Bay Bridge closure puts naked clowns on my radar

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By Rebecca Bowe

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Have you ever noticed that when routines are interrupted, people are more likely to strike up conversations with strangers? My morning took an unexpected turn yesterday when I arrived at the Macarthur BART station to find a news van and television crew out front, filming the hordes of commuters who were in line to purchase train tickets. Everyone seemed stressed out. Newspaper headlines everywhere screamed of the Bay Bridge closure.

I had my bike, and it was a little while before the BART bike ban would lift, so I wound up chatting with another cyclist while the mad dash for the train continued around us. After seeing how many people were crowding into the station, we decided to bike over to the West Oakland BART instead, which we guessed might be a little less mobbed.

Of all the people I could have possibly befriended amid the chaos of the Bay Bridge shutdown, it ended up being Chad Benjamin Potter, who helped create the Naked Clown Calendar 2010. He told me he got involved in the creation of the calendar through the San Francisco Circus Center, where he’s learning aerial arts. The circus school was co-founded by Judy Finelli, an accomplished juggler who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1989. A third of proceeds from the calendar go toward multiple sclerosis research and advocacy through the MS Society.

“The Naked Clown Calendar is the perfect gift for any occasion,” according to the project Web site. “The images are a little racier than last year, but still retain that sense of modesty and fun that any grandmother could love!”

Today, the calendar got a mention on USA Today’s Pop Candy blog.

When we got to West Oakland, there was yet another camera crew filming all the stressed-out commuters. Getting back and forth from the East Bay to San Francisco might be a royal pain in the ass while the Bay Bridge is closed, but you never know who you’ll meet when things don’t go according to plan.