Passing Madison Square Garden—The Halfway Point 

[Passing Madison Square Garden]  
We march past Madison Square Garden, the site of the Republican National Convention. The main entrance was blocked by rows of barricades and dozens of vigilant police.  


[Policeman]  
Welcome to Madison Square Garden, we hope you enjoy your stay. Don't even think about breaking any laws, though.  


[American flags]  
Star spangled banners wave in front of Madison Square Garden. These are American flags, not Republican or Democratic flags.  


[Street scene]  
Street scene at the corner of 7th Avenue and 33rd Street.  


[Button and sticker]  
I wore this button and sticker on my shirt as I marched.  

As we approached Madison Square Garden, the pace picked up considerably, but then it slowed again in front of the Garden as everyone jockeyed for a view and paused to snap pictures. We were finally at the site of the convention, which had prominent signs for the GOP and Republicans. Of course there was little official activity at the Garden because the convention would only start the next day. I thought it looked a little spooky, this ominous dark building, the nest of the devil, surrounded by barricades and police and mysterious people in suits with wires going up to their ears.

Some side streets near the Garden were blocked off by Department of Sanitation dump trucks. The building itself was protected by several rows of barricades and fences. There were many, many police lined up in a clear zone between two sets of barricades, plus there was a pool of additional police further back closer to the building. During the rest of the march, people had been allowed on the sidewalks, but here at the Garden, the sidewalks were closed and protesters were restricted to the street.

As I walked past, I saw a man talking into a microphone as he led a video crew through the crowd. He was trying to find a way into the building, which had a couple of big signs over the entrance saying "Welcome". He made an on-air wisecrack questioning the sincerity of the welcome, given the rows of police and barricades in his way.

Along the route, I saw more notable protest signs. One funny sign said "Prevent Electile Dysfunction", and had an outline map of Florida that looked like a drooping male sex organ. Another sign had goofy (but real) pictures of Bush and was titled "American Idle", a play on the TV show "American Idol". I saw a sign that had a prominent Republican party logo, which is a stylized red, white, and blue elephant. But on this sign, the logo was upside-down, and it looked funny to see the elephant on its back with its feet up in the air like it died. There were a few signs with substitute definitions for "GOP", like "Grand Oil Party". I saw people with anti-Bush bumper stickers stuck on their clothes. One popular sticker had an infamous quotation from Bush, "Mission Accomplished", but on the sticker, "Mission" was crossed out and the word "Nothing" was scrawled in above. I saw several rather rude stickers with a picture of Bush disappearing into a swirling toilet bowl with the message "Flush Bush". Other stickers had crude sexual plays on the words "Bush" and "Dick" (Cheney).

When I first arrived at the assembly area, I had bought an anti-Bush sticker and a button, both of which I wore on my shirt while I marched. The sticker said "Bush Lies, Who Dies? - End The Occupation Of Iraq, Bring The Troops Home Now!", and the button said "No To The Bush Agenda - March And Rally August 29 NYC, United For Peace And Justice".

Smile, You're On 50,000 Candid Cameras 

I was surprised by the huge amount of casual photography going on. It seemed like everyone had a camera, and people were poking cameras this way and that way, or holding them overhead to get a better view. There were still cameras and movie cameras, mostly digital, and it was a common sight to see people peering at digital viewfinder screens while they walked along. I saw several people walking along with their camcorders running, sweeping them across the crowd seemingly at random, trying to capture some of the live ambiance, the energy and spirit, even if the technical qualities of the video turned out to be awful.

I saw several people with Sony digital cameras just like mine (DSC-F717), except I didn't bring mine today since I didn't know if it would be lost, stolen, broken, or confiscated. Instead, I brought my cheapie point-and-shoot snapshot camera which uses film. I brought five rolls of Fuji print film and by the end of the day had used four of them.

There was a lot of media presence, some at fixed locations, some roaming the crowds. Near the Garden, I saw crews from Fox News and C-SPAN filming from atop their mobile studio vans. Here and there in the crowd, I saw video crews filming interviews or crowd shots. You could tell the size of their budget by the size of the crew—sometimes there was only a cameraman and a reporter, but I also saw a big crew with dollies full of equipment, multiple cameramen and soundmen, plus a reporter and producer. The real pros had big, heavy, expensive-looking equipment, while the wanna-be's had smaller and cheaper equipment. I saw several wanna-be's with press badges, but to tell the truth, some of the badges looked like they printed them on their home computer.


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