Well it's been a little while since I've posted last, in part because I didn't have much of note to report, but also because of Thanksgiving holiday, et al -- blah, blah, blah, let's get to the good stuff.
Last Tuesday, November 20th the WGA West hosted a union solidarity rally on Hollywood Blvd. -- in the main area of the historic Hollywood neighborhood.
There was live entertainment:
(Yes, that's actually Alicia Keys. Apologies for the washed out shot, but it was EXTREMELY bright and hazy that day.)
After her performance and some brief introductions by WGA West president Patric Verrone, the thousands of people that had gathered -- which included members of the nurses' union, janitor's union, SAG, AFTRA, and more -- marched down Hollywood Blvd. towards Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
[On a side note, I was both surprised and impressed by the amount of other union supporters present. I really hope that if and when their time comes to struggle or strike, that the WGA is present in as equal degree of the support that they have shown us.]
A photo of some fellow union supporters in the crowd:
As we approached the Chinese Theatre, there was a giant Teamster truck parked in the middle of the street which was pretty cool.
For those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, the area surrounding the Chinese -- which also entails the geography of the Hollywood Walk of Fame -- has become sort of like LA's mini Times Square...
Once we arrived there Senor Verrone spoke once more, as did other union leaders, an LA city councilmen and Sandra Oh (Sideways, Grey's Anatomy).
Now take one good last look at this LA crowd...
And now -- we flash forward one full week to today, November 27th, where a very similar rally was held at Washington Square Park in New York City. You may now compare and contrast with the folk at this rally...
I was excited at the prospect of being able to visually juxtapose these two events on opposites sides of the coast. But truth be told the rallies themselves weren't night and day by any means. The format was almost exactly the same.
Once again with the live entertainment:
I'm still not sure how I feel about having musical guests at these events. Part of me feels like some of the past artists have been really well known, i.e. Rage Against the Machine Alumnus and Alicia Keys, which unfortunately I think just plays into these negative stereotypes about the strike. Here we are just a bunch of rich celebrities having a party and hanging out. Which is NOT TRUE. However at today's rally the artists (truth be told, I don't even know their name, bad journalist, bad) were much more anonymous -- and their presence there seemed to function as more of a mood bolstering element than a privileged one. Instead of -- hey look we can get Alicia Keys to come play our event for free! It was more -- chin up union brother and sister -- "I think I can make it now the pain is gone... all of the clouds seemed to have disappeared. It's going to be a bright, bright sunshiney day..." (They did actually sing that by the way). They also played little bumpers in between the speakers which made it feel like you were at a taping of the Tonight show, but in the best possible way -- especially the rim shots after strained jokes.
The music was followed by a bevy of speakers -- more than there were in LA, due in part to the fact that we did not march anywhere, rather stood in place in front of the stage where we clapped, listened, hooted, hollered, and pumped our signs.
The Vice President of the WGA East spoke, as did the head of the local Teacher's Union. The biggest show of the day was probably presidential democratic candidate John Edwards.
His appearance seemed to cause a bit of a stir, as there were people milling about who were petitioning to have him put on the ballot in NY -- as well as folks who were trying to pull the veil on Edwards' history with big business, namely how he's received campaign funding from Hollywood moguls in the past. I never did see individuals from these two opposing groups butt heads, but it was interesting to see them working the same crowd.
There were also several members of the Screen Actors Guild who came out to the rally and spoke in support of our cause. Among them, Tim Robbins, Danny Glover, and, yes, Gilbert Gottfried.
Not that I don't appreciate the support. Hey, we'll take it when we can get it. But it doesn't diminish the randomness factor...
The other obvious difference of course is the weather. Now you'll notice people in their coats and such, but truth be told it wasn't even THAT cold today -- not by east coast standards. It was probably in the 40's. But let me tell you something. When you're standing still, holding a sign, gloveless, it gets chilly after a while. Look at us writers braving the elements all trans-continental and sh*t. You can't beat the heat in LA, nor apparently, the cold in NY.
One final thing. The biggest and most important different in picketing out here in New York vs. Los Angeles? It's the signs. The signs look a little different yes:
But the most important difference here is that the signs are fastened onto lightweight cardboard tubes instead of wooden sticks. Not only does this make for a light sign but it is MUCH, MUCH easier on the hands. Goodbye cruel electrical tape and blisters. Hello sweet smooth cardboard....