I went down to the demonstration Friday night. Or rather it came to me. It was right outside my window.
The day began with my decision not to channel any energy into the inauguration. I ignored it completely. Ken gave me a mid-century Chinese style frame so my thoughts were occupied with finding a suitable portrait of Jiang Qing.
Jiang was Mao’s fourth wife who later became a member of the ruthless Gang of Four. After his death she was tried and imprisoned. The remainder of her life was spent primarily in jail, making dolls. Apparently she signed hers and they have become highly sought after.
She was always photographed looking so butch and strident in her gang days. She began her professional life as a courtesan, however, as so many first ladies have done. It was from that period I took my image.
My political apathy was going well until Friday evening when I heard the whirling of helicopters above and the commotion of a large crowd marching up Market Street. I could ignore it no longer. Events were only a stone’s throw from my Vermeer-like windows.
Past experience has made me quite adept at gauging stone trajectory. Like the one I threw at the First National Bank of Bloomington in 1970 during an anti-war march. Or my heave nine years later of an empty, half-pint of Hennessy through a City Hall window on the occasion of the White Night Riots.
But Friday I was just a sightseer taking note of the crowd: very young, very cute, very white, and very IPO-ed looking. There was a major improvement in the rhythmic chants, a far sexier beat than in my day. And the police tail lights in the misty rain were so colorful. They looked nothing like that in the Vietnam era.
Another significant change was the police crowd control. They actually worked with the demonstrators by escorting them along the route. They proceeded a block at a time then stopped at the intersections. This allowed the front of the march to engage in sexy chanting while the remaining phalanx had time to catch up. Once the entire, blocks-long contingent came to a stop, police would lead on to the next intersection.
This approach closed down all of Market Street. If you got ahead of the police escort you had the whole expanse of wide boulevard to meander. It gave a new perspective to the neighborhood. I saw detail that I’d missed in the hubbub of quotidian life.
There were so many in-your-face, glass-front, trendy restaurants that I hadn’t noticed before. A beer and video game refuge called the Brewcade. And the Lucky 13 bar which for decades was the Mine Shaft.
Back in my protesting days when I moved to San Francisco, vestiges of hippiedom (as well as trench mouth) still remained. The custom of feeding the people was treated like a religious experience. Various bars would put out free buffets, or “feeds,” on designated nights of the week.
Sunday was the night for the Mine Shaft: spaghetti with ketchupy sauce; watery, vinegary lettuce that was the salad; and, stale bread. It was pretty disgusting. There was peer pressure to experience the freedom so I participated. Once.
With the Inauguration boycott ended, I took a look at what she wore. The gown was understated and soigné for a Trump gal. And at first I thought the baby blue coat looked refreshing, modern.
Then I saw the entire ensemble. It was as if she’d taken her white satin pumps to the Emporium basement to have them dyed the same shade as her prom dress. The gloves, the shoes, the bag: matchy, matchy, matchy.