|The below is modeled on a Navajo
ritual called Mud Events. It and other like rituals
can be found in Jerome Rothenberg’s Shaking the
Pumpkin: Traditional Poetry of the Indian North
|1. Run around the trees. Half the
group strips, paints their bodies blue, ties hair back
with reeds. Appoint one of the blue team to chant,
another to keen, another to remember.
|2. The first half paints themselves
black and white, wears lion manes, talks to each other
in monotone. Then they beat up the blue half, take the
|3. Make the blue people build huts
and totem poles, clean up excrement, turn dung into
hovel housing. With mud they must cake their babies’
eyes, ears, mouths, nostrils; drop them into small mud
pockets in the night, leave them for the coyotes. Then
they must build taller totems, paint pretty things on
|4. The first group places daisies in
their hair, ties lace to the top of the totem poles.
While holding the lace, dance around the poles.
Afterward, roast coyotes for supper.
|5. The second group chants, keens.
The one who was in charge of remembering, leaves.
|6. The first group sets up classes in
how to cook coyotes with rosemary twigs. Each gets a
can with a string connected to all the others.
|7. The remembering chief returns.
Some of the chanters create a frenzy of keening and
remembering. They push over two of the totem poles
onto many of the pretty dancers.
|8. The first group smears red and
black war clay over their faces.
|9. The teams decide the next step:
Team A destroys Team B or; Team B destroys Team A or;
they destroy each other or; both teams burn down the
forest; or ...
|10. At the end of the game, everyone
lies face down, smells the clover; turns over, watches
the clouds. All stand up, run fast to the spring, jump
in, wash off.
|Hector Q. Mooney
Good-bye to Shangri-la
I was going to devote this space to a
detailed look at the present state of our economy,
documented with figures and statistical charts.
But you probably spent last week, as I
did, watching the stock market bounce around like a rag doll
in a playful terrier’s mouth. Noting the layoffs announced
by airline after airline. Listening to explanations of the
decline in American consumer confidence.
Closer to home, Supervisor Gavin Newsom
told the board, “Everything is not fine in San Francisco,”
calling for departments to reduce their budgets. In the
Chronicle Sam Zuckerman wrote of one-two punch: “Already
reeling from the sharp downturn of its dominant technology
sector, the region faces tough times in two other pillars of
its economy: tourism and air transport.” Our mayor
closeted himself with members of the business community,
emerging to urge a new tourism campaign aimed at enticing
“the little old lady from Hillsborough to come into San
Francisco and drink tea at the Ritz-Carlton.”
But you knew all that. You’ve know it
for months — even years — as you watched neighbors being
evicted, listened to musicians and artist friends search for
an affordable workspace, stepped around the growing number
of street people with no place to go.
Instead, let me introduce you to the city
of San Francisco as it presents itself to visitors — to
11.3 million of them, in fact, who enrich our coffers to the
tune of $7.62 billion. Or at least, they did last year.
Here’s what attracted them: “San
Francisco is a golden dream come true, a place where heart,
mind and soul embrace, lost in the simplicity of delightful
deliverance….San Francisco encourages lingering. It was
designed with adventure, romance and pleasure in mind. It is
one of life’s great indulgences, so indulge. It is one of
the world’s most gratifying escapes, so escape. It is
where the world comes to unwind. It is America’s
Does this description, from the San
Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, sound like a place
where you’d like to live? “America’s preeminent
playground.” Disneyland North. It gives new meaning to the
phrase, “A nice place to visit, but would you want to live
For that’s the problem, isn’t it?
People do live in this city which, the Visitors Bureau adds,
“has been named the world’s top city twice by readers of
Condé Nast Traveler.” Once upon a time, in the not
too distant past, the lives of its residents — and their
livelihoods — took top billing.
Less than 30 years ago, in 1973, Gladys
Hansen revised the guide to San Francisco published in 1940
under WPA auspices. Here is the city and its environs as she
presented it then: “ Long the West’s chief industrial
center, the city itself had passed its zenith as a
manufacturing center by the turn of the century. In its
place, the East Bay came forward as factories found
industrial sites cheaper and rail connections more
convenient on the mainland. The city of San Francisco itself
assumed its present role of financial and marketing center
for an industrial area embracing the whole bay region —
that of front office for the plants across the water.”
From front office to themepark in less
than 30 years. Isn’t it time to reverse the flow? It may
take a while, but in the present circumstances, what do we
have to lose?
There’s no need for grand gestures. We
got here by almost imperceptible steps, and we can go back
the way we came. Why not eat a little humble pie and sit
down representatives from the other Bay Area cities to plan
the world’s best coordinated, most inclusive regional
network of finance and industry and transportation? Why not
begin to re-create a region of workers where, as J.D.
Borthwick said in 1857, “No occupation [is] considered at
all derogatory…. Every kind of business, custom, and
employment, [is] solicited”?
Because in the next few years, we’re
going to need all the help we can get.
Fuying, strong & beautiful,
|fled Canton for St. Francis’ City
|& every morning at Washington
Square Park in North Beach
|as cold damp fog rolled in from the
|& hot summer sun rose from the
|she cast elongating shadows westward
|from Benjamin Franklin’s pewter
|grey shadows against blue sky &
|green leaves of 6 cottonwoods
|with emerald green moss & grey
|I heard water sprinklers wetting
|as a rainbow surrounded her, its arc
|curving from her fingertips to toes,
|I heard her breathing deeply,
|her own personal Tai-Chi, spiraling
|up over the pointed spires of Saints
Peter & Paul Church
|gracefully thrusting, stretching,
|as her hips gyrated to the
church-bells striking 8 times.
|I never saw Fuying swimming, somehow,
|I saw her surfacing, propelling
magical, watery air
|by fingers, hands, fists, knuckles,
elbows, arms, shoulders, back,
|legs, knees, feet, toes,
|exploding it into scattering diamonds
|Philip Hackett, 8.VIII.O1.