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Tuesday 13 May 2003

Sousaphone Protesting

I meant to post first about Tennis Roberts and then talk about the protest that I went to today, but I ended up digressing so much into tuning that I feared Tiffany would just stop reading the post, since she has no patience for rambling about tuning. So I've broken it into two posts.

Christi's uncle came over today to pick up our old imac. Late last night, I reofrmatted the purple imac's hard drive and put OS9 on it and a few applications. It's really much happier as an os9 machine. It runs fast and has a ton of hard drive space. But there's something very sad about about reformatting a computer and not restoring it. It's soul is gone. even if azll your data is moved over and you finally figured out how to move your bookmarks, it's still... No two computers are exactly the same. They all have bit rot. But they all have it in different ways. I should light a candle or something for the repose of the soul of the purple imac.

Um, anyway, Christi's uncle came over and we chatted for a while and then got lunch and then Christi started showing him how to use word. Christi's uncle, Forrest, works in a dump. He drives the forklift around. Maybe he runs the whole place. Apparently he sees imacs at the dump all the time, but he didn't know what they were until now. He just fished a plasma cutter out and now has a very nice welding rig. He says that he's seen every item in our house at the dump. He didn't know people were like that. What are they thinking about, throwing away their imacs?? Anyway, Christi asked him to fish them out. We could do some cool super-array of imacs runnign supercollider or something. It would be awesome.

So I left them to go play at the Okalnd docks protest. Last month, protesters formed a picket line across the entrance to the docks for APL, a military contracter that ships war materials around. The Oakland police shot at the protesters with "non-leathal" weapons and ended up also hitting some longshoremen and others. This was roundly condemned. I was in Seattle for the first one and missed it (which is ok, since I don't really want to be shot at). But the BLO was playing this time, so I lugged my sousaphone on to BART. My poor horn is covered with duct tape, which is sealing off several leaks. Many people felt obligated to make duct tape jokes about it. Yes, it is ready for biochemical attack. I just used the tape cuz I like John Ridge. Anyway.

A large croud of people was assembled outside of the West Oakland Bart at 5:00. At the same time, a group of people was protesting outside of the APL building in Seattle. Cool cross-costal actavism. People were handing out flyers and maps and stuff. Other folks were addressing the croud about non-violence and strategy and various important annoucements, whcih I ignored in favor of adding duct tape to the horn. You can't have too much duct tape.

some body gave a me a free newspaper that had in the mast head linked female signs with fists in them an a hammer and sickle. I was very excited to get the radical, communist, anarchist lesbian newspaper, but I can't find the queer content in it. Anyway, One of the organizers, named Gopal, decided that the band should lead off the march to the docks. I was darn hot and it's a long way to the end of the docks. I had to stop and pant several time during songs, none of which I had ever played before. The sax player who was being drum major would give me a quick run-down of the notes in the bass line, which I would promptly forget. But I was getting the hang of it the more we marched. and it was very nice to get a break at the last dock. I laid on the ground next to my horn and was then surrounded by press taking my picture. I guess exhausted sousaphone pkayers are picture-esque. Also, the horn is quite a bit bigger than me. I can see the captions now, "tiny sousaphone player can't actually play horn." Anyway, I might be in the Oakland Tribune tomorrow and the Daily Cal.

The rest of the band was coming in a 6:30 shift and was marching up from the bart station, so we decided to march back to gate 3 and meet up with them. The BLO is cool, because it has a strong emphasis on improvisation. We'll play the head of the song and them maybe a verse or something and then the drum major will point at somebody and they'll solo over the chord changes of the head. This goes on for a long time. Some of the folks a great solosists. Then we'll play the bridge section, then maybe the head again and then maybe end the song. Some times we'll sing the words instead of playing. So we played several songs on the way back to the gate and then played a bunch of songs there. We had just finished playing a very upbeat rendidtion of "We Shall Overcome," when Gopal announced that we had oversome and had sucessfully stopped work at the docks for the shift.

So we all marched very triumphantly back to the BART station. It was a huge, jubulant crowd. when you see pictures in the news papers of giant crowds of leftist europeans carrying signs and celebrating because they won some thing. It was like that. We played and sang "Le Internationale," but I only know the Billy Brag words and so couldn't sing along. During the entire evening, the cops just sat and watched. Some of them bobbed their head a long with the music. They were completely hands-off. A definite improvement.

During the triumphant march back, my back was having no more of it. I had already been playing and carrying the horn non-stop for more than three hours. It's a heavy horn. So I staggered back to the BART station, without playing anything. I felt vaguely guilty, but it hurt more than I wanted to deal with. Pain while playing music is not a good thing. It doesn't make you better, it just makes you hurt. Anyway, I'm sure I'll have a reputatiuon for being the whiny new tuba player or something. I'm very embarassed that I couldn't keep it up the whole time. I ought to be able to handle my horn. I expect that taking the sousaphone back up will get me back into shape though. And I expect that my shoulder is going to be screwed up for several days. All the weight goes on the left shoulder, high up, on the neck paert, right where I gave myself a nastly sunburn on saturday. But it wasn't bad until the bitter end.

We got back to the bart station and I laid on the ground again. I think more news types may have taken my picture, but I'm not sure. After a while, my shoulder no longer felt like it was on fire and played a couple more songs with the band. Then I staggered towards the BART platform while they were still playing.

So we won! It was awesome! ("awesome" is the word of the day.) And very high energy the whole time. I couldn't beleive it when I realized it was past 9:00 and I had been marching around for almost 4.5 hours. It's also great because I don't like going to things by myself and can't always find anyone to protest with me. I can't wait until next time. Maybe I'll do some pushups between now and then to build some strength.

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