23 September 2004
4:21 pm to 5:21 pm
Ending point: corner of Hanover Street and Pearl Street
Distance from home: 0.2088 miles
Literature received: J&R Music World (“Across from City Hall Park, Lower Manhattan”), FlashDancers (“Continuous Topless Entertainment”), Falun Gong pamphlet (“Bad things are happening… to good people”), a different Falun Gong pamphlet (“Why the persecution?”), Falun Dafa Reader (“Former Chinese Leader Charged with Torture”), Falun Gong Today (“Five Years on 42nd Street”), Heaven or Hell? pamphlet (“It is impossible to be good enough to go to heaven”), FlashDancers (again), Falun Dafa Reader (again), Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group Newsletter Special Edition (“Assassination Attempt on Falun Gong Practitioners in South Africa”).
To see a larger version of the photo above (which I recommend), click here.
I turned left and wandered through the financial districts. The Falun Gong demonstrators were out in full force. This was a group protesting the suppression of the Falun Gong religion by the Chinese government and (they say) the human-rights abuses of its practicioners by that government. In just a few months, these demonstrators had sprouted all over the city. Generally, they would hand out a variety of literature and had two components to their street demonstrations: Some simulated torture and abuse (for example, a man pretended to be locked in a small cage while another man dressed as a cop brandished a nightstick outside it). The other component was people in yellow t-shirts doing exercises that looked like tai chi. (You could tell how long they’d been devoted to the cause by how faded the yellow of the shirt was.) The “Meditation relieves stress” and “Tortured to death” signs didn’t really complement each other, though.
I walked in circles and kept coming back to Chase Manhattan Plaza: always pleasurable because of the giant Dubuffet sculpture sprouting out of its cement. I drifted southeast, passing by an orange cappuccino truck labeled “MUD.” New-wave music played out of its window, while a girl in a striped tank top served coffee.
I veered west, passing by lots of people, and then looped around and back up Broadway. The sidewalks here have plates with the names of the people who had parades in the “Canyon of Heroes.” These days, it’s just winning New York sports teams; a century ago, almost any visiting dignitary could get a parade. I walked through the 1930s and 1940s, watching the parades shift from celebrations of aviation pioneers (such as Amelia Earhart) to World War II heroes.
I headed back east. Outside the New York Stock Exchange somebody else was handing out Falun Gong information. A female tourist said, “I’ll trade you this for this,” and passes off a card from the Flashdancers strip club for a Falun Dafa Reader.
I reach the water, passing by a busy helipad, and turned back inland. As the day ended, a bunch of businessmen were literally marching off into the sunset. One of them, wearing a pink shirt, said, “You guys are wasting a lot of time bullshitting when you could be drinking.”