It Was Loud and Busy

Workers have taped off a large section of Westlake Park while they disassemble the Sound Transit exhibit that’s occupied the space for the last couple of weeks. The 100-foot length of train that’s sitting up on bricks will be loaded onto a truck and hauled away. (Maybe this is how the train will cover the last unfunded seven miles to the airport that Ron Sims insists is still part of the current plan, but I digress.)

There’s a red pickup parked illegally on Pine Street. Two marketing-types in red polo shirts are moving cans of Coke and melting bags of ice around in the back. A teenage girl is filling a black backpack with the Coke cans.

Across the street, there’s a frustrated looking man handing out flyers for an anti-war rally. Beside him, he has a crate of “No Iraq War” signs. He holds a flyer out to a man who’s walking by. The man responds with, “You’re a sick bastard,” and walks on. An older woman walks up and confronts the protestor, “You don’t listen to him. We need people like you.” He flinches at the finger that she’s wagging in his face.

At the corner, there’s a fashionably dressed girl waving a bible at people and ranting at nobody. “I was afflicted! To be afflicted means to be hopeless. I was afflicted! And I was lost before I was afflicted.” There are three more girls giving similar performances, one on each corner. The girl on the southwest corner lowers her voice to a whisper and hugs her bible tightly whenever people walk by.

There’s another set of four girls who’ve found themselves paired up with the ranters, one to a corner. They each have distant looks in their eyes as they hand out cans of Coke to the people walking by.

One passerby looks at his can curiously and asks, “What is this?”

“It’s Coke. It’s just in smaller cans.”

“How long are you going to be out here?”

The girl looks back toward the pickup truck, “I don’t know.”

Up the street, there’s a crew of three people wearing yellow rain jackets trying to make eye-contact with passersby. “Do you have a minute for Greenpeace?”

Four more Bible-girls have the corners at Fifth and Pine covered. One of the girls stops and looks at her watch before ranting on. She’s sharing the corner with Pablo. Pablo is holding a painted stick over his head and pointing at his, by now familiar, sign: “Seattle Police. You are communist devil!” He says thank you when he catches me taking a photo and then continues with his speech, “Hey, Seattle. Listen up!”

A short and tough-looking busker has the entrance to Pacific Place staked out. He and his bulldog, who is installed beside the tip can, are wearing matching sweaters. He’s playing an electric violin and is accompanied by pre-recorded synthesizer music. He lowers his violin briefly to talk to someone, and the violin part continues without him. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s playing over a recording of a synthesizer and a violin and not simply miming his violin-playing.

While I’m digesting the busker’s apparent subterfuge, I detect a change in the atmosphere and look back the way I’d come. The four Bible-girls have quit simultaneously and are heading back toward their associates at Westlake.

(There was also noise at the waterfront today.)

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