A Report by DC on the Saint Stupid's Day Parade
in downtown San Francisco on April 1st, 2003
Go to www.saintstupid.com, website for the First Church of the Last Laugh
Bishop Joey, the founder of Saint Stupid Day and the parade, comments (at bottom of this page).
See report on 2006 Saint Stupid's Day Parade and the poetry of the seagulls.
Here's a picture of Herb I ripped off a da web. All other web-ripped pictures taken from the Saint Stupid website.
Herb asked me where we should go and I said I thought that he was the one who knew about it. It started at noon and we went off looking for it at about 12:20. He said he thought it started at Embarcadero Plaza or is that Square? We wandered toward Market stopping attractive women to ask them if they knew about the parade and some of them would respond but none of them knew anything about it. A guy on a bicycle told us, "Ain't no parade today - it's Tuesday and it's gonna rain." At a French Restaurant on Commercial Street, Herb, who used to live in France after WWII (Jean Genet stole his best fountain pen), began speaking in French to a woman standing in the door of a French restaurant, but she said she only spoke Polish and English and didn't know about the parade either. Finally, the security guys at the Bank of America knew about it and said it was on its way up. They remembered it well from past years and were obviously looking forward to it. After an enjoyable period of wandering around aimlessly looking for the parade, Herb and returned to the BOA and sat next to two Hindus in Indian Garb. "Let's sit next to those terrorists," said Herb. And then the parade arrived, a hundred or so (smaller than usual) colorfully and bizarrely dressed, masked, painted, poster and prop-holding weirdoes and freaks banging on drums and blowing horns and shaking rattles.
The crowd assembled by the security barrier in front of the BOA, a barrier the security guards confirmed was up to keep away the anti-war demonstrators that abound downtown these days. An ample man dressed stupidly picked up a bull horn and said a few words about that particular stop in the parade. Behind him is the large marble lump, a black mountain of sculpture, dubbed "the Banker's Heart," possibly by Herb Caen, or so Herb Gold remembered. As he spoke people passed out pennies. Herb said that the man's name was Ed Holmes and that he was a member of the Mime Troupe who had done a superb job playing the role of VP Dick Cheney (whose name, incidentally, is, according to his wife, mispronounced by the media and the nation - "ChEEney," she said in an interview I heard, "Like trEE."). Come to think of it, maybe he IS Dick Cheney - who knows where the VP is and he must do something with his time. Anyway, on that day he was known as Bishop Joey, high priest and founder of the First Church of the Last Laugh and the Saint Stupid's Day Parade. So he said that we were at the banker's heart and we all started chanting, "It doesn't make sense! It doesn't make sense!" as we threw pennies at the heart - thousands of them. It was a very stupid and gratifying thing to do.
The throng took off beating their drums and making noise of various kinds. Herb said that it was even more fun to look at the faces of the local citizens and tourists as we passed them. Herb and I were, incidentally, the only members of the procession dressed normally (though somewhat funkish). We were talking to various people we passed and walked with, especially women. Then I noticed Sue Roberts walking not far from us. She's a Berkeley therapist and an old Suzuki student. (See her interview) Sue and I talked and walked and Herb walked and talked with her friend. We stopped at a light until the walk sign flashed and we started to cross the street. As we did, a member of the procession stood at the side encouraging us onward with "Go toward the light! Go toward the light!" sounding a bit like Obi Wan Kenobi speaking from the other world to Luke.
Sue said that they weren't going on to Washington Square as we had in a past year. She said that's only done on the weekends. She said they were returning to the starting point, so Herb and I bid them good day and went off to enjoy some pasta at his generous expense.
I talked to Sue this morning and said I wanted to write up a report on the parade for venerable cuke.com readers. She's a veteran of many Saint Stupid's Day parades and, unlike Herb and me, didn't miss most of the parade this year. Pooling our memories, we came up with this valuable information which the reader can augment by hitting the link up top www.saintstupid.com. Also, the reader can hit that link there.
Saint Stupid's Day was created by Ed Holms with some twisted friends during a March conversation in 1979. So I guess that the first parade was that year. Sue says that a lot of the folks in the parade are actors and performers, musicians, and street artists - some of them from the Renaissance Fair - and that this year, or was it last, after the parade was over, some of them broke into singing olde English rounds and madrigals or whatnot with wonderful harmonies. Wavy Gravy often comes (with fish on leash) and I met (Realist) Paul Krassner at one of them.
One of the stops that the parade makes is at a statue called the Shrine of Saint Stupid. Neither she nor I can remember where it is or exactly what it's called or what is done there. Some sort of worship. There's an alcove and a door leading down to somewhere. It's in front of some big building. Maybe it's the crypt of Saint Stupid. Maybe there's no statue. I'll send this report on to Bishop Joey and he may correct my misunderstandings.
Another stop is at the Stock Exchange. There people throw socks at each other - creating the Sock Exchange.
I remember one year that we chanted to workers sitting out in front of an office building during the lunch hour, "Back to work! Back to work!"
At some tall building in the financial district the zany hoard chants, while looking up, "Jump! Jump! Jump!"
Somewhere along the way, as we walked, I remember chanting, "No more chanting! No more chanting!"
She says that one guy collected now defunct Doggie Dinner giant Dachshund heads and used to follow the march with a number of them.
Sue says that they always visit a statue of workers pushing and pulling something that they call the Bare Butt Mechanics. Maybe it's a labor union headquarters. She said that Attorney General Ashcroft had the butts covered last year but maybe she was joking.
Sue says that there's a salute to Our Leader, Bishop Joey, in which a fist is made with which one conks the forehead and goes, "Duh!" I noticed on the Saint Stupid web site that there were other descriptions of salutes and handshakes equally stupid.
Some Saint Stupid's Day Parade demonstrations are topical. Remember the Heaven's Gate cult, lead by Marshall Applewhite (A graduate of Austin College in Sherman, Texas, the college I attended for half a year in 1963-4) and how he and many of his disciples committed suicide in order to meet with the Mother Ship on the other side of Comet Hale-Bopp? Sue says that in the parade following that event, that some people showed up with a large craft made of poster board or something with the words "Mother Ship" emblazoned on its side.
This year there were a few mentions of Bush and the Iraq war. Sue had a poster with a picture of Pres. Bush on it bedecked with a golden crown under which was written the words, "Ha ha! I fooled you! Now I'm King!"
So that's about it for Saint Stupid and his parade. April 1st is the only holy day for this group, so - see you next year! - DC
...great report.....the 'shrine of stupid' mentioned is actually at 101 calif... garden steps...a utility door has the look of and hence the name 'the tomb of stupid', we knock to see if he's in. The 'bare butt mechanics' statue at a little plaza at battery and market is where we test the concrete lug nuts holding old sf to fill dirt sf with the' leap of faith'. the doggie diner heads, all 3 of em are going to nyc for performance, bishop joey brings the stupid word and face to the east. I'm going on the old bus that'll tote them cross america. Should be interesting trip. www.laughingsquid.org for that info. Thanx for joining our little sacred mock. Look for me in the mime troupe summer show starting july 4th < <www.sfmt.org>. ed (bishop joey) holmes
Another suggested religious site: Church of the Subgenious
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