Saturday, June 27, 2009
As a lifelong Liberal with a philosophy slightly to the left of whoopee, imagine my surprise when I realized a half-hour ago that I have decided jingoistic tendencies. Who knew?
Flip and I went to the Palace of Fine Arts, three blocks from our home, for a pleasant stroll around the swan lake. Most of the area had been cordoned off because of a movie being filmed, a Bollywood movie no less, and American bouncers were keeping people outside the perimeters. I raised my camera to shoot some large equipment and a large guy instantly appeared to tell me it was not allowed. I told him that this is a free country. He said it was at the request of the film makers. I said that was ridiculous. "Is there a possibility that you could obey that request?" he asked, smirking.
"There's a possibility," I said. "but probably not. And when you use the word 'obey,' it becomes an order, not a request. An order you don't have the right to give."
A second large muscle-type guy got in my face and said "No pictures allowed." I said, "That's absurd." He argued with me and then told me that I would have to get off the sidewalk, which was outside the roped-off area. I stood my ground. He jutted his chin at a group of people gathered beyond us on the sidewalk and said, 'That's what we're trying to prevent." I said, "The Constitution gives us the right to congregate. You're American. You must know that." He said, "Well, we're trying to keep the sidewalks clear for -- handicapped people." I looked both ways. I didn't see any. "I'd be more than happy to get out of the way if a handicapped person comes along, but in the meantime, I'm not in their way." (It should be noted that I am a small person. I could not occupy an entire sidewalk if I tried.) He said, "Well, you can't take pictures here." I said, "The Palace of Fine Arts is a famous photographic destination. All these people either live in the neighborhood or are tourists. You can't forbid people to take pictures."
He said, "I'm not trying to give you a rough time." I said, reasonably, "And I'm not trying to give you one, but it's just silly." I snapped another shot as I walked away. He did not grab my camera. He couldn't. I'm a girl. Sometimes it comes in handy.
I have a problem with people who set themselves up as authority figures, and I also have a problem with the many who meekly accept the authority of anyone who says he has some. But what really rankles is that all of this was for a Bollywood movie. Still, if they want to work here, they need to have a little respect for those of us who actually make this city our home. If you walk into my life, don't tell me that I have no right to be there.