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Luke Melia

10/28/02 – Mr. Melia Goes To Washington

Friday night, I had dinner with friends. One, a self-described newshound, was astounded to hear that I was going to a big antiwar protest in Washington the following day. “I read four newspapers daily,” he said. “How come I didn’t hear about it?”

There were a lot of people that didn’t hear about it, and a lot of people that did. You need to be looped in to get the word.

Jeanhee and I woke up early and slipped onto the streets before 6 AM, armed with water, sandwiches and snacks. It was like the morning of a beach volleyball tournament, but it was dark and raining. We got on a charter bus at 14th Street. It was 1 of 40 that left Manhattan. More were leaving from Brooklyn and Long Island.

The bus ride there and back was a bit rough. Small space for that many hours will be. I had a book and an iPod and a sweetheart to keep me company, though, so it wasn’t so bad. Our bus driver was entertaining, using the loudspeaker to inform that person in the lavatory, “That is the emergency assistance button, not the flush button…”

The scene of the protest, the Constitutional Gardens, near the Vietnam Memorial, was mobbed. Many streets were closed off and the crowd was too thick to even see the stage, much less locate Liz and Anthony, who were in its midst. I did manage to catch up with Melissa and met some of her law school friends. Lots of people had signs and costumes. Extremely diverse crowd. Lots of students. Many Muslims.

I found a few speakers particularly powerful. One turned out to be Jesse Jackson. Another was a Congresswoman named Cynthia Mcsomething. She went through a staggeringly long list of the nations in which the U.S. has troops at the moment and lamented the poor care given to our veterans. Other speakers were less compelling, hurling personal insults at the administration.

Later, we marched through the streets of Washington. The numbers of people were large. The organizers put it at over 100,000. NPR had it at 10,000. The New York Times put it at “thousands.” It’s impossible for me to estimate, though I’m surprised that there isn’t a way to get an accurate estimate. It impressed me that the protest drew so many people, considering that it was against a war that hasn’t started, and came on the heels of Bush back-pedaling statements about cooperation signaling a change of regime as well as the a**hole snipers that until recently had DC on the low end of most people’s must-see lists.

To me, the event signals that there is a large constituency that is already mad as hell, and eager for an outlet to express their dissent. If our current leaders go through with an invasion and occupation of Iraq and otherwise usher the U.S. into an imperialist phase, the protests will become larger, and these leaders won’t be our leaders for long.

I managed to take some pictures before my batteries gave out… This is what democracy looks like.

10/24/02, 2:03 am – Something To Say

Haven’t been writing much. I’ve been letting the sense of not having anything to say get in the way. Silly me.

I have a bunch to say about volleyball. I’m working on my hitting a lot with good results. It seems that my poor form was not only contributing to poor hits, but also hurting my shoulder. It’s great when doing something the “right” way feels good, too.

Various volleyball fun…

I’ve been playing sand twice a week at the gym. I really like the group of guys I’ve been playing with. Our ages range quite a bit, but on the sand, we’re all like kids playing after school.

Sunday, I played with friends in a tournament sponsored by the local gay volleyball league. Before one match, the referee said, “Good luck ladies,” before realizing we were one of the teams and adding, “and gentlemen!” We ended up coming in first and had a lot of fun.

Tonight, our indoor team fell apart a bit. We woke up in the last game and pulled a win out of the night, but our first two games were fairly miserable, with mistakes all around. Not good. Still, the level we’re playing at on a bad night like tonight is head and shoulders above where we were 6 months ago. Our 1-2 results this evening will leave us in 2nd or 3rd place. Good striking position!

I’m striving to be interested in things other than volleyball, too, with some success. I took Dani and Judy to ResFest for Dani’s birthday. ResFest is a digital film festival that’s in its 6th year and is always an interesting time. Jeanhee and I went to see a more, um, adult screening later that evening.

Last night, I attended my first champagne tasting. It was fun, but a little weird. The near-worship of alcohol in wine connoisseurs bugs me out a bit. Pair that with lots of money and I find it distasteful. I stuffed some facts about champagne into my head though. I’m sure it will come in handy at my next Napa estate cocktail party…

Work is a struggle of late. The online division of the company I work for has gone from 250+ people to less than 15. There’s a lot that’s still wonderful about the job, but my motivation is suffering at the moment. It doesn’t help that most of my friends were among those laid off.

Tonight, after the game, we celebrated Liz‘s birthday. Happy birthday, Liz!

Saturday morning, we’re off to DC to protest our nation going to war in Iraq. I’m not the pacifist that I was as a teenager, but I do believe strongly in war as a last resort. I firmly believe that we have other options in dealing with Iraq than a war that is likely to shed a lot of blood and further destabilize a region that is already balanced precariously on the edge of disaster. Saturday, I’ll donate my time and energy to demonstrate that this citizen of this great nation stands for peace in the world and asks his leaders to look for a peaceful solution.

10/13/02, 12:15 am – The Great Northwest

It’s been a while since I blogged as my dad pointed out to me this morning. “I’ve been pretty busy,” I said. “But wouldn’t you rather be writing about cool stuff than doing it?” It was a joke, but it is a subtle tension I guess. Sometimes no matter how good a time I’m having, I wish I had time to reflect and noodle. I haven’t written a song in months. But enough of that, on to the good times…

I flew out to Seattle for Rich’s wedding and drove up to Vancouver for a couple of days. The trip was a lot of fun.

Seattle had more character than I expected. Great Thai food. Distinct, fun neighborhoods with an artsy feel. Pike Place Market is a phenomenal food and craft market that makes my local favorite Union Square Greenmarket seem like a lemonade stand by comparison. We stayed with a college friend of Jeanhee’s, who works as a game developer and has lived happily in Seattle for almost ten years now. We checked out the Experience Music Project, which is the most expensive museum I’ve ever been to (twenty bucks a head) but also the coolest. The Guitar Gallery is a phenomenal tour of the history of the guitar and the use of technology in the museum is excellent. Everybody wants to know, did it rain while I was there? Of course it rained. It’s Seattle.

I loved what I saw of Vancouver. I found it to be clean, cosmopolitan, diverse, a great sense of urban style, and distinctly Canadian. Our meal at Tojo’s was delicious. We ended up having the omakase, where the chef sends out whatever he feels like making. With a seafood-centered menu, that means you get incredible creations made from the freshest local fish and critters of the day. We saw plenty of kite- and wind-surfers out on the bay, and enough cool parts of the city (Stanley Park, Yaletown, Gastown) to make me look forward eagerly to my next trip there.

Rich’s wedding was the core purpose of the trip and the highlight, too. It was the first Quaker wedding I’d ever attended, and had a heavy emphasis on community, on all the friends and family being a part of the ceremony. Various people spoke as they were moved to do so, and we all signed a copy of Rich and Christy’s vows as witnesses. Rich and Christy delivered their vows to directly to each other, rather than repeating the words of a priest back to him. The wedding had a common-sense, healthy, practical feel that made a nice impression on me and made me even happier for the starring couple. And the myriad homemade pies present were pretty damn good, too.

After the wedding, we hosted an afterparty in our hotel room and had a rip-roaring time of it. We consumed quite a bit of leftover wedding beverages while we jumped around, played games, told secrets, and watched Rich’s brother’s dog pee on the carpet. We went to sleep at two, just enough time to get into REM before our 4 a.m. wake up call. As you might guess, the flight was among the worst in my life.

But the trip was great. I’ll have a new feeling inside when I call it the “Great Northwest.”

10/2/02, 11:38 am – Tojo’s

I fly out to Seattle today. Jeanhee and I are going to help Rich celebrate his wedding, and taking a day-and-a-half trip to Vancouver while we’re at it. I’ve never been to that part of the country, but I’m pretty excited. I’ve been listening to an excellent Seattle radio station, KEXP over the internet and chatting with friends about the area.

We’re staying with friends and in Priceline-bought hotels and found great airline tix ($150 roundtrip), so we’re going to splurge on dinner in Vancouver to celebrate Jeanhee’s birthday.

The restaurant, recommended by friends, is a Japanese place called Tojo’s. Their site is worth a look. The “About Tojo’s” page is particularly amusing.

I made a reservation online and got a confirmation email back fairly quickly from Paul. Should I be surprised that the person who confirms my online reservation has a website quoting a description of himself as “a poet with a paradoxical background”…? Or that he was an early and active member of The WELL?

Couple that with the amazing food photos on their site, and I suspect we’re in for a treat!

10/2/02, 1:59 am – Don’t Do That

A few recommendations, if you’re in the mood for advice…

Don’t sell a kidney to make a buck. It’s not worth it, a new study finds.

Don’t think that you can play volleyball in the sun all weekend without using sunscreen and experience no physical consequences.

Don’t assume that what they say about big feet, big… is true. Scientists have pursued this vital avenue of research, and found no correlation.

Don’t put off packing for a trip until two in the morning the night before you leave.

Don’t assume that the economy is in competent hands.

LukeMelia.com created 1999. ··· Luke Melia created 1976. ··· Live With Passion!
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