I Do Not Understand Reality, Special Public Nudity at the Civic Center Edition!


Good Evening:

I do not need anyone to remind me that I live in San Francisco.

I have lived in San Francisco for almost 31 years, since 15 January 1982. To this day, I have never forgotten that I live in San Francisco. I fully embrace my San Francisco-ish-ness and when I awaken each morning, I know exactly where I live. I don’t need to be reminded that I live in San Francisco, California, USA.

Today, San Francisco reminded me that I live in San Francisco.

I had just finished visiting the Civic Center Farmers Market (carrots, celery, leeks), seriously contemplating taking photographs of the 60-ish gentleman in a cream-colored suit, cream-colored straw Panama hat, white Oxford shirt and patterned yellow necktie, when I espied a young couple, twenties, Caucasian, strolling into the park in front of City Hall–completely nude except for the two protest signs “NUDE RIGHTS” and “Defend Your Right to Bare!” which they held over their heads. But that’s not where things got interesting. I looked around at the other park visitors. A single raised eyebrow here, a shrug of the shoulders there, and over there a brief smirk. In other words, just another nude couple in San Francisco–keep moving, nothing to see. Not interesting. The young lady was not unattractive, but not interesting.

It’s when the couple joined a hundred other people, complete nude but for their protest signs, that things got interesting. Turns out that my hometown is the hometown for a political movement that seeks the decriminalization of public nudity, and the members of said movement chose today to stage a big, um, uh, “coming-out” party to er, um, display their political message for all to see. They marched to the Federal Building on Golden Gate Avenue and stood their with their signs, and then walked at least three times around the Civic Center and City Hall. At no point did they encounter any interference from the police. A tourist couple nearby:

Wife: Honey, aren’t those people dangerous?

Husband: They’re nudists, dear. Where are they going to conceal any weapons?

Even though the nude activists were roughly 50-50 male/female, and even though the women tended to look rather attractive, the spectators proved more interesting to watch. Civic Center at midday typically has over 100 people wandering about, but almost no one took pictures (and everyone in this town has a smart phone, everyone). Look at them, yes we did, but no photographs. I didn’t take pictures.

And that is why I Do Not Understand Reality: why not? Our naked friends wanted to publicize their beliefs and their cause–you don’t seriously think they didn’t want the general public to take pictures and instantly post them to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Fox News, do you? Of course not! They wanted publicity!

Why didn’t we oblige them?

Eternally Baffled, I Remain,

Yours Truly,

Vonn Scott Bair


9 responses »

  1. Reminds me of a day in the summer of 1989. I was sitting in Henry’s Pub (whatever its actual name) at the corner of Durant and Bowditch, Berkeley, California, in a rare, special meeting with the highest of high powers behind KALX, Berkeley.

    This particular sunny afternoon, approximately 6 to 8 nudist activists of the general sort Vonn describes marched slowly up the center of Durant Ave. I do not recall how many of them carried signs or inscriptions across their flesh, nor how those on the outside reacted to them. I vividly recall finding them unattractive, especially the women (probably because i’m a hetero man): small, bony, hard.

    I looked at my colleagues around the table. I looked at my fellow restaurant/bar patrons. I looked down at myself. Turning to my colleagues, i said something along the lines of, “I have never before been so grateful for the existence of clothing!”

    We do not all share the same tastes in naked bodies. I endeavor not to inflict my own upon disinterested parties (outside of certain uncaring/hostile/suicidal moods i find myself in from time to time). From that moment through this, i remain ever grateful for clothing, in its wide variety of shapes, styles, colors, fabrics, and more, and the fact that most of us wear it most of the time, out in public.

    • Sonic Purity: Thanks for sharing your story. It brings to mind an interesting (perhaps only to me) thought. Most other animals look silly in clothing, and indeed, cats, dogs, chimpanzees and other animals we sometimes compel to wear clothes tend to look better naked. Why do so many humans fail at au naturel, which comes so naturally to nature?

    • cherrybossom777: You bring up a good question to which I can’t find an answer since The San Francisco Scene–Seen! is a free blog; what is WP’s policy regarding nudity? I would think they would tolerate obvious art photos, but would they allow candid “street photography?” If someone from WP reads this, I would appreciate a comment. Vonn Scott Bair

  2. Pingback: I Do Not Understand Reality, Even More Nudity in San Francisco Edition, 20 November 2012 « The San Francisco Scene–Seen!

  3. Pingback: San Francisco: The City That Nudes How! « The San Francisco Scene--Seen!

  4. Pingback: Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood – World Naked Bike Ride Spring 2013 « The San Francisco Scene--Seen!

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