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Quote of the Day

Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.


Monday, August 30, 2004

Live, from New York
posted by lostingotham

Like many New Yorkers, I’m headed out of town for the next couple of weeks. I’ve no political motive for going—it’s just that Manhattan with 7th Avenue and 34th Street closed is not a fun place to be if you want to get anything productive done. But before I go, I thought I’d share some quick impressions of yesterday’s big demonstrations (the cab will be here in a few minutes, so niceties like links and editing will have to wait for another day).

1) The umbrella group sponsoring the demonstrations perfectly reflects Kerry’s solid consistency. When they were denied a permit to march in Central Park, they (a) agreed to march in midtown, then (b) decided they didn’t like the agreement and sued, then (c) announced that if they weren’t allowed to march in Central Park, they wouldn’t march at all, then (d) changed their minds and decided to march in midtown even though they lost their bid for Central Park, then (e) decided to march officially in midtown and unofficially in Central Park. I’m sure the flipper is proud of them.

2) If I had to use one word to describe the demonstration, it’d be “boring.” “Disorganized” and “anticlimactic” are close contenders. The thing (“march” would imply that it had more purpose, “meander” is too bucolic) got off something like 2 hours late before making its pointless loop through midtown to Union Square where everyone stood around for a few minutes wondering if that was it. It certainly attracted a lot of participants, but its spectators amounted to me, Rich Galen (he says he was there anyway—I didn’t see him), 300 hungover reports and several thousand bored cops. No cheering throngs, no packed sidewalks, nada. The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade has, if I recall, something like 10,000 marchers and nearly a million spectators. Yesterday there were (generously) 100,000 marchers and me and Rich Galen. Again, a pretty good metaphor for who's watching the Kerry campaign.

3) A few days ago, some rocket scientist at the Democratic Underground floated the brilliant suggestion that the DU contingent should dress all in black. That this idea was even considered should be ample evidence (if any further evidence were needed) of how little contact the DU has with reality, as anyone who has ever spent an August afternoon frying in Manhattan’s concrete canyons can tell you. But, as their pasty white complexions testify, the average DU member has about as much experience with the sun as Count Dracula, so black it was. A fortuitous side-effect of this policy was that the most delusional element were easily identifiable. It also appears that heat-stroke suppressed the urge to indulge vandalism, so never let it be said that the DU never did good.

4) Sixties-style street theater is a lot harder than it looks. The efforts I saw yesterday were just sort of sad. A dozen unshaven young people in batik gathered at the entrance to the Sheep’s Meadow to play tambourines and bongos and sing anti-war songs. Trouble is, no-one could remember any words beyond the chorus, so the whole thing devolved into a lot of nah-nah-nahing, interrupted occasionally by an enthusiastic burst of “Stop, children, what’s that sound” or the like. Keeping time with a bongo or tambourine must also be tougher than I thought, judging from the many abortive starts (“Okay, one, two…Jingle-chuchunga-jingle…no, that’s not right, let Mary start off with the bongo…one, two…chuchunga-jingle…no, that’s not right either…) I was also amused by the dozen or so sad-looking middle aged women who mustered at Strawberry Fields to sing “Imagine.” I can only admire their commitment to diversity—which extended even to the key(s) in which they sang— but from the look of the group I couldn’t help thinking that “Eleanor Rigby” would have been more appropriate.

Of course by now everyone has heard about the silly ACT-UP group who dropped trou on 8th Avenue the other day. As a means of shocking New Yorkers, disrobing is right up there with blaring your car horn or uttering the F-word. After all, we’ve had the Naked Cowboy in Times Square every day for the past several years. [Editor's Note: New Yorkers will happily ignore the Naked Cowboy link, but anyone else who clicks on that link should give it time to load; it's worth the wait!] I also remember that a popular photographer (can’t recall his name this morning) got about two hundred people to not just disrobe, but to lie down naked on 7th Avenue a few years back. While your skin’s still crawling with the idea of coming into intimate contact with the streets of Times Square, consider this: if you’re arrested in New York, you’re not issued jail clothing until after your arraignment (this week, that could be 24 hours). That means that the ACT-UP folks got to spend a very long, naked time in the ultra-hygenic environment of a 1 Police Plaza holding cell. Poetic Justice.

5) Sloganeering is not the left’s strong suit. Some of my favorites:

“A village in Texas is missing it’s [sic] idiot.”
I didn’t get a chance to ask where in Texas the bearer of that gem was from.

“Osama-2, George Bush-0.”
Damning! Kerry could obviously be counted on to knock down at least 3 buildings full of office workers.

“Dick can lick my Bush.”
Classy and original.

“More people were killed in Iraq than at Cheppaquidick [sic].”
Okaaaay.

6) Strangely absent from the signs and banners yesterday was mention of John Kerry. Bush was everywhere ("Beat Bush," "Lick Bush," "No Bush," etc.) Cheney was even pretty prevalent (the predictable puerile plays on his first name.) But Kerry was hardly in evidence and Edwards was nowhere to be found. My running count was that for every appearance of Kerry's name I saw upwards of 20 Bushes and at least half a dozen Cheneys. I've gotta think the Kerry camp ain't happy about that.

Well, that’s gonna have to do it. My cab’s downstairs, and I’m off for two weeks in a red state!

posted by lostingotham | 8/30/2004 08:10:00 AM
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Blogger John Coleman said...

Wow...great coverage!

12:01 AM, August 31, 2004  

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