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Reverend Starbucks 

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I took a seat on the bench to hear out her misery. I could see she wanted me to. I was astonished, and grateful. Here was someone for whom this country worked splendidly, who had no personal or historical quibbles with freedom and access and all the rest, whose (very successful) business it was to make people buy and abandon reason, and yet she needed me to get through this. In a way I had never imagined possible, we were equals. I stayed another half-hour before going on to work. It occurred to me later that it was the first time I’d gone to Bleu without actually going inside. But, as always, I got something that I didn’t even know I wanted until I saw all of its wondrous possibilities in a mirror, up close.

—Erin Aubry Kaplan

Four War Years

Get your kicks: Protesters Miguel and Charlie got the boot from the LAPD.(Photo by Steven Mikulan)

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Peace activists quickly followed Black Tuesday with a pair of demonstrations. Wednesday night’s, called by Not in Our Name, was an impromptu and defiant response to the Republican sweep. Eighty to 100 people circulated on the corners of the busy Hollywood and Highland intersection, and while the prevailing mood was outrage, there were comical moments. One protester, John Beecham, got a ticket for pushing a Target shopping cart with speakers on it. “Free the cart!” yelled some supporters who had gathered around the unlucky Beecham, his lawyer and the cops. “Whose cart? Our cart!” shouted others. On Saturday, the International Action Center’s “Bring the Troops Home” march drew between 1,000 and 1,500, and featured an unauthorized flag burning plus the familiar mix of hoodies, Latinarchists, pixies and grannies. They wound from Hollywood and Highland to Sunset and La Brea; there, a flatbed truck provided a stage across the street from a mini-mall housing an armed-forces recruitment office. The voices from the platform were angry, metallic and in need of a punch line — things that will have to change in a hurry if the peace movement is to survive the new political ice age. The LAPD committed a huge tactical blunder by not securing the mini-mall, which was quickly swarmed by a small army of black-clad youth yelling, “Fuck Bush, fuck Kerry! A revolution is necessary!” at the recruitment center. That changed soon enough, though, when the cops’ own black bloc arrived in quite a different kind of flatbed and proceeded to clear the mall. Miguel and Charlie, a young couple standing in front of Starbucks, weren’t able to leave the scene fast enough — Charlie told me she received a kick to her chest from one riot cop, while Miguel got a boot to his back. The next four years have yet to officially begin, but already it looks like a long, bumpy ride.

—Steven Mikulan

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