"I wanted to relax after the demonstrations and have a drink," said Heather Brown, who attended Monday's Resist the RNC march. "And really, this is a relaxed atmosphere to meet other activists."
Brown came with two friends who flew in from California and Pennsylvania. They all stayed to see Vermin Supreme.
"The thing down there [pointing toward the Republican National Convention] is just as staged as what's here," she said. "The Republican platform is no more absurd than this."
Despite a small squadron of police on bicycles parked across the street from the Ybor City bar, more than 400 activists, Occupiers, media, and general beer swillers attended the event.
Activist group Code Pink
started off the evening with seven women dressed as vaginas who broke out in song and dance. "Take your vagina to the R-N-C," they sang. The lone man in the group held a sign proclaiming, "If you can't say it, don't legislate it."
Following the dancing lady parts was the Autonomous Playhouse, a puppet troupe from South Florida. Puppeteers Nathan Pim, Jillian Pim, Nikki Wright and Kayley Beckner told the story of Mama Nature, who searches for help when her treehouse is in foreclosure. But Mama Nature doesn't find any relief from Obama's foreclosure assistance program (a wolf), the banks (a freakish, multi-limbed monster), or the courts (a ragged panda). The police (a snake) even ends up arresting her before joining housing activists (a carrot and a flower dressed as a hobo) to "turn every bank into a tree house. Because housing is a human right."
- Alex Pickett
- The Autonomous Playhouse staged a puppet show on foreclosure.
"I have a lot of fun doing theater," said 22-year-old puppeteer Wright, who's involved in the Occupy movement. "It's also a lot easier to talk politics with a puppet in your hand."
Nathan Pim agreed: "It's way less lame than holding a sign."
Protest singer-songwriter David Rovics and Freedom Hall, a jazz hip-hop/soul group, provided rabble-rousing music for the night.
Rovics began his set with "New Orleans," an apt song considering Isaac's path in the gulf.
"Where it's more than just a metaphor/ the flooding of the dike/ and if we don't stop this madness/ the whole planet will be like."
The modern-day Phil Ochs rounded out his set with "the one song you can get arrested for and serve 25 years." He encouraged all in attendance to sing along.
We don't like the condo and we're gonna burn it down.
Corporate terrorists, drive them out of town.
We'll bring a lot of gasoline, pour it on the floor.
Light a match, say a prayer and run right out the door.
Burn it down, burn it down, we're going to burn it down.
Burn it down, burn it down, burn it down.
But the biggest draw of the night was the "debate" between 51-year-old presidential candidate Vermin Supreme (he's actually on the ballot in New Hampshire) and Ritt Momney, the large Republican nominee puppet that seems to be making an appearance at every major demonstration. They debated religion in schools and harnessing the power of zombies in turbines. Ritt called for the bombing of Haiti while Vermin wanted to attack Narnia.
"I don’t trust those Narnians," he told the crowd. "I don’t trust those talking lions one bit."
But the most wit from the night came from Ritt when announced his least favorite sound.
"I really hate the sound of an empty stomach," the man behind the puppet answered. "But that’s why we live in gated communities, so we don’t have to hear them."
The crowd roared.