This photograph, printed as a two-page fold-out, is the final image of Nacio Jan Brown’s Rag Theater.
Of this photo, Brown wrote, “Here, I was on the roof of the Med with a very wide angle lens, a 21mm. The only way to handle the perspectives inherent in this lens at this angle was to keep square the horizontals at the very top and the verticals in the center, and let everything else do what it was going to do.
“The people are watching a Berkeley ‘riot,’ one of the last. I can’t remember exactly what it was about, but a few minutes earlier, it had been on this block, and it had progressed up the street. On this day, the Berkeley police unleashed their new pepper fog machine. This was a jeep with a wire fence about eight feet high and ten feed wide attached to its front bumper. It was fitted with extra tail pipes which discharged pepper fog. When the people saw the thing coming, they all went inside and waited for it to pass. A couple of minutes later, when the fog had had dissipated, they were back on the street. No one could figure out what the fence part was for.”
The photograph evokes the dispersion of energies: people “taking to the street” but scattered, and heading in various directions—a confusion that appears to be mimicked by the two chalked arrows on the street, pointing to each other and canceling each other out.
The distance of the camera from the Avenue adds to the effect of a ‘farewell’ to a street, and to an era.