I’m sorry Richard Gere

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May I call you Richard? Mr. Gere? Oh, I thought we were closer than that. OK, I’m sorry Mr. Gere. I went to the Free Tibet rally in San Francisco with every intention of staying to hear you speak. I was all excited. I left work at a reasonable hour so I could get there when it was supposed to start at 6pm. But then there were technical difficulties and it started 45 minutes late. But I stuck it out even though I was sooo tempted to leave. None of my friends had showed up and I was getting hungry. But, for you, for Tibet, I hung in there. I’m all about the Free Tibet cause, Richard. I mean, Mr. Gere. Sure, I spent a few years feeling a bit suspicious about those who over-romanticized the Tibetan cause, but that was the NKT speaking, not me. Free Tibet! Free Tibet! See?

Anyway, even though they got such a late start with the rally, they decided to go on with all the planned speakers anyway, all 2 hours worth. You do know it gets hella cold in the City at night, especially when the breeze kicks up? And while I can do two hours of standing around, going on three is really, really pushing it. When Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke around 8pm I got a bit re-energized and figured I could hang in there for you. Boy, he’s almost as lovable a religious leader as the Dalai Lama. I could totally see those two hanging out together. Then they had a Tibetan musical group perform. Nice interlude before the final act – you. Nope. There were yet more speakers. I couldn’t take it, Rich, I mean Mr. Gere. I had to go home. My feet were killing me. I was freezing, and I was hungry.

Can I tell you something? I’ve had a crush on you ever since we were both young and had dark hair. You were in American Gigalo and I was a junior at UC Berkeley. Oh my, you made my lady parts all tingly. We kind grew apart in the mid to late 80’s. We both made some bad choices, you in movie parts, and me in life in general. But, in the 90’s we started to get together again. You became one of the world most famous Buddhists, and I got in therapy and later discovered Buddhism for myself. We had something in common again. Sure, a lot of people say you’re a pompous ass, but they don’t know you like I do. I love your good works for Tibet and AIDS, I adore the fact that you let you hair go silver, and frankly in my eyes, you’re still a hottie.

So, I’m sorry Richard Gere I didn’t stick around and here you speak. I’m sure you were awesome and inspiring.

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13 responses »

  1. I was smart. I stayed home and watched, all nice and warm and snuggly. I think he’s awesome. I love the silver hair, too. And when he talks, it makes sense, unlike so many of the “pretty people” on the screen.

  2. Why is it I only ever have a job when cool things are happening in town? Glad you at got to hang out for at least some of it! I met Mr. Tutu one time when he was in SF, he is such a sweetie. I just want to hug him. When I met him I walked up to him and said ‘Amwele!’ and he fell out all over me šŸ™‚ Apparently no one ever greets him in his own language.

  3. I like that Richard Gere has let his hair go silver, too. Now if only it were ‘okay’ for some of the female actors of his age to do the same…

    And how cool of CrankyBuddhist to greet Archibishop Tutu in his own language. šŸ™‚

  4. I agree with the tension you feel over the Free Tibet cause, and I think, like you, am coming down more on the side of the protesters.

    Mrs. Ombud and I went to a rally and march down Market street here in SF back in (I think) February of ’03 against the war.

    The thing is, we feel odd/awkward doing it — but it’s better than sitting back and watching the neocons lead us into such foolish ventures. So we marched.

    There were lots of others like us, dressed down or in casual clothes, but of course the media always focuses on the most outlandish, so the rest of the country sees those wacky Californians protesting again. There were some in suits — I wish the cameras showed that, too. Oh, the so-called “mainstream media” here in America.

    Good for you for going. Re the Olympics, the boycotts in ’80 and ’84 had an odd fall-out, afterward. Because the boycotts were perceived as disruptive and even harmful, I do think the athletes should go.

    But I also think it isn’t a bad idea for the politicians and spectators to stay home or show up in the colors of the Tibetan flag or something to show that the oppression of Tibet is wrong.

    Yesterday foreign students from China showed up here in support of the PRC, students from UC Davis and other campuses. Some were quite adamant in confronting the protestors that Tibet had “always” been a part of China and how dare they insult China this way.

    It would be good to answer these young people in some way, too.

  5. Robin, Truce & Corina – I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes Richard Gere. Here at work, most people have the “pompous ass” view and think that his silver hair is an affectation (so I sit there and stare at them with my full head of silver hair and wait until someone feels embarrassed – they never do).

    CB – that is extremeley cool you got to meet Tutu and got such a wonderful reaction from him.

    OmbudsBen – I do sometimes have mixed feelings about attending protests and such. Often it just feels like singing to the choir. However, there is something to be said about putting your body out there to be counted. The boyfriend is a big believer in attending marches, vigils, etc. so I have gone to more than my fair share. Some of the marches before the war and immediately afterwards were indeed impressive in their diversity and numbers. You’re right – on TV or in the news, you didn’t see the Walnut Creek moms with their children, or the businessmen in their suits, or the union members in their uniforms, but they were all there. But the sheer number of people made the news, even though what ends up being highlighted are the extremes or the just plain colorful.

    I think the idea that the world leaders should not go to the Opening Ceremonies is a lovely compromise. It shows China that we’re not buying into their PR that all is bright and shiny and wonderful and fair, yet it allows the competitions to go ahead in the spirit of the games.

    The Chinese supporters seemed to be quite well organized yesterday. I was watching the whole torch fiasco streamed live. There was nothing but a sea of red at the beginning and end of the original route. The protestors had been shut out of those prime viewing (and being viewed) locations by busloads of Chinese being brought in from all over the state. And while I understand the Chinese community wanting to support “their” games, it seemed more orchestrated as a PR maneuver than a natural outflowing of national pride.

  6. I grew up with Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a central political and cultural figure in my life and have always loved him. He has a wonderful sense of humour and I could see him getting along famously with HHDL too. I’ll never forget one of his jokes. It went something like this:

    When the white man came to this country (South Africa), he had the bibles and we had the land. Then he said: Let us pray. We closed our eyes, and when we opened them again, we had the bibles and he had the land.

    Ha ha.

  7. Did he actually turn up?
    I’m a great fan too,and would probably have held out for a bit.Even though he can’t act for toffees.
    Thanks for your post, and thanks Ron for the Tutu joke,I hadn’t heard it.

  8. Yes, it’s a brilliant, albeit painful, joke.

    And it pretty much applies to all continents, too. Even Europe, if you look at the church’s history there.

    I suppose Antarctica got off light — but only because there’s little profit in the land, so far. And penguins can’t read.

  9. While I support anyone’s right to protest I do take issue with the cause of Tibet. Were their protests against the Australians for their treatment of their aboriginals during the Sydney Olympics? Every country has skeletons in their current or historic closet. If people protested every nation their would be no Olympics, ever.

    Tibet has charismatic spokespersons to lead the charge. I wish the people protesting had more of an idea of what they were protesting, instead of following Richard Gere and the Hollywood brigade.

    I’m not overly political. I hate seeing stupidity from the masses and people jumping on a bandwagons. I think many in the USA jumped on the WMD bandwagon at one point and look how that turned out.

  10. Hi Stevo —

    I’m glad you checked in on the topic of the Olympics. I forget whose blog it was, but there was some discussion of the Olympics and someone asked “what does Stevo think?”

    I try to think that I have done some balanced research on the topic of Tibet. And it certainly is not as black and white as people believe. It was hardly an egalitarian shangri-la before the Chinese arrived in 1949 or so. Nor is the Dalai Lama some benign cuddly teddy bear (if you want to really stir the pot, bring up the Dorje Shugden controversy).

    For myself, what upsets me most about the Tibetan situation is the destruction of the cultural and spiritual heritage of Tibet. As someone who has a deep respect for Buddhist teachings that have been passed down through Tibet, the destruction of the monasteries and dilution of the Tibetan culture is what is upsetting to me.

    Thanks for commenting, Stevo. Living in China you have a different (and welcome) perspective on this whole Olympic thing.

  11. LB: I agree with you regarding culture, etc. There are ways to get things done with China, and motivate change. International protests will not accomplish this.

    You are correct, Tibet was not a perfect place. I would like someone to ask the DL about indentured servitude and the money he accepted from the CIA.

    I friend of mine recently went to a rally in New Zealand. He asked the organizers if they had been to China or Tibet, and a number of questions regarding each country. They had no idea other than their “Free Tibet” battle-cry.

    There is so much bias in this matter, in both camps. I wish more people would research it, as you have done, and not believe everything they are told. There’s a middle ground, some truth beyond the propaganda. From there, change can start, albeit slowly.

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