St STupid’s Day Parade was last week, the 32nd annual march through the streets of San Francisco. It’s a great celebration of all things foolish organized by the First Church of the Last Laugh, one of the easiest religions to follow. Bishop Joey explains through his megaphone at the first stop at the federal reserve bank: “….its 150% dogma-lite, and there is only one holiday a year, and THIS IS IT !!!” as most of the revelers join the Bishop in exlcaiming “THIS IS IT” full of giggles around the idea of a fun religion. The two hour parade and ritualistic celebrations, populated by some 200-300 excentrics, clowns, fools, and various manifestations of bay area spirit, travels through the heart of downtown, with marching drum percussion, a peripherical blast of zany and color, socio-political protest, dada absurdity and sheer ludicrous behavior evident in jest signboards carried high, imaginative costumes testifying to the capacity for innocence beyond experience, as my clown teacher used to say. The parade makes 9 stops along the way, each with a theme appropriate for the geographic location, with spirited megaphoned blasts from the bishop, full of appropriate dipped in stupidity philosophy,we throw used lottery tickets up in front of the federal reserve, throw penniless at the black heart sculpture outside the bank of america building, and have a sock exchange on the somber gray steps of the massive columns of the now former stock exchange building. The latter ritual is my favorite, exhilarated glee spreads through the assemblage of throwing and gathering arms. Of course words do little justice to this manifestation, and now, a week or so past, the photogalleries are appearing on the internet…follow these links:
Personal reminisces of thirty years past travel back to a time when I practiced ball juggling during breaks on the steps of the stock exchange, before returning to the hubris of the Options Floor, as a market quote terminal operator. In a tip of the hat to that world, this year’s parade theme was pink slips, and all the notable society members and corporate institutions who have been profiting exceptionally well as the rest of us snivel in this economic downtime.
Same image today, just a different costume – a gray suit, white shirt, red 50’s bowtie, YooWho glasses with a double sized hundred dollar bill in constant motion, arms reaching but never grasping, or allowing other intruding person’s fingers to grasp the money. There were a lot of cameras, and a lot of laughs.
this year’s actions: pushing forward in determined walk, with head up and bill dangling almost within reach, going outside the parade mainstream, down sidestreets, slowing downto a butoh dance framed by immense building lines, grids of windows and patterns that tower into a sparkling blue winter sky with high flying clouds. during certain moments, I pulled out the tiny cymbals I had bought three weeks ago on the steps leading up to the golden Shwedagon stuppa in Rangoon-Yangon. The little ring of their shiny brass clashes quickly disperses in the deep boom bass drum led rhythm, yet I hear, and later Bishop Joey comments “I knew what kind of sound it made, and even though I couldn’t hear anything, I knew what it was sounding like. A final gesture was to gift the cymbals to Bishop Joey, who tied them to his mini big bass drum.
below : the shwedagon pagoda in Yangon (Rangoon)