It's Fleet Week around San Francisco Bay and soon the aerial acrobatics of the Blue Angels will be thrilling some and infuriating others, or maybe both. Linda Gebroe has this Perspective.
I am one person with two opinions on one topic.
I can't stand the Blue Angels. They are ear-splittingly loud. They pollute the skies in ways I can only imagine. With huge crowds pouring into San Francisco to see their so-called sky-jinx, the Blue Angels cause traffic jams of epic proportion here on the ground. They're military and militaristic, hawks in crisp uniforms here to sell us a bill of patriotic goods. Meanwhile, we the taxpayers are footing the actual bill. Each of those jets is priced at well over $20 million. That's $300 million dollars that could be sheltering, feeding and educating a lot of people.
Yet -- and I really hate to admit this -- there's a part of me that kind of loves the Blue Angels. Those planes fly within 18 inches of each other. 18 inches! Like the very best ballet dancers, their elegant maneuvers become brilliant art. Unlike the dancers, the pilots' lives can be lost with a single misstep, and that notion thrills the audience even more.
What I like best is how the Blue Angels bring the community together. From a San Francisco hilltop, you can see sailboats clustered on the Bay, throngs of fans gathered on the waterfront and neighbors congregating on the city's street corners, hoping to get a good look at the airborne troubadours. The collective anticipation is palpable, and the cheers that follow can be deafening. Like the Blue Angels themselves, dammit.