Saturday, April 12, 2008

Olympic Torch Relay Protest @ The Embarcadero


Apparently a lot of Chinese people live in San Francisco. Many of them came to see the torch for the 2008 Beijing Olympics pass through the streets of their city. Not a one of them seemed happy to have their nation's honor impugned by thousands of extremely angry protestors. Having their nation's honor impugned by human rights abuses, political repression, and Book Of Revelations style pollution evidently wasn't such a big deal.

Whose idea was it to have the Olympic torch make its only North American appearance in a city that happens to be one-third Chinese-American and who-knows-how-many-thirds Crazy Hippie Style?

It was strange to attend a volatile protest where America was not the villain. Lefties denounced the largest Communist country on Earth. Pro-China protestors waved Communist flags and wore sparkly Uncle Sam hats like Rockettes on a USO tour. China manufactured every single object in each of these photos. Win-win-win.

This sign is mandatory.

I saw frequent uses of the "peace" hand sign, even during moments of extreme confrontation. This reminded me of the first punk shows I used to go to, when I would give the band the finger simply because I was scared and didn't know what else to do.

Throughout all the hubbub, the driver of this cardboard tank totally kept his cool.

At one point my friend John Kriksciun from Lifesblood called and I stared out at the San Francisco Bay and we talked about Lifesblood for a while.

Without warning, hundreds of protesters - running as if the Bay Bridge had collapsed - attacked an empty bus. It occurred to me that the entire event was actually a ruse by the International Olympic Committee to gather all the troublemakers in San Francisco while the torch passed untrammeled through Simi Valley.

A die-in was held in front of the empty bus. It was a bummer.

Eventually the empty bus was released on its own recognizance.

Here's my complaint with the Samsung NV3 digital camera: it takes crummy photos. The cheapest of Kodak Brownies could probably have made this shot look like the liberation of Paris.

Here's what I like about the Samsung NV3: you can stand two blocks away from a bunch of cops, then - from the comfort of your own home - swoop into the megapixels and make it look totally ominous and not at all like a bunch of bored middle aged men standing around discussing last week's Grey's Anatomy.

Anyone who brings a toddler to a political protest should be forced to live on Garbage Island. But then I take their picture and suddenly I'm the bad guy? What?

This photo would have been a bit more poignant if the Bay Bridge had actually collapsed.

photo by Tara
Later in this trip we met up with Roop and went to the same zoo where a Siberian tiger got loose and killed a man last Christmas. The torch was indeed smuggled out of SF, sight unseen. The Olympics went on as scheduled, and was a smash hit.