Viva Joan! Viva las Grannies!

May 5, 2008 – What better way to cap off a sparkling Cinco de Mayo than to do it Granny-style, by celebrating Joan’s new book, GRANDMOTHERS AGAINST THE WAR: Getting Off Our Fannies & Standing Up For Peace, Citadel Press.
photo – Masahiro Hosoda

Shape up time was set for 7PM at the Barnes & Noble at 82nd and Broadway and by 6:45 there was a solid line of folks filing into the store. Raging Grannies, Granny Peace Brigadiers, Grandmothers Against the War, Veterans for Peace, life-long peaceniks and aspiring activist packed the second floor reading area to hear Joan read from her book and to celebrate her accomplishments. In short order, all the chairs were filled and it was a SRO event.
photo – Masahiro Hosoda

Long-time Granny Peace Brigade ally and best-selling author, Malachy McCourt opened the proceeding with a poem (Yeats, of course), spoke movingly about the peace movement and the need for citizen engagement, then led us all in a rousing version of “Will You Go Laddy Go”.

Norman Siegel, the legendary civil rights attorney and lead defense attorney for the 18 Granny Brigadiers arrested on Oct. 17, 2005, read selected sections from the trial transcript — some of it funny, much of it moving, and it helped us all remember the day the Granny Peace Brigade was born. New York City Councilwoman Gale Brewer – a fierce opponent of the Iraq war and someone who is never afraid to use her bully pulpit to address injustice – was on hand, making a lot of us wonder if this woman ever sleeps!

Rumor had it that Joan was a nervous wreck before the event, but when the lights came up, our Joan stepped up and gave us all a splendid evening — she read from the book, reminisced about the last three years, urged us all, in the words of Granny Marie Runyon, ‘To keep on keeping on!”. To quote New York’s own Jimmy Breslin, “Read this book!” As the evening drew to a close, Joan introduced her family, including her two children and three of her wonderful grandkids and then sang – acapella – her signature anthem, “GRANNIES, LET’S UNITE!”. By the second verse, everyone in the room was singing along.

A long line formed for Joan to autograph books while a small group of grannies (who shall remain nameless) disbursed around the store to hand out some Granny Peace Brigade literature packets until one of the young clerks informed them this was not allowed. Even though these aging hooligans were standing just a few feet from their lawyer, the Grannies very graciously left the store — and continued distributing our literature on the street until they ran out.

Thanks Joan. For getting us going and reminding us that we’ve only just begun — and like that woman in the audience asked, “When are you going to be on Oprah?”

– Fran Sears

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