So before we get into the story of how I almost got arrested this weekend, I have a couple quick writing thank yous to share.
First off, thanks to Clockwise Cat for accepting this poem, New Strange Life, for the David Bowie tribute issue. Always an honor to be included. And to Boyslut for taking Moment and finally Yellow Chair Review for taking Please Don’t Call It a Journey and for publishing my new essay about Betty Tompkin’s amazing exhibit.
How To Be An American my poetry book has also gotten some love. First up was Alison Ross at Clockwise Cat who said:
“The content of the poems, sans pedantic preaching, scream volumes about what’s very toxically wrong with American society
– its consumerism mania, its revolting xenophobia, its laughable “Jesus-was-American” attitudes, its faux-patriotism.
“How to Be An American” is the “Idiocracy” of poetry, serving to amuse, yes, but mostly to enrage and enlighten – about a freakishly frightening society.”
The full review is available in the new issue of Five 2 One.
And then Matthew gave this review on goodreads:
It never occurred to me that I would open up a book one day and be transported back to the basement of Sacred Heart Church. Ally does that a lot in this book though and that makes it interesting. Having played dodge ball, being a traveler (and rarely a knowledgeable person of places I travel), and being an American I find myself in this book sort of surprised by the glare of the stage lights. ‘How to be an American” puts you uncomfortably back in your skin. I think this is good poetry because it can do all of this transporting and or recollecting in very few words. Anyway, that is my initial assessment. i will come back and read it over and over and add more comments to this site eventually.
So thank you both for the love.
Speaking of How To Be An American…..I found myself in the midst of a political rally this weekend.
I knew about the Anti-Trump rally that was taking place in Manhattan earlier this week. The march was beginning at Columbus Circle and ending at Trump Tower on Madison. For the bulk of the week we had planned on attending. Then we found out that they didn’t have a permit and we were feeling a little iffy.
The way it works in NYC is that if you get a permit, you get to march right in the street. If you don’t, you get to increase the likelihood of arrest if you a) go in the street or b) you block the sidewalk.
Thousand of people were saying on Facebook that they were going. Thousands of people marching without a permit. Hmmmmm.
So that Saturday we found ourselves not too far from Trump Tower around 1:30. The rally was supposed to start at noon at Columbus Circle. I figured they would already be done but we figured hey, why not? Let’s walk up and see what we see.
And this is what we saw:
There were about four Pro-Trump people corralled behind the metal barricades. As we got closer, another pedestrian asked them why they were protesting in front of Trump Tower. And they answered:
“We’re not. We’re here to protest them.”
ProTrump Person: “Can you hear them coming?”
And like something out of a movie, the protesters snaked into sight, drums banging, voices chanting. It was a beautiful thing:
So we joined the fray! (you’ll want to use headphones. Pardon all the cursing on these videos.)
By this next video we were down to where the Pro-Trump people were
Obviously there were a lot more of us than there were of them but that didn’t stop one of them from screaming at these two girls next to me to “keep moving” and “shut up” when they were chanting “love not hate.”
Unfortunately we had hit the end of the sidewalk. The police had the metal barricades up so we couldn’t go any further. So everyone yelled “Turn Around” so that we could head back the way we came.
Unfortunately it takes a long to relay that message through thousand of people. So we got bottlenecked and stuck. At this point the line of cops started playing the announcement (which you can hear in the second video) that we were in violation of new york city law because we were blocking the sidewalks. If we continued to do that, the announcement said, we would be subject to arrest.
Then the message came through the crowd that they had closed off the sidewalk on the other end, essentially trapping all of us in a city block.
We couldn’t stay and we couldn’t leave. And it was looking very likely that we were going to get arrested.
At which point I turned to my husband and said, “We did a very very stupid thing.”
We managed to get through the crowd far enough to reach a cross walk where legally we could get to the side of the street, which we did.
And then we saw these:
We figured this would be a good time to head out.
Turns out we were right because after we left the pepper spraying and the arrests started. According to the Daily News (who unlike the Times actually covered the event) people spilled into the streets and were then sprayed and arrested at 57th.
But this video which another protester posted shows a different story.
This is our country, friends. It’s terrifying.
I get to vote at the end of April. I hope to participate in further protests. And I really hope to not get arrested.
I don’t know what happens next.
I only know that I can’t stand by and watch this demagogue spew hate and vitriol.
Silence = endorsement.
Love trumps Hate.
Peace, love and Starbursts,
*all photos and video (except the last one) courtesy of John Grochalski*