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Tuesday, 21 January 2003

Anti-war protest

Wish I could give a more in depth review. We showed up. Watched people march for a while. Listen to a speech by somebody who plays a hippy on the TV show Dharma and Greg, waited in a hella long line for the bathroom, picked up flyers from almost every socialist group there (the Spartacus folks are pushy) and then decided to go get food. I suck at protesting. Anyway, I got on some email lists and talked to some of the biodiesel people. I wish they'd had a stronger presence. I think biodiesel is definitely a solution to many environmental, social, and politcal problems.

Anyway, we walked from the Civic Center to a restaurant at 22nd & Mission that Christi likes. It's a tapas place called Esperento. None of the esperanto people were there. (yet another under publicized idea that can solve many problems. Did you know that more than 10% of the UN budjet is spent on translators?) The food was really good, but the background music was that song where the refrain says, "If you love me, say yes. If you don't then confess. Just please don't tell me Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps." Over and over and over again. The song played in a sort of a flamenco style the entire time we were there. I used to like that song.

I feel like yuppy scum, I show up at a protest as an excuse to try fine dining. Anyway, there wasn't any chanting. I'm good at chanting. There were just a whole lot of people milling around. I felt kind of like a spectator, since I didn't have a sign or anything marking me as a protester. So I picked up flyers instead. I also have a copy now of every socialist newspaper that was there. I also nabbed a copy of the The Little Red Song Book. So it wasn't just fine dining, it was also shopping.

Anyway, I think the bad that I'm in should play a cover of the socialist anthem. The songs in the songbook are designed to be sung on picket lines, so many of them are set to familiar tunes. They're wayyy too catchy. My factory lies over the ocean. My factory lies over the sea. My factory lies over the border. Bring back my factory to me. Bring back, bring back, bring back my factory to me to me. Bring back, bring back, bring back my factory to me. (it's been stuck in my head since saturday.) Other songs are folk tunes. The ones by Judi Bari are very interesting, but I can't talk too much about this because Christi hates Judi Bari. This stems from a summer job where Christi opened mail sent to the team working on the Spotted Owl Environmental Impact Statement. Christi's dad was on the team. Apperently, Bari sent death-threats to Christi's dad and Christi read them as a young teenager. When radicals threaten your family, it has a way of turning you against them, I guess. Renee hates Angela Davis, because Renee's uncle was a prison gaurd and was killed by an inmate whom Davis successfully defended. Or participated in the defense or something. Anyway . . .

The next protest is in February, and I might be in Portland or Seattle when it happens. Wherever I protest, I'm going to show up earlier and bring a sign. Maybe it can say "Peace" in Esperanto or something about biodiesel. I should join or found a radical biodiesel group that can hand out flyers about liquid solar power and the existing diesel fleet. I think that there's some good possibilities on this. Maybe we could grow algae in waste water (read: sewage) and harvest the oil out of it in a centerfuge kind of thing. Algae is about 50% oil. That oil could be used for fuel. Perhaps it could be heat-treated to kill germs. Tammy just got a job designing waste water treatment plants. I should talk to her about this.

Matthew reported that most of the Portland protesters were Baby Boomers. There were almost no folks his age. That's confuding to me because Matthew is draft age. Why aren't the folks with the most to lose out there? The San Francisco crowd had a ton of young people. It really was a huge crowd. Bigger than other thigns, I think. Ususally, when I go to gay pride, I see tons of people I know and we chat for a few minutes. At this event, pretty much all of my friends, queer and het were there and I didn't bump into anyone that I didn't arrive with.

The newspaper reported that a small group of black-clad protestors broke off from the march and broke some windows in the financial district. It was very targetted, apparently. They broke windows of banks that are war profiteers and Starbucks. Anyway, it occurred to me that if we were protesting an acual war in February, there were enough people there to shut down the entire city. Groups could fan out and stop all car traffic. We could block the Bay Bridge. Blocking BART would be harder, but it's part of the solution to oil wars, not the problem, so that's ok. If everyone decided that there was going to be a city-wide shut down, it would be impossible for the cops to clear it. They'd have to arrest thousands of people. More than they have jail space for. There's not enough cops. How could you arrest 50,000 people who have fanne dout across the city with the goal of sitting down in every interesection? You couldn't. They'd have to use other (bad) crowd control tactics, but honestly, I don't think they want to. (I saw somebody carrying a sign that said, "cops for peace.") First of all, a lot of them are probably anti-war. Secondly, anti-war protests are great for city tourism. People came from all over the west to protest in SF. Every restaurant for miles around the city center was packed with protesters. I hate to be so shallowly capitalistic and crass, but the hotel and restaurant business are probably overwhelmingly pro-protest, at least, unless they're Starbucks or the cops starting shooting out all the windows. And the protest was on a Saturday, so most non-tourist businesses are not affected. So if we did shut down the city, as long as we kept going into restaurants, staying in hotels and buying tourist trinkets (some from the protests, stay for Fisherman's Warf), and it was on a weekend, would the city really care? It would certainly be a great symbolic gesture to halt automobile traffic, if only for a few hours.

I bet it's illegal to talk about the pros and cons of blocking traffic. Maybe the FBI reads my blog!! Total Informatin Awareness is out to get us. I miss civil liberties. I hope that in the next presidential election, the votes actually get counted.

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