Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I predict a riot

For a long weekend recap, bullet points are totally in order, right? I thought so. Here we go.

This Labor Day weekend, I...
  • Took in some local art of the political variety. (My favorite? It's a tough call, but I think I have to go with McCain and Obama as Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots.)

  • Introduced myself to my neighbor's new attractive young roommate with the explanation, "Hi. I'm Stefanie. I'm not showered and stuff." (In my defense, I was outside working on my garage, but still. I am smooth.)

  • Checked out two brand spanking new bars/eateries, like the trendy about-town girl I am not.

  • Baked my first pound cake (and found that plain old boring pound cake can be tastier than I thought).

  • Helped a good friend ring in her 34th year on the planet.

  • Saw the sleepy city of St. Paul turn into a police state.

  • Lost four pounds, despite the aforementioned new bar, new eatery, and pound cake, and the not-yet-mentioned butter-drenched gnocchi and mocha chip waffle cone. (I have no idea how I achieved this, but I have little confidence that it will stick.)

This Labor Day weekend, I did NOT...
  • Finish painting my garage.

  • Have a deep, meaningful conversation (or any not-so-deep but meaningful non-conversation) with my neighbor's new attractive young roommate.

  • Eat more than one serving of fruits or vegetables on any given day.

  • Have a drink with Jon Stewart. (He is totally in town, though. I am listening to him mock Minneapolis as I type.)

  • Attend the concert I had a ticket to, thanks to the aforementioned new-formed police state.

That last bit possibly warrants more explanation, but suffice it to say that the riots you probably heard about during yesterday's protests at the RNC site led Security to block every street into downtown St. Paul from both pedestrian and vehicle traffic, thereby preventing me and my friends (and presumably hundreds of other concert-goers who had similar problems effectively communicating an earlier meet-up and departure time with their friends) from reaching nearby Harriet Island in time for the show. And far be it from me to say anything disparaging about stone-faced, burly men in protective riot gear wielding wooden sticks and tear gas, but those particular SWAT team members? NOT HELPFUL. To wit...

Us: "How can we get through?"
Not helpful guys with sticks: "You can't."
Us: "Well, how can we get to Harriet Island?"
Not helpful guys with sticks: "We don't even know where that is. We're not from here."
Us: (Pointing a mere ten blocks in the distance) "It's that way. Is there any street that's not blocked?"
Not helpful guys with sticks: (Pointing to their right) "Go three blocks that way."

(Upon arriving three blocks that way and meeting yet another set of men in bullet-proof vests and helmets wielding wooden sticks...)

Us: "Isn't there ANY street where we can get through??"
New set of not-helpful guys with sticks: (Pointing to their left, the direction from which we just came) "Three blocks that way."

At the risk of typing something entirely insensitive and inappropriate, can I just say that if this same level of genius and helpful concern for the local residents was in effect in New Orleans a few summers ago, it's no wonder that scene was the well documented fiasco it turned out to be? Nevertheless, SWAT Team: 1, Us: 0. We gave up and went out for late afternoon drinks instead. I will have to catch Billy Bragg next time he's in town. Meanwhile, to the RNC Security staff, I would like my ten dollars back.

Based on yesterday's experience, I'm not so sure our plan to infiltrate the Republicans where they're drinking will actually happen this week, but I'll be sure to keep you posted if it does.

So. What about the rest of you? Seen any good riots lately?


3carnations said...

In all fairness, those were quite likely not the RNC security, as I'm sure you realize. - They're the people who came after the real crazies came out. Apparently those people didn't get the memo about peaceful protest.

Sorry you missed your concert!

Looking forward to hearing more about the neighbor's roommate...who is actually the neighbor now, right?

lizgwiz said...

I hate it when political doings keep average people from being able to live their lives conveniently. They shut down a chunk of downtown here a few years back because Dick Cheney was in town attending a fundraiser. At noon. On a weekday. Very considerate.

(Note to 3car: I'm not slamming Republicans particularly, that's just the example that springs to mind. :))

Noelle said...

I once got stuck underground on the A train for about a half hour while Dick Cheney passed by the Museum of Natural History, and then he came up here to the Hudson Valley and they closed all the roads so he could shoot at caged birds. Unlike Liz, I do blame the Republicans for those hassles, but I guess more particularly, I blame Dick Cheney.

Thankfully, no one has decided to hold a political convention anywhere near Poughkeepsie, so I think I'm going to stay put here.

-R- said...

Oh, I would have loved to go to that concert and see Mos Def, if I had been in town. And if I had been able to make it to Harriet Island. I don't see why not letting people move through downtown all is helpful to anyone. Aargh.

Also, from the pictures, I am guessing it was Carrie's birthday, so happy birthday, Carrie!

Stefanie said...

3Cs--Well, it was definitely security brought in FOR the RNC. Hundreds of armored men is obviously not the norm on the streets of St. Paul. Yes, the heightened security at that particular hour likely had to do with the supposedly peaceful protests that went awry earlier in the day (and I do blame those select protesters for that), but in general the city is a weird, weird place right now, and it IS because of the convention, obviously.

Liz--I know, right? I'm glad Bush decided not to show up after all. I'm sure the city would be even further locked down if he'd been there.

Noelle--What else can we blame Dick Cheney for? (That could be a fun game...) ;-)

R--That's exactly my point. I understand the concern about security, but blocking area residents who had done nothing wrong from walking on their own streets made no sense to me. There were people standing around in hospital scrubs, saying, "I have to get to work!" and the guys with sticks wouldn't even let THEM through. (And yes, it was Carrie's birthday! Happy birthday, Carrie!) :-)

The Dutchess of Kickball said...

OMG Rock'em Sock'em robots! I want!

Courtney said...

Were you one of those people throwing park benches through windows? You were, weren't you? I knew it!

Whiskeymarie said...

I'm avoiding downtown like the plague this week. I also had grandiose plans to go down and witness the GOPers getting wasted, but I don't think it's worth it.

One Smart Cookie said...

We didn't really have any riots when the DNC was in Boston last time. It was a huge hassle though, so I feel your pain.

I guess Bostonians only riot when their sports teams win things...

Jess said...

There are always protests going on here in DC, but they hardly ever qualify as riots, and they rarely close down streets. I can't believe you were actually unable to get to where you were going. I bet those two sets of burly men were playing a game to see how many times they could get the same people to go back and forth between the two of them.

Carrie said...

Thank you! I know I've been hanging out with older men these days, but last time I checked, I turned 33. I'll run over to myspace to double check. :)

Stefanie said...

Dutchess--I'm pretty sure prints are available for purchase. Check the first link in that bullet point for details.

Courtney--You got me. Sorry; I just couldn't help myself! Got caught up in the moment.

WM--It's a shame the convention is messing up the city and we can't even have any fun with it, huh?

Cookie--I don't think there was much rioting in Denver last week, either. I guess only liberals riot. Republicans are too refined for that. :-)

Jess--Clearly Twin Cities residents need more practice in protesting.

Carrie--I already explained this via email, but for anyone else who thinks I don't know how old you are, when you turn 33, you're starting your 34th year on earth. (Just like when you're born, you are zero years old and after your first year, you turn 1 and start your 2nd year.) Get it? :-) Of course, this means I am in my 35th year instead of my 34th, and I don't like the sound of that any more than you like the sound of 34, so maybe I just shouldn't have used that phrase at all.

nancypearlwannabe said...

What! I would be pissed I had to miss the concert, and about the $10. Not cool, SWAT team. Not cool.

Aaron said...

Aand now I have Kaiser Chiefs stuck in my head. Not a bad thing, just saying.

Neurotic Grad Student said...

Argh. I am not enjoying the RNC and all trips in the eastern direction are temporarily postponed until one can get through I-94 without getting stopped!!

Mickey said...

That sounds exactly like the police state the Republicans dream of! I guess St. Paul was just practice for them. I'm surprised they didn't ask you to produce an American flag lapel pin to prove your allegiance and thus gain access to Harriet Island.

Sauntering Soul said...

At my former law office, we were about 3 miles from the Air Force Base that Bush and/or Cheney always fly into when they come to Atlanta and the place Cheney always seemed to stop for a speech was about 1/2 mile from my office. We would never know they were there if we didn't hear it from the media. Strange how different it's treated in different cities.