Saturday, March 17, 2007

Anti-war march in Austin, St. Patrick's Day

One of the first posts on this blog, 2 years ago, was a brief account of a peace march on the final Saturday of South by Southwest in Austin in 2005. SxSW as it is called, has become a big deal here, with crowds downtown all week long, musician hopefuls from all over performing at amazing hours (sometimes before noon), and music industry people, and talent scouts and hucksters and critics and writers and an amazing array of people who get their way payed to come here, and when they get here dress like they imagine Austin hippie-musicians do. It's a nice event, but those of us who live and work in Austin generally can't afford to go to many of the performances. There is also a SxSW film festival, as well as music, btw, but the films are earlier in the week. But I digress.

Sadly, the 2005 march did not bring the war to an end, nor has any march since then done so. But we can't give up on this, so today we had another anti-war march. This one was more in the spirit of SxSW than the 2005 event, because we had our own music. Word seemed to have gotten out that any musician was welcome and any musical instrument should be brought. And a lot of people who could actually play came to the march, plus, to make it democratic, so did a lot of people who brought pie pans to bang on with spoons.

But it doesn't matter, in a parade, because when the tubas and trumpets and trombones at the front were playing When the Saints Go Marching In (they did, actually, most of the way, real loud), the various knots of instruments along the length of the march would play something else because you can't hear what's at the front anyway if you are fifty yards behind.

So we paraded through the streets of Austin behind a brass band, mostly a tuba ensemble, but with any conceivable instrument being played somewhere in the throng, from pennywhistles to ukuleles to saxaphones to fiddles.

It's almost enough to restore your faith in America, several thousand people marching down Congress Avenue in opposition to the Iraq War, with a loud brass band and police motorcycles leading the way and the cops in general being nice even when people wandered out of the designated lanes (we were supposed to only use half of Congress Avenue, though we were allowed all of Sixth Street, which is already blocked off to car traffic anyway because of SxSW.) The crowds on Sixth Street, just as in 2005, were mostly bewildered, but strongly supportive. Many joined the march, since the parade had better music than some of the indoor venues, no doubt.

The parade ended, as before, on the steps of city hall, with more music.

More photos are on my Flickr page, which is where you will go when you click on the photos below.

Dancing in the parade
Anti-War March in Austin, St. Patrick's Day, 2007

Here we are on Sixth Street, the heart of Austin's music district
Anti-War March in Austin, St. Patrick's Day, 2007

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