It was a picture perfect day for a parade in Pasadena today. The sun was shining, the temperature was warm, and the crowds were in great spirits in time for early 8am start of the 123rd annual Tournament of Roses Parade.
The parade would be covered on not one, but two local TV stations. NBC 4 would carry the live network feed hosted by Al Roker and Shaun Robinson, while the local KTLA 5 station (owned by the rightwing Tribune Media) would feature Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards in their 30th year of parade coverage.
Today's parade was "crafted to help you dream about things you can imagine," Eubanks helpfully opened with to his TV audience. The parade's theme float, "'Just Imagine' sponsored by Wells Fargo" kicked things off, followed by a flyover of a U.S. Air Force B2 Stealth Bomber and then the U.S. Marine Corp color guard on horses followed by their marching band and a jaunty rendition of the Marines' Hymn.
The corporate banks and military industrial complex received premiere TV coverage right off the bat, prominently featured at the top of both corporate network and local television broadcasts.
The thousands of marchers --- LA Weekly pegged it at some 5,000 --- from the Occupy Wall Street movement, who had been granted a permit to march, and who had come from all over, on their own dime, to participate in the parade? Not so much. Not at all, actually...
As they'd been granted a permit to march in the parade, after the last "official" float, of course, "after the real event was over," as the Tribune-owned Los Angeles Times sniffed in their coverage today, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators had worked for days on their signs and their Occupy Octopus float, described by LA Weekly on Friday as "70 Feet of Awesome," and a huge float made to look like the preamble to the U.S. Constitution with the words "We the People" on it. Another 250-foot mock-up of the same preamble led with "We the Corporation."
Nobody watching the corporate television coverage in Los Angeles or across the nation would be allowed to see the mock-ups of the U.S. Constitution, or decide for themselves how "awesome" the Occupy Octopus was.
Live video-streamer Spencer Mills --- better known to his many followers on the Internet as "OakFoSho" --- had made his way all the way back down to Southern California from his home base in Oakland for today's festivities. He hadn't been here since the LAPD's eviction of the peaceful demonstrators at City Hall in the early morning hours of November 30th, when one officer by the name of Escamilla, caught on video, pointed his gun straight at Mills' head, while hundreds of demonstrators --- and even those who weren't demonstrating --- were rounded up by the LAPD, shackled, held for hours on end on buses, where some were forced to urinate on themselves, and others forced to withstand torture, before finally being checked into jail, where they were held, many for days on end, without ever having been read their rights, on bails starting at $5000, only to be released days later, some without any charges at all.
Another live video-streamer had come up from San Diego to cover "Occupy The Rose Parade" today. He would joined in his attempt to broadcast over the Internet by Mills and the full contingent of dedicated local OccupyLA web streamers, "CrossXBones" (Sky Adams), "InsightOutNews" (Margo Paez), "OccupyFreedomLA" (who prefers to be known as just that), and others.
As the last "official," corporate-sponsored and sanctioned float passed the reviewing stand, the corporate television coverage came to an end.
Eubanks on KTLA called it, "The perfect end to a perfect Rose Parade," as a float themed to wish viewers a Happy New Year rolled by.
Over on the network coverage, NBC viewers saw the parade "end" with host Al Roker (Isn't he a part of NBC's news division? Didn't huge public protests used to be news? At least when "Tea Partiers" were the ones protesting?) giving his co-host Robinson a kiss along with a warm "welcome home" and "thanks" to our troops returning from Iraq.
And as the the corporate coverage was signing off the air, hundreds of Occupy protesters, with their signs and their huge octopus and their huge mock-up of the Constitution, marched along the very same route --- with nobody but the local parade audience to watch (or "jeer" as the LA Times took pains to notice and report) as the parade viewers headed back to their cars.
The live video-streaming coverage by the Occupy journalists was spotty at best throughout the morning --- freezing up, coming in and out as 3G cell towers were undoubtedly overloaded and overwhelmed by the huge crowd.
"OccupyFreedomLA" accompanied the coverage, as it came and went, with her own narration, as is her wont. "Thank you for tuning in," she said as the real end of the parade ended, "Thank you for sharing in the 'evolution,' as I like to call it, right before your very eyes."
It would only be seen by the "very eyes" of those who worked hard to try and watch on the Internet. The national television audience would have no idea that there was anything but picture perfection, happy helpful civic-loving corporate banks, beautiful roses, members of our military side-by-side with us all...As the Occupy marchers continued chanting to those left in the crowd who still remained to hear them: "YOU! Are! The 99%!"
As they marched, KTLA began their immediate rebroadcast of their previous two-hour coverage in full. The start of the parade and the "Just Imagine" float, as "Sponsored by Wells Fargo," and all the "official" floats that followed, would be seen once again on the Tribune Company's television station. Though, as LA Weekly's Simone Wilson described it, KTLA "is surely aware of the immense national (and international) interest in the parade-ending spectacle," there would be no broadcast of the thousands of Occupy marchers as they finally passed the grandstand.
"Reporters gushed over marching bands, floral arrangements and even a police horse brigade led by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck," Wilson reports today. Yes, that's the same LAPD Chief who presided over the atrocious mistreatment of hundreds of the very same peaceful demonstrators. The same Charlie Beck whose department has yet to respond to journalist Spencer Mill's complaint that he was targeted by an officer while covering the November 30th eviction from City Hall Park.
"But after float No. 43 had passed the finish line, the cameras shut off," Wilson writes. "KTLA's official Rose Parade coverage played it safe, instead oohing and ahhing over floats like the Natural Balance Pet Foods float, a waterway on wheels that showcased the talents of Tilman the surfing dog. Newscasters were tickled over the prowess of the driver, who had to maneuver the 150-foot float around sharp turns."
Today's parade was as spectacular, and no more unusual than any of the 122 parades that had preceded. It was as if nothing out of the ordinary had ever happened.
So Happy New Year, America! All is well! Let the football, and tomorrow's GOP Iowa Caucuses, begin!
Screenshots taken from the various live video streamers credited above...