All aboard as planking fad comes to San Francisco 

A man, woman or child lying face down in an obscure or awkward location for several minutes and having their photograph taken probably isn’t in danger — rather, they might be planking.

The Internet phenomenon that has taken much of the world by storm is slowly creeping into the Bay Area.

The point of planking — the act of lying face down in a peculiar place with hands alongside the body and feet pointing straight back — is to have a photo taken and post it online.

Photos of planking in action are found across the Internet and include people on railroad tracks, in airplane overhead bins and on escalators. The photos are from Australia, Malaysia and Russia. A planking flash mob Saturday in Chicago’s Millennium Park attracted about 900 participants.

In San Francisco, 31-year-old Max Lee is a planking pioneer. He sets up a tripod to capture his own planking moments.

Lee has already planked on Twin Peaks, the Sutro Baths, Ocean Beach and the Golden Gate Bridge. But don’t worry: He didn’t get on the railing. Instead, he planked on a trail at Lands End with the bridge in the background.

“I thought about it,” he said of the Golden Gate Bridge. “But I think you can fall pretty easily.”

Lee started planking in May because it appeared that no one had yet done so in San Francisco.

“It’s all over the place,” he said. “I thought San Francisco would be one of the places people would go crazy. There are so many spots, but it hasn’t picked up yet.”

But planking has since arrived in San Francisco. Last week, planking took over Caltrain during rush hour when a picture posted to Flickr showed a man facing down with his hands and feet pointed on a luggage rack in one of the train cars.

Planking, while meant to be fun, can also be deadly. In May, an Australian man fell seven stories to his death after trying to plank atop a building.

The danger of the meme increases as participants try to one-up one another.

“The potential for disaster increases as more and more risks are taken to get the ultimate photo,” Queensland police said at the time.

Lee doesn’t consider himself a professional planker — someone who balances on high edges — but said, if it is done properly, it can be fun and challenging.

“If you do it on a point, there’s a lot of balancing,” he said. “You have to get your whole body straight; it takes skill to balance and muscle to do it.”

Although he doesn’t have any new planks planned for The City, he said there are a plethora of options.

“You can do a bunch of people to line Lombard Street, or go to Fisherman’s Wharf,” he said.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Board stiff

Planking enthusiasts lying down on the job — and everywhere else.

September 2009: Seven doctors and nurses working at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, England, were suspended for planking while on duty.

May 13, 2011: 20-year-old man from Gladstone in central Queensland was charged for allegedly planking on a police vehicle.

May 15, 2011: Acton Beale, 20, plunged to his death after reportedly planking on a seventh-floor balcony in Brisbane, Australia. Beale became the first known casualty of the planking fad.

May 29, 2011: Max Key, son of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, uploaded a photo to Facebook of himself planking with his father standing behind him. The photograph was on the front page of the New Zealand Herald two days later.

July 21, 2011: Two Gamestop employees were fired, one for planking and another for taking a picture.

Source: News reports

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