Saturday, March 18, 2006

Third Anniversary of Iraq War

At the "Million Musicians March" in Austin, Texas. I believe the sign on the right says "17,000 college educations".

The phone rang at 10:00 a.m., just ahead of the alarm clock. It was Guy. He has been great, making sure I'm not bored while visiting his state! He had sent an e-mail which told of an anti-war rally taking place in Austin today. Clearly, I was meant to be among the participants.

A chilly, rainy day. I rode downtown to the rally assembly area. At noon, under a very large police escort, several hundred of us walked to City Hall, maybe a mile away. The streets of Austin were pretty quiet, except where young people were already lining up for SXSW music shows.

Despite a steady rain, I estimate about 500 turned out for this rally. Similar rallies were held around the world.

Celebrating three years of murder and mayhem in Iraq, courtesy of G.W. and friends

Though the demonstration met with approval from most spectators, seeing the much larger turn-out for the music venues reminded me that political activism is way down the list for most of us Americans, far below recreation and entertainment. Even this march is just a gesture. It can hardly be termed “activism”.

Since the beginning, the women of CODEPINK have been waging a war against the war

We gathered on and around the City Hall steps, a light rain falling. There were the usual speeches. But it seems that merely amassing marchers and creating a scene is all that counts at this point. To register the demonstration, its numbers, and add that to the others taking place around the World today. Those are the facts that this administration cannot, try as they may, ignore.

The march ended outside Austin City Hall, with songs and speeches

Surveying the crowd, I was shocked to see two TERRORISTS in our midst!

Leaving before the rally officially disbanded, I walked around City Hall. In the underground parking garage were staged additional police units, ready to move, should they be required. It's a shame that such a show of force is deemed necessary for a peaceful demonstration. Stopped at Starbucks in the ground floor of a downtown office building. It was one of the few places busy this Saturday afternoon.

The Grackles scattered within the urban landscape, their animated chatter echoing off buildings, gives a wonderful sound to these sterile canyons. Apparently, many regard the birds as a pest. I’m not familiar enough to know that side of the story.

Tonight, I went out to dinner at another restaurant recommended by Cory: Magnolia Cafe South. Its lighted "Sorry, we're open" sign welcomes you. A long wait for a table. When I was seated at a “four-top”, I told the host she could seat others with me if anyone wanted, but she laughed off the idea. I guess it’s a strange concept here. Very good food: linguini with gorgonzola and chicken. As I'm finding common back here in the States, I was served simply too much food!

Stopped in at Little City for coffee and to do some work on-line. I was surprised to have already received Neko Case photos from George. The guy's a pro!

At 11:30 p.m., I ventured downtown once again for a midnight “Anti Hootenany” with Anti recording artists Billy Bragg, Jolie Holland, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Tim Fite, Joe Henry and “special guests”. But the Central Presbyterian Church was crowded, and people in line were not very pleased by the prospect of being excluded due to the small venue. It appeared only those with passes and wristband-wearers would be allowed to enter. I didn't want to wait around for the disappointing news, and actually was satisfied with my good fortune last night. The idea of taking someone else’s place, someone who may have spent $500 on a pass, did not seem right.

Music was everywhere. Every block downtown seems to have venues. It blares from a tent erected atop a parking structure, and from a big bus parked on the street. Through its windows I can see women dancing inside.

(It was both funny and sad, to witness all the drunken musicians. "I'm in a band" is undoubtedly a much-used pick-up line here. I heard it successfully utilized at Antone's last night.)

So I returned to the Super 8. People at this hotel keep all hours, hot-tubbing in the middle of night, playing "Marco Polo" in the pool, watching TV in the lounge and "partying" in their rooms. I needed ear plugs.


Tim Spires said...

Wow, 17,000 tuitions could be paid for in one day! By this messure alone, this truly is an expensive war. I know all to well how much tuition costs these days and its going up all the time.

Drew Kampion said...

One of the strategies of the forces behind this administration, I've heard, is to cripple the edconomy so that people are so involved in getting the basic necessities of life they won't have the time/luxury of protest and political activity.

timtraveler said...

They don't have to do anything. This is already coming about as the gap between rich and poor widens (and a middle class disappears.)

You must have money to be a "player" in this game we call capitalism.

Anonymous said...


Dicky Neely said...

Some of my friends were there. I got some emails about this.
Shame there weren't more but it is a start.
4:40 PM
timtraveler said...

Do you recognize anyone in the photos, Dicky?

I have a few others, if you're interested.