Saturday, August 26, 2017

Beat Up at the Bookstore

So I went to the Rally after all. Well, one of them. No White Supremacists showed up. The word was that they faked Alamo Square, turned up in Pacifica down the coast and then showed up again at the original spot in Crissy Field. And claimed that they were Conservative, but not Klan or Neo-Nazis. The total by the end was 20.

Damn! How much money was spent getting police out there from 20 people jumping on the Hate Bandwagon? Probably enough to decently educate 100 or a 1,000 children so they can grow up cognizant of our history and the future’s mandate for inclusion and compassion. This is not a good thing. But it did turn out to be an excuse for the Bay Area Rainbow Coalition, which is simply the folks who live here, to show up and party and dance and see each other and sing and blow bubbles and take photos of clever signs and that’s not a bad thing. But wish we could have done it without the hysteria and extra funds for police.

I stayed long enough to read a bunch of signs and then took off in search of my elusive Pyrex 1-cup measuring cup. Already having struck out at Ace Hardware, Cole Hardware and Walgreen’s, I went to Macy’s (no luck), Crate and Barrel (no luck) and was on my way to Target when I saw a CVS Pharmacy. Their household section was three shelves high and 10 feet wide, but lo and behold, there it was like the Holy Grail!!!! Hooray CVS!!!

By now the summer fog had lifted and this old body that has sat for most of the week needed to keep moving, so on I went through Chinatown with City Lights Bookstore as my destination. Having re-connected with the diverse San Francisco I love, I equally wanted to enjoy the old neighborhoods and icons of the city. Pass the er-hu player in Chinatown, the poetry written directly on the street in Kerouac Alley, the mural at Broadway and Columbus of jazz musicians. And of course, City Lights.

Reading the title, you might surmise the dreaded altercation with the far-right freaks in the bookstore. Ha! You will not find these folks visiting bookstores. Instead, it was being surrounded by so much intelligence and provoking thought that knocked me over the head the way it often does. “Have you been listening to enough jazz? Are you listening the right way? Yes, you’ve spent a lifetime thinking about race, but did you ever consider this? Yes, this is important and that is important, but none of it means anything until you read about the catastrophic environmental issues you’re denying. And how have you studied as much as you have about jazz and West African music and never heard of Asadata Dafora?!!” Like I said, book after book pushing me out of any self-complacency and telling me in no uncertain terms to wake up and get with it!

I walked out with Tim Wise’s Dear White America, a choice appropriate to the day and Jonathan Franzen’s book of essays Farther Away, hooked into it by the opening speech he gave at Kenyon about Facebook’s hall of mirrors and our illusion that enough “likes” make us lovable. (I just saw the film Ingrid Goes West and while it wasn’t always fun to watch, it made the point times a thousand.)

So hooray for books, for authors, for thinkers, for City Lights bookstore, for all the folks choosing love over hate and most of all, for CVC Pharmacy for having the Pyrex cup!

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