I didn’t fit in at the Anarchist Book Fair.
I stopped by on a whim. I was headed over to the de Young Museum. Baby was home asleep with Daddy and Big Girl had just been deposited at a birthday party on 8th Avenue. So I had a couple of blissful hours in the City, alone with my iPhone…walking in the light rain at the perimeter of Golden Gate Park, listening to Snow Patrol, you get the idea.
Then I saw the people camped out in front of the old school bus next to a sign that said “Free Tea.” Then I saw about 500 vintage 10-speed bicycles clobbered together outside the Botanical Garden. Then I saw the hardscrabble, handmade sign that read “Anarchist Book Fair.”
Holy crap! I remembered that a cool zine-ing dad friend (Rad Dad. Check it. I implore you.) would be there, hawking his wares. Even though I was certainly not dressed for the Anarchist Book Fair, I really wanted to meet this superstar in person, so I sucked it up and went in.
The first thing I noticed was the smell. Wet dog mixed with patchouli. Then I saw the uniform: black hoodie, facial piercing, and very tight skinny jeans bordered by the kind of muffin-top favored by 20-something Mission hipsters whose only exercise is amphetamines or teetering around Dolores Park on a rickety bicycle.
I immediately stuck my hand with the wedding ring into the pocket of my Burberry coat so as to not appear too bourgeoisie. Then I remembered I was wearing a Burberry coat.
Now let me make one thing clear here. I am not and never have been a label whore. This coat was a gift from my mom bought on extreme sale and intended to last me several decades. Even though I know this and you know this, the punk rock anarchists at the Anarchist Book Fair may not have known this. My only hope was that they were so far out of the mainstream that they did not recognize the telltale snooty Burberry plaid.
I also hid my other symbol of capitalist pig oppression, my iPhone.
It was a nerve-wracking experience to wind my way through the “Free Mumia” posters and “Smash the State” lithographs, looking for the cool dad I wanted to meet. It brought up all sorts of poseur feelings from junior high. Was I lefty enough to even be in the presence of these activists? Who was I to produce my puny little zine? I wondered if there was some sort of floor plan or guide or an information table. Then I remembered the definition of anarchy and I wondered if everyone just ran in and threw their books and zines on the first table they could grab.
Finally, I reached the Rad Dad table. And he was awesome. As expected. Just a real guy, doing his thing, putting his creative stuff out there to the universe. And I realized that the main difference between him and the black hoodie crew was age. Rad Dad was old enough to just hang out and share his work, without donning the uniform of the rebel. Rather than wear his radicalism on his jacket, he puts it into words and he lives it. I instantly relaxed, even in my capitalist coat.