Email to Associated Press #2


An AP employee has returned my email concerning the photo problem addressed below.  When I get the employee’s permission to publish it, you will find the email here.  Until then, here’s my response.




[Here is my email to AP:]



Thank you for your email and your kind words.

And I agree that photographer Jeff Chiu had every right to take that photograph and publish it with news related to Monday’s demonstration.  It was relevant for (your) documentary and symbolic purposes:  representing a BART employee and a demonstrator looking in opposite directions (not seeing “eye to eye”).  Though I don’t think it captured what I feel was most important in our opera.  But that is beside the point.

My only concern was AP’s use of the photograph as the primary image to accompany this article titled “Hackers gain access to transit police union site.”  You will see here that the image does in fact still accompany the article.  I was not aware of the “Transit Phone Jamming” article before your email (this title actually does seem relevant to my group’s performance Canyouhearmenow?).

If you could please remove the photo from the “Hackers gain access…” article, I would be grateful.  Hopefully you will agree that the photograph of our performance concerning the BART cellphone blackout is not relevant to an article concerning this:  “Hackers seized and posted personal information of Bay Area Rapid Transit police online…” (the first line of the article).

Thank you for your time.

Sending you my best,
Tom Comitta

P.S.  Would it be okay if I published our correspondence on my SF Guerrilla Opera blog (I can remove your name if you’d like)?  You will see here that I discussed this matter publicly.  I might assume the 150 people who have read my post would be interested to hear how this matter is resolved.  Of course, I am interested in “making up” with the “News Media” and getting the full story straight.

Dear News Media, get your facts straight


Dear Friends and Strangers,

My name is Tom Comitta.  I am the person who appears in the large photo (see the above screenshot taken before the emails were sent) attached to this article on the police union hacking.  I have written the Associated Press and the editors and publishers of every periodical that published the article (every periodical I know of based on Google Alerts results–perhaps there are more…), asking them to remove this photo of me, as my contribution to Monday’s demonstration was not part of Anonymous’ protest.  Nor was it relevant to yesterday’s hacking.  I explained to each periodical my specific role during Monday’s protest.

One periodical, CBS, returned my email and immediately removed the photo from the article.  Some removed the photo without saying a word.  To both, I am grateful.  As of now, one paper, The Bismarck Tribune, has yet to acknowledge or address my request.

Please see the two emails below for full details concerning this confusion.  And please see this blog post containing documentation of every guerrilla opera to date.


Tom Comitta


[Here is my email to the periodicals that published the article:]


Dear Editors and Publishers of The Bismark Tribune, The San Diego Union Tribune, and CBS Money Watch,

My name is Tom Comitta.  I am the person who appears in the large photo attached to this article that each of your organizations published last night.  I have written to the Associated Press and the article’s author asking that they remove my picture from all publications of the article.  The email I sent them can be found below this message.  It shows that my role in Monday’s demonstration was separate from Anonymous’ (I was part of an entirely different group) and that using my photograph in conjunction with this idiotic hack is simply incorrect (this photo and my actions on Monday have nothing to do with the police union hack).

I ask that you please either remove my photo from the article or take the article down until the Associated Press has fixed the matter.  Thank you for your time and understanding.

All the best,

Tom Comitta


[Here is my email to AP:]


Dear Associated Press and reporter Paul Elias,

My name is Tom Comitta.  I am the person who appears in the large photo attached to thisthisthis, and this article.  I write to you today to ask if you would please remove this picture from all publications of this article.  If you read my statement here (written August 17), you will find that I did NOT take part in the Anonymous protest and am NOT associated with Anonymous or any hackers.  You will find that I run a guerrilla theater group called SF Guerrilla Opera and that our “demonstration” (my YouTube footage of the opera) was a creation of our own:  an opera concerned primarily with the BART cellphone blackout, an opera that coincided with the Anonymous protest.  For proof of the existence of my group, see this post published on poet Ron Silliman’s blog and this book published on March 19, 2011 after our first guerrilla opera.

I ask that you please immediately remove this picture of me from all publications of this article.  Connecting me to this idiotic hacking endangers me personally and is simply incorrect.  I do not support the police union hacking or the hacking.  What SF Guerrilla Opera and I support, and will continue to support, are an open Internet and freedom of speech.  We would never support senseless hacking.

Thank you,

Tom Comitta

re-post: Canyouhearmenow?

(The report below was published August 17 on my soUNDtext blog.–TC)

Hello again.

In light of the news media’s rampant pigeonholing of the Civic Center protest on Monday, we want to clarify SF Guerrilla Opera’s role in the matter and offer the video below as a more comprehensive report on the protest.  While the Opera company is deeply invested, and will continue to be invested, in the struggles for an open Internet and freedom of speech, we do not support Anonymous’ attack on  Nor do we feel we were took part in Anonymous’ protest.

Ours was a guerrilla opera, plain and simple, that coincided with Anonymous’ protest.  As with every guerrilla opera, the opera’s specific concerns are found in the opera’s score.  Though, once the score is enacted, anything can happen and any number of unintended “meanings” can arrive–singers are invited to sing and act only as feels right in the moment.  The score:


Meet down on the Civic Center BART platform at 5:00pm TODAY.

For one hour, with a phone to your ear, sing (from whisper to monotone to belch) and repeat this:

| |:  Can you hear me now?  :| |


We would also like to add that there were a handful of other groups hardly recognized by the news media.  One group, Writers Bloc, came with hearts cut out of red construction paper.  All were invited to write their own message on these hearts.  Many other demonstrators sang their own chants apart from the widely documented “No Justice/No Peace/Disband the BART Police.”  See our Canyouhearmenow? video below for a fairly comprehensive documentation of Monday’s protest.  Here‘s another video that does an even better job.

We find this diversity of concerns and tactics to be a great thing.  Thanks to open access to things like YouTube and blogs these diverse stories can be heard and can diffuse the largely negative, pigeonholed reports from the news media.  We hope the video below will contribute humor and further insight into Monday’s demonstration.  To explore our past operas, check out the collected videos here on Ron Silliman’s blog.  For coverage of the BART’s censorship of last Thursday’s protest and Anonymous’ intervention, this is a good place to start.

Thanks for stopping by.


Tom Comitta & SF Guerrilla Opera


SF Guerrilla Opera

Welcome to SF Guerrilla Opera’s official blog!

Below you will find, in chronological order, documentation of every opera staged by SF Guerrilla Opera.  Expect more posts soon concerning our most recent opera Canyouhearmenow?


A Night At The Opera With Hosni Mubarak Hosted By Dave Eggers

Where:  Adobe Bookstore, SF

When:  February 26, 2011 @ 7:00pm as a part of The George Spelvin Show

The score:  40+ people read aloud for 40 minutes from books found in the bookstore.


Going Away Party

Where:  Borders Bookstore, Union Square, SF

When:  March 26, 2011 @ 4:00pm

The score:  40+ people read aloud for 40 minutes from books found in the bookstore.


MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (Prozac for your AntiSec)

Where:  in front of the Philip Burton Federal Building, SF

When: July 12, 2011, from 7:00am to 7:00pm

The score:  1. Meet at the Philip Burton Federal Building at 7am  2. Sing from our librettos (500+ pages of leaked U.S. embassy cables) until 7pm

Additional footage:  B Side (a must see)



Where:  Civic Center BART, SF

When:  August 15, 2011, from 5:00pm to 6:00pm

Additional footage:  from Canyouhearmenow? (featuring paper hearts provided by the group Writers Bloc)