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Singing in the Gallery

the hearse runs out of gas
On to Victory!
Filing up the Steps

So, there was this gathering on the Evergreen State College campus to coincide with the nationwide March 4th 2010 protests against education budget cuts.

All were dressed in black, or wearing black armbands and there was a faux coffin with "RIP Education" painted on it as the backdrop.  A few speakers read poems & letters & testified to the importance of education in our lives, and what being without it means.

I was last.  I said Remember, as long as there are books, you can educate yourselves, and as long as you can educate yourself, you can educate others as well, and, I encourage us all to think of a world where there are no huge corporations or wealthy to tax; Remember that they make their money from our labor, and taxing them is taxing ourselves.

Then I proceeded to sing the version of Amazing Grace that I'd written for the occassion.  I'd made little handout versions of it, so everyone could sing along  (see below).  We stood and sang together, and I tried not to go flat or be too loud for the mic.  Meanwhile, dude with huge news camera was standing at about 10:00, about 3 feet away from my face...yeesh...(don't think about that don't think about that just keep singing just keep singing...)

Next:  A Funeral Procession of cars with headlights on and "No More Cuts", "RIP Education", etc, painted on the windows had been planned to go all the way downtown and to the Capitol building, and bikers were to lead the way, holding off traffic at intersections so the whole procession could stay together.

I'd not planned on doing this, but it just so happened that I had my bike with me, so I thought, what the heck!  I'm here, I'm in black, I wrote the song; Let's Go!

I was one of about 8 bikers, and it was a gorgeous day for a funeral bike ride (I got a sunburn on my face!).

We biked the approx 7 miles to downtown, and about 2 more miles around a few blocks and up Capitol Way.  Just at the mid point of that last hill, the lead car, with the coffin on top, ran out of gas, so passengers ran out and pushed said car the rest of the way up the hill and onto the Capitol grounds (see attached pics), past the WWI Winged Victory statue (Winged Victory by the way, whose name in Greek is Nike, and in Roman that's Victoria!), and into the parking area.

After finding a spot for the car, the pallbearers lifted the coffin, and we all filed behind, marching up the Capitol steps while moaning and wailing.

The legislature was in session, and we were told we could go inside (without the coffin) and up into the legislature gallery, but that we couldn't say anything.

I'd say about 50 of us filed in, one by one, and filled the pews on one side of the gallery.  The senators were debating a point.  We stood there, all in black; and after a few minutes, we began to sing my version of Amazing Grace again, at first rather softly.

By the end of the first verse, the ushers politely began ushering us out row by row, so we got louder and louder, til at the last verse with only a few of us still to file out, we were in full voice.

I have this image of faces upturned, those solid statesmen being serenaded by us, of the folks in the gallery on the opposite side of the legislature, watching, of the young pages in their red jackets, looking up at us as we sang.

And when we finished, we could hear applause coming from the floor below.


It was friggin' "Amazing", to use a word said to me by many involved.

check it out:


Amazing Grace Take2

Amazing Grace no longer flows,

Dammed up by greed so crude.

I once could eat, but now I find

I can’t afford the food.


The bright young minds of our country

Now wake to meet their doom;

So why should we apply to school,

When close ahead lies gloom?


What will we say in years ahead

When strewn across the land

Are wretches poor in heart and soul,

By greedy robbers damned?


Remember, Aristocracy

Made bank from others’ toil.

I say we have the right to fruits

We’ve grown on Nature’s soil.


Aloud, lament all ye who hope

To have a better life;

If our priorities don’t change

We all will end in strife.


Awaken Creativity,

and doom we may waylay!

Let’s make a plan while we still can

And birth a better day!


lyrics by Victoria Larkin