Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth, Brief Note on Events in Philadelphia, Travel Day

Yes, I'm headed back to California this morning; should arrive tomorrow evening. May catch the parade in town before I leave, but I've missed it (by "that much") in the past, and that may happen today as well. If my memory hasn't failed me, this is the second year in a row that I've traveled on the Fourth; what I recall of the journey is that there are a lot of motorcycles and hot rods on the highways, and that's always cool, daddy-o. (Note to youngsters, yes, we really did say that in the 1950s, though when we did, it was usually with a wink....)

A brief note on yesterday's extended march in Philadelphia: a couple of chants got things into a muddle. The "A-Anti-Anticapitalista!" chant has become very popular because it is so energizing and fun, but it appears that many people don't understand it and as they try to repeat it, or even start the chant, they garble it. This happened several times in Philadelphia. The first time I heard it, a woman started the chant with something like this: "Ah-a-tea-a-tea-a-lee-a-lees-ta!" Well, the rhythm was right anyway. It took a while, but eventually some people who knew the correct chant joined in and cleaned it up.

The second time I heard the "A-anti..." chant in Philly,  I laughed out loud. It went something like this: "Ah, I need, I need a slice of pizza!" That was great, but few joined in, sorry to say.

Then I heard the "A-anti" chant again, done very dramatically, at the Comcast or Verizon headquarters, starting out very soft and low, with the crowd crouched down. It built to a crescendo, as everybody jumped up and down and shouted lustily in an echo-y canyon of tall buildings. If the people in the offices above could hear the plebes below at all, I'm sure they were perplexed if not stunned.

Finally, near the tail end of the march yesterday, someone tried to start the chant again and mangled it, much as happened the first time I heard it in Philadelphia. I was watching Nate's livestream, and he became impatient with the woman who was trying to start the chant. He said, "You know, it's 'A-anti-anticapitalista!" She tried it and mangled it again. Nate again tried to demonstrate the correct chant, and several people nearby picked it up. The first woman still couldn't get it quite right. Nate tried again, and then, exasperated, said, "Anticapiltalista! It's 'anticapitalist' in Spanish."

"Ohhhh," said the woman, and from then on, she got it right. This tells me that somebody needs to explain what this chant means...

Then there was the "Shit's fucked up, shit's fucked up and bull shit!" chant, which I've heard several times during the Philadelphia festivities. It is often joined in quite lustily by the crowd, other times not so much. During yesterday's march, the chant was started and joined in by the crowd as they marched along, and I saw a bicycle cop grab onto a guy in the crowd and say something to him. The guy seemed stunned and said something to the people nearby but I couldn't hear what he was saying. The chant got quieter and then stopped as the guy ran ahead to the front of the march. Eventually Nate caught up to him and asked what was going on. The guy said, "We were passing by a daycare..." Oh. Heh heh. Maybe not the most appropriate chant then... (actually, I imagine kids would love it.)

Despite occasional intense encounters with the "Po-Po" in Philadelphia, the Occupy National Gathering seems to me to be for the most part a very festive event, one that celebrates the success of a Movement Becoming Revolution (or Revoluja, as the Reverend Billy would put it) that came out of nowhere and is blazing the trail to the future.
The Fourth always puts me in mind of my father's birthday. He would be 111 years old tomorrow -- if he were alive. Born on the Fifth as it were, and yes, he made jokes about it. He was both a patriot and a rebel, something Americans still have trouble reconciling. He gladly served in both world wars (though let it be said, not in combat) yet he was eager to denounce injustice in America. He rebelled against convention and institutional corruption, defied the Church and at least part of his community, lived his own life and died his own way.

Tip o' the hat, Dad.
When I heard the rotors in the distance yesterday evening, at first I thought it was some kind of strange thunder. It's Monsoon season after all, and there was heavy cloud cover in the east and south. But thunder doesn't keep on and get louder, and I could tell at some point this wasn't thunder, there were Chinooks in the sky, though what they were doing in my neck of the woods was anybody's guess.

The rotor-noise got louder and louder, shaking the windows. There must be four of them at least, I thought. And my God, are they going to land? What the holy fuck! As the rotor-thunder got louder, I knew they were directly overhead, and I peered out the side door to see just how low they were. Sure enough, through the drought ravaged tree branches, four, then five Chinooks, painted non-reflecting black, made their stately way across the sky, maybe 1000 ft above the ground, shaking everything below, an unfathomable convoy in the air, headed west, perhaps back to Kirtland. Or... somewhere. I've seen these black helicopters (and they are painted black, if anybody is wondering) in this area before, flying in low formations over the fields and houses for reasons that are never clear. They always feel like a threat.

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