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Expose Yourself to Activism 

Wednesday, Feb 29 2012
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Hippies loved the Volkswagen van. It represented rebellion and counterculture. Yet one afternoon we sat behind a VW van -- on a bicycle, at a stop light -- that spit out more exhaust than an old diesel Muni bus. We coughed but then had to laugh (and cough harder). A bumper sticker on the van read “You’re Alive: Breathe.” We thought it was a joke until we saw the driver -- an original cast member from the Summer of Love. This paradox is manifold: A vehicle of protest for one generation can be an object of protest to the next. Also, good intentions can still be harmful. And finally, if you’re not part of the solution, you might be part of the problem. Today be part of the solution by taking off all your clothes and riding a bicycle through San Francisco with a pack of oddballs doing the same. It’s the World Naked Bike Ride, and it addresses heavy issues (global warming, foreign-oil dependence, a car-centric culture) with levity (naked people on bikes). It’s not mandatory to be nekkid -- some riders wear underwear, balloons, body paint, or other costumery -- but it’s encouraged. It’s one of multiple naked rides happening around the world today. Organizers say likely destinations on the three-hour ride include the Embarcadero, Civic Center, the Marina, and (for maximum shock value) Fisherman’s Wharf. Organizers also say you probably won’t be arrested for baring all as long as you stay with the group. If you need help getting yourself and your bicycle to the ride’s starting point, public transportation is encouraged. (Duh.)
Sat., March 10, 11 a.m., 2012

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Keith Bowers

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