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Sunday, March 15, 2009

You've Got to Dress the Part

So, what would you have worn to the Anarchist Book Fair this weekend?

(Personally, I would have chosen a sandal instead of the oxford-style shoe.) But at least he's matched his socks to his footwear. And to be fair, it was quite cold and it did rain, so a closed-toe pair of shoes does make a lot of sense.


Today, The Boy dressed in a handsome navy blazer, crisp white shirt and striped tie bearing his school colors to attend an alumni meeting at the University Club downtown.

Once he had hopped in his taxi, I pondered what a person (namely, me) would wear to the 14th Annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair being held at the San Francisco County Fair Building, just inside the entrance to Golden Gate Park.

I tend to think of Golden Gate Park as my backyard, so of course it's only natural for me to take an interest if there are a bunch of anarchists coming to visit my park, just as I did with the hordes of Ikebana enthusiasts last weekend.

The important thing, besides having an open mind, is to choose your outfit carefully so that you don't look like an outsider. Even though technically a bunch of anarchists are outsiders, I still think it's a good idea to dress the part.

I went with drab. I chose a grey sweater, black cotton skirt, tights, and low-heeled boots. My only splash of color was an old wool scarf that I bought at a market on Blvd. Raspail in Paris, and a cheap knit hat from H&M. I only wore blush, so as not to look too conformist by wearing makeup. (Okay, I lied. I did wear a little mascara and some very light lip gloss.) I just hoped that my hair looked naturally curly in a 70s hippie sort of way and not like I had permed it to be something my hair is definitely not.


The Anarchist Book Fair was free to enter (duh) but once inside, everything was for sale. I couldn't help being amused that many of the vendors took credit cards. Even little suburban-raised dorky me, in my non-aware, non-hipster state of political innocence/inaction, assumed it would be a cash-only affair.

This is the place to buy your t-shirts with assorted depressing/threatening messages, tote bags (same messages), patches bearing messages to put on parts of clothing, stickers and buttons. And of course you could find any number of books and DVDs for sale, on subjects ranging from the Zapatista National Liberation Army to herbal abortion methods, and everything in between.

Despite my drab outfit, I no longer have any facial piercings (that nose stud was truly a pain in the ass) and I don't have any tattoos. My hair is brown. Permed, I freely admit, but the color I was born with. I had to wonder, watching the body-modified set, if this Anarchist Book Fair is just another reason to dress up in a city where dressing up is already a way of life. Heck, you know me, I even dress up for film festivals. I'm the first to admit it.


The reason why I ask this is that I didn't hear a lot of people talking about ideas. I saw a lot of things to buy, and a lot of white people buying them.

I had gone to the book fair because I was curious to hear what this gathering of people believed in, because under the outfits and under the skin, I'm quite sure that I might have a few ideas in common with some of them. I can see that things in the world are broken too, I just don't wear my heart on my sleeve. And I don't act on my anger.


I have a parent who worked for the NSA and a major defense contractor for my whole upbringing. I had a husband who grew up in Communist Russia and lived in a ridiculous and corrupt society based on a flawed economic system. I had a boyfriend who owned a copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook and followed the Maharishi around the world, just like the Beatles did. I have a boyfriend who quotes Warren Buffett (and Jimmy Buffett, but mostly Warren).

So it's not like I'm not used to or unwilling to understand a variety of viewpoints. I just wasn't enlightened or touched here.


And then I went outside.

First I saw this:

This local man is in critical condition in an Israeli hospital, after being shot in the head last Friday with a tear gas canister by Israeli soldiers while in a Palestinian village. I have not commented on the situation in Gaza or the current conflict because I really don't know enough about the situation, except that it saddens me. And because I deeply distrust our media, I don't think I am qualified to have an opinion.

But my heart goes out to a local fellow who thought he could help with a tragic and violent situation that is generations upon generations old, and now he is in desperate circumstances. The money box for donations was empty. I put in some money. I couldn't help thinking that those people inside buying their anarchist garb and stickers could have put some money in this box, too.

And then I saw this young lady, sitting quietly and making jewelry, her wares spread out on a dark blanket.

Perhaps because of my recent memories about being a jewelry vendor, and seeing a pretty little metal choker, I wanted to buy something from her. To support her efforts and appreciate her artistry. She seemed like the only real person there.

And she had a delightful screen print on canvas of a 20s-era woman musing about her love for Anaïs Nin, which you should know by now is definitely something I'd display proudly on my anarchist messenger tote (which I do not have so now will have to buy one).


After all of that bleakness, I was happy to see that the rest of Golden Gate Park wasn't buying into it. Luckily for us, nature ignores our cruelties and doesn't give a crap about our revolutions.


ps.: Nyssa's jewelry can be found here on Etsy at Hourglass Productions.
pps.: You can read more about Tristan Anderson here. There will be a rally for his cause tomorrow afternoon.


Just Jules March 15, 2009 at 7:00 PM  

What I don't understand is people strive to be so original. Wearing clothing to stick out, look angry. Unfortunately for them when they are in a group they all look the same. So what is so original here?

Thank you for ending with the flowers.

Brook March 15, 2009 at 7:02 PM  

Thoughtful as always, and me, I would have avoided the fanny pack-it just screams "tourist" ya know? Again it is the one making a difference, sending out ripples be they ever so small to effect what change they may.

Kelly Kilmer March 15, 2009 at 7:06 PM  

"I don't think I am qualified to have an opinion."

Everyone's qualified to have an opinion. If you don't trust the media or what you see on tv and in the newspapers, seek out other forms of news and find the truth. It's out there.

Char March 15, 2009 at 8:03 PM  

honey, we all have opinions and yours are as good, or probably better than most people. you strive to be informed and compassionate which is more than I can say about a lot of people I know. anyway - I don't understand a lot about the middle east but feel it's a bit like growing up in the south during the civil rights movement, one has to live it to truly understand it.

conformity of the non-conformist always amuses me.

will March 15, 2009 at 8:15 PM  

Life's nothing but a parade ... some march up front, some sit on the side lines and watch and a few follow with clean-up brooms. Most forgot there was a parade a happening in the first place.

I'd say your one of the few that march up front.

christina March 15, 2009 at 8:18 PM  

This post is touching. I will hit the links you have given us. I also have to say that this orange colored flower warms my heart. Even more so after reading your post, if you can believe that.


jaykbee March 15, 2009 at 10:10 PM  

Good post. I also thank you for ending with the flowers. They remind me of happiness which I needed to be reminded of today. It's time for me to return to flowers, I think. Thank you.

~DokterKenny March 16, 2009 at 1:00 AM  

Doesn't the idea of a book fair and anarchy almost strike you as an oxymoron?

Anarchist 1: "Oh hey let's go out and tear down the barriers of government, live free and without boundaries"

Anarchist 2: "OK, but the book fair is this weekend"

Anarchist 1: "Oh right I secured a booth, so you have the credit card machine?"

Anarchist 2: "Yes, but Chase is now charging us 3 percent of every transaction instead of 2".

Anarchist 1: "OK when we take over they are the first to go..after our transactions have cleared of course."

Anarchist 2: "yes of course"


DollZandThingZ March 16, 2009 at 2:48 AM  

That was one interesting post. Much to think about. Since the two Buffets are quoted (or occasionally sung) around here, I could relate.

We all "costume" in one way or another even when we don't think we costume at all. I have worn black for 30 years. People are always trying to talk me out of it or find meaning. There isn't any--I just like it. That guy in the buff...now THAT is a statement!

Your life in enchanted. Thank you for sharing it!

Unknown March 16, 2009 at 5:58 AM  

I agree with Char about if you've not lived something, it's very difficult to understand. I lived in the Near and Middle East for almost 9 years and am proud to say I didn't "see it from the backseat of a Mercedes." But no matter what you think you see or hear, there are always many, many underlying layers that, I don't feel, you can be aware of if you weren't born into it/them and live it/them daily.
Your flower photos are just awesome.

rosedale's 4head March 16, 2009 at 10:48 AM  

these remind me of so much i miss about sf. especially the guy showing all the skin--only in sf, only!

julochka March 16, 2009 at 11:18 AM  

maybe sunday was just a day for fakers...fake anarchists for you and fake artists for me...fakers suck.

i'm glad you found one real person and some pretty flowers.

paris parfait March 16, 2009 at 11:39 AM  

So sad about Tristan; alas, not surprising, considering the political climate there. Just one tragedy after another, as more and more innocent victims succumb to random fire.

But on a brighter note, nice jewelery. And your flower photos are beautiful. xo

ArtSparker March 17, 2009 at 10:46 AM  

Credit cards do Have the potential to create some anarchy, I'd say.

As for not having opinions, nobody has complete knowledge about anything (that would involve seeing into the future). So you are as qualified as anyone.