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When You Rage Against The Machine, You Rage Against Me

There are perks to fatherhood I never dreamed of.

Over the weekend, for example, I was walking through Pinoneer Square with The Squirrelly in a Baby Bjorn when I saw some youths on the upcoming corner handing out fliers about an upcoming protest of some sort. This is not an uncommon sight in Seattle, which has reinvented itself as Protest City since the whole WTO debacle of '99. George Bush, free trade, carnivory, illegality of marijuana, Clay Risen not winning American Idol, compulsory pants-wearing -- you name it, someone's got a protest scheduled for it next weekend in Seattle.

(Sometimes you don't even know what the people are protesting. I was on the bus last week and we passed by a municipal building were half a dozen people sat listlessly on the sidewalk while a women with a bullhorn shouted "What do we want?! {pause} When do when want it?! {pause}" The other participants were too engrossed in their own conversations to respond, so, alas, I was never able to ascertain what it was that they wanted, nor in what approximate time frame they desired it to occur.)

Anyway, there I was, walking toward the corner, and this kid was thrusting his protest fliers at everyone who passed. Most people were taking them out of habit, because people in Seattle are too polite not to take a flier from some kid protesting daylight savings time or whatever. And I, sadly, having lived in Seattle all my life, am one of these people who cannot not take fliers; worse, once saddled with a flier I cannot bring myself to throw it away, what with paper being a recyclable and all, so I wind up carry it around all day and eventually taking it home and leaving it on the dining room table where The Queen will later find it and wonder if I'm really going to attend a rally protesting "500 Years Of Polenta."

I tried to dodge around the youth, but he saw me and extended his arm toward me, flier in hand. Instinct kicked in and I started to reach for it. But then he saw the baby strapped to my torso and turned to some other passerby, handing him the flier instead.

It took me a moment to realize what had happened, but, when I did, I was jubilant. I was all, like, "that's right, don't even hand me a flier, punk: I reproduced and am part of the corporate, conforming, consumerist culture now! Hell, this kid's wearing a Baby Gap onesie right now: booyah!"

Seriously, I was totally all like that.

Update: Protesters in Westlake Park.

Posted on April 05, 2004 to Seattle, Storytelling, The Squirrelly


Babies act as anarchist repellant. Who knew.

Posted by: Duane on April 5, 2004 1:28 PM

I'm organizing a protest against people who shield themselves from protesters by hiding behind innocent, newborn children. This is just disgusting, and a perversion of the very concept of the Baby Bjorn.

Posted by: Lost Poke on April 5, 2004 1:40 PM

...And I just want a picture of said infant in said Baby Bjorn.

Posted by: Ariel on April 5, 2004 1:43 PM

And what's this from the Baby Bjorn link?

"A visit to the studio of Ergonomidesign suggests that if contemporary Swedish design updates the ethos of humanistic design for the twenty-first century, it is not simply by using new technologies, but by finding ways in which these can intersect with human need and behaviour."

Does this mean we can pacify Fallujah if they'd just update the design of Saabs?

Posted by: Lost Poke on April 5, 2004 1:43 PM

Lost Poke:
Heh. if by pacify you mean provide democracy, food, water, electricity, then no. If you mean throw the citizenry into the meat grinder of colateral damage then yes. Not only are swedish bombs functional they look damn good and are environmentally friendly too.
I can just see the next SAAB fighter jet commercial.
"That person has no feelings."

Posted by: morph on April 5, 2004 1:55 PM

"Carnivory"? Ain't you the fancy one...

Posted by: rhorsman on April 5, 2004 2:03 PM

"Clay Risen not winning American Idol"
Yeah, those American Idol judges were totally The Nation partisans.

Posted by: Camille on April 5, 2004 4:39 PM

The three of you should totally be getting royalties for letting Baby Björn use your picture.

P.S. Nice highlights.

Posted by: Ian on April 5, 2004 5:37 PM

It was probably a flier for a beer bash somewhere, and the guy took one look and thought, "Whoa, this guy obviously doesn't party anymore."

Posted by: stan on April 5, 2004 5:59 PM

During an election year, I always say "I'm Canadian" before they even get a word out.

Posted by: dayment on April 5, 2004 10:07 PM

Pardon me if I have a little trouble believing that woman gave birth to that child. Its older sister maybe?

Posted by: Evelyn on April 5, 2004 10:15 PM

Think of the Baby Bjorn as faux-comformity camoflauge! You go ahead and blend just like Mr. Establishment and let the litter-bearer bother someone else.

We have the same problem with flyers in Manhattan, except here its all advertising. I've always wanted to spend an April First standing on a busy corner of Times Square ith a few reams of blank paper, just handing it out...

Posted by: mr. grooism on April 5, 2004 10:42 PM

You'd think they'd be giving the flier to the Squirrelly... starting him up young or something.
Protest organisers around here have a greater tendency to stick up enormous posters. Too lazy to stick around all day.

Posted by: Melissa on April 6, 2004 3:42 AM

Ah, yes. You are now The Man. Of course, not the "you da man!", noooooo...you are the Man that's keepin' everyone down. :-) This will become evident once the kiddo approaches age three ("terrible twos" aren't real, it's Three. Three is to be feared) and again once you get a taller, more verbally-skilled three year old (otherwise known as a teenager).

Posted by: misty on April 6, 2004 6:46 AM

If it's benefits of fatherhood you're looking for- just wait until you can park in the "Cars with Infants" parking spac right next to the supermarket. That, my friend, is a benefit.

Posted by: jeremias on April 6, 2004 7:04 AM

Ok, what you need to do is take these fliers so your kid can say to you once (s)he reaches age 12, "Mom, would you please grow up and act your age!"

That, of course, is what my daughter says to me because I didn't get the memo that being 32 and a parent meant I was in fact dead already and could not 1)wear Etnies 2)attend protests 3)or do anything my grandmother wouldn't.

Take the damn fliers, people. It will at least have the added benfit of pissing your kids off and maybe help them realize you are a person too.

I think I am going to stage a protest. "Parents are People too!"

Posted by: Jen on April 6, 2004 7:33 AM

jeremias sez: ...just wait until you can park in the "Cars with Infants" parking spac right next to the supermarket.

What? Where do you have dedicated "Cars with Infants" parking spaces? Damn, the NY Metro area has a lot of catching up to do!

Posted by: mr. grooism on April 6, 2004 9:05 AM

Scratch that, we'd just abuse the policy like we abuse everything else! If we can't keep people out of the handicapped spots, we'll never convince folks that "being an immature" doesn't count!

Posted by: mr. grooism on April 6, 2004 9:09 AM

Speaking of New York: my aunt and uncle came to the city for a weekend, and we took them out to dinner at an indian restaurant on 12 St.

Afterwards, just looking for sights to see, we wandered up seventh avenue checking out the bars, slowly noticing that as we approached Chelsea, more and more of the couples on the street were guys with guys. As we passed one club, a big guy with a handful of flyers started to hand one to me, then yanked it back once he noticed my daughter (who I was pushing around in her stroller), but thrust it in the face of my uncle.

I found that really funny.

Posted by: Ryan on April 6, 2004 7:05 PM

Oh, like a gay guy can't be a dad to a daughter? You should have smacked him.

Posted by: Carny Asada on April 8, 2004 1:09 PM

gapsucks.org -
The Gap (and Old Navy, same corporate umbrella)
use slave labor, importing goods from militant
governments using their people as free labor.
The WTO protest was primarily an outrage against
the WTO's attempt to codify into law liability
for companies that selected merchanice on
criteria other than price and quality - such as
whether it was made by slave labor.

A few things happen to people when they have a
kid. They become selfish, as a sort of an instinct
apparently. Minivans and SUVs are often cited
as being a safety blanket for the kids.
I call this an instinct because thought obviously
shuts down. The link between SIDs and flame
retardant coating on baby mattresses and sheets
is undeniable, far more kids die to SIDs than
fire, and firey death is far less preventable,
but parents won't stop buying the things even
when warned of the dangers. Some sort of bizarre
selfish instinct towards consumption makes the
purchase irresistable. They're overcome with
apathy - towards their friends, the world,
and other people. Things that don't directly
immediately and definately impact their children
don't exist.
The couple grows introverted and borish,
turning inwards from the world.
And their blogs start to suck. I'm serious.
One by one, all of the authors of the funny
blogs I read are taken over by this baby
instinct, their world becomes amazing small
amazingly quickly, and this tiny world is
the new center of their universe.

My hostility is the result of losing numerous
friends to this, but bloggers present an
excelent example of the phenomenon.


Posted by: Scott Walters on April 9, 2004 4:44 PM

"... and firey death is far less preventable,
but parents won't stop buying the things even
when warned of the dangers."

Hmmm, I assume you mean far MORE preventable, right?

Posted by: mr. grooism on April 10, 2004 8:41 PM


As for your "tiny world" comment, yes, we (parents) do become focused on the home after our children are born. This is largely because until our kids are walking, talking, eating and bathing on their own, we are afraid that every time they leave the house, need a diaper change, or even take a nap in their crib, they will either catch fire, break in half, or somehow be separated from us (either due to kidnapping, alien abduction, or wormholes). This instinct is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.

It's not that parents are apathetic to other people or their friends or their blogs, it's that they spend the first nine months of their babies' lives in constant, agonizing, nail-biting terror that they have bought the wrong food or mattress or baby gap onesie and this will somehow cause their baby to die AND IT WILL BE OUR FAULT.

I wish I were exaggerating, but I'm not. This fear, coupled with lack of sleep from getting up to feed the baby (while trying not to accidentally break them), makes us cranky, groggy, and so unable to function beyond being a parent that we cannot hold a rational thought long enough to turn off the television, let alone post something witty and entertaining to our blogs.

That said, all the blogs I read have simply gotten better since the bloggers had kids.

As for the "losing numerous friends to this" comment, maybe you didn't lose any friends because they had babies and became selfish and stopped caring about you. Maybe you lost your friends because you're a dick.

Something to think about.

Posted by: Ryan on April 13, 2004 10:46 PM