Things seen while out on the casserole
Been out on the casserole, so to speak. Things seen:
A little girl came up to me with a spoon, and we took turns playing a rhythm on my comically tiny “casserole” (really a metal measuring cup).
On St-Denis, some people pulled up in a tow truck and began tossing bottles of water to anyone in the crowd who wanted one, and then let off their tow-truck klaxon to great applause.
Lots of people on balconies, clanging away above the marching crowd.
I left the initial Villeray march, which was moving off eastward, and walked back toward St-Denis. I could hear terrific drumming and expected to encounter another march – but it wasn’t a march. Near Jean-Talon, a crowd of about 30 on the sidewalk were drumming vigorously, led by a couple of young guys thumping a rhythm on several big empty recycling bins. Across the wide street, on a second-floor balcony, another smaller group had hung a selection of kitchen equipment on a rope and were playing it like a rhythm section, call-and-response style to the group across the street.
This was great. People who came by were mostly carrying some kind of pot, and got drawn into the rhythm and hung around. Cars honked as they passed. Two older women drew up chairs on the Subway terrasse and hung out to enjoy the scene.
So now I’m thinking about several things:
It’s kind of a rule that when you say something repeatedly and accompany it with physical action, it gets ingrained into your brain and your body and your nerves. (Most religions make use of this.) People are doing something active here. They’re not just saying they’re mad as hell and not going to take it any more – they’re enacting this, vigorously, night after night, in company with other people doing the same thing. This is powerful, primordial stuff. We’re a sedentary people now, by and large – but people are walking kilometers happily making loud noises and enjoying the hell out of it.
If the student groups reach a deal, does that mean this will all stop?
What will become of all that human energy that’s suddenly surging through the streets of this city every evening?
And let’s not be naive – let’s not kid ourselves. Political leaders may be taken aback by this movement, but they are not wasting time dithering. They’re making plans how to turn it to their own ends – all of them.