[Journal Menu]

[Home Page]

[Oakland Cam]



[100 Books]

[Other Sites]


Street person in Oakland

April 28th, 2002

People's Park
I went to the People's Park festival just after noon, the "thirty-third anniversary of People's Park festival" to be exact, and I shot some pictures. People's Park is a kind of crash pad for the homeless in Berkeley. The, um, "riot" in People's Park that occurred thirty-three years ago this month, my first year in San Francisco come to think of it, seems quaint, a muddled dream of something that might have had relevance once and, well, what the hell, may have relevance again, more relevance than any of us care to think about.

There were lots of long haired people my age looking, well, old. Hugh Romney (Wavy Gravy), the Master of Ceremonies, looked old, obese and a bit distracted, but Wavy Gravy, none the less, the old prankster himself, a cohort of Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, the founder of the Hog Farm, the real "hippie" McCoy and saint of sorts, alive and kicking. Well, at least, operating under his own steam. Hugh is the real deal, the Buddha light, the being behind the clownish mask worn so as not to frighten the seekers he tricks to the light. Is that opaque enough? Hippie speak? I have a lot of respect for Mr. Gravy, a brave man of intelligence and heart. It's just he's looking older, as was everyone there today, photographer included.

I hesitated more than once about shooting People's Park. Telegraph Avenue near theAt an Oakland City Center Jazz concert University is still the same old hustler - grifter ten blocks of schlock, pizza by the slice and used CD's and some of the vendors don't like photographers very much. The mix seems more hard core crazy living on the street than Berkeley student playing at Bohemian adventure, patty cake art, life and knife. I sympathized with Secra's narration of her adventure with the Goo man. I've had my own adventures, some because I shot a picture, probably inappropriately, and some because I was carrying a camera which meant I worked for the man. Or the Times. Or the guys in the back suits and the mirror glasses. It can give me the creeps.

And People's Park? I don't know. There were, as I said, folks from the old days, grey hair, still fighting wars long lost. The same sweet smell of marijuana, the same drums and chants, the same dancing shadows holding hands in the crowd. And the others, the younger ones: leather, metal studs, skate boards, purple hair, sleeping bags, anger and madness, attracted to a celebration of a time when the street met the man and the street won. Either that or the free music and the one or two naked women.

I was followed on the way over, by the way, by a Eurovan (I suppose it should be "an" Eurovan) and I got a chance to see one up close in the mirror for the first time. Ugly charm less metal box was my thought. I still need to get up closer, get inside, see what they're like to drive, see if.... Well, you understand.

The banner photograph was taken near Lake Merritt in Oakland and the second photograph was taken at a weekend jazz concert held in front of the Oakland City Hall.