Sunday, March 16, 2008

Everyone loves a parade

As you get older certain things lead to a sense of time standing still, or what year is this? It can be disquieting. Especially when you leap whole decades and at least for a second it feels like 1968 except for the old people whom I unaccountably resemble marching beside me in the peace demonstration. (In 1968 we were all young, as all of you old enough to remember will know.)

Yesterday's springtime (well, technically, late winter) peace march in Austin was almost a duplicate of last year's, and the year before, and the year before that, with many of the same faces, immeasurably more geriatric, perhaps. The parade was billed as the Million Musicians' March For Peace, and although it came up a little short numbers-wise, it was a loud and robust event musically, with a brass section at the front (which someone in the crowd, not me, joked had been provided by AARP) plus drums, tambourines, tin whistles, ukuleles, cowbells and supposedly a pots-and-pans rhythm section bringing up the rear in memory of Molly Ivins, though I was closer to the front and can't vouch for that. Just as last year, the mainstay tune of the brass was When the Saints Go Marching In, which gave several musicians opportunity to display some outstanding tuba and trombone virtuosity.

In the middle of the throng we had a guy in a kilt playing martial airs on the highland war pipes. I am not sure what to make of that.

Our parade went through the middle of the entertainment district, which this week is the same as South by Southwest. One of the first posts on this blog, in 2005, is an account of what seems, upon re-reading, to be this year's parade.

I also wrote a post on last year's event. If I were lazy I would simply link to the two earlier posts and be done with it.

Small differences are what I am left to write about, which leave me with a certain optimism. I didn't have the feeling that any onlookers along the route considered our actions unpatriotic, even when we passed by the Salvation Army soup kitchen. (Down and out alcoholics tend to be more sentimentally patriotic than the rest of us, I dunno why.) If Bush's war has lost its appeal to drunk people, maybe our country is on the road to recovery.

Just as in previous years, the street crowd, already festive at one in the afternoon, seemed a little unsure what the hell was going on, but whatever we were doing, they approved of it. Some guy came running out of a pub with his electric guitar, and feigned consternation at discovering it unplugged and thus useless for joining in.

We walked a circuitous route from the capitol building to city hall, where various post-march performances were booked on the front steps. Even if there hadn't been a parade, a free venue during SxSW will always draw a crowd, so several hundred stayed for the music, shading themselves from the unseasonable heat under the awning of solar panels.

A few photos of the event follow, plus one of a runaway bride.

Click on any picture for a larger view on flickr.


Singer songwriter in front of the capitol building, before the parade
Austin peace march 3-15-08

The march begins
Austin peace march 3-15-08

The trumpet section
Austin peace march 3-15-08

Code pink
Austin peace march 3-15-08

Stereotypical tuba player

The bagpiper
Austin peace march 3-15-08

Afterwards, on the steps of city hall
Austin peace march 3-15-08

Now, the runaway bride was before the parade, on the capitol grounds. As the marchers gathered, I spied this young woman taking to her heels and departing. (You can see anything at our state capitol building.) If our gathering march had frightened away the wedding, the groom had apparently bolted in another direction. We will never know.
Runaway bride