un-rnc: the week before
the general feeling i get around new york is anger - with bush (over 70% of new yorkers are registered democrats!); with the rnc chosing nyc as it's location; with the continuing loss of both u.s. and iraqi lives - for what, they ask?
there was a 'heightened' code orange alert for this weekend (orange plus, randi rhodes of airamerica radio quips!) - supposedly there have been plans uncovered to bomb a couple of banks, one in newark - someone said "who would know if anything had been bombed in newark?" like the neighborhoods in flint michigan, most of newark appears to havealready been bombed & devastated!
i met a womon on the subway this evening, riding home - the conductor began his 'if you see any suspicious package' routine that i always have to loudly react to. this womon was probably in her late 40's, dressed as if returning from an 'important' wall street job, jamaican-american, and VERY upset. she told me she was here for 9/11 and she didn't need any conductor reminding her how dangerous new york city has become. she was furious w/bush & the rnc chosing new york to come to - she said 'how dare they make us an even greater target? if they truly believe we are about to be hit again, why aren't they holding their convention in some desolate location where they will not endanger our lives, once again?'
we talked about codepink:women for peace & the upcoming demonstrations & protests. as she rushed off the subway, she handed me a piece of paper that she kept in her pocket book just for occasions like this: it lauded women & our talents & it ended w/reminding us to take the time to take good care of ourselves! it was quite sweet.
i went to the united for peace & justice office for the first time today - it was fabulous! it's on the 9th floor about 4 blocks from madison square garden - and what excitement & bustle - so many folks coming & going, all working towards making this week an historic event of democracy in action! there's a bank of phones, a huge room w/clusters of folks congregating & meeting, and a group of small offices off to the back. tons of flyers & posters & stickers & peace flags & other materials - not to mention waves of volunteers!
standing on the side of my grandmother's apartment building in inman park, manhattan, i was approached by three construction workers who spoke very little english - they wanted to know "this 'pink slip bush', what means?" - referring to the words printed across my t-shirt. as i explained getting fired, a fourth man, i assume the foreman, approaches. he tells me these men are from yugoslavia. he says that bush claims tito was a dictator, but he says bush is the dictator. one of the other fellows begins translating as he says under tito, everyone worked - unlike here. he says under tito, he had a home that was virtually free - as did all his neighbors - unlike here. he says under tito, all the schools were the same & everyone in the neighborhood went to the same school, received the same education, and all were educated - unlike here. he says here he put a simple 'no war in iraq' bumper sticker on his truck & people threw garbage at him, gave him the finger, & at night, painted 'faggot' on his truck. he said in his country, under tito, if anyone was sick, they all went to the same hospital, received the same medical care, and
paid no money for it - totally unlike here. all his friends raise their voices in agreement everytime this fellow speaks!
he said everyone in his community hates bush but has no hope that u.s. citizens will get involved let alone vote him out. he says we did not vote him in, in the first place - so how do we think we can vote him out? i told him and his fellow workers, just watch this next week - come to the march, participate, witness democracy in action. as this last was translated, they all burst into laughter & then solemnly shook my hand.
i got to vigil tonite on 42nd street, believe it or not!!!! ufb! it was great - as we unbundled the table & boxes & prepared to set up on the sidewalk edging a large city park a large city block from times square, as security guard instantly appeared. first he menacingly told us we couldn't stand there but we're well informed of our constitutional rights. the new yorker i was with explained this was a weekly vigil, besides our first ammendment rights. he hurried off to check w/his superiors. he came back shortly, smiling, saying we can stay - then coming in close to say he despised bush & is planning on voting him out come november!
we set up the codepink pink lemonade stand & began attracting new yorkers as they rushed to the subway. the first womon who approached me, took a flyer re:the weekend & said quickly with much enthusiasm 'yeah, i've heard of you' and just as suddenly asked 'are you all, you know, are you women all, you know....?'
'lesbian?' i filled in for her.
'unfortunately, we're not all lesbians, not even the majority of wimmin in codepink are lesbians - but we certainly welcome all wimmin into codepink, as well as our supporters. codepink seeks & treasures diversity,' i assure her, 'we would even welcome christians & republicans, as long as they are working for peace & against bush & his agenda'.
she seemed somewhat relieved & nodded as she took our info & hurried off.
we continued to vigil, handing out lots of pink lemonade & flyers, and registered two voters! even tho we were all exhausted, we stayed out until dark, it was so exciting & fruitful.
new yorkers LOVE my truck, even the city police - i've had so many folks clapping their hands, shouting praises, giving me the thumbs up, i can't keep track. not one finger have i gotten in new york. a young womon on a bike raced to pull me over as i was heading down broadway, she was so excited to see me. i got out of the turck & told her all about codepink, gave her some flyers to hand out & a t-shirt; while we were talking, another womon came over & took a schedule for the week - she had heard of us & was so happy to see me!
the cops that roam the streets at nite are a different story - twice, i've recieved tickets while parking over nite at my grandmother's apartment - no commercial overnite parking - $65 each time - grrrrrrr. i've visited my grandmother many times for a few days at a time over the past 5 years & this is the first time i've received a ticket in her neighborhood! oh well, the second time, last nite, i was too exhausted to move my truck to new jersey after not getting back to the apartment until 11:00p.m. it was the same cop looking for my truck at 3:00a.m. so i have to move my truck to new jersey tonite & then take the train back early in the morning.
taking the jersey turnpike, i got about 10 yeahs & honks, even tho it was close to midnite as i traveled. one truck gave me the finger, while another gave me a huge grin & peace sign - they both turned on their inside lights to make sure i got the messages! when i got off the turnpike at the toll booth, the collector asked me wryly if i really thought kerry had a chance. 'it's up to us' i say. he told me he was voting but his wife wasn't - i dug into my bag & took out some codepink information & asked him to tell his wife we really need her vote and to have her email or call me - i hope she does.
codepink had a fundraising event hosted by laura flanders at her flat down in lower manhattan off canal street tonite - it was a great! the father of a killed soldier spoke along w/a young womon ex-soldier returned from iraq and an older womon ex-diplomat who resigned after over 30 years of military & government service in protest of bush's afghanistan & iraq policies. medea & jody also spoke & many wimmin signed up for codepink & took info re: the coming week's events. there is a planned parenthood march over the brooklyn bridge tomorrow and a large codepink event 'women against war' tomorrow evening!