Wednesday, December 2, 2009

San Francisco

I recently visited San Francisco during that Thanksgiving holiday and this is a basic rundown of the feeling, the mood and the experience.

Feel free to leave comments!

Two birds flew west, two birds flew east, far from home, atypical feast. Trying
times, and pricey wines. Ocean mist, and comfort missed. Privileged ice cream and
homeless kids. The playful paradox begins with this.

Two thousand two hundred and eighty four miles and twelve bottles of wine later our
weary feet land on solid ground. Not the same as other trips, none could be similar
to this. A new day arose and off we shot to ports and planes, interchange and
delays, for a different set of scenes for a few days. From lonely desert to culture
confluence, intoxicated on rolling hills, under some type of influence. The days
started slow, waking up with the cool ocean mist coming in from the open window.
Overlooking the backyard gardens and wet stone tiles, a spider web carefully
building in the right corner of the whitewashed window sill. Each strand of the web
glistens with the morning dew collecting on the vegetation and our arid lungs. This
is how each day begun. Victorian homes and quaint, comfortable streets marked our
waking and something extraordinary each day we did meet. What place was this that
quietly whispered change? This was not our backyard, not our comfort zone, not our
home. We stood atop twin peaks looking out in an endless gaze, a maze of city
streets, bays and bridges, and camera clicks. Traditional holiday with unorthodox
cuisine. Carrot shavings in kitchen sink, cut onions and garlic pressed. Cornbread
and biscuits for homemade dressing, evergreen celery stalks chopped in cubes.
Sauteed chard, garlic, and onions with sea salt tossed with tempeh. Organic green
bean casserole and mashed potatoes with fresh ground peppercorn, chips and guacamole
while we cooked, along with a few bottles of Literai imbibed. Slightly spinning and
wine induced grinning a San Franciscan toast to food, to friends, to family, to
hosts. Off we travel to new sights, new scenes and to do new things. Ice skating in
the middle of downtown with towers of glass, concrete and steel, with shoppers on
the darkest friday of the year abound. Masses huddled and bundled warm as an unusual
bout of rain finishes its storm. Trolley cars circling around and voices, footsteps,
shopping bags, create a melodic cacophony. Stop and walk, dodging oncoming
pedestrians and wayward cars. Lights blinking red, yellow and green, shoppers from
the tall and slender to the short and obese and everything in between. Parallel
parking schemes and large computer screens, decanting wine and hearing children
scream. Parks with blankets, pie, hippies, dogs, and tight rope walkers. Watchers,
talkers, doers, thinkers, smokers, drinkers, and eaters. This was it, where we were,
the lasting memories endure. Etched into our seeing eyes, desire to see more and
realize the culture, the heart, the soul, for what we witnessed could not be
everything. This could not be the bay area with millions of homes, and endless
roads, that so many talk so much about, this was only the first taste, the first
drink of this quite different place. I must say in all its madness on a certain
street corner some sense made its way to the surface. A corner near a store that
would symbolize something about Haight maybe decades earlier, a store that once was
owned by two hippies who would make ice cream that was filled with fruit and real
ingredients, with names that came right from the pages of counter-culture. Outside
this bustling store were two very memorable things a homeless man with a hand that
looked to be burned from some type of horrific accident, and a starving young man
sitting at a typewriter. The typewriter was vintage and had a single sheet of blank
white paper dangling dangerously loose from its grip. Just beneath the makeshift
table that held the typewriter was a sign that read, “pick a price, then a topic,
get a poem.” As soon as I walked by this corner, this man I knew that I would have
to purchase a poem, a real authentic piece of culture, art, memorabilia that
represented the people and the city. As the corner continued to fill and empty of
people, I walked briskly over the young gentleman and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have
much money, but I would like a poem, I have this dollar.”
He asked “ What is the topic?”
I replied “Writing.”
We spoke about the book he was reading, a biography of John Coltrane, I told him I
had seen his son in concert a few years back. He and I spoke about how living in the
shadows of a legend can be daunting. We fell silent, and the keys started to tap,
lightly and slow at first then suddenly increasing in speed and rhythm. After a few
moments others passed laughing at the idea of a poet at a typewriter, others
photographing this moment in history. This time was sacred enough to some to capture
it and store it, to others it was worthless and was thrown away before they could
even understand the gravity of the moment. Either way he paused and thought to
himself and finished his poem quickly. Pulled the poem out and made some quick
adjustments to spelling errors with the pen he held. Afterwards he handed me the
poem and I shook his hand and thanked him for my gift and piece of San Francisco. I
held up the piece of paper and stood there reading each word of contemporary
literature for the first time it had ever been read by eyes other then its author.
It read;

See the image and feel it till it hurts,
In knowing that life is given and it must be let go,
See the eyes that look at you and see yourself still sitting,
and watch the duration of a lifetime,
and tell yourself honestly where you stood,
and if they were with you give them there portion of the dream,
and wake up when it is finished,
only to fall back into a dream.

On Writing
Haight & Ashbury
November 28th 2009


  1. Thats how i remembered it the last time I was back home. I will be following brotha, Good Work!

  2. i really enjoyed reading this, you're so very talented Gabe!!!! =]