Sorry State of the Union Speak-OUT
As we approached the front door, a group of codepinkers tumbled out, exclaiming “they won’t let us come in and watch it”. We had reservations. I knew it couldn’t be true. But it indeed turned out to be true. Apparently upon hearing that morning that we were intending to gather, eat in his restaurant, & watch (on one of their many tv screens) the address together, the owner fired both managers who had taken our reservation, and declared there would be NO watching of the state of the union speech. The owner then proceeded to hire private security to guard the entrance from a bunch of women wanting to have dinner, drinks, and suffer together thru Bush’s address.
We tried to negotiate, hovering there in the doorway, but the owner refused to speak with us. The manager – one of the good ol’ boys who wasn’t fired – came out to reiterate, and point to the hastily xeroxed signs that now hung in the windows & on the doors “this is a SPORTS bar: the state of the union will NOT be shown here”.
(note: an interesting aside, when we made the reservation & referred to the joint as a ‘sports’ bar, the manager seemed insulted & informed us this was a ‘restaurant & bar’- hmmm)
We decided to change gears & head over to the Union Square Sports Bar, where we were welcomed, rowdy, and crowded around tvs, tables, & bar stools. We howled and screamed at the prez & his lying words, played “Liar’s Bingo”, made lists several large pieces of newsprint long of the lies we heard. Medea spoke briefly at the end, highlighting his lies, informing us about the arrest of Cindy Sheehan AND suggesting we head over to correct Lefty’s injustice!
Everyone participating appreciated the support and camaraderie of stomaching the address together. We all vowed to do better in the next days, weeks, months fighting this regime.
Then off we went to Union Square, too late to participate in the toppling of the statue of Bush, but in time to hand out many flyers about our future actions & about Women Say NO to War and Women say ENOUGH! BASTA!
As the evening drew to a close, we agreed with Medea that we must not allow Lefty’s to break our reservation without some sort of reprisal. Medea thought up a brilliant chant “Boycott Lefty’s, they’re really Righty’s” and led about 8 of us off down Geary to stroll casually into Lefty’s. We made it all the way into the back room we had reserved, attracting lots of attention but no interference. We began to sing our chant in our loud, clear voices. And we talked to all the patrons who were sitting at various tables, both in the back & front rooms.
The moment he recognized us and as we began singing, the private security bouncer hired just for us, went ballistic, raced to the back of the room and grabbed several women roaring at us to leave immediately. We confronted him & told him to back off & not to touch a one of us. He did back off, sort of. Instead of grabbing us, he put his arms out to the side, bellowing the whole time, stuck his belly out & tried pushing with his body. Well that certainly only made us more determined to stay until we talked with everyone in the entire restaurant and bar.
We split up into smaller groups drifting off into several different directions and continuing to tell the patrons how we had reserved the back room and then were denied access because of the owners’ prejudices. Someone mentioned perhaps he was worried about offending his right-wing customers. What about his left-wing customers? There were a hell of a lot more of us than them.
Someone else said he was worried about fights breaking out between sides. Come on, first of all = we are CodePINK. We are non-violent, peaceful, and tres experienced in handling the ‘opposition’ with creativity and love. Second of all, this is a SPORTS bar – does that mean the owner refuses to show the superbowl because he’s worried about fights breaking out between sides? Hell no, even though the likelihood of violence occurring during a sports event is much higher than violence occurring at a Sorry State of the Union Speak-OUT.
We continued to work our way through “Righty’s”, being slowed down with each bellow issued by George – yes so he said that really is his name - our ballistic bouncer. A second bouncer appeared, urging George to calm down but poor George had passed the point of no return. He must have had delusions of Secret Service, with his earpiece & hidden phone adorning his body. He was on the horn to the San Francisco police, who showed up just minutes after we had made it to the front side walk where we continued to sing for passers-by and for potential ‘Righty’ customers.
The police – did I mention they were out in force this evening, as in the ENTIRE force with back-up from every neighboring police department or so it seemed – came in police cars, truck/paddy-wagon type vehicles, and a couple of motor cycles. Beginning to out-number us, we were tempted to give them pink wigs & signs so they could swell our numbers! They were courteous and even friendly – we of course work hard at treating all police as human beings and forcing them to see, and hopefully treat, us as human beings.
That is until the tactical police officer abruptly charged out the door of “Righty’s” and demanded in his most macho voice to speak to the one in charge – insisting he wasn’t going to speak to our collectivity. In the interest of preventative medicine, as in here was another candidate for apoplectic injury, we informed him our action was over.
We left the bouncers our final message – three words: We’ll be back! And so ended the most fun part of our Speak-OUT! Peace, Sam