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That and that were then and then; this is now


Stateside With Rosalea

That and that were then and then; this is now

By Rosalea Barker

When I arrived in the Bay Area in December 1999, my unaccompanied luggage didn't so I had to take a bus trip to the San Francisco airport to try and track it down. This weekend I happened to take the same bus trip and was struck by a couple of differences since that time.

The first is that the new international terminal at San Francisco Airport has now been open for about a year, and is a vast improvement over what was there before. I'd rather fly out of there than LAX any day. The second observation is that as I continued on my way down and across and up the peninsula (as I had in 1999) just about every apartment block had a "For Rent" sign in its front yard or windows.

Back in 1999 it was impossible to find anywhere to live here, but there were thousands of jobs going unfilled. Now it's just the opposite - last week we were asked at my workplace to consider reducing our hours, so that they don't have to lay off staff, and when people leave they aren't being replaced.

Another thing that struck me as the bus went along El Camino Real (the Royal Road) through suburbs that ranged from some of the priciest in the US (in Silicon Valley) to ordinary working class suburbs like South San Francisco, was the absence of flags. Although I wasn't down that way in September/October 2001, I imagine it was like many other suburbs here at that time, where flags waved from cars and were stuck in windows as a sign of solidarity with the USA following its attack.

People just don't seem to be so flag-wavy about the war. In fact, the most noticeable comment on it that I saw was in a swank Palo Alto hotel carpark, where someone had painted on their car's rear window: What would Jesus bomb? (The slogan references a Christian-initiated ad campaign trying to encourage people to use more fuel-efficient cars, which went: What would Jesus drive?)

There were some flags, of course, but the nastiest manifestation of "patriotism" were the banners that some car sales yards had - notably for US makes like GM, Pontiac, Buick. The vertical banners use stylised elements from the flag - a couple of dozen white stars on a blue background at the top, plus seven or eight white and red stripes below - and look unbelievably tacky. The world goes to war to fill up those corporations' coffers and that's the best they can do?

Now it's Monday, and this morning the anti-war started up again in earnest. Several people, including some longshoremen who were caught up in the interaction, were injured by wooden and/or rubber bullets fired by the Oakland Police when some of the crowd refused to stop blocking the entrance to the Oakland docks, where they say American President Line is loading war supplies.

Bay Area protestors also targeted Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale and the Naval Weapons Station in Concord.


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