Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shortime Protest and a Kir for Me, SVP

My gym is called Short Time. It’s got Power Plates and you really only work out for a short time, so its aptly named. My workout is 30 minutes and I sweat like crazy.
It’s great! I go every weekday, like I used to in Madison.
So, yesterday I went over to the gym, which is more like a living room. It’s really quite pleasant, not at ll gym-like.
There was a huge crowd banging on empty plastic jugs with drumsticks.
Thump. Thump. Thump thump thump.
Thump. Thump. Thump thump thump.
The protesters were all over the place, blocking the door to the gym. Not on purpose, just because it was a good place to lean. The door was locked when I pulled on it.
The instructors saw it was me at the door and unlocked it. When I got in the receptionist said “I have such a headache!”
I laughed. It was funny but as I worked out, the techno they play paled in contrast to the angry protesters.
When I asked, the receptionist said she thought it was something about a teacher.
I have to say the gym is across from a government building that has more or less police in front of it everyday, according to whether there might be a protest. There had never been a protest before. This one was big. The photo was taken post workout when the major group had marched on.
The cops had blocked off the building with a big red bus, behind the bus were about 50 armed police with their armadillo gear. I’m inside working out while more people gathered, some now with lab coats and white masks, some with hand written posters taped to their bodies saying something about the american government, some with communist flags, a woman with a patch on one eye, some 20-ish, some 30 to 50-ish, some with CGT on their jackets. I had seen CGT protest a couple of days before around Bon Marche. They are the Labor Union.
Finally, they started to march. Some stayed behind, I took a photo once I got out of the gym.
After the oddly tense workout, I walked past the square on the way home and a group of 50 or so people all dressed in black were heading towards me. They were obviously going to join the protest. Suddenly, I was in the midst of the crowd, I ducked into the cafe to differentiate myself from the crowd. Me in my black coat and black workout gear. Once inside the glassed in cafe, I realized the waiters were all standing at attention focused on the group flooding by.
I sat down to become customer and therefore come under the protection of the cafe. I actually thought that.
The police were on one side of the square and the black clad group was on the other.
The group kept walking toward the direction I had just left. As soon as they had passed, 3 police wagons arrived and the armadillo armed police jumped out, there were under cover guys, tourists unaware of everything and the whole of the square was this bizarre combination of tense and frivolous.
I ordered a kir and took a couple of photos, feeling oddly protected by the glass between me and the two sides.
I used to have dreams like this, that I would get caught between two opposing sides, having nothing to do with the conflict. They were bad dreams. This was nothing like a nightmare.

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