New York - Feb. 15, 2003 - by Myshele

The line for the women's bathroom in Grand Central Terminal was enormous, so I just used the men's room. As I was coming out, several cops were blocking the door, trying to keep it a men's only bathroom. Cops blocking things would become the theme for the day. Out in the main station, every space was packed with protesters of every size, shape, and color! All the beautiful signs made me think of gypsies....

Since I was late, I didn't get to meet up with all the Goo fans -- but I did manage to find my friend Erin, her boyfriend Chris, and Diane from plasmachannel. As soon as we assembled our big pink banner, a cop took away the PVC tubes that were supporting it, claiming they could be used as weapons. This from a man who was packing live ammunition, among who knows what other weapons. Eventually, we found some abandoned cardboard tubes and jury-rigged them to the banner with packing tape and a little ingenuity. Take that, cops!

From the Library, we walked along 42nd Street, towards the rally. Through the blockaded streets, we could see the crowds of people on 2nd Avenue, and could guess at the masses on 1st. We started walking north along 3rd Avenue, confident that we'd soon get to cross over to the rally. No such luck. Five blocks, ten, fifteen.... Despite the ban on marches, the blockaded streets forced us to march down the middle of 3rd Avenue with thousands of other protesters, stopping at traffic lights. The mood was cautiously joyful, and every now and then a wave of cheering would wash through the crowd. Colorful signs and banners were interspersed with giant dove puppets, streams of bubbles, and angels on stilts. But lest we forget ourselves and imagine ourselves in a parade, the police stood grimly watching in packs of twenty or more. We saw mounted police ride by, and clusters of riot cops staring out from behind plastic helmets and shields. I decided to leave my silly string inside my bag.

As luck would have it, we found an opening in the blockade on a nice residential street around 56th, and we passed through to 2nd Avenue. It was twice as crowded as 3rd, and the crowds were moving north. We joined the flow, happy to be nearer the rally, even if we were going the wrong way. When we reached 71st Street, the police were trying to stop people from crossing because of the traffic light. While their efforts kept them in the middle of 2nd Avenue, there was a brief hole in the blockade, so we slipped through.

We finally reached the rally at 71st and 1st Avenue -- over two miles away from the stage! 1st Avenue was packed with people as far as the eye could see. We started moving south, only to be stopped at 69th Street by yet another police blockade. The streets going east and west were blocked, and heading north was not an option. We were trapped, and the crowd was getting more and more frustrated. Two or three times, the police opened the barrier for a few seconds and a mad rush of people crushed against them. Then they closed it again. Diane made it through to the other side and videotaped the exchanges. An elderly woman near me politely asked the police to let her through, she had lost track of her son. She had to ask several times before they let her through. On our side of the blockade, people chanted, "Let us through! Let us through!" On the other side, they chanted, "Let them through! Let them through!"

This continued for a tense ten or fifteen minutes, during which time the press of the crowd could have gotten dangerous. More and more people were spilling in from cross-streets further north, and the tension was high. Eventually, the police opened the barrier and we ran through, joyfully. The drummers started drumming, the dancers (including me!) started dancing, and everyone chanted "Whose Streets? Our Streets!" It was a small victory, but an important one.

This scene was repeated several times on our journey south towards the stage, though less intensely. Overall the crowds on 1st Avenue were relaxed and energetic. We were entertained by the GLAMericans for Peace (Baby, *I* am the Bomb!), jugglers, and a troupe of Picasso puppets (none of Johnny's tattoo, unfortunately). People came up to us and asked about our banner -- some who knew the Goos' music, others who wondered "What the hell is a Goo Goo Doll?" One guy started a conversation with me about Husker Du, the Ramones, and the Replacements! So some people DO remember the Goos' good ol' punk days :-)

We didn't get to hear most of the speakers, but we made it as far south as 48th Street. It was wonderful to connect with half a million people working towards a common goal, and despite police provocation, wonderful to see the peaceful world we're trying to build.

Back to Fans