Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Live Highway Blog Blog

“Surrender Monkey!”

I opened my mouth to speak. Not to ask if being opposed to the war BEFORE it started would still qualify me as a “Surrender Monkey,” but to be sure the stranger at the stop light didn’t forget my personal favorite ,“Greedy Elitist,” among the chain of insults I expected him to hurl.

I had raised the flag from Pearl Harbor to half staff. We bought it when my family went to scatter the ashes from my husband’s “Uncle Lynn”. We learned was a hero, a survivor and a highly respected officer in the Navy. He received a 21-gun salute in a reverent, yet beautifully personal, Navy memorial service.

“Yeah, that’s what you are, a Surrender Monkey!”

I hadn’t yet planted the 3-foot white crosses on my corner of Highways 29 and 121/221, But he could see 45 in the grass on the 2 west side corners where Sybil’s and Joe’s bands of courageous volunteers wielded white crosses and peace signs. He had a clear view of the banner covering my black suv*, asking “How many more?!”.

I began to open my mouth again, but he yelled, “Coward!”, I think.

By now, I was feeling very helpful. I’d thought I’d offer: Traitor, America-hater, Terrorist Sympathizer, and Liberal Moron as well as Greedy Elitist to his list of slurs. I'd heard 'em all, by now, I figured. Silly me, he didn’t need help, he was just warming up.

“I have a nephew serving in Iraq! How dare you!” Optimistically, I began to open my mouth one last time. Many other people opposed to the war also had friends and family serving, after all, but I could only breathe.

“I know who you are, you Crosses4Peace people! That’s right, UNCOIL! (United Napans Concerned Over Iraq Lunacy). Bitch!”

I smiled. He knew us! Word really is getting around!

Since speaking wasn’t an option, I just kept grinning, flashed a Victory in America-style peace symbol and decided to get on with pounding 20 crosses into the ground. He recommended marijuana. Well, specifically he said something like, “Yeah, smoke another joint.” It seemed like odd advice. I did not follow it. I planted peace crosses instead.

From here, I refer you to Pat’s eggs-ellent recap about the entire peace weekend. It really is eggs-traordinary and I’m sure you’ll crack a smile.

Greetings to my Peaceful Friends out there:

What a weekend. I can honestly say I've had Peace served up in about every way there is to serve it, from scrambled to poached to over-easy. Fortunately, I've survived with nothing worse than passing soreness ... and a nicely pink, sunburned face (too dumb to remember to use sun block).

The "scrambled" version, of course, was the march in San Francisco on Sunday. I think of it that way because you see everything and anything down there along Market Street! And the participants sure hailed from a lot of different places. On the ferry going over, I chatted with a group of Dominican nuns from the Napa area ... and also a couple in their 40's come down from Chico just for the march. Later I
talked to a group from Sacramento.

When I arrived at Justin Herman Plaza, I had the very good fortune to run into my photo-journalist friends, Elaine and Phil Pasquini, who have written up the Benicia Vigil in the past for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. In fact, I sort of tagged along after them for a while so I could see the march from a journalist's
perspective ... which, of course, is an "outside" one to a great extent ... you're on the outside shooting in, in other words. They headed to the very front of the march as soon as it began to form up to join the media throng up there.

Of course, that's where Wounded Knee and his Vallejo Inter-Tribal Council was, marching with the veterans against the war, right behind the front liners from the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition. I get the sense that there's a lot of competition up there to be "in the lead". Wouldn't want to be the guy who has to make those decisions as I'm sure there are a lot of unhappy folks by the time the whole melange starts moving slowly up Market. I'd never been "up front" before and was surprised that a group of people have to come first with a rope stretched completely across the road ... this to give some "clear space" in front of the front ranks so that the media stands half a chance of getting some decent shots.

By the time the march got underway down at the foot of Market it was 1 PM. And up Market it ground, slowly, to the steady beat of drummers and the raucous chants from megaphones all up and down the ranks. It didn't take long for me to decide that travelling up ahead of the circus wasn't being "a part" of the show ... so I let a chunk of it pass me by and melted into the mass of people.

I remember now that my last SF march was in 2004. So it was hard not to compare the past with the present. My memories of 2004 were of a vibrant, energized, excited crowd. Maybe it was my imagination, but a lot of that seemed missing this time around. The crowd seemed definitely older, more subdued, almost "grim" in a way. After all, this thing in Iraq has ground along for far longer than it ever should have been allowed to. Perhaps people have lost the illusion that it will end quickly ... that Bush can be reasoned with ... that Bush has any intention of leaving Iraq. And we've all been horrified to near numbness by four years' worth of carnage. I wonder if others sensed that subtle change in tenor? You could see it in the signs, too.
Placard after placard of deep and abiding bitterness and anger toward Bush. My friend Lynn in Vancouver, Canada, spotted a sign that perhaps best sums up the frustration (please excuse the French).

Do not believe the San Francisco Chronicle. They estimated the crowd at 3,000. Anyone who was there will tell you that that is some awfully shoddy journalism. 30,000 is more like it. In fact, the organizers estimated 40,000. It took over an hour and a half to make the march all the way to the Civic Center. Being not far from the front, I was one of the first to arrive. I watched the Vallejo Inter-Tribal Council perform the ceremony to bless the event, then caught the first couple of speeches, then began to explore the booths ... by the time I reached the edge of the plaza I realized that marchers were STILL arriving. That's how many people were there.

I found myself a nice seat on a curb to sit in the warmth of the sun and listen to more speeches. That's when my un-sunblocked face really got a nice dose of
UV radiation ...
By the way, I carried the white cross that Summer M. had given me last Thursday ... that and one of John W.'s day-glo peace signs.

And speak of Summer ...
heh, I call her event up in Napa late on Monday afternoon my "poached" dose of Peace! You see, I've finally figured out what the Napa Peace People are up to. To me it's a form of Guerrilla Anti-Warrism. The object isn't to go to the same place over and over. The object is to "turn up" at a different intersection every time ... thus "poaching" on an intersection, I guess you could say. But in this case, the game wardens are the CHP ... and they're in on the gig.

This latest action, or "Highway Blog" as Summer calls it, was at the intersection of Hwy. 29 and the Silverado Trail, just east of the high bridge going over the Napa River. I hate to say that I'm not sure how many people we had ... somewhere between 15 and 20? But it was enough to "take over" all four corners. Most of the group lined up on the southwest corner where Soscol Ferry Rd. tees into Hwy. 29 and you could safely pull a car off onto the shoulder. Another cluster took the southeast corner with a large banner that said "STOP the WAR". Both groups stood amid 3 foot tall white crosses that they'd pounded into the ground.

Summer and her black van took the whole meadow on the northeast side for themselves. What a sight! She actually has a regulation flagpole that she sets up next to the van and braces off to it. From that, a large Old Glory fluttered at half mast on the road side. She spread her crosses all over that meadow, all at random, peeking up through the knee-high switchgrass. And that's where she ruled, walking back and forth like a ship sailing through the green, flashing a peace sign to the drivers
passing by.

But I got the best spot of all ... me and John Stephens, I should say. We got the whole of the knoll on the northwest corner! There was a parking lot over where the statue of The Crusher is ... so we dumped our vehicles there, found a place in the fence where the barbed wire was down, and hiked across the grassy expanse over to the knoll ... and randomly pounded in 15 to 20 white crosses up and down that thing ... a cluster here, a single there. Then we stood, each holding a white cross, up on the rise, where we could easily see half a mile of Hwy. 29 in each direction.

We stood out there from a little after 4 until 6 and drank in the horn honks and the waves and the peace signs and the thumbs up from passing motorists. Whooooo but there is a LOT of traffic coming through that area. You couldn't ask for better
exposure. There were the usual scattering of thumbs down, middle finger salutes and catcalls, but really minimal. The best were the air horns from passing truckers ... and there were a LOT of 'em.

I personally would have come back to that knoll week after week ... until John, an ardent environmentalist, clued me in that within about a month that field would be
thick with tics. That sort of changed my mind in a hurry. I guess I'll wait till the Napa Peaceniks pick their next Poached Intersection ...

And my "over-easy" Peace experience? Well, of course, that had to be the Candlelight Vigil at 8 PM Monday down on the waterfront at the Marina Green in Benicia. That was some 60+ friends getting together in a rather large and chilly "living room" ... but bringing with them a warmth of spirit I've seldom found anywhere else. As it happened, I had a flat of 40 vigil candles from our Thursday winter vigils that still had an hour or two of life to them ... so I got there early and found a place out on the lawn where the grass was pretty short and set the lights out in the shape of a 10 foot diameter peace symbol. By the time I'd set them out, people had already begun to arrive so I had plenty of help lighting up.

Then we all gathered around that peace symbol as Collette, the organizer, began to speak. One by one, various people spontaneously spoke up about the war in Iraq ... about the sheer tragedy of it, the waste of lives, the maiming of so many. A gentleman named John read a powerful poem he had written about the war. And Roger S. had a poem of his own about the daily loss of life and its effects on all of us, whether we knew the dead or not. Mary Susan G. led us in a song she had written four years ago when this whole catastrophe was first set in motion.

What I saw at the end was the same thing I saw in San Francisco: that grim determination that THIS THING MUST END ... NOW. And that we are very much a part of what will bring it to a close. We and every group of people like us across America are the ones who articulate what a clear majority of Americans now feel, whether clearly or not ... that THIS THING MUST END ... NOW. No, we don't expect it to end tomorrow. But it MUST END ... NOW. We will see to it.

Peace, my friends ...

P.S. My favorite sign, Pat, was "Bombing for Peace is like Fu@#*n& for Virginity."

From the Napa Register's Top Stories:

War protest reaches Napa
Crosses for Peace planted on 4th anniversary of Iraq conflict
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monday, March 5, 2007

Next Live Blog: a Crosses4peace Memorial.

The Next Live Highway Blogging Event

will be a memorial to the fallen in the Middle East, both soldier and civilian, at the . We'll host the event for commuters from 4:15 to 6:15 pm on Monday, 3/19/07, the 4th anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

Note new location: Event moved just one highway block to the intersection of Highways 29 & 221/Silverado Trail below "The Crusher" sculpture. To the north is Napa Valley, to the east is Lake Berryessa. Honest, if you're on Highway 29 near Napa after 4:15, you won't be able to miss us. Please be careful. You can turn around up if you need to, but the nice CHP officers asked us not to run across the highway, even when the light's red.


We'll plant white Crosses4Peace in the grass along the highway, we'll hold crosses, too, so they can't be missed. My black hearse-like suv will carry the banner and hold the flagpole. The flag will fly at half-staff.
Blog about Friday's event at w/ photos precedes.

More on the genesis of Live highway blogging. Live Highway Blogging combines 2 new 21st century ideas to improve upon an idea older than America itself – protest. Memorials similar to the Crosses of Lafayette are being erected all over the country, but they often encounter problems with local municipalities because of ordinances limiting the size of signs or public displays. Freeway bloggers, on the other hand, typically hang large banners from overpasses or billboards near freeways with fairly concise political messages like, "Impeach" or "We’re all wearing the blue dress now." This is usually a misdemeanor, and the signs are typically removed within 24 hours – fewer in Napa . http://www.freewayblogger.com/

Summer Mondeau of Crosses4Peace.org explained, "From necessity and the first amendment came invention. By standing at the memorials with our signs, our crosses and our American flag at half staff on public property, we are a peaceable assembly petitioning our government for redress. That’s VERY legal." CHP has twice confirmed that the memorial event IS legal so long as the display is on a highway, not a freeway.

It was just another postcard evening w/ crystal CLEAR skies and full moon. As seen in the Vallejo Times-Herald (no link )and the Napa Register 1/3/07 "Iraq war draws Napa County vigil" (great photo of veteran and peace activist, Mark Glickstein) http://www.napavalleyregister.com/articles/2007/01/03/news/local_top_story/doc459bb1d6021be050019078.txt#blogcomments
When the event ends, we'll put our Crosses4Peace back in our front yards.

Crosses of Lafayette video link (KTVU News channel 2 with Amber Lee) http://www.ktvu.com/video/10984002/index.html

Finally, the last banner asked "How many more?" I'm thinking for the next one, I should say:

US: 3169 Iraqi: ?
Had enough?
call your Rep

What do you think?

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Crosses4Peace finds loophole around ordinance: The LIVE Highway Blog

Live Highway Blogging featuring Crosses4Peace

During peak commute time from 4:30 to 6:00 on Friday night, March 2, at the busy intersection of Highways 29 & 12, outside the Napa Airport, volunteers with UNCOIL's (United Napans Concerned Over Iraq Lunacy) Crosses4Peace.org project created a memorial to the fallen, both soldier and civilian, using 50 white crosses. Organizer Summer Mondeau, who calls the event Live Highway Blogging, hung large banners from the back and driver side of a hearse-like SUV asking, "How many more?!" The American flag (from Pearl Harbor) flew at half staff. Volunteers held white crosses and two-finger peace signs for passing cars who frequently responded with honks, waves and thumbs up Truckers were often the most emphatic, including the man who said his son is serving in Afghanistan.

John Stephens held his cross silent and still on top of a grassy cross-covered hill, mutely calculated how many cars passed the site. He said he'd conservatively estimated the blog was seen by drivers and passengers in 4,500 cars in just an hour and 1/2. "Not bad, for just 6 people," he announce cheerfully.

Unlike the Crosses of Lafayette memorial, the Crosses4Peace *Live* Highway Blogs don't violate local sign or display ordinances because there are live people attending the displays. After the event, the participants remove the crosses from the site and return them to their front yards. They are part of a movement of single white crosses displayed in front yards radiating from the Napa Valley across the Bay Area.

This movement is generating some local buzz as seen in Jill Decker's column:

Glad You Asked: Cross examined
By Jill Decker
Thursday, February 15, 2007
What are all of the white crosses on everyone's lawns? Do these people have loved ones who died in Iraq?

followed by an LTE on 2/27/07
Crosses on lawns send wrong message
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A response should appear soon.

Meanwhile, the Mt. Diablo Peace Center is planning to create their own grave markers intended for individuals to display