I was a little surprised the WGA East Rally in Washington Square Park on Tuesday didn't receive more media coverage, even locally. What little mention it got on the news here was almost entirely focused on the quasi-campaign appearance by John Edwards. There were about a dozen camera crews set up in front of the podium to record his appearance for various news outlets...and as soon as he finished, most of them packed up their gear and left quickly while the next speaker was talking.
The thing of it was, Edwards was far from being the only interesting person there. Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show acted as emcee, opening the rally proceedings and wrapping the whole thing up at the end. Other celebrities addressing the crowd were Tim Robbins, Danny Glover, Gilbert Gottfried, and Colin Quinn. As a political groupie I was excited by the presence of our congressmen Anthony Weiner and Jerrold Nadler and Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. I may be a minority voice there. To get a sense of how celebrity-filled the turnout was, you can watch an excellent star-studded video of rally highlights (highly recommended) and read a couple of representative eyewitness accounts here and here.
All around there were people who looked as if they must be famous and I ought to know them but no one I could identify easily. It was fairly easy to tell the SAG actors who were there in sympathy apart from the writers, though: the successful actors all dressed down and looked scruffy (to show they were still regular folks) while the writers all dressed up and looked well groomed (to show they weren't desperate). Not realizing the dress code in advance, I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, ripped jeans, and had stubble, so presumably at some point I was mistaken for someone trying to look like an actor. Or a guy looking to score weed in the park who didn't know there was a rally planned.
I've previously mentioned my sympathy with the Writers Strike, so I was thrilled to be a tiny part of it. I got there well before the rally started and as a result I ended up at the front of the crowd, about three feet away from the presidential candidate (and all the other speakers) with no one between me and the platform. Isn't the Secret Service supposed to prevent something like that? But I wasn't there to gawk at Edwards. Well, okay, maybe a little. (I also saw Barack Obama up close when he did a campaign stop in Washington Square Park a couple of months ago, so there's always the possibility in the future I might get to tell someone else's grandchildren "I got to see him before he became president...") But really I was there just to help the crowd be nice and big, to show how much we New Yorkers value our endangered television and film writers. For one thing, if the strike isn't resolved they'll all start writing for Marvel and DC and none of the rest of us will ever get a chance.
Anyway, I had this idea for a little visual gag to do in this post. To show I was really there, I went looking for some photo of the rally in which the camera was pointed roughly in the direction where I was standing. I'd post it with a caption saying something to the effect of "I'm that out-of-focus blur in the distance" or "You could see me here if only that tree wasn't in the way." Side-splitting humor in the finest tradition of Estoreal, right? But when I looked at photos on the WGA East website for a suitable picture, I came across this one:
Can we just zoom in on that for a second?
Yep, that's me, immortalized by the WGA, representing...um...peripatetic freelance comic scripters and comics history essayists out in support of our screenwriting brethren. Don't mention it, guys, I know you'd do the same for us.