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Turn Styles

Cherchez La Femme

By J. David

"Jus' callin' to see what the breakdown is, callin' to see how it breaks down; see if you have any critical information for me. All right, late."

We had spent the day far out in Golden Gate Park, throwing disk. But it was getting cold, so we split. We caught sight of the moon, massive as it rose over the bay in the clear evening, bicycling through the Panhandle under those giant cypress and eucalyptus.

Back at his place in the Lower Haight, standing in the oriel off his kitchen, he remarked that his brain was expanding, that he was expanding it.

"What?" I asked.

"It is our responsibility," he explained, "to make the world we want to live in." He said there was a woman somewhere in his logic, that it could not be denied.

Halfway through two thumbs of scotch, now seated in the oriel off his living room, we remembered we had reserved tickets to Up a Tree. Quickly to our bicycles, we made it to Intersection for the Arts just as the puppet show began. Wonderfully staged, down activists with puppets informed us of perspectives. The show was about resisting the will of those who would destroy forests. It was about taking action, about how critical each part is. The puppets were good: marionettes, a floating David Gypsy Chain (who died when a giant tree fell on him), soft sculpture animals, birds, various shadow puppets that seemed to cross dimensions, and one occasional spot-lit view of a tiny Julia Butterfly Hill high up in her redwood, Luna. (If you haven't heard of Ms. Hill, check www.lunatree.org.) There was a phone conversation with Ms. Hill, up her tree for two years now, at the end of the show. Picture her, in the freezing night, standing on a giant branch 180 feet off the ground. She wears bells on her ankles (I do not know if it is still or if the wind is blowing). Her words are eloquent: she speaks of awareness, transformation, memory and action. Everyone present agrees: Earth first.

On the way out, I saw a woman I had seen the night before, at that Mermaid Ball. Early on, we talked, standing around the vegetables and dip. I was mostly looking for breakthrows. One guy, especially, was cracking me up. He was assessing the party critically, saying things like "You know how woman are." To which I could only respond that I did. Garth spun a hypnotic homage to the place and to the various massifs represented. Nearly everyone danced; the air was a sweet velocity. The effervescence ended abruptly at 2, and, my costume in the light, I quickly said goodnight. Outside, it was raining.

Fortunately, as with this evening at Intersection for the Arts, I had my trusty Motobecane, rode off in the night .

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From the December 20, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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