A crowd like that at the festival -- crunchy natural-fiber-wearing left-leaning SHUT-DOWN-GUANTANAMO activist Green-Party-voting indigenous-culture-loving types -- are in some ways much more pleasant than the folks at, say, the San Gennaro festival on Staten Island. No fights broke out, very little in the way of shouted profanity, no inquiries as to whether someone is looking at someone else, no blasting stereos. But rudeness of a different type proliferated: that of overprivileged, over-entitled people who behave in shockingly rude ways, then take sweetly indignant offense when asked to please wait in line for the bathroom, or to please not sit in the walkways, or when told the shuttle bus will not be making any special stops for them. The best one was the cranky woman who sat next to me at the closing ceremony, bitching out the volunteers, whose confusion and contradictory directions resulted in us getting up and moving a total of four times. She complained, she asked who was in charge, she mocked them, she had apparently never seen such a bunch of idiots in her life. And five minutes later she was singing "We Shall Overcome" along with Pete Seeger. Not sure what she was overcoming.
The Clearwater organization was the moving force behind the cleanup of the Hudson over the past quarter-century and as such they have a demonstrated track record of doing practical, useful, non-Utopian things that earns them tremendous respect from me. Their big priority at this festival was gathering signatures for the closing of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. I thought about it, but I did not sign. It didn't square with the "Kick the oil habit" shirts they were selling, and the concern for the safety of New Yorkers and the environmental effect on the river seems to be missing some corresponding concerns for the safety of miners and oilfield workers and the environmental effect on poorer, far-away communities. Not that uranium mining and waste disposal don't have equally awful effects. But with General Motors subsidizing gas for their obscene SUVs, it seems to me there are more important targets out there.