Archive for October, 2010

October 31, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity

by nkwilczy

I don’t have any of the numbers on me, or know what happened at the Rally to Restore sanity, this is not a press release, this is just the story of me going and being there, although I won’t know what happened on stage for a good while now.

So, we started noticing a huge amount of North Carolina tags while driving through the wilderness that defines Virginia. But past that most of the passengers of those cars had gone so far as to adorn their steeds with bumper stickers and printed out pictures taped to windows advocating the Rally to Restore Sanity… or Keep Fear Alive depending on their temperament and preferences. We had left at nearly five o’clock, an hour behind schedule (we made it up with the driving), although when we finally arrived in D.C. It was clear that we should have left the night before, arriving in D.C. To eat a leisurely breakfast before we would have had to start gathering at eight or nine if we wanted to actually make it onto the National Mall for the Rally.

Parking was less of a problem than anticipated, and so we started making posters, although my companions did not feel moved to actually hold or create posters, especially when it was clear we had brought fine tip sharpies that were next to useless for the task at hand. I made up for their lack of enthusiasm for posterboard by making a trio of signs, one that simply said “Legalize it!” followed by the smaller footnote, “You know what I mean.” My second sign worried me a little, because in my conception of the Rally to Restore Sanity was a massive farce, nothing serious or political about it. Perhaps it is fair to compare it to similar Tea Party gatherings, some in the media have certainly decided that this is the narrative they prefer. But, to me, that doesn’t really have anything to do with a serious political message in the Rally, just like the Tea Party it was a diverse groups from a variety of backgrounds who would never ever be able to deliver a coherent unified message, but the comparison seems to me less one of “Stewart’s farce resembles our politics,” so much as “Our politics are chillingly farcical.” So I was unsure that I wanted to go out on a limb for my second sign, but as soon as I was greeted by a large Truther delegation at the entrance to the Rally I knew that my sign would be considered tame by most, it read: “Fix the Budget, Cut the Army.”

My final sign, all three done on thin posterboard that often collapsed in the wind and hit people in the head, simply said “Ask me about Upright Citizens,” which, when it did prompt questions about “Upright Citizens” would go in a variety of ways. Some thought I was representing some inane comedy troupe, I did not have the heart to correct them and I basically shuddered when they said anything. Other people who asked me directly what I meant I would give a brief description of the novel based on generalizations about their attire, these responses ranged from the most sucessful, “Legalize it!” and “It is the novel to end marijuana prohibition,” or “It is a novel about the bitter and pointless divisions of the culture war,” which seemed appropriate to me considering the nature of the rally, but which rarely got positive responses (I guess they were there out of fear), or “It is the great American novel of the twenty first century,” that always got a grin Whether or not that is a fair assessment you’ll have to find out one day. After explaining the novel to them I handed them a CD with it in .doc format, God alone knows where those CD’s are now.

We never made it into the National Mall, since we arrived with my posters a little before noon, when the rally was scheduled to begin. At the fringes of the rally you could see the expectations of the participants clearly painted in their frustrations. The speaker system was…. inadequate. I hope one day to see the Rally on film so that I will have any idea what happened anywhere near the stage. With the large number of people (Myself included) holding up signs it was impossible to see any of the jumbo-trons. And these people all came there… to see or hear Jon Stewart say something, they ran back and forth in a panic looking for some way to get into the line that would deliver them at once to the heart of the event. The waves of the crowd rolled back and forth, people hustling in both directions voicing complaints and seeking betterment, saying “Sure we could hear alright over there, but you can see AND hear over there,” or vice versa and then marching off immediately without looking around them at all or realizing that everyone was looking for this and running about in a similar desperate and confused manner. Personally I wandered about on the outside layers, where the waves of motion were most pronounced and where all the good, well, crazy sign carrying people found themselves. Maybe to the people who got into the mall and saw the show it was a show, but to the people who knew what was going on in the outer levels it was just a big party, we figured you couldn’t hear, nobody could hear, we figured you couldn’t see, would you be interested my targeted liberal marketing? I was far from the only person there with self aggrandizement in mind. Frankly it was the best way to be. If I had showed up at the national mall at eight with enough CD’s then I could have gladly spent six or seven hours doing it instead of two and a half, for the people who were similarly occupied I saved us both the time by holding up a CD and saying, “I’ll trade you.” This method was foolproof.

We left this oversized hustle about a half hour early and while we did get caught up trying to take the traditional route back to 395 TWICE (from two seperate directions, both blocked by the same firetruck) instead of taking the detour that was clearly marked for the occasion. On our way out of the rally, to the car, we found that the Truthers who had been up front had now been replaced by bitter Tea Partiers who wanted to sneer at people who had gone to the rally, which is perfect because they are the exact right crowd to hold up a “Balance the Budget, Cut the Army” poster to.

As far as what happened on stage… I think I saw Ozzy there. We joked that they had used all the power for the speakers necromancing him, because only when he was on stage did I hear anything, and I never SAW a damn thing. Except for a huge group of happy, sign carrying Comedy Central watchers gathered in person in truly impressive and unmanageable numbers, I don’t give a flying fuck that I have no idea what happened at the Rally to Restore Sanity, I was there… everyone there, all of us will probably see the events on the stage for the first time on T.V, but it was more than worth the time and effort just to see the big happy scene.

That, in the end, is why this is not a political movement to rival the tea party. That rally had nothing to do with misdirected anger, nobody there was angry, we just showed up looking for a comedy show, maybe with some music, and so we only had signs like “Hitler is Hitler, American Presidents are American Presidents.” which are not particularly inflammatory, but rather the measure of good cheer in the signmaker.

And if anybody votes Dem on Tuesday who wouldn’t have on Thursday it’s probably not because of the Rally, it’s because Barack Obama prevented a major terrorist attack on a Chicago Synagogue this weekend and did so in a spectacularly public manner.

Keep it Sane. Happy Halloween.

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October 28, 2010

Election 2010

by nkwilczy

Harry Reid is fighting like a motherfucker I’ll tell you that. I get an email from that guy every six hours on the dot to ask for money or tell people about the evils that Sharon Angle represents. I think she’ll probably be an even bigger representation of those evils post-election, when she’s the biggest and onlyest win the tea party manages, fuck you Joe Miller, fuck you Christine O’Donell, and fuck you Sarah Palin, it aint happenin.

So I’ve been doing my part to close the enthusiasm gap, calling people for the Dems in Guilford County when I get the chance, if I get a couple hours, and I don’t know if you can tell by my lack of blog posts but I haven’t had a lot of free hours. I also spent less than an hour calling people to support prop 19.

And although I am more than happy to man to battlements, while I greatly enjoy this fight, I want to establish that I don’t care how it turns out, I don’t think it will make a big long term difference. If Republicans DO win and shut down the government then they will only serve to invigorate democrats in two years when they throw a hail Palin. And I have been more than happy to announce to people that during the original government shutdown in the nineties Bill Clinton spent his time helping to solve one of the most intractable foreign conflicts of our age, where do you think the IRA went?

Hamas can go that same place, Republicans, please win. But it’s only going to cost you in two years when you’ve made such a big deal about how now you’re running things and they still aren’t getting better.

Hell yeah Prop 19, go for it. If anyone needs a ride to D.C. from G-Boro on Saturday for the Jon Stewart rally then you should probably find someone else, my car is full.

October 9, 2010

The G is for Gentrification

by nkwilczy

I have the strange opportunity to live in the South. The Southeast corner of North America is, geographically speaking, a beautiful area. North Carolina is the specific state and when you think of the oft sullied history of the South North Carolina comes out of it alright. It doesn’t have typical southern geography, with easy access to ports and broad expanses of rich farmland. NC is a state that is one third swamp, one third sandy soil that grows little but Tobacco, and one third mountains and hills, so it is fair to say that Cotton wasn’t king here. NC did their share of slaveholding, sent soldiers to maliciously murder their countrymen in the Civil War, and even perpetuated the deaths of many millions of Americans with their cigarettes, but the Civil War was hardly their idea and I mean, come on, it’s not Georgia or Alabama.

But because it is in the south there are certain issues of race here. Consider the difference between North Raleigh, South Raleigh, Cary and Durham, and you will soon come to the conclusion that in the 21st Century North Carolina remains a solidly segregated state.

But in Greensboro, the home of a new Civil Rights museum that celebrates our city as the place where the sit in movement began, we are able to buck the trend somewhat. I don’t mean to say that Greensboro is not a segregated city, it totally is divided into Northwestern and Southestern sections and the racial and economic divisions between those two sections of town are stark. But on the other hand, throughout much of the city you will find that you are always near a ghetto. I don’t mean it as a bad thing that the city is divided almost block by block into homogenous communities of students, immigrants, and a variety of populations I lack the patience to come up with politically correct and simultaneously accurate names for. I celebrate this diversity, it is one of my favorite things about Greensboro.

Greensboro was founded by Quakers you see. Quakers. They were an extremely unpopular minority in North Carolina and were basically exiled out to the hills in the early 19th Century. The city that stands there, in my mind, because of the wide diversity of the population, filled with Vietnamese, Koreans, Dominicans, Africans, Mexicans, Peruvians and every Euro-American polyglot, it is a place of refuge for everyone. There are Hookah bars, Carniceras, Night Clubs and bars where you can hear every type of music on the earth.

There is an economic inequality between these various neighborhoods as one might imagine. And this has led to an understanding of the obvious need to rework Greensboro’s business model as a city. You see, our main claim to fame is that we are located halfway between D.C. And Atlanta and so we have passing truckers depositing new money into the community, we have a railroad and an airport and invest frequently in these things to actualize our vision of the boro as a transportation hub. We also have a massive Colosseum, we can get Jay-Z to play it every couple of years, most of the time we use it for amateur hockey games and stuff. This is supposed to be the other big engine of economic growth in Greensboro as far as I can tell.

OK, I guess that’s not totally fair because Greensboro has one other big industry that serves to explain its existence after that paragraph. Education. There are at least five respectable universities, and on top of that a community college and a variety of vocational schools.

So, to enhance access to the Colosseum, which sits about directly in the middle of the city with regards to the aforementioned Northwest/Southeast division the city has designated High Point Rd. as a reinvestment corridor and purchased up a lot of slums and poorer neighborhoods with the stated intention of turning them into things like parking spaces and townhouses, for student living. These things are wholly unnecesarry, there is plenty of parking near the Colosseum and there is plenty of student housing in Greensboro, it has been a major part of the way that the education industry pays off for Greensboro for a long time.

I do not have a better plan for the space. I have not actually spent too much of my time designing engines for a city’s economic growth so I won’t claim to know shit about what sort of solar cell processing centers or other you know, job creating industries we could be working on bringing to Greensboro. (Have I mentioned that the unemployment rate in Guilford county is over 10%) It just seems to me that concrete, profitable jobs, are more useful than housing and parking. The location of the buy up, the southward march of urban Kiplingism, I have felt no small outrage about this for some time, but I do not have a plan to you know, do anything about it, so I kept my mouth shut. Also in NC and particularly in Greensboro the city Zoning comissioner is the final authority and his decisions are not subject to popular input.

But I have a very empty blog, so there are the facts of life in G-Boro.

P.S. If you are not trying to sell Enzyte and your comments have been deleted then I sincerely apologize. If I do not check my blog on a daily basis for comments then Akisment will delete everything that requires moderation and assume it is spam. I will try to be more diligent.