Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Handful of People Live by the Bike Even in Guadalajara

Here’s Paco, who delivers the most delicious bread to my aunt’s house every day at around 1:00. Notice that he doesn’t use any kind of basket or fancy carrying device, but simply piles the cloth bread-sacks onto his back rack. He delivers about 200 loaves a day, which takes him four hours. He’s been doing it for ten years, for his friends’ bakery. I asked him if he ever wishes he could do the job by car, and he said no. With a bike, he can get right up to each house. He doesn’t have to worry about blocked or one way streets or finding a parking place, let alone paying for gas and repairs and worrying about untimely break-downs. If he gets a flat or his bike breaks, he can usually fix it himself right away, or have it fixed very cheaply.

For the rest of his day he pursues a completely unrelated profession. I was interested to know what it was, but I was worried I might be asking too many questions.

Monday, May 29, 2006

End of the Line on the Via RecreActiva

In a couple of miles we met up with another orange person named John Restrepo - the other Colombian. We must have arrived at the outer edge of Lucy’s beat because after introducing me she turned back the other way, while I continued on in the same direction, now accompanied by John. Here’s Lucy checking in with headquarters before heading back.

Though I wasn’t really paying attention to all this radio talk, I wondered vaguely about the rather frequent use of the word cachucha, which means cap. And speaking of lids, John’s helmet was the second I saw that day on the bike route; in fact it was the second one I saw that whole week in Mexico. People aren’t going to invest in a helmet for the occasional Sunday ride, especially when the riding area is cleared of the major cause of accidents, namely cars. I didn’t mind a bit, as I adore riding without a helmet, an indulgence I don’t allow myself at home. It feels daring and free – the equivalent of riding in the nude only without the problems nude bicycle riding would engender in real life.

In addition to daring and free, however, I felt dogged by the relentless sunshine, which my poor little Oregon eyes aren’t accustomed to; and after an hour of it beating down on my head and intruding in over the tops of my sunglasses, it was beginning to seriously wear on me. You can spot an Oregonian around the world because they squint like newborn hamsters at the slightest ray of gold. Though I made no complaint, these gracious hosts must have discerned my discomfort, because suddenly one of the younger orange people, a volunteer from the university, pedaled up behind us exclaiming some equivalent of “At last I’ve found you!” and handed me – are you ready for this? -- an orange ViaRecreActiva cap! So that’s why I kept hearing that word over the radio! Lucy had been trying to organize the logistics of this hat delivery since way back at the beginning. And it saved my day, because I think without it I might have been a heatstroke case.

(As an Oregonian I’m particularly susceptible. I think the fact that I slathered myself with sunscreen beforehand probably also helped. I used the most high-powered variety because I borrowed it from Lindi who is practically an albino. I never used to need sunscreen, but now that we’ve ruined the ozone layer and skin cancer is turning up everywhere, I feel I must be paranoid.)

John and I proceeded till the end of the line, then turned around and headed back to a starting point, where he and Lucy presented me with a ViaRecreActiva T-shirt!

Here’s a picture taken toward the far end of the ride, where the crowd starts to thin out a bit. These photos are too dark. I’ll edit them and add a couple more photos later.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sunday Cycling in Guadalajara, continued

The four-lane street with a succession of names – Avenida Vallarta, Juarez, and Javier Mina -- is closed to all motor vehicles on Sundays from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It fills to the edges with cyclists of all ages on bicycles of all sizes. Other non-motorized wheels are welcome, though I saw only one skateboard and two roller skaters in the two or three hours I spent there.

Riding along with Lucy, it became clear that she was in charge of a fleet of individuals that dotted the route with their shirts of orange, the logo color of the project. I learned that the crew consisted of two groups – paid staff such as herself, and volunteers, many of whom were put in charge of directing traffic at the cross-streets to prevent collisions with car drivers not used to looking out for bicycles. Everyone involved carried a radio, and Lucy interrupted herself often to talk into hers.

The route is almost completely flat except for where it dips under a main street and up the other side. Approaching the underpass, the cyclist adrenalin anticipates the thrill of the hill, and one prepares to ride like a loco on the down to propel an effortless coast up the other side. But that instinct was nipped in the bud as Lucy and other orange-clad patrollers began pointing at riders with this same idea and ordering them off their bicycles. I looked around and realized that except for these few dissenters everyone had dismounted! Right at the funnest part! AAAK!

But I have to admit they were right. Even though riders stayed on their side of the road, hundreds of cyclists of all sizes and levels careening down the hill at all different speeds was a pile-up waiting to happen. It was hard, though. Nothing like a good downhill, and this was the only one available.

Lucy was quick to correct any errant adolescents she spotted engaging in other misbehaviors as well, such as riding without hands. “You’re going to fall! You’re going to fall!” she’d shout, pointing at them as we rode past. No one questioned or defied her authority, least of all the rider beside her who loves to sit back on the bike and sail along with no hands.

I stopped on our way under to take a picture of it. Lucy is standing there in the middle wearing the white and orange shirt, holding our bikes and her radio.
And here are the riders coming out the other side, about to get back on their bikes.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Via Recreactiva: Guadalajara’s Sunday Bicycle Route

It works in Colombia, so why not Mexico? Two of the main coordinators of Guadalajara's 11.7 kilometer Sunday cycling street were invited up from Bogotá for their expertise. First it was tried in Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua. In spite of its popularity, a change in city government brought it to an abrupt end. Guadalajara snapped up the idea, along with its planners.

I was first introduced to Lucy Barriga, who, as luck would have it, is a friend of my cousins’. Here she is (left facing camera) busily supervising staff and volunteers in the portable trailer headquarters full of people with radios. She provided me with a bicycle and we pedaled off up the street, wending our way among throngs of happy cyclists, who up until a year ago when this started, were almost completely deprived of an opportunity to ride without fear of slaughter. No cars allowed here.

Later I'll have time for some photo editing and more installments of my tour. Gotta go make a living.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sister-City in Danger of Becoming Yet Another Shrine to the Car Despite Objections of Residents

On the way to my aunt’s house in the Providencia area of Guadalajara, I grew worried. I forgot something I’d learned many times before: Never judge a city by the ride in from the airport. I feared the worst for the city where I spent the first two years of my life and enjoyed numerous visits thereafter. My childhood memory of Guadalajara was of a city lush with greenery and bursting with flowers. Now it looked like the city had changed its texture from verdant to dreary, and its color scheme from greens and vivid flower-hues to a monochromatic scale of grays.

My aunt tells me that despite the strenuous objections of the residents, builders and planners consistently manage to find ways around the regulations on conserving the green areas of the city and have decimated decades-old trees and shrubbery to make way for more pavement.

Good pavement can be a positive for cyclists, but cyclists are clearly not being factored into this picture. On the long ride home from the airport I didn’t see a single bicycle, which is a lucky thing because it would have been a scene of carnage indeed. Let me adopt my most diplomatic voice and say that the prevalent driving styles of this culture would preclude the designation of bike lanes on the same streets as cars. According to my cousins a bike lane was tried as an experiment some years ago, but public response was lukewarm. It seems there was a dearth of pioneers willing to pave the way with their squashed bodies while drivers grew accustomed to noticing bicycles sharing the road. The bike lane idea soon died out from lack of participation.

The pedestrian experience in Mexico does not entice one to place oneself in an even more vulnerable position in relation to the almighty car. If any rule of driving is apparent, it is that the car has the right-of-way and it is entirely up to the skill and agility of the walker to avoid car-to-human collision. Crossing a road on foot, one has the distinct feeling that the cars careening past are veering from their trajectory to create the closest possible brush with the pedestrian. One’s natural impulse is to run like a scared rabbit, but at the same time one would like to hold onto a shred of dignity.

“Don’t run,” my uncle is fond of saying. “It only makes it more sporting for them.”

Before I hurl us all into an abyss of depression, let me add that in the ensuing days of my visit I saw that it’s not all ruined – yet. Greens and a bright palette of flowers still adorn many parts of the city. And it’s not exclusively bad news for two-wheelers in our sister-city. I found a gem of hope, which I will elaborate on next time I post, which could happen as soon as tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Back from Mexico

I’m back! At least my body’s back. My brain hasn’t caught up with it yet. But I bring news of the cycling situation in Guadalajara. Among other things, I had the unbelievable luck to be able to meet with some of the city planners working on that very topic! They spent time with Portland Mayor Tom Potter when he was there on a nine-day visit having to do with the sister-city connection. ( I didn’t know he went to Mexico for nine days, did you? When was that?) They said he was muy simpatico and they enjoyed their time with him in spite of their initial disappointment to learn that he was not in fact Harry Potter’s grandfather as they had assumed.

Check back tomorrow for at least part of my Mexican cycling experience, which I’ll deliver by installments over the next week or so.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sister-City Fact-FInding Tour

I will make one more attempt to add the photo to this morning's posting and then I’ll just have to leave. At four o'clock tomorrow morning I embark on a fact-finding tour to Guadalajara, Mexico to research biking in Portland’s Mexican sister-city. Actually I'm going to visit my aunt, six dozen cousins, and some old family friends -- but of course I'll be pelting them with questions about cycling in their city the entire time.

Unless I can locate an internet café in my aunt’s neighborhood, I may not be able to post to my blog till I get back. That means you might have to live without RideMyHandlebars for almost a week, in which eventuality I apologize profusely in advance. But at least you can look forward to stories when I get back. Adiós, muchachitos.

Another Fabulous Dutch Bicycle, plus A Few Comments on Littering

I couldn’t stop looking at it. The picture doesn’t do it justice. As I stood admiring it, I tried to guess its vintage, but then the owner emerged and told me I was two decades off. He said 70s. He should know, I guess, it’s his bike. Like Rianne of the the Cargo Bike, he brought it over from Holland, where he lived for eight years. Eventually I will find the scrap of paper where I wrote the name of the bike, and post it here.

See that paper Coke cup lying there in the photo? I debated about whether to include this picture for that reason. But you know me, I don’t like to misrepresent the truth. Much as I would rather represent my city as a pristine haven of stellar citizenship where no one litters and everyone rides a bike, the truth in this case is the following: There lies a paper Coke cup, placed there deliberately by an actual litterer, probably a resident of Portland.

I hate it when people litter. Ordinarily I don’t believe in capital punishment, but when it comes to littering I start to seriously waver on my position. That may seem harsh, but it’s because I don’t have any reason to believe that litterers can be rehabilitated. I have known and observed a number of them in my lifetime. Once a person has grown into an adult litterbug, that’s it.

Alright, in some cases I might be talked into life imprisonment. There’s a need for job opportunities in prisons, and other inmates could have jobs picking up their litter – which is what the rest of us spend our lives doing (or paying for) when the litterbugs are at large.

I have more to say on that topic. Littering and bicycling are directly related because as a cyclist, one becomes acutely aware of every speck of litter. So I’ll continue this thread, but I have to go make a living now. Goodbye.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Peeve # 101: Car Drivers Who Politely Invite you into the Path of Certain Death

I come to an intersection at which the stop sign faces my direction, and since I can see cars coming, I stop completely, instead of my usual approach to stop signs in low-traffic residential areas -- slow down, whip head back and forth several times, zip on through. A driver who fancies himself bike-friendly (but is clearly not a cyclist) sees me stopped there and is afflicted with an attack of chivalry. He or she slows to a stop and begins signaling magnanimously for me to cross.

Meanwhile other drivers are not feeling chivalrous, and in fact may not even be noticing me. They have their minds on their destination, their upcoming meeting, the windbag blathering away on the radio, their cell phone conversation, and the operation of their particular piece of heavy machinery. The part of their brain left over from all that has registered that the stop sign is not for them but for the crossing traffic, so it’s safe to sail through this intersection.

They wonder absently why one car is stopped when they don’t even have the stop sign, but oh well who cares…..unless they’re directly behind the stopped car, in which case they do care, and if they’ve been paying attention, they stop – or they rear-end that car, or come close to doing so, and sometimes honk in frustration. If they are not directly behind the stopped car, they keep right on rolling, through the intersection.

This means that if the cyclist accepts the offer to cross first, and goes along with the polite “go ahead” gestures of the stopped driver, she (I) will be squished by other cars. It’s especially deadly on one-way streets where it’s a car in the nearest lane that stops, obliterating the cyclists view of the next lane over. A driver approaching in the next lane over will wonder why that other car has stopped, and careen on past it just in time to smack the cyclist or pedestrian crossing in front of the stopped car.

So the cyclist hesitates. That launches one of those comedy routines of two people motioning for the other to go first. Except the cyclist is not acting out of politeness but out of fear of slaughter.

Eventually the other cars see that something is amiss and grind to a stop to let this poor confused nut of a cyclist have her way, as an alternative to killing her. No doubt their act of kindness is accompanied by great sighs of begrudgement inside their cars and remarks like “Get a move on, lady!” or “Come on, honey. Get with the program."

The driver who originally stopped comes off looking like the good Samaritan displaying remarkable patience toward a poor bewildered cyclist -- a doddery fool oblivious to stop signs -- when in reality it was the car driver that started the whole stupid thing.

One technique I have found for dealing with this is to gaze intently at the peak of a nearby dwelling, refusing to notice that the car has stopped for me, until finally they drive off in a huff, muttering something about doddery fools oblivious to offers of assistance.

Suggestions from other cyclists welcome.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Get Your Fine Whine Here: Peevot Noir

I’m starting a new series. It’ll be about bike related things that really bug me. It’s called Peeves – kinda like that exercise place called Curves, only much, much better. You have a tough day on the bike, you feel like you should be getting the Nobel Prize for Enduring Foolishness, you just come right on over and visit someone who’s likely to have all the same complaints you do. You tell your friends you’re going on over to Peeves to work it out. On a bad day, a good gripe can do you even more good than exercising.

I’ll call each one “Peeve Number [something]” so you can easily find them in the archives for those times when you really want to wallow. Don’t be shy – go ahead and read several at one sitting. Know that there’s someone out there whining in your behalf. And of course, feel free to join in!

I’ll start with number 101 so that the numbers will start to sound impressive right away -- like when people open a checking account and don’t want to look like they’ve only had a checking account for ten minutes so they have the checks printed up to start with a high number. I wouldn’t want anybody to think that I’ve only been complaining for ten minutes when in fact it’s one of my most highly developed skills.

Notice I’m not calling it “pet peeves” as some would expect. That would imply a degree of affection for these annoyances, which I don’t feel. Here’s the first one.

“Car drivers who politely motion you forward into the path of certain death.”

Will be posting that in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, after much pacing and wringing of hands, I’ve decided to go ahead and provide the controversial photo at the bottom of the last posting about the seriously endangered plastic horse. (give me a few minutes.) Don’t feel obliged to scroll down and view it. Remember, it’s only for the tough-as-nails. Emergncy Room staff, and the like.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Photographer ethically challenged by ghastly scene

I’ve spotted another horse. It’s located around the corner from the first one, and was pointed out to me by a co-worker. At first I couldn’t find it and began to doubt the co-worker’s cognitive abilities. But then, when I concentrated on looking for a horse RING instead of an actual horse, I saw it – and friends, how the sight it dismayed me!

It had fallen off the curb and had nosedived onto the pavement into a narrow slot between the curb and the tire of an elephantine motorized vehicle! I will insert the photo below, but please be forewarned that you may find the image disturbing.

As I clicked away with my camera, I could not help but imagine the obvious sequel in the series – how the horse would be crushed and crushed again when the vehicle driver returned and began the maneuvering the oversized oil-slurping beast out of the parking spot. Disaster waiting to happen lurched in front of me.

My policy of never touching the horses, of never interfering with the displays, of recording events exactly as they take place, began to wiggle seismically. But drawing on my deep sense of professionalism, I pressed on. Meaning that I continued to press the button on the camera.

But emotionally I was right back in that gnarly theater in Naples in the 70s, where I squinted through a thick haze of cigarette smoke to watch Francis Ford Coppola’s Il Padrino -- the last scary movie I ever attended.

When I was finished, I walked away with the clinical calm of a police investigator at a crime scene. I strolled back to my bike, unlocked it, hopped on, and rode off into the late afternoon sun. Then my bike, of its own accord, perhaps sensing a certain kinship with the creature whose role in society it has now usurped, turned at the next corner and wheeled around the block to the scene of the incipient horror.

Did I have a choice? I righted the horse onto the curb, got back on my own horse, and galloped away. Neigh, my friends. I could not do otherwise.

(I'm having misgivings about displaying the photograph. I need to think about it more. Check back later.)

OK, you asked for it. Last chance to close your eyes.

well shoot. Something's going on with Blogger. I've been trying for over twenty minutes and it won't accept the picture. Maybe it's too gorey and they've got some kind of screening mechanism in place. I'll have to get back to this tonight. I have to go earn a living now. Good bye.
Monday night, 10:10
Sorry to disappoint you again, friends, but blogger seems to still be having some kind of problem and won't let me post any picture. Will try to work on it again tomorrow evening. kg

Tuesday morning: FINALLY! the "add image" feature of Blogger seems to be up and running, so here at last is the promised photo.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Sound of One Glove Clapping

As you know, I’ve been dealing with the loss my right glove for several weeks now.

I’ve tried to rise above it, evolve into a different reality by telling myself that one glove is better than none, that I can make do with wearing one glove, keeping the other hand warm in my pocket between braking and shifting. For a long time I continued to look for the glove along the route that I lost it – which was becoming tedious, actually. But then something happened that put an end to that misery. –a strange and unlikely event, which I’ll get to later.

You’re probably wondering why I don’t just go buy a new one (or a new pair, I mean, because of course they won’t let you buy just one, which is really annoying). But it’s not that simple. First of all I don’t take easily to new things – I always want the old thing, the one that has conformed its shape to my use, the one that has become a version of myself, the one I’ve befriended. The other problem is that if I bought a new pair, I’d then have three gloves, which I’d find equally disturbing. Eventually I’d lose another one, but it would be the right one again -- right? and I’d be left with two left ones.

I thought about that a lot. Two left gloves. I imagined how as a joke I’d donate them to a thrift shop and the thrift shop staff wouldn’t notice they were both left hands and would set them out for sale. A hapless customer would try one on and snap them up for only a dollar fifty, delighted at the bargain. Weeks later they’d go to put them on and discover they were both for the left hand, and they’d stand there staring at them, apoplectic, immobilized by confusion. Already they were dealing with their teenager wanting to change genders, in addition to their terminally ill father they’d been taking care of for eight long months now deciding to marry that slattern of a housekeeper who now sat poised to nab the inheritance.

That on top of everything would be the last grain of rice in the burrito’s saddle bags and the person's mind would snap and they’d plunge into the abyss of schizophrenia that they’d been verging on all these years, and it would be my donation of two left gloves to the thrift shop, my idea of a joke, that nudged them over the edge. Meanwhile I’d be going along my merry way, occasionally remembering my hilarious prank and chuckling happily, oblivious to the actual result.

How could I run out and buy a new pair of gloves with that hanging over my head?

The loneliness of it also bothered me. Not my loneliness, but of the two gloves, each separated from its mate. Who knew what fate had befallen the lost one? Had it been picked up by a slobbery dog and been carried off to be slowly gnawed to death in some hairy dog-bed? I tried not to let myself think of it.

As for the one I still had, I lived with an acute awareness of its suffering. But deep inside myself, I noticed that along with the loss of one glove came a strange freedom – the freedom to leave the remaining glove in my bike basket while my bike waited parked around town. I waltzed in and out of shops and workplaces like a woman without children … to return each time and find the glove still there.

The loss of one glove liberated me from two of the many accoutrements I must carry around and keep track of every day as a bicyclist. What was it, exactly, that set me free? The belief that no one would steal a single glove. This allowed me to completely abandon that basic human fear which is the driving force behind so many of our daily routine actions: the fear that someone is going to take what we have.

But my reprieve from that insidious reality was rudely ended when the unthinkable happened: Last week, someone stole the right glove out of my bike basket.

That, my friends, was the strange and unlikely event I mentioned above that put an end to my misery. Not a total end, because of course I’ll have to live with the almost sure knowledge that both gloves are separate and unhappy. But at least now I can stop looking for the one I dropped as I bike along my route to work. And at least now I could (if I can get up the courage) buy another pair without the three-glove problem looming over me.

Somewhere in Portland roams an individual whose particular mode of reasoning allows him, unencumbered by guilt or remorse, to hear the sound of one glove clapping. And presumably that individual has found some degree of happiness in the acquisition of my left glove.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Neigh, Whinny, Whinny

It happened yesterday, May 9th. In the morning the horse was doing this:

By later in the afternoon it had calmed down and had resumed its position from the preceding day:

Same day. Same horse. Make of it what you will.

Big Mike photo

Here's the photo of Big Mike, as promised. It's too dark, but I'll fix it later. I haven't had a chance to call him yet, but I will, and I'll report back on my findings. In other news, the horse situation has gotten even more absurd. Check back tonight for the latest horse photos.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Big Mike the Window Man

Riding past the school in the mornings, I see that I am by no means not the only admirer of Rianne’s Dutch Cargo Bike often parked there by itself. Thursday morning two women out walking a little boy on a scooter stood around it discussing its many features. The next day, a cargo bike of a different kind sat pulled up alongside it, the rider gazing curiously at it this more elegant version as if trying to memorize it.

His name was Big Mike and his bike was fitted for cargo of a non-living nature. He said he built it himself, as he has built many others. Not one to fuss over the perfect sign, logo, and business name, he has scrawled his information onto the side of his “truck” with a can of spray paint.

While we stood there discussing cargo bikes, a woman in a station wagon pulled up and asked him about his services, having read his sign. Did he have a really long ladder, she asked, not seeing one. No, but I have a really long pole, he answered, nodding toward the bed of his box. Some parts of a pole lay there waiting to be assembled as needed. “OK, well can you come over now and do some windows for me?” He said sure, he’d be right over. She called out her address as she rolled around the corner, and after politely wrapping up his conversation with me, he rode off in her direction.

Big Mike does all his work from this vehicle or from one of several others like it, all built by him. I’d like to know if anyone else has used his services. He gave me a web address but I can’t get it to work. I’m going to give him a call and report back.

Photo to be posted upon overcoming technical difficulties.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dutch Cargo Bike

I had the luck of riding up behind Rianne Taylor as she transported Luc and Cecilia to school yesterday morning in that fabulous Dutch contraption. After landing it in front of the school yard and unloading the kids from it, she offered to let me take it for a spin!

First thing I tried to do was lift it off the ground. I couldn’t budge it, not a millimeter. It felt like trying to lift a car. Imagine my surprise, then, when driving it felt like floating in a hot air balloon, except with steering control. So smooth! You don’t feel the weight at all. How they could make such a hunk of machinery glide like that, Idon’t know. And the steering is easy, too. The handlebars connect below the box to an extender that reaches
forward to turn the front wheel, and you’d expect it to feel sort of like steering “by proxy,” but no. At least for the short distance I rode, it felt effortless.

I didn’t try out the thumb-shifter and I forgot to ask how many gears it has. Rianne says forget about hills. The slight incline of the route to the kids’ doctor is the most she’ll take on. She welcomes the exercise, but this bike has its limits. We’re not likely to see one tooling around Portland’s West Hills.

Remember that Holland, where she brought this over from, is flat as a pancake. In Holland, this is a car. You can see the website for this amazing unit at It’s all in Dutch, but if you contacted them I bet they’d reply in English. (I’ve never met a Dutch person in my life who wasn’t completely fluent in English and probably a few other languages.) It comes with a built-in lock, a generator headlight, a custom-fitted zip-up plastic rain shield, and seatbelts for the passengers. Makes me want to move to Holland.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Plastic Horse the Third

Here we go again. Same exact spot. Same horse ring.

I suspected something like this was coming, because remember the photo of the horseless cables? (Scroll down to April 24th.) A few days later, the cables themselves were gone. The liberated ring lay begging for a new horse. A horse of a different color – orange, this time. A reliable witness told me it showed up on Sunday, which means that I stood out there without seeing it the whole time I watched the May Day march. I like to think of myself as this incredibly observant person, but….. one thing drowns out another.

A hundred diversions pull for my attention at any given minute of the day. My brain is shredded from the work of screening out the garbage and then deciding, from among what’s left, what to focus on – an excruciating, guilt-laden process ridden with “shoulds” -- that requires saying no to ten fascinating directions to be able to say yes to one.

Life is way too complicated. World events depress me. The number and magnitude of stimuli overwhelm me. I’m saying no to over-stimulation and I'm saying yes to this one square foot of sidewalk on NW 9th and Couch. With this ring I thee wed.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May Day in the Pearl District

The march paraded by work yesterday and my co-workers and I stood on the sidelines handing out mini-flyers for free GED and English classes, which were eagerly snatched up by reaching hands. It flowed by as if it would never end, a sea of brown faces with a speckle of white here and there. The last march I went to showed a higher ratio of white faces among the brown, but by now so many more of the targeted population have been scared off their behinds that the white percentage has shrunk in comparison.

The usual hordes of bike cops swarmed the edges of the throngs. My pictures of them are just like the last ones I took so I won’t post them. (scroll to March 8th, 2006)

One thing I notice about protest marches is that invariably you can find the odd person who is completely off point but participating out of a love for protest marches. They’re easy to spot because they don’t bother with appropriate signage but instead root around in their garage and haul out some previously used placard – and previously can mean several decades back. This time I saw a white guy in his 60s carrying the torch for Mao. Honestly! Would someone please tell me what Maosie Dung ever did for immigration? Mr. Cultural Revolution who couldn’t even deal with any of his own people doing something slightly different? I can’t see him warming up to a tide of immigrants, can you? As IF anybody was breaking down the door to get into China while he was in power anyway. Am I missing something?

I wanted to tell that guy to go home and quit confusing people.