Saturday, September 12 was the 11th annual free Power to the Peaceful festival, in Golden Gate Park, brought to fruition by musician, activist and yogi Michael Franti. (http://powertothepeaceful.org/). This year I was determined to go. I heard Michael Franti and Spearhead earlier this year at the newly opened Fox theatre in downtown Oakland. It was a fun, joyful and rocking show. His energy is infectious, you have to dance.
When Saturday morning was ushered in by thunder, rain and chilly air, I went to Twitter to see what people were going to do and logged onto Wunderground, (http://www.wunderground.com/ ). For the most part, no one was deterred. The 9am yoga may not have been as enjoyable as in the past years, but most posts stated, rain or shine, Power to the Peaceful. Only a few were opting out; one poster was choosing to stay home rather than mingle with the dirty hippies in the rain. Sitting in my sweats drinking coffee, I could see his point. On the fence, in front of my laptop, checking various blogs, posting a few things; I kept one eye on the window and the weather reports. It didn’t look good. I had planned on heading out around 11, but at 10 it was still wet and chilly outside, I didn’t get up. At noon I texted my friend who had planned on going, to see what she was deciding. She wrote back that she was almost there; it was overcast, but not very cold.
That and my mantra that it’s more about the journey than the event itself propelled me into the shower and out the door in about 40 minutes. I had packed my back pack earlier-smallish blanket to sit on, trail mix, camera, San Francisco walking map and a few bucks for BART and Muni. Halfway to the carport, I realized it was colder than I thought and I ran back up to get a big scarf. I was wearing old loose jeans, rolled up once for style and mud, flip flops in honor of barefoot Michael Franti, two tank tops for when the sun came out, and a hoody sweatshirt. And the big scarf for my neck, and if it rained, my head.
On the train I texted my friend that I was on my way. Off BART, the trickiest part for me kicked in, catching the bus. I’m not a bus rider, it seems arduous to me. What if I get on the wrong one? You must have the exact change; mysteriously, you always ask for a transfer, even if you’re not transferring, how long is the pass good for? I said a quick prayer hoping we didn’t crash and I didn’t get stabbed, both of which have happened recently.
The directions instructed me to catch the bus at McAllister and 7th. I had my map, but wasn’t sure which way was 7th. I followed a group that had been on BART, saw that we were heading towards 9th and did a quick 360 and crossed the street and went up a block. I was then on McAllister but there was no 7th, there was Hyde. I backtracked a bit then asked a woman who directed me back to Hyde and I waited for #5.
There were about 30 people waiting, all going to Golden Gate Park. I sat on the steps of the building behind the bus stop and politely said hi to the guy sitting there. We proceeded to get into a conversation, he kind of latched on to me, which frequently seems to happen no matter how I try and avoid it. No worries, we were all headed to the Peace festival. It’s hard to figure out where people fit into the puzzle sometimes. We look at how they’re dressed, how they speak, hygiene, we get a vibe. He was handsome, about in his 40’s had a smooth tan face, graying hair a little past his ears and combed back. The skin on his face looked stretched too tight. Sitting down, I couldn’t gauge his weight; he had on baggy jeans, layered shirts, typical for going to the concert. He asked me a lot about Oakland. People who live in San Francisco, don’t come to Oakland too often, they just don’t feel the need. I didn’t ask him much because he kept asking me questions. He said that he wished Bart had a pass for Oakland to San Francisco; I said, hmm, I don’t know if they do, and he said emphatically, they don’t. He asked me how much my Bart ticket had cost. He said that the ticket for the night show for Michael Franti was $35 and he thought that was kind of high. He thought it should have been a lower price and that Michael Franti should donate the profits. He felt cheated by this. He held my gaze too long, he had a small dark green plastic bag, like a miniature garbage bag with the shape of what looked like 2 large cans.
I said I thought $35 was pretty low for a ticket and the whole concert today was free and he donated and worked for his causes regularly, he was a known activist, it’s pretty much his thing. He said he knew all this, but he still thought $35 was kind of high.
We had been waiting about 10 minutes, more people had come. I asked him how it worked, did we have to line up; he said we should so I followed him to the front of the bus stop, not the end where there were way more people than were going to fit on the next bus. Walking, I saw that he was really thin; while standing and waiting, I was close enough to smell the alcohol fumes wafting off him. It made me a little sad; he eventually moved on.
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