Archive for February 2009

Former Weather Underground leaders William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn made an appearance at San Francisco’s Modern Times Bookstore on February 21 to promote their new book Race Course Against White Supremacy.

I attended the event for one reason only: To see what kind of reception San Francisco would give to these two former terrorists. I took a few photos, but luckily someone who goes by the name “SFPatriot” took some videos as well and sent them in to me; they are presented below, along with my photos.


It was quite clear that just about every single person there (except me) idolized these two unapologetic violent revolutionaries. The entire store was packed full of people.


But we ran smack dab into what I call the Ayers-Dohrn Paradox, which is:
Ayers and Dohrn gained fame as violent revolutionaries willing to commit murder and other terrorist acts in order to overthrow the United States. For that, they were greatly worshipped by the far left. Now, in their sunset years, they’re trying to re-cast themselves as “respectable” left-wing professors with “reasonable” opinions, who have long ago sworn off violence. And so, at these events, neither of them ever mentions their violent heyday, except rarely in passing. Instead, they focus exclusively on their current obsessions: Introducing Marxist thought into schools, and closing down the prison system. However, almost no one who goes to see Ayers and Dohrn gives a damn about hearing monotonous lectures on these particular topics: instead, their fans idolize them because of their violent revolutionary past. So at these events, the audience (as in this case) is full of far-far-far-left radicals who came in order to hear overheated revolutionary rhetoric. But instead, what they get is a boring professorial monologue. If Ayers and Dohrn were nothing more than your run-of-the-mill leftist professors, no one would go to their appearances. They’re coasting on their violent reputation, while at the same time trying to distance themselves from it. And that is the Ayers-Dohrn Paradox.


(Video by “SFPatriot”)
This video shows one of the very few references to their past made all night: During the introduction by fellow former radical Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (who now works at Modern Times Bookstore), the following exchange occurred, which produced the biggest laugh of the night:

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: “Bill and Bernardine have been a collaborative pair for so long, I don’t even think of them as a married couple, even though they have three children and grandchildren and all. They’re partners in…um…in um…
Bernardine Dohrn: “Crime.”
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: “Crime.”
Audience: [Laughter.]


Bernardine Dohrn: A life of crime. And proud of it.


(Video by “SFPatriot”)
I’m not particularly interested in simply reporting what Ayers and Dohrn had to say. In fact, during Ayers’ speech, that’s exactly what he recommended: Do not let your ideological enemies even get the opportunity to present their narrative. Besides which, they both already have way too much of a platform. But I’ll show a little mercy here and give Bernardine a minute in this video to explain the thesis of their book, Race Course Against White Supremacy.

There. Having seen SFPatriot’s video, aren’t you glad you missed the rest of the lecture?


(Video by “SFPatriot”)
Just like our new Attorney General Eric Holder, Dohrn and Ayers think the United States is “a nation of cowards” for not “talking about race” enough — as if 23 hours per day isn’t satisfactory. In this video, Dohrn says she agrees with Eric Holder. Which is exactly what Obama’s detractors were saying during the campaign — that Obama would appoint people to powerful government positions who would in fact be promoting the Ayers/Dohrn philosophy. And now we know — that’s exactly what has happened.


“Guilty as hell — free as a bird!”

The Graveyard of Zombietime Flops

One might get the impression, from reading zombietime, that I put together a photo essay about every single political event I go to.

Well: one might be wrong.

The truth is, what you see on zombietime are only the successful events I attend. I find myself at all sorts of rallies, meetings, protests, art exhibits, and other public (and private) political shindigs, and often as not come away disappointed. There was either nothing there worth photographing, or I couldn’t take pictures without looking suspicious, or (most often) the resulting photos of the event in question were pretty uninteresting once I looked at them after the fact.

Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your point of view), I’ve saved some of these flops, and I’ve decided to rescue them from complete obscurity by presenting here a selection of “the ones that got away” — the worst, least interesting and most pointless zombietime reports that never got published. And so I present:

The Graveyard of Zombietime Flops

Voting at the Venezuelan Consulate: December 2, 2007


The nation of Venezuela held a national referendum on December 2, 2007 over the issue of whether to grant dictatorial powers to Hugo Chavez. The referendum barely lost, which was considered a huge victory for Chavez’s opponents. A little-known aspect of the vote was that overseas Venezuelans were allowed to vote as well — and the only place in the entire United States where they could vote was at the Venezuelan consulate on California Street in San Francisco. I decided to go check it out, in case pro-Chavez thugs tried to disrupt the voting with violence. But when I got there — not much was happening at all, aside from what you see in the photo: dozens of expatriate Venezuelans milling around on the sidewalk, talking about politics, as the cable cars rumbled by. From what I could tell in my attempted eavesdropping, they seemed mostly anti-Chavez — so the people you here here may very well be the ones who pushed the “No” vote over the top and stopped Chavez from ruining the country forever.

Dennis Prager Appearance at U.C. Berkeley: May 5, 2008


Radio talk-show host and pundit Dennis Prager gave a speech at U.C. Berkeley on May 5, 2008. I went to it, expecting to see the same kind of protests that had earlier greeted Daniel Pipes, Michelle Malkin and Alan Dershowitz. But nothing happened at all. Prager came in, posed for pictures with members of various campus Jewish groups, and then started to give a speech that didn’t sound much different from one of his radio shows. To top it off, I brought the wrong camera and couldn’t get a decent picture of him in the dimly-lit lecture hall. There wasn’t a single protester in sight, so I left early.

Mearsheimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby in a Toilet: August 31, 2007

John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt’s egregious book The Israel Lobby was scheduled to be released in early September 2007. By sheer happenstance I obtained a pre-release copy of the book, and decided, as a parody of the many rumored “Koran flushing” incidents that had been reported around then, to put it in a non-functioning toilet at an undisclosed location and take a picture of it there. Although this was an obviously artificial scene, I had never before or since “staged” a picture, and because of that I felt a little uncomfortable putting it online. Although this picture was all by itself featured in a post at Little Green Footballs, I never uploaded it as part of any zombietime report, since I had no other pictures to go with it. (And no, the picture is not Photoshopped — the book really is in a toilet.) Finally, “Mearsheimer and Walt in the Toilet” earns a spot on zomblog here.


Later, I visualized what the book would have looked like if it had been released in the 1930s, and created this satirical version of the cover (based on this infamous book).

[UPDATE:]
         
zomblog reader “gegenkritik” sends the two images shown above, first reported on the Lizas Welt blog, along with the following explanation:

Sadly, reality once again is ahead of satire:

On the left you can see the cover of the German edition of Mearsheimer/Walt’s “The Israel Lobby”.
And on the right is the cover of a book from 1942, written by Johann v. Leers, an influential Nazi-ideologist, who emigrated to Egypt after WWII and continued his anti-semitic struggle there, supported by the Egyptian government and his friend, Mufti Amin al-Husseini.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Note that both the Mearsheimer & Walt book and the Nazi book share the same cover design: An American flag sprinkled with Stars of David. So my parody-cover ended up being quite true-to-life.


There — I think that’s the maximum dosage of fizzled zombietime reports that a person can take at any one time. I’ve got plenty more, but I’ll leave it at that, and save the rest of the flops in case I want to torment you in the future.

The City of Berkeley last year paid artist Scott Donahue $196,000 to install two sculptural groups at either end of a new pedestrian bridge across the freeway on the city’s waterfront. The two installations (which you can see at the bottom of this post) mostly feature large human figures doing “typical Berkeley” activities. But, as noted in this Matier & Ross column, the artist recently added a series of small bronze bas-relief sculptures around the base of each statue. The new sculptures around the base of the westernmost statue depict, among other things, dogs going shit, fucking, and sniffing each other’s butts.


Matier & Ross wrote that the San Francisco Chronicle editors “blushed at the idea of publishing” photos of the dog sculptures, but I have no such compunction. As a public service, I decided to photograph each of the bas reliefs and publish them here, so the taxpayers of Berkeley (most of whom never use that pedestrian bridge) can know what they’re paying for. Here we see a photo showing all three of the bronze dog sculptures.


This is the “shitting dog” sculpture (illuminated this time with a camera flash, so the anal area is more clearly visible).


And here’s the one showing two dogs fucking.


And of course, the butt-sniffing.

When interviewed by Matier & Ross, Donohue said,

“I am showing dogs doing what dogs do at the dog park.” … Donahue says the west end sculpture simply depicts the natural and recreational activities at Berkeley’s waterfront, which includes a dog park.

“I am a realist,” Donahue said. “You can celebrate a place in both a serious and lighthearted way.”

You decide: Is this the best way to spend Berkeley’s taxpayer dollars?


Here’s the full sculptural group at the west end of the bridge. As you can see, the large figure shows kite-flyers, ducks, and a dog leaping for a Frisbee. The smaller bronze bas-reliefs depicted in the photos above can be seen on the right side of the tilted red base.


The other sculptural group at the east of the bridge show activities associated with the town of Berkeley itself, as opposed to just the waterfront park. Here we see screaming protesters holding signs, interspersed with scholars studying.


Around the base of this scultural group are other “typical Berkeley” activities, including “occupying” a grove of trees (note the small bronze figure in the branches at the lower left), an apparent reference to the Berkeley “tree-sitters.”


Another depicts the Berkeley “Critical Mass” bike-riding protest, in which bicyclists surround and harrass car drivers.


Donahue’s installation was already controversial for being visually incomprehensible to passing drivers, for whom it is intended. To motorists whizzing by on the freeway below, the sculptures — which are supposed to be an invitation to Berkeley — look like nothing more than a jagged mass of hard-to-decipher shapes.

Swastika in Richmond


I spotted this swastika spraypainted on the sidewalk in the city of Richmond, California. The street where this photo was taken is not in the residential part of town, but adjacent to some business parks in a light industrial area next to the freeway. The road next to the swastika is frequently used for “sideshows” — late-night car-spinning and street-racing outdoor gang parties. The asphalt up and down the block is covered in skidmarks and tire-tracks.

In all my days in the Bay Area, I have practically never seen a swastika drawn as graffiti anywhere (outside of a political protest, of course). I had originally intended to note that Richmond is not known to have any neo-Nazi activity (the city is actually known for its large African-American community), until I noticed this article about a hate crime in Richmond in which a black man was beaten up by white teenagers spewing racist epithets. Racists in Richmond? What?


Here’s a close-up of the same swastika. I could speculate as to what the appearance of such a symbol means in this place and context, but the truth is I have no idea. I doubt it has any direct connection to the beating incident, but the swastika certainly is disturbing, I’ll say that for it.