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San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival parade.

May 20th, 2003

The bomb squad detonated some sort of package out in front of the building next door this afternoon after evacuating the streets and rerouting traffic. This has happened before. They recently blew up an old suitcase found near the Marriott that showered the area with dirty socks and t-shirts. I'm not sure what they showered us with this afternoon.

Why did I not go out and shoot photographs after the detonation? Probably wasn't thinking. When I left this afternoon there were still lines of parked police cars along Broadway and uniformed officers being interviewed by the media. If I'd emerged earlier, with a longer lens, I might have caught something interesting. Too warm, maybe, mind turned to Jello. Or too dumb, hard to say. I don't carry a camera all the time because I'm looking for news stories, but there's no reason to avoid them.

I did remember some training I'd had in the army. When I heard the package being detonated - and I'm not certain it was a package - I walked away from the windows and down the hall. A standard trick: A small, but loud detonation, one or two people injured, a crowd gathers, then a much larger explosion blows everyone away. Something to remember in this 21st century. A loud noise in the near distance, people running to see what's happened, grab the kids and go in the opposite direction away from the sound. I learned that long ago, never thought I'd use it now.

Did you really do that, do it for that reason?

Yeah, but I did it automatically, no great emotional energy involved, no hurry, no worry, no real thinking. Bombers here, bombers there, I'm tired of bombers everywhere, particularly in Oakland. Get along with the day, blow up raggedy assed suitcases full of old clothes if you must - good training for the authorities - but don't pay too much attention. Walk away from detonations, but walk as you might on the sidewalk when the light turns green, you look up, you cross the street. The street goes "boom!", you look up, you walk in the opposite direction mulling life's really important questions: Carrots, for example, chicken or beef for dinner?

Walk away? With your camera?


Another good day, another walk to work, read the paper over breakfast at the same cafe, a little tired (but not dizzy) in the early morning, feeling like a regular guy by noon.

A story in the Oakland Tribune: "It was a crumpled white plastic grocery bag with newspaper inside. When officers peeked in the bag they saw flashing green lights and heard the sound of ticking, so they immediately cleared the area and called the bomb squad."


The photograph was taken at the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival parade.