Digging a Hole

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

From the Campaign Trail!

Werd, so the NJ Environmental Federation has endorsed John Kerry as the "environmental candidate." But what other endorsements has Kerry been acquiring?

Take that Toby Keith! John Kerry demonstrates his ability to look awkward and locks in the loud, spiky-haired voter bloc with the endorsement of California's favorite sons (other than Reagan). Dude, are Green Day really short or is Kerry really tall?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Irish Pic of the Day #4: Strawberries are the Best!

Bloomsday in Dublin! TMQ, Aerob, and Joanna partake of baskets of strawberries at the all-Dublin breakfast on O'Connell Street. Strawberries are proof that a higher being exists and that this being likes us a lot. =D
June 2004.

Fuck You Princess Tiger Lily!

So, this weekend, I used my new "i have a job!" income to travel to Boston, home of Massachusetts liberals (RED sox. Coincidence?!) and other stereotypes. Anyhoo, so I decided not to take the FungWah Bus because Greyhound/Peter Pan has this deal where you can go from NYC to Boston for the same price on the weekends. Sweet, right?
So, at 2pm Friday, after taking a bus into NY from Bloomfield, I boarded a bus to Boston. Estimated arrival time? 6:30pm.
This bus was called "Tinkerbell." (Isn't Peter Pan Lines clever?) The real Tinkerbell could fly. Our Tinkerbell could barely make it out of NYC before it overheated and ended up chilling on the side of the highway. "Emergency! Emergency!" yelled the driver over the intercom waking me up in a panic. "I think the bus is on fire!" yelled one passenger. Pretty quickly, we realized that the bus was just hot. So we sat.
About 10 minutes later, another Peter Pan bus pulled in front of us and offered to rescue us.... but only 27 of us. The driver announced, "27 of you will take this bus. The rest will wait here for a new bus for a while." Predictably, a riot ensued over which 27 people got to move on. Finally, the bus driver returned to tell us that the bus in question was not going to Boston; it was going to Hartford. Hartford is like Boston only with no sports teams or charm. So we all chilled out on Tinkerbell and waited for a rescue.
I sat on the guardrail along the highway, listened to Green Day, and acted cool. Some other dude from the bus took my picture a bunch. ("Listless angst on the side of a highway", 2004.) Finally, a second bus came (about an hour later). This bus was called the Princess Tiger Lily. The PTL had AC and modern seating. It also had just run out of batteries. Once everyone was safely on board, the driver annouced that Princess was also broken and would not start. We all shuffled back onto Tinkerbell.
Anyone familiar with Peter Pan knows that in order to revive Tinkerbell, the audience must clap their hands. Well, we tried that theory on Tinkerbell the bus too. The bus company had no more buses to send for us, so we were going to have to make it to Hartford on Tinkerbell somehow. And by somehow I mean first gear the whole way. Woot!
After an excruciatingly long journey, Tinkerbell limped into Hartford. Waiting for us was.... a third bus! This bus (Mike and John) traveled about an hour before we heard the familiar cry of "Emergency! Emergency!" Mike and John was also out of batteries, but we were still an hour from Boston, so we turned out all of the lights and AC, switched off the movie (ironically, Peter Pan), and hoped for the best. Mike and John managed to crawl into South Station after 9pm. I got a full refund.
I did some stuff in Boston with Aerob and Sadownik. It was fun but not relevant to this story. =D
So, today (Sunday) I boarded a Peter Pan bus to return home. One hour into the trip.... "Uh, ladies and gentlemen, the bus has run out of battery power. I am shutting off the AC and trying to make it to the next rest stop."
Guess what the name of *this* bus was? Princess Tiger Lily! The return of! Someone other than me should really keep track of which buses need new batteries. WTF.......
This driver handled the situation pretty darn well, and we spent the time waiting for a rescue bus at McDonalds. The final bus to get us (Wendy's Bus) made it to NYC in record time. Wendy always was the responsible one........
In conclusion, (to the tune of Wang Chung) everybody FungWah next time!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Oh yeah! It's new U2 album time!

U2: Ready for the new album.
For all you Wes kids out there, you may never have met me during a U2 album release. I'm gonna be kind of a moron for the next two months. =D
See below for a link to the new single: "Vertigo".

This Just In!

Here is a link to hear the....
It's on Croatian radio. Cool. You can also hear it on KROCK every hour on the hour this weekend/

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Irish Pic O' the Day! #3: When Literature Attacks!

Tara is decapitated by the Irish Writers Museum. (Dublin, June 04)

I Have....

GREEN DAY TICKETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My birthday. NJ. Werd.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Skateboarding With the Quakers

This evening, as I was avoiding looking for jobs, I randomly looked up the MTV show "Viva la Bam" about that skater kid/adult/whatever who messes with his family with a huge MTV budget. I couldn't really figure out why I was at that site. I just figured it out, though. It all started when I went to Quaker meeting in Montclair with my dad today because I shook on it last week. That's a binding promise.
So, the idea is, you sit in a fairly comfortable room for an hour and reflect on stuff. If you feel that you are being moved by God, you say something to the meeting. If you are not sure whether what you are thinking is coming from God or from your ego, you save it for the "afterthoughts" section. So, what can happen, as happened today, is that no one says anything FOR AN HOUR.
This can be very trying for one with a short attention span such as me. I tried to reflect on stuff in a Godly way, but I figured that *trying* was the wrong idea entirely. So, instead, I blanked my mind out and waited to see what would come to it. I stared at people. I stared at the most recent drum blisters on my right hand (rocked the set yesterday). I looked out the window. Werd, an hour is a long time. Now I know why Quakers have no problem getting arrested all the time. Jail could enduce an epileptic seizure as compared to meeting. I thought jail was the most boring place on earth. I was wrong.
So, once I established that God wasn't sending me any wisdom, I decided to stop staring at things and *really* blank my mind. What thoughts would I be sent? Skateboards. WTF, mate?
I make no claims to being able to skateboard. In middle school and high school, most of the boys I was friends with had boards... and in theory could skate... so I could get around on one assuming there were no curbs to jump or rails to ride on. In high school, a bunch of us hung out in the halls after school got out, and I used to watch this one kid try to jump the stairs every afternoon. (This same kid lost his spleen when the bread truck he was being pulled by stopped suddenly, and he plowed into the back of it.) I thought about that, and getting dumped in a school garbage can upon meeting the after school crew, and about the time we locked Andy in the girls bathroom with his trumpet, and he played until a custodian came and writ us all up. But yeah, in summary, skateboarding is not really a large component of my life (and by "not really a large component" i mean "not a component at all").
But I thought about skateboarding and skateboards for a good 15 or 20 minutes. This was very odd. Was God trying to send me a crucial skateboarding message? Was I being moved by God.... to talk to the meeting about skateboards? Probably not, so I didn't, but it would have been very entertaining.
I left the meeting feeling pretty damn refreshed. Skateboarding in your head for half an hour will do that. It was kind of like listening to headphones in the back of the van on a long car trip. Same day-dreamy refreshed feeling. Spirituality KP-style. =) But I don't think I can handle sitting still and quiet for an hour every week even if I feel refreshed afterwards.
Oh, yeah, so that's probably why I was flipping through the MTV site today. Weird.
Disclaimer: So, yeah, this was less a story than random internal ponderings, but like, nothing happened at Quaker meeting BUT random internal ponderings. That's the whole point. Werd.

Irish Picture O'the Day #2: American Idiots.

(I mean that in the nicest, obsessed with Green Day, kinda way.) TMQuinn and Aerob demonstrate that the tickets to the Guinness factory are, in fact, filled with Guinness.
(Dublin, June 2004)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

New Feature! Irish Picture O'the Day!

Below: Post-hurling match in Dublin.

So, towards the end of the hurling match (ask me about hurling!) they made all these announcements about not running onto the pitch (oh yeah, I said pitch) after the match. After nearly the entire crowd did anyway, they made announcements about where all the exits are from the field. Ireland is cool. I will try to make the "Irish Picture O'the Day" a semi-regular feature, if it gets some good feedback.

"The Resistance is Now Paying. Ask Us."

Werd. That is what the sign hanging from the front door of the New Jersey Environmental Federation (Clean Water Action, NJ) says. Now *some* people (coughAerobcough) seem to think that canvassing for a green group is not "the resistance". Some of those "some people" (less so Aerob) probably think that the resistance involves eating out of trash cans and holding conferences for each other. Unfortunately, that type of resistance, while a lot of fun at times, doesn't get as much done as the NJEF, but power to it all the same. Community is important too.
Anyhoo, so, canvassing. I mean.... asking rich people for money is never fun, unless you kind of think of yourself as an environmental Robin Hood. Or a door to door salesperson in a retr0 1950s kinda way. Yeah....
So, the people at the office are good people. The pay is wobbly depending on how much you make going door to door, but it appears that everyone working there has no problem getting the amount they need each night.
Here are some quickie stories from my very first night out observing this one kid for a while and then striking out on my own:
Canvass Kid: Hi, my name is CK and I'm with the etc. etc. We are an organization that protects NJ's drinking water by defending against overdevelopment.
Homeowner: I'm a developer.
CK: I'll pass this in to you so you can take a look at what some of your neighbors have been signing on to.
Homeowner: My immigration lawyer says that if I sign any petitions I will be deported.
Me: Hi etc etc...
Homeowner: What are you selling?
Me: Oh, I'm not selling anything.
Homeowner: Are you a beggar?! We don't like beggars around here.
Me: Well, I'm with-
Homeowner: Step inside where I can see ya! Come on! GRANDMA! COME IN HERE!
Grandma: Who's this?
Homeowner: Dunno.
Me: Hi, I'm Kerry and-
Grandma: Are you a beggar?!
Me: Hi I'm-
Homeowner (from behind door): GET OFF MY STEPS!!
Homeowner (old woman): WHO'S OUT THERE?!
Me: Hi, uh, my name is Kerry and I'm etc etc.
Homeowner: Oh....
***door opens a crack...***
Homeowner: I'm 90.
Me: Wow! Congratulations!
Homeowner: I have a grandaughter your age.
Me: Well, protecting the water supply is important for future generations.
Homeowner: Clever. God Bless you child.
Me: Fuck it. Can I have some money?
So, I will be a parttime canvasser for at least a little while. Boo. The search for an actual job continues.
And Green Day tickets....

Friday, September 17, 2004

Have *You* Seen This Band?

The quest continues...

So, in case anyone doesn't know... I have worked almost as hard at getting Green Day tickets as I have at getting a job. Okay... well... maybe I have worked almost as hard at getting a job as I have at getting Green Day tickets...... But, either way, I have a job (crappy canvassing) and no tickets. Clearly, my priorities are not together.

85 Walnut St. Mini-Moment

The Scene: We are watching the Green Day concert on MTV2.
BJ has removed his pants. My dad thinks this is funny as hell.
Dad: "Where the fuck are his pants? He was probably backstage like, 'I'm gonna play without any pants tonight!' and the band was like, 'no way!' and he was like, 'watch me!' Wait... is he wearing underwear? Oh, it's a thong."
"4 chords... The Ramones invented it, but nobody does it like these guys."
Hmm... maybe dad will fork over the $350 people are asking for on Ebay for the tickets that sold out in 15 seconds this morning...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

From the Archives!

It was a simpler time. There was only one war. There were way less peace protesters to keep track of. The Patriot Act was brand spanking new.
Welcome to Fall 2001: the website.
"......freeeeeeee.... the eighteeeeeeeen....."

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

3 Reasons to Take the Canvassing Job *AND/OR* I Whore Myself for Green Day Tickets

1) Green Day's new album comes out in days... and then they tour the NJ on my bday
2) R.E.M.'s new album comes out Oct 4th... and i owe my mom money for the tickets
3) U2's new album comes out November 22nd... and the tour? maybe i can mortgage my soul...
And for those keeping score of my quest for Green Day tixkets, KROCK:4, me:0.
I did get to talk to a DJ once and told him that only boys are winning the contest and that maybe he could balance it out a little by throwing me some tickets. "That's true," he mused. "We don't want to have a sausage fest." "Uh,... yeah!" -me.
So, lo and behold, on my fourth try to win the tickets, a girl did indeed win.
"Wow, finally a chick won!" -dj
"Uh, yeah." -the chick
"I was starting to worry. It was looking like a sausage fest. I was rooting for you." -dj
"Well, just doing my part to provide balance." -the chick
"Does that mean you are offering yourself to all the men at Irving Plaza?" -dj
"Um... no, sorry." -the chick
So, I did my part to reinforce gender differences today. But I still didn't win tickets. Damn...

So. Central Bloomfield Represents

So, here is an interesting clip from this morning's Jersey paper....
"Then the phone calls started coming in because businesses all along Bloomfield Avenue got bullets though their windows," said Bloomfield's police chief John McNiff.
So, two 19 year olds bump into three teenage kids.... and the kids open fire?
For those unfamiliar with Bloomfield geography, this intersection is approx. 700 meters from where I live. Anyone who went on the spring break 03 trip may remember this intersection as being where we stopped to get windshield wipers before heading back to the Parkway. Or, anyone who has visited me via Parkway North may remember Bloomfield Ave. as being the street they cross with the car lots on the corner. Trek up that road less than half a mile and you'll be at the corner of Grove and Bloomfield Ave.
So, what are we, the residents of Bloomfield to make of this bullshit? All of the people involved in the incident were from Bloomfield or Newark. Here's what I think: I have lived in Bloomfield since I was 10 months old. Sure, the school system sucks a little, but it's hardly So. Central. Fuck any sociologist who tries to claim that this growing violence is a result of a lack of opportunities. Bloomfield is boring, but I'm not shooting anyone over it.
If this sounds angry, that's because I'm pissed as hell.
How can you change anything when you are dealing with a youth culture, small though it may be, for whom violence is acceptable?

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Ain't That America?

Home of the free. (Something to see, etc.... Secret John Melloncamp fans unite!)
Anyhoo, yesterday I went to the oh-so-exciting John Kerry rally in Allentown, PA. It happened to take place at the fairgrounds which are across the street from my aunt's house, so it was very convenient. I braved route 78 (otherwise known as road of death) to get there and make my crucial campaign contribution of holding an official "Veterans for Kerry" sign. (I mean, it didn't say *military* veteran. I'm a veteran of lots of stuff. For the purposes of the sign, let's say I am a veteran of... um.... onion sauteing! Werd. Everyone, particularly those polled who said they are likely to vote in the coming election, loves sauteing onions.)
So yeah, I arrived at my aunt's alleyway (a thru street that barely barely barely fits two cars) only to immediately get in a fight with some woman in a GIANT pickup truck. Welcome to PA! Seriously though, I am a really chill driver. I wait on long toll lines to avoid cutting people off by moving. I stop at yellow lights. This woman was clearly from England as she was driving on the left side of the narrow narrow alley (to avoid some sweet old ladies who were pulled to the right looking at a map in a sweet, old "i don't have a clue that I am causing a demolition derby by sitting here" kinda way). Now, as I was already next to the car with the old women, I could not pull to the side (car on one side, big brick building on the other) so, really, it was up to the truck driver from Europe to stop being a Socialist and move to the right side of the road. But no. She drove her truck up to the grill of my ancient minivan and said, "Uh uh. NO WAY! YOU have to back up!" I poked my head out the window and called, "I live on this street mam! I just need to park in the driveway behind you!" to no avail. Deciding it was better to back out into the other street again than to get in a fight (see how chill I am?), I did just that. AND SHE FLIPPED ME OFF! Can you believe that? So, of course, me being me, I added a loud and enthusiastic "Fuck you!" which I *never* *ever* do. And here's why. Lo and behold the giant brick building was an elementary school and small children were just walking out the front door. I suck.
So, after solidifying the reputation of Jersey drivers (when it was so *clearly* PA that started it), I parked the car, and my aunt and I struck out for the fairgrounds. The really short, conveniently located entry line was for press.... So we were directed around the, rather large, fair block to the general admission line. By the time we reached the end of said line, though, we had walked all the way back to near the press entry. The Democrats are nothing if not efficient.
Gates opened at 3:30 and by 6:00 (!) the crowd was nearly all through security and in their areas. Werd. If I had been a veteran of like, a war or something, I could have gotten a cool red ticket and moved to the front of the line. Or, if I had lied and *said* I was a veteran... Hmm... But alas. I am not a veteran, so no one came down the line offering me a red ticket. And I am not a union member wearing a cool union shirt, so I was not offered a blue ticket. Also, I am not a firefighter, a relative of one of these groups, or someone who looked cool enough to get any other ticket than the lame-o white ticket. We were like, the least useful Americans section of the crowd. Oh, and most of the crowd. Werd.
So, you aren't allowed to bring your own signs to a Kerry rally. (But you don't have to sign a loyalty pledge!) At about 5:30, you are provided with one of three items: the "A Stronger America begins at home!" sign, the "Veterans for Kerry" sign, or an American flag. Some unions gave out hot Kerry pennants (which I snagged after the rally), but we couldn't get one of those before the rally because my aunt and I were not in the hip cool blue ticket section or the stoic heroic red ticket section. So, basically, the people who got the Veterans for Kerry signs were everyone in the crowd who were definitely *not* veterans. (Or, veterans who, for some strange reason, did not want to identify as veterans even if it meant they would get to sit in the same time zone as Kerry.)
The security took years and years. After someone at the security tent gave me an official bottle of water, another officer made me drink it in front of him to prove it wasn't like, vodka, or... liquid terror! I didn't know what was in the bottle either, since they had just handed it to me, so this made me a little nervous.
On to the rally! Werd, so, a bunch of people I don't care about because they are from PA spoke. And then some kids shot t-shirts into the crowd with a slingshot Double A baseball style. And a bizarre mixtape blared for the 2.5 hours it took to get everyone in... Stuff like John (Cougar) Melloncamp, the Beatles, Hootie and the Blowfish, Fatboy Slim.... Weird-arse mix.
Then the motorcade roared into the back of the fairgrounds! And everyone went nuts! And the Bruce Springsteen song "No Surrender" thundered out of the suddenly very loud speakers as Kerry strided up to the stage. It was like a WWF (WWE now?) wrestling entrance. He slowly took off his coat, hung it up, rolled up his sleeves, and smiled now and then at the wild crowd going into a Brucce-tastic frenzy around him. It was very cool. Bet it was even cooler from the red ticket section.
His speech was pretty classic stump. He used the whole "W stands for wrong" theme which feels a little forced to me. Like, the Republicans get to wave flip flops at their rallies. I don't think the Dems are going to take to the whole "Wrong W" thing as well. Also, W also stands for "win" as in, "The Mets don't have many games in the W column." Shit. And if we wave W's like the Republicans wave sandals, we will look like either West Coast rappers... or fans of George W. Double shit.....
So yeah, speech. Blahdidah. *After* the speech, more Bruce Springsteen! (Dance party!) And then, U2! (He has good taste.) Most of the crowd left, but a few hundred stuck around to crowd forward into the red section (take that veterans!) to shake his hand or get an autograph. Unfortuntely, despite getting within 10 feet of him, I was unable to ask any hardhitting questions before he left. (Questions like: Werd, why did you attack Bush for saying the war on terror can't be won? And: What is your favorite U2 album? And: What does a kid have to do to get a damn colored ticket?!)
Oh, and I found the cool Kerry pennant lying in the blue ticket section and snagged it. Go Team Me! And everyone thought my Kerry jersey was cool. And for the record there were like, a few thousand people there. I don't know how many the grounds stands seat, but they were full plus a packed standing area around the stage sooooo.... If they all vote and get, like, 100 of their friends each to vote too..... Kerry will totally win Pennsylvania! Rock.
And then, everyone went home to their respective little pink houses....

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Best Article About Protesters Ever Written

Everyone should read this heartwarming and hilarious tale of a group of protesters from Texas and their experiences in NYC. =D
From the 35 hour van ride, to getting arrested, to getting mugged by kids, to having a tarp-full of water fall on them while sleeping on a roof, these guys got the full RNC experience in the tradition of Eurotrip and National Lampoon.
I smell a hot movie script!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Hope is On the Way!!

So, John Edwards-style, I am going to tell a neighborhood story of hope in these RNC/Bush/police/unemployed-type times.
So, the other night, after the RNC, we could overhear my neighbors talking next door in their backyard. (If you've been to my house, you know that the yards are tight. Werd.) So, one guy was ragging his wife and two others about how they went to a solidarity protest in Montclair (my neighborhood has gotten hit pretty darn hard during the Bush years and has gotten all radicaltastic). Finally, he started saying of protesters, "Beat them down!" My dad had had enough. He raised his head over the fence and yelled, good naturedly, "This isn't fucking Eastern Europe!"
This got everyone laughing on all sides, and our neighbor Patty (of digging a hole blog fame) told us about the "yell a thon" that night. "When Bush makes his speech you are supposed to stick your head out your door and yell." Okay.....
So, much later in the evening, as I was switching on cable news, I heard a deafening scream, like someone was being attacked. I raced out the door with a hockey stick just in time to see Patty laughing her arse off with a pile of flyers in hand. "I'm gonna wake the whole neighborhood!" she exclaimed. "Nobody sleeps tonight. I'm ringing every bell!" And with that she started off distributing her flyers to the dumbfounded, sleepy block as everyone stumbled out their doors. It was a pretty amazing moment of neighborhood oneness and genuine American discussion as the real people in this country stood on their front stoops and read Patty's flyers.
She had written a poem which had started out as an apology letter to families of slain Iraqi civilians but had continued into a list of evils including the deaths of so many young American servicepeople. It concluded, "It just makes me want to SCREAM!"
"I finished it two minutes before the speech started," she explained. "It just came from somewhere deep down. I'm so angry."
Too bad this is already Blue Country....

Thursday, September 02, 2004

RNC photo wrap-up

Here is a *very* brief collection of photos I swiped from Indymedia's newswires this week.
It's supposed to be like, a narrative... yeah...
Oh, and the last two are only there because they are in THREE DEE!!! (3D)
If you have any digital photos of people we actually *know*, like *us*, leave a comment.
And heeeeere we go!

Can you find Ben and Aerob? Posted by Hello

Amazing strength was shown this week at the Republican National Convention, particularly at Monday's marches. Posted by Hello

The police arrested basically everyone, but Posted by Hello

As usual, the left had more fun at the convention this week. Posted by Hello

Billionaires for Bush offered a counter protest. Posted by Hello

I have a crush on the Infernal Noise Brigade. Posted by Hello

Giant-arse crowd from Sunday. Posted by Hello

Now Digging a Hole in 3D!!!!! Posted by Hello

Ooh 3-D action! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


A special shout out to those I know and love who are mixed up in the NYC "justice" system.
And a general shout out to all those who collectively expressed rage this past week.
If any Wes kids or friends need any support from a North Jersey native who is a half hour bus ride from midtown and can offer shelter and food in the NJ, leave a comment or ask mattio for my home phone number.

I <3 NY (but Fuck the Republicans)

As I write this update, hundreds of people are being arrested all over downtown NYC. Why am I now resting confortably in NJ reading Indymedia (www.nyc.indymedia.org) and yelling a Fox News? Dude, because jail is, in the words of Sarah Norr, the single most boring place on earth. And I don't think getting arrested again will help my job search.
So what did I do at the RNC for the last four days?
SATURDAY: Arrived in NYC and joined Ben at the NYSPC Books Not Bombs event. Lots of teach-ins and meetings. A great vibe at St. Mark's Church. Unfortunately, the teach-ins kinda went nowhere and instead digressed into arguments about whether or not to support Kerry (with, surprise!, a majority of the anti-Kerry sentiment coming from white male splinter-Left people).
Somebody please tell the International Socialist Organization that voting for Nader will not spark The Revolution.
SUNDAY: Woooo! The big-arse United for Peace and Justice march! Half a million people stretched over two miles to protest the Republicans. (Shout out to the B6 Chicks who made an appearance!) While it was extremely hot, and the lines for the bathroom in Barnes and Nobles were extremely long, the crowd maintained high energy with the help of a lot of great music. Sambahots (the Wes-based drumming group) got the crowd jumping prior to the start of the march along with Young Communist League members spitting lyrics. Some creepy weird dude (man, there are soooo many creepy weird, probably harmless, dudes on the Left) tried to convince Sambahots to jump into the march early and tried to convince me to sleep more so I could drum better or something.... We ditched him. =D
Sambahots, while doing its utmost best with small numbers, gladly yielded the spotlight to some truly awesome protest bands including the Rude Mechanical Orchestra (the green band), some awesome anarchist band from Florida/North Carolina (the pink band), and THE INFERNAL NOISE BRIGADE!!! from Seattle (the orange band, www.infernalnoise.org). I have had a crush on the INB since I saw them in a video from Seattle so I was pretty psyched to see them rawk out. Way to be!
The march got bizarre as smoke rose near Madison Square Garden, the convention site, but it wasn't tear gas. It was a giant dragon puppet bursting into flames. There are still conflicting reports over who lit it on fire...
The march concluded with Sambahots leading the crowd in cheers of "Vote for Jon Stewart!" and "Picnic in Central Park!" which earned smiles from fellow weary protesters. (Hey, it was a long march route. There are only so many times you can chant, "No RNC in NYC!")
We concluded the day in the Park where a couple thousand protesters took off their shoes, stretched out on the grass, and tapped drums in the dreamy sun. Hardly the battle for the Park that was predicted.
MONDAY: Okay, so we *meant* to go to the Still We Rise march, but it was at noon and still we slept. We managed to arrive at 8th and 30th just in time to see the rally end, so we headed off to the UN to join the Poor People's March which, at that point, was still negotiating with the police for its unpermitted march. Permitted or no, the march took off anyway along a compromise route accompanied by the pink band, the Rude Mechanical Orchstra, and a bazillion trillion police.
It started out chill as hell. Police blocked two lanes of traffic for us, and we respected their lines. We turned onto 23rd (i think...) and found tons of sympathetic bystanders who cheered the ragtag march of 2000-3000 people as we marched, surrounded entirely by hundreds of police on foot and bikes. Then, suddenly, someone did *something*, I guess, because riot cops (note that when I get pissed, "police" become "cops") bumrushed the crowd in front of me and started dragging people out. The crowd panicked and started running, and the cops started to react with violent posturing. Face shields went down, long wooden clubs came out, and the situation teetered dangerously on the brink of violent mass arrests. I watched as, not 2 feet from me, cops dragged a stunned protester to a waiting bus, and stood rooted and shocked until the cops starting shoving me and others along, passing me from cop to cop until I got my feet moving while yelling, "Let's go! Continue your walk!"
The situation then de-escalated, thankfully, and returned to normal. More people joined from the sidewalks and the march swelled. A "basketball player against Bush" and an absolutely massive body builder showed their muscle. We had some big-arse allies.
The march turned onto 8th and headed uptown towards the designated protest area where the organizers had been told we would be allowed a half hour rally. Instead, at 29th and 8th, just as I crossed the intersection, police rushed into the crowd again, this time to attempt to seal off the road behind us and pen us into two barricaded areas. Panic and violence ensued, but again, the crowd managed to calm down. I played frisbee with some kids (like you do when in a barricaded protest zone) until we decided that the undercover cop level was getting too high. (I have a rule that says that if I think I might get arrested but still have an out, I think to myself, "If I get arrested here, will I feel like an asshole when I try to explain it to non-actvisty people?" If the answer is "yes", it's time to boogie out of there.) As Sarah Norr says (this is a snorr-tastic blog post), "It's not like the revolution depends on what happens in this intersection."
TUESDAY: We cleaned up Ben's apartment and then headed off to get our Peaceful Protester official buttons. The lady there was infinitely friendly and told us to take lots and give them out. Woot!
Then it was off to the Fox News Shut-Up-A-Thon! As part of a day of unpermitted actions, Code Pink called for people to show up outside the studios of the nation's leading propaganda machine to vent their anger. Even the Infernal Noise Brigade came to rally the crowd! Police initially tried to contain the protest, but they then set up barricades in the street, and the unpermitted protest turned into a chill protest-pen kinda scene. Lots of silliness and goodness. We stayed for a while, gave a few Bronx cheers to O'Reilly, told him to "shut the fox up!", and then headed home. A dang good four days.
Oh wait, I almost forgot, the day got even more awesome, when I saw a delegate from Texas walking around near the Garden sporting a cowgirl hat, an American flag vest (isn't that, like, desecration?), and AWESOME COWGIRL BOOTS!!! featuring a red white and blue stencil of Texas with "Bush04". I tried to say hello, but she and her delegate friends ignored me. A savvy passing New Yorker smiled at me though and said, "That, is what we call, a mess."
Unfortuntely, when I arrived home I found out on Indymedia that many of the other unpermitted actions had ended in mass arrests and pepper spray. Fookin 'ell.
Time to watch the governator's speech......