Wednesday, March 21, 2007


i'm not apathetic to the war. it makes me uncomfortable but i'm not up at night worrying about it. my girlfriend's brother was a soldier in iraq and he survived to see his loved ones again, but the effects of the conflict still remain in other ways, so she feels very strongly about the US not being in iraq. she doen't want her brother to go back.

before we left that morning, she was angry at me for not being anti-war.

"i'm not pro war either," i told her. i don't have an opinion either way because i'm not in iraq, and i don't set the united states' foreign policies, and working at a major cable news network, i get innundated with more media bullshit in one workday than most people get all week. i simply don't have the full story so i'm not going to go out there and yell and shout and call our president a fascist because even though i voted for john kerry in the last election, i have no clue what's REALLY going on with halliburton, dubai, attorney general firings, or karl rove and the CIA.

that's what really keeps me up some nights.

so i told her, "maybe I'll have an opinion after today."

here's what i saw:

martin sheen carried a cardboard coffin draped in an american flag.

some actress i've never heard of dressed up like a "dove" (it looked more like a pteradactyl).

another tragic testimony from a grieving soldier's mother was told before a crowd of 2000 people chanting "no blood for oil!" (judging from the pre-rally foot traffic coming out of the arclight parking structure, i'm guessing that probably more than half of them DROVE to the rally and maybe just as many were there to see ozomatli and ben harper play for free. i know i was.)

there were the peace protesters screaming obscenities at the pro-bush supporters sitting quietly at the corner of hollywood and highland.

there was some hispanic guy who followed (or preceded, i can't really remember) the grieving family on stage to champion illegal immigrants rights because, as he stated, "our purpose is one and the same."

there was the group of anarchists screaming "fuck the gap" i saw eating lunch at baja fresh.

there were the outraged bus riders who don't want the LA transit authority to hike their fares. instead of urging more people to take the bus, they would rather hand out flyers about how angry they are.

the most interesting thing i saw was the old guy in a wheelchair mocked up like a tank and doused with what looked like flour. he wheeled around and tried to bump into people.

i'm not sure what we're supposed to take away from an anti-war rally. it seemed to me like a lot of people pushing separate agendas, but at the same time who were unwilling to compromise their own actions. if we can't all agree on why we're marching in the streets, then how are we supposed to figure out why we should or shouldn't be in iraq?

i found the whole experience disjointed, disorganized, and paradoxical. at the end of it all i was tired, confused, and all i was sure of is that i was hungry.

as i sat at the window of baja fresh, enjoying my black bean and cheese burrito, i checked my watch and realized that I was supposed to be somewhere in an hour. the "rally" had turned into a march, and it had been almost four hours since the start. we pushed through the crowd of anarchists and headed down the less crowded orange ave. in the direction of sunset blvd. just then, ben harper jumped on stage to begin his set.

i didn't even get to see ozomatli.


Don said...

I'm not sure that the problem is not enough people riding the bus. I'm a regular bus rider and I'm accustomed to seeing buses filled to the point of people standing in the aisles. At least the routes that I ride are generally full. For that matter, I've never gotten on an empty bus (except at the beginning of the route) and I think I've only once had the bus stay below half-full for the whole route.

joshua said...

Like all good venues for free speech, marches don't have an authority making sure that people stick to the agenda. The organizers choose who goes on stage but speakers are always trite, boring and an insult to your ability to think for yourself. Best you ignore them.

I've been to many marches for varied causes. Chants are painfully lame, so are mass produced signs. I won't talk bad about the "die in" performance type stuff, it's probably cathartic. whatever. I like it when someone has a sense of humor or doesn't take themselves seriously. Those people in the bobble head costumes (of bush, cheney, condoleeza) were amusing. I should have got my picture with them. And it's too bad you left early, Ozomatli were awesome.

Don't expect a big march to be a tutorial on war or a substitute for the (online) newspaper. If you're smart, it's not where you'll form your opinion.

A few marches in cities across a country never stopped a war. I think most of us know that.

Anyway, I had fun. I was with food not bombs handing out free bananas, oranges, mellon slices and water. We brought hundreds of pounds of fruit to the march via bike trailer and wagon (brought on the train, no cars). I biked with the trailer and 10 other riders but I heard that the subway was packed.