Now that the overnight camping permit for G20 demonstrators has been denied for the parks, I scribbled out this op-ed draft spoofing the decision and citing the precedents of the peace marches which were overlooked in the hearings today…I submitted this to the Post Gazette – I don’t know if they will use it - I haven’t published anything since the late last century…
A Steel City SleepoverEdit
By Larry Evans
Well, I guess I have to speak up now. The ruling against protest overnight campers did not dig deep enough into past precedent and probably should be reversed.
Back in 1986, the Great Peace March snoozed peacefully for a couple nights in Schenley Park. I should know – my name was on the permit. And I remember the Chief of Police summoning me from his bull-horned Paddy Wagon up at the Overlook and pointing out to me in very borderline polite terms that if he had known what he knew now – namely that the size of the Peace March encampment was about 5 times what I reckoned it might be when permitted, he would have shut down the whole dang thing. He went on to threaten every inch of my hide if things didn’t proceed peacefully and guess what?
It did. As a matter of fact, the place was left in better shape than it was when the 1000 or so tree huggin’ peaceniks stumbled in. In fact it went so well, I scored another camping permit in 1987 for the International Peace Walk (hundreds of Russians and Americans holding hands from DC to SF) which featured a round the clock blues jam, ethnic dance performances and movies like Tony Buba's “Voices From a Steeltown.”
Everybody zipped up after a nice candlelight peace ceremony.
Now here we go again in 2009 and I just spent the last few weeks trying to organize a family friendly sports and culture event at Schenley with Dynamo Soccer and the Pittsburgh Folk Festival during the two days when the Mighty Summit is here and thousands of Pittsburgh Public School kids are off on forced holiday. Ironically, the effort was derailed mainly because of the growing fear of jamboreeing demonstrators who just might harbor some sublime beef about the world's body language - soccer and dancing… Bummer.
Now I understand that this potential encampment of a wide range of left wing squatters is not as organized as the Great Peace March which was so dramatically kicked off by Madonna as she high heeled it out of downtown LA pacing a celebrity-laced walk of hundreds…which was then led out of the Vegas desert and into Chicago by the notorious Robert Blake where it grew massive snowballing across Ohio and into Western PA. Who could argue with such star power? Certainly not me – especially since I was being paid to coordinate the March route from Pgh to Philly - finding every bit of Alabama in between was a just fun bonus. Luckily the March was so lily white and sprinkled with some truly rugged Forrest Gumpish survivalists looking a hair shy of totally insane that even the boys in spankin’ white sheets did not want to mess with it. Plus we were led over the Alleghenies by none other than me pulling my 3 year-old son Ducky in a little red ryder wagon. Talk about cute!
BTW, the next year, the march went international (a Leningrad to Moscow march) and Ducky spent the flight over the pond coloring in Bonnie Raitt’s lap as part of a Santana, James Taylor and the Doobie brothers Perestroika HBO concert…proving that a good old anti-Nuke walk was a ton more fun than your modern day anti-Capitalist street riot.
Nor are the G20 demonstrators as unified as the Peace March was - which simply wanted nuclear disarmament, eventually a hot shower, some hugging and the invention of flavored bottled water. By all accounts the peaceniks of the last century have practically devolved into internet relevance and the Michael Mooreists of today remind me of my jolly Mill Hunk Heralders of yesteryear. Hey Mike, let's dress up as American Indians and take back the Point!
I briefly met with the newbie “invading” anarchists at the Thomas Merton Center’s organizing meetings held this summer and they would not divulge what they will be doing or when to the rest of the local progressives who, I believe, all voted for our President Barack Obama and would honestly settle for a decent health plan and real bank regulation, plus maybe trading Iraq to Afghanistan for a bag of Willie Stargellese poppy seeds to pep up the Pirates next year and for somebody to please cover Wes Welker when the Patriots come to town.
So dear City of Pitt, do give the sleepover permit to the Merton Center or me (in case you don’t believe in that old Chinese “fool me again” saying) and we will sort out who is peaceful from the disrupters whose exit strategy will probably involve a sleepover in that Big House on the Mon anyway.
I personally don’t get it about the disrupters ... I would rather these bigwigs be busy yapping over rattling nukes at each other any day. Plus the anarchists calling Obama a war criminal is like really unfair to the real war criminals. It’s akin to the right wing tea baggers comparing Obama to their apparent role model Hitler. We are getting way too mixed up – left, right; them, us; up, down; salt, pepper; heaven, Cleveland... – we need to all go sleep it off at a Schenley Park Steel City G20 Sleepover!