Ah, the sight of little old ladies doing things you don’t expect little old ladies to do. It’s jarring, sure, and can maybe even have a political impact, which is why the so-called Granny Peace Brigade gathered for a rally — and chorus line, of course — in a West Village church yesterday afternoon. Retired 75-year-old jingle writer Joan Wile belted out an antiwar song she’d written, calling on grannies of the world to “get off your duffs, we gotta get Bush!” Carol Husten, also 75 and dressed in a white wig with fake pearls bigger than golf balls, impersonated Barbara Bush, whom she dubbed “the power behind the Bush dynasty.” And a chorus line of the so-called Granny Jailbirds, about half a dozen from the eighteen arrested October 2005 for sitting in at a Times Square military recruitment center and acquitted this year, joined voices in a satiric anthem, lustily singing, “There’s no business like war business,” and pointing their canes like semi-automatic weapons at an enthusiastic crowd of about 100 mostly elderly peaceniks.
Their venue was the community center at the Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields on Hudson Street. The antiwar theatrics were billed as a Christmas Spectacular of the New York–based Granny Peace Brigade Cabaret and included Broadway actress Vinie Burrows delivering a dramatic monologue. Hugh Bruce, co-chair of the church’s Peace and Justice Committee and a Vietnam vet, said he had invited the grannies to perform as a public service. Wile, a grandmother of five, later told a reporter that members of her peripatetic group would be traveling to Washington in January for a “Descent on the Senate” and would try to visit Hillary Clinton. But she added that the junior senator from New York “is a great disappointment to us in the antiwar movement.” There was better news, at least, on Friday, when charges were dropped against a group of Philadelphia grannies who staged a recruitment-center sit-in in June. —Mary Reinholz