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The What It Means To Live in Berkeley parade.
September 28th, 1999

Art As Life
High noon sun sucks for photography. Color photography, anyway. Sometimes I shoot with a fill flash and that often helps, but bottom line is the contrast is too high and the parade photographs were, um, mediocre. I should have taken more photographs of Wavy Gravy because the world needs more photographs of Wavy Gravy and I should have moved to a section of the parade route that was in the shade.

And more black and white. I've been shooting TRI-X and TMY-400 recently, TMY-400 being the latest and greatest higher grain black and white product released by Kodak sometime after I stopped shooting in the early 70's and before I started shooting photographs again two years ago, TRI-X being the film that I and forty billion photographers have used and loved since the beginning of photo time, which for photographic purposes is sometime just after the invention of the Leica camera and just before the founding of Life magazine. Well, I'm not that concerned. Just a matter of making some changes and shooting up the 40 berzillion rolls of Ektachrome I still have in the refrigerator. And maybe buying some developing tanks.

I did promise to run a photo of the naked men and women marching in the parade, but I want to put it off until I get the last black and white contact sheet back from the processor. It has another 10 shots left on the roll and I'll finish them today. I knew when I shot the first round on color I hadn't done them justice, so when I passed the group later up the parade route (This parade took its time, more a saunter than a march really.), I shot some with TRI-X black and white in the camera. If they don't turn out, I'll still run one since I promised and I was called on that promise today by a friend at the office. Really don't like any that I got back today except for their novelty value. Maybe I'm just getting older.

When I was a younger long haired freak, getting naked on the beach and sunbathing naked on Wavy Gravy before the parade started. the roof were considered hip, part of having long hair, particularly when we were doing the Rip Off Review of Western Culture, a magazine that lasted three issues on a total budget other failing magazines spent for coffee. Our offices were in an industrial district at the base of Potrero Hill across from a trucker bar and it would drive them nuts when they realized our roof was littered with naked sunbathing women just over the ledge where they couldn't see them. I think that was half the fun, playing at being incredibly hip, members of some weird little subculture that was doing everything they'd ever fantasized since they were teenagers. Life as art.

There was a lot more openness about bodies and sex coming out of that period and perhaps that's the message the Berkeley marchers were trying to impart, but my feeling is the shock value of going naked in public came and left a long time ago. There seems to be a line that drifts over time in the public consciousness. Naked has done good duty for the art community, but now it's Jesus under urine or Mary under poop. Push the right button and you get an automatic headline, headlines being useful in building a career.

"Look mommy, all those people don't have any clothes on!" "Yes dear, their costumes must be still at the cleaners." No punch, no need to shield the eyes of little Sally and Jimmy. The straight world adopted hot tubs and the guys across the street in the trucker bar soon branched out beyond amphetamines into a virtual kaliedescope of druggie standards since they had the money, the desire and access to transportation. So fuck the stone broke hippies on the roof. Art as life. What the hell, we had our moment.

I'm sitting at home finishing this as I wait for the phone company to arrive to set up my DSL line. What do you want to bet I have to upload from the office?

The photographs were taken at the "What It Means To Live in Berkeley" parade.