Life and Times

Life and Times from 2017

Life and Times from 2016

Life and Times from 2015

Life and Times from 2014

Life and Times from 2013

Life and Times from 2012

Life and Times from 2011

Life and Times from 2010

Life and Times from 2009

Life and Times from 2008

Life and Times from 2007

Life and Times from 2006

Life and Times from 2005

Life and Times from 2004

Life and Times from 2003

Life and Times from 2002

Life and Times from 2000

Million Puppet March

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 2

Some of the protest signs played on the PBS logo a bit.  Some of the protest signs played on the PBS logo a bit.

Some of the protest signs played on the PBS logo a bit.


This person's outfit was designed to be somewhat reminiscent of Big Bird.  This showed Big Bird as being out of work.

This person’s outfit was designed to be somewhat reminiscent of Big Bird. This showed Big Bird as being out of work.


This was by far the best one of all as far as I was concerned, showing Big Bird taking out the trash - with Mitt Romney in the can.  The person in the outfit was the top half of Mitt Romney (wearing a Mitt Romney mask), and also Big Bird's legs.  Pretty neat.  This was by far the best one of all as far as I was concerned, showing Big Bird taking out the trash - with Mitt Romney in the can.  The person in the outfit was the top half of Mitt Romney (wearing a Mitt Romney mask), and also Big Bird's legs.  Pretty neat.

This was by far the best one of all as far as I was concerned, showing Big Bird taking out the trash – with Mitt Romney in the can. The person in the outfit was the top half of Mitt Romney (wearing a Mitt Romney mask), and also Big Bird’s legs. Pretty neat.


Reaching First Street NE, we turned north, going past the Supreme Court building, until we reached Constitution Avenue. From there, we marched a few blocks west, until we reached our destination: the west side of the Capitol Reflecting Pool.


The exterior of the Supreme Court Building was under renovation at the time of the demonstration.  The scaffolding normally was covered by a picture of the building, but presumably due to Hurricane Sandy, which came through four days prior to this event, this covering was missing.  The exterior of the Supreme Court Building was under renovation at the time of the demonstration.  The scaffolding normally was covered by a picture of the building, but presumably due to Hurricane Sandy, which came through four days prior to this event, this covering was missing.

The exterior of the Supreme Court Building was under renovation at the time of the demonstration. The scaffolding normally was covered by a picture of the building, but presumably due to Hurricane Sandy, which came through four days prior to this event, this covering was missing.


The march heads north on First Street NE.

The march heads north on First Street NE.


 

 

   


At the Reflecting Pool, a stage was set up, and people began to gather around it, as the program was going to begin soon.


The crowd, assembled at the final rally location.

The crowd, assembled at the final rally location.

The crowd, assembled at the final rally location.  The crowd, assembled at the final rally location.


One of the speakers at the podium.

One of the speakers at the podium.


And there were more puppets…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


It was at this point, as the march came to an end, and we weren’t walking anymore, that I began to realize exactly how cold it was outside, and how cold that it was making me feel. The jacket that I had on wasn’t doing anything for me, since it was far too loose. I had owned this particular jacket since 2000, when I was a lot heavier than I now am. As a result, the jacket was too big around the neck, and also too big around the middle, which means that any warmth that the jacket would otherwise trap was going right out the top and being replaced with cold air coming in from underneath. That kept the pockets cold as well, which meant that my hands were freezing.

This made me think about my black bloc days for a while. First of all, I was 100 pounds heavier back in those days, and as such had a layer of insulation on me from that, which I no longer have. Then on top of that, the standard black bloc “uniform” was a black hoodie and a mask, which kept anyone wearing it nice and warm, which was good for a cold-weather demonstration. I don’t do black bloc anymore these days, and so I was wearing pretty much whatever I pulled out of my closet that morning. And yeah – I was cold. But it’s okay.

Once the speeches got started, I decided to call it a day. I always consider speeches at political rallies akin to preaching to the choir, since the people that you’re speaking to more than likely already agree with you. Plus I had photographed most of the people there, and I was cold. So I headed out, back towards Union Station to have a somewhat late lunch (even by my standards, and I usually eat lunch really late) before I headed back over to the office to do some work.

All in all, the Million Puppet March wasn’t bad. I did get the feeling, however, that the people who planned the event weren’t quite as familiar with the District as I would have liked. It seemed as though they just looked at a map of the city and planned the march that way, sight unseen, since, as someone who is quite familiar with DC, it didn’t make sense to me. Putting the meeting place deep in a residential neighborhood east of the Capitol was really bizarre. Picking an area that’s not very Metro accessible was equally bizarre, especially when people were strongly encouraged to bring props. Then with the march’s being a straight line out of the neighborhood that they were in and then around the Capitol, it seemed that for all of the energy and enthusiasm that the group brought, it was somewhat squandered by there being no one around to see them except for the other marchers, and those photographing the crowd such as myself. On a Saturday such as this one, the lawmakers are not at the Capitol, and the Capitol Reflecting Pool, while a nice place visually, is a poor location for a demonstration because of its remoteness. There’s just not much foot traffic through there on a weekend.

I think that this demonstration would have gotten a lot more eyes on it if it had been in a better location. True, downtown Washington isn’t as well populated on a weekend as it is during the week, but there’s enough foot traffic through there on a weekend that you would have gotten some sympathetic ears and gotten more people on board to your cause. Let’s admit – public demonstrations in DC on national issues are not about reaching the people in power directly (demonstrations about matters local to the DC area are a different story entirely). They are about rallying ordinary people to your cause, and places like the Capitol and the White House are good places to use as the backdrop for your demonstration, but the focus needs to be on raising awareness.

That said, if I were the one planning the Million Puppet March, I would have done things a little bit differently. I would have made the official meeting point somewhere more easily reached by Metro, and somewhere that more people would see the meeting point. Dupont Circle is always a good place to start a demonstration, as it’s near a Metro station, there are a lot of people in the area, and it’s near enough to places that a march of reasonable length can happen to the various important areas of the city. Then I would have had the speeches near the White House, again for the foot traffic matter, since the White House is always crawling with tourists on just about any given day.

Plus, unless you’re expecting to get thousands upon thousands of people at your event, the Capitol building and vicinity will make your demonstration look small and insignificant. The large building and wide open spaces around it will do that. The White House is a smaller building, and Lafayette Park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House will take a moderately-sized demonstration and make it look bigger because it fills up more of that space as a percentage of the total, and the trees all around it frame a demonstration well to enhance the appearance of size.

I also was disappointed that this demonstration was as partisan as it was. I guess with a presidential election only three days away, it was inevitable, but it was definitely not something I particularly wanted to see. I would much rather see a political demonstration that focused entirely on issues and was candidate-agnostic. This was definitely an Obama love-in, and that made me somewhat uncomfortable, but then again, with only three days before an election, I guess it was inevitable.

So there you have it, I suppose. With Mitt Romney’s defeat in the election that occurred a few days later, I believe that PBS’s place in the world is safe for a while, and we definitely brought out a good showing of support for the network that exists to educate – not just to entertain.

Comments are closed.

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 2