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March 3, 2007 / Park Slope / Perspective / PS … I Love You

Protesting the lack of protests

The Brooklyn Paper
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I was fired up when got out of bed Monday morning. I had stayed up late to watch the Oscars (I love Ellen, don’t you?) and I was mad.

Melissa Etheridge’s Oscar-winning song from “An Inconvenient Truth” rang in my head. With her one voice, she made a call for our generation to change things.

Yet what have I done?

Oh, sure I use the lightbulbs that burn less energy, I recycle like a fanatic and I thought about buying a hybrid car. But do I ever get off my couch and tell the world where I stand? No way.

So I decided to make a change. I went out and protested. I made a sign which read “Today is the day to STOP the WAR.” I held it up and marched down Seventh Avenue (OK, I actually walked, but when you’re holding a sign, it feels like you’re marching).

I thought Park Slope would still have some of those old radical veterans of the ’60s protests, and lots of people who felt like me: fed up and frustrated. I thought people would cheer me on, if not join in.

I was mistaken. No one joined me; I remained the lone loony with the red-and-black sign from the first block to the 20th. I saw plenty of fellow Slopers, but they mostly tried to not see me, refusing to meet my eyes, and showing no emotion at all.

Two people gave me the thumbs up, and five smiled. But the smiles had a hint of pity in them, as if I looked well-meaning but also looked crazy.

Only three people spoke (and only two directly to me): One said, “I agree with you” as she got off the bus. Another, a student standing outside of the John Jay HS building, said “F— George Bush!” A third muttered to her friends, “She’s right.”

I returned home with mixed feelings. I felt good that I had gotten out there, that I had said something, that I had expressed the feelings of rage and frustration I have had for so long, but I also felt sad. One person walking down one avenue in one city seems futile. No one really cares.

What will it take to get us really angry? There have been 3,156 American service men and women killed as of Feb. 26, and more than 23,000 wounded. The numbers of dead and wounded Iraqis is certainly in the hundreds of thousands. Our nation is culpable, no matter what our intentions were.

Maybe the war is too far away, maybe it is too abstract for us to protest it. Well, for one day, at least, I didn’t sit idly by. I took a stand, even if it was only one voice.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll go out again.

The Kitchen Sink

We ran into our old pal Ellen Wurtzel at the Tea Lounge on Union Street this week. After six years and two kids, she’s almost done — really — with her dissertation, “Legal Space and Urban Identity: The Shaping of the City of Lille from 1384-1667.” Given her understanding of the shaping of Lille, which has very little of its history left, she opposes Atlantic Yards. “Lille was developed and destroyed!” she said. …

The Brooklyn Chapter of the American Cancer Society will kick off the first annual Relay For Life on March 10 at 4 pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church (corner of St. Johns Place and Seventh Avenue). The actual race will be June 23. For information, call Courtney DeNicola at (212) 237-3864. …

Looking for a way to showcase your toddler’s budding singing career? Perch, the hip Fifth Avenue brunch place, hosts the cool parents answer to “Mommy and me” classes. The twice-a-week Perch singalong is hosted by the KaiserCartel duo (of Park Slope Parents CD fame). Courtney Kaiser belts it out Mondays at 10 am while partner Benjamin Cartel takes on the crowds on Wednesdays at 10 am.

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