April 26-May 2, 2006

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News Briefs

By Quinn Scheibal

Live from Bush Watch

Friday, April 21. 5pm. They line the edges of the Silverado Trail outside the entrance to Meadow Wood Country Club in St.Helena. They are my friends, my family and people I rarely talk to. They are the people of my community. I never thought they would show. I thought that they were too comfortable. I thought that I was alone. But the people of the Napa Valley did show, and they did protest Bush, and I am not alone.

It is more like a homecoming parade than a protest. It is slightly humid, and people are sipping wine. They are waving their homemade signs, laughing and yelling slogans. Suddenly anger erupts from one man, and he yells at one of the few Bush supporters that he flew planes in Iraq, and he bombed the Iraqi people and he is ashamed. The people around him start singing, and one woman, maybe his wife, grabs hold of his hand.

I move on through this sea of familiar faces. I see Randy, an old friend, who tells me that he almost got hit by the secret services' SUV convoy. Suddenly a flock of mallard ducks fly over and someone yells, "Hey, where's Cheney?" I hear phrases like "New Orleans" and "our troops" and "Iraq" repeated again and again. There is a group of people whose heads are covered with black hoods. I think that they must be hot under there.

A man drives through the protesters and yells, "Get a job!" out the window of his 1978 Ford truck. I think how that's a strange thing to say to a large group of wealthy white people. There is a transvestite holding a sign that says something about the war. Everyone is more interested in her outfit than her sign.

Suddenly a large limo comes to halt in the midst of the protesters. Everyone thinks it's Bush come to speak to the people. But it's not, it's just tourists visiting the Napa Valley who wanted to take some pictures of the protest. The riot police mill around among the grapevines, looking bored. I see an old girlfriend, and we don't talk about what is going on around us, we talk about how the doctor told her that she can't eat cheese anymore. Her mother stands by her side, stoic and beautiful, holding a sign that reads, "You, sir, are not a gentleman."

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