24. February 2010 · Comments Off on Down By the Station · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Tea Time, Veteran's Affairs

Sunset Station, that is – the turn-of-the-last-century historic railway depot in San Antonio, a splendid pile of Mission Revival stucco and russet-colored roof tiles, which was the pride of the town when it was completed in 1903. The main depot building had electric lights up the wazoo, and a pair of round stained-glass windows in the peak of the roof on either end, glass windows that were as big as ornamental fishponds. There was a grand divided staircase at one end, and heavy wood benches arranged to best effect on the lower level. It was the waiting room, then, although I think most people waiting for a train would have been out under the awnings, where there would have been a bit of a breeze, and train travelers could have appreciated the gardens and the ornamental trees – the Southern Pacific architect and landscapers did not do things by halves, back in the days when rail travel was the thing, and automobiles were cranky and unreliable toys for rich men.

After mid-century, the rule of the steel rails diminished, and the rule of the automobile came to pass: city planners slapped six lanes of highway along the edge of Downtown, thirty or so years ago. This amputated the railway station and the blocks of hotels, warehouses and cafes off from the rest of Downtown, the part with the Alamo and the Riverwalk and the people – still the old Depot remained. Fortunately, they re-vamped the old depot building as an event venue a decade or so ago, lovingly re-constructing every bit of plaster ornament and stained glass, and out in back of the main hall is an open terrace with an arcade along one side, and landscaping and an iron fence along the other. There are some fine old buildings surviving in the blocks around the Station, although I don’t think it will ever be as lively as it was in it’s heyday.

Facing the back of the old Depot is a covered pavilion with a raised stage, and all that is necessary for concerts and entertainment. I had never been there before – but that is where the San Antonio Tea Party held their first anniversary rally on Sunday. We drew a fair number of people, about 230 or so, on a lovely breezy Sunday afternoon. We were gifted with a fine warm day, wedged in between a couple of cold and icy ones, just right for a meeting which turned out to run about an hour longer than expected. At the last minute, we had added Kevin Jackson, Sheriff Mack and Stewart Rhodes of the Oathkeepers to Joe the Plumber – which proved to be at least semi-attractive to three out of five local TV news networks. And after the rally, our Cap & Trade working group had set up another guest speaker, who had a presentation about Global Warming. To be precise, his presentation concerned the fraud thereof, and that apparently drew out some counter-demonstrators.

I think this must be the first time that the local progressives actually organized something: usually it’s just been a handful of regulars showing up with singularly uninspiring signs. It would appear, from the TV news stories posted on Sunday evening, that one of the things which raised their ire (well, besides even having a Tea Party to start with) was the presence of the so-called “global warming denier.” That apparently is still a high crime, to those who haven’t yet managed to hear about Climate-gate. They came on a bus, pranced down the street to opposite where we were, and chanted “Health Care Now!” and “Green Jobs Now!” – although they did break it up at one point by singing Happy Birthday – although to whom, I can’t be sure. Then the bulk of them did hop onto their bus and depart – I guess forty minutes was about as much as they had stamina for, or maybe that was all that the Acorn budget allowed.

There were a handful of die-hards, though; one with a video camera, and another with a bullhorn who kept shouting incomprehensible questions from across the street; basically that we were all rich racists, and something about the jerk in Austin with IRS issues and a small plane. It seemed rather laughably pointless, as they were doing this while a succession of candidates for local office were acquainting us with their campaigns and their fitness for the various offices they were running for. Here we are, basically holding a town meeting, being serious about evaluating people we are about to vote into various offices, attending to our basic civic responsibilities . . . while a stupid woman with a bullhorn shouts irrelevant insults through the hedge. I did stand up in a gap between the bushes and waved cheerfully at her companion with a video camera in front of her face, and Blondie wrote “Hi, Mom!” in her palm with a Sharpie and waved also.

So, they couldn’t be bothered to come to the Tea Party rally – which was free and open to the public, or to the Global Warming talk, which also was free, etc., and ask questions, and enter into a real debate, and take part in a fairly serious encounter with people who are asking us all to vote for them . . . but still preferred to stand on the sidewalk and screech like howler monkeys. As Blondie said at the time, “Mom, sometimes you can’t fix stupid.”

And the funniest part? I went a googling here and there, and found some of their own videos and websites – and this little event was put together in part by what appears to be a joint effort of activists from San Antonio and Boerne (all thirty of them or so), some of whom are calling themselves “The Coffee Party.” No, I didn’t make that up. They have a website and all, with a nicely designed logo and some facebook meet-ups, although the nationwide chapters still seem pretty thin on the ground. I am thinking that I have probably found the follow-on to last week’s little patch of Astroturf, “The Tea Party is Over.”

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