Feb 16, 2003
Ten Million March; Global Stats
Awakened by helicopters once again, I was late for the big event.
I'd wanted to make a big BUSH=SAURON banner with the various nefarious governmental mental cases' faces substituted for the evil characters in The Lord of the Rings. CIA monster Bush elder as Sauron, the Chimp as Saruman (or perhaps Wormtongue?), Donnie "Destructo" Rumsfeld as the Uruk-hai chief, Dick "Subterranean" Cheney as the Cave Troll, Condi Rice as Shelob, Saddam Hussein as the Balroc, and at the bottom, for those not of the Tolkeinist faith, an explanation: "Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves and Numenoreans for Peace."
A bit much.
Lacking a color copier, poster paint, or posters, I settled on bringing my large inflatable globe, aka Globey, which lay deflated under my bathtub. Images of Planet Earth were the sort of official log of the rally, anyway.
Globey was originally purchased at the Rand-McNally store on Market Street, where it starred with three other different inflatable globes in a funky little performance piece I premiered in Amsterdam at Gay Games V in 1998.
Globey then made a stellar appearance at Burning Man 2000, lit from beneath for a few misadventures, and weighted with inserted water at the tent camp of Burning Man as a sort of parking light for the lost or inebriated.
So, no sign, one Globey. Sometimes conceptual art is best left incomplete. Besides, some other creative type made a similar version of my Rings concept the Star Wars poster months ago.
The march itself was, like that of Oct. 2002, fine. Peaceful, pleasant, filled with families and kids in strollers, handsome folks, middle class suburbanites, and a wide range of human beings from all ethnicities.
Cell phone tag prevailed, for those having lost their companions and able to fit in between the crowded airwaves. Fortunately, I didn't lose my pals, as I had in the October march. Stephen (in the business drag) is an old friend from my New York ACT UP days. Matthew is a renowned performer, also known as Peggy Leggs. Ara is a tall gorgeous man who (darn it) has a girlfriend, but the former soccer player managed to spin, dribble and toss Globey with elan.
A plethora of graphics comparing the Chimp to Adolph Hitler were in abundance. Many signs accurately exposed the craving for oil and defense contracts shared by the current White House occupants.
Big doves, little tankers, a sign for "Nice People Against Icky Things," drummers, banners, strollers, ah, the humanity of it all. The creativity and humor abounded, along with lots of duct tape.
Meager chanting wafted along, but dwindled amid the mostly docile crowd. My inspired chorus of "Power to the Pretzel," remained unappreciated. There was none of the ferocity of my gay activism days, but hey, this thing wasn't organized by ACT UP, so a bit of loose style (and a miasma of font inconsistency) was to be expected.
As the march wound west along Market Street toward Civic Center, we skirted around the cramped passageway north of the under-construction Asian Art Museum, and walked by the Federal Building before strolling back to Civic Center near the stage. Lost in prepostiional phrases, we were tired, hungry, and the peebox and fried mystery meat-on-a-stick lines were unappealingly long.
We were about to bid farewell, and chase down the shirtless cutie who'd scrawled "Docters Against War" on his chest, when a cadre of SFPD tromped by in formation, inspiring some boos from others. Amid my rush to get a good photo, I lost track of Stephen, who had to meet with friends to get back to Oakland, anyway. I then bumped into David McBrayer of the Bay Area Reporter, and a few of his pals, who also happily posed with Globey.
We then headed back to Market Street, where hundreds were already holding their signs tucked under arms like souvenirs, seeking food, relaxation or a train home.
The thought of spontaneously giving Globey to some cute kid seemed nice, but with more potential anti-war marches coming up (March 1), I decided to save Globey. It's a much more fun prop than a sign, and I'm a tetch sentimental about my toys. I'd given away a dozen new action figures at a toy drive last December anyway. I mean good ones!
So, as the helicopters continued to flutter the air above my home, I filled my tub with hot soapy bath water, rested my aching back, and hung Globey over the light in my bathroom.
I soaked and relaxed, contemplating the cartoon version of Antarctica hovering above me, satisfied at having done my little personal best to celebrate peace, commune with thousands of confirmed liberals, scope cute Arab guys, enjoy the signage witticisms lampooning the Chimp, and simply be there.
While formatting this lil page, I watched the news. Danny Glover (who spoke at my graduation at San Francisco State University in 1997) got in his sound bytes.
Max Gail spoke of media war hype. Max Gail! If I'd known he was there I would have shown up at dawn to get an autograph. His muscled form beguiled me through almost every episode of Barney Miller. Ooh, Daddy!
Seeing the TV footage was empowering and invigorating. It gave me a warm feeling to know that I was one of those little specks among the throngs of peaceful anti-war marchers.
National news showed that police in New York City were back out of sympathy from their heroic status after 9/11, stampeding anti-war protestors there. They'd been blocked from parading by the United Nations, and hundreds were arrested. Meanwhile, here in San Francisco, hundreds of hooded rangy youths and Anarchists decided to protest violently in Union Square, a touristy section of downtown. The impulse to get on my bike to journalistically document the chaos lasted for about ten seconds.
I would harken back with nostalgia for my own activist days of confronting police, but without legal aide, the prospect of screaming oneself hoarse and risking a skull-cracking seemed downright stoopid. Lesson One, kids: you run at a cop with a nightstick, you better have a dental plan.
The whacky anarchists, about 700 of the 200,000 peaceniks, decided to trash a few store windows in Union Square, toss rocks and get trampled. To take the words of Zorg in The Fifth Element completely out of context, "I know this music."