Marching & Music – AI on My Vacation

Apparently I’m a little unclear on the concept of a vacation, as I managed to volunteer for Amnesty International 3 days of my vacation week (and one Sunday meeting). Especially given that I had to use or lose some of my vacation time to  begin with. . .

I did have fun, though, and had a couple of days to myself to explore bookstores and museums (more on that later).

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Sophia & Sarvenaz on MLK Day March

Last Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and as usual I went to Garfield High to table for Amnesty during the workshops, attend the rally in the gym and march downtown to the Federal Building.  All making for a very long day! Sophia and Sarvenaz joined me this year, and we collected a lot of signatures for petitions and postcards for President Obama to close Guantanamo and seek accountability for the torture that happened there. Followed by an inspiring rally in the gym (with young martial arts students showing their skills in between speakers and singers); then we marched (and it was actually a sunny day this year)! Another rally at the Federal Building and a long wait for free buses back to Garfield (where we could have stayed for free food, including Ezell’s Chicken, although I wouldn’t be able to eat the fried part anymore, so just as well to leave it for someone who can).

Tuesday night I tabled a State Radio concert at The Showbox (at the Market). I know, tough work tabling all these shows! Though, while it’s fun, it is work and this past week I just did not have it together, tracking down supplies and, for the State Radio show, a color cartridge for my printer for our upcoming showing of Taxi to the Dark Side at Shoreline Community College.

Jordan, a member of a local high school group joined me to table State Radio. It was her first time tabling a concert and she was great! Very passionate and knowledgeable about the issues. Also very polite.  Our table was out in the lobby area, and she kept asking me if I wanted to go in to hear what would turn out to be her favorite songs, then asked if it was okay for her to go.

I was also impressed by the band, who came out to check out our table and signed our petitions, and gave a shout out for the Amnesty International table (and the other organizations tabling), asking their fans to sign our petitions, including the one for their friend Troy Davis.

Troy

Troy is on death row in Georgia, even though most of the witnesses in his case have recanted. The Supreme Court mandated a new evidentiary hearing for him in August. We had his petition and fact sheets out at MLK Day and both concerts.

Opening for State Radio were 1776 from Portland, and the Aggrolites from LA. Oh, yes, State Radio is from Boston, and bore the bad news (oops, taking my non-partisan AI hat off from a moment) that the Republican had won the Massachusett’s Senate seat that was Ted Kennedy’s (messing up health care for all of us, because somehow 41 votes out of 100 = minority rule these days).

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I actually took a couple days break next. Wednesday I picked up my paycheck, and stopped at Elliott Bay Books with my camera after wandering around the Pioneer Square area first. Sad news there as well, as Elliott Bay Books are losing their lease to that beautiful, old building and moving to Capitol Hill. I had coffee and a delicious molasses cookie in their cafe downstairs, and bought a copy of The Duel: Pakistan on The Flight of American Power by Tariq Ali (the February selection for their Global Issues & Ethics Book Club).

Thursday I went to Tacoma for their free museum day. More on that in my next entry!

First, some more music!

Friday, I tabled the Steve Earle concert at the Moore.  I was refreshed from my museum tour the previous day, but now scrambling to buy black ink to finish my next batch of flyers before the show. I originally was going to table with Percy from my AI group, but it turned out he was so excited when he heard Steve Earle was coming to town that he forgot about his own charity gig he was playing that night.

I had our usual spot in their lobby, which is right in the middle of things for people waiting for the doors to open, or to finish their drinks before going in, as they’re not allowed. So, even though it was still light, I did get a bit more traffic than usual signing our petitions and checking our our literature.

One thing I did notice, I think thanks to all Steve has spoken out over the years on the death penalty (and sung about, one young man mentioned Billy Austin being his favorite song), not only did a lot of people sign our petition for Troy Davis and take the information sheet; but when I’d emphasize the questions about Troy’s guilt, they’d come back at me that the death penalty is wrong in all instances. A response that’s very unusual, and not one I got tabling Steve’s concerts even a few year’s back. They’d often add they thought the person should rot in jail; but you can tell they’ve thought it over and come to the conclusion it’s not right.

The one draw back in tabling The Moore, and The Paramount as well, is that there is no guarantee you’ll hear the show, whereas the club shows, like The Showbox are so small, and arena shows so loud, that even if you don’t see it, you’ll hear it; these are theaters with doors. So, especially given that it was noisy with a lot of people still milling about (which meant I didn’t want to leave the table), I’ll have to wait until some other time to hear what Hayes Carll, Steve’s opener, sounds like live.

Fortunately, it was okay for me to slip back on the side of the balcony and listen to most of Steve’s concert after the crowd finally disappeared inside (which took a few songs even then, as people had to finish their drinks they couldn’t take inside).

As Steve was doing a lot of songs from his current Townes tribute album, he told a lot of tales of him and Townes Van Zandt, including how Townes heckled him when he was starting out.

Steve also talked about the owner of the deli he lives near in New York, a Korean immigrant and long time US citizen, who, Steve notes, speaks Korean (which really impresses Steve) and English as well as Steve, and has grown sons who speak English better than both of them.  Now the deli owner is learning Spanish, which really embarrasses Steve, who never learned it, despite growing up in Texas, or as he put it “occupied Mexico.”

It always amazes me in the anti-immigrant debate how people forget their own ancestors and how they came here, too as immigrants. Immigrants who came because they were hungry or to escape persecution. Immigrants who may not have known much English to begin with. Immigrants facing discrimination from those who in that time were anti-immigrant.

I slipped back downstairs when Steve left the stage after his main set, remembering my job was to be out at the Amnesty table. I was amazed how many people were actually already leaving (and I’ve seen that even at Springsteen and Pearl Jam concerts). Do some people really not understand the concept of encores? Do they really need to beat traffic so bad they missed Copperhead Road? Yeah, I could hear that one through the doors!

Great show, and a great week, even if a bit busy!

Still to come, a tour of Tacoma’s museums on their Third Thursday see it free day*. . .

Yes, there’s an asterisk. . . 

*Check for times on the free part. . .

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