Sunday, June 01, 2008

SF Bay To Breakers: The Aftermath.

I chose "Bay To Breakers: The Aftermath" as the title of this Blog because it's Short, Sweet and (I hope...) Stimulates Curiosity.

My Second Runner Up for the Title is a bit less Professional...
But, it's Passionate and a lot more Personal and it goes something like this:

"Bay To Breakers: ... Some of You are Sooo Lucky That I Have an Aversion to Going to Prison"

First, allow me to offer some background - for those unfamiliar with "The Bay To Breakers" - an Annual, Highly-Anticipated, Foot-Race with an Anything-Goes Dress Code.

Following the devastating 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire that nearly obliterated all of San Francisco, many people feared that The City was gone for good.
But, San Franciscans are amazing people. Rebuilding began immediately and various events were planned to keep up public morale. One of them, called the "Cross City Race" was first run in 1912. It consisted of fewer than 200 participants.
In 1964, it was dubbed the SF Bay to Breakers and, in recent times, had evolved into a you've-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it event. For generations, this Original Amazing Race has been a festive celebration of athleticism, friendship and fun as it stretched (and, in some instances... streaked) across the City from the Bay to the Ocean.

It's one of the world's biggest foot-races - with more than 65,000 participants and more than 100,000 cheering spectators lining the route each year. Its participants include athletes from around the world, many of whom probably enter with the goal of being the first to cross the Finish Line... But, this being San Francisco... thousands of participants show up in colorful and creative costumes of endless variety... pretty much anything you could imagine... and several things you could do well without imagining, let alone actually seeing.

... Back to my Blog...

First, let me say that I have nothing against this perennial promenade/party. I am thrilled when I see people find creative and truly original ways to express themselves or even to just be fearlessly silly in public.

I celebrated when, in 2007, elite runner Edna Kiplagat became the first female in Bay to Breakers history to cross the finish line... ahead of the men.

That said... What I witnessed in the Aftermath of the 7.46-mile race caught me completely off guard and caused an instantaneous reaction or two... three maybe.

I had avoided venturing out of doors that Sunday until mid-afternoon. The previous few days had been unusually hot and uncomfortably sunny.
(for me anyway... I prefer it in the 50s, swirling winds filled with dense fog that you'd swear you could climb up onto it as it enshrouds the hills and its long, finger-like tendrils creep into and fill the valleys... )

It was somewhat cooler on that Sunday, but there was another reason I wasn't looking forward to going outside... The Bay To Breakers was out there... which, in and of itself isn't intolerable, but... in recent years, the event has been attracting a growing number of uncouth people who aren't participating so much in the foot-race as in their own City-wide beer bust.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that either... If held at the proper venue… at a bar, your own home, the home of a friend... Or, even better, in another state.

I've lived through a few BTB's here and I've learned that - after they reach the finish line... No...Seriously?
Forget the Finish Line... When the weekend warriors get tired of pushing their kegs around in shopping carts - many of the revelers - boosted by that ''Runner's High" - Or, again, seriously… some other kind of 'High' - decide to spend the remainder of their Sunday afternoon staggering around our neighborhoods and parks
in various states of being trashed.

For some reason, the during and after-partying seems to fill Golden Gate Park or the Panhandle Park… Both are beautiful oases of lush, green, fields and towering trees that are, thankfully, protected open-space.
By then, costumes are being discarded - where ever the wearer happens to be standing.

When I first reached Oak Street, which borders one side of the Panhandle Park, later that afternoon... my jaw dropped… followed by my heart.

I'd never seen such a gut-wrenching, man-made mess as I did in the Park that day. I was speechless. I was horrified. I was angry. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to scream. I wanted to CHOKE those responsible with my own hands.

The POS partyers were nowhere to be seen… A few joggers and cyclists occasionally passed by… But, the Park… Our Beautiful Panhandle Park, where people play Frisbee, practice martial arts or tightrope-walking, play with their dogs, have picnics with family and friends… Our Peaceful Place had been, in a word, raped.

I cursed the rabid revelers repeatedly... for leaving their waste scattered across the park... within steps of trash cans and dumpsters. I cursed their parents... for their abject failure to raise their spawn to become decent human beings.
As a rule, I do not wish people harm... So, I wished the littering losers to be STERILE... "Please let them be sterile!... and/or of Short Life Span... so that they aren't given a long life in which to trash the Earth."

I was there with Jessi the Dog. I unhooked Jessi's leash and let her run around... Keeping an eye on her to make sure she didn't start eating any of the bones left from the carnivores' carnival. I picked up one of the countless, plastic bags that were left and began to pick up their trash... No one else was doing it... no Parks and Recs employees, no City employees, No One but Me. I spent the next Two Hours picking up trash... the stuff that isn't biodegradeable... big, red, plastic cups; foil wrappers from energy bars; empty, white plastic bags... I'm sooo glad they will soon be banned here... I gathered empty beer bottles by the dozen and put them back into their cardboard cases and carried them from the grass and left them by the trash cans - I know the local recyclers will come by and pick them up.

One of the Worst Offenders was the group of rocket scientists who gathered in the Park between Schrader and Cole Streets and filled a large, rectangle, aluminum tray with coals and, apparently, had a cook-out. I wouldn't have cared... EXCEPT that they not only left about 2 dozen beer bottles in a big pile... right next to an empty cardboard box... but, they left the still-burning, Red-Hot coals in the tray... on the grass! When I picked it up - dropping it once 'cause I hadn't realized there were hot coals in it - I saw that it had Burned the grass black underneath.
Jesus Christ, you assholes!
If you had a functioning cell of gray matter between you, you might have noticed that there are dogs running through the Park... there are little kids running around... there are people playing Frisbee... and You Dirtbags leave a tray of HOT coals right in the middle... I picked it up again and carried it over to a dirt clearing by the trash can and called the Fire Department... I didn't have any water and was afraid someone would get injured by it... or that it might start a fire.

I'm close to reaching a point where I am going to have a mental health moment and physically assault the next idiot who trashes my neighborhood... Our Neighborhood... Our Parks... Our Planet.
Or, maybe I'll just follow them home, make note of where they live... go gather their trash (and then some) and trash their home/car/yard with a sign that says, "You dropped this!"; Or, I'll pay someone to kick their ass... I haven't decided yet...

One More Thing:
Event producer Tom Howard said organizers put up nearly 500 porta-johns along the route - or 100 more than last year.
That's all well and good, but... when you know the turnout numbers 65,000 and Up 500 Port-o-Potties is Not Nearly Enough!

That said...
You "people" (guys and girls) who were seen Urinating and Defecating in Parking Lots and in Parks...
Will soon be Starring on YOU TUBE!!!!!

... Just kidding... I Wish!... Then again, maybe someone caught them on tape and will do the honors... those asses deserve it.


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