Eight years ago, after the election of President Obama, Paul and his friend S were celebrating that fact that only did he seem like a good choice for the job, he was also a person of color. “He just has to not f*ck it up,” they said – or something similar. And they decided, that if he could make it through four or eight years without any embarrassing personal scandals, they would raise a glass and toast him on his last day.
Friday was that day, and I was delighted to be invited to splash through the rain to a chic local restaurant to breakfast with friends. At 9AM, as President and Michelle Obama boarded Marine 1 for the last time, S popped the cork on a bottle of champagne, and a toast was had.
Then I went home and wrote stuff.
Saturday there was a Women’s March. You might have heard about it. Just for the record, here was the statement published on the site and Facebook page.
Women’s March LA
The march is open to everyone who stands for human rights, civil liberties, and compassion for our shared humanity.
We stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.
The Women’s March had a big turn out—estimated at 4.6 millions world-wide. The event has provoked many open letters and think pieces about what made it good, or flawed or other things. I won’t go into the complexities here except to note that a number of articles refer to the march as a “protest” or “anti-Trump protest.” I don’t doubt that for many, expressing dissatisfaction with President Trump was a primary motivation. I can only speak for myself when I say that the stuff about “human rights, civil liberties, and compassion for our shared humanity” etc., was what got me right in the heartspot…
And got me into the car at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, along with Paul, roommate, and friend, L. We drove to the Metro station, which was hopping. As a long time rider and supporter, I had hoped that LA Metro would see the event as the potential word-of-mouth PR goldmine it was and rise to the occasion as thousands of customers tried their wares for the very first time. They fell a bit short of my hopes. The line at the TAP card machines was around the block, and, although LA Metro often stations brightly-vested “ambassadors” at various platforms during the week—there was none in sight at the Jefferson-La Cienega stop on Saturday morning as hundreds of newbies spent frustratingly long minutes trying to figure out the less-than-intuitive ticket-vending machines.
Up on the platform, the waiting continued. LA Metro did make an effort, increasing the Expo line frequency from every 12 minutes to every 9 minutes. But when train after train that stopped was full to the brim, unable to accept any new passengers, we did what folks do in L.A.—we decided to drive. Traffic was better than you would think and by around 9:30, Paul dropped us off several blocks from Pershing Square (the beginning of the march route) and went to look for parking near City Hall (where the march was supposed to end). We made our way through a thickening crowd until we were as close as we could get to the “square” part of Pershing square without walking over peoples heads. This was not close enough to see any stages (or port-a-potties) or hear any speeches, but that was okay—there were many entertaining signs to read, occasional uprisings of chanting to join, and when the helicopters flew overhead, everyone cheered and waved. And at 10 ‘o clock, we would all be marching!
But as 10:15 passed, and then 10:30, folks started to get a little antsy. Why weren’t we marching? We couldn’t see or hear. People tried to check their phones for news, but there was no signal. Around 10:45, a rumor started circulating—apparently the entire route was so full that there was no place to march. No big deal, said we—instead of a march, it’s a rally!
However—with no sight or sound from any leadership, the rally felt very similar to standing in a crowd of people…which we had now been doing that for more than an hour. Was it helpful to remain longer? While the crowd was super chill, something about having unmoving people-shaped obstacles on every side gets claustrophobic-feeling. Perhaps our rallying was done, and it was time to start worming our way out of the crowd? This is what we did, along with some similar-minded people. Finally making it to the edge of the crowd, cut across a parking lot and down and alley and finally found ourselves on a street when we could walk again. Freedom!
Our friend, L had been on the look out for a toilet for going on three hours, so when we saw Clifton’s Cafeteria, she decided a stop would be in order, and, if using the facilities, it would only be polite to order something, like maybe a drink from the bar (we were not the only ones to have that thought, so there was a substantial line for the restroom, and another at the bar) By noon, we were having over-priced drinks on a perfect, sunny LA day.
I spent another hour having conversations on the street with late-arrivers looking for the rally in between finding spots of phone reception in order to reconnect with Paul—who, at City Hall, it turns out, had actually seen more speeches and rallying that any of us. He met us at Clifton’s, and we put in our “marching time” walking back to the car. On the way back, someone brought up the idea of lunch at that new Vietnamese place…
And then I came home and wrote some stuff.
Sunday it rained again. I went to my morning yoga class, and decided I didn’t need to leave the house again, because: rain.
So I wrote stuff.
And that’s my weekend update