His Honor, The Williehead. A 5ft tall paper mache effigy of the guy who put Critical Mass on the map.
Since I am big on bikes, mostly to get around in this crazy city without dying of road rage, it was not long before I glommed onto the Critical Mass rides way back in 1993 (when dying by riding these streets was a much more common problem). It was the most creative and positive event I’d ever seen. What a joy to ride in the safety of numbers and take back the street for that one afternoon each month!
We hosted a lot of gatherings here at the sign shop. Built a lot of signs and props, including my most famous construction; The WillieHead; an effigy of Willie Brown Jr. the little Napoleon mayor who catapulted Critical Mass into worldwide fame by uttering his famous taunt after having his limo get stuck waiting for the Mass to pass though a traffic light, “I won’t allow this lawlessness in My City”.
That throw-down ended badly for him, and cost the City millions in lawsuits when it became a clarion call for citizens all over the state to come in for the monthly ride he promised he would shut down…or at least make it heel, (apply for a permit, follow an approved route) simply to defend this fundamental right. The number of riders was ridiculous, that old “ain’t no power like the power of the people” chant became a real live force of nature.
It’s been 20 years since, I don’t ride very often anymore and though it was always a problem having the odd adolescent use the safety in numbers to act up, apparently it’s much more common now, which isn’t much fun to be a part of and fun was always the bottom line at Critical Mass.
I dug up one of my old websites dedicated to Critical Mass issues on the Wayback Machine, since this is a sign shop blog, I have to share: How to build your own Williehead.