Confrontation? I was beginning to wonder whether my idea had become a little too good.
Nah. Sunday was a sunny, wonderful day for a prank, and the prank went off like a 3-D psychedelic rendering of a real demonstration. Damn, it was perfect.
Kevin Keating, also known to police as Nestor Makhno, and a small band of followers met about noon at the 16th Street BART plaza. Kevin was being interviewed by a reporter as I wandered by. About 1 p.m., people began gathering at the northeast corner of Dolores Park, next to the tennis courts. Although a few carried pro-yuppie signs, most of them appeared to be, themselves, pranking the issue; serious protesters were in the clear majority, and they were clearly, vehemently, preposterously anti-yup.
Bradley, of course, did not appear.
But that didn't stop the demonstration. This is, after all, San Francisco. No need for reality when protesting is in the air.
In the end, a couple of hundred people gathered in the sun at 18th and Dolores streets. The demonstration had a little of something for everybody. Kevin/Nestor and his band of 15 or so charged down the Dolores Park hill, chanting, "One, two, three, four, this is class war." There was a bullhorn. There were arguments, and milling, and shouting, and police to keep the peace. This was a full-scale demonstration, one of the better ones I've seen in San Francisco, in fact -- and nobody stopped things to ask why the people who supposedly called the rally never showed up.
Laurel Wellman will describe what happened at our "Stop the Hate" meta-demonstration more completely in her Dog Bites column, which follows this piece by a few pages. I will answer, now, the burning question: Why? Why would we fake a demonstration?
Hey, why not?
If the San Francisco news media are habitually lazy, press-release driven, gullible, and focused on easily presented controversy, rather than substance -- and believe me, they are -- don't they deserve to be pranked into the next star system? (And believe me, gullible they were. The short-list of news outlets that reported our phony demonstration as real includes: the Examiner, the Chronicle, the Associated Press state wire, KGO radio, and Channel 2 television.)
And if a couple of hundred people in the Mission are so focused on neighborhood politics that they cannot recognize absurdity staring them right in their faces, is it not the clear duty of SF Weekly to bring humor back into their lives?
There are real gentrification and housing problems in this city. We have covered them, and will continue to cover them, seriously, and in detail. But we also do pranks. It's part of our shtick. So let's just publish Mecklin's Maxim, and make everyone aware: When people behave preposterously in San Francisco, they deserve to be pranked.
And, by God, we will prank them!
We understand that executing this maxim next time will be more difficult. Each prank will be harder than the last. People will begin to be on their guard. Some might even stop behaving preposterously for five or 10 minutes.
But preposterousness is endemic to San Francisco, and pranking is necessary for the mental health of the city. So prank we will.
Even when we don't have Emily Gurnon to help.