Changing minds one lyric at a time, arts events angled at the convention took place both at St. Mark’s Church on the Bowery, where poets staged a reading against war, and at Webster Hall, where the Chicks with Attitude tour rolled through.

The latter offered less overt address of issues, a fact perhaps not unrelated to the event’s corporate sponsorship. Still, watching sparked-up women [click4pic] try to spit out songs angry, romantic, and complicated all at once served as a nice reminder of the complexities and passions one wasn’t likely to find over at Madison Square Garden. When the Cardigan’s Nina Person offered “Oh it’s healing bang bang bang, I can hear your cannons call,” there seemed to be a punchline waiting in the wings. But there wasn’t—just a sweetness as neglectful of martial virtue [click4pic] as one could hope for: “And if you want me, I’m your country.” Rock stars say it so Najaf doesn’t have to.

Miraculously, the parade of verse at St. Mark’s Church drew a larger crowd than Webster Hall, literati, fancy folks, protestors, and photographers filling the aisles and thronging the doorways for a peak and earful of [click4pic] broad swaths of poetries, and no one tried to sell us cosmetics. How do we vote for that country again?