Sunday, March 8, 2009

N.O.T.F.15.A.W.M.I.H 2003

FROM THE ARCHIVES, Mar. 9 - This originally posted on, 2/17/03


One exits the Hollywood & Vine Red Line stop, with its walls of metal movie reels and aluminum palm trees, and emerges into the light at the actual corners of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine street. There are a lot of people here! There is a man dressed as a mummy! The weather is nice! All the police officers are good looking!

One is thankful to live in a place where the protest starts not with a somber, snow-draped view of the Capital Building, but a sunny, shorts & t-shirt view of the Capitol Building (as in Capitol Records). The march heads west. Occasional disdainful rocker dudes can be seen from various doorways. The march continues down Hollywood for almost a dozen blocks, passing a barrage of landmarks - Musso & Franks, the Egyptian, the Scientology center, The El Capitan, the Kodak & Grauman’s Chinese theaters. Several different spellings of the word “worgy” can be seen in the signs above the throng. Happy guys sell overpriced souvenirs and star maps from the sidelines. America is great! Fuck you, Al-Qaeda!

For some reason, the event seems far more pleasant than January’s antiwar march in downtown Los Angeles. Perhaps the initial pressure for drama has been removed. This is not the largest march by a longshot (Rob Reiner is the speaker and he hasn’t had a hit in years). DC’s march is many times larger. European capitals are mobbed. Also, the difference of just a few weeks has seemed to infuse far more regular people into the proceedings. The craggy lifers are still here - handing out their flyers attacking shadowy “U.S. bosses” and other antiwar groups and even the events’ own speakers – but their soul-draining humorlessness is not the tone of the day. They’ve been outnumbered by the normal folk.

The march turns south on Hawthorn, which has only two lanes and no landmarks. One overhears the phrase “cockamamie side street” muttered. A man clearly old enough to know better (he has a beard) starts chanting slogans that make the surrounding crowd laugh uncomfortably. “Defend worker’s Iraq”, the man cries. “Defend North Korea from capitalism!” One shares a look of mock horror with their pal Anthony as a middle aged white woman stops rapping through a bullhorn long enough to declare over three hundred million people are marching on Rome!!

Although these scenes seem familiar, there are noticeable differences between 2003 and that last Chinese zodiacal Year Of The Sheep, 1991. There are definitely more signs using bad words now. And more people have Photoshop and fancy laser printers these days (resolving that nagging question of what NSA head Condoleeza Rice would look like in an SS cap). But there are also no counter-protestors to be seen, a strange omission. The big goony guys in flag hats are elsewhere, at home maybe, watching football. Does the silent majority really care about Iraq? Only the planners of this future war seem to have any real enthusiasm for their position.

The march is squeezed off Hawthorne onto the even skinnier Orange drive. Blocks away, one can still hear the white woman rapping. Finally, the rally is dispersed onto Sunset Boulevard, where somber protesters in front of an IHOP hold aloft a banner reading SADDAM = PANCAKES and many signs advertise the new DMX “Cradle 2 The Grave” soundtrack, which will be in stores February 18th.