Same Street Twice
The house was distinguished from its neighbors chiefly by a blue-and-orange paint job that at least one resident – an attorney who lived on the corner – called “indefensible.” This is what the landlady told Rachel and Graham as the three stood in the foyer they would all share.
Some mornings there’s a wonderful quality to the light in the garden out back, especially after a rain. It’s not a large garden – none of the back yards out here are that big – but when I sit in the kitchen and look out the windows, I can imagine that it’s something tremendous that goes on forever. To think there used to be sand dunes out here, and that the ocean is so close.
A Point About the Needle Exchange
The overt purpose of the needle exchange is not to promote drug use, but to prevent disease and death. It is a testament to the failures of the War on Drugs that neighborhoods with large numbers of IV drug users have remained neighborhoods with large numbers of IV drug users since the program’s inception.
The Joy of Life
I have this compulsive need to catalog things. I want to make lists – gather the essence, the names of things together in one systematic collection, which will then constitute a whole in itself. All the books I’ve ever read, movies I’ve seen, girls I fell for, shitty things that happened to me.
It’s my way of not letting go – my attempt to hold onto the past.
Poetry, Street Music, & Mystic Propaganda
A Conversation with SF Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman
Jack Hirschman is a poet, painter, and activist with dozens of books of poetry under his belt and many hundreds of translations. His most recent book, Front Lines, was published by City Lights in 2002. In January 2006, Hirschman became San Francisco’s fourth Poet Laureate.
Some mornings I watch ducks with their orange bills, with their summer- ready plumage, with their crested curved necks and wide-wedge wings. Sometimes, most of the time, ducklings are there too: the entire family, all of them tucking into the grass, avoiding the gusts of wind that fill the breathable North Oakland space. The ducklings grapple with and froth against the roaring and kicking gusts of wind, their wings beating hard even though their feet are on the ground. The ducks and ducklings always get me thinking. But it’s over quickly. I never think for too long.
The red chair on our back porch is growing fungus. The cracked vinyl showcases layers of mold and rot along the exposed white cushion, but it’s more than that.
That chair, I think to myself, looks like it has a tumor.
I can’t wander far from “sobriety gulch,” that swath of real estate bordered by two Lutheran churches, one at 19th and Dolores, the other affectionately named Our Lady of Safeway, next door to Taqueria El Castillito, my home away from home. Raised in a kitchen never stained by the shadow of a garlic clove, or avocado, much less a chili pepper, today I feel most Franciscan with sweaty eyelids, flushed, decongested, eating rice and beans drowned in Castillito’s simple salsa guacamole.
Last night I had a client in earshot of San Francisco’s football stadium, Jell-O Memorial Stadium or what the fuck ever it’s called these days. This city is run by whores. The Raiders were playing the 49ers and the hotel parking lot was full. I’d seen this man before. He’s the rare client who smokes cigarettes.
Searching for Wayne
The world may have given up on him, but I haven’t.
Why on earth should I care what might have happened to him? Callous as it may sound, so what if the cretin is six feet under, as most suspect he probably is? The ideal epitaph for him would read: “Serves him right.”
Like a Real Life Adam Sandler
After two years of domestic struggle, my girlfriend kicked me out. I was heartbroken, in the way that heartbreak makes me manic and irrational. I had also been without sex for four months, and was completely randy and on the rebound.
It is approximately . . . steps from (1) my bedroom to K’s bedroom. Outside the green door of my green apartment building on Haight Street, the street sleeps. It is Tuesday night. Warm. Whenever I count my steps, I never stare at the ground and my left foot always advances onto odd numbers, my right foot even. The counting enables me, when I lose my balance, to regain my steps, so to speak – to locate tiny islands of assurance in a sea of personal anxiety and urban disorientation. The apartment I live in is located on a slope, a gentle incline that becomes a mountain whenever I come home late at night from Lower Haight drunk. It becomes an adventure whenever I skate down it.
In 1989, prompted by a posting on a bulletin board at the San Francisco Art Institute where we were working on our masters degrees, my friend Scot and I rented a studio space on the moth-balled naval shipyard at Hunters Point. It was perfect for two idealistic young painters: big and drafty with thirty-foot ceilings and a bank of north-facing windows near the top of the wall where it met the ceiling.