Inanimate objections

A strike-supporting fence and a pro-shopping carousel get their say on the events swirling around them.

The Fence the Times built

Never have I wanted to be a fence. Lo, what ruin! What disaster! Others were stacked and rolled in jagged piles, itching to get out there and start blocking pedestrian traffic, but not I, mean and crude tool of exclusion though I be. Still! Put me around a power transformer or perhaps a particularly nasty stretch of river, something to protect curious children and baby ducks, but alas, my mission here is terrible. What scoundrels and blackguards rolled me out by cover of night and erected me around their buildings, around their park—it was against my will! "Strikers, down to your defeat," they shouted as they posted me high, "down to your miserable defeat!" Oh cruel, cruel fate, why do you torture me so?

Can you believe they have me around a park? It's true. A pleasant section of green, with joyful trees and comforting little benches, that turns out to be private property. Can you believe that? A private park in the middle of the street? It is bad enough to suffer the mindless discourse of the parking lot fence adjacent to me, but to put a park beyond reach of man or squirrel, that is tyranny. What malodorous and puerile rascal has given permission to this, and why?

Hark, I can see it, a scene without the fence. A lone striker, tired, ragged, soaking wet, and miserable, is ready to throw in the towel. "To hell with this," says the striker, "I am completely willing to give in and now submit to whatever demands management has." The lone striker walks over to the park and sits for a second, taking one last deep breath before tucking tail between legs, walking through that door, and smooching the cancerous buttocks of commerce, when all of a sudden the breeze whistling through a tree awakens something in the heart. A pregnant moment sees the blades of grass pulsing softly as the wind rides Fairview. The solace, the comfort, the refreshing green is all too much. Strength wells under nature's nourishing hand and the striker emerges from magnificent fields, spirit recharged, and the infectious smell of victory spreads through the ranks. The park seems to shout, "Onward noble strikers! Continue your struggle against the yoke of cruel capital! Take your flag of righteousness and march on to certain victory!"

And dear reader, perhaps you have seen my tragic flank at the loading docks, where reams of skinny scab papers are inserted into the scurrilous trucks of injustice. They augment my physical deterrence with a visual blockade, the natural enemy of any piece of self-respecting fencing: plywood. What does plywood stop that fence does not? Spit? Yes. Urine bombs? I hate to think of it, but yes. The photographic lens focuses close on the scab-encrusted muscles of remaining labor churning out free copies of a newspaper that no longer exists.

Ah, what despair! I think of my family lineage: Topped with barbed wire, I am a keeper of secrets. Topped with razor wire, I am a keeper of hearts. Put around a building like this, I am the finger in the face of reason because there is no reasoning with a fence. There is over; there is under. With the proper tools there is even through, but I do not think it will come to that. A symbol is what I am. Please, someone listen: Tear me down now. I say again, I never wanted to be a fence!

The Westlake children's carousel vs. N30 protesters

So, did anyone see me spinning last Thursday, my imminent majesty drawing irrepressible smiles from the faces of dizzy children while parents grinned and videotaped? No, you didn't see me. How could you? I was surrounded by agitators, pinkos, bleeding hearts, and the rubbernecking fools they attracted. Round and round and round my horsies went, but did anyone notice my circling excellence with those tacky placards and bandanna-clad, cut-rate anarchists waving their big stupid puppets? They call themselves anarchists? Sacco and Vanzetti, now those were anarchists you could set your watch by.

I think, however, this illustrates a burning point my many gears would like to address. There has been little talk about one of the most victimized elements of our city: the shopper. The poor, beleaguered shopper who has come to depend on downtown to feed a cycling habit of buying patterns that at once satisfy and invigorate the soul. The media has chimed in a bit. KOMO-1000's late night radio news report expressed concern about how mere issues (globalization, freedom of speech, human rights) interfered with the happy business of business downtown. "I don't like that these people came downtown to close all the stores," said an interviewed woman on the street, and even if she was operating in oblivion with regards to her understanding of the protest, she ended with a true statement: "They have no right to push their morality on me."

Which brings me back to my point: Shoppers have the right to be completely amoral, so leave them alone. You've seen the puffy little ladies and shark-toothed men weighted down with bags and packages, shuffling and laughing and lunching with their friends? Do they look sad to you? Of course not. Do you know why they smile, why they waddle through the day saying, "What's the big deal?" It is because instead of trading in your dangerous ideas, they stick to stuff. Stuff is what they want and stuff is what they get. Piles and piles of soft, folded, colorful things or glossy, handy, useful things or sexy, shiny, image-enhancing things, just like the people on the TV! It's Christmastime and no one wants to think about anything but piling plastic products underneath their plastic trees, and they certainly don't have time for your starving sea turtle babies making genetically altered Nike sweatpants in Tibet, or whatever it is you're all bent out of shape about. We're trying to run an economy here, and we certainly can't have the likes of you ruining our holiday season.

I remember last year. After letting these greaseballs destroy downtown with their anarchy and dumpster fires, something beautiful happened. The police rolled in like a liberating army and made downtown a "shopping-only zone," enforcing it with sticks and guns. No dissent was permitted. ID checks at the perimeter determined whether you would spend enough money to justify entry. Not even the homeless were allowed near Old Navy, allowing for an entire day of guilt-free flexing of consumer love muscle. Many shoppers commented that they wished the National Guard were on the corner every single day of the year to keep improper elements from impeding their personal consumption missions. I must say I agree.

It's Christmas, which means it's time to shop, and maybe if you protesters would stop your chanting for 30 seconds and just try on a pair of $180 pants, feel the craft work of emaciated foreign hands on your thighs, you'll find what you're missing out on. Let the tinkling of the piano take you to soma and there'll be no guilt or nagging afterthought. Shopping is an amoral exercise and a right that trumps all others. Repeat this 365 times, and hopefully, you will find yourself humming with the narcotic bliss that usually radiates at Fourth and Pine under the forest of electric Christmas trees.

Oh, and the police horses have nothing on me. Poop, maybe, but that's it.

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