Boston

THE LYONDON LAROUCHE SINGERS. The very words strike fear in the hearts of all but the bravest men. And there they were, looming above me, large-as-life when I boarded the green line train on my way to the Fleet Center first thing this morning.

When I climb aboard they are doing a doom and gloom choral number, the sort of thing you hear on more hellfire-oriented Sundays at church. But it isn't until they launch into the second song of their set, a lighthearted round, that I realize they aren't just humming a happy tune, they've added lyrics. Or, more precisely, one lyric--it is the name of their candidate, the perennial long-shot "Democratic" presidential hopeful. "LA-Rouche, LA-Rouche," they intone, with the finest a cappella harmonies at their disposal.

One of the scruffy songbirds is balancing a hand-drawn placard on his knee. It reads, "WHO is the MOST SUCCESSFUL economic forecaster?" The answer is provided by his dreadlocked neighbor. He is holding a "LaRouche 2004" poster in two hands and jiggling it with such vigor he looks as if he were born for the task. Other members of the barbershop sextet carry copies of the latest edition of "Children of Satan" (it's Part III, for those who have been following the series). When the train unexpectedly stops at Government Center and disgorges us, the LaRouchies remain completely unfazed--they continue singing, segueing gracefully into a version of "In the Still of the Night."

ELSEWHERE IN THE BOSTON PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM, a Kerry intern is losing her cool: "No! No! No! Kerry people stay in the train!" shouts the freckled woman with a roll of "Kerry-Edwards" stickers in one hand and a stack of signs in the other. She sports a badge that proclaims her exalted status as "Campaign Intern." She is the mistress of a large group of apron-wearing people displaying the slightly-less-coveted "Volunteer" stickers. The object of her wrath is a young man with slicked-back dark hair and a Kerry bumper sticker in hand. Apparently unaware that the young man is merely the recipient of a handout from one of her (perhaps overzealous) volunteers, she thinks he is an escapee member of her team, or possibly fears that his exit will cause a stampede. She makes a move to bound after him, but is restrained in the nick of time. The consequences could have been dire--being attacked by a crazed Kerry intern isn't likely to have won a committed voter for the Kerry-Edwards ticket, and would have made an excellent human interest story from the half-dozen bored reporters who were likely in the vicinity.

On the more civilized red line, a red-haired woman in a flowing red dress is doing her best to avoid being pestered by the weirdos on the train, and after two days in Boston I'm beginning to think she has the right idea. She is carrying one of those satchels woven by impoverished Guatemalan women. On the bag she has fastened a red button which proclaims, "I do not consent to a search" to anyone who might be pondering such a course of action. I consider striking up a chat, but she is intent on an anthology of feminist literature. Besides, I assume it's possible that somewhere about her person there is an "I do not consent to a conversation" button, and I wouldn't want to offend.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is a reporter for the Weekly Standard.

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