Wisconsin’s Feliz Festivus!


On Monday about 150 people met on the first floor of the Wisconsin Capitol Building to air Festivus grievances, sing, and bask in each other’s company.

Greg “Commish” Gordon had vision enough to submit a permit request for this event in April of 2013. I wasn’t feeling very confident that the permit would get approved. The Wisconsin Department of Administration was the permitting agency and this agency had taken an intense disliking to noontime Solidarity Sing Along participants like Greg.

Also, WI DOA had concern over whether the traditional Festivus “feats of strength” would fit into the D.O.A. Facilities Access Policy despite assurances from Greg that the activities would be along the lines of what lobbyists do and “nothing dangerous – perhaps someone holding up a briefcase full of Monopoly money for the hour”. Greg got word that the Festivus pole would be permitted by May 6th and on May 20th he learned he could have a permit for his event on the condition that he got liability insurance. In August, Greg decided to drop the feats from his event agenda. Still, he didn’t see the event show up on the DOA events calendar until November 14th.

Thus, it was a Festivus miracle to see the permit approved in time and to see so many assemble for the formal celebration of what some in the press have called “a fake holiday”.

A phalanx of professional reporters assembled ’round the Festivus pole with us to dutifully hold audio recorders and cameras and scribble notes. A young woman approached me to ask a question and I learned she was from the New Yorker. The New Yorker!

Memo to self: Next time daily mass arrests break out in your capitol building and the press is ignoring it, consider celebrating a “fake holiday”.

Greg Gordon acted as our Master of Ceremonies and Martina Rippon began to read grievances submitted earlier by visitors to the Festivus display. Martina’s recitations broke the ice and people began to approach the megaphone.

Gripes ranged from giggle-generators like “Wisconsin doesn’t rhyme” to painful truths such as, “$7.25 is not a living wage”.

I took a few short grievance videos.

Below: Our governor does not value education,
public schools are being squeezed and denigrated and our DNR is no longer protecting our environment.

Below: Kathleen Wied Vincent is a little too positive for this grievance thing. 🙂

Below: “you couldn’t smooth a silk sheet…”,
“the day that Russia is freeer than us…”,
2 4 6 8 Walker…,
Mark Pocan did not give a woman her T-shirt prize as promised

Then we moved on to singing.

Below you’ll see a video of the final verse from “The Twelve Days of the Crackdown”:

On the 12th day of the crackdown, the cops put in handcuffs:

Black men with pain compliance, An observer who wasn’t singing,

Firefighter heroes, Fourteen year old Lydia,

Public Union Workers, Sixteen year old Jack,

Vets with flags-a-waving, THE RAGING GRANNIES!,

Teaching assistants, A Lutheran minister,

Veterans for Peace, And an octogenarian!

Here’s some “Solidarity Forever”:

Following, we delivered a pair of professional fireproof “proximity” firefighting pants to Scott Walker. It was my silly idea to give something like this to Walker to protect him from “Pants on Fire” Politifact ratings and it would probably have remained just an idea if it weren’t for the Wisconsin Transparency Force taking it very seriously. Thanks W.T.F. and special thanks to Greg Gelembiuk for leading on that!

Greg Gelembiuk gets ready to deliver the pants to Scott Walker’s office.
We weren’t sure the Guv’s office would accept a gift, but it did. Greg had to sign a form for that. At some point the entourage that followed Greg sang a few bars of “Freedom Over Me”.
As we leave I look back. There’s our Festivus gift awaiting the Guv.

Festivus Wisconsin-style was a fabulous day of cookies, honesty, hugs, song, noise, and laughter.

I can’t wait for the next one!
Can we submit the permit request on January 1st this time?!

See a set of 13 Festivus photos on my flickr account.

Special Thanks go to Bob Bergman for making sure we had a high quality megaphone at the last minute. That was a Festivus miracle, too!

Arthur K.R. left a lot of video of the event with me and I have my own video of the pants hand-off but I haven’t had time to do things with that yet given the holidaze.

Post was edited on 12/27 to add info on feats of strength/permit delay.


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