giveaway marketplace is not only subversive, it's a giant middle finger to the Man, man!
"I started doing the really, really free market about two-and-a-half years ago," says Liz Zuñiga, 24 year-old Anaheim resident and pre-school teacher. "Before that, other people did the free market in Anaheim, so it's been going on for a long time."
The event is hosted usually on the first Sunday of every month at different park locations, sometimes even in SanTana. On the Really, Really Free Market's Facebook page, it explains itself as a "horizontally-organized" alternative meant to "counteract capitalism in a proactive way."
At Boysen Park–or El Parque del Avión ("Airplane Park") as it's known to the locals for the jet fighter on the playground–the concept plays out simply. People bring whatever they like and take whatever they like. A Latina mother who brought her kid to play didn't know about the market, but came by out of curiosity bagging some goods before calling for a ride.
"The idea is based around the community coming and sharing, not throwing stuff away," Zuñiga says. "Sometimes people come up to us and say, 'Wait, is this really free?' or they ask 'Oh, can I take this?'" She and her friends also go out to people at the park, especially the homeless, to let them know about their setup.
Aside from the goods offered, the Really, Really Free Market is also a political potluck. People chip in food and conduct workshops on everything from sewing to patriarchy. The alternative yarda is the collective work of people like Zuñiga: young, idealistic Anaheim punkers poised to be the next generation of activists ready to confront the city's ever-worsening political scene.
For now, Zuñiga hopes that more people will get involved either in bringing goods to giveaway or volunteering their time by passing out flyers.
As the last Really, Really Free Market of the year winded down, more people arrived to the park. One man dropped off a box of used toys before Christmas. Children jumped off their swings, running to check out the action figures before dropping them back into the box and returning to the playground.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2