Spring Cleaning

Wow. It’s been months since I got it together to blog… if you’ve been waiting, my apologies. Basically I’ve been working on a new book “Critical Mass at 20: SHIFT HAPPENS!” I’m glad to say it’ll be great, but it’s been a lot more work than any of us knew it was going to be… It will be out in time for the 20th anniversary in September 2012. Though I haven’t found time to blog, I had lots of ideas and many photos piling up during these past months so I thought I just throw a bunch of unrelated things up as a kind of “spring cleaning” to make way for more regular posts again. (I also did a huge spring cleaning on the mold in the bathroom, but that was already 7 weeks ago!)

Sunday Streets May 6, 2012, on Valencia looking south from 17th Street.

Sunday Streets last weekend was a huge success again, and it will be repeating on the first Sunday of each of the next three months here in the Mission (the neighborhood where it is most loved)…  Here’s a few more images, kids and musicians enjoying the respite from the omnipresence of automobiles… When will San Francisco finally start closing streets permanently to cars?

Cuban drummers getting down...

So many kids having so much fun!

Buye Pongo, they were really rockin' it!

Last week was May Day… A bunch of us got together back in 1998 to “Reclaim May Day” so I’m delighted to see it has taken on a major life of its own. That said, this past week’s “festivities” seemed rather anticlimactic. Partly because the union bureaucrats pulled the plug on the growing excitement that might have drawn several thousand to a morning blockade and closure of the Golden Gate Bridge. When the union leaders backed off, occupiers and other supporters dutifully followed suit. That led us in the Bike Cavalry to change our plans from riding out towards the Bridge at 7 a.m. and instead we headed downtown to support the Inland Boatman’s Union picket line behind the Ferry Building. When we got there we found our friends in the Brass Liberation Orchestra, and a fun and photogenic kayak picket line in the water.

Kayak picket line during morning IBU action on May Day 2012.

Not sure if they actually blocked this ferry, but it looked good from the dock!

One of the bike cavalry in conversation with the IBU pickets.

After the morning ride (in which we saw at least 500-800 cyclists heading in to work on their normal commute–wow! I remember what an effort was made 15 years ago to start morning “mini-masses” and now they’re just normal!), I went over to the East Bay to join the Occupy Oakland actions. Ended up standing around the 14th and Broadway for a while, watching the three streams of “insurrectionists” slowly converge in the middle of Broadway around midday. Later we rode down to see the occupied Gill Tract at the Albany border, and finally we went back south to the Fruitvale BART station to join the Immigrant Rights March (that drew around 3000 participants and was entirely blacked out in local media).

Good advice.

This is at the Gill Tract, and as of today (May 9) occupiers there are being sued by UC Berkeley, who has also cut off water and road access.

A more practical and constructive "Occupy" you could hardly find!

They even made room to co-exist with a wild turkey's family.


No illegals, no tacos--get used to it!

The 32-year-old Tied box is embraced by a new generation!

I wanted to plug a couple of great performances I saw in the last few months. First, my all time favorite spoken word artist/poet is Shaijla Patel and her astounding epic poem, “Migritude.” You have to check it out! Here’s a youtube of an excerpt of her work:


Another piece I saw was my neighbor Kirk Read’s “Computer Face” which will be coming to Tampa, Florida to torment the Republican National Convention in August… Kirk just keeps getting better. Here’s an excerpt from his show, which is never quite the same twice:


120323 Kirk Read Computer Face 2 from Mark McBeth | Projects on Vimeo.


Lastly, in this quick upload/download to cover the past few months, here’s some images from Sao Paulo’s Via Madalena, near where I stayed when I was there. I wrote about the bicycle situation there over on sfcriticalmass.org, but I also had the pleasure of revisiting this remarkable alley of great murals and public art. I was there the first time in 1988, so 24 years later it was wild to see it again, and see its connections to such local spots as Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley too.

Via Madalena is inundated with photographers all day long--this admonition doesn't seem to have much sway (as it didn't with me either!)

In progress!

This image, seen many times before, was in Via Madalena too... can't remember where I saw it first!

OK. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this going now, after this interregnum… Cheers!

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