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Al Martinez

'Anyone who smokes a cigar at an Earth Day rally is not going to understand what's going on.' : Peace, Love, Health and a Chinese Gong

May 02, 1985|AL MARTINEZ

You've got to hand it to those who organized the Earth Day rally on the lawn of the Federal Building in Westwood. They managed to gather together in one place representatives of every major social cause in America without so much as a fist fight or a shouting match. The organizers called it a time for planetary reflection. I call it a miracle.

If you missed the rally, you missed an opportunity to seek peace, love God, fight smog, help the hungry, support birth control, save the animals, shut down nuclear power plants, stop the CIA, back the women's movement, clean up toxic waste, honor the elderly, preserve the coastline and flutter about with the Peace Fairy.

There has not been such a diversity of beneficence since Dorothy met the Wizard of Oz.

It was terrific. We sang, clapped hands, prayed for the spirit of a tree, reflected planetarily and pooled our psychic energy to heal the Earth, all to the accompaniment of a Chinese gong and a conch-shell horn. I came away whistling "We Shall Overcome." Just like the old days.

The crowd was not exactly in the millions. It was, in fact, barely in the hundreds. But that's all right. One of the participants explained that the small turnout was a testament to the success of the ecology movement.


Well, by not being there, you see, you indicated your faith in the notion that government and industry are already deeply involved in saving the environment. It's sort of like losing an election and proclaiming your loss a victory. The voters didn't turn out because they had faith everyone already knew you were the best man and your loss proved it.

Don't sweat the details. Planetary logic is not meant to be analyzed.

A friend accompanied me to the Earth Day rally. She said it was too bad I was there because all I was going to do was mock the celebration. "Anyone who smokes a cigar at an Earth Day rally is not going to understand what's going on," she said.

Oh, I understood it all right. I even agreed with most of the causes represented at tables surrounding the festivities. Who, for example, doesn't love peace and God? They are what politicians call the Motherhood Factors.

My only strong area of disagreement, in fact, is with those who won't eat animals. I eat animals.

I'm not talking puppy dogs or spider monkeys here, but cows and chickens. A cow is simply a piece of prime rib in live storage. A chicken can hardly wait to be cooked. If its fate were not providentially ordained, would God have created Shake 'n' Bake?

But, hey, if you want to live on seaweed sandwiches, that's all right with me. Each to his own disgusting form of survival. Pray for the spirit of the seaweed, then down the hatch.

What I didn't understand about the Earth Day rally was the presence of that plump middle-aged lady in a fairy godmother costume, complete with pink wings and green eyelashes. She wandered through the crowd carrying a wand and looking solemn.

I tried speaking to the Fairy Godmother once, but she ignored me. Maybe it was the cigar.

Someone said she was always present at this type of gathering on the Westside, which would indicate that she is probably the planetary spirit of peace and good will and all those other things mentioned earlier. The Peace Fairy, as it were.

The reason I praise those who organized this nonviolent rally is because of a situation I witnessed at a similar session some time ago. A peace activist and an animal liberationist duked it out in the middle of a candle-lighting ceremony for universal love and inner fulfillment.

They were getting along famously, both being into causes and both having beards to indicate their radical nature, until the peace activist suggested that the animal liberationist join his people at a barbecue to stop nuclear war. It was the moral equivalent of asking a missionary to a cannibal cookout.

The animalist (to shorten his title) was instantly suspicious that it was not bean sprouts the peace activist was going to cook over charcoal. He asked what was on the menu. "Spare ribs," the activist replied.

Since spare ribs do not grow on spare rib trees, the stage was set for at least philosophical debate. But philosophical debate escalated into hostile dialogue and then to a form of affirmative action. The animal-lover punched the peace activist in the mouth.

No peace activist is going to take a physical attack lying down. He called the man a dirty pig, which seemed apropos, and went at him with both arms and legs. A muscular Zen Buddhist broke them up.

Nevertheless, count me among those who are glad that we still have earth rallies and peace days. Not only do they serve as gathering places for men with beards and women with long hair who say wow softly when they are pleased, but they also provide a gauge by which we can measure the status of our favorite causes.

Because if you gave a peace rally and nobody came, it would simply indicate on a planetary level that peace was just around the corner.

It all makes sense somehow when the Chinese gongs are gonging and the conch shells are blowing.

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