1-18-03, 5:45 PM -
I'm a Communist. I am also a pacifist parasite of freedom. Just thought I'd get let you know that before we proceed.
I was informed of these important character blotches by a fat man who was red and sweating on a 24-degree day in Washington, D.C. He was part of a 20-strong phalanx of flag-wavin', ham-eatin' sweathogs who constituted the opposition to today's No War In Iraq march. I will say that I have friends of perfectly normal intelligence who happen to differ with me on the Iraq issue. These were not those people.
"How do you feel, COMRADE?" was one such verbal missile hurled in my direction by the police-ringed rabble. The thing is, I wanted these guys there. Nothing's more boring than a peace rally that's completely peaceful. The October 26th rally was like that, all tolerant smiles and give-peace-a-chance singing. In key, even. That's all fine for a little while, but after an hour or two, you kinda wish somebody would say, "Oh yeah? Well, fuck you and the copy of Sgt. Pepper you rode in on."
When I first heard advance reports that there were going to be counter-demonstrations, I got a little excited. Maybe there'd be an altercation of some sort or a good shouting match. Not with me, of course, because I'm not much of a shouter. I can glare, though. Rrrar.
But I thought these pro-war people were at least gonna make some damned sense. I was completely unprepared for someone to hold up a map of Moscow and yell, "Communist!" in my face. Moscow? What the fuck? Have I slipped through a fucking time warp? (though the president is named Bush and we are talking about Iraq...)
I honestly had no answer for my sweaty opponent, so I just flipped him the bird. I swear I did. I mean, what was there to say that wouldn't have taken at least half an hour? And there were two cops standing between us, so an altercation wasn't likely. Besides, 20 inbred Bill O'Reilly fans vs. nearly half a million hippie freaks ain't no kinda odds. The low pro-war turnout was understandable, though. They've got the Commander-in-Chief, they've got the Congress, why stand out in the cold for 6 hours?
And it WAS cold. Woof.
It was a grand turnout on the peacenik side, though. A sea of placards on the Mall in front of the Capitol building, roving button-distributors everywhere...hell, I half expected Crosby, Stills, & Nash to show up. Or Forrest Gump.
They did have port-a-potties this time, even though the lines were preposterous. I cracked the dreamy peace-n-love aura a bit when I had to tell this little fucker to quit trying to sneak past the line to the commode.
"You know, the line REALLY DOES start back THERE."
"Aww, man, I gotta go!"
"Yeah, well, so do I."
(An aside: We're passing through Baltimore, & I'm reminded of my fascination with large boats. Working on a boat has always seemed like it would be the coolest thing ever, which is probably my North Texas talking. Seafaring careers were as exotic to me as cowboys are to Yankees. But I actually knew a few cowboys, & it's just a job. Just like people up here have their Uncle Bernie who drives a bigass cargo ship. You still wanna go home after 8 hours. And you smell like fish.)
Probably the most interesting thing about this rally was the march, which went from Capitol Hill to the Washington Navy Yard, where they supposedly store some of the U.S.'s weapons of mass destruction (those clever protester people...). The Navy Yard is in a rather crappy neighborhood, as you might expect. The run-down sidewalks & startled faces behind the burglar bars made it pretty evident how much foot traffic the place normally gets.
But half a million people (or close, depending on who you ask) is a lot, even for a Manhattan neighborhood, and matters were exacerbated by the fact that all the chartered buses were clustering in the surrounding streets, resulting in a whipped frappe of congested chaos once the rally let out. One woman frantically pulled her children inside as if a gangfight had broken out. This was well after the "Communist!" incident, so she needn't have worried.
There was an unintentional bit of civil disobedience at the rally, however. Somehow our portion of the march line got funneled into a fenced-in gardeny area of some sort. We were trapped in like dimwitted crabs. The main march was passing us just on the other side of the ill-fastened chain-link fence, and some industrious soul brought the sagging fence to its inevitable conclusion, thereby rejoining us with our brethren. We all stomped on the wire like it was our idea. Yeah, take that, Parks & Wildlife.
Whoa, I just came back from the bus bathroom, and I caught some hot lesbian action in the rear seat. Actually, it was only kissing, but they were hot, & they were lesbians, if only till graduation. This is of interest to me because...well, because Wifely's not here, but also because all the lesbian action I've ever seen in person couldn't really be described as "hot". I was beginning to think the pornos just made that shit up.
Had a bit of adventure on Friday, courtesy of a clumsy contractor. Someone broke a water main, and the bulk of the Brooklyn R train line (our alma mater) began flooding. Our Jon-Secada-'n-pan-flute crankin' neighbor tells us we can walk to another line, but I decide that monkeys shouldn't really talk, and it's off to try the ferry. The ferry service at the Brooklyn Army Terminal was started after 9/11, since so many subway lines were screwed up, but they recently decided to keep it going to relieve subway congestion.
But see, first you have to get to the Brooklyn Army Terminal. I've written in some detail about this voyage before, and the only thing I really have to add is that it's 50 times worse in the freezing cold. But once you're on the ferry, it's rather groovy. If you get an indoor seat. Again, boats are exotic to me, but passing by the Statue of Liberty is just cool, no matter who you are.
Cooler still was passing Governor's Island. There's just something unnatural about that place. Every piece of real estate for miles around it is leased within an inch of its life, and here's this whole island filled with cool old buildings and just not doing a damned thing. It's like 'The Shining' or something. You get the impression that SOMEONE lives there, and no one dares bother him. Maybe it's Johnny Carson. He's been mysteriously quiet lately...
Man, I'm tired. Had to get up at 3:30 AM to catch this bus by 6:00. I know myself, I thought last night. I have to allow 15 to 30 minutes for consciousness to kick in fully after the alarm goes off. Then I'll stay far too long in the nice, warm shower, using up everyone's hot water. Then I'll obsess about smoothing a wacky strand of hair that's only going to pop right up again the minute I leave the house.
I'll check the clock, then realize I don't have time to put my contact lenses in, so I'll grab the glasses again & throw on whatever's not stinky. Then I'll go to the train station at 4:30 and watch the yellow construction trains fart around where my R train oughta be. I will curse. If I'm lucky, I'll get to Grand Army Plaza at 5:30 and save myself a lot of shuffling between buses, looking for an empty seat. Hippie peace-freaks are always late.
As it happens, the above scenario played out to a T this morning, with the unexpected bonus of having enough time to put my contacts in. I NEVER, EVER, EVER thought the day would come when I would casually stick my finger in my eye and deposit a foreign object, holding it in place while I roll my eyeball around.
But if you'd told me I would spend my late 20's marching around Washington, trying to keep the government from dumping a trillion dollars into a third-world oil hole, I'd have snatched you baldheaded. Unless you were a hot lesbian, in which case I'd just stare at you and grunt.
That sounds like an ending line, doesn't it? I guess it should be. The woman next to me on the bus is talking about how she used to sketch gorillas in Kenya. Eyes getting heavy. Ass still sore. By way of segue, there's a big full moon out tonight, & I'm looking forward to seeing it shine on the water as we cross the Verrazzano Bridge. Gotta take your nature wherever you can find it in NYC. Good things are ahead, methinks. Stay tuned.
P.S: This bus was dead as Hank Williams an hour ago. We stop for coffee, and now it's like a gang of hyenas. Caffiene is the mark of the beast.