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%W. tot;Nott litstk? mitTAitt4S SAND KIEON Stranger, learned the hard way what the group meant by infernal noise. After they endorsed the Iraq invasion, the Brigade came to their offices with horns and an air-raid siren to express their displeasure. The Minor Mishap Marching Band is not overtly politicalwe have yet to challenge a phalanx of cops in riot gear with our loaded trombonesbut something happens on our impromptu neighborhood marches that feels like activism, or at least a spirited defense of public space. Most of the time, the city is a collection of private homes and businesses divided by roads and sidewalks, and when the lines get blurredwell, that means someone just drove into your living room. Streets are designed to get us around, but they also manage to keep us apart. But when we head out on a march, people come out of homes and into the streetsome of them to dance, even occasionally to join in, like when a couple of little kids ran out of their home and started to follow us. We sent them back inside to get permission from their parents and put on shoes, then handed them bells and claves before we set out on a groove. “Building community is a political act,” Datri says. “Most of us live in isolation.” That’s what one marching band can do. Twenty-six freaky marching bands all in the same place create some kind of alternate universe, where smiling at strangers is encouraged and dancing in the streets is expected. That’s what we found at HONK!, where there were marching bands as big as armies, like New York’s Rude Mechanical Orchestra; groups that made the term punk-rock marching band make sense, like What Cheer! from Providence; and bands that tossed off Balkan tunes with an easy virtuosity, like Seattle’s Orchestar Zirkonium. Although no one seemed to be in charge, the festival managed to be well-organized, with each band playing scheduled shows in squares and small pocket parks, then coming together in a parade with police escorts. The thousands of players were all hosted in private homes and fed each night at huge sprawling jam sessions. I’m no radical, but I know effective collective action when I see it. Minor Mishap came back from HONK! with a renewed sense of purpose, ready to strut down the street, scare away the cars and give the asphalt back to the people. Like a river cutting through rock, we’ll keep blowing hard at freeway overpasses, and one day, they may come tumbling down. NOVEMBER 27, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 27