Despite what you've heard, not everything is big in Texas. We have a fiercely persistent progressive activist community in this state, including in its largest city. But for all its vim and vigor, it's tiny. That's why it's such a gas to see people other than the usual crew showing up at protest events.
San Francisco had about 30,000 people from literally all over the world show up for the Peoples Climate Movement's Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice rally Saturday.
Houston had about 60, from all over Metro Houston, but few or none from Third Ward where the rally took place.
We came together by the stage in the back of the Emancipation Park Community Center. I got some props from the organizers for riding my bike there; fortunately the weather was suitable for cycling, if a bit hot. We took turns making speeches and didn't march anywhere. Climate change or something has apparently made it too hot to march, even after Labor Day.
"Robert Francis O'Rourke is not your savior. He will do what is right of the people and the planet only if your pressure him into it. Democracy does not stop at voting."
Submitted for the record: O'Rourke's Energy and the Environment page shows that he's an Obama-style, all-of-the-above kind of guy.
The only real embarrassment came when someone I consider a friend (and thus will not name here) spoke way too long about driving out the Trump-Pence régime and zero tolerance for a Fascist USA, tying it to the topic of climate disruption only tangentially. Dude, getting rid of Trump and Pence is important, but it's barely a start toward lowering the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere. Even after they're gone, the system that enables the fossil-fuel business to ravage the planet will still be in place.
Adding humor to the festivities were some other friends who brought their home-made game of benzene ring toss, with hex-nut shaped benzene molecule cutouts to educate those assembled about the health effects of the gasoline additive that replaced tetraethyl lead.
Sunday evening I took Metro to the Midtown Arts and Theatre Center, Houston (MATCH) to catch a few shows at the Houston Fringe Festival. It was my first trip to Fringe Fest in several years, and my first since the festival moved from its original East End venues Frenetic Theatre and Super Happy Fun Land.
Unlike, say, Catastrophic Theatre's migration to a legitimate, well-funded, city-approved venue like MATCH, I don't feel that Fringe Fest has benefited from the move to Midtown. The early Fringes were truly boundary-pushing events, as they should be, especially the Anything Goes nights. The crowd skewed young and hungry, with the expectations of something novel and challenging, and sometimes those expectations were met or exceeded. Tickets were priced within reach of the average bohemian art-lover, as were beer and wine.
Despite the overpriced drinks and the sparkly new venue with reliable plumbing, I did enjoy the performances. Jennifer Wood's Suchu Dance Company assembled a troupe to perform her 75-minute dance suite entitled Mkay (Everything's Gonna Be All Right, or Whatever).
My interpretation of this comical dance opus, which may be completely wrong, was that we as individuals have less control over the direction of our own lives than we flatter ourselves to think: In our thoughts and actions, we follow leaders, the crowd, loved ones, and lovers (long- or short-term). Other people and circumstances shape us and our destinies. Whatever statement it makes, it's damn funny, and we need more comic ballet—but Sunday was its last shot. You missed it. We had maybe 30 people in the room to see it.
Anything Goes Part I consisted of seven acts, each under 20 minutes in length, some much shorter. While my one-time KPFT comrade showed her theatrical chops in a series of vignettes, her character aging from 10 to 75 in less than 20 minutes, my favorite work of the evening was that of one-time Continuum Performance Art comrade Neil Ellis Orts. Neil turned in a well-conceived and -executed monologue about the potentially deadly heart ailment he developed at age 43.
Again, just a few dozen Fringe fans, mostly my age and up, invaded MATCH's black box theatre, MATCHBox 1.
Last Wednesday night, Kayleen and I also were privileged to attend a performance by Invisible Lines, some friends of ours who like to combine movement with spoken word. They described their piece Mariposa thusly:
"Mariposa: The Poetry and Chrysalis of Sharon Olson" is a multi-artist collaboration, exploring the metamorphosis of passion, sex, pregnancy, and motherhood through dance, music, voice, and the poetry of Houston-Galveston artist Sharon Olson.
I'd venture to say that Fringe Fest did about as much to combat anthropogenic climate disruption as the climate rally that I attended. I'd guess that not as many Fringe attendees drove in from suburban settings like Spring, Tomball and Katy. The performers and the audiences in all three shows were also multi-cultural and multi-hued, unlike the uncharacteristically white turnout at Emancipation Park in the heart of Black Houston.
Also, one of the Anything Goes performers, Danny something from Seattle, gave me one of the sunflowers he used in his dance piece The Saint of Christopher Street, his tribute to a recently departed activist from the days of the Stonewall uprising. The sunflower is an emblem of the international Green movement—and Greens, as I reminded folks at the rally, are very much about fixing the climate mess ASAP.