Posted: 19 Dec 2005 20:48=A0=A0 =A0
It's pretty remarkable to discover how much one sign can accomplish. One side read "Remember Lisa McPherson" and the other "Find out xenu.net".
Two of us arrived at about 4:20pm. The sidewalk in front of CCHR was blocked off to foot traffic, and barriers had been set up to make Sunset Blvd only two lanes (one each way) for that block so that events could occur outside.
There may have been as many as 300-400 people in attendance, but it was hard to know how many were die-hard scienos, and how many were just curiosity-seekers of foot traffic (some of whom we chatted with near the end). A nearby parking lot with "CCHR Parking" temporary signs seemed to be less than one-quarter full.
CCHR is on the south side of Sunset. We arrived from the east, and were met at the corner by some rather stern-faced gentlemen who told us this was a private event. (Non-sign carrying folks seemed able to walk in unhindered)
"Are you here to disrupt this event?" "Disrupt?
Oh, no not at all."
"Then why are you here?"
"To engage in the civitas. To bear witness. I think it's important that people should be able to look at an issue from several angles."
We decided to cross the street, to see what the west side of the event might look like. The traffic cop gave us a big smile when he saw our sign.
Many more stern-faced people with cameras clicking were to be seen on Sunset's north side. ("That's the thousand yard stare!" I commented on one to my friend).
We'd stop and make sure they got both sides of the sign. Another minute, and two people with bundles of helium balloons showed up, attempting to block view of our sign. We found this highly amusing, and turned it into an impromptu game of tag, moving the sign about, letting them give chase. A guy in a van with a video camera drove by at least twice and caught some of the action.
The west end of the block was boring-- no entrance to the event, no crowds. We walked on a bit past CCHR's block, then turned around. The balloon-people had apparently received different instructions and were not interfering with our sign during our eastbound journey.
Instead, a few others walked with us to ask our intentions, and had a partial success of 'body routing': we walked past the crosswalk point by about a half block before noticing we had done so. No problem-- we turned around and went back. One of our companions for this leg of the jorney was unusually tall, but it didn't occur to me until much later that he may have been attempting to be intimidating. Big-guy, balloon people and the other north-side interrogators and photographers did not follow when we returned to the south side.
We chatted pleasantly with the security guy who eventually admitted to someone else in our presence that he was a scieno. From this vantage point, we could see the speakers, the audience, and by the same token be seen quite well, too.
Some non-scienos came and chatted, wanting to know about Lisa McPherson ("Ohhh, yeah, now I remember hearing about that...") and listen to our exchange with the security guy.
"So, you're in favor of psychiatry?"
A little before 6pm a well-dressed woman in her 50s approached us with a notepad and demanded to know our names, where we lived, etc. We told our first names, then asked hers. She asked for our last names.
"She didn't answer our question, did she?" "No, she didn't. I noticed that."
Eventually she said her name was Lynne. She wanted to find out what our secrets were, what we were hiding. We were amused and uncooperative.
The CCHR event ended at 6pm, and audience members had a pretty good opportunity to look at our sign as they left. Some balloon-people had emerged to attempt a discreet (read: ineffective despite obviousness of intent) screen.
Two attendees had come by to say "I love that website!" and share comments about the outrageousness of some of the statements made by some of the speakers ("We want to euthanize psychiatry.")
The audience had pretty much left by about 6:15, so we decided it was time to head off. One guy followed us wanting to talk, claiming to just be a guy out on a walk. He said he was a computer programmer and thought that might be what I might be. "Sorry, but I have to assume you might be a Scientology mole, so I'm not going to answer that." We parted ways at the next intersection.