Susy set the alarm clock early, because she wanted to get there right at 10:00, when everyone was scheduled to meet. I on the other hand knew from experience that if you get there early you just stand around, and wait for everything to get going. She headed out to the meeting spot which was from 23rd st. down to 14th st. between 5th Ave. and 9th Ave. Thats a big half mile square area, and one that suggested that there would be many many people showing up. At the anti war protests in Hollywood that I had been to the meeting point was just one corner, Hollywood, and Vine.
Susy kept me posted by phone about what was going on outside while I stayed back at the hotel writing about the previous days events. When she first got there she called and said that there was not too many people there, I told here don't worry there will be, that they would be showing up throughout the day. I was getting ready to start wrapping things up, and start walking over when she called. "They are starting the march, and Michael Moore is here, I'm standing right next to him, and he and Jesse Jackson are giving speeches." In the speech Mike told the crowd to not let the Police push them around, that these were our streets, and our parks, obviously referring to the attempt to secure a permit for the great lawn at Central Park which the city refused. I rushed outside and hopped a cab rather then wasting time walking over there.
Since the march was heading north, the people who gathered at the 23rd st. end were the first ones to begin the march. Once again navigating my way toward the action by cellphone, I got to the side of the street right on the very front line, just as it was starting. I looked back and saw people as far as I could see but at that point had no idea how many were back there. Just as the march was starting I managed to get a little above the crowd on the sidewalk and snapped this picture.
The procession started up 7th Ave. Stopping right in front of Madison Square Garden where the crowd let out its first of many tremendous roars of the day. We went up past a few of the big Hotels where some of the delegates were staying. Some stood at the front entrance to the hotels and watched the throng go by. Others decided to come down to the street and attempt to heckle the protestors, like these guys for example :
These guys, who would never fit in at any party that most of the protestors would hang out, such as a Bartcop Pokerfest, probably came out expecting to give a hard time to the hardcore radicals who would dare to his supreme greatness President Monkeyboy. I wonder if they stayed out there for the whole five hours, if so they must have gotten tired of yelling "4 more years", while the crowd yelled back "4 more months."Fortunately the cool people outnumbered the uncurious brainless ones who cant wait to get themselves or someone they know killed in a war by abut 1000 to 1. Amongst the people who were walking and dancing to the drummers near the front was my old friend Marissa Tomei who was looking as hot as ever
There was a group of drummers and singers who were playing and marching as the crowd danced along to there funky rhythm's
The march proceeded past the Garden, turning right on 34th st. and then right again on Broadway and going down to Union Square which is located at 17th St. When we got to this point we were informed by bullhorn that there would be no official gathering at the end of the protest, but that we could go anywhere and do whatever we wanted. I took this to mean "Head over to Central Park even though we don't have a permit" They were also asking people to not hang out right there at the end of the march because there were still people stretched back all the way to the start point. This is when I began to get an idea how Massive this thing was. We started to walk back along the sidewalk against the hordes of people who were coming at us and heading toward the end of their march. When we got about 8 blocks back into it we sat down on the side where Broadway and 5th Ave. come together. We watched the people stream by and checked out some of their colorful signs. I kept saying how I could not believe the size of the gathering. The biggest protest I was at in L.A. was on the day that 6 million protested worldwide. On that day in L.A. I estimated that about 30,000 people had showed up. I came up with this estimate by figuring that about 15 people walked by every second, multiplying that by 60 equaled 900 per minute, and the crowd took about 35 minutes to march by. that comes out to about 30,000. At this one there was about 20-30 people per second going by, and it took 5 hours. That tells me there were somewhere between 400,000 to 500,000 people in attendance.
A little while later we decided to take a cab back to the hotel to recharge the camera, and get ready to head over to Central Park which was only 9 blocks from the Hotel. I had called a friend back in L.A. who said he was watching the whole thing on CSPAN. When we got back to the hotel we put it on and saw that the crowd was still filing past the Garden near the starting point and still had the entire march still to do. This part of the crowd was carrying the 1000 flag draped coffin. that was an awesome and powerful sight. We were about to go back over to the Garden to get a closer look when the last of the marchers had finally started the course. So we left directly for the park instead.
We walked up toward the 60th St. entrance at 5th Ave. and headed inside. I didn't know my way around the park too well so we just walked around a bit. I had never realized how beautiful the landscape was on the inside. I had previously only really driven through, but as Central Park takes up about one fifth of the land area of Manhattan, its a great place to get away from the high speed lifestyle of The City.
We continued walking down the winding roads checking out the huge crowds of people everywhere, some were there to protest, others just happened to be spending a lovely summer afternoon in the park. As we walked along we saw people carrying signs that were trying to find their way to the great lawn, we also asked how to get there a couple of times but never quite got the clear and concise directions we were seeking. A little while later we finally came across the lawn. It was loaded with protestors, who were informally gathered. There was no stage, or speeches, just thousands of people who were united in there efforts to get rid of Bush come October. Some people were laying back relaxing after the long walk, (plus the couple of miles from the end of the march to the park.) Others were carrying signs, playing drums, singing, and generally hanging out.
It kind of reminded me of the Led Zeppelin song "Misty Mountain Hop" except no one was getting busted. At least I didn't see anyone, There was plenty of cops around but they were pretty laid back about the whole thing.
After a while of kicking back on the grass we decided to head out. We took a cab downtown to Gonzalez y Gonzalez, home of New York's strongest Margaritas Everywhere you walked in the city it seemed it had been taken over by protestors, and people who understood what was going on. We then walked down to the World Trade Center site. It was a long walk down Broadway until we got to the lower tip of Manhattan. Since the other time I was there two years ago, they have put up a big Iron fence all around the whole thing, The fence is about 10 feet high, and set back a ways from the spot where the buildings. All you can do now is stick your face up against the thick metal slots to see where the whole thing happened. Seems like they are trying to distance the sight from the event. They have put up big pictures on the big fence showing how the sight looked at various times from the 30's all the way until after 9/11. They also now have a plaque with the names of the people who died that day. It is a very sad, and somber experience to be there in that spot and imagine the horror that day.
By the time we left, it was getting late and we were tired from all the heat and walking, We went down in the oven like subway station for the long ride on the E train back uptown.
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