I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
January 22, 2017 - 12:53 p.m.
I have so much to say today. I'm going to forget most of it. I might find that a few words can express it all. I might find that there are not enough words to express it. We'll discover the truth together.
Yesterday was the Women's March on the World; that's not the official name but it's the reality. People marched on every continent including Antarctica. If was not just women marching but also those passionate about the rights of women. I'm one of those so I marched in New York City.
I went with Jane and Bernie who registered us with the Bronx Progressives. In a way, it started long before we reached the meet up near Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza. We drove to the Pelham Bay station and got on the . A gentleman sat down across from us carrying flags including a rainbow one. I figured he was marching too. Before I could say anything, he asked us if we were marching. The only evidence that we were, was Jane's chartreuse hat. Maybe we just looked like protests. We started talking and I asked him to join us so he didn't have to shout across the car or stand. We were soon all friends sharing stories. His name is Lewis and we became Facebook friends before we got to Manhattan.
The person in our group that Jane and Bernie knew was in Nicaragua, not at the March. So, we weren't sure how we'd meet up. I walk faster so I went ahead to scout the terrain. What I found was people gathering on the block from different groups with no one knowing what was going on. I found one other person from Bronx Progressives. I Bernie and Jane caught up and we decided it didn't really matter. We were all in Group 1, the first group to march. I then got a call from Lori not LORi wanting to know where I was. She, Bobbi Jo, and two of their friends signed up for our group even though they don't live in the Bronx to march with me. When she called, it was the first I knew of it. So now I had a group of seven people, Jane, Bernie, Lori, Bobbi Jo, their friends, Ty and Patrice, and me. We had a posse. Soon after we were told we could go into the Plaza where the march started. It was like getting into a packed subway car. We were told to walk in as far as we could to squeeze everyone in. We were about a third of the way from the front. There were some speakers, the celebrities were Helen Mirren and Whoopie Goldberg.
We were supposed to start marching at noon. We didn't. People started complaining. There were chants of "Let us march." People started walking towards Second Ave, where we were supposed to march but there was not much movement. Jane and Bernie left to look for a friend. I stayed with the rest of the posse. We inched forward. As we did some people were walking back. When we finally reached Second Ave we found it filled with people and back uptown as far as the eye could see. Afterward we found out that so many people had showed up that they ran out of room for people to line up so they let them start marching. Group 1, the people who were supposed to march 1st ended up marching late. It wasn't so much a march as a slowing advancing on a line. Imagine waiting to get on Space Mountain at Disneyworld.
We started at 47th Street and made our way to 42nd Street. The rest of the route was a right on 5th till we got a block from Trump Tower. Things went very slowly. The rest of my group gave up when we reached 3rd Avenue. I persevered. Once I was alone I started inching my way through the crowd hoping to find some of my other friends I knew were there. I didn't. I marched on my own talking to different people as I went along. If I saw someone with a good sign I'd talk to them. One of my favorites was "Cats not Kakistocracy." I told the woman with it that nobody gets in but I love it. The Cats part was because a theme of the march was to wear pink cat hats because of Trump's notaries pussy remark. I'm sure everyone got that. My question is how many of My Gentle Readers know what kakistrocracy means? Spell check doesn't. I did and I told the woman some of my friends would. If you do let me know. Otherwise look it up. The woman's 5-year-old daughter made the other side. It looked like it was made by a five-year-old but it was inspiring. It was a picture of Cleopatra along with a quote of hers; "I will not be Triumphed." I think it might have said, "Trumphed," as a deliberate misspelling. The woman had given her daughter a book about important woman and the kid wanted to make this sign. The future is in good hands.
I was drawn to the geek signs. Hey, I'm a pseudo-intellectual. Lots of people had signs that just said, "Resist." This one guy had a sign with Ohm's Law on it. Electrical Engineers Against Trump! Several people had pictures of Princess Leia with the words, "A Woman's place is in the Resistance." Another was "Jon Snow Wouldn't Stand for This!" My people were there. Here is my sign.
I was delighted how many people brought their children. Some were in strollers or little red wagons. One women's daughter was in a sling on her chest, not a baby but a three-year-old. I wonder if I misheard, I would have guessed two.
There were more woman than men but there were plenty of men. There were people young and old. People of every ethnic background you can imagine. What there wasn't was cops. That was amazing. Half a million-people marching and the cops left us to our own devices. They cops that were there were keeping the streets closed to traffic. For some reason, there was a partial barrier along 42nd street at Lex we had to walk around. There was a lone cop there, smiling and being friendly. People were taking his picture and chatting with him. I didn't see anyone not being well-behaved. This was like Falcon Ridge, filled with piece, love, and understanding.
I came across a few bands. I knew Eve Sicular from Metropolitan Klezmer, and Isle of Klezbos was drumming in a band. When I heard a drum, I looked for her. One band was playing "Bei Mir Bistu Shein" and I was sure I found her. I didn't. It was another band. There was another band that judging from the flags was with a gay group that played "We're Not Gonna Take It." People tried to sing along but nobody knew any of the words past the title and "anymore."
I did not make it to the end of the march. By the time I was 52nd street, it was dark. The crowd stopped moving. We were told that the end of the merch, 55th street, near Trump Tower was packed; that if you were ill, had small children, or were claustrophobic to turn off before then. I saw that there was virtually no movement past where I was and turned off. It was 5:30. I had been on my feet since 10:05. I had not been to the bathroom since 8:30. Oh, and I had a Crohn's attack. I guess I should have mentioned that. It started in the Plaza early on. I didn't let it stop me. It had passed hours before I reached the end. But still, I figured it would take me an extra hour to get to the end and to what point? I had stood up and been counted. I was not going to make the crowd look any bigger. So, I headed down to Lex and up to 59th Street to catch the . I got home after 7 PM. Bernie and Jane were home. They headed out not that long after they left me. They saw that the line up 2nd avenue extended to 59th Street. They'd have to march at a crawl for 12 blocks just to get where they started.
I was disappointed I didn't run into any friends. I had so many there. I could make a list but it would take me forever to compile it. I was so proud that so many of my friends cared enough to march, not just in New York but around the world, from Melbourne to Berlin. I have a few ideas for projects involving my friends. I won't say what they are because I'm not sure if I can do them. We'll see.
Trump's election was a devastating blow but we have not given up. He lost the popular vote and the majority will not let him steamroll us. We are going to take the fight to him, his cabinet, and the Republican Congress. It will not end with this march. There will be other marches and rallies. When the bills start being voted on rolling back rights and aid to those less fortunate, when they try and take away our health care, we must call and gather around every congressman and senator from a competitive district or state.
We need to start registering voters now for the midterm elections. We need to fight the hopelessness and the lie that both parties are the same. We need to stand together with each other even if we have differences over some issues. We need to keep the spirit of these marches permanent for the next four years.
And now on to something much sadder. On the subway ride to the march I saw that Suzzy Roche posted on Facebook that her sister Maggie had died that morning at the age of 65. She had cancer. This is not a celebrity death for me. This was personal. The Roches were the second band I stalked. Starting in 1988 I saw every show they did anyplace close to New York City. I saw them scores of time. I went Christmas Caroling with them every year. I sang with Maggie. She is the only one of the sisters I never had a conversation with but she knew I was the guy at the front of the line at shows and I'd get a hi. I know Suzzy and especially Terre, better. I feel their loss. I feel my loss. The world will never again hear their magical three-part harmony. Maggie has been part of my life for 29 years. I'll miss her.
Life's Little Pleasures - January 28, 2017
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