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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Talkin' Kamel: Tempest at a Tea Party

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By: Fritzie the Talkin' Kamel

I knew we were in trouble when we began pulling off the 91 Freeway, and found ourselves in a traffic jam! Up till then, everything had gone smoothly. The baby sitter arrived on time. I gave her some money, told her she could take Kid Kamel to the movies (though certainly NOT “Watchmen”), and my husband and I headed off for the Fullerton Tax Revolt 09/Tea Party sponsored by California talk show gadflies, John Kobylt and Ken Champiou.

Now, love or hate “The John and Ken Show” (and there a lot of people in both camps), those two always put on a rousing show. This time, they were aiming to defeat Proposition 1A, which would raise California taxes (again!), and recall Republican politicos, including the Guvernator himself, Schwarzenneger.

Sounded good to us!

It was a beautiful spring day, no rain, not too hot, not too cold, blue skies. Traffic was surprisingly light---perhaps because so many people out here have lost their jobs. Even if they’re still employed, people are cutting back on going out. It was smooth sailing until we tried to get off the 91, and onto the downtown Fullerton off-ramp, and realized we suddenly had company. A lot of it.

“I think all these people are going to the Tea Party,” said my husband, eyeing the cars surrounding us. “Could be,” I replied.

From the top of the off-ramp, I could see more cars pouring in from all the visible side streets, all headed in the same direction. Our direction. “Looks like attendance is going to be good,” I said cheerfully.

A fruit vendor was hawking oranges at the corner where the off-ramp connected with main road. We inched past him, down the road to the Fullerton Transit Center, to the rally. Traffic moved at about 2 miles per hour. We saw long lines of people striding down the sidewalks to our right, as we crept along. “I think these people are walking to the rally,” said my husband nervously, “I hope there’ll be parking there!” “I’m sure there will be,” I reassured him. “This feels like the traffic at Ronald Reagan’s funeral,” he said.

He was right. It was the same feeling, a huge mass of people, like a glacier, all moving together for something special. “It’s big!” roared John Kobylt from the radio, “It’s backed up to the 91 Freeway!” Tell us something we don’t know, John!

Now Fullerton isn’t the California you’ve seen on the OC, or (Un) real Housewives of Laguna Beach, or whatever. It’s a fun, funky college town, no big, dramatic buildings (Southern California doesn’t go in much for Manhattan style skylines); no Trust Fund brats, Surfers or bikini-clad starlets, waiting to be discovered by Hollywood; no platinum shopping, like Beverly Hills.

Beautiful homes though, whether fancy or humble, and fascinating little stores, and cool restaurants, all sort of tucked away in malls and small shopping centers, which makes it all the nicer when you find them. It’s the California that’s hurting most from the current meltdown.

There were people everywhere! Cars and people, spilling out of the transit center, which is a town square with an Amtrak station, surrounded by small stores and cafes. Lots of people, no parking. I don’t think the event’s organizers were expecting such a big turn out. It was an extremely well behaved crowd, though. Everybody well dressed, polite, even when jockeying for parking spaces.

Lots of older people, but quite a few younger ones, as well. Someone dressed as an Indian. Somebody else dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier. People dressed as Tea bags, as giant red and green crayons. Kids selling T-shirts. Lots of families attending together, lots of kids, lots of blacks, Hispanics, Orientals---lots of everybody! And bikers! For some reason, the bikers are out in force today, roaring up and down the streets in bandannas and studded leather jackets!

Definitely a middle class, conservative, we’re-all-in-this-together kind of protest. There was one crazy homeless guy, dancing merrily in the middle of traffic, but he wasn’t typical. “Zombietime” this was not. No rioting, no drinking, no drugs, no attacks on people or property. Everybody kept their clothes on. These were protesters, not a mob.

One sort of people I didn’t see---anybody from the mass media.

No T.V. trucks, no reporters walking around the crowd with microphones---nothing. I did see some cops. They looked bored.

“HEADS ON A STICK! HEADS ON A STICK!” John Kobylt led the chant on the radio, and we could see the demonstrators, around the main stage, waving photos of the heads of Republicans to be recalled, stuck on the ends of sticks, or fake swords. “HEADS ON A STICK! HEADS ON A STICK!”

The crowd was well-behaved, but angry, and determined to get their point across. Republicans who’ve supported the Democrats’ tax increases were the main targets, but there was a truck covered with flags racing around the outskirts of the center with huge signs saying things like, “SOCIALISM IS AN OBAMANATION!” and I saw at least two Obama heads on sticks, and one Joe Biden!

But the guy everybody was really mad at is Governor Schwarzennegger, for raising taxes and selling out in general! Some of the protesters outdid themselves with signs riffing on his movies: “Total Recall for Arnold!” “Hasta la vista, baby!” They’re calling for his impeachment.

One old Oriental man proudly waved a sign saying, “Terminate the Terminator!” He smiled at me. I gave him a thumbs up. Ferals, we circled that parking lot for something like 40 minutes, and could not find a space. Finally, we had to give up. When we left, there were still more people trying to get in! This rally was big, don’t let anyone tell you anything different! We never did see anybody from the media, and word is that none of the big guys, like the L.A.
Times, and most local news stations, deigned to notice this.

The Orange County Register gave it a few paragraphs, and that was it for the MSM. The official attendance tally is around 15,000, but there were lots of people, like us, who drove there, and tried to get in, and finally had to give up; I’d put the actual numbers at something higher than 15,000. The media may ignore this, but the State of California can’t, however much they wish they could. I think a lot of Republican politicians (and others) are pretty nervous right now.

~ Fritzie the Talkin' Kamel

Mad Tea Party
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