Every year, my dad takes his sailboat out on the Bay to watch the Blue Angels perform at Fleet Week. Every year, he invites me to come along. Every year, I’ve had some kind of schedule conflict or been sick or otherwise unable to go. Until this year. These are the best clips from today’s performance - we were at the bottom edge of “the box” - the area no boats were allowed to enter because the stunts were being done over it - so while we didn’t get to see the “show center” spectacle, where they pass each other and appear to be so close they almost collide, we had them making multiple low passes literally right over our heads every time as they came around. It was incredibly fucking cool. And loud. Very loud.
It was kind of weird, though, too, for me anyway. For all that I’m an anti-military hippie activist type now, when I was younger I wanted to be a military pilot. Specifically, a Naval fighter pilot. More specifically, my goal was to be part of the Blue Angels. I was in ROTC, had visited and researched the Naval Academy, made all kinds of plans. I had my heart set on it and I was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen…right up until I came smack up against the wall of my physiology when I was 14 and the genetic heritage of both sides came due. I needed glasses. And this is more than a decade ago, back when laser eye surgery was still a relatively new thing - now, you walk in, they do it, you can drive yourself home; back then, my mom had to be on pretty much bed rest for a weekend after hers - and to be a fighter pilot, you had to have perfect 20/20 vision with no need for any kind of correction. Even laser surgery wasn’t good enough. I still remember walking out of the optometrist’s office and breaking down in tears in the parking lot, because this thing I’d been planning my whole high school career and college and adult life around was suddenly out of reach in a way I couldn’t alter with any amount of willpower.
Obviously, I moved on and found other things to do with my life. But watching the Blues perform today was strange as well as awesome. One of those moments that makes you think of what your life could have been like on a different path; what kind of person you’d be if that had happened. Instead of the Naval Academy, I went to UC Santa Cruz, famed for its liberalism and anti-war sentiments. I took classes on “Women and War” taught by an Israeli peace activist. So I watched the performances today with the dual consciousness of HOLY FUCKING SHIT THIS IS COOL and Well this is a nice display of militarism with a parade of warships and demonstrations of combat aircraft. And I couldn’t help wondering what that other me would have thought of it, even if she had never attained the highest part of that original goal and was simply *in* the military.
Oh, and here, have a couple pics of the 45’ America’s Cup racers we also got to see. They were doing the America’s Cup World Series, and we saw two “match races” - Oracle USA Spithill versus Artemis White, winner Oracle, and Artemis Red versus Emirates NZ, winner Emirates - and a “fleet race” where ELEVEN of these fuckers were on the course at one time, and where Oracle Spithill actually capsized going around one of the markers, which was a hell of a thing to see in-person.
I’d give y’all a pic of the Occupy The Bay sailboat we saw - just another spectator boat like us, but they had a big ass banner reading “OCCUPY THE BAY” along their port railing and another one reading “99%” on their stern - but sadly I couldn’t get my phone out in time. Made me happy to see, though.