By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
New York is awash in pre-convention antics as the opening for the GOP confab approaches. In Grand Central Station, in the midst of rush hour last Tuesday evening, anti-war protesters unleashed a 15-foot-high giant banner, suspended by helium balloons. "No Bush Lies Wars," the banner read, and commuters applauded as it rose toward the cavernous ceiling. The banner stayed aloft for three hours while Metro-North police waited for the helium to escape.
In a turnabout that would have delighted their late founder Abbie Hoffman, the Yippies imitated police and firefighter union protesters by staging their own noisy rally near Mayor Bloomberg's Upper East Side townhouse on Sunday night. Mayor Bloomberg was just back from Athens, where he enjoyed the Olympics. There, he seemed to spin his own Greek myth when asked by reporters about the battle over his denial of a permit for the use of Central Park for a massive August 29 protest rally. Bloomberg insisted that organizers had originally agreed that the West Side Highway "would be a perfect place" for their rally. In court papers filed last week, leaders of United for Peace and Justice said they had been "adamantly opposed" to the location, citing its far West Side locale and lack of shade. Buoyed by a poll that said most New Yorkers agree protests should be allowed in the park, and concerned about breakaway factions that would head for the park anyway, the group filed suit against the city last week. Manhattan chief civil administrative judge Jacqueline Silbermann is due to hear arguments and decide the case early this week.
Meanwhile, a federal judge Monday rejected an appeal by two other protest groups seeking to hold rallies in the park on August 28, saying they had failed to negotiate with the city. TOM ROBBINS
Orgasm arcs for Kerry
On the night of September 2, as the Republican National Convention comes to its well-choreographed finale, another climax will be building on the East River waterfront. The Brooklyn Orgastic Politics Collective (BOP-C) will be aiming something called a Cloudbuster at the sky, acting in accordance with the theories of psychologist and longtime FBI foe Wilhelm Reich. Cobbled together from copper tubing, crystals, and plywood, a Cloudbuster looks a bit like a homemade anti-aircraft gun, but the only explosive force it is meant to unleash is peaceful. Reich, who believed that democracy was impossible without a sexually liberated electorate, designed it at the height of the McCarthy era to release what he called orgone energythus inducing a kind of atmospheric orgasm. Think of it as a sex toy for the sky.
Ando Arike and other members of BOP-C hope that activating a Cloudbuster at an as-yet-undisclosed Brooklyn location will relieve what they refer to as the "frustrated orgasm arcs" of key members of the Bush administration and dissipate some of the "crippling, evil" energy generated by the convention. Cloudbusting activities will take place in concert with an interactive video jam of a live convention feed, conducted by the audiovisual collective Share. Burlesque artists from Ixion will also contribute their positive orgone vibes. "We're hoping that it will evolve into some crazy orgy as George Bush mounts the podium to accept the nomination," says Arike. For more information, and to sign up for e-mail notification of the site and time of the event, go to bopcollective.org. SARAH GOODYEAR
As part of the United for Peace and Justice march on August 29, the group 1,000 Coffins will carry cardboard caskets draped in American flags through the streets of New York, to symbolize the toll the war has taken on American troops (953 dead and counting as of August 19). The group is looking for people to act as pallbearers. If you're interested, be advised that participants will be asked to dress in a sober and respectful manner. This is not the place to let your freak flag fly; think of it instead as a time to take back that other banner, the one with the stars and stripes. See newdepression.com/onethousandcoffins for more details. S.G.