right on time, sarah and i joined the crowd directly outside the baseball stadium where the olympic torch was supposed to run on by. mostly what we saw were cops.
the sidewalks were five, six, seven people thick. occasionally people carrying tibetan flags and singing FREE TIBET! would march by, prompting the people carrying chinese flags to chant CHINA! CHINA!
an hour later, two trucks raced in and riot helmets - those big, bad, metal stormtrooper-like helmets - were distributed.
helmets on, the police stood double deep and faced us. to our left, a phalanx of motorcycles drove by, sirens blaring, suggesting that something was about to happen.
ten minutes later, something actually happened. behind us, three or four floors up, through an open window of a huge building, a man screamed down to us: "the torch is gone! it's on van ness street! the torch is gone! it's over!"
we - sarah, me, tibet supporters, china supporters, old people, young people, middle people, all of us on the sidewalk - looked up at the man and realized, almost immediately, that he was speaking the truth. we'd been hoodwinked.
as we learned later, a few blocks from where we were standing, while the motorcycle decoy captured our attention, the torchbearer bravely took the flame, strongly held it aloft on a stage, quickly ran backwards into a warehouse, skillfully jumped into a van, was expertly driven a mile inland, and then gallantly handed it to another runner. the torchbearer, like american and chinese democracy, did the old end around.