The FTAA rolled into town last week, and with it came truckloads of thoughtful, peaceful, smelly individuals with something to say. Miami played host to a muddy spectrum of grassroots activists: old retirees, blue-collar workers, and America's bleeding heart, college students from the Pacific Northwest. But we weren't very gracious. What did they encounter here? An apocalyptic, John Carpenter version of the city, complete with a task force of thousands of cops in full-on Judgment Day gear, that's what. The police were the party poopers at an otherwise jamming protest.
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Of course everybody knows by now about the disastrous get-together in downtown between cops and protesters. But the fact that continues to slip by big media in Miami is what fantastic fun it all was, before the tear gas and rubber bullets. I was strutting along with the tail end of the main march on Thursday, which will probably be the last time the AFL-CIO coordinates an event with the city. It was kicking. Drums. Dancing. Chanting. The march was really one big, happy festival. The mixed crowd was unbelievable; no club promoter I know could have pulled it off. You had rebellious Brazilians hopping next to the good ol' union fellas; in turn they were high-fiving the dolphin heads (who were the hit of the parade). The only thing that didn't work for me was the pickup factor. Leftist chicks aren't easy.
Other than that, the congregation was an absolute feel-good "fuck you" to uncaring governments and corporations. A few local personalities joined in the festivities, including electronic music activist Steven Castro and DJ Induce. I also took home a couple of fashion pointers. First off, camouflage bandannas are very Miami, while all-black outfits are so Los Angeles. Butterfly wings and sparkles say "vegan." White hazmat suits (for protection against industrial waste) look great with a pair of green Pumas. And I'm almost convinced Teva sandals can make a comeback. On second thought, maybe that was just a week-long fad.