Monday, December 28, 2020


A Cheery Sighting on my Fillmore Ramble. Not sure you can tell that it's "Love" not "Live" because of the folds in the fabric. Just a simple letter from Democracy to Trump.

Of course I'm wildly relieved that Trump will not be President. And while it now seems so obvious that he couldn't possibly win, I must remind myself that there was nothing predestined about the outcome in the popular vote or the Electoral College (Boo! Hiss!) vote. AND, as we witnessed in minute, grisly detail, there was nothing predestined in Biden's victory surviving all the Republican attempts to destroy democracy AFTER the election. AND we still don't know what will happen between now and January 21. However, here is a link to a video visualization of one possibility. (You gotta scroll down a tiny bit once you're on Twitter.)
Ahh, the sometimes delightful miracles of technology!

BUT but but but but..... Many of us a bit to the left of the mainstream are concerned to the point of worry or even alarm as to what kind of President Joe Biden will turn out to be. His appointments in the area of the environment seem to be very good to me. Correct me if I'm wrong. And, since Global Warming is the biggest crisis we face, that is most important. Some of the other appts. -- much less promising of real change. HOWEVER, I'm reading Obama's autobiography right now, and I have found good news about Regular Joe on pp. 318-319.

This is the setting: It is Obama's first meeting of the National Security Council, and everybody is pressuring him to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. I should say, ALMOST everybody. Obama writes:
Among the principals, only Joe Biden voiced his misgivings. He had traveled to Kabul on my behalf during the transition, and what he saw and heard on the trip -- particularly during a contentious meeting with Karzai-- had convinced him that we need to rethink our entire approach to Afghanistan. I knew Joe also still felt burned by having supported the Iraq invasion years earlier. Whatever the mix of reasons, he saw Afghanistan as a dangerous quagmire and urged me to delay a deployment, suggesting it would be easier to put troops in once we had a clear strategy as opposed to trying to pull troops out after we'd made a mess with a bad one...

With the meeting adjourned, I headed out the door and was on my way up the stairs to the Oval when Joe caught up to me and gripped my arm. "Listen to me, boss," he said. "Maybe I've been around this town for too long, but one thing I know is when these generals are trying to box in a new President." He brought his face a few inches frome mine and stage-whispered, "Don't let them jam you."
In the next NSC meeting, everyone voted to send 20,000 more troops -- EXCEPT Regular Joe. And, as it turns out, Biden was totally right about Afghanistan. It has always been a dangerous quagmire. Whatever actions Obama took made no changes in that.

So I see, in Obama's recounting, many good things about our President-Elect:
  • He is willing to contradict the generals.
  • He is most anxious to AVOID making more mistakes like his vote for the invasion of Iraq. Amazingly, he seems to have LEARNED from his experience. That is not a common trait among human beings.
  • He speaks with what must be called wisdom, in saying it is easier to go slower and not have to extricate yourself from a mess.
  • He is willing to keep pushing when he thinks he's right -- ie GRIPPING Obama's arm and forcing him to listen.
  • He has learned from his very long experience in Government how things work, and this knowledge is useful.
  • He is fine being the only vote for his point of view.

That's quite a few good things, don't you agree? SO I HAVE EVEN MORE HOPE THAN I HAD BEFORE!

By the way, I bought Obama's book because I joined the Obama Book Club, which is organized by Manny's in SF but has members from all over the country and is open to anyone. It meets every Wednesday 5-7pm online and deals with a different section of the autobiography every time. It begins with someone who was part of the Obama administration speaking and answering questions from Manny. I went to the one last week, but I'd been Zooming too much and I couldn't hang in there. I'm going back this Wednesday.

I highly recommend A Promised Land. Obama gives you a warts-and-all picture of his Presidency. It is such a very surreal thing to be President, no? He thinks so too.

I can't help but compare him to FDR, who also entered in the midst of the breakdown of the economy. I really see Obama as being just too inexperienced to take the risk of doing anything radical about the economic crisis he was handed, unlike FDR. Definitely a book worth reading.


It's possible that a couple of these photos have appeared before, but I walked much further on Fillmore Street than before.

The first part of the walk is in the Lower Haight neighborhood.
Images on the boarded up windows of Zip Zap, a very hip hair salon where I used to get my hair cut when I first moved to San Francisco and lived in the Haight.

These two images below are from the window of the International Cafe, on the corner of Haight and Fillmore. This is one of those places that has music, politics, and cheap food. I've had some great chats with the owners, who are Arab, I think. Somehow gentrification has not found a foothold at the International. And it looks like it's surviving. At least, it was still open.

This is my first sighting of the poster, "Lower Hate." What a great use of the name of a neighborhood. Lower Haight... Lower Hate! Get it?!?

I had to come here to find out about the mask campaign of Squid Vicious.

Below is the poster for what I'm sure was the last live show at the International, dated March 28. I wonder if even THAT happened.

But the good news is that the International will be closed ONLY on 12/25. Three cheers for this survivor!

What is it about a diagonal? It has ENERGY! Often, I take several photos at a spot and end up using one of the diagonals. I started doing diagonal photos in order to squeeze in more info in a vertical image. Now I just like them better.

This mural deserves its own solo.
The one below is just stunning and I think the work of the same artist who did the heart above. So powerful to come upon this huge streaming rainbow woman, with all her beads and sequins and jewels.

And now here we are in The Fillmore District, which is still an African-American neighborhood, despite the "redevelopment" of the area in an effort that many thought should be called "Negro Removal" rather than redevelopment.

Love the slogan below, "Feel More in the Fillmore." Great use of language, and very apt.

Well, Bloggelinis, that's all for today. Next ramble will be Fillmore #2. What do you think of this format of some writing on politics or whatever and some rambling in the same blog? I'm liking it. I think it'll end up giving you more rambles.
Please treasure yourselves. Terry

Thursday, December 24, 2020

December 24, 2020: NIGHT of the RADISHES!


Once I heard about the Night of the Radishes, I knew I had to see it. So when my friend Kate, who lived at the time (2016) in Mexico, invited me to take a Christmas/New Years guided tour to Oaxaca, -- I was IN!
Since colonial times, Oaxaca has had a Christmas Market on December 23 in the Zocalo (main plaza). The vendors carved radishes as a way to draw attention to their wares. Then, in 1897, the Mayor declared that there would be a competition for the best radish sculptures every year.

As Oaxaca grew and farmland disappeared, the growing of the radishes was taken over by the city. The radishes stay extra long in the ground and are over- fertilized, so they're very big and can take very weird shapes. Some of these enlarged and artsy veggies weigh over five pounds! That's a hella big radish! These babies aren't destined for a salad.They're inedible by the time they're picked. They're the raw material for ARTISTS! Kinda like Oaxaca's version of Carrera marble.
There's a special competition for children. I was there earlier in the day, so I didn't see any of their finished work.

There are many competitions, organized by the theme the artist has chosen. The Grand Prize goes to the winner in the Traditional category, which includes religious scenes and scenes of Oaxacan life.

The contestants need to wait to design their sculptures until they actually get their portion of Oaxacan marble on December 18, because they have no idea what shapes and sizes they'll have to work with. You can see on the left how the artist used those two equally crooked radishes for the uplifted arms of the main figure.

Above is a very detailed recreation of a religious procession. The Trinity on the left. It looks like the Virgin as Consolation in the middle. And the statues are riding on little radish trucks! Wow. I couldn't even get the whole thing in. Looks like Grand Prize material to me. The Grand Prize is 15,000 pesos, which equals $755 U.S.

If you'd like more information on the Night of the Radishes, you can find it on Wikipedia.

The radishes wilt after a few hours, so the festival has to happen on ONE DAY. The artist/designers arrive early in the afternoon with their all their fixings. There are usually about 100 entrants. Each booth has a banner above it, announcing the title of the radish creation and the names of the creators. The major public event is after dark -- ie NIGHT of the Radishes. But we got there early. This unique event has become quite famous and crowded when the official festivities begin.
You can wait hours in line to slowly walk by the booths at night. There are thousands of people. I mean, let's face it: If you've got a yen to see carved radishes, you have no other choices! Ya gotta get yourself to Oaxaca on December 23rd!

We went in the late afternoon, so we could avoid the crowds AND see people creating their displays. We could actually even chat a bit with the artists, in our rudimentary Spanish.

The trade-off was that we didn't see all the finished work and I don't know who won the Grand Prize. But that's alright.

For me, the most exciting thing is to see the CREATION of the performance, not the performance itself.
There are also cornhusk creations and dried flower creations. Left is an almost life-size cornhusk woman. Below the photo of me is a close-up of a very large cornhusk & cob orchestra.
These are called "immortal flowers," because they don't lose their color when dried.

And the rest are radishes. A small selection from so many amazing creations.


Zocalo on Market day,
with cheese, bread, pottery & other things for sale.

The Zocalo with a gazebo, a mezcal stand and dogs playing. Mezcal is a very big deal in Oaxaca. It's a form of tequila that's supposed to have psychedelic properties.

of the Zocalo.
I don't know where these little radish dogs ended up. They are so ALIVE!

Well, Bloggelinis, this is a small sampling of The Night of the Radishes -- or perhaps I should say The AFTERNOON of the Radishes, which is when these photos were taken. If you go, I recommend staying 3 or 4 blocks from the Zocalo, because it's REALLY noisy. I'm not a Christmas kinda person, but Christmas in Oaxaca is something else. And the Radishes aren't the only thing that's happening.

We'll be traveling again someday, right? Terry