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Today at the pump

The Sole Prop's Sister?


Under here.

June 26, 2010

Is Widely Held
Saturday. An excellent evening, last evening, arriving at Harrington's around five, leaving at eight two Guinness, some chicken wings and crudités to the better, home before nine. Nothing much in the way of photographs, I'm always less certain as to the propriety of taking photographs in a place like Harrington's, but happy enough for the way the evening turned out. To bed by ten, up at six, the day ahead.

So, then. Tomorrow both the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco followed by a festival in Oakland where they'll block off Broadway from Jack London Square to Grand Avenue and hold various events, concerts and the like to entertain the crowd (of those not watching the Gay Pride Parade over in San Francisco). I'll shoot the parade from about 9:00 to 10:30, then get on BART and pop up at 12th Street on Broadway to photograph this street festival that runs from 10:00 until 2:00 in the afternoon. If I really do that I'll be more than pooped I have no doubt, but we are professionals here, professionals in the less true sense of the word and will persevere and write about it here.

Reading a story in the Chronicle this morning I discovered the Gay Pride Parade, actually now called the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade, started in 1970 when it was still against the law in San Francisco to engage in homosexual acts. My, my. I came to San Francisco in 1969, but hadn't been all that aware of the gay community here on a day to day basis except to note I was meeting people I worked with who were gay (they didn't bite or keep messy desks) and when they made the papers every now and again, particularly the year San Francisco mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, Milk the first openly gay Supervisor in San Francisco's history, were assassinated by another disgruntled (and most probably mentally unbalanced) Supervisor named Dan White.

I was managing the Rip Off Press Comix Syndicate at the time and our one and only columnist, Dr. Hippocrates (Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld, M.D., Dr. Hip) was asked (through me) by the Chronicle not to comment in his column on the killings while we were in the middle of the mess. Not, of course, that the Chronicle would ever censor any of its columnists, but they did manage to get Dr. Hip more than a little pissed.

Anyway, it was odd to understand in reading this morning that I'd lived here in the Bay Area from the very beginnings of this parade, but really knew little about it. I started photographing the Dykes on Bikes in 1998, 1999, but beyond shooting the pictures and one year having one of my photographs used by the Dykes as their promotional poster (yay Dykes!), I realize how little I know about these struggles and their histories. Welcome to the club, I guess.

Still, what else is new? Who knows even half of what's going on at the moment that will have a significant impact on our lives? This financial stuff? These wars we're fighting? Global warming? Dependence on Middle East oil? Our failing schools? Our no budget budgets? Hell, I spend half my days now reading about such and I'm sure I've missed most of what's too important to miss, important in that it's coming around one day soon to bite us in ways all too obvious then when and if we get a chance to look back.

Such is life. Racing along in this never ending series of parades and posters, protests and elections, five minutes of fame television contests and comic book conventions, real estate mortgages and troubles on the job. Not a bad selection for photographers, thought. Plenty of images to be had, except perhaps for the fact everyone is a photographer now.

We've got that out of our system now, have we?

We have, we have. I knew I was in trouble by the second paragraph.

Later. An hour's late morning nap so getting up at six was probably not the best of ideas. A walk down by the lake and then farther on down Grand, passing the farmer's market and then going on to the morning café for lunch. I was hungry. I think I left too much on my plate at breakfast. A salad and a Coke, a real Coke, and then a bus back, no inclination to walk the short half mile or so back in the sun. Well, in the rain either, but the sky is clear, the sun is shining and it's a really nice day.

Heading along the lake I took a picture of this, spray painted sometime I'd guess since yesterday. Mehserle is the name of a BART policeman who shot and killed a young African American kid who, with his friends, had been acting up on a BART train and then at the Fruitvale BART station, and Mehserle shot him in the back, killing him. Shot him in the back as he lay, hands handcuffed behind his back, on the ground, Mehserle on top of him, all of this recorded by a bystander on a video phone. He said he thought he'd been firing his newly issued Taser, but this has the entire Oakland community in an uproar. And, if not for good reason, then for perfectly understandable reason, as incidents of police harassing young African Americans are not rare.

The facts of the matter are before a jury, they have the opportunity to see each face, see and hear the defendant, hear the arguments, so I'll leave it to them decide, but the larger picture is ugly here as it distills every issue of ongoing violence and police force mismanagement and brings them to a focus in a city with more than its share of poverty, struggle, broken families, crappy schools and unemployment. And black kids who act out. I had to check the spelling of the policeman's name after taking the picture, so whoever wrote that with a spray can last night is at least that much more cognizant than I and indicates the level of unrest and unhappiness that exists here throughout.

There was a demonstration with destruction of store fronts and property in the downtown when this shooting occurred and everyone is now wondering what will happen if Mehserle should get off with what's perceived as a slap on the wrist. The video is ugly, but I'm guessing manslaughter makes most sense with an appropriate sentence, but this is so politically charged at the visceral level - every slight, every story, every evil word and deed that's been suffered - that it's hard to tell. The reason we have juries and trials, but not all of which turn out the way people should expect in a totally just society. Anyway, the sentiment expressed on the cement is widely held.

So you're going to take your camera and go downtown when the verdict is revealed?

I'm into parades, not Armageddon. A decision I made a long time ago in the army.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco 2010 Carnaval Parade with a Nikon D3s mounted with a 70 - 200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR II lens at f 8 at 1/320th second, ISO 200.