Sunday, February 3, 2008
I am married to an unusual woman. She has strong beliefs and battles injustice as fearlessly as any comic book hero. She glows with the charisma of a drunken aurora borealis. She grabs life by the horns and honks loudly. She is married to a man who boldly mixes metaphors.
Last week, she was honking that horn on Wall Street, in front of the entrance to The New York Stock Exchange. Stocks were volatile and brokers were dropping like flies, so PETA came up with a quick slogan about protecting your ticker by becoming vegetarian. (Vegetarians, and especially vegans, have a fraction of the risk of heart disease than do consumers of animal-products.) The idea was to get someone to do something newsworthy out front of the Stock Exchange and pass out vegetarian starter kit pamphlets. Something to attract attention of both passers-by and the press. My wife readily agreed and now I have a funny picture of her in a lettuce-clad bikini parading up and down Wall Street in 30-degree weather.
Yes, 30 degrees, as in "below freezing and windy." My crazy half-nekked wife did this for an hour on two subsequent days, passed out hundreds of brochures, took dozens of pictures, and became the imaginary girlfriend of who-knows-how-many armed guards and financial drones.
Sometimes these demonstrations are met with resistance from New York police officers. They admonish the participants to keep moving, stop blocking the sidewalk, move their box of literature, etc. But not in this case.
Since 9/11, the streets in front of the stock exchange have been blocked off and posted with armed officers in complete riot gear: helmets, flak jackets, machine guns, shields, tear gas, catapults, jousting lances, breath-right strips. These guys are ready for the worst but bored as hell. In a neighborhood full of stock brokers, bankers, and tourists taking pictures of stock brokers and bankers, nothing much ever happens. So an hour-long visit by a crazy half-nekked woman in a salad suit is a welcome distraction.
A month earlier she did a similar thing out front of the Mars Candy Company headquarters in Manhattan. Apparently, the Mars Company performs cruel tests on animals to find out what would happen if you shoved too many M&Ms into your eye or something. So a handful of volunteers made themselves up like M&Ms of different colors and held protest signs. That event scored a story and a picture on the cover of New York Metro. Crazy Half-Nekked Wife is the one looking at the camera in the shot below.
Like many people, I used to think this kind of stunt by PETA was stupid and made animal rights people look foolish. But the theory behind it is that you can't get the word out if media won't cover you and you can't get the media interested unless you do something outlandish. PETA does something crazy, the media shows up, they write a story which contains info about animal cruelty, and everyone goes home. The success of this strategy is undeniable as PETA has changed more laws and attitudes than any other animal protection group. In the end, people scoff at PETA but learn about animal abuse and what they can do to change it. I have to admire their self-sacrificing commitment to a higher cause.
I also have to admire my crazy half-nekked wife's resolve to freeze her cabbage off to open a mind or two. At the very least, she got a few cops thinking about the salad bar.