People have to have heroes, but no person can ever be as big as the
need, and so a legend grows around a grain of truth, like a pearl.”

–Peter S. Beagle




My cell phone alarm clock went off at 5am.

I slowly took a shower and began to wake up to the day’s work. I drove
to a residential area that bordered Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)
campus. I emptied the contents of my pocket into the back seat. I
folded up an 11 by 17 inch piece of paper till it was a small square
and placed it in my back pocket. I took off my sandals and slowly put
on my steel toed work boots. i walked down the street and rested on a
wall by a bus stop, I sat there for a very long time and thought.
Because of a car accident I had as a pedestrian in 2001, I still have
trouble walking even a few blocks and have to stop to catch my breath. I
walked from the bus stop to my fave coffee shop, the 61c. Out of a
sense of nervousness I began devouring all of its cafe food, fresh
squeezed orange juice, hot croissants and a chocolate raspberry scone
together with a pond of decaf ice coffee. The Barista glanced at me wondering if
I was a Rothschild and this was my normal morning tribute to
consumerism. I sat and collected my thoughts. As the morning progressed a
friend walked in and asked, “hey aren’t you going to hear Obama speak
this morning?” I laughed a little bit too loud and gave him some vital phone
numbers. The activist lawyer shook his head and stated, “well Vincent
you will never be out of a job. Here is my private cell phone number, call
collect from jail and I’ll come visit.

I walked back to the bus stop and boarded what seemed like a third
world vehicle jammed with people. I asked if it was like this every
morning and the young women laughed, “of course, where have you been?!”
The bus driver was overwhelmed and did not even bother collecting my
fare. An anarchist dream!

The old familiar black sedans were blocking all the roads in and out
of CMU’s campus, I stood there and prayed with my eyes open, prayed
for all the children who have died in our vain attempt to eradicate
our latest enemy, for the parents who at night softly cry for their
children as we screw together our robots, unmanned, without heart. God
come to my assistance, Lord make haste to help me. I obsessively checked
my pockets for my big blue tickets that gave me admission to hear the
President speak This is not a common gift to a veteran of civil
disobedience. I did not ask for the tickets but when they were given I
knew what had to be done. I had to disrupt the normalcy that allows
the wars to go on. To break the false unanimity that civilians killed
in drone attacks on Pakistan were justified, so much collateral
damage.. I was going to CMU to withdraw my individual permission that
such attacks were necessary for our well being.

When i approached the campus with my contraband hidden and my heart
racing …. campus security, Pittsburgh policemen and Secret Service
were everywhere. The unreal “police state image” was only to be
matched by the summer camp atmosphere of under-socialized Obama
volunteers asking me over and over and over and over again:

“Are you registered to vote?”
“Do you want to volunteer at a local Obama campaign office?”
“Can I spritzer you to cool you down?”

I stood there 40 years their senior and grinned, nodded and said,
“of course”, and was sprayed till the water ran down my shirt.
Wholesome educated people infected with a cult like frantic
temperament. Like a swam of bees the Obama volunteers never, never let
up ! Now I was frightened!!

Heat stroke is a serious heat-related illness that requires
immediate medical attention. Death or serious disability can result if
symptoms are not brought to the attention of a medical professional.
After exposure to extreme heat for extended periods, the body loses
its ability to cool down naturally through sweating and evaporative
cooling. Think of a thermostat in your house…If it breaks, there is
no way to control the temperature of a room.

Unexpectedly the line began to move at 10.30 am and moved quickly. As
we approached the secret service shake down my heart raced, I employed
the old yippie / Catholic Worker axioms ….

Have your contraband hidden in the open.

Ask the cops some chatty humorous questions and look them straight in the eye

I avoided asking the secret service: Were you part of the gang that
got caught partying in Latin America ? Or hey I heard you guys are
party animals, do you want to know were the action is tonight ? Or if
my tax dollars are paying for the party, that means I’m invited right ?

The young agent glanced at me searched me thoroughly and stated
objectively, “These are not the droids you want, keep moving.”

I crossed the burnt grassy area in front of the College of Fine Arts
into a county fair type festive atmosphere. I could not believe how
close I was to the podium where the president would be speaking, I was

Then for four hours 3,000 of us baked in the sun, unprotected by
shade, nowhere to sit, no tent to give us shelter from the sun. The
Obama Moonies spritzered us to death, hoses were brought out to cool
us down. From the podium came people singing, speaking and instructing
us on to chant, “4 more years.” A cameo was even made by Franco Harris
who told us we were on “the winning team”. The heat was tortuous, my
feet swelled, people were slathering me with #40 sunscreen, I had to
sit down, my back was giving out, but being surrounded on the ground
by others felt like I had been placed in a toaster oven. We were
handed bottled waters and poured them over our heads instead of
drinking them.


People were not leaving. People and societies are fueled by myth, legend
and hero’s. In the absence of the sacred is a long boring leaderless
meeting. I must confess an autonomous collective does not inspire me
to excellence and self sacrifice. The entire process leaves me cold. A
committee can never make a work of art . Let’s have dances and plan our
next public actions there …..now back to our regularly scheduled
program already in progress

As the hours of waiting went by, people slowly started dropping, in the
middle of a crowd of 3,000 plus. It was next to impossible for the
medic volunteers to carry the fallen to the medical tent. The older
women and crying children were the first to hit the ground.

Then a dark cloud shaded the sun, signaling it was show time !

The crowed did not cheer, they let out an inhuman roar of relief.

Below is a link to Obama’s Pittsburgh speech in total. The volume gets better
as the speech goes on, note the background conversations, and what
folk were yelling.

Remember now, I am very close to the president with snipers and
secret service on the roof. In the past, my fellow protesters, under
similar circumstances, have been tackled, quickly subdued, and
removed. Yes, just for a protest sign. There is a lot of well founded
fear for the safety of our current president. Like Kennedy he refuses to take
precautions and shakes hands with people after his speeches.

I reached for a huge sheet of paper folded up in my back pocket and
slowly unfolded it. The poster stated:


I chanted loudly, “Stop the Drone Attacks,” over and over and again,
as loud as my booming voice would carry.

Hearing a disruption, Barack, looked into the crowd looked at the sign
and nodded having read my message. Then crowd got ugly, “put the sign
down”, a women grabbed and ripped it. “You made your point, now put the
sign down. I’m trying to take a picture ….”

Now for the miracle. I was spotted. The various security could not get
to me , it was like they were bouncing up against an amoeba, The
crowd would not part. They wanted to hear someone who promised to
lead them out of the desert of modernity, out of despair. The police
could not get through the crowd to arrest me. People had waiting for
four hours in the blazing sun and the faithful were not moving…..

Then as my footing failed and I started to pass out, the Obama
volunteers finally got to me and rushed me to the medical tent. They were
barely able to push through the crowd. The medical volunteers poured
ice water on me, pressed huge home made ice packs against me, and
forced two quarts of Gatorade down my throat. As the nurses were
taking my vitals, I looked around me at older people on oxygen,
stretchers being brought in, you could see the look on the nurses
faces, they were not expecting this. People passed out from heat
exhaustion were being dragged into the med tent. I sat there and cried
from the pain, my adjunct support person, Erick Boyd, stood on the
edge of the wounded crowd in disbelief. I was soaking wet, then a
young Obama volunteer moved in with another bucket of ice water and
poured if over my head ….

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined
nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. —
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Vincent Scotti Eirene’
on behalf of the pittsburgh cw
vincenteirene [at] gmail.com
412 537 8716