MUNI has been slow all morning, this the day of the Olympic torch relay through San Francisco. My train lingered at every station for a few minutes, as if security officials were scanning passengers for hints of subversion. I found myself looking around as well, wondering if there were any torch assassins among us.
"Why are we moving so slowly?" asked one woman, still wearing her iPod headphones.
I knew the Gavin Newsom-Peter Ueberroth propaganda was working when a businessman answered her: "Probably because of Tibet, his voice dripping with contempt for the Dalai Lama.
I wasn't sure what I should be looking for, in terms of anti-torch activity. Were the cops looking for monks? Richard Gere lookalikes? Self-loathing Chinese people? Evil Superman, affected by synthetic kryptonite? When we stopped at Van Ness, I tried to smoke out any stealth Tibetans by saying, "Pretty Woman is really overrated," but no one reacted.
San Francisco is definitely going all out, with three layers of cops on hand to protect the torch, along with countless other undercover officers scouting for suspects. One MUNI cop was checking transfers on the platform at Civic Center, but I couldn't tell if he was singling out Buddhists. With all the resources devoted to the relay, crackheads and petty criminals should feel free to break into cars with impunity during the run. Well, even more impunity than usual.
I got to work without incident, only to learn that the torch took MUNI too! I hope it didn't take the 30 Line, because, no matter where the games are held, old ladies from Chinatown will not hesitate to shove torchbearers out of the way on their way to the back door, or extinguish the flame with their pink shopping bags.
I also learned that the Olympic torch is not actually an ancient Greek tradition - it dates back to Hitler and the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. I was surprised to find this out, but it makes sense: organizers can't even keep the torch lit in 2008. What chance did the Greeks have? And that's the thing about torches for Chinese Olympiads - you think you're set, and then you gotta re-light the damn thing like an hour later.
Here's the best crazy anti-torch quote of the day, by anti-Communist protester Kevin Johnson:
"I know it sounds racist, but if they want the Olympics in China they should go back to China."
Unsurprisingly, Johnson got punched in the face.