FOX News will report this as: “Obama Supporter Attends Communist Rally”
I had plans for a big happy fun summer thing today, so last night I did all the things I normally do on Saturday. Laundry, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the bathrooms, looking at my baseboards and saying to myself, “I should really dust those sometime.” Then before I went to bed, I looked at my calendar and realized the big happy fun summer thing is next Saturday. The upside is that I realized it beforehand rather than actually showing up at the big happy fun summer thing location only to find tumbleweeds and crickets and people saying, “you’re a week early” while looking at me sympathetically yet still wanting me to leave, a circumstance so potentially sad that I am a little teary-eyed just thinking about how it almost happened but fortunately did not because I am a retentive, double-checking motherfucker. The downside is that it’s Saturday and I don’t know what to do with myself, which is how I ended up at a Communist Rally. Well, you know, that’s how this kind of thing starts. Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t let this happen to your teen!
At about 10:30 this morning, I looked out one of my upstairs windows and saw that there were a bunch of booths set up in the park. There were tables with those tent-top umbrellas, about fifty folding chairs set up around the amphitheater, and a large tent, the opening of which faced away from me but which I was sure was there to sell lemonade and grilled hot dogs. Festival! Carnival! Alternate big happy fun summer Saturday!
Entering the park, I saw the usual idyllic scene: dozens of kids on the play equipment and in the water park area, making squealy kid noises, while their dogs frolicked in and out of the water, their moms gathered on the benches to talk about Fetzer wine and tennis lessons in that loud, nasal way they all seem to have, the dads making Woo-Hoo! noises when their kid did something outstanding like not spontaneously fall down. But also in the air was something dark and vaguely moronic, which I soon realized was an abundance of hipsters.
Well, okay, twelve hipsters. But that’s more than enough when it’s six women trying desperately to look like Zooey Deschanel and six guys trying just as hard to look like Johnny Depp. I always want to stop those people on the street and explain to them that it takes more than Buddy Holly glasses. Better genetics may also be needed. Anyway, there were a lot of them. Or so it seemed until I figured out what was going on.
Once in the park proper, I noticed that all the booths but one were empty. I walked up to the nearest empty one and there was a sign titled “Workshop C” and listing a bunch of times and events that all had something to do with “Occupy Oakland,” which is odd mostly because of the fact that Oakland is 800 miles and two states away. Then I walked over to another empty booth and saw an identical sign except it said, “Workshop D.” I went over to the one occupied booth, which also had the same sign but labeled “Workshop A.” Behind the table were Sort Of Zooey #3 and Not At All Depp #2, and sitting in the folding chairs were a few more Zooeys and Depps, three old women speaking to each other in Cantonese and fanning themselves with folded up newspaper, and a couple of kids who wandered over from the jungle gym, probably because, like me, they wrongly assumed that where there is a booth in a park on a summer Saturday, there are going to be Sno-Cones. This is what life is, kids! Never-ending disappointment!
Sort Of Zooey #3 was speaking: “Capitalism is not just going to go away. Capitalism is strong. Capitalism is not … not going away.” Well, so far this is riveting. “We must take this opportunity to fix the problem of capitalism. We are the first generation to have this opportunity.” Awww! That’s so cute! A young person who thinks her generation is the first generation to figure out what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it! Shhhh. She’s talking again. Don’t want to miss out on any innovative thinking. “Capitalism is … strong.” Wait, I saw this movie already. “Capitalism …” Then she tapped on the mic and said, “Can everyone hear me?”
At that point, I made the mistake of making eye contact with one of the dads who was standing a few feet away from his Sno-Cone deprived son. The kid was staring open-mouthed at Sort Of Zooey #3 because even at age 6, he couldn’t believe how dumb this whole thing was. When Dad’s eyes and mine met, we burst out laughing. Then the Chinese women started laughing because they like capitalism. In fact, that’s probably why they left China. Dad’s kid decided that if there were no Sno-Cones he was going to leave and I decided to leave also, for pretty much the same reason. While walking away I could hear Sort Of Zooey #3 saying, “We need to … overthrow capitalism. In a violent way.” Maybe she meant to say “non-violent,” but was flustered because all the Chinese women were still laughing and swatting at each other with newspapers.
That was several hours ago, but our economic system continues to be intact. I’ve been checking out the rally from my bedroom window throughout the day, and by the looks of things, I would guess that all the Zooeys and Depps are more upset that they set up 20 booths, a giant tent, and an elaborate sound system for a total of 17 people, including themselves, than they are about the growing divide between the rich and the poor. Not that they won’t get over it anyway, much as people of my generation pretty much never think about starving children in Africa anymore, even though they still exist. And we were really committed. We didn’t just buy the USA for Africa album; we bought the video too. Besides, I don’t think you can be both a hipster and opposed to capitalism. It’s not as if the clothes at Urban Outfitters are free.