From Where I Sit – Observation 8

This is a series of musings from my big leather (really broken-in – to the point of broken-down) chair.



  • A few days ago, I was sitting in Starbucks in Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is a beautiful little town situated right on Lake Champlain, and this particular coffee shop was located in the Church Street Market, which is a three or four block pedestrian mall full of shops and eateries. As I sat contemplating these idyllic surroundings and sipping my latte, the relative silence was broken by the sound of a bass drum and some disagreeing trumpets. To quote a much better writer than me, “out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.” (or something about like that) I was met by the most bizarre parade I have ever witnessed. Leading the charge was about 3 trumpets, a baritone, and a big marching band bass drum and cymbals (no snare, mind you). Just behind the wandering trumpets walked one guy holding an acoustic guitar and strumming – like anyone in the world would hear that over the trumpets’ rendition of “Charge of the Bull Elephants.” However, Alexander’s Gag-Time Band only seemed bizarre until I saw the next wave. Following the aural attack was an infantry of dozens… make that probably several hundred, sign-toting protesters. Now, here’s where “shock and awe” officially, and fully, gave way to “laugh ‘til you cry.” This posse was carrying a collection of signs that protested everything from war in Iraq to man landing on the moon. There were signs complaining about our president, while walking right beside that sign was someone protesting the Republicans and asking us to support the president. There were signs in support of the troops and signs asking to get us out of Afghanistan. I saw one sign for women’s rights. There were signs supporting revving up industry carried mere inches from signs supporting love and equal rights for every tree and flower. There were signs supporting Israel and others supporting a Palestinian state. The great miracle was that there wasn’t a brawl right in the middle of this split personality quasi-invasion. After the first wave of sign-hoisters came my favorite group of all: there were about 15 guys just following along eating ice cream… no signs, no agenda, just “liberty and ice cream for all.” I really think maybe these guys were just eating their ice cream, working off a hang-over and saw a group of people walk by and thought, “I wonder where they are going. Let’s follow them and see.” At any rate, after the dairy consumers came the second and third wave of these bearers of sign neuroses. I’m sure they were trying to make a statement; however, it was a bit vague. About all I could discern is that most of them were saying, “we’re mad about something… we’re just not sure what and can’t really seem to agree on anything.” The other few seemed unified in their statement that Vermont makes really good ice cream.

    In some Vermont lakes there lives a bird called the Loon. If you aren’t familiar with this cool little guy, he has the wackiest cry you’ll ever hear. While I am not a believer in evolution, this parade presented some compelling evidence that these folks just might have evolved from loons… making them the original loonies.