What becomes a protester most?
Placards and signs weren't the only way to send a message during yesterday's United for Peace and Justice protest march. On the steamy blacktop, sartorial statements were as plentiful as anti-Bush barbs.
As protesters made their way up Seventh Avenue, Frank D'Angelo, 22, of Mastic Beach paused to elaborate on his skull-and-crossbones tie, which had the word "Bush" spelled on it with tape.
"There's the connection with Skull and Bones," the secret society at Yale that both Bush and Kerry belonged to, he explained. "And then there are all the dead bodies that Bush has contributed through war and pollution."
From the guy in the bomb costume to the Elvis impersonator from Brooklyn, the point for many protesters was to get noticed in a cacophonous streetscape filled with bubbles, incense and drummers pounding on empty joint-compound buckets.
"There's no one style. It's everyone doing their own thing," said Gay Myers of Chester, N.J., who was sporting earrings with foam SpongeBob Squarepants filched from her grandchildren's key chains. "I haven't seen anyone else with SpongeBob."
If any article of clothing was ubiquitous, it was the egalitarian T-shirt. Some represented groups, from librarians and mothers to Quakers and Sierra Club members. For those who needed a makeshift message, a bumper sticker across the chest worked handily. And sarcasm was in steady supply: "Republicans for Voldemort," read Manhattanite Winifred King's subdued navy tee, ordered from www.goats.com.
Hands down, the most popular, if impromptu accessory of the day was a small fabric banner with the words "We the People Say No to the Bush Agenda" across its rainbow stripes. It was worn around the shoulders, with shawl-like sublety.
Despite the sweltering heat, Andrew McClory of Stamford, Conn., decided to show up in business formal.
"I'm just trying to show that there's diversity in the demographic," said the 26-year-old software engineer, wearing the suit and tie he normally reserves for client meetings. "Bush is a uniter in that way."
If the protest march had a color, it was pink, the signature hue of CodePink, a grass-roots women's social-justice group. Robyn Su Miller, 45, of Quincy, Mass., was dressed as a fuschia Statue of Liberty, in a satiny peplumed slip with the words "Bush Out" inked on the bodice.
"I know, I know," sighed the 45-year-old about its resemblance to a bridesmaid's dress, as she clutched her tin-foil torch with its pink tissue-paper flame. A few paces ahead of her was writer and actor Malachy McCourt, in a gauzy pink scarf and white fishing hat that sported political buttons in lieu of lures.
And what would an anti-establishment protest be without the requisite gender-bending?
"My wardrobe styling is like my sex life -- I shop everywhere, but I buy on 14th Street," announced Harmonie Moore, 40, of Astoria, in a tulle-topped pillbox hat and Barbara Bush-worthy pearls. His khaki shorts peaked out from the hem of his prim burgundy polka-dot dress, which felt decidedly like polyester.
"I lived in Ohio," he protested at the suggestion that the fabric might not be breathable. "I know what Republican ladies wear."