"Yes, let's go."
(They do not move).
--Beckett, Waiting for Godot
As expected, a full house of outraged liberals packed Plymouth Church last night for the SRS closure meeting. The vibe we sensed was that the massive turnout was certainly out of genuine support of SRS, but partly also out of a general sense of community spirit and extreme general dissatisfaction with the Brownback administration (in perhaps the best line of the night, one early speaker called the local SRS closing a small part of a "concerted attack against Lawrence for the way we vote").
The evening began with a stem-winding speech from Plymouth's Dr. Rev. Luckey, who was flanked by five other representatives of the liberal arm of the local "faith community" (ECM, etc) who stood behind him, arms crossed, looking prepared to wreak holy vengeance. Then the legislative guests and city fathers were introduced, with the strange insistence that they were there to listen and gather information, not to speak, and certainly (as was proven throughout the evening) NOT to answer direct, legitimate questions from concerned citizens.
Mysteriously missing from the evening: representatives from the SRS office. What's the story on their silence? Can someone more politically astute than us (which is almost anyone) provide an answer?
And then it was on to the part of the evening that everyone was waiting for: the airing of grievances (to toss in a quick Seinfeld/Festivus reference). Speakers were alloted two-minutes only, with a "shot clock" device up front to time their remarks. These were a mix of the genuinely moving (disabled, addicted, and mentally ill citizens who now lack an essential community resource); the practical voices of reasons (heads of other local social services such as Cottonwood, Bert Nash, and the community shelter who insisted that their groups would feel major strain and prove less effective without SRS); and those that insisted on straying from the topic at hand despite stern warnings from the moderator ("Let's go after the Pope!").
Chip: "It was nice to let everybody speak that could be fitted within a 90-minute slot, but too many comments consisted of obvious rebuttals to Brownback's statements that local SRS users could simply drive to other cities or take care of business online. After awhile, we all got the point and agreed that (a) addicts and poor people don't have cars and (b) crazy people don't know how to use computers."
Perhaps the most sustained applause of the evening was reserved for the fellow who demanded that we all march on Topeka and remain stationed outside the Capitol until we receive the same kind of media attention that the recent Wisconsin government protests received. No one, however, immediately adjourned to Topeka. Perhaps all the liberals headed there this morning, but somehow we suspect not: they have jobs, after all, and it's pretty fucking hot outside.
Observation: there should have been a drinking game for every time somebody got an easy laugh with Brownback's "four lane road" phrase (This is not to criticize: we've been getting cheap laughs with it on Twitter since last week).
Ultimately, the most powerful demonstration of the need for SRS may have not been the speakers themselves, but the poor, obviously disturbed fellow behind us, who muttered (loudly) to himself throughout the proceedings and at one point took a (loud) phonecall from a Latin beat ringtone and told his caller "Call me back in an hour, goddammit. I'm at the SRS meeting."
Twitpic from @into_the_beams . Click to enlarge and get to work writing angry emails.
For those of you who read all the way through that long, rare political post, we'll reward you with a video. Here is a new ad for Team Bear Club's next MINGLE, this Friday night at the Tap Room. If this doesn't give you a boner and make you want to MINGLE, you might want to head over to L.com and peruse some recipes.