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  • PIN THE TAIL/Daniel Rubin

    Observations from the 2004 Democratic National Convention

    Sunday, July 25, 2004

    You got a license for that? 

    The First Amendment is on vivid display outside the Park Street T station, six ladies introducing themselves as the latest in entertainment from Crawford, Texas.

    "Shop in the name of war," they sing, these bikini-clad sirens in red, white and blue wigs, feathers, furs and prominent ballistic codpieces. Their name is a rhyme of Dixie Chicks, the first word being "missile."

    Their homage to the Supremes' song packs other topical lyrics, such as "send Iraq a nice bomb for Christmas" and "let's kick some #$%^@ for Texaco and BP ... don't think it over."

    Next to them, a character wearing a George W. Bush papier-mache mask performs rope tricks, demonstrating what he'd do if he caught Bin Laden.

    Nearby, Lyndon LaRouche supporters hand out a magazine bearing Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights." The headline: "The Sexual Congress for Cultural Fascism."

    I'm tempted to read it, but there's too much to watch: another guy in a battered ballcap walking around with a sandwich board saying "Military recruiters out of schools," and my favorite -- a guy who looks like a ragged Walt Whitman, passing by. He's seems completely out of it, and one gives him lots of room on the sidewalk. He looks up, and growls:

    "Avoid North Station."

    Indeed, the stop is closed during the convention. Excellent advice.

    But wait ... later I go by North Station, and under it is the First Amendment pen, where protesters will be allowed to protest, but the concertina wire and mesh keeps them from the delegates. It is a gulag, one observer says.

    What was Walt Whitman telling me?

    Daniel Rubin

    Daniel Rubin is a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He can be reached at


       •  July 2004

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