protesting the invading hordes

The march was great. It was huge, high spirited, angry and peaceful. And sweltering! I'm not used to being out in 90-degree blazing sunshine. Whew.

It was the largest protest ever conducted against a political convention, and probably the second largest demo ever held in NYC, after the great anti-nuclear protest in June of 1982. (I was there - were you?) From what I hear, the police mostly behaved themselves. After the march, thousands of us exercised our cherished right of peaceable assembly in Central Park, mostly lounging around on the lawn, some people playing music.

It will be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow, August 31, a long-planned day of civil disobedience actions. I won't be participating, but I admire the demonstrators and wish them much good luck and safety.

I am continually inspired by the vast creativity brought to the protests these days. Seems to me that's a relatively new phenomenon. The t-shirts, buttons, stickers and signs are often so biting and thoughtful. (Who knew the letter W could be so creative?) Everyone checks out the signs around them, points them out to each other - and we all get more ideas. Our "Bring Back Complete Sentences" buttons, courtesy of Catherine from Georgia, were a big hit - we gave them all away.

Onward to November.

Meanwhile, on the Canada front, on Saturday I looked at more apartments online, and got even more psyched. As a tradeoff for living in suburban sprawl, I am determined to get a fantastic place. Hopefully three bedrooms, or two bedrooms plus a den/solarium, so we each have our own workspace without using a living room or dining area for office space, a balcony or patio, a fireplace... the works. On our next trip up there, we'll stay in Mississauga (there are a lot of hotels, since the airport is out there) and be very focussed on looking at apartments in a few different areas.

The website where I check the status of our applications hasn't been updated in months. It's driving me crazy.


the invasion

The Republicans are already arriving - and the unwelcome mat is already out.

Has any convention ever been less welcome than the RNC in NYC? A, they're only exploiting us to cash in on the tragedy we lived through, B, they're making us less safe by drawing a target for terrorism and C, no one here votes for them! Small businesses located on closed streets will lose huge amounts of money, transportation will be a nightmare, and no one will benefit except a few large hotels and some famous attractions that least need the help.

There are dozens of great protests planned. Yesterday some guys rented a room at the Plaza Hotel, rappelled down the outside of the building and unfurled this beautiful banner. Later the same day, eleven ACT-UPers dropped their drawers and stopped traffic. I love it!!

The big march is Sunday. (I've had the day off planned for almost a year.) The city should worry less about the lawn and more about the Constitution. Hey Mike, have you heard? Grass grows back.

I'm extremely tempted to go to Central Park after the rally, to see how many people turn out and what's happening. We probably will, but we also have to be very careful not to get arrested. I truly don't think getting a misdemeanor arrest for protesting the RNC would actually cause Canadian immigration to reject our applications, but after investing this much into the move, we can't take a chance.

I won't attend many protests next week, because of writing assignments, and because of Haven. Many of us are holding space on our calendars in case we are needed, since transportation promises to be otherworldly. I'm also committed to captaining the ACT phone crew twice next week.

One demo that I might attend is The Unemployment Line: thousands of people lining Broadway from Wall Street to the convention, all waving pink slips, symbolizing the 1.2 million jobs lost since 2001 and the 8 million unemployed Americans. (Did someone say economic recovery? Yeah, right.)

Another goodie is a reading of the Constitution by some illustrious New Yorkers. My one-time pal Chuck Close is among them.

So. Let's get out there. Let's march and wave signs and voice our displeasure at the RNC and everything it stands for.


first thing we do, let's kill all the...

Pick up a phone. If you've been wondering what you can do to help defeat W & Co, I highly recommend phone-banking with ACT. It's easy and it's really kind of fun. I went twice this week (once with Allan), and beginning next week I'll train other volunteers and "captain" a shift one or two nights each week.

Right now in New York, ACT is calling people in Ohio and taking a brief survey to identify undecided voters. Those people will then be specifically targeted by local canvassers.

The calls run the gamut, from staunch Bush supporters to vehement Bush haters, and many with mixed feelings. I've spoken to a lot of people who voted for Bush last time but are unhappy with him and unsure of how they will vote this time around. Yes!

You get the occasional oddball who voted for Gore but is now leaning towards Bush, but mostly it's the former W voters who are now on the fence. Their problem is definitely the war: why we went in the first place, why we are still there, what on earth are his plans to get us out. (Their words, "us". You know I don't speak that way.)

Last night I got my first truly wacky call. To question #1, what issue do you want to see the candidates focus on, what is the most important issue to you, this Ohioan said, "Getting rid of the Israelis." Sorry sir, I don't have a listing for genocide, can you name another issue?

No, I didn't really say that.

When I asked if he usually votes more Democrat or more Republican, he replied, "I'm an American, that means I vote Republican." I confess I lost a bit of my supposed nonpartisanship, and very politely suggested that one can be American and vote for any party. He promptly informed me, "My son is in the military, and he says everyone in the military is Republican, that Democrats don't enlist. To be an American, you have to be a Republican. Democrats are not Americans!"


Well, it was only one call. Not long after, a woman told me she'd vote for a tree stump if it were running against George W. Bush, and that made me feel much better.

And speaking of tree stumps, people simply cannot remember Al Gore's name. When asked who they voted for in the last presidential election, people either say Bush or... or... or... they stammer, trying to recall, who is that guy, what was his name? The other guy. The one that didn't win. I don't know, the Democrat. Lots of people say Clinton. I'm pleased to say a couple of people said, "The guy who really won." But most people I've spoken to cannot remember the name Al Gore. That's the Dems for ya, running the most forgettable candidate possible.

I have a few eBay auctions ending in a couple of minutes. I have to go click refresh.


blogging about blogging

Through a combination of some internet coincidences and a very slow weekend at work, I ended up looking at a lot of blogs today. These are all intelligent, thoughtful, complex, text-heavy blogs, each linking to dozens of other worthwhile sites. They cover art, literature, film, world events, politics – you name it. Some are very focused on a specific topic, others more broad; all offer intelligent, critical discourse on all sorts of fascinating subjects.

I have one question: How do they do it?

How does anyone have the time? Not the time to write a blog, that alone is manageable. But these blogs don't exist in a vacuum. Each of the writers is presumably reading many of the blogs they link to, and combing the net in search of other interesting sites and tidbits.

I do not understand how any of these people have time to do anything besides read and post all day long. Do they have lives outside of the net? Do they go outside? Do they have jobs, children, friends, dogs, shopping, laundry? Do they have down-time? Do they sleep? I'm not saying this in a sarcastic or disdainful way, not at all. I am simply mystified.

I don't know that many people, but no one who I know well - well enough to know the general shape and tenor of her/his life - has time to do this either. Everyone I know is working, or raising their children, or going to the opera, or watching movies, reading books, going to meetings... They are not blogging and they aren't keeping up with huge numbers of blogs or websites.

As is, most of us feel we never have enough time for all the things we want to do. For my part, I would like to read more, although I'm aware that my lifestyle affords me more reading time than many people's. I would like to listen to more music. Some people I know wish they had more time to exercise or play sports, or cook, or play piano. Everyone I know would like more time for something.

How, how, how do so many people have so much time to read websites and write their own?? Given we all have the same number of hours in a day, what aren't these bloggers doing? Or what's their secret?

a letter

I have a letter in the New York Times Magazine today. This has been a great year for letters for both me and Allan. Then again, that just means there's been a lot to be pissed off about.

OK, now it's the We Move To Canada and I'm Alerting You When I Have Something Published blog. A book I contributed to is coming out soon, and you can bet I'll be plugging it here.


the best button

It's not about moving to Canada, but I love it!

It can be ordered from Blog for Democracy. Thank you to Allan for finding it, and to Catherine from Georgia For Democracy for sending us some. We'll be handing them out freely during the RNC.


a canadian writes

Not to me, to the New York Times. In today's letters:
In "Selling the Sizzle," David Brooks referred to the "health care industry." That single phrase sums up all that is wrong with the health care system in the United States. Here in Canada, health care is considered to be the right of every citizen. It is neither a business nor an industry, and our overall consensus rejects the notion that the health care system exists primarily for the profit of those who operate it. -- Jack Shultz, Pointe Claire, Quebec
Thank you Mr. Shultz!

status quo

Allan thinks I should blog more often. He has a point; I don't want to lose my audience. (Do I have an audience?) But there's nothing to report on the We Move To Canada front, and that's what this blog is supposed to be about. At some point, I'll be writing a lot, and very often. So please keep checking back! But for now, there's nothing new to report.

Well, here's something at least tangentially related. I started phone banking last night with ACT, the voter mobilization group.

ACT stands for America Coming Together. Started by Ellen Malcolm of Emily's List fame, it's a national effort to target the 17 battleground states - to disseminate info and get out the vote. You can go to the main website to read about the group in general, or here to learn how to get involved locally.

If you live in NYC, becoming more active is the easiest thing in the world. Four nights a week, you can call Ohio on someone else's dime. Ohio is an extremely important state for Kerry to win; no Democrat has ever become president without winning Ohio. It's also a state where the economy has been hit very hard, millions out of work, and many young Ohioans are in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seems ripe for us to win.

Here's how it works. You show up. You sit through a brief, easy training. Then you sit in front of a computer and read from an on-screen script. You don't try to convince anyone of anything. You merely ask a few questions, say thank you and good night, and move on. You are taking a very brief survey to identify swing voters, so they can be targeted later.

Here's the deal:

Mondays through Thursdays

6:00 to 9:00 pm

330 West 42 St, west of 8th Ave (next to Port Authority), 7th floor

SEIU communications center

Hey, try it! What have you got to lose? As I told Allan (my latest recruit) last night, when Ohio goes to Kerry, you'll know you helped.

* * * *

Did I mention I have eBay fever? I'm selling everything that's not nailed down. One day Allan's going to go grocery shopping and come home to a bare apartment. "Um, I sold it on eBay..."