This morning, from 10 to 11:30 AM, Mt. Auburn Street in front of the Harvard Hillel was packed with absurdist anti-protesters responding to the demonstration of the Westboro Baptist Church across the street. The sixty-odd anti-protesters bore signs designed to highlight the absurdity of the three WBC protesters’ hateful claims by totally thrashing them in a nonsense contest. Some of the best signs of the morning included “GOD HATES MUGGLES,” “PRAISE CHEESUS,” “TEAM EDWARD,” “I HAVE TO PEE,” and “I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING FEELING LIKE P. DIDDY.” There were also people holding up giant rainbow signs, a couple of supportive Quakers from the neighborhood, two WHRB members in rabbit suits and a moose man who was blocking everybody’s view with his magnificent antlers.
Take THAT, Westboro Baptist Church!
Absurdist responses to the hatred of the WBC have precedents in several major cities, most notably in San Francisco, where church members canceled a demonstration in front of Twitter’s local headquarters but the anti-protesters carried on with their randomness anyway.
While many suggest that acknowledging the WBC’s protests is just giving them more of the attention they want, Hillel members insist that this anti-protest is actually a part of a much larger movement toward peaceable activism. In a message to attendees of the Facebook event, Harvard junior Chelsea Link wrote,
“…remember that, really, this event isn’t about the Westboro Baptist Church. They are not worth our attention. But their message of hatred and intolerance is all too common in our country today. We are using them as a foil to the world we want to create – a means to achieve real change in our own communities. This is a movement of acceptance, of support, of engaged pluralism, and of radical love.”
A new restaurant that puts the ish back in delicious.
CLOVER, a weirdly conceptual vegetarian restaurant, opened around the corner from Au Bon Pain on Holyoke Street two weeks ago. Unlike its pseudofrench neighbor, Clover takes a decidedly casual approach to food production, the effects of which are visible even to uninterested passers-by who glance through their full-length windows at the line cooks frying seitan in brightly colored aprons. Inside, customers convene over sloppy organics on lopsided faux-wood stools that gleam with the reflection of the bare white ceiling. The famously messy mission statement on the north wall is overshadowed only by the pride employees take in how quickly the place runs out of breakfast ingredients every morning.
Clover’s organic and local-grown aspirations, combined with its chain status (there are food trucks at MIT, South Station, and Kendall) and half-assed industrialist avant-garde décor, beg the question: how much concept is too much concept? No pomo, but the whole aw-look-how-honest-and-incompetent-we-are gag feels like a bit of a construct, which is what makes this place a haven for the ironically inclined.
That, and the fact that, despite its suspiciously hip aura, Clover offers some of the best, healthiest and fairest-priced food in the square. Entrees are tasty and filling at $5 each, while snacks and breakfast food are available for $4 and under at the same quality and surprising degree of tastiness. Drinks are a bit pricey at $2-$3, but worth it if you’re trying the weekly tea specialties (catnip mint?!) or delicious OJ. Highlights include the Soy BLT, beet salad, hand-cut fries and friendly staff. Though the employees will deny it, we econ concentrators here at the Voice suspect that prices will creep upwards as discerning Cambridgites sniff out this new eatery, so snag a fair-trade sandwich before the hipsters make it uncool.
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