Sunday, March 8, 2009

Taxation With Plenty of Retaliation

I love protests. In fact, I so love protests that I self-published a photo journal of the protests I’ve attended in the past several years, and I still have some copies available if you’d like to purchase one for the cost of reproduction and shipping. Anyway, I love protests because they inspire people to be seen and heard -- hence, the chant, and the picket sign. These simple expressions are often so thoughtfully executed, bringing a camera is critical to any demonstration. A well-executed protest is also an art exhibition, free of charge and in your face, which if often the best kind.

I also love living in Fullerton. I haven’t much mentioned this on-line, but I’ve attended school, lived, and worked in Fullerton, California for twelve years. Fullerton is a relatively small town in many ways; its longtime citizens are also its politicians and teachers, and community events are often held monthly, or even weekly during the spring and summertime Farmer’s Market. Yet, as a college town, Fullerton strives to reach its big city potential, with a renovated downtown that the Los Angeles Times once dubbed “Hollywood East” for its thriving nightlife. On many levels, it’s a happenin’ town.

So you could imagine my excitement when I heard that an anti-tax rally was coming to my town. Protests of this caliber are usually reserved for Los Angeles or Hollywood, presumably for the media’s convenience since they’re headquartered there anyway. In this case, KFI 640 AM’s John & Ken Show sought a more central location, and their weeks’ worth of promotion for this “Tax Revolt” brought a staggering 15,000 people to my little college town. I think they’ve padded those numbers a bit, but my girlfriend, my old friend John, and I braved the crowd, and in their midst the people easily numbered into the thousands. If Fullerton ever needed a tourist board . . .!

Like usual, I snapped away at every sign or crowd-driven quirk I could find, with the intention of cropping and editing the pictures to emphasize my targeted details later. No time for worries like framing and focusing in the heat of the moment, after all. When my old pal Eric and I would attend the old anti-war rallies in Hollywood, I’d always marvel at the raw cityscape in the background, its building’s grays and landscape’s green a stark contrast to the red, white, and blue of the patriotic picket sign. These pictures strike the same cord, yet . . . it’s where I live and work. Particularly in the brick, and the winter worn trees -- surrounded by rampant activism, I’m gripped by the stillness of my city. I’ve loved it for a long time, and in many ways it’s both the most persistent and frail place I know. I can appreciate that.

Of course, the crowd and its signs are the stars of this show, and as a fanboy with Arnold Schwarzenegger as its governor, I can also appreciate the geek factor implemented in this protest. With imagery from the Terminator franchise and Total Recall and Predator, with effigies including action figures . . . with folks dressing up like Jack Sparrow (?) and the anti-hero from V for Vendetta . . . this protest could’ve been an extension of Comic Con. Some of the posters were definitely small press worthy, in either their embrace of caricature or graphic design. My favorite was the kid and his lemonade stand, complete with a sign adorned with his mascot, the Lemonader! An entrepreneur and an artist! The next Stan Lee, ladies and gentlemen!

This protest was particularly family friendly, even with carnival booth games. I won a T-shirt on my first attempt to keep the bowling ball over the hump, lest its momentum roll it back toward me, symbolic of getting over the impending statewide tax hump. John and Ken also encouraged attendees to bring Arnold merchandise for destruction, and to put his and other local politicians’ heads on a stick, which despite any other illusion made the whole event Shakespearean in scope to me. For all of the obvious quips involving True Lies, Total Recall, and even Last Action Hero (i.e. Tax Action Zero), I regret not seeing anything about Kindergarten Cop or Jingle All the Way. How about Arnold and impeached governor Gray Davis are now like Twins? Eh? Eh? If you’re bringing the family, remember the PG flicks, too!

Ah, but who knows if protests like this really produce results? They definitely rally the troops, but if the call to action isn’t a lifestyle, then these exhibitions are just that -- mere bursts of raw, reactive emotion. You know, I’m actually fine with that. Most art is really just a quick burst of raw, reactive emotion -- purging the demon from the artist while capturing it on a canvas for others to relate. I’m happy to be a part of the latter end of that equation, in some ways a blank slate myself until impressed with the emotions of an impassioned protestor. After all, how can it be a protest if someone’s worldview isn’t put to the test?

I've posted plenty more pictures on my Flickr, but I wanted to include these last two here because they spotlight topics I've addressed in my first two "Vs. Current Events" comics!

1 comment:

Kat said...

Wow that's quite a protest for our little town!! Since I no longer live in CA I'm kind of behind the times on what's going on, So I read you blog regularly to keep me informed. Just read some more on the whole Prop 1A thing and find it to be very dirty politics indeed! Politicians wheeling and dealing and spending more of your money to fix a problem they dug themselves into. I wonder now If Matt and I were to move back there if we would even be able to???