Living and working in San Francisco has had the unfortunate consequence of hardening me to any and all form of aggressive politically-motivated protest. It’s nothing personal, it’s a basic survival instinct. When you can’t schedule business calls in the afternoon because your office is sandwiched between the corporate headquarters of a Wells Fargo and Chevron, and the noise coming from people in the street is loud enough to drown everything else out, you die a little inside.
At some point, the occasional inflatable rat truck-float, the ‘power to the people, my people’, and creative rap ditties about economic injustice and inequalities don’t even elicit an eyebrow raise.
While I’m angry that overexposure, we’re talking once a week minimum — daily during high season, has made me deaf to the voice of unions and advocacy groups, I also take solace in the fact that every once in a while a little ray of sunshine pierces through.
This weekend I experienced one such magical moment while waiting for a girlfriend to join me at the Farmers Market. Completely unaware of my surroundings, I pulled out of my I’m-waiting-for-someone-fog when I heard a trumpet blowing ‘When the Saints Come Marching In’. The sound was beautiful. It was coming from a young kid, fully dressed and pressed and overall winning at life. It took me a good minute to realize that I was staring at him through an angry anti-government mob (complete with fake helicopter bleeding streams of monopoly-money cash).
The juxtaposition of the two made me smile. It made me listen. And it made me feel like I was witnessing a secret commentary on something larger than any one issue or performance could ever offer.
Of course, before I could decipher the deeper meaning of it all my girlfriend showed up and I was instantly wrapped-up in where we could find dill and a whole chicken for her soup recipe. I’m naturally averse to critical thinking, sue me.
It did however give me a great idea for when I go off the rails one day (it’s happening…) and start pounding the pavement with glitter-glue signs decrying the dangers of god-knows-what: hire an adorable child trumpeter to walk a few paces ahead… it will give your protest that allure of depth you’re striving for and likely not achieving, while also providing a rhythmic guide for your unintelligible chanting.
…minus the I’ve-clearly-gone-crazy-if-I’m-taking-this-advice part.