Naval Assault on the WBOS "Earthfest"
April 24, 1999
by Rev. Chris Korda
Eight of us paddled an 8'x12' home-built raft across the Charles in a
30MPH wind without drowning (damn, better luck next time). At first the
anchor wouldn't bite and it looked like we would be making a crash
landing/ground assault, but then we got lucky and hooked an abandoned
line attached to something heavy (a refrigerator perhaps). Our ground
troops were waiting for us to do something, and Pastor Kim was beside
himself with impatience, but the crew mutinied and insisted on a lunch
Ever tried to dock a boat with the sails up? That's what it was like
after we hoisted the 18'x5' SAVE THE PLANET KILL YOURSELF banner. The
raft weighs around 1500 pounds fully loaded, so there was little danger
of capsizing. I was more worried that the banner masts would snap off
and decapitate us. Instead the raft swung into wind, which just
happened to make the banner visible from shore (more luck). Next Pastor
Kim cranked up his brand new "Yakuza style" sound system: a
scary-looking box containing a 200 watt car amp and four extremely
directional 15" horns. We opened with the screaming babies. A crowd
began to form on shore immediately.
We segued into "Buy (Buy More)", and then "Man of the future". A
powerboat pulled up to us from shore, and the driver started yelling at
us to shut the fuck up so people could enjoy the concert. He wasn't
from WBOS, so we ignored him. Moments later he was buzzing us, doing
donuts around the raft, and making big waves, presumably in an effort to
capsize us. By now we had a crowd of over a thousand people on the
shore, mostly cheering the powerboat. Finally he headed straight for
us, and I prepared to go down with the ship, arms clutched around the
sound system. At the last second he pulled out, showering us with
water, and drove off.
Next we gave them a few minutes of the cannibal anthem
our ground troops (led by Vermin Supreme) went crazy. Suddenly the
crowd was with us, cheering wildly. People who were on shore tell me
that they couldn't even hear the concert at this point. I launched into
an inspirational sermon, starting with the obvious hypocrisy of
littering a park for the Earth, at a rock concert whose corporate
sponsors included Sheraton and Royal Sonesta. The crowd listened, and
responded with applause. We put the Church CD back on, and people
started to dance. It had been about fifteen minutes since the banner
The police appeared in slow motion, unmistakable in their blue hats,
puttering out towards us from the shore. I knew that the picture
didn't exactly fit my dream of premonition the night before, but at
first I couldn't see what was wrong. Then it dawned on me that there
were no flashing lights, and that the cops were in a canary-yellow
speedboat, flying the earth flag no less, with two beautiful dogs
(huskies I think) snoozing on the bow. They had commandeered someone's
boat! Apparently they were in such a hurry to talk to us that they
didn't have time to wait for the marine division.
It was a classic CoE moment. They circled us once, as if sniffing us.
We smiled, and they smiled back. Finally they pulled up to us, and Lt.
Bearfield explained, at some length, that he saw us being buzzed by the
powerboat, and was concerned for our safety. Couldn't he do something
about the guy who buzzed us? No, because the guy had already taken off.
Sure. We can see his point. The wind is really whipping the banner,
and tossing the raft around. Would it help if we took down the banner?
Reef the banner! Down it goes. Bearfield concedes that stability is
now much improved, but he is still concerned for our safety. Nothing to
do with our first amendment rights, of course. Meanwhile a sailboat
capsizes in plain view, not 100 yards away. Perhaps Bearfield should be
more concerned for the safety of the two boaters in the river? One
thing at a time. Sure. Would we be willing to move to a nearby dock,
where we could continue to use our sound system? No, thank you, we're
perfectly happy where we are. Well, he still isn't sure our boat would
meet Coast Guard construction standards. The marine division will
arrive in a few minutes, and they are the experts.
Meanwhile the situation on the shore is getting ugly. Over a thousand
people are screaming "free speech, free speech" and "fuck the police".
Rocks would have been thrown, if there were any rocks to be had. Can we
talk to the crowd and let them know what's happening? Sure, says
Bearfield. So I talk to the crowd for a minute, thank them for their
support, and pop in the appropriate tape:
Be polite and respectful. Never badmouth a police officer. (ding) The
police are your friends! Stay calm and in control of your words, body
language and emotions. (ding) The police are your friends! Don't get
into an argument with the police. (ding) The police are your friends!
People on shore are laughing so hard they fall down. Even some of the
cops are laughing. Bearfield is smiling politely. No offense, sir.
The marine division pulls up, with flashing lights now, and after a
brief conference with Bearfield, the marine cop boards us. He pretends
to listen to us for a minute, but it's obvious that he's already made up
his mind. He sniffs around, looks under the deck, and informs us that
we're going to be towed to the nearby dock, for our own safety. Once
we're docked, we can continue to address the crowd with our sound
system, okay? Yes sir.
A half hour later, we're docked, and the bigwigs have sailed away. We
crank up the sound system again, and within seconds a gigantic,
mean-looking officer named Malloy appears and says "turn it off now or
we're going confiscate it and arrest you for disorderly." Surprise! Not
A videotape of the above is currently being edited, hopefully to be
completed in a month from now. A RealVideo version will be made
available from the CoE VIDEO page.