Lurking the Edge

BILL MATTICK



San Diego, California, 1996




8/11/96

As I head south from San Francisco, past the airport I notice a van filled
with twenty-five year old political hipsters. Proudly displayed on the bumper is a sticker that reads "Doin' my part to piss off the Christian Right". I take that as my mission. The trip is taking me south to the conservative southland of the West, thru Orange and San Diego counties for the GOP convention....another chance to make images of the unwieldy American political beast. Today, I'm hold up in the hills above Santa Barbara in Bill's place, a dark little garage loft crammed full with his sculpture, paintings and some of my stuff, modestly furnished, the vibe feels like he is in the process....of recovery....of crawling back from a loss finding another way. I am trying to deal with my own anxiety/excitement ....pre-event jitters....driving the California freeways can be tortuous....being out of the nest unnerving....dealing with the ever so familiar logistics of getting up in people's faces to photograph them....any excuse is a good one....but I know I will regret it if I miss this opportunity and besides I've been doing this for 25 years, why stop now???...a familiar refrain.


8/12/96

R epublicans Republicans Republicans Republicans Republicans Republicans Republicans .... everywhere...after all it is the G O P Convention....plenty of cops...as I approach the convention center I see small parcels of local Police in groups of about 10, marching quasi-military style toward the plaza in front of the area where the delegates file through metal detectors to enter the hall. It's kind of a chilling sight, reminiscent of demonstrations like the March on Washington to stop the war in 68', or the Demo
convention in Chicago that year, or the People's Park riots in Berkeley. As it turns out, nothing quite so dangerous evolves but my imagination allows me a moment of those memories. The Christian Right is massing for a morning of Pro Life demonstrating and the NOW Pro Choice people are there in force to counter them, so the cops are prepared. They do a good job of controlling the potential for any confrontation and aside from some cursing and yelling it turns out to be a fairly reasonable show of free speech rights. About 5000 media are here trading war stories....Reuters, AP, Black Star, Contact Press Images...I see some familiar faces from other times, some Bay Area freelancers....we're all so committed to our own little black boxes and our own limited view of the world that we barely have time to talk but it's always reassuring to me to be around people who take the time in their lives to bear witness.... and I am after about 10 hours of shooting, 50 rolls, sweaty as hell with gratitude in my heart, sitting in a Comfort Inn at Mission Bay listening to Alfonse D'Amato deliver the usual, reactionary rhetoric to the faithful followed by Pat Robertson one of the most disingenuous zealots I have ever encountered. All this aside today was a magnificent day to be a photographer, to have the absolute freedom to bare witness to the right of the people to assemble and say whatever it is that is on their minds, however they may want to say it. Republican ladies in all their finery, disgusted by the tattered, lefty propagandists. Political operatives nervously attached to their headsets trying to communicate over the din of demonstrators vigorous rants....a big happy family....curiously theatrical, dramatic...an American street photographer's dream come true.

8/13/96

A day of frantic ProLife/ProChoice activism gives way to others' priorities
....Gun control activists, anti tobacco activisits, Black soldiers of the Nation of Islam persuasion, the Actup guys and on and on. The demonsration site is booked from sun up until sun down. Occasionally some Republicans come down to grab some "snaps" of the demonstrations. One young guy and his wife from North Carolina cornered me and he wondered aloud how I could put up with what he referred to as "all this scum". I reminded him 1. that free speech was still a constitutionally protected right and 2. Bob Dole would probably not appreciate him showing his true Republican colors...he got the message and headed back to the "other side of the tracks" with his tail between his legs. I was left wondering how a guy his age could be so overcome by the realities of the political left...I guess I've been too "inside" for too many years to appreciate his point of view.

8\l4\96

7:00am G O P convention demonstration site...the Mesa Democratic Club is
at the podium, microphone open....all alone....no audience but me. The speaker drones on about environmentalism, free speech, free choice and the virtues of the democratic party, mindless of the empty parking lot in front of him....I taIk with yippie Bill, an aging lefty hippie from Chicago, still absolutely committed to 60's ideals...he raps on to me about politics, politics, politics and he can't help but notice a passing long legged delegate in a long, black slit dress he's human too!! Unlike the day before it is an eerily quiet almost desperate scene...it occurs to me as I leave the Convention Center for the last time that my experience here was very narrow compared with the delegates, political candidates, operatives, activists and other assorted participants. Mine was with the surface of things....how they look....it usually is. Their's was with the substance of things....the dimensionality of their agenda. But you know, in a strange way they really probably had more in common with my view than they really could ever know. Politics is usual.

Leave your comments for Bill Mattick (& return to his TOP page).

Return to the Fixing shadows

THE PHOTOGRAPHS
  1. Christian Right Rally, father and son
  2. Victims of Gun Violence
  3. God is Pro-Life
  4. Republican Delegates
  5. Pro-Life Rally
  6. The Faithful
  7. 50 Black Men
  8. Religious Freedom
  9. Gun Control Rally
  10. The Condom Man
  11. MTV Press Interview
  12. Political Prankster
  13. Young Republicans
  14. Democratic Club Rally