Monday, May 01, 2017

My account of Mayday 2017

My boy earned a top hat and goggles.
Not just for going to his first, real protest, he was in the saddle all day. We have been training him in bike commuting and today he went over 12 miles.

Not bad for a beginner.

First we had to go to good, old Lippmans Company to fill the tank. Folks online asked us to attend this protest and even raised about $30 for us to buy the kids balloons with. We were going anyway (as our civic duty) but it was great to have a plan and some cash. Also a great evolution that now lots of kids attend protests rather than the feral radicals like my kids were when they were little. Lots of mainstream folks care about the world and it's people. It's not such a radical idea these days. Lippmans filled a helium tank for us so fast it was warm when we got it. We stowed it on my tall bike, "Behemoth" and made sure to pack the brass parts separately.

Then we biked down the chilly esplanade to the park where everyone was meeting.

His first moments after a long ride and now not knowing what to expect. We could smell sage, hear loudspeakers, and the rest of Portland didn't seem to know or care what was up.

As folks filed in, I was able to instruct my boy on what was going down. Before, he was too young for me to share this stuff, "See them, those are lawyers ready to help folks if they are in  trouble. Next to them are the medics. Those folks are the communists, those are the Buddhists and those folks are Hispanic migrant workers. Oh and look there, those cats are anarchists, they get grumpy with those folks,  the riot cops, and the dudes next to them are the medics for the riot cops." It just went on and on with me explaining all the factions. Heh! We should start our own faction and say, "I'm with the Matter-of-faction!"
People spoke, gathered, and broke bread as we pumped out balloons.
We kept getting bulletins from runners and spies about who the alt right people and other agitators were. 
My son showing a heightened state of awareness made my day. He was very concerned as cops approached some folks and confiscated their shields. They had homemade shields. The police took them and said if the shield owners showed I.D. they could reclaim their shields after the event.

I had to tell him the truth. "These things can be rough sometimes. Here is a good rule of thumb: Your Dad is a badass and I have been doing this since your big sis was a toddler. I never let anything happen to her and I won't let anything happen to you. If you don't see me looking concerned then don't worry,  just keep your eyes peeled... If you do see me concerned, do what I say. If I get spooked, I'm headed over to where the Teamsters are. Last I checked, them and the steel workers are the baddest-asses-on-the-beach around here."
He was cool with that notion. Before (late 90's), these things would be mostly anarchists, radicals, war vets and college kids protesting. Now it's a rainbow of colors and persuasions. It's neat to see so many kids and families at the protest.
It's not for radicals anymore, it's for everyone who cares about the world and it's people. It's our patriotic duty.

Pretty soon we ran out of kids to give balloons to. 
Olive took our guy to a cafe.  They walked in looking colorful and amazing. She said everyone and thing in the cafe was shade of dull grey and brown. One person asked, "Hey kid, is it your birthday?" "No." "Is it your birthday?" Olive: "No, I'm a professional clown." My boy: "And I'm a professional kid."
They got back and we realized why there weren't so many kiddos; it had been lunchtime. They did show up right as the march was starting and we suddenly, became really busy pumping out balloons. Olive was really happy that so many folks wanted to connect with us. Lots of folks would see us and say, "OMG I need a hug." (We hugged lots and lots of people). It was great showing my kid the diversity of people that care about social justice issues.
Lots of hats today.
 Hard hats-Hijabs-hoodies-Balaclavas-vet caps full of glistening pins, ski hats, hats made of reeds, beads and palms; my boy earned his very own top hat. Amd he frikkin loves it... All kinds of races and vocations for my impressionable boy to absorb. They all care, and so do we. It was powerful. 

I've also never seen so many Hispanic folks at this in the past. I love the Mexican Indians dancing and the many Latino cultures represented. I regret not getting better pics of these amazing people.

It was wonderful. We formed at the correct time and started marching. 
When uncouth type reporters filmed me rolling by, I made sure to be swearing so the footage was unusable. I don't want to be part of their "alt-facts." The many reporters who were very nice to me (no goofy leading questions) got the straight dope from me with a smile. 

It was a adorable to see how many little girls surrounded Olive during the march. She had a full on tiny posse of youngsters marching and beaming at her. My boy was at my side most of the time. He was a little concerned about the Black Bloc marching nearby. They looked mean and lean, ready and pumped. I had to revel to him that the black block is our, order of clowns, closest political relative. I'm sure he knows a lot of them.
But I told him, if trouble breaks out and he loses me to run towards the Teamsters. Those ranks are full of Dads who don't take any guff. of coarse nothing did happen, it was a peaceful protest.

There are some people that I only see at protests. Folks so underground you would never see them on social media. It was nice seeing them.

We had been marching a long time and decided to duck out to debrief, use the loo and have some fries at a veggie place. Bruc was very happy to have experienced the day. 

Debrief time....


 Then we saw some commotion down the street. We went looking and found some folks had lit a newspaper on fire. Cops rushed in, and busted a bunch of people. They declared it a riot I hear. 
I knew it was gonna get spun somehow. Riot porn: what a joke. Thank you Sammy Black for the phrase. Riot porn is: the media huddled around a burning garbage can taking pics and throwing around the word "riot." Meanwhile if ya wanna see a violent gathering there is a carnival being set up a few blocks away. Every year there are stabbings, gang fights all kinds of mayhem all over. Because it isn't political it seems to be held to a different metric. I miss the days of real investigative journalism.
At least my boy knows what went down, he was there.

I like to play this game with trains. When a little kid notices me, I wave, then they tell a guardian but by then I'm hiding behind something while moving. I imagine the parents not believing the kid, "Sure you saw a clown on a huge bike... I think you need a nap kiddo." Lol.

Great Protest, great moments, I love my people. If I had to bitch I would say the spin the media put on the protest was gross, incorrect, irresponsible, there were not enough black folks and way way way too many cigarettes but other than that it was a swell time in Puddletown. 

 We said our goodbyes, hugged our good hugs and moved along. Today was full of teachable moments but our boy still has his algebra at home that we gotta teach him. 

We got the most awkward sound bite at the end.
 As we were going to the bridge headed home, a couple trucks full of riot squad rolled by us. One of the riot cops yelled to us in a very friendly voice, "My kids love you two!" Wow! Olive and I looked each other with knowing smiles-we silently realized that we're tied into everybody at the protest (not the folks at home watching it go down on the News) and we gotta own 'em all. That was such a riot.... wait no it wasn't. (wink)

And that is the miracle of Christmas...

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