Monday, April 30, 2007
Dalai O'Brien Does Darfur
One of the oddest confluence of celebrities imaginable occurred in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza on Sunday afternoon.
The Dalai Lama was finishing up the third day of a meditation/teaching he was hosting at the Bill Graham Auditorium all weekend to moneyed guests.
He must be a very holy person indeed to convey any spirituality in that strange, large barn of a building. Still, the authorities weren't taking any chances and everyone's bags were being thoroughly searched.
A block away, the passageway between the Main Library and the Asian Art Museum, which is usually Derelict Central, had been invaded by network television.
There were huge media trucks parked all over the neighborhood...
...readying themselves for Conan O'Brien's week-long appearance taping his show in San Francisco at at the Orpheum Theatre.
Back in the Civic Center Plaza itself, a Bike Coalition dude had set up an area near the children's playground where he'd look after your bike if you had cycled to the event being held that afternoon.
It was a "Stop Genocide in Darfur" rally...
...and it was very sparsely attended.
The crowd wasn't the usual anti-war protestor types that show up for Get Out of Iraq demonstrations.
In fact, it was overwhelmingly affluent looking young white people.
There was lots of signage and a few grotesque prop tents symbolizing various massacres throughout the last century, with the number of people murdered in each klling field looking disconcertedly like real estate prices ("Darfur: Over 400,000 Dead!").
I got the feeling that many of the people who did attend were uncomfortable at anti-Iraq protests because of all the icky ANSWER folk who yell rude things about Israel and their treatment of the Palestinians. The only problem is that the "Stop Genocide in Darfur" people are urging that the United States use their "moral authority" to make the U.N. and the rest of the world stop the slaughter in the West Sudan, and because of our invasion of Iraq, we have no Moral Authority. It's gone, over, fini. Paul Wolfowitz in charge of the World Bank pretty much puts the last nail in the coffin of whatever "authority" America once possessed.
Rounding up this afternoon of odd celebrities, I walked by a little tent surrounded by scary Secret Service types and yelled out, "Good luck, Senator" and then corrected myself with "Good luck, Governor" to Bill Richardson, the presidential candidate and current Governor of New Mexico who was to be the first speaker at this ridiculous event.