The annual Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz happens at, yes, sunrise on Thanksgiving. Boats ($14) leave Pier 33 beginning at 4:45 a.m. for the Rock, where attendees will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz by (what were then called) American Indians.
It’s a few days late, but if you were around 24th and Mission on Wednesday evening, you might have wondered just what was going on. I snagged this write-up from a church listserv and got the permission of the author, journalist Deb Tullmann, to repost it.
“Hey, did you know today is Ash Wednesday?” a hipster spoke into his phone as 15 black cassocks passed him on 24th Street a block from the Bart station. We joined three Brazilian drummers, censed a makeshift altar, and read and prayed. People poured out of the station. Some stopped to take pictures and videos from their phones, some tried to redirect the crowd’s attention, and then gradually (who did it first?) the moment of realization, or curiosity or something… Then people began to come forward. How many? It’s hard to say. People stopped, stood on the fringes of the service, a circle formed. The kids couldn’t keep their eyes off the thuribles’ arc.
Sara Miles came over. “Want to come with me to Mission Pie and Dianda’s?” We walked through litter and chaos and people knew what we were up to. Words seemed unnecessary in this moment of intense presence, when the fingers touch the temple and time stops over and over and over. A man ran up to Sara and said something in Spanish as she smiled and gave him his ashes. He bolted back to his car (temporarily abandoned in the right lane, horns around him blaring), hopped back in and drove away. Dianda’s bakery wanted ashes too; I half laughed and half cried as Sara reached around the huge cake in one woman’s arms as she stretched her head closer and closer. Babies, thugs, teenagers, businessmen, it went on and on. I’ve been thinking. About what it felt like to swing a thurible in front of trash cans and storefronts. About secular and sacred practices of Lent and how the two bleed into each other. About something Sara said on our way back to the station: “I think people might want a lot more church than we give them.”
Sunbathers in Dolores Park in May. Flickr photo by Operators are standing by
It’ll be a hot one today, ladies and gentlemen, and hotter tomorrow, due to that late-summer east-wind thing. In the worst case, wildfires will destroy several thousand acres in the East Bay. In the best case, the only burning will be in Dolores Park — sunburning, that is.
If you’d rather get sunburned standing up than lying down, there’s bicycle racing in town today as the Giro di San Francisco (which is Italian for “Tour de San Francisco”) goes until 4:00 pm. The race’s epicenter is Levi’s Plaza.
I just drove back to town after a week in the suburbs of Portland. Driving down from 505 to I-80 to the Bay Bridge between 7:00 and 7:30 on a Saturday night, I expected the usual congestion in Berkeley and backup at the bridge toll plaza. Nothing! The drive was smooth as butter, with exactly 1 car in line in front of me at the tolls.
Could be because of Burning Man, or all the local Democrats that went to Denver for the Democratic Convention are taking a long weekend, or maybe that whole staycashun thing is catching on. But the Bay Bridge sure was easy tonight.