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San Francisco Journalcon photos
San Franicsco Carnaval parade

December 12th, 2002

Shooting Pictures
Walking to breakfast. Small groups of people waiting at the bus stop at seven thirty, the sun not yet on the horizon. Five or six people in the cafe. Read the paper, drop by the cash machine on the way back, sitting here now with the curtains drawn and the sun shining directly into my eyes. Another day in Oakland, a Thursday.

My Land's End package is due to be delivered sometime today. No more doing a load of laundry every forty-eight hours. Not only do you have to do the jockey shorts (I'm a boxer man, myself. Or, at least, I was a boxer man.), but you have to do the jeans, unless you don't care about the spots. Hi! I'm fifty-nine years old and I have spots!

I note there's a rumor one of the al Quaeda groups may have smuggled a nerve gas weapon out of Iraq. There was always the danger that Hussein would let some of them go to terrorist groups if he figured his days were numbered. Might as well take some of your attackers with you. They talk about chemical weapons on the battlefield, but they say less about the potential for chemical weapons being used here in our own cities. Odd thoughts to be thinking.

Everyone knows the potential for danger, no one is really saying anything, no one is doing anything, everyone is just watching. Maybe this guy Bush knows what he's doing. When was the last time we had a president who knew what he was doing? Johnson? At least he knew he was fighting a war that he felt couldn't be won. Didn't mention that to the American people. Didn't mention the fact the Tonkin Gulf resolution was based on an attack he knew was a fabrication, ghost ships fighting. He knew it. They knew it. We knew it eventually.

The cartoon is both cute and instructive. The thought of impending war has its charm.Copyright 2002 S.F. Chronicle War itself is less wonderful. During Vietnam we watched it on TV. Messy. The military learned its lesson with Vietnam and subsequent wars have been carefully managed to project an image of clean, video game like precision. This VBX canister, if it's released in a city or a subway or somebody's backyard will break us from the fantasy. Why do I continue to have the thought that removing this prostate of mine was foolish, that whatever gets me - stroke, accident, thermonuclear reaction - won't have anything to do with cancer other than death, which they all share in common? Hell, the sun is shining, my mood is better than my writing.

As a former infantry lieutenant I can remember the highs as well as the lows of my service. There's a certain adrenaline rush in commanding a bunch of heavily armed, similarly crazed individuals who have been allowed access to all of the toys we'd read about and examined in the movies. Machine guns. Tracer bullets. Hand grenades. High explosive artillery. All of them stacked neatly in arms rooms and ammunition bunkers, all of them ultimately available, potent, forbidden, deadly, ready for the touch of a finger. Then, of course, you find yourself huddled in a ditch with your pants as wet as mine after this damned operation. Hi, ho. I'd rather be shooting pictures.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco Carnaval Parade. The Doonesbury panel was clipped from today's San Francisco Chronicle.